Saturday, February 18, 2012

Weekend Rewind: 26 Meals From One Turkey

This month's weekend rewind post are focused on freezer cooking to go along with our recipe hop theme.

The post I have for you this week was originally posted on April 16th, 2011.  I had bought an extra turkey around Thanksgiving, and it had been taking up freezer space ever since.  I thought it was high time that I thawed and and made some useful meals out of it, but I thought I would never see the end of it!

Here is the original post, which I had titled "Adventures in Turkey...Or The Neverending Story?"

I now fully understand why turkey leftovers have for so long been the bane of post-Thanksgiving existence.  It's not that we were tired of eating turkey.  I think I did a pretty good job of shaking things up so it didn't seem like we were eating the same thing all week, and I was able to put a lot of meals in the freezer which was looking pretty bare.  But seriously, I did not think I was ever going to come to the end of this turkey meat.  Quite honestly, I'm glad I have so many turkey dishes in the freezer, because I surely do not wish to mess with one again for a long time.

So, what did my 16 lb. turkey that I bought on sale back in November for $4.81 make for us?

Meal # 1:
On Monday, after my husband injected the bird with a homemade marinade (he loves to play around in the kitchen), we baked it in an oven bag, and we could not resist having a nice turkey and stuffing dinner, with a little spinach salad on the side.

Meals #2-7: (plus a couple lunches for the hubby)
Tuesday, I took the rest of the turkey and boiled it a bit so the meat would fall off more easily, then I pulled the meat off.  I ended up with a huge bowl full of meat.

After that, I boiled the bones for a few hours to make a huge pot of turkey stock.

 I used half of this stock and added water to it as the base for a soup.
 What I love about soup is that you can add pretty much anything you have on hand and it will taste great.  For this one, I had left a good amount of meat on the bones in the harder to reach places, so that cooked off into the stock and I didn't need to add any more meat to the soup.  I dumped in a couple cans of green beans, a bag of frozen corn, a bag of frozen peas, a can of diced tomatoes, and the rest of the pack of spinach from the night before.
Half an hour before we ate I tossed in a pack of ABC and star shaped noodles I've had in the pantry for some time.
After we all ate (my husband and I each had two bowls), I froze 5 more containers for dinners, and sent a couple smaller bowls with my husband for lunches this week.
*Tip*:  To cool it down quickly, I put the whole pot into the sink and run cold water around it.  Drain and refill the sink when  the water gets hot.

Meal 8: (and still have some leftovers)
Most of the day Wednesday was spent trying to figure out what meals to make and making a shopping list (I intended to do this on Tuesday, but after 8 loads of laundry, I was not feeling it).  I still had those Philly Cooking Cremes that I had gotten for $0.49 at the Kroger Mega Sale a few weeks ago, so I decided to use the recipe on the back of the Italian one to make this delicious Florentine recipe.  It called for chicken, I had turkey, so be it.
I tossed in a pack of steamed broccoli and some pepper strips and then stirred in the cooked spaghetti.  It called for fettuccine, but again, its what I had.

Meals 9-10:
Thursday after my Aldi trip, I started preparing some meals while my youngest was napping.  This recipe came out of my favorite cookbook, and it is one I have not tried before, but sounds good.  (I will share the actual recipes soon, I just do not have the time right now.)  This one was called Colorful Chicken Casserole (again, I used turkey instead).
It was made much like the previous recipe, only using peas and corn.  It also called for mushrooms, but we do not care for them, so I left them out.
 This is what it looked like cooking.  There are some onions, celery, and chopped green bells in there as well.
I then mixed the pasta in, poured it into my pans, and covered with shredded cheese.  I cover these in foil, and put them into a freezer bag with a note card telling what it is and cooking instructions.

Meals 11-12:
The little one woke up early, so that put a stop to my extra food preparation, so the next thing I got around to was that night's dinner.  I used another of those Philly Cooking Cremes, this time the Santa Fe flavor.  The back of it had an enchilada recipe that I had seen in a magazine and it looked delectable, so I wanted to try it.

My husband was working late and then had some errands to run, so let me just say that I got pretty good at balancing a tortilla on one hand while stopping a toddler from *fill in the blank* with the other hand.  Needless to say I forgot to take a picture.  But here is a shot of the leftovers, which are unexpectedly another whole meal in themselves.

Meals 13-15: (and some side dishes)
After dinner, I mixed up another easy recipe out of that cookbook.  This one was called Chicken Potato Casserole.  I think you get the idea that you can put turkey in anything that calls for chicken.  I have not tried this one before either, but I like it because it hides nutritious things, like chopped up spinach and shredded carrots in the mashed potatoes.  I made three of these.  Here is a shot of the finished product.  You can see the little specks of green and orange in there.
I had some of the potatoes left over, so I decided to try another idea out of that cookbook:  freezing the potatoes in muffin pans so you have single portioned side dishes ready to go!  Here's my husband scooping them in.
And this morning after they were frozen, I popped them out and put them into a freezer bag.
I liked this idea so well, I decided to try it with some mac & cheese after lunch.  I'll let you know how that turns out.

Meals 16-17:
Tonight's dinner was another recipe I had not yet tried from my cookbook (obviously, I was getting a bit tired of the ones I had tried).  It sounded interesting.  Chicken (turkey) Taco Quiche.  I imagine this would be quite good with ground beef as well.  Now I have never made a quiche before, but I had bought too many eggs, and this intrigued me.
My husband,however, hates eggs with a passion.  Unless there is so much other stuff in them that they don't taste like eggs.  I was a little worried about this one because the only "other stuff" mixed with the eggs were half and half and a packet of taco seasoning.  It turned out excellent.  He loved it.  The girls loved it.  Even though the one with the aversion to red things picked out every chunk of salsa that she found.  Seriously...the child will not eat pizza?!?!  Anyway, I forgot to snap a picture of it fresh out the oven, so here it is half eaten.
I made two, and learned an important lesson in the process.  The second was to be frozen uncooked.  I thought it would spill if I tired to bag ii unfrozen, so I carefully carried it to the freezer (dripping along the way) and gently sat it down on an empty upper shelf.  When I went to grab the mac & cheese to bag a bit later, I noticed this:
It had dripped down onto all three lower shelves and pooled in the bottom.  Lesson learned.  Next time it goes on a baking sheet.

Meals 18-20:
This recipe I have tried before.  It is one of my new favorites.  I had just enough turkey left over to make three of these, and I had three boxes of stuffing on hand.  It is called Chicken Stuffing Casserole (this cook book is not very creating with the naming of the dishes, is it?)  But it is so easy to make.  Stuffing on bottom, corn, meat, cream of mushroom soup on top, and cover with shredded cheese.  I had ran out, so I improvised.

And that was the last of the meat.  But I'm still not done...

Meals 21-??:
I still have the other half of the turkey stock sitting in the fridge.  I am going to make a recipe that I sort of made up last time we cooked a turkey.  A meatless soup with lentils and split peas, and whatever else I happen to have.  It will be a clean out the freezer sort of day.  It turned out really good last time, and my girls love soups.  We don't care if it's getting warmer out.  I expect this will make another 6 meals like the last soup did, so that should get me up to 26 meals just from this one bird.

Phew!  If anyone is still with me, I'd love to know if you do any freezer cooking, or if you are thinking about it starting.  I find it to be not just a great time saver, but also a great money saver as well.


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