If you’ve been following me on Instagram you know that I’ve been busy preparing for Thanksgiving and Page’s Birthday right after. We are hosting Thanksgiving , which means that I will be doing most of the cooking. I spent most of the day writing out my menu, dividing up tasks I can accomplish throughout the next few days. Today I tackled prepping my desserts which just means I weighed the dry ingredients put them in bags, labeled, and sealed them. Now all I have to do is add the wet ingredients and bake. As you can see I’ve learned over the years that cooking a large meal like this requires a lot of forethought and staggering of duties. So today one of the other things on my to do list was to make this cranberry sauce! It takes 10 minutes, you throw everything in one pot, a little bit of stirring and you’re done! So easy and super delicious and definitely an upgrade to the canned stuff. Trust me once you make this you will never go back to the canned stuff!
Here’s what you need:
12oz organic cranberries fresh or frozen
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cinnamon stick
Zest of 1 organic orange
Juice of 1 organic orange
1/2 teaspoon of allspice (optional)
Place cranberries, cinnamon stick, orange zest, sugar, water, and juice in a medium sized saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer, stirring as the cranberries begin to pop. The sauce is done once it thickens about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool, serve immediately or place in an airtight container and refrigerate.
I have been putting off buying a new stove for a while now, mainly because I knew it was going to be a big and expensive purchase, something best saved for a remodel. Christmas dinner was my turning point. We had Christmas dinner at our house this year, which meant I was responsible for cooking the entire meal. I can’t even begin to tell you the level of frustration I experienced while cooking that dinner. Let’s just say I would have sold a body part for a larger oven and an extra burner! The stove we had was great at broiling–but nothing else! I was literally guessing what temperature I was setting the stove to because the spots on the dial indicating temperature had come off.
I already knew I wanted a Blue Star range, it has been my dream stove for about 15 years. Two months ago I looked at the Blue Star website, found a dealer near me and took the plunge! Just a note of advice–NEVER do this! When you order a range of this caliber jumping into it is the wrong move–there is a reason most people put it in during a remodel! I bought the range went home–told my husband–then preceded to panic! I, the queen of reviews, had not read one review–except for Marcus Samuelson’s 15 years prior! So off I went down the rabbit hole of reviews–to find complaints of hot doors–doors so hot that they fuse shut–and a list of reasonable requirements for installation–none of which I had thought of–I just wanted a new stove! Mind you most of the reviews were old–circa 2003-2010!So if you’re reading this–you’re welcome! After sorting through hundreds of the reviews I found that Blue Star was very responsive to customer complaints and fixed every complaint. The ranges no longer have any of the issues I read about in the reviews. I was particularly concerned with the hot door issue because of Page–she loves to hang out with me while I cook so I couldn’t have that. The installation requirements were not anything huge, nothing that most kitchen remodels wouldn’t cover, for instance, we had to install a non-combustible tile behind the range, and we also had a base wall that we had to cover with non-combustible material–luckily the wall met the depth 24in requirement. We had to install an electrical outlet just for the range and lastly we had to install an oven hood. The hood installation was actually the most stressful of all of the amendments we had to make. The installer had to remove the cabinets we had above the range, and in the middle of that he found that we had a faux ventilation system–the people who lived here before us set up a vent piece that had no piping to the outside–dangerous for us for sure! While I’m grateful that we now have a ventilation system that actually vents to the outside–it ended up costing 3 times the amount we were quoted to install the hood–but again what’s a few dollars compared to our lives!
Now let’s discuss the range. Blue Star is made right here in the USA. Most if not all of the production of the range is handmade–which is why it takes so long to get one–7 weeks–each range is custom made. There are several iterations of a Blue Star range but the big decision for me was choosing between a sealed burner range or an open burner range. I chose the latter. Blue Star ranges are known for open burners and simplicity– no frills, computer boards, timers, or self-cleaning ovens. They are as close to a commercial restaurant range as you can get. Why choose and open burner range? The beauty of an open burner is that open burners allow for better oxygen flow, that equates to more even heat and more firepower in the form of BTU’s. I went with the base open burner model the RCS–which on my 36-inch range includes 5-15k BTU burners and 1-9500k BTU simmer burner. I have 6 burners ya’ll!
The open burners are on this range are powerfully hot!! In fact other than searing and boiling water, I don’t see a need for using the full power of the 15k burners.
The simmer burner is great. I’ve used it to cook rice. The water barely moves, but 10 minutes later I have perfectly cooked rice. It’s like magic!
