Fresh Kitchen Hacks and Tricks – Let’s Re-use and Recycle.

We love kitchen tricks and hacks! Who doesn’t love finding new ways to utilize and reuse? Its upcycling at its best. Given that hacks are one of Smart Step Home’s favorite topics, we decided to share a few of our favorites with you. Fresh ideas for spring…. (even if it is snowing outside!).

Kitchen Hack – Waffle Irons

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Photo Courtesy of littlebitfunky.com – cinnamon rolls

We love waffles. So, get ready to dust off that iron because we found some great and very easy ways to create some downright delicious waffle creations. Since a waffle iron is basically a ‘press’ you can literally create anything that is gently grilled – it will just have waffle marks. So we put it to the test and these are our favorites:

  • Bacon – just lay the bacon strips on the iron and it cooks perfectly crispy! Easy and delish.
  • Hash Browns — grill your hash browns to a perfect, golden brown. They will come out looking like a yummy, savory potato waffle.
  • Cinnamon Rolls — you can either heat up older cinnamon rolls you have in your fridge or place raw rolls (the kind that come in those awesome cardboard rolls) in each quadrant of the iron. Close the iron, then wait a few minutes – the results are delicious. But don’t add the icing until completely done and out of the iron, otherwise it gets messy.

Kitchen Hack – Pancake Dispenser

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Photo Courtesy of realsimple.com

Moving on from waffles… to pancakes. A great way to both store and dispense pancake mix? A large, plastic ketchup bottle. Yep – and we are pretty sure you have one of those floating around. We found that this simple bottle is perfect for making the perfect pancake! Now, instead of throwing out extra pancake mix, you can store it with this hack. The bottle seals and stays fresh for a few days, and dispenser makes great shaped cakes. Our favorite pancake recipe is Fabio’s roasted pumpkin pancakes.

Kitchen Tip: Freeze Your Smoothie Ingredients

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Photo Courtesy of buzzfeed.com

Mornings are already rushed as you get yourself ready for work, the gym or getting the kids out the door for school. Sometimes, you probably even skip breakfast. But we all know that it’s the most important meal of the day, and missing it is not there’s no good excuse for skipping out. So think and plan ahead. Ziploc your smoothie ingredients (individually) before your week starts.  Then, you can simply grab the ingredients you want for your AM smoothie and plop them into the blender – simple, delicious, fast and healthy!

Kitchen Tip: “EAT ME FIRST”

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Photo Courtesy of the36thavenue.com

How many times do you throw your leftovers into the refrigerator only to find yourself wondering a few days later… “How old is this?” When in doubt – definitely throw out! BUT what a waste! That’s why we loved this creative idea of making an “EAT ME FIRST” box. Place any of your leftovers or soon-to-be expired ingredients in this box as a way to remind yourself to eat, use, enjoy.

And, a much more high-tech means of knowing if food is fresh or spoiled may be coming soon! Color coded smart tags for your food could be the future of your fridge according to this Bustle article.

 Kitchen/Cooking Tip: DIY Conversion Sheet

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Photo Courtesy of thecameronteam.net

No matter how often you bake, you probably always find yourselves questioning your conversion skills (we do!). But, we came across this nifty idea of creating a simple conversion chart on the inside of a cupboard door! In the example pictured above they took it one step further –hanging the measuring items to the labeled measuring unit, too! Now, it’s a cheat sheet AND an organizer!

These are just a few of the hacks and tricks we are using over here at Smart Step Home.

What are your favorite funky tricks that you use in your kitchen? At Smart Step Home we love trying new things!  

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5 Areas of the Home You Don’t Want to Miss for Spring Cleaning

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Once winter finally comes to an end (and thermostat temperatures are no longer freezing!) everyone will be itching for the start of spring cleaning. Since there is so much cleaning and tidying to do during this season to turn over winter blues to a new green leaf, be sure to do so in comfort! Stand comfy in your kitchen with your Fabio Viviani Comfort Mat by Smart Step Home — and you’ll be spring cleaning in the healthiest of ways. If you’re someone who dreads the thought of cleaning your home and kitchen, don’t worry, we’ve got your back (and feet!) covered. These are the top 5 areas of the home that get left behind most often — so add them to your spring cleaning checklist if you haven’t yet already!

