Staff Favorites: Easy Cooking Tips
Manager of our Austin, TX shop
About this time of the year, Jasmine says “it seems like there’s just not enough time in the day for everything,” especially with the holidays just around the corner! No matter how busy life gets though, she “always makes time to stop and appreciate the changing leaves” (and to cook flavorful food, of course).
Alderwood Smoked Sea Salt is perfect for Jasmine's favorite snack, sliced avocado. Jasmine enjoys this snack for its freshness and because “avocados are a blank canvas just waiting to be seasoned.” This smoky salt is one of the many spices Jasmine recommends for her favorite on-the-go snack.
Georgia Peach Spice is great for creating comforting dishes. “It’s got the perfect warm, spiced sweetness to complement pies and cobblers,” plus it’s great on seasonal fruit. As far as Jasmine is concerned, “in the fall, Georgia Peach does it all!”
Juicy Cuban Island Marinade is Jasmine’s favorite recipe for busy days because “not only does it strike the perfect balance of sweet and savory while delivering the bold flavor of our Cuban Island Spice, it’s also versatile enough to compliment almost any protein, and veggies too!”
Spice ‘n Easy
Chocolate Orange Mug Cake is Jasmine's go-to after a long day because she can “never say no to chocolate, of course, and then you add in a distinctive sweet burst of orange flavor, plus you bake it right in the microwave in under two minutes. What’s not to love about that?!” I wholeheartedly agree.
Test Kitchen Content Manager at our home office in Denver, CO
Ashlee enjoys the cooking that comes with this time of year. Once mid-August hits, she gets “the cooking bug” and spends “a lot of evenings and weekends making soups, stews, breads, and roasted meats.” When she isn’t cooking, she enjoys Colorado and tries “to get a couple of day trips to the mountains in to see all the changing leaves.” Ashlee adores this time of year and is “such a fan of autumn foods.”
Park Hill Maple Pepper is Ashlee’s absolute favorite. It is perfect for fall foods like “Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes, which is 90% of [her] diet in the fall.”
Chicken and Dumplings is always on the menu for Ashlee when the days get busier and cooler. She “grew up with dishes like this one, all warm and comforting,” so this recipe is at the top of her favorites list for weeknight meals.
Spice ‘n Easy
Toasty Tomato Bisque is a favorite for Ashlee because, as someone who follows a dairy-free diet, having “a super creamy soup that uses coconut milk” makes her super happy. “It has just a hint of curry warmth and an awesome toasty onion flavor.” Plus it comes together quickly and you only need three ingredients to make it.
Spice Merchant at our Kansas City, MO shop
For Madison, this time of year is all about going back to school but it’s also all about getting prepped for her birthday! With all the planning and the celebration to come, this time of year is always busy for Madison, but she loves it, and the flavors that come with it.
Vanilla Bean Sugar is a great sweet choice for college students. Being in school, Madison “lives on a budget” and also lives “with a condition: craving ice cream every hour, on the hour.” To save money, Madison will buy inexpensive ice cream and spruce it up with some Vanilla Bean Sugar to satisfy her cravings.
Madagascar Cloves are a staple for back-to-school weather. Madison likes to make her own apple cider because “it’s so delicious and warm,” which makes it perfect for a study break. When she wants something a little more complex, she uses “Mulling Spices or sliced oranges to add a little bit of festive flavor.”
Queso Fundido with Homemade Chorizo is one of Madison's all-time favorites. “It's so easy to make and way cheaper than ordering from a restaurant. Plus, it’s spicy, cheesy, and has meat, which is an all-time favorite combination!" This recipe is not only Test Kitchen approved, but dorm room approved.
Spice ‘n Easy
"Red Bell Ranch is a huge hit,” said Madison about this crowd-pleaser. This Spice ‘n Easy makes a great dip for veggies or dressing for salads. Red Bell Ranch makes it effortless to eat fresh and delicious during breaks between classes, at gatherings, or anywhere else!
