Tool: Immersion Blender

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  I suppose it’s not technically an essential tool, but it is one I use all the time: my immersion blender.   I put off buying one for years, though my friends mentioned using theirs regularly. After I bought one, I knew I would never be without one again.     How do I use my immersion blender? Let me count the ways To puree some soups, like roasted root vegetable, butternut squash, and pea soup. To thicken up some … Read More

Simplified Steps to Dinner Planning

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Typical menu planning involves multiple dependent steps: Find out what’s on sale or what coupons you have. Find recipes you can cook and want to eat. Figure out what ingredients you need to cook those recipes. Try to mesh the ingredients you need with what you have and what’s on sale. Plan it out in some way that will be helpful at 5pm Wednesday night. I got tired of spreading out with so many papers and trying to work it … Read More

Announcing: Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Edition of Simplified Dinners!

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Adhering to a restricted diet is difficult. It means paying attention – all the time. It means meal planning and food preparation where you might have relied on convenience foods before. It can be exhausting. In addition to the mental energy required to stay on top of a special diet, there is also the vast new set of unfamiliar ingredients that seem to be necessary. Gluten‑free flour mixes usually require not only 5 or more flours to combine, they also … Read More

Review: Misto Oil Spritzer

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When I was scrutinizing my master grocery list, eyeing just how many items I could eliminate, I noticed “cooking spray.” “Cooking spray should be an easy thing to eliminate,” I thought. Turns out I use it a lot. Sometimes you don’t know these things until you do without. In our early years of marriage I didn’t buy cooking spray; I thought of it as a luxury item. But back then I also kept Crisco on hand and used that to … Read More

Simplifying Dinner, even for those with food allergies!

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Adhering to a restricted diet is difficult. It means paying attention – all the time. It means meal planning and food preparation where you might have relied on convenience foods before. It can be exhausting.  In addition to the mental energy required to stay on top of a special diet, there is also the vast new set of unfamiliar ingredients that seem to be necessary. Home-mixed gluten-free flour combinations usually require not only 5 or more flours, they also require such … Read More

Essential Kitchen Tools

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While we all have our own little favorite kitchen gadgets, there are only a few real kitchen essentials necessary for a smooth-running, productive kitchen. A pared-down kitchen tool drawer is easier to keep organized, clean, and useful. The fewer tools you own means your reliable stand-bys are at hand, not buried in a quagmire of random doodads. At least half the knives on the market, as well as a good percentage of the rest of the kitchen equipment sold for … Read More

Peeling & Chopping Garlic: You Don’t Need Gadgets

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Garlic is on the top of any list of pantry essentials. Its flavor adds to almost any mealtime dish. Of course there are many “convenient” ways to get garlic into your cooking: Garlic powder Jarred pre-minced garlic Jarred whole garlic Garlic paste However, nothing beats the clean taste of fresh garlic. And since garlic is such an essential, it is no surprise that all sorts of gadgets exist to make getting your garlic more “convenient”: Garlic press Rubber garlic peeler … Read More

Essential Kitchen Tools: Pastry Scraper

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One of my favorite lesser-known kitchen tools is a pastry scraper. I bought mine only a year or two ago and don’t know how I lived without it. It’s the sort of tool you’d find in any professional bread-making or pastry-making operation, but only rarely find in home kitchens, even though Target and Amazon have them cheap. This handy-dandy little tool cleanly divides bread dough on the counter (it’s not sharp, so it’s ok to use straight on the counter); … Read More

Why simplify your pantry?

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I started creating this system four years ago after I gave birth to our third child. I enjoyed cooking, and shopping frugally was one of my hobbies, but after baby three was born, I no longer had the mental energy to page through recipe cards, cookbooks, bookmarks, keep track of ingredients needed, and remember it at the right time. While I used to be able to keep information in my head, now I found myself lacking the brain power and … Read More