Archive | August, 2011


sta•ple  noun

a : a commodity for which the demand is constant b : something having widespread and constant use or appeal c : the sustaining or principal element

Kitchen Staples from The Organized Cook

Kitchen staples are items you are likely to have in kitchen and use consistently like salt, pepper, milk, oils, vinegar, flour, etc.  In The Organized Cook, a staples reminder list is located on each Grocery Shopping List so subscribers can do a quick check of their pantry and refrigerator before heading off to the grocery store.

The Organized Cook Weekly Meal Plan System

The Organized Cook Weekly Meal Plan System

Staples In Bulk

So which staples are best bought in bulk?  Buying in bulk can no doubt save money but there are a few things to first consider.  You want to make sure that items have a long enough shelf life and that you use them often enough.

Items like olive oil purchased in bulk can be a lot less money than purchasing the individual size.  But if you’ve ever tried cooking with a 3-liter bottle, it’s not always easy.  Lifting and pouring from a heavy container into a saute pan is no fun.

So here’s how to make cooking with staples simple while keeping your kitchen organized and saving money by purchasing in bulk.  Purchase smaller containers to fill and refill with bulk items.

Kitchen Staples by The Organized Cook

Organization Can Look So Good

Keep organization looking good by labeling your individual containers.  I came across these functional- and aesthetically pleasing- labels from a new line by Avery found only at, get this, Staples.  With these preformatted labels, you can have your kitchen staples looking good in no time.  Instead of lugging out my big jar of flour in order to sprinkle one tablespoon in my saute pan, I have my small container close by.

Kitchen Staples by The Organized Cook

Fancy or Functional

It doesn’t matter where you purchase your containers, it only matters that the container feels right for you.  For oils, you can go with decorative glass bottles with free-flow pourers like these I found at my local Fresh & Easy.  Or, you can make it simple and functional with some plastic squirt bottles.Kitchen Staples by The Organized Cook


Kitchen Staples by The Organized Cook

Before Avery Labels












I found these small multi-purpose jars at Bed Bath & Beyond store that are a perfect fit for my Avery labels and the perfect size for staples like minced garlic, sea salt and crushed red pepper- all items I like to purchase in bulk.

Multi-purpose storage jars from Bed Bath & Beyond


Kitchen Staples by The Organized Cook

Avery Labels From


Kitchen Staples by The Organized Cook

Avery Label 22806

Kitchen Staples by The Organized Cook

select image to download and print your labels onto Avery 22806 from


The The Organized Cook, Avery and Staples helping your kitchen staples look good!  For a short video:


Kitchen Staples by The Organized Cook

Before Avery Labels

Saving Time. Saving Money. Making Dinner.

Not a subscriber to The Organized Cook?  Visit for more information on Saving Time, Saving Money and Making Dinner.



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From BlogHer11 Newbie to BlogHer12 Attendee

Advice For Attending BlogHer’12

Attending BlogHer for the first time?  If you’ve never been to this annual powerhouse conference but plan to make BlogHer’12 in New York City your first, I have some advice.

I attended BlogHer’11 in San Diego as a “newbie”, meaning… this was my first.  So why, then, am I qualified to be handing out advice about attending when there are hundreds- maybe thousands- of female bloggers who’ve attended many years in a row?

I’m qualified because I was a newbie.  And other soon-to-be “newbies” need to know what I know.

My advice:

  1. Do not go alone

If you take any advice I have to offer, take this piece first and do not- I say do not- plan on attending this conference on your own.

I have a long professional background, have attended many, many conferences in my lifetime and have never had any trepidation about attending any of them on my own.  I can make conversation and friends just about anywhere I go and I figured BlogHer would be even easier.  Wrong.

Seasoned BlogHer attendees do not- I repeat do not- go to this conference to meet new friends.  They go to connect with their “tribes”, be courted by brands and receive free swag.

If you go to this conference alone, you will be alone.

I arrived in San Diego to spend the first day and night at BlogHer’11 by myself, while Noelle, my friend and business partner, would join me on the second day.  No problem.  I was looking forward to meeting even a handful of the 4,000 attendees that first day, but I soon realized that something was different from what I had ever experienced before.

BlogHer Registration

I was suddenly back in the 10th grade and I was the girl with no friends.  During registration and mingling afterward, I realized I needed to have predesignated my “tribes” (yes, you can call them cliques) in order to be included.

Even walking through the Expo that first day I noticed that brands are not as interested in engaging you if you are by yourself because they assume you have no tribe and therefore have no “reach”.

As I walked through the pool area back to my hotel that afternoon I passed a group of bloggers who actually snickered at me.  It was a  “psst-psst-giggle-snicker” all in one, because a “hello” would have been way too extraordinary.

