CARTHAGE, Mo. —
This chilly time of year we have to look a little harder for inspiration in the kitchen. The freezer seems like a long shot for winter creativity, but you may be surprised by what's lurking in the ice crystals. Forgotten food awaits.
Now is a great time to plan meals from the freezer in order to make room for farmers market finds and garden excess. I felt much more at peace with my freezer once I took an inventory. I'm not dealing with much space, but if you have a cavernous freezer or multiple units, keeping a running inventory makes sense. A map isn't a bad idea either.
During warmer weather, I curse my lack of freezer space. I don't have a chest freezer, a deep freeze or a spare fridge in the garage. It's just me and my over-the-fridge freezer battling it out for space. When I choose to think positively about my freezer situation, I'm glad that it's small enough to keep track of what's taking up space. Sometimes the bag of ice has to go.
Once you take inventory of your frozen finds, plan some meals around them ... slowly. Start clearing out the extras. My freezer and I have an understanding about certain items for which there will always be space reserved, such as meat and cheese. My dad keeps me in pleasant cheese excess, so I have come to terms with a quarter of my freezer being occupied by cheese. I can't complain. The extras, however, need to be eaten.
I realized I needed to start eating up my freezer foods when I couldn't make room for a large water balloon. Pinterest had the magical idea of making big, colorful snow marbles with food coloring and water. Dinner was inspired by the kale I had to dig out to make room for the balloon. If you decide to try this, just make sure your ball is frozen solid before you take it out of the freezer, otherwise you will have a horrid, drippy food coloring mishap on your hands. It's another example of why Pinterest is ruining me.
I'm now planning my meals around my freezer's forgotten food. I hope these recipes will inspire you to start clearing out your freezer.
Sauteed Swiss chard with Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 small red onion, diced
1 bunch Swiss chard, stems and center ribs cut out and chopped together, leaves coarsely chopped separately
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt to taste (optional)
Melt butter and olive oil together in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the garlic and onion, and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the chard stems and the white wine. Simmer until the stems begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chard leaves, and cook until wilted. Finally, stir in lemon juice and Parmesan cheese; season to taste with salt, if needed.
Clean-eating pumpkin ice cream
4 medium bananas, sliced and frozen overnight
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup maple syrup
11/2 teaspoons pumpkin spice
Using a food processor, blend the bananas, pumpkin, maple syrup and pumpkin spice thoroughly. Transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze for 24 hours.
Easy strawberry chia seed jam
1 cup strawberries (frozen or fresh)
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon water
Stevia, to taste (or other sweetener, such as maple syrup)
Mash strawberries with a fork or blend them. Mix in chia seeds, water and Stevia or maple syrup. Cover the mixture and place in the fridge to set for at least 1 hour.
Adapted from eatingbirdfood.com
Indian kale sauce
In a large, heavy skillet, heat 2 tablespoons sesame oil on medium-high heat. Add 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion and 1 red bell pepper, chopped, and saute, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden. Add 1 clove garlic, minced, 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger, 1 serrano chili pepper, seeded and minced, and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and saute for 1 minute. Add 2 cups cooked and chopped kale and stir to combine. Stir in 1 cup low-fat coconut milk, reduce heat to low and cook, stirring, until gently bubbling and slightly thickened. Serve over brown rice.
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