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Your fave make-aheads to keep on hand for whenever? (Stocks, glazed nuts, salad dressings, spice blends, cut veggies, etc.)

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So what do you make ahead in order to have easier, quicker, delicious snacks and meals?

I started wondering this while eating a Trader Joe's walnut-gorgonzola salad. I'd be tempted to make same myself if I happened to have glazed nuts on hand already, I thought. So if I got a bunch and glazed them, I wondered, how long would they keep and how should I keep them?

What other such things do you do to keep for whenever?

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  1. Slow-roasted tomatoes. Along your line of thinking, glazed nuts (I typically keep a month's worth in the fridge in an airtight container). Granola. Chicken stock. Croutons.

    4 Replies
    1. re: 4Snisl

      What do you use the slow-roasted tomatoes for? (And how long do they keep?)

      1. re: Cinnamon

        Quick bruschetta. Flavoring for soup. Addition to pasta dishes. Topping for protein (usually for chicken or fish. I often use it for making a quick relish with fresh herbs and chopped olives). Stirred into beans. I'm sure I haven't found all its uses yet!

        They usually haven't lasted more than a week for me. I stick 'em in a glass jar in the fridge.

        I should add that I usually have roasted garlic paste on hand. Recently started adding garlic cloves to the tomatoes as they roast, so it almost is 1/3 garlic, 2/3 tomato after the water has roasted out of the tomatoes..

        1. re: 4Snisl

          Thanks!

          1. re: Cinnamon

            Slow roasted tomatoes are great. There life can be expanded by chopping them up and putting them in the freezer. I store them in snack size bags so there are ideal portion sizes. I do the same with roasted red peppers. At the end of the season last summer I bought a bushel each of tomatoes and peppers. I roasted them and froze them. They're just now being finished up. If I had more freezer space, I would consider doing two bushels so that they would last until tomatoes and peppers were cheap again.

    2. In the freezer- chicken stock, all different kinds of homemade ravioli, gnocchi, spaghetti or fetuccine, potstickers, all different kinds of cookie dough. I have some actual whole meals or parts of meals, but those are the components to meals that I have in the freezer. I haven't really had a spiced nut recipe/ method that I like at home, but otherwise, I would probably keep those in the freezer too. Oh, I also keep fresh bread crumbs and toasted bread crumbs in the freezer too.

      1. Will Owen mentioned keeping already buttered bread crumbs in the fridge for topping things. I thought that was very smart.

        1. I like to roast a big pan of chiles - jalapenos, poblanos, Anaheims-- and freeze them flat in zip seal bags. It's easy to cut off a piece if you don't need the whole bag, and they thaw quickly. I do roasted red peppers that way too.

          Since I prefer legumes cooked from scratch, I make a big pot and portion them out in 1 cup batches for the freezer.

          Also, things like filo turnovers, sausage cheese balls, cheese straws - it's great to be able to pull out just a few from the freezer and pop them in the toaster oven as needed.

          1. I have found that brown rice freezes and reheats really well. I make several cups and freeze in zip-lock bags and have enough for a couple of weeks.

            1. Red-wine ice cubes - you can throw them into all kinds of sauces and soups without having to break open a whole bottle of wine - I find it very liberating!

              5 Replies
              1. re: aching

                Great idea, thanks for the tip. I think it'd probably be best to defrost and heat the wine before adding to a sauce to prevent it from bringing down the temperature too drastically.

                1. re: kevine

                  I'm afraid my cooking isn't that scientific! Temperature changes don't bother me. =)

                  I just remembered the other make-ahead thing that I really enjoy having on hand - meatballs! I have a killer meatball recipe, so I always make a big batch and freeze whatever I don't eat that night. They freeze beautifully in a Ziplock bag and really jazz up a quick spaghetti dinner (as do my wine-cubes in bottled spaghetti sauce)!

                  1. re: aching

                    Could you post your recipe for meatballs on the home cooking board please? I'm always looking for variations. TIA.

                    1. re: bryan

                      It took me forever, Bryan, but here it is:

                      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/394017

                      If you're a meatball connoisseur, I'm sure you already know this - but one of the most important things is not to overmix the meat - I use to forks and mix just until the ingredients are blended.

                      Enjoy!

                      1. re: aching

                        Thanks so much.

