Coffee

Let’s talk about coffee! Before I had children, I did not drink coffee, unless I was cramming for an exam. Now, coffee is an essential part of my day. Morning coffee might even be my favorite part of the day. I have never owned a traditional coffee maker. The thought of heating up water in plastic for me is a turn off. I searched high and low on the Internet trying to find a coffee maker that didn’t have any plastic components. This was not a simple task! Through this search I was able to find the CHEMEX coffee maker. It comes in a variety of sizes, but I use the six cup. The CHEMEX is an attractive kitchen item that uses a paper or metal filter to brew what some call “the best cup of coffee.”

For best results, I recommend a quality coffee grinder. Fresh ground beans are best! I like to buy my beans in small batches. You can use pre-ground beans, but this doesn’t allow you to choose your grind size. I prefer the finest ground option; I like a really strong cup of coffee. I flip between grinding my own at home or using the commercial grinders at the store. Both work fine. When you use fresh ground beans, the coffee will “bloom”. Blooming occurs as CO2 is emitted from the grinds. You will see the grinds rise and expand.

I recommend using this gooseneck kettle. What I like about a gooseneck kettle is that it allows for a slow, even pour. Recently, I upgraded to a kettle that has a temperature gauge. Your goal temp should range between 195°F to 205°F.

Simple CHEMEX directions:

  1. Fill your kettle using one mug full of filtered water per cup you plan to brew.
  2. For each cup of water, I use a heaping tbsp. of very finely ground coffee beans. 
  3. Heat the water. (Ideal temperature 195°F – 205°F )
  4. Slowly pour water over the grinds. On the first pour, only add enough to “wet” the grinds. Then, allow the grinds to bloom. After a few seconds, the grinds will “pop” and sink back down. 
  5. Pour the remaining water slowly, in a circular motion, over the grinds. 

Cheers!

Soups

Nothing says Fall like soup! This morning, I awakened to a much welcomed cold front. The first real cold front of the year. In Texas, many refer to this as “false Fall.” I won’t even pretend that I didn’t take out my Ugg boots! Yes, I am a native Texan and it shows. This glorious cold front got me thinking about all the delicious Fall soups and goodies I plan to make. I had to restrain myself from running to Trader Joe’s to stock up on all things pumpkin. I can’t wait to share all my Fall favorites with you as well as experiment with new recipes.

I don’t know if chili is exactly a soup, but for the sake of the post it will pass as a soup. I like to base my chili off this recipe. It is fine as is but I prefer a more Texas style and never found the perfect recipe. I leave out the carrots as it just doesn’t feel right with them in it. I like to swap out the kidney and black beans for all pinto beans. Occasionally, I don’t have ”chipotle peppers in adobo sauce” on hand. If that happens, I just add some other source of ”heat” to compensate.

Click here for more delicious recipes by Ellie Krieger.

***Cooking isn’t about following the recipe, it is about what you like! Keep that in mind; there is no wrong way to make something. ***

I made this pumpkin soup two years ago for my son’s birthday party and people still talk about it. 😉 My son’s birthday is in November and it can get pretty chilly. A Fall outdoor party can be tricky! We always have our parties in outdoor places as I like to invite the whole class as well as siblings. A crockpot of hot cocoa and a cup of soup provides just the right amount of warmth to keep everyone comfortable.

I’ve composed a list of new soups to try and I have linked them below for you to try too!

1. Chicken Tortilla soup

Chicken tortilla soup is one of my top favorites. I made it all Winter, a few years back. I found this on Faceboook by Home cooked recipes; it looks so good! I will definitely give this one a go this Fall and let you know my thoughts.

2. Chicken and Dumplings

I love a good bowl of chicken and dumplings. I am not a big fan of chicken noodle, so this fills that void. I want to try this recipe by Eating on a Dime.

3. Split Pea soup

Split pea soup takes me back to my childhood, and it might be my favorite soup. (Thank you @CampbellSoupCo. ) I can’t wait to try this one. Check out these really appetizing vegan options on Instagram.

4. Spicy Black bean soup

I love a bowl of spicy black bean soup on a cold day. This recipe for spicy black bean soup looks like just the one.

5. Potato soup

I have a super simple version that I make. Keep an eye out for that in a future post. For now, this one I found by Sugarspunrun looks like a great one to try.

Banana Swirl

My kids Love what we call “Banana Swirl.” It is a refreshing, simple, healthy smoothie for all ages. I would add peanut butter, but my kids aren’t big fans. In lieu of peanut butter, I add unflavored whey protein. It is a simple way to sneak in a little more protein.

For this recipe, I use the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup of milk
  • 2-3 preferably over-ripened bananas
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup ice. If you plan ahead and freeze your bananas, you can leave out the ice.
  • Unflavored whey protein. (Use at your discretion.)

