Post-Baby Meal Prep: What's in My Freezer

Post-Baby Meal Prep | Freckled Italian

The past few weekends I've been doing a lot of cooking and freezing meals so we have some stuff to defrost when we come home with the new baby! My mom will be here on December 1 and is always amazing in the kitchen so I figured we just needed enough to get us through a week or two to get us started (plus I ran out of room in the freezer a lot faster than I thought I would).

Here's what's in my freezer right now:

  • Fit Foodie Finds' Healthy Chicken Enchilada Casserole. I used white rice and it looked so good that Rob and I had some before I popped it in the freezer. It's delicious and I'm already looking forward to defrosting it and having it sometime in the next couple of weeks.
  • These hash browns that I usually do with sweet potatoes, but used white potatoes instead. I froze them in 1 cup increments so we can defrost a little at a time and just scramble some eggs as we need them.
  • My "famous" bacon-wrapped dates--they're a great snack and Rob loves them. I skipped the goat cheese this time.
  • Some easy Paleo pumpkin banana muffins that I made up one morning when I realized I had bananas about to go bad and a can of pumpkin in the pantry:
    • 4 bananas
    • 3-4 tablespoons canned pumpkin
    • 2/3 cup coconut flour
    • 1/3 cup coconut oil
    • 3 eggs
    • Maybe 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
    • A few handfuls of chocolate chips
    • Mix everything together and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes
  • I wanted to make these sheet pan eggs but ended up freezing about 4 servings of a breakfast casserole that I made for book club the other day (basically it's this one but I skipped the meat and added some cheese).
  • More Christmas cookies than anyone needs--I'm sharing a bunch of those recipes the first week of December, so stay tuned!
Sweet Potato Hash | Freckled Italian
Christmas Cookie Sneak Peek | Freckled Italian

I still want to make these recipes:

Low-Carb Granola Bars | Freckled Italian
Keto Fat Bombs | Freckled Italian

Do you have any favorite freezer-friendly meals? I want to hear them! I'm sure we'll do another round of cooking once my mom gets here so I want to have a new list ready to go!

10 Things I Always Have in My Kitchen

10 Things I Always Have in My Kitchen | Freckled Italian

The other day I came across this post on A Beautiful Plate and it got me thinking about the 10 things I always keep in my kitchen. My grocery shopping trips often run the risk of being a little boring, but over the years I've gotten really good about getting in and out with the same main ingredients every week, so I thought I'd share a few things I always have no matter what.

  1. Avocados: I always pick up 3-4 and put them on pretty much everything--scrambled eggs, taco salads, burger bowls, etc. Sometimes I just cut one in half and have it as a snack with a little lime juice, salt, and cayenne pepper.
  2. Salad Mix: Usually a spinach and arugula mix from Trader Joe's, but sometimes I grab spinach only (I like being able to sauté it all quickly if it's about to wilt and we haven't eaten enough of it yet). I'll grab a handful of greens and add it as a side to pretty much every dish I make throughout the day.
  3. Bacon: About once a week I'll bake a big sheet pan of bacon in the oven and save it for breakfasts or for topping salads. I also like to let the grease cool and then spoon it into a jar, which I keep in the fridge and use for cooking pretty much everything.
  4. Eggs: Rob and I go through almost two dozen eggs a week--I like them fried but lately we've been having them scrambled with a little shredded cheddar on top.
  5. Grass-Fed Butter: I've been completely obsessed with Kerrygold butter for a while now, and we always have it in the fridge. It's seriously good enough to eat on its own, and sometimes I dip sliced radishes in it with a little salt. So good.
  6. Lemons and Limes: I love hot water with lemon at night, and we always use limes in our cocktails. I usually pick up 2-3 limes and 1-2 lemons. We actually just got a lemon and lime tree from Home Depot a few weekends ago and it's been really fun watching them grow on our back patio, although I think it'll be a while until we actually get any fruit from it.
  7. Sugar Snap Peas: My favorite snack, and Ender's too! We use sugar snap peas and sometimes carrots (pretty much any vegetable) as dog treats because for some reason regular ones make him kind of itchy (we think it's a chicken allergy).
  8. Garlic: Everything is better when it starts with sautéed garlic.
  9. Onions: I like white and red onions and always have at least one of each ready to go. 
  10. Hot Dogs: Maybe it's weird, but we always have hot dogs in the fridge. They're the easiest and we love them for a quick lunch or dinner when no one is in the mood to cook.

What do you always have in your kitchen?

Recipe: Paleo Eggplant Fries

This post was originally published in September of 2013 and is one of my most popular Paleo recipes here on Freckled Italian. I decided to update the photos and re-publish it in case any newer readers may have missed it. These eggplant fries are just as delicious as they were the first time. I also included my (not so) super secret spicy mayo recipe at the end, because what's the point of having fries if you don't have something to dip them in?

I am so not a fan of eggplant. It's just not my thing. What I am a fan of, however, are French fries, and while they aren't very Paleo, they are delicious. I bought an eggplant the other day because it was on sale and I was like, well why not? I usually roast them up in big slices and just can't handle the texture. So I cut them into fry-like strips and baked them at a high heat and what I got was pretty close to French fries. They're also kind of fall-y, which I know we all love. You're welcome.

