From the Kitchen of barb0812

Kitchen Gadgets for the Single Cook

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Useful kitchen gagdets for the single cook

There are so many gadgets for the kitchen. Just stand in front of the big wall of them at a Bed Bath and Beyond store and you’ll see what I mean. Many have made their way into my kitchen to assist me with my cooking endeavors, but only a few make it out of the drawer on a regular basis.

As I started writing this, I began to think about the tools that I use most often and that help so much.

Here is my list of the top 5 “can’t live without” kitchen gadgets
  • 1. Mini Food Processor. My food processor from Cuisinart is probably one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. It’s small but mighty, and I use it for everything from chopping onion to creating a puree. I also have The Ninja and find it equally helpful with the stow-away containers and even chopping.
  •  2. Garlic Press. I use mine nonstop. What am I trying to say here? Yes, I do keep the vampires away. So many dishes love garlic, and I prefer to send mine through the press rather than try to hand mince.
  •  3. Meat Thermometer. I just couldn’t live without it. Never slice into your meat to see if it is ready—all those juices leave your cut of meat, and it dries out. Check for meat readiness by temperature and you will be assured a perfect meat entrée!
  •  4. Hand Juicer. This is one of the greatest inventions and probably my favorite gadget. I love it like crazy!! They come in a couple of sizes and allow me to squeeze oranges, limes and lemons with ease. I don’t think a week goes by when I don’t have that juicer pulled out and ready for action!
  •  5. Stainless Steel Pastry Blender: Made for cutting butter in pastries but I have found more uses since I don’t make biscuits or pastry dough too often. I use mine for making egg salad, mashed potatoes, and for chopping pretty much anything else relatively soft. It is easy and versatile, which makes it a winning gadget in my kitchen!

If you are like me, with the Christmas season approaching fast, it is time to think about those little office gifts. Why not consider a gadget, a recipe and maybe even some of the fixings all bundled up into one special gift for that Secret Santa or office gift exchange?

Start talking about gadgets! Tell us about your favorite gadget and be placed in the drawing for a FREE Ninja food processor on Jan 1st!

 

 

 

Posted By: barb0812

My dogs consider me the "greatest chef of all time"...I am lover of all foods vegetarian and advocate for growing your own veggies--no matter the size! I am one of the Co-founders of Hey Good Cookin' and a believer in cooking for yourself because everyone deserves it!

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From the Kitchen of barb0812

When Food and Community Come Together

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Singles connecting over a progressive dinner

What ever happened to Progressive Dinners?

I was pondering this question as I thought about what people must do nowadays in place of the usual restaurant gathering with friends. With disposable income more prudently guarded, cooking at home has become a necessity for some, while I imagine others take advantage of timed specials or events offered at some social gathering eateries. Still, I suppose progressive dinners are still popular in some communities and regions.

What’s their purpose?

For those unfamiliar with them, they are a dinner in which a group of neighbors act as hosts and prepare a course such as appetizers, main course, dessert, etc. Everyone involved travels from home to home for each course of the dinner that is made. Usually 6 or 7 neighbors participate.

However, I always felt they represented a form of community; a gathering of friends and neighbors who share a great meal, maybe a glass of wine, and lots of conversation.  Food can bring people together in many ways and in circumstances that might be unwelcome, such as disaster, tragedy or loss. But food also brings comfort, celebration and nourishment. It’s the celebration of community that most highlights the idea of progressive dinners.

There is something comforting about embracing community in this way. I live in an area where people tend to “mind their own,” avoid eye contact, and embrace self-interests—some even using pseudo names so as not to be identifiable in their own neighborhood. I admire towns where everyone depends on each other to weather winters until the first hint of spring approaches. It must be reassuring to know that neighbors have your back.

Progressive dinners are really more than just eating  food courses hosted at different homes. They engage people to contribute, participate, and invite people into their homes, their cultures, and their lives. They challenge us to do for others and allow others to do for us.

I look forward to experiencing a sense of community again, but I also look forward to stepping out and putting vulnerabilities aside to cook alongside my neighbors and enjoy the unity good food and company brings.

