Tag Archives: cooking

Shake The Holiday Time Stress – Plan Ahead!

Standard
Shake The Holiday Time Stress – Plan Ahead!

Hi! While the holiday season can be the most wonderful time of the year, it can also be the most stressful. All you have to do is visit a store in October to know that the countdown to the holidays are fast approaching because Christmas decorations have taken over. Some people may thrive on leaving holiday preparations to the last minute and that is okay! But it is so not me and if that doesn’t work for you, either, try the tips below to sail smoothly into the holiday season:

Start Shopping Now:

One of the best ways to shake the holiday stress is, of course, starting your shopping early. In fact, I know some people who start shopping for the next Christmas with the end of season sales in January! You don’t need to be this extreme but shopping a few months in advance is a must. This will eliminate any anxiety about if your packages will arrive before your celebrated holiday. It also provides for extra time to return damaged or not as good as you thought presents.

Shopping in advance doesn’t just ensure that all of your prezzies will get to their designated giftee in a timely manner – it is better on your wallet too. Breaking up your buying between several months will also get rid of the stress of a huge credit card bill come January first!

Sort Out The Spread:

Maybe your holiday stress stems from having to prepare a big meal for the family and your guests. Although you can’t buy your food way in advance, there are some things that you can do now. How about sending invites to your holiday dinner that people have to RSVP to? Don’t forget to ask about any allergies! This way, you will know who all will be in attendance so you don’t end up cooking way too much or too little.

Once you have a firm idea of who is joining your holiday dinner and their food preferences, you can plan out your spread accordingly. It might not hurt to have some back up recipes in place just in case you can’t get your hands on a ham or turkey at the grocery store.

Know When To Excuse Yourself:

If you have a strained relationship with a family member or guest at your Christmas gathering, this can be a HUGE stressor. Develop a plan now for what you can do to protect your mental health if this is the case for you and practice it. This could be sticking with the cool cousins for the gathering, arriving after a triggering person has left, or simply knowing when to step away to compose yourself. You have every right to an enjoyable time and having a plan thought out prior to the big day will add a sense of security since you won’t have to wing responses or reactions on the spot.

The holiday season is a joyous time but can it be stressful? Big time. Plan ahead now to eliminate the mad dash feel. Then, when everything is in place: Sit back and relax – you have earned it! ❤

What are your holiday season stressors? How do you prepare for a family gathering? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

My Favorite Easy Dinners

Standard
My Favorite Easy Dinners

Hi! I have so enjoyed cooking lots of delicious homemade meals this past month and I am proud of the mental health one eighty that was accomplished by my new job. It has turned cooking back into something that I love to do rather than a chore and I can’t wait for a lifetime of meals with my husband. ❤

It has been a while since I have gone grocery shopping because I will buy a lot at one time which eliminates the need for time consuming, weekly trips to the store. When this happens, Johnny and I default to “easy” dinners to use up the rest of what we have in the freezer and pantry. While a home cooked meal is amazing, a big pot of spaghetti or an oven pizza just hits different! Here are some of my favorite easy peasy dinners:

Spaghetti:

I actually just made a spaghetti and garlic bread dinner last night and it was SO good! Spaghetti has been one of my favorite foods since I was little and I love how versatile it is. I always remember my dad preparing spaghetti for dinner when my mom would return home from work back in the day and it is still one of the sweetest things to me. While Alfredo and red sauce are delicious, my perfect plate of spaghetti is angel hair covered with my favorite: Pesto! And, also, who doesn’t love hella leftovers? 😀

Grilled Cheese:

In my household, you cannot go wrong with grilled cheese and it is one of mine and Johnny’s go to weekend lunches. I hate to brag, but I make a mean grilled cheese. However, it pales in comparison to when my mom makes it with her homemade bread! Johnny doesn’t like anything but cheese on his sandwich but I really like honey or brown mustard on mine. We are also partial to mac n’ cheese grilled cheeses for the ultimate comfort food.

