Tag: Tricks

Halloween Tricks and Treats with Lynn Lilly

Halloween Tricks and Treats with Lynn Lilly

Halloween is coming, and to get you ready we have Lynn Lilly–Founder of www.CraftBoxGirls.com. Lynn shares some timely recipes and craft ideas for a frightening celebration. Of course, Halloween involves many traditions, such as trick-or-treating and good food.


Halloween is a chaotic time for moms. That’s why Red Baron pizza is an easy mealtime solution that takes the fright out of Halloween chaos. The kids are going to be eating plenty of treats, so Red Baron pizza brings peace to mealtime because it’s a meal everyone in the family can agree upon – which is especially helpful on a night like Halloween, when you need to get your trick-or-treaters out the door. Red Baron offers three multi-serve pizza crust varieties, including Classic Crust, Brick Oven and Thin & Crispy – each made with a variety of premium toppings, and available in grocery stores nationwide. For more information, visit www.RedBaron.com


You want to give the kids something that will sustain them before they hit the houses, so they don’t go overboard on the candy right away. This sandwich is always a winner and will leave everyone feeling satisfied and full before they go trick or treating. It is a Turkey Avocado Grilled Cheese Sandwich. If you are really short on time, I like to make this simple fruit and cheese skewer made with Havarti Snack Cheese. The key though is to use quality cheese. My secret ingredient is Arla Cheeses. They are delicious because they’re so simple. Arla’s snack and sliced cheeses are free from artificial flavors and preservatives. Arla cream cheese is made from just four ingredients that you’ll recognize (cream, milk, cheese culture and salt). It’s delicious in a dip or as a spread on a sandwich or a bagel. Arla is a farm-to-fridge dairy company that’s owned by farmers and the fresh milk for their cheeses comes directly from Arla farms. You can find the recipes for both of these dishes on www.arlausa.com.

Turkey Avocado Grilled Cheese

Recipe courtesy of Ali Ebright, Gimme Some Oven


2 slices whole wheat bread
1 tablespoon butter
4 slices Arla® Muenster Cheese
1 small sliced tomato
4 pieces thinly-sliced smoked turkey
1 handful fresh arugula


Spread 1/2 tablespoon butter evenly on top of each bread slice. Place once slice butter-side-down on a prep surface, and layer it evenly (in this order) with 1 or 2 cheese slices, tomato, turkey, 1 cheese slice, avocado, arugula, 1 or 2 more cheese slices, followed by the other slice of bread (butter-side-up). Heat a saute pan or grill pan over medium-high heat until hot. Then carefully transfer the sandwich to the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes on the first side, or until the bread is toasted and the cheese starts to melt. Carefully flip the sandwich to the other side, and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the bread is toasted. Remove from the pan, and serve warm. *Feel free to use more/less of the ingredients listed, per your preference.

Fruit and Cheese Skewers

For a nutritious and easy snack your kids will love, try fruit and cheese skewers with Arla® Havarti snack cheese. Your favorite fruit paired with Havarti’s gentle buttery taste is the perfect complement to any lunch. Try cutting the Havarti into shapes for a fun twist on snack time.


4 skewers
4 pieces Arla® Havarti snack cheese cubed or cut into shapes
10 grapes
6 strawberries
1 kiwi skin removed and cut into 4 pieces


Cut the Arla® Havarti snack cheese into 8 cubes. To make snack time more fun and kid-friendly, try using small cookie cutters to cut out the Havarti into hearts or stars. Spear the strawberries, grapes and kiwi on the skewer, alternating with cheese cubes, until the skewer is full. Be sure to leave about one inch on either end of the skewer for easy handling. Cut off the sharp tips before adding to a lunch box.

Tips, Tricks & The Best-Ever Recipe

We’ve partnered with Bosch to share clever tips and tricks that’ll help you get the most out of your kitchen every time you cook. When it comes to roasting chicken, Bosch’s Side-Opening Oven ensures easy, even cooking.

Roast chicken is my everything staple: weeknights, dinner parties, cozy weekends, and not-sad desk lunches. My go-to, never-fail method comes courtesy of Barbara Kafka, a James Beard Award-winning cookbook author and food writer. Her genius roast chicken recipe changed the game for me with its emphasis on small but important details, like a super-hot oven (hello, crispy skin) and simple, effective seasonings (join the party, tender and flavorful meat).

Thanks to a bit of experimentation as well as some expert advice, there are a few additional tricks I keep up my sleeve, too. Check them all out below, and you’ll be well on your way to a perfect roast bird.

For the crispiest skin, dry the bird before roasting. The super hot oven in Kafka’s method helps you get there, but Food52’s Ella Quittner suggests an extra step for extra crunch: “Leave your chicken out uncovered in your refrigerator the night before you plan to cook it. This allows the skin to dry out, so it gets extra crispy when you roast it.” Don’t have all night? You can pat the skin and cavity dry using a paper towel or even blow a hair dryer on the skin before roasting.

