1. Make sure to pre-heat your grill! Allowing time for your fire to become a steady source of heat is crucial for a near-perfect meal. This step will help to cook your food thoroughly without burning the surface. Allow about 10 min for gas grills and 30-40 min for charcoal.
2. Prepare your ingredients ahead of time. To ensure a timely success without the mess, make sure to season, shape, and cut-up any food that will be included in the grilling process. This will help eliminate running into any snags and make the whole process more relaxing and enjoyable.
3. Perfect the art of shaping burgers. Don’t pack the burger meat too tight, this will result in a tough burger; instead, use a light touch to shape the patty to the shape and thickness you prefer. Just before putting it on the grill, press your thumb gently in the middle of the patty – this will eliminate the “bulge” that happens when you grill hamburgers and allow the patty to cook evenly.
4. Wait to sauce! Apply BBQ or any other sauce to your burger, steak, or chicken about 5 minutes before you want to take your food off the grill. Using the sauce during the entire grilling process increases the chance for your food to burn significantly. Instead, wait until the food is almost done, then apply the sauce of your choosing.
5. Make sure you have the right tools. This might not seem too important and the fork and knife from your kitchenware has done an ok job in the past but believe it, having the right tools makes all the difference.
6. Let your food sit after you take it off the grill. Allowing your grilled steak or burger to rest about 5-10 minutes before digging in lets the flavor really soak into the meat. Cutting into the meat right off the grill lets all the juices (basically flavor) seep out so you lose a lot of the flavor onto the plate rather than onto your taste buds.
7. Better clean up after yourself! Each and every time after you grill, you should always clean the grate of the grill off. This allows your food to step off the grill with the best flavors and a neat and clean grilling experience every time you fire that bad boy up.
With spring upon us and summer just around the corner, we must be prepared for all of the festivities! And what is at the heart and soul of these summer gatherings? DELICIOUS FOOD! Check out the recipe below from Cups + Spoonfuls for a light and refreshing angel food cake recipe that is sure to please anyone and everyone that has a piece!
I turned to Betty Crocker for inspiration this week. Every so often I find myself leafing through my Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook, the cookbook my grandmother gave me after Bubba and I married. “You’ll need this, it has everything.” she promised. At first glance, I judged the cookbook for its lack of “healthy” recipes, horrible food photography and sexist illustrations of family life. I tucked it away in our bookcase with the plan of donating it. Years passed, but Betty remained on our book shelf. I couldn’t part with her. This dated, meant for “home-makers” cookbook gave me a glimpse of a time before social media, mommy wars, barre and kale smoothies, quinoa and hemp seeds. As much as the Mad Men era illustrations of mom in heels baking a cake with 2 kids underfoot and Dad in a suit sampling her hard work with a smug look on his face enraged me, I couldn’t help but notice the common ground across generations. Women ministering to their loved ones by making delicious food. Homemaker or not, food is love, it was then and it still is today.
Angel Food Cake Delight
Light and airy angel food cake filled with honey whipped cream and fresh berries
Recipe barely adapted from Baking Illustrated and inspired by Betty Crocker’s Picture Cookbook
Ingredients for Angel Food Cake:
1 cup sifted cake flour
1 1/2 cups sifted sugar
12 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Directions for Cake:
Move an oven rack to the lower-middle position and pre-heat your oven to 325F. Set aside an ungreased large tube pan with a removable bottom. ( If you can’t remove the bottom, line it with parchment paper.)
Whisk together the flour and 3/4 cup of the sugar in a small bowl. Place the other 3/4 cup of sugar in a small bowl and set aside.
Using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on low-speed until they break up and begin to froth. Add the cream of tartar and salt. Turn the speed up to medium and beat until the whites form soft mounds. Beat in remaining 3/4 cup sugar, just 1 tablespoon at a time, until all the sugar is added and the whites form soft peaks and are shiny. Next add vanilla and lemon juice and beat until just combined.
