Kitchen Tips

Holiday Guest Post – Warm, Flaky Crust with the Flaky Pie Crust Pan!

Categories: Tags:
Pie Landscape

Our next 2015 Holiday Guest Posts comes from Grace in Oviedo, Florida. Grace is mom to an active three-year-old boy and loves to cook and bake. We asked her to try the Cooks Innovations Flaky Pie Crust Pan to see if she found it useful and would use the pan for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Enjoy the review! – Jessica, Cooks Innovations

Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner, and pies are no stranger to the season. Whether you bake pumpkin, apple, cherry or peach, all your pies need a crispy, golden, delicious crust to make your pie mouth-watering! read more →

Holiday Guest Post: Spreadable Butter – No Longer a Dream with the Butter Mill!

Categories: Tags:
Thanksgiving Garland

The holidays are here again, and that means it’s time for our 2015 Holiday Guest Posts! Our first guest post of the season comes from MJ in Sanford, Florida. MJ is an avid home cook and party hoster that loves to save time in the kitchen while making delicious Thanksgiving food for her guests. We asked her to try the Butter Mill and see how she liked it. Read what MJ thinks about the Butter Mill as a brand new Thanksgiving tool for her family’s kitchen! Enjoy the review! – Jessica, Cooks Innovations

With the holidays right around the corner, staple foods such as mashed potatoes, homemade macaroni and cheese, fresh bread and rolls, corn on the cob, and all kinds of decadent sweets are a hot commodity. It’s time to cook and bake!

Of course, one of the key ingredients in these kinds of tasty holiday foods happens to be butter. As an avid cook, one of my greatest pet peeves is having to frequently work with cold sticks of butter. I’m sure my fellow chefs reading this can relate!

While sticks of butter or margarine can be melted down to form the right consistency, it would be great to use it straight out of the refrigerator without this extra step. A close friend of mine recommended the Butter Mill by Cooks Innovations. After hearing her positive feedback, I decided to try the product out for myself.

Butter Mill Spreadable Butter Packaging

How does it work?

I read the directions on the box and started by placing a stick of my favorite butter in the Cooks Innovations’ Butter Mill. Once the butter is in, you simply twist the Butter Mill at the bottom (see Step 2 above) to grate what once was cold butter, into a flurry of spreadable flakes. It’s really that easy! What I found especially convenient was being able to pop the top back on my Butter Mill and store it in the refrigerator for later use.

Butter Mill SS

Although I can use this product year round, it’ll definitely help me get through the holiday season much more efficiently. When I was hosting parties last year and baking my homemade pies, melting and working with butter was one of the most time consuming and painstaking parts of baking and cooking. Now, with the Butter Mill, I am able to turn cold butter into a soft spread that effortlessly mixes into my recipe ingredients, and I’m confident that this year, my guests will also use it with ease on their bread and rolls at the Thanksgiving table.

I noticed that it’s now also available in the new stylish stainless steel cover. I may pick a couple of these up for holiday gifts this year, especially since they look so nice.

My recommendation? Pick one up! Because whether you want to spread your butter with ease, mix it in with other seasonings without waiting, or are looking for the perfect gift for your fellow culinary lovers, try it for yourself this holiday season and spread the Butter Mill merriment all year long!

-MJ – Sanford, Florida 

 

 

Want to guest post about our holiday-friendly products? Email us: social@cooksinnovations.com!

