Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category

Instagram Inspiration: All Steamed Up

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If you’ve read this blog for any time at all, you know how much I LOVE to cook and bake! It’s my stress reliever, and something that I can do with my daughter, who is an amazing baker on her own. So you can imagine how happy I was over the Thanksgiving holiday to be in my newly renovated kitchen with all my fabulous Thermador appliances.

Last year on a visit to Thermador’s Experience & Design Center in California, I fell in love with their steam oven. No really, I wanted to take it home with me in my bag! So you can bet I put that at the top of my shopping list when I bought the new appliances for my home.

Now that I’m using it regularly, it’s even more functional and convenient than I thought it would be – it’s like the Swiss Army Knife in my culinary toolbox! I’m also learning that it can do SO much more than create healthy steamed meals and reheat leftovers, although it’s fabulous for that, too.


My favorite thing to do in the kitchen is bake, especially with my daughter. We love to create cupcakes, pies, and breads for friends and family, like the pumpkin pound cake that I made above. The Thermador steam oven makes our baked goods moist and yummy.

I gave the steam oven a workout at Thanksgiving – it’s large enough to cook several vegetable dishes on separate racks at one time, or to cook a 14-pound turkey. And it cooked my Thanksgiving turkey in just 2 hours! That really took the holiday pressure off. And let me tell you, doing that bacon lattice work on the turkey was delicious, too!


Thermador’s steam oven is now the star of my kitchen – giving me restaurant-worthy results every time. I may have to consider opening up to the public and taking reservations! What’s your favorite appliance in your kitchen? Let me know in the comments section below!








Instagram Inspiration: A Cook’s Dream

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We’re just two weeks from Thanksgiving and the fun of cooking for family and baking for the holidays – something I absolutely love! It’s my stress relief and the way this Southern girl shows her love. Having my new kitchen this year is going to make it an even more fabulous experience and I can’t wait to get in there with my daughter to whip up treats like the mini bundt cakes she made above. She’s quite a baker all on her own!


If you’re following me on Instagram, you know I’ve found a lot of cooking inspiration from Blue Apron. The meals they’ve sent have taught me new techniques and ideas that I’m going to try for my holiday cooking!


But what really has me excited about getting into the kitchen are all of the fabulous new Thermador appliances we’ve installed, like my gorgeous new range above. I may be their brand ambassador today, but I’ve been a long-time believer in their brand and appliances. In fact, I grew up eating the delicious meals and treats my mom created on her Thermador range! Making pancakes is so much fun on the stove-top griddle – it’s the kind of Thermador innovation that a real cook like me loves!


If my daughter continues to make delicious treats like the chocolate lava meringue cupcakes she made above, though, I’m going to have to break out another great machine in my kitchen…


Thank goodness I’m a huge fan of juicing! It will help me keep some balance in this fun and crazy holiday season! What are your favorite traditions and dishes for the holidays? Let me know in the comments section below.

Happy Cooking!



Instagram Inspiration: Cooking Up a New Year

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One of my biggest stress relievers is to bake or cook, particularly with my daughter. We have so much fun in the kitchen, whipping up healthy meals (and some not-so-healthy ones), or fabulous desserts like my famous sweet potato cake in the photo above. This holiday, we received so many great gifts to use in the kitchen, and one of my New Year’s resolutions is to spend even more time cooking with, and for, the ones I love.

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If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you’ve seen some of the treats we received and made. I loved the Basil green cocette from Staub, and I put it to work right away, making my mom’s fabulous veggie soup! You can get the recipe in this post.

zokuOne of my daughter’s favorite gifts this year was her Zoku Popsicle maker. She’s been busy making all sorts of frozen treats like Fudgsicles and Gummy Bear pops, and we’re studying her ZokuPop cookbook for lots of inspiration for filled and fancy pops to make soon.

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I also LOVED my new Breville pizza maker, with a fabulous stone that crisps up the crust like the best of the wood-fired ovens! And I enjoyed making Moscow Mules at our pizza night, to serve to adults in my new monogrammed copper mugs.

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My daughter may be 10, but she’s a pro in the kitchen! She wants to open a bakery when she grows up. Since she received her own pots, pans, real knives and baking essentials from Santa this year, she’s really honing her skills. She may be starting her own patisserie in our kitchen this winter!

