Friday, April 22, 2016

Frozen? No? Let It Go

Oh, the agony! Daddy-O's first words to me on Tuesday were, "I hate to tell you this....(long pause).....but everything in the freezer has thawed out." Not what I wanted to hear that morning. Or, any morning. He saw the water that had puddled in the floor in front of the freezer.

I had bought groceries that day and when I put the ice cream treats in the freezer, one of the boxes sat slightly tilted on a freezer door shelf. The tilt was just enough to keep the door from closing. That's just sad.

Was it cosmic punishment for buying the frozen treats? Maybe. It was a rare purchase. And here I am a few days later having never tasted the first one!

When I worked as a home economist, one question we received too often was "My freezer stopped working. Can I refreeze the food that thawed?" Just to be sure that the advice hasn't changed (it hasn't) I checked with and here what they recommend and what we always told our clients:
Thawed or partially thawed food in the freezer may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is at 40 °F or below. Partial thawing and refreezing may affect the quality of some food, but the food will be safe to eat.
If you keep an appliance thermometer in your freezer, it’s easy to tell whether food is safe. When the power comes back on, check the thermometer. If it reads 40 °F or below, the food is safe and can be refrozen.
And you can find food specific recommendations here

My food was cold enough that I felt comfortable cooking a couple of things right away. I like to thaw casseroles before cooking them anyway. And the baked goods were fine to eat.

And that is how we came to have Shepherd's Pie for supper last night and why I'm posting this recipe again so soon. We also had toasted homemade bread on the side. And there was banana bread for dessert. All saved from the freezer. It was delicious. And nearly work-free for me. That helps make up for the big throw-away and freezer cleaning that happened.


Potato Topping:
1-1/2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled & diced
3/4 cup fat-free chicken broth
2 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
salt and pepper
paprika (sprinkled just before you bake)

Boil potatoes in a medium pot of salted water until cooked and soft. Drain and mash with chicken broth, sour cream, 1/2 tsp salt and pepper. Set aside.

1 lb 95% lean ground beef (mine was 93% lean)
1 teaspoon oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 cloves garlic, diced
8 oz. mushrooms, diced
10 oz. frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, corn, peas, green beans, baby lima beans)
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup fat-free beef broth
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon freshly chopped rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves
 kosher salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F.

In a large saute pan brown meat over medium high heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. When cooked, set aside on a plate. Add the oil, onion, garlic, mushrooms and celery to the pan and sauté on medium heat about 6 to 8 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Add the flour, frozen vegetables, beef broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, thyme, ground beef and mix well. Simmer on low about 8-10 minutes.

Spread the meat on the bottom of casserole dish. Top with mashed potatoes and sprinkle with paprika. Bake 20 to 25 minutes*, then place under the broiler 1 to 2 minutes until the potatoes turn golden. Remove from oven and let it cool 5 minutes before serving.

 Serves 6  (6 Smart Points per serving, according to

 *If you make this earlier in the day and refrigerate it until suppertime, take the dish out of the refrigerator when you start preheating the oven and increase the baking time about 5 minutes or so. Just be sure to bake until the center is hot.

This dish was half of the recipe that I made about a month ago. I divided the recipe between two small baking dishes. We baked one that night and I put one in the freezer. I had crossed my fingers that it would freeze well. I can now tell you that it did. I put foil loosely over the top for 30 minutes, then removed the foil and baked for another 15 minutes. The times might vary for you. Just make sure it gets hot all the way through. I look for bubbling around the sides of the dish.

Now I can safely say, the shepherd's pie was delicious after being frozen. I'm never 100% sure until I've tried it. The next meal up is the rescued baked spaghetti. And then I'll start thinking about refilling that sad empty freezer.

Please forgive my silly "Frozen" reference in the title. With three granddaughters, I have heard that song way too many times. Now Baby Girl has just learned to sing "Let it go... Let it go..." so I'm not done hearing it yet.


  1. Oh no! Not the freezer! Sad, but beter safe than sick. I love the song, btw.

    1. My mother's rule was "when in doubt, throw it out."

  2. Your dinner looks so good. I threw out most things in my freezer after the blackout in 2004. I didn't open the refrigerator, but I couldn't be sure what was good or not and lots went from the refrigerator. I agree with your mother.


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