6 Ways to Make the Most of Fresh Fall Produce

Categories: Tags:
Apple Sauces Pancakes

October and its cooler weather often brings cravings for warm, homey, satisfying food. Your local farmer’s market or grocery store should offer many fall produce choices, but figuring out how to use them can be trickier. We’ve gathered a collection of recipes featuring fresh fall produce, including apples, kale, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, squash, pears, and cranberries. Use the recipes below to whip up easy and delicious dishes from breakfast to dessert:

  1. Applesauce pancakes These pancakes receive a bit of sweetness from the applesauce and are as fluffy as buttermilk pancakes. They are delicious served with sour cream and applesauce or topped with the traditional butter and maple syrup. Leftovers reheat well, so you might consider making a double batch.Applesauce Pancakes
  2. Kale and Brussel Sprout Salad with Toasted AlmondsIf you’ve ever wanted a “go-to” salad, this may be the one. It keeps in the fridge really well, so it’s perfect for making before a party or enjoying throughout the week. Even those who think they don’t like Brussels sprouts or kale go for this salad! The toasted almonds add texture and a bright vinaigrette ties it all together.Kale Salad
  3. Crispy Sweet Potato Fries If you’ve made fries with sweet potatoes before, they probably came out limp and floppy. This recipe introduces a new ingredient that helps crisp the potatoes for a tasty side. You can toss in your choice of spices to add as much or as little kick as you want.Sweet Potato Fries
  4. Roasted Apple and Winter Squash Soup This soup encompasses the best of autumn—sweet apples and savory squash are roasted with spices and herbs before being blended with chicken or vegetable broth. It’s a dairy-free, gluten-free, and low carb soup that is packed with flavor. The squash gives a wonderful creamy texture to the soup and it’s hearty enough to serve as a main course.Soup Bowl
  5. Apple Cider Pork Chops with Roasted Vegetables and Apple Cider Gravy The pork chops in this recipe are pan sautéed, so you get a great caramelization of the meat without drying it out. Meanwhile, autumn vegetables and apples are roasted in the oven for a simple side dish. A tangy gravy is quickly whisked up in the pork chop pan with apple cider and Dijon mustard, making this an easy meal to cook and clean up.Pork Chops
  6. Baked Pears with Cranberries and Pecans The smells of fall will fill your kitchen when you make these baked pear desserts. The addition of spices, cranberries, and pecans make it perfect to serve all season long. You can top the warm pears with Greek yogurt or ice cream for a bit of indulgence.Pears

 

Craving more Autumn home, kitchen and recipe ideas? Follow the Cooks Innovations Cozy Autumn Pinterest Board!

Now Trending: Cold Brew Coffee

Categories: Tags:
Cold Brew Coffee Preparation

Cold brew coffee is one of this year’s hottest trends, and chances are you can find it at your local café, whether that is a Starbucks or the corner shop. Its popularity isn’t simply due to the waning summer warmth—trendy cold brew coffee is distinctly different from iced coffee, which is simply regular hot coffee or espresso served over ice.

The name says it all when it comes to cold brew. Instead of steeping the coffee grounds with hot water over a short period of time, cold brew takes up to 24 hours to steep and uses cold or room temperature water. No heat is involved at all. This significantly changes the way the coffee grounds and water interact. Many people find cold brew to be a smoother, sweeter, and less acidic drink than coffee or espresso. You can be the judge!

Some cafés and bars are mixing things up even more by adding nitrogen gas to coffee and serving it on tap. The mouthfeel of this nitro cold brew will be more akin to a creamy stout than a cup of coffee.

cold brew coffee

If you want to make cold brew at home, you probably already have the tools you need. Here’s the key steps to a great cup of cold brew coffee:

  • Decide how much coffee you want and then measure your coarse coffee grounds and cold or room temperature water in a 1:8 ratio. So, if you’d like 12 ounces of coffee, you’ll need 1.5 ounces of grounds and 12 ounces of water.
  • Mix the grounds and water together in a bowl, French press, Mason jar, or anything else you have handy. If you don’t have a lid, cover the container with plastic wrap.
  • Leave it be for 12-24 hours. You can put the container in the refrigerator if you want, but that’s not necessary.
  • Strain the contents of the container through a coffee filter or, if you’re using a French press, just press the plunger to the bottom. Discard the grounds and pour the strained liquid into your glass.
  • Enjoy! Because cold brew coffee has less acidity, many people drink it black. You can also add milk or sugar if that’s more to your liking.

