2018’s Top Kitchen Essentials

Your kitchen doesn’t have to be filled with gadgets for you to cook yummy food. All you really need are the essentials. When you have the right gear, you’ll be able to cook smarter and simpler, making life easier in general. Collect these 11 kitchen tools for 2018 to free your inner all-star chef.

Cutting Board

A well-stocked kitchen will include a good cutting board. Go with your preferences. A durable, wood-fiber composite type will be dishwasher safe while giving you the solid feeling of natural wood. If you go with a composite, you won’t need to oil it to keep it in good working order. A nice grippy plastic one is another good option. This type of cutting board will protect your fingers when you’re prepping a meal. You can also disinfect a good grippy cutting board in your dishwasher.

Wooden Spoons

You may be tempted to buy a plastic spoon, but a nice wooden spoon will provide more support because the material is stiffer than plastic. This is perfect for mashing and stirring. Wooden spoons are better for your pots and pans because they’re non-abrasive. Yours will last for years as long as you don’t put it in the dishwasher.

Quality Knives

Get a chef’s knife. You’ll need one for most of your prepping needs, so be sure to invest in a nice one and take good care of it. This means that you may need to sharpen it and wash it by hand. Kitchen essentials also include a serrated knife. This tool is best for cutting homemade bread and tomatoes. You should also consider getting a paring knife. It will come in handy for smaller cutting tasks.

Measuring Cups

Cooking requires you to measure ingredients, which means that you’ll need a set of measuring cups. Consider getting stainless steel ones. They’ll hold up for years, and they won’t become stained or scored like plastic ones will. Along with a stainless-steel set of measuring cups, get a few glass measuring containers. Not only can you use them for measuring, but you can also make sauces in them.

Sheet Pans

You’ll use sheet pans for everything from roasting vegetables to toasting garlic bread. They also come in handy for baking cookies and cooking meats. If your kitchen is on the small size, then consider getting half sheets. They’ll do the same job, but you may have to cook up less at a time. These smaller pans are easier to store.

Pans

Kitchen essentials include a set of pans. You’ll need a sauté pan for sautéing food items. This kind of pan is especially good for blending pastas together. You should also get a non-stick pan. With this pan, you can cook up pancakes and eggs with ease. A grill pan is ideal for meats and vegetables while a cast-iron skillet will make it easy for you to cook things like frittatas, bacon and fried chicken.

Spatula

Flipping things is so much easier with a spatula. You’ll need one if you like grilled cheese sandwiches, pancakes and hamburgers. They also come in handy when you need to scrape up batter or sauce. A spatula is practically required if you bake french fries on sheet pans. Spatulas are also perfect for turning vegetables and moving cookies to the cooling rack.

Strainer

A strainer is a kitchen essential that makes life easier when you need to remove liquid from something that you’re cooking. This may include straining pasta from the water you boiled it in or even for washing vegetables and removing fried goods from hot oil.

Prep Bowls

Anyone who likes to cook should have a set of prep bowls in their kitchen. Different sizes are necessary since you’ll be prepping different types of food. Lettuce prep always requires a bigger bowl than you think while small bowls are perfect for spices and food items like chopped onions or peppers. If you have limited kitchen space, then buy a collapsible set.

Whisk

Our list of kitchen essentials includes a whisk because with one, you’ll be able to blend ingredients together thoroughly. Different whisk sizes are available, so if you blend a lot, then you may want to get two or three of varying sizes.

Tongs

Tongs are handy because they let you move hot food items from their cooking surface to a plate or a cooling rack.

Kitchen Essentials Make Cooking Easy

When you stock your kitchen with the essentials, you’ll have what you need to cook the foods that you want when hunger strikes. Keeping it to the basics will also prevent you from buying kitchen items that you don’t need, decreasing kitchen clutter.

How to Host A Home-Run Family Gathering

The holidays are just a few short weeks away, and it is the time of the year where everyone in the family tree wants to converge at one central point and celebrate their common lineage. Well, if you are the person who has been given the task of hosting the get together, you may feel a little bit or a lot overwhelmed, especially if the gathering will feature a lot of people. Well, here are a few quick-fire tips which will help you achieve that perfect home-run family gathering regardless of the number of people that you will be inviting to the party.

