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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