It’s been awhile since I posted to this blog even though I have a million ideas a day of what to write and share with you. For some reason, now does not seem like the right time to post recipes and divulge home ideas. I’m going to take a break to see how I can make this blog better and fun again. Don’t worry. We’re not “breaking up.” I just need a break. Really, it’s me not you.

Test Kitchen - Mandoline vs. Mandoline

Someone posed an interesting inquiry to me - Can I suggest a great vegetable mandoline slicer? I most certainly can. There are two candidates to consider in finding the best mandoline for you.

A mandoline is a prep tool used when you’re looking for uniform cuts and want to make light of the work involved in slicing vegetables. What you need to consider is the performance level you want out of it. Both mandolines from our line of prep utensils comes from OXO, a company well-known for making gadgets that make kitchen work easy.

If you’re looking for a mandoline that will help you turn ten pounds of potatoes into fries in a flash or creating decorative waffle slices, this OXO stainless steel mandoline is definitely a contender for you at $99.95. Besides having a durable stainless steel body, you get different blades to do julienne, french fry, and waffle cuts. The turn of a dial allows you to get thin or thick slices. 

What if you’re not looking for all the bells and whistles and just want something that will create thin and thick vegetable slices. The OXO handheld mandoline is the one for you. Priced at $14.95, it will give you the basic uniform cuts such as thin slices of cucumber for your salads. I actually bought this mandoline so I can cut paper thin slices of potato to make microwave potato chips. There are three levels of thickness to choose from. I find the third level appropriate for creating vegetable slices in salads.

When thinking about getting the mandoline for your kitchen, you’ll need to consider the level of slicing you intend on doing. If you need something that will do more than just slice rounds, the OXO stainless steel version is the way to go. Wanting something basic just to make cutting vegetables a simpler task, I would go with the handheld mandoline. 

Holiday Gift Guide - Pampering for the Übermale

The 21st century man has a lot to live up to which includes making dinner, helping out with the kids, and possibly fixing the dryer. Show him how much you appreciate his efforts this holiday season with a little pampering.

  • Further Hand Soap and Lotion - After your man has cleaned out the garage or finished the yard work, he can get clean the green way. Further makes their products “from the glycerin derived from the distillation of biofuel.” The oils of bergamot, olive, and exotic grasses are added to create a clean, fresh scent.
  • Napa Soap Company Shaving Set - There is something alluring and endearing in watching a man shave. I’m sure to him it feels like a daily chore in the morning. Make it feel like a luxury with this all natural shaving set. The emollient soap lathers up into a nice foam with a little bit of hot water. The soothing French clay, grapeseed oil, honey, wine and other organic ingredients will leave his skin smooth like a baby’s bottom.

Give your man a break from the Honey Do list and show him a little pampering with a bit of saponification. Even the Old Spice guy would appreciate this gift. 

Get in Gear - Make the Perfect Cookies

The holidays bring me fond memories of my mom baking every delectable cookie you can think of. She has made everything from sugar cookies to thumbprints to almond crescent cookies and whatever recipe she can clip from a magazine or newspaper during this time of the year. In order to make the best cookies that would pass the test of any home baker, you need the right equipment.

  • 3-Piece Mixing Bowl Set - Each size will come in handy when you’re trying to make the dough and frosting for those sugar cookies. Plus, I like there is a pour spout when you are working with a cake batter and need to pour it into a pan.
  • Magnetic Measuring Spoons and Cups - I love my magnetic measuring spoons and cups. I don’t need to bring out the whole set when I only need one measurement and they stay together nicely with a magnet. The oval shape of the cups fits nicely in narrow openings. 
  • Measuring Conversion Magnets - I know there is an app for conversion measurements but I don’t want to close out of my Epicurious app on the iPad and switch over to convert a measurement. Not only are these useful, but they’re cute on the fridge, too.
  • Glass Liquid Measuring Cup - The measuring cups you use for your dry ingredients are different than your liquid measuring cup. (Science Nerd Alert: Different types of matter require different ways to measure volume.) This glass measuring cup is easy to read and goes up to 4 cups! 
  • Silicone Baking and Counter Mats - If you’ve been following this blog for quite some time, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of these silicone baking and counter mats. They make clean up a cinch and keep the bottoms of cookies from burning. When I’m rolling out dough, I use less flour to keep it from sticking to the counter mat.
  • Pro-Line Baking Sheet - Made in the USA, this baking sheet is guaranteed to give you cookie success. The non-stick surface will prevent your gingerbread from sticking to the sheet and allows for a clean release. The heavy gauge steel and wire will keep the sheet from warping and rusting. 
  • Rolling Pin - You need a good, reliable rolling pin to roll out the dough. The axel lets you easily roll out the dough to desired thickness.
  • Cookie Scoop - The best way to get evenly baked cookies is to make sure you have made them all the same size. Create size consistency by using a cookie scoop. The lever action allows you scoop and release the dough onto the baking sheet using one tool instead of two spoons.
  • Cooling Rack (not shown) - Don’t allow your cookies to overbake on a hot cookie sheet when they’re out of the oven. Allow them to cool on a wire rack. 