Turn off the mixer and sift third of the flour/sugar mixture over the whites. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold them in. Sift the remaining flour/sugar mixture of the whites and gently fold. Scrape the batter into your pan. Smooth the top with a spatula. Gently bang the pan on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles.
Bake until the cake is golden brown and the top springs back when you touch it with your finger, about 50-60 minutes.
Remove the cake from the oven and invert it onto the prongs of the pan or use the neck of a glass bottle. Allow the cake to cool for 2 to 3 hours before removing it from the pan.
Once cool, run a knife around the edges of the pan. Slice the cake out the pan and carefully slice off the removable bottom. Set the cake golden brown side up on a cake platter or stand.
Using a serrated knife cut 1 inch the top of the cake off. Set aside. Carefully cut down into the cake, leaving a 1 inch border from the middle hole and cake “wall” and 1 inch base. Scope out the inside of the cake and set aside. (Keep the scraps for nibbling!)
Fill the hollowed area of the cake with your honey whipped cream/berry mixture. Place cake top on and press gently. Cover the rest of the cake with the remaining whipped cream. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to over-night. The cake, refrigerated, will last up to 2 days, but I doubt you will have leftovers. Enjoy!
Honey Whipped Cream + Fresh Berry Mixture
Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker’s Picture Cookbook
3 cups heavy cream
5-6 tablespoons of honey (light flavored)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup raspberries
1 cup strawberries, hulled and sliced in quarters
Start with a chilled bowl and beater. Add cold heavy cream to the bowl and beat until the cream thickens. Add honey and vanilla and continue to beat until the cream creates stiff peaks. Be careful not to overbeat! Remove less than half of the whipped cream and place in a small bowl. (Set aside remaining whipped cream.) Using a rubber spatula fold in the berries. Use the berry mixture to fill the cake and use the remaining whip cream to cover the entire cake.
**You can make the whipped cream (without the berries) ahead of time. Be sure to store it in an air-tight container in the fridge. It will stay fresh for up to 10 hours. Whisk for about 10 minutes before using and then proceed with the recipe.**
Ever look at a garden with envy because it just looked so… perfect? Well, not ALL of that is the skill of the gardener, but a few tricks of the trade that really improve the health and looks of your plants! Check out a few of our favorites below and try them out in your garden this spring!
Cucumbers taste sweeter when planted near sunflowers – Both plants require similar soil conditions and the tall stalks of the sunflowers give cucumber plants something supportive to climb.
Use crushed up eggs shells as fertilizer – packed with calcium carbonate, the shells work great to enrich the soil
Water plants with chamomile tea – used to ward off bacterial and fungal infections to prevent young seedlings from damping off (make sure tea is cool before using)
Plant in odd numbers – planting in odd numbers creates a more natural layout and makes plants look larger and healthier
Garden by moonlight – experts say planting by moonlight minimizes water waste and causes gardens to grow faster and stronger
Plant placement – place shorter plants to the south and taller plants to the north, this prevents plants from casting unwanted shadows over smaller crops
Use cooking water for plants – water you use to cook pasta or boil veggies if full of left over vitamins and nutrients (make sure water is cool before using)
It’s that time of year again and we’re guessing you feel slightly over-whelmed with where to start with your garden. Let us help you out! Below is a list of reminders of things you should be looking for when you begin your gardening project.
Survey the Yard – Take note of clean-up and repairs to be made. Make sure to remove any over-hanging tree limbs and use the mulch from your yard to help boost this year’s gardening soil.
Order Tools & Plants – Make note of what tools you do and don’t have, order needed tools and order your plants/buy the seeds you plan to use in this year’s garden ahead of time.
Get Ready To Mow – Service your leaf blower or lawn mower; make sure they are prepped and ready to go. Before mowing, pick up debris around the yard.
Soil Test – Take several samples from different planting areas to test the pH. Implement dolomitic lime to raise the pH and elemental sulfur to lower it.
Prepare New Beds – Remove sod or weeks and debris, spread a shallow to medium layer of compost and any amendments over soil and mix into bed about 10-12 inches with spading fork.
