June 30, 2013

John Beaver’s 5 Essential Herb and Spice – Tips for Home Cooks

Spices are crucial for the home cook. That’s why John Beaver, spice expert and owner of Oaktown Spice Shop shares with you his top 5 tips for choosing and using spices. First, in most (but not all!) cases, whole spices which you grind at home are better. Second he provides tips on grinding. Third, he gives tips on keeping spices as fresh as possible. Fourth, there are also tips for cooking with spices. And don’t miss the final piece of advice. Don’t be afraid to experiment!

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John Beaver’s 5 Essential Herb and Spice Tips for Home Cooks — Expert Essentials

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June 28, 2013

BBQ Chicken with Parsley, Lemon, Garlic Salsa

What do you think of a barbecued chicken recipe redolent with the assertive flavors of garlic, lemon and parsley? This is another recipe from Giangi using that mixture both in the marinade and, with a bit of capers for a bit more tang, in the salsa topping. She even brushes some of the marinade on her grill before adding the chicken. In case someone likes the chicken just a little more lemony, grill lemon halves next to your chicken for some additional juice.

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BBQ Chicken with Parsley, Lemon, Garlic Salsa

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June 25, 2013

Chilled Fennel and Cucumber Soup

Chilled dishes in the summer; how to make them work? Chilled Fennel and Cucumber Soup will satisfy the need for a cool plate during a hot season. However, preparing a cold soup that is tasty is a bit of a challenge, in other words, cold soups usually don’t taste good. There was one instance where excited food tasters got disappointed that the soup dish just tasted like cream.

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Chilled Fennel and Cucumber Soup

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June 24, 2013

Portobello Summer Soup

Allow this recipe for creamy Portobello Summer Soup without cream to stir your taste buds . The body of the soup comes from potatoes added to the base of carrots and celery. Karen’s ramblings show in the hint of pan-Asian flavors. She adds Sake instead of wine and turmeric for color (and because it’s good for you, she says). Fresh garden herbs and a drizzle of white balsamic vinegar bring yet another layer of complexity.

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Portobello Summer Soup

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June 21, 2013

A Grilling Refresher

As the summer season begins so does the grilling season. Remember some of these tips to make the most of your grilling season. The right tools are key; from tongs to smokers you need the right tool for the job. Find something you like to eat and perfect it. There’s more than meat to be made on the grill, vegetables and fruits have a place there too.

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A Grilling Refresher

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June 20, 2013

Easy and Healthy Salad Dressing Options You Can Make at Home

When you decide to put together a salad recipe, the best thing to consider is the kind of salad dressing. If you’re not particular of your fat consumption, your salad could contain as much fat and calories as a bacon cheeseburger. A mayonnaise-based salad dressing can smother efforts if you’re trying to lose weight. Saturated fat is notorious to cause obesity and heart disease. You can still have healthy salad dressing options that won’t ruin your diet. Try the following:

salad dressings

Oil and Vinegar

The best option is oil and vinegar. It’s usually a combination of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Since balsamic vinegar is known flavorful, mixing it along with olive oil creates vinaigrette with tremendous health benefits. For two tablespoons of olive oil, you can use as much vinegar as you like. I like adding a touch of lemon to this salad dressing option. The drops of lemon into my vinaigrette bring zest to my whole salad entree.

Yogurt Salad Dressing

If you are not aware yet, you can use plain yogurt as salad dressing base. Using yogurt instead of mayonnaise as a base for your dressing is a healthy alternative to customary recipes. Your body needs a healthy amount of ”good” bacteria in the digestive tract, and most yogurts are made using active, good bacteria. For a creamier consistency, you can blend the plain yogurt with other ingredients like Dijon mustard and chives. When using a richer ingredient for your mixture, use fat-free or low-fat plain yogurt. Wondering why yogurt?

Avocado Salad Dressing

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Don’t be afraid of calories in avocado, you may check. Moderate amounts of unsaturated fats are good for the heart and skin. To make a healthy salad dressing, try a combination of avocado and parsley. The mild mixture is refreshing when sprinkled over a tossed green salad. Avocado and crushed garlic, lemon juice, and sea salt is another worth trying salad dressing. If you are planning to mix by shaking, use a fork first to mash the avocado.

