My Favorite Tools in the Kitchen.

It's no secret that I love to cook. I am on a personal name basis with half of the ladies who work at my local Williams Sonoma, and I can often be found peppering them with questions about competing products and how they do meal prep. I've even squeezed a few amazing recipes out of them, which are the days when I really count myself lucky. Over the past 8 years or so, I have goofed off in my kitchen, experimenting with different recipes and foods and techniques, all in the name of learning. Stevie has been there for the not-so-great dishes and some of the most spectacular surprises. I'm grateful for him, my professional taste-tester. And I am so grateful that I enjoy my time in the kitchen, because we have to eat either way! Might as well enjoy the process! But truly, making a delicious meal is kind of like art to me - it's peaceful, it's therapeutic, it's spontaneous, it's exhilarating, and it's most definitely creative. And I am totally the creeper that likes to watch people as they bite into something I made - the satisfaction of knowing that I concocted something that someone else can consume and enjoy is so very gratifying. I know. Creeper in the kitchen.

I wanted to share a few items in my kitchen that are the workhorses of the bunch. The almost daily-used tools and machines that are in heavy rotation in and out of my hands while I cook. I couldn't possibly be as efficient without these few amazing tools in my arsenal. I am grateful for the years of Christmas gifts (which most of these have been!), because my kitchen is shaping up rather nicely these days. Though I have an ever-growing list of items that I am constantly on the hunt for, especially if I can find a deal on them. If you're interested in investing in a few stellar cook's gadgets and utensils, here is a personal recommendation for my favorite tools in the kitchen.

Dutch Oven.
This was an enormous game-changer when I received this rad dutch oven for Christmas a few years ago. My Le Creuset Dutch Oven, in the classy shade of Marseille, is my first choice as an investment for the kitchen. This particular pot does it all. You can cook anything on the stove in it, including pan-frying chicken, sauteing vegetables, cooking a stew - anything! And then it transfers to the oven like a dream, thanks to the heat-safe enameled cast-iron. This is where you can braise lamb or slow-cook a roast. This particular item introduced me to "big girl cooking" beyond what I was capable of doing in a regular Pyrex glass dish. And the most amazing thing about this particular dutch oven is that I will have it forever and will it on to family. That's how long Le Creuset holds up - forever! It's quite an investment but completely worth it when you think about how much it will be used over the course of a lifetime of cooking (and eating!) in the kitchen.

Wooden Cutting/Pastry Board.
I discovered this solid wooden Boos Block cutting board a few years ago, when I baked cookies with Mary the Cookie Lady. Some of you might remember that particular post, a time that still lives on in my mind in a hushed reverence of pastry enlightenment. Mary taught me a world of good when it comes to all things sugary and bake-able. And we spent that one special day hard at work on her infamous maple-wooden pastry board. Her particular pastry board was passed down to her from her mother, and I was envious of such a meaningful (and incredibly useful!) item that was ingrained, literally, with such significance to Mary. Every time she cuts on that board or rolls out a fresh batch of cookie dough, she thinks of her mother. And you know what? My darling Aunt Shirley sent me this Boos Block Pastry Board as a housewarming gift a few months ago, when we moved into our new digs. When I say that we use this an overwhelming amount, I mean it. This pastry board stays on my counter top, proudly looking down at all the other flimsy plastic sheets that claim to call themselves cutting boards. This cutting board has upped my chopping skills and when this Whole30 situation is over, I will be kneading some mean Valentines treats on it, as well.

Chef's Knife.
Any great cook will credit their Chef's Knife as a significant player in their daily cooking practice. I received my 8-year old J. Henkels 8-inch Chef's Knife as a wedding gift, and it has certainly done the trick for all these years. I use it everyday to chop and dice 90% of everything you see here in my recipes on the blog. However, I do dream of upgrading to this Wustof Classic Ikon masterpiece sometime in the future.

Cast Iron Skillet.
This Staub Cast-Iron 10-inch Skillet in sapphire blue has me swooning big over it's incredible stove top-to-oven durability. I've been making a frittata almost every single day in this skillet, and it behaves like a non-stick pan, even though that's not one of the main claims of this item's quality. It's pre-seasoned, heats food ridiculously evenly and has that richly-colored enamel coat that just has me dreaming of when i can invest in another!

High-Powered Blender.
Vitamix = Love. LOVE I SAY. My particular model of the Vitamix is the 5200 package from Costco (which is totally the way to buy it, if you ask me - such a deal compared to the regular retail price!) We make EVERYTHING in this thing. Soups, dressings, sauces, smoothies, juices, BABY FOOD, bread mixes of all kinds, desserts, and seriously, the list goes on. It has completely replaced my food processor and we use this thing every day.

Who doesn't love their slow cooker? I'll admit, mine isn't anywhere near fancy, but it doesn't need to be! This 4-Quart Crock-Pot has been our winter go-to for years and years. I love throwing random veggies, meat and stock in the crock-pot and letting it do it's thing for 6-8 hours. Low and slow. That's the way I like to go :)

And that's it! Those are my everyday kitchen favorites. Of course, those aren't all my favorites, but those are the items that I use absolutely every day. Do any of these match up with your everyday used kitchen items? I would love to hear about your favorite cooking utensils!

Taste: "Good Morning!" Green Juice

Good Morning Green Juice.

It's almost the weekend! To celebrate, let's add some healthy color to your morning routine! This is such a delicious way to get revved up and start the day. It's even better then a cup of coffee. That's right, I said it. I love drinking this in the morning because it feels really good to get in so many fruits and veggies so early in the day! Plus, it looks suuuuper green, but I promise it doesn't taste like grass. It tastes really tangy and refreshing (thanks to that hot hit of mint, mmm.)

