Spice Up Your Kitchen Organization

This summer I accidentally happened upon a genius find while grocery shopping one day! As I was browsing the kitchen gadgets I found some magnetic spice jars on clearance. I had never seen anything like this before and I couldn’t believe what an amazing solution this was to my ever frustrating problem of digging spices in and out of my cabinet every time I needed them! Naturally, I grabbed every single one of them and promptly went home to organize all of my spices. Originally, I had planned to chalkboard-paint  a cookie sheet or tray, pen a clever little quote on it, and display it on a mini easel stand on the counter top so my spices would be on display at hands-reach on the counter. I still think this is a super cute idea, but I just don’t have the extra space on my counter tops! I decided to “temporarily” put them on my refrigerator until I could work this out and I ended up loving it so they are still there. I labeled the sides of them but since most of the spices are recognizable through the little window I find it SO convenient to grab the few spices I plan to use each time and then quickly and easily put them back. I can’t believe I cooked for so many years with a complete nightmare of a spice cabinet! My only problem is that once I started filling the jars I was totally hooked and I realized I needed more! Yikes! They were a clearance item and I bought them all out! Amazon to the rescue and sure enough! I found them on there. For those of you would like to try these jars, here is the link!

                                                                             

Poached Eggs Over Cheesy Corn Tortillas

 


Recently I was visiting with some family and we were discussing the art of poached eggs. It’s one of those should-be-so-simple-to-do things that if you’re like me, you watched your grandma do it countless times, but it’s no longer such a common breakfast item made at home. I have noticed, however that it’s making a comeback in restaurants with all kinds of awesome variations. You can still order a traditional Eggs Benedict, but I love all of the creativity and style along with it. I am a pretty big fan of eggs. I eat them for pretty much any meal and I love to add them on top of some of my favorite meals. They are a great source of protein and I’m not going to get into the cholesterol discussion 😉.  This morning I was craving something cheesy and flavorful so I poached two eggs and put them on top of two cheesy fried corn tortillas topped with salsa and avocado. The poaching instructions are as follows:

Poached Eggs Over Cheesy Corn Tortillas

  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp White Wine Vinegar
  • 2 Corn Tortillas
  • 1/2 c Shredded Cheese
  • T tbsp. Salsa
  • 1/4 Avocado, Sliced
  • 1 tsp Chopped Cilantro
  1. Heat a shallow non-stick pan with 1.5" of 190 degree simmering water. Use a thermometer to make sure the temperature is right and stays consistently just hot enough that you can stand to put your fingers in.
  2. Add a tsp of white wine vinegar.
  3. Add 1 tsp of salt. 
  4. Crack your eggs into small custard dishes for easy transferring.
  5.  After a quick stir of the water, carefully place the egg dishes into the water and release the eggs to float in the water. 
  6. Cover the pan with a lid and let them poach for 5 minutes on the timer without removing the lid or checking on them.
  7. While the eggs are poaching fry two corn tortillas in some butter.
  8. Flip them over, add some shredded cheese and fold in half.
  9. Fry them to a light crisp until the cheese is melted and then set them aside on a plate. 
  10. When the 5 minutes is up for your eggs, use a slotted spoon to remove each egg from the water. You can lay them on a paper towel and cut off any excess pieces if you are able to pick them back up without breaking the yokes. I am that klutzy person so if you're like me just place them on your food or plate and trim the excess from there.
  11. Top with salsa, fresh avocado, cilantro and any other delicious toppings you have on hand.
  12. Enjoy!
  • Preparation time: 10 minutes

 

Meal Planning Tips

thanksgiving-kitty-in-the-kitchenThanksgiving is almost here and even though we have an entire year to prepare, it seems like I am always down to the wire those last few days trying to get my grocery list together and tackle the dreaded grocery store! I do love to catch the good sales that happen right at the last week and the majority of my shopping list are fresh items anyway so I don’t want to shop too far in advance. For our family, Thanksgiving is more than a turkey dinner. I make a ton of appetizers and we snack throughout the day before we eventually eat Thanksgiving dinner and dessert. Then for the next several days we enjoy a feast of all sorts. Not just basic reheated leftovers, but creative creations of turkey melts and appetizers, turkey pot pie and any other culinary creativity we can come up with while we relax, sit by the fire, binge watch movies, play games, eat some more, maybe do a little black Friday or cyber Monday shopping. All of that to say, my grocery list is huge!! Because I have been doing this for so many  years, here are a few organizational things I do to reap the benefits of shopping as late as possible, while keeping my plan from becoming a procrastination nightmare.

