Organizing My Spice Cabinet

Back Story: My husband and I had accumulated quite a spice collection of our own. When we moved into my in-law’s house, my MIL left almost all of her half-used spices. She wanted to buy fresh when she moved. (Clarification: FIL works in another state. H and I are house-sitting/renting my in-law’s house for the next couple of year until my FIL retires. MIL moved in with FIL full time, instead of splitting her time between states and homes.) So we were left with quite a bottles to figure out how to organize.


Yes, combined, we have enough spice containers to almost cover a standard size stove top. I proceeded to organize them by collecting all the same spices and lining them up alphabetically on the counter. (I forgot to take a picture of this.) I combined as many duplicates as I could. When I still had multiples, I numbered them. The numbers helps me to remember that I have another one as backup for when I run out.

I ended up with 3 jars of allspice! And that was after combining them. Seriously, in what universe would I use that much allspice? I had multiples of other spices, but the allspice really stood out to me because of how little I use it.

I went to Walmart and about two of the bamboo risers for cabinets. All the little containers stayed on the bottom shelf, front and center, or else they’d get lost. I tucked the risers up against the left side of the cabinet, leaving the right side open for oversized containers and spices I used daily (like garlic powder, onion powder, minced onion, cinnamon, curry powder—Indian and Jamaican, basil, oregano, parsley, and Old Bay.

All of the pure spices (not the mixes or rubs, those are elsewhere) were then alphabetized and lined up on the risers. That took up the bottom and middle shelves. The top shelf has two buckets that have all the rubs and commercial spice mixes. We don’t use these too much, because we prefer to make our own concoctions.


I Quit Sugar by Sarah Wilson

I Quit Sugar by Sarah Wilson

I recently joined a book program called Blogging for Books, and received this book, “I Quit Sugar” by Sarah Wilson, to read and review.

All I can say is Wow! I learned a lot reading this book about the three different types of sugar and all the ways sugar is snuck into food nowadays.

i quit sugar

In addition to all the wonderful information about sugar and the ill-effects on our bodies, she outlines an 8-week detox to help reset your system. Full-disclosure: I have not done the detox, but I have cut out the amount of sugar I consume from my diet, and am not having the mild blood sugar issues I’ve been having for the past couple of years.

The author has also includes 108 sugar-free recipes in her book. I’ve tried to Bacon and Egg Cupcakes, the Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal, and the Coconut Curry Meatballs so far. They are all delicious and really easy. The Bacon and Egg Cupcakes have become a fall back meal in case I’m too tied to make a large meal.

Another thing I really liked about this book was that Sarah seemed really genuine about her detox. She was honest about the difficulty of it at times, and admitted when she lapsed. When she lapsed though, she emphasized not beating yourself up about it and give up, but start again the next day. She has recommendations on how to purge your system (safely) if you do over-indulge in sugar.

I really enjoyed this book and recommend it. Even if you’re not looking for a diet book or a detox, this book contains really informative information.

You can follow Sarah and I Quit Sugar on Facebook:

Adventures in Cooking: Curried Chicken Meatballs

I’ve been reading the book I Quit Sugar by Sarah Wilson, and will be doing a thorough review of the entire book soon.

One of the recipes in the book is for Coconut Curried Chicken Meatballs.

I made these over the weekend, sans coconut, because I didn’t have any. However, I don’t feel it affected the flavor too badly.

Her instructions say to put raw and thawed chicken breasts, a shredded carrot, 2 tsp of minced onion, an egg, and the coconut if you have it into a food processor and blend until smooth.

Once all the ingredients are blended into a fine puree, to start forming the puree into meatballs. (Personally, I hate the texture of raw chicken, and pureed raw chicken is even more disgusting to me. So I used a spring scoop to mold my meatballs.) You could make them ahead of time or while you’re waiting the oil to heat up. And this is where I started deviating from the recipe.

The recipe said to heat up 2-3 tablespoons of olive or coconut oil to fry the meatballs in. Couple minutes on one side, a few more minutes on the other side, and cover for 5-6 more minutes. To me, that was too much time in the oil.

So what I did was, I heated up the olive oil, and cooked the meatballs in batches. Two minutes on one side, two on the other, drain, and then I baked them at 350 degrees F for about 10 minutes. The frying was to make them nice golden brown.

We had them for lunch and dipped them in my leftover Tika Marsala/Korma Curry sauce. Husband approved of them, and requested them again, but could I please include the coconut this time?

Sorry for not having pictures this time. I wasn’t even thinking about pictures when I was cooking. I was just hoping not to burn my meatballs.

Adventures in Cooking: New Way for Cinnamon Rolls

I love finding new ways to do things. Even when it comes to something as simple as cinnamon rolls.

I grew up making cinnamon rolls the way the package instructions say to.

Grease a round cake pan and place raw rolls inside, sides touching.

