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Kitchen Organization for Efficient Cooking

One of the secrets to truly efficient, pleasurable cooking is a well-organized kitchen. A kitchen that is set up for success will help you not only to get meals prepared faster and with less stress, but it will also make cleaning up afterwards easier—and who doesn’t want that?!Kitchen Organization for Efficient CookingHere are some simple ways to make your kitchen work better for you:General Suggestions:
  • When possible, having your prep area and your cooking area side-by-side can be very helpful. This is because you will often be going back and forth between the two spots as you prepare a meal and many of the tools will overlap.
  • Keep lots of dishcloths on hand. These workhorses are great for cleaning up messes, using as pot holders, and stabilizing slippery cutting boards (dampen a dishcloth, fold it in half, and put it underneath your cutting board to stabilize your cutting surface).
  • Start out tidy. Each and every time you set out to cook a meal, start by...

Simple Ways to Make Healthier Eating Possible

For many of us, the new year is an opportunity for a restart. We make resolutions, set goals, pick a meaningful word for the year, or even if we don’t name the change out loud, we secretly tell ourselves that this year will be different. But what happens when the change stalls or the cleanse you were doing is over or you fall off of your diet or exercise wagon?

Hitting this wall often happens towards the end of January or the beginning of February—when our momentum has dissipated and real life has been in full swing for a while. It can be disheartening, but don’t let it get you down! First of all, you are not alone—many people are experiencing exactly the same thing right now. Secondly, big changes often come in fits and starts; it is how you handle those ebbs and flows that matters.

When I used to work as a health and cooking coach, I would often talk to my clients about the importance of baby steps. If instead of taking on a big issue all...

Rigatoni with Tomato-Artichoke Sauce

This basic recipe for a flavorful tomato sauce is a great recipe to play with based on your taste or refrigerator’s contents. Try adding chopped mushrooms, zucchini, walnuts, or whatever ingredients you have on hand.

Watch Jessica make it on Facebook Live!

Rigatoni with Tomato-Artichoke Sauce

Prep + Cook: 30 minutes, Makes 8 servings

16 oz. rigatoni noodles (use wheat/gluten-free, if needed)

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 Tbsp. minced garlic, (4 - 6 cloves)

6 oz. quartered and marinated artichoke hearts, with their liquid

28 oz. diced tomatoes, drained, or 7 - 8 fresh tomatoes, diced

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped, or 2 tsp. dried

10 - 12 pitted Greek or Spanish olives, chopped (optional)

1/3 cup red wine, or use tomato juice or sauce mixed with 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, for serving, or to taste

Cook the rigatoni...

Costa Rican Black Beans and Rice

Costa Ricans eat a version of this dish, called Gallo Pinto (which translates as spotted rooster) with nearly every meal, but it’s especially typical to eat it for breakfast! It’s great comfort food for any season - the curry and lime give it a Caribbean flare (Costa Rica borders the Caribbean sea). For even more Caribbean flavor, cook the rice in half water and half coconut milk. Watch Jessica make it on Facebook Live!Costa Rican Black Beans and RicePrep + Cook Time: 25 minutes 1 cup white rice, or use quick-cooking brown rice2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil 1 green bell pepper, finely diced1 yellow onion, finely diced1 1/2 tsp. minced garlic, (about 3 cloves)1 tsp. ground cumin 1/2 tsp. curry powder 15 oz. reduced-sodium canned black beans, with their liquid2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce ( for a vegetarian and gluten-free alternative, use 6 drops hot sauce and 1/4 tsp. sugar per each Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce), or use Salsa Lizano, if...

Peanut Butter Surprise Cookies

The challenge from The Recipe Redux this month was to create a recipe with a “new” or new-to-you ingredient. I decided to push that definition a bit (yes, I cheated) and come up with a recipe that is composed of familiar ingredients but in an unexpected way. I can imagine you thinking, “how on earth are peanut butter cookies new or different?” Because these cookies include an ingredient you will not be expecting… chickpeas. These cookies are so good, people. So. Good. They are chewy and soft and super flavorful. Plus they are PACKED with protein from the chickpeas and peanut butter, so I would feel good about offering them for snacks or even breakfast, and who doesn’t want cookies for breakfast?!

Try The Scramble Meal Planning Service for free. Healthy 30 minute meals your entire family will love.

