Naptime Simple Tips: Fun & Essential Tips for Your Kitchen
A quick PSA for tea drinkers around the globe: it is now Celestial Seasonings Nutcracker Sweet season. There has never been a tea I’ve loved more than this and now I order it by the case. This means I won’t have to buy out whole displays at my supermarket and anger the rest the tea drinkers in our town! Here is how I take it:
Try as I might, I am never completely ready for the holidays, no matter how much I plan. There is always something I overlook or, more likely, don’t anticipate. Like that time our friends stopped over to chat and we ended up having an informal dinner party. Or the time our neighbors’ furnace broke and we took them in for the better part of an evening. It is always fun when people come by, but it is important to be prepared so you don’t greet them with an empty kitchen and a glass of tap water. In order to help you be properly prepared this holiday season, I’ve assembled some easy tips to ensure you’re ready to entertain at the ding of the doorbell.
Last weekend some dear friends came to visit and we had a fun, easy (keyword: easy) lasagna night at home. Casual entertaining is my favorite, especially when it is cold outside. We make cheesy comfort food, light a fire, and serve lots of good red wine. The mood is casual and comfy. All we do is chat for hours on end while keeping one ear on the kids playing upstairs. Here is how we go about hosting lasagna night if you’d like to see:
Let’s face it, it is tough to get healthy dinners on the table every single night of the week. But it is even harder during the holiday season. If your family is like ours, there are tons of after-school activities, late nights for work travel, and all sorts of holiday-themed homework. On top of that there is spending every extra spare minute getting things organized for the holiday season. Every so often I give myself a break when this craziness rolls around and order a box from Blue Apron. This smart service cleverly makes healthy meals easy to make by delivering the pre-measured ingredients straight to your door.
I make lots of homemade tomato sauce, especially in the cooler months. Pasta is one of my family’s favorites and I prefer to make tasteful, healthy sauce from scratch since we eat it so frequently. There are several ways to make tomato sauce and I’ve highlighted my favorite recipes here in the past. But recently I’ve discovered this cool trick to making the sauce super duper silky.
As I mentioned this summer, I am slowly dipping my toe into wine writing and have been teaching myself about wine bit by bit. It is so much fun, but also very hard. Sometimes I fall so in love with a wine that I want to serve it with everything I make forever and ever. I have to force myself to take a break from it, move on, and try something new. Not always easy! Tasting wine is all about detecting nuances in flavor and texture which, I find, can be so much harder than declaring a recipe a success or failure. I am loving the new challenge and doing my best to keep track of my tasting notes. Here are a few new favorites I’ve been loving so far this fall:
I have packed my daughter’s lunchbox four times already and I know I have at least one hundred more times to pack it before next June. In the spirit of sharing ideas I thought I’d round-up a few of our personal favorite lunchbox ideas. Please share yours!
Every fall I spent a little time freshening up my kitchen. I get rid bits and pieces of food left over from summer, dump out the last bites of jam from jars, refill the maple syrup pitcher, and give my pots and pans a good scrubbing. I also pull out a fresh roster of recipes to make with my daughter since she loves to help me in the kitchen these days. She is learning her way around a recipe slowly and surely and I want to encourage her as much as I can. However, before we dive into a new round of food I like to review a few kitchen first aid with her to make sure we are on the right track.
I’ve been canning up a storm in Cooperstown this month with my Dad. As I’ve outlined before, we love canning fruits and vegetables each summer. It is a time for us to bond, plus we get to reap the rewards all winter long. I also give a lot of the preserves we make away for holiday gifts. I am excited to work with my friends at Ball Jar for the second year in a row to celebrate International Can-It-Forward Day. It is coming up this Saturday August 16th and you don’t want to miss it if you are a canning enthusiastic, or a novice who is eager to learn.
Every summer I fold a new selection of recipes into my repertoire. But I also spend a lot of time revisiting old favorites. It is kind of like that saying “make new friends but keep the old.” I spend all winter looking forward to our summer classics just as much as do trying new recipes. Here are some of the tried-and-true family favorites I’ve been making this summer. They deserve another go ’round in the spotlight in case you missed them the first time:
Earlier this week Talenti Gelato sent me the most ah-mazing care package. I’ve always loved their brand but it seemed particularly fitting to get a gigantic box of it during National Ice Cream Month. It also came during one of our hottest months which means we are eating ice cream left and right. Yes, I’ve even considered serving it for dinner and skipping the healthy stuff altogether. Here are a few ways we’ve been enjoying it:
We are about halfway through our first gardening season in the new yard and it is time for an update. So far I’m happy to report that my year of experimentation is going fairly well. I’ve learned quite a bit about our climate, the sun patterns, and what critters I have to contend with around here. Here are some photos if you’d like to see: