RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: September 2012

Whisking the night away.

Whisking the night away.

When I did my ‘must have’ kitchen tools list a couple of weeks ago, I realized that I had whisks on the list but hadn’t really talked about them before.  So here we go….

Whisks are a wonder tool in the kitchen.  They combine ingredients in a way that a spoon just won’t do.  Trust me on this one. I am sure many of you have whisks but ask yourself the following:

  1. Am I using it? or is it just sitting pretty in your drawer or tool crock?
  2. Is my tried and true whisk ick?  Take a look at your whisk.  Seriously.  Get up and go look right now :).  Do you see rust in the crevices?  Are the wires looking wonky?  If yes, toss that baby in the trash right now and read on for my recommendations.

Types of whisks:

  • Metal– Please don’t be wooed by the cheap cheap cheap whisks that every retailer is selling.  While they are functional, you are risking rust and corrosion due the lower grade metals.  Who wants rust and corrosion anywhere near food?  Gross.   Look for stainless steel.  You also want to look for whisks that don’t have a tightly wrapped wires (very difficult to clean).  I love the stainless steel balloon whisk from Williams Sonoma.  It retails between $12.95 and $14.00 depending on the length.  It is easy to hold, dishwasher safe and 18/10 stainless steel. It may seem a little pricey for a whisk but it will last.  Honorable mention:  The OXO stainless steel whisk sold at Target.  It retails for $9.99 and has an incredibly comfortable handle made of santoprene.
  • Silicone – My personal fave!  I love that you can whisk right in the saucepan/fry pan.  My absolute favorite whisk is the Kenmore Silicone whisk from Kmart (also available at Sears) for $9.99.  The silicone covered wires are great!  No scratching pans.  Dishwasher safe/Easy to clean.  Safe for up to 500 degrees so no melting worries. Honorable mention:  The OXO Silicone whisk sold at Target for $11.99.  Dishwasher safe.  Comfortable handle.

Uses for whisks:

  • My typical M.O. is to use my metal whisk when I am mixing something in a bowl and my silicone whisk whenever heat is involved (melting chocolate, making sauces on the stove, making scrambled eggs, etc.)  Fun tip:  I mix my scrambled eggs right in the pan!  No need to dirty a separate bowl if you have  silicone whisk!  Brilliant!

Caring for your whisk:

  • Metal –  It is imperative that after washing you let your whisk completely dry.  There are so many crevices.  This is why I prefer to use a dishwasher safe whisk so that I can feel confident that the crevices are clean and have been heated to a high temperature to kill bacteria.
  • Silicone – Food is less apt to stick in the crevices but I still prefer to run mine through the dishwasher.

Happy mixing everyone!!

Menu Plan 9.0

Week 9:

SundayForty Garlic Chicken, this is a recipe from week one but I MUST make it again.  We all love it so much!  Henry asked me to make it so make it I shall. 🙂 Remember to serve with fresh french bread and make sure you allow plenty of time to cook this. It takes a couple of hours to cook but it is AMAZING. Reminder – refer to my garlic blog for garlic peeling tips. It’s essential for this recipe.

Monday–  Slow Cooker Pulled Pork.   This is such a great way to start the week.  You can throw everything in the crock pot the night before and put it on before you leave for the day on Monday.  Serve on buns with sweet potato fries on the side and maybe a little cole slaw.

Tuesday– Spaghetti with turkey meatballs.  Ok, so with soccer practices on Tuesday nights it is becoming difficult to cook EVERY night.  Today has to be an easy night.  I usually keep Trader Joe’s turkey meatballs in the freezer, throw them in a sauce pan and cover with a jar of sauce.  Simmer for about 20 minutes or until meatballs are heated through.  Serve over spaghetti, throw some garlic bread in. Done. 

WednesdayTuna Casserole.   Serve with biscuits.  You can certainly make your own, but during the week, it’s refrigerated biscuits for us! 🙂

Thursday– Chicken Fried Rice.  Such a quick easy meal.  I typically use this dish as an opportunity to unload the veggies in the fridge that are on the verge of biting the dust.  I love to add diced cucumber for a little crunch but will add zucchini, carrots, celery.  Again, I don’t really go shopping for this, I usually just open the veggie drawer and start slicing and dicing.

Friday–  Date Night!!!  or Leftover night.  Whatev.

Saturday– Chicken Fried Steak w/Gravy – If you haven’t heard of Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Women, you are missing out!  She is amaZing.  This is one of my favorite recipes from her.   Serve with Mashed Potatoes and a salad. Yum!! 

