Tag Archives: dinner

Dinner Time!

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Dinner Time!

Hello! Something that brings me great joy is cooking and I love making delicious meals for Johnny and our friends and family. This past week, my sister and niece joined us for dinner and it was an absolute delight. I texted her a list of options that I could make and she chose lemon pasta. I was excited because I have had that saved on my Pinterest for forever and really wanted to make it!

I prepared the pasta dish with garlic bread and salad and it was a raging success. I also made air fried Oreos for dessert. These pictures are actually of leftovers because I was so hungry I forgot to snap some pics when it was fresh lol:

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You can view the entire recipe for lemon pasta at Contentedness Cooking!

The lemon pasta was an ultra easy and super tasty dish that I most definitely plan on making again. It is nice and light and will make for a perfect meal on a warm spring or summer day. It also tasted great leftover too and was even more lemony after it had time to sit.

When cooking a new recipe, I tend to follow it pretty closely. Then, I add my own variations if I like it enough to make again. The only thing I did differently when making the lemon pasta was use way more garlic than what was called for because we all know that three cloves is simply not enough! The taste of this dish was so yummy but we all agreed that it could use something extra. The next time I make it, I plan on adding the following:

  • Feta cheese
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Spinach
  • Fresh parsley
  • Pine nuts

Any type of pasta is my favorite food and this recipe is one that will be enjoyed by anyone who shares my sentiments. It is really good as is but if the recipe looks a little too bland for you, adding extra veggies or herbs will help to kick things up a notch (In the eternal words of Emeril Lagasse)!

Have you tried any new recipes lately? How did they turn out? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

 

Dinner Time!

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Dinner Time!

Hello! When I go grocery shopping, I try to get enough fresh ingredients so that I can cook dinner several times per week. Once the fresh food is gone, Johnny and I will turn to our frozen options until it is time for another curbside pickup. One of our favorite meals that I cook has got to be jalapeno popper quesadillas (Peep the recipe here!).

My mom used to make these back in the day and I always have to buy the fixings to whip them up for dinner:

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*Note: I substitute the regular tortilla chips in the quesadillas for Nacho Cheese Doritos, instead.

The popper quesadillas are a bit of a tedious meal to make between cutting and broiling the jalapenos, assembling the tortillas, and frying them. Especially because I make several extra ones because Johnny loves to take them for lunch at work. However, it is so worth it once the finished product is complete. They are cheesy with the perfect amount of crunch thanks to the chips. Broiling the jalapenos and the cream cheese also takes away a lot of the spiciness, which allows for a fairly mild level of heat.

As a side dish for the quesadillas, I made some nacho bites out of scooped shell tortilla chips. These consisted of a dollop of queso, salsa, and shredded cheese and then I broiled them for about two minutes. The nacho bites were a little something that I came up with and were just as tasty as I imagined them to be. They are the perfect appetizer for a Mexican meal or could be great for snacking on during your favorite show. I will definitely be making them again!

Although I have been branching out with new dishes, you can’t go wrong with tried and true favorites. The jalapeno popper quesadillas are a wonderful dish to spice up your dinner time!

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

Dinner Time!

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Dinner Time!

Hello! Ever since discovering the joys of Pinterest super late in the game, I have spent many an enjoyable evening cooking up new recipes for myself and Johnny. It has been great fun because I love to cook and I was so bored with all of the dinners that I have been making time and time again. This past Friday, I cooked a feast for dinner and while it was a lot of food, it also meant leftovers for days and that’s always good! Check it out:

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The Menu:

My sweet Johnny spent most of the week being bummed out that he had to go to work on Saturday. I planned on cooking a big dinner on Friday anyways but when I got a surprise day off, I decided to go even bigger to help cheer him up. Johnny’s love language is definitely sharing his favorite music for me and since I have not one ounce of musical talent, cooking our favorite meals is my love language for him.

