Turn leftovers into REINVENTIONS

pierogies pierogi recipe

When my mother cooked for the five of us, she made enough for an army and we never ceased to tease her about it. But she was smart. Leftovers saved her time, and provided a guarantee that no guest left hungry. And we weren't kidding anyone; every morsel was gobbled up. 

Side note: I rolled out some dough, and Abraham Lincoln appeared, per below. 

As we all adjust to the new normal, many of us find ourselves in the kitchen more than usual. The results have been tantalizing on social media, and it's a shame we can't score invites. When life does pick back up again, how nice would it be to have homemade goodies stashed in the freezer for a later time?

Some of you may not have a deep freezer or a vacuum sealer. Some of you may not have room in you freezer as it is. But you know the one thing everyone does have? Leftovers.

The Italians have made a cozy home for their chopped up leftovers, with frittatas. I like making tacos from leftovers, even cheesy casseroles. But when I found myself with leftover pierogi dough, I thought, why not make inventive pierogies? Here's a recipe for the dough.

Rule #1: Make sure your filling stands on its own. Make it zesty, because if it's bland, the outer shell will only dull the flavor.

Rule #2: Be sure the filling packs together, so not to break apart the dumpling while boiling. 

Rule #3: Regardless of fillings, be sure to follow the pierogi recipe as far as the dough and cooking instructions.

Rule #4: Have fun!

My leftover chicken needing sprucing before stuffing into the pierogi, so I tossed it into the food processor with kimchi. After boiling and draining the pierogis, I pan-seared them in sesame oil and soy sauce, so they were crispy and caramelized. Another recipe included roast beef, which I shredded and mixed with cilantro, caramelized onions and white pepper. The possibilities are endless, especially when you consider dipping sauces.

So go ahead and cook too much - great things will come of it.

 

 

Kitchen Sink Protein Bites

If you have a pulse, then you've baked chocolate chip cookies by now. Social distancing has turned us all into bakers. My neighbor can't find flour on store shelves, and my friend in New York City had to buy her yeast online. I've seen more home-baked treats on Instagram in the past two weeks than I ever have, and it all looks delectable. I'm proud of us!

Since we're all trying to limit exposure, going to the grocery store is now on an as-needed basis. Times like these are an opportunity for us to improvise, hone our cooking instincts and use what we have. Hence, the "kitchen sink' recipe, where you throw in "everything but the kitchen sink." 

Easter Basket Kit - Entertainer's Delight

A week ago, I realized that I can only eat so many cinnamon buns before wondering if my jeans will fit after this Yoga Pants Era (TM). Yes I just informally trademarked that. My kitchen sink baking skills needed some adulting, so I made protein bites.

I know that I'm not big on measurements and am prone to say things like "season to taste" (unlike Sarah the pro chef, and thank goodness for her). But with kitchen sink recipes, we wing it with what we have. It's fun to pay with measurements.  Protein bites are easy, and here are the basics:

A base: Oatmeal, granola or cereal

A binding agent: Eggs. If you are vegan, go for mashed bananas, peanut butter or both

A protein: chopped almonds, flax seeds, chopped peanuts, walnut pieces, chia seeds or nut butters

A sweetener: Semi-sweet chocolate chips are best. Shredded coconut is heaven. But you can do butterscotch chips or a little brown sugar.

Salt: Just a dash or two, depending on how much batter you're making

Baking Powder: A teaspoon or two, depending on the amount of batter

Extra credit: A fine flour helps to smooth out the batter and keep it together. Low-carb options such as coconut flour or almond flour are best.

Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl until the texture resembles cookie batter and you can roll it into balls. And don't kill me, but...season to taste. Only tiny samples, as the batter contains raw eggs. Plop jumbo marshmallow-sized balls onto a pan greased with melted butter or coconut oil. Bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes, but make sure they pass the toothpick test. Remove from the oven, transfer to a cooling rack and enjoy. 

