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WHAT'S SHCOOKing TODAY

the SHCOOK blog

Welcome to SHCOOK

SHCOOK is a different kind of place on the internet. It is not a website for recipes or a website for healthy food education. There are several excellent sites for that.

SHCOOK wants to be practical and take it from:

“OK, I know home cooked meals are healthier and I should cook more.
Now what? What is the next step?”

That's where we see a lot of drowning. Drowning in a sea of recipes, drowning while trying to set aside time every day for cooking, drowning because you made time for cooking, but your fridge is empty.

We strive to engineer a free service that makes it easier to put homemade meals on the table. Not an elaborate one-time meal; we want to help you tackle your daily routine. We know that it is possible to make a good homemade meal once in a while, but it is that almost-daily thing that is a deal breaker.

SHCOOK allows you to discover a community of like-minded people and enables you to establish a small network customized to take care of your needs. Suddenly, it is no longer “you vs. the-daily-dinnertime-hassle”. It is you PLUS a network of trusted friends who will take turns preparing meals for everyone in your SHCOOK ring. It turns out that the famous sentence “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” is so true in the kitchen.

Now, where to begin? There is a place for you to tell other SHCOOKs what you want, what are your needs: it is your PROFILE page. Start there, fill it in and establish your presence in the community.

Then, explore the community. SEARCH for people whose profiles make you think: “this SHCOOK could be a good candidate for trading meals; I think we could help each other”. Contact them, interact, evaluate. Ultimately, form a new meal-exchange ring or join an existing one.

SHCOOK gives you the tools you need for an efficient ongoing interaction, from keeping track of meal schedule and budget to exchanging feedback, from looking for inspiration from what other people have cooked (SHCOOKed) to exchanging tips on the best way of reheating.

The SHCOOK site is currently released in beta form as we add more functionality based on feedback from people like you. Please feel free to create an account and become familiar with the site - and definitely send us feedback on what you like or don't like.

When you join SHCOOK, you join a community of people who have decided that the quality of the food they eat matters. A community that cares about their health and has resolved to eat more home cooked meals and want to accomplish it in an efficient way.

We look forward to hearing from you.
The SHCOOK team

SHCOOKing with Monica: Jamie's Seared Turmeric Chicken

Today is my SHCOOKing day. I have been waiting for it for a week, I have been thinking of what to prepare. I love during stressful times to just ‘zone out’ a little and follow the thread of my thoughts… will my friends like to receive another fish-based dish? I love cooking fish… wait, I remember I saw an intriguing recipe on Jamie's latest book (because, you know, in my ‘zoning out time’ he's Jamie, not Mr. Jamie Oliver, just Jamie to me!)

And Jamie's chicken recipe it is - the shopping trip was fast and productive, got everything! Cooking has always relaxed me and I have to admit that when I cook for more people I feel a sense of accomplishment, a sense of nurturing that I really treasure. I don't know how to really describe it, but when I fill those glass containers and I picture my friends and their families around the table eating my food… I cherish this feeling so much!

Of course, needless to say, I also love thinking that this is the only day of my working week that I will be cooking. For the next few days I will be getting one of those containers full of delicious food delivered to me by one of my SHCOOK friends. I have learnt to love and wait for those containers with much anticipation!

So here it is: Jamie Oliver's seared turmeric chicken (from his latest book Everyday Super Food). It is tasty, healthy and well balanced, what's not to love? And, by the way, it was easy to prepare, one of those recipes that well lend themselves to ‘multiply the recipe with little extra effort’. Thanks, dear Jamie!

Monica loves to cook and her husband Luca loves to take photos of her food. They live in Genova, Italy and she blogs at www.fotocibiamo.com.

Jamie Oliver's Seared Turmeric Chicken

The marinade is an important step as it will help keep the chicken moist and flavorful, even when reheated. The turmeric not only lends an intriguing flavor to the chicken, but its yellow color beautifully contrasts with the green of the vegetables and red of the bell pepper assuring that when the SHCOOKs will unwrap their container they will see an explosion of colors. I prepared the dish following the steps as described by Jamie, however a great way to split up your cooking time is to prepare the marinated breasts, hummus and roasted hazelnuts the day before the SHCOOKing day and refrigerate them. In this way, on the SHCOOKing day the only things remaining are to blanch the greens and cook the couscous and chicken.

I start by making the marinade: in a bowl combine the turmeric, three large pinches of sea salt and black pepper and the oregano leaves finely chopped. Add about 12 tablespoons of oil, stir to combine the ingredients. Then add the chicken breasts to the bowl and toss them in the marinade. (If preparing a day ahead, place the breasts with the marinade in Ziplock bags and refrigerate. The following day, take chicken out of the refrigerator 15 minutes before cooking to let it come to room temperature.)

Blanch the greens in a large pan of boiling salted water. Make sure not to overcook them. They should retain their vibrant green color and be tender enough to eat from 15 seconds (spinach, chard leaves) to 2 minutes (collards, kale), depending on the type of green and its size. Drain, as soon as they are cool enough to handle, squeeze out excess liquid and allow them to cool, best if in a single layer (a baking sheet will work perfectly). You might need to blanch in two batches, don't try to fit all of them in the pot as they wouldn't cook optimally. Save the hot boiling water.

Place the couscous in a bowl and cover it with part of the reserved hot water (see exact water/couscous ratio on the box of your couscous), season, cover the bowl with a plate and allow the couscous to sit undisturbed for about 10 minutes. Finely chop the mint leaves and add them to the couscous with the juice of 3 lemons. Fluff it gently with a fork.

Place a frying pan on medium-high heat and allow it to become hot. Toast the hazelnuts until lightly golden; allow them to cool down and crush them in a mortar just enough to break each of them in three/four pieces. (If you do not have a mortar, it works well to place the hazelnuts between two layers of plastic film and gently crush them with a meat pounder.)

