cooking tips

The Scramblog

How to Involve Your Kids in Holiday Cooking

Thanksgiving is just the beginning. Between now and New Year’s Day, there are so many celebrations. Parties, family gatherings, and special traditions are all included in this busy time of year. For a lot of us, this means tons of cooking, which can be wonderful, but also exhausting. So why not enlist some help? Big cooking projects that are tied to special occasions are fantastic opportunities to get even reluctant cooks into the kitchen. Here are some ways to include kids of all ages:How to Involve Your Kids in Holiday CookingPreschoolers:Not only do they want to help, but they love to have ownership over a task. Here are some activities that you can give them to do that will actually save you time because they don’t require close supervision.
  • Pulling fresh herbs off their stems
  • Tearing greens for a salad
  • Combining dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl
  • Washing produce
Younger School Aged Kids:These kiddos are more coordinated than they used to be...

2018 Holiday Gift Guide for Every Kind of Cook

 2018 Holiday Gift Guide for Every Kind of CookI will never forget the Christmas my mother only gave me cooking tools. I was 22-years-old, living on my own for the first time, and had been scraping by with two pots that had been bought in a bodega on the first floor of my building, a couple of cheap knives I think I had gotten at IKEA, and a set of measuring cups and spoons purchased at Target. That Christmas, when I opened my gifts, I was a little dismayed and secretly wished I had gotten maybe one fewer pot in exchange for a sweater or two, but looking back, those were some of the best gifts I ever received. They made it possible for me to explore cooking and expanded the types of meals that I could cook for myself. While I am not advocating for giving a loved one only cooking tools (unless, of course, that is what they ask for), I do think a solid cooking-related gift or two is always welcome. So, to help you find the best gift for each person on your list, I have...

Polenta with Mushroom Bolognese

This amazing recipe comes from a new cookbook called The 30-Minute Mediterranean Diet Cookbook written by my friends Serena Ball and Deanna Segrave-Daly of Teaspoon of Spice. It is so simple and quick to make, but has that comforting depth of flavor that will make everyone thing you slaved for hours. Watch Jessica make it on Facebook Live.Polenta with Mushroom BolognesePrep Time: 5 Minutes, Cook Time: 25 Minutes, Makes 4 Servings 2 (8 oz.) packages white button mushrooms 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil 1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion (about 3/4 medium onion) 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot (about 1 medium carrot) 4 cloves of garlic, minced (about 2 tsp.) 1 (18 oz) tube plain polenta, cut into 8 slices 1/4 cup tomato paste 1 Tbsp. dried oregano, crushed between your fingers 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg 1/4 tsp. kosher or sea salt 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper 1/2 cup dry red wine 1/2 cup whole milk 1/2 tsp. sugar Put half the...

Breakfast-Ready Apple Crisp

 This month’s challenge from The Recipe Redux (a recipe development community I recently joined) was to think back to when you were a kid and share a recipe you cooked early on or one that you cook now with the kids in your life. This apple crisp recipe checks off both of those boxes! As a kid, I wasn’t much for cooking (read more about that here). In fact, the only type of food I was interested in learning how to make (like many kids) was dessert. One of my favorites to make with my mom was apple crisp. This was for two reasons: 1) it was a beloved dessert and 2) I’ve always found peeling apples to be incredibly satisfying (weird, I know). Over the years, my mom and I have tinkered with the crisp’s topping and this version is truly my favorite because it has a satisfying crunch and lots of flavor, thanks to the use of nuts and nut flour in the place of all-purpose flour. The nuts and nut flour also add protein making this not only a fantastic dessert but...

Getting Kids to Cook (and Classes to Get Them Started)!

As I have written about before, food and family dinners were essential parts of my childhood. Ironically, however, despite my mom’s best attempts, cooking was not. The poor woman tried everything to entice me to cook and I did dabble a bit, but mostly I just wasn’t interested. And yet she persisted. If I wanted cookies, I had to make them myself (the first attempt was incredibly memorable, but that’s a story for another post). If I wanted boxed macaroni and cheese when my parents went out for dinner (since they definitely weren’t going to eat it), I had to make it myself. And then, when my brother and I were in high school, we were each responsible for one dinner a week. I dragged my heels but she stuck with it, making sure I had the basic skills necessary to cook for myself when the time came. Years later, when I first started my career as a health coach, I quickly noticed a pattern: clients who came to me reluctant to cook often spoke of never having anyone...

