Microwave Corn on the Cob

Microwave Corn on the Cob is ready in just 3 minutes start to finish. Farm fresh doesn't get any easier than this! | themillennialmenu.com

We're right in the middle of summer produce season and that means corn on the cob is calling my name. I can remember summers sitting in our backyard husking corn for dinner and waiting for it to boil just so we could slather it in butter and salt to enjoy. This summer, my mom started raving about this new hack for cooking corn on the cob that I wanted so share with you all because it literally gets you a vegetable side dish in 3 minutes and you press approximately 3 buttons to do so.

Did you know you can cook corn on the cob, un-husked, in the microwave? Yep, that's right. Just put it in the microwave unhusked for about 3 minutes (add about 1 minute if you have more than 3 or 4 ears in there, or do 2 batches). Let it cool when it comes out for about a minute so you don't burn yourself on the steam. Carefully husk the corn, letting steam escape as you go. Add butter and salt (or whatever else you like) and enjoy! We've been having it multiple times a week thanks to our farm share. 

This trick is great because I know that side dishes can be annoying. I think for the first 6 months of this past school year we only ate asparagus because I could put it in the oven with salt, pepper, and olive oil and it tasted good 7 minutes later. This trick makes it easy to mix things up a bit. Side dishes are an important way to make meals more interesting and enjoyable but also to get your full range of vitamins and nutrients you need for a healthy lifestyle. So, this 3 minute microwave corn trick leaves you with no excuse not to enjoy the farm fresh corn that is all over the place. Confession: I still cut my corn off the cob as a tribute to the days when I had braces, so please forgive me. This hack leads to delicious corn on or off the cob.


The Ultimate Store-Bought Frosting Hack

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To celebrate 1 year of blogging (Happy Blog Birthday...Blogday? to me!), I wanted to make a special treat. I went with cupcakes. Cupcakes were one of my first foodie obsessions back in high school. The search for the perfect cupcake in whatever new city I encountered has since expanded to the search for the best, the cheapest, the local specialty in any city I'm in.

Back to cupcakes. My mom is the queen of baked goods, and she is known for whipping up a batch of brownies, 7 layer bars, fruit pizza within 30 minutes of you telling her you're going somewhere. One of her baked good hacks is to revamp a jar of store-bought frosting to make entirely not-from-scratch cakes and cupcakes taste like she spent hours making them. Sorry to break the news to my third grade class, but we didn't make those birthday cupcakes homemade.

The secret is a tub of whipped topping, more popularly known as Cool Whip. At its heart, the recipe is equal parts whipped topping to equal parts frosting. This usually just boils down to a tub of whipped topping + a tub of frosting = me eating it with a spoon. The ratio can be whatever you want, but the whipped topping lightens up the frosting which can sometimes taste overly sweet and dense into something fluffy, creamy, and light. People couldn't believe it wasn't homemade.

I got all of my ingredients (the boxed mix, the frosting, and the whipped topping) at my absolute favorite store, Aldi. Within a few weeks, I will be obsessing over how much I love Aldi in a post here on the blog (Subscribe to the blog to be the first to read it!) I went with my favorite combo - chocolate frosting on vanilla cake (a classic) but you can really take this in any direction. There is a ridiculous variety of frosting and cake mixes in this world. Some suggestions for what to add a tub of whipped topping to? Dark chocolate frosting & well...just about anything. Cream cheese frosting & carrot cake mix. Strawberry frosting & chocolate cake to make a chocolate covered strawberry inspired creation. With the whipped topping, you can even substitute sugar free or light versions if you want to lighten things up a bit. My mom insists that sugar free is better than normal Cool Whip, but I still don't buy that anything sugar free can be better than the real thing. 



The Ultimate Store-Bought Frosting Hack

Makes 24 frosted cupcakes
Prep Time:  10 minutes
Cook Time:  20 minutes
Total Time:  30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 box cake mix (note: usually requires eggs, oil, and water in addition to the box mix)
  • 1 jar frosting
  • 1 tub of whipped topping (like Cool Whip)

Directions:

1. Follow the directions on the cake box to make your cake/cupcakes. Bake!
2. Mix together 1 jar of frosting with 1 tub of whipped topping.
3. Frost! 