With summer around the corner, cool summer treats tend to sneak into our minds. On a hot summer day, all we want is a popsicle, frozen yogurt, ice cream bars, and more! Who wouldn’t want to indulge in those treats we have been so fond of since childhood – that’s one of the best parts of summer! Check out Kelly’s recipe for ice cream cake below, then check out her page Cups + Spoonfuls fore more ice cream cake links.
I turned 36 last week and suddenly it feels like I am on a fast train to 40. One of my best friends called to wish me a happy birthday and said “I can’t believe we are 36.” I hear ya, Bethie. Didn’t we just turn 30? Part of me would love to be 30 again; mainly because I looked a hell of a lot less tired. At this point, my exhaustion feels like a chronic illness. My 36-year-old self has dark circles under the eyes which, luckily, a good Laura Mercier concealer hides. Each baby has left their mark on my body. C-spider veins. G-bulging belly button. N- thinning hair, and I’m anticipating breasts that point due south once I stop nursing. My stomach and butt are less taut than they were six years ago despite running religiously several times a week and eating quinoa. (Thanks for nothing super grain! Somehow, I thought eating gobs of quinoa and kale would make my ass tighter. No such luck!) Despite my physical changes over the last six years, I’m much happier in my skin today. I get know myself a little more every year. I have things to work on, things that will never change and I ok with it.
On my 36th birthday we went to the beach; me, Bubba and the kids. We played in the water and we looked for treasures. I left them at the shore and took a swim in the ocean and it felt so good, 62 degrees good. I swam to the sand bar that had formed and stood up. I took a big, deep breath of the salty, warm air and stared out at the horizon for a minute. I always think at moments like this, alone, staring out at the ocean, I’ll have sort of epiphany about life, but I never do. I turned back to see my sweet family waving from the shoreline, calling me back. I swam back feeling exhilarated from the freezing, take your breath away, cold water. We left the beach tired and happy. Bubba made fish tacos for dinner and they were awesome! He offered to make me a cake, but I insisted it wasn’t necessary. Cake not necessary? I know, it sounds crazy. I said that, because I wanted to make an ice cream cake to share with you. I can’t handle to much cake in the house. I just don’t have that kind of will power.
Just like a Carvel ice cream cake, the center is a thick layer of crunchies. My “crunchies” are a combination of dark chocolate and chocolate wafer cookie crumbs. This my favorite part of the entire cake. In fact, I could eat just this layer and be happy. The cream frosting tastes just like the frosting you find on store-bought ice cream cakes, except fresher.
This cake is so easy to make and the flavor combinations are endless! I used a combination of vanilla and strawberry ice cream. The only down side to this cake, as with many cakes, you need to plan ahead of time. So plan ahead, be creative and enjoy!
Classic Ice Cream Cake
barely adapted from Kinfolk Magazine
Serves 10-12, makes a nine-inch cake
1 quart vanilla ice cream
1 recipe Chocolate Crunches (see recipe below)
9 ounces chocolate wafer cookies, crushed
1 quart of a different flavor ice cream, whatever you like ( I used strawberry.)
1 recipe Cream Frosting (see recipe below)
*This cake takes time to freeze so plan ahead before serving!*
Place a 9-inch cake ring on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper in the freezer for at least 2 hours. Remove the vanilla ice cream from the freezer and allow to sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes or until a bit soft. Remove the vanilla ice cream from the container and using a spatula spread it evenly across the bottom of the chilled ring. Freeze ice cream in its ring until completely hard, about 2 hours.
Place 9 ounces of chocolate wafer cookies in a Ziploc bag and seal the bag. Using a rolling-pin crush the cookies. Place the wafer crumbs in a medium bowl and stir into the chocolate topping until the crumbs are completely damp.
Remove the cake ring from the freezer and spread the chocolate crunchies over the vanilla ice cream. *Remember to work quickly!* Freeze for another hour.
