Wedding Registry Tips

Registering is one of the best parts about having a wedding. Yeah it can be a little weird to straight up ask people for things, but it’s tradition. Plus it’s fun to run around a store and scan a bunch of stuff. Like a Christmas list on steroids.

We didn’t really go in to registering with a game plan. There were some things we needed, some things we wanted and some things that were just unnecessary. But you get caught up in the scanning and you don’t really think about it. Now a few years removed from our wedding, I can look back at the things that were good ideas and some of the things that we could have skipped. Most of the things we asked for and received were kitchen related, so that’s what I’ll be touching on here, not so much general housewares. But one word of advice on that — ask for a nice pair of sheets. It’s like sleeping on a cloud.

DO: Register for a nice set of pans. A nice, high quality set of pots and pans will last you for years. Be sure the set your are looking at has everything you need. Stock pot, sauce pants, skillets. Feel free to supplement with a cast iron pan or a Dutch oven. We registered for the Cusinart set below — and I recommend it.

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DON’T: Register for expensive bakeware. We got a few, semi-expensive cookie sheets. I’ve already had to replace them. Even if you use a Silpat or parchment paper, those puppies will never be pristine again once you start using them. You can find a nice enough cookie sheet or cupcake pan at Target or Home Goods that will get the job done.

DO: Register for high price appliances. This is the time in your life to ask for a KitchenAid Stand Mixer if you’ve always wanted one. Had your eye on a wine fridge? Put it on there. A Vitamix? Take the plunge. You’d be surprised at just how generous people are when it comes to weddings.

DON’T: Register for every appliance under the sun. All of the appliances we registered for and got, we use them all. Crock Pot. Griddle. Waffle Iron. Stand mixer. Immersion blender. Are you really going to use that bread maker you have on your list? Chances are it won’t leave the cabinet you’re storing it in. If you are going to register for a lot of different appliances, don’t just register for the cheap versions. Register for a mid-range one that will last you awhile.

DO: Register for multiples. Don’t be afraid to ask for more than one of an item — and I’m not just talking about glasses or place settings. Ask for multiple cutting boards of various sizes, spatulas in varying sizes and shapes, measuring cups and spoons. You’d be surprised at how nice it is having a cutting board specifically for meat and one for veggies.

DON’T: Register for some fancy knife set. We got a pretty nice knife set for our wedding. But after using it for a few months, the knives started to dull and I could never get them as sharp as I needed them to be. Instead, ask for high quality individual knives. A ceramic chef’s knife. A nice knife with a steel blade. A pairing knife and a serrated knife.

Obviously this is all based off my personal experience and everyone is different. Think about the kind of cooking you do and your life in the kitchen and figure out what would work best for you. 

Turkey Sausage Stuffed Peppers

For the past four years, I thought Eric didn’t like stuffed peppers. Then last week, he requested them for dinner. This was my face.

But I was more than happy to oblige. I love stuffed peppers. I have a recipe I like that uses brown rice and veggies, but Eric insisted that some sort of meat needed to be involved. So I created these.

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Stuffed peppers never photograph well. But it sure was tasty.

Now just a note, I used turkey sausage that had been precooked in my homemade pasta sauce, but you could use any meat you want. Just plain ground turkey would also be good. Just add some extra seasonings.

Turkey Sausage Stuffed Peppers

2 red bell peppers, halved and cleaned out
2 links spicy Italian turkey sausage, cooked and crumbled
1 cup cooked white or brown rice
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 cup chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Cheese for garnish, optional (I used goat cheese, Eric used parmesan)

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2) Mix the turkey sausage, rice, tomato sauce and seasonings together in a bowl. Spoon the filling in to the pepper halves.
3) Place filled peppers in a casserole dish. Pour chicken broth in to dish. Cover tightly with tin foil. Bake for 30 minutes or until pepper is tender. Top with cheese, if desired, and serve.

Friday Faves

Did you survive the polar vortex? It’s weeks like these that I’m glad I work from home — and have my own personal space heater.

I’m finally back in to my rhythm in the kitchen. That holidays were so busy I rarely had time to cook at home. But now we’ve been whipping up delicious meals all week. We have this fun little system — Eric thinks up something that sounds good, I recreate it off the cuff. We’ve done that twice this week with great success, recipes to follow.

One key to the success of those recipes is Better than Bouillon, specifically the chicken one.

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It’s a bit pricier than the powder bouillon, but it is so superior that it is worth it. This adds a richness to dishes that call for chicken stock that makes it seem as if you have been slow cooking it all day. I also have the beef variety, but I use the chicken one a few times a week.

I’ve also been using our Corningware Lite bakeware a lot lately.

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It’s similar to traditional CorningWare, but it’s much lighter and sleeker. When we got married, we (well, I) registered for a set of this as well as a set of Pyrex (which really, you don’t need both…but what did I know?). I use the CorningWare all the time. I rarely use the Pyrex. I just find the Pyrex too bulky. And it doesn’t clean up as nicely as the CorningWare. If you are getting married or in the market for some good bakeware, I’d definitely recommend the CorningWare Lite.

OK, now let’s talk about my love of freeze dried fruit.

