Saturday, November 29, 2014

Hot Foods For A Cold Night

How do foodies ward off a wintery chill? By eating fire, figuratively and , depending on how you look at it, literally. There are a number of cuisines that are super spiced and super hot, perfect for heating up the body and soul. Best of all they're  from a variety of countries so any of the dishes will appeal to those with fussy tastes.

No one thinks of Italian food as being really fiery yet the pepper spiked arrabiata sauce is just that. Translated as the angry sauce, it is a mix of red pepper flakes, garlic and tomato sauce.It is mostly served with  the chunky penne style pasta but you can also use it on spaghetti, along with linguine.  Sugo Arrabiata can also be ladled on chicken Parmesan to give it some kick and it would not be out of place with meatballs.Thicken the sauce and it could go on focaccia or pizza.It's also a great sauce to make in advance and like chili, the level of heat depends on the home chef 's tastes. Speaking of  chili, here's another rib sticking hot dish that can be made with any level of fire. The three alarm kind is about the strongest anyone can handle. Again this is an easy dish to make and you can even use your leftover turkey as the meat in it . Beef or soy crumbles can also be added and you can throw in some corn, any kind of beans and onions. Three alarm does need about  three tablespoons of chili powder. If you want to give it more zing, add another tablespoon but be warned. This is not for the faint hearted, remember,. Add some slices of sweet cornbread to offset the heat if it's a bit too intense.

Asian food is notorious for deliciously spicy dishes. One of the best comes from China's Szechuan provence, hot and sour soup. eating this wonderful mix of white pepper, red chili paste and fresh ginger.It's usually made with barbecued pork but you can add chicken as well.The best part is that it increases its heat with every reheating. The Szechuan province also gives us Kung Pao chicken, chock full of not only chilies but also peanuts A handful of dried chili peppers give the dish its traditional fire.Eggplant gets all fired up as well with a good dollop of chili paste.Thailand also gives us not only exotic but also peppery . The Thais love Tom Yum soup whether it's the poultry or fish version.There is also a noodle dish guaranteed to chase the chill way as well, thanks to a heaping helping of red pepper flakes tempered with peanut butter. This dish can be made with any kind of meat too or vegan , by adding tofu.Indian food is another good way to warm up on a chilly night.Curry is a  great comfort food perfect with naan bread , after a day of dealing  with freezing temps.One easy dish is mixing curry powder, cumin and chickpeas for an easy dinner or fancy snack.

Warm up your body and soul with some spicy , pepper infused dishes. Their fire can help chase away the shivers while providing great taste. They get us hot and not at all bothered.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Uh Oh, Leftovers

One of the best and worst aspects of Thanksgiving is leftovers. Eating cold turkey can be a blessing or a curse.Luckily there are some good recipes to deal with all that turkey meat.It's like  having another feast.

The New York Times Food section realized that with Thanksgiving comes leftovers.Unless you've had a table of voracious eaters you probably have a pound or two waiting to be repurposed in the fridge, Dave Tanis of the A City Kitchen  gives us the recipe of turkey hash.It's a pretty easy dish. Just chop up leftover turkey , using both light and dark meat.Also throw in the leftover veggies too Mr. Tanis recommends adding parsnips along with onions and Brussels sprouts.If you want a fresh er tasting one then use fresh veggies. Bacon is also added for smokiness and a dash of saltiness. He adds jalapeno which is great if you want your hash t have a spark. Use a splash of turkey broth to meld the flavors so everything blends nicely and the variety of  gamy, fiery and sweet mesh. . Finally add as many eggs  as you have eaters  as it's cooking in the skillet.This way everyone gets a nice, runny yolk , a perfect dip for a forkful of hash.

Of course turkey is also healthy too. Martha Rose Shulman, who usually contributes good for you recipes  for the  online Tuesday Science and Health section, has three good recipes. One is the refreshing Turkey Waldorf Salad.This has two cups of diced or shredded turkey along with the tangy tart Granny Smith apples as well as raisins and walnuts. Yogurt and mayo are added to moisten the ingredients but if you feel this is too much use Nayonaisse which is made with out eggs and Greek yogurt which is much lower in calories than regular yogurt.The carcass can also be boiled for stock and Ms Shulman plans on making the light, lemony Greek egg soup,avgolomono  which also has shredded turkey for some weight, The last recipe is stir fried turkey with Brussels sprouts and bell peppers.The bird is given zing with ginger and red pepper flakes. Also it can be served with rice or noodles for a nice Asian twist.

If you're looking for something exciting to do with your leftovers, try any of these recipes. They elevate the turkey into a whole other stratosphere. It's not just turkey. It's a great feast! Again!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving wishes

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers around the world. Hopefully by now you are well stuffed with turkey , dressing and a few healthy green sides. Enjoy the day and the leftovers tonight.
Remember to be thankful for the food o the table and the people who make it possible for it to be there, form the farmers who raised he crops to the home chef who made the taters the way you like them.Be thankful you have plenty in a time of need and that you'll never know hunger pangs.

Be thankful.Be thoughtful..Be good.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Frog Eye Pudding And Turkey.

The one holiday that unites all Americans is Thanksgiving. No matter what your religion is or your nationality you will sit down tomorrow, like your neighbors coworkers, friends and even enemies and be thankful for all you have and all you have to eat. Surprisingly though the thoughts and main dish are the same. It seems sides and desserts vary from state to state , surprisingly and perhaps not surprisingly so.

Kevin Quealy and David Leonhardt tallied up what America eats in an article in today's Food Section in the New York Times. This is an offshoot of an article written last week that highlighted certain dishes from each of our fifty states and Puerto Rico,It deals with the most searched recipes by state.Of course , the most popular is turkey but the researchers looked at searches for other dishes by state and how often they were researched. It proved an interesting glimpse into America's culinary window. For example Californians tend to look up persimmon bread recipes more times than another group.It's probably made for dessert, resembling apricot or cherry breads.Some dishes beggar belief. There is a Snickers salad , popular in Minnesota and Nebraska.It is what the name suggests, chopped up Snickers bars mixed with chopped apples and whipped cream. Variations include subbing in
 bananas and/or pineapple for the apples and sometimes there's a pudding thrown in.Some other states such as Idaho and Nevada make frog eye pudding, yet another I can't believe this is an actual dessert. It is a wild mix of Acini  de Pepe pasta mixed with pineapple , marshmallow and coconut with a decoration of orange slices.

A few reflect the ethnic make up of the state. New Yorkers and New Jerseyians go mad for stuffed artichokes, a must have in an Italian household.The heavily Hispanic  Florida features coquito, the tasty rum and coconut holiday drink along with their own pumpkin dessert  flan di Calabaza. Connecticut 's favorite dishes reflect their aura of WASPiness and almost a cliché., with popovers creamed onions and butternut squash casserole.You would think Alaska then would have caribou casserole or Eskimo           ice cream, a mix of seal oil, whale blubber and berries but they're actually pretty traditional.Most people there want a Waldorf salad or cranberry relish. Hawaii too has a pretty usual palate save for jook or congee, a soupy rice porridge usually eaten for breakfast. However it is made into a comfort food with the addition of turkey, straying from its' Asian roots.

