The Secret to Easy Clean Up

Non-stick foil makes cooking and clean up a breeze! |

Dishes are my least favorite part of cooking - but my secret to easy clean up is so simple: non-stick foil. Yes, this is a blog post about aluminum foil. I'm owning that. BUT, it's important, and you'll be happy it exists once you learn my secret. All credit goes out to my mom on this one, who introduced me to the wonderful world of Reynold's Wrap Non-Stick Foil

Why you need it: The end result of cooking should be satisfyingly delicious, but clean up is almost always a drag. Non-stick foil makes clean up super easy by ensuring that nothing sticks to your pans - no burnt olive oil, no crispy roasted vegetables, and no more prying your baked chicken off of the bottom of the baking sheet. It's #science. How many times have you had to scrub a baking sheet, sloshing water all over the place (including onto you)? I use baking sheets all the time when I cook - to roast vegetables, to cook salmon, bake chicken, bake bacon (baking bacon in the oven is awesome. You should be doing it.) Every single time I make sure to put a sheet of non-stick foil down first. My food slides right off when I'm done cooking, and clean-up is a breeze. Half the time no food even touches the pan itself - a quick rinse and it's clean! 

Where to get it: I have actually purchased this item from Amazon because I couldn't find it anywhere near where I went to school in middle of nowhere New Hampshire. I checked everywhere and I needed I caved and spent double on it and had it shipped two my house in 2 days (Thank you, Amazon Prime). It actually makes your life that much easier that double the price is worth it. BUT you don't need to do that - because if you have a car or don't live in the middle of nowhere, you can find non-stick foil just about anywhere: Walmart, Target, your local grocery store, CVS, etc. It's more expensive than regular aluminum foil but trust me, it's worth it. Just make sure to only use it when it's going under food - when you're placing food on top of it. You'll maximize it's non-stick function this way. I just use regular old store-brand aluminum foil for covering dishes if they need to be covered in the oven or while on the stovetop/anything else I need it for.

In summary, you're much more likely to want to cook if clean up is easier, and non-stick foil does just that. I've been surprised at how many people don't know about it, and it's 100% worth the bit of extra money (especially if you buy regular, store-brand aluminum foil for your other, non-non-stick needs. Is that a word?). Now, time for some bacon.

Note: This is not a sponsored post. Reynold's Wrap has not paid me to say nice things about them, I just actually really appreciate less mess and less cleanup.

Cider & Sage Pork Chops Recipe


I'm super excited to share another fall recipe today featuring orchard apples, fresh-pressed apple cider, and sage: Cider & Sage Pork Chops. It's very likely this requires you to only buy 4 simple things at the store: pork chops, sage leaves, apples, and apple cider. Plus, the bonus is there will definitely be apple cider left for drinking at the end. There's nothing like a warm mug of hot apple cider on a crisp fall evening.

Pork chops always intimidated me - I didn't want them to come out grey and tasting like shoe leather. But I've made this recipe three times in the past few weeks because it is tasty and juicy - and it's ready in under half an hour. I love how the apples are tart and sweet but complement the savory sage encrusted pork chops. Pork chops were on sale s and I couldn't turn down a good deal - only 99 cents a pound! When pork chops are this cheap, I'll buy a value pack and freeze the extra chops we don't use raw using my FoodSaver vacuum sealer. Check out Why Every Millennial Needs A Food Saver to find out how you could also be saving money when buying meat - and so many other foods as well!

I've made this recipe with both bone-in pork chops and boneless center cut pork chops and each time it's been delicious. The bone-in pork chop is slightly more flavorful, but a boneless pork chop is a bit more straightforward to cook because everything cooks at an even rate. Go with whatever you can find. The Kitchn has A Complete Guide to Pork Chops if you're looking for even more in-depth information. The cider and sage will provide a ton of flavor!

