My Kids Can’t Stop Eating Their Vegetables, Thanks to This Freezer Trick
I could write a whole ode to the humble cream cheese sandwich. Cream cheese and jelly sandwiches got me through a particularly picky time when my daughter was in a nut-free preschool. And veggie cream cheese has become one the most reliable ways for me to get vegetables into my two kiddos. In fact, so much veggie cream cheese has been coming out of my kitchen that I make it in bulk and freeze it for future use.
Making big batches of veggie cream cheese is not only great for my grocery budget, but it’s also a great way to use an over-ambitious farmers market haul. Cream cheese (supplemented with a little olive oil, seasoning, and grated vegetables) freezes and thaws surprisingly well. It wasn’t until one of those super-hectic getting-everyone-out-the-door-on-time mornings that I ever thought to freeze veggie cream cheese in any other way than 8-ounce increments. But now I do it in a much smarter way.
Freeze Vegetable Cream Cheese in a Flat Grid
Inspired by our instructions for freezing ground beef, I recently started freezing veggie cream cheese in flat sheets. This worked well for a while; I could break off large pieces as I needed them, but it got a little messy when trying to break off small pieces for, say, a single sandwich. So I took things just a tiny step further and froze the cream cheese into a grid — making each batch into 16 small squares that can be easily broken off.
Here’s how you can freeze cream cheese in a grid too, and how to use it.
While the veggie cream cheese is soft from the food processor, move it to a gallon-size zip-top bag (a reusable bag works well too!). Seal the bag, leaving about an inch of air to escape on one side, then use a rolling pin to roll the cream cheese into a flat, even layer. Seal the bag completely and then, using a skewer or a large cake frosting spatula, press a 2×2-inch grid into the cream cheese. Be careful not to actually cut the plastic, but don’t stress about getting super clean “divisions” either; as long as it’s thin enough, it’ll break cleanly. That’s it! Freeze the bag flat until it’s firm, about two hours.
Once the cream cheese is set, you can store the bag upright or you can break the cream cheese into squares and move them to an airtight container for longer-term storage. Personally I just break off a square as needed and slide the rest of the bag back amongst the bags of beans and broth in our freezer. These thin servings of cream cheese thaw almost immediately on warm toasted bagels or bread, or when thrown into a batch of mac and cheese. For lunch packing, I set the cream cheese on bread and let it thaw for a few minutes while I pack the rest of lunch, and then spread the cream cheese out, add sandwich fodder, and go. Need a recipe? Here you go.