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 //

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?

Cooking 101: Spinach Pasta

I love the following: spinach, pasta, garlic, and butter. Combined? Even better!

I modified the recipe found on Pinch of Yum's blog. Be sure to go check out her directions!

Cooking 101: Spinach Pasta

Modified Directions

-1 lb gluten free spaghetti
-1/2 stick of butter
-6 cloves garlic, minced
-handfull basil leaves, chopped
-container of spinach, chopped
-salt & pepper to taste
-parmesan cheese for topping

1. Cook spaghetti.
2. Saute garlic for a few minutes until fragrant and lightly brown. Stir in greens–they will start to soften and wilt. This only takes a couple minutes.
3. Mix in spaghetti.
4. Add salt, pepper, and cheese to taste.

Cooking 101: Spinach Pasta

I also cooked venison in the oven with salt, pepper, and olive oil for 25-30min at 350F. I'm super thankful my dad sent a bunch of venison home with Aaron and me after Christmas! Venison, when cooked properly, is actually quite amazing. We have ground venison for soups and taco meat, solid chunks to cut up for stews or to cook like I did, a roast, and then some backstrap–which is seriously delicious. It's a huge blessing to have.

Cooking 101: Spinach Pasta

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


-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.

Gluten Free Doughnut Love

If you've known me for more than a month, you probably know I have a slight doughnut obsession. Even since going gluten free a few years ago, doughnuts have been the most difficult thing to resist. So, imagine my pure excitement when I moved and found out a local doughnut truck offered a gluten free flavor every once in awhile. Pandamonium Doughnuts!!

Gluten Free Doughnuts

Anytime they have a gluten free flavor listed on their Facebook page I literally run across campus. Here are today's flavors:

-Heart-Shaped Cherry w/ Organic Cacao Nibs*
-Saigon Cinnamon Sugar
-Maple Bacon Apple Fritters*
-Salted Caramel*
-Chocolate Covered Strawberry 
-Maple Pecan Crunch
-Chocolate Crumble
-Red Velvet 
-GLUTEN FREE Chocolate Cake Strawberry (NEW!)

So I of course immediately told Aaron what the gf flavor was, and he said, "Well obviously you should go get some." Let's keep in mind that it's 10 degrees outside and I forgot my mittens today. Nothing could stop me. I bought three of the gluten free for myself. For Aaron, I bought the flavors I put asterisks by. Can we chalk these up to Valentine's Day treats?

Gluten Free Doughnuts

The doughnut above is a gluten free chocolate candy cane from last December. My all time favorite so far has been a gluten free pumpkin from last fall! I would eat one every day if I could. Also above, the super awesome Pandamonium logo was designed by our friend Scott of Scobar! I'll introduce him on a "Have You Met" post soon!

Another reason I love them: "Bringing specialty, artisan handcrafted doughnuts to the CU! NO Trans-Fat, NO artificial ingredients, NO preservatives! All Natural and Freshly Made!" Deliciousness. Worth every penny. Special rare treats galore.

I wish all the doughnuts were mine. Everyone should come visit me and we can go to the Pandamonium Doughnut truck! In the summer, they are stationed at the farmer's market, and I basically throw my money at everyone there. Just kidding. I'm on a budget.

Cooking 101: Lunch Prep

Life balance is this elusive thing we all chase after. I'm in a season of life where I'm really learning what it means to work hard in many areas. One part of life that I've really grown in the past few months, is food prep. I've found the week goes a lot smoother if I spend one or two nights–usually Sunday and Tuesday–prepping lunches and dinners. It makes the morning a little bit easier when we know there is a lunch ready to go. 

I eat gluten free and love vegetables. My husband is learning to like vegetables and he loves meat and carbs. So really, meals have become a balancing act.

Cooking 101: Lunch Prep //

I started by making some Sweet and Spicy Chicken. I found this in a Real Simple magazine a few years ago. I've made it with chicken breasts and thighs before, both with skin and without. I've been grocery shopping for two weeks at a time recently, so I used chicken breast tenders I had in the freezer.

Cooking 101: Lunch Prep //

It tastes and smells so good! Next up is something I usually make just in the summer. Aldi had a sale on zucchini and yellow squash, so I made it now!

Cooking 101: Lunch Prep //

Sautéed Squash

-Slice veggies
-Sprinkle with seasoning salt and pepper
-Sauté in skillet on medium heat
-Make a second batch after you ate half of the first one

Cooking 101: Lunch Prep //

I also cooked some brown rice pasta from Trader Joe's. We don't have a store near us, so I have a stockpile of rice and quinoa from when we visit home, or when I have someone else buy stuff for me. We need a Trader Joe's. End of story.

I did heat some fresh minced garlic in olive oil till it browned. I drizzled that over the pasta and then shredded some fresh parmesan cheese.

This was just for two days worth of lunch. Sometimes I cook enough for three days, but it really depends on the recipe and how I divide it up for lunches. Next time I make this, I'll probably put less chicken in each container, but add more vegetables.

Happy cooking!