Some dishes may vary from state to state. It's  still considered Thanksgiving as long as you have turkey or tofurkey, family and gratefulness .In the end that's all that matters.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

CHanging Sides

Any holiday dinner is about the sides. Yes, the main dish is the star but the sides either make or break the entire dinner.  Sometimes these need an added zip to make them more interesting.It just takes a dash of this or a pinch of that to elevate any Thanksgiving meal to the next level.

One of the easiest dishes to change and glam up is mashed potatoes. The homemade kind is good on ts own, especially if you add in milk and butter. However if you have the instant    jazz it up to get rid of that processed taste. Add some bacon bits for a salty smoky twist. Pepper flakes or even a liberal dash of fresh ground pepper can turn a bland dish zingy.Baked potatoes are another blank canvas. You can do restuffed potatoes which is baking them first, and then taking out the  middle. This is then mashed with milk and put back into the potato skin. Paprika or cheddar cheese is then sprinkled over it and the whole thing is placed under the broiler for a few more minutes. Yams can be dressed up too. Most home chefs over sugar them, mixing them with marshmallows and even coconut. This is kind of silly because the yam is a root veggie, not a dessert. They can be turned into fries and sprinkled with pepperoncini as a fun side to usually staid holiday meal. Yams can also be turned into puffs that can be dipped into gravy.

What about the usual suspects? Carrot coins are always served at the Thanksgiving meal.Mix it up by serving them mashed in a nice buttery sauce.Another idea is shredding them and    serving them a cold dish  in the form of a slaw.Make it refreshingly light with just an oil and lemon dressing. Brussels Sprouts, one of the most traditional Thanksgiving veggies is usually served with butter  cheese. Yet they can be made crunchy and fun by turning them into chips.Peel each sprout and put the leaves on an oiled cookie tray. Use olive oil for this and also for drizzling over each leaf. Sprinkled with sea salt and bake for three to four minutes.These also make a neat appetizer.Another idea is a hot salad with Brussels sprouts kale and onions. A Dijon mustard dressing is the best topping but you could also have a lemon lime one as well.

Sides are the scene stealers in any dinner. Make them even more appealing by zinging and zesting them up with different spices or cooked in an entirely different way . If you loved them already changing them up will make you love them even more.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Let's Talk Turkey

The big day is only a few days away. Novice home chefs are probably becoming antsy. Even the experienced cook is getting antsy. The fear? The turkey itself. Roasting any meat and expecting it to come ut perfect is always nerve wracking. Your best way of dealing with it is know the bird, inside and out.

Surprisingly turkey is one of the easiest meats to cook.Before you do any of that, you have the choice of natural, basted or self basting,Kosher or heritage, The first has no artificial ingredients or preservatives.It tastes like it is supposed to taste, wild fowl.Unfortuntely most wild birds from turkey to pheasant have a very dry texture. If you biy this, baste often and liberally with butter.If you want more flavor, then buy the basted or self basting.It;s when the turkey is injected with a brothy solution to add moisture and taste to the meat.  Also these don't need to be home brined, making prep time easier.The downside of a self basting bird is that it is shot through with additives and artificial flavors. Kosher turkey is hand salted, rinsed and double inspected under rabbinical supervision. They are well seasoned and hand prepared. Be careful with these though. They are hand plucked and there may be a few feathers left on the turkey. One of the best kind though is the heritage turkey. They have a richer deeper flavor than the average fowl along with having much more dark meat. These are rare and  the more upscale markets sell them. Choose the best kind for your wants. Remember that it's one pound of meat for one person. A table of ten then demands a ten pound bird.

Prepping the turkey takes some labor. The first thing to do is remove the giblets, basically the bird's stomach; liver and heart.These usually come in a plastic bag and can be saved for the gravy.  For a golden brown crispy skin you can either rub oil, butter or margarine on the entire bird. Next season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper on every part , including the cavity. Some chefs recommend trimming the wings tip because they can burn. Also they need to be tucked behind the turkey's neck to keep  the entire bird stable in the roasting pan.. The roasting pan should have a rack in it.This prevents the bird from getting a soggy bottom . Most chefs prefer a V rack because this circulates air around it. As for dressing , some people like their bird stuffed.Most , like myself , prefer it cooked outside the bird. Both  dishes get crisper this way.Also  you may be setting yourself and your guests up with a nasty case of salmonella if you cook the stuffing in the bird.

The key to a good Thanksgiving meal starts with a good bird.Choose one that fits your needs and roasting skills..This insures a tasty dish that everyone will love.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Quiet Autumn Meal

The holidays are here and with it comes all the stresses and agita of cooking and eating large.One of the best cures is just a quiet lunch or dinner.Make a simple meal with just simple ingredients. .Consider it a palate cleanser as well as a retreat during these crazy days, If you have free time, and you may after the holidays, nix the malls and big box stores for nature.If your area hasn't been hit by the lake effect, head to your local park or favorite nature spot ,and enjoy a turkey sandwich and thermos of hot tea.The solitude is great and you can enjoy a lunch without any noises.It's a chance to cleanse your mind .You'll even be more relaxed and that will reflect on your digestion.You won't gobble food down, distracted by family and friends.Also leave your phone in the car.That alone brings way too many distractions.Sit.Savor your sandwich's taste. After treat yourself to an apple or a pear.Don't bring a slice of leftover pie or cookies.They're too rich and too sugary.You want something just plain, not fancy .If you want something more bring some walnuts, pecans or almonds. this is a nice ,simple end.If you can't get away for lunch, then take a weekend afternoon and have a simple snack .Again, a hot herbal tea is good with shortbread cookies are always a treat.If the weather is bad, then retreat to whoever is your sanctuary. Brew up your favorite chai or herbal blend, and enjoy it with your favorite book or even poetry collection.If you feel peckish ,simple water crackers are a nice side.Stay away from chips and dips.You'll be devouring plenty of those in the weeks to come. What could be a memorable highlight of your holiday season? A simple meal of meat and veggies with no distractions. keep the rich sauces off the table.Think about just a roast chicken or London Broil with a side of green beans, succotash or just plain corn kernels with melted butter or margarine.Ask the kids to tone it down or make a game of who can be the most quiet eater.If it's the weekend,consider a homemade minestrone or chicken noodle soup with some Saltines.Also if you"re used to spending the weekends eating out, eat in for a change.Again stick with simplicity",If you don't feel like cooking just buy a rotisseries chicken from your supermarket and serve it with a plain green salad.Ban cakes and cookies, too much sugar will make the kids hyper, not what you need after a week of work and holiday shopping.Savor the simplicity of the gathering and being together, the old fashioned way.Simple food, simple conversation.It's a refreshing throw back to when life and eating was not as complex as it is today. We all need that quiet autumn meal to recharge our batteries and to give our over used palate a rest.Enjoy a slice of plain beef or chicken with some green beans. Watch wildlife as you munch on a sandwich and drink hot herbal tea.Do whatever you can to ensure a culinary respite from over rich over savory holiday foods.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Convenience Or Convention

With Thanksgiving kicking off the holiday cooking and baking season, it's time to ask the question, which is better?Convenience or convention. Do we use instant boxes of stuff or do we adhere to family traditions and make everything from scratch? it's basically a simple question of what works for you.