Posted By: barb0812

My dogs consider me the "greatest chef of all time"...I am lover of all foods vegetarian and advocate for growing your own veggies--no matter the size! I am one of the Co-founders of Hey Good Cookin' and a believer in cooking for yourself because everyone deserves it!

See barb0812's Latest Posts

From the Kitchen of barb0812

The Singles’ Guide to 12 Money-Saving

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If you have gotten the bug to try out couponing but find it “too extreme” as a single person, don’t! Not every good couponer needs to spend 30-40 hours a week on couponing, and not all feel the need to buy and store 50 tubes of toothpaste or 100 cans of soup. But, let’s face it, if you can save 30-50% on your grocery bill, wouldn’t you want to do it?

Grocery stores have tightened up their former free-and-loose coupon policies, but there are still great ways to use them and save. After all, grocery stores want your business!  They will always offer incentives to get you in—whether that is through weekly sales, in-store coupons, or special offers.

1.       BUY ON SALE!

The only way coupons work well is to purchase only those items on sale.  An item generally goes on sale about every 4-6 weeks, so when you see an item that you use frequently, stock up! The amount of discount in the weekly ads on your favorite products will vary—learn the regular cost of some of your pricier foods and personal products to note the variances. Of course, the better the sale, the better the savings with your coupon(s).

 2.        PURCHASE THE SUNDAY PAPER EVERY WEEK OR COLLECT FROM PEOPLE YOU KNOW

Sunday newspaper inserts: Red Plum, Smart Source and P&G are going to offer the best value in coupons. Once a month, generally either the last Sunday newspaper or the first Sunday newspaper of every month offers the best bang on coupons—all three inserts and in a greater quantity than other weeks. You want this paper!  Check out the schedule for these coupon distributers.

Note: there are no coupons on a national holiday weekend.

I recommend clipping any of the buy-1 get-1-free coupons and anything that is valued $1 or higher on a single product that you use. The only time I might clip a coupon for a single product under a $1 is if my grocery store doubles coupons.

Check out your grocery store’s coupon policy. If you are considering stocking up on your favorite goods, you can usually use up to 4 of the same coupons per transaction.

 3.       CREATE AN ORGANIZER—PURCHASE YOUR SLEEVES ON EBAY

I know it sounds like a bit of overkill, but an organizer will be like your best friend and save you time when you are creating a grocery list. I have seen the best price for these sleeves on ebay and even had some coupons included with my sleeves. They come in three sizes—I use them all!  I have mine divided up into sections such as dairy, meat, snacks, deodorants, etc.

I personally clip coupons at night, after dinner, while I am relaxing with a bit of TV. I probably spend a few hours on coupons a week.

If you have your coupons organized, you can quickly pull them for your shopping list. I study my grocery store ads over a weekend morning cup of hot Chai and begin making my list, so that it becomes a routine for me. My grocery stores allow me to create a list right on their website by selecting the sale item. I can also add other items that I need like staples, such as milk.

Managers will mark some “unadvertised” prices or manager specials. This is where your organizer can be handy to have in the market.  A quick look will let you know if you have a coupon.

My grocery store once marked a bunch of my favorite organic granola bars 50% off to move out inventory. I happened to have $1 off 1 box, and  I bought 3 boxes for .50 each!

4.       COLLECT COUPONS THAT WILL DELIVER THE GREATEST “PAYOUT” TO YOU

This was a trial and error of sorts for me. There are strategies for collecting all coupons, but I often either didn’t find the time or didn’t see enough value in it.

The coupons that can make the biggest dent in your grocery bill are those with the greatest value.

  •  Buy 1 Get 1 Free coupons:  This is a great coupon because it often has a standard retail value attached. So, for example, say you have a coupon for buy 1 Speed Stick Deodorant and get 1 free.  When this product goes on sale, you have a good chance of getting both these items free if the full retail value is taken at the register, which it often is.
  •   Manufacturer coupons:  These are the coupons you see in the newspaper and online.  I personally clip the $1 or greater off 1 product coupons, then wait for these products to be in the sale ads.