The link below is to a printable grocery list that you can check off what you need and add what I’ve left off the list.  Hope this helps streamline your grocery store trips! The goal is for you to go to the store ONCE this week. Save time. Save $$.

Grocery List Template

and as always, here is your menu planning template to print out, write your menu and stick on your fridge.

Menu Planning Template

Happy cooking!

Menu Plan 8.0

Week 8:

I hope that everyone had a great week!  Here is next weeks menu:

SundayBaked Salmon. Such a great Sunday night dinner.  I love to serve this with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Creamed Spinach.   It takes a bit of work but the results are amazing and I just love hanging out in the kitchen when it’s starting to get cold outside.  🙂

MondaySweet and Sour Chicken.  This is such a crazy easy recipe that I had to put it as a mid-week dish.  I don’t change a thing! Serve with Rice and Edamame for a perfectly Asian inspired dish.

TuesdayNew Potatoes, Green Beans and Ham. Wow!  This is exactly the same recipe that my Mom used to make when I was a kid.  Talk about comfort food.  So delicious on a cool Fall night.  This recipe does say that you can use frozen green beans but if you can, really try to get fresh.  If you have extra time, serve with Cornbread.  Delicious!!

WednesdaySlow Cooker Steak Fajitas.   AmaZing.  So flippin’ easy.  I throw all ingredients in to a freezer bag the night before and throw in the crock pot in the morning.  Serve on corn or flour tortillas with black beans on the side.  Kids:  Quesadilla night!

Thursday -Leftover night/Breakfast night.  If you have lots of leftovers (like I did last week) you will need to have a night to ‘catch up’ so to speak.  I can’t stand leftovers in the fridge for more than a couple of days. If you are leftover-less, have a fun breakfast for dinner night.

Friday– Faux Chicken Parmesan. I say ‘faux’ because sometimes you just need to take the easy way out.  I buy chicken patties and cook in the oven according to directions.  Cook spaghetti noodles accordingly as well.  Heat up pasta sauce.  I layer on the plate as follows:  Pasta (tossed with a little olive oil and garlic salt) ->Chicken patty -> slice of mozzarella cheese-> sauce all over the top ->sprinkle parmesan cheese all over the top.  Serve with a salad and garlic bread.  Done and done.

Saturday– Take-a-break night!!!

It’s finally here!  A printable grocery list that you can check off what you need and add what I’ve left off the list.  Hope this helps streamline your grocery store trips! The goal is for you to go to the store ONCE this week. Save time. Save $$.

Grocery List Template

and as always, here is your menu planning template to print out, write your menu and stick on your fridge.

Menu Planning Template

Happy Cooking!  Fall is almost here!  Yippee.


MUST haves.

MUST haves.

Must have kitchen tools/gadgets–  Love your kitchen?  Love cooking?  Here is a quick list of must have kitchen tools and gadgets:

1. Silicone Whisk– Every kitchen needs a whisk but I say splurge and spend the extra money on a whisk coated with silicone so that you can use it while your cooking on your non-stick pans.  Great for sauces, scrambled eggs, etc.

2. Can Opener– Invest in a good can opener.  I have attached an old blog that gives you some examples of great can openers that I have found. (click on ‘Can we Talk’ link)  Can We Talk?

3. Measuring Spoon– No kitchen is complete with out a good set of measuring spoons.  Make sure you get a set that attaches and detaches easily so that you can store them well but get to them easily when you need them.

4. Measuring Cups – You will need a liquid measuring cup and a set of dry measuring cups.  Check out the blog link to get an understanding of why you need both.  A cup is not a cup is not a cup.

5. Spatula – Spatulas are great for spreading icing, glazes, etc. but I also like to use them when I am cooking eggs.  So much easier to make omelets with a spatula.  Trust me.  Try it.  You’re going to flip!

6. Citrus squeezer–  My fave. It even warranted it’s very own blog.  Click here for more info:  Pucker up buttercup!

7. Wooden Spoons – I have no actual facts to back this up but I swear sauces turn out better when you use wooden spoons.  Here’s a blog for more info:  Clearing up the Rumors.

8. Ice cream scoop – Really.  Do I need to explain why?  Here is a review of the different types of ice  cream scoops and my recommendations.    To scoop or not to scoop.

9. Peeler – Peelers are an essential if you like to cook.  Pretty self-explanatory.  Honestly, if you don’t like to cook frequently then you can skip a peeler and use a paring knife for your peeling needs.

