Posts in "Recipes"
Chili Beef Lettuce Wraps with Crispy Onions and Garlic

Thank you Vanity Fair® Napkins for sponsoring this post. Take on everyday messes with Vanity Fair® Extra Absorbent Napkins!

Chili Beef Lettuce Wraps | Freckled Italian

I don’t know about you guys, but Rob and I very rarely eat at our dining room table. Now that Sophie eats three meals and some snacks, we’ll sit down at the table with her for breakfast and lunch, but since she goes to bed early, she eats dinner early, which means we usually do our own thing for dinner once she’s down.

I always thought when we moved out of our smaller apartments/townhouses and had more space for a table we might sit down for meals, but for the most part when it’s just us, we’re definitely couch diners (or stand-up-at-the-bar eaters). Every night I really look forward to enjoying a simple, but delicious, meal with Rob, catching up at the counter, or watching whatever show we happen to be binging at the time. So, I was excited for the opportunity to partner with Vanity Fair® Extra Absorbent Napkins to share an easy weeknight recipe that can be enjoyed from whatever room you choose!

Chili Beef Lettuce Wraps | Freckled Italian


  • 1-2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

  • ¼ of a red onion, sliced thinly

  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly

  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper

  • 1 pound of ground beef

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon garlic chili sauce (or more if you like it spicier)

  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

  • Sesame seeds, for garnish

  • A handful of shredded carrots

  • Half of a cucumber, diced

  • 2-3 tablespoons of rice vinegar

  • Salt and pepper, to taste

  • 6-8 large leaves of lettuce (Romaine, green leaf, or whatever you prefer)


  1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add sliced onion and garlic and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper. Add crushed red pepper and continue to cook until onions and garlic start to get crispy and browned. Use a slotted spoon to remove from pan and set aside.

  2. Add the beef to the pan and cook for 7-8 minutes, using a wooden spoon to break it up into small pieces. Season with salt and pepper and cook until beef is fully cooked and slightly crisp around the edges. Stir in soy sauce and garlic chili sauce. Remove from heat and add sesame oil. Stir once more to combine.

  3. In a separate bowl, toss carrots and cucumber in rice vinegar with a pinch of salt. Set aside until ready to serve.

  4. To assemble the lettuce wraps, arrange lettuce on serving plates and spoon beef onto leaves. Top with crispy onion and garlic, carrots, and cucumber. Garnish with sesame seeds and enjoy right away.

Chili Beef Lettuce Wraps with Crispy Onions and Garlic | Freckled Italian

You could substitute ground turkey for the beef or use shrimp, chicken, or thinly sliced steak for this recipe if it sounds better--it can also be made vegetarian if you used cubed tofu or sautéed mushrooms instead of beef! I love soy sauce, sesame oil, and chili garlic sauce together and it works well with a variety of toppings, making this an easy recipe to mix up however you like.

Chili Beef Lettuce Wraps | Freckled Italian

And back to this recipe’s sponsor--Vanity Fair® Extra Absorbent Napkins feel luxuriously heavy and can stand up to even a messy lettuce wrap on the couch! They also feel fancy enough for entertaining, which is great since one of my intentions for 2019 is to have friends over more often. Some of my favorite memories are not at the dining room table, but around a kitchen island or the coffee table--I love the thought of having friends gathered comfortably in the living room or around my kitchen peninsula  with their plates and drinks, enjoying an evening together. Thank you Vanity Fair® Napkins for helping make it happen!

Chili Beef Lettuce Wraps | Freckled Italian
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Cranberry-Orange Margaritas: A Paleo Holiday Cocktail

A few people have reached out to me and asked me to share this cranberry-orange margarita I created a few years ago because the site I posted it on originally is no longer live, so here it is! This is the same post from 2013 (WHAT?!) but I figured while I was at it I should take some new photos, and I couldn’t resist using a blood orange this time—they are so pretty.

I love cranberry and orange for Christmas, and if you add a little cinnamon and tequila, you’ve got something really festive. Cheers!

A Paleo Holiday Cocktail | Freckled Italian

Ingredients: (Makes two)

  • One cup of fresh cranberries

  • Three cups of water

  • Two teaspoons agave nectar or honey (You can use more or less, and I prefer honey)

  • One teaspoon cinnamon

  • Zest of one orange

  • 1/3 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice

  • 1/3 cup tequila


To make the cranberry syrup:

  1. In a saucepan, bring cranberries and water to a boil. Add agave or honey, orange zest, and cinnamon.

  2. Reduce to a medium-low heat and simmer for forty minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and strain.

  3. Let cool and store in a jar/container.

To assemble the cocktail:

  1. Sprinkle some salt on a plate and combine with a dash or two of cinnamon and a pinch of orange zest. (You could also add a little sugar—I had a margarita the other day with both sugar and salt on the rim and it was so good!)

  2. Cut orange in half and reserve one slice for a garnish. Moisten each glass with orange and place rim in salt plate.

  3. In a small pitcher or cocktail shaker, combine equal parts orange juice, cranberry syrup, and tequila (1/3 cup each). Stir or shake.

  4. Fill each glass with ice and pour cocktail. Garnish with an orange slice.

Cranberry-Orange Margaritas | Freckled Italian
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Cheeseburger Casserole (Keto, Gluten-Free)
Keto Cheeseburger Casserole | Freckled Italian

This is one of my all-time favorite recipes when I’m trying to cut down on my carb intake. It’s delicious and filling and so easy to make! Almost every week I make one cheeseburger casserole (and one roast chicken—usually at the same time) and it does really well in the fridge for a few days—I’m usually able to get a couple meals and maybe even a few snack portions out of it! It does usually go fast at my house so I like to make a double batch whenever I can.

You could also add bacon, mushrooms, more veggies, or a different kind of cheese if it sounds good to you! The basic recipe is great but I love how easily you can customize it however you like. My new favorite thing is to serve it with a side of pickles!

Keto Cheeseburger Casserole | Freckled Italian


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1/4 of a white onion, diced

  • 1 pound of ground beef

  • Salt and pepper, to taste

  • 2 eggs

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 1 cup of shredded Cheddar cheese, divided in half


  1. Preheat oven to 350. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil.

  2. Add the onion and sauté for 5-7 minutes or until softened and translucent. Add the beef and cook for another 5-7 minutes, or until browned, stirring well to break up meat. Season with salt and pepper. Drain and transfer to a baking dish.

  3. In a medium bowl, mix together the eggs, cream, tomato paste, and half of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

  4. Pour the cheese mixture over the beef. Gently shake the dish and tap on the counter to ensure the cheese mixture makes it through to the bottom and sides of the dish, covering the beef. Top with remaining cheddar and bake for 25 minutes, or until the top is set and the cheese has melted. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Keto Cheeseburger Casserole | Freckled Italian

It’s as easy as that! You can serve it right away but I actually think it’s better the next day, which makes it great for meal prep. This is one of the most popular recipes in my keto cookbook, so if you like this one make sure to grab a copy for yourself—there’s lots more where that came from!

Keto Cheeseburger Casserole | Freckled Italian
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