Mise en place – Organized Meal Preparation

Mise en place is a French phrase loosely translated as everything in its place. Literally everything is prepared in advance from kitchen flow to all the ingredients called for in the dish.  “As a cook, writes Anthony Bourdain, “your station, and its condition, its state of readiness, is an extension of your nervous system.”

Mis en place isn’t just for the professional.  Home cooks will greatly benefit from this orderly pre-cooking process.  Imagine yourself before a dinner party feeling calm and relaxed because you’ve chopped all the garlic and placed it in a small prep dish, the onions are diced, the spice rub has been combined, — ready to be tossed into the pot at the exact right moment.  Not only that, but you’ve placed all the ingredients on the counter next to the stove in the order they will go into the pot.  Your kitchen will become a peaceful place that you’ve choreographed into a graceful dance of tools, ingredients and process.  

Welcome to the Dance — select the menu that will serve as the music for your dinner party, then get organized by:

  1.  Organize the the flow: Create a logical flow in the kitchen between ingredients, utensils, pots, pans, stove, sink and trash.Keep tools such as knives, wooden spoons, spatulas, whisks within arms reach of your stovetop.  Place olive oil, vegetable oil, salt and pepper nearby.  Arrange your cookery in a way that pots, pans and bowls are easily accessed in drawers and cabinets.  
  2. Make space available in the refrigerator:  mise en place relies on advanced preparation.  Make sure you have room in your refrigerator and be sure to have adequate storage containers on hand. 
  3. Check your pantry:  Read the recipes thoroughly and check your pantry making a list of those ingredients you need to get at the store.
  4. Follow a schedule:  Some things can be made ahead whether it’s days, hours or minutes take advantage of this opportunity to reduce the amount of tasks you’ll need to execute at the last minute when guests have arrived. 
  5. Prep the ingredients: measure, chop, dice, puree, grate, blend each ingredient as called for in each recipe.  Save time by chopping all of the shared ingredients from all of the recipes such as onions, garlic, ginger at one time and dividing them into the prep dishes such as those in the photo below.
  6. Order the ingredients:  Place each ingredient on the counter next to the range in the order it will be placed in the pot or pan.  
  7. Make recipes accessible:  Have your recipes available for easy review either on your computer using a digital planning tool such as Pepperplate or hard copy in a plastic sleeve to keep it clean.  
  8. Have a glass of wine and relax!  You’ve created a harmonious cooking experience for yourself and your guests.  Here’s an idea — add a little mise en place to the rest of your life and see what happens. 

Mise en place

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An Organized Pantry Can Save You Money!


Photo:  Rachel Strisik of Rachel and Company

Guest Blog by Rachel Strisik


Did you know you could actually save money by organizing your pantry? We’ve all done it – thrown away food because we forgot about it in the back of the pantry and it went bad. What a waste of money! We all have to eat, so why not save some money by getting your pantry organized. Just a few easy updates can really make all the difference.

Do you ever get home from the grocery store with your box of pasta only to realize you already had five others hiding in the pantry? I can NOT be the only one that has done that!  Luckily, once you are able to see what you have and how much of it is left, you’ll be able to stop stocking up on multiples at the store. Also, by using re-usable containers to keep things fresh, your food will last longer!

Ready to get your pantry organized, here are a few tips you can put into action today!

1. Use the space on the back of the door. This often-overlooked space is actually prime real estate in your kitchen. With an over the door organizer it can become the ideal home for thinner items such as bottles of salad dressing, baby food jars or spices and cooking oils.

2. Organize with order. Store the things you use and need most at eye level and easy to reach shelves, they will be easy to grab when you need them. You can keep the things you use less often high up or in other harder to reach areas.

3. Store canned items in order of expiration date. Foods expiring first should be in the front so they can be used first. Because who wants to toss out food that was never even opened!

4. Organize your Pantry by storing smartly. Put breakable items up high if you have small children. You can also store the foods they are allowed to have on lower shelves so they can help themselves. For an extra-organized pantry, use a label to mark containers in the fridge with what is inside as well as the date it was stored. 5. Switch up those boxes for containers. Transferring cereals, pastas and snacks into airtight containers not only keeps your food fresh longer but you can see how much you have left and when to shop. Those bulky boxes take up space! Use containers that stack up neatly to utilize all of the space in your pantry and fridge.

Below is a pantry we created for a client. With the use of lazy Susan’s, storage containers and over the door storage, we were able to make everything visible. It may seem surprising but all of the items you can see in the before picture were in their in the after picture as well. With just a little organizing, you will realize just how much space you actually have in your pantry and you’ll save money.


