Working in the same department that’s home to the Consumer Test Kitchen and Everyday Good Thinking could not have aligned more perfectly with my current life situation. I have two small boys – ages 4 and 7 – and a family calendar that’s always booked.
Making donut bites with the family. Photo by Meghan Ondrish
So whenever there’s a call for taste panel participants, I automatically sign up. Well … I just show up. Because if I can try a recipe before I make it, then there’s less risk of failure. And by failure I mean disapproving grimaces and groans from the tiny palates I’m forever trying to please.
Sheet Pan Mongolian Beef
Less is always more when it comes to dinner. And this Sheet Pan Mongolian Beef has a whole lot of less: less dishes, less prep work, less me standing over a stove time. It’s perfect for a quick weeknight meal. I skip ahead even more by buying pre-sliced meat, pre-washed sugar snap peas and shredded carrots.
Slow Cooker Dump Cakes
Enjoying warm food is a miracle when you’re a mom, but when it’s dessert, it’s extra special. Both the Slow Cooker Triple Chocolate Cake and the Pumpkin Dump Cake are so simple and so delicious. My favorite way to enjoy either is with whipped cream. Oh, and the kids – they love it too.
Simple Shredded Chicken
Meal-prepping for the week ahead sounded fun until I realized it would take up most of my Sunday. But don’t get me wrong – I PLAN. One of my favorite make-ahead meal fixes is freezing for later, like you can with this simple slow cooker shredded chicken. . I add it to soups (still frozen!) or defrost for casseroles.
Nobody in my family really loves leftovers, including me. But since I don’t have the time or money to cook every night, I’ve gotten creative with making leftovers into appealing do-overs. The Slow Cooker Cuban Mojo Pork recipe is one of the best for this meal-stretching strategy. The first time I serve it over rice as the original recipe says. The next day, it’s carnitas tacos, and the next, a Cuban sandwich.
I know, hello – kids love donuts. And deep-frying isn’t exactly a time-saver. But what I love about these donut bites is making them with my boys – I do the frying, then they roll them in all the sweet stuff. A treat reserved for a weekend morning, these doughnuts slow us down from our busy routines and keeps us in our pajamas until 11 a.m. I’m left enjoying their sugar-coated smiles – and not at all concerned with my sugar-coated kitchen.
While I can’t live without these tried and true recipes, there are also a few Hamilton Beach® appliances that are mainstays in my kitchen. Without these three appliances, my weeks wouldn’t go as smoothly.
- Egg Cooker – When your four-year-old will eat egg salad sandwiches, you find a way to make them as quick as possible. This egg cooker literally eliminates all the “perfect boil” requirements, so I can make soft, medium, hard and poached eggs without having to watch water boil.
- Keep Warm Toaster – This toaster has helped me multi-task and avoid morning complaining – a win-win. I toast two frozen waffles and hand them to the boys, then put in two more, and press “keep warm,” and finish packing up lunches. So when they plead for more, there’s no wait-time whining.
- 4-Cup Stack & Snap™ Compact Food Processor. My beloved food processor has become reserved for special cooking – it’s just too big to fit into my routine. But this mini food processor doesn’t take up a ton of valuable dishwasher space. So I don’t feel guilty using it on the daily to shred cheese, chop vegetables, make a fresh sauce or even whip up after-school smoothies.