The oven is not talked about a lot in most reviews, so let me say a few things. The oven is huge! I can fit 2 commercial sheet pans in it at the same time! This will definitely cut the time I spend making caramel popcorn this Christmas in half.
The broiler is amazing! Lamb chops under the broiler were done in 6 minutes, short ribs in 2!
I’ve never worked with infrared anything, and I was a little concerned that I wouldn’t like the broiler on this oven because the one in my old oven was pretty great, but consider me a convert–infrared is awesome– 1850F of straight awesomeness! Many have complained about the broiler being too small–for me, it’s not, I could easily broil 2 or 3 small steaks at once, which for me is perfect! I mean look at the crust on the short ribs I made! As good as any grill could ever accomplish! The oven is optional convection, meaning you flip a switch to turn on the convection fan. Once the oven reaches temperature, it holds temperature well! It takes a good 30 minutes to preheat the oven just because it’s so big. I’ve made brownies, brussel sprouts, kale chips, and sweet potatoes all with great success in this oven! Overall, I love this range! It’s a pleasure to cook on and in this range, things cook quickly and evenly. Getting this stove has made me realize how much time I wasted cooking on my last stove, by buying this range I actually spend less time cooking–that is always my goal!
Just so you know, this is not in ANY way a sponsored post. I bought and paid for this range with my own money, and the review you’re reading is my own personal experience with this range.
Edit/Update : I started a Facebook group for Blue Star ranges if you have one and want to chat or ask questions of other people who own one join the group. I figured the best way to learn about our ranges is to chat with other people who have one. It’s a private group so you’ll need to search for it : BLUE STAR RANGE OWNERS
Last year, I had the hair-brained idea that I could make my own pasta. In my head it seemed simple enough, I would mix a few eggs with some flour and make delicious, velvety, egg noodles. I ordered an old school pasta roller (ATLAS 150) and when it came, I was eager to live out the visions of velvety egg noodles in my head. I started with this very recipe that I’m sharing with you today. Only I hadn’t a clue what I was doing, I added 2 cups of flour, a few whole eggs, and when the dough didn’t immediately come together like I thought it should, water. After letting my dough rest, I tried to roll it out. Rolling the dough out with the Atlas was one of the most awkward experiences of my life. Not one part of it felt natural. As a matter of fact it felt extremely unnatural. I felt like even if I had 3 additional hands, rolling the pasta would still feel awkward. My folly was clear. The manual pasta roller wasn’t for me. I decided right then and there I would need an electric pasta machine, and immediately set out searching for one. I ended up ordering the KitchenAid 3 piece Pasta attachment. During my research, I read every review, of every pasta machine on the market, (Phillips, ATLAS, Kitchenaid 3 piece roller set, Kitchenaid Pasta extruder, Marcado, ect.), and although I learned a lot about the different machines and their features, I also learned a lot more about pasta. It made me think maybe I need to focus on what I did wrong with my pasta dough, and not what was wrong with the pasta machine. The dough I made initially was sticky and the resulting noodles were a pitiful clump of a mess. So I pulled out the ATLAS, my handy kitchen scale, and proceeded to weight my ingredients to make pasta. Instead of adding water when the dough seemed dry, I kneaded until my dough came together, and what do you know–it came together without one additional drop of water. Not only that! When I went to roll it, the two hands that God gifted me with were more than enough to roll and cut my noodles! In fact it was so easy, and such a different experience from the first time that I knew it was not the machine that was my problem, it was my dough! So here’s the key to making pasta, weigh your ingredients, don’t add unnecessary water, and let your dough rest so that it has time to relax and hydrate. If you follow those 3 rules you will never fail at making pasta. Now that you have those keys, the recipe I used is from the Serious eats blog. They have a great article on the Science of Making Pasta, definitely read it. It has some great information in it. If you are in the market for a pasta maker, check out my review on my YouTube channel of both the ATLAS 150 Wellness Pasta machine, and The KitchenAid 3 Piece Pasta Roller Attachment. I contrast the two and give you a step by step on how to use both. By the way I purchased both machines with my own money, I wasn’t paid by either company to give the review. Now to the recipe. You can find 00 flour at most grocery stores. If you can’t substitute with All purpose or bread flour.
Here’s what you need:
10 ounces of 00 flour
2 large whole eggs (weighing 4.0 oz) If my eggs weigh more I remove some of egg white until they don’t
4 egg yolks ( weighing 2.5 oz)
1 teaspoon of sea salt
Directions: Weigh your ingredients:
My egg yolks were a little over so I removed some with a spoon:
Place your flour in a large bowl and make a well. Add your eggs and salt to the well.
