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5 Simple Things To Make Cooking A Breeze

By Lifestyle No Comments

Cooking, especially on a busy workday can be stressful. By no stretch am I an expert cook, but I have been dealing with busy work nights and a husband with a busy schedule for years.

1.) Use A Cookbook

Seriously, unless you are a professional chef or have been cooking for years and years, use a cookbook. It is extremely helpful as you learn proportions, foods and spices that mix well together and just gets you comfortable in the kitchen. I rely heavily on cookbooks and do a ton of recipe reviews because its the best way to learn! Just like being in school, cooking by recipe is a great way to learn. If you don’t have a cookbook to learn off of, Pinterest is a great resource. Find food boards that either have reviews of the recipe or are by a reputable chef and use those recipes to enhance your cooking skills! But don’t do the same thing over and over again. Branch out to new recipes and slowly try to enhance your skills. You won’t get better if you continue to make sheet pan dinners.

2.) Necessary Tools

Okay this is going to be an ongoing topic for me. Let’s start with the absolute basics. When you are cooking you don’t need all the expensive culinary tools. You just need the basics and then you can work up from there. So basics I found that I just can’t replicate without.

  • Grater – A grater is so important so you don’t accidentally cut yourself (like I did) and saves you endless time and frustration. Trust me trying to ‘grate’ a lemon with a knife is not the same and it hurts when you miss the lemon.
  • Hand Mixer- The standing kitchen aid mixers are beautiful, but they are expensive. So if you are just starting out, I think getting a hand mixer will be your best friend. I have been hand mixing all the recipes I have tried and the time and effort it takes to get to the consistency you want is astounding. Save yourself the time and buy a hand mixer, this way you won’t be frustrated with recipes you are trying. My husband just got me one for our anniversary and I was thrilled! My cookies and recipes turned out 10 times better than if I had mixed them by hand.
  • Ladle, Spatula, Whisks, Wooden Spoon and a Spatula – For most of the meals you will be cooking these utensils should cover the basics! But my biggest recommendation is to buy good quality! You will be hardest on these utensils so make sure they will last! My spatulas are falling apart so I’m planning to get a better quality version!

3.) Use Salt Lightly

You can’t take salt back once its on your food. Start light and add more when necessary. So when they say sprinkle salt, sprinkle lightly and add as you see fit. But be careful not to add too much or you will ruin the food you spent so hard working on. You may already know this but it is always worth mentioning. Instead of excess salt, use other spices to bring flavor. I love red pepper flakes, oregano, basil and black pepper. Salt is an essential spice, but it should be used sparingly.

4.) When In Doubt – Stir Fry

This may not be the correct way to ‘Stir Fry’, but it’s what I call these super easy and healthy meals. For nights where I want to eat healthy or have a home cooked meal I make this. There are so many ways you can vary this and its done within 20 minutes!

  1. Take a large skillet and heat with about 1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.
  2. Chop up a meat(or meat substitute) of your choice and add to the pan.
  3. While your meat cooks, chop up a variety of veggies. I personally go for zucchini squash, bell peppers, onions, and jalapenos. Throw those into your 70-80% cooked mixture and combine.
  4. Season with salt, and pepper.
  5. Let cook for 7-10 minutes until veggies are tender.
  6. Serve warm with sides of fruit or rice.

5.) Cook Foods You Like

I feel like people forget this, cook the foods you like. Don’t cook foods that are healthy or popular if you don’t like them. Find healthy ways to serve the foods you like. Cook the tacos, the burgers, the chicken wings, etc. Life is short, cook the foods you enjoy and just look for new ways to help make those meals a bit healthier. But to cook at home more often, you need to like doing it. And that starts with cooking the foods you actually like eating!

Overall, just make cooking fun! The more fun it is the easier it will get. And the easier it gets the more frequently you will do so! Have fun cooking everyone!

Jalapeno Cornbread- Magnolia Table

By Food No Comments

Is there anything more Midwestern than a good slice of cornbread?! Seriously, whenever people mention cornbread my first thought is one of our family dinners with a big bowl of chili with a hearty slice of cornbread. It’s just one of those Midwestern staples you can’t help but love. So when I saw it in the Magnolia Table cookbook I knew it was my next recipe to review! And I was so excited to review it!

