Tag Archives: cooking

Eat & Be Merry – New Year’s Eve Recipe Collection

dec. 29

New Year’s Eve is just around the corner. Are you ready for 2018?

If you’re having a party, let us know what’s on the menu. Remember to turn on your range hood fan 15 minutes before you begin cooking, and leave it running for about 15 minutes after you’re done. Your guests will probably love the aroma of baked desserts. But, grease for frying isn’t so pleasant. The range hood will draw up all the grease, smoke, odor, and steam, and send it to the outdoors where it belongs!

If you’re looking for some New Year’s Eve inspiration, check out our top picks:

How To Host The Perfect New Year’s Eve Party

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake

Deep Clean Your Kitchen

Turkey Salad With Minted Mango

 

Favorite Feature – Change Filter Indicator Lights

dec. 13

The change filter indicator light is such a simple feature, yet so useful. It is, in fact, one of my favorite features of any range hood.

Our lives are so busy! Who wants to keep track of the last time the range hood filter was cleaned? You don’t, either. You would also have to keep track of how much and what kind of cooking you’ve been doing. Do you use the stove every day or most days? Do you cook with oil a lot? Probably more than you think!

I’m always surprised at how much grease my range hood draws up through that filter. It is so easy to forget about the vital task the range hood does to keep the air in our homes clean and fresh. That little change filter indicator light ensures that the filter is always clean and that the range hood lasts a lifetime.

The Curious Case Of The “Just In Cases”

Photo: House Beautiful

Just take a moment to admire that organized kitchen in the photo above. Is that not the height of art and beauty and stress-free living? Ok, fine. I’m exaggerating … but only a little.

We live in our kitchens. Most of us spend a huge part of our home time in that very room. We’re either feeding ourselves and family, preparing to feed ourselves and family, cleaning, crafting, baking, cooking … maybe even reading or watching a lot of cat videos.

Cats … dogs … pets …rats. Today is National Pack Rat Day! Did you know that was a thing? I admit that I did not. It is, however, appropriate, especially in terms of our kitchens. If you’re anything like me, you collect appliances, gadgets, cookie sheets, plates, coffee mugs, glasses … yeah, you get the idea.

Eventually, everything threatens to topple onto you if you open a cupboard door too quickly. So, today, in honor of National Pack Rat Day, we are going to declutter. Yes, you, too.

Here’s what I realized:

  1. I have a lot more stuff than I think I do.
  2. I have a lot more stuff that I never use than I think I do.
  3. I am through thinking that I should keep things “just in case”!

Once I began decluttering, repurposing, recycling, and discarding that stuff, I found I had so much more room. Good thing, too, because I just picked up a used bread machine!

If your kitchen needs a bit of a refresher, follow these steps. You won’t feel overwhelmed. You will feel happier at the end of it all.

  • Clear the countertops first. Put away anything that needs to be put away. Wash anything that needs to be washed. Then put those items away. You’re free to take a short break now, if you need to.
  • Always. Sometimes. Never. Start at the top of a cabinet and clear out anything you haven’t used in a while. Consider each item. Is it something you used recently? Is it something you can only use periodically (like holiday-themed muffin cups). Get rid of everything else. Keep going until you need a break. It’s ok to treat yourself.
  • Size matters. Cupboards, drawers, fridges, freezers … none of these are stretchable in any way imaginable. So, if you open up any of them and find items piled on top of each other, you’ve got to make a decision. See point above. How many of those items are essential to your everyday or holiday food prep? Anything that hasn’t been used in a while or is damaged should just go.

Have you been bitten by the decluttering bug? Share your tips!

Spring Recipes: Pineapple Habanero Paleta

April 27

Mexico has given us so many wonderful treats – tacos, churros, and paletas! Yes, today I’m giving you an absolutely delicious, *low-cook, recipe.

Paletas are popsicles made from fruit. They’re so refreshing on hot days and offer lip-smacking flavor. Really, they’re not just for spring. For this recipe, you can certainly use any fruit you’d like. (You can even add 1/4 cup of white tequila if you want to make these an exclusively adult treat!)

Give them a try, and let me know how you make these your own. Enjoy!

Pineapple Habanero Paleta

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 lime
  • 1 red habanera pepper, seeded, finely minced (about 2 tsp)
  • 4 cups pineapple, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  1. Combine water and sugar in a saucepan. Cut 4 wide strips of lime peel (white pith removed) and add to water mixture. Squeeze the lime into a small bowl and set aside. Add habanera little by little depending on how much heat you can handle!
  2. Place saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil.
  3. Remove saucepan from heat and let stand for about 30 minutes. Strain liquid through a fine mesh into a bowl. Discard habanero and lime peel. Add reserved lime juice to syrup.
  4. Place pineapple, lime syrup, and salt in a blender. Process until smooth.
  5. Pour mixture into popsicle molds. Freeze until firm, about 4 hours.

