Kitchen Hacks

A couple of weeks ago we shared a post about tricks and tips for buying produce. Today I wanted to start a discussion about some awesome kitchen hacks! When I moved to Boise this summer, my Mother-in-Law’s kitchen had some awesome things set up in her kitchen that I can’t resist sharing!

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There are lots of other hacks out there, such as this article. Way cool!

If you have any “hacks” that you’ve set up in your kitchen, post a picture in the Facebook comments and let us know how you use it! Lets share these brilliant ideas with each other, and while you’re at it, get an entry in for the Giveaway (Spice of the Month Club)!

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Hilton Family Favorites III

AverieCooks

Another Hilton (specifically Whitney) Family Favorite to start off your Memorial Day! If you don’t have a dessert chosen for tonight, give this one a try! Icecream Lemonade Cake! This dessert is so light and refreshing, it’s a perfect dessert for a hot day. Not to mention, it’s super easy as well. Just leave time to let your dessert freeze up, and you won’t be disappointed!

ICECREAM LEMONADE CAKE

3 cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
1/2 cup sugar
1 cube melted butter
1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream, softened*
1 can thawed pink lemonade concentrate**

Combine crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. Press into a greased 9×13 cake pan, leaving about 1/3 of the mixture for the topping. Mix the ice cream and concentrate, and poor into prepared crust. Top with remaining crumbs. Place in freezer until firm. Enjoy!

*Add more or less icecream, depending on how thick of cake you’d like.
**Add more or less concentrate, depending on how strong of flavor you’d like. Also, try experimenting with other flavors! Key Lime, anyone?

Cajun Chicken Pasta

Allrecipes

Allrecipes

What a perfect dish to eat this rainy, wet week (at least here in Boise, how about for you?).  Hearty, creamy, full of vegetables…Delicious! Thanks for sharing, Camille! This is one of Camille’s family favorites, with her modifications below. Enjoy!

I usually make farfalle instead of linguine and toss together for ease in serving. I also use 2 c. milk (1%) and mix 2 Tbsp cornstarch (in place of the cream) before adding it to the hot veggies. And despite the peppers and veggies, my kids gobble it all up every time.

CAJUN CHICKEN PASTA

4 ounces linguine pasta
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, sliced into thin strips
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
2 tablespoons butter
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
4 fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 green onion, minced
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add linguine pasta, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until al dente; drain. Meanwhile, place chicken and Cajun seasoning in a bowl, and toss to coat. In a large skillet over medium heat, saute chicken in butter until no longer pink and juices run clear, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add green and red bell peppers, sliced mushrooms and green onions; cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat, and stir in heavy cream. Season the sauce with basil, lemon pepper, salt, garlic powder and ground black pepper, and heat through. In a large bowl, toss linguine with sauce. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.

‘Moms Famous Brownies’

Brownies

Is it crazy that I’m slightly afraid to make homemade brownies? It seems like when I’ve tried in the past, they generally turn out cakey…probably from too much mixing. But who’s to say that this has to be the case?? These brownies, provided by Lacy, we’re lovingly named by her cute kids, and originated from Our Best Bites. They sound amazing, and if they’re as good as my nieces and nephews say, I bet they’re worth the extra steps beyond opening a box! What a perfect recipe to start off our new Giveaway with!

Here’s a tip from Lacy!

The secret to these is to enjoy them when they are completely cooled, like wait till the next day after you bake them- they are amazing!

So give these brownies a try, and let us know  what you think!

PERFECT CHOCOLATE BROWNIES

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch Process cocoa powder
11 ounces dark chocolate, roughly chopped
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch chunks
optional: 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
5 eggs, at room temperature*
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

*Before you start the recipe, place eggs in a shallow bowl filled with warm tap water to bring to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9×13 inch baking dish and set aside.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, and cocoa powder and gently whisk together.

Using a double boiler (place a glass mixing bowl on top of a pot of simmering water) melt chopped chocolate, butter, and instant coffee (if using). Stir until melted and smooth. You could also do this step in the microwave if you’re careful and heat it gently in 30-60 second intervals, stirring after each interval.

Remove glass bowl from the double boiler and add granulated and brown sugars. Whisk until smooth. As you whisk, the mixture should cool off, eventually coming close to room temp.

Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add the remaining 2 eggs and vanilla, and continue whisking until just until everything is incorporated. Don’t overmix at this stage.

