Forever Favorite Kitchen Tools

I had some fun with a recent Insta reel, and played a little game to see how many of my most beloved kitchen tools I could fit on my prep board. In no particular order, here’s what made the cut:

LE CREUSET:
This is, without a doubt, the work horse of my kitchen. I store it on the stove top since it’s used nightly, and it serves up everything from MIMI’S BOLOGNESE, SUPER SLOPPY JOES, and EASY CHICKEN & DUMPLINGS, just to name a few.
This was a gift from my mom many moons ago, and simply put, somehow everything I cook tastes better in a Le Creuset.

MINI SCRAPER:
About two years ago, I found myself in Philadelphia with six hours to kill, during peak covid times. I googled “kitchen stores” since (like bookstores) it’s getting harder and harder to find independently owned shops. This serendipitous search led me to Fante’s Kitchen Shop, which just might just be foodie heaven on earth. Family owned and operated since 1906, it’s located in the heart of the Historic Italian Market. It was definitely a visit to remember, and I learned about this mini scraper – which has made keeping my Le Creuset clean as a whistle a cinch.  If an in-store visit isn’t possible, they have a super website that’s a one-stop-shop for all things kitchen. I just called them about my mini scraper, and they don’t have it anymore, but they said this is the current closest item.

SANTOKU CHEF KNIFE:
I learned about this knife from watching Rachel Ray’s first food network show in the early 2000’s, and I’ve been happily slicing and dicing ever since. It’s THE best.

JOHN BOOS & CO:
Rachel also informed me from the television almost two decades ago about the Boos board. At this point it feels like an old friend, lives on the counter next to my stove, and is my prep board extraordinaire.

IMMERSION BLENDER:
I really only use this item for two recipes, but they are both so good and can’t be made without this tool, so it had to claim a spot on the list. It’s an absolute must for MIMI’S BOLOGNESE (once again, thanks Mom!) which I make AT LEAST once a week. And every Thanksgiving, I make Ina’s BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND APPLE SOUP, and the immersion blender works its magic then too.

LOCKING TONGS:
These were a recommendation from a local kitchen shop that has since closed. I love how the tongs lock so they don’t take over the stove side utensil crock, and because I use these so often, they are one of only a few tools to enjoy that prime real estate spot. In hindsight I wouldn’t have included them because they don’t appear to be available anymore, but here’s the company site. 

LEMON JUICER:
This was an impulse purchase a few years back that has now worked its way into stapledom. Using this tool makes for so much more lemon juice than hand squeezing…and goodbye seeds. It definitely comes in handy when making LIFE CHANGING CHICKEN SHAWARMA.

DIGITAL THERMOMETER:
This was a tip I got from @carochambers and I’ve never looked back. With this handy helper, there’s no more guessing if dinner is ready!

ICE CREAM SCOOP:
I love this ice cream scoop for two reasons. One, it makes getting a scoop of Breyer’s Non Dairy Mint Chocolate Chip a breeze. Two, it’s the perfect tool for baking cookies: scoop the batter onto the baking sheet for no-mess, uniform treats.

TIMER:
I use a timer every day, many times a day, for a million different things. But there’s something about THIS timer that works like a charm for cooking, and life.

BENCH SCRAPE:
Back to Rachel again. She made me a convert to using this big scraper vs. knife-to-hand to gather onions, potatoes, or any other chopped goodies into the pan.

SPOON REST:
Last but not least, I LOVE a good spoon rest. I have a few, since they are always in and out of the dishwasher. They make for the perfect souvenir, and add a sentimental boost and smile in the kitchen 🙂 Thanks to my girl for the one pictured, but here’s a link to another one that I use as well.

Grandma Maroni’s Meatballs

Adding this recipe to the site brings a big smile to my face, not only because these scrumptious meatballs were brought to me by a few years ago by a dear friend – as possibly the BEST hostess gift ever (they even arrived in their own adorable pot ready to cook!) – but also because it’s my very first child submission to Week Nights Only!

When I recently chatted with this same friend about their family’s current weeknight fave, she sent her teenage daughter’s go-to (!!). The super cool LP makes these for dinner, much to the delight of her very lucky parents. YUM.

I had no clue the recipe was available for homecooking, so I am very excited to try these. Hope you enjoy Northport, L.I.’s finest: Grandma Maroni’s Meatballs (100 Year Old Recipe).

Start Here!

