Category Archives: cooking

Seasonal Food to Put You in the Spirit (and Fill Your Home with Heavenly Smells)!

There’s something nostalgic about the tastes and smells we encounter during this time of year. Smell alone can bring back vivid memories and feelings of warmth, happiness and family. We scoured Pinterest for some of the best recipes that can turn your house into a veritable potpourri of delicious smells.

Roasted Nuts

There’s a reason “chestnuts roasting on an open fire” is a lyric in a holiday song, the nutty smell is absolutely delicious (especially mixed with the spicy aroma of cinnamon)! When I lived in Boston and experienced my first-ever snow, I remember walking in the Common and smelling  the comforting scent of roasting nuts mingled with the crisp freshness of a new coat of snow. These cinnamon sugar almonds from Something Swanky are fast and easy, and will quickly fill your home with that very same smell I encountered during my very first walk through the snow.

DSC_0205-edited-watermarked(Photo courtesy of Somethingswaky.com)

Freshly Baked Bread

Is there any better aroma than the smell of bread baking in the oven? No. There is not. Except maybe new baby smell, but that doesn’t count. Baking bread means not only that your house will smell homey but you will get a warm treat when it’s done! This beginner bread recipe from About.com is perfect for a first-time bread maker.

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(Photo Courtesy of The Pinterest Project)

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Known as a secret weapon used by real estate agents everywhere, this is a seriously powerful aroma. Chocolate chip cookies are a classic throwback to delicious smells of special occasion bake-fests. Of course, you could go to the store and buy that pre-made stuff that you just throw in the oven, but if you plan on eating these after they’re done, it’s probably best to at least put in the work so you can appreciate them even more! You can’t knock a classic, which means two words: Toll House. The best chocolate chips cookies of all time.

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(Photo courtesy of Cooking for Engineers)

Hot Apple Cider

If you’re like me and not a huge fan of apple cider, adding caramel for this amazing caramel apple cider recipe from DIY Cozy Home makes the prospect heavenly. What is more seasonal than the smell of cinnamon and apples? Apples add a fruity sweet scent to the pungent smell of cinnamon that makes this juice warm you inside and out.

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Don’t forget to download the SteerList app to help “steer” you through the holidays this year! SteerList is a to do list app, a grocery list app, and just an overall list app for your everyday needs!

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Download our app for FREE in the iTunes Store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/steer-list/id661605663?ls=1&mt=8

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Gluten Free, Vegan, or Vegetarian Guests for Thanksgiving? Easy.

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Thanksgiving is coming up, which means you’re probably already starting to think ahead to your menu and the delicious food you’re going to make. However, finding out that your son’s new girlfriend is vegetarian or the neighbors have a gluten-free diet can send you into a panic, frantically redoing the whole menu and cursing the diet Gods for sending these people to your dinner table.

Take a deep breath. It’s not as scary as you think.

As a vegetarian, I can say that most people with special dietary needs understand that it’s not all about them, but do appreciate being thought of. Even though you may have encountered one or two cranky ones on a dinner where there was nothing for them to eat (Can you really blame someone who’s really hungry and can’t eat anything?), the average person understands that you wouldn’t go to a dinner expecting the whole thing to be catered just to him or her. The secret is in the sides.

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Vegetarians:

You don’t have to throw out a turkey just because a vegetarian is coming. Even though I’ve encountered those fabled “preachy vegetarians” who may make a comment or two, most understand that a turkey is part of the tradition. You don’t have to exchange a turkey for a tofurkey, though if you pick up some Hickory Smoked Tofurkey sandwich meat (available at most chain grocery stores, pictured above draped on a paper turkey to give an authentic effect) or some Morning Star Farms products (just heat and serve), it could be very appreciated. On the whole, most Thanksgiving sides are vegetarian or could be vegetarian with a few tweaks. Vegetables like string beans are easy, and you can moisten mashed potatoes with milk instead of chicken stock (if that’s how you usually do it). On the note of beef or chicken stock, simply substitute vegetable stock if applicable. If you want to score points though, you could make (or buy) a vegetarian “main dish.” Quiche or an egg puff is good because it includes protein (eggs, cheese), or a vegetable pot pie could work too.

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Vegans:

There is a difference between vegetarians and vegans. Vegetarians don’t eat meat (though some eat fish, that’s a personal choice that you can clarify by simply asking your vegetarian guest before the meal) and vegans don’t eat any meat or animal bi-products. This means no eggs, no milk, no cheese, no butter. Stock up on vegetable sides and prepare them mindfully. It’s especially good to make something that contains beans or peanut butter because that will be the main protein.  Vegan desserts are sometimes hard because they often require substitutions, but here’s a fun trick: Soda cake. Simply pick up a package of cake mix (read the ingredients to make sure, but most are vegan, Duncan Hines recommended) and a can of soda (take one or two sips for 10 oz.). The soda replaces the eggs and oil in the recipe! Just mix and bake according to the instructions. Warning: Cake can come out sticky!

Gluten-Free 101:

I’m not very familiar with the gluten free diet, but this article from Mayo Clinic breaks it down nicely. On the whole, meat is gluten free, though it may vary depending on what you add to it. A traditional turkey should be fine, but if you want to do anything fancy or just want to play it safe, simply take a cut and cook it separately for your gluten free friend’s needs. Vegetables are usually good to count on.  From what I understand, the toughest part of a gluten-free diet is bread and dessert. Huffington Post has a great article that lists the best gluten-free breads that you can order or get from a specialty store, and this recipe for a twist on a flourless chocolate cake looks so good, people who can eat gluten may even want to try it!

