Sunday, May 19, 2013

May Freezer Meal: Italian Beef, Giardiniera, Oven Fries, and Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Pies

Flash freeze the mini pies in 2 muffin tins
Our freezer meal exchange in May was awesome as usual! I hosted this time and we had a Friday night pitch-in instead of our normal Saturday afternoon meet-up because we were leaving to visit our family in Illinois that weekend. We usually meet on the 1st weekend of the month so that helps keep us on track for planning purposes.

The way it works is that each participating family makes 5 meals for the swap and then we bring them in coolers to exchange, packed and already frozen. We give a brief overview of the meal and how to tweak it if needed and prepare it. We share our recipes and cooking instructions in our private Facebook group. The meals we prepare are healthy and if it contains meat, it is locally sourced and natural. Most of us make 6 meals and so we can keep one for our own family. That leaves you with 6 prepared meals from the freezer for an entire month, which is awesome!

May Freezer Meal Exchange Menus:
  • Erin - Frozen Breakfast Burritos (microwave from freezer), Guacamole, and banana bread
  • Sarah - Broccoli and Chicken casserole, bread slices, and Chocolate Chip Bars
  • Katie - Vegetarian Cheese Pasta, Baked Peas with Water Chesnuts, and Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp
  • Ann - Marinated Chicken for Grilling, Peas and Corn with Thyme Butter, and Smores Bars
  • Rachel - Mini Meatloaves, Herb Roasted Carrot and Potatoes, and Strawberry muffins
  • Amanda - Italian Beef Sandwiches, Homemade Giardiniera, Oven Fries, and Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Pies
We had 6 families participate so that means everyone goes home with 5 different meals, plus the one that they made at home. The day after the swap, we had that long drive to Megan and Todd's house so I heated the breakfast burritos and they were delicious.
Amazing Meals for May

Italian Beef stores well inside the tins and a gallon Zip Loc to protect.

If you're going to make my meal, here's the additional details.
  • Italian Beef (from Cooking Light) - I bought 6 pounds of rump roast and cooked them in 2 large slow cookers. It made enough for 7 meals. I shredded the beef with and placed them in the tins with reserved cooking liquid to store in the tins. I bought loaves of bread from Costco and wrapped them for the freezer.
  • Homemade Giardiniera - was easy and so good! After living in Chicago, I love this spicy veggie condiment. You can store it for 2-3 weeks in the fridge in a glass mason jar. I saved small glass pimento jars from another meal and used that to share with the families for the exchange. It makes enough for a quart jar.
  • Oven Fries: These came out a bit crispy, which Aaron loved. But you may want to cut back on the cooking time when you're reheating.
  • Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Pies (from the Pioneer Woman): I used the Trader Joe's cookies instead of Oreos and their House Whip instead of Cool Whip to avoid the hydrogenated oils in both. This recipe makes 24 muffin tin sized pies. See picture above. To make into minis, spray muffin tins and bake the crust. Then spread the filling in each muffin. Flash freeze for 1-2 hours. Use a knife to gently pop out and freeze flat in a quart ziploc bag. To defrost, place in a ramekin because they will be messy.
Reheating instructions:
  •  Heat oven to 450 degrees. You can reheat the beef from the freezer directly or set it in the fridge overnight. Place the oven fries in the oven for 25-30 (cut back from 30-35) minutes at 450 degrees and place beef tin along side it. Place frozen bread in the last 10 minutes.
  • Slice bread to make sandwiches and serve with giardiniera.

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