life recipes: freezing food healthy cheese sauce
by Mommy Hobbies
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In my napsack stash
Food goes where you put it. And if you don’t put it somewhere it will rot, if you don’t eat it fast enough, it will rot. So fickle food is. Last year I started making large batches of unhealthy mac-n-cheese. But it was so, stinkin’ good. I am sad to admit that it did contain Velveeta. I have since repented of my sins and use REAL cheese in my mac. For a while, I went on a hunt trying to revamp some of our favorite recipes with a healthier twist. Nothing too offensive or inedible. Trust me. As much as I love new foods, I have my limits and a gag reflex.
It took me a while, but I finally found a recipe that is the base for just about everything cheesy. Dips, sauces, soups…you name it. It’s a roux. A roux is basically: butter, flour, milk, salt and pepper. That’s it. From there the ability to build just about anything creamy and delicious is possible. It is from this that I make the cheese mixture for our homemade mac-n-cheese. (I will share the recipe at the end)
Anyway, aside from my previous horrible cooking habits, I learned that freezing mac-n-cheese is difficult! My children loved it, but couldn’t eat a huge casserole sized portion in good time. So, we froze it in big zip-loc bags. My husband separated it, as best he could, into individualized hunks, but they would still move together and freeze making it really difficult to pull out a portion to eat. But God bless the internet, I stumbled upon the most FABULOUS photo the other day…some one had taken to freezing soup in their cupcake tin. Seriously?? How genius is that?
Problem solved. Now, I am freezing: soup, sauces that I make, pre-cooked eggs for egg muffins (you cook the eggs in the cupcake tin to get the perfect form, then freeze the egg forms), flavored ice cubes for parties, mashed potato portions…it’s a fresh slate fill it up! And oh the fun things you can cook in those tins. The other morning I made these for our Sunday breakfast. Yummm
I’m always looking for a way to make my cooking life easier. I’m not talking “the easy way out” I’m talking about the “creative fix”.
And if any of you are interested in the roux I spoke about earlier. Here it is:
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 2 tablespoons flour (whole wheat)
* 3/8 teaspoon salt
* 1/8 teaspoon pepper
* 1 cup milk
Get out a quart-sized saucepan. Melt the butter in it over medium heat. When the margarine is completely melted, remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the flour. It will lump up a little bit, so keep stirring it until it is smooth. I use a whisk to do this, but a fork will work in a pinch. Add the salt and pepper and return the pan to the heat. Cook and stir until the flour/margarine mixture bubbles up and sort of sizzles for a moment or two. This step keeps the sauce from having a “raw” flavor, and also permeates the sauce with the seasonings. Gradually stir in the milk. Do it slowly, so it doesn’t lump up. Lumpy sauce is not the most aesthetically pleasing, although it still tastes pretty good. So after you stir in the milk, cook the sauce over medium heat until it boils. Stir it quite often, to prevent it from lumping or burning. When it boils, cook and stir it for a full minute, and then remove it from the heat. It is now done.
Cheese Sauce: Add 1/2 to 1-cup of shredded or cubed cheese to the sauce after it boils for a minute. I usually take it off the burner, add the cheese, and cover the pan. Then I let it sit in the middle of the stove for a minute or two, to soften up the cheese. Stir it up until the cheese melts. Serve anywhere you like.
**This is NOT my recipe, but I can’t remember where I got it from…please enjoy knowing there is some genius out there who created this making it possible for you to eat!**