Sprinkle flour mixture into chocolate mixture and use a rubber spatula (don’t use electric beaters, and not even a whisk) to fold and stir flour mixture just until incorporated. You can even stop stirring when you still see just a few visible bits of flour are showing.

Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth out evenly. Bake for 25-30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking time. Remove from oven when a toothpick comes out of center with a few crumbs still attached. Cool completely (the hard part!) and then cut into squares and serve.

Summer Giveaway

Sugar

Although I may not be a little girl anymore, I sure do love my sugar and my spice! And with that, it’s time to get yourselves ready for another Giveaway: a 3 month subscription to Raw Spice Bar’s Spice of the Month Club! The winner of this Giveaway will be able to enjoy the following:

Receive 3-4 hand-picked, small batch, freshly ground spice blends with each monthly box.  Each monthly spice box contains 1-3 ounces of spice blends, creating three dishes for serving 8-10. You will also receive kitchen-tested, detailed recipes and ideas for each spice blend you receive as well as a background on our monthly chef and spice blends every month. Our spice experts, many of whom are award winning chefs, bring you unique spice blends from the highest quality spices around the world, with an unprecedented focus on quality and flavor. Get ready to start your spice journey with the freshest spices from around the world!

There are a couple of different ways to get your name entered in this Giveaway:

  • If you’re on the schedule to provide a recipe, you’ll be entered once I have your recipe. You can send it to me as soon as you have it and I’ll keep it on hand until your assigned week. (For those who aren’t currently on the schedule but would like to be, we’ll be restarting in mid-June. We’ll get that organized once it gets closer.)
  • If you make one of the recipes posted in the Blog, comment with your feedback to receive an entry (pictures are always welcome, too!)
  • If challenges are given (such as the New Ingredient Challenge we had awhile back), participants will receive an entry.

Remember, you can get your name entered as many times as you want to increase your chances of winning, so check out our archives and stay tuned for more recipes to come!

And the Winner is…

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It’s time for our little giveaway! Anyone who has tried one of the posted recipes, participated in any challenges (such as the new ingredient challenge), or provided a recipe so far is eligible. Our winner is…..

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Congratulations!!

Keep an eye out for our next giveaway, coming soon. Thanks to all who have participated in this fun group!

Non-Diet (But Weight Loss!) Food Lists

PinchofYum

Anyone else a fan of Good Eats? Cutthroat Kitchen? Iron Chef America? Food Network Star? One thing these shows all have in common is Food Network, but more specifically Alton Brown! I quite enjoy Alton Brown as a host for these shows. Not only is he a very witty character, but also a brilliant chef!

In one episode of Good Eats, he shared some balanced eating tips that helped him lose 50 lbs…without “dieting”! Now, I’m not saying I follow these all the time, nor will I start on a regular basis (I love my desserts too much), but they are some really good rules of thumb to keep in mind! Read the article here or here for a more detailed explanation, but here it is at a glance. I’ve also suggested some recipes, all of which are tried and true in my mind!

1. Daily Eats: Fruits, Whole Grains, Leafy Greens, Nuts, and Carrots, (he recommends Green Tea as well…but I don’t 🙂 )

Breakfast: Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes
Lunch: Quinoa Patties
Dinner: Rainbow Chicken Salad

2. Foods To Eat 3 Times A Week: Oily Fish, Yogurt, Broccoli, Sweet Potato, and Avocado.

Breakfast: Homemade Yogurt (Never made this myself, but my Mom’s is delicious!) with Granola
Dinner: Baja Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa (I don’t have much experience with Oily Fish, but try substituting with some!)

Side: Guacamole

Side: Parmesan Crusted Sweet Potato Fries

3. Foods To Eat 1 Time A Week: Red Meat, Dessert, and Pasta (again, he recommends Alcohol. That’s not on my list).

Dinner: Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry
Dinner: Spinach and Feta Pasta (Thanks, Sarah! This was delicious!)
Dessert: Pistachio Bundt Cake with Almond Glaze (Great St. Patties Day Dessert!)

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4. Zero Times A Week: Fast Food, Soda, Processed Meals, Canned Soups and “Diet” Anything

Alternative to Fast Food: Chipotle’s Chicken Burrito Bowl (one of my favorites!)
Alternative to Fast Food: Turkey Burgers
Alternative to Soda: Fruit Infused Water

 

So basically what it comes down to, is to just eat a smart, balanced diet! What are some of your favorite dishes that fit into these categories?