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23 May

Electric Skillet Cooking

Posted in cookware and kitchen tools, Uncategorized on 23.05.12 by Smart Ingredients

We love cooking out of the electric skillet:

  • It is portable (you can use it anywhere in your kitchen… find a better view, or away from crowded areas)
  • It has a lot of space — 6 or more servings in one pan!
  • It is easy to maintain meals at a simmer that have a liquid base (our favorite for nights when on-the-go family members need to eat at different times)

Since we also use them at our cooking demos, we’ve also heard from many of you that you LOVE the electric skillet too. So we’ve been adding electric skillet recipes to our website to help you with your dinner success. In the recipes section of our site, search “electric skillet” and you will find many great recipes, including the one below.

 Pork Chops with Pears

Ingredients             

  • 6 pork chops
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 pears, peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 cup Vegeta or chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage

Season pork chops with salt and pepper, and dredge in flour. In a large pan on stove, or electric skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Brown pork chops 2-3 minutes each side. Add pears, broth and sage, scraping pan and stirring to blend. Simmer on low for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally until desired consistency and doneness. Add spoonfuls of water as needed for consistency.

 

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09 Feb

Mix it up!

Posted in Appetizers, cookware and kitchen tools on 09.02.11 by Smart Ingredients

It’s time for another installment of “What’s your favorite kitchen tool?” I have blogged much in the past about my favorites, and even offer a few for sale on my website. It’s also a discussion that comes up — a lot– at our cooking classes. My favorite until recently had been my 4-in-1 Krups slow/rice/oatmeal/vegetable cooker. But after one year of hard-core use, it’s not holding up so well. Good thing I have a new favorite to take its place. And this one has stood the test of time!

It’s the Braun “Multimix” hand mixer that has attachments for standard mixing, dough, immersion blending and food processing. I received this tool as a wedding shower gift more than a dozen years ago, and didn’t fully realize its value until my food processor broke. I don’t like using the food processor anyway due to the many pieces that have to be cleaned. So when I started using my mixer in its place, and realized I have a perfectly good ONLY-2-PARTS-TO-CLEAN replacement, I was delighted. I probably get 2 cups less space in my mixer capacity than in the large processor, but it has never not been enough. And I gained back a huge chunk of cabinet space for this “sacrifice”.

This weekend I created a new appetizer recipe for Sweet Potato Pockets filled with Olive Tapenade, and I used the mixer for both the dough, and the filling. Delicious!

Sweet Potato Pockets with Olive Tapenade

Ingredients

2 cups flour

1 sweet potato, peeled, boiled until tender and mashed

1 stick butter

1 egg

3/4 cup milk

1/2 cup pitted green Greek olives

1/2 cup black olives

1 clove garlic

3 strips roasted red pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup feta cheese

For Crust:

Cut butter into 1-1/2 cups flour using two knives. Blend until you achieve pea-size crumbs. Separately, using mixer, blend sweet potato mash, egg and milk until well blended. Combine potato mixture  with flour mixture and knead using bread mixer attachments (or hands) until dough forms. Add in additional flour as needed until no longer sticky. Roll out dough to 1/8″ thickness. Using dough cutter, cookie cutter or the top of a 14-ounce can, cut approximate 2″ circles in dough.

For filling:

Add olives, peppers, garlic and salt to food processor attachment. Pulse until minced.

Place a teaspoon of olive tapenade along with a small chunk of feta cheese on top of each dough circle. Fold and pinch edges. Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes or until dough is firm.

Do you have a favorite multi-use kitchen tool? Tell us about it, or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

 

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07 Oct

Get in the Game

Posted in cookware and kitchen tools, kitchen organization, Uncategorized on 07.10.10 by Smart Ingredients

As my oldest child went off to Camp last week, my son said “I feel bad that she has to eat cafeteria food for three days.” He is just 8. I was delighted that he could tell the difference in the quality of the food that he gets at home. My kids eat very little prepackaged foods. And one of my goals at Organizing Dinner is to help many other families achieve that level of purity in their dinners.

One of the strongest ways I can guide you towards achieving this for your own family is, simply put, to get in the game. Dinner, my friends, rears its head every night. Not having a game plan leaves you with that “ughh….. what am I going to make?” feeling. Think for a moment about how many nights of dinner are ahead of you in your lifetime. Wouldn’t it be better to face them with a plan for not only action, but winning?! And just a little bit of thinking ahead takes tons less time than the alternatives of writing out  meal plan, cooking ahead and freezing for a month, or running out to the store every night for ingredients.