One of the most contentious holiday food fights is stuffing. Many families (including my own ) want homemade stuffing. Family recipes have more emotional weight. Sub in a store bought and it can be seen as a slight. However it is easier on the home chef to uses boxes of Stovetop Stuffing or Pepperidge Farms bread cubes, especially if there's a large crowd expected. Homemade stuffing is still good. You can make a mix of white and rye for something different, as well as throwing in walnuts , cranberries and spices.Store bought dressing can also be punched up as well with throwing in the same extras. This is true for rice dishes as well. Yes, you can make a tasty side pilaf by starting from scratch , yet if a packaged one, like Uncle Ben's or Rice-A-Roni  saves you time, then go for convenience. Some sides are better if they're made from scratch.This is definitely true for mashed potatoes and squash. To be honest both are easy to make and there's definitely a richer flavor with the homemade. Canned veggies like corn and green beans are fine. if you want in season veggies that have a fresh from the farm taste then go for stalked Brussels sprouts, kale and cauliflower.

What about the truly traditional foods like gravy and cranberry sauce. Homemade gravy is always the best .It has a purer flavor than the jarred or tinned kind. However the homemade does come with a caveat. Gravy can get very lumpy thanks to the addition of flour.If you're worried about this then try a flourless recipe and there are many. The main ingredient are the chopped giblets along with the neck bones along with the fat ,also a thickener. Do , however, have an extra jar for leftovers. Most of the gravy goes during the actual feast and then you're left with just turkey,Cranberry sauce  is another debatable issue.Many purists love to have freshly made sauce. The taste is indescribable, tart and sweet with a stinging freshness.There is one problem. Cranberries can be temperamental . They pop. They explode .Ocean Spray  has a good recipe that calls for gently cooking the berries for ten minutes. You can also zing it up with orange zest and fresh juice. However if you're rushed,then just get the canned.Slice it up and plate it with walnuts so it looks nice.

When you're a busy home chef it's easy to choose convenience over convention. Just remember that you will sacrifice flavor in some cases for ease. However do what ever ensures a stress free day of cooking and baking.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Rehearsal Dinner

Next week is the test for experienced and novice home chefs. If any one is having qualms about cooking a Thanksgiving dinner, them consider a kind of dress rehearsal. It not only hones skills at creating a particular dish , it acts as a gauge as to whether it will be a hot or not with your gourmands.

Cooking two turkeys in a week is madness however doing a try out with a capon is OK. It is more or less the same weight wise  about ten to twelve pounds. Capons (basically a castrated rooster) cook up the same  and have to be basted just as a turkey. Many supermarkets don't sell them however a poultry farm or dealer will have them.They're also great for leftovers , a boon during this busy  cooking week. This is also the time to try out new sides  too as well as understanding how to make them. This is great for those trying out stalked Brussels sprouts as well as experimenting with different types of stuffing or mashed potatoes. Experiment with spices now as well. Nothing is more upsetting or disheartening than someone not liking your creation on Thanskgiving because it's either too bland or too fiery. If you have enough you can make a few variations and have  a family vote on which  is the best. You may think those mashed parsnips are the bomb, your kids may want them liberally sprinkled with bacon.

You can also try rehearsal baking and dessert making too. This is helpful in making more intricate desserts such as souffles and mousses. The more you make them, the better the chance of creating the perfect one for the holiday. Also a rehearsal can let you experiment with different spices. Instead of the usual cinnamon you can sub in nutmeg and see what the reaction is. For first time pie bakers this is a plus. You can master the subtleties of a tender  crust or creamy filling. Thanksgiving can also be the tryout time for even Christmas cookies . Get familiar with  those Italian wedding cookies or chocolate swirls. Besides the kids would rather have cookies than pie to finish off the turkey dinner.Rehearsal times also means doing test runs with punches and mixed drinks, both alcoholic and non alcoholic.

Rehearsal dinners are important to any big holiday meal. They help you understand what to cook and how to cook or bake it. A try out is always crucial to creating memorable holiday meals.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Thanksgiving Plates Of The States

Thanksgiving is truly an American holiday.It's where we gather and be thankful for our freedoms and what we have. It's celebrated in every corner of the country from Maine to Hawaii, from Alaska to Florida. Best of all we are thankful the bounty that comes from these states. Each has their own special crops and dishes that symbolize both themselves and the country.

This was the topic of today's Food issue in the Wednesday New York Times.Literally every state is mentioned with some interesting and unique, sides, mains and desserts.It's the perfect guide for home chefs looking to make the unusual or varying on tradition. Some are a bit tongue in cheek like the Colorado entry which has a reference to the state's recent marijuana laws. The recipe? A stoner's dream T-Day treat , bourbon spiked pecan  pie bites dipped in turkey gravy -no fooling.The reason being is that the high  gravitate towards intense flavors, The combo of salty gravy and uber sweet pecan pie works. For more traditional, go for Oklahoma's green bean casserole.This holiday classic actually was developed in 1955 by the Campbell's Soup Company.It's a mix of green beans,mushrooms and soup, with a bread crumb topping. The Food section jazzes it up with Gruyere cheese and crème fraiche,making it perfectly elegant and even hip for a Manhattan Thanksgiving.New Hampshire gives us the traditional New England roast turkey brined in salt and sugar along with bay leaf.The cavity is filled with a savory mix of onions, carrots and celery, If you want recipes for leftovers then check out Nevada's Eric Klein a Las Vegas restauranteur  who gives his turkey au jus recipe, a take on the roast beef kind.

Many of the recipes reflect the state. There is mofungo from Puerto RIco, a traditional mash of plaintains, pork rinds and garlic, along with peppers and tomatoes. This can be served with turkey but would be excellent with a pork roast for any Christmas or New Year's. party. Louisiana gives us shrimp mirilton, with the mirilton squash indigenous to the area as is the shrimp. New Jersey's recipe  is manicotti, reflecting the state;s large Italian population. This is a great opener to the turkey dinner or better yet served the day after. I would add leftover turkey to it , although the airy light crepes are good just with the manicotti and the day after.Maine, of course, is lobster centric and the recipe is the lushly decadent lobster and mac. Again. like the manicotti would be a great day after dish, thanks to its' rich pairing of lobster and pure Cheddar. For dishes, less luxurious but just as representative of their state is Indian pudding from Rhode Island. This is a combination of both indigenous porridge and British hasty pudding with a blend of cornmeal , molasses , raisins and whole milk. Vermont gives us cheddar mashed potatoes a simple blend of the state's most famous cheese and spuds. California 's dish is its' traditional sourdough as a stuffing with kale, dates and turkey sausage. Georgia  has the ultimate traditional recipe in pecan pie.