Make a sound plan

This is the first and basic step in hosting a successful party. Think of a date and a location that will work best for everyone. Start picking the dates and informing the attendants in time so that if you land on a date when most people will not be available, you can just adjust it to a time when everyone will be there. Another way that you can make this first and most important decision is creating a small committee to pick dates and places. The beauty of the current world of technology is that you can actually create a WhatsApp or other social media group and hold this discussion with others, regardless of where they are located in the country.

Delegate roles as early as possible

Planning an event is not easy. Even though there will be the temptation to plan it all by yourself to prove your hosting prowess, get help as this will protect you from losing your head during the planning and execution stages of the preparations. If the event will feature 30 people or less, think about allocating the following roles:

· Finance Director: This is the person that will handle all the finances and makes the budgets and purchases for the event.

· Lodging Liaison: There is the possibility that people who will travel from far to come to the event will not have somewhere to be accommodated. It is important to make sure you have a person planning on possible places where they can be accommodated after the event.

· Food director: Food is a central part of a reunion, whether small or large. First, decide whether you will handle the cooking or deal with outside catering. The food director will help come up with a menu, buy the needed items or liaise with the catering company to have the foods ready ahead of the event.

· The entertainment director: A get together is also all about the entertainment. When planning for it, make sure that there is one member of the family making plans about the music that will be played. If it will be a large gathering, they are also responsible to plan the PA system and select an emcee.

Get a backup plan

The biggest secret that all event planners know is that once the event starts rolling, nothing goes exactly according to plan. It is possible to have the catering company cancel at the last minute, the lights could go out at 6 pm and people might fail to show for the get together, even those that have an important role to play. If you do not want your party to be a mess of mistakes, create a backup plan as soon as you start the planning. Every plan that you make for the party should have a backup. Get generators just in case the lights go off, get a second caterer on standby, or a place where you can order food for a large party on short notice; in simple terms, cover all your bases.

Create a plan of activities for the day

The other mistake that people make when they are planning a get together is assuming that once everyone has converged, everything will just flow. The reality is that things can get mixed up when the party starts and everyone has their own agenda. Create a program for the day and let everyone know what the main purpose of the get-together is. Make sure that the event starts on time, as long as you have quorum. Ensure that each of your family members gets an activity which they enjoy in the entertainment itinerary. This will make everyone feel welcomed and create a successful event.

The success of a family gathering depends on how well you plan it. Start long before the event and consult with people who have planned before because they will give you insights into what works well in planning and what does not.

Tips For Hosting Your Next Dinner Party With Friends

Dinner parties are the best time to catch up with friends over wine, good music, and a delicious meal. Dinner parties can be a way of celebrating the big move that you made in life maybe for getting a new job, moving to a new city or engagements. A dinner party is a way that you can get the friends dressed up fancy for dinner. The other good thing about dinner parties is that they are an excellent excuse for having a party to relax from busy scheduled weeks. Whatever the reason, you need to make sure that the next dinner party that you host will be memorable for you and the people invited. If you have been scared of hosting a dinner party, the below tips will be of help to host the best dinner party with friends.

Don’t try new recipes

Once you have decided on the group of people to invite, it’s easy to be swept away to try new recipes. One thing that will ruin your dinner party fast is trying a new recipe only for it not to work out. Also, the new recipe can take longer than you anticipate to prepare. Unfamiliar recipes will just cause you to have more work and create stress that’s unnecessary and at the end of the day, the party will not be so enjoyable for you. A recipe that you have already tried before will be less stressful, and that will make you have more fun because you are relaxed.

Offer just enough appetizers

You don’t want your guest to starve while waiting for the meal. The other thing that you don’t want is for the guests to be fully stuffed with the appetizers, not leaving enough space for the main course that you worked so hard to prepare. Avoid snack foods because it will not be easy to control the servings. Choose an appetizer that you will be able to count how many servings each person gets to control the portion intake.

