Enjoy these 10 Easy Brussels Sprouts Recipes and my favorite air fryer and oven roasted vegetable medley recipe! 10 Easy Ways to Cook Brussels Sprouts You’ll love these 10 quick Brussels sprouts recipes along with my easy roasted vegetable medley recipe that you can make in the oven or air fryer. Originally published on February […]
How An Episode Of Chopped Junior Changed The Way I Parent
“Mom, can I bake something?” my eight-year old daughter pleaded as she entered the kitchen.
Of course she wanted to bake something. Because I had just spent the past two hours prepping, cooking, serving and cleaning up from a dinner where I made six different dishes to please our family of five. I sighed.
“Not right now, sweetie, I just finished cleaning up and it’ll be too much of a mess.” As if it were the answer she was expecting, she wandered off, probably to watch another episode of some annoying laugh-track show on Disney Channel.
Looking back, I’m embarrassed to admit just how many variations of that conversation we had. Don’t get me wrong, I often let my daughter help me in the kitchen. I’m a pretty decent cook and an avid baker and I let her do things I deemed acceptable for an 8 year old.
Simple things like ingredient gathering, pouring, and mixing. I didn’t let her crack the eggs because shells might get in the batter. I didn’t let her wash the bowls because she didn’t do a thorough job. I didn’t let her use the stove top or oven because she might get burned.
Or I would say, “I don’t need any help right now, but you can be the guinea pig taste tester when it’s done.”
And then one rainy night, all of that changed. I walked into our den to find my daughter watching a show on the Food Network called Chopped Junior. I sat down to join her and for the next 20 minutes I stared at the screen, stunned, as I watched kids the same age as my daughter work their way around a kitchen better than most adults I know.
These kids expertly chopped using razor sharp knives, they sauteed, they boiled, they pan-seared, one kid made a roux. What the hell even is a roux??
I sat there wondering how in the world kids so young could be so skilled and knowledgeable in the kitchen. And then I had an epiphany. It was so simple. They could do all of those things because somewhere along the line, somebody told them “YES.”
And I vowed right then and there that I would do an experiment. The next time and every time, my daughter asked me to do something in the kitchen, I would say yes.
“Mom, can I bake cookies?” Yes.
“Mom, can I make scrambled eggs?” Yes.
“Mom, can I make Mac n Cheese?” Yes.
“Mom, can I make a quesadilla?” Yes.
“Mom, can I make homemade frosting?” Yes.
“Mom, can I use a bunch of your baking stuff and make up my own recipe?” Ugh. Yes.
And so it went. I’m not gonna lie…this was one insanely messy, time-consuming, experiment. In the beginning, she needed a lot of help, learning how to work the oven, the gas range, the timers. My countertops seemed to be permanently sticky for a while there…the sink never empty of the many bowls, pots and pans she used.
But I usually didn’t have to explain something more than once. And the more I said yes, the more she asked to do. Pretty soon she was looking up recipes online and following along on her own. I became more and more hands-off and watched her capability, and her confidence, soar.
Fast forward to a year later and I will tell you that this is one of the best parenting decisions I have ever made. And my children are 18, 15 and 9, so I’ve made an awful lot of them.
This kid could cook our family breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert if she had to. She can crack an egg one-handed (I can’t even do that) and can saute’ broccoli with the best of ’em. Her homemade chocolate cupcakes are the best I’ve ever had.
My daughter will have these skills, this confidence in herself, for the rest of her life. And that to me, is worth all the wasted eggs, the spilled milk, the messy kitchen.
So fellow parents, I encourage you to really stop and think when your child asks to do something, not just in the kitchen, that might result in them learning a new life skill.
Because for all the time and energy you may have to put in up front, there is a huge payoff at the end. I know this because tomorrow I have to bring in 24 cupcakes for a pot luck event. And I’m sitting here writing this article. Because guess what?
The cupcakes are being handled. And if I’m really good, she might even let me be the guinea pig.
*If you enjoyed reading this post, I invite you to follow I Might Be Funny on Facebook…
Janene Dutt resides on a small island in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and three children. Her kids once asked her 159 questions in six hours. She suffers from Pediculophobia, the fear of lice. When she’s not blogging, you can find her combing through her family’s hair. Follow her on Facebook…https://www.