We should be grateful that we live in the US. We actually do have a rich culinary tradition and a very good cuisine. It should make us proud - and well stuffed what Thanksgiving is all about,.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Rethinking Canned Dinners

Let's face it, canned dinners are seductive. They're easy to make ,without any fuss or pots . Open one for a quick lunch or dinner. However they,re not that perfect.Canned meals do have their downsides. what to do? Be choosy and informed the next time you shop for them.

Don't get me wrong.Some tinned dinners like Spaghetti-os are still quite good.They pretty much taste the same as when they first came out in the mid Sixties. For me, they're a great lunch and a throwback to my childhood.Other canned foods like Underwood 's devilled ham and devilled chicken are perfect. The meat tastes like it was freshly ground and has the perfect creamy texture for spreading. Both meats are my favorite to work with, and I love creating salads with them. The same goes for Swanson's chicken chunks.Add a cream sauce and canned veggies and it's perfect for Chicken a la King. The problem comes from the canned ravioli , namely Chef Boyardee''s version. The chicken stuffed ones looked good , on the picture. In reality , absolutely not. The sauce was as fiery as an arribiata , in fact so much so I had to scrape it off the pasta to eat the pasta.The sad part was that there was no warning. I just figured it was a regular sauce. It wasn't which ruined it for me.Then there was the ravioli's texture.It was mushy . The squares were starting to separate as it was being heated up and I ended up with goop.

I'm all for convenience over convention. However I think there are better alternatives to canned dinner You can try  the TV or microwave kind like Stouffer's. Their lasagna is actually pretty close to the homemade kind, full of meat, a pulpy sauce and chewy - not smooshy,  noodles. Also their meals for one are creative and well thought out, with both the execution and nutrition.Marie Callendars also has some excellent meals, from their pot pies to their signature Italian dishes .Again, like Stouffers, these have a homemade taste. You can make from  scratch instant meals. Stir fry is one of the quickest especially if you buy from the salad bar or already cut veggies. Just add soy and dried ginger. Minute rice is another easy meal to whip up. Add veggies, and any leftover meat. Spice up with saffron or oregano and voila  you have a tasty dinner. Eggs are one of the most versatile ingredients and the  simplest to cook up. Have breakfast for lunch or dinner with a quick scramble, bacon and toast. A frittata can be whipped up in seconds. Add Parmesan and mushrooms, and serve with rounds of toasted Italian bread.

 Be judicious when you shop for easy to prepare meals. Sometimes the best ones are the homemade kind. If you're too busy  to cook, then try the ones recommended. The last thing you need is a bad dinner after a frazzling day.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Snow Food in The House!

Even though it's mid November, many regions around the world are snowed in. Some even are iced in due to plummeting temps. If your area are under that threat , then there's one thing to do  - food shop.It pays to be ready  as well as prepared to be stuck in the house for a few days. Be well stocked . Be on the alert. Just don't be hungry.

What should a kitchen have in stock? Milk ,bread and eggs, basically the ingredients for French toast.It does make a nice breakfast on a snow day, especially after shoveling. The pantry should be also stocked with stock for making soups or gravies. Canned foods are another must. Buy up a variety of veggies and beans. These are the most versatile and can be turned into everything from salads to side. Olive oil, another basic should be on hand  along with margarine and/or butter. Think about keeping two or three boxes of different types of pasta around too. Placate restless kids with a special lunch or dinner of spaghetti . Also have tins of Spaghetti-os along with lasagna and mini raviolis. These are easy to cook and  not at all time consuming (which is great especially if you have to telecommute). Buy bags of fries and Tater Tots along with frozen burgers like Bubba's or the veggie kind from Morningstar Farms. Also make sure you have enough cereal, both hot and cold, along with orange juice. The mornings will be brutal  so it pays to send the family off with a breakfast that will stay with them.

Snacks are all important for those days stuck inside. The easiest and healthiest is pop corn, of course. If you're lucky to have a fireplace, buy a popping basket (Amazon and Sur La Table carry this) so you can have fresh from the fire  fluffy kernels. If not , the microwave kind or even the old fashioned cooked on the stove is also good. Nothing beats a bowl of it during a movie or game. The unpopped kernels can be used to feed the birds. Pretzels are another healthy and fun snack. Have cheese and mustard around for dipping.Nachos with salsa are another fun snowy day munchie. The fresh garden  taste of the dip will bring back memories of warm summer days. Hot cocoa is a must . It a great reviver, especially after some serious snowball fights and fort building. Also flavored coffees and creamers are nice as are herbal teas.The last is perfect for anyone starting to sniffle or dealing with a scratchy throat. Snow days are also good baking days. Make up a batch of slice and bake chocolate  chips or do a rehearsal bake session with any of your Christmas cookie recipes.

Don't panic when the first heavy snow of the season comes. You should have a well stocked kitchen and pantry all set to go for cooking and baking. You don't have to go out . Stay in and enjoy good food and drink

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Stretching The Holiday

Here in America we tend to celebrate the holidays all mushed into one day. It's a ridiculous way of feasting and festing , not to mention nerve wracking on the home chef. A full course meal has to be made on Thanksgiving from appetizers to dessert. Why not do what other countries do. Celebrate the meal during various days. There's no written law that states we have to have all the trimmings on just one day. Stretch it out. It makes sense both to the cook and the diet.

Of course , the turkey should be served on Thanksgiving.It is its' day after all, however you can make sides throughout the month  as opposed to make a slew of them . Let the bird shine. Creamed corn is always a good side  but never gets its' due on Thanksgiving Day due to the plethora of other veggies..Make ir with  Sunday's London broil.It may even taste better with beef than with fowl. Brussels Sprouts, delicious on their own ,can be the costar of a midweek supper. If your family loves both regular potatoes  and yams, then  save the spuds for the big day while the other can be made in the days leading up to it. Stretching out the dishes is also better for the stomach too. You don't want to feel too loggy or bloated for that whole weekend.We have a tendency to over eat in this country which results in  intense stomach problems from indigestion to heart burn.

