Teaching Kitchen

Original Image by Stanford University via Stanford Dining
Original Image by Stanford University via Stanford Dining

By: Nikki Nies

Celebrity chef and food advocate, Jamie Oliver is at it again!  With his motto of

Start with nutritious ingredients and savor the cooking experience

at the forefront of all ventures, his new collaboration with Stanford University Residential & Dining Enterprises Stanford Dining, students have the opportunity to not only learn how to cook flavorful meals, but better understand how to make them healthier without trading flavor. In addition, with an open concept kitchen,  with glass partitions for onlookers to see food as it’s prepared, this will increase the students’ confidence, skill and provide more opportunities to interact with guests.

I wish I was closer to Stanford to take advantage of this unique opportunity. So, I hope if you’re in the surrounding Stanford area you sign up!

Where: Arrillaga Family Dining Commons

When: upcoming Fall 2015

Stanford Dining and Enterprises welcomed Award Winning Chef Jamie Oliver to Stanford’s Teaching Kitchen at Arrillaga Family Dining Commons. In toques are student Ameena Tawakol, Hanah Yendler, student outreach coordinator, students Kathleen Howell, Carla Sneider, Rachel Crovello, Maggie Ford, Chef Jamie Oliver, Andrew Beckman, and Jisoo Keel.
Stanford Dining and Enterprises welcomed Award Winning Chef Jamie Oliver to Stanford’s Teaching Kitchen at Arrillaga Family Dining Commons. Original Image by Stanford Dining

By using Jamie Oliver’s curricula, recipes, and inspiring teaching style, students will walk away with a greater appreciation for ‘fresh food.’ Not familiar with Jamie Oliver, get up to speed on some of his latest projects, such as Food Revolution and his demonstration on what’s really in your kid’s chicken nuggets.  Intrigued? Sign up today!

Sources: https://web.stanford.edu/dept/rde/cgi-bin/drupal/dining/teaching-kitchen





Sesame Chicken Noodle Salad

By: Nikki Nies

I’ve always considered my initiation into the spicy palette world as starting during the fall of 2012, when I was living with an Italian family that only cooked with extra heat. However, now that I think about it, I’ve appreciated the kick that chili garlic sauce brings to dishes for quite some time. What was introduction to chili garlic sauce? My mother made me Sesame Chicken Noodle Salad in 2008 and I’ve been obsessed with these flavors ever since!

If you tend to opt for the non-spicy, buckle your seat and join the ride of flavors that include ginger, chili garlic sauce and snow peas! You won’t be able to resist these flavors!


  • 6 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 5 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 Tablespoons grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 Tablespoons chili-garlic sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons oriental sesame oil
  • 2 1/2 cups sliced green onions
  • 2 cups diced or shredded cooked chicken
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • optional, adds crunch if you like: diagonally thinly sliced raw pea pods and/or thin julienned water chestnuts
  • 1 pound box vermicelli

Prepare sauce from the first 6 ingredients in a jar. Shake well and let sit for at least a couple of hours at room temperature. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. While pasta is cooking, whisk the sauce in a very large bowl. Add hot pasta, green onions and chicken and toss well to coat. Add cilantro and optional pea pods and water chestnuts. Toss to blend. Will serve 4 dinner entrees or 6 lunch servings. IMG_9217

I recently made this recipe for another family that I’ve been graciously been staying with as I wrap up the chapter in my life in Illinois. They were surprised how healthy it was and had the right amount of vegetables and protein for them! While most of these ingredients can now be found in the local grocery store, it may be worth the investment to stop by your local Asian market and/or invest in the larger size bottles of oil or vinegar if you plan to experiment more with Asian flavors!

Cast Iron Skillets

castironBy: Nikki Nies

While cast iron skillets may be “heavy” in weight, they require a lot of tender loving care (TLC)! Not only do these skillets require special attention while cleaning, but they need to be seasoned properly to be used at optimally. Okay, they’re kind of high maintenance, but the care that is required is well worth it. As one of the oldest forms of cookware, they’re durable and reliable, heating evenly and retaining heat amazingly!