*Low-cook … because it does require a small saucepan. But, no range hood necessary. It’s still quick and easy, though!

Bring Earth Day Into The Kitchen

April 21

With Earth Day just around the corner, I’ve found myself thinking of ways that I could mark the occasion in my kitchen. Believe it or not, Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970! Since then so many of us all around the world have recognized the day by changing something small or big (but nevertheless significant!) in our lives. So, if you’re having trouble thinking of something to do this year, I’ve got you covered. If you’re doing something that’s not on this list, please let me know! Let’s share some ideas that can make our earth a better place.

Eat less. Cook less. Most of us can probably stand to cook less food. The issue isn’t about leftovers. I, for one, happen to adore leftovers. As much as I love to cook, I appreciate not doing so every once in a while. No, the issue with cooking too much food is that we end up wasting more than we probably should. Do you ever cook up a little too much thinking that you’ll eat it the next day or the day after that only to forget about it … until you clean out the back of the fridge, of course! Yeah, it happens to me, too. But, no more. From now on, I’m paying close attention to portion sizes.

Compost it. Do you have a composter in your backyard? I do. Some cities collect kitchen waste at the curb and compost it. Get yourself a small container, line it with a paper bag, and fill it with coffee grounds, egg shells, fruit and vegetable peelings, and anything else you’ve got that is organic and will decompose.

Make stock. Instead of tossing those vegetable discards into the composter, why not toss them into a pot instead? Add water, a few peppercorns, and any herbs you might have on hand. Turn up the heat and turn on the range hood fan. In a couple of hours you should have a flavorful stock that you can use for soup or to flesh out sauces.

Go clean. Kitchens can get pretty grimy, can’t they? Opt for natural cleaners like baking soda and lemon juice. They’ll do away with the grease and dirt while keeping the environment healthy.

Got any tips of your own? Share them!

6 Tips On Dealing With Weekend Guests

April 13

This coming Easter and Passover weekend is a big one for visiting friends and family. Many of us will be throwing open the door to that little used spare room or tossing an inflatable mattress down in the basement.

For the person hosting the get-together, preparing for guests can be a bit of a nightmare. You have to consider your guests likes and dislikes, allergies and sensitivities. Will children accompany the adults? Will you eat banquet style around a central table or will you forgo cooking entirely?

So many questions!

Don’t worry, I’ve compiled a few tips to get you through these next few days. Better yet, not only will you get through them, you’re going to enjoy every moment you spend with your friends and family … just make sure you follow these tips first!

Read more about using a range hoods when guests are in the kitchen.

Decorate. Place pretty vases loaded with fresh flowers around your home. Just the sight of those blooms with lift everyone’s mood and reduce stress.

Refresh. Whether you’re giving up your own bed for a guest or are relegating them to a spare bedroom, take up all the bed linens and give them a good wash. I like to use scented laundry detergent. But, you can also add a bit of natural lavender water to a spray bottle and spritz the linens and pillow cases.

Display. Did one of your visiting guests give you a gift that you’ve stashed away in a box somewhere? Now’s the time to put it out and display it!

Work ahead. Depending on how much space you have (and whether you have a dedicated dining room), you can try to cut out some of the last minute chores by setting the table well ahead of time. Of course, you can also assign your guests to this task, too. I’m sure they’ll be thrilled to help out!

Weather it. Check the weather forecast. You’re definitely going to want to know if you will all be packed into your home during one of the worst rainstorms in recent history, or whether you’ll be able to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather. Plan activities accordingly.

To cook or not…. Even if you plan on cooking the main meal, consider whether you want to be responsible for cooking every meal over the course of the weekend. You can ask your guests ahead of time to come prepared to cook at least one meal. Or you can bake (or buy!) ready-made muffins, sandwich fixings, and other food that will keep you out of the kitchen while calming your guests hunger pangs. Just because your guests are staying with you, doesn’t mean that you can’t go out to a restaurant (either separately or together).

How do you deal with a houseful of guests?

Spring Recipes: Rustic Plum Cake

plum cake

This Rustic Plum Cake is an absolute gem of a recipe. It’s easy to pull together. It’s perfect for an everyday treat or special occasion. It looks scrumptious. Best of all, it tastes so delicious!

Given that Easter will be here sooner than we think, I thought it would be a good idea to get a head start on at least some of the meal prep. Why not start with dessert? I know I have a couple of weeks before the big meal. But, this recipe is so versatile that it can be made ahead and frozen, and it will still be great.

Another great option with this particular recipe is that you can substitute pretty much any other fruit you like. Let me know how you personalize it!