I managed to make it through last Christmas season without buying myself an Instant Pot. That’s when I first heard of the Instant Pot and everyone was raving about it. It’s a pressure cooker! It makes yogurt! It’s a rice cooker! It’s a slow cooker! And then a dozen other exciting features all in one. I resisted though. And I pushed it back to the bottom of my needs list. After all, I can easily cook rice on the stove top and I have two slow cookers already.
But then my large, 6 qt. slow cooker pooped out on me. I was left with my small slow cooker. Me, with my first world problems, thought the timing was ideal. The Instant Pot shall come forth to replace the lost small appliance. With Prime Day deals, I gave in and did it. I bought the damn thing. Not at half price but as good as it was going to get until next Black Friday. When the thing showed up, it was a thing of beauty. And it was just like Christmas in July.
The thing was huge. It’s a 6 quart so I knew it was going to be a good substitute for my broken slow cooker but it was substantial. It was then that I just wanted to jump right in. After all, I’d seen a billion recipes using your Instant Pot. You know, dinner cooked in 5 minutes and all. And this leads me to my point. There are a few things I’d like to share with you before you buy an Instant Pot.
In case you weren’t aware, it’s a pressure cooker. A PRESSURE COOKER. You know the thing we heard about when we were young – scary stories of blowing up kitchens. Yeah, that kind of pressure cooker. Of course, I knew this but I didn’t KNOW it. Let me elaborate a bit. So, there I am scrambling to put together my 5 minute dinner. Because that’s what the recipe promised. 5 minutes people. Of course I’m going to fall for it. Just like I fell for that article about cleaning your entire fridge in 10 minutes. Back to the pressure issue. This is when I discover my husband is legit afraid of the Instant Pot. Like, he’s going to have to leave the room. First of all, I botched the recipe because I didn’t realize that the five minutes that the recipe promised does not account for the actual time it takes your Instant Pot to heat up.
Lesson 1: If cooking using the pressure cooker function, your Instant Pot needs time to warm up and reach the desired pressure/temperature. This may sound really elementary and is quite clear in the owner’s manual but for the love…all of those tempting, quick Instant Pot recipes on Instagram and Pinterest are proclaiming the cook time, not the entire process. Just know it takes a few minutes. Don’t be confused by all those recipes telling you that you can have a meal ready in 5 minutes. It’s not READY in 5 minutes. It may take 5 minutes to cook (once your Instant Pot is ready) but dinner is not ready in 5. Read that manual, friends. And this leads me to…
Lesson 2: Not only do you have to give yourself an allowance of time to let the Instant Pot heat up if you are pressure cooking, you’re gonna have to do one of two things to bring release that pressure so you can safely open the lid (remember the exploding kitchen thing). One option is the “quick release” method. Here’s an example of what it looks and sounds like:
Okay so that’s the quick release method. And if you have small children, pets or a husband who has fears of pressure cookers, you’re going to want to announce before hand that you are doing it so that they may cover their ears or leave the room. It’s a safe appliance, don’t be scared off. And, there’s also the natural release method. And that can take an additional 10 minutes or so. So again, more time people. I’m not saying the Instant Pot isn’t magical because it is. Just know there’s a little before and after that you need to account for.
Pro tip – don’t set your Instant Pot on a counter where your lid vent can shoot straight up into cupboards above. When I went to attempt the quick release, I realized all the shooting steam would go straight up into my cupboards so I had to do the natural release which takes much longer. Sure, I could have unplugged it and moved it but I was too scared what with all those childhood stories of shooting lids.