I started with homemade mac n’ cheese with the tried and true recipe that my mom has been making since I was little. It was and is still one of my favorite dishes and my niece is especially partial to it too. However, I still think it turns out better when my mom makes it! Although it’s not quite up to JANE level standards when I make it, it is still really yummy and I like to make mac n’ cheese grilled cheeses with the leftovers.

Then, it was on to the jalapeño popper rolls, which were delicious! This recipe was another one that required pizza dough to make but I figured Pillsbury croissants would work too. At least, I hoped so because the last time I substituted croissants for pizza dough for a recipe, it didn’t turn out the best. This time around, Pillsbury did me right and the rolls were a highlight of the meal and something I would happily make again.

I didn’t have pickled jalapenos as the recipe called for so I cut mine up and broiled them in the oven for about five minutes. The end result tasted exactly like the jalapeño popper quesadillas that are mine and Johnny’s favorite. In fact, it was almost an identical recipe minus the crushed up tortilla chips to give the quesadillas some extra crunch. 

Originally, I just planned on cooking the mac n’ cheese and the rolls but I figured I might as well try and clear some food from my pantry, fridge, and freezer since I had extra time on my hands. For example, I love the idea of baby carrots. However, whenever I buy a bag, they always just end up sitting in my crisper drawer.

I figured it was now or never to use the carrots so I just threw them in a pot of water and cooked them up. It took about thirty minutes for the baby carrots to be completely tender. Then, I drained the water and put them back in the pot with butter, rosemary, salt, and pepper and let that simmer for five minutes. This is something that I made when I first moved into my apartment and it was just as tasty as I remembered it being. They are also still really good leftover!

Similarly to baby carrots, I always find myself buying onions and garlic during grocery shopping even though I rarely use them! I guess it’s just a habit because those were ingredients that were never not available at my parent’s home. I had a box of perogies that have been sitting in my freezer for a while so I knew just what to do: Saute the veggies and the perogies along with honey mustard. 😀

This was not a complex meal to make at all and, even though I might have went a bit overboard, we ate like royalty on Friday night… and also every night that we had the leftovers lol! I enjoyed my cooking session so much and it was the best to see how surprised Johnny was when he got home from work. ❤

What is your favorite meal to cook? What is your love language? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

 

Dinner Time!

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Dinner Time!

Hello! Ever since discovering the joys of Pinterest, I have become a woman obsessed and have spent a considerable amount of time checking out vegetarian recipes. During my last shopping trip, I bought the ingredients to make baked ziti and spinach and ricotta Stromboli and was daydreaming about it until I finally made it this past week. 

Once I arrived home from work, I spent about an hour cooking with the recipes I found from DeLallo for the ziti and Kitchen Cat for the Stromboli. Johnny and I agreed that they both turned out excellent and I will definitely be making this meal again in the future:

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^^^ And, yes, I am so aware that I need a bigger casserole dish but you work with what you’ve got lol!

Both of these recipes were incredibly easy to make but next time I make the Stromboli, I will be following the recipe to the T and making calzones, instead. My lazy ass decided that the Pillsbury croissants would be a simple fix as opposed to pizza dough and I was dead wrong. While in the oven, the croissants pulled away from each other leaving the middle bare of breading. It still tasted great but it looked less than presentable and was a pain in the butt to cut into pieces.

I also will be the first to admit that I should have left the ziti in the oven for longer than a half hour because it wasn’t piping hot. But, Johnny and I were starving and it was nothing that a little blast in the microwave couldn’t fix. We were both already hungry before the food went into the oven but when the aromas started wafting around the apartment we were ravenous!

Although there were little blips in this dinner in terms of heat and presentation, they are both still recipes worth trying out. Peep DeLallo and Kitchen Cat for the full posts! 😀

What is your favorite thing to cook? What do you like to look at on Pinterest? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Jesus Christ Superstar Date Night

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Jesus Christ Superstar Date Night

Hello! This past Saturday, Johnny and I had a wonderful date night to see Jesus Christ Superstar at Playhouse Square. This has been our first big outing since the pandemic began and it was even better than I could have dreamed! Also, huge shout out to my dad for making this possible with his yearly Christmas gift of season tickets to Playhouse Square for the family. Tomorrow, we will take a look at my OOTD so be sure to keep it posted for that!