With a fork beat the eggs until fully mixed.
Slowly start to incorporate the flour until a sticky dough has formed.
At this point I pour the contents of my bowl out on to a large work surface.
The dough will feel sticky by look very dry–DO NOT ADD WATER! You’ll want to, but trust me DON’T! Gather the dough together and knead.
The dough will appear to be dry and unwilling to come together, but keep going.
Knead and knead some more, until every drop of flour is incorporated into the dough, and the dough looks like this:
Now wrap it in cling wrap, and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.
It needs that time to hydrate fully and to let the gluten relax. Now it’s time to roll. With a bench knife cut the dough into 4 equal parts. Note how smooth the dough is now that it has had time to relax,
Place one part of the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Re-wrap the remaining dough in the cling wrap and set aside. Place your pasta roller dial on the lowest setting. On my ATLAS that is 0(zero). On my KitchenAid attachment it’s 1.
STEP 1: Roll the dough out into an oval shape on your work surface.
STEP 2: Roll the dough through the 0 setting 3 times.
Then fold the dough into an envelope and run it through the 0 setting 3 more times.
This is only to make the dough edges uniform. But honestly if oval edges don’t bother you, that step is not necessary. The only time I fold my edges into an envelope is when I tear my dough. If your dough tears, fold it and start back at the zero setting. Once you’ve run the dough through the 0 setting 3 times, dust it lightly with flour.
STEP 3: Move the dial on your pasta machine up one dial.
Run the dough 3 more times through dial setting 1. Dust the pasta sheet and Repeat steps 1-3, rolling the dough through 3 times on each dial setting from 2-6.
With each pass through and dial adjustment the dough gets thinner, smoother and longer.
Just a note: On dial 6 running it through 1 or 2 times maybe all you need–that’s up to you to determine. If it feels like if you run it through one last time it may rip, then don’t run it through. By this time you should have a long beautiful sheet of pasta.
Dust it lightly with flour, and place it on a parchment lined sheet, and cover with a sheet of parchment/cling wrap/towel. Repeat Steps 1-3 for the remaining 3 portions of dough.
Now it’s time to cut your pasta sheets. If you’re making lasagna you’re pretty much done, just cut the sheets to fit your pan size. If you’re making spaghetti, or fettuccine, attach the cutter to your machine. Place the pasta sheets through your cutter of choice.
Gather the cut pasta as it comes out of your machine. Sprinkle some flour on your board, then place the noodles on the board and gently roll them in the flour, making sure to dust the ends. Gently place the noodles in a circular nest on a dusted piece of parchment. Cover and continue until all your dough has been cut.
When your ready to cook, bring a medium pot of salted water to boil. Place a few the noodles in and cook for 60-90 seconds. Toss in your favorite sauce and enjoy! Freeze any unused noodles in a ziplock, and when you’re ready to use them, simply bring a pot of water to boil, and drop the noodles in frozen. Cook until Al dente.
Don’t forget to check out my YouTube Channel for a detailed review of the KitchenAid and Atlas Pasta makers:
This recipe was born out of a pure need to get dinner on the table quickly. I love cauliflower and on a normal day I would slice it and place it in the oven to cook, but time didn’t allow for me to do so recently. Page was hungry and I did not have 20 minutes to spare. The great thing about being rushed to get dinner on the table–yes there is a great thing about it–is that you need to keep it simple. This recipe is exactly that–simple– it contains less than 5 ingredients and the best part? It only took 10 minutes!
2 cups of sliced cauliflower
2 cloves of garlic (smashed)
2 tablespoons of oil ( grape seed, or olive oil)
1 tablespoon of butter
5-6 sprigs of thyme
sea salt and black pepper to taste
Directions: Heat a cast iron skillet until it smokes. Add in the 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the cauliflower, and allow to cook for 5 minutes undisturbed.
Add the butter, thyme and garlic, take care when adding the thyme, the water in the thyme will cause the oil to pop.
Allow to cook for another 5 minutes. Once the cauliflower has browned and taken on some color,
Transfer it to a serving platter, season with salt and pepper, serve and enjoy!