To truss or not to truss? It’s a debate as old as time, and nobody—from chefs to food writers—can agree on whether or not trussing (tying up the chicken with kitchen twine so that the legs and wings stay close to the body) is actually necessary. According to Kafka’s recipe, trussing is not required and omitting the step actually helps the bird cook more quickly. (If you must, here’s a guide.)

Or you can try the spatchcocking method. Avoid the whole trussing debate altogether by spatchcocking—aka splitting down the back bone and flattening—your chicken instead. “You’re raising the legs up and putting them on the same level as the rest of the chicken so that it all cooks through evenly,” says Quittner.

Don’t skimp on the s&p—especially the salt. Don’t be shy now—aside from adding flavor, salt actually draws moisture from the exterior (yielding an extra-crispy skin) while locking moisture in the meat, making it even juicier and more flavorful.

Rub herbs and garlic underneath the skin. For an extra boost of flavor, Quittner suggests adding garlic, mixed herbs, olive oil, butter, and other seasonings in the mix. Just cut a few slits in the skin of the bird, stuff the ground-up mixture underneath, and rub it in. Don’t worry about exact measurements—this is a great opportunity to freestyle (and it’s pretty much impossible to go wrong if you choose flavors you know you like).

Stuff the bird with aromatics. “If you don’t spatchcock the chicken, make sure you always stuff the cavity with aromatics, like halved lemons, blood orange wedges, shallots, a quartered onion, celery leaves, herbs, and garlic,” says Quittner. Barbara Kafka is on the same page, and her recipe suggests that you shouldn’t be afraid to think outside of the box.

Hello there, perfect roast!
Hello there, perfect roast!
Photo by Bobbi Lin

Don’t over—or under—cook your bird. “You know your chicken is done when the juices run clear,” says Quittner. An easy way to know for sure whether or not it’s cooked thoroughly is to use a meat thermometer; the safe internal temperature for a whole roast chicken is 165°F, according to FoodSafety.gov. To get that cooking time just right, I follow the guidelines in Kafka’s recipe: 10 minutes per pound of chicken at 500°F in a normal oven, and 450°F in a convection oven, which distributes heat more evenly around the food.

Let a mix of veggies soak up the drippings. For an no-effort side dish, Kafka’s recipe suggests adding hardy vegetables like quartered shallots, sliced carrots, halved fingerling potatoes, or cipollini onions to the pan so that they cook in the schmaltz as it drips off the chicken (this also prevents any smoke or sputtering while roasting). Just make sure not to overcrowd the pan with vegetables or other ingredients: “It will slow down the cooking time and prevent your veggies from getting crispy,” Quittner says.

We’re firm believers in the fact the difference is in the details, and that little things can make a big impact—like Bosch’s side-opening wall oven. The oven’s convection roast mode offers 25% faster cooking and ensures the crispiest skin, while the side swing door is ideal for easy accessibility for large roasting pans.

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Italian Housekeeping and Cleaning Tips & Tricks

It’s Italy Week! All week long, we’re celebrating all things Italian with our partner Lagostina. Stay tuned for more great recipes, stories, and travel tips.

When I have a headache, my Italian aunt will fill a handkerchief with sliced potatoes and lay it on my head. Supposedly, the spud-filled napkin helps alleviate the pain. The medical viability of such a method remains to be seen, but my aunt swears by it and I find it funny, so I let it happen.

Maybe this is my genetic bias speaking, but Italians are more often than not renowned for their food, their style, their gesticular prowess. And yes, for the most part, people from the boot-shaped country excel in any or all of the above categories. But what of their homemaking skills? Potato head wrap aside, what are some unignorable, must-try tips for keeping a clean and tidy home?

My family always jokes that the Italian love for olive oil extends well beyond the kitchen. Squeaky door hinge? Try olive oil. Dry hands? Rub some olive oil on them. Stubborn sticker residue? You get the drill. It’s like My Big Fat Greek Wedding, except instead of blue window cleaner, we’ve always got a bottle of extra virgin on hand. As it turns out, Italians have a few tricks up their sleeves when it comes to housekeeping. I canvassed the web—and my own family—for some of the best.

Whip It!

This one’s a keeper—and it comes straight from an Italian nonna, so you know it’s good. Basically, here’s a tip for drying your greens—without a salad spinner—after you’ve given them a solid rinse. You place your wet greens in a towel, fold the edges together so they can’t spill out and make like Devo and whip it (the towel that is). Jerk the greens-filled towel over your shoulder back and forth until all the water spritzes out. Feel free to lean out a window while you do this.

An Egg-celent Hack

This tip comes to us from a community member’s Italian mother. According to mrslarkin, when you’re short on measuring spoons, an eggshell is a perfectly viable alternative. Here’s how it works: Say you’re baking and you’ve got some empty eggshells lying around. Instead of tossing them, use them to eyeball out some of your other ingredients. Apparently, an egg yolk is roughly one tablespoon in volume while the egg whites are about two. This puts half an eggshell somewhere around 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons in volume—perfect for measuring out baking soda.