Half of the essentials suggested are measuring equipment. In baking, the recipe is more of a formula. You need the exact proportions to get the right outcome. These tools will help you get the perfect cookie while you create those fun holiday memories with your kids.

Double Take - Potato Masher

If you don’t have a molcajete to make authentic guacamole, try using the potato masher you have on hand to give you the right consistency. You can mash to ultra creamy or leave your guacamole slightly chunky. 

Kick It Up a Notch - Thanksgiving Breakfast Skillet

Believe it or not, I’m all out of Thanksgiving leftovers. No more turkey. No more stuffing. No more baked beans. No more spinach gratin. Oh and I ate the last of the sweet potato casserole on Sunday. I guess I should be grateful not to be eating anymore Thanksgiving-esque meals. But that’s the whole point of making copious amounts of food - so I can relive Thanksgiving for 7 days straight. 

Even though our time with Thanksgiving leftovers was brief, the hubby came up with some creative ways to put them to use like Thanksgiving turkey tacos, turkey sandwiches, and this amazing breakfast hash with stuffing. The man is just brilliant when it comes to taking random food items and making an incredible edible dish.

This breakfast hash puts the stuffing to good use and is the base to this dish. Add some eggs, ham, green onions, and chives, you have a gourmet morning meal. On that note, it doesn’t even taste like Thanksgiving if you’re sick of leftovers by now.

Ingredients*

  • 4 cups leftover stuffing
  • 6 strips of cooked bacon, broken up into pieces 
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 4 chives, finely chopped
  • ham, chopped
  • 7 eggs

Directions

  • Preheat griddle or fry pan over medium high heat. Add stuffing and cook for about 5 minutes until toasted and heated through. Toss in bacon and cook for another 2 minutes. 
  • While stuffing is cooking, heat up a non-stick pan over medium heat. Once pan is warm, crack eggs into pan and cook sunnyside up. Sprinkle ham, green onions, and chives on top. Cover with lid and cook for about 4 minutes. 
  • Once bacon stuffing mixture is cooked, place on serving dish. Then “slide” cooked eggs onto stuffing. Serve immediately.

If you’re still trying to work through those Thanksgiving leftovers. Try serving it up for breakfast. You can replace the ham with any turkey that’s left in the fridge.

*Ingredient ratios are estimated. You can use less or more of the measurement suggested for each ingredient.

Dear Thanksgiving,

I’m going to start calling you Keyser Söze - “And like that, poof. He’s gone.” All that work and drama just ended like it never happened. Well, may be I won’t go that far because I still have things to clean up and put away.

It was quite the mad dash in the kitchen yesterday. While the hubby was fervently getting the smoker to maintain the right temp, I was busy fixing up the sides. It’s times like these when I wish for a bigger kitchen and double ovens. The feast was quite the success and the hubby reaped all the accolades to a perfect, juicy and flavorful turkey. My sweet potato casserole didn’t quite turn out as well I hoped since I had use a different recipe than my original. To make up for it, my spinach gratin won everyone’s vote as best side dish.

We had more food than man should be allowed to have in one meal. Although, we hardly have any leftovers. Some got packed up to go to home with various guests and I took some for lunch today.

Thanksgiving, you served us well. I can’t wait to do it again next year. Now my only concern is what are we going to have for dinner tonight. Please don’t say leftovers.

-Me


Nice way to finish off my food coma after Thanksgiving dinner.

huffingtonpost:

huffposttaste:

Genius last-minute Thanksgiving dessert.

Yes. 

Dear Thanksgiving,

I can’t believe how quickly you encroached on my holiday festivities. This will be my last day of sanity before the madness begins. I feel like the calm before the storm. Sure I have grocery shopping to do, cookies to bake, foods to prep and a house to clean, but I’m feeling good about everything right now.

May be because I’m still gaga over my menu for Thursday. I cannot wait to dig into that spinach gratin. Oh and that sweet potato casserole with that streusel topping has my mouth watering. I might be filling myself up on baked brie before the turkey is even done cooking because I cannot restrain myself when it comes to good cheese products. The smoked turkey is sounding better and better with each passing day.

Thanksgiving, I owe you a big amount of gratitude for inspiring me to produce such an awesome feast. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t have gumption to put everyone in a food coma.

