The three most commonly asked questions I get asked as a professional food blogger:
- How do you make money?
- What’s your favorite recipe?
- How do you keep coming up with new recipes?
To answer these questions:
The three most commonly asked questions I get asked as a professional food blogger:
To answer these questions:
Surf and turf was the name of the game for Sunday Family Dinner this week and Scallops and Steak were on the menu. That was basically the extent of my game plan.
A few weeks prior I had a delicious scallop dish at a restaurant in San Diego. Instead of wrapped in bacon, it was crusted in bacon. My thought was “why didn’t I think of this?”
While I’ve always been interested in cooking, there is no shortage of recent college graduates who have lived the past four years surviving on top ramen and making very good friends with the pizza delivery guy! There are also those people out there that may not be recent college graduates, but somehow missed that moment when they were supposed to delete the local Chinese restaurant number from their “favorites list” on the iPhone!
Now that we’re in “the real world”, it’s time to start cooking REAL food! Learning to cook, and I mean cooking that doesn’t involve placing a bowl in the microwave, can be both daunting and confusing. More than that, the last thing anyone wants to do is dish out hundreds of dollars on kitchen items that will barely get used! That’s why I’m here. This week, Little Leopard Book has compiled a list of our top kitchen essentials to make even the most novice cooking experiences run smoothly. While these items vary in price depending on how fancy and high-tech they are, by purchasing the most basic option of each item, everything on the list can be added to the kitchen for under $200! Combine our list of essentials with our delicious recipes and anyone can fall in love with cooking and all that homemade has to offer!
Cutting board: I don’t think I could survive in the kitchen without a cutting board. Not only does cutting directly on the counter create a mess, I would argue that it’s not even socially acceptable! My advice is to have a couple on hand, this is especially useful when cutting both veggies and raw meat. The two should definitely not mix! I recommend using a wood cutting board for veggies, herbs or bread and a plastic cutting board for preparing raw meats.
Chef’s knife: This item goes hand in hand with a cutting board. Life in the kitchen is much easier when struggling to saw through food is not an issue! A good knife cuts down on time, reduces the probability of slicing fingers, and makes it easier to chop food evenly, ultimately making the end result more appetizing.
Measuring Cups: While the experts may not rely on exact measuring, when learning and trying new recipes it is necessary to do so. With correct measurements, new recipes are much more likely to turn out delicious the first time around!
Measuring Spoons: Like measuring cups, these make sure a new dish turns out perfect on the first try. Use these to measure seasonings for that extra pop of flavor in recipes!
Colander: From my experience pasta is one of the easiest dishes to make, but only if there’s a colander around to help the process! Pasta dishes can be prepared a number of ways depending on the type of sauce used, the veggies or meat added, and the cheese inside or atop the dish. Experiment with different ingredients and flavors to find your favorite! My favorite is our Buffalo Chicken Cheesy Penne! A colander can also be used to rinse fruits and veggies quickly and easily.
Blender: Even though we’re growing out of our “college phase” in the kitchen, that doesn’t mean we have to ditch our friend, the blended margarita, after all, we’re never too old for margaritas! And of course after those margaritas over the weekend, a blender is an awesome item to have on Monday morning for a delicious Lean and Green Superfood Smoothie to prepare for the week!
Garlic Press: I have my mom to thank for my obsession with the garlic press. While ready-to-go minced garlic in a jar can be purchased, I highly suggest taking the route of buying fresh garlic cloves and a garlic press. The flavor is much better with fresh garlic and a garlic press is simple to use. Many recipes give ingredients in the number of garlic cloves, which can be hard to measure with jarred garlic. Most importantly, this will save money!
Baking Stone: I may have lied at the beginning of this post, pizza is still allowed in “real life” but why not make your own? Baking stones are perfect for making pizzas and baked goods. They help in creating a more even temperature, prevent burning, and are non-stick. I love using mine to make Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies 😉
Zester: No matter how easy a dish is to make, a zester gives the impression of mad cooking skills! Use it with lemons, limes, and other garnishes for a pop of color and flavor. Easily grate fresh parmesan on top of pasta or pizza or use the zester with a little chocolate to amp up any dessert!
Cast Iron Skillet: A cast iron skillet is durable and will last forever! It can be used on the stove, grill, or in the oven. I love using mine for our Cast Iron Skillet Rustic Potatoes.
Last week I had the pleasure of meeting fellow San Diego blogger, The Seaside Baker. She was sweet enough to bring me an amazing bag of fresh vegetables and herbs from her garden!
I couldn’t wait to get home and prepare a dish with the “Spiky Broccoli” also known as Romanesco broccoli or Broccoflower, a broccoli, cauliflower hybrid!
I combined the Snow Peas she brought me with the Broccoflower for a delicious winter vegetable side dish that went perfectly with my Coffee Crusted Tri Tip on Saturday night!
Begin by heating the olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Next, add the snow peas, carrots, onions and broccoflower. Saute for 3-5 minutes, then add the garlic and saute an additional 2-3 minutes.
Next, add the chicken stock and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the chicken stock has absorbed into the vegetables.
Serve with your favorite main dish! Seriously, it’s that simple!
The chicken stock gives the vegetables great flavor without adding any fat or butter to the dish!