Cider & Sage Pork Chops

Makes 2 pork chops
Other recipes with these ingredients: Sage leaves: Butternut Squash and Sage Tortellini 
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: ~20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes


  • 2 pork chops
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper, for seasoning
  • 12-15 sage leaves
  • 2 apples, sliced thin
  • 1 cup apple cider

Dietary Substitutions Gluten Free
Dairy Free
Not Vegetarian or Vegan-Friendly


1. Heat up a non-stick skillet to medium heat. Once heated, add olive oil to coat the pan.
2. Rub the pork chops with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Divide the two teaspoons brown sugar between your two pork chops and rub the brown sugar into the chop. Press 4-5 sage leaves onto each pork chop.
3. Cut two medium-sized apples into slices. Set aside.

4. Add your pork to the heated skillet. Sear for 2-3 minutes per side. You'll start to see the sugar caramelize. 
5. Add 1 cup of apple cider to the pan and sprinkle the apples around the pork. Sprinkle any remaining sage leaves around the pan. Allow the pork to continue cooking as the sauce thickens and the apples soften and cook. 
6. Your pork is done when it has reached an internal temperature of 145°F, or when it is opaque and slightly pink (like if your meat was wearing blush. Yep. I just used that analogy). It is actually okay if pork is slightly pink, and since it's easy to overcook, cooking pork is a worthwhile reason to invest in a meat thermometer (and because it's one of my Five Kitchen Essentials). If your pork finishes before the apples have fully softened, just take the pork out and place it on a cutting board to let it rest. It's actually good to give it a few minutes to rest before cutting, anyways! 
7. Finish up softening the apples and let the juices thicken a bit in the pan. When done, plate the chop and spoon the juices and apples over the top. 


Lunch Tomorrow, Storing, & Extra Ingredients

LUNCH TOMORROW - The apples get even tastier when they sit, so this meal is great for lunch the next day. Pack it with a sweet potato for a healthy side dish!

STORING - Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Eat within 3-4 days. Pro-tip: I found an awesome deal on pork chops recently (99 cents a pound! What!) and stored the leftover chops we didn't eat in the freezer, raw. I use my FoodSaver vacuum sealer to ensure that it stays fresh and avoids freezer burn - find out Why Every Millennial Needs A Food Saver. I'll take them out for dinner some night in the future and be very happy that my dinner is budget-friendly. Be sure to pay attention to meat sales each week. Meat freezes really well if stored and handled properly, and freezing meat can save you a ton of money, especially if you're only cooking for one.

EXTRA INGREDIENTS -  You might have extra apple cider, and all I can say to that is to drink it! Cold or warm, apple cider screams fall! If you buy a value pack of pork chops, you might have extra chops that you can't eat - freeze them raw! See my tip about vacuum sealing the chops for the freezer in the Storing section above! If you have extra sage, try out my Butternut Squash and Sage Tortellini recipe.

This recipe was inspired by Half Baked Harvest's Cider Apple and Sage Roasted Pork Chops with Brown Butter Gorgonzola Polenta. I simplified her gorgeous recipe for the simple, efficient cook. 

Coconut Lemongrass Salmon Recipe

Coconut Lemongrass Salmon with Shiitake Mushrooms, Bok Choy, and Red Onion over Rice. Can you say YUM? And it's SO easy! |

Fish, rice, and veggies is always a go-to well balanced meal but this recipe for Coconut Lemongrass Salmon takes it up a notch with a flavorful coconut milk & lemongrass broth and earthy shiitake mushrooms. Every step is also simple and straightforward, making it an easy way to impress your tastebuds - or your friends and family! All you need to know how to do is cook some rice, sauté veggies, roast your fish with olive oil and salt and pepper, and heat up two ingredients to make the broth.

A note on salmon - good salmon makes a world of difference. I picked up my salmon from the fish counter at the Boston Public Market (disclaimer: this year-round local market might be my favorite thing about Boston). It's sushi grade fish, so the flavor is so fresh compared to salmon that has been previously frozen and re-thawed at the typical grocery store seafood counter. I'm not saying you have to buy your salmon straight from the source (though it's worth it if you can), but I definitely recommend thinking twice about where you're buying your fish. The next best thing after fresh, never-frozen fish is high quality frozen fish. Subscribe to the blog for a future post that goes in-depth about buying frozen seafood, but for now, know that most seafood at the grocery store has been previously frozen and arrives thawed and waterlogged with less taste to your own kitchen. Buying fish that remained frozen or was never frozen in the first place are your two best bets. 

