Box 3, Cooking, Food, recipes, Tools

Tools 101: Silicone Baking Mat

You have new kitchen toys, hooray! Now, what the heck do you do with them?

This series features some ideas to get you cooking – and eating – asap!

Meet your silicone mat

This mat is a super handy alternative to parchment paper, perfect for baking and roasting. While you can use oil as well, the mat does its part in helping food not stick so you don’t need as much oil. Trust us, nothing sticks to these mats.

Here are some ways to use it!

Recipes

Kale Chips

Kale Chips

Get crunching with this addictive snack. Spice it up with cayenne or keep it simple with sea salt. Either way, so good!
Get the recipe.

Roasted Salmon

The easiest, tastiest weeknight meal. You can adjust based on what you like on your salmon! Lemon and herbs is always a good bet.
Get the recipe.

Roasted Cauliflower

Perfect to have around to add to salads, bowls and more throughout the week! Also delicious simply seasoned with salt & pepper.
Get the recipe.

Salty-Sweet Butter Pecan Cookies

From kale chips to cookies! We never said you couldn’t treat yourself! The mat allows easy clean up because the dough won’t stick.
Get the recipe.

How to clean

Use a soft sponge with warm soap and water. Dry with a clean dish towel or air dry.

Tips

  • Limit the amount of oil you use for your recipes; you really don’t need much! A great way to cut back on your oil intake. Instead, keep your olive oil bottle on the table for dipping bread.
  • If you do use parchment paper, make sure it’s parchment, and not wax paper. Wax coating will melt and can burn in a hot oven.

More info on Food52

Happy eating!

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Basics, Box 1, Cooking, Essentials, Food, Kitchen, recipes, Uncategorized

It’s Time! Tomato Recipes for Summer

They’re here! It’s July and we’re talking tomatoes. If you can resist eating all your ripe tomatoes with just a little salt & pepper, here are our favorite summer tomato recipes.

Grab your serrated knife and cutting board for the easiest tomato action!

  1. Tomato Peach Salad with Basil
    With all seasonal ingredients, this tasty summer treat is a show-stopping salad.
    Tip: Add burrata or mozzarella for a more substantial dish.
  2. Easy Vegan Bruschetta
    A simple go-to snack or appetizer. Kids like it too!
    Tip: Don’t have basil? Use up any fresh herbs you have on hand! Set aside a few plain ones for the kids.

  3. Tomato Margarita with Fennel Salt (or just regular salt!)
    Try this summer sipper in the backyard or on the porch. You’re welcome.
    Tip: Not feeling the fennel? Plain salt will do! Still feeling a bit fancy? Try a mix of Old Bay and salt on the rim!
  4. Easy Gazpacho
    Tip: Use your garlic tools & oil pourer from Box 1 to make this recipe even easier. This is a fun, customizable recipe, so don’t stress!
  5. Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato Sauce
    Tip: You can make this in advance and leave it either chilled or at room temp for later! It actually tastes better the longer it sits.

Continue reading “It’s Time! Tomato Recipes for Summer”

Homepage Feature

DIY Taco Seasoning & Best Cinco De Mayo Receipes

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Cinco de Mayo is on Saturday and I don’t know about you, but tacos give me LIFE! There is just something about Mexican food in general that I just never get sick of. And don’t even get me started on my love for Margaritas (but we will save that for another post).

One of the reasons why I love tacos so much is because of how versatile they can be, ground meat, chicken, pork, shrimp fish – you can never have to get sick of one kind and you can always find a type that you will like. The second reason for my love is how fresh the ingredients are, fresh cilantro, jalapeno and chili peppers, fresh lime juice, ripe avocados, they make you feel like you are beachside at a Tulum resort. The third, all it really takes is a little menu planning and food prepping and you can whip everything up together for a fiesta in no time.

With the warm weather finally here, Tacos and Margaritas are a regular on the dinner rotation so I always mix up a homemade taco seasoning to keep on hand for any impromptu Taco Tuesday (or Wednesday, or Friday or Saturday…OK I think you get my love for tacos now). It is super easy to make and doesn’t go bad and chances are you have most, if not all, of these spices in your kitchen cabinet. Pick your meat (or veggie), grab some tortillas (Team Corn), add in your favorite mix in’s – GUAC, sour cream, pico de gallo, corn, rice & beans or ALL OF THEM if you’re like me and you are ready to fiesta!