-Me

Print this recipe

I will always be an advocate for the All Chocolate Kitchen's motto of “eat dessert first” especially when you put a flakey pastry that's filled with chocolate in front of my face. Since I have a mortgage to pay and living expenses to take care of, I can't spend my entire paycheck on cheese pillows and pains au chocolat at the All Chocolate Kitchen. Bless my lucky stars for frozen puff pastry. While my baking skills continue to be subpar, I can still make delectable treats good enough to be in a pastry case.

Ingredients

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 6 squares of European milk chocolate (ALDI European chocolate works pretty well)
  • 1 large egg with 1 Tbsp water
  • Sugar

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. Beat egg and water mixture until well mixed.
  • Cut puff pastry into 6 squares. Brush the top of each square with egg glaze. Place chocolate square close to edge of square and roll tightly. 
  • Put rolled dough seam side down on lined baking sheet. Brush tops of rolls with egg glaze then lightly sprinkle with sugar. Bake for about 15 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.

When you make your first batch, you’ll be stocking up on puff pastry and European milk chocolate so you can make these on a daily basis.  

Get in Gear (Thanksgiving Edition) - Set the Perfect Thanksgiving Table

Thanksgiving is definitely about the food. When do you get the opportunity to gorge yourself on turkey, mashed potatoes, and other coma-inducing dishes all in one sitting? Besides actually tasting the food, we also eat with our eyes. Presentation is key to giving your Thanksgiving meal the proper send off before it is consumed.

The great thing about the pieces chosen for this Thanksgiving tablesetting is that you can layer in these items with you already own all year round. When they are put together, you have a beautiful Thanksgiving table. When the holidays are over, you can incorporate the individual pieces with your existing decor.

  • Marin White Dinnerware - The dishes are your base to the holiday tablescape. Marin is great for everyday meals and for those special occasions like Thanksgiving. The freeform rims and rustic glaze lend an organic feel.
  • Tour Water Goblet and Wine Glasses - I love the clarity and shapes of this collection. The edgy shape lends a more modern feel. Plus, drinking pop out of the water goblet just brings it to a whole new level.
  • Artesia Charger - When you don’t have room on the table for placements because the table is narrow or it’s just overcrowded with food, try using a charger to layer underneath your dinnerware.
  • Marimekko Lumimarja Tablecloth in Orange - The golds and oranges of this tablecloth bring fall into your dining room. Beautiful snowberries dress up this tablecloth in typical Marimekko fashion - a modern interpretation of nature.
  • Cotton Napkin in Mustard - The mustard color is the perfect accent to bring out the golds in tablecloth and the colors of Thanksgiving.
  • Navato Napkin Ring in Bronze - The hammered finish lends a polished look for casual and formal tablesettings. 
  • Owl Placecard Holders - This nocturnal creature is autumn’s trendiest mascot. It’s nice to have something so wise know your place at the table.
  • Prescott Candleholders - Add some ambiance to Thanksgiving dinner with candlelight. These candleholders add a nice finishing touch with its warm walnut finish.
  • Alex Hurricane - Fill with gourds or just add a candle and wreath for a simple Thanksgiving centerpiece. It’s a great piece to have all year round.

Be ready for your guests next Thursday and serve up a memorable dinner at a beautiful table. 

Before we overdose on turkey next Thursday, there are other ways to get protein in your diet. Here is a great list of suggestions when you want to go meatless for a day.

marvelocitystyle:

I’ll preface this by saying I’m not a nutritionist or a vegan, so make sure you consult one or your physician about your diet.  I am, however, a lazytarian, who often omits meat from her diet because she can’t be bothered to cook it.  However, this topic comes up in conversation often. I have a number of friends who are either vegan or vegetarian, and they have no problems with carbs in their diets, but protein is a whole different matter.  Their doctors/personal trainers/etc. ask them…so how are you getting protein in your diet?  

Our bodies need the building blocks of protein, better known as amino acids - to perform metabolism, build muscle, and fuel our activities for long periods.  To make it easy, the body needs a combination of fats, carbohydrates, and protein in order to live.  On the surface, protein makes you feel fuller, longer, and helps sustain energy throughout the day.  

Our bodies create 11 amino acids, but there are nine other essentials ones we have to get from food.  Plants do provide protein, but the amino acids are in varying degrees.  So if you do not consume animal-based protein, you have to work a little harder to make sure that you are getting all nine essential amino acids.

