Spice up your Kitchen

glass spice jars

If you love being in the kitchen, you probably have a drawer or shelf full of herbs and spices that you have to sift through every time you want to cook or bake something. I’d been looking for a spice rack, but 1.) didn’t want anything that would sit on a counter, and 2.) wanted something simple and clean looking – no big black plastic lids or cheesy labels.

My husband found the perfect rack for us in the clearance section of Home Depot that would hang from our wire kitchen rack.

Williams-Sonoma has really nice cylindrical, glass spice jars for $18 for 12. The price was not terrible for what I wanted (and I’m a sucker for anything from WS), but I hate paying shipping and this set was not available in stores.

Then I went to Cost Plus – another one of my favorite home everything stores – and found similar glass jars with silver lids for 99 cents each. Deal!

DYMO LetraTag LT-100H

I do like the look of labeled spices and, honestly, I’m not sure I’m good enough of a cook to remember every spice simply by looking at it or smelling it . So I went to Target and purchased a label maker (on sale, of course!) and clear label tape and made my own labels! As an aside, label makers are amazing for identifying boxes in the garage – invest in one to make your life more organized!

Shopping Tip: I have found the best prices on everyday, household spices at 99 cent Stores, Big Lots, Target, and Walmart. For harder to find spices, try Cost Plus, Trader Joes or local ethnic grocery stores.


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Cashew Chicken

cooking light magazine

I’ve always been a big fan of Cooking Light Magazine. For the most part, the recipes are quite tasty and are a great way to cut calories and fat without losing flavor.

One of my all-time favorite Cooking Light recipes is Cashew Chicken. I’ve often found stir fry recipes bland but this is a perfect balance between salty and sweet, and has a delicious crunch. This is a meal we make at least once a month, not only for the taste, but midweek simplicity.

chopsticks cashew chicken crate and barrel bowl


  • 1/2 c chicken stock
  • 3 TB oyster sauce
  • 1.5 TB cornstarch
  • 1.5 TB honey
  • 1 TB soy sauce
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • oil for pan
  • 1 c chopped green onion
  • 1 yellow onion, cut into 8 wedges
  • 1 c red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 c carrot, sliced
  • 1 c mushrooms
  • 1 c sugar snap peas
  • 1 lb chicken breast, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 c pineapple chunks
  • 1/3 c cashews
  • crushed red pepper for heat
  • brown rice


  • Combine the first seven ingredients (through salt) in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • Heat oil in wok. Add 1/2 c green onions and onion wedges and cook until browned. Add chicken to onion mixture and stir fry until no longer translucent, about 5 – 10 minutes, depending on the temperature of your wok.
  • Add carrots, stir fry 2-3 minutes. Add mushrooms, snap peas and bell pepper, stir fry for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Add sauce to wok with pineapple, cashews and crushed red pepper. Bring to a boil, then simmer until thick.
  • Stir in remaining green onions and serve over brown rice. Enjoy!

As with all recipes, tweaking is allowed. I am not strict in terms of the proportions of “stuff” – just don’t mess with the sauce! I usually cook for two, so I’ll often use a bit less of everything with the same amount of sauce.

Stir fry veggies should have a nice crunch, so make sure not to cook them too long. They are perfect when they are beautifully bright and colorful.

Shopping tips: Shop your local farmer’s market for fresh and inexpensive produce. Also, buy chicken breast in bulk when on sale – I usually wait and stock up when it hits $1.99/lb here in Southern California. You can freeze the breasts individually for quick weekday meals.

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