Wednesday Weekly 3: My Aha Cooking Moment

I’ve been cooking & baking & making foodstuffs for many years, for family, extended family, friends, clients, as new baby gifts, and as sympathy gifts. I cannot think of a better gift than homemade foods.  As a cook, I can tell you that everything tastes so much better when it is made by someone else!

I really engage in reading a lot about food, equipment, and cookbooks, the new and well- reviewed. I love to eat and love to prepare food despite my small and sometimes challenging kitchen.

So, I spend my Sunday mornings reading what I’ve missed from the week; one of the sites I follow is the NYTimes Cooking section. It was there I had a slap-my-forehead moment. I have long battled with the problem of managing to fit everything in my single oven. I often want to roast an entree and use the oven for roasted vegetables or other side dishes, but all the cooking times & temps were different and by the time dinner was served and the meat had rested, my different sides, especially the veggies were cold!

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TA-DA!

Nordic Ware Baker's Quarter Sheet

 
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1. Meet the quarter sheet pan. This must have is from the Nordic Ware brand that comes strongly  recommended from America’s Test Kitchen. And the size is this: exterior dimensions 12.88 x 9.63 x 1.13 inches and interior dimensions 11.5 x 8 x 1 inches. Or one half of a half sheet pan, which is my new go-to size.

 
 Use this size guide to understand the size I’m sold on.

Use this size guide to understand the size I’m sold on.

 

With the same raised edges as the half-sheet size, this small size can fit two side by side in my oven, so the different baking time for vegetables and entree are no problem. Each pan magically holds it own contents, seasonings and can bake simultaneously on one oven rack- allowing you to take out the foods when they are done, not well-done.

You see, in my cooking repertoire, I roast all veggies. The flavor deepens and the tiny bits of charring on the edges is so much more delicious. High oven temp roasted green beans are so much sweeter, as is broccoli, tomatoes, onions, peppers, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and asparagus to name a few. And oven roasted potatoes? The best!

And for roasting a pork tenderloin? This pan size is perfect! This works well for half a squash or half a head of cauliflower.

The same with delicate white fish, or crab cakes, or roast chicken. I even purchased cooking racks, that raises the entree off the bottom of the pan and allows air to circulate and drippings to fall. The workable 9x12 (approx.) pans makes it worth finding room in my overstuffed cabinets.

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Checkered Chef Cooling Racks

 
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2. Add to these pans, stainless steel racks by Checkered Chef that come in a pack of two.

These fit right in the pan and will allow any fats to drip beneath. And if you are not using these in the pan, use them as a cooling rack when done cooking- pans and racks that are such a simple solution for meal prep.

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OXO LOCKING TONGS

 
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3. My must have tool for working with these quarter sheets are my tongs, these by OXO meet the ATK testing, and are worth investing in. OXO Good Grips 9-Inch Stainless Steel Locking Tongs.

I use the 9 inch because I am not tall, and unless working on the outside grill, I don’t need the 12” length as recommended.

These quarter sheet pans are ideal for prepping a variety of veggies, each of which has its own cooking time, and just as helpful for getting those chicken breasts in the oven.  These are sure to help you create & serve warm and delicious meals for your family.

FOR YOUR LIFE, FOR YOUR FAMILY, FOR YOUR HOME, BOTH INSIDE & OUT, LET’S GO!

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Wednesday Weekly 3: Spring Clean

The winter holidays have come and gone and we are well into the new year.  March marks the arrival of spring, though the weather doesn’t always cooperate! I know we haven’t all kept the old-school spring cleaning in our home repertoires, but I know when the warm breezes arrive and scents of spring are in the air, I am compelled to get things cleaner than usual.

I manage to squeeze in weekly vacuuming and dusting, but I rarely have time to do some of the other tasks that help a home sparkle. Things like wiping down doors and door knobs, dusting baseboards, and other surfaces and wiping down picture frames. Sure, you could also take down and launder your drapes and blinds, deep clean your carpets, wash all your windows and screens, and flip all the mattresses in your house, but I like to keep my spring cleaning realistic and attainable.  

For spring cleaning, I like to focus on simple and effective methods for getting to woodwork, moldings and mantels, sticky doorknobs, fireplace, windowsills, and the other spots that could use a spring spruce up.

So here are my three tips for inspiration to clean a bit deeper.

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Dawn Dish Soap

 
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1. Dawn Dish soap: Added to medium to hot water in a stainless steel bucket. Just about a teaspoon will do in a small bucket filled 2/3rds of the way.  You only need enough dish soap to break down the soil. Use a microfiber cloth and if needed, a scrub sponge. This is my go-to wipe down solution. Even on my leather sofa and chairs. This gentle solution works and my furniture has survived the bottles and sippy cups and chocolate milk spills of little ones.

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puracy spray

 
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2. Puracy spray: This is an all surface cleaner and it advertises to do so much more. Having just learned about Puracy, I am a new convert. It is streak free. I have been using it on all my stainless steel appliances and kitchen counter surfaces at night. I am ready to give it a go on the windows, as the mirror in our powder room is gleaming.

Puracy is biodegradable and plant based with a hint of green tea tree and lime. The ingredients are natural, non-toxic, & hypoallergenic. This is made in the USA. YAY!

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microfiber cloths

 
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3. Microfiber cloths: I don’t really like how they feel, but they work so well, I will deal with the touch factor. If you haven’t tried them yet, do. And get these tried and true ones by vibra wipe. The imitation ones just aren’t worth it. Try them yourself and you will be a convert. They work.

Dig in deep now on your home, apartment or bedroom. Warm summer weather will be here soon, and I for one do not wish to be cleaning on the inside, when the sunny days are calling.

FOR YOUR LIFE, FOR YOUR FAMILY, FOR YOUR HOME, BOTH INSIDE & OUT, LET’S GO!

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