Yum.

All from my favorite store, Aldi! 

All from my favorite store, Aldi! 


Storing & Extra Ingredients

STORING - Store in an airtight container in the fridge (due to the whipped topping). Cupcakes will last about a week...if you don't eat them all first, that is.

EXTRA INGREDIENTS - If you have extra whipped topping, my recipe for Fruit Pizza is always a big hit. When I was little, I LOVED refrigerated chocolate frosting because it basically became fudge. So do that. The end.


One Step Smoothie Prep

Plan the perfect Smoothie prep and only clean your blender ONCE this week! Makes healthy eating faster and easier! | themillennialmenu.com

 

Behold, a post about my favorite kitchen appliance: the freezer (and some mason jars and silicone ice pop molds, too.)

Today I'm sharing a trick that has saved me an hour a week - and provides me with breakfast and part of my lunch every day in 20 simple minutes on a Sunday. For a long time, the bane of my existence was cleaning my blender every day. As someone who needs to eat every 2 hours, smoothies are a lifesaver for me. I always make mine with Greek yogurt, low sugar orange juice, and frozen fruit - and I've recently been adding ground flax seeds. Since buying my refurbished Vitamix (Want one? find out how to get the best blender for less), smoothie prep has been so. much. faster. That thing can BLEND. Still....you have to clean it. And even after I started doing the clean the blender by turning it on trick, it still was the bane of my existence every night. Until....I started my smoothie prep routine.

Now, I make a big batch of smoothies once a week in my Vitamix (thank god that it's so big) and freeze them for the week. I use half in Ball glass jars (the 1 pint/16 oz. size) for my breakfast smoothie. I take it out 24 hours in advance (usually the morning before I want to drink it, when I'm drinking my smoothie which helps to remind me) to defrost in the fridge. I give them a quick shake and pour in a glass. I like the jars because they seal tightly and the glass freezes well. I notice absolutely no difference in the smoothie quality - and I swear it saves me an hour of smoothie making and blender cleaning time a week now that I'm not doing it every night!

My other new favorite tip for smoothie prep is my FoodWorks ice pop molds. I pour the smoothie into the pop and freeze them, and then pop them in my lunchbox when I'm packing my lunch in the morning. By the time I get to them at lunch, they're perfectly defrosted. They're super easy to clean out (I rinse mine out and then throw them in the dishwasher) and don't smell funky even after many uses. They also keep sealed in my lunchbox all day. It's a great way to add some extra sweetness to my lunch that's also healthy. I highly recommend both some sort of glass jar and the silicone molds for easy, healthy, on-the-go options! 

Smoothie Recipe Recommendations

I love both of these blogs and they're a great starting place for some smoothie recipes!

Healthy Smoothie Recipes on Cookie & Kate
14 Smoothies for an Instant Mood Boost on Pinch of Yum


Note: This post contains affiliate links for products I recommend. That means if you click on a product link in this post and choose to purchase the product on Amazon, I earn a commission. I only recommend products I use and love organically. This means that if you are going to purchase a product that I recommend, I encourage you to do it through the direct link from the blog so that I (and the blog) benefit. Read the full affiliate disclosure.

Bar Basics: Stocking Your Liquor Cabinet

Knowing how to stock a basic bar will be good for your wallet AND impress your friends! | themillennialmenu.com

Knowing how to make solid drinks at home will save you tons of money and impress your friends and family. Today's post is brought to you by my boyfriend Matt, who is the true cocktail connoisseur in our relationship. We've organized this post into three sections: setting up your basic bar, branching out your liquor supply, and tools & equipment. We are strong believers in quality over quantity (when appropriate) and have established some of our favorite brands of liquor. Try brands out in smaller doses, see if you like them, and you too will soon buy a 1.75 L bottle of Bombay Sapphire.  I've been shocked at how delicious mixed drinks can taste at home - especially compared to whatever coke & rum cocktail was the pregame drink of choice in college. In terms of cost, we really believe it's worth it to spend a bit more on cocktails and ingredients that will make you want to have a drink at home before heading out for the night or even instead of. Perhaps most importantly, having a well stocked bar is a quick way to impress friends and family with your good taste! 

