Megan Weiss

Kelsey Nixon’s “Essentials”

August 1, 2011 at 10:34 am , by

Food Network Star contestant, Kelsey Nixon, shares her passion for cooking in the hit Cooking Channel show Kelsey’s Essentials. We got to know her better when she told LHJ some of her favorite culinary memories and gave us her list of “essentials” in the kitchen.

Who do you feel is your biggest female inspiration in the kitchen?

My mother. My mother worked a full time job but looked forward to cooking for us every week. Since she was so busy we would make a family schedule for what she wanted to cook each week. Whether it was recipes from magazines she wanted to try to her own signature dishes, we would map it out for the week. For me, that’s where I learned to love cooking and the way I approach cooking. Her attitude toward cooking was always something pleasurable and something to look forward to.

Now that you are on the second season of your show, Do you think being on Food Network Star prepared you for being in front of the camera?

It did. I don’t know how I survived. Most of the challenges I was put through were challenged me to do things similar to my own show. Thinking on your feet, adjusting to whatever may happen in the kitchen and developing recipes at a moments notice. It really helps you to know who you are and what your brand stands for.

You are known for your pantry cooking episodes, what are some pantry staples you like for each meal?

For breakfast, things like oatmeal and pancake mix are great and versatile. And although it’s not a pantry item, something I always try to have on hand is fresh berries and fruit. For lunch I love sandwiches. I could eat a sandwich every day for the rest of my life. Good bread, meat and cheeses are important to have on hand. I also keep a chart on my refrigerator of what produce is in season so I know what to purchase. For dinner I always love to have good canned tomatoes and pasta so I can make a quick tomato sauce. Fresh herbs are great as well, they will bring any dish to life.

How do you start brainstorming for new recipes?

I try to follow food trends. Whether that means reading a lot of magazines or following food blogs, I try to keep on top of it. I always have a file folder on my computer desktop that I call my “Inspiration Folder” –any time I have an idea I throw it in there. Then, whenever it is time to come up with recipes it is the first place I turn to.

What are a few of your favorite things to cook?

We love to cook Mexican at home. Especially in the summer months. It can cook very quickly. Things like tacos, guacamole or quesadillas. I also love Italian food. Pasta is something I have multiple times a week because it’s affordable and comes together quickly. You can enliven a good tomato sauce any month of the year by adding vegetables that are in season.

What do you feel are some “essentials” of cooking for a family?

Things you can make in big batches like baked ziti. Casseroles are great too. I love doing a reinvented casserole where you can use as many pantry staples as possible, you always have leftovers, and you can satisfy many different palates.

You have recently teamed up with Hungry Jack for their use up the box contest. How do you come up with inspiration when using specific ingredients?

I love the ability to be able to open the cupboard or my refrigerator and say “what am I going to do today.” Its like having your own creative challenge in the kitchen. Pancake mix, or pasta, or even leftover herbs. It’s not about creating a recipe even it’s more about using your kitchen as a creative outlet. If it was a weeknight and I didn’t want to run to the grocery store and I happen to have a box of pancake mix, I think about what I could make, or what a family could enjoy.

Check out Kelsey’s Essentials airing Saturdays at 2.30pm on The Cooking Channel.

Slow Cooker Recipe! Indian Food In Your Kitchen

June 23, 2011 at 9:39 am , by

TV journalist turned cook, Anupy Singla, takes the hesitation out of Indian cooking and introduces the flavors of her culture into (our favorite) the slow cooker! How easy is that? We asked the India native to share with us her top 5 myths about Indian cooking and a great traditional slow cooker recipe that will have you on your way towards a passion for her native cuisine.

Myth #1: All Indian food is too hot-spicy. Heat, which you get from cayenne or fresh, chile peppers is different than flavor. Traditional Indian spices like garam masala, cumin seed, and ground coriander add depth and flavor (not heat!) to your dish. If you don’t like a lot of heat, just leave out the chiles
Myth #2: You need dozens of unfamiliar spices. There are many spices used in Indian cooking but to get started you really only need about seven essentials: cumin and mustard seeds, ground coriander, garam masala (a traditional mix of spices you purchase as one), turmeric, cayenne, and salt. We’ll bet you already have most of these in the cupboard.
Myth #3Indian food is oily and laden with cream. This is the type of food that some restaurants have become accustomed to serving. Indian food served in most households is anything but heavy and unhealthy. Most dishes eaten day-to-day are made with little to no oil and usually without cream.
Myth #4: Naan is a bread always eaten with Indian food. Only in restaurants. Remember, naan (a leavened bread made of white flour) is traditionally made in a tandoori oven – not something most Indian homes have. In a traditional home, Indians make roti – a much healthier whole wheat alternative that is cooked on the stovetop and is essentially flour and water.
Myth #5: Good Indian food can’t be made in a slow cooker. The very idea of slow heat used to cook meats, lentils and beans to perfection is a style of Indian cooking that is over two centuries old and referred to as ‘Dum Pukht’ or Slow Oven cooking. Food and spices were put in heavy pots sealed shut with a wet dough. They were cooked over a very low flame and the ingredients were given hours to meld together, while the spices infused the dish — essentially the equivalent of the modern day slow cooker!

