The Best Recipes, Apps And Other Hacks We Tried This Week (May 4-8)

Our editors share what's keeping them calm, productive and entertained during coronavirus social distancing.

There’s no “right” way to navigate the coronavirus pandemic — everyone lives and copes differently. That said, fostering a sense of community may make getting through this time a little bit easier.

Enter this weekly guide. Every Sunday, we’ll bring you a short list of products, routines, workouts, recipes, apps and other things we tried the previous week that are making life easier during this universally stressful time.

Take a look at this week’s suggestions from our editors below.

Activity Recommendations

Set a short-term savings goal.

I’ve been sleeping on my couch since early March when lockdown started. Weird, I know, but it felt cozier and safer in some way on my comfortable couch. I’ve also been saving up a bit of money every paycheck to put toward home improvements since I have so much more time here to look around and come up with projects.

This week I finally saved up enough for new bedding from Brooklinen ― and holy moly. It’s beautiful, so comfortable, and feels like a hug getting into it. Saving money for things has helped me curb some instant gratification tendencies and it felt really rewarding when I finally made the purchase. My new 100x cozier bed is extremely helpful right now. ―Jamie Feldman, Lifestyle & Personal Reporter

App Recommendations

A senior editor used the Pantone app to figure out colors for her knitting project.
A senior editor used the Pantone app to figure out colors for her knitting project.

An app for color lovers.

Have you ever looked at a beautiful photo and wished you could replicate the color palette in it? Maybe you want those exact shades in your living room decor or for a painting project, but your eye can’t exactly pinpoint what makes the palette so magical. The Pantone Studio app (it’s free!) will take any photo in your camera roll and instantly define its color scheme for you. I wanted to turn this photo of a sunset into a sweater, so I used the app to inform me what colors I should dye my yarn. It’s SO much fun. ― Kristen Aiken, Senior Editor, Food & Style

A Twitter account that says what you’re thinking about TV talking heads’ living spaces.

I don’t know about you, but it’s been a guilty pleasure of mine to see all the home setups of the politicians, experts and talking heads during this lockdown. The Twitter account Room Rater takes it to the next level and rates every background from 1 to 10, based on hilariously subjective criteria. With 145k fans, I’m not alone in finding this account the right kind of humor for these bizarre times. ―Kate Palmer, Head of HuffPost Life

Product Recommendations

A delicious wine that makes you feel like you’ve traveled outside your home.

I’ve been into this wonderful bright white wine that makes it feel like you’re on vacation or that we’re not about to see a May snowstorm. It’s a Vinho Verde from Portugal called Praia, and I’m going to stock up when the actual summer arrives to enjoy this properly. ―Palmer

Recipe Recommendations

One of our reporters made a scallion pancake with her sourdough starter this week.
One of our reporters made a scallion pancake with her sourdough starter this week.
A back-to-basics popcorn recipe that will make your house smell divine.

I’ve started to pop popcorn on my stove. For all these years, I thought I didn’t like popcorn but it turns out I don’t like microwave popcorn! The stovetop version is so easy to do.

Stovetop Popcorn - 1 Serving

  • Heat some olive oil (about a tablespoon) in a big skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Put two plain corn kernels in the skillet and cover.
  • When they pop after a few minutes, add more kernels. I do a little shy of a 1/4 cup, but it takes some experimentation.
  • Cover the pan again, shake it, listen to them pop (keep the lid on!).
  • When the pops slow way down, take the pan off the heat and put the popcorn in a bowl.

If you are me, you melt 3 tablespoons of butter and pour it on with a few pinches of salt. This popcorn is SO delicious and will make your house smell like a movie theater (if that’s your thing!). ―Hillary Frey, Executive Editor

A pickled onion recipe that makes for an amazing addition to almost any meal.

I follow a lifestyle blogger and florist named Barrett Prendergast who is based in Los Angeles. Her Instagram is full of gorgeous florals and gifts from her company Valleybrink Road, honest parenting moments with her two adorable kids and tons of great recipes. I recently made a batch of her pickled red onions and have been using them on sandwiches, tacos — everything really. They were so easy to make, require minimal ingredients and have been elevating my stuck-at-home meals. The recipe is in her Instagram highlights. I recommend you make them and also follow her for more cooking inspiration! ―Ashley Rockman, Senior Relationships Editor

A sourdough recipe that’s perfect for any novice bread maker.

I’ve hopped onto the sourdough bread-making train, and the easiest recipe I’ve made with my starter is also one of the tastiest.

To maintain your sourdough starter, you need to regularly feed it with flour and water and discard a good chunk of it, so it can grow stronger. I used to throw out the discard if I couldn’t think of a recipe to use it up immediately (shoutout to King Arthur Flour for teaching me how to make a starter!). But once I realized that the starter is a leavening agent, I also realized that you can literally pour it onto a skillet and you will have a tangy pancake.

Sourdough Discard Scallion Pancakes - Makes 1

  • Heat up a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a pan on medium heat.
  • When the oil is heated up, pour in enough sourdough starter to fill up the pan you’re using. I typically use 3/4 cup of starter to fill up my 8-inch nonstick skillet.
  • Before the batter sets, add your toppings. I like sesame seeds and chopped-up scallions. I feel like chives and spreadable cheese would also work nicely.
  • Wait until the bottom of your pancake starts browning. This could take 2 to 5 minutes.
  • Flip the pancake and wait until the bottom layer starts browning.
  • Serve with dip! I like using a mix of soy sauce and mirin to go with my scallion pancake.

Now I regularly make these scallion pancakes, and no sourdough is wasted. ―Monica Torres, Work/Life Reporter

Workout Recommendations

Another one of our reporters did a Zoom workout with her favorite instructor.
Another one of our reporters did a Zoom workout with her favorite instructor.

A virtual sweat session with instructors you’re used to seeing IRL.

This week I went back to the gym classes I usually do when it’s not quarantimes. They’re holding Zoom classes and offering different types of workouts than the ones they usually offer in person, like a strength-only class and a Pilates class. I did both this week, and it was so nice to see familiar faces and have a personal connection. I’ve been testing out other video-on-demand apps, which are great, but I forgot how nice and motivating it is to hear your name shouted out when you’re mid pushup. ―Feldman


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