Here are some tips to get yourself in winning shape

Show up ready to play

Keep Smart Ingredients on hand. Build your repertoire from 2 – 3, to 10 – 20 “go to” recipes for which you have the ingredients, on hand, any night of the year. Read through some of our previous posts to get some ideas, or build on your family’s tastes. For me, I keep several boxes of pasta, yeast and flour to make pizza dough, black beans, tortillas, rice, chicken, eggs, spinach, chicken broth and canned diced tomatoes to mix and match for a good 20 easy go-to recipes such as Chicken Fried Rice, BBQ Chicken Pizza, chicken Caesar wraps, many kinds of pasta, chili, Chicken Pot Pie, quiche, enchiladas, and more.

Have good equipment

Cooking is a sport. And for any sport, you need the right equipment. If you were to show up for a tennis game with a beat up old wooden racket, you would first of all not be excited to play, but second of all not stand a good chance of success. Having one good pan that doesn’t stick, and one good knife that cuts like the wind can be just the difference it makes to make you feel like a winner. These days kitchenware is very inexpensive. Invest in one or two good pieces that make you ready for success in the kitchen. Visit www.brylanehome.com or Ikea.com for some well-made inexpensive options.

Home turf advantage (turn your kitchen into a place you enjoy)

Many of us end up in the kitchen for many more hours than we would have thought possible before we had families. Since it’s a place you often have to be, it should be a place you are happy to be in. Clean out the clutter, bring in some fresh flowers or fun decorations, brew yourself a cup of tea, and settle in for some cooking.

 

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26 Jun

WIN IN THE KITCHEN; Kitchen Organization Blog #1

Posted in cookware and kitchen tools, kitchen organization on 26.06.10 by Smart Ingredients

Hi all. Welcome to all the new members, and thank you for subscribing to my blog. The newspaper article really got the word out, and I’m glad to have you on board.

At the end of every week, I’m going to give you tips on getting your kitchen in primo Organizing Dinner shape. For it’s not just the cooking that gives some of us a challenge, it’s the space in which we do it. And it’s not like there are options… for the most part, it’s the one place we can do most of the prep, cooking and executing of our family meals. It makes sense then that it’s a place that works as hard for us as we do in it.

Next week I’ll start with the tips. This week, you have some homework… assess your kitchen. What is it about your kitchen that keeps you from enjoying it. Sticky pans or other cooking items aren’t working for you, perhaps? Peeling wallpaper? Clutter? Disorganized food storage. Stand in your spot, your “zone” we’ll be calling it… that one spot in your kitchen somewhere between sink, fridge, garbage can and stove where you find yourself standing for many minutes, and what can be hours, a day — and think about it. Give it a good 3 minutes, and then ponder it the rest of the week. Comment here on the blog about some of the things you can’t stand.

Starting at the end of next week, we’ll tackle the kitchen, step by step, bit by painless pit, turning into an efficient, well-oiled machine that you not only enjoy, but feel powerful being in. You’re going to learn to treat dinner as a game, and you my friend, are going to win!

 

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24 Mar

Tools for Success

Posted in cookware and kitchen tools on 24.03.10 by Smart Ingredients

If you’ve come to one of my cooking classes you’ve heard me talk about how important it is to have equipment in your kitchen that makes you happy. Being happy while cooking is a major step toward relieving the stress of dinner crunch time. Items that work well for you make you want to work harder in the kitchen. This week, we are on vacation in Florida staying at a condo where we are cooking many of our own meals. The condo kitchen is well-stocked with gear, but it makes me realize just how much I love my gear at home. It’s not that I have the best of everything, or every gadget under the sun, but rather the few, classic kitchen tools that make cooking an easy pleasure.

I’m realizing, form our time apart, that my kitchen knives are something I do not like living without. I do have some amazing Wusthof knives that I love (these retail for close to $100), but I also have a few inexpensive Santoku knives and some serrated knives from Pampered Chef that are some of the top tools in my kitchen.

I know it is not just me who finds great joy when my knife slices a tomato with ease, or cuts a grapefruit into delicious slices for my kids without fighting with the rind. Considering how much time we spend doing it, we deserve to have the tools that make cooking a pleasure. And these days you can find them without breaking the bank. The above color-coated santoku knife from Pampered Chef sells for just $17.50, (visit www.pamperedchef.biz/mirandaalt) which is a great price for a very good knife. Or at houseware stores like Little Traveler in Geneva, IL you can get a perfect-sized Zyliss Pairing knife for under $10. Whether it’s having one great pan, one good knife, a vegetable chopper or a favorite crock pot, making a small investment in great-working kitchenware pays for itself many times over in money saved on eating out and the joy found using it with success in your own kitchen.

 

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