Cooking 101: Tips in the Kitchen

Over the years I've picked up a few little tricks that really help the cooking process flow well. I'm no magician in the kitchen, so sometimes I need all the help I can get!

Cooking 101: Tips in the Kitchen // brianakapper.com

Tips in the kitchen:

  • If possible, start with a clean kitchen. It makes the clean up way less stressful when you're completely done with everything!
  • Read the recipe completely through. Twice. (You have no idea how many times I've messed something up because I failed to actually READ the recipe.)
  • Prep all your ingredients–even the salt and pepper. Chop, dice, measure, rinse, etc.
  • Read the recipe again! Make sure you didn't forget any ingredients.
  • Get out any pots or pans you might need.
  • Don't forget to actually set your timer. (Another learned from experience tip.)
  • Rinsed used measuring things as you go, so nothing dries to them.
  • Invest in some quality tools. Some of my favorites are my garlic press, santoku knife, wood cutting board, measuring cups, and citrus press.
  • Have fun and try new things!
  • Don't be afraid to experiment. My favorite dish to experiment with is pasta sauce. There are so many variations to be discovered.

I was prepping asparagus to make this dish. I used two cloves of garlic though. Because I can.

What are some of your best tips?

Earth Day

This will be a rare post on my blog. But with it being Earth Day, I figured it was the perfect time to share about a little part of my life that I don't talk about very often.

Earth Day // Shaklee Get Clean // brianakapper.com

I found out about Shaklee a few years ago from some friends. I was on the journey to a healthier life mainly with eating habits. Throughout college I had so many stomach issues! The combination of stress, late night fast food runs, and an apparent food allergy, left me super uncomfortable in many different ways. After switching my diet around, I started taking vitamins and supplements from Shaklee. The supplements really helped to clear up my skin and helped me feel better overall. Especially vitamins D & B in winter. (Anyone else get a little down in the winter?)

So when I moved out last summer, I decided to purchase the Get Clean products! I've been so impressed with the quality of Shaklee and their commitment to their products. The cleaning line is amazing. I no longer get headaches when cleaning, I have saved so much money, and they work really well! I believe that health isn't just about what you put in your body, it's about everything around you. Shaklee has the most natural and nontoxic cleaning line in my humble opinion, and I even used to use vinegar! Even just the Basic H2 by itself is great. You can use it for windows, floors, stove tops, as a general cleaner, etc.

Earth Day // Shaklee Get Clean Basic H2 // brianakapper.com

The Get Clean Kit

  • No harmful fumes or hazardous chemicals.
  • Outperforms 20 national leading brands.
  • You would spend $3400 for ready to use cleaners to get the same amount of clean found in the Get Clean Starter Kit! (Based on comparing number of uses as set forth on product labels of conventional, ready-to-use cleaners.)
  • Features Basic H2® Organic Super Cleaning Concentrate - just 1/4 tsp. makes 16oz. of all-purpose cleaner for only 3 cents.
  • And when you purchase the Get Clean Starter Kit you also make a positive impact on the planet:
  • Keep 108 pounds of packaging waste from landfills.
  • Eliminate 248 pounds of greenhouse gas.

Thanks for reading through this and letting me share a story about my health journey! Go to my contact page if you have questions or want to find out more! The free membership with the purchase of this kit is a limited time offer. Buy here!

Refreshing Citrus + Club Soda

Since I was a child, I have preferred vegetables and fruits over sweets. I know that makes me sound quite insane. I can't help it. Give me all the vegetables.

Refreshing Citrus + Club Soda

Fruit is beautiful. Look at those colors! I think I bought Tangelos from Aldi, but I'm not really sure, since I took the sticker off when I washed them last week...just use a sweet orangey thing and you'll be fine.

Refreshing Citrus + Club Soda

I love the insides of citrus fruits. The cool pattern, the texture, the color! Oh no, my art nerd is showing. Too bad. Learn to love it.