Serving a piece of perfectly baked salmon over the coconut lemongrass infused rice adds a burst of flavor to the caramelized onions, buttery shiitake mushrooms, and crunchy greens. The impressive presentation (and taste!) of this dish hides the simple steps required to make it happen. 

Coconut Lemongrass Salmon

Makes 1 serving
Other Recipes With These Ingredients: Coconut milk: Chickpea Chicken Curry // Bok choy/kale/swiss chard, red onion, mushrooms: all good ingredients in stir fry // Rice: If you make rice, use it in a stir fry the next night with some veggies & an egg! 
Serving Suggestion: Serve over rice (basmati or jasmine would be some good suggestions!)
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes or less (depends on size of salmon filet)
Total Time: 25 minutes


  • 1 serving of salmon (3-6 oz., depending on your appetite)
  • 1 - 15.5 oz. can of coconut milk
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemongrass paste Substitute: fresh lemongrass. See Grocery Guide for more info on the paste - it's one of my secrets to cooking with herbs and spices.
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1 bunch bok choy Substitute: swiss chard or kale (I used kale this time!)
  • 1 cup mushrooms (Any kind will work - I used shiitake in this recipe, but the white mushrooms you buy at the grocery store will work too! Again, see the Grocery Guide if you want more info.)
  • Optional: rice of your choosing (serving suggestion)

Dietary Substitutions
Dairy Free
Gluten Free
Not Vegetarian or Vegan-Friendly


1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. 
2. If you're serving your salmon over rice, get the rice going. Learn How to Cook Rice.
3. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on your salmon and rub it in. Season with salt & pepper. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes, or until done. If you have a meat thermometer (and you should, because it's one of my Five Kitchen Essentials), salmon should be cooked to 145°F. If you don't, no worries! Salmon is done when it is opaque (not translucent like raw fish) and flakes with a fork - learn how to known when your fish is done.


4. Turn your stovetop to medium heat. Add a bit of butter (1-2 tablespoons, depending on how much you're feeling like treating yourself) to a saucepan. You can use a bit of olive oil here too, but I just love the flavor butter gives to the sautéed veggies.
5. While the butter is melting, chop up your onion and bok choy and rinse your mushrooms. Your onion should be in thin slices. 
6. Add the mushrooms & onion to the pan. Sauté until veggies become soft and translucent, around 5 minutes.
7. Add chopped bok choy, kale, or swiss chard. (Don't add it too early, because you don't want it to over-wilt!) Sauté for 1-2 minutes.
8. Take the veggies out of the pan and set aside.


9. If you're not making rice, add 1/2 of the 15.5oz. can of coconut milk to the pan you were just cooking the veggies in. If you are making rice, add 1 - 15.5 oz. can of coconut milk to the pan you were just cooking the veggies in. Add 1-2 tablespoons of lemongrass paste to the pan and mix in (to taste - add more or less if you prefer).
10. Let the coconut milk and lemongrass mixture cook and become fragrant while the salmon finishes cooking. 
11. When the rice is ready and your salmon is almost done, pour half of your coconut milk lemongrass broth into the rice to let it absorb and flavor the rice. Add the veggies to the other half of the broth left behind in the pan.


12. Now get ready to plate! If you are making rice, add a scoop to the bottom of your bowl or plate (a wide bowl/deep plate works best for this dish because of the broth). Place your salmon onto the plate/bowl (potentially on top of the rice if you're having it).
13. Spoon the broth and veggies over the top of the salmon. Feel free to add all of the broth - it makes the whole dish more flavorful! 


Lunch Tomorrow, Storing, & Extra Ingredients

LUNCH TOMORROW - This is just a recipe for one serving, but if you were to buy two portions of salmon, it would be easy to up your veggies and rice and have leftovers for lunch! The salmon, veggies, and rice soak up the broth a bit and taste delicious!

