We love Cooking Planit and we want you to love it too. We believe it really can change the way you prepare meals at home and bring more enjoyment to the overall cooking experience. There are so many amazing features that make this possible, it’s hard to summarize them all in a nutshell. Maybe a Top 5 list? That might work!

TOP 5 WAYS COOKING PLANIT WILL MAKE YOUR LIFE EASIER

1. Better Health
Cooking from scratch with real ingredients is automatically more wholesome than other dinner alternatives like buying packaged food products, going through the drive through, or dining out at a restaurant. With Cooking Planit, making complete meals is so easy you really have no excuse not to eat better.

FreshIngredients*Now that’s fresh!

2. Saves Time
You no longer have to search endless recipe sites trying to figure out what to cook with what. Nor do you need to take the time to print out different recipes to compile a grocery list and coordinate the different cooking steps. We do all of that for you. Just choose from our pre-bundled meal suggestions or build your own from scratch using our intelligent search features, make your grocery list with the click of a button, then let us walk you through what to do when. See how much time you just saved?

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*Clean design and loads of photos takes the guess work out of cooking, so you can think less and eat better.

3. Helps with Clean Up
There’s inevitable down time in cooking, even if just a few minutes here and there. Since we organize the cooking sequence for you, you don’t have to worry if you’re forgetting a step or triple-check the recipe to figure out what to do next. We’ll tell you what to do every step of the way, including when you can use your time to clean up a bit. Or, even better, enjoy a glass of wine.

CleanCounter*This photo exemplifies the efficiency in which Cooking Planit helps you cook a meal. While rice and chicken cook, I clean up!

4. Builds Confidence
Cooking can be intimidating. With Cooking Planit, no matter how skilled or how novice you are, we provide extra help so you can explore a new ingredient or a new cooking method with confidence. Perhaps you just want to try a new recipe one night instead of resorting to the same ol’ dinners every week. You can feel confident with Cooking Planit to help with that too!

three portions*Short Ribs, anyone?

5. Improves Quality Time
Keeping dinner delicious and interesting brings everyone to the table time and time again, which means you can enjoy more quality time over home-cooked meals more often. And, once every sees how fun it is to use Cooking Planit, they will want to jump in and help, adding even more QT to your night.

photo 4*Kids can cook and the more you engage them in the process the more likely they are to eat better food and develop healthier habits for later on in life.

Hopefully that helps give you an idea of some of the awesome things Cooking Planit can do to make your life easier. We have other great features, like our one-of-a-kind Meal Creator that helps you build custom meals that suit your own tastes and dietary preferences, the My Cookbook feature that allows you to collect your favorite recipes into one space for later use, and our Meal Scheduler that will literally send you a reminder text or email to tell when you to start cooking the meal you planned to eat on Tuesday at 7pm. See, I told you it was too much for a nutshell!?

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To create a FREE account and start tapping into all the awesome features that Cooking Planit has to offer, click here. We can’t wait to cook with you!

Happy Cooking!

Emily

 


I’m not sure if it’s because we are experiencing chilly, non-July-like temperatures here in the midwest lately, or if summer just reminds me of the time I visited Cape Cod and ate nothing but steamers, fried oysters and New England Clam Chowder all weekend, but I was seriously in the mood for some chowder this week.

I’m not kidding when I tell you I had the key ingredients on hand already – clams and clam juice – because a few months ago on a whim, I decided to stock up on them for my pantry specifically for this inevitable time when a craving would strike, as I knew it would.

DSC_0183I did have to pick up a potato, onion, some celery and heavy cream. But I used thyme and parsley from my garden, and I had a cob of corn laying around, so I decided I’d add that to the soup as well, for an extra special summery feel.

Before I got cooking, I chopped celery, onions, parsley, corn and the potatoes.

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The great thing about making a meal out of soup, is that it usually all takes place in one big pot. I start with some olive oil and butter, then sweat the onions and celery for a few minutes. From there I add the potatoes, thyme sprigs, bay leaf and a little flour as a thickening agent. After a few minutes of stirring and cooking, I pour in the clam juice and heavy cream, then let it all come to a boil.

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The soup simmers gently for 10-15 minutes to soften the potatoes, then the clams get added for the last 5 minutes to cook through. This was also when I added the corn.

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Don’t forget to remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaf!