10. Basic tool set (Turner, Slotted Turner, Spoon, Slotted Spoon) –  The amount of money and type of material you need to get depends on your level of cooking as well as the type of pans that you have. If you only cook occasionally, a nylon tool set will be perfect.  They are incredibly cheap and will cover all your basic needs.  if you have stainless steel pans and you cook frequently, you will want a set of stainless steel tools (preferably with a nylon or silicone handle to protect your hands).  If you have non-stick pans and cook frequently, you will want a good set of silicone tools.

I am sure that this list will change or need to be extended but hopefully you this will give you a good starting point.

Happy cooking everyone!!

Menu Plan 7.0

Week 7:

Happy Labor Day everyone. Labor Day is a day to recognize the economic and social contributions of US citizens. So, in celebration of this day, it seemed appropriate to send out this week’s meal plan to you on this day of all days. I hope that this will help you save some valuable time this week.

SundayChili! It’s officially September now, so I am going to start adding heartier meals. Crock pot meals. Casseroles. Etc. Sunday always seems to be a perfect chili in the crock pot day. Of all the chili recipes that I have cooked, this is my favorite. I do change a few small things. I use V8 instead of plain tomato juice and I add a can of seasoned diced tomatoes. I also omit the green pepper (not a fan).

MondayHot Dogs, Potatoes and Cheese, Oh My. – Clearly a made up name. Not sure this even had a name growing up. This was one of my favorite meals when I was little. Pretty unhealthy so my Mom would only make this once in a while. She would use her seasoned cast iron skillet but you can use any fry pan you want (as long as it has a lid). **note before cooking-Boil 6-8 potatoes for 10 minutes. Drain and cut into small one inch bites (think fried potato size), add to fry pan with 2 tbsp of butter/margarine. Add in 1/2 onion (chopped fine) if you like onion, fry until potatoes are cooked thru (about 10-15 minutes) and onions are opaque. Add 1 tsp of sea salt and 1 tsp of pepper. Add 6-8 hotdogs (cut into 1 inch slices). Heat another 5-10 minutes. Cover entire pan with slices of American cheese (usually 4-5 slices). Add cover and turn off heat. Serve after cheese has melted. Delicious. Unhealthy. Comfort food. She would usually throw some sort of veggie on the plate to offset this crazy concoction.

TuesdayChicken Lettuce Wraps – Admittedly, this recipe is a little complicated for mid-week so I try to make everything the night before and then reheat and serve in the lettuce leafs. Serve with rice and a few cucumber slices. Soooo good. If you like PF Changs, lettuce wraps, you will love this recipe! *note- If you don’t have rice wine vinegar, you can use white wine or apple cider vinegar with a touch of sugar added.

Wednesday– Taco Night!!! Chicken. Beef. Make this an easy, make your own taco night. The boys love putting together their own tacos. Put all the stuff to make the tacos in the center of the table and everyone can go nuts making their own. Other than browning the meat and adding a little taco seasoning, this is an easy mid-week meal night. I usually like to make a can of black beans and a packet of micro rice (the 90 second kind) to go with this.

ThursdaySimple Shrimp Glaze w/Pasta- This recipe is a yummy Cooking Light recipe. it is easy and only a few ingredients. This recipe calls for skewers and grills. I like to cook this in a square glass casserole dish (I also drizzle a little olive oil over all the shrimp), cook for 20 min at 350 and pour over thin spaghetti noodles (that have been tossed with a little olive oil and garlic salt). Serve with garlic bread and a salad. Omit the garlic bread, use protein noodles or whole grain noodles to make this a super healthy mid-week meal!

Friday– It’s the end of the week, live it up a little. Order pizza. Order Chinese. Go to dinner. Goal for today: no dishes to wash. 🙂

SaturdayFrench Onion Soup. WOW. If you like french onion soup at all, this is the recipe for you. Even 2/3 of my boys like this recipe. It is fantastic. Since Eric doesn’t consider soup a meal, I typically have to serve something else with it, so I am adding turkey/cheese grilled cheese for him and plain grilled cheese for the boys too.

Have a great week everyone! Next week I hope to have a printable shopping list that you can print out with everything that you will need for the current week’s menu. The goal is for you to go to the store ONCE this week. Save time. Save $$.

and as always, here is your menu planning template to print out, write your menu and stick on your fridge.

Menu Planning Template

Happy Labor Day and Happy cooking everyone!!