Freezer beef stew in a bag

I love beef stew, but don’t always feel like making it from scratch. Actually, more often than not, beef stew ends up being the result of me making a roast with potatoes, and the following day, if there are any leftovers (there usually aren’t), then I’ll toss them in a pan, add some gravy and broth, and maybe toss in some frozen veggies.

For Christmas, though, I had a friend of the family on my gift list who always buys whatever he wants and would be upset if we bought him anything anyway. He’s not in the best of health, though, and one of the main reasons is that he doesn’t cook any more and has no one to cook for him, so he eats out. A lot.

When my mom saw him starting to make some efforts in the right direction, though, she had a brilliant idea and asked me to execute it. She wanted a freezer basket full of several homemade, slightly healthier versions of foods he already enjoys, that he could just heat up at home whenever.

“Beef stew in a bag” or “freezer beef stew” is something that I’d wanted to do for myself anyway and hadn’t gotten around to, so it was one of the first things I was sure to add to my list.

That’s the original picture I saw associated with the recipe on Once A Month Mom. It’s Real Mom Kithen’s post on her site that has the instructions and quantities, so after a bit of searching, I finally found it (yay for moving sites and redirecting….boo for all the links being broken, though).

Check out this link for the original. I didn’t follow it exactly, so here’s the best I can guess is my modified version below. I mostly just eyed it and tossed in more or less veggies, depending on what I had chopped and in front of me. This is definitely best done by chopping everything at once and then splitting amongst bags.

Freezer Beef Stew in a Bag

2 small chopped onions
2 cups sliced carrots
2 cups chopped potatoes
1.5 cups chopped green beans (I used frozen in two bags and fresh in another)
1.5 cups diced celery
Whatever other veggies you might like in your stew
2 lbs preferred beef, chopped into large chunks (I had a 7ish lb roast that I split between 3 bags)
3.5 cups beef stock
3 tsp. worcestershire sauce
½ tsp. pepper
¼. tsp. thyme
1 tsp. salt
4 T. flour
1 tsp. garlic
3 tsp. tomato paste

Layer all the meat and veggies into a gallon-size ziploc freezer bag. The prettier, the better, hehe. Squeeze out as much air as possible. Mix spices, broth, and paste into a bowl and taste test before dumping into the bag as well…adjust according to your tastes. Be sure to label your bags with the date and cooking instructions.

To serve, thaw in the fridge overnight and cook in a crockpot on low for 6-8 hours. You can also do it on the stove on low for about 35-40 minutes, according to Real Mom Kitchen. Just cook until the stew is thick and the veggies are cooked thoroughly. If you like your stew thicker, mix a bit of cornstarch and cold water together, then add to the pot and keep simmering.

I considered browning and seasoning the meat first or even including it in a small ziploc bag by itself, included within the large one, so that he (or I, when I pull out mine) could brown it in hot oil before it being tossed in with the rest of the stew. Ultimately, though, it was for convenience’s sake, so it all went into the bag and is ready to all be tossed in a crockpot all day as well. Easy peasy. Except without peas.

Egg drop soup with ramen noodles – When the picture looks better than what’s served

asian, chinese, dinner, entree, soup | January 20, 2011 | By

And often times, vice versa. I’m no photographer and often times a dish looks and tastes way better than the pictures. It’s all smoke and mirrors really….

top ramen noodls egg drop soup

Or is that steam? :P The picture without the haze looks even worse, though:

Ew. The kids love it, though, so who am I to argue really? It takes 10 minutes to make and if I’m going to serve them ramen noodles, I might as well stuff it with veggies, right?

Makeshift “Egg Drop Soup” with Ramen Noodles

  • Cheap, crappy ramen noodles, any flavor
  • A couple eggs for each bag of ramen
  • Veggies such as peppers, onions, peas, and/or carrots (for carrots or other hard, raw veggies, I would suggest frozen or canned so they don’t need additional cooking time)
  • Water or stock for boiling
  1. Boil water.
  2. Crack eggs into a small bowl and gently scramble.
  3. Add ramen to the boiling water.
  4. Return to simmer. (Don’t boil or when you add your eggs, they’ll immediately cook and harden into thicker chunks instead of small strands.)
  5. If using any frozen veggies, go ahead and add them.
  6. To add eggs, you have some options. While gently stirring the soup, slowly drizzle in the egg, continuing to stir the water until the eggs start to hold form as thin strands of egg. You can also pour the eggs through a small slotted spoon or strainer to get thinner strands. 
  7. Cook for another few minutes. Specific, huh? About 5 minutes is usually sufficient for the frozen veggies to be heated and the noodles and eggs to be cooked, but if it’s not, just cook a little longer and/or bring your temperature higher.
  8. Season appropriately, whether that’s with the little packets or with your own preferred spices.

The youngest loves having larger chunks of eggs and not much “juice,” as she calls it, so you can tell the lower right-hand blue bowl (which is also the last picture) is hers. I just pour some of the egg directly into the middle of my simmering water and stir around the outside of the pan so the middle bits don’t get mixed and she’s made happy simply by large egg chunks, ha.





Buying fresh vs store bought – Pink vs brown paste

entree, health, images, pictures, pork, sausage | January 16, 2011 | By

Fresh sausage and storebought sausage

Which one of those looks more appetizing? If you’re a vegetarian or weirded out by raw meat, your opinion doesn’t count. :P Maybe “which one looks more real?” is the better question. You should be able to click the picture to get a larger view, but if not, here’s the link.

Either way, I couldn’t help but snap this picture of sauage one morning. I’d just had a fresh hog butchered, but wanted to finish up some already purchased sausage that I had, so I was going to combine the two.

It was really hard to want to eat the storebought paste after not only see how drastically different the colors were, but also that the glue on the right is roughly the same color as my kitchen counter. I don’t think that’s normal, heh.