1. The Dust
What goes up must come down, right?  Have you ever looked at your ceiling fans? Above the door frames? Or even at the tops of your kitchen cupboards?  It’s probably time to break out your duster and clean any and all areas that dust loves. Tackle hard-to-reach ceiling fans using an old pillow case — place each wing of your fan inside one at a time, then pull downwards to remove your pillow case. You’ll notice how clean your fan is by how dirty your pillow case becomes!

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Photo courtesy of bhg.com

2.   The Mattress 

As you should clean your sheets and pillowcases frequently, you should also clean your mattress once in a while. On the days when you strip your bed, kill two birds with one stone: Clean your mattress too!  Sprinkle baking soda over your mattress and let it sit for an hour.  Next, take out your vacuum to suction the baking soda off of your mattress.  This simple maneuver actually removes any and all dust mites and particles! BOOM! Your mattress is now sparkling clean!

3.  The Dishwasher

Your dishwasher does a lot of the cleaning for you — but every now and then, it needs a good clean itself! All you need is a measuring cup and vinegar. Fill your measuring cup with two cups of vinegar and place it securely on the top rack of your dishwasher. Now, run the dishwasher empty of any other dishes on a short cycle, and you won’t even have to run the dry setting!

glass door refrigerator- I wouldn't want the contents continuously displayed, but it would be cool if there was an option to change it to opaque and then clear when you wanted something in it- save energy from opening the fridge and looking everywhere
Photo courtesy of annporter.wordpress.com

4. The Refrigerator

After an entire winter of frozen meals and quick lunches, it is probably time to put an end to the food hoarding! Start by taking everything out of your refrigerator and placing it on your counter top. Once everything is out, use a household cleaning product to wipe down every shelf, every wall, and the interior of the door. If necessary, soak the drawers in hot, soapy water to disinfect all crevices. Once the inside of your refrigerator is sparkling, you can move on to the food. Anything and everything that is past expiration THROW AWAY. Anything that has been opened over a year ago – THROW AWAY. Any leftovers you have not touched for a week – THROW AWAY. After you sort through all of your food, organize them in your fridge by condiments, produce…etc. Now, your refrigerator is disinfected, sparkly clean, organized, and stocked with edible food!

Woman cleaning a cutting board with lemon

Photo Courtesy of realsimple.com

5.  The Cutting Boards

Cleaning your kitchen is one thing, but cleaning your kitchen supplies is another. Freshen up your cutting boards by getting rid of the stains and marks that have accumulated over the years. Cut a fresh lemon in half and squeeze it over either your wood or your plastic cutting board. Rub your board with what is left of your lemon and walk away for twenty minutes as the lemon soaks. Rinse your cutting board and breathe in the freshening scent of lemon as you look at your newly cleaned board!

Sounds like a long list? Fortunately, Smart Step Home will be there to take off some of the spring cleaning stress — at least off of your feet! Above everything on your spring cleaning list, remember to add ‘you’ time to the very top! Spring is only here for a short while, so enjoy while you can!

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Fabio Viviani’s “Stay Warm & Healthy!” Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup

Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup

Happy Friday! We hope you all are enjoying the New Year as much as we are. Since most of us are still trying to follow our New Year’s Resolutions, Fabio has created a low-calorie, simple meal to help us to stay on track! While winter months may have us craving those carb-a-licious foods, it doesn’t mean we have to give up when giving in. When we think of comfort food, for staying warm (and healthy), soup comes to mind.  Fabio Viviani’s Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe is great thin-spiration for you and your appetite! To cut back on calories, hold the sour cream and half the cheese portion.