Special notice:  Look to see if your coupon has any restrictions on size or quantity.  If it only states, “good on any ….” You have a great opportunity to grab a travel or trial size and perhaps get the item free or very close to it.

  •  ·In-store coupons:  These coupons are created by the store and can only be used by that store.  Many will allow you to use these in combination with manufacturer coupons, which makes for a great savings to you.
  •    Catalinas:  These are those coupons that are issued with your receipt and usually a discount toward an item that you have purchased at some point in the store. Check them over before you decide to toss.  Sometimes they offer instant cash toward your next in-store purchase; other times they might be a discount toward 1 product item. Look along the top to see how it is identified.  Some of them I toss but others are considerably helpful.

  5.       NEVER TURN DOWN FREE

If you have an opportunity to purchase an item using coupons that you don’t need or use but it = free, buy it. Someone can always use these items, whether that be a charity or friend strapped for cash. In some cases, you may even get paid to shop.

Once I managed to purchase two Revlon tools fulfilling my coupon requirement and had cash left over that I got to apply toward another product.

That brings me to the next tip…

6.        AlWAYS PURCHASE THE SMALLEST QUANTITY REQUIRED BY THE COUPON

It really does pay off…buying the smallest quantity means paying a smaller price that

a.)    is on sale

and

b.) discounted further with coupons.

Coupons will vary on their value and purchase requirements. For example, one week I might clip a $1 coupon for my Crest Pro Health Rinse requiring a 16 oz. or greater purchase requirement.  While a month or so later, I might see a $2 coupon with the same purchase requirements. The longer you collect coupons, the more familiar you become with these coupon patterns.

7.       DON’T SEE COUPONS FOR THE FOODS YOU LIKE?  EMAIL A COMPLEMENT—ASK FOR COUPONS!

I am a vegetarian and like to buy organic foods. Fortunately, my grocery store carries more of the organic brands I like, but I don’t often see coupons for in the paper. So, I made a list of all my favorite foods and began emailing the companies with a complement and a request for coupons. I don’t think I encountered one company that didn’t not only thank me for the complement, but also mail me some great coupons.

Mambosprouts.com is a great place to check for organic coupons and another good online site is coupons.com You can only print a current coupon online twice, so if you see a coupon you really want, find another computer or ask someone to print for you.

 8.       CREATE A SHOPPING LIST AND STICK TO IT…UNLESS YOU SEE A DEAL YOU CAN’T PASS UP!

This is probably the toughest for me personally. I always want to pick up something that looks good—probably because I am hungry when I go shopping. However, I have gotten better at sticking to my list UNLESS I see a great deal and just can’t pass it up.

 9.       COMBINE YOUR COUPONS, OTHERWISE CALLED “STACKING”

This is one of the greatest ways to save money! What it means is combining an in-store coupon with a manufacturer’s coupon for 1 item. Some grocery stores offer coupons on their website as well in their paper sale ads. Target is a great place to find these. Just Google “Target Coupons” and start browsing. They change their coupons about every 4 weeks, so I check regularly. I have gotten some great deals—especially with items that are on clearance or manager’s special.

10.   DON’T PASS UP A GOOD DEAL ON AN ITEM, EVEN IF YOU DON’T NEED IT THIS WEEK

I did this all the time–waited to buy what I needed when I needed it and paid full price.

Without going crazy nuts like the folks on Extreme Couponing, just consider the extra time and minimal storage for some of your pricier hair and face products when the deals present themselves that could save you big $$.

Razor blades are VERY pricey and I occasionally see GREAT coupons for these items. I clip, then wait until I see my brand on sale and take my two or three coupons and buy. Yes, it’s a bit of extra storage, but those $5 razor blade coupons only come around every few months, so I take advantage of using them when I see them.

 11.   KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE REGISTER

Watch the register screen as your items are being scanned.

Watch very closely…

Stop the clerk if you don’t believe an item rang up correctly and check it out. I cannot tell you how many times I have grabbed an item I thought was the one on sale only to learn what I had was incorrectly stocked. Or worse, if the store register does not pick up the sale price for an item and you get charged the regular price.  Better to catch these errors while still in the checkout line rather than discovering the error when you check over your receipt later at home.