Our date day began at Pepper’s Italian Restaurant in Lakewood before the show. We had a to die for dinner of gnocchi with Alfredo sauce, Margarita pizza, focaccia bread, salad, and Prosecco. It was absolutely delicious and my only regret is that it isn’t closer so that we could eat there all of the time. 😀

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After an amazing meal that I am still dreaming about, we had some time to kill before it was time to go to the theater to take our seats. We decided to have an after dinner drink at a bar down the street from Pepper’s called the Funhouse. Johnny has been there before but I haven’t and it was the coolest place ever!! It had the theme of an old fashioned carnival with tons of dark decor mixed with the bright colors of a fair. The Funhouse is definitely our kind of bar!

I was already sold on the bar based on the decor alone but their unique drink menu didn’t hurt, either. I just had to try one of their alcohol slushies and chose blue raspberry as my flavor. It was So. Yummy. and if we didn’t have a play to catch, I think I could have had one or two more. 🙂

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After a quick drink, it was time to head to Playhouse Square for the main event – seeing Jesus Christ Superstar. Everyone has a laugh when I say that it is my favorite musical because I am an atheist. I can’t help it, though, and have been enamored with it ever since having to watch it every Easter at Catholic grade school. The rock opera music gets me every time and I love that it shows a human depiction of the story of Christ’s crucifixion.

A few years ago, I made Johnny watch the classic movie adaptation of the musical and while he liked it, he wasn’t one hundred percent sold on it. I wasn’t sure what his reaction was going to be to the show so as soon as it began and he whispered to me “this is amazing” my heart basically exploded because he was seeing it how I do.

We were lucky enough to see the show despite it being canceled last year due to the pandemic and were treated to an extra special viewing because of its fiftieth anniversary celebration. Because of this, there was a small orchestra playing in the wings of the theater along with the band playing onstage with wailing electric guitar, organ, keyboards, drums, and saxophone.

The stage was set with an industrial vibe of open scaffolding and a huge upside down cross going directly down the stage. This was also reflected in the costumes for the characters who were dressed in baggy clothing to maximize all of their beautiful movements. And the actors? They were sublime.

The chorus was fabulous and the individual roles were just flawless. I daresay that the actor playing Judas might have out shined Jesus but who really stole the show was King Herod. His flashy rendition of “King Herod’s Song” was a major highlight of the entire show and Johnny and I spent so much time on the ride home going gaga over it.

Jesus Christ Superstar was performed with no intermission so it was seamless from start to finish. The loud music, glam rock style vocals, and all of the little tricks that they worked into the show made for one of the best adaptations that I have ever seen. It was so incredibly creative and really is a production that makes you think.

I knew that I was going to enjoy the show but it made it even better that Johnny loved it too. Our hour long car ride home until we went to bed was filled with conversation about the story, what we liked, and reliving it in its entirety. I couldn’t have asked for anything more and it was seriously one of the best evenings of my life! ❤

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What is your favorite musical? Do you have a favorite song from Jesus Christ Superstar? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Happy Haulidays: Parents Edition

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Happy Haulidays: Parents Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to the last edition of my holiday haul compliments of my parents! The one thing that I asked for for Christmas was a new set of pots and pans and they definitely delivered. I can’t wait to use the beautiful set that they got me and it will be nice to not have to do dishes immediately after cooking dinner as I originally only had a handful of pots and pans before! Check it out:

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Thanks to my husband’s family graciously giving us a new air fryer for Christmas and the new cookware from mine, we have everything that we need in our kitchen now. I am so happy! I try to cook an “actual” dinner instead of air fried foods several times per week so these pots and pans will certainly come in handy. My old cookware is also, admittedly, not the best so using quality cookware for the first time is something that I’m really looking forward to.

