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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Frozen potatoes!

One of the things that oftentimes went bad in my house was a big bag of potatoes-- I bought them when they were on sale and then we maybe had them two times a week so they didn't ever get used up -- they sat inside on the floor of the cabinet and basically got rotten pretty quickly. That was -- until I figured out how to freeze them. Now I plan ahead after looking at the sale ads and buy a big bag or two of them ,or wait till I have a surplus of them around the house and then I do a potato day, afternoon or evening. I make my own french fries, mashed potatoes and even twice baked potatoes. Here's how:

Homemade Oven French Fries

Chop potatoes up like you would to make French fries, I leave the peelings on them --in part because I'm lazy and partly because there are more nutrients that way.
Toss chopped potatoes in oil-we use EVOO, and seasonings—I sprinkle salt and a little Cajun seasoning on ours—go light on the Cajun stuff if you have little ones who will be eating them.
Bake on greased or non stick cookie sheet.
400 degree oven for 30 min.
Let dry on paper towel or brown paper bags to absorb any extra fat.
Package and freeze once they have cooled.

To reheat from frozen or somewhat thawed—
Bake at 475 for 20 min—you may need more time if you have bigger pieces.

**I also like to make roasted potatoes in chunks-- with other spices, I chop the potatoes in a small chopped shape and then use spices like thyme, salt and pepper, garlic salt or garlic powder and rosemary. With the olive oil they are really tasty -- you just need lower cooking times and watch out for burning when you reheat them. These would be awesome for a brunch or as a side dish for any meal.

Twice Baked Potatoes

Scrub and rinse all the potatoes you are using. Put however many potatoes you want to make in the oven and bake them. (I start this step first then start chopping potatoes for french fries and mashed potatoes)

Bake Potatoes for Twice baked potatoes at 400 degrees for about an hour. Let them cool. Once they are cool enough to handle I cut them in half the long way, scoop them out leaving a bit of meat on the sides of them. The scoopings go into a bowl and I add any or all of the above in whatever amounts I feel like. ( You could of course use a recipe-- I just don't and I taste as I go) Sour cream, cream cheese, butter, cheddar cheese or other cheese would be good too-- Edam, Swiss, blue cheese, Fontina, milk, cream or half and half --whatever I have on hand, garlic-fresh or garlic powder, finely minced onions, bacon bits. Then I blend them up in my KA or with a hand mixer and scoop them back into the shells. I sprinkle some extra cheese on top of them and then lay them out on cookie sheets to flash freeze. Once they are frozen firm they can be sealed in a bag-- vacuum bag or just a plain freezer Ziploc works too. To reheat I usually don't thaw them first and just cook them at about 350 degrees for 30-45 min. I mark on the label the reheating info and the baking temp.

Mashed Potatoes

I don't really have a recipe again -- but this is one I would recommend you try one small batch, see how you like it and if you do then you can make more of them to freeze.. potatoes are one of those things that tend to change texture and some folks like them fine after they are frozen, others don't. Personally in mashed potatoes as long as they have cream cheese mixed into them -- I think they reheat fine. So I add cream cheese to mine -- something about it helps the texture IMHO. I could never make enough mashed potatoes to feed my group very many meals -- I have two girls who think they are a food group all to themselves, so in our house I don't make a lot and they are kind of a treat. But when I do I make huge batches and freeze them.

****The texture of the potatoes in the oven fries and the twice baked potatoes is something I think most everyone would like. Mashed potatoes sometimes are not as well received-texture wise once frozen and thawed. I personally don't like potatoes that have been boiled and frozen in soups, etc.. so for those things I put the potatoes in them before I heat and serve. Some folks don't care and think they are just fine. That said, the idea is not to let perfectly good food go to waste and to instead make sure that every dollar spent on food -- gets used to it's fullest! And that's how you really save your money.

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