3 Things That Work in the Kitchen This Week – April 6

3 Things that work in the kitchen

 

So many of you mentioned these 3 Things posts as something you really enjoy about Eat at Home.  I was actually surprised how many times it was mentioned.  A lot of weeks I feel like I don’t have much to share here.  After all, sometimes the things that work are the same things that always work – the no-fail meals, the kitchen tools that come through time and time again.   I’m always looking for new tried and true solutions though, so I can see why others would be too.

You also said you like reading about the things that didn’t work.  You’re in luck, because I’ve got a story like that for you today!

1.  My so-so chicken recipe.

I’ve had a dry spell lately in creating new recipes.  It seems like I’ve cooked every possible quick and easy meal.  I’ve hit these creative droughts before and I know it’s temporary, but it’s also frustrating.

The other day I dug deep and came up with an idea for Asian Orange Chicken in the Slow Cooker served over rice and topped with Pineapple Salsa.  Sounds good, right?

I put boneless chicken breasts in the crockpot with orange juice, garlic, ginger and soy sauce.  It smelled great as it started to cook.

But when I served it, the flavor was missing.  It wasn’t bad, but it just tasted like chicken over rice. The pineapple salsa was great, but a little strange on the plain chicken and rice.  We ate it and debated whether it was blog worthy.  In the end, I decided no.  It sounded so promising, but it turned out to be a disappointment.

2.  Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bowls

This one is a success!  It’s a recipe I created a while back for Savings Lifestyle.  But I’ve since speeded up the process, making it work great for weeknight dinner.  This meal gives lots of options for serving, lets everyone customize their dinner, works great when you’ve got people eating at different times of day and the leftovers hold up well for lunch the next day.  Perfect!  I’ll share this recipe with you soon.

3.  Finished dining room!

I shared a few weeks ago (months ago?) about our dining room re-do.  The goal was to put all the stuff behind doors so we didn’t have to look at it, but we wanted it handy to use.  We only use the room for dining every once in a while, but we use it for sewing, photography, and school work every day.

Here’s what it looked like when we started:IMG_5455

 

We’ve come a long way!  We started with the idea of just getting some new shelves.  In the end, we installed new laminate floors, painted everything white and used Ikea cabinets to create a large buffet area along one wall.  I’m really happy that it still looks and functions like a dining room.

dining room buffet from ikea cabinets

 

My dad helped us come up with the plan.  He also built and stained the countertop and installed the cabinets.  I love it!  Everything is behind doors.  The sewing machine, a new smaller ironing board, my tripod and photography lights, Mia’s fabric stash, our ugly homeschool books and more.  We even have a few empty shelves, thanks to some serious decluttering.

I still want to add some plants and curtains to this room.  And the opposite wall is blank and in need of something, but the room is functional and mostly finished.

I’m really happy with the plate wall too.  I’ll let you in on a little secret – those plates are all plastic, purchased at Target.  I hung them with Command velcro stickies.  It was so easy and cheap and I love the way it looks.

plate wall with plastic plates from target

 

I’m not great at taking photos of the house (and these are all cell phone photos), but these give a good idea of how it looks.  We also gave the living room a makeover.  We’ve never had furniture for this room, other than my desk and a bunch of bookshelves.  It’s like we added another room onto the house, because now we can really make use of it.

IMG_5745

 

It’s quirky and fun and light and bright.  From the rainbow bookshelf, to the gold arrows begging you to take a book and plop in a chair, to the gold antelope head that we named Clarence – I love it all!  (And I know the rug is too small according to “rug rules”, but I don’t care.)

Since I’m showing you all of this, I might as well throw in a photo of my work corner.  This is where the blog action takes place 😉

IMG_5716

 

It’s not much to look at in this photo, but it’s a very nice place to work and I’m loving having the glass white board to use.

This week I’ve got a Sheet Pan Roasted Chicken and Vegetables recipe to share along with a few results from the survey.

What’s working in your kitchen (or house) this week?

Orange and Red Onion Salad – It’s simple, healthy and amazing!

Orange and Red Onion Salad

 

Have you ever eaten a salad that was so good you just couldn’t stop eating it?