Oven Pizza:

I don’t care what anyone says, oven pizza is the bomb lol. Johnny and I are obsessed with the Digiorno croissant and stuffed crust pizzas and I always have to get at least one of each when I go shopping. Sometimes I’ll doctor my portion of the pizza up with chopped veggies but they are so good as is. And, of course, you can’t forget the ranch dressing to dip it in! 🙂

Air Fried Commodities:

Although our air fryer is on the fritz, Johnny and I still love it dearly and the novelty of using it has yet to wear off. Appetizer food like mozzarella sticks, cheese curds, and French fries air fried are the absolute best and it feels like such a treat whenever we have apps as the main course. When we got our air fryer for Christmas, we went to the store so we could try air frying all of the things and I think about that every time we break it out. ❤

Quesadillas:

If you can’t tell by now, Johnny and I love cheesy food! Quesadillas are so easy to make as well as improve upon and I make them often when we are running low on dinner options. I usually will try out a different kind of salsa or two whenever I do shopping and quesadilla night is the perfect time to test them out!

The best part of my evening is having dinner while watching a show with Johnny. It also is the sweetest thing because whether I spend an hour or five minutes on a meal, he will always compliment and thank me for it. ANGEL! ❤

What is your favorite easy dinner? What are some of your favorite recipes? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Hang Ten

Standard
Hang Ten

Hello! I have been in amazing spirits as of late thanks to a welcome change at work and have been all smiles every day when I return home. This past month has been such a game changer because not being in a bad mood once I get home has reignited my love for cooking and I have been having a lot of fun making dinner every night.

I feel like I have so much more energy now after my shift is over and I have been making plans with friends and family during the work week and weekend like crazy. This is also an awesome change of pace because, normally, I would be so drained that I would prefer spending time with my couch and television during the week. Then, the weekend would roll around and plans would seem exhausting rather than enjoyable. Needless to say, I was in a huge funk.

My new job has helped turn hanging out with people back into something that I look forward to and I am so thankful for that. I have been loving my weekly hang outs with my sister and niece most of all. This was a new addition to my work week since July and it is the definition of super happy fun times. My sister and I will alternate between who buys dinner and we’ll do a fun activity with her daughter. Last week, for example, we went swimming at the pool in my apartment community and had Taco Bell. It was perfect!

I have been taking so much more pleasure in going out and about and it feels so nice for it to not feel like a chore. I have been saying yes to every invitation I get which is a huge one eighty from maybe. This past weekend was an especially fun one as I went to a member’s night event at the Akron Zoo with my parents and niece. Johnny and I also had a fabulous date day on Saturday. We went to our favorite Mexican restaurant, El Meson. Then, we played video games and listened to music until one thirty in the morning. It was such a blast and we spent all of Sunday talking about how much of a blast it was lol.

As I look back on this past month of wonderful hang sessions and dinners, I can definitely see how depressed I was prior to making a change at work. I am so grateful for the opportunity that I was given because it, truly, has allowed my mental health to improve tenfold. I can’t wait for all of the good times that are ahead of me and my husband because I am now capable of enjoying them all to the highest capacity. ❤

Do you have any fun plans this summer? What is your favorite thing to do with your friends? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Eating For The Season

Standard
Eating For The Season

As summer is starting to come to an end, so is the harvesting of all our summer vegetables. Finding joy in eating seasonally is something that your family can experience – all it takes is a little creativity at dinner time! As fall begins, explore the following in your meals:

Root vegetables:

Root vegetables are coming into the season, which means an abundance of potatoes, carrots, and parsnips. All the good stodgy veggies that are best stewed or cooked into wholesome foods. There are so many lovely recipes out there for the autumn and winter months that allow you to just sink into and enjoy.

We all live a busy life and finding the time to cook those proper homely meals can seem like an inconvenience after a full day at work. So, what’s a better time than to dust off the old slow cooker and put it to good use.

Pumpkins:

Lots of cuisines use pumpkin because of the sweetness so to add a kick of it to your curries why not add pumpkin? A tasty Japanese alternative is pumpkin Kuroki, which is a pumpkin patty covered in panko breadcrumbs and fried. It’s delicious. However, you can just put pumpkin in your stews, it’s a healthy colorful vegetable that can’t be forgotten about. You can pick pumpkins up everywhere in the autumn and for extremely low prices… so when you are pumpkin picking don’t forget to eat the inside before you carve the outside!

season1

Pexels Image

Butternut Squash:

Butternut squash is such an underrated vegetable. It is packed with vitamins and antioxidants and is a great source of nutrients. This funny-looking vegetable is so versatile. It can be used in the same way as a pumpkin but has become much more popular in soups and curries.