Rachel Strisik of Rachel and Company is an organizing extraordinaire – Rachel uses creativity, style and a little elbow grease to help clients get their homes, offices, schedules and lives in order. As a professional organizer, Rachel empowers her clients to live more organized, productive lives. Rachel and Company is a full-service professional organizing company specializing in client organization, closet design and organized moves. Rachel also works with businesses to improve productivity and efficiency through organization and has helped over 600 clients since her start in 2008.

Rachel works nationally with clients, is based in Bethesda, MD and has been featured in publications such as Washingtonian, The Washington Post, NBC4, Fox5, and most recently in the Huffington Post. Rachel graduated from The University of Wisconsin (BA) and The Catholic University of America (JD). Rachel can be reached at:info@rachel-company.com202.669.3719 or through her website: www.rachel-company.com.


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The Hell-Fire #Shrimp #Deviled #Eggs from Heaven Inspired by #Bobby Flay

I finally made it to Bobby Flay‘s Cafe Americain.  The cajun-spiced deviled egg appetizers were to DIE for and I’m sure my taste buds died and went to heaven.  When I returned home, I decided to make an attempt to riff on Bobby’s magic.

#Bobby #Flay Inspired #Shrimp #Deviled #Eggs

The Devil Came Down from Georgia — to party in your mouth with these Hell-Fire Deviled Eggs — A riff on #Cafe Americain’s version

12  hard boiled eggs (place eggs in cold water, bring to boil for six minutes, take off heat and cover for 4 minutes then drain in an ice-bath)

Salt and Pepper to taste

1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper

20 grilled shrimp doused in Jamaican Hell Fire Hot Sauce

1.  Boil eggs as described above

2. Remove yolks and gently mash, adding cayenne, salt and pepper and pile the egg whites with the deviled yokes.

3. While eggs are cooling, salt and pepper shrimp (shell removed) douse in hot sauce and bake in a pre-heated 425 degree oven for 3 minutes

4. Place Hell-Fire shrimp on top of deviled eggs — fire up your taste buds and enjoy!





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Goin’ #Vegan with a Vengeance!

I’ve spent the last month boning up on what it means to eat like a vegan.  The vegan protocol eliminates all animal products including dairy.  Some vegans eliminate honey.  It’s all very personal and individualized.  My client is committed to a very serious training regime and is eliminating all oils, sugar, and grains with the exception of quinoa.  It’s been an adventure preparing to cook for him.  Call me crazy — but it’s also been very fun, challenging my culinary creativity.  So — what’s a girl to do?  Ahhh, yes — Eggplant Tacos!  Very simple:  slice eggplant into rounds, salt and let rest in a colander in the sink for 30 or more minutes.  Rinse with cool water.  Place rounds on pre-heated grill (no oil — it still works — just don’t get in a fight with the eggplant — wait, wait, wait and let it grill, then flip).  Taco Time! You’ve already sliced and diced the daikon radish, red bell pepper.  You’ve shredded the carrots and torn the spinach.  Have fun with it — make it pretty.  Julienne some, dice some, shred some and tear some.  It’s your creation.  This taco would be awesome with any kind of salsa:  salsa fresco, salsa verde, your favorite hot sauce.  I made a spinach-roasted mushroom salsa adding a great, healthy green color.  Go for it.  Bring on the Vegan Vengeance!Image

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Life IS a Bowl of Cherries: Poached in Grand Marnier and Champagne



A Deliciously Sexy Appetizer or a Aromatic Pre-Dessert, Dessert.  Just take 1 C Champagne (sparkling wine, prosecco – you get the drift) and 1/4 C Grand Marnier, fresh delicious cherries and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Refrigerate until time to indulge. 

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Raw Food Movement or Just a Damn Good Fresh Salad — Your Choice!

Thanks to Twitter, I received a follower @DaraStyle.  I have a new vegan client and I’m doing research for fantastic uber vegetarian a.k.a vegan recipes.  Ribbons of zucchini and yellow squash; shredded carrots; grape tomatoes sliced in half.  Lemon juice, canola oil, salt and pepper.  I placed in a mason jar enabling my client to transport it to his office for a healthy, satisfying and absolutely beautiful lunch.  The co-workers will be jealous!

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Ribbons of Zucchini and Yellow Squash

Ribbons of Zucchini and Yellow Squash

Que bonita! Que fresca! Ensalada con vegetales bonita.

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