First off, this recipe is so darn easy! It doesn’t take any time to put together (except pickled – jalapenos if you so choose). The ingredients aren’t expensive making this the perfect go to side dish for any soup or dinner you might be making. The recipe calls for two optional ingredients jalapenos and ___. I opted for neither and instead cut up one jalapeno (seeds included) and threw that into the liquid mixture. I knew my husband would like the kick of spice that came along with it. My next attempt will include the pickled jalapeno option, but for today the raw jalapenos were included. The recipe does take a hot minute to bake — 50 minutes — but as long as you do this before the rest of your dinner prep you should be good to go!

Now for the one downside I have and this is towards cornbread in general. It’s a very dry dish. It’s just the way its meant to be and that’s totally okay. This is a home-style dish that is served with extraordinary amounts of butter. So be prepared to have butter on the side otherwise this is very hard to get down. Regardless, this recipe is perfect for what it was intended to be and is definitely one that I will keep in my back pocket for future family dinners.

Jalapeno Cornbread

From Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines

Ingredients
  

  • 4 Tbsp Butter (Melted)
  • 1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 Cup Fine Yellow Cornmeal
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Cup White Corn (I used yellow)
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped drained pickled jalapenos (I used raw jalapenos) – OPTIONAL
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped roasted pimientos – OPTIONAL

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
  • Butter a circular baking dish — It calls for a cast iron but mine is too big for a small recipe like cornbread. If you have a smaller cast-iron skillet use it!
  • Whisk flour, cornmeal, salt and garlic powder and set aside
  • Whisk melted butter, cream and eggs
  • Add liquid ingredients to the dry flour mixture. Add the corn, jalapenos and pimientos. It states to not overmix them just mix until moist.
  • But the mixture into your circular baking pan and cook for 50(ish) minutes. Once the endges are golden brown and the top is starting to brown is when you take it out. Stick a knife or toothpick in to make sure it's cooked through.
  • Cut into individual sections. I did 8, but the recipe calls for 6.
  • Serve warm with a heaping amount of butter! Enjoy!

Super Tuna Melts – Cravings Review

By Food No Comments

If you like trying new things, this recipe is for you! Let me start by stating this as clearly as I can…. you need to like tuna to like this recipe. Warm tuna is a texture and taste that is very unique and specific. If you don’t like tuna or have a mild liking of it, be weary before trying this.

The ingredients on their own are good and what you would expect in a sandwich melt. I honestly believe the only thing that would make you not like this sandwich is the consistency or the warm tuna taste. But its always worth trying, so I recommend it!

Overall, I would say that while this is not my favorite recipe, its not bad at all! Like I mentioned before, this recipe is perfect for any tuna lover! So give it a shot and let me know what you think!

Here are the ingredients you need per Chrissy Teigens Cookbook and photos with instructions on how to cook it.

  • 2 (5 ounce) Cans of water packed tuna (drained)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt and Black Pepper
  • 4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 slices white country bread
  • 6 slices vine-ripened-tomatoes
  • 6 cheddar cheese slices
All the ingredients you will need.
Drained Tuna
Final Product — Add mango slices to go with it.

If you try it, let me know what you think in the comments!

Recipe Review is from Chrissy Teigens Cravings Cookbook.

Ramen Dump – Chrissy Teigen Cravings Review

By Lifestyle No Comments

I put off writing this review for weeks. Let me start out by saying that I had high hopes for this recipe. My husband and I have really grown to like ramen and I was interested in expanding my uses of ramen. Especially since it’s such a cheap ingredient! I will be honest that I was a little worried when I started reading the ingredients, there were a lot of items that I just wasn’t a fan of. For example, one of the prime ingredients is apple cider vinegar, which is a rough flavor, when it’s not cooked I feel like it overpowers the dish. There was also raw cabbage mix that went in, again something that I think it rough without being cooked with other ingredients.