Cold brew coffee stores great in the refrigerator, so it’s easy to make a big batch over the weekend for a quick grab and go cup during the week.

Comment on our Cold Brew Facebook Post and tell us if you like Cold Brew or prefer standard iced coffee! A lucky poster will receive a Cooks Innovations gift!

4 Easy Afternoon Snacks for Back to School

Categories: Tags:

It’s back to school, and new supplies, homework, and class schedules get a lot of attention!

It’s important to plan for what happens after school, too. Healthy midday snacks can provide your kids with essential nutrition and improve their focus during homework time without spoiling their dinner.

If your family travels straight from school to activities like dance or sports, plenty of after school snack ideas can be made car-friendly.

The snacks below can be prepped ahead of time and will work great whether you’re gathered around the kitchen table or on the go. If you’re already out and about, or if you forget the snacks at home, you can pick up some nut-based trail mix, string cheese, or fresh fruit:

read more →

5 Quick and Easy School Lunches to Impress the Class

Categories: Tags:

The ideal school lunch, for both parents and kids, requires the following 5 elements. The lunch should be:

  • Easy to Prepare
  • Easy to Pack
  • Visually Pleasing
  • Tastes Good
  • Provides a Little Variety

Gone are days where a turkey sandwich on Wonder Bread is going to keep the inspiration flowing for parents and children alike. The school year is too long, and the options are many!

 

Here are 5 of our Savor Our Solutions team’s top picks for the snazziest school lunches that will impress their classmates and make you the weekday hero:

  1. Mini Pizzas

Pop these cupcake mold pizzas in the oven the night before, and your little learners will be the talk of the cafeteria.

Simply combine refrigerated pizza dough, pizza sauce, shredded cheese, and optional toppings like pepperoni into the cupcake pan. Preheat to 425 degrees, bake for 10-15 minutes, wait for them to cool, and pop them out and store. Pack with fruit, water or juice, and some pretzels for a unique and balanced lunch!

mini pizzas for school lunches by cooks innovations

  1. Mini Tacos

Continuing with the mini, easy-to-eat theme are our mini tacos, which fit perfectly in a kid-friendly bento box. Use the varied container slots to house taco meat, cheese, mini tortillas, and toppings. Leave a space for a treat like grapes or cut apples.

mini taco school lunch idea from cooks innovations

  1. Teriyaki Fried Rice

Some kids prefer hot lunches. For this warm, inviting Asian-style recipe, all you need is a thermos. To create this recipe, scramble eggs, then add cooked white or brown rice, edamame, and seasonings. Extra Bonus: Make a batch of eggs for breakfast and use the leftovers for this nourishing, savory meal.

Teriyaki Fried Rice Hot School Lunch Idea by Cooks Innovations

  1. Ham and Cheese Apple Wraps

We’re making lunch in seconds with these ham, cheese, and apple wraps—it’s like a sandwich, only without the bread and with a little fruity twist!

Stack your child’s favorite slice of thick cheese with apple and wrap in deli ham. Pack in a bento box with fruit and wheat thins, pretzels, or crackers.

Ham Cheese Apple Wraps for School Lunches by Cooks Innovations

  1. The Elvis Burrito

This is definitely not the burrito that your kids are used to. Spread peanut butter on a toasted whole-wheat wrap (or choose a gluten free option), and sprinkle over the peanut butter crumbled, fresh bacon, honey, and sliced bananas. A mini milk jug goes great with this one!

Elvis Burrito School Lunch Recipe by Cooks Innovations

Do you need more back to school recipe ideas, including after-school snacks and easy dinners? We’re sure you do! Not to fret- visit our Back to School Pinterest page and grab our best tips!

 

 

 

What is the Best Margarita Recipe?

Categories: Tags:
classic margarita

We can all agree that a palatable Margarita contains three basic ingredients—tequila, lime, and Triple Sec. Still, there is much debate over what makes the best margarita recipe truly the best.