This recipe serves two and is best if made in a high-powered blender, like a Vitamix, or a juicer.


- 2 ribs of kale

- 1 handful of spinach (about 1 cup)

- 1 cup baby carrots (5-6)

- 1 green apple

- 1 red apple

- 1 lemon, skin and pith removed

- 3-4 sprigs of mint

- 1-inch piece of ginger, peel removed

- 1/3 cucumber, peeled

- 1 cup water


1. Place all the ingredients into Veronica the Vitamix (it's a bond, people), and secure the lid.

2. If you have a Vitamix: Select Variable 1. Turn the machine on and quickly increase speed to variable 10, then turn on High. Blend for 45 seconds or until the desired consistency is reached.

If you have a juicer/food processor: You might have to do this in batches. My food processor is only a 2-cup, so I would probably have to break this up into three separated batches. Or you could try to use a powerful blender, but just make sure all your ingredients are roughly chopped (the carrots might pose the biggest problem.)

Seriously, this is going to make you feel like a superhero. Now go and conquer your week!

Keeping your weekend green! And let me know what you think!

*This recipe was featured this week on Flat8 Magazine's website! Make sure to visit the site and check it out! Their content is so fun :)

January Delights

January List...

January List... by oykristen // 1. Champion Women's Fit and Flare Tank // 2. Lacroix Pamplemousse Water // 3. Hale Groves Red Grapefruit // 4. Giada's Feel Good Food Cookbook  // 5. Neoprene Flashbulb Handweights  // 6. Vitamix Series 3 Professional Blender // 7. 2014 Paper Source Watercolor Art Calendar // 8. Korres Lip Butter in Quince // 9. Origins Plantscription Youth-Renewing Night Cream // 10. Paper Source Gratitude Journal //

A Jolly January.

It's a new year. Obviously, you know this. I have taken a little bit of time to reflect and think about what I want this year to be about. My bff Trish made a really point about resolutions. She said, "Year resolutions are too much pressure. I like to think about one goal for each quarter." So she makes mini goals for the Spring, Summer, Fall, etc. So smart! And certainly more manageable. That girl... she's a gem. 

So I've been focusing on wellness goals for the Spring (I know it's not quite spring yet, but humor me... I've gotta have some motivation to get through the winter up here!) When I say wellness, I do NOT mean just eating right, dieting or workout goals. I mean overall wellness; spirit AND body. What does that mean?


Making sure I take a few minutes every morning to pray, be thankful for another day of life and health, to read some scriptures or journal a little bit. It's annoying to wake up 15 minutes earlier than my eyes want to open, but I've found that it centers me for the entire day. And sometimes that 15 minutes turns into 45. It's rather peaceful. And it makes me more aware of others and their needs (hello, I write a BLOG, I don't need any extra incentive to be introspective. But I could certainly be less selfish.) This little journal (10. Paper Source Gratitude Journal) and calendar (7. 2014 Paper Source Watercolor Art Calendar) are a few great tools to get that reflective ball rolling!


Lets get real. My holiday was all-consuming. Literally. I vegged my heart out and worked out, um... very little. So I'd like to get back into the swing of balancing cardio and weights, along with some extra stretching. I never stretch anymore! Its ridiculous, because I know how good stretching is for the bod. When I watch TV, I'm taking half an episode to sprawl out on the floor and just stretch. There is just really no excuse. (Especially since I've been glued to House Hunters International and Property Brothers lately.) Oh HGTV. You slay me. I bought this fun workout top (1. Champion Women's Fit and Flare Tank) and have been using these nifty little weights (5. Neoprene Flashbulb Handweights) to slowly regain my strength and stamina. In an effort to imagine that I'm living in the tropics, I've been snacking on grapefruit everything lately, and treating myself to this sparkling water (2. Lacroix Pamplemousse Water) like it's going out of style. Yum. My dear friend and health guru got me this fabulous book (4. Giada's Feel Good Food Cookbook) for Christmas, and I've been trying out a few of the recipes. Who doesn't love Giada? She's such a babe. And a wonder in the kitchen. ANNND (drumroll please) I got this dreamy blender (6. Vitamix Series 3 Professional Blender) for Christmas and I am FREAKING OUT about all the wonderful eats that will come from such a powerful machine. Stay tuned for lots of yummy recipes to come.

Side note: It's winter. It's a real bear on the skin. I'm currently involved in a dysfunctional love/hate relationship with Origins (love the products, hate the prices), and since I am the whipped party, I shell out the cash for the promise of a brighter tomorrow (in this case, 9. Origins Plantscription Youth-Renewing Night Cream.) And to be honest, these products make my skin so soft and less, um caveman-like? I tend to turn sallow-yellow in the winter (thanks, Dad, for that Italian heritage. And thanks, Mom, for throwing in that Native American heritage, too.), so while my lovely sisters got the rosy-pink undertones in their skin, I unfortunately inherited the olive face which means than sans-tan, I am sporting a tricked-out yellow-fever kind of palette. Talk about being between a rock and a hard place. Thankfully, a pretty pink-ish lip gloss (8. Korres Lip Butter in Quince) certainly helps the dismal situation. Am I being too chatty? I'm feeling deliciously girly today.

I hope your January continues in a jolly fashion. Don't let the cold get you down! Blast your heat and wear bright colors - the sunshine is in your future!