Peanut Butter Surprise CookiesPrep + Cook Time: 30 minutes, Makes 9 Servings, Serving Size: 2 cookies15 oz. canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and...

5 Easy Ways to Save on Groceries

As a general rule, I spend on the lower end of what is normal for a family of four when it comes to food (although this is rapidly changing as my boys get older!), but recently, I have been trying to cut costs down even more since my husband is currently furloughed from his job during this government shut down. Since I know many people are in a similar situation and/or are trying to get their spending under control in the new year, I thought I would share some of my tricks for saving money on food.5 Easy Ways to Save on Groceries1. Cook MoreThe more food you prepare at home, the more you save. Period. Eating out and depending on pre-prepared foods is always going to be more expensive, so try to commit to eating home cooked food at least two more times a week. That could mean bringing leftovers to work for lunch, getting take out less often, or even skipping the coffee shop and having breakfast at home.2. Eat Less MeatMeat is an important protein source for many...

The Night the Meat Went Bad

The other night I had a plan for dinner. It was a good plan and I knew all the guys in my house would be excited about it since it involved red meat, which we don’t eat very often. And then I unwrapped the meat. I had bought just it a few days before and it was still within its “sell by” date, but it was bad. Really bad. The color was off, the smell was terrible, and my dinner plan was ruined. What made the situation worse: the plan had been a stir fry, which meant I had allotted just 20 minutes to get dinner on the table. What to do?The Night the Meat Went BadA normal, sane person probably would have opted for takeout, but I have a stubborn (and cheap) streak and the plan had been for me to make dinner, so I was determined to make that happen. So it became improvisation time. I quickly looked through what I had in the fridge that was not already set aside for a different dinner and came up with: 2 packages of ravioli (not quite enough anymore with the two growing boys...

An Interview with My Formerly Picky Eater

The other night at dinner my 8-year-old, who was a picky eater for many years, said, out of the blue, “Do you remember when I used to be picky? I’m so glad I’m not anymore.” We then talked about how much things have changed and memories he had from dinners when he was younger. It was a wonderful moment because it showed how much his identity as an eater has changed. As we talked, it struck me as an amazing opportunity to learn more about a child’s experience as a picky eater, so I asked if I could interview him.An Interview with My Formerly Picky EaterWhat is your favorite food?Do I have to say one thing? Pizza, spaghetti and meatballs, burgers.What is your least favorite food?I don’t know because I haven’t tried many bad foods. Well, I don’t like stir-fry.Do you remember when you were a picky eater?Yes.What did it feel like to be offered a food you didn’t like?Well, I didn’t even eat it. But I also felt sad that I wouldn’t eat...

Simplify in 2019!

2018 has been a whirlwind, hasn’t it? So many fast-moving news stories, schedules that never seem to stop, and kids growing before our eyes. As we enter 2019, it can be tempting to come up with a long list of resolutions or goals that will make life better: get healthier, get organized, spend more time with family, get finances under control, the list goes on and on. I don’t know about you, but that growing list just adds to my anxiety and if I don’t accomplish the changes I hoped to see, then it also adds to my guilt. No thanks. So, as I sat down to think about how The Scramble could best support busy families in 2019, it occurred to me that the thing we could offer would be a one-stop solution that could help to simplify daily food routines and make them more pleasant, all while supporting many of the resolutions that busy parents tend to be drawn toward. Done and done! So, this year instead of giveaways or prizes, instead of challenges or competitions, we have put...

Healthy Snacks for Any Craving

You have gotten the homecooked dinner thing down (hopefully The Scramble is helping you in that department. If not, check out our two-week free trial to see how much easier getting dinner on the table can be), but what about snacks? For me, finding healthy snack foods that will satisfy my family and don’t require a lot of prep on my part, has been one of the biggest challenges. Because, let’s be honest, all those beautiful snack platters on Instagram and Pinterest are inspiring, but who has time to put one of those together every day? Not me! Over the years I have figured out some tricks that have helped me to avoid potato chips, cheese curls, yogurt tubes, and Kind Bars (although we still do enjoy those from time to time!), while still satisfying everyone’s cravings for salty, sweet, creamy, and/or crunchy without spending too much time in the kitchen. Here are some ideas for you, organized by craving type.Healthy Snacks for Any CravingCrunchyApples Rice...