Desserts too  can be savored and sampled over the next few weeks. Save your favorite pie for the Thanksgiving dessert. Most people feel it's un American not to have pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving.The  problem is that the other stars, apple and pecan pies are the preferred favorites. The solution is easy, Make or buy the pies for the days before. Apple pie is a great end for a weekend get together with friends. Pecan pie is a nice finish to a tail gate party, especially if the theme is Southern. It actually goes better with fried chicken and ribs than turkey.The same is true for sweet potato pies .Wouldn.t  it be better to serve it on a day when there are mashed sweet potatoes on the menu?Other sweets like themed cupcakes and cookies would be better for an after school treat. Kids never really are ones for holiday meals, preferring to eat the dessert  instead of the meal. The same is true for th e fruits and nuts, usually the final act in the Thanksgiving dinner.Have them any time.There's no rule again.

The Thanksgiving dinner can be spread out. doing such makes it easier on the home chef. It also makes the holiday more enjoyable with minor  dishes getting their own days to shine.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Tuna For Thanksgiving///

Nothing beats a  full on holiday dinner? There's s yams, salad, rolls and tuna????? Yup. Some people want no part of a dried , stringy fowl or the leftovers attached to it. What some foodies want may not be traditional  but it  can be deemed  a holiday meal, just not in the US,

 The idea was the subject of an article in Wednesday's  revamped New York Times food section.Jeff Gordonier , a regular contributor to the section wrote about this foodie fantasty. He interviewed a number of chefs, gleaning what their holiday would be like if they had had their way.Zac Pellaccio at Food & Game wants plump gleaming oysters and wild mushrooms grilled over the heats. He does desire turkeys but have them cooked rotisserie style  along with stuffing made in a cast iron pot. Sandra Beasley, a poet and author would prefer roast salmon, then have it incorporated into a salad later and much later as a sandwich.Amanda Freitag, the chef at the Empire Diner goes to an entirely different cuisine for her dream Thanksgiving Day dinner. She imagines a Korean style lay out with fried fish splattered with spicy sauce. Instead of cranberries, there would be kimchi and a few other .
 pickled sides.

For those with celiac disease such as Gaven Kayson, the former chef at Café Boulud and now current owner of Spoon and Stable in Minneapolis, the pies and stuffings are a no go. He'd rather have socca xhips with anchovy, along with shrimp, oysters and grilled lamb. Even non chefs like the nurse practioner,Shelley Simons of Atlanta would rather have king crab claws and asparagus,However there are some of us, myself included that like the traditional dinner. However if there are some of you out there who would like a leg of lamb or roast duck instead of the roasted tom, wait until New Year's Day. The relatives will be too sloshed or still in bed when you experiment and sub in something wildly innovative for the usual ham and Hoppin John.

Thanksgiving is always a polarizing holiday.some want turkey and tradition, others want tuna and wild rice.Keep in mind that the holiday is really four days long. If you can't get what you want on the actual day, there's always Black Friday to try out that baked salmon.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Crispy Take O Cornbread

No matter how you make it, cornbread is just downright tasty. It's a great side  for chili ,fried chicken or just on it's own with butter, jam or even a dash of hot sauce. Surprisingly it's not the corn that makes it but the other ingredients such as the browned butter added to it. This is what gives the bread its homy yet deep flavor.

Melissa Clark realized this and wrote about in in yesterday's New York Times Wednesday Food section (Yes, it's gone back to the original name that Craig Claiborne gave the section in 1957. Thank current editor Sam, Sifton for that). She discovered that browning butter gives more of a flavor boost than using just plain or raw butter.Also a copious amount of butter keeps the batter and then the finished product moist. The last thing any home chef wants is a dry corn bread.It will be too crumbly as well as somewhat tasteless.  Be warned. Browned butter can be tricky to make. Ms. Clark recommends using your nose when doing this. The aroma should be nutty however when it starts smelling like chestnuts roasting on a open fire , shut off the gas.Another must is baking the bread in a skillet .A 12 inch one is recommended , especially if you are making it for a big crowd. If you want a smaller amount use a nine inch skillet.Baking it on the stovetop is much more in the way of how it was originally made.

Ms Clark's recipe is a minimalist one It has the butter ,but also maple syrup for sweetness. (you can add sugar if you want instead of this. Whole wheat flour can also be subbed in instead of white for a healthier version. The recipe can go either sweet or savory. Chocolate chips can be added for a different kind of treat ,making it a more of a breakfast bread. For more of a dinner bread, you can add cheese , whether the fiery pepper jack or the biting cheddar to the batter. Herbed corn bread is also another way to go.Toss in thyme, parsley and rosemary together or separately. Corn kernels are also good. They emphasize the flavor  as well as add texture . Hot sauce is usually drizzled on the finished product however if you want zing., then mix in a drop or two into the batter. Stir well, or you'll wind up with bands of fire instead of a uniform flavor. Whatever you do , just remember to use browned butter. This is what makes the corn bread moist and nutty.

Nothing beats a well made corn bread The secret is not in the corn itself but the butter itself. Browned butter gives it  the moistness and flavor needed to be classic.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Holiday Cooking without The Hassle

The Super Bowl of cooking is only a scant two weeks away. It's a day when even the most experienced of home chefs freak out . However there's no need to worry. There's a way of being chilled to almost Zen levels in the midst of a hot kitchen.

New York Times Food regular Kim Severson writes about this in the new revamped Wednesday  section.(the section went back to the original name that Craig Claiborne gave it  in 1957). She got to spend time with chef Regina Charboneau who knows a thing about throwing big Thanksgiving dinners. During her time in San Franscisco , being chef at the famed Biscuits And Blues  and Regina's she fed fellow San Fransciscan Robin Williams, along with Shirley Maclaine, Tim Curry , the Rolling Stones and Lily Tomlin. She now reigns over her own table in Natchez Mississippi. She shares my philosophy of convenience over convention. Chef Charboneau buys prepared pie crusts/ There are also store bought hot dog buns subbing in for brioche in her famed brioche and mushroom stuffing.Her brother helps in smoking the turkeys. However it helps to have a plan which is why Chef Charboneau has started almost a month ago. She has already saving drippings to make gravy. She also has her freezer stuffed with sides that will only have to be thawed and reheated Thanksgiving Day.

Ms. Severson also has some tips for home chefs wanting to avoid last minute problems . Do all your shopping within the week of cooking the feast. Salads and greens should be bought a day before, simply because of the freshness.Set out all your serving platters and bowls the week before too.Decide what dishes will hold what sides. Mark with a sticky note.As for centerpieces think fuss free mums, gourds or little pumpkins. Fooling with ,a  big floral display will only take away your time from the kitchen, Start saving the drippings from roasts ad chickens. These can be frozen and thawed the day of.Figure how much you will need per person, figure a pound of turkey per person, half a pound for kids under twelve. Prep the mashed ahead of time. Don't use the morning to watch the parade. Peel and dice th e night before and submerge in a huge pot of water. As soon as you get up, salt the water and start cooking the spuds. Add melted butter and milk as you mash. Keep this warm throughout the day. Serve store bought rolls and desserts on your prettiest plates to distract guests from realizing you didn't bake them yourself.Also don't appear flustered. Cut corners to save a little time for yourself.