Lesson 3: I learned quickly that some of these Instant Pot recipes have not been properly vetted. Maybe stick with the recipe bloggers that you know and trust. For instance, I just tried to find a quick paella recipe. I just searched and found one that I could make in…you guessed it…5 minutes. Now let me sing the virtues of the saute function on the Instant Pot. It’s amazing. Truly. That is one huge advantage over a slow cooker. I always hated using the stove top to brown or saute something and dump it into the Instant Pot. But back to the paella recipe. Basically, it instructed me to saute onions and spices before putting the water, broth and rice in. And then I could throw in frozen shrimp on top. Done. Like over done. If I had taken a moment to think, I would have realized that the Instant Pot was cooking rice and although it took only 5 minutes in pressure cook mode, that there shrimp was also going to be in there that long. Shrimp basically takes 3-5 minutes to cook in boiling water or in a pan on the stove top. And Instant pot recommends 3 minutes to cook frozen shrimp. So, the recipe wasn’t accurate with the cook time for the shrimp. The result – pretty perfect rice and super over cooked shrimp. Now, going back, I’d just saute the shrimp first, remove and then pressure cook the rest of the ingredients separately. Just know that not all the Instant Pot recipes are going to be spot on.
Lesson 4: One of the great advantages of the Instant Pot is how quickly you can cook using the pressure cooker function. So, it’s super awesome that you can cook spaghetti squash in 7 minutes versus 60 minutes in the oven. I thought it would be fun to try hard-boiled eggs too. It only takes…say it with me…5 minutes! Here’s the thing, by the time it warmed up and pressure had built up, cooked the eggs and then waited for it to release, it wasn’t 5 minutes. And boiling those eggs would have taken about the same time. The exception on that would be if I needed to cook a dozen or so eggs. If that were the case, I’d probably opt for the Instant Pot. Sometimes, we (meaning me) get so excited about a shiny, new appliance and all the cool things it can do, I don’t realize it was easier and quicker doing it the old way.
Sooo…now you’re wondering if you should buy one. Truth be told, I’ve had more failures than triumphs at this point. But I shall persevere. If you choose to jump on the Instant Pot bandwagon just know there’s a bit of a learning curve. Maybe don’t invite the neighbors over for dinner to test out a brand new Instant Pot recipe. Give yourself a little room to learn and it’ll all be good. You’ll like it a lot.
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It’s no secret that Australian eating habits have evolved dramatically over the past few decades. Work/life balance has shifted from regulated and scheduled family time, to a lifestyle where everyone has their own routine and obligations. These schedules have pushed healthy eating to the wayside. Instead, many opt for the convenience of fast food and restaurants that dominate city and regional centres.
Families still require healthy nutrition, but finding the time to cook can be difficult. If you’re using older appliances, you may be wasting precious time in the kitchen. Modern appliances, like contemporary pyrolytic, steam and combi ovens, offer technology-driven functions that simplify your cooking routine. Preparing satisfying meals, snacks and treats has never been easier, but it does require a leap into the future of kitchen versatility.
Oven technology for convenient cooking
Built-in wall ovens are the new trend in home and kitchen design. Their seamless integration with other kitchen décor and appliances is appealing, and wall ovens can be situated at any height for easy use and cleaning. In fact, some wall ovens, such as the ASKO range of pro series, elements, and craft ovens with pyrolytic features, even clean themselves! Modern oven features that make cooking easy for the busy mum include:
- High-definition control panel with easy-to-navigate menu
- Multi-functional step-cooking with automatically adjusted time and heat settings
- Interconnected steam, fans, elements, and grill features for restaurant quality food
- User-friendly recipe archive including personalised programs for every chef
- Construction and cavity design emulating the best wood fire ovens
- Dozens of functions, programs and modes designed for optimum culinary results
- Sturdy, long-lasting and fully recyclable components
- Timed preheat, reheat, and other warming features to suit busy schedules
- Pyrolytic cleaning at 500°C to ensure the oven is sparkling clean
- Child safety features including lockable controls
Adaptable oven capacity for every kitchen
Sure, you can cook with an older appliance, but the outcome is often unreliable. Modern ovens, on the other hand, are precise, communicating with the user, overseeing the cooking, and helping with the clean-up afterwards. In addition, contemporary ovens are adaptable to kitchens of every shape and size. A single built-in wall oven can perform all the functions of a regular oven, steam oven, microwave oven, plus other appliances, meaning small kitchens can become culinary powerhouses with the capacity to satisfy everyone’s desires.
Modern ovens make cooking easy for the busy mum both by preparing delicious foodstuffs and by creating a conducive environment for enjoying healthy meals with family and friends. Many of the high end modern ovens also have high end price tags, but a competitive marketplace means you can also find some surprisingly good deals. Even the basic contemporary appliances can outperform older models. Less time in the kitchen cooking means more time to visit with your family and loved ones.
