Let’s Get Back to Basics

Let’s Get Back to Basics

Has your kitchen ever felt a little too chaotic when you were preparing a meal? Mixing bowls laying around everywhere on your countertops.  Unattractive metal baking pans that actually buckle or warp when you put them in the oven. Hard-to-clean glass casserole dishes that are challenging when it comes to baking evenly. Worst of all, the necessary transfer from the ugly baking pan to the pretty serving piece before you could take the meal to your table. Then, after the meal was finished, you had all that cleanup, PLUS you had to find the right container to store the leftovers. What. A. Mess.

When I created Temp-tations over 21 years ago, I knew there just had to be a better way. I knew people would be happier if they could prep, bake, serve, and store all in one beautiful dish. Let’s get back to the basics of enjoyable cooking and entertaining so we can actually relax and enjoy our gatherings around the table with friends and family. Whether it's two of you, whether it's ten of you, whether it's a special occasion, whether it's an everyday occasion, I truly feel that every meal should be special.

Find your new essentials & refresh your nest

It’s normal to find yourself wanting to refresh your home when the seasons change, especially in the springtime. I’ve created some key essential pieces that you can help you do just that, but in a very “no fuss” way. For example, let’s say you have a basic 9x13 baking dish. Maybe it’s glass or metal, maybe it’s stoneware… (bonus points if it’s Temp-tations <wink>). It’s probably your go-to baking dish for everything from lasagna to cakes, to mac & cheese.

But what if you can’t decide what kind of mac & cheese you want to make? Adding a stoneware baking dish with a little unique twist is a great way to refresh and reinvent. For example, I created this divided casserole dish to handle situations when you want to make and serve 2 foods at once. It’s one of my absolute favorites because, with the center divider, there’s no need to decide on one or the other. Just make both kinds of mac & cheese! Veggie mac & cheese on one side and bacon on the other. You can even do fresh veggies on one side and dip on the other – it’s entirely up to you.

All of my ceramic stoneware baking dishes are all meant to be put through the paces, so use the hand mixer right in it, the pattern won’t scratch off. Put it in the oven or the microwave. Plus, it’s naturally non-stick, so you don’t really have to add cooking spray or other fats. Using Temp-tations can be a better, healthier way to cook – even when it’s mac and cheese!

Look at the basics in a new way

Picture this: you’re having some friends over for a weekend brunch, and you’re preparing some fresh fruit juices to serve as-is or mix with champagne. You go to your cabinet to pull out a pitcher, and all you have is one of those plastic ones with the lid that turns to reveal the opening. Sure, it’s a fine basic, but it just feels more “juice for the kids at an outdoor BBQ” vs. the vibe you want to bring to your nice brunch party.

Why not serve your fresh fruit juices in a ceramic pitcher? I’ve created several types of beautiful pitchers in the Temp-tations collection, including one that actually comes with a lid the doubles as a coaster, so you don't have to worry about your countertops. My ceramic stoneware pitchers are great because as well as they can handle cold drinks, they can handle hot. Plus, they tend to retain temperature better than glass, plastic, or other materials, so they’ll keep your cold drinks colder longer and your hot drinks hotter longer.

Bonus tip: When prepping some fresh juices for brunch, I always freeze some juice as fancy ice cubes, so when they melt, they don’t water down the beverage. You can even add little chunks of fruit to them, too!

Second bonus tip: My pitchers also make gorgeous flower vases as a centerpiece for the table.

Add a game-changing new essential to your kitchen

There are a few items every kitchen and cook can’t have enough of, and one of those items is serving platters and trays. I’ve designed many types and sizes because I believe there’s a right platter for every occasion and purpose. If you don’t have a variety of serving platters in your kitchen, you might want to consider a size or shape you don’t already have.

For instance, a slim long serving platter is perfect for serving things like asparagus, a sliced loaf of bread, or a baked fish. A large round serving platter is great as a charcuterie board, a cake plate, or a wedge salad server. Every tray has a different purpose, and you might just change your whole cooking adventure with a new type!

I always choose a ceramic stoneware platter because they can actually act as the baking tray for your cookies and then go right to the table. Temp-tations stoneware platters can keep your meals warm in the oven and then you can proudly serve your gorgeous creations right on it. No extra dishes, no messy food transfers required.

Bonus tip: Go ahead and slice your breads or meats right on my serving platters – your knife won’t hurt them. (I made them to be beautiful and tough!)

Second bonus tip: Use your platters as decorating ideas for your dining room buffet table or open shelving. They add pretty pops of color.