And if these gadgets were not enough to make me want to cook like crazy, by mid-April I’ll be back in my home and using my fabulous new kitchen, complete with the dreamiest Thermador appliances ever! Yes, 2016 is going to be a great year of cooking and baking for my family and me!

So what are your plans for stress-busters this year? And is cooking or baking a big part of your life? Let me know in the comments section below! Follow me on Instagram to see more of my inspirations and ideas, including posts from my kitchen!







Love this post? Shop my picks for great kitchen gadgets including all the Junior Chef goodies my daughter got for Christmas this year…


Saturday’s Secret Sauce: Reviewing Your Goals Daily

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Celebrate every tiny victory! (2)

Happy Saturday, Friends! And Happy 2016.

I haven’t been as great at blogging on weekends in the past several months (aka all of 2015). And I don’t like that because my posts and topics on the weekends are really some of my favorites. There’s nothing I like more than pouring a second cup of coffee and writing a post while still in my PJ’s.

So why wasn’t I blogging? Well it’s because I have been too busy working on my 4 product lines. Or I was doing client work on Saturdays because during the week I was working on product lines. Or maybe because I was designing my own home each Saturday because during the week I was working on product lines. Or another reason was I was resting on the weekend because you guessed it!  Yes, I had been working on product lines.

Ha! Can you see that there was a theme to 2015? I really put out some significant work and achievements in 2015 but that didn’t leave a lot of time for anything else.

Celebrate every tiny victory! (4)

So today on this first Saturday of 2016, I wanted to blog with a new title. I wanted to call today Saturday’s Secret Sauce. Why? Because I do a ton of reading and studying in the areas of business and self-help. I take lots of classes and courses online about business and about life. And often times in the realm of these books and courses you hear mention of “the Secret Sauce”.

What does that mean, you might ask? Well here’s a definition from one online source. “Secret Sauce is that elusive quality that makes something distinctive or special. It’s hard to put your finger on it, but you know it when you see it.”

Oxford Dictionary defines it as “A special feature or technique kept secret by an organization and regarded as being the chief factor in it’s success.”

So for Saturday’s Secret Sauce, two things come to mind. First, a blog on one of the things that I think is the “Secret Sauce” to a great life. And for me that means a life of reaching my goals, cherishing family and focusing on my health. And secondly, I think this is a fun place for me to share one of my favorite recipes, because a lot of you know (maybe because you follow me on Instagram) that I LOVE to cook. My daughter loves to cook too and we are always whipping up yummy recipes sometimes from cookbooks, sometimes from Blue Apron, and sometimes old family recipes from my mom or my grandmothers and great-grandmother. So here’s a fun way for me to bring together two things I really love…self help and cooking.

Today for Saturday’s Secret Sauce I’ll keep it short and sweet (with a little savory mixed in, too!)

Celebrate every tiny victory! (3)

As I come off a week of reviewing my 2015 accomplishments and writing my goals for 2016, there is one thing that I think may be the Secret Sauce to success for me more than anything else this year and it’s this–You will achieve your goals if you 1.) Write them Down and  2.) Review Your Goals Daily if possible, and a minimum of a Weekly review.

Why do I think this is so important? Well I realized that I didn’t revisit my goals, particularly my health goals, on a regular basis last year or maybe ever really. I have always written my goals down. But I noticed I just checked in maybe once or twice over that 12 month period. And staying on top of my health and wellness was one area where I fell short last year, so I have to imagine what that area of my life might look like with daily focus.

Now just to be clear, I am lucky that I am in good health. I don’t have any major health issues or disease that I know so many people deal with. But I didn’t eat as clean as planned. I put on a few pounds that I feel better without, and I had too much sugar and my joints are screaming at me because of it.

In analyzing my year and thinking of what would have made a difference for me in reaching more of what I set out to, I realized that if I had been reviewing my goal to be healthy daily, there would have been a MUCH greater chance I would have decided to eat better or not let my exercise fall off on days I was tired or when I was traveling which are my two biggest goal killers. Often times, it’s the out of sight, out of mind scenario that keeps me from doing what I planned. I just literally don’t think about it because I’m busy. Or I let other negative thoughts creep in like–“I’m too tired” or “I don’t feel like it”  or “It’s too hard to do this when I travel” that keep me from being my best.