According to the Smithsonian, more than one person claims to have created the world’s first Margarita. However, most historians agree that the Margarita was initially shaken and poured in Mexico in 1938 at the hands of restauranteur Carlos “Danny” Herrera.

That year, Herrera met aspiring actress Majorie King, who was allergic to all types of hard liquor—except tequila. To make his drink more palatable, he combined the ingredients he used in tequila shots, salt and a lime wedge—and turned it into a refreshing drink. The rest is beverage history.

What makes a “perfect” Margarita?

Search the web for the best margarita recipe, and you’ll surely be bombarded with a whimsical barrage of delicious-looking photos and recipes that seem nearly the same.

How do the top food and beverage experts rank the best margarita recipe, and most importantly, can we make it at home?

According to the experts…

margarita cocktail

Bon Appetit Magazine:

  1. 100% Agave Tequila is a MUST. The most recommended type of tequila for the “perfect” margarita is the dark Reposado.
  2. Include Triple Sec or Cointreau.
  3. 1 to 1 ¼ ounces of Lime Juice—don’t skimp!
  4. Salt on the Rim
  5. On the Rocks

CHOW Magazine:

  1. 100% Agave Tequila (no specification on style, but brands like 1800 and Don Julio are mentioned)
  2. Use Cointreau, not Triple Sec
  3. Lime Juice (the amount is unspecified)
  4. Salt or no salt—both are acceptable
  5. Stir—do not shake

Tequila.net:

  1. 5 ounces of 100% Agave Tequila
  2. Add 2 teaspoons of Agave Nectar (We LOVE this touch)
  3. Add 1 oz. of Lime and Ice
  4. Salt is optional
  5. Mix, swirl, or stir to dissolve agave nectar, then shake!

 Esquire Magazine:

  1. 2 oz. Silver Tequila (100% agave)
  2. 1 ounce of Cointreau
  3. 1 ounce of lime juice
  4. Cocktail glass
  5. Shake, then strain into the glass.

As you can see, a few things vary in these margarita recipes, like the use of salt on the rim, whether your tequila choice should be Silver or Reposado, and whether to use Triple Sec or Cointreau. What is clear is that a few simple ingredients can make a fantastic drink.

We, at Cooks Innovations, have a few best margarita recipe suggestions of our own…

Without any further suspense, here is our recipe for the Best Margarita:

  1. 5 ounces of Reposado Tequila (our favorite brand is Cabo Wabo)
  2. ½ ounce of Cointreau
  3. 2 teaspoons Agave Nectar
  4. 1 ounce Island Dave’s Sweet and Sour/Margarita Mix (Organic, Natural, Made with Key Limes)
  5. No salt
  6. A squeeze of lime
  7. Shake and strain over ice into a cocktail glass.

Love Margaritas? Follow us on Instagram for the Most Beautiful, Best-Tasting Margaritas throughout the entire month of July!

 

What is the Difference between Juicing and Blending?

Categories: Tags:
juicing vs blending

American households are increasingly interested in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which includes eradicating poor eating habits, and making consistent, conscious efforts to get into better shape.

Over the last few years, an endless assortment of diets, meal plans, and methods for eating healthier have become available. You’ve probably heard friends or family talking about two popular ways to process fruits and vegetables—juicing and blending.

What is the difference between the two, and how can you tell which is better? Let’s start with a breakdown of juicing versus blending:

Juicing is a process that removes all of the water and nutrients from fruits and vegetables, leaving the excess pulp. Since juicing doesn’t contain any fiber, you may find yourself looking for snacks to hold you over throughout the day. However, the benefit of removing fiber is that you are left with 100% of the nutrients, which are much easier on your digestive system, and a great source of nutritional value.

Blending, on the other hand, combines everything together as a whole. When you use a blender to make a smoothie, it leaves no excess pulp behind. Since this method retains all of the fiber found in fruits and vegetables, smoothies will usually fill you up and keep you satisfied for longer.