If your favorite spirit is missing, feel free to add it to your own personal list - you know what you like and don't like. This is just our recommendation for what to actually purchase if you want to be able to make mixed drinks and appeal to a wide range of guests. We were surprised when we really sat down and thought about what the basics of a wide range of drinks were, but we've been so happy with what we have stocked in our apartment and still have been able to branch out and add fun spirits that we enjoy having around as well. 


Setting Up Your Basic Bar

Gin

Gin is the (surprising) quintessential cocktail spirit and is a staple of a home bar. Did you know that gin is in more classic cocktails than any other spirit? A lot of people have a knee-jerk reaction when they hear the word gin, with overly pine-y flavors recalling bathtub concoctions of the Prohibition era. But gin can be so much more than this with a different variety for every preference. Gin is essentially flavored vodka, infused with juniper and a variety of other botanicals like rose or citrus peel depending on the distiller. Bombay Sapphire and New Amsterdam are good brands to start off because of their inoffensive flavor. But, you can branch out to brands like Tanqueray or Junipero, with their juniper-heavy flavors, and Hendricks with its unique rose petal and cucumber infusion. Our favorite is Bombay Sapphire. 

What to make: Gin is the star of a solid gin and tonic. It's also used in martinis, Tom Collins (essentially, alcoholic lemonade), a French 75, gin gimlet, and many other cocktails.

Whiskey

Whiskey is the classic American liquor. Whiskey has been stereotyped as a masculine choice, but it is so versatile and can be used in so many different ways that there is a different whiskey cocktail for everyone out there. There are several different styles of whiskey, including bourbon, rye, and scotch. To start off, we would recommend a rye because it works better in cocktails. Where bourbon is generally sweeter and richer, ryes are drier and contain more spice. This stands out nicely when mixed with other cocktail ingredients. Good entry-level brands include Rittenhouse and Bulleit Ryes.

What to make: Whiskey cocktails include Old Fashioneds, Manhattans, Whiskey sours, Mint juleps, Irish coffee, and many more.

Bitters

Bitters are the equivalent of salt and pepper for cocktails. They add depth and new dimensions to your drinks. Start with a small bottle of Angostura—you will only ever use a few drops per drink, so this will last you a while.

What to make: Old Fashioned, Manhattan, Negroni, Pisco Sour

Citrus

Fresh lemon and lime juice is extremely important to making a good cocktail. Citrus just doesn’t last that long once it’s been squeezed, so buying and squeezing your lemons and limes rather than using the bottled stuff will make a big difference in the final taste of your drink. We usually buy at least 2 lemons and 2 limes every week at the grocery store - we end up using them by the time they go bad, either in food or in our cocktails! They can really take a drink to the next level and are worth the small risk of 50 cents lost if you forget to use one before it goes bad. But if your bar is stocked like we recommend, we doubt that will happen. 

What to make: Lime: Mojitos, Moscow Mule, Margarita, Gin & Tonic // Lemon: Whiskey Sour, Tom Collins

Simple Syrup

Nearly all cocktails require some sort of sweetener in the recipe (which most people like), with most calling for simple syrup. Don’t waste your money buying this from the grocery store as it’s incredibly easy to make. Just heat up equal parts of granulated sugar and hot water on the stovetop and stir until all the sugar dissolves.  This should be stored in the fridge and can last for about a month. We store ours in a bottle that's meant to be used for homemade salad dressing - but alas, we prefer cocktails to salad.

