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.

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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.

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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!

 

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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…]

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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…]

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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…]

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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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BBQ Beef and Bean Pot Pie and Double Chocolate Pretzel Brownies – Dinner + Dessert Idea

Bisquick collage

 

Today I’ve got two recipes for you – BBQ Beef and Bean Pot Pie and Double Chocolate Pretzel Brownies.

Dinner + Dessert!

The best family times and conversations happen around the table, so why not keep everyone there longer by adding dessert too.  I guarantee they’ll hang out in the kitchen when they smell these brownies baking.

These recipes couldn’t be easier.  They use common pantry ingredients and Betty Crocker and Bisquick mixes.  I love dinners that come together quick, but give us a chance to connect as a family.

One of our favorite things to do is play games after dinner.  Brownies and games makes a plain weeknight a whole lot better.

Let’s get dinner on the table, starting with the BBQ Beef and Bean Pot Pie.  Here’s what you’ll need to make this easy meal:   [Read more…]

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3 Things That Work in the Kitchen This Week – March 16

3 Things that work in the kitchen

 

1.  Italian Style Sheet Pan Supper

At Christmas I made a version of Simple Bites Sheet Pan Supper idea using turkey breast.  It was amazing.

Last week I decided to do a sheet pan with a bit of Italian flare.  I used thick, boneless pork chops, brussels sprouts, asparagus, red bell peppers, onions and bread cubes.  I sprinkled everything with thyme and oregano.

Oh my gosh!  It was so amazing.  I should have taken photos, but I promise to make it again.  And this time I’ll photograph the results and share the recipe.  In the meantime, I encourage you to use the Simple Bites version as a great jumping off place for your own spin on it.

2.  Grocery Shopping with Whole Foods List

On Thursday I realized I needed to go to the grocery store very soon, but the forecast was for heavy rain all weekend.  So I woke up early and hit the store Friday morning before the rain started.

I printed the color-coded list for the Whole Foods plan.  My cart was full of lots of veggies when I finished!  The whole experience – printing, shopping, putting away – only took about 1 1/2 hours.  And that included stopping at Starbucks for a coffee to sip through the store.

I love using the Weekly Meal Plans to make my life easier!

3.  Update on the Dining Room Project

We spent the weekend building cabinets and furniture from Ikea.  Next weekend we’re hoping to get the cabinets installed in the dining room.  They’ll be set up kind of like a buffet.  I’ll be sure to show pictures of the finished project.  Here’s how it’s looking right now.  Basically, we’re at the organized mess phase.

IMG_5679

 

My dad has built and stained a wood counter top for us.  I think it’s all going to look great when it’s finished!  And maybe we’ll have a place to store the ironing board now.  And the sewing machine.  And tripod.  And….

I’ve got some great recipes to share with you this week, including BBQ Beef and Bean Pot Pie, Double Chocolate Pretzel Brownies and Chicken Alfredo Pizza.  All of this has been happening recently in my kitchen and I can’t wait to share with you!

What’s working in your kitchen this week?

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How to Make Homemade Pizza Dough

Homemade Pizza Dough Recipe

 

We’ve been talking pizza here the last few weeks.  We talked about a few pizza game changers you can use to improve your homemade pizza.

And I shared our favorite homemade sauce recipe.  It’s easy and simple so that’s an added bonus.

Today I’ve got a pizza dough recipe for you to try.  This is not a quick dough to make, but it is worth the time.  I adapted this from the free Craftsy pizza making class.  Mostly, I simplified and clarified the recipe.  The original recipe calls for measuring everything on a scale.

While I’m sure using a kitchen scale will yield more consistent results, I’m resistant for a couple of reasons.  First, I don’t own a scale and I know many (probably most) of you don’t either.

And second,  I think there’s something to be said for learning to trust your own judgement when it comes to working with any type of dough.  There’s a satisfaction in making something enough that you begin to know when it needs more flour or when it could use some water.  When to leave the dough to rest a while and when to keep working it.

I’m still in the process of learning to really know my way around the pizza dough, but I am learning.

Before I share the recipe, let’s talk over a few tips.   [Read more…]

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