Refreshing Citrus + Club Soda

Directions

-Squeeze your citrus fruit into a glass
-Add ice
-Add a splash of club soda for some fun bubbles

Refreshing Citrus + Club Soda

Make this. Make it right now. You will feel so good. You will feel so refreshed. Especially if you live in the midwest and you're craving some sunshine.

Succulent Propagation

In 2013, I bought a bunch of succulents from Walmart. I loved the different shades of green, the weird shapes, and the fact that they're "hard to kill." I decided to try propagating them when I first started planning my wedding. Spoiler alert, they grow really slow and I instead made a bunch of paper cubes for decoration.

Succulent Propagation // brianakapper.com

I let the above dish grow for a year before I hacked them to pieces. I carefully followed the instructions found on Needles + Leaves. If you try this, go read her instructions, because they're 10x's better than anything I'll tell you.

After carefully tearing leaves off the succulents, and cutting the top off, I let the pieces harden. After a few days, I put them on succulent soil I found at Walmart. I seriously let them sit on the dirt for months...but I did replant the stems! Those are doing fantastic. The leaves I propagated have a slightly different story. As you can see above, they started sprouting roots and new growth.

Succulent Propagation // brianakapper.com

Above are some of the propagated leaves that have been replanted. I brought three pots of succulents to work to place in my office window. They get so much sunshine here and are thriving!

Here is what I've learned: My succulents had a 50% success rate due to random factors. There are still some propagated leaves I've replanted, sitting in my apartment on my desk that haven't really grown much, which means I should probably bring six more pots of these to work, where they will get a ton of sunshine. I think I did overwater in the beginning, causing some of the leaves to mold and others to just shrivel up and die. Succulents LOVE sunshine. I've already mentioned this. I now want more plants. Maybe I'll give air plants a try. Or a ficus. I've heard both of those are hard to kill. Here are 5 Hard-to-Kill Houseplants I might look into. Note: all of them are toxic to dogs and cats. I'm fine with that because we are never going to get pets. Plants will be my pets.

There you have it! My strange succulent propagation adventure!

We Should Get Coffee

You know how they say food is the way to a man's heart? Well, a great cup of coffee is how you get to mine. I love meeting people for coffee. Some of my favorite memories with my husband, are from when we were dating–we would go try out the various coffee shops in Champaign-Urbana and in the area where we are both from. There are so many good ones! Our honeymoon involved visiting various coffee shops in Nashville. I love coffee.

We Should Get Coffee // brianakapper.com

We received this Moka Express Stovetop Espresso Maker and Milk Frother as wedding presents. We're obsessed, to say the least.

coffee gadgets

We set the heat towards medium-high when brewing. Check out the milk frother–this thing is pure magic and makes the most amazing foam. Normally when you brew with the Moka, you keep the lid shut, but I had to show you the delicious espresso bubbling to the surface.

Making coffee is probably one of my favorite parts of the day. I really enjoy lazy Saturday mornings when we make a few rounds of this! We also use a french press and a chemex depending on how we feel that day. We love coffee. Love. It. 

To kick things off, I thought I would share a bit about me and then ask you all some questions. Make a cup of coffee (or tea) and join me!

What's your favorite way to have coffee (or tea)? I enjoy strong coffee with a touch of cream. I rarely sweeten my coffee.

What's the best book you've read recently? Amy Poehler's, "Yes Please!" I found myself laughing out loud at some of the shenanigans she wrote about. I want to be her friend.

What's one skill you wish you could improve on or learn about? I really want to get better at photography. I took one class in college on it and loved it. I wouldn't say my style is super trendy because I like rich colors and contrast.

What's your favorite section on Pinterest? (If you don't like Pinterest, what are some of your favorite websites?) I love both the design section, and the home decor section. In another life I want to be an interior decorator. I love making a home cozy! The design section is great–especially over the last year. There's a ton of great work, inspiration, tips, etc.

Be sure to comment below! I look forward to reading your responses. Also: Get a free month of Skillshare with this link: http://skl.sh/1jWUrhj. I'll be using it to watch some photography tutorials.