Remove second ice cream flavor from the freezer and allow to soften a bit. Remove the ice cream from the container and spread quickly over the chocolate crunches. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to freeze overnight or for a few days.
When ready to serve, remove the metal ring from the spring form pan.(If it is really hard to get off you could use a blow dryer for a few seconds to loosen the ring.) Freeze the cake for another 30 minutes. Decorate your cake with the cream frosting. You can place it back in the freezer until ready to use or serve it immediately. Run your knife under warm water and then cut into the cake. Enjoy!!
Recipe for Dark Chocolate Crunchies
chocolate sauce recipe adapted from This Homemade Life
2/3 cup good quality dark chocolate chips
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1, 9 ounce box of chocolate wafer cookies, crushed
Place chocolate chips and butter in a microwave safe bowl. Heat the chocolate chips and butter in the microwave in 10 second intervals. Stir after every ten seconds until melted and smooth. Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature. When ready to use, stir in chocolate wafer crumbs. Spread evenly over vanilla ice cream layer. (**Do not place sauce in the refrigerator because it will harden!** Can be stored in an air tight container at room temperature for several days.)
Recipe for Cream Frosting
recipe from Kinfolk Magazine
makes about 3 cups
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. powdered gelatin
2 tbsp. milk
food coloring – optional
chocolate jimmies or sprinkles optional
Chill your mixing bowl. Once the bowl is chilled beat the cream, sugar and vanilla in the chilled bowl until firm peaks form.
Using a small saucepan, soak the gelatin in the milk. Once all the milk is absorbed, heat the gelatin over low heat until it melts. Gently but quickly fold the gelatin into the whipped cream. Use immediately or tint it with a food coloring. Spread over entire cake. If desired, sprinkle with chocolate jimmies. Enjoy!
Definition: A furry growth of minute fungal hyphae occurring typically in moist warm conditions, especially on food or other organic matter.
Synonyms: Mildew, fungus, dry rot, must
Sound like something you want in your home, around your loved ones? Didn’t think so.
So what causes mold? Mold requires a special brew of moisture, warmth and food. Because of these necessities to survive, mold is commonly found in bathrooms, kitchens, basements or any area where flooding or leakage has occurred. Roofs, walls, pipes are also very common areas for this fungus to hide in.
What risks does mold bring? The most common reactions to mold are allergy-like symptoms such as:
Redness of the eyes
How can you prevent mold in your home? According to Mother Nature Network you can prevent mold with these simple tasks:
Identify problem areas in your home and correct them
The blog below was created to give you an idea of what to make for Valentine’s day but what’s the harm in making brownies any other day? As you read the instructions toward the end just remember – if you have a convection oven at home, the amount of time the brownie dessert is in the oven will decrease. Convection ovens tend to cook faster and more evenly so it’s a good idea to keep that in mind and make the proper adjustments if you do have one of these. Now, enjoy the rest of this blog post!
I’m prepping dinner. Taco night again, the one meal the kids and Bubba will eat without complaining. I could make tacos with eyes closed. Number of tacos shells for each person, the perfect portion of chopped red pepper, avocado slices and shredded cheese. Some like black beans only, others a spoonful of ground turkey. A dollop of Greek yogurt, but never, ever any salsa. “Too spicy, mama.” I mindlessly hurry through this task.
My mind wanders to my to do list: valentines, allergists appointment, email C’s teacher, make safe cupcakes for G’s class, well-check for the baby coming up Friday, continuing training and fundraising for the marathon. How many miles this week?
I’m tired today. Next time I’m awake at 3am for no reason at all, I’m getting up and working on this list. Why can’t I sleep?
I look up for a moment and the notice the sky glowing pink, the large naked trees behind our house illuminated in the winter’s setting sun. To the right, the yellow of the sun shines so brightly, I squint my eyes, wondering if the day is just beginning. How odd to feel both the beginning and end of a day at once.
I grab my phone and snap a quick picture. “Mama and her pictures,” chimes C.
“Pink sky goose.” Me.