Tips for using cast iron skillet:

  • Oil skillet generously to limit sticking. Olive or coconut oil will do.
  • Before placing any food in skillet, let the skillet preheat
  • Limit use of metal utensils
  • Since the entire skillet’s made out of iron, the entire skillet will get hot! Out of habit, you may find yourself touching the skillet, but only do so with a pot holder
  •  “Seasoning” is oil baked onto the iron at a high temperature, not a chemical nonstick coating. Seasoning creates the natural, easy-release properties. The more it’s used, the better it gets
  • Dry thoroughly after each wash.
  • If you can’t part with the thought of cleaning without soap, wash with mild soapy water and dry and oil immediately.
  • Dishwashers, strong detergents and metal scouring pads are not recommended, since they remove seasoning
  • Do not place in microwave scraping-burnt-bits-off-skillet
  • If rust appears, scour rust, rinse, dry and rub with some vegetable oil
  • Cover it with a paper towel to stack in cupboard to absorb moisture and prevent scratches
  • When first cooking with a cast iron skillet, stick with skillet staples, such as fried chicken and/or homemade pizza
  • Don’t try to make eggs, fish or cook tomatoes with a cast iron skillet, as the eggs can be hard to remove from skillet, fish is too delicate and better off being steamed.  Lastly, the acidity of the tomatoes can cut through the seasoning!
  • The most renown line of cast iron skillets are, Lodge, the United States’ major cast iron cookware manufacture

After a few rounds of using the cast iron skillet, you’ll be itching to experiment with your new skillet. How many of you have a personal history with your cast iron skillet? Was it passed down to you from your mother and/or having a history of stories behind it?

Photo Credit: Pioneer Settler and Fine Cooking

Sources: http://www.seriouseats.com/2014/11/the-truth-about-cast-iron.html







Cooking Matters

logoBy: Nikki Nies

With the holiday season just around the corner, it seems fitting to talk about a giving activity–Cooking Matters, that is.  Cooking Matters strives to make sure children have access to the healthy foods they need daily. Participants include mothers, fathers and whole families that want to make healthier meals on a budget, learn sound nutrition advice and how to cook delicious dishes!

As part of the No Kid Hungry campaign, for the past 20 years, Cooking Matters has made tremendous contributions with the help of volunteer instructors.  More than 120,000 low income families have had greater access to the necessary tools and resources to eat healthier! In addition, Cooking Matters has been features on the Let’s Move campaign and recognized by the USDA for its excellence in nutrition education.

Want access to Cooking Matters while on the go? Make sure to download their free healthy app, that offers more than 90 recipes for you to make today! What’re you waiting for?!?

Photo Credit:Cooking Matters

Sources: http://cookingmatters.org/






Food Revolution

By: Nikki Nies Jamie-Oliver

While obesity is a preventable disease, we’re currently on the losing end of the war.  It’s not only an American, first world problem.  As a global epidemic, Jamie Oliver has once again, thankfully, taken it upon himself to lead a Food Revolution!  While we’re by no means deprived of food, with so many options, more children than ever are malnourished due to the number of empty calories they consume on a regular basis.

Jamie Oliver explains the premise behind said Revolution!

“Since I’ve been working in America, I’ve been overwhelmed by the number of people who have come out to support the Food Revolution. More than 630,000 people have signed the petition, over 300,000 of you subscribe to our newsletter and thousands of you have written to me. The only message I keep hearing is that you believe your kids need better food, and that you want help to keep cooking skills alive. That’s why this Food Revolution matters.” -Jamie Oliver

It’s great to hear others acknowledge and understand the issue at large.  The Food Revolution is a great platform to help inspire all to get back into the kitchen to cook real food from scratch and get away from the pre packaged, processed products that are ubiquitously calling our names!  This movement has already made great strides toward health awareness and changing how we eat. Still not convinced change is needed?

Global obesity alarming #s:

  • More than 43 million children under 5 years old are overweight or obese
  • More than 1.5 billion adults are overweight or obese
  • With obesity, one’s life can be cut by 10 years
  • In the U.S., obesity costs $10,273,973/hr!

While the above numbers are scary stats, Jamie’s got a 6 point plan moving forward:images

  1. Cook more with the availability of community kitchens (i.e. church halls, healthcare centers and/or schools) that will help you learn the basics of home kitchen! By getting in the kitchen you can control portion sizes, ensure the use of fresh ingredients and it’s a great way to get the family together!
  2. An activist program is supporting parents that want to ensure better quality of food for their children.  There is a community website that encourages grass roots change nationwide in the U.S.
  3. With the Food Revolution truck, this mobile food classroom offers cooking classes
  4. Inspiring parents, caregivers, teachers and students to cook fresh meals and snacks on campus and throughout school district
  5. Within corporations, promoting a culture change: helping healthcare sectors to recognize the “investments” needed for better health in the future.  Also, providing employees the opportunity to learn essential cooking skills and fresher foods at canteens

What are you waiting for?!? There’s so many ways you can contribute to this revolution and be part of the change! Sign the global petition today! Learn more about this Revolution and how you can get involved today!

