How you spend a day off in the kitchen really boils down to what you're seeking. Want a chill day full of pampering and relaxation? There are projects, like a recipe for relaxing bath salts, that can help you do just that. Looking for a few recipes that take some time to make and result in something crazy-delicious to eat? We've got you covered. Or maybe you want to use that vacation day to whip up a feast for friends and family — after all, sometimes nothing is better than a stress-free day with good company. Whichever it is, there's a project waiting for you. So the next time a summer Friday rolls around, you know exactly what you'll be doing.
Do You Seek Adventure?
If you like to spend your time in the kitchen feeling like you've been whisked away to far-off places, whether that's the best BBQ joint in Texas or a Parisian bakery, then these projects are for you. Gather up your spices, preheat the oven, and roll up you sleeves because you're spending today in the kitchen.
This is the best kind of all-day-in-the-kitchen project because you can go as deep into this recipe as you want. Make your own garam masala, grind your own meat, or keep things a little light and use the purchased versions. Either way, this is going to keep you in the kitchen — in a good way. The payoff is a stockpile of spiced lamb meats to enjoy that day and freeze for later.
So you can't make it to one of the celebrated BBQ restaurants with one day out of the office, but you can use that one day to make a mean pulled pork. This recipe will walk you through all the steps to make the best-ever homemade pulled pork to be used on sandwiches, nachos, and in tacos for the week to come.
While you're at it, save some time to make a truly delicious BBQ sauce to go with it. Make a big-enough batch on your day off and you're good to go for weeks. Once you go homemade, it's really hard to buy the bottled stuff ever again.
So you're throwing a few beans in a bottle of alcohol, big deal. You didn't need a day off for that. On the contrary, half the work of making vanilla extract is in tracking down the type of bean you like, the best deal on alcohol, and finding the right bottles. Don't just make one bottle — use this time experiment; you might end up liking Tahitian vanilla more than Madagascar once you give it a go.
Did you take a day off to do some baking? We're with you. There's nothing like a leisurely afternoon hands-deep in sugar and flour. This go-around, try your hands at a pretty pink treat, namely these fruity, nutty, classic French macarons.
Rather Make It than Buy It?
If your kitchen projects tend to require a Mason jar, then these projects should make it onto your list. With some of these projects, you won't get a chance to reap the benefit of the work you do until weeks later. So if you're looking for instant graitification, make homemade mozzarella; if you're in it for the long game, homemade kombucha has your name on it.
Got lemons, sugar, bottles, and a little bit of time? Great. You have everything you need to make a big batch of limoncello. You can wait four days or up to a month before popping open a bottle, depending on how lemony you like your drink.
Remember those Mason jars we mentioned? Well, here they are — holding a curious mixture of beets and vodka and dill and vodka. Cocktail hour just got a whole lot more interesting.
This is an all-day project with the instant gratification you crave. You do the work of making this cheese and then you get to enjoy it the same day. Drizzle with your finest olive oil and serve with the best tomatoes.
Kombucha is the kitchen project of choice for those who have been blessed with the virtue of patience. There are plenty of moving parts with this recipe, from ordering or growing a scoby to finding the right place to let the tea brew, but the reward is worth every fizzy, tangy sip.
Invite a few friends over to make this day in the kitchen a social affair. You can whip up a number of these seasoning salts to give away as thank you gifts the next time you're a house guest or at a party.
Craving Some Summer Nesting?
Sometimes a day off is a chance to kick back and chill in your own space. They don't call it a staycation for nothing! Take that time at home to do something nice for yourself. Make some soap with a scent that makes you smile, or draw a bath perfumed with the soaking salts you whipped up that morning. A project can start in the kitchen, but that doesn't mean it has to stay there!
With a neutral glycerin base, homemade soap becomes a blank canvas for essential oils and herbs of your liking. Maybe make a trip to the farmers market in the morning for inspiration and make soap that afternoon.
Ready to get crafty with some at-home bath and body products? This shea butter and coconut oil balm is made in the microwave, which means you can whip up a few and scent them how you'd like. Rose, lavender, chamomile — anything is up for grabs.
Day off? Go for the full at-home spa treatment, starting with these soothing cucumber-based eye pads. The cooling effects of cucumber have long been utilized in bath and body products, most of which you can make in your own kitchen. While you're at it, whip up one of these recipes to munch on between treatments.
Making bath products can be just as satisfying as making a really good meal. And when you spend the day off lounging, steal away a moment or two to whip up this bath potion filled with pink salt, coconut milk powder, and rose petals. It's an everyday luxury suited for any day.
Looking to be a little productive on your day off? Make a homemade cleaner and give the house a quick wipe-down. This spray is scented with lemon oil and thyme and will leave your space sparkly and refreshed.
Take a Day Off and Share It with Others
Did you take that day off to whip up the ultimate dessert? Or to throw the ultimate party? Color us impressed. If you're in the business of showing off your skills, any of the projects below will earn you a vote for "Most Likely to Impress in the Kitchen." And how kind of you, to spend your time cooking for others!
This cake is for the cook who is ready to do some showing up. If you know your way around a baking recipe, then this cake, filled with rhubarb compote and a homemade crisp, is calling your name. Can we get an invite to that party?
Need a recipe that meets you in the middle? You know the kind — it's just involved enough so people know you care, but way more impressive than the overall effort it requires. This recipe is just that, and the flavor is truly outstanding.
Looks can be deceiving when it comes to meat, since you can really put in as much time as you want (or as little). This recipe can be fast if you like, although a few hours in a brine takes it to sublime. And the port sauce — its the stuff dinner parties are made of.
If you've ever spent a day in the kitchen folding dumplings or pasta, then you'll know the meditative powers of repetitive motion + dough. The supple texture in your hands plus the fine movements are soothing, and the outcome — trays and trays of delicious tortellini — is a prize worth sharing.
Here's how this works: You make a marinade three days in advance. Nothing fancy, just stir, stir, stir. Add the fish and refrigerate for three days. On your day off, you invite your pals over, flash-cook this fish, and bat your eyelashes like you've been at it all day.