I don’t know if this is still the case or not, but when the kids were little, I remember the grocery stores running promotions on frozen foods during the month of February. I always thought this was a strange time to celebrate frozen foods, because we felt like we were living in a deep chest freezer as it was. I would stock up on the specials and throw them in my freezer, then as the temperature warmed up, my memories of frozen foods melted away until the next year when we were back in a deep freeze.
This year, I have consciously been trying to use up what I find in the freezer and cupboards before I restock, regardless of how good the sale price. This means I have to be more creative in how to use up my buried treasures and disguise some potential freezer burn. Here’s what I been whipping up in my kitchen these past few weeks.
I have discovered a couple of freezer-burned venison roasts buried in the bottom of my freezer. There is nothing onion soup mix and a couple sticks of butter can’t make taste better. The guys love these sandwiches. Any leftover meat and juices can be used as stock for vegetable beef soup.
I bought some cheap Miracle Whip over the holidays and was struggling to get rid of it. Nobody will even use it on their sandwiches, but it can be used in baked dishes. I discovered a recipe and tweaked it to fit our family’s tastes. The Miracle Whip/yogurt locks in the moisture for the dry white meat. Mark prefers the dark meat, but he gobbled this right up. Serve with pasta noodles and spaghetti sauce on the side or combine with the chicken.
The big game is this weekend, and we’ll be passing around this dip as we watch the second half of the game. We will be milking cows during the first half. I’ll use leftover spaghetti sauce from the parm chicken from earlier in the week.
I found a recipe for a no-bake crisp. I thought this was an intriguing idea and tried it. I bought frozen cherries during a February promotion a few years back and figured I better use them up. What a waste of time. The time it could have been baking in the oven, I had to stand at the stove stirring and mixing. I couldn’t get anything else done. Here is how I would make it again. The one thing I did like about the original recipe was that it was all baked in a 10-inch cast iron skillet. You could still do it that way or use a buttered casserole dish.

Sara’s venison roast
2-4 pounds venison roast
1-3 sticks butter
1 package onion soup mix
1 cup water or root beer, cola or beer
Place roast in crock pot. Mix soup and liquid together. Pour over roast. Top with sticks of butter. Let cook on low setting for 6-8 hours depending upon size of roast. Can add more butter if needed. Shred meat into juice when done. Wonderful when served with mashed potatoes and sweet corn. Makes great sandwiches. Add a bit of your favorite BBQ sauce. If I have a bit of leftover Italian dressing, I will add that instead of the soup mix and cut back on the water.
Parm baked chicken
3-6 chicken breasts
1 cup Miracle Whip, yogurt or combination
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, plus extra for topping
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9-by-13 pan with cooking spray. Lay chicken in pan. Try to separate the meat into similar sizes for even baking. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over chicken. Sprinkle extra parmesan cheese on top. Bake uncovered 45 minutes or until meat thermometer reaches 165 degrees.

Baked pizza dip by America’s Test Kitchen
3 ounces sliced pepperoni, quartered
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. frozen bread dough, thawed
8 ounces cream cheese, softened and chunked
3/4 cup pizza sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
 Cook pepperoni in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat until crispy (5-7 minutes). Using slotted spoon, transfer pepperoni to paper towel-lined plated; set aside. Take the pan off the heat, add oil and garlic to fat in skillet and let sit until fragrant, about 1 minute; transfer to medium bowl.
Place dough on lightly-floured counter, pat into round 8-inch square and cut into 32 pieces (4-by-4). Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll into tight ball then coat with garlic oil mixture. Evenly space 18 balls around edge of skillet, keeping center clear. Place remaining 14 balls on top, staggering them between seams of balls underneath. Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap and let sit until dough is slightly puffed, about 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Discard plastic. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until dough just begins to brown, about 20 minutes, rotating skillet halfway through baking. Meanwhile, whisk cream cheese and pizza sauce in large bowl until thoroughly combined and smooth. Stir in mozzarella and three-quarters of crisped pepperoni. Spoon cheese mixture into center of skillet, return to oven and bake until dip is heated through and rolls are golden brown, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with basil and remaining crisped pepperoni. Serve.

Cherry crisp
1/4 cup sugar, divided
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 pounds frozen sweet cherries
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2/3 cup dried cherries
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sliced almonds or chopped pecans, toasted (optional)
6 tablespoons butter, melted.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix 2 tablespoons sugar and cornstarch, set aside. Combine cherries, lemon juice, vanilla, salt, almond extract and remaining sugar. Pop in microwave for a few minutes to soften up frozen cherries and release their juices. Stir in dried cherries and sugar/cornstarch mixture. Pour filling into a greased casserole dish. Mix flour, sugars, cinnamon, salt and nuts. Add melted butter and vanilla extract until mixture has no dry flour. Sprinkle over top of filling. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until bubbly around edges and browned on top. Serve warm with a big scoop of ice cream.
    As their four children pursue dairy careers off the family farm, Natalie and Mark are starting a new adventure of milking registered Holsteins just because they like good cows on their farm north of Rice, Minnesota.