Graphic Designer at our home office in Denver, CO
This time of year calls for busy days for Jonathan and his two daughters, Grace and Faith. “Back-to-school meetings, back-to-school shopping, getting the kids to school, picking up the kids from school, after-school activities, homework...” these and more are back in full force for Jonathan when fall rolls around. But he’s got the season down to a science with plenty of tips for making quick, tasty food.
Pumpkin Pie Spice is a necessity for Jonathan this time of year. Pumpkin pie is a favorite of Jonathan’s because of “the cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg flavors in the fluffy filling combined with the sugary sweetness of a graham cracker crust.” His “mouth waters just thinking about it.”
Chicharron Salt is Jonathan’s “secret weapon, it can spice up almost anything.” So what are his favorite uses? “Add Chicharron Salt and bam, spicy and salty watermelon” which makes the perfect snack for him and his girls. Jonathan has also discovered “it’s a must in guacamole” and it’s “surprisingly good on most baked desserts.”
Chai Cookies are a great, simple and fun recipe for Jonathan’s daughters who “love to bake, although they're still really young.” This is Jonathan’s favorite recipe because it is also his daughters’ favorite and he loves to spend time with them in the kitchen, no matter how crazy life gets.
Spice ‘n Easy
Saffron & Chanterelle Risotto is something that sounds (and tastes) fancy, but is easy enough for any weeknight. “Not only is it stupidly easy to make," Jonathan says, "but it’s also fast, delicious, and has an air of sophistication about it that makes you want to pull out the good silver.” If that doesn't make you want tasty risotto for an easy dinner, nothing will!
Manager of our Littleton, CO shop
This time of year has a lot going on for Tiona as she prepares for “lots of holiday and family get-togethers.” Tiona says that “spices can make anything amazing,” so she loves to have fun with her fall cooking, regardless of how busy she gets.
Smoky Hills Cheese Powder is perfect for those who love a smoked cheese flavor. Tiona likes to add it to “sour cream and put it on baked potatoes” for a quick way to amp up a weekday dinner side dish.
Vindaloo is Tiona’s “favorite fall spice.” She especially loves to “make chicken soup with it” for a comforting meal that’s full of warm spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and coriander.
Skillet-Roasted Chicken & Veggies is a cherished recipe for Tiona because “the chicken and veggies are so juicy and the flavor is divine. People think you are a rock star chef when you make it,” but it all comes together quickly in one skillet so it also saves time on dishes!
Spice ‘n Easy
Seven Onion Dip is Tiona’s favorite because “it’s quick and delicious,” whether you’re enjoying it for a quick snack alone with veggies or served with a big bowl of chips at a party (football season is here, after all!). Doesn’t get any better than that.
Staff Accountant at our home office in Denver, CO
A lover of the outdoors and Colorado’s gorgeous fall days, Shannon is starting to get busy “spending as much time outside as possible biking, hiking, photographing the fall colors—and watching football too.” She also told me that “with the cooler weather and abundance of harvests at the farmers market,” it’s also her “favorite season to cook and do lots of baking.”
Taco Seasoning is something Shannon “always keeps around,” no matter what season it is. She uses it a lot this time of year because it “is always perfect for a quick weekday go-to meal. She loves “to put it on ground turkey and use the meat to make tacos, quesadillas, dips, or even a base for a stuffed pasta shell filling.”
Mt. Baker Chai Seasoning is used every time Shannon makes oatmeal, which is perfect for busy mornings. It is also “great on squash” and often used by Shannon in “a lot of baking.”
Southern Gold Pot Pie is perfect for this time of year. “Using very traditional ingredients: chicken, potatoes, celery, peas, carrots, and thyme, this makes the ultimate comfort food.” Shannon says to not “be fooled [by] the simplicity of the ingredients and spices” because they “are really kicked up a notch by the addition of Southern Gold Barbecue Sauce, creating a full-bodied, creamy sauce that pairs perfectly with the flaky pie crust.”
Spice ‘n Easy
Tikka Masala is a favorite of Shannon’s because it has “bold flavors and is so easy to pair with different veggies and either rice or rice noodles.” Shannon also believes that “any leftovers are always just as yummy as the first time.”
What are some easy cooking tips you have for busy days? Share them with us in the comments below!