23733_856926265861_403190124_n(This would be a terrible nightmare for someone with a gluten allergy!)

As a final note, adding some “vegetarian” or “gluten free” place cards in front of special dishes will also be a good idea so there are no surprises. Also, be sure that the guests with special diets get the first chance at the dishes meant especially for them. Keep in mind, and note to your party, that where there may be eight dishes total, there may only be three or four that guests with certain diets can eat. I’ve been to a lot of parties where there was a vegetarian dish, but other people had eaten it all! Just be considerate, and your guests will be thankful for the effort.

Use SteerList as your grocery list app so you don’t forget to pick something up from the grocery store. You can also use it to remember notes (like that list of things not gluten free) or save tips to it.

Website: http://www.steerlist.com/

Download our app for FREE in the iTunes Store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/steer-list/id661605663?ls=1&mt=8

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Plan the Perfect Autumn Day!

Autumn is a time of year where there are so many fun activities you want to do that you may sometimes need a little help getting organized so you can do them all before the season is over. SteerList is a free app that can help even the most busy and most disorganized people remember to take time to enjoy the little things when they have bigger things to worry about. Whether you need just a little help or are a self-proclaimed hot mess, the SteerList app will help you get things done.

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We are a location based app that was made specifically for ease of use and moms on the go. Pick a day from the calendar, then quickly choose locations by simply searching the name of a store and selecting the one you usually go to. Then, make a list of what you need to do. After that, it’s okay if you forget about it, because when you drive or walk near what you needed to do, SteerList will remember for you and give you a notification.

We can help you remember to pick up candy for trick-or-treaters before all the good stuff is gone…

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We can help you prep for the rainy season ahead of time, so you’re not running around in flip flops with a plastic bag over your head when the first rain hits (been there, done that)…

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We can even help plan your perfect trip to the pumpkin patch…

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AND we can help you make the perfect apple pie when you’re suddenly in the mood to bake. We’re a great grocery list app for when you have new seasonal recipes you want to try…

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Then we’ll help you decorate your house for Halloween…

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Finally, when you need a break at the end of the day, SteerList can even help you remember to pick up a grande Pumpkin Spice Latte to help you unwind.

Again, we’re free to download (we also don’t run on annoying ads), so give us a try and let us know what you think! If you’ve been meaning to start a DIY project or absolutely can’t forget to pick up cake mix for the school bake sale, then download SteerList today and get it done!

Website: http://www.steerlist.com/

Download our app for FREE in the iTunes Store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/steer-list/id661605663?ls=1&mt=8

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/steerList

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Baking A Pie Isn’t As Scary As You Might Think!

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Now that it’s autumn, it’s time to let the baking bug take over. It’s wonderful to fill our homes with the scent of freshly made cookies, loaves, and pies… To smell the sweet perfume of some delectable treat just waiting to be cooled on the windowsill. Making your own pie from scratch may sound daunting. Today, a lot of people may go to the store to get a pie, or even get a frozen one from the grocery store. There’s no shame in admitting it! But making your own pie can be a lot easier than most people realize, and you’ll feel really proud of yourself.

The first step to making a great pie is a great crust. You can get frozen crust from the grocery store (we won’t consider this cheating as long as you make the filling yourself), or you can make your own. Again, it’s surprisingly easy and you only need flour, unsalted butter, salt, and ice water. I’ll explain how to make your own crust below, but I just want to remind those of you who may opt for crust from the grocery store to read the directions. Frozen crusts need to be thawed to roll out properly or they’ll break or crumble. If they fall apart though, don’t panic! You can kneed it back together into a ball and roll it out flat again.

Make your own pie crust:

(This recipe comes from “Dana” on Allrecipes.com, and I’ve personally used it many times.)

Ingredients:

½ cup unsalted butter, cubed (one stick)

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ cup ice water

Remember to use our free grocery list app, SteerList, to help you with your shipping list!

Directions:

Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut in butter until the mixture looks crumb-like (you can use your hands to achieve this too). Cutting the butter into the flour is what makes those yummy flakey layers. Stir in water a tablespoon at a time, until the mixture forms a ball. Don’t just dump all the water in! You might not need it all, and then your dough will be too wet. Finally, wrap the pie dough in plastic and refrigerate. You need to use ice water and refrigerate the dough to keep the butter in the crust cool.

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Next comes the filling. You can look up any recipe you want (I always recommend checking out Allreceipes.com because the recipes are rated by people who have tried making them, so you get a good idea of the best recipes out there), whether they be sweet or savory. The best part? You can pretty much put anything you like in a pie. I once read about a family that makes “Thanksgiving leftover pie’ with turkey, mashed potatoes, vegetables, and cranberry sauce. I personally opt for a vegetable pot pie, where I just sauté whatever vegetables I want with garlic and onion, add seasoning, and pop the whole thing in the oven. Unless otherwise advised, it’s usually best to at least partially cook your savory filling before putting it in your pie, to ensure that everything is cooked properly when the pie is done (especially if you’re using meat).

When your filling is ready, get your dough and divide it in half to roll flat. A rookie mistake is rolling out all the dough, filling your pie, then realizing you forgot the top!If your filling looks very wet, you can bake your crust a little (about ten minutes) before you add your filling so it doesn’t come out gooey, wet, or under-baked. Some people brush egg white over the top of their pie before putting it in the oven so they get a glossy top, but you don’t have to.

Bake at 425 degrees for half an hour, and sit back and enjoy the wonderful smells that fill the house!

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