Fabio’s Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup:

Ingredients:

4 c Bertolli Classico olive oil
10 flour tortillas
1 lb. roast chicken –shredded
1 tbsp. dry oregano
28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 green bell pepper- diced
1 ½ qt. chicken broth
The juice from ½ lime
4 scallions –sliced
1/c c fresh basil –chopped
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. salt + more to taste
¾ c Queso Blanco cheese –grated
1 large avocado –seeded & diced
Cilantro leaves for garnish
Sour cream for serving

Directions:

1. Heat 3 tbsp. of the olive oil in a heavy bottom pot and sauté the onions and peppers with a pinch of salt until translucent.

2. Add the tomatoes, cumin, oregano and broth and bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 30 minutes.

3. Add the shredded chicken to the pot and cook just until warmed through, a few minutes. Remove from flame, adjust seasonings and stir in the chopped basil and lime juice.

4. Meanwhile heat up the rest of the oil in a pot over high heat. Add the tortilla strips and fry until golden brown. Transfer to paper towels to drain.

5. Ladle the soup into bowls, top with a few tortilla strips, some diced avocado, a dollop of sour cream, some of the cheese and green onions. Garnish with a cilantro leaf.

We hope you enjoy and stay warm through the blizzards! What are your favorite snow day recipes?

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Photo courtesy of FabioViviani.com

Have a Safe and Happy Holiday! From Fabio Viviani

Welcome back to my kitchen and happy holidays! I want to share with you why Comfort Mats are so useful during this busy time of year!  If you’re like me, then you have a big family and your house gets chaotic with kids, family, and even pets running around! Everybody is scrambling to wrap presents and cook a tasty holiday dinner. This makes the kitchen a place where accidents can happen if you’re not careful!

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More important than dinner is keeping your kitchen safe. That is why Comfort Mats are my kitchen savior. They take away my back pain and they are slip and trip proof! Standing all day cooking is a killer on your back! You don’t want to be falling, either. When I thought of these mats with Smart Step, we created them so they will never curl and will always lie flat. Comfort Mats are even safe for your guests with disabilities. ADA compliant beveled edges make the mats safe for wheelchairs so everybody can help out in the kitchen and nobody has to worry about tripping or falling.

Try out one of my Comfort Mats and see! Kick the mats, spill sauces on them, and they still won’t slide around. Because I love all of you, I want you to be safe and to eat good food, so I’m giving away a free copy of my latest cook book with every mat purchase! Have a happy holiday, stand in comfort–and be safe!

– Fabio Viviani

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Smarter Standing, Smarter Holiday Cooking, and Smarter Clean-Up!

The kitchen is the heart of the home; it’s where we all come together, especially during the holidays.  If you are anything like us, then great food, great times and great fun also comes with….GREAT messes.   Lucky for us, our team at Smart Step Home happens to be the leader in smarter standing, smarter cooking and smarter clean-up!

Rule of thumb:

Time spent cleaning should never exceed time spent cooking and enjoying your home cooked meals!

Therefore, when developing the Fabio Viviani Comfort Mat, it was imperative that the mats be a snap to clean and anti-microbial as well!   Our goal is to bring comfort and ease to your life–not more work or stress!   Spill some sauce, red wine or chocolate?  No worries…simply wipe it off with a damp towel.  Track dirt or something else even messier? Easy. Just clean with a simple soap and water solution or any common household cleaner – like 409.   Cleaning a Comfort Mat is  simple. No scrubbing or soaking because Comfort Mats are spill resistant, stain resistant, heat resistant and puncture resistant. Simply wipe it clean.

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And just in case you are thinking of buying a Fabio Comfort Mat as a gift for the holidays, we’ve just made it a bit more enticing.  For a limited time you get a copy of Fabio’s fabulous cookbook, Fabio’s Italian Kitchen, FREE with each purchase.  That’s right, order a Comfort Mat, get a cookbook…all for Fabio’s amazingly low discounted price of $89.95!