    • 1 ½ tablespoon chili powder
    • 1 teaspoons ground cumin
    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
    • ½  teaspoon dried oregano
    • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • ½ teaspoon black pepper
In the meantime, to get the party started early, I have round-up food and drink recipes from some of my favorite food bloggers just in time for you to plan out your Cinco de Mayo menu. Try not to just pick one…its harder than you think!
Cocktails
 Sides
 Entrees
 Desserts
recipes

Easy Make ahead Super Bowl Apps

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Sunday is the Super Bowl. And I didn’t know that because my team is playing. But I knew it because I’m a fan of the Super Bowl for a few reasons, I like to pretend I know how football works, I enjoy watching the halftime show – I am BEYOND excited for JT to perform this year because he is my absolute favorite – but the main and most important reason because of the food. YUP.

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The Super Bowl is another reason to get together with friends and family and have an excuse to make mouth-watering, delicious and fun foods. But to be honest, I’ll find any excuse to do this – no big event needed! #foodie

Side note: You have no idea how badly my mouth is drooling and my stomach is grumbling while writing this post. Writing on an empty stomach probably wasn’t the best idea!

There are a bazillion and one Super Bowl app ideas & recipes flooding the internet this week and unless you have a specific idea in your head of what you want to make, it can be very overwhelming to find the perfect dish. I put together a list of recipes I have come across to save you some of the work. I’m not going to lie, I will be making at least 3 or 4 of these recipes to serve at our little get together. The thing that I like most about these recipes is that each of these is simple to make, can be made ahead of time and can be easily transported if you are taking to a party.

Happy Eating! Go Food!

 

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Easy French Dip Sliders
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Mac & Cheese Cups
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Pizza Knots
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Guacamole
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Homemade Cheez-Its 
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Bacon Cheddar Ranch Dip
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Spinach and Artichoke Dip
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Crunchy Taco Cups
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Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Dip
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Sweet & Spicy Almonds
home, HOMEPAGE, recipes

Make Ahead Dinners for Busy Weeknight

The holiday season is officially upon us and I am so excited! As you probably know by now, I love this time of year. There is just something about the music, lights, and celebrations that always makes December feel so magical (I think I have already been watching too much Hallmark). This weekend, we picked out and decorated our tree so it felt extra “Christmas-y” (Luckily M likes Christmas just as much as me).  And since I have been a little MIA from the blog for a few weeks so I wanted to fill you in on my Holiday “breaks in routine”.

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I will start out by admitting that I have been in a bit of a rut lately. Ever since Thanksgiving, I haven’t been on top of my A-game. Meals have consisted of leftovers, takeout or using whatever we had in the freezer/fridge. And being the type of person that I am, the lack of creative & balanced meals 24/7 coming out of my kitchen has definitely got the best of me. I started this blog as a place to share useful and easy kitchen tips and techniques when it comes to getting into the kitchen and what kind of example am I if I do not practice what I preach?

With all the hustle and bustle around the holidays, it is SO easy to get stressed and overwhelmed and I know I am not alone in this which is why I wanted to share. After a little self-pity, I have decided to go easy on myself for the next few weeks and not stress out about having every single meal of the week planned out or about bring in takeout after a busy day (and neither should you!). After all, I️ am working on building a dream into a reality so any extra time I can get will be put into sharing more content for you.

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So if you too are feeling run down or that the holidays are stressing you out, take a step back and slow it down. I have come to realize that everything always finds a way to get done and we often stress for no reason. There is only so much one person can do in 24 hours and that doesn’t have to include everything on your to-do list.

Okay, you get the point, I’ll stop with the sob story! So, what does one do when they feel burnt out? Go back to basics and start out slow. Here are four of the area’s that I like reassess when I get stressed out to the max.

