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Showing posts from March, 2015

Shifting Gears

Making the shift from small-batch cooking at home to making large quantities in a commercial kitchen has been a real learning process.

For starters, I'm using new and different commercial-grade equipment -- equipment that changes even the most basic recipes.

Here's one example: At home, I make rice in my small rice cooker or in a saucepan on the stove. I combine 1 cup of uncooked rice and 2 cups of water and cook the rice through, taking care to avoid burning it.

But in the commercial kitchen, instead of a small counter-top appliance or saucepan, I use a gigantic steamer to make several cups of rice at a time. I add several cups of raw rice to a large pan, add just enough water to cover, set the steamer to 212 degrees and wait 20 minutes. Viola! Perfect light, fluffy rice. The best part about this method is that it's fairly foolproof. It's darn-near impossible to burn rice in the steamer.

And the way I follow recipes has changed too. When you're making one casser…

The Gift

Many years ago I was in a tough spot.

I had three small kids, was working full time, had a monster commute and was going through a painful divorce. Time was my enemy.

My days went something like this ...

After being up all night with the baby, my alarm would buzz at 4 a.m. I'd get everyone dressed, fed and out the door by 6:15. We'd rush to daycare, then I'd rush to make it to work by 8. Socked with a crazy workload, I skipped breaks and worked through lunch so I could leave by 5:15 and pick up the kids just before 6 p.m., minutes before daycare closed. Then I'd rush home to make dinner, do laundry, help with homework and get the kids bathed and into bed. And then I'd get to do it all over again the next day.

It was awful. I had zero time for myself, let alone meal planning and housework. I functioned on autopilot, fueled by Diet Coke and in a constant state of stress and exhaustion.

And then it happened.

I remember it distinctly. I pulled into my driveway one nigh…

Seeing Stars

Hubby's Chicken and Biscuits, one of the most popular casseroles on the menu, is topped with homemade, ultra-flaky buttermilk biscuits.

Star-shaped buttermilk biscuits.

Why stars? Well, there's a story behind that.

One day I was making the casserole for my family and I couldn't find my round biscuit cutter. I searched and searched and couldn't find it anywhere.

I considered using a glass to cut the biscuits, but knew it'd be hard to get the sticky dough loose.

I glanced at my 4 year-old daughter, playing with Play-Doh and saw a round shape cutter.

"Would the plastic Play-Doh cutter work?"

I quickly dismissed the thought. Clearly, I was getting desperate ... but not quite that desperate.

I then thought of my stash of cookie cutters. Surely I had something in there that'd work. I pawed through the various shapes and took a mental inventory. A gingerbread man, hearts, Santa hats, various sizes of candy canes. Everything I had was associated with a holida…

Top 10 Things to do While Dinner's in the Oven

I'm busy. You're busy. We're all so ... darn ... busy!

You might think you don't have time to heat and serve a casserole on a busy weeknight. After all, it takes time to preheat the oven and warm up dinner, even if it's a fully cooked, pre-made casserole.

But remember ... You can multi-task while dinner's in the oven!

So, in defense of slow food ... and in favor of multitasking, here are the Top 10 Things to do While Dinner's in the Oven:

10) Read a book or magazine.
9) Catch up on the day's news and social media updates.
8) Call, email or text a friend.
7) Exercise.
6) Have the kids do their homework, set the table -- or both!
5) Enjoy a cocktail, glass of wine or ice-cold soda pop.
4) Watch something in your DVR.
3) Give the baby/dog a bath.
2) Work on your hobby or start one (knitting, woodworking, doing jigsaw puzzles, etc.)
1) Sit down, put up your feet and RELAX!

Life is better when you delegate dinner!