Celebrate every tiny victory! (5)

I am a big goal setter. I have been for years and I accomplish a lot so I think it works for me. But how do I set myself up for even more success? This year my secret sauce is going to be reviewing my goals daily. So I already have them written in a journal and also on my iPhone. And I scheduled a time in my calendar for daily review, plus I set a reminder on my phone so I don’t forget.

There is NO WAY I am letting this daily goals review discipline fall off my Calendar this year and I know I will be healthier at the end of 2016 because of it.  Thankfully, right next to my goals this year, I am writing down in my journal what excuses I might come up with to not be healthy, or not work out and if I am looking at my list daily, I will have a hard time letting my excuses keep me from my goals. I’ll likely grin to myself when I read those excuses as I was just about to use one of them and then I’ll drag my “I’m too tired self” right over to my treadmill or out to meet my Walking Buddy Brandy and we’ll make it happen in spite of my excuses.

So there is it friends. My first thought about the Secret Sauce that will make me my best this year. In the comments below, let me know if you think this might be the secret sauce for you to reach your goals this year too!

And while you are pondering my Short and Sweet advice, here’s something Savory for you to dive into to get your Veggies in this year.
mom's veggie soup

Mom’s Veggie Soup:

1 pound of Ground Beef ( I use the 95% lean version to make it healthier)

Chopped Cabbage (I buy the slaw mix at the grocery store so it’s already cut up and oh so easy!)

1 onion small diced

1 can of Rotel

1 package of Frozen Soup Veggies

1 package of Frozen Gumbo Mix Veggies

Tomato Juice (46 ounces)

Water (I just add about a cup, but you can decide the perfect consistency for you)

Sugar (about 1/4 cup but you can also use Splenda or Stevia if you prefer.)

Salt and Pepper to Taste.

Brown your ground beef and drain it. Add in the cabbage and onion and cook with the drained ground beef so it starts to soften (1-2 minutes), add in all other ingredients and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for at least an hour. Then enjoy. I love to make a pot of this in my Staub 5 1/2 quart Cocette (it’s the perfect size and you can get yours here!) and eat it for my lunch for an entire week. Yum!

Happy Saturday, Happy Goal-setting and Happy Cooking! xo,

Tobi Signature






Gift Guide for the Cook

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Tomorrow marks the first of many meals that those of us who love to cook will be making this holiday season. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year and it kicks off several of my favorite “cooking” weeks during the Christmas season. If you love to cook like I do, you know the real joy is in filling the tummies of your friends and loved ones with your culinary creations and seeing the delight on their face when your dishes are a success.

So if you feel at home in the kitchen, and creating meals for those you love feeds your soul, then I bet you love getting and giving gifts like these. Yes, if food is your love language and you are looking for the perfect gift for those other foodies, bakers and chefs in your life, here are a few of my favorite things they are sure to love this holiday season. As a cook myself, I would be thrilled to get any of these fun gifts this year! (hint, hint)

And be sure to follow me on Instagram to see all the things I’m cooking up this week! On my list…a Pumpkin Pound Cake, Sweet Potato Pie, Homemade Rolls, Deviled Eggs, Spaghetti Squash Casserole and a fabulous Winter Salad with Apples, Cranberries, Walnuts and Bacon–Yum!

Happy Cooking! xo,






Shop the Story:



  1. Thomas Keller Cookbook “Ad Hoc at Home”–Revered chef and creator of the famed Napa Valley restaurant, The French Laundry, Thomas Keller brings his version of America’s favorite comfort foods to your kitchen through his beautiful cookbook Ad Hoc at Home. Perfect for you or your favorite home chef this holiday season.
  2. Cherry Red 7-Quart Dutch Oven–How fabulous will your soups, stews and chili look this year in this hot little number? I adore enamel cookware and this 7-Quart Dutch Oven in Cherry Red has me dreaming of hot recipes for cold winter nights. Do you have a soup-lover on your list that would go crazy for this?
  3. Just Cook Spice Blend Gift Box–It may be winter but I’ve been reminiscing about a coffee-rubbed prime rib a great friend cooked this summer at the beach. This 3-piece spice set includes an Herb Coffee Rub, an Ancho Chicken Blend, and a “Gimme Steak” blend that promise to make your meals something to remember. This is the perfect gift for my hubby who is a grill master. Have any grillers in your life? Then stuff their stocking with spices this year!
  4. Peppermint Bark Hot Chocolate–Do you know some peeps who love sweet treats? Put a Williams Sonoma’s Peppermint Bark Hot Chocolate under their tree and you’ll put a smile on their face. Just as tasty as their famous Peppermint Bark, this drinkable version could be a perfect complement to your favorite holiday cookie recipes.
  5. Porcelain Octagonal Mortar and Pestle–Crush or grind nature’s healthiest ingredients to go into your holiday meals with this classically designed mortar and pestle. The “real” cooks in your life would love this in their stocking this year!
  6. “Cook with Love” Cookbook Stand–This lovely hands-free solution to keeping your cookbook clean and close at hand, also reminds you to cherish the kitchen experience and “Cook with the One You Love.” If your love also loves to cook, maybe this is the just-right gift for them!
  7. GrowBottle–Want to be responsible, creative ,and delicious all at once? Then this is the gift for you. A recycled wine bottle is sustainably used to grow your favorite herbs. It looks cool, saves the Earth and makes your meals delish! This is the perfect gift for all those ec0-friendly chefs in your life.
  8. Deviled Egg Platter–No Southern holiday event is complete without deviled eggs. In fact I’m the designated deviled egg maker in my family. This break-resistant oversized egg platter would be allow me to make lots of my delicious stuffed eggs for family and friends this year without worrying about making it back home with my platter in one piece!
  9. Bonnie’s Jams Nuts and Honey–Try serving this delicious Tuscan-style treat as the perfect addition to your cheese platter for your next holiday party. Keep it on hand and you have instant hors d’oeuvres if friends or family pop in.
  10. “Bon Appetit” Wood Trencher Cutting Board–Ready to carve up some delicious meats this Christmas? Then having this charming cutting board with a trench around the sides for capturing all the juiciness from your delicious beef tenderloin is just what you need. It would make a great gift for any chef or hostess.
  11. “Cake Boss” Fondant Press Set–For those great (or aspiring) bakers in your life, this fun set of fondant “cutters” will help make Holiday-themed icing for gorgeous cakes and treats. Fans of the fun TV show Cake Boss will know exactly how to use this set to make festive cakes all season long and for years to come.
  12. Red Croc Acrylic Tray–It’s not just cooking delicious holiday fare that impresses your friends, it’s the presentation that makes it truly special. Try this Christmas Red “Croc” motif acrylic tray to serve your favorite treats and beverages this year. Or gift it and make one of your favorite chefs or entertaining enthusiasts jolly this season.
  13. Personalized Casserole Dish–When the delicious casserole is gone, this fun dish helps the chef make their mark. And if delivering food to others is on the agenda, the happy recipients will know just where to return this dish to you!
  14. Staub Ceramics Mini Cocotte Set–I always find the idea of individual crocs or cocottes so sweet. These are definitely on my wish list this year and when I get back in my newly remodeled kitchen I can’t wait to make fun personalized recipes for my family and friends in these individual enamelware cuties!
  15. Kate Spade “Cooking Words” Kitchen Towel–Kate Spade always has a way of bringing the fun, even in the kitchen. A cute hostess gift for the holidays, this cheerful towel is perfect alone or paired with a marinade, jam, oil, or bottle of wine.
  16. KitchenAid 5-Quart Stand Mixer–Any great cook knows the power of a KitchenAid stand mixer. Once you’ve used a KitchenAid (my all-time favorite small appliance), you’ll never want to cook or bake again without it. My KitchenAid is the secret ingredient to my whipped potatoes, banana bread and my famous sugar cookies. Get this for the culinary enthusiast in your life and they may just pay you back with the best food ever for years to come. Think of it like pre-paying for fabulous future holidays and meals! This is one investment that is worth the money.
  17. Handbound Recipe Organizer–This handmade recipe organizer is more than just a place to store the steps and instructions for your favorite dishes. This recipe organizer was designed to preserve your unique heritage and memories around food by prompting the family chef to add hand-written recipes, record important tidbits about your ancestry and family culture, and to include photos of family meals and memories.