Planning
Use whatever system works for you, but stick to it. I love google calendar, I can access it from anywhere and all of my devices are synced up to it. I will use it as an outline of what needs to be done and how I can manage to fit everything in. Start by the month. Are there any big events, projects or meetings coming up that might take up more time (or stress) than normally? Once you have jotted down the big ticket items break it down by week, what can you to accomplish this week that will ultimately help your end goal? From there you can create a To-Do list for each day that ties the week together. My rule of thumb is NEVER to have your To-Do list exceed 8-10 tasks. Otherwise, you may look at it and feel overwhelmed – which basically defeats the purpose of planning.

Preparation
Preparation can be your best friend. When you know you have a super busy week coming up, it pays to be prepared. If your weeknights are filled, plan to have that week’s worth of dinners premade.  Use the weekend to get your food shopping done. Plan out one or two meals that will allow you to have leftovers (ie crockpot or casserole). Lately,  I️ have found myself meal prepping batches of chili (recipe & video coming soon) for quick filling meals during the week. Coming home after a long day knowing there is one less thing to worry about is a huge relief!

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Flexibility
This is always a tough one for me. It’s inevitable that things are not going to go the way we wanted them to 24/7. I am such an organized person that when things aren’t heading in the direction that I planned for I automatically begin to stress. I am lucky to have found someone who is the opposite of me and will always bring me back to reality and the reality is, we need to be flexible with our expectation of what is supposed to be. Things don’t always work out the way we hoped or wanted them to be and that’s OK too because good things happen when we least expect them.

Time for yourself
Last, but not least, it is non-negotiable that you must make time for yourself. Whether it is enjoying a meal out, spending time with friends and family, pampering yourself or even if it is 20 minutes in the morning while you drink your coffee. It is so important to relax and try to have fun, even if you need to plan it into the schedule. Life is too short and the last thing any of us want is to feel burnt out and miserable in a season that should be filled with joy (nobody likes a Grinch).

Plus
*I’ve got you covered for those last minute gifts – Don’t forget use HOLIDAY17 at checkout for 20% off your first month of a Quoco Now monthly subscription. Guaranteed delivery before the big day!

So in order to keep this a food-related blog post, here are some good go-to make-ahead meals for those busy weeknights. (FYI – all can be made ahead of time).

delish
Creamy Cheddar Quinoa with Chicken & Spinach
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One Pot Lasagna Soup
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Ultimate Slow Cooker Pot Roast
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Chicken & Wild Rice Casserole

 

recipes

Favorite & Easy Thanksgiving Side Dishes

I freakin’ LOVE the holidays! Once November hits, I feel all the magical holiday feels. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, there is something so nostalgic about this time of year (sitting on the couch watching Home Alone as we speak…Buzz your Girlfriend, woof).  Anyway, I am pretty sure I have been counting down to Thanksgiving since before Halloween…thats the true Foodie in me, daydreaming about the one holiday dedicated to eating.

But it’s not just eating that makes me love it so much, it’s more about everything else that goes into making the day so special that makes me thankful. We host Thanksgiving at my parent’s house so the entire family is usually involved and working together.  With such busy lives, it’s a great bonding time doing something we all love to do..cook. At this point, we all have our specialties and take charge to whip up a feast.

My mom is the master of stuffing (call if dressing if you prefer), she has it down to a science and while some may argue turkey is the pinnacle of Thanksgiving, I would have to disagree because who doesn’t love buttery, soft, herb-flavored bread and realistically when else do you eat stuffing?

My brother is a master of meats, the guy knows how to cook a bird. His precision and patience when it comes to cooking a turkey is a desirable skill. He never disappoints when he’s in the kitchen.

The sides are usually where I come in, I make a mean mashed potato…it’s all about a little TLC, well that and a healthy dose of butter. Along with mashed sweet potatoes, roasted Brussel sprouts and corn casserole

My great-aunt, Nancy is hands down a saint, every year (well and basically every holiday) makes two classic family sides, Artichoke Pie (artichokes, mixed with bread crumbs and parmesan to form a pie- ugh so good!), and Stuffed Mushrooms. We basically don’t let her over if either is not in tow.