For kitchen sink beginners, feel free to bake a test protein bite in case you need to tweak the recipe. After a little while, it will feel second nature. And like me, you'll relish the challenge!

The Quarantined Gourmand

Hey everyone! How is it going out there? Hopefully you're making the best of these unusual circumstances, but I know that for many, it can be difficult to drown out the anxiety.

One of the positive outcomes from the coronavirus is seeing all the delicious food being made at home. The internet has been a portal to kitchens around the world. L&L shopper Mary Caton Lingold made drool-worthy onion cream biscuits, and put her son Henrik (pictured above) to work in the kitchen too! My relatives and I are pulling out time-consuming recipes from the Middle East - favorites that we don't normally have time for. I stuffed grape leaves last night, and it's no joke. 

The bottom line is this: These may be trying times, but we've got to eat. Why not make the most of it?

Sarah Nicholas of Ladles and Linens has reserved her own sunny spot on the Internet, showcasing new inventory that gets me buzzing about spring! Honey jars, gardening kits and vibrant melamine plates. And while the store is closed to the public, you can shop by appointment, online or request curbside service. 

Not one to let these circumstances get in the way of a great meal, she hosted a Facebook Live class about eggs on the Ladles and Linens Cooking School page. It's available for replay. And while social distancing will undoubtedly put a damper on parties and Easter egg hunts, you can certainly show the love with customized Easter baskets, bringing smiles to the loved ones you may be separated from. 

So keep that kitchen humming. Lick the spoon, toss scraps to the pup, make giant batches so you can freeze leftovers for a busier time. And if you have children at home, order a kid's apron from Ladles and get them to work too! They will thank you twice. Once when they taste the fruits of their labor, and a second time as adults, when they will think back on this special time, and the kitchen fundamentals they've learned. 

 

 

Health Hacks for the Coronavirus

These are strange times. As I write this, the U.S. is declaring the Coronavirus a national emergency. For the first time in history, a global pandemic has given cause for us to close our schools and cancel public events. 

Many families are hunkering down at home, but anyone who has lived through school breaks with young children knows that it can be... a lot. Venturing out, especially on these unseasonably warm days, is exhilarating. Playgrounds are germy but nature walks? Heaven. If it's freezing out, go to an indoor pool. The chlorinated water blasts every germ into smithereens. Exercise is a great boost for your immune system, and in times like these, every bit helps. 

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Ladles and Linens is here to help with cabin fever. We are open and doing best practices with hygiene. We're stocked with immune-boosting teas to keep you ahead of the curve. If you'd rather not venture out, we can ship, hold merchandise and even deliver curbside. We value our customers, who continue to support small business and buy local. 

Speaking of buying local, I went from store to store and there was no hand sanitizer to be found. But no worries. If you have an aloe vera plant, or a bottle of aloe in your first aid kit (sunburns), you can mix it with rubbing alcohol and voila! You have hand sanitizer.  Vinegar is a great cleanser, but not strong enough to kill the germs on your counter. Neither is vodka, regardless of what you've heard. In that case, it's best to scrub with good old-fashioned soap and water. Bleach and hydrogen peroxide kill the germs, but be mindful that they can be too harsh for certain surfaces. 

The good news is that Covid-19 is one of the easiest types of viruses to kill, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. It has an envelope around it that allows it to merge with other cells to infect them. You can disrupt that coating with the simple act of scrubbing your hands with soap and water. 

In addition to keeping clean and social distancing, keep your immune system in tip-top shape. Stay hydrated, keep exercising and make sure you are getting enough sleep. Almonds, papayas, broccoli and garlic are powerful immune system boosters. You're spending a lot more time at home, so take a few minutes to research recipes that incorporate these foods and create new family memories in...where else? The kitchen! And if you need help, Ladles and Linens is here. Stay safe!