STORING - Store in an airtight container in the fridge and eat as soon as possible afterwards, ideally the next day (for lunch or dinner) since you don't want fish sitting in your fridge too long - it starts to smell just a little too fishy.

EXTRA INGREDIENTS -  You might have some extra veggies leftover from this recipe, depending on the quantities you buy in your grocery store. They're great for throwing into a stir fry with some of that extra rice - with some soy sauce and an egg, maybe! If you have extra coconut milk check out my Chickpea Chicken Curry recipe.

Butternut Squash and Sage Tortellini Recipe

Welcome Fall with this easy Butternut Squash & SAGE TortelliNI |

Fall is officially here, and I'm celebrating with a warm bowl of Butternut Squash and Sage Tortellini topped with crunchy roasted pepitas (that's just fancy for pumpkin seeds) and goat cheese. With the weather getting chillier, this is exactly the dinner I want to come home to on a late September evening. 

Part of being a real person is planning ahead, and if you roast the butternut squash for this recipe ahead of time, you can have dinner on the table within 30 minutes of walking in the door. I roasted the squash in the oven on Sunday when I picked it up from the farm stand and stored it in a Tupperware in the fridge for a few days. When I came home, all I had to do was toss it in the blender with some olive oil and milk, whisk in the heavy cream, and it was ready. I cooked my tortellini while I was pulling the sauce together, and everything finished up at about the same time to sit down to a bowl of velvety butternut squash puree studded with salty, crispy sage leaves.

Even if you don't roast the squash ahead of time, the recipe is simple - it just takes some dedicated time to take that rock hard squash to a soft, roasted, caramelized puree. But trust me, it's worth it. I'm a huge fan of the butternut squash and sage combo, so I think there will definitely be a soup on the menu soon - Subscribe to get the recipe right when it's posted. In the meantime, Happy Fall!

Butternut Squash & Sage Tortellini

makes 2 servings
Prep (Active) Time: 30 minutes
Cooking (Inactive) Time: ~45 minutes for the squash, 10 minutes for the tortellini while that's cooking
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
*If you're making this on a weeknight, roast the squash ahead of time and keep it in the fridge. Saves you tons of time - I did that and had dinner on the table in under half an hour!


  • 1 small to medium-sized butternut squash
  • 1 package tortellini
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup heavy cream Substitute: coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup milk Substitute: coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons goat cheese plus more for topping *Optional
  • 1 sprig of sage
  • 1 tablespoon pepitas (roasted pumpkin seeds, for crunch) *Optional

Dietary Substitutions
Dairy Free & Vegan: Substitute heavy cream & milk for coconut milk and leave out the cheese.
Gluten Free: Buy a gluten free pasta. Even if you can't find tortellini, another pasta shape would still be yummy!


1. Preheat oven to 425°F and then roast one small to medium-sized butternut squash until tender. You can peel and cut it while raw (harder to do) or you can roast it whole, take it out after 20 minutes, cut the warm squash in half, and finish roasting it, scooping out the flesh later on. Cutting a huge, hard squash is hard to do and makes the likelihood of chopping off a finger much greater. Since you're pureeing the squash either way, go with roasting the tip of starting off whole and scooping out of the skin later- read exactly how here.
2. Once you get the squash in the oven, turn on the stovetop to medium heat and add a splash of olive oil (about 1 tablespoon) to a pan. Once the olive oil has heated up, add the leaves of 1 sprig of sage (about 8-10 leaves, more or less is okay depending on your personal preference). Sautee the leaves in the oil until they are fragrant and slightly crispy. Set aside for later.
3. Once the water has boiled, throw in your 1 package of tortellini to cook until done, about 8-10 minutes. [Hint: the tortellini pop back up again in step 6].

4. Once the squash is roasted, add all of the squash (read: carefully scoop the flesh out of the super hot skin, if needed) to the blender with 3-4 tablespoons olive oil and some salt and pepper (to taste). Blend until pureed. 
5. Once the squash is pureed a bit, add in the 1/2 cup milk and blend to incorporate. 
6. By now, the tortellini should be done. Drain it and keep it in the strainer for a second.
7. Pour the sauce from the blender into the (now empty) pan you cooked the tortellini in. 
8. Turn the burner back on to medium-low heat and slowly whisk in the 1 cup heavy cream
9. If you want, add 2 tablespoons goat cheese to the sauce and whisk to incorporate until the cheese melts in.