To stand smarter, cook smarter, and clean smarter this holiday, take a look at Smart Step Home’s round-up of top 7 cleaning hacks to make holiday cleaning a breeze, here at our blog. These are the kinds of tips most people wish they had known sooner!

Happy cooking, smarter standing, and above all, happy holidays!

Photo courtesy of 3princesandaprincess2.com

Fabio Viviani Gives the Perfect Gift For The Holidays!

November means Thanksgiving and the beginning of the holiday season. The Viviani family loves the holidays, especially Christmas - we prepare a lot of food, have a lot of fun and yes, exchange lots of gifts.

If you are like me, you want to give gifts that are special.  Here’s an idea – what about a gift from me?  For a limited time, the folks at Smart Step are giving away a free copy of my new cookbook when you buy my Comfort Mat.  My mat (discounted because I love you) plus my new cookbook.  It is a win/win!  Or better yet, buy it for yourself.  Be comfortable while you prepare my recipes with your family and friends.

My cookbook, Fabio’s Italian Kitchen, is very special to me, especially this time of year.  It is full of recipes and a few stories passed down to me by my Nonna.  And those stories of when I was a kid growing up are all true.

If you are asking me, I would say give my Comfort Mat to the person in your family who does all the holiday cooking.  You will make them very happy.  It’s the (tastiest) gift that keeps on giving.

Be comfortable, cook great food, keep it simple, stay healthy — and happy holidays!

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Chef Fabio Viviani’s Spin on Your Classic Thanksgiving Feast

turkeyPhoto courtesy of blog.yummly.com

Unlike our love of turkey in the USA, Italians don’t eat nearly as much turkey as we do! It’s even difficult to order a whole bird in an Italian grocery store — people looking to celebrate Thanksgiving in Italy do have options, though. There are plenty other delicious dishes to cook up for a Thanksgiving feast.

We’ve collected some of our favorite Fabio Viviani recipes that use some — but not all — of the classic Thanksgiving ingredients we all love, but spin them in different, well, Fabio-ized, ways… If you dare to be different this holiday, we (strongly) suggest trying out one, or all, our Fabio favorites! Your guests and taste buds will be impressed!

Instead of turkeySea Salt Garlic Crusted Prime Rib 

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Save a turkey and substitute with prime rib, rubbed with olive oil, garlic, marjoram, + thyme. Get the full recipe here.

Instead of stuffing: Baked Mushrooms with Croutons

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Instead of traditional stuffing, try these baked croutons flavored with onion, oyster mushrooms, parsley and sharp cheddar cheese. Get the full recipe here. 

Instead of marshmallows: Sweet Potatoes with Spiced Almonds

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Traditionally, you’ll see sweet potatoes loaded with sweeter marshmallows. It’s hard not to love the sugary sweetness of marshmallows–but you’ll be sure to love the crunch and flavor of almonds sweetened with brown sugar. Get full recipe here.

Instead of standard mash: Spinach + White Cheddar Mash

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Ok, we know–it may be impossible for some to part with mashed potatoes, everybody’s favorite. So instead of ridding a creative Thanksgiving of any creamy potatoes, Fabio adds spinach and cheddar to the mash. Get the full recipe here.

Instead of green bean casserole: White Bean Risotto with Pancetta

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If you love the ooey-gooeyness of the classic green bean casserole, this white bean risotto dish is just as good and sprinkled with crispy pancetta crumbles. Get the full recipe here.

Spruce up your corn: Parmesan Garlic Corn

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Season your corn with Fabio’s delicious cheesy garlic spread seasoned with fresh oregano. Get the full recipe here.

Last but not least, dessert: Illegal Apple Fritters

IMG_0138These fritters aren’t actually illegal–but according to Fabio, they should be because they are just that delicious! Apples are in season in the Fall, so you’ll have no problem finding fresh crisp apples.

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7 Kitchen Cleaning Hacks to Make Holiday Prep a Breeze

Here come the holidays which means more time spent in the kitchen with good friends, food & family….and lots of messes!  It’s all part of gathering together –  fun, laughter, amazing food and, well, a few spills and mishaps.  Lucky for us, we have collected 7 kitchen cleaning hacks that we wish we’d known sooner!