That’s this salad.

I can’t believe I hadn’t tried this before.  It’s amazingly simple.  Super healthy.  And it’s also one of the best salads I’ve ever eaten.

Two ingredients, plus salt and pepper.  How can such a simple combination taste so fantastic?!

This recipe is bright and light.  The sweet, citrus of the oranges is perfect with the sharp bite of the red onion.

Try this with pork, chicken, fish or ham.   It would be wonderful with fish tacos!

This is more method than recipe.  Grab a few oranges and thinly slice red onion into them.  Toss with a little kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Orange and Red Onion Salad - It's simple, healthy and amazing!
Ingredients
  • ½ - 1 orange per person, depending on the size of the orange
  • approximately ¼ cup thinly sliced red onion
  • kosher salt and black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Peel and cut oranges in bite sized pieces.
  2. Toss red onion slices with oranges in bowl.
  3. Add kosher salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Serve.

P.S. Do you struggle to come up with easy side dishes to go with your main dish? We’ve done all the planning for you – side dishes and color-coded grocery list included!  Find your perfect Eat at Home Weekly Meal Plan here.

 

Ham, Asparagus and Swiss Quiche + Pineapple Dump Cake – Dinner and Dessert!

Bisquick spring meal

 

We are so ready for spring!  I bet you are too.

This meal tastes like spring.  The quiche is full of ham, asparagus and Swiss cheese.  Asparagus is abundant right now and the flavor is perfect in this quiche.

The Pineapple Dump Cake couldn’t be easier to make, with three ingredients that you pour, sprinkle, slice and bake.  It’s so good!  I love recipes like this one, where the result is so much greater than the effort involved.

These recipes are perfect anytime, but especially if you need to whip up something for your family on Easter weekend.  Thanks to Bisquick and Betty Crocker mixes, they come together really quick.

And when everyone (or most of the family) is home for the Easter holiday this is a great way to keep them around the table longer by giving them dessert after the main course.

We were even able to squeeze in a walk after this meal.  It was a beautiful day!

Here’s what you’ll need to make the quiche:   [Read more…]

Eat at Home Reader Survey and $100 Amazon Card Giveaway

Reader Survey

I’ve been sharing recipes with you here on Eat at Home for over 6 years.  It’s important to me that the recipes and cooking tips and other blog posts you read here meet your needs.

To make sure that we’re delivering what you want, I do a couple of things.  I read every comment that gets left on the blog.  I read (and try to respond) to every email that I get.  I pay attention to the conversation that takes place on the Facebook page.  All of that gives me a better idea of what you find helpful.

Reader surveys are another way for me to get to know you and your needs better.

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to fill out the survey today.  As a thank you there’s a chance at a $100 Amazon card in it for you.  The survey is only 12 questions and should take just 5-10 minutes to complete.

We’ll be back to recipes tomorrow and I’ve got some great recipes to share this week – Easter recipes, a new Ham and Asparagus Quiche recipe, Pineapple Dump Cake and a quick, easy, and healthy side dish idea!

Here’s the link to the survey.  A BIG thank you for helping me out!

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/EatAtHomeReader2015

Giveaway will be one $100 Amazon card.  Winner will be chosen by random from the competed surveys and notified by email.

A menu and shopping list for your wardrobe?

Have you ever heard the term “decision fatigue”? It’s a phrase used to describe the condition of a person after they’ve made a long series of decisions. After a whole day of deciding large and small things, we get tired. Our decisions become poorer. This is why we’re more likely to eat a whole bag of chips or a big bowl of ice cream in the evening, even when we’ve determined we’re going to eat healthy foods.

It also explains why we run through the drive thru instead of heading home to face what may or may not be in the pantry. Before we can cook, we have to decide what to make and often that’s one decision too many at the end of a long day.

I don’t like to shop, partly because of decision fatigue. Shopping involves too many decisions. Whether it’s for groceries or clothes, I just don’t care for it. Of course, it still needs to be done!

There are two ways to reduce decision fatigue in the area of shopping for clothes or food.  One is to eat and wear the same things.  Adopting a uniform or a rotating menu saves time and energy.