              2. Chipotle mayo; mix 1 cup mayo w 2 heaping Tb sugar, 1/2 tsp nutmeg. 3 chopped chipotle peppers, 2 tsp adobe sauce. For a quick snack will dip roasted chicken in it and it tastes great on a grilled cubano sandwich.. Never w/o it in the fridge.

                1. These are sounding good - also, ideal ways to extend the life of some fresh things. (That whole preserving-food-for-the-at-least-slightly-longer-haul art seems to have been lost in modern society, or at least, on me thus far.)

                  1. I make glazed walnuts and spiced pecans when I have extra time and they both freeze beautifully. They keep for months in zip-lock bags in the freezer. I also make garlic croutons and crostini - again, I keep them in zip-locks in the freezer. It's amazing, but when they're defrosted, they're crisp and yummy.

                    1. Stock tops the list. I also take a big bag of the pre-peeled garlic and cover with olive oil, cook in a slow oven till well done. Fish the cloves out to smear on bread for garlic bread, crostini, or with some of the oil to start a quick saute- adds instant depth.

                      1. Beef stock, fish stock, refried beans, carrot soup (one of our three-year old daughter's staples), chili, and our fish catches prepped in fillets and cross-cuts all ready to use in soups, teriyaki, and other fish dishes.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                          That was the freezer.

                          In the ref: shredded poached chicken breasts, pre-cooked sausages, almost always left over rice, reduced red wine for sauces, cooked pasta for salads.

                        2. In the fridge:
                          Chicken Stock
                          Roasted red bell peppers
                          Pesto (when it's basil-growing season)

                          In the freezer:
                          Bread crumbs (whenever I have stale bread I throw it in the food processor and make bread crumbs and toss them into the freezer. Keeps me from having to throw away bread later when it molds)
                          Lemon and lime zest in small quantities - I zest lemons and limes before we use them for other dishes and save the zest.

                          1. Bolognese sauce, chili, pulled pork. Great for those cold nights when you want home-cooked "mom" food.

                            1. Always have a box of chicken stock, frozen shrimp, frozen chicken, bag of frozen peas, eggs, ground beef or pork, crushed tomatoes (at least two cans), pasta, brown rice, can of corn, and a jar of one of those simmer sauces, all from Trader Joe's ironically!

                              Out of those ingredients I can make a tomato based pasta one skillet meal w/ground pork and corn, or a bolognaise sauce, as well as a simmer sauce w/shrimp and peas to go over brown rice. And any leftovers I can make fried rice with and toss a couple of eggs in for more protein.

                              I love Trader Joe's! (I also like having a bag of romaine hearts and some goat cheese on hand for a quick salad.)

                              1. I have a great mustard viniagrette I make each weekend and use all week -- besides a salad dressing, I also drizzle it over roast veggies, use it to marinate and cook chicken and salmon, and even use it as a dip.
                                It's super easy - mix to taste - mustard, 1 shallot finely diced, white wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Marianna215

                                  That sounds like a good make-ahead dressing - will try.

                                2. As a general rule, I always have pre-washed & cut fruits & vegetables around. I tend to buy things when they are in season & local (more environmentally sensitive, supportive of local ag AND tend to be cheaper!) and then prep them & put them in the freezer. That way you can have fabulous strawberries - even in February!

                                  Every time I make veggie/bean burgers or crab/fish cakes, I always do a few extra & throw them in the freezer, too. I 'parbake' them before freezing, and then give them a quick microwave defrost before pan frying or baking to finish them up.

                                  Nuts, chocolate chips, sesame & pumpkin seeds are also great to have around.

                                  Lastly, I always have pita bread and healthy wraps (Ezekiels or Josephs) in there, too - keep forever, and the pitas, especially, can be pulled out individually & thrown in the oven to warm up.

                                  1. I always have some of my favourite dal in the freezer or in the fridge. Good for any time of the day as a snack or meal.

                                    1. Oddly enough, the glazed pecans sold at TJs is one of the few convenience foods I buy there. Very good in a salad.

                                      Other than that, stocks, frozen pies, fruit compote made in season, doughs (pizza, pie, puff), and soups/stews.

                                      1. A humble, unsophisticated submission. I buy a can of cocktail peanuts, pour in chipotle powder and shake to distribute.

                                        I just plain love nuts this way. AND the nice thing about getting the spice amount just right - the cool side of a flame - is that the heat kicks in and the nut eating process self limits, whereas without the heat I might eat too many.