I also have found that many store clerks have missed scanning a coupon if I hand them over all at once.  So, I have found it to work in my favor to hand over the coupons one at a time so I can see that each is properly scanned.

 12.    LOVING ALL THE SAVINGS? JOIN AN ONLINE COUPON GROUP FOR TIPS AND MORE IDEAS

 My favorite is A FULL CUP because I learned some great tips from these couponers. I took their suggestions and advice and found a middle ground. There are lots of great coupon websites out there if you want to learn more than beyond these tips. Happy Couponing!!

 

 

 

Posted By: barb0812

My dogs consider me the "greatest chef of all time"...I am lover of all foods vegetarian and advocate for growing your own veggies--no matter the size! I am one of the Co-founders of Hey Good Cookin' and a believer in cooking for yourself because everyone deserves it!

See barb0812's Latest Posts

From the Kitchen of heygoodcookin

5 Easy and Tasty Appetizers

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If you haven’t considered making an appetizer or are just looking for something new to try, why not consider one of these recipes?

With the holidays coming, it’s always great to have some ideas for those parties that you don’t want to show up for empty-handed. It’s even better when those recipes are easy to prepare, easy to transport and easy to set up on the food table for all to enjoy.

Here are 5 tried-and-true crowd pleasers that can be prepared ahead of time and require little prepping to serve. As explained in So, you’re not Betty Crocker, it is relatively easy to modify any of these recipes for a large or small gathering.

 

1. Mini Quiche

2. Goat cheese and pistachio grapes

3. Brie Bites with Cranberry relish

4. Sweet and Sour Meatballs

5. Single Serving Spinach Dip bread bowls

 

Posted By: heygoodcookin

The Hey Good Cookin' Kitchen has become a place of food inspiration and savory discovery to share with our cookin' singles community. We search out new recipes or sometimes just adapt familiar ones to test, taste, photograph and share in the triumphs and mishaps of creating new dishes.

See heygoodcookin's Latest Posts

From the Kitchen of oregonwingnut

Specialty Foods

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On a recent cross-country trek, while attempting to savor every last minute of my rapidly-fleeting summer vacation, I had the opportunity to explore a variety of places and cuisines. Whether it was in a large urban location or a rural Illinois town surrounded by cornfields, I noticed a reoccurring theme. In every place I stayed, someone boastfully proclaimed that I must try their specialty dish. It dawned on me that people take pride in the food that is unique to their city, culture, or even their personal version of Grandma’s spaghetti sauce.

In Toronto, I experienced poutine, a dish with french fries, gravy and cheese curds. I smiled as I passed the roadside burger joints, each claiming to have the best poutine. At Uncle Franky’s restaurant in St. Paul, Minnesota, I had the famous Italian beef with sweet peppers, and I had a Chicago Dog in the Windy City. I had my heart set on some sweet corn in Herscher, Illinois, but I was informed that I had missed the sweet corn season by a couple weeks. I heard people say there is no corn like the sweet corn of Illinois, and it seemed somewhat sacrilegious to partake in any post-season offerings, so it remains on my Living Fully List. Like locations, events also have traditions and specialties, so of course I eagerly devoured a ballpark dog on my first visit to Fenway Park.

I like that people want others to experience a piece of their world and life, a part of what makes them who they are through the food they share. What a great way of connecting. I began pondering my own relationship with certain foods and came up with my signature dish, my specialty, the one that people rave about and request for at parties and gatherings.

The Rosemary Shortbread recipe was given to me by a dear friend, and it quickly became a hit with my family and female friends. Served with a glass of red wine, there is nothing more delicate and scrumptious. I was a little apprehensive taking them to a Memorial Day party, thinking maybe I should take something heartier.

I knew I had made the right choice as I watched a group of fifty-something men reliving their youth playing football in the backyard with cigars in one hand and my delicate rosemary shortbread in the other. As I was leaving, one of them asked if the guys could take the rest of cookies on their fishing trip the next day. Delicate yes, but manly too!

So, pour a glass of wine, sample some of my signature Rosemary Shortbread, and ponder a specialty dish that you would like to share.