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Then, stir in the fresh parsley and finish with a little salt and pepper to taste.

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This soup is light and lovely with a slight sweetness and tons of flavor and textures to make it a satisfying one-bowl meal. I love to serve it with a crusty piece of bread, and a nice kale salad would round it out well, too. For complete set of instructions, and to create a grocery list, click here.

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Happy Cooking!

Emily


Follow this thought sequence of mine from the past 3 minutes and see how easy it really is to use Cooking Planit – inspiration to execution, dinner has never been simpler.

1. Stomach is starting to growl – is it lunch time yet?

2. Oh yeah, it’s Monday. Need to eat Meatless today.

3. Let’s find some inspiration at www.cookingplanit.com. Log on and go straight to Advance Search filters. Find the Dietary Restrictions section and check off poultry, pork, meat, shellfish, seafood.

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See results:

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Scroll through and immediately this meal catches my eye – hunger is rapidly approaching so a huge bowl of pasta looks right up my ally. It’s not necessarily the best idea to plan dinner when you are starving for lunch, but I did it anyway!

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I have nearly all the necessary ingredients. Anything I don’t have can be substituted. For example, in place of the heavy cream I can use some whole milk. It won’t be as rich, but that’s kind of a good thing. For the salad, I don’t have these exact lettuces, but I want to harvest some of the kale from my garden today anyway, so that will be perfect. I also don’t have a baguette, but I have some rye bread. Buttering that up with herbs and garlic will still be delicious, and totally worth saving myself a trip to the grocery store.

So, boom! There you have it. Dinner is planned, grocery shopping is unnecessary and my Meatless Monday ambitions are easily achieved. Truly, that simple.

Now, you try it!

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Happy Cooking!

Emily


As I mentioned in my Meal-of-the-Week post from yesterday, my Bestie Heather is in town visiting all week. I didn’t mention that she is also 5 months pregnant. I decided to tap her brain again for inspiration on this week’s happy hour drink recipe by asking her what cocktail she would drink right now, on a gorgeous sunny day in the summertime, if she didn’t happen to be pregnant. Immediately, her response: White Sangria.

I love that her first and fast response was a drink I hadn’t even thought of yet this summer. It just goes to show how sharing ideas can really get the creative juices flowing.

Truthfully, this recipe is so superbly simple, it almost feels like cheating. But, in it’s simplicity, I realized how refreshing it would be to have this non-alcoholic “cocktail” sitting in my fridge all summer long ready to enjoy at a moments notice. Same as having a pitcher of iced tea, only more exciting!

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This is what I did:

White Grape Juice Sangria (Non-Alcoholic)
Makes 4 Drinks

Ingredients
1 Bottle Sparkling White Grape Juice*
1 Red Apple
1 Orange, Medium
Soda Water, Optional

*For an easy wine version, swap grape juice for a bottle of crisp white wine, preferably one with citrus or apple notes.

Instructions
Chop the apple and orange into small bite sized pieces and place in a large pitcher.

Pour the sparkling white grape juice into the pitcher with the fruit. Chill for 20-30 minutes in the fridge, or leave over night.  I enjoy the way the fruit absorbs the juice when left to soak all together for awhile. It makes it all taste a little more cohesive as the fruit infuses the juice and the juice infuses the fruit.

For serving, pour into glasses, scooping some fruit into each glass as well.  I enjoy topping it off with cold soda water. This adds a little more fizz (especially if you let the juice sit over night in the fridge) and it cuts the sweetness from the grape juice a bit.

Serve cold!

Note: If you don’t have a pitcher, be sure to chill the grape juice and soda water (if using) ahead of time, then divide the cut fruit among the glasses evenly and pour the cold juice and soda over the top just before serving.

As for what to eat? Well, it’s prime time tomato season, so this shrimp, bacon and tomato salad is calling my name and it’s as refreshingly light as the “sangria”. I think the bestie will like it too.  For the complete recipe and to make a quick grocery list, click here.

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Happy Cooking!

Emily


It’s Bestie Week here at the Test Kitchen because my bestie, Heather, and her 1-year-old Brooke, are visiting me for a full 7 days. Heather doesn’t enjoy cooking much, and she lives in Hoboken, NJ just outside Manhattan, where you can have nearly any kind of food delivered right to your door, so cooking is an easy task for her to avoid. Recently, I asked her what she doesn’t like about cooking and her first response was the prep work. She doesn’t like having to chop a bunch of stuff before she even gets cooking. Hey – I see her point and it makes sense. Let’s just get cooking already!