Butternut squash and apple soup is one to try this season, the contrasting flavors of the savory and sweet makes the perfect warming meal. Butternut squash can also be used as a lower carb option for spaghetti in pasta dishes as its form stays solid when spiraling it. It can also be added to stews but is equally as good as the main star of a meal.

season2

Pexels Image

Potatoes:

The king of root vegetables, the potato is one of the worlds’ favorite foods due to its versatility. There are hundreds of ways to cook potatoes that are warming and hearty and just make you feel good. Jacket potatoes with beans and cheese or cold fillings are a quick meal. You can cook a jacket potato in the oven or microwave and you can add whatever toppings you like. This is a staple food for the whole family in the autumn.

Have you ever thought about widening your repertoire of cooking potatoes? What about crispy roast potatoes, where you parboil them and then shake the pan to fluff them up before roasting. Or creating dauphinoise potatoes, which can be achieved very quickly. Hasselback potatoes, with lots of cuts on one side with spices and fillings melted into the slots? There are so many ways to use potatoes through the autumn and winter months to create gorgeous additions to your recipes.

Carrots:

The only real way to eat carrots at this time of year is roasted with honey. They are divine and, of course, that is not the only way to eat carrots, but they certainly should become a household staple. Honey glazed carrots with any meal is a sweet addition to offset any savory flavors. The color adds a pop to what can be an otherwise muted plate of food. During the autumn and winter months, if you are eating seasonally, there isn’t usually a lot of colors to foods so carrots are a great way to brighten your plate.

season3

Pexels Image

There are far too many recipes to list in one simple blog post so it is great to research and find some different recipes to spice up your autumn/winter menus for the family. Bon Appetit!

Featured Image By: Pexels

What’s Cookin?

Standard
What’s Cookin?

Hello! I have always enjoyed cooking and have fond memories of making anything and everything together with my mom. Cooking in the kitchen in my apartment is an entirely different story, though, because it’s so small and I don’t know about you guys, but I like having lots of room to spread out when I’m making food. I also don’t know about you guys, but I fell into a bit of a depression during the most extreme parts of the pandemic and that left me never feeling like even attempting to make home cooked meals.

The stress of working throughout the pandemic as well as a job that I wasn’t entirely thrilled with really contributed to my slump and it made it hard to do just about anything when I would return home from work. However, this past month has been a complete one eighty as I accepted a new position that I am in love with. Every day, I have come home so happy and both Johnny and I can’t remember the last time I would get off work in such an amazing mood.

Because of this, my love of cooking has definitely been reignited and I have been making meals several times a week for me and my husband to enjoy. Below are some of the favorite recipes that I have whipped up so far and it has felt great to have delicious meals to serve every night. Check it out:

This past month, I have made mac n’ cheese, veggie enchiladas, quesadillas, and pizza. I also used a super easy recipe for pepperoni bread for my non vegetarian husband that he is crazy about. When I began cooking again, I wanted to find simple recipes with limited ingredients as I only have one small counter space to work on in my kitchen. It has been a huge success and I feel proud of myself the entire time. In fact, I feel so happy that I normally will be singing or humming to myself as I chop veggies. This is a far cry from sitting on the couch in misery waiting for yet another air fried meal to cook!

Cooking dinner is a love language that I have learned from a young age from both my mom and grandma and I love being able to express that again. I really enjoy getting creative with the dinners I make now and while I’ll follow the basic recipes, I always try to doctor them up to make it even better. Our favorite recipe is, easily, the jalapeno popper quesadillas and it makes me feel wonderful when Johnny will request them every other night lol. 🙂

I am looking forward to all of the yummy meals that I plan on making and Johnny is looking forward to eating them. One of the last times I made dinner this past week, I told him that it feels good to feel like me again and I wake up every day now eager to go to work and come home to engage in one of my favorite hobbies again. Here’s to delicious meals for all! ❤