The big question now is, which one is better for you?

Honestly, there is no right or wrong answer as to which method is better or worse. Juicing may appeal to you more if you have a sensitive stomach, since it doesn’t contain any fiber. Or, you may prefer drinking something more filling like a smoothie. Either way, you’re making a healthy choice! Fruits and vegetables are vital in our everyday diet. So consuming them regularly, whether it is through blending or juicing, can do nothing but help you and your body in the long run.

If you do decide to start making juicing or blending a part of your daily routine, here are some key notes to keep in mind:

  1. Make sure to purchase the correct machine! You can’t blend with a juicer and juice with a blender, so make sure to find a quality appliance that fits your needs.
  2. Make your drinks fresh! Usually, it’s best to consume them within 15 minutes of being made, in order to digest all of the nutrients.

Whichever method you prefer, try to stick with it and incorporate it into your diet as much as possible. We all need our daily dose of fruits and veggies to maintain a healthy lifestyle, so why not drink up?

Get creative and play around with different recipes. Who knows, you may even find a new favorite go-to morning breakfast.

 

Looking for more juicing and blending ideas? Follow our Pinterest board for some healthy living tips and deliciously fresh recipes.

Help Me Organize My Kitchen! Our Top 10 Spring Cleaning Tips

Categories: Tags:
organizing the kitchen

In February, we issued our first Spring Cleaning post of the year, focused on the kitchen pantry and inspired by our urge to summon the snow away from our fans’ doorsteps!

Now, it’s officially spring, and the snow appears to be winding down. With that said, we think it’s time to continue our 2015 Spring Cleaning Series and bring you our most amazing and useful Top 10 Kitchen Spring Cleaning Tips to get you in gear!

  1. Keep Your Measuring Spoons on Hand—And Clean

We’re tired of measuring spoon fuss! First, we fish for the set in our silverware drawer, pull them out (with a few crumbs inside), and then they go in the wash for another round. Why not use a mason jar or other kitchen jar to hold your measuring spoon sets? That way, they have their own spot, and they never get lost in the drawer. You can keep a few sets in a bigger jar, so you’re not waiting on one set during a wash.

  1. Tame Skinny Straws, Skewers, and Chopsticks

If you have an extra silverware organizer, or can pick up a cheap one at the store, you’ll find it a great solution to keep straws, skewers, chopsticks, and even plastic ware or twist ties.

  1. Reverse Your Dishwasher Strategy

This is an easy one you can implement today—organize the dirty dishes the same way you’d put them away when clean. It’ll save a lot of time.

  1. Become Your Kitchen’s Admin

Install a white board in your kitchen to keep your family up to date, your grocery and coupon lists in one place, and even keep notes on what food needs to be eaten during the week before it expires. Don’t forget a weekly menu for the kids!

  1. Hook It Up

Utilize adhesive hooks throughout your kitchen for items like towels, aprons, scissors, and oven mitts. Use stronger hooks for heavier items like beaters and serving tools.

  1. Keep First Aid in the Kitchen

Let’s face it—injuries do happen in the kitchen. Keep band aids and wraps in a handy container in the kitchen in case you need them.

  1. Arrange Kitchenware By Use

Place more common kitchen items in easy-to-reach areas. China tea cups, fancy silverware, and holiday items can be stored in the higher and more difficult-to-access areas until needed. Bonus: adjust every quarter based on need.

  1. File Your Plastic Containers and Tupperware

“File” your plastic containers and Tupperware, standing upright, to allow easy access for school and work lunches.

  1. Keep Wooden Kitchen Items Good as New

Wooden spoons can start to look and smell bad. Simply boil the spoons in a pot of water and leave them in the sun to dry. For wooden cutting boards, scrub the board with coarse salt and massage with half a lemon to clean particles and smells. If you’d like to condition the wood, stop by a hardware store, pick up a food-grade mineral oil, and apply once a month.