While some might consider cooking to be a chore, it is one of my favorite things to do. Serving food for someone is an act of love, and I always enjoy whipping up mine and Johnny’s favorite meals. Our middle class fancy conversation after dinner usually is something along these lines…

Me: I love cooking you dinner.

Johnny: And I love eating it!

Lol, there is nothing more satisfying than that to me!

After a much needed curbside grocery order, I have a feeling that I will be cooking up a storm. Thanks to my parents, I have all of the tools I need to make my time spent cooking an even more joyful experience. ❤

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

*Super Yummy* Vegetarian Chili Recipe

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*Super Yummy* Vegetarian Chili Recipe

Hello! One of my best girlfriends, Danielle, was kind enough to bring Johnny and I some of her amazing homemade vegetarian chili this past holiday week. She is one of my favorite people in the world and concocted this recipe all by herself. It was SO good that I just had to share it with all of you to get warmed up during those chilly (See what I did there!) winter evenings. Let’s get to it:

Ingredients:

  • 6 to 8 medium sized tomatoes
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 2 cans of beans (kidney, pinto, or navy)
  • 1 package of vegetarian crumblers
  • 4 to 6 cloves of garlic
  • 3 Tbs chili powder
  • 2 Tbs cumin
  • 1/4 tsp Cayenne powder (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 to 5 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/4 C water

Prep (About 10 minutes):

Dice onion and poblano
“top” and halve the tomatoes
Peel and halve the garlic

Cook (Between 45 and 60 minutes):

Heat oil in a sauce pan (4 Qt or larger) and add onions, garlic, and poblano. Cook 5 minutes
or so, then add water followed by the tomatoes. Cover, reduce heat to just above medium,
and let simmer for 5 minutes. Continue to cook, but at this point the tomato skins can be
easily peeled from the tomatoes, so using a pair of tongs remove the skins and squish the
tomatoes as they cook. (Throw away the skins.)

Continue to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until the tomatoes are completely cooked. Using
tongs remove any of the hard cores that might remain. Put the tomato liquid into a blender and add the spices. Blend on low at first, then high until the mixture is a smooth liquid; about 5 minutes.

Return the liquid to the sauce pan, add beans and crumblers. Heat over low heat for 15 to 30
minutes. (This lets the crumblers heat through and allows the spices to really take over.)

Options:

If I want to have some extra heat I’ll dice two or three jalapenos and add them with the
poblano and onions. You can always add more Cayenne pepper too.

Before adding the beans and crumblers the sauce is a good burrito topping. I’ve also used a
cup or two of crumblers to make taco filling.

Of course, you can always add in extra chunky things (onion, peppers, etc) to the sauce if you
like some “crunch.”

* I prefer a can of kidney or pinto and a can of navy beans. I’ve also used chick peas in a
pinch.

** I like Boca crumblers (keeps it vegan) and have used Morningstar Farms and impossible
crumblers all of which work well.

Not only is Danielle one of my A-1s but she is, obviously, a master chef too! I cannot wait to make her recipe and hope that all of you enjoy it as much as I did. ❤

What is your favorite cold weather food? How about warm weather? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Thanksgiving Checklist

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Thanksgiving Checklist

Hi! Thanksgiving is in one short week… Are you ready for it? Today, we’re going to check out a checklist to make sure that everything is in order for the big day. I, myself, have been fantasizing about Thanksgiving food since last Thanksgiving so I am very excited! Let’s get to it so your holiday meal with your loved ones happens without a hitch:

Prepare Your Menu:

Before going grocery shopping, it is important to prepare your menu in accordance to how many people will be at your meal and any dietary needs that they might have. For example, in my family there are three vegetarians so we never skimp on the side dishes! Doing a menu prep will also ensure that you are not cooking way too much or too little. Although, popping in an oven pizza if you haven’t cooked enough food isn’t the worst thing that could happen… I really like oven pizza lol.