I’ve developed some recipes for Cooking Planit with that in mind, the less chopping the better for many people, right? So, I sent Heather some of my meals and recipes that require no prep work, or very limited prep work (like, less than 3 minutes worth) to hopefully encourage her to cook a little bit more often. And, while she was visiting, I decided to cook the meal Veggie Attack to inspire her to try it when she gets back home.

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Veggie Attack is compromised of two recipes – Cheesy Chicken Pasta and Roasted Broccoli. The pasta recipe was designed to come straight from your pantry/fridge/freezer – pasta and dried herbs, plus cheddar and cream cheese, both common cheeses that many people keep on hand, and some frozen veggies. I don’t expect you to have everything readily available, especially the ground chicken, but at least it enables you a quick dash in and out of the grocery store. While you pick up some chicken you can also grab the broccolli.

From there, the broccoli is the only thing that needs to be prepped and in just a minute or two you can have it cut down to tiny florets. And then, you’re off and cooking.

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First instructions tell me to preheat the oven to 425 for the broccoli and get water boiling on the stove for the pasta.  While those things heat up, I brown the ground chicken. I love ground chicken because I don’t have to handle it like I would chicken breast. No cutting, no dicing, no touching. I simply open the package and drop it right into the pan.

Then, I season with garlic powder, onion powder and dried basil. Often times, I choose fresh garlic, onion and basil over the dried variety – that’s just my personal preference, but I can appreciate the ease in which dried seasonings help deliver a tasty dinner. No chopping, no tears, no garlic-fingers afterward. And no waste because it all goes right back into the cupboard for next time.

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Once the oven is preheated, the broccoli goes in and cooks until tender and slightly charred. This is so easy because I don’t have to tend to the broccoli. A timer is automatically started and Cooking Planit will chime when I have to pay attention to the broccoli again. Same is true for the pasta. Once the water is boiling, I add some salt and the pasta noodles and a second timer is set automatically.

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For this particular recipe, the chime will ring when there are 2 minutes left to cook so I can add my frozen veggies. I love cooking them all together so I save on dishes and extra effort of cooking the veggies separately.

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While the broccoli bakes and the pasta boils, I melt the cheddar and cream cheese together in the microwave. Easy enough.

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I also keep stirring the chicken. Once it’s cooked through and slightly browned, I remove it from the heat.

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I’ve got to be honest, this meal was running like clockwork and every part was just doing it’s thing. Which, as often happens with Cooking Planit, allowed me to clean up a bit. I wish I had taken a photo because I had all my prep dishes in the dishwasher and the counter clean before I was done cooking. Having Cooking Planit tell you when to do what, including when you have time to clean up, instead of re-reading each recipe over again for the ump-teenth time to make sure you haven’t forgotten something, just makes cooking so much more smooth and efficient. And clean!

Once the pasta and veggies are cooked they get strained and added back to the pot along with the ground chicken, melted cheeses and sour cream. Stir it all up, check final seasoning, add salt and pepper to taste, then scoop it up onto dinner plates along with the roasted broccoli, which of course finished within a minute of the pasta. Dinner is hot and the kitchen is clean all in about 40 minutes.

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My bestie loved the dinner and agreed that it is a meal she would make at home. Not having to chop a ton of stuff in the beginning sounds perfect to her, and I’m sure to many of you. I admit it, I like it too!

Happy Cooking!

Emily

 


Tomato season is upon us! Of course, one of my favorite ways to enjoy juicy tomatoes on a hot summer day is chilled – a la Gazpacho. This recipe couldn’t be simpler, yet it packs a ton of flavor and is really filling, so dinner can be light, refreshing and satisfying all at the same time.

I like to serve my Simple Salad along side, just to diversify the meal and offer a few other textures and flavors in between bites. With just a little chopping, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil, you have a well-balanced, veggie-packed meal in less than 40 minutes. Oh, and of course, it’s all perfect for a Meatless Monday!

Make it exciting by adding your own toppings, too. Sour cream, diced cucumber, diced jalapeno, avocado, fresh cilantro, or crispy tortilla chips are just a few fun ways to dress it up and tailor it to your own taste.

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Happy Cooking!

Emily