How to freeze olives – Yes, you can!

I didn’t think you could freeze olives. Ew, wouldn’t they come out dehydrated, limp, spongy, or some other form of grossness?

Looking around the internet, I found recounts of exactly that. They’re too water-based, and therefore, when thawed and reheated, all the water in them that previously froze, would come oozing out, leaving them quite disgusting.


That’s also the same thing that makes them so awesome for freezing.

So how do you do it?

Cover them in water! Yep, put them in a muffin tin or small bowl or ice cube trays even – whatever portion size you want for later. I like the muffin tin because it was easy to gauge 1/2 cup portions and between two tins, I could freeze a bunch at once. Then, cover them in a shallow layer of water.

Once frozen, you can pop out your little olive ice cakes and toss them into a Ziploc plastic bag. Later, when you’re making tostadas or Mexican casserole or just feel like snacking, pull out a cup, toss it in a bowl, and microwave until just thawed. Don’t overdo it…some ice crystals are fine and will pop apart easily.

Or if you’re a little more patient, you can run the block under water, but still put a bowl under because the ice doesn’t take long to melt and olives will crumble out everywhere.

When I first bought the 3 pound can of lives, I agreed to only use them in baked dishes where any funky texture wouldn’t be noticed anyway, but even my mom was fine eating them after they’d been previously frozen, straight out of the bowl. Success!

And yes, that’s a lot of freakin’ olives. And yes, I had to slice them all because they came whole. At least they were already pitted! Well worth the few bucks to have a freezer stocked with olives for months for any ol’ random dish I wanted.

Mini wonton lasagnas – Dinner, bentos, or midnight snacks

What does it mean to find a huge tub of ricotta cheese on clearance for under 3 bucks? Lasagna time, of course!

Knowing that we were limiting dairy, I assumed I would toss these lasagnas straight into the freezer. Instead, I only used a thin layer of ricotta and no other cheese, and they turned out too good to not eat fresh.

Wanna make your own? Just use your favorite lasagna recipe and sub in eggroll or wonton wrappers. As Squirrel Bread says, wontons are the new black, and I use ‘em like crazy around here. For these, I just cut my wrappers in half, layered as usual, and skipped the fuss of precooking noodles or wondering if I cooked the dish long enough to avoid crunchy pasta.

When I originally bought these tins (on major sale, might I add), I thought they’d be great to fix all sorts of mini-this-or-thats in. I assumed I’d cut them in half and be able to toss various dishes into the girls’ lunchboxes.

Instead, I realized they’re roughly 2-cup tins and they’re perfect for building fast bentos right in them. Maybe not the most creative, but it opened up a whole new set of ideas of foods I could bake, toss in the freezer, and have ready in a flash for lunches.

And yes, I snacked on these a few times. Leaving them cold or barely heating them up turned them into easy, hand-held craving-satisfiers. Yum!


Weekend Roundup Blog Hop

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.