What are some of your favorite recipes? Who is the best cook in your family? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Kitchen Upgrades To Try Today

Standard
Kitchen Upgrades To Try Today

They say that the kitchen is the heart of the home. We tend to spend a lot of time in this space, cooking, chatting, hosting guests. So, why not consider giving your kitchen a little overhaul with some new appliances that will not only look great, but will add to your cooking too? Here are just a few examples you might want to consider:

A Stand Mixer:

Into baking? Throughout the past year and a half, many people have picked up baking as an activity to keep them preoccupied with free time found during the pandemic. We can’t blame them! Baking can be carried out easily from the comfort of your own home – and you get a delicious treat at the end too! Now, if you’ve been practicing and are getting better at your breads, cakes, pastries and other baked goods you may be aware of just how tiring it can be thoroughly mixing ingredients. This is where a stand mixer could help. Stand mixers do the hard work for you, leaving you with a lovely dough or batter, ready to bake.

A Coffee Machine:

If you like a good cup of coffee, you don’t have to go to your local coffee shop to get one. If you have a coffee machine at home, you’ll be able to make delicious brews within your own four walls. A coffee machine can do much more than simply pouring hot water from the kettle into some granules. When choosing your machine, make sure to look for good reviews and recommendations. This will give you an idea of other people’s experience with your chosen machine and whether it’s worth the money. There are different options on the market to suit different budgets but, generally speaking, the better the machine is, the better the coffee will be.

Cookware:

A lot of us settle for budget cookware only to find that food sticks to it or the food burns on it. This is less than ideal, so consider overhauling your cookware and investing in some new versions. There are different types for different cooking devices, such as the best ceramic cookware for oven, stove top, and more. There are also many different designs, allowing you to match your pots, pans and trays to the aesthetic of your kitchen itself.

A Slow Cooker:

Many of us are working from home now and would love to be able to prep a few simple ingredients in the morning to have dinner ready at the end of the day. A slow cooker can achieve this. Leave it plugged in with your ingredients inside and you can have some great casseroles, stews, and curries lined up for your evening meals.

There’s an endless array of other kitchen appliances and equipment out there. The options highlighted above are just a few useful suggestions that could do you and your home a world of good!

Featured Image By: Pexels

Amazing Ways To Cook The Best Steaks

Standard
Amazing Ways To Cook The Best Steaks

If you like steak, it is a given that you have your favorite way to cook them and ask any steak lover, and you may get a different answer. Nevertheless, treating every steak the same would be a foolish disservice. So, let’s look at a few of the ways you can cook steak:

Grill:

Specifically charcoal grilled thin steaks. With meat prices rising, it’s good to know how to cook thin steaks. Grilling steak is quick, simple, and hard to mess up after a short period of learning. All you need is a grill (gas or charcoal), steaks, salt, pepper, and oil.

Start the grill and let it get nice and hot; oil and season the steaks on both sides, and when the grill is good to go, throw the steaks on and leave them alone for 3-5 minutes a side depending on how red you like them. Once the time is up, remove the steaks, leave them to rest covered in foil, and then serve.

Sous Vide:

Sous Vide involves vacuum sealing your steak, cooking it for nearly an hour in temperature-controlled water, then finishing it off with a sear. This may sound like a strange method, but it leads to the most evenly cooked and potentially best tasting steaks out there! There is a very sensory experience with cooking with Sous Vide, you get the aromatic smokey smell of steak getting cooked on high heat, and the end results are exceptional.

Pan Fry:

Pan frying steak is not dissimilar to grilling, except you don’t need to go outside. Like the grill, make sure your pan is hot. A cast-iron pan or a similar heavy-bottomed skillet works best because they hold more heat. You may want to oil your steak, or you may wish to simply salt and pepper the steak and then drop a lump of butter in the pan. A meat splash guard is good for keeping the ventilation going. Otherwise, your kitchen will be covered in grease spots. Not ideal when you want to enjoy your meal!

Sear Roasting:

Sear-roasting involves pre-heating both your oven and a cast-iron skillet at upwards of 500 Fahrenheit. When both the skillet and oven are piping hot, you put an oiled or buttered steak in the skillet, sear it on both sides and then slip it into the oven to finish cooking.