Versatile oven advantages for saving time and money
Each new oven feature is introduced to improve the user experience. The capabilities are not just for show, and the best household ovens are now on a par with their commercial counterparts. The functions, features and modes on contemporary ovens are designed for ease of use, energy-efficiency, multi-functionality and ease of maintenance. Pyrolytic and aqua cleaning systems alone remove the need for harsh chemicals or intense scrubbing and scraping, while leaving no cleaning residues that can spoil food.
When investigated individually, some new oven capabilities can seem unneeded, but versatility also means compatibility, and hot air can combine with steam for perfect crusts, while fans and grill elements in tandem guarantee a succulent roast. In essence, intuitive appliances reciprocate with the user, communicating during the various cooking stages and even offering menu and ingredient choices. Not everyone can be the world’s greatest chef, but when using an intuitive and innovative oven, cooking versatility is dramatically increased and the results will speak for themselves as dinner time becomes a ‘can’t miss’ event.
The theme of this holiday season for me is to simplify. I am pregnant, I am tired and I just want to try and enjoy my family for the holidays instead of drive myself crazy trying to pinterest this thanksgiving. I often put so much pressure on myself to overdo the holidays, and after years of trial and error I feel like I’ve found a sweet spot for putting together a great Thanksgiving dinner. You see, Grandma Costco makes many delicious dishes-dishes that I shouldn’t even try to compete with, right? Here’s my list of things to make vs things to buy. I’m not even suggesting that you follow this completely, but consider what you could let go of and give yourself, and your oven, a rest!
1. Turkey: Buy
Our local BBQ place smokes the most amazing turkey. After trying it one year, we were hooked. It’s like having a whole bird of smoked turkey leg from Disneyland. I actually enjoy making turkey-but it doesn’t top this, and having the space in my oven on Thanksgiving day pushes this over the edge of being the best thing ever. Consider outsourcing your turkey.
2. Pumpkin Pie: Buy
Costco makes the most delicious giant pumpkin pie for $5.99. You just buy it, bring it home, and eat it. Done. No rolling crust, no wrapping crust in tinfoil so it doesn’t burn while you cook the pumpkin for 2 hours and no spilling runny pumpkin pie filling all over your kitchen. For the price and size ingredients cost almost exactly the same. Grandma Costco is making my pumpkin pie this year.
3. Mashed Potatoes: Make
Mashed Potatoes are just too easy and too cheap not to make homemade! A bag of potatoes is only a few dollars and I love my mashed potatoes with the skins on so it’s not even very labor intensive. We cut them up, boil them, drain them and mash with sour cream, butter, garlic and salt/pepper. Too easy to not make at home!
4. Rolls: Make
I’m actually on the fence about rolls. The reason I have them as a “make” item is because no one makes homemade baked goods anymore and if we stop making them once a year at Thanksgiving we will lose the art! And my grandma’s rolls recipe is the best. If you have a favorite bakery that makes the best rolls in the world, I understand why this would quickly be on the “buy” list. Baking is labor intensive and messy!
5. Cranberry Sauce: Make
I recently found out how easy it is to make cranberry sauce and I’m hooked! You can make it a week ahead (bonus), most recipes make lots (send a homemade jar home with your guests as a favor), and it is SO YUMMY homemade! Worth making!
6. Stuffing: Buy
I hate stuffing. I am not the right person to ask about this because in my opinion it’s all gross so why not buy stove top and call it a day?
7. Gravy: Buy
There are 2 reasons I advocate for buying gravy: first, I’m not making turkey so I have no drippings to work with and second, I hate trying to strain piping hot drippings, seperate fat and then worry about beating out the lumps. It’s a lot of work for something that can so easily be purchased for a small price.
8. Relish Tray/Veggie Tray: Make if you have kids, Buy if you don’t
If you have children, this is the perfect Thanksgiving day job for them. Cutting and arranging a veggie plate and relish tray is the highlight of my girls day and I love that they have a way to contribute to the meal. If you don’t have kids and don’t want to be bothered-this is such an easy buy!
What are your favorite Thanksgiving Day dishes and do you make them or buy them?
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