Photo Credit:Mazwo and Indiana Public Media

Sources: http://www.jamieoliver.com/foundation/jamies-food-revolution/



Microwave to Great Meals

microwave-cooking-mr-gallery-xBy: Nikki Nies

I grew up using a microwave as my go-to source of reheating food! When I moved into my first apartment last year, where there wasn’t a microwave provided in the unit, I didn’t realize how much I have come to rely on my microwave.  Until I got to the store to buy a microwave, my roommates and I resorted to heating food up on the stove.  For my generation, we admit we’ve had it easy technology wise. Yet, that doesn’t mean we’re willing to giving up our gadgets or “convenience” machines.

With that said, my time in Illinois has given me great insight and incentives to find ways to cut corners to make my money stretch while still eating a balanced, healthy diet.  I will not sacrifice quality food,I  am a nutrition student after all! Due to limited space and financials, my roommates and I have made do with some basic essentials, we had two pans and that’s all we need! As you can probably tell, I’ve learned how to stretch my food and utilize all my food and equipment to the fullest, this includes the microwave!

There’s tons recipes on line that are microwave friendly.  Here are some recipes I’ve tried myself and have found to be equally as good as if it were made in the oven or stove top!

My days of only reheating food in the microwave are over.  I now embrace the ability to make full meals in a cup or bowl in the microwave.  Yes, you heard me! Whether you’re in the mood for whipping up breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and/or dessert, your reliant microwave is always available! An added bonus, less clean up =]!

Have you used your microwave for some great meals? What tips do you have for smoother microwave cooking?

Photo Credit: MyRecipes 

Sources: http://greatist.com/health/surprising-healthy-microwave-recipes




Great Meals for One!

Handsome black man preparing salads in a modern kitchen.By: Nikki Nies

Several of my friends and family, including my parents, struggle with making meals that they can adequately eat since many of them are either not big eaters and/or would be cooking for one.  While I personally don’t struggle with making too many quantities of food as I love not having to cook every night, I can understand why the extra leftovers can be daunting.

In case you need tips on what to do with leftovers, you’re in luck! There’s tons of ways to reduce spoilage and to make your meals last longer.  However, if you need further incentive to get in the kitchen instead of opting for take out or a bowl of cereal, let me direct you to some worthwhile tips!

The best part of cooking for yourself? You get to eat what you want, how you want without any compromises!  Yes, there may be more freedom in the kitchen in terms of artistic creativity, but it doesn’t mean you have to throw out all you’ve learned regarding healthy cooking!

  • Utilize your muffin pan for more than just muffins! Whip up some rice and/or barley, making individualized portions using your muffin tin
  • Have leftover bread or English muffins? Wrap the leftovers up tightly in a sandwich bag to prevent freezer burn and/or use some of the leftover bread to make croutons or for dipping
  • Head to a bulk warehouse store, such as BJ’s, Sam’s Club or Costco and stock up to decrease waste and often times less expensive per pound.  Bulk produce is only worth the investment if the quantity is a realistic amount for you to consume before spoilage.
  • Opt for frozen fruits and veggies, which are often times more convenient and last longer than fresh food.  Make sure to choose frozen packages that do not have added sauces, syrup or sugar
  • Enjoy the more perishable produce, such as berries and spinach, earlier in the week.  Heartier produce such as carrots, cabbage and potatoes can be eaten later in the week
  • Make sure to always have eggs on hand! They’re a great addition to many dishes and contain a great amount of vitamin D and choline
  • Take the plunge and buy a whole package of meat and/or poultry, wrap in individual portions, date and freeze!

I’ve found the best part of cooking for myself is that I’ve gotten quite well acquainted with my freezer.  I don’t have to worry about rushing home to get dinner on the table, but when I make a casserole or have leftover soup, I can individually package the leftovers to get out for a later date.

For those of you cooking for yourselves, what tips have you found to make cooking hassle free?

Sources: http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6442477582





yummlyBy: Nikki Nies

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Happy September! We’re officially in the 4th quarter of 2014!  With kids back in school and summer officially over, what better time to dive into new recipes than now?!?

I’ve praised several websites for their fabulous display of varying recipes.  For example, Budget Bytes is definitely one of my go to placse when I’m trying to see the cost breakdown of ingredients.  If I’m in the mood for a less traditional, yet delicious recipe, I’ll head to Skinny Taste!  Yet, when I want more creative control in kitchen, I always find myself on Yummly.

What I love most about yummly is the incredible customization of searches.  For example, if you want to exclude certain ingredients due to allergies, food preferences or due to the mere lack of ingedients in your pantry you can do that! Or if you want to go for a more savory recipe, but not sure what you’re looking for, Yummly’s got you covered.  In addition, due to Yummly’s relationship with varying websites and blogs, you don’t have to worry about not finding a recipe you like.  Their exhaustive connections are guaranteed to find you what you want!

Check out there advanced search engine and customize your searches to great flavors and tastes!  Again, the best part of yummly, the options are endless.

Sourcs: http://www.yummly.com/