Go Grocery Shopping:

Once your menu is in order, it is never too early to hit the grocery store so what you need isn’t sold out. Now would be a great time to get your turkey or ham, stuffing mixes, potatoes, cranberry sauce, beverages, and other cooking essentials like oil, flour, and milk. Veggies like green beans for the much debated green bean casserole (which I freaking LOVE) should be purchased a few days before Thanksgiving for ultimate freshness.

Clean Up:

If you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner at your house, then a deep clean is definitely in order – especially if you’re like my family who puts literally everything on the dining room table! Clean up the dining room, kitchen, bathrooms, and the living room so you have a comfortable space to relax after gorging yourselves. While everyone might be too full to play games after dinner, a movie screening in the living room will be much appreciated while you digest. I, personally, am hoping that my family continues with the tradition of watching Step Brothers after our Thanksgiving meal!

Early Food Prep:

There is plenty of food preparations that can be done before Thanksgiving day to make your cooking extravaganza easier on yourself. It is also an essential task for the perfect turkey. A day or two before Thanksgiving, you can work on cutting veggies and fruits if you’re having pie for dessert, baking rolls if you’re going the homemade route, and measuring all of the spices and seasonings you’ll need for each dish into a zip lock baggie. Anything that you can do beforehand will have you thanking yourself on Thanksgiving day since it will lighten your work load.

Get Your Outfit Ready:

I think it is so funny that people get super dressed up for Thanksgiving even though they are just hanging out at home but it is part of the tradition so a great outfit is in order. Plan out your OOTD ahead of time so you’re not left with the horrible feeling of having “nothing to wear” come Thanksgiving day. I already have a few ideas in mind so be on the lookout for an OOTD post of me straight stunting at the home front! 😀

Ease some of the stress that the Thanksgiving holiday can bring with the check list above so you can fully enjoy your day with family and friends. ❤

What is your favorite Thanksgiving food? Does your family have any Thanksgiving traditions? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Lil Red Loves: Game Night

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Lil Red Loves: Game Night

Hello! Prior to the pandemic, you could usually catch Johnny and I hanging out at our favorite bar called the Zephyr on a Friday or Saturday night. Now, I can’t tell you the last time we have been to a bar so it is all about nights in when we want to hang out with our friends. Johnny and I have always been avid gamers and we have a huge collection of board games and a variety of gaming systems including a Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Nintendo 64, GameCube, and Wii. With this expansive collection, game nights are now the move for our weekend activities.

While you don’t need much to make a game night a success, here are a few tips that I have found effective to make your evening even better:

Ready The Room:

Prior to hosting a game night, please do a deep clean of your space! Lol, this should go without saying but it is so true. You want your space to be the perfect set up for people to relax and have fun which means clearing clutter, taking out the trash, and doing the dreaded cleaning of your bathroom. Have fresh hand towels at the ready, light some candles or fairy lights, and prep your space to be the ultimate chill zone. (Keep in mind that if you are partaking in dranks, a guest room and comfy couches are a must so no one risks the safety of themselves and others to drive home.)

Location Is Everything:

Normally, Johnny and I will alternate which home we are having our game night at and this always works out well for us. However, if you are having multiple people over, a small apartment like mine might not cut it so that’s something to think about. If you are having guests from several different areas over, it’s best to choose a home that is it at the center of all of yours so no one has to drive super far.

Food & Drinks:

I absolutely love cooking for people so for mine and Johnny’s game nights, our friends will alternate between who is cooking dinner. This doesn’t need to be a fancy five star meal but just something tasty that everyone can enjoy. For example, I made a big pot of homemade mac n’ cheese for one of our game nights while our guests brought sides of salad and garlic bread. That being said, there is nothing wrong with ordering Chinese takeout or pizza if you want a quick and easy meal! (Also, make sure you are attentive to any of your guests with dietary needs or preferences. Last game night, our friends brought veggie burgers for their favorite Lil Red vegetarian!)