That night I walked into the first BlogHer party called “The People’s Party” without a care in the world.  “I’m sure to connect with other bloggers here”, I thought.  After all, it’s a party… people, right?  Wrong.  After exactly one hour at the party I left without talking with a soul.  So I walked down the beautiful boardwalk to my hotel with feelings I hadn’t experienced in- oh, let’s say- 20 years.

Thank goodness for the drunk businessmen at the Hyatt 44th Floor Lounge or otherwise I might think I was Bruce Willis from Sixth Sense.

After successfully shooing away said businessmen, I sat looking out over the ocean and enjoying a glass of wine which gave me some time to think… which brings me to my next piece of advice.

2.   Have clear expectations about what you want to get out of the conference.Toni Spilsbury ponders on BlogHer11

 “And what do you think you will answer yourself, Pooh?”.  – Piglet

Aaah, I love the wisdom and depth that comes from A.A. Milne quotes.

As I sat pondering wondering what in the hell I was doing here, my pragmatic mind asked myself, “What are your expectations for BlogHer?  What do you want to take away from this experience?”  Am I a “mommy blogger” who wants to connect with brands to “review” products in exchange for free product or money?  No.

Or, am I a brand wanting to connect with mommy bloggers to talk about my product?

And what do you think you will answer yourself, Pooh?

The answer became clear (not crystal- I was drinking wine afterall).  I am an author who became a blogger who writes about both my brand and related topics, and provides an eproduct, book and affiliate program.  I’m not a “product review” blogger, although I plan to co-brand with companies including grocery stores, coupon services and food products relating to my Weekly Meal Planning System.  I’m open to selectively (and I mean selectively) reviewing and blogging about very related products to my brand.  I’m there to reach out to mommy bloggers to review and blog about The Organized Cook.

 If you’re a new blogger and think you’re going to attend the conference and meet lots of established bloggers, this is not the conference for you.  Experienced bloggers (the in-crowd) do not typically attend sessions or sponsored lunches because they are busy being courted by big brands.  In fact, if you attend BlogHer but do not attend any of the sessions, lunches or parties because you are only attending private parties and private meet-ups with brands, then you know you’ve “made it” as a blogger.  It’s a competitive atmosphere for mommy bloggers to get the brand’s attention and you will often hear them boasting about Twitter follower numbers, “page-views” and Klout scores.

Blogher conference

The only friend I made the first day of the conference- thanks Smurfette!

I’m not saying that any of this is even wrong.  I’m only saying that bloggers attending BlogHer for the first time need to know how to prepare themselves.  Just this past week I heard that a BlogHer “newbie” this year spent her time at the conference in her hotel room crying.  Sad.

 3. Schedule “Meet-Ups”

If you’re not attending with a friend and if you don’t have a group, or “tribe”, to connect with at the conference, get one.  Reach out to bloggers on Twitter to meet other new bloggers maybe even from your area who are attending and keep in touch with them to meet at the conference.  If you’re not sure how to find other bloggers on Twitter, search and watch the @BlogHer, @BlogHer or #BlogHer12 on the Twitter stream.  Or send a Tweet like “Attending #BlogHer12 for the first time. Who else is going?”, not just once, but periodically.

Read conference newsletters and sign up for sponsored breakfast meetings and events.

Research brands who are attending and pick a few you would like to connect with and contact them before the conference to let them know you’re interested in connecting with someone from their team at the conference.

Blogher conference Blogher 11 CheeseburgHer Party

My tribe: Noelle and I at the BlogHer11 CheeseburgHer Party

Noelle arrived the second day of the conference and it became a different experience for me.  We first adopted another “newbie” who didn’t even want to leave her room in the morning for breakfast until we texted that we were on our way.  It was like taking in a cute stray kitten.  Brands at the expo were more interested in talking with us (it helped that Noelle was filming the entire experience) and I had someone to talk to at the Sparkle Corn Party.

The sessions were interesting and I learned some new things relating to my business, but not nearly as much as I did at Bloggy Boot Camp.BlogHer conference

See You At BlogHer12!

So why, then, did I make the decision to go ahead and purchase my tickets now for BlogHer’12?  After all, I don’t need one more thing to make me feel insignificant, I’ve got my Klout score for that!

The answers are simple:

  1. For starters, the early-bird discount combined with the August coupon code, made the cost of the ticket lower than it will ever be.  If I change my mind before next year, I can always “giveaway” the tickets or sell them.
  2. It’s in New York City.  Enough said.
  3. I know what to expect now and I know how to prepare.  In fact, I plan to be one of the bloggers connecting with my tribes and brands.  I can play the game, even if I’m not one to brag about it (I’m just saying).  In fact, if I’m positioned to be a brand vendor, successfully co-brands and connect with new co-branding opportunities at BlogHer12, I plan to do just that.


