Want to transform humdrum dinners into mealtime magic? It’s easy! Hit the kitchen armed with these genius tips and simple recipes from our Every Day experts, and your friends and family will wonder if you went to cooking school on your lunch break!
Lesson 9: Spice Things Up!
Dried herbs and spices are great on their own, but they’re even better together. There’s a whole world of mind-blowing flavor sitting in your spice cabinet, just waiting for you to play matchmaker. Start mixing and mingling with these eight make-any-meal-better blends.
The last week of our Love Your Kitchen Challenge is upon us, which means you only have 7 more days until you’ve reached kitchen perfection! These final tasks will ensure your kitchen is stocked, organized and looking better than ever, ready for any dinner dilemma or party. We can’t wait to see your final reveal on Instagram on Saturday, and announce the winner of the $2,500 prize! So get ready for another week of fun–here’s what’s in store:
Week 4 Challenges
Monday, September 29: Clear the clutter
Donate or toss out two kitchen tools you haven’t used in the past six months. Trust us: If you’re not sure what it does, you don’t need it!
Tuesday, September 30: Get hooked!
Add a hook or bar to hold towels, tools or aprons in your kitchen.
Wednesday, October 1: Pantry Staple Wednesday
Organize your now-stocked pantry, then make a meal using one of your staples.
Thursday, October 2: We won’t judge!
Show us your junk drawer—then organize it!
Friday, October 3: Tech talk
Gotta have tunes, your phone or your iPad in the kitchen? Show us the must-have tech item you can’t live without while you’re cooking.
Saturday, October 4: Weekend Project
Add some color to your kitchen: Line cabinets or drawers with decorative paper, add a fresh coat of paint to the wall or buy a pretty new set of dish towels.
Monday, October 6: The big reveal!
Congratulations! You’ve finished the Love Your Kitchen Challenge! Now show us what you love most about your new and improved kitchen.
All Kitchen Challenge Coverage
Just because it’s the weeknight doesn’t mean dinner has to be boring. You can make delicious and healthy dinners for your family that don’t take the whole day to prepare, but will still get everyone to eat their vegetables. This week, try some new and exciting ways to incorporate your veggies, like within a pasta sauce, or woven through risotto. All your kids will notice is the outstanding flavor.
Monday, September 29th
We LOVE Italian food. We love gooey mozzarella cheese, vibrant, fresh marinara sauce and don’t even get us started on the homemade pasta. But two of our favorite dishes have merged together as one at Quality Italian in New York City. We shared the recipe for Chicken Parm Pizzas in our September issue, and now is the time to put it to the test. Does our recipe compare to the original?
I paid a visit to Quality Italian with high expectations and an empty stomach. The restaurant is famous for its namesake Chicken Parmigiana for two, but the appetizers, pastas, meat dishes and drinks are just as high of quality. The funny thing about the chicken parmigiana is that, although you’re charged “for two” at $29 per person, the dish could really feed between 4 and 6, depending on your hunger level and other orders. Luckily, I had three hungry guests to keep me company and help me conquer this behemoth pizza hybrid.
Halfway into my first slice, I took a moment to gather my thoughts. I had sampled our Chicken Parm Pizzas straight from the test kitchen a few months ago, but enjoying it in a dimly lit restaurant at a table felt a little different. Like our version, theirs is extremely juicy (thanks to the mix of white and dark ground meat) and flavorful (due to the addition of Italian seasoning) on the inside and crispy on the outside. Covered in a sweet tomato sauce and overrunning with melted cheese, there’s really nothing that isn’t perfect about this dish. I will say, though, our recipe calls for panko breadcrumbs along with Italian breadcrumbs, which leads to a crispier crust that still feels lighter than air. Quality Italian serves theirs with a simple arugula salad accompanied by a chile-spiked honey, which I took the liberty of dipping my chicken into (no judgment, you have to try it).
My advice to you: Go home and make this recipe immediately. It’s the perfect dish for a chilly fall evening accompanied by a good beer and good friends. They’ll be so impressed and definitely full to the brim. And whatever you do, just make sure to enjoy your high “Quality” meal.
We don’t know about you, but our pets are some of the best sous chefs we’ve ever had. They’re always in the kitchen to keep us company, they’ll eat anything we make and we can always rely on them to clean up the mess on the floor. We’re paying special tribute to our favorite kitchen companions by making today’s Love Your Kitchen Challenge all about them.
Though we really do love a four-ingredient cocktail, sometimes four ingredients just won’t cut it. Don’t worry: We’re not going to drive you crazy with all sorts of mixologist-level ingredients, but we are going to request you gather just five easy-to-access cocktail ingredients (plus ice — always a freebie) to whip up a fabulous and refreshing Grapefruit Vesper for your next party or get-together.
1 ounce vodka
1 ounce gin
1 ounce grapefruit juice
1 ounce sauvignon blanc
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1 cup ice
In a cocktail shaker, combine the vodka, gin, grapefruit juice and sauvignon blanc. Add the honey and ice and shake well. Strain into a cocktail glass. Makes 1.
More Easy Cocktail Recipes
We’ve teamed up with the gals at The Kitchn this month to inspire you to transform your kitchen into the perfect space to cook, eat and socialize in. From a full-length feature in our October issue on how to love, love, LOVE your kitchen, to our month-long Love Your Kitchen Challenge, we’re pulling out all the stops in preparation for the time of year when your kitchen works the hardest: the holidays.
Reorganize your stocked pantry so that ingredients you use together are stored together. Group items for Italian dishes in one place and Mexican recipes in another. Then, make a meal using one of your staples.
The convenience of grabbing wine at the grocery store cannot be beat. But how to pick the best bottles? These three free apps come to the rescue. Cheers to that!
Best for Social Drinkers: Crushed Wine
If you want to know what your social network is drinking (and loving), then this app’s for you (seen above). With an interface akin to Instagram—instead of “liking” a pic, users can “cheers” your vino as a virtual vote of confidence—and posting capabilities on Facebook and Twitter, Crushed forgoes ratings systems in favor of sharing.
Best for On-Trend Imbibers: Delectable
Used by many sommeliers for sharing real-time recommendations (that means fresh insider info for you!), this app’s newest feature is label-image recognition. Snap a pic of the bottle on the shelf to pull up its origin, ratings and user reviews instantly.
Best for Frequent Quaffers: Vivino
Like Netflix for wine lovers, the Vivino app generates picks based on your preferences. The more wine you rate in its four-million-bottle database, the more spot-on its suggestions.
It was an emotional day for the kids, parents and mentors of Team Rachael and Team Guy, as the season 2 competition came to a close. Sean was in the lead with six gold stars, closely followed by Amber with five and Finn with four, but the winning title was anyone’s game. The final challenge required the kids to throw their very own food festival — cooking 35 portions of a signature dish. A challenge so special could only call for three guest judges of the same caliber: Host of Cooking Channel’s The Real Girl’s Kitchen, Haylie Duff, California chef and restaurateur, Brian Malarkey and celebrity chef Curtis Stone.
Photo courtesy of The Food Network