10. Add your cooked tortellini back in to the saucepan with your butternut squash sauce. 
11. Add the fried sage leaves from step 2 into the pan.
12. Cook to incorporate all the flavors for 3-5 minutes on medium low. Serve topped with pepitas and extra goat cheese.


Lunch Tomorrow, Storing, & Extra Ingredients

Are you drooling over this butternut squash and sage tortellini yet? Try this easy meal for fall! |

LUNCH TOMORROW - Since all pasta, including tortellini, is sold in set portions (box, bag, etc.) this recipe makes two servings, great for bringing for lunch tomorrow. Plus, it's hard to find a tiny squash. You're going to want leftovers anyways -the sauce almost gets even tastier overnight, so you'll be dreaming of lunch all morning.

STORING - Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. If you're reheating at home, it will taste extra delicious if you reheat on the stove top (as will all pasta) - it's scientifically proven - by me, at least. 

EXTRA INGREDIENTS - Any extra goat cheese is great in salads - especially spinach salads or with beets. If you have extra sage, turn it into a browned sage butter sauce and put it on anything...especially gnocchi or ravioli. Extra pepitas are a yummy snack in their own right but also add crunch to green salads and trail mixes! 

Super Simple Tomato Soup Recipe

This easy tomato soup is the perfect way to make use of those delicious garden tomatoes! |

It's the end of summer, and perhaps the only good part about that is the abundance of sweet, tender garden tomatoes at the farmer's markets. We grabbed a whole pile this weekend and decided to turn them into a huge batch of soup to keep summer with us through the colder months. I struggled to write a recipe for this post because it's just. so. easy. You throw a bunch of veggies in a pot with some broth, cook it for a while, toss it in a blender, and BOOM. Homemade soup. It's SOUPER easy. Yes...I went there. The ingredient amounts are pretty flexible - some onion, a few carrots, a few celery stalks, and a bunch of tomatoes. You can add more or less of any of the veggies. It's about 3 cups of stock, but a little more or a little less is okay too. You can add heavy cream at the end if you want, or keep it dairy-free. It's vegetarian and easily vegan-friendly. No matter who you are, nothing says comfort food more than a warm bowl of tomato soup.

In this recipe, I've included 3 different cooking methods: traditional stove top, slow cooker/crock pot, and pressure cooker. Either way, this soup is super low maintenance - 15-20 minutes of chopping time, then you leave it alone to cook (with cooking time dependent on what method you're using). When it's all done, you toss it into your blender for velvety smooth tomato goodness. My graduation present to myself was a Vitamix (refurbished and on sale) and this recipe is the first time I used it on soup - all I have to say is WOAH. These blenders are expensive for a reason - and I've found it to be well worth the price.

I hope I don't even need to say this, but you need to be making this with grilled cheese. My recommendation is sourdough bread and Cabot cheese. We had this soup with grilled cheese for lunch this weekend and it was pure bliss. The best part was that we stored a bunch in the freezer for quick lunches and dinners to come - a bowl of summertime.

Super Simple Tomato Soup

makes approximately 4 servings
(double the recipe for a big batch like I did and freeze some for later!)

Stove Top Method
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 30-45 minutes
Total Time: 50-65 minutes

Pressure Cooker Method
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: Approximately 30 minutes, including time for pressure cooker to come up to pressure

Slow Cooker (Crock Pot) Method
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 5-7 hours
Total Time: 5-7 hours 15 minutes


  • Olive or canola oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 2-3 celery stalks
  • 3-4 carrots
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 6-8 medium sized tomatoes (Go for garden fresh tomatoes if you can. Either way, a mix of tomato types is good, but especially try to have some heirlooms)
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream *Optional*
  • 10-15 fresh basil leaves
  • Parmesan cheese, for garnish

SECRET TIP: Click on the Grocery Guide below to find out more about how you can buy your onion, celery, and carrots pre-cut from the hero of all grocery stores, Trader Joes!