But sometimes you want to break out of the spaghetti, tacos, chicken casserole rut.  Both menus and wardrobes can use refreshing now and then.

I have learned that having meals all planned out and printing a grocery list ahead of time makes the whole process better. The shopping goes quicker. The decisions of what to fix at the end of a long day is taken care of. (For years I menu planned for my family so we could enjoy the benefits of it. Now I do it for you too.)

eah weekly meal plans 3

 

Like having a menu and grocery list – for your wardrobe!

I’m excited to tell you about a service I stumbled on last year. Through the rabbit trails of the internet, I found the website, Get Your Pretty On. My timing was great because Alison was just starting her very first Spring Fashion Challenge. I signed up and have since done her challenges for every season of the year, plus her Basic Wardrobe Challenge and the Men’s Challenge (great for having a list to shop for my husband).

Just like the Eat at Home Weekly Meal Plans has everything planned out so you can hit the store knowing exactly what you need, Alison gives you a printable shopping list for seasonal clothing.

And just like Weekly Meal Plans gives you main dishes and sides to go with them for each day, Alison gives you outfit ideas combining the items on her shopping list.

You end up with 21 days of outfits. I save the outfit ideas to my Evernote and refer back to them all the time. In fact, our weather warmed up last week and I pulled out the ideas from last year’s Spring challenge to wear again.

Registration for this year’s Spring Style Challenge opens today.  Early bird registration (with its lower price of $29 ends on April 2).  Click here to register.

Why is it important to reduce decision fatigue?

Using a pre-planned service for clothes shopping or grocery shopping frees up valuable energy. That means more mind power to focus on helping one of my kids work through an issue. Or having the energy to plan family time together. Or even just to be fully present at the dinner table.

And it’s fun to get new ideas and try things I might not track down on my own.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. I only share things with you that I truly love and that I think you will too.

How to Use a Pizza Steel, a Pizza Peel and Parchment Paper to Make the Best Homemade Pizza Ever!

How to use a pizza steel, a pizza peel and parchment paper to make the best homemade pizza ever

 

Have you ever heard of a Pizza Steel?  Until a month or so ago, I hadn’t.

But this one tool has transformed the way I make homemade pizza.  More than any other purchase for my kitchen, this pizza steel has made a huge difference in the outcome of our homemade pizza making.

Now we turn out pizzas with crisp crusts.  The edges are soft and full of air bubbles.  The pizza doesn’t droop when you pick up a slice to eat it.

Basically, our homemade pizza is pretty amazing.

I’ve already shared 5 Ways to Improve Your Homemade Pizza, the Best Homemade Pizza Sauce, and our Pizza Dough recipe.

It’s possible to get decent pizza results from a regular pizza pan or baking stone, but using a pizza steel is a game changer.

Homemade pepperoni pizza

What is a pizza steel?

I bought my pizza steel from Falls Culinary.  It’s the Dough Joe Samurai.  It’s a 15″x15″ slab of steel that’s 1/4″ thick.  It won’t break or wear out, unlike pizza stones.

You place the pizza steel on the highest rack in the oven about an hour before you’re ready to bake.  Crank the oven as hot as it will go.  For mine, that’s 550 degrees.  I also turn on the convection fan, which gives it another 50 degrees.

The steel gets super hot.  Pizzas only need about 6 minutes of baking time when you use a steel.

The pizza peel.

You’re going to need a pizza peel as well.  The peel is how you transfer the uncooked pizza to the oven and then get the pizza back out again after baking.

I have this one from Epicurean.  Any pizza peel will work though.

How to get the pizza on and off the steel – parchment paper.

After trying flour and cornmeal on the pizza peel and still having the dough stick, I gave parchment paper a try.

We place the dough circle (sometimes ours isn’t as circle shaped as we’d like) on a piece of parchment paper.  Then pull this onto the peel.  Transfer the pizza on parchment to the hot steel in the oven.

uncooked pizza on parchment

 

In the photo above you can see an uncooked pizza on parchment paper.  It’s ready to go onto the peel and into the oven.