  • I keep a Thanksgiving Menu saved on my laptop. Really! The main dishes that are non-negotiables. You may think you won’t forget about those mashed potatoes but when you go to write your list you’d be surprised what you accidentally forget to write down!
  • I keep a side list of possible appetizers and sides that I can choose from. (also saved in the same place on my laptop)
  • I keep a typed “Needs” list of all of the cooking necessities I will possibly need to cook the food I have on my lists. This is an inventory check so I can write my grocery list based off of this.
  • You guess it! I also keep a saved grocery list. This may seem silly, but most of the items on my list are going to be on my list next year too.  Having the ready-made list means I can  simply cross things off that I already have in stock and the rest is ready to go once I add the sale items and any new recipe or appetizer ingredients I may be trying for the first time this year.
  • Shop during early morning hours or late night hours when the crowds are dwindled down. Unfortunately this means you will be shopping with the stock crew, but this is also beneficial to you because you will tend to get the fresher items as they are being restocked, and the items that employees that can help you with items that have depleted on the shelves are right there too. Just make sure to show them some extra appreciation for their help.
  • If you really don’t like to people at all, or you just wanna rock it millennium style and show Grandma how it’s done “these days”, you can do all of your shopping online using one of the grocery store “click & pull” services by going online and selecting all of the grocery items you want and paying for them online. Somebody else goes through the store for you and endures all of the things about grocery shopping that you are trying to avoid, and you get to show up about an hour later and load your groceries into your vehicle. If you’re funny about picking your turkey size and/or your produce you can do a combination of both. This is precisely what I have tried for the first time this year. I purchased my turkey and some produce. You usually have to spend a minimum of $25 to get your turkey at a sale price anyway. Since this year I will be traveling almost 3 hours to my daughter’s house, everything else will be purchased online at a grocery store near her house so I don’t have to haul all of the groceries, or shop when I get there. Whoever invented this service is amazing!!
  • Print the Menu. This helps keep me on track on Thanksgiving when I’m preparing appetizers and getting the big meal underway.

With a little bit of organization, your Thanksgiving is sure to go smoothly. The only thing you can’t prepare for is the unexpected uncontrollable, but you can be mentally prepared to adjust. The craziest Thanksgiving experience I have ever had was the year my oven decided to quit on the night before Thanksgiving. I went to put my pies in the oven and it was cold inside. Thanksgiving day I prepared an entire meal in an electric roaster, a toaster oven and a BBQ grill. Although it was tough, I saw it as an opportunity to flex my muscles as a cook. The meal came out beautiful, and was timed perfectly with no delays. I saw this as a win! The very next week I bought a new stove with double ovens!

Whether or not you have double ovens, check out this handy multi rack tower for your oven! This cures the problematic game of tetris around the big bird. This is Genius!!! An absolute must for Thanksgiving and Christmas!

 

Kitchen Tricks: Peeling Garlic

This post will be as quick and easy as the trick itself. If you’re lazy like I am, peeling garlic is not the most appealing (pun intended) part of cooking. Because I use so much of it, I often buy it pre-peeled in bulk, but when I’m forced to peel it myself I do this: Grab a few cloves and run water over them for a few seconds just to get them moist. Put the cloves in a plastic container with a lid. (The smaller the better) Shake the container vigorously for 30 seconds to a minute. When you take the lid off, you’ll find that the majority of the peeling has slid off and basically peeled itself. Kitchen Trick Garlic Peel

Best Cookie Tips

 

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Tips For the Best Cookies

If your cookies come out flat and thin, add a little extra flour to your dough. When the dough is a little more dry, the cookies come out more cake-like. If you happen to like your cookies crunchy and flat, add a little less flour.

If your cookies burn or bake unevenly on the bottoms you may need a thicker cookie sheet. All ovens vary slightly. I learned this when I was forced to replace my very basic old oven when it suddenly quit. I had used lots of different cookie sheets in my old oven and never had a problem, but with my newer, fancier double-oven unit, I suddenly had crunchy cookies that kept burning on the bottom. I was completely flustered and tried several things until I finally tried using a thicker, more insulated cookie sheet. This took care of the problem and my cookies went back to coming out thick and soft.

Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper and your countertop with aluminum foil.  This keeps the bottoms of the cookies from becoming too dry and crispy while baking and helps hold in the moisture when they are cooling off on the counter.

Experiment with your baking times and figure out the ideal amount of baking time for your oven. It may vary slightly from the recipe you are using. Pull the cookies out of the oven just before they begin to brown. They will look slightly under cooked, but as they sit they will slowly continue to bake internally without drying out. My personal “Magic time” for my cookies is 13 minutes. They look a little pale and still wet and doughy when they come out of the oven, but after a few minutes of resting on the countertop they are perfect.

Once you have your perfect cookies mastered, you will want to keep the leftovers fresh and soft so be sure to bag them up in a ziplock storage bag or an airtight container. If you put them away while they are still warm, you will have softer cookies. Just be careful that you don’t put them away when they are still hot or else they will stick together.

If you have a favorite tip or suggestion to share about cookies, please feel free to leave it in the comments. It would be great to hear other thoughts and ideas.

 

 

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