By searing first and then finishing in the oven, sear roasting causes fewer problems than pan-frying and broiling. However, this method is less accurate than grilling or sous vide, where you bring a steak more or less precisely to temperature.

Steak Tartare:

This method is quite overlooked, probably because, at first glance, it does not require any preparation at all, which is a myth. Steak Tartare is a popular dish in France and is overlooked since it is raw. Steak Tartare is not only odd for the lack of heat involved in its preparations, but it is also chopped up before serving!

Its preparation usually involves the assembly of ingredients, but there are also crucial steps to ensure food safety. It is important to locate a fresh cut of good meat as the meat will not be exposed to heat on the outside, where most of the bacteria are. Proper steak tartare starts out life as a decent steak; this recipe suggests eye of round, which is then chilled in the freezer and diced up immediately before serving.

Become the host with the most at your next gathering with the tips above!

Featured Image By: Gonzalo Guzman on Pexels

Social Distanced Outdoor Activities For Warm Weather

Standard
Social Distanced Outdoor Activities For Warm Weather

Howdy! The warm weather brings us the exciting promise of seeing friends more safely in an outdoor setting. However, it is still so important that we maintain a social distance because COVID-19 and variants of the virus are still a very real threat. Today, we’re going to look at a few outdoors activities that can be done from a social distance and are a lot of fun too. Try incorporating the following into your next outing with friends:

Paint A Masterpiece:

Pre-COVID, paint nights were insanely popular and for good reason – they’re a blast! And now, they can make a comeback because having a painting party outside is a possibility. For a project, you could all find something different to try your hand at painting or even hire a local artist to walk you through a summer landscape. Set up blankets six feet apart from each other with some snacks, drinks, and art supplies on each one. You could host the party in your own backyard or at a local park. No matter how your masterpiece turns out, it will be so nice to create with your friends in the fresh air.

Food Wars:

Everyone who likes to grill more than likely thinks they are the best at it lol so put the skills of those in your friend group to the test with a good old fashioned cook off. Every week you could have different categories like appetizers, main dishes, and desserts so the less grill savvy can participate and keep track of how everyone is faring on score cards. By the end of summer, you will find out who is the master chef!

Gardening Group:

Gardening is such a rewarding hobby and can be done from a social distance. Perhaps you and your friends could start a garden together that you can all help tend to so everyone can have fresh veggies and flowers all summer long. Of course, it doesn’t have to end there! Look up recipes that utilize the veggies you are growing and host a garden party to showcase your hard work.

Games Tournament:

Work hard play hard, amiright? But seriously, there are so many fun outdoor games that can be played from a social distance so why not put together a backyard tournament for your friends? Cornhole, bocce ball, croquet, and horseshoes are all great places to start. Don’t forget that there are huge outdoor versions of classic games like Jenga, chess, checkers, and Connect 4. If anyone has children, you could all work together to create an outdoor Candy Land board for them to enjoy.

For bonus categories in your tournament you could include best sidewalk chalk art, best bubble soap, most Pogo Stick jumps, and the like for even more fun in the sun.

Backyard Water Park:

Okay, stay with me here but how cool would a backyard water park that you and your friends put together be? I have been thinking about this so much because the pool at my apartment community won’t be open again this summer and it would be nice to have somewhere to cool off! Now, when I say water park, I don’t mean huge slides and a wave pool. No, I’m talking an ultimate Slip n’ Slide, sprinklers, water balloons, a kiddie pool to soak your feet, a sand castle building set up, and an area to work on your tan. And, of course, an endless supply of concession stand style snacks and lemonade. I think that would just be the best!

I feel like people hear the phrase “social distance” and they instantly think “less fun” but that isn’t the case at all. You just have to get a little creative, like with the ideas above, and you will safely enjoy each other’s company in the great outdoors all while having a ball. 😀

What are you looking forward to this summer? How do you plan on seeing your friends social distance style? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Enjoying The Kitchen As A Family

Standard
Enjoying The Kitchen As A Family

The kitchen is often considered the heart of the home so why not get better acquainted with it during your next family night as opposed to the usual movies or games. Kitchens are meant to be used and enjoyed and creating a meal with your family gives you the opportunity to work as a team in a different activity while still spending quality time together. Who knows, you might just have a secret chef in your home! Try the following during your next family night for some good food and good fun:

Agree On A Menu:

If you are going to prepare an entire dinner with your family, then it is best to agree on a menu beforehand so you can pick up all of the necessary ingredients and save you from any surprise trips to the store. Is there going to be a cuisine style that should be adhered to? Is each person going to make their own dish or will tasks be delegated? Will there be enough options for people with dietary needs? All of this should come into consideration while preparing the menu to ensure that everything goes smoothly while cooking your meal.