Rustic Plum Cake

  • Butter
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 lbs plums, halved and pitted
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp instant dry yeast
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp star anise, ground
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  1. Grease a 9-inch tube pan with butter. Cover the bottom of the pan with buttered parchment paper. Sprinkle the parchment paper with brown sugar. Arrange plum halves, skin-side down, on the bottom of the pan until, overlapping until completely covered. Chop the remaining plums into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  3. In a large bowl, combine flour, yeast, and salt. Stir in lemon zest and star anise.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat eggs. Add sugar in a slow, steady stream. Increase the mixer speed to high and beat until mixture triples in volume and is pale in color.
  5. Carefully fold flour mixture into batter until incorporated. Stir in chopped plums. Pour batter into pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Invert pan onto a rack to unmold.

Cake can be frozen for up to one month. Enjoy! Find more Spring Recipes here.

Spring Recipes – Roast Vegetable and Noodle Salad

Mar. 24

Ramen noodles are hugely popular … and not just with university students! They’re quick and easy to prepare, and delicious, too. This healthy noodle salad features fresh, roasted flavors. It’s perfect for a light lunch or even as an appetizer!

Serve with: Sausage-Stuffed Peppers

  • 4 carrots
  • 1 lb mushrooms
  • 1 cob corn, husked
  • 1 sweet red pepper
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 5 green onions, sliced
  • 2 pkgs (85 g each) ramen soup noodles (discard the flavor packets)

Chive and Oregano Dressing

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup chives, sliced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
  1. Brush carrots, mushrooms, and red pepper with oil. Place the vegetables on a tray.
  2. Roast vegetables in a preheated 350F oven for about 10 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Slice vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Place in a large bowl.
  3. Meanwhile, cut kernels off of corn cob. Place kernels in a bowl; add enough water to cover. Bring to boil either on the stovetop or cook until tender in the microwave. Drain well and add to the bowl.
  4. Cook ramen noodles in a pot of boiling water for 2 minutes, or until desired doneness is reached. Drain and rinse with cold water. Add to vegetables and toss.

Chive and Oregano Dressing

  1. Stir together oil, vinegar, and garlic. Add chives, oregano, salt, and pepper.
  2. Add dressing to vegetable-ramen mixture. Toss to combine.

Enjoy! Let us know how you have customized this dish.

Winter Recipes – Root Vegetable and Spelt Pilaf

Mon. 9

This dish is wonderfully delicious and nutritious. It’s perfect for post-holiday dining when most of us are trying to lose that holiday puffiness and introduce healthier foods to our diet. You won’t need to fire up the stove for long to create this delectable recipe.

Spelt is a grain similar to wheat. It’s actually been cultivated for much longer than wheat and hasn’t gone through the amount of alterations that wheat has. For that reason, it’s considered an ancient grain loaded with nutrients. You should be able to find spelt in Italian food markets or better grocery stores. If all else fails, don’t worry, just use rice or barley. Both will work equally well.

Root vegetables are readily available at this time of the year. Use your favorites or whatever happens to be on sale. It’s all good. Give it a try. Add your own twist, and let me know what you think of it!

Root Vegetable and Spelt Pilaf

  • 1 cup spelt grains
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 3 cups mixed chopped root vegetables (carrots, beets, squash, parsnips, turnips)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp fresh sage, chopped
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (optional)
  1. Prepare the spelt according to package directions. Drain; set aside.
  2. Heat butter and olive oil in a large frying pan set over medium high heat. Add onion and celery; sauté for 3 minutes, or until softened.
  3. Stir in chopped vegetables, sage and thyme. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes. Stir in broth and cranberries, if using. Cover and simmer for 5 – 10 minutes, or until vegetables are cooked through.
  4. Stir spelt into vegetable mixture. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes, or until warmed through.
  5. Garnish with parsley.

Enjoy! Check out our other Winter Recipes, too.

 

Fall Recipes – Roasted Root Vegetables

shutterstock_523068145

Do you have trouble adding enough vegetables to your daily diet? I admit that I do too sometimes. I actually really love veggies. But, I have found that on those days that I’m rushed, it’s just so easy to throw together a quick sandwich or rip open a bag of chips then to take a few extra minutes to prepare some nutritious and delicious vegetables.

Definitely turn on your range hood fan when you make this recipe. The sweet, earthy aromas will waft out of your kitchen and down the street. Before you know it, your neighbors will be beating a path to your door wondering what delicious goodies you’re cooking up today!

Check out our other Fall Recipes, too!

Roasted Root Vegetables

  • 3 carrots, a mix of colors, peeled, halved lengthwise, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 each of parsnips and beets, halved lengthwise, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 head fresh garlic, peeled
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 bulb fennel, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 2 vanilla beans, halved lengthwise
  • 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Place all the vegetables into a large roasting pan. Toss with oil, salt, and pepper.
  3. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla beans with the point of a knife. Add both seeds and vanilla pods to the roasting pan. Spread thyme sprigs over the vegetables.
  4. Place roasting pan in the oven for 1-1/2 hours, or until the vegetables are tender. Serve warm or at room temperature.