Dietary Substitutions
Gluten Free
Vegetarian: Just make sure to use vegetable broth rather than chicken broth.
Dairy Free: Don't add the heavy cream or top with cheese. It will still be fresh & delicious!
Vegan-Friendly: Skip cream & cheese, use vegetable broth.


1. Mince 2-3 cloves of garlic. If you don't have one, you need a garlic press - it's one of my 5 Kitchen Essentials for Your First Place.
2. Dice 1/2 a yellow onion. 
3. Dice 2-3 stalks of celery.
4. Dice 3-4 carrots.
5. Chop your 6-8 tomatoes into fourths.

6. Heat 3-4 tablespoons oil in a pan. Add the minced garlic, let it saute for a few seconds. Add chopped onions, carrots, and celery. Let cook for a few minutes until veggies start to become translucent. You just want to soften them up a bit before adding the rest of your ingredients. Generously season with salt & pepper. *YOU DO NOT NEED TO DO THIS STEP IF YOU'RE USING THE SLOW COOKER OR PRESSURE COOKER. You can if you want to though!

7. Add all of the veggies to the pot - onion, celery, carrot, and tomato, plus garlic. Your veggies should be sautéed if you're using the stovetop method (see step 6), but they don't have to be if you're using a slow cooker or pressure cooker.
8. Add about 3 cups of chicken broth.
9. Follow the cooking instructions below, depending on your method of choice:

  • FOR STOVETOP: Cook the soup at a simmer, uncovered, for 30-45 minutes. Soup should be bubbling slightly the entire time but not at a boil.
  • FOR SLOW COOKER (CROCK POT): Cook on low for 5-7 hours. I have a 7-in-1 Instant Pot with a crock pot feature and it's The One Appliance Every Twenty-Something Can't Live Without.
  • FOR PRESSURE COOKER: Cook at high pressure for 5 minutes. Let pressure come down for 5 minutes, then release steam and open the pressure cooker. Read more about cooking with a pressure cooker here and find out why I love my pressure cooker Instant Pot and why it's The One Appliance Every Twenty-Something Can't Live Without.

10. When the soup is done cooking, let it cool down a bit. You're going to puree it in a blender and you don't want it to be steaming hot. It ends poorly. Trust me.
11. Add half of the basil (5-8 leaves) to the soup. Puree the soup & basil in a blender until smooth. You may need to do this in 2 batches, depending on the size of your blender.
12. Return the blended soup to the stove and whisk in 1 cup of heavy cream. If you want, you can blend it again for a second time after this step, but it's not necessary.
13. Add the rest of the basil to the soup and stir it in. 
14. Taste & season more with salt & pepper, if needed.
15. Garnish with parmesan cheese. Best enjoyed with a nice grilled cheese or fresh bread.


Lunch Tomorrow, Storing, & Extra Ingredients

LUNCH TOMORROW - Soup is a perfect leftover food. It travels well and in a minute in the microwave tastes like a home cooked meal. Bring a serving for lunch with a piece of bread to dip.

STORING - Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. The soup is perfect to store in single serving bags in the fridge, which will last for 4-6 months. I just store in freezer zip lock bags and lay them flat in my freezer so that the soup can defrost evenly later. Once they've frozen through once, I'll stand up the bags in the freezer to save space. After defrosting, you may want to re-blend the soup if the cream separates, but it will still taste delicious either way and can usually just be remediated with a quick stir of a fork or whisk.

EXTRA INGREDIENTS -  The mirepoix (the fancy name for the combination of carrots, celery, and onions) is super useful for other soups or sauces. Carrots and celery are also great for snacking, and onions themselves are useful in almost any dish. Other than this, you shouldn't really have too many leftover ingredients - maybe a splash of chicken stock you should keep in your fridge (check out 6 Quick, Easy Ways to Turn Chicken Broth Into Dinner). If you have extra basil, top your next pasta dish with this fresh herb.