There’s nothing like a great basic bowl… with a twist

Another essential a kitchen somehow can never have enough of is bowls. Mixing and serving bowls (hint: Temp-tations bowls do both jobs exceptionally well) are some of Temp-tations’ most popular items, and there is good reason for that. These ceramic stoneware bowls can beautifully handle all the challenges of cooking – just like our casserole dishes and serving platters. At-home cooks and entertaining enthusiasts love them because you can use them for so much.

Of course, I have a variety of different bowls in my kitchen for different purposes, but to new cooks or people looking to do a kitchen refresh, I always recommend thinking about adding bowls with special features. Adding a handy bowl with a pour spout to your collection is a great idea because these bowls are perfect batter bowls. Precisely pour out batter on your skillet for perfect pancakes every time. I also love a pour spout bowl filled with fruit, flowers, or floating candles as a centerpiece because it adds a little of that “farmhouse chic” flair.

Another bowl type I always recommend is a great set of nesting bowls. The best part about these bowls is that you will always have the right size for whatever you’re cooking, serving, or eating. The other best part is that they all fit inside one another so they take up minimal space, which is perfect of anyone who doesn’t have a huge kitchen with endless storage capacity. (Isn’t that everyone?) When you choose nesting bowls, you should always look for versatility, durability, and beauty. Well, Temp-tations bowls are all that and more!

Bonus tip: One of my favorite, not-so-ordinary ways to use nesting bowls is to add some crushed ice to a larger bowl. Then nestle the smallest bowl in the middle and fill it with cocktail sauce. Finally, arrange chilled cooked shrimp (use the pre-cooked store-bought shrimp, I won’t tell) and lemon wedges all around the center bowl and you have a beautiful presentation of shrimp cocktail that will actually stay chilled.

Add some everyday specialness your table with dinnerware

Dinnerware is probably the most impactful way to add a very special feel to your table. We often spend a ton of money and time making the food for a meal, and then what do we put it out on? If your dinnerware set is scratched, chipped, or maybe just a bit bland, you might need a refresh. With Temptations you can have coordinated dinnerware set that actually goes right in the oven to keep the meal warm… you can’t do that with fine china!

My dinnerware sets (and all of my stoneware pieces, actually) are individually hand-painted in a variety of patterns and colorful glass glazes. They all have accents and sculptural details that truly make these pieces the exclamation point on your table. I love mixing seasonal dinnerware sets in with my everyday dinnerware to make my table feel extra special at holiday times. Temp-tations dinnerware pieces aren’t meant to be stuffy or reserved for special occasions, though. They are meant to be used for a bowl of breakfast cereal before the kids run to catch the bus, a quiet dinner for two where only takeout is on the menu, a quick way to reheat a slice of pizza, and so much more.

Bonus tip: Not ready to invest in all new dinnerware for 8 or dinnerware for 12? Try selecting a new, smaller set that coordinates with your existing set. Then mix and match for an effortless eclectic look.

Accessories are essentials, too

Another great basic way to refresh your home for a new season is to add a few highly versatile accessory pieces. I love using a decorative storage basket to hold my most-used cooking oils and spices right by my stovetop so they’re always close at hand. (A ceramic serving platter with raised sides would also work great for this purpose.) A basket in the powder room with some fresh towels is also a pretty way to keep important essentials accessible for guests.

Using ramekins or other small bowls is also a great way to use a great basic item in fresh new ways. I like to add seasonal ramekins around my home for the holidays as trinket or candy dishes. It’s a quick and inexpensive way to refresh your nest any time of the year with something that will also be highly useful and versatile.

How about a spoon rest? They’re about as essential and functional as things come, but a beautiful ceramic spoon rest can also be a very simple way to freshen up your countertops. Choose one that adds a fun pop of color to your kitchen or beautifully blends into the background. Find an adorable holiday spoon rest to pull out year-after-year for endless smiles.

Bonus tip: I always have sets of spoon rests on hand to place on my buffet table, so my guests always have a place to put the serving spoon. This makes things look extra festive and saves my tablecloth from messes.

Refresh your nest with purpose

Enjoying time together around the table has been my purpose for over 21 years now. But to do it in a mindful way, a beautiful way, an easy and fun way. It’s truly all about sharing great conversations, great times, and lots of joy. Because let's face it, there's one common thing that connects us all, and that is food and the love of food. When you add something new to your home décor and set your table with beautiful, useful pieces, you and everyone will feel special and enjoy the meal that much more.