Cottage Cheese and Dill

Cottage cheese is known a good source of calcium and protein which when combined with dill produces a flavorful and healthy salad dressing combination. Try mixing half a cup of cottage cheese and freshly chopped dill. Salt and pepper are all you need to season. For my cottage cheese, I like to top it with nice fresh or canned fruit juice, but cucumber and a little salt olives are enough to make it a favorite. Get a low-fat cottage cheese with less than five grams of fat per serving.

For subscribers, amaze yourself at how salad dressings can be one of the easiest things to make. Remember that nothing dresses up greens so well as a homemade dressing. You may begin experimenting any of the above salad dressing tips to any of the 5 fresh and green salad recipes (below) featured at Your Smart Kitchen’s latest newsletter. Sign up if you’re new.

1. Roast-Beef and Broccoli Salad with Creamy Horseradish Dressing
2. Grilled Skirt Steak with Fregola-Orange Salad
3. Baby Kale and Steak Salad
4. Jicama, Kirby and Carrot Salad with Charred Lamb
5. Grilled Pork Tenderloin Salad

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June 19, 2013

High-End, Classic Chili

There are some 500 chili competitions held every year across the world. Add to that the large selection of questionable chili powders and low quality meats, and this classic American dish has developed an identity crisis. In an attempt to bring back the original chili dish, three chefs with chili expertise are interviewed.

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High-End, Classic Chili

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June 18, 2013

Potato Cheese Chowder that’s Kind of Heavenly

This soup, cheesy as it is, makes a kind of favorite. There’s just something about potato cheese chowders that many of us can’t seem to get behind. This recipe is thick and hearty, warm and full of potato richness swimming in the cheddar cheese melt-ness. Paired with your favorite slice of hot bread – they are right, it’s kind of heaven.

potato-cheese-chowder

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups raw potatoes, diced
2 cups boiling water
2 cubes chicken bouillon
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup green pepper, finely chopped
2 tbsp flour
2 cups milk
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 1/2 cups strong cheddar cheese, finely grated
Chopped parsley

Directions

Cook potatoes in boiling water until tender. Drain, saving cooking water. Add bouillon cubes to hot liquid and stir until dissolved.

Melt butter in a saucepan. Add onion and green pepper and cook gently 3 minutes, stirring. Sprinkle in flour and let bubble. Remove from heat. Add milk and potato water all at once. Stir in salt and pepper. Return to moderate heat and cook until boiling and smooth, stirring constantly. Turn heat to low and simmer 2 minutes.

Add cheese and stir until cheese is melted. Stir in potatoes and heat well. Serve very hot, sprinkled with chopped parsley.

Tips for making potato soup recipes:

Soup does not have to be blended but if you do wish to blend your soup there are a few options. The most common way is to use a blender. In this method, wait until your soup is lukewarm. Running boiling hot soup through a blender is asking for trouble, since the pressure inside the blender will blow the top off and decorate your whole kitchen with potato soup. Fill the blender halfway every time.

A hand or stick blender is an ideal option for daily use. Easy to clean, you can run it under running water. It has 4 interchangeable blades, including a whisk attachment and you can mix in any container. The perfect alternative for the smaller kitchen or to hauling out the big blender.

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June 17, 2013

Penne with Sausage, Tomatoes and Potatoes and Zucchini Flowers

There are cooks making use of good fortune considering plants from a garden. Living in Phoenix, it is hard to grow vegetables in a garden. Luckily, Giangi’s neighbors successfully grew zucchini, squash and herbs and were nice enough to allow her to use some in a penne recipe. What is this all about?

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Penne with Sausage, Tomatoes and Potatoes and Zucchini Flowers

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June 16, 2013

Steaming Vegetables

How do you enjoy fresh, steamed vegetables prepared in a bamboo steamer? Each time, a vibrant, satisfying reminder of just how good vegetables can be when prepared simply with care and intent. A bamboo steamer is inexpensive, easy to use, and steams vegetables quickly. There is always an easy recipe at the end that can be made with a variety of vegetables which uses the bamboo steamer.

[Editor’s Note: Another green steamer/cookware alternative is a Pro Multi-Use Pot that can steam, simmer, stew, boils and blanch vegetables.]

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Steaming Vegetables

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