Don’t forget to read your recipes carefully for instructions that you must complete beforehand or a crazy long cooking time so you can plan accordingly. It also doesn’t hurt to assign stations for everyone to work in so no one gets their toes stepped on and remember to tend to any fridge repairs that need done so all of your leftovers can keep!

Baking & Decorating:

If you’d rather move right onto dessert than try your hand at cooking a whole meal as a family, then that’s okay too! Baking and decorating desserts is fun for children and adults alike. You could even incorporate a competition element to the evening by offering a small prize for the best tasting (or decorated) dessert. Classic desserts are sure to please but there are plenty of creative updates on old favorites that you can try like cake pops and hot chocolate bombs. Making your own chocolate is also a great activity for those with a sweet tooth. 😀

Smoothies:

Going out for a hike with the family in the afternoon and returning home to make some smoothies seems like the perfect way to spend a spring day. Encourage everyone to make their own concoctions with a wide assortment of fruits and low fat yogurts to pick from. Smoothies are also great for sneaking in some veggies like spinach, kale, or carrots.

Slime & Play Dough:

Perhaps, you’d rather use your family time in the kitchen to whip up a few batches of slime or play dough together. If so, there are countless recipes online that you can follow for some colorful, creative fun made with ingredients in your own house. Your kids are sure to have a blast!

Retire your living room for family night and head to the kitchen instead for a more hands on, interactive evening. Creating in the kitchen as a family will encourage team work and help introduce children to different concepts in math like fractions and units of measurement. It’s just as educational as it is wholesome fun.

Enjoying A Taste Of Travel While Stuck At Home

Standard
Enjoying A Taste Of Travel While Stuck At Home

Most of us haven’t seen much beyond our own four walls since last March; and keeping ourselves occupied at home can be a real challenge after all this time. If you are itching to travel the world once more and explore your favorite destinations, consider trying some of these simple ways to get a taste of travel even when you are stuck at home in lock down:

Change your TV screen:

One super simple way to bring a taste of the tropics to your home is to change the screensaver on your TV or go into YouTube and search tropical beaches. If you have a large TV mounted on the wall; you can change the background to a beautiful scene and then have a family night with food and drink while feeling like you are somewhere else.

Have a themed game night:

Game nights are the best way to pass the time during lock down – and today we want to show you how to make your game night travel themed. You can buy a jigsaw puzzle of Washington, a monopoly board of a far off land, and consider a quiz that is travel themed. Bring all of your favorite destinations into your home through games and activities and enjoy time with your family this weekend.

Make some exotic cocktails:

If you long to be able to drink a Pina Colada on the beach once more; you can still make this happen at home. Bring a taste of your favorite holiday back home by making tropical cocktails this weekend. There are so many fun combinations to try and you can even create your own signature drink!

Enjoy cooking different cuisines:

Cooking different cuisines can be a brilliant way to transport your taste buds across the world and make you feel like you are back in that Greek restaurant or street cart in Thailand once more. Consider your favorite dishes from holidays in the past and find recipes for them online. Cook these dishes at home and enjoy taking your taste buds on a journey across the world for a little while. You can even decorate the table and the house to suit your theme and have a little dinner party with your family.

“Travel” on a virtual tour:

One great way to enjoy travel without traveling is to join a virtual tour of a city or landscape that you love. A lot of places are offering virtual tours at the moment instead of real visitors and it will allow you to immerse yourself in another place. Many museums and zoos are also offering this service and it will allow you to have some virtual days out with your family while tucked safely away at home.

Use these ideas to take yourself on a getaway this weekend – all from the comfort of your home!

Featured Image By: Pixabay