Sunday, July 24, 2016

Teachers Who Cook: Gadgets, Appliances, and Cookbooks!

Hi, lovely summering teachers!

Today the precious Martina and I are gushing about our cooking necessities. (If you missed it, last time we totally nerded out talking about meal planning. Check out that post HERE!)

Brace yourself: I'm not fancy. 

In. The. Least.

Martina talks about some of the best things you need in the kitchen, so I'm going to talk today about a few things I couldn't live without as a cooking enthusiast on a teaching schedule. In other words, the things I need in my kitchen to cook and eat on a busy schedule. 

Look away, food snobs! It's about to get real.

Programmable Slow Cooker
No one should be shocked that right away I have to bring up a slow cooker. Easilyyyyy my favorite appliance in the all time of EVER. In college, in my teeny tiny hole of a closet, squished amongst my cookbooks and monogrammed cake stand, I had three crockpots lined up, ready to go. If anyone ever robbed the apartment, they would've had a good laugh when they got to my room, that's for sure. 

Then, my first year of teaching, I usually had all three crockpots going every Sunday to make food for the week. Because 1) I lived literally in the middle of nowhere with little access to quick food (other than the ever-appetizing gas station cuisine) and 2) holy-buckets-no-one-warned-me-how-aged-I'd-feel-after-a-day-of-teaching.

When B was living in a city a few hours away, he'd visit on weekends and - yep, you guessed it - we'd usually have the three slow cookers going for our meals for the week. #sundayfunday

So yes, I'm quite smitten with the slow cooker. Although I must say, now I've pared down to just one of these babies because I live in a shoe box. But I will admit, it's my favorite model yet since it's perfect for teachers. I can program how long I want it to cook - which is quite handy since so many slow cooker recipes only cook for 6-8 hours and hello, if only teachers' days were that short

I will argue that no teacher should be without a programmable slow cooker. At least once a week (Slow Cooker Sunday, FTW), I program my crockpot to cook for, say, 7 hours on low, and after that the crockpot automatically switches to a warm setting. BRILLIANT. Seriously y'all, invest in one. You'll feel like both a kitchen rockstar and teacher of the year ("Fresh dinner ready the minute I get home? Whaaaaaat?"). 

Just wait until next week when I throw alllll my favorite slow cooker recipe at you. You'll be all, "We GET IT. You like CROCK POTS, Memaw." But seriously, check out my menu planning blog (particularly under Slow Cooker Sundays) for ideas in the meantime. And, I'd LOVE to know your favorite slow cooker meals!

Divided Lunch Containers
When I'm really feeling organized, I like to pack a few lunches ahead of time on Sundays. Divided containers keep everything separate and not soggy, so everything really does stay fresh throughout the week. AKA HUGE time saver. (And I'm reallyyyyy not into the whole packing a lunch in the morning thing. Or the night before, for that matter.) And, I can truly entertain my picky eating habits like a five year old. So, if you're okay with eating sandwiches, dips, produce, etc (cold stuff), I can't recommend this method enough.

Glass Containers
And, for the times I want leftovers for lunch, THESE. Oh baby, these containers. Two years ago, I upgraded all my plastic containers to glass, and I'll never go back. So easy to clean, and I can use them in the freezer, fridge, microwave, and oven. They store both leftovers and cut up produce alike beautifully. Like, a working person's DREAM. 

Oftentimes, since I'm only cooking for two people, when a recipe calls for a 9x13 dish, I'll split the recipe between two of these larger containers. One will get baked in the oven then, and the other one will get popped in the freezer. A few weeks later - typically Fridays are when I use any freezer meals, because by that point in the week #ijustcant - I'll let the frozen dish thaw in the fridge before school, and will pop it in the oven for dinner that night. I'm telling you, these dishes are MAGIC. This, this, and this recipe work great for this method.

I do have to also mention, that I also love mason jars for smoothies, salads, and parfaits. #glassrules #teacherlunchlife (Side note: search "Mason Jar Salads" on Pinterest. Mind BLOWN.)

Aaaaaand a few appliances I embarrassingly can't live without.
Like I said, food snobs - avert your eyes. I have a teeeeeeny kitchen and I have to prioritize what gets stored in there, and what gets stored everywhere else. (Tortilla warmer and food processor in the living room? Totes normal.) 

Shamelessly, I will admit my grilled cheese maker, my quesadilla maker, and my hardboiled egg maker all happily reside in my kitchen. Because sometimes I have to push off whatever I planned to make tonight to next week because #ijustcant, and only a quesadilla will do (but yes, the idea of even buttering a pan to make said quesadilla even sounds exhausting). Because I eat an abnormal amount of grilled cheese for breakfast (so judge me). And because I will never make hardboiled eggs during Sunday meal prep any other way than this foolproof, darling machine. 

Plus, if anything else, the amount of quesadilla ideas out there are quite impressive. Remember how I said having a theme to your evenings makes meal planning easier? I think I might have to consider a Quesadilla Night.

I know, I know. The post is supposed to be about cookbooks. 

And while I have quite the collection, and am quite the fan of both Cook's Illustrated and Pioneer Woman alike, I must say I'm very fond of cooking blogs. Admittedly, I follow more cooking blogs than teaching blogs on Instagram.

What can I say? I like to see food in my feed.

When I first thought I wanted to try cooking, I'd wake up each morning and browse cooking blogs. In fact, I still drink my coffee while doing just that. The thing is, most cooking blogs provide step-by-step pictures, so I felt it very educational (and confidence-building) to do that even before I ever ventured into a kitchen (because this was during the time I lived in a dorm). 

So, if you're a true beginner, I hope you find a blog below that teaches you enough to make you feel like you can cook (for me, that was Pioneer Woman and Mel's Kitchen Cafe). For my kitchen enthusiasts out there, I hope you either find a new cooking blog/site to enjoy, or let me know if we already share a favorite blog!

Mel's Kitchen Cafe (my go-to site)
Yummly (addicting, sorry)
All Recipes (psssst this is also my FAVORITE magazine)
A Year of Slow Cooking (slow cooker Sunday win)
Real Mom Kitchen (great for quick, easy recipes)
Damn Delicious (guys, THIS fish)
Two Peas in their Pod (meatless Monday jackpot)
Cooking Classy (her salmon and salads OMG)
Six Sister's Stuff (quick, easy recipes)
New Leaf Wellness (for freezer cooking)
Once a Month Meals (for freezer cooking)
The Kitchn (great recipes, cooking school, and tutorials!)
The Brewer and the Baker (her margaritas and mexican food, y'all!)

Also, if you're not a search-for-a-blog kind of person, I highly recommend you to sign up for the Yummly, AllRecipes, The Kitchn, and email list. Their daily emails always have some sort of jewel. Most blogs also have an email subscription sign up as well!

I hope peeking through these links has you excited to COOK. The precious Martina has made another adorable freebie for you to do so. Seriously, she's the BEST.

Keep tagging your cooking and meal planning pictures on Instagram with #teacherswhocook! I've loved loved LOVED seeing them all this week! Visit Martina's blog for more!


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  2. I'm loving this blog series! As a teacher and busy mom of four, I have lots of nights where #ijustcant, so this is totally motivating me to meal plan and prep more for dinners and the dreaded lunch packing every night. Thanks!

  3. Look at the Smitten Kitchen blog, everything she does is amazing!

  4. Thank you for this great post. Your ketchup recipe is a staple in my kitchen! I just made another batch yesterday 🙂

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