Simple, scrumptious and healthy, that’s a combination we love over here at LLB!
♣ Vegetarian Option: To make this recipe vegetarian (and vegan!) simply replace chicken stock with vegetable stock.
♦ Gluten Free Option: The recipe is gluten-free.
♠ Paleo Option: This recipe is paleo.
Make easy layered cast iron skillet potatoes for the perfect brunch or dinner side dish, that’s both vegetarian and gluten free!
Hi guys, it’s Whitney here, updating this now classic blog recipe for Cast Iron Skillet Potatoes!
I originally introduced this dish in the summer of 2012 before I owned a cast iron skillet, while I was visiting my parents in Oklahoma. I started playing around with my Dad’s cast iron skillets and creating new recipes like this one for the, then very young, blog!
My last night in Oklahoma I decided to make one of my families favorites, pizza! The result was a thick and delicious deep dish pizza with one amazing sauce!
Ingredients (crust – makes 2 12″ crusts)
Start by combining the yeast and water in a large bowl. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture bubbles.
Next, add the flour, salt, olive oil and cornmeal.
Mix well until a large ball forms.
Next, place onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes.
Now, place the ball back into a bowl covered in cooking spray.
Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for an hour.
Ok, don’t tell me that didn’t just amaze you!? Every time, the fact that this little ball turns into this giant monster just baffles me! It’s the little things in life people 🙂
Now it’s time to deflate the amazingness and form the dough in a cast iron skillet.
Now it’s time to take it back a couple notches. Remember that hour while you were waiting for the amazing dough transformation? Yes, that hour while you were sipping wine and relaxing? Oh yeah, that one! Lets throw a little sauce making in there as well!
Ingredients (sauce – makes app. 4 cups)
Start by heating the olive oil in a large skillet, then sauté the garlic for 1 minute in the oil.
Next add the pureed tomatoes, chopped plum tomatoes, tomato paste and red wine to the garlic.
Now it’s time to add in the spices!
Mix together and bring to a simmer.
Cover and cook on low for 20-25 minutes.
Let me tell you people, this sauce is a-m-a-z-i-n-g! The secret: red wine, obviously! Doesn’t wine make everything better?
Now it’s time to prepare the toppings. I went traditional with pepperoni, but added a kick with red peppers and the creamy goodness of fresh mozzarella.
While the sauce is simmering and dough is rising place the pepperonis in a skillet to cook off some of the grease.
After 5-7 minutes, remove the pepperonis and place in between 2 paper towels to soak up the grease.
At this time, roast the bell pepper over an open flame on the stove or grill or place the bell pepper on a baking dish closest to the heat source in the oven at 450° for 20 minutes or until the outside skin is charred. Allow to cool then remove the blackened skin and cut into slices.
At this point we should be ready to put this baby together! Start by arranging the pepperonis on the crust.
Next add the red bell peppers.
Now top with slices of mozzarella cheese.
Add the parmesan cheese then smother this baby with that amazing sauce.
Yes, I added some additional shredded mozzarella, don’t judge me, my family loves cheese! You’re welcome to do the same, I won’t judge 🙂
Now pop this pie in the oven at 425° for 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and sauce is bubbling.
Love that fresh mozzarella peaking through screaming “eat me, eat me!”
Start slicing and…
Click here for printer-friendly version: Chunky Tomato Pizza Sauce
♣ Vegetarian Option: Remove the pepperonis and throw on some additional red peppers for a delicious vegetarian pizza pie.
♦ Gluten Free Option: Replace the flour with a gluten-free flour blend for a crust that will come out similar to my Gluten Free Italian Garlic Rolls or replace the crust completely with my cauliflower based Gluten Free Pizza Crust.
My family has become accustomed to living the gluten-free lifestyle ever since my brother was diagnosed with Celiac Disease a year ago. This includes our family’s favorite lasagna recipe, now using gluten-free pasta! When it comes to Birthdays in the Bond house, this is pretty much the go-to meal, so for Mom’s Birthday this year I decided to attempt a new addition to the meal, Gluten Free Italian Garlic Rolls.
The rolls did not expand like traditional rolls because of the use of gluten-free flour, but the flavor was great! I would highly recommend these as a gluten-free alternative to traditional garlic bread!
Start by combining the water and yeast.
Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes or until the mixture begins to bubble.
In the meantime mix together the garlic, basil, oregano, parsley and garlic salt in a small bowl.
Next, mix the flour and salt into the yeast mixture, then add the eggs and butter until a solid ball forms.
Place in a bowl covered in olive oil cooking spray, then cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for 45 minutes.
After the dough has almost doubled in size, punch down and add in the garlic herb mixture.
Next, form the dough into 6-8 balls and place in a cast iron skillet. (If you do not have a cast iron skillet, you can place the rolls in a pan or on a baking sheet.)
Bake at 375° for 30-35 minutes.
Don’t be scared by the not-so-perfect-looking-texture, that’s just the way gluten-free flour looks in the form of amazing garlic herb rolls 😉
The perfect side dish for any gluten-free Italian meal!
♣ Vegetarian Option: This recipe is vegetarian.
♦ Gluten Free Option: This recipe is gluten-free!
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