Aaaaaahhhhh…take a DEEP breathe, and welcome to WEEK NIGHTS ONLY – your GO TO spot for SLAM DUNK weeknight recipes. No matter what’s going on in the world outside, there’s one question we face EVERY DAY – what’s for dinner?

One particular night, foraging a dinner of same old same olds, a lightbulb went off and I immediately send out some SOS texts asking friends to send me their one “NEVER FAIL” weeknight recipe.

The mission of WEEK NIGHTS ONLY is to collect and share THOSE recipes, the ones we love and love us back. In fact, feel free to cook any of these recipes ANYTIME, just know on a busy weeknight, you’ve got a recipe friend.

The only criteria for each and every recipe on this site is that it represents, for the sender, their GO-TO dinner. When I was sent an amazing CHICKEN SHAWARMA recipe, my mind was blown how the simple tip of marinating in the morning could make this seemingly complicated, out-of-this-world dinner, a weeknight go-to.  All it takes is knowing that for SOMEONE it is, and then it’s up to us if it earns a spot on our greatest hits list.

So head on over to the RECIPE ARCHIVE for a complete list of dinner recipes, or to LATEST RECIPES to see the newest additions. And don’t miss PANTRY & TOOLS and SIDES for some more go-to scoop.

And for all those weeknight cooks out there that struggle with allergies or intolerances, for either themselves or their family, please know I am right there with you. I tweak recipes on a daily basis to suit our needs, but having a fab recipe to start with makes it SO much easier, and a lot more fun too

PS: Any and all weeknight favorites welcome! Can be, but doesn’t have to be, fancy or original – just send credit link. Crockpot recipes welcome too!

Send to: weeknightsonly@gmail.com. And feel free to subscribe on the home page to have the latest and greatest recipe submissions sent right to your inbox. Like Social? Check out @weeknightsonly on instagram too.

PPS: A special shout out to the Princeton, NJ crew who were so willing to share their favorites and help start the ball rolling on a “tried and true” recipe collective.

WE GOT THIS!

xo CH

weeknightsonly@gmail.com

Out To Sea

A move to an island 30 miles out to sea poses the question (among many) what to pack from the kitchen? The basics were covered (heading to a furnished spot) though I had grand plans to bring my favorite gadgets, gear, and of course beloved cookbooks. Well, two packed-to-the-gills cars later I realized my kitchen box was a pipe dream, but I was able to sneak in my absolute must haves: Le Creuset Dutch Oven, Santoku Chef Knfe, Double Oven Mitt, Digital Meat/Baking Thermometer, my fave Timer, and last but not least, my beloved Milk Frother. It was actually kind of cool to pare it down to the absolute essentials to feel at home in any kitchen. And best of all, I realized that even though I couldn’t pack up my stack of cookbooks, thanks to weeknightsonly.com I have access to this amazing collection of tried and trues! I will enjoy cooking all these recipes and will certainly have a smile on my face thinking of all those who shared their go-to faves. Happy Cooking to all in kitchens old and new! PS: Visit PANTRY & TOOLS page for all the scoop on items mentioned above, and loads more.

Behold, The Red Rocks Sandwich

Full disclosure: it could have been the surrounding natural amphitheatre, the fantastic company of friends old and new, or the anticipation of a favorite band about to begin – but I fell in love with this sandwich at first bite. In a moment of summer retrospection, as this season comes to a close, this sandwich (and the evening itself) was a season highlight for certain.
P.S: Can be eaten anywhere, any season, but preferably off a tailgate!
P.P.S: Ingenious tip from LT – if traveling with this little bit of heaven, assemble at home and then put the entire loaf back in the original bread bag. Once at your tailgate, beach, picnic, or hopefully concert at Red Rocks (Blues Traveler’s annual 4th of July show highly recommended!), unpack the full loaf, slice on a cutting board, and serve.

Behold, the RED ROCKS SANDWICH:
– Fresh loaf of bread either country Italian, Ciabatta, or baguette
– Cut lengthwise in half, layer with fresh mozzarella, Genoa hard salami, sandwich turkey, prosciutto
– Mix balsamic vinegar and olive oil and add either good seasons packet seasoning or garlic salt and pepper
(I eyeball it but it’s more thicker than an Italian salad dressing so more olive oil…so maybe close to 1 1/2 vinegar to 1 part olive oil) slather mixture on the remaining bread slice and place on top.
– Slice loaf into thin strips and serve on cutting board

INA’S ORANGE BAKED HAM

‘Tis the season of celebrations…graduations, birthdays, communions, family time, etc. Whatever it is that brings you all together, you’ll be the hostess with the mostest with this go-to special occasion recipe. The goddess that is the Barefoot Contessa will never steer you wrong. Ever.