Thanksgiving should be spent with family , enjoying a tasty feast as you count your blessings. Try  to minimize your time and anxiety by prepping before. You'll be thankful that you did.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Good Meal For Our Heroes

Today is our Veteran's Day ,a day when we honor our veterans from all the wars.However we should honor them year round, ?The best way to show gratitude is through kind acts.For foodie's that would be a well cooked meal or a homemade special dish. One of the best ways to show how much our service men and women mean to us is the care package.Many churches and women's groups throughout the country are sending packages full of favorite snacks and home made treats.According to Veterans United the best stuff to pack are the Taco Bell hot sauce packets. Another must pack are those little bottles of syrup you add to water bottles.Most of our troops are still in the Middle East so the areas can be alternately hot and dry .They come in all flavors so send a variety of them.Tinned goods like tuna fish and deviled ham are welcomed as is canned chicken.Soldiers also like to receive beef jerky and sunflower seeds, snacks that are packed full of protein and taste.As much as you want to bake cookies and cakes along with making fudge, don't Baked goods and soft candies do not travel well.If you do want to put forth your baking skills, then go to the veteran's home with your creations.Hard candies are fine travel well and won't get gooey.If you're also sending toiletries such as liquid soap or cologne, pack these separately from the food. Nothing is worse than if all that breaks and spills all over the foodstuffs.If you do so, pack everything in a lot of bubble wrap as protection. Veterans young and old appreciate not only a good meal but good conversation.Even treating your neighborhood vet to a donut and coffee can be a fun time, especially if you ask about his or her life.Dinners are also welcome as well.Many chain restaurants will offer our service people a free meal.Privately owned restaurant owners should follow suit and extend the same offer . It means so much to veterans to have their favorite places and chefs honor them.Another idea is having a homecoming block party to honor any neighbors serving.The rest of the neighborhood can help in making the returning vet 's favorite foods with plenty left over for a second meal. Another thankful gesture is inviting them and their families over for a Saturday night game night or Sunday brunch.If you're very close with them, offer to cook a romantic dinner along with taking the kids for the night.If it's an elderly veteran, offer both cooking and food shopping or at least take them shopping. you can help them choose nutrituous fruits and vegetables. You can also help them stock up on staples as well. Honoring veterans shouldn't just be relegated to one day a year. They should be honored every day .They served for us. Now it's our turn to save them. .

Monday, November 10, 2014

Retasting Stouffer's

Sometimes a microwave meal is actually good. It s that way with Stouffer's, This is a company that actually  cares about what goes into  its. dishes and strives for a homemade taste. Another plus is that the company makes dishes just for one as well as for a crowd. Any home chef can make a meal for one for lunch and then one of the bakes for the family later on.

One of the Stouffer's meals best qualities is the flavor. The meals do actually  taste like homemade.I recently ate their stufferd peppers and it was exactly like something  I would have made.The stuffing, chopped beef and rice, was perfectly tender and tasty.I love the fact that the pepper had a good bath of tomato sauce. The last was plentiful, easily sopped up with bread. The stuffed peppers also come in the crowd size as well. My meal was part of the Just Me line, where you can get single servings. The line also has also Swedish meatballs which has four meatballs and  a small side of egg noodles and cream sauce.There is ,of course, their signature dish, French bread pizza. which not only makes a quick tasty meal but also a quick tasty snack too.The company has also cashed in on the baked mac and cheese craze creating individual cups filled with elbow macaroni and cheddar. These are great fast meals and can even be complimented with a salad for a  more substantial lunch or dinner. Even breakfast lovers can enjoy a meal for one with bacon and eggs , sausage and eggs and Southwestern scramble..

Another plus is that  the company also has dishes that the other brands don't.They have a Welsh rarebit which is a great weekend dish when you want something fun and hearty.Try  their cinnamon apples either for dessert or if you have a pork roast.One of the best aspects of Stouffers is that they have party sized dishes. This is a boon , especially for the upcoming party season. They have a large lasagna, perfect for an indoor tailgating party. Serve it with Stouffer's chicken enchiladas.It's eight corn enchiladas stuffed with meat and served on a bed of rice.These can be customized , such as a sprinkling if Parmesan over the lasagna or a side of tangy salsa with the Mexican dinner.Another idea is taking two of the family pack meals and also using them. Have a bake fest with the girls . Before doing the  dirty work of pie baking and cookie cutting, treat them to a hot meal of Salsbury steak or chicken breasts. Treat your   pajama party to the spaghetti and meatballs.

Stouffer's is the perfect  brand for those who want good food quick. Heat up anything from their breakfast for one to their party dishes. It's like you whipped up a tasty dish , but without all the stress and mess.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Your Own Spin

It's always fun to come up with a new recipe. Yet to create a dish from scratch can be time consuming It.can  be done,   just by   takin g a  boxed or canned food and putting your own personal touches on them. It's a way of jazzing up plain food as well as adding spark to a meal or dessert.

This is a not a new concept. Chefs Sandra Lee and Jamie Oliver have recommended using boxed, canned or bottled foods for easy cooking for the past fifteen years. Chef Lee has had much success with this, as she creates cakes using Duncan Hines or Pilsbury mixes. She even frosts the finished products with canned icing. It's nothing to be ashamed of; home chefs have been doing this for over a century with earlier generations embracing tomato soup, flaked coconut and tinned pineapple .Desserts are the most generous. A plain chocolate cake mix can be turned into a Rocky Road treat just by adding any kind of nuts  chocolate chips and mini marshmallows. That same cake can also be turned into a coolly elegant dessert simply by adding a few drops of mint flavoring . Ice cream can get personalized by adding a cup of peanut butter or  pureed berries  Just make sure that the ice cream is soft when mixing. It can be returned to the freezer afterwards. Those no bake pie kits are blank canvasses. A cheese cake can be turned into something special with a tinned fruit topping like raspberry or strawberry.

Savory  foods can also be zinged up with some additions. One of my favorites, Stovetop Stuffing can be customized any way.Sage  can be added for more flavor, orr sweetness toss in a scant tablespoon of  dried cranberries. A favorite quick meal. is store bought fresh sliced  turkey with jarred gravy. I then make the stuffing and later assemble as a kind of open faced hot sandwich.It beats a wimpy slice of bread and is more substantial. Another easy dish is beans and rice. Try the Uncle Ben's rice cups. Use any of Goya's beans and mix You can add cilantro sliced onion and garlic. Bean salad is also a fun and easy side even now during the cold weather.The plain hot dog is another versatile food that can jazzed up.Before grilling split them down the middle . After    they are  done add anything from sharp cheddar to chili . Even better  a a sriracha sauce to liven them up.

It's OK to used mixes and prepared foods. All it takes is one personal spin to make it your own. Add a dash of that or a pinch of this and you;ve got a dish with your signature on it.