What to make: Almost anything, but particularly a Tom Collins, a Whiskey Sour, an Old Fashioned

Club Soda

Club Soda is the base of many cocktails and is the best adult mixer you could ever keep stocked in your cabinet. It can be hard to finish a whole bottle (for some people, maybe not for others) so I've taken to buying the mini glass club soda bottles that come in 6 packs in the soda aisle at the grocery store. The premium I pay on packaging versus buying a liter at a time is worth it because we usually only make two drinks at a time. Make sure to buy the bottles rather than the cans, because if you're only making one, you can seal it back up and use it in a few days before it goes flat. If you're a gin & tonic drinker like me, it's also a good idea to always have some tonic water on hand as well. It comes in the same mini-6 packs.

What to make: Anything, but try a Tom Collins! 

Tools and Equipment

 
The Basic tools and Equipment you need for a home bar will set you up for entertaining success. | themillennialmenu.com
 

Shaker

As the name implies, this is a necessity for any shaken drink. As a rule of thumb, any drink containing non-clear liquids—citrus, egg white, etc.—should be shaken. There are two distinct styles of shakers, the cobbler and the Boston shaker. The cobbler is the three piece shaker with a built in strainer that you often get in a bar set, whereas the Boston is the two piece tins that you see at every bar, ever. There is a reason the pros only use Boston shakers—when the cobbler shaker gets cold from the ice, the pieces can be nearly impossible to get apart, trapping your drink inside. Boston shakers are much easier to use and clean. One thing to note, however, is some shakers come with two tins, whereas some come with one and a pint glass. We would stay away from the sets that use the glass, as this has the potential of shattering when it’s in your hands. Go for this one.

Mixing Glass

Again, as the name implies, this is for mixed cocktails. A lot of times at bars you will see them use fancy looking glass beakers called “yarai” glasses. These are nice to have, but are expensive and not necessary. Save some space (and money) and just use the bottom tin of your shaker.

Strainer

After mixing or shaking your drink, you need to strain out the ice cubes. A Hawthorne strainer will fit right on top of your tin or mixing glass and do just this. You might also see julep strainers, which look like giant spoons with holes in them. These are traditionally used for stirred drinks, but are not necessary to have. A Hawthorne strainer will do the trick and is simpler to use - less spillage.

Bar Spoon

Used to mix cocktails, this is just a really long skinny spoon. It’s not a need to have, but it does make mixing drinks much easier than with a normal spoon. We use ours all the time for drinks like a Tom Collins or gin & tonic. Plus, it looks pretty impressive.

Jiggers

Jiggers help you measure precise amounts of liquid to make the perfect drink. It's essentially the grown up version of a shot glass, because you're adding more to your drink than just a shot of alcohol straight into your mouth - usually some citrus juice, or club soda...you get our point. We are fans of the Oxo mini angled measuring cup. We also use it when cooking too!

All set up and wondering where to start?

Check out The Craft of the Cocktail for a classic guide to everything shaken and stirred.

Subscribe to the blog for future posts about how to expand your bar and how to make your favorite cocktails at home.


Note: This post contains affiliate links for products I recommend. That means if you click on a product link in this post and choose to purchase the product on Amazon, I earn a commission. I only recommend products I use and love organically. This means that if you are going to purchase a product that I recommend, I encourage you to do it through the direct link from the blog so that I (and the blog) benefit. Read my full affiliate disclosure.


 

5-Day Millennial Menu Meal Plan #1

One of the hardest parts about making a home cooked meal is figuring out what to make and going grocery shopping to get everything you need to make it. All of my recipes are pretty easy to pull off - but it's a much more daunting class to make five of them in a week. That's why I created the first Millennial Menu Meal Plan

This Millennial Menu features 5 recipes make sense together. It's how I would go about planning what I'm eating in a week using Paprika (a meal planning app that is my #1 cooking hack) The recipes have overlapping ingredients so you're buying only what you need at the grocery store and can use it all up to avoid wasting food (and money) with rotten leftovers. Plus, it doesn't really matter what night you cook each meal. If you're buying fresh fish, you'll want to enjoy those meals earlier in the week because fresh fish should only sit in the refrigerator for 1-2 days. Other than that, this is a super flexible blueprint for your dinners this week! Even though you're using ingredients that overlap, this menu is still really varied - you go from salmon to pizza to fish tacos to curry to peppers stuffed with ground turkey. It definitely does not taste like you're eating the same thing over and over, that's for sure. Read on below to find out how/why this meal plan is so attainable. I've even included a Master Grocery List to make the whole thing that much easier. 