Six minutes later, I use tongs to pull the parchment and pizza back onto the peel and transfer it to a cutting board.  The parchment sometimes gets charred, but doesn’t catch fire or anything scary.

And it doesn’t interfere with the crisping of the crust.

leopard spotting on pizza

 

See the brown spots on the bottom of the crust?  That’s called leopard spotting and it’s what you want in pizza.  The crust was crisp, browned and perfect!

If you want to make really great homemade pizza, I recommend investing in a pizza steel and pizza peel.

Honestly, I’ve always thought that pizza was not something you could make at home and have anything that compares to getting it out at a restaurant.  But using the pizza steel has changed my mind.  Not that we won’t ever buy another restaurant pizza – that would be crazy.  But now I know we can have excellent pizza at home too.

P.S.  Do you want to save an hour each week on meal planning, plus more by cooking faster?  Sign up here for Weekly Meal Plans!

 

What to Serve With Tacos and Enchiladas – Beyond Chips and Salsa

What to Serve with Tacos and Enchiladas

When I asked on Facebook about what meals you have trouble finding side dishes for, tacos and other Mexican and Tex-Mex meals made the list.

Chips and salsa and guacamole (here’s a tip to keep it from turning brown) are natural choices.  They’re quick too.

But what about other options?  Here are a few ideas:   [Read more…]

Easy Pineapple Carrot Cake

Easy Pineapple Carrot Cake

 

You are going to want to make this cake!  It’s amazingly moist and full of flavor.

And the best part is that it’s really easy.

Even the decorating part is easy.  Trust me.  I’m the queen of ugly cakes.  If I can do this, anyone can.  Putting the nuts all around the sides is a quick way to make a beautiful cake.  And it covers up any crumbs in the frosting too.  Bonus!

The cake itself starts with a cake mix.  I doctored up a box of carrot cake mix with two skinny carrots that I rescued from the bottom of the fridge.  I also added some crushed pineapple.

Here’s what you’ll need for the cake:   [Read more…]

Homemade Alfredo Sauce Recipe (For Chicken Alfredo Pizza or Pasta)

Homemade Alfredo Sauce

 

We’ve been loving our pizza Fridays!  I’ve shared some tips on homemade pizza making with you, an easy and fantastic sauce recipe and the pizza dough recipe that’s working for us.

Last week my kids lobbied for Chicken Alfredo Pizza.  I wanted to make homemade sauce for it, rather than using jarred Alfredo.

When I make Fettuccine Alfredo, I don’t make the sauce separate from the pasta. (Sometimes, instead of half and half, I use cooking water from the pasta pot.)  This is the best and easiest way to make homemade Fettuccine Alfredo.

But since we wanted the sauce to put on pizza, I needed to make a separate sauce.  Thankfully, it’s very easy to make and it only takes a few ingredients.

Here’s what you’ll need:   [Read more…]

What to Serve With Spaghetti or Lasagna (that’s not salad)

What to serve with spaghetti or lasagna that's not salad

 

Tossed salad is so easy with spaghetti or lasagna or any type of pasta with tomato sauce.  It hits everything that makes a great side dish.

But sometimes you just want something different.  Or something extra.

There’s always garlic bread.  Or hot, crusty bread with olive oil for dipping.

But what if you want something else?  Here are a few ideas to get started:

Antipasto Plate

A platter filled with marinated vegetables like artichokes and roasted red peppers, along with deli meats, cheeses and olives is a change of pace.  This works especially well if you’re feeding a lot of people, as it will really stretch the meal.

Roasted Vegetables

I’m becoming a fan of roasted vegetables with all kinds of meals.  My favorites would be brussels sprouts or broccoli.  Use good quality olive oil, kosher salt and black pepper to season.

Raw Vegetables tossed with Italian Dressing

Try cauliflower, carrots, cherry tomatoes tossed with vinaigrette.  Its’ still a salad, but it’s a little different than tossed salad.

What do you like to serve with spaghetti or lasagna?

P.S.  Do you want to save an hour each week on meal planning, plus more by cooking faster?  Sign up here for Weekly Meal Plans!

 

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