  1. Make Sponges Last Longer

Grab an upside-down binder clip so your sponge dries faster. With the decrease of moisture, you keep out germs and mold for longer, and save your money and health in the long run.

 

Get even smarter in the kitchen this spring! Find our line of innovative Storage & Organization kitchen items on our Online Boutique.

 

Six Simple Ways to Stop Wasting Food

Categories:

Wasting food­ — we’ve all done it, one way or another. You find yourself constantly throwing away moldy containers of leftovers that you meant to eat two weeks ago. You toss out countless fruits and veggies that have spoiled because you never got around to using them. You even throw away unopened foods that have passed their expiration date because you completely forgot you had them hidden in the very back of your pantry. This never-ending cycle for many American households is what contributes to 40% of all food and beverages thrown away every year on average, according to The Natural Resources Defense Council.

This means that each family is not only wasting an incredible amount of food, but they’re also wasting their money, roughly $2,275 annually per family! Wouldn’t you rather spend that on something you actually enjoy? With these 6 helpful tips to help curb food waste, you’ll be saving your way towards that vacation in no time!

  1. Start Making Lists

One of the best and most common ways to stop wasting food is to start at the source: The grocery store. We tend to buy things on a whim. If something catches our eye, it’s easier for our minds to wander off and forget exactly why we even came to the store in the first place, turning “just a few things” into “I think I need a cart”. By focusing on only the items on your list, you can bypass any aisles you don’t need to visit and go straight for what you need.

Not only does list-making help with grocery shopping, but it can also help to show you exactly what you tend to throw out every week and why. Try keeping a log of everything you throw away. Is it mainly extra food being scrapped from your plate? Is it spoiled fruits and veggies? Expired items? Or leftovers you forgot about? Seeing the types of foods that are being wasted on paper and the reason behind it can help you change up your habits in the future.

  1. Only Buy the Amount You Need

Grocery stores such as Publix and Whole Foods are always willing to split packages of items for you. Only need half of a melon, a 4-pack of chicken breasts or even half a loaf of bread? Even if you need an odd number or have a special request, most stores will do their best to accommodate you.

  1. First In, First Out

Try keeping your fridge free from expired foods or forgotten leftovers by implementing the “first in, first out” strategy. Place newer items with longer expiration dates towards the back of the fridge, and put older foods in the front so that they’re easily accessible. Sometimes the main problem with wasting food is that you just didn’t remember it was there! By keeping foods that need to be consumed ASAP in plain sight, it’s easier to remind yourself to eat them before it’s too late.

  1. The Freezer Is Your Friend

If you know that you won’t be getting around to cooking or eating something, most items can be stored in the freezer until you need them. Meat, fish, fruits and veggies, and even bread can be preserved. Cooked leftovers like pizza or chicken can only last 3 or 4 days if kept the fridge. When stored in the freezer, however, they can last anywhere 2 to 6 months! Fresh steaks or poultry can last even longer, ranging from 9 month to an entire year!

  1. Save Your Scraps

Scraps may seem insignificant, but they can really add up. While doing all of your cutting and chopping, start saving your trimmed ends or peels from vegetables like onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms and potatoes. Place them in a large freezer bag and store in the freezer, adding to it as you collect over time. Once you’ve accumulated enough, they can be used to make vegetable stock perfect for soups and sauces. Meat lovers, you can also save chicken and beef bones to add to your homemade stock!

  1. Get Creative and Reinvent Leftovers

Have a leftover chicken breast and a bowl of rice? Mix them together with some fresh peppers and onions for a quick, easy and tasty stir-fry. Made pasta for dinner during the week and have some extra sauce? You can make (or buy pre-made) pizza dough, add some mozzarella cheese and create your own calzone or pizza. This is the perfect way to be creative with your leftovers while also saving time, money, and most importantly, food!

 Need more tips on how to win in the kitchen? Join us on Pinterest to check out our latest Kitchen Tips all year long!