Onto the honest thoughts. This was without doubt the most disgusting dish that I have ever had. I could barely get 3 bites down and my husband got maybe one bite before he looked over at me with wide eyes. This was just bad all around. For one, the ramen wasn’t cooked it was softened with the apple cider vinegar and that flavor combo was…. interesting to say the least. Combine that with the sugar, peas and corn and we just couldn’t stomach the flavors. I mean if you are a die hard ramen fan, then maybe I would suggest giving it a shot, but honestly I would say just avoid this recipe in its entirety.

Overall Review:

  • Overall Difficulty: 1/5
  • Price: Less than $15 for all ingredients.
  • Taste: 1/5
  • Recommendation: Now let me just state, this was an incredibly easy dish to make. It wasn’t hard and took very little time. However I would not recommend this dish. It makes a ton of food and if you don’t like it you will throw it all in the trash like I did. Sometimes its best to just let a recipe die and this is the one I would recommend.

The recipe can be found in Chrissy Teigens cookbook Cravings. This recipe review is a part of our Cravings Cookbook review.

xoxo – The Unprofessional Chef

Cravings Review – Roasted Jalapeno and Chorizo Queso

By Food No Comments

Y’all. This might be one of the most unexpected yet truly AMAZING dips I’ve ever made! Without doubt one of the spiciest quesos we’ve ever made, but well worth it. My husband is all about spicy foods and a good dip. This was just what the doctor ordered and it has everything you need for a great dinner or party. This recipe called for six whole jalapenos. Now I know that the amount of jalapenos can be a deterrent for those who don’t enjoy spicy foods. And I won’t lie, it’s spicy and a little intense. But once you get through a few bites, you start working through the spice and enjoying the flavor. So be willing to try something new and give this queso a shot!

I don’t use chorizo regularly so I wasn’t entirely sure how this would taste going in. But any kind of meat is acceptable to my hubby so we went in full force! The longest cooking time in this recipe is the roasted jalapenos. You want to get them nice and dark so depending on your oven this could take a while. We cook in a tiny oven in our camper that only goes to 450 degrees. So it took double the amount of time to cook these. The rest of the dip went by quickly: an onion, tomato, velveeta cheese and chorizo. Simple ingredients but one heck of a taste! The best part is there is no bad aftertaste, which is a huge deal when working with new recipes!

  • Overall Difficulty: 2/5
  • Price: Less than $15 for all ingredients
  • Taste: 5/5
  • Recommendation: This was my and my husbands favorite recipe thus far! It makes plenty of dip to go around and is very hearty so be prepared to fill up quickly!

The recipe can be found in Chrissy Teigens cookbook Cravings. This receipe review is a part of our Cravings Cookbook review.

xoxo – The Unprofessional Chef

Cookbook we are working through this year! You can find a copy here! Cravings Cookbook

Cravings Review – Rotochick Chicken Noodle Soup

By Food No Comments

Today is the first day of our recipe by recipe review of Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook Cravings! I have been dying to do a cookbook review and to sharpen my cooking skills. Please bear with me as I work through new techniques and how to best document these reviews! Also, I am not going in order as I want to vary them throughout the coming weeks. So, today we are starting with her Rotochick Chicken Noodle Soup.

This is a super easy recipe for anyone just starting out or looking for an easy dinner. It does take a significant amount of time to complete as you need to account for at least an hour and twenty minutes to cook the entire meal. However, because of the simplistic nature of the recipe, you can do other things while the soup simmers. Your chances of it sticking are low since chicken broth is the main ingredient. For me this is an easy recipe to start building your confidence in cooking. It has simple ingredients, its inexpensive and it isn’t difficult to create. I think Chrissy really nailed this one!

Rotochick Chicken Noodle Soup

  • Overall Difficulty: 1/5
  • Price: Less than $15 for all ingredients
  • Taste: 5/5
  • Recommendation: This was a great tasting chicken noodle soup. Very lightweight and perfect for any chilly winter evening. My hubby loved it which is always a sign of a great meal! If he doesn’t go back for seconds I know it was a bad recipe!

If you try out Chrissy’s recipe let me know what you think! I’m so excited to keep diving into her cookbook and trying all of these recipes! Look out for our next blog post– coming soon!

xoxo- The Not Professional Chef

Cover of Chrissy Teigens book!
Letting the carrots soften