*Tip: Peel the bananas before you freeze them. I learned this the hard way!

Directions :

1. Pour milk into blender. * When blending, add liquids first.

2. Follow with cinnamon and protein powder (whey.)

3. Add bananas and/or ice *Frozen items are added last

5. Blend and enjoy!

*Optional: I like to drizzle a little honey on top for flare.

Cast Iron Scrambled Eggs


I used to believe you needed a non-stick pan for cooking eggs. That’s a myth! Years back, I did some research into nonstick cookware. Once I learned how toxic non-stick pans can be, I decided that non-stick was not for my family. In my experience, cast iron can do anything a nonstick pan can do. If you are in the market for a cast-iron pan, Lodge makes high quality, affordable ones. In this post, I will demonstrate using this griddle by Lodge. Once I decided to ditch non-stick, I struggled with scrambled eggs. I tried everything but my eggs always turned out burned and stuck to the pan. It was so frustrating! One day, this all changed thanks to a chat I had with a friend on a playground park bench! It is all about properly oiling and preheating your pan. Now, I make perfect scrambled eggs every time, and you can, too. Follow these directions for a simple and delicious breakfast staple. Enjoy!

Directions for perfectly cooked scrambled eggs:

1. Start by heating your pan. You want it to almost smoke.

2. While your pan is heating, scramble your eggs in a bowl using a whisk.

3. Turn off the heat and coat the pan with oil or butter. I recommend avocado oil as it has a high burning point.

4. Add your eggs to the oiled pan. Don’t stir until you see bubbles forming.

5. Gently fold the eggs.

6. When the eggs reach the desired firmness, break them up with a fork and serve. 

Roasted Chicken and Potatoes

Today, was one of those never-ending days! We started virtual learning this week and for us it was a real “beast.” The last thing I wanted to do on a day like today was cook. Yet, I am still tasked with feeding my family a nutritious meal. This is why I like to keep a whole chicken on hand. Typically, a whole chicken will have a fairly generous “use by” date. When I have a day that I don’t want to put too much effort into dinner I will oven-roast a chicken. What I like about roasting a chicken is that it involves very little effort. You don’t have to stuff the chicken, but it will taste better if you do. While it may not be my favorite thing to cook, my kids don’t complain, and that counts for something! 

Oven-Roasted Chicken Directions :

1. Rinse and pat dry the chicken. Insert half of a lemon or lime, salt, and rosemary into the cavity.

2. Drizzle the chicken with olive oil, salt & pepper.

*Optional Tip: Tie the back legs together with twine or cheesecloth. *

The rule of thumb with chicken is 20 minutes per pound at 350 degrees. Check the temperature in the thickest part of the thigh, near the bone; it should be at least 165 degrees F.

My favorite meat thermometer is available here.

Roasted potatoes:

  1. Rinse the potatoes and place them in a baking dish.
  2. Drizzle with olive oil
  3. Add whole garlic cloves, sprinkle in rosemary, and top with a touch of salt and pepper
  4. Bake in an oven-safe dish at 350 until the potatoes reach the desired tenderness. I recommend checking on them after about 30 minutes.

Don’t forget to add a vegetable! 🙂

The favorite in my house is steamed broccoli.

Meet the Salty Chef

Hey there! My name is Taylor. I am a mother of two amazing little boys. My family and I live in Austin, Texas. Cooking didn’t come naturally to me. Growing up, my mother didn’t cook much…she mostly assembled meals out of pre-cooked items. As a parent, I can relate! I inherited my mother’s lackluster approach to cuisine. Efficiency was key.

In my mid-twenties, I experienced my own enlightenment, in regard to my diet. I became very aware, not only of the ingredients in my food, but also of how my food was grown or raised.  This inspired me to shift to a mostly organic diet. Not to say I don’t make exceptions from time to time. This new knowledge was pivotal. It inspired me to start making my own food. As a novice cook, I initially relied heavily on recipes, but over time I was able to expand beyond following recipes to creating my own dishes. It is so funny looking back; I knew almost nothing about cooking. I can recall walking into the produce department at Central Market with a recipe and asking an employee where I could find the “lemon zest.” You should have seen his face! As a new cook, there were so many small things I wish I had known. I can’t wait to share all the tips and tricks I’ve learned.

I know how precious time is! I don’t have copious amounts of time to devote to a single meal. You may not, either. My goal with this blog is to spotlight my favorite simple meal ideas to help you create healthy, simple, time efficient meals for you and yours. In my blog post recipes, I will break things up into step by step directions with photos to help guide you through. Be sure to check back each week for my favorite recipes, tips and my “must have” kitchen essentials. 

Xoxo,

Taylor

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