After I moved into the apartment, I didn’t have a cake pan available, but I did have muffin pans.

So I sprayed the muffin pans with PAM and placed them accordingly.

Cinnamon Rolls 1 before

I baked them at 375 for 11 minutes, or whatever the packaging said.

And this is how they came out:

Cinnamon Rolls 2 after

It was really easy to get them out of the pan using tongs, I iced them, and served them for breakfast.


Cooking Observations

A thought that has been reoccurring to me over that couple of days is how less stressful cooking seems to have become.

Two nights ago I made Rosemary and Garlic Roast Chicken with carrots and potatoes. I haven’t made this dish too many times, so it’s not a practice makes perfect situation. However, I realized as I was chopping the potatoes and carrots, as the butter, garlic, and rosemary melded together on the stove, how much simpler this had become. I remember freaking out over not getting things done in order, or something ridiculous like that. It seemed like the dish took forever to put together as well as forever to cook (1 1/2 hrs covered, 30-1hr uncovered). This time it didn’t. The serenity of making a favorite dish and no hiccups was very nice.

I had the same feeling last night while making a much less involved dinner: sloppy joes. Husband doesn’t like store bought sauce so we mix our own concoction. Again, the hamburger was browning away while I mixed all the spices, ketchup, mustard, and water in my big measuring cup (4 cup). Yes, a relatively simple dish, but again I had serenity wash over me.


(This was the set up for chicken and herb cous cous.)

Adventures in Baking: Cake Pops!

My grandma’s birthday was last week, and I was in charge of making the cake. Well, back when my new husband and I were burning through our $200 in Bed, Bath, and Beyond gift cards, I picked up a cake pop maker. So I figured this was a great time to test it out! I had yet to use the machine, and had no idea how these things would come out.

I did the smart thing and read the instruction booklet, looking over the different recipes that came inside. No where in there did it say that I couldn’t use a store-bought cake mix, but I was still weary.

Cake Pops-GC bday (1)  I had everything set up, used a ziploc bag as an icing bag to pipe the batter into the irons.

Well, I overfilled them and my first batch turned into one big cake pop pancake:

Cake Pops-GC bday (3)  

This is what the pan looks like without batter in it. Cake Pops-GC bday (4)

The second go, I was better at the piping. Still over filled them somewhat, but not as bad this time.Cake Pops-GC bday (5) FYI, they’re supposed to look a little burnt on the bottom. No joke! The instruction manual actually addresses that!Cake Pops-GC bday (6) My handsome husband was taste-testing the first batch, and found that strawberry preserves work really well on them! Yes, it tasted yummy.Cake Pops-GC bday (8) After all the batches were done, I left them on the racks to cool completely before icing. (Another tip from the instruction manual.) The small crockpot in the background contained the screw up of chocolate ganache I was trying to make to dip these things in. The recipe I used was the one in the back of the manual. It didn’t work. Cake Pops-GC bday (9) I was started to panic, as I do when I’m making something for the first time and screw it up royally. But then I remembered! My mom gifted/I may have stolen from her the end-all, be-all Taste of  Home cookbook!!! I love that thing! Seriously, if I could only have one cookbook….wait, that’s an upcoming post, never mind!

Anyways, I looked up the chocolate ganache recipe in there, and IT WORKED!!! I have yet to find a recipe in that book that didn’t work the first time round. Again, that’s another post. Moving on…

Cake Pops-GC bday (10) I started dipping some of them, but stopped when it wasn’t working the way I had hoped. Surprisingly, I wasn’t disappointed. I put the few that had been dipped into the fridge, let the ganache cool, poured that into a mason jar, and took it to Mom’s to celebrate.Cake Pops-GC bday (11)So instead of arriving with beautiful dipped cake pops, I set up shop with plain pops with a various of dipping sauces: chocolate ganache, Tia Maria ganache that was in the fridge, and strawberry preserves.

Really wish I had gotten a picture of my set up. Oh well!

Now that I know how to use my cake pop maker, I’ll be using it more often!


My Very First Pound Cake

It’s strawberry season and that mean strawberry shortcake!

Now, I don’t care for those preformed, spongy cakes that are sold in the grocery store. They don’t taste right to me.

I found Alton Brown’s pound cake recipe and tried it out. I’ve never made a pound cake before, but when I tasted the batter, I knew it was going to be good.

The only thing I didn’t think about when making the cake was pan preparation. I did butter the pan, but I forgot to flour it.

Thus resulting in:


At the end of the day, the pound cake still tasted delicious! And I had fun scraping the remnants out of the pan.

My husband has commissioned me to try to figure out if there is a way of making just that thick, crunchy pound cake crust. In my mind, I’m seeing pound cake brittle like that brownie brittle they sell in stores.

If I get that one figured out, I’ll let you know!