To access the detailed recipes (including more specific grocery guides for each recipe),
scroll to "Explore the Recipes" and click the photo of the recipe you're looking for!


What's Cookin?

Menu 1: Coconut Lemongrass Salmon

Start with a fresh, flavorful salmon dish. You'll need coconut milk for this recipe, but you can use the rest in my 15 minute Chickpea Chicken Curry Recipe. Whatever green you choose for the salmon will also be used again in the curry.

Menu 2: Naan Pizza

Next, indulge in (healthier) pizza! This recipe is flexible - you choose your toppings, BBQ Chicken or Pesto Caprese. Either way, you're using up the 1 rotisserie chicken you're buying in the deli section for about $5. What a deal! If you really want to overlap on your ingredients, choose the BBQ Chicken pizza. I use shredded Mexican blend cheese when I make my BBQ Chicken pizzas, and you can use the same cheese in both the Five Minute Fish Tacos and the Freezer Friendly Mexican Stuffed Peppers. Same goes for the red onion on the BBQ pizza - you'll use it in the coconut lemongrass bowl.

Menu 3: Five Minute Fish Taco Bowls

Spice things up with one of my favorite ingredients, Trader Joe's Corn and Chile Tomato-less Salsa! Plus, black beans, corn, quinoa, Mexican style shredded cheese and cilantro are also featured in Freezer Friendly Mexican Stuffed Peppers. You could turn this into a chicken taco bowl, too, if you wanted to use rotisserie chicken that you're buying for the curry and the pizzas.

Menu 4: Chickpea Chicken Curry

Cozy up with a big bowl of curry that takes mere minutes to pull together. You're using coconut milk and the rotisserie chicken in this recipe, so these ingredients are doing double duty in the Coconut Lemongrass Salmon and Naan Pizzas. Whatever green you chose to have with your salmon will also be used in this recipe.

Menu 5: Freezer Friendly Mexican Stuffed Peppers

You're already buying black beans, corn, Mexican style shredded cheese, quinoa, and cilantro for the Five Minute Fish Taco Bowls!


Explore the recipes...

click each photo for recipe link,

including a grocery guide!


Master Grocery List

*for one serving of each meal,
except for the peppers, which makes ~4. They're freezer friendly!

Produce

  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 bag greens (such as spinach, kale, bok choy, or swiss chard)
  • 1 handful white or portobello mushrooms
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 lime
  • Lemongrass paste (This paste is one of my secrets to cooking with herbs and spices)
  • 1 bunch cilantro

Del

Meat & Seafood

  • 1 6-oz. portion of salmon
  • 1 piece tilapia
  • 1 lb. ground turkey

Dry Goods

  • 1 standard 15.5 oz. can coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
  • Rice (optional, serving suggestion with the salmon)
  • 1 standard 15.5 oz. can corn
  • Trader Joe's Corn and Chile Tomato-Less Salsa (substitute: additional can of corn)
  • 1 standard 15.5 oz. can black beans
  • 1 standard 15.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 standard 15.5 oz. can chickpeas
  • 1 packet fajita/taco seasoning
  • Curry powder

Dairy

  • Smallest container sour cream
  • 1 bag Mexican-style shredded cheese

Wait! For the Naan pizzas...

  • If you chose BBQ Chicken Pizza: add chives (optional) and BBQ Sauce to your list.
  • If you chose Pesto Caprese Pizza: add mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, pesto, and balsamic drizzle to your list.