Try Anupy’s recipe for Traditional Chicken Curry!

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Do Good: Brushing for the Cure

October 18, 2010 at 3:12 pm , by

brush October is, of course, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It seems like you can get almost everything in ribbon-pink these days (which is great because the products contribue to a good cause!) but we especially like this adorable scrub brush from Boston Warehouse. (How often do you get excited about a scrub brush!?) A portion of the sales from this Brushing Beauty Breast Cancer Brush (try saying that 5 times fast) will go to Susan G Komen for the Cure. The company even made a $15,000 donation guarantee to Susan G Komen in support of its promise to save lives and end breast cancer forever. Nice!

Find of the Week: CoverMate Food Covers

September 16, 2010 at 3:05 pm , by


Whenever I see new inventions, especially one as simple as CoverMate’s Food Covers, my initial reaction is anger—why didn’t I think of that! I have an entire drawer of mismatched containers and lids and never seem to be able to find the corresponding matches. I am then left to resort to plastic wrap, which usually takes me a few tries to actually get it to stay on the container and not stick to itself.

This new product resembling a hotel shower cap eliminates all of that. There are so many benefits to using this product aside from giving you some extra cupboard space

  • Keeps food fresh: They are twice as thick as plastic wrap and hold a tight seal to lock in the freshness.
  • Easy to re-use: The food covers are reusable, waterproof, dishwasher safe, and microwave safe.
  • Fits any shape: CoverMate conveniently makes 3 sizes that fit anything from a small soup can to a large party platter.
  • Easy for entertaining: Another benefit of the food covers that can help with entertaining outdoors is that they keep food fresh and prevent bugs from getting in.

The Cover Mate Food Covers are environmentally friendly and free of BPA, PVC, and latex. So stop tearing apart your kitchen looking for matching container lids and easily keep your food fresh with CoverMate Food Covers. (3.99)

Aarti’s Party

September 8, 2010 at 2:05 pm , by

After an intense few months of competition, Aarti Sequeria has finally landed her dream job (and mine). She is now the host of her very own show on The Food Network called Aarti Party.  I had the privilege of speaking with Aarti about her whirlwind experience as a competitor, and winner of Next Food Network Star.

What was the first thought that crossed your mind when they announced your name as winner of Next Food Network Star?

I thought “Oh Lord!” I felt gratitude and relief as well as some sadness for my fellow competitors, Tom and Herb, whom I had grown close with over my time on the show.

What is an easy way for people to introduce Indian cuisine into their lives who may be a bit skeptical?

I was intimidated at first as well and I am Indian! I didn’t start off cooking it and the first few times I tried it didn’t come out so well. I try to help people take a step toward bringing authentic flavors into their everyday dishes. For example, the Sloppy Joe recipe is something that is familiar to people and just by adding a few spices you can incorporate Indian flavors into a common dish. I usually get inspiration from what I am craving that day. If I am in the mood for a flank steak I think, “what can I do differently” to inspire something new.

What made you decide to enter The Next Food Network Star competition?

When I applied I had been doing my online show (Aarti Paarti) for 9 months and had picked up a few other jobs online. I realized this was what I wanted to do. All my strengths were built for this type of work. However, I was very intimidated by past episodes and how hard the challenges were, and these people had even more experience than I did!

What was the most difficult challenge on the show?

The Beso challenge with Eva Longoria and Todd English. I was at my wits end and so tired; I didn’t have strength left. I had seen my husband earlier that day and my emotions were all over the place. If I am in a good mood and I cook you can taste it, and unfortunately if I am in a bad mood you can taste it as well.  I wasn’t cooking with joy that day.

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Kraft Foods’ New Ipad App Is A Lifesaver For Parents

August 19, 2010 at 11:00 am , by


If you have ever been aggravated by trying to find a creative meal for your picky eater,this is the Ipad app for you! Kraft has recently launched their new app for the Ipad called Big Fork Little Fork, and it is certainly a parents dream come true. This interactive application takes you on a journey through the kitchen with fun interactive games for children, how-to videos, and exciting recipes to satisfy any eater from the pickiest to the most daring.

As a child, my unadventurous taste buds certainly did not allow much room for creativity by my parents. I cannot imagine how boring it must have been for them with chicken, spaghetti, and pizza for dinner week after week, and anything green usually crammed in the corner of my plate (or flung across the room). Big Fork Little Fork allows parents to not only expand their children’s nutritional intake in an entertaining way, but adds a little excitement to their own weekly menu as well! To download the app  ($1.99) to your Ipad, go to or visit Kraft’s website.

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