How to Take Advantage of the Summer’s Bounty

Tomatoes, zucchini, summer squash, okra, eggplant, peaches, nectarines, plums, melons, fresh herbs… the list of amazing fruits and vegetables available at the height of summer is staggering. Sure, we can get many of them at grocery stores year-round now that produce is shipped in from all over the world, but the freshness, flavor, and textures are never better than when they are in season right in your region. If you like to eat seasonally (which we at The Scramble strive to help you to do by providing meal plans that are as seasonal as possible), then taking advantage of this time of year can be a celebration of flavor! But how do you find the yummiest options? How can you truly take advantage of the summer’s bounty?How to Take Advantage of the Summer’s BountyVisit Local Farmer’s Markets: If you’ve got a farmer’s market in your area, check it out. Talk to the farmers - ask them what is at its peak that week. If it is something you aren’t sure how to...

3 Ways to Use Up Vegetables Before They Go Bad

The other day, we went to visit my in-laws. As we were leaving, my mother-in-law gave me baby spinach, red cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, a bunch of zucchini, and two pints of blueberries that she wasn’t going to be able to use up. I was a bit reluctant to take it all since I had just done our weekly shopping and wasn’t sure how I was going to be able use it all. But the idea of it all going to waste was too much for me to handle, so I agreed to take it. Then yesterday, a good friend swung by with a gallon-sized Ziploc full of arugula that she wasn’t going to be able to eat. So suddenly, I was drowning in produce and some of it was on the verge of spoiling! But with a little thought and about an hour of time, I had taken are of much of it. Magic? No. Here are some of my favorite ways to use up produce so that you can enjoy it throughout the week and even throughout the year:3 Ways to Use Up VegetablesPesto: Pesto can be made with many kinds of greens. Basil,...

Cooking While on Vacation: How to make it simple, stress-free, and delicious

My family just got back from a week’s vacation in Paris. It was the first vacation that just the four of us had ever done together—before now we had always either traveled with or to other family members—and it was absolutely wonderful (not just curated Facebook wonderful, but really wonderful). As I walked with a friend this morning recounting many of the fantastic moments, I told her that one of the best things we did was stay in an apartment, rather than a hotel, so that we could have a real home base and cook some of our meals, and she said, “you should write a blog post about how you fed your family, even in another country, without it being stressful!”Meals at home and meals outMy husband and I decided that we would try to eat most breakfasts and all dinners at home and all lunches out. For lunches, we did one meal at a family member’s house, two at restaurants, and the others were made up of street food enjoyed in parks where the boys could run around...
  Mar 15, 2018  cooking tips, Uncategorized

5 Ways to Kick-Start Your Cooking this Spring

Spring is a time of rebirth, rejuvenation, and fresh starts! It’s an opportunity to shake off the old and start with the new. For me, it has always been a more logical time than the new year to start new habits—I have more energy and enthusiasm as the days get brighter and longer. This is the time of year when I tend to empty out my closets, purge toys, and get inspired to make new dishes (I love spring produce!). If you are itching to get some new, healthier habits started this spring, then what better way than starting to cook more? Home cooking has been shown to be better for your health, your waistline, and your wallet! So to help you get going, I’ve come up with 5 ways to kick-start your cooking this spring:1. Try one new recipe a week. Feeling like you are tired of your go-to recipes but overwhelmed by the idea of starting from scratch? Then try picking one new recipe each week to take on. If you need help or inspiration and you are not already a member, join...

How to Cook with Kids Underfoot

Has anyone else ever been in this situation: For once, you are feeling so on top of things! You know what you are making for dinner, you actually have all the ingredients, and you start the prep in time to get dinner on the table before everyone melts down. As you are cruising along in chopping an onion, you suddenly feel a tug at your leg, or a voice calling for help on homework you thought had been completed, or two little voices from the other room escalating in anger and frustration, and all you can think is: “Really?! Now?!” Yup, the kids are underfoot and needing attention just when you need a few moments to get dinner going. It is enough to make even the sanest of parents lose their minds. So what do you do? Do you let them fight it out and ignore the screams? Tell them to figure out their homework on their own? Shake your leg free of your toddler and tell them to find something else to do? Or do you drop everything and just suck it up knowing that dinner will be...