European Food Inspirations: Nine Easy Recipes to Make At Home

As 2022 quickly closes, I wanted to squeeze one final blog post in! This one, in particular, because it is the last of four things I wanted to share with all my teacher friends from our 28-day journey through Europe in the fall of 2022.

The first was a fun list of random observations and experiences – especially useful for anyone looking to do some travel in Europe.

The second was Episode #42 of The Piano Pantry Podcast, where I shared the entire story of the month of adventures, including when I lost my passport!

The third was a glimpse into 500 years of fabulous keyboard instruments we viewed at the Music Instruments Museum in Brussels, Belgium.


The final thing I thought it would be fun to share in this post is a list of nine food items we discovered in our travels you could easily make in your own home!

While we had lots of excellent food, I tried to choose simple, delicious, and unique items you might easily enjoy.


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My Perfect Homemade Student Christmas Gift: Hot Cocoa

If there’s one type of gift you will likely never see me give students, it’s a hand-made craft. Don’t get me wrong; there’s absolutely nothing wrong with those types of gifts – I think they’re fabulous. I am just a TERRIBLE crafter!

Luckily, we have Joy Morin at for those types of student gifts. 🙂 She has many great homemade ideas on her site, including paper ornaments, glass ornaments, and mittens.

What my students WILL get from me is some kind of baked good or food item. My favorite is a homemade hot chocolate mix because what kid doesn’t love hot chocolate?!

Let’s pause for an important question.

Do you call it “Hot Cocoa” or “Hot Chocolate”?

I usually say, “Hot Chocolate.” I only used “Cocoa” in the title because it was shorter. Ha! LOL

Tell me what you call it in the comments! 🙂

This post will show you how to put together this fun homemade gift!


Recipe Considerations

Since I’m not exactly a recipe website, I’m not sharing the recipe directly but have recommended ones online you can use (like I do!)

My favorite recipe is from Cook’s Country, but since it’s a paid recipe service, here are some other versions you could try from Pioneer Woman and AllRecipes. 

Consider recipes made with powdered milk, so students only have to add hot water.  Along those same lines, I would advise you to not do the layered-type cocoa mix where you have to dump the whole container into a pot to mix.

What all these recipe mixes have in common:

  • Dry milk powder
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Confectioner’s sugar (dissolves better than white sugar)

(P.S. The only addition to this Cook’s Country is white chocolate chips and a bit of salt.)

Since the Cook’s Country recipe uses white chocolate chips, they have you mix the recipe in a food processor to get the chips into smaller pieces so they will dissolve better/quicker.

Unfortunately, this happens when you process dry powder stuff in a food processor. It’s a blustery mess! LOL

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Food Prep and the Studio Schedule

Are you wondering why in the world you’re seeing a food post on a piano teacher blog? 

Well, first of all, if you don’t know me already, besides piano teaching, one of my life passions is cooking.

Second, we eat, right?

Third, as we can all attest, the schedule of the independent music teacher can make mealtime a struggle – especially if you have a family. After school and early evening is prime time for both music lessons AND asking the universal question “what’s for supper?” If you’re the person in your family who’s generally in charge of mealtime, this can make for a real struggle!

Today I want to share with you my three biggest food prep tips for keeping your meal-time work efficient and organized. Then, when you walk out the door of your studio late evening, you can breathe easy knowing dinner will be ready in a jiffy.

Also, stay tuned for a new post series coming up called Music Teacher Eats for meal plan ideas that are easy, healthy, and quick to prepare!

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Back-To-Teaching: Six Easy Recipes for the Week Ahead

The first couple of weeks back to teaching are always a little hectic. We’re trying to enjoy the final days of Summer, holding on to every last inch of that time until we have to throw ourselves completely into the new year.

January and August have always been the months we eat at home almost exclusively. In January, it’s quiet and dark, and there are not a lot of extra activities going on, and in August, I don’t have students for half the month, so I’m home more and have time to cook dinner like normal people.

Things are about to get crazy this week, though, and will continue that way until the second week of October. I won’t bore you with my details as you have enough going on.

Since many of us are in the same boat as we get things going, I thought I would share half a dozen quick and easy recipes to make your back-to-teaching life easier.

Most of the recipes will also allow you to enjoy end-of-summer produce and will avoid turning on the oven. You’re not going to find a crockpot or soup recipe in this bunch. It’s too early for that – I’m not ready!


Six Easy “Back-To-Teaching” recipes

Panzanella Bread Salad (Simply Recipes)

If you’ve never had Panzanella bread salad with your beautiful, lush, red, juicy August tomatoes, you have not experienced life.

Can you see what I mean?

While making the salad, throw pork chops in a cast iron skillet season simply with S&P, and call that a meal.

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