“I know.” C, unimpressed.
I snap another picture and then one more, attempting to hold on to the colors, carry them around with me, and look at them when I need to. She doesn’t understand this need, not yet.
“Mama, time to eat!”
I sit down with them at our narrow, wooden kitchen table and look out the window. A rich, dark blue replaces the pink and yellow, the trees still discernible, but quickly fading into the night sky.
Brownie Pie with Raspberry Sauce
Rich, intense chocolate brownie pie paired with a bright raspberry sauce is sure to make your Valentine swoon. This is easy to make pie will take no time at all so make the day of and serve slightly warm. Enjoy!
Recipe slightly adapted from Ina Garten
Ingredient for Brownie Pie:
6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted
3 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
3 extra-large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 tablespoon instant espresso
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 or 3 tablespoons heavy cream
Pre-heat your oven to 350F and then grease and flour a 9 inch pie pan or tart pan with removable sides. ( I used a pie pan.)
Using a medium size bowl, melt the butter over a pan with simmering water. Once the butter is melted add 2 cups of chocolate chips and stir until the chocolate is almost completely melted. Be careful not to burn the chocolate. Remove from heat and stir until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Set aside and cool.
Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, espresso, vanilla and orange zest on medium/high-speed until pale and fluffy, a few minutes. Stir in the cooled chocolate. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and 1 cup of chocolate chips. Gently fold the dry mixture into the wet batter until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and bake for about 35 minutes or up to 40 minutes. The center will puff up and crack. The inside should be soft. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Melt the remaining chocolate chips with the heavy cream and drizzle all over the pie.
Slice and serve with raspberry sauce. The pie tastes best the day it is made, but tastes pretty good the next day too. Maybe add ice cream on day two if it seems too dry. Enjoy! Happy Heart Day!
barely adapted from Emeril Lagasse
makes 1 cup
1- 12 ounce bag of frozen raspberries or 1 pint of fresh raspberries
1/8 cup of sugar
scant tablespoon of lemon juice
Combine raspberries, sugar and lemon juice in a pan and cook for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and strain with a fine mesh sieve to remove seeds. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate in air-tight container for a few days. Enjoy!
If you enjoy this post, please visit Cups + Spoonfuls for more from Kelly Fitzpatrick!
We are in the thick of it. Winter, that is. The days are cold, dense gray clouds hide the sun most of the time. The plants and trees sleep peacefully, unresponsive to the winter light. I search for color. I find it in my daughter’s hazel green eyes, my new nephew’s perfect pink lips, the seldom blue sky; the occasional holly bush I spot on my morning run. I would welcome a foot of snow, now. Anything to brighten up this fallow landscape.
Fake it til’ you make it. Do what you need to. So I hop in my car, crank the heat and drive to the grocery store. I linger in the produce and flower sections. The colors and fragrance sooth my winter weary spirit. I grab as much citrus as I feel necessary. Blood oranges, lemons and a few apples. Every so often, I grab a bouquet of out of season tulips or daffodils. Spring will come, it has to.
I eat one blood orange, hoping the vitamin c will help my immune system fight the latest stomach bug that plagues our house. I slice another blood orange, remove the seeds and marvel at the color. I grab a lemon and slice it. The bright smell wakes me up. I toss the citrus with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and roast them at 425F for about 15 minutes. Roast? Yes. According to Bon Appetit, the high heat will caramelize the natural sugar and add depth to the fruit. They seem to know what they are talking about. While the citrus cools I prep the rest of the salad.
I rip apart the kale and massage it with olive oil, salt and pepper. Within a few minutes the kale softens and becomes edible. I toss the kale into a large bowl with the prepared onion and roasted citrus. Add a quarter cup of silvered almonds for crunch and a bunch avocado slices for creaminess. I drizzle the entire salad with a tablespoon of agave nectar and season it with a bit more sea salt and pepper. After I gently toss the salad, I take a big bite. Healthy and fresh, this citrus salad is just what I need to get through these winter days.