Return the frying pan to the stovetop to a high heat and when the pan is hot add the marinated breasts for about 4 to 5 minutes to brown. Flip and cook for 4 to 5 more minutes. Check for doneness: if the chicken is not done yet, cover it and reduce heat to medium-low until cooked through. Depending on the size of your frying pan, you might want to cook the chicken in batches of three or four breasts at a time.

Make Jamie's Skinny Homemade Houmous by placing 35oz (weight of chickpeas and juices) of chickpeas into a blender, reserving the juices. Jamie recommends looking for high quality chickpeas. Add 1.5 teaspoons of tahini, 3 tablespoon of natural yoghurt, 3/4 of a peeled clove of garlic, the juice of 3/4 of a lemon and 1 pinch of cayenne pepper, then process until smooth. Add some or all of the reserved chickpea juice, enough to reach the desired consistency. (If preparing the hummus the day before, cover with film and place it in the fridge.)

Keep aside the portions for your family and prepare the containers for the SHCOOKs: make a layer of couscous and portion the chicken, peppers, greens, scatter with the hazelnuts and add a lemon wedge on the side. Place the hummus in a corner so that it can be removed and placed in the dinner plates by the SHCOOKs in your ring before reheating the rest (most people prefer hummus at room temperature). Best way to reheat is to cover with aluminum and warm up in the oven at 300°f.

Here it is: a home-cooked feast in a container!

The containers are ready! I love heat resistant glass containers as they can be easily transported without spilling and reheated without problems.

I love to wrap the containers, maybe because I can picture my friends pulling the string and, voila’, discover my food!

When the SHCOOKs in my ring will lift the lid of the container they will be first hit by the colorful display of healthy and delicious food and then hit by the aromas.

This dish also works well served at room temperature, especially in warmer days.

SHCOOKing with Monica: Lisa Oz's Marinated Salmon with Roasted Vegetables

I wanted to prepare something very healthy for my SHCOOKs.

Immediately, my mind went to Lisa Oz's book, “The Oz Family Kitchen” - I have had lots of good experiences cooking her recipes. I love her style of ‘a-mother-cooking-for-her-family’, like me. It's just that this time I was in charge of three other families' dinners: it was my SHCOOKing day!

Flipping through the pages of the book my choice went for the Marinated Salmon with Scallions, Lemon and Tamari. It sounded really intriguing: a delicious twist on a classic crowd-pleaser. I also decided to add a side of the Roasted Savory Vegetables - also from Lisa Oz's book. I wonder whether Dr. Oz would approve of my combining of the two recipes.

What I know for sure is that it turned out really tasty and satisfying, resulting in lots of compliments from the SHCOOKs in my ring. Thanks, Lisa!

Monica loves to cook and her husband Luca loves to take photos of her food. They live in Genova, Italy and she blogs at www.fotocibiamo.com.

I started preparing the roasted vegetables first so that they have time to cool down while I cook the salmon. In this way, the vegetables will not transfer extra heat to the fish - I don't want the fish to continue cooking after I portion it into the glass containers that I am preparing for my SHCOOKs.

Lisa Oz's Roasted Savory Vegetables

Preheat the oven to 425°f with a rack placed in the middle.

Combine the squash, sweet potatoes, fingerling potatoes, carrots, and shallots in a glass or ceramic baking dish. Spread them evenly in a single layer.

In a small bowl, stir together the oil, garlic, oregano, vinegar, nigella seeds, cumin seeds, ground cumin, and red pepper flakes. Spread the mixture over the vegetables and toss until they are coated. If the vegetables still look dry or do not seem evenly coated, add a little more olive oil. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Transfer the dish to the oven and roast until the vegetables are tender enough to pierce with a fork and you see some charred bits on the edges, about 45 minutes. Smaller pieces will cook more quickly than larger pieces so try to cut the vegetables into uniform pieces so they cook evenly. It is best if you check and stir the vegetables every 10 to 15 minutes.

Season to taste, keep aside the portion for your family and divide the remaining vegetables in the glass containers for the SHCOOKs in your ring.

Lisa Oz's Marinated Salmon With Scallions, Lemon And Tamari

If making right after roasting the vegetables, lower the oven to 400°f and place a rack in the middle.

Pat the salmon dry with a paper towel.

In a medium glass bowl, prepare marinade by mixing the scallions, oil, lemon juice, honey, tamari, and garlic. Place the marinade into a food-grade plastic bag and add the salmon, turn to coat with the marinade. If the salmon does not fit loosely in the plastic bag, split the marinade between two bags and add half of the salmon to each bag. Let the salmon stand at cool room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes or place it in the refrigerator if marinating for more than 30 minutes.

Lift the salmon from the marinade and arrange the pieces skin side up in a shallow oven-proof pan (or in a baking dish). Arrange the pieces of salmon in a single layer; make sure not to overlap them. Lisa suggests to use a slotted spoon to scatter the scallions and garlic from the marinade over the salmon. It worked really well. Season the fillets with salt and pepper, remembering to take into account that tamari is already salty. With the brand of tamari I used, I did not need to add any salt at all.

Transfer to the oven: roasting time depends on the thickness of your salmon, as determined by the thickest part of the salmon fillet. Mine cooked in about 20 minutes. You can also check the doneness of the salmon with a fork: when the salmon flakes easily with a fork, it's ready. Best to use an instant read thermometer to check for an internal temperature of 145°f (should be measured at the thickest part of the fillet).

Remove the fillets immediately from the pan and transfer the salmon into the glass containers, placing it on top of the vegetables.

I delivered the containers immediately to the SHCOOKs. Otherwise, refrigerate until delivery time.