Dried Watermelon–How to make Dehydrated Watermelon
This week is Teacher Appreciation Week at Page’s school. Every day this week she is required to bring in a small gift to show how much she appreciates all that her teacher’s do. The note that the room mom sent home said to send a sweet treat as a gift, knowing the kinds of sweets that most moms have sent in the past I thought why not send something semi-healthy. So I marched down to my local Whole Foods and purchased an organic seedless watermelon. Lucky for me it was on sale. The result- a deliciously sweet watermelon snack. It was so good, that I raced back to Whole Foods to get another watermelon to dry. When I dry fruit I never add sugar to it. I see many recipes that do and I never understand why. There really isn’t a need to. In fact, the watermelon I chose was not at all that sweet in its natural form, but in its dried form it was highly sweet, almost like I had added sugar to it. So for this “recipe” all you need is a fresh watermelon, a dehydrator, or an oven set to low and time.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 6-8 hours
Directions: Slice the watermelon and discard the rind. Keep in mind that the thinner you slice it the quicker it dehydrates.
Place the sliced watermelon on dehydrator sheets. Set it on 135F for 6-8 hours depending on how thick you sliced the watermelon.
The watermelon is done when it is pliable but dry to the touch.
If you don’t have a dehydrator–get one they are worth the money and the counter space–you can do this in an oven, set the oven to the lowest setting, and place the watermelon on a parchment lined cookie sheet. My oven’s lowest setting is 250F. If you are using your oven on a setting this high, keep in mind that the watermelon will dehydrate at a faster rate, so keep an eye on it, at the 4-5 hour mark, your watermelon will likely be done.
My daughter loves lentil soup. It is one of her favorite meals. My version of lentil soup is not highly complicated, lentils, carrots, celery, onion, and a final squeeze of lemon at the end. When I ran across a recipe by Kenji over on the Serious eats blog adding a parsley and lemon Gremolata, I knew I had to try it! Let me tell you, hands down this is the best lentil soup that I’ve ever had or made! My daughter ate 3 bowls, (3 of her little mini bowls, but 3 bowls none the less), and she could not stop saying how yummy it was. I decided to use cilantro instead of parsley because I love the flavor of cilantro, lemon, and lentils—super yummy. If cilantro is not your thing, then by all means use parsley, this soup is good either way! If you know you’re putting this in your weeknight line up soak the lentils overnight, it will shave off 30 minutes of your cooking time.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 45minutes-1hour
Here’s what you need:
6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons lemon zest
4 tablespoons oil
1/2 cup cilantro chopped (sub parsley)
Ingredients for Soup
1 cup of lentils ( I used French green lentils)
1 cup carrots diced
1 cup celery diced
1 medium onion diced
4 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
5 cups of good quality chicken broth( sub with veggie stock if you want to make this vegetarian)
1 lemon cut into wedges for squeezing.
Directions: Add the ingredients for the gremolata to a small bowl,
Mix well and set aside.
Heat 4 tablespoons of oil in a Dutch oven pan, add the onions, carrots and celery,
Sauté until onions are translucent about 5 minutes,
Add the lentils mix well,
Add half of the gremolata. Mix well and cook for 2-3 minutes, your house should smell amazing at this point.
Add in the chicken stock and bring to a boil.
Lower the fire and simmer until lentils are nice and tender around 45 minutes. Add water, if necessary, it wasn’t for me. Once lentils are tender, add the lemon juice, mix well then turn off the fire. Serve by ladling into soup bowls and topping with a dollop of the remaining Gremolata, a few squeezes of lemon juice, and enjoy!
If you don’t have it already, check out Kenji’s new book, The Food Lab, it’s full of useful cooking information backed by science.
After years of only getting a harvest of two or three lemons per year, my lemon tree is in full bloom.I finally have a bountiful harvest. In fact, I have so many lemons, I caught myself finally uttering words I thought I would never utter–I have too many lemons. My motto is when life gives you lemons–cook with them! Luckily for me, the Mediterranean flavor profile is one of my favorite flavor profiles. I love a great greek chicken salad. I decided to switch things up a bit, by taking the same ingredients I might use to make a greek salad, and instead, make a warm and savory bowl. The result–delicious! The best thing about this bowl is it can be eaten warm, or cold, it is delicious either way. Feel free to switch out the ingredients, using kale in place of spinach, grill the chicken on the barbecue instead of in the pan, or add red bell pepper and marinated artichokes. You can also switch out the grains, use basmati rice instead of quinoa. If you want to make this vegetarian, replace the chicken in this recipe with tofu or just add more mushrooms. To make it Paleo omit the grains and add more spinach or kale.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Ingredients For Sauce/marinade:
4 large cloves of garlic minced
1 tablespoon of fresh Thyme
1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon of lemon zest
1/3 cup of olive oil
1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
Ingredients for chicken bowl:
5 chicken thighs
1 cup of Persian cucumber diced
1 cup of tomato diced
10 ounces of sliced crimini mushrooms
12 ounces of spinach
1 cup of quinoa
1 cup of feta cheese, crumbled
4 Tablespoons of oil, split
sea salt to taste
Directions: Place the quinoa and 2 cups of water in a pan, cover and cook until water evaporates(about 10-15 minutes), then set aside.