If your game night is one that tends to run longer, don’t forget the snacks. You can get creative with themed snacks like decorated cookies or cupcakes that look like the mushrooms in Mario games but a bowl of chips will also be just fine. Fruit salad, a sundae bar, and a Chex or trail mix station can also be a big hit.

For drinks, it is important to think about all of your guests because some might not drink alcohol. Always have your Britta pitcher full or water bottles at the ready as well as a variety of different sodas and juices. If you are partaking in dranks, there is nothing wrong with a good old fashioned White Claw lol but you can also play bartender and make a signature drink. How about a pitcher of Sangria or white wine spritzers? Every game night house could have a different signature drink!

Playlist Perfect:

Any good game night will have some music playing in the background. For this, Johnny and I have our record player but we also have a Bluetooth speaker which we love. Remember, you don’t want the music to be too loud to disturb your neighbors or that you have to yell to talk to your friends. Just something quiet that everyone can agree on to add to the party ambiance.

Games Galore:

Now, most importantly, are the games! Are you having video gamers over? Mario Party and Super Smash Bros. will be a huge success. Board game lovers? How about a night based off of classics like Monopoly and Sorry or a co op game to solve together? Word game fans? Scrabble or Catch Phrase will go over well! Card game aficionados? Try a Magic The Gathering tournament or a casino night.

You know your guests best so it is up to you to choose the perfect selection of games to keep your evening rolling. A good rule of thumb is to avoid overly involved games that are difficult to explain or have a ton of rules. You want to play things that are easy to catch on to for maximum enjoyment for everyone. There are also some party games that can truly become annoying if you are playing with a group of people who have a ton of inside jokes that everyone might not be in on, so definitely be mindful of that.

With the tips above and your own special take on a game filled evening, your game nights will turn into an event that your friends will spend the week looking forward to. Play well and have fun!

What are your favorite games? What are your tips for hosting game nights? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Easy Tips For Improved Cooking Skills 

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Easy Tips For Improved Cooking Skills 

Knowing how to cook is a basic, fundamental skill that we all need to have. The pandemic has been tough on everyone, but many people have gone out of their way to get creative. Some have headed outside and created a garden packed with new flowers and veggies. Others have turned their hand to DIY and revamped their entire houses.

Then, there are those who turned to cooking. With the pandemic ending and lock downs lifting, people are choosing to Google ‘bakery course near me’ to improve their cooking skills that they learned while they were unable to go out and see people. Cooking is an amazing skill to have – it’s science and a little bit of magic all rolled together. Learning to bake a beautiful loaf of bread or cook the perfect roast chicken dinner? It’s all part of the fun.

If you want to improve your cooking skills, you can, and we’ve got some tips for you below to continue building your skill set:

Shop Well:

You can’t cook delicious meals without delicious ingredients, right? Ingredients that are fresh and vibrant in taste and color can help you to make transformative foods. Even the most basic dishes can become five star meals when you choose the right ingredients, and that’s the best place to start.

Get Equipped:

Can you cook the perfect fried egg if your pans are scratched to pieces? Of course not. If you want to make cooking a hobby of yours, then you need to equip yourself with the right tools. The right pans, the best knives, new kitchen scales, and the right cutlery can ensure that your cooking becomes something better than you ever thought it could be. The best quality equipment will help you to bring those recipes out properly.

Prepare Beforehand:

Be prepared. You need to get yourself set up by weighing and measuring all of your ingredients before you even get started. Warm up the oven early, and get into the habit of preparing your ingredients before you do anything else. This will make the whole process easier on you when you want to improve the current skills you have.

Have A Tasting Spoon:

When you cook, you need to taste. You’ll see the best chefs tasting as they go and they do this for a good reason. Tasting will help you to tell whether you have seasoned enough and it can help you to avoid plating up a dish that really doesn’t taste great. Of course, you need to keep this spoon separate from the rest of the cooking utensils you use!

Use the tips above to make the next meal you prepare even better. Happy cooking!

Featured Image By: Pexels