Office Stash: 4 Healthy & Homemade Must-Haves

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There's nothing natural about riding a desk all day, but most of us do it. Adding insult to injury are the snack offerings, like vending machines filled with Cheez-Its. This is no knock against Cheez-Its. I love them...a little too much. And snacks without protein and other nutrients always leave us hungrier in the end. 

Stash these satisfying and easy-to-make options in your snack drawer. They have a longer shelf life and are packed with flavor. Just make sure your co-workers don't get a peek!

 

Roasted Chick Peas

These crunchy, salty treats are perfect for when you're craving potato chips. Preheat your oven to 350, drain a can of chick peas, toss with oil and seasoning in a bowl and bake for 45 minutes. While the flavor combinations are endless, a real crowd-pleaser is: salt, cumin, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and chili powder.

Beef Jerky

This go-to snack really packs the protein, and will satisfy you until dinner. No dehydrator needed - you can make these in the oven. From Korean BBQ to buffalo, tips and flavor combinations can be found here.

 

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Almond Crackers

Gluten-free and with only two ingredients, you can make these batches in bulk, alternating the spice combinations. All you need is one egg and two cups of almond flour. Mix well, add whatever spices you'd like, then roll and press onto a greased baking sheet until thin and even. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes until the edges brown.  Have fun with the seasonings! Rosemary sea salt or cumin and chili powder - the possibilities are endless.

Popcorn

As you can tell, I love to play with flavor combinations. Popcorn is no exception, and rich in fiber. An addictive recipe can be found here. But for a semi-homemade treat, pop a bag of organic popcorn in the microwave, throw in peanuts, chia seeds and flax seeds, drizzle in some caramel syrup and shake the bag like crazy. Fun tip? Use chopsticks and keep your fingers keyboard-ready!

 

Look at me, so blown away by flavor I look like I stood in front of a wind machine. Maybe also have a hairbrush at your desk. 

Tips for Hosting a Self-Care Spectacular!

These days, self-care is a religion. And I'm here for it! Deep tissue massages and mugs of chai tea? You don't have to ask twice.

My friends and I are busy these days. Between kids, careers and side hustles, taking time for oneself can be guilt-inducing. But it must be done, because our own happiness is of great value to ourselves, and those close to us. That's why I hosted a night of pampering at my place.

In the old days, this type of party would've been a sleepover. Nowadays, everyone wants to sleep in their own beds. Whether it's morning traffic or the need for your own memory foam pillow, good sleep just matters more to adults. But before they retreat for their beds, help them unwind in luxury.

Here are some tips for a Self-Care Spectacular!

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Chocolate

To women everywhere, this is a vitamin supplement. To a woman under stress, it's practically a defibrillator. Have chocolate in some sort, whether a batch of buttercream cupcakes or chocolate chip cookies.

Pajamas

One of the first things women do when they get home is unhook from all their anti-gravitational devices. The biggest offenders? Bras and high heels. Let friends arrive unbound in their pajamas. 

Finger Foods

To further create a feeling of ease, ditch all snacks that require flatware. Finger foods for the win, so friends can graze as they paint their nails and let their face masks dry. Make a platter of smoked salmon canapes with capers and lemon, or, if you'd like to go low-key, a big bowl of popcorn

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Drinks

To fight the winter blues, I like to treat guests to an ice-blended taste of summer! At the end of summer, I buy ripe watermelon, cube them and stick bags of them in the deep freezer. For this party, I mixed 3 cups of cubed watermelon, one can of lime seltzer, an undetermined amount of vodka and Royal Rose Three Chiles Simple Syrup (it's spicy, sweet and available at Ladles and Linens). It was a hit!

Beauty

People love options. Buy different types of face masks, from retinol to charcoal. Guests will need to clean their faces first, so lay out cleansers and exfoliants by the sink and give everyone their own towel. I added multiple moisturizing options, from organic coconut oil to a collagen face mist. Not only did I lay out nail polish, but I offered to paint toes! You are the host after all. 