Ingredients:

  • One medium to large eggplant
  • 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut eggplant into medallions, then stack medallions and cut into French fry-like strips.
  3. Place eggplant strips onto a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Season lightly with a bit of salt and pepper.
  4. Pop them in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until the majority of them are browned and crispy. Let cool slightly before removing from pan.

These are incredibly delicious. I promise. 

And they were even better with a bit of spicy aioli I whipped up. It's super easy--just mix about a tablespoon or two of mayo with one or two teaspoons of your favorite hot sauce. I used a mix of Sriracha and some leftover chili oil from the Chinese place we order takeout from.

Getting Creative with Terra's Kitchen

With Rob traveling all summer, I've gotten super lazy in the kitchen--most nights I just eat bunless hot dogs (super exciting) or open a can of tuna or, worse, order some really unhealthy takeout. Then, on Friday mornings when Rob is home, I have no groceries, so we go out for most meals. It's not a great pattern.

So when Terra's Kitchen reached out to me about doing a post together, I was pretty excited. I never knew how I felt about the whole recipe/grocery-delivery idea, but at this time in my life it sounded like exactly what I needed. And on top of offering gluten-free and vegetarian meals, they had Paleo options too; which sealed the deal for me.

I created an account, picked my meals, and set a delivery date. Just a few days later my Terra's Kitchen vessel arrived and I was really impressed by how organized the whole thing was--it has a little door you open up and cooled shelves with all your groceries. Everything comes individually packaged--even the recipes! I had it delivered on Thursday so that when Rob came home Friday we would have a whole weekend of meals already planned for us.

Things I've eaten (so far) this week:

  • Southwestern Steak + Sweet Potato Bowl (pictured in this post--the meat was grass-fed and organic!)
  • Tilapia Salad with Arugula and Apples (such an unusual but delicious combination)
  • Grilled Chicken with Radish Apple Salad (I'm a sucker for anything topped with goat cheese)

I feel like I'm a pretty good cook and do lots of creative things in the kitchen, but sometimes I just get burnt out. I love having these recipes and being challenged to try new things (like use lime zest in my salad dressing--delicious). So often I just rotate the same two or three basic recipes, so it was really nice having three or four new ones that are still quick (30 minutes or less!), easy, and healthy, but also a little more exciting. And I didn't think having the groceries delivered and pre-packaged would make much a difference, but it totally does--it makes cooking feel exciting!

I'm definitely going to be ordering more meals once we get settled in California! If you want to try Terra's Kitchen for yourself, use the code ITALIAN30 for $30 off your first order--and let me know which recipes you pick! 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Terra's Kitchen. The opinions and text are all mine.

Pranzo

Pranzo | Freckled Italian

"Let's try not to eat so much for breakfast today because we're going over to my tia's house for lunch later," my mom explained to us over her small cup of strong, sweet coffee. The hot Italian sun beat down on us despite the early hour. It was July.

We were in Avezzano, a small mountain town about an hour away from Rome, and we had just woken up and were eating breakfast outside on the patio of another cousin's home. Breads and cookies and chocolate and fruit were laid out on a tray before us and I remember thinking how much I preferred drinking coffee like an adult and being able to eat cookies for breakfast. I was eleven.

We spent the afternoon shopping and trying not to eat. I was amazed by how beautiful Italians make everything--an espresso becomes a work of art with crema, steaming in all its perfection in a tiny ceramic cup and saucer. My mother purchased a bracelet and I watched in awe as the saleswoman put it in a box and tied a gold ribbon around it, then placed it in a small shopping bag with purple tissue paper and handed it across the counter with a smile on her tan face. "Grazie, signora." Even their words are beautiful.

Later in the afternoon we drove closer to Rome to my great-aunt's house, and the lunch festivities began. My great-aunt, my mom's tia is a small, round woman who wears floral dresses and brought out plate after plate of delicious dishes. First, two kinds of pasta, then chicken, then beef. Lasagna and salads followed. We ate for two hours, and my younger brother and I stuffed ourselves until we could barely breathe.

My dad sat next to us, laughing and telling us about the first time he ever went to my mom's house when they were first dating. My grandpa Albino also had several dishes ready, but my dad filled himself up on the first pasta, unaware that there was more to come. Today, he only took a little of each course--he had remembered and he was prepared for the marathon lunch banquet.

My mom sat in the middle of the table, rapidly conversing with her family in Italian and sometimes turning to us to say something in English. She's trilingual but says Italian is the hardest. Without knowing for sure, it's impossible to tell which is her first language.

After all the plates were cleared, my great-aunt came out bearing dessert, and I somehow managed to sneak away from the table before tiramisu was forced upon me. I walked into the backyard and sat beneath a shady fig tree. The afternoon had edged into evening and it was finally a bit cooler, but I was uncomfortably full and told myself I wouldn't be able to eat again for days.

I laid myself down in the grass to take a nap, but there was a low-hanging branch and a dewy purple fig sat right before my face, so I picked it and ate it and then fell asleep.

--

This post was originally published on February 26, 2011. I wrote it in college, but I've been thinking about it a lot this week (there are figs everywhere right now! At the grocery store, on Instagram, in my kitchen, on my plate). I had to do some digging to find this post (I thought I had accidentally deleted it), so I thought I'd re-publish it for any of you who haven't been around since 2011--can you believe I've been writing on this blog for that long? If you have a favorite vacation/travel memory, I'd love to hear it.