DSC_0183Blogger 3 Princes and a Princess 2 Loves that her Comfort Mat is so easy to clean!

Photo courtesy of 3princesandaprincess2.com

1. When your kitchen sink is clogged, pour a few cups of vinegar down the drain. Let it soak and break down all the clogged foods.

2. Time yourself cleaning. This way you’ll have to focus in order to finish cleaning in time!

3. If you happen to spill wine on your clothes or stain something, you can use shaving cream to lift up the stain.

4. Add baking soda to your sponges, water, dishwasher—anything!—for a deeper clean. This also fights bad smells.

5. To clean the disposal in your sink, throw in a few ice cubes, salt, and some slices of lemon down the drain. This will clean the blades and help deodorize.

6. If you use a sponge, kill bacteria by microwaving your sponge on high power for 1 minute.

7. To help deodorize your refrigerator, pour some coffee grounds in an uncovered bowl and sit the bowl in the fridge on the shelf.

Happy Halloween from Fabio Viviani…Scare away the pain!

Halloween is right around the corner. As in two days!  And while we don’t celebrate Halloween much in Italy, I do love dressing up and scaring people (or making them laugh)…However, I’m still not sure what I will be this year!  I’m taking suggestions…

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yummly.com

Someone sent me this idea– but I might be too big for it…It’s spaghetti and meatballs by the way!

Either way, I really love Halloween and  cannot wait to see all the little (and big) ghouls, ghosts, and monsters running around.

You know I don’t have children (yet), but man,   was I ever a wild, crazy, and dare I say…devilish…little boy (you can see how I loved red!)

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My poor, poor mama ! Back then I did not need a costume to scare her half to death.  You see, when I was a little boy, I was always doing something crazy…like running around with sharp objects – knives, screw drivers, whatever I could find – driving my mother crazy and nearly giving her heart attacks!  You should have seen the walls – I poked some holes and got into some trouble.  Some day, I will have a child of my own, and my child will be the devil that I was – and do the same thing to me that I did to my mother!

This I know: my mama would have loved one of my Comfort Mats back then.  Not only would it have given her comfort, but not even I could have destroyed it – not even with my knives and screwdrivers!

When designing my Comfort Mats I made sure they are easy to clean and highly resistant—even to the occasional accidental dropped knives and everything else you or your kids (if they’re anything like me) might spill on it.  Oh and they’re trip resistant too…

And best part?  My mats scare away all my back and knee pain – and that is not scary stuff at all.

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If you haven’t already started celebrating I suggest you scare up some fun Halloween party foods. Or if you are feeling more ambitious you can ‘take a stab’ at making candy from scratch with my candy-making tips .

However you choose to celebrate – have fun and  Happy Halloween!

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Halloween Party Foods to Trick and Treat Your Tastebuds

Halloween is fast approaching which means many of us are prepping extravagant Halloween parties and festive dishes. We’ve thrown together just a handful of tasty and spooky finger food and cocktail ideas from some of our favorite blogs that will both trick and treat your taste buds this year…

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myrecipes.com

These Mummy Hot Dogs are quick, simple, spooooky and just as delicious as any other mummies…I mean, pigs…in-a-blanket.

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These Dexter inspired Blood Slide Suckers aren’t your typical lollipops…adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe, they must be tasty!

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spoonful.com

This lemony Swamp Juice treat is a perfectly eerie cocktail for kids. The gummy fish and worms and tapioca eggs are what make it such a spooky hit.

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instructables.com

Don’t let these creepy Mozzarella Eyeballs deter you from the taste! Mozzarella and olives have always been a perfect pairing.

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foodandwine.com

This Dark and Stormy Death Punch only sounds and looks scary…but the ginger beer, dark rum, fresh sliced ginger and frozen cubes of lychee juice make this a delectable Halloween cocktail.

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