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Balance

With all the chocolate and boozing, your guests will want to round out the self-care session with foods that nourish their bodies. You don't have to sacrifice flavor; it's all about balance! Serve some broccoli and cheese tater tots, a charcuterie board or slice up some fresh fruit.  

We had such a good time that my movie picks (below) never got airtime. We spent the night luxuriating in the products, the food and most importantly, the company. You deserve the same, so gather your friends for a great night in. 

 

Fight the Winter Blues with these Mood-Boosting Foods

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Have a case of the winter blues? It's a common to feel a bit down during the winter months, when we're exposed to less sunlight and frigid, grey days. Some among us have it worse than others. About 10 million Americans suffer from seasonal affective disorder, and I'm one of them. Though I find it harder to get up in the morning and constantly crave all of the carbs, I fight the good fight every single year. If you have a case of the sads, try these mood-boosting foods. 
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Salmon
Did you know that omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to improved mental health? The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health analyzed 26 previously published studies (involving 150,278 participants), examining the association between fish consumption and the risk of depression. The results? People who consumed the most fish were the least likely to have symptoms of depression.
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Serving suggestion: Pan-sear wild Alaskan salmon in sesame oil and soy sauce, using high heat to caramelize the soy sauce and seal in the moisture of the fish. Dust with toasted sesame seeds and serve. 
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Yogurt or Kefir
Probiotics are best known for their role in digestive health, but emerging research suggests that bacteria in the gut sends and receives signals to the brain (known as the gut-brain axis). In a review published in Annals of General Psychiatry in 2017, researchers analyzed 10 previously published studies and found that the majority of them linked the positive effects of probiotics on depression symptoms.
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Serving suggestion: Top a cup of yogurt or kefir with a variety of colors, textures and flavors. Some of my favorites are chia seeds, mint, cubed coconut, pepitas, pomegranate seeds, honey and mango. 
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Leafy greens
Folate deficiency may impair the metabolism of serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline (neurotransmitters important for mood). The good news is, there are endless choices for loading up on folate-rich foods. Spinach, artichokes and avocados are rich in folates.
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Serving suggestion: Smash an avocado into a fresh bowl of guacamole. Take it up a notch by adding pomegranate seeds - a tart, crunchy contrast to the silky texture. It's scrumptious, and pomegranates are in season during the winter! 
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Cheese
Cheese is packed with Vitamin D - a key benefit of direct sunlight that you may be missing out on in winter months. Research has suggested that vitamin D may increase the levels of serotonin, one of the key neurotransmitters influencing our mood.
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Serving suggestion: Put down the mild cheddar. I don't even know what the point of a mild cheddar is. Use this as an opportunity to load up on some exciting Vitamin D supplements in the gourmet cheese aisle. Try Humboldt Fog, a nutty Asiago or my newest cheese obsession, Truffle Tremor.
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And in just a month and a half, April will be upon us. Until then, if you are fighting the good fight like me, try and soak up as much sun as possible, get some exercise and enjoy those tasty remedies. We got this!
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February 21, 2020 by Fayeruz Regan

Makes your snacks POP!

These winter nights are getting colder, and Netflix will be getting a lot more air time. Popcorn is a go-to snack, and for good reason. Not only is it tasty, but it's rich in fiber and polyphenols, which detoxify the body and fight inflammation.

Delicious is it is, popcorn is also a bit of a blank slate, where you can go beyond butter and salt. Ladles and Linens features a whole line of Dell Cove popcorn toppings, some of which are featured below. As you can see, it was impossible to pick just one!

Our family is really big on having movie nights, and lately we've become obsessed with Parmesan Rosemary Popcorn. It's almost like a brittle, and so addictive, the bowl is empty every time. The recipe is almost too easy!

Here's what you need:

  • 12 cups of cooked popcorn
  • 4 tablespoons of melted salted butter
  • 2 cups of grated parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons of finely chopped rosemary
  • extra salt and pepper to taste

Toss the popcorn, butter and spices in a bowl until well-coated. Then lay flat on a baking sheet, cover with parmesan and pop into an oven that's been preheated to 350 degrees. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the parmesan is a light toasted brown. Remove, let cool, then break apart into pieces. 