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Weird, maybe a little, but pretty tasty and a good healthy snack. Two of these are from Trader Joe’s, one from Whole Foods. The peaches and oranges are awesome. The cranberries a little tart for me, but I think I’m going to mix them in to oatmeal with some honey to cut the tartness a little. I prefer the freeze dried fruit to traditional dried fruit because the sugar content isn’t that high. Both TJ’s and WF’s have a wide selection of freeze dried fruit, so if you are looking to dive in, check those places out.

Mahi mahi with a kale and edamame salad

One thing I pride myself on is being able to look at the ingredients I have on hand and whip something up for dinner. This delicious mahi mahi came from one of those ingenious moments.

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Eric was eating leftover Thai the other night and I had to figure out something for myself. I saw the mahi mahi. I saw the kale. I saw the edamame. Boom.

Now I have a pretty neat trick about softening kale. If you eat kale right off the stalk, it can be pretty chewy. Not that appetizing, really. Well I found a tip online that has completely changed how I eat kale. Take a big bunch of kale, put it on a bowl, sprinkle a pinch of salt on it, massage the salt in to the leave, let it sit for about 10 minutes. That is it. The salt helps break down the leaves so they have the consistency of regular lettuce. Now all I want to do is eat kale salads.

Mahi mahi with a kale and edamame salad

For the fish (This is enough for one fillet of fish. Adjust the amounts based on the servings you want).
1 piece, mahi mahi (any white, mild fish would probably work.)
1/2 clove garlic
1/4 tsp honey
1 tsp soy sauce
Shake of ginger powder (you could use fresh ginger if you have some on hand)

Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Coat the fish with the marinade and let it sit for about ten minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place fish on a baking sheet. Bake for about 8 minutes, or until fish is cooked through.

Kale and edamame salad
1 cup softened kale
1/3 cup edamame (or however much you want), shelled, cooked and cooled
Salt and pepper to taste

Vinaigrette
2 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp soy
1/2 tsp honey
Sprinkle of ginger powder (or grate of fresh ginger)

Combine the ingredients for the vinaigrette in a bowl. Whisk together and let sit for about 10 minutes for the flavors to mix together. Add in the kale and edamame and toss to coat with the vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper. Serve alongside mahi mahi.

Coconut water fruit slushie

Remember when I said I might talk about healthy stuff? Well, here we go.

Disclaimer: I do not like smoothies. I don’t know what it is. I’m guessing it has something to do with I don’t like drinking yogurt. Something with the consistency I suppose. That being said, in my mind, this is NOT a smoothie. It’s a slushie. Or a healthy slurpee. Think of it however you want.

Now I know this isn’t rocket science and I didn’t reinvent the wheel or anything. But this combo is quite delicious. It’s great to satisfy your sweet tooth when you are trying to cut back on maybe not-so-good for you things and is quite filling if you need a snack between meals.

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I used an immersion blender to make this, but a regular blender or even a Magic Bullet would be great for this. I’ve had so many of these in the past few days I’ve considered getting a Magic Bullet, but like I need another kitchen appliance.

Coconut water fruit slushie

1 cup coconut water (or whatever liquid you like: water, juice, lemon-lime soda, etc)
1/2 cup frozen fruit (I used a combination of raspberries and peaches)

Note: I prefer frozen fruit in this to fresh because it gives the slushie a thicker consistency. Fresh fruit would give more of an aqua fresca type consistency, but the choice is up to you.

1) Place all the ingredients in a bowl or blender. Pulse unless the fruit is smooth and everything is combined. Garnish with fresh mint if desired.

Friday Five is now Friday Faves

Three days in to the new year and I’m already changing stuff up here on Kitchen Casual. It’s not a huge change, just changing the Friday feature from Friday Five to Friday Faves. It gives me more flexibility in terms of the amount of what I write about. I  found myself struggling sometimes to come up with five things and I want to make sure the things I share are things I actually am enjoying, not just things I am thinking up to take up space.

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First, I have to talk about how Santa was very good to me. I got a few of the products I’ve talked about on here and they have seen a lot of use in the past week. My mother-in-law got me the tea kettle I wanted. It’s is actually quite amazing how brewing tea at the proper temperature can make a huge difference in how the tea tastes. Tea nerds unite! I’ve been getting a lot of use out of it the past few days because I am battling a nasty head cold. Hot tea, I love you. I also got two really awesome knifes. The above one is a J.A. Henckels chef’s knife made of German steel. It cuts like a dream. I just want to chop all the things. I also got a small ceramic knife that is great. I feel like I need to invest in more ceramic knives now.

UPDATE: I can’t believe I forgot to talk about my mezzaluna! I also got one for Christmas and it is pretty amazing. Yes, you can just use a knife, but I shredded a whole bunch of kale super fast with it the other day. We are now best friends.

We were out of town for past of last week so we haven’t cooked too much. We made this slow cooker Greek chicken on Sunday and ate it for a few days in warm pitas with tomatoes, cucumbers and homemade tzatziki. It was delicious. We also made lobster risotto on New Year’s Day.

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It was my first time cooking lobster at home. We bought some tails from Costco (seriously, they have a great seafood selection) and boiled them. I used my recipe for baked risotto and top it with the chopped lobster. A little delicious indulgence to start the new year.

I should get back to more cooking in the new few weeks. Like most people in the world, I’m trying to eat better after the gluttonous holidays, so you might see some healthy-type dishes on here. But I’ll hopefully make them as tasty as possible!