Friday, November 7, 2014

A Toast Of Scallops

This is for you ,Eunice

A good friend of the family loved scallops. She ordered them at almost every restaurant we went to , and there were a lot of places we dined at . It was her signature dish. Scallops are a wonderful and varied dish that even novice home chefs can make. They can be dressed up for a holiday meal or served just with butter and a vegetable on the side. If you haven't discovered them , now is the time to do so.

The scallop itself is one of the more  complicated bivalves. However it is relatively simple dish to prepare.The  first step is selecting them. The most common kind of scallops is dry packed or diver caught. You can buy deep sea or bay scallops, the last is smaller and noticeably sweeter in taste. whatever kind you buy, look at the flesh. It should be a uniform pearly white, with firm slightly moist flesh, They shouldn't be completely dry or dripping with moisture. Avoid ones that look mangled or shredded. These have been manhandled and also indicate a lack of freshness.Never get frozen scallops. These are tasteless and way too chewy.Most home chefs buy about one and a half pounds for four people. If you're planning a party, divide the amount of guests by four and then times the 1.5 to get the exact amount for entertaining. Prepping them is a snap. Just rinse under cold water. Rip off the side muscle with your thumb and forefinger. It's no big deal if they can't come off. You can eat these little meat flaps  as well.

One of the best known scallop dishes is Coquilles Saint Jacques.This is a creamy custard like dish that features the seafood poached first  and is usually served in ramekins.It is an elegant dish to be served at candlelit . You can also pan sear them, which is popular in restaurants these days. Melt a little butter or olive oil in a frying pan. Sear on both sides just enough to give them a golden crust. To get an extra crispy crust  make sure they are completely dry (pat them several times with paper towels before cooking). Salt them at the very last moment. Grilling is the same method. Scallops can also be poached. Use a court bouillion which is a mix of a bouquet garni, or mix of herbs and a mirepoix of carrots, celery , onions and leeks..You can serve this with a side of rice or buttered pasta for a basic yet surprisingly classy dish.For a heartier dish , try them with corn in a thick chowder.It also has the tang of bacon too for a dash of smokiness.Serve them with pasta and peas and a sprinkling of bread crumbs.An Oriental spin would be scallops with orange and snow peas.

Our friend loved scallops so much, that they were a big part of her life. They are a treat to the palate, a true gift from the sea. discover them and how good they are.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Gourmet Cooking Made Practical

Usually if a well known chef writes a cookbook, it is written in terms that only other chefs know. Home chefs are left woefully in the dark, looking at on line dictionary or asking around as to what the methods mean or where to acquire rare and expensive ingredients. Not so with the newest cookbook from Chef Gabrielle Hamilton. Anyone can read these recipes, even the greenest of novice home chefs.

 She was featured in the new Cookbook section in yesterday's New York Times Dining section. Dining regular Julia Moskin contributed this piece which is an interview ,review and recipe all rolled into one article. Chef Hamilton's new cookbook Prune, named after her East Village restaurant and it reflects her refreshing rule breaking attitude towards cooking and fancy food. She is a rebel of sorts, serving canned sardines on Triscuits  on her first menu at her East Village bistro.This is not your typical, food snooty kind of cook. The recipes are easily replicable.She doesn;t talk down to those who don't have a culinary education or are new to the cooking scene. The steps are easy to follow even if they are broken down to almost simplicity . Cooking and baking this way ensures the perfect dish. There are also recommendations about using already prepared food like Thomas' English muffins,,Grape Nuts and  -gasp - PAM Cooking Spray (although this is not a new approach. Chefs Sandra Lee and Jamie Oliver have been suggesting this for a decade and a half)

Another first is that Chef Hamilton is opiniated , putting her  edicts and opinions in the book. There is one trope about  never using balsamic vinegar ,or why candied lemons should be served ice cold with chilled peppermint patties.. Those mysteries orders, aside, the recipes are tasty and perfect for any home chef to try. Ms. Moskin includes a recipe  which is salt packed cold roast beef with bread crumb salsa. This is a roasted piece of beef tenderloin caked in regular Kosher salt. The description is just as delicious as the dish itself. Chef Hamilton suggests piling on the salt so it looks like a cast on a broken leg. As for the breadcrumb salsa, drain them in coffee filters. Really???!!!Also parsleys aren't just added, they're roughed up. I love the way she describes the oil in the pan , beautiful, veinous, and streaking. Her recipes are really a joy to read ,possessing a brio that even the most flamboyant chefs in the business do not have.

Chef Hamilton is a breath of fresh air in the cooking world. Her recipes are simple yet delicious. Her words are just as tasty and filling as the dishes from the new book honoring Prune, her restaurant.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Doughnuts, Circles Of Sweetness

Doughnuts are the ultimate comfort food.One and a cup of coffee are a worker's best friends after a mind dazing day.They've kept our servicemen alert and the broken hearted happy for years with all have our favorites from cakey baked kind to the yeasty fried kind. Ligaya Mishin wrote about and had the lucky job of tasting doughnuts( a surprising seventy-seven!!!) in today's New York Times Dining section. Doughnuts are one of the oldest pastries mankind has, being first made 8,000 years ago.Archeaologists have found fossilized ring cakes during various digs.New York City had it's first doughnut or as it was known then olykoek sold by Anna Joralemon in 1673 from a shop located on lower Broadway.Doughnuts were given to our doughboys a century ago during World War One.the doughnut has had several reincarnations over the last few years.The recipe has omitted butter and eggs for vegans, compromising it's fluffy texture.Some are now baked as opposed to fried.A few Manhattan shops will make them fresh so doughnut connoisseurs can enjoy them red hot ,while other serve doughnuts with syringes as a DIY jelly doughnut for customers.This last, made by St. Balmain gives doughnut lovers the choice of cream, jam or chocolate.Flavors are changing too.Some do serve cinnamon.Others are experimenting with everything from sriracha to Thai basil and coconut milk.Fillings for jellies aren't just raspberry jam anymore either.Some are filled with real fruit preserves along with Meyer lemon. Ms Mishin sampled some of these along with others from well known bakeries and upstarts.East Harlem's Dough Loco are lopsided and mishapened (imagine Salvador Dali baking them)'yet they have the truest taste and texture.One has a Los colored bright orange icing, giving the doughnut the look of a bagel with the works.The icing is really. blood orange and it has a nice tartness that counterbalances the pastry's sweetness.Carvin"s Bakery has the most unusual flavors with peanut butter and cream cheese along crumbled Oreos and even bacon bits! she also went international , trying the Greek loukoumades and the Korean ho-dduk which is more a pocket filled with liquified brown sugar.Ms. Mishan also includes a doughnut recipe for home bakers.It's adopted from Du Jour"s bakery recipe and is the most traditional.The dough should be made in a standard mixer with a dough hook.They are yeast based so expect the finished product to be fluffy.Adding to that are six eggs and these will give the interiors a rich yellow coloring The doughnuts are then fried in vegetable oil and then rolled in granulated sugar.You can even fry the holes too.These would make great snacks for the kids.nIf you want, sift in some cinnamon to create the ones you buy at farm stands or at farmers markets. Doughnuts are the eternal comfort food. A chewy, yeasty one is better than any box ox chocolates or cup of chai tea. Enjoy one with a strong cu p of Joe to appreciate their goodness and flavor.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

ReCaps - The Perfect Lids For Perfect Repurposing

Recaps are a great new invention by Karen Rzpecki . These lids turn the average mason jar into a versatile container,making them great for holding everything. Tea lovers can have their tea in them. Crafters can use them to hold yarn  and glitter. Below is Foodie Pantry interview with their creator,
1)      Again let me thank you for the recaps. I can’t wait to use them. How did you come up with the idea? What was your inspiration?  My herb garden, which led me to homemade salad dressing which I always make in Mason jars.  The lid & ring were a pain and I wanted a cap I could shake, pour & store from!