Heat the garlic, olive oil and thyme in a saucepan for 1-2 minutes.
NOTE: You do not want the garlic to brown. If it browns then you’ve cooked it too long. The point of this is to infuse the oil with garlic and thyme and also mellow out the garlic. The two-minute mark is usually long enough.
Transfer the infused oil to a bowl, add the lemon juice, sea salt, and lemon zest, mix well.
Season the chicken with sea salt, and pour half of the sauce/marinade over the chicken, set the remaining sauce/marinade aside. Place the chicken in the refrigerator to marinate for a minimum of 15 minutes.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a saute pan, add the mushrooms, season with sea salt and cook until brown–about 10 minutes. Once the mushrooms are brown, transfer them to a plate and set aside.
Add the spinach to the same saute pan, cook until wilted about 3-4 minutes.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a cast iron skillet. The skillet should be smoking hot. Once it is hot, add the chicken and cook undisturbed for 3-4 minutes on each side or until chicken is cooked through.
Assemble the bowls by adding some quinoa, mushrooms, spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes, feta and chicken to each bowl. Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of the remaining sauce over each bowl, and enjoy!
DIY Hot Chocolate Mix-How to make Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix
I have been so busy these past few weeks, too busy to even think about putting up a blog. That is not to say that I have not been thinking about you guys. I have so many great recipes that I want to share with you, but they will have to wait until the new year. I wanted to share a few Holiday recipes with you as I prepare them for my family and friends. This recipe for hot chocolate is one such recipe. It makes a great gift and it’s not overly complicated to make. I added the mix to some mason jars and purchased some white tops to replace the metal lids to give them a more elegant look. Add a ribbon, and you’ve got a perfect food gift for a loved one, not to mention some fantastic hot chocolate mix for yourself!
8 oz semi-sweet organic chocolate bar ( 70%-100%)
1 cup of unsweetened baking chocolate powder
1 cup of organic sugar can sub with maple sugar
2 tablespoons of cornstarch
Directions: Place the chocolate bar into the freezer so that it’s frozen solid before you process this mix. It Should not take longer than 10 minutes for it to freeze. Roughly chop the frozen chocolate bar,
Place it and all of the other ingredients into a food processor,
Blend until the ingredients are completely powdered–about 2 minutes.
Once powdered, transfer to an air tight container.
When ready to use, add 2-3 tablespoons of the hot chocolate mix to 1 cup of milk– You can use any kind of milk you like, you can also use water. Bring the milk/water and hot chocolate mix to a boil in a sauce pan.
Top hot chocolate with marshmallows–get my recipe here-– and enjoy! So easy, and so delicious! Page is in love with hot chocolate now thanks to this recipe! Happy Holiday’s everyone!!!
I love to roast chicken whole. It is the epitomy of lazy cooking in my opinion, however, the payoff is amazing! You marinate the chicken, stick it in the oven for an hour, and you’re done. I’ve mastered the art of roast chicken. My roast chicken is famous among my friends and family. Brining is the secret to perfectly roasted chicken, but I’ll save that for a another post. For now I’ll just give you a recipe for perfectly roasted chicken.
Here’s what you need: Ingredients 1 Whole Organic non-GMO Chicken 4 cloves of garlic, pasted The juice of 1 lemon The zest of 1 lemon Sea salt Black pepper 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
Directions: In a small bowl add the pasted garlic, lemon zest and oil.
Rub the the olive oil mixture all over the Chicken, and season it generously with…
Now that Page is in school–two schools if we’re being technical–there are always opportunities for me to cook, or prepare treats for her classes. This week has been particularly hectic because both schools are doing fundraising drives, and if you’re a parent then you know the schools require a lot of participation from parents in the form of raising money and volunteering to bring food and elbow grease. Luckily for me none of the kids in Page’s class have food allergies, so I decided to make these popcorn balls. Popcorn balls have always been one of my favorite Halloween treats. They contain popcorn and marshmallows, really what’s not to love? These popcorn balls also have a yummy touch of peanut butter, you can omit it, or sub with sun butter or almond butter if you have a little one with allergies. If not–live a little–tis the season! You can make your own marshmallows here’s how, or you can buy a store brand. I got a gluten free version from Whole Foods.
Makes 12 medium popcorn balls
Here’s what you need:
6 cups of organic Non-GMO popcorn (equal to 1/4 cup of unpopped popcorn)