real life test kitchen: cooking in a mug


I’ll try anything once, and when it comes to cake, you don’t have to ask me twice. So when my culinary curiosity lead me to a recipe for a five-minute cake that is cooked in a mug, I was instantly dedicated to road-testing any version available that would lead me through the dark woods of my cynicism to believing that something tasty could in fact be made in a mug in five minutes. Apparently WebMD’s Elaine Magee RD, MPH was on a similarly holy mission, but she took it a step further by making the cake recipe healthier. And wouldn’t you know it? Her 5-Minute Chocolate Mug Cake Makeover was the tastiest of the few I tried! I also experimented with meatloaf and omelets in a mug — details after the jump! –Sarah C. Click the link for the mug cake recipe and more mug love! (more…)

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kinda genius: single-use spice packs


TSP Spices wants to solve the issue of wasted spices and seasonings by packaging their certified organic spices in one-teaspoon packs that stay fresh longer. To someone who just realized that we have a huge bottle of spice that is a year and a half past its use-by date (I hate even admitting that) this seems like a simple but great idea. TSP Spices has a higher price point than grocery-store spices and thus might be a better gift option, but sister company Smart Spice operates with the same packaging idea at a more economical price point. The spices at TSP Spices inlude gift sets and themed lines (i.e. Green Basics, Sweet Basics, Spice Basics, Set for the Holidays) and individual spices, while the 16 varieties of Smart Spice are sold individually. –Sarah C.

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i’m nuts for cracking stuff


This back-to-basics nutcracker — aptly named Cracking Stuff — is just the type of kitchen tool I love. I’m pretty sure any craft-minded individual with a scroll saw could make their own version of the two-piece nutcracker — it’s simply a beach wood block with a hole cut out of the center and a steel clamp. I don’t often by my nuts in the shell, but for those of you lucky enough to have a walnut or pecan tree in your backyard, this may be your new best friend. Pick one up for around $18 at Spunique. —Erica P.

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new obsession: the herb savor

Lovingly designed by New York foodies Prepara, the Herb Savor extends the life of your fresh herbs, making sure your farmer’s market finds last longer — up to three weeks! No more throwing out a huge bundle of blackened parsley bought with the best of intentions. At $34, they make a thoughtful gift for all the chefs in your life. –Katie D.

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real life test kitchen: cooking light fettucine alfredo with asparagus and smoked tuna


The first thing you need to do is go out and find yourself a friend who likes to fish. We’re lucky that we have one, and he comes back from his Pacific excursions with so much extra, he gifts the entire office with smoked tuna and fresh salmon. I decided to add his latest gift to an old standby of mine, the fettucine alfredo from Cooking Light. It’s not nearly as heavy as regular alfredo, but with fresh parmesan and a little patience, it turns out just as delicious. I simply prepared the alfredo as directed and tossed the noodles with some steamed asparagus and chunks of smoked tuna for an incredible meal. While this was exceedingly delicious, any kind of smoked fish would work great — I’ve even had good results with the Hickory Smoked Tuna from StarKist! View a fettucine alfredo how-to video at Cooking Light, or see the spelled-out recipe here. –Mary T.

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