2)      How are they better than normal; Mason jar lids?  Versatility.  You can shake protein drinks & smoothies, pour maple syrup, honey and snacks & store pantry & craft items.

3)      Are they effective in keep dry ingredients like flour corn meal and sugar moisture free?  Yes, while it isn’t a vacuum pack (doesn’t remove the air that is already in the jar) it does prevent moisture and air from getting in.  And they don’t rust like the lids that come with Mason jars.

4)      How can people repurpose their Mason jars and Recaps?  Wow, so many ways.  Hobbyists use them for paint, yarn, buttons, beads, bolts.  Foodies use them for pantry items, fermenting and even baking. 

5)      The holidays are coming up, any ideas for holiday gift jars? Have you thought about making gift kits that would include holiday stickers, ribbon and gift cards? Yes & Yes!  We are promoting a gift-a-day in November and some of the ideas are for coffee lovers, teachers, college students, bird lovers and more.  We will be showing what goes into the gift and the approximate cost so that people can pull the items together and give really great, thoughtful gifts.  We have ready-made gift sets available but find that most of our fans like to make their own. We now have gift tags available for this as well.

6)      What do you like to do with your mason jars?  I have a reCAP jar full of water with me at all times.

7)      Any other future inventions in the works? What about a Recap with a straw for us ice tea drinkers?  We have the FLIP cap coming out in March.  This cap allows people to snatch out bigger items such as pickles and it has a removable screen that is great for flour, sugar, grated cheese and loose tea.  Our site now has other accessory recommendations like straws and koozies.  While we don’t make these, they are nice add on’s that can be found at



Monday, November 3, 2014

A Hot Meal On A November Night

The colder weather is here and that means ending the day with a hot , satisfying meal.Nothing beats a well balanced dinner after a busy school or work day. The best part , it really doesn,t  take much to  create a tasty warm dish. You can whip up something without a lot of effort.

One of the easiest and always best loved is spaghetti. It doesn't require a lot of work, just boiling your favorite pasta and serving it with either a jarred or homemade sauce. Many home chefs may turn their noses at this first. However if you've just come in from a hectic eight hour work day or a day at home where you've done nothing but clean , then jarred sauce is may not be as delicious or as healthy as a home made sauce but it'll do the trick in a pinch. You can also use that sauce you made during the summer when your garden produced bumper crops of tomatoesAnother idea is cutting up tomatoes ,blending them with oil and oregano,  and then pouring them over the pasta. The pasta's heat will semi cook them for a kind of al fresco sauce.Rice is another quick and hot dish to make and it's receptive to the addition of leftovers. Top plain white rice with leftover chili or wild rice with leftover turkey and gravy.Open up a few different cans of beans and mix in with any kind of the grain for a hearty side.

Nothing beats coming home to a hot juicy steak. One of the best  varieties are T bone and Porterhouse. These can be easily sautéed , either after being rubbed with olive oil or butter. You can add either sea salt and fresh ground pepper or jazz it up with garlic. It can even be made glam with an simple anchovy sauce/ This is Piedmontese sauce and it's a simple blend  of anchovy paste, a mix of olive oil and butter along with a garlic clove. Serve this with French or Italian  bread to sop up the sauce. Sauteed chicken breasts are also a good choice  for dinner.. You can serve it with a franchese sauce, an easy marriage of a roux ( flour and butter cooked together) with heavy cream and lemon juice added. A nice side is microwave steamed broccoli or a packaged veggies. For these saute  with herbed butter and almonds for added dash.This can be also served with rice, or if you're too tired, Rice Roni. Consider making this when you're too tired to deal with more elaborate sides. Also think a quick tomato or broccoli salad to compliment the chicken.

A hot hearty meal is the best way to end a busy day and welcome a calming night. Treat yourself and your family to something steamy yet simple. It's easy and that's what you want.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Celebrating With Prayers And Food

Today is just an important holiday as yesterday's Halloween.It is known as Dia del Muerta, a day when ancestors and their memories are honored not only with prayers but with food.These delicacies and lovingly made dishes are eaten by living family members.It is a day devoted not just to memories but to family recipes. The holiday is between Halloween and November 2nd.It is solely a Mexican holiday with its roots to indigenous practices, primarily an Aztec festival in honor of the goddess Mictecacihuatl.She ruled over the afterlife and guarded bones.It is meshed with All Saints and All Souls Days, tow holy days firmly observed in the Spanish cultures.Families leave offerings such as sugar skulls and flowers along with specific dishes.These along with the skulls are placed on an altar, constructed especially for the day.Tamales are one of the dishes ,made either savory or sweet.These can either have chicken in a green spicy sauce, like a salsa verde or a pineapple cinnamon jellies.There is also pan de muertos, bones of the dead , which is kind of similar to the Italian osse de more.These are breads baked in the shape of bones and dusted with sugar.There are also pumpkin and amaranth seeds are also ,offered as snacks for the returning spirits.The spirits need spirits themselves , and there is pulque, a liquor made from agave left for them to imbibe. For the living there are the tamales, bread and sugared skulls to share .However other recipes also shine.You can try turkey tamales with a mole Negro or black sauce.The last is made with a variety of chiles, nuts and even bread crumbs. Along with tomatoes and tomatillos.Goat is popular throughout Mexico and it is featured in one Dia de lost Muertos recipe, chile with a chile marinade,It can be made barbacoa style, barbecued in a pit, dug especially for it.The meat is soaked in adobos, a spicy chile infused marinaded and then roasted for six to seven hours..Rice ia always an important part of any Mexican meal and one infused with garlic and onions is served.Fritters drizzled with molasses and Chihuahua cheese are one of the interesting snacks served.Salsa is a must and it is created with a bro chilis and tomatillos.Some families also serve Mexican hot chocolate, zinged and zipped with a healthy sprinkling of cinnamon. Dias Del Los Muertos is a time for remembrance but also for food.Tastes and flavors are a big part of life, carried well to the afterlife.Salty and sweet, fiery and mild, they all go with us.