So who better to have by your (virtual) side than she when preparing for a special occasion? Hosting is a breeze with her divine ORANGE BAKED HAM recipe. Serve with a warmed baguette, and a simple butter lettuce salad with apples, craisins, and crumbled blue cheese, dressed with Newman’s Own Balsamic Vinaigrette.

PS. For the perfect party starter, channel your inner Mary Giuliani and serve those beloved “Tiny Hot Dogs”.

Now go celebrate!

GREEK TURKEY BURGERS

This lip-smackingly good recipe for Greek Turkey Burgers was a treat to receive in multiple ways. For starters, it’s beyond delicious, so there’s really nothing more needed from a recipe. BUT, it was also sent from a blast-from-the-past fab friend, AND is the first international submission to land on the WEEK NIGHTS ONLY doorstep – by way of London, England. I’ll spare you all the sentimentality of how cool I REALLY think it is that cooking can connect us all – whether from generation to generation, or good old social media – and move right along to the superb Greek Turkey Burger recipe. Recipe thanks to JCM who says it’s a current hit at home. And a few words to the wise, I actually forgot to pick up the red onion at the market (!!), flailed on how to defrost the frozen spinach in time, AND didn’t even put the feta in the ground turkey mix – AND THEY WERE STILL AMAZING! PS: The homemade tzatziki with fresh dill and cucumbers might be my new favorite food item ever (for any non dairy peeps out there I substituted Veganaise for the greek yogurt) – and these are definitely going to be a summer go-to.
xo CH

TO TAOS (and tacos) WITH LOVE

It’s already been a few days since Taos, but my mouth still waters just THINKING about my Orlando’s burrito, my St. Bernard cocktail, and, maybe best of all: the cardamom and frothed milk cup-o-coffee my sis in law served before our fam set off to finish our Spring Break road trip. How to cope with re-entry? First day back in the Northeast, I cooked up egg, bean, and cheese breakfast burritos, some TURKEY TACOS for lunch (hard and soft shell), and some WHITE BEAN AND CHICKEN CHILI in the slow cooker for dinner (served in taco shells, of course). Though these TURKEY TACOS should have been the first recipe I ever added to the site, based on number of times cooked, it’s on there now – hope you enjoy these as much as we do!

xo CH

SUPER SLOPPY JOES

I am a firm believer that gathering for a meal (though seemingly not so easy these days) is one of life’s greatest joys. Home made, store-bought, leftovers, take out…doesn’t matter. But the smells and sounds of a meal coming together in the kitchen create memories that last a lifetime – let alone the celebration or solace a gathered meal can bring (visit the incredible Dinner A Love Story for all things family dinner). So this recipe is one of THOSE, it brings me back to the exact time and place that I first made it and LOVED it. It’s a vintage Rachael Ray, from her earliest cookbooks, and her Food Network debut days – when watching her show and reading her books taught me everything I (desperately) needed to know to feed our new family. Her show got me through many a newborn night. And I when I made this recipe this week, fifteen years after I first learned of it (and probably hundreds of times in between), I used the same Santoku knife and Boos cutting board I learned years ago were Rachael’s must-haves. My 30 Minute Meal cookbooks are dog-eared, stained, and best of all, loaded with memories (sidenote: I still remember how fab I felt serving a visiting friend Cashew God Bless You Chicken). So dive in and dig in to Rachel Ray’s Super Sloppy Joes. RECIPE IRL: As usual I used ground turkey (I just can’t kick it), improvised from the spice drawer for the Steak seasoning, skipped the bell peppers, and squeezed in ketchup instead of adding tomato sauce. Enjoy! xo CH

MARTHA’S SHEPHERD’S PIE

In the past I’ve had some (slightly painful) reasons to believe that Martha Stewart and MY definition of “simple” differ just a bit – but when she describes this Shepherd’s Pie as “easy” and “tasty”, she’s right on the money. Of course it helped that I knew the recipe sender would never lead me astray…(thank you BS!). Of note, make sure to have your go to mashed potato recipe on hand as the recipe lists mashed potatoes as an ingredient – here’s our go to if needed: The Best Damn Vegan Mashed Potatoes. RECIPE IRL: As usual, I substituted the beef for turkey just for preference and it was a hit. I also threw in some cut up carrots since I didn’t have frozen veggies on hand. Enjoy!
xo CH