 Whether you are prepping for the big day or even for a fun Friendsgiving this weekend, I put together a roundup of some of my favorite Thanksgiving sides. Not only are most of these staples, but they are the perfect place to start if holiday cooking is new to you. It can be nerve-racking cooking for a crowd. The key is all about preparation, being prepared will get you far. Having all the ingredients ready and measured out ahead of time is half of the battle. Then it’s just following the directions and let the cooking magic happen. And by the way, it is totally acceptable to tweak and add ingredients, add more or less of a specific herb if you like. Trying to be health conscious and don’t want to use a pound of butter (sorta kidding) in your mashed potatoes? Cut the amount in half and add to your liking. Plus, the great part about all of these is they are easy, non-complicated recipes and perfect for transporting if your traveling…now, try not to get hungry while looking.
 stuffing
Stuffing ? Dressing? Whichever way you prefer, this herb-filled bread mixture is essential for sopping up gravy.
Are mashed potatoes not heaven on earth? Creamy, buttery, smooth deliciousness. I dare you to name me one person who is not a fan.
Only because you want to feel like your making a healthy decision every Thanksgiving needs some green, why not my roasted broccoli
Ok, for the kid in us all, a healthy scratch smothered is melted marshmallow.
Another staple for many. Gotta get your greens in some way, even if its creamy-crunchy green bean casserole.
recipes

The Perfect Frittata for Brunch

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I love a good brunch. It is one of those meals where it is perfectly acceptable to still eat breakfast after 12pm but also just as acceptable to have a glass of champaign (with OJ, of course) before noon. Brunch is also a great excuse to get together with girlfriends and sit for hours talking about life…while drinking Mimosas. There is just something about brunch on a Saturday that keeps me going during the week. Mostly because I rarely get to enjoy a full breakfast during the week, I’m either making a protein shake and drinking it on the way into work, or I’m sitting at my desk with a bowl of oatmeal.  Don’t get me wrong, those two breakfast items are staples to my weekday routine, but it’s that monotony which makes thinking about a weekend brunch THAT much more enjoyable.

Although getting to see friends and gossip first thing on Saturday morning is pretty high up on my list; staying in and making brunch at home is at the top of my list. It’s more cost-effective, less crowded, I can make what I want and all while in my pajamas (I feel like I talk a lot about being in pajamas, I swear do actually get dressed in normal clothes). Anyway, my go-to dish is a Frittata.  It is an Italian dish very similar to an omelet or a crust-less quiche. It is quite frankly is almost foolproof to make, can be whipped up in 20 minutes and makes enough to feed a crowd.

Frittatas are so versatile which is why they are so great, there is no right or wrong way to make one. You can make it using the ingredients you like or what is available in the fridge. Not a fan of cheddar, use mozzarella or go cheese-less. You have kale instead of spinach, make the swap. The best part is you can get as creative as you want with your add-ins.
Another reason why I love Frittatas is how perfect they are to make ahead for weekday breakfast. You can make a batch on Sunday during meal prep and be ready for the busy work week.
So whether you are planning a fab brunch or getting on top of the busy work week a frittata should be on top of your list.
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Ingredients 
12 Eggs
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1 cup spinach
5 small fingerling potatoes, thinly sliced
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
olive oil
salt
pepper
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to an oven proof* nonstick pan, over medium-low heat add potatoes and cook for 10 minutes or until slightly soft.
  3. After 5 minutes of cooking, add diced vegetables into the pan with the potatoes, season with salt and pepper and saute for the last 5 minutes.
  4. While the potatoes and vegetables cook, in a medium bowl, whip the eggs until lightly combined.
  5. Once the eggs have been beaten, mix in cheese.
  6. Pour the egg and cheese mixture into the pan with vegetables and potatoes.
  7. Let mixture cook on the stovetop for 1 minute.
  8. Place pan into the preheated oven and cook for 10-12 minutes. The eggs should be firm.
  9. Let cool before cutting into even sections.
  10. Cut up some fresh fruit, pop the champs and brunch is ready!
*Don’t have an oven proof pan? That’s ok if your handles have a rubber coating, wrap a piece of tin foil around to keep them from melting.