Laundry’s Surprise Superhero

My favorite memories from visits to my nonna’s house in Italy almost always involve laundry. It sounds mundane, but there was something about the smell and the clothes hanging in the courtyard that will always punctuate my time there. Recently, I asked my dad what made nonna’s laundry smell so good. The secret, he told me, was vinegar. I balked. Apparently, a splash of a vinegar and water solution in your laundry machine keeps your clothes soft, refreshed, and super clean. Try pouring a half cup of distilled white vinegar in your washing machine (along with your detergent) next time you do a load.

8 Ways to Clean with Vinegar

8 Ways to Clean with Vinegar
by The Laundress

A 5-Minute Trick to Keep Your Kitchen Smelling So Fresh, So Clean

A 5-Minute Trick to Keep Your Kitchen Smelling So Fresh, …
by Valerio Farris

Iron Your Intimates

This one may sound weird, but bear with me. Keeping with the theme of laundry is the Italian propensity for running an iron over your socks and underwear. Many Italian homes forego the dryer for a clothesline to allow their laundry to dry, and then pass their clothes under a hot iron to steam out the creases. Including your freshly washed underwear in this group might seem strange but—trust us—that little extra press will go a long way.

Freshen Up

Italians love their homes to smell clean, clean, clean. Most of their cleaning products go hard on the scent. Odor control is, of course, an essential element of making a room feel fresh. If you’re going for a super smelling room, perhaps a natural scent solution is in order. If even after scrubbing and spraying, you’re still not loving the smell of your kitchen, turn to the stove. Yep, fill a pot with water, some lemon peels, a sprig or two of rosemary and bring the whole affair to a boil. Let that roll for some time—anyone who walks in the room will notice immediately.

Here are just a few ways Italian keep their homes spick and span. Maybe you’ve even heard of some. I’ve incorporated a splash of vinegar into my laundry and let me tell you, there’s no going back. It may not be as soft and sweet smelling as my nonna’s laundry, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. And that’s something I can get behind.

Have you learned any housekeeping tricks from an Italian in your life? Share them in the comments below.

Italy Week

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Tips and Tricks for Using Leftover Feta Brine Water

It’s no secret in my circle that I love salt—I’ve been known to sprinkle Maldon onto potato
chips. So it was only a matter of time before I discovered the magic elixir more commonly known as feta brine: The salty, cloudy liquid in which hunks of feta cheese float.

Photo by Mark Weinberg

At first I approached it tentatively, with a splash atop a Greek salad here, or a teaspoon poured into a marinade there. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment I got hooked for real—the Melissa Clark chicken story certainly didn’t hurt—but I can confess that I caught myself taking a little sip straight from the container last week. These days, I’m using it in everything from pots of brown rice, to tofu prep, to salad dressings.

To me, feta brine is perfect in every way. It’s salty as all get-out, subtly creamy, and best of all,
already in my refrigerator.
As a rule of thumb, you can use feta brine to intensify—and seriously
elevate—virtually any dish that incorporates feta, as well as many that don’t.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to make the most of it:

Feta brine makes for a killer, well, brine.

And not just for whole birds—though I do love the Melissa Clark recipe for roast chicken that Kristen Miglore dubbed Genius. I use a similar but simplified technique on smaller pieces, too, to amp up the juiciness: Take the leftover liquid from a package of feta, and submerge a couple of chicken thighs (or breasts, or drumsticks) in a plastic bag or covered bowl in the fridge for a couple of hours, before patting them dry and preparing as you otherwise would.

As I’ve mentioned, salt-restraint is not my strong suit in the kitchen (she said, as she reached for a jar of capers to snack on). So if you’ve already guessed that I don’t stop with meat, you’re correct. I also love to use feta liquid to “brine”:

  • Vegetables, before grilling or roasting—especially for slower-cooking produce, like whole carrots
  • Tofu, either cubed and left to “pickle” in a jar for a raw feta-like snack, or as a proper brine before pressing out the liquid and grilling, to get extra crispy tofu
  • Small pieces of sweet fruits, like halved cherries, for use in salads and grain bowls

Your New Favorite Broccoli Is Charred, Crispy & Buttermilk-Brined

Your New Favorite Broccoli Is Charred, Crispy & Buttermil…
by EmilyC

Feta-Brined Grilled Eggplant Salad

Feta-Brined Grilled Eggplant Salad
by EmilyC

Feta brine also does wonders to a pot of grains or legumes.

As a general rule of thumb, start by substituting 1/4 of your cooking liquid with feta brine, to get a feel for the flavor—then, you can titrate in more to your taste in subsequent batches. (I personally max out at about 1/2 brine, 1/2 water or stock.) Taste the cooking liquid before you get going to confirm, but it’s likely you won’t need to add any additional salt.

When I don’t have enough leftover feta liquid on hand to brine something for dinner, or to pull off a whole pot of rice, I’ll use the dregs for:

  • Adding a splash to doughs, like for pizza, to contribute a little funk
  • Blending into feta as I’m whipping it for a dip to serve with crudite
  • Contributing saltiness and flavor to salad dressings

I’m sure I’m missing a few clutch uses—let me know in the comments or hotline! In the meantime, I’ll be stocking up on more feta…

What do you do with your leftover feta brine? Let us know in the comments.

On the Cheap, Cooking with Scraps

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