A true act of love is handing someone a chunk of popcorn held together by crunchy parmesan. That is, if you can give it up. Now grab that weighted blanket, sink into the couch and enjoy!

 

The Coolest Way to Repurpose Leftovers

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Frittatas have long reigned as the champion of leftovers. It's so easy to chop up the meat and veggies from last night's meal and bake into the egg mixture. But I've found an even more fun way to repurpose leftovers - spring rolls!

Last night, we found leftover roast beef and a bok choy stir fry sitting in the fridge. Though traditional Vietnamese spring rolls call for shrimp and pork, you can roll up anything you want. Martha Stewart did it with autumn harvest vegetables!

I know I've said this many times before, but it begs repeating: people love to play with their food! Last night, we rolled up spring rolls as we ate, praising one another for a good wrap job, and trying different flavor combinations. We even have a contraption (pictured below) that holds the rice paper and hot water, for easy dipping. 

So feel free to grab that leftover roast chicken, avocado, steamed carrots - whatever's sitting in your fridge. To make the rolls, you'll need rice paper, available at your local Asian grocery store. And if you live in a large or mid-sized city, it's likely to be in the International Foods aisle of the major chains. While there, grab these other essentials to give your leftovers that Asian flair: rice noodles, fish sauce, Thai basil, cilantro, this hot sauce (it's everywhere) and bean sprouts. 

Let's talk dipping sauces. Spring rolls often use peanut sauce, but for other types of rolls, the Vietnamese favor the traditional Nuoc Cham. It's zestier, tangier and not so thick with sugar. Simply mix: 50% fish sauce, 50% water, a dash of sugar, a squeeze of lemon and hot sauce into a ramekin and mix. Season to taste.

Now it's showtime! Dip your rice paper into hot water on both sides, just for a flash, and lay flat on your plate. Load on toppings, then tuck tightly, making sure to fold in the sides, burrito-style. You'll get better as you go. As you can see, my spring rolls aren't as picture-perfect as the restaurant version. But I can confirm that they taste better than the original meals the leftovers came from! Now dip. Enjoy!

February 08, 2020 by Fayeruz Regan

Homemade Valentines for the Family

One of the best things about being a parent is re-living your youth through the eyes of your children. Christmas and Halloween haven't been this fun since I was a kid myself. Bring on the paper snowflakes and fridge art!

Right now, boxes of pre-printed Valentines line the shelves at grocery stores. You know the type; perforated tear sheets featuring Minions or those ubiquitous Frozen characters. My son loves this time of the year, as he can re-stock his candy stash now that his Halloween leftovers have been reduced to Smarties.  I lay awake at night wondering who these neighbors are, and how their life experiences have prohibited them from knowing that no one. Likes. Smarties.

But I digress. Valentine's Day, for me, is a chance to show I care in a personal way. But keep it simple; the holiday only lasts a day and usually lands on a weeknight!

Ideas:

Grab a sheet pan, stack tortillas in a heart shape, and pile on nacho toppings. It's a fun nacho night for the family! Or you can do a tongue-in-cheek nacho gift for your loved ones, using scoop-shaped tortilla chips (pictured above).

Roll out a ball of pizza dough, shape it into a heart and load on your family's favorite toppings. Imagine their surprise when you pull it out of the oven!

Bake a tray of brownies, and use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to pop out heart-shaped bites.

Use that same cookie cutter to punch out pieces of a grilled cheese sandwich or garlic bread, to serve with warming tomato soup. I'd be more than happy to gobble up the leftover edges.

For older kids, you can always let them know how much you care with a funny towel. Or this one. Or this one. They'll use it on the daily, and think of you every time they're in the kitchen - the best place in the house.

Here's to a simple and delicious Valentine's Day!