Life in the Kitchen

5 Rules for Making an Ugly Birthday Cake (and Celebrating with Your Friends) — Life in the Kitchen

There is no dessert more special than a birthday cake. It's the most personal and celebratory of treats. Far superior to weeknight cookies and less fussy than something as monumental as wedding cake, it's a dessert with a purpose. And there's also no greater baking joy, in my opinion, than making a birthday cake for someone you love.

I always have the best intentions when I decide to make someone a birthday cake, but it rarely goes as planned. I wait too long to find the perfect recipe or don't have the right supplies on hand, and I end up skipping the whole process entirely in favor or a simpler dessert or, even worse, nothing at all. This is a total shame, because everyone should eat cake on their birthday — baking plans be damned. That's why I'm in favor of embracing the ugly semi-homemade birthday cake.

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Next Week’s Meal Plan: 5 New Family Favorites — Next Week’s Meal Plan

This week's meal plan is full of new-to-me recipes that I think will become family favorites. We have friends and family coming to stay with us throughout the week and are getting ready to take a much-anticipated, kid-free vacation this coming weekend, making everything — even meal planning — feel exciting and exhilarating. Even Pizza Friday is getting a new spin on it.

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How a Family of 5 Eats for $200 a Week in Madison, Wisconsin — Food Budget Diaries

Welcome to Kitchn's Food Budget Diaries series, where we show you how people around the country spend money on what they eat and drink. Each post will follow one person for one week and will chronicle everything that person consumed and how much it costs them.

Name: Emily
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Age: 36
Number of people in family: 5 (my husband, myself, and our kids, a 5-year-old, 3-year-old, and 10-month-old)
Occupation: Stay-at-home mom; husband is a construction coordinator.
Household income: $54,000
Weekly food budget: $200 a week

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7 Ways to Psych Yourself Up for Company When You’ve Had a Rough Week — Ready for Company

No matter how much you enjoy doing it, entertaining is hard work — especially after you've had a particularly brutal week. Some weeks, by the time Friday rolls around, all you want to do is put on soft pants and sit on the couch. But sometimes that just isn't possible, because you made plans to host a dinner party (or a holiday) weeks ago and you can't exactly cancel.

Fear not! There are ways to avoid putting the proverbial cherry on top of a total meltdown. Here's how to psych yourself up and actually enjoy yourself.

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The Message I Wish Every Cook Would Hang in Her Kitchen — Kitchen Hang-Ups

What do you look at in your kitchen every day? Are you lucky enough to have a window to the outdoors? Do you paper your refrigerator with cheerful photographic reminders of parties and good times? Do you have a favorite piece of art?

If you're looking for something to fix your focus upon in the kitchen, artistically speaking, here's one message I wish you would consider.

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9 Excuses That Hold You Back from Cooking (and How to Overcome Them) — Life in the Kitchen

There's always an excuse, right? Too busy to make plans to see friends I never see; too tired to read the classic book gathering dust on my nightstand; too inflexible to do yoga.

But if cooking is something you want to do more, consider your excuses expired. Although there are always reasons to avoid cooking, there are even more reasons to embrace it. Even when ignoring factors like ingredient and portion control, cost-effectiveness, and preserving cultural heritage, food is love. Maybe cooking brings some of us a little more love by having more interaction with food.

If you keep wishing you cooked more but can't seem to get off the excuse train, see if some of these reasons will convince you to tie on an apron.

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