Know your guest

Knowing the guest is important because you will know in advance if there is someone that is gluten sensitive, or a vegetarian. It will be helpful so that not to find out about such problem when placing the plates on the table. The way to go about the situation is making sure that you have something for everyone because as much as we know our friends, there might be the guest that gets us off guard. Don’t hesitate to ask if there is anything that you should be aware of when preparing the dinner party.

Ask for help from a friend or family member

For a dinner party to be successful, then it needs time, effort and planning. Having to do it alone is not a good idea, especially if you have a family member or friend willing to help. Some friends are good when it comes to preparing a dinner party you can ask for their help or tips on how they go about the whole process. Some of the guests will be ready to bring some of the foods or wines that will of help in relieving the stress of cooking everything.

The table should be set the day before

Setting the table the day before will save a lot on time, and it will be helpful because you will know if you have everything needed. If you are having a themed party setting the table the day before will give you just enough time to set the table and the surrounding in the right mood. Doing the whole thing the day before will be fun for you, and if anything is missing, there will be enough time to pick it up. When setting the table make good use of the colored napkins and flowers to decorate the table.

Have enough time

Having enough time will allow you to have everything ready before the guests arrive. If the guests are expected to reach at 6 o’clock, then you should start preparing the dinner five hours before the time. That will be enough time to cook the meal and solve any surprises that may occur along the way.

Having a dinner party does not always mean that you have to be stressed, with a little bit of planning, time, and patience as mentioned above you can have a good time. Make the dinner party one that is memorable by following the above tips, and the guest will be eagerly waiting for the day you host the next dinner party.

Having Trouble Sleeping? Here Are Some Tips That Might Help

Many people experience difficulties sleeping at various points in their lives; for some, it is a constant problem that makes bedtime a trial to be dreaded. Stress from work, school, or home is often a contributing factor. Illness can be another cause. A lack of a proper bedtime routine certainly doesn’t help. In fact, there are four strong tips for getting a quality night’s sleep.

Set up and Stick to a Bedtime Routine

A bedtime routine can be as simple as the normal winding down of the house followed by brushing teeth and relaxing in an easy chair with a magazine for a half hour before crawling under the covers. It can be as elaborate as a warm bath with candles, soft music, and a partner’s massage before drifting off to slumber. The key elements are to make it relaxing and to make it consistent. This helps train the brain into recognizing that the time for sleep is nigh and to release the correct chemicals such as melatonin for nightly rest.

Create a Relaxing Environment

It is important not only to set aside a restful routine for sleep but to create a special locale for it as well. Use it for sleep and only for sleep and other bed-focused activities. The kind of preferred environment for most is one that is cool, quiet, and dark. Light exposure arouses the brain rather than setting it to a restful place, making sleep a challenge. This includes electronic screens that shed light just before bedtime. If shades that are light-proof, earplugs, or a white noise machine or fan are necessary to create these conditions, utilize them to ensure solid sleep. If screen addictions or work make electronic screens close to sleep a necessity, try using an app to block blue light or wear glasses that offer the same function.

Sleep on Quality for Quality Sleep

The mattress and pillows should be the correct degree of firmness or softness for individual needs. Not every sleeper’s particular situation is the same, and this leads to a number of options that can be confusing. A quality mattress supplier will help evaluate the needs of everyone using the mattress and find either a specific firmness or a happy compromise. Many people also make the mistake of overusing mattresses when the item’s life expectancy is just under ten years.

Try a Warm Bath or Shower

Showers and baths, particularly ones at comfortably warm temperatures, can do a lot toward easy sleep. For one, they are relaxing, easing tense muscles and cultivating a quiet mind. Another reason is that body temperature has a lot to do with feeling sleepy or awake. Studies have shown that warm bath or shower routines, taken within an hour and a half of bed, improve sleep quality and the rate at which people fall asleep as well as getting greater quantities of deep sleep.

With the proper routine, room, equipment, and a relaxing experience in the bathroom, a solid night’s sleep can be achievable for most people. Other factors to include are exercise, although not within two hours of bedtime, not eating or drinking caffeine too close to bedtime, and trying supplements such as melatonin or a soothing tea such as chamomile. Try these tips to get a good night’s sleep fast and continue it longer.