Roasted Citrus, Kale + Avocado Salad
A healthy kale salad with roasted citrus, avocado and silvered almonds. A few slices of red onion add a nice bite and a drizzle of agave nectar balances the subtly tart lemons. Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit
1 blood orange, sliced 1/8″ thick, seeds removed
1 lemon, sliced 1/8″ thick, seeds removed (try to get a Meyer lemon, as they are a bit sweeter than a regular lemon)
4 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 of a small red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
1 bunch of kale, washed, dried, ribs removed and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup mint leaves
1 avocado, sliced into wedges
1/4 cup silvered almonds
1 tablespoon agave nectar
Pre-heat your oven to 425F. Toss orange and lemon slices with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, a bit of kosher salt and pepper and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast the citrus for 10-15 minutes, tossing every 5 minutes, until citrus starts to caramelize and is a bit charred. Allow to cool.
Using a large bowl, mix onion with lemon juice, season with salt and pepper and let stand for about 5 minutes. (This process helps the onion soften a bit.) Set aside.
Place prepared kale in a separate large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Massage the kale with your hands for 3-5 minutes. The kale will soften a bit and that is a good thing!
Add kale, roasted citrus, mint and silvered almonds to the bowl with the onion. Drizzle with scant 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of agave nectar. If necessary season with sea salt and pepper. Just before you are ready to serve the salad, add the avocado and gently toss. Enjoy!
Follow Kelly at Cups + Spoonfuls and discover 5 Winter Salad Links You Must Check Out!
Who is Kelly and why are we following her? She is a mother to two children who loves food, photography and running. She lives just outside of Boston and by the looks of her blogs, knows what she’s doing in the kitchen! We will be sharing her blogs here on the Appliance Factory Blog but please make sure to check out her page (link above) to get the full scoop.
There are two types of laundry sets – electric & gas. When you decide it’s time to upgrade, it’s important to know which set, electric or gas, you need to be looking for. If your home uses gas to power your laundry, there a few actions you need to take during the install process if you are doing it on your own.
It is important as a home owner that you understand how these gas-powered dryers work within your household. Most importantly, while you are replacing your old dryer, you need to check for gas leaks. Gas is naturally odorless but gas companies have added a rotten egg sort of smell to it so it is more detectable. If small amounts of gas are leaking in a large living space, chances are you will not know – this is why it is important to check your gas line and when you check it before install, it becomes a lot more convenient.
We have attached a link below of a full step-by-step process that we found helpful. These directions should make it easy to do at home on your own.
Microwaves are found in most every home and their most commonly used for reheating leftovers, defrost, or for their timer… there are other, more clever ways to make good use of your microwave that could simplify several tasks. Here are just a few…
No-Tears Onions: To avoid crying during the process of cutting onions, trim off the ends of the onions and heat them on full power for about 30 seconds. This will alleviate any stinking feeling in your eyes.
Easy Cleaning (probably the best hack): Heat a glass bowl of water with a small amount of vinegar in the microwave for 5 minutes. This will soften the inside debris so you can easily wipe down the microwave with little to no resistance.
Rejuvenate Your Honey: If your honey turns up crystallized the next time you need it, it can be restored! Remove the lid and heat on 50% power for about 2 minutes. (Make sure if you choose to do this, your honey is in a glass jar or another microwavable container)
Juice Your Lemons: Get more juice out of lemons and limes by placing them in the microwave as a whole. Run the microwave on high for 10-20 seconds; this will make them super juicy and easy to squeeze.
Easy Peel: Planning on peeling peaches or tomatoes? Throw a whole peach/tomato into the microwave for 30 seconds on high, allow them to stand for 2 minutes after and the peel will slip off easily.
Make More Space: Need to microwave 2 things at once? Place two bowls into the microwave by balancing one on an upturned mug.
No More Chewy Pizza Crust: Place a glass with a small amount of water into the microwave with your pizza and your crust comes out a lot less chewy.
There are several more hacks out there but these were some of our favorites.