 Here’s a short list of plants that have complete, or near complete proteins:

  • Soy
  • Amaranth
  • Buckwheat
  • Quinoa
  • Hemp
  • Chia (yep, the stuff you grow on a Ch-ch-ch-Chia pet)

Other plant based sources do not have a complete protein in themselves, but in combination with a grain, they create a complete protein.  The theory of consuming a complete protein in one meal is obsolete, but our ancestors knew what worked to keep them going through long laborious days.  Some familiar examples are:

  • Beans with corn 
  • Lentils with rice
  • Soy with rice
  • Nut butters on bread

OK, enough with the science and here’s a list of vegan recipes that pack protein.

Avocado toast: This is everyone’s favorite, but do it the British way - classic beans on toast, then slices of avocado on top instead of cheese.  Have a cuppa tea.

Smarter PB&J: Smear a nut butter of your choice on whole grain toast and top with fresh berries for fiber and protein in a quick meal.

Tastier everyday oatmeal: add frozen berries and a handful of nuts to your instant oatmeal and zap it in the microwave.

Instant lunch: box of roasted red pepper/squash soup + prepared lentils + sliced avocado = yum! Quick and easy.

Pesto is your friend.  Make your own from a variety of greens (spinach, basil, kale, chard), nuts (walnuts, pine nuts, blanched almonds), and oils (grapeseed, olive).  Add garlic or not.  Toss with your favourite grain (quinoa, pasta), veggies, and add some more nuts for crunch and protein.  Or beans for softness and protein.  YAY.

Oh and before I forget - hummus.  Make it at home - it’s so easy.  Edamame works just as well as cannellini, chickpeas, or the mild tasting bean of your choice.  Add an oil of choice (I prefer olive) and lemon juice and go!  Use the hummus as a dip, spread, or a binder for creamy salads.  I like to spread mine on toast for sandwiches.

Hope this helps my vegan friends and those looking to eat less meat.

Dear Thanksgiving,

Every year, the hubby makes one simple request. While he lets me do my thing in the kitchen to bring a gourmet feast to the table, the hubby asks for the cranberry sauce that slides out of a can with the ridges. So every year, I put out a small dish of the canned sauce right next to his plate. 

I try not to judge him for liking this jiggly condiment. Thanksgiving is all about sentiment and this is just a nice little reminder of his holiday celebrations when growing up. So I never begrudge him this request. 

Today on my Twitter feed, I came across this homemade cranberry sauce made in a tin can mold. This might be my little solution to having only one cranberry sauce we can all enjoy, ridges and all.

-Me

Get in Gear (Thanksgiving Edition) - Make the Turkey Masterpiece

This is what Thanksgiving is all about - the turkey. All your past cooking successes will be moot if your turkey is not quite up to par on the big day. To guarantee you a tour de force with a juicy bird, here are the essentials to roasting the perfect turkey.

  • All-Clad Stainless Steel Roaster - You need a vessel to accommodate the flightless bird that has a bit more body weight than a chicken. Not only will you be able to roast your turkey, you can make the gravy right on the stovetop in this roaster. 
  • Brining Kit - To avoid the turkey mishap (i.e. National Lampoon Christmas dinner scene), get a juicy turkey by brining. This method breaks down the protein structure thus giving you a more tender meat. Also, brining helps cut the moisture loss during the long cooking period by half.
  • OXO Leave-In Thermometer - One of the kitchen tools most advocated by Alton Brown, the leave-in thermometer is a must when cooking time is going to be about 3 hours. Take the guess work out of knowing when the turkey has reached the proper internal cooking temp. While the thermometer is monitoring your bird, you can focus on your other Thanksgiving tasks.
  • Wusthof 2-Piece Gourmet Carving Set - While you bask in the glow of everyone’s praises for the perfect looking turkey, use a proper carving knife to help you cut through the joints. The fork will help keep the turkey from slipping as you carve.

These are the essentials to getting the perfect bird from the oven to the table. Enjoy the compliments from your family and friends as they tell you this is the juiciest bird they’ve ever had. You can thank us later.

Dear Thanksgiving,

I cannot wait for you any longer (considering I just ate microwaved chicken nuggets for lunch). Making this menu made me realize you’re going to make me wait suffer a good three weeks before I can enjoy any of this deliciousness.

I’m sure you’re going to tell me that I don’t have to wait. That I can make sweet potato casserole with sweetened condensed milk covered in a streusel topping on just any old weekday. I’m sure you’ll give me permission to roast a turkey for breakfast just so I can rip into the crispy skin.

As much as I love you Thanksgiving, I’m going to resist your temptations and just stare at this menu until my eyes burn holes in the paper. 

Appetizers

Main Course

Dessert

Thanksgiving, we have some newbies to the list but we also have our mainstays like the spinach gratin. How can you go wrong with something smothered in melted Gruyere cheese? This menu satisfies my standards and expectations. It’s the waiting part I have a hard time dealing with. 

-Me