Now, there are many blogs out there from experienced BlogHer attendees if you’re looking for more advice.  My favorite:

Ten Similarities Between Sorority Rush and Blog Conferences (BlogHer) by

And How To Prepare For and What To Expect at BlogHer by

On the last day of the conference I sat down to lunch with Noelle and our adopted friend and noticed a girl at the next table sitting by herself.  Nobody was at the table but her in a roomful of thousands of female bloggers.  Seriously?  I walked over to her and said, “please come sit with us, there’s absolutely no reason to eat alone.”  I saw the relief in her face and we made a new friend.



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Summer No-Cook Appetizers

My favorite summer appetizers for parties, weekend guests or just hanging with the girls are Caprese Salad and Prosciutto with Melon & Fig.

First of all, who wants to slave over a stove during the summer months for a snack, especially here in the desert.  And, especially when the most fabulous summer appetizers require no sauteing, marinating or baking.  What’s best of all, these tasty treats can be made in advance to serve when the time is right.

So, when I received a phone call from mother-in-law asking for wine and recipe ideas for her guests, I quickly chose Caprese Salad and Prosciutto with Melon and Fig.

Here’s a short story about why I chose these favorites.

My husband and I are not mormon, but he grew up in the faith and his mother is still active in the mormon church.  Although I’m not involved in the church, she and I still still have so much in common personally including gardening and cooking.

What sparked the phone call from her this particular day was the news that some old friends of her husband from New York (whom she had never met) were set to arrive this weekend for a visit.  In an effort to make their visit comfortable and pleasant, she asked her new Italian friends if they had any food requests for their visit.  “Red wine and watermelon” was the response.

So, before she set out to purchase a bottle of wine (for the first time in her life), she thought it would be a good idea to get some suggestions.  After I offered some simple and versatile Zin suggestions, it was on to the food.

Caprese Salad.  Easy.  Delicious.  Beautiful.  And what better way to take advantage of her summer garden basil.  By assembling it in a gorgeous arrangement the night before, she need only pull it out when her guests arrive and drizzle a little olive oil and vinegar over it.

Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad

Next?  Prosciutto with Melon and Fig because you can’t get more old-school Italian than that.  And the fact that it too makes an aesthetically pleasing presentation doesn’t hurt either.

Email the recipes you ask?  I’ll do even better than that!  Here it is, photos and all because, well… that’s how I role now.

Prosciutto with Fig and Melon

Prosciutto with Fig and Melon


For recipes: Caprese Salad & Prosciutto with Melon and Fig



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Meal Planning for Picky Eaters

Picky Eaters

Every family has that one “picky eater”.  Not only do I have one but I was also a picky eater as a kid, so I can relate on both levels.  I found that the visual aspect was the primary component in determining what my kid will eat.  “I don’t like leaf-ess (the plural to leaf apparently) in my rice” my picky eater told me.  So, omitting things like parsley and keeping ingredients basic is the key to getting her to try new things.  Oh, and throwing in a little cheese never hurt either.

Picky Eaters Meal Planning from The Organized Cook Weekly Meal Plan System

At speaking engagements or through email, questions and comments about picky eaters is common.  So, if you’re a parent of a picky eater, help is on the way!  Our first Weekly Meal Plan for Picky Eaters has arrived for subscribers to The Organized Cook.  Here’s what’s on the menu:

Picky Eaters Weekly Meal Plan

Day 1: Crunchy Ranch Chicken Tenders with Homemade Mac & Cheese and Celery & Carrot Crayons

Picky Eaters Weekly Meal Plan

Day 2: Mini-Me Turkey Burgers with Cheesy Broccoli Rice

Picky Eaters Weekly Meal Plan

Day 3: Reincarnate Leftover Chicken Tenders into Chicken Parmesan with Spaghetti & Butter Sauce

Picky Eaters Weekly Meal Plan

Day 4: Beef Soft Tacos with Tomato Fried Rice

Picky Eaters Weekly Meal Plan

Day 5: Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs


Get Our “Picky Eaters” Weekly Meal Plan

Let The Organized Cook do the planning and organization for you this week!  Get our Weekly Meal Plan “Picky Eaters” and save time and money both at the grocery and in the kitchen.  Receive the menu, grocery shopping list, recipes and step-by-step instructions for only $6.99.

purchase individually for $6.99

Subscribe To The Organized Cook Weekly Meal Plan System

Save money by becoming a subscriber to The Organized Cook Weekly Meal Plan System for only $12.99 per month (that’s over 50% savings from purchasing the meal plans individually). Cancel at any time. Subscribe now.

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Picky Eaters Meal Planning from The Organized Cook Weekly Meal Plan System


The Organized Cook Weekly Meal Plan System

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