Archive for Food and Drink

4 Cooking Tips for Busy People

Comments Off

1411914_hand_holding_carrots

The conveniences of modern life certainly make things easier in myriad ways, but they can also negatively impact our health. Busy lifestyles can make for some unhealthy habits, especially when it comes to our diets. Many of us lament our poor diets but say we are too busy to cook healthy meals; well, I am here to challenge that notion. It may take a bit more effort but eating right is always an option, no matter what your schedule. You just need to adopt some strategies that ensure easier access to healthy meals. Here are some cooking tips for busy people that I have adopted over time and have worked for me.

Stock It Up

It is amazing how much more motivated you will be to cook a healthy meal at home when you arrive to a fully stocked fridge, freezer and pantry. When we come home from a long, tiring day, the last thing we feel like doing is trekking to the supermarket. Stock your house with long-lasting ingredients that can easily be combined for a healthy meal. Get plenty of whole grain pastas and rice, fresh vegetables that keep for awhile, such as potatoes, carrots and onions, sauces, frozen meats and soup stock.

Make a Plan

Planning out your meals for the week can do wonders for ensuring you prepare healthy home-cooked meals; sit down and write out what you plan to make each night so you can pick it all up at the store. No law against eating the same thing twice, so maybe you can plan to make a big pot of soup or a casserole that can last for a few meals—freeze what you do not use for use later on.

Batch

Batching your cooking tasks is also a great timesaver for us busy bees who find it hard to find the time to cook. You will be amazed at how much time you can save by setting aside a set time to prep your meals for the week. Then, when it comes time to actually prepare the food, you just need to do a few quick things to pull it all together. Cut up all the vegetables you will need for the week and put them in some Tupperware—you might consider investing in some quality chef knives to speed up chopping time. Make your pasta sauce now; prepare the casserole so all you need to do is stick it in the oven tomorrow. Make the rice now and just reheat later on in the week. Make your soup now and simply thaw it out when you walk in the door.

Get a Crock Pot

I love my crock pot…stick in some ingredients at the beginning of the day and when I come home at night, I have a healthy, fresh meal all ready to go. You can make all sorts of things in this wonderful contraption from soups to pot roast and potatoes. If you are a busy person complaining you have no time to cook, getting one is a must.

About the Author: Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who enjoys blogging about cooking; she recommends visiting www.nisbets.com for a quality selection of cooking items.

Photo Credit

May 28, 2013 |  by  |  Food and Drink  |  Comments Off

Eat, Drink and Be Merry Without Busting Your Wedding Budget: 6 Tips

Comments Off

When it comes to paying for a wedding, your money is being pulled in a lot of different directions. Most of us are operating on some sort of budget and cannot just spend on anything we want. One of the biggest expenses is food and drinks for the reception and doing anything you can to save here, while still having a great wedding, is worth the effort if you are truly on a budget.

Choose a Venue That Allows Outside Catering

If you are really looking to get the best deal on everything for your wedding, choose a venue that allows you to choose your own caterer. This will give the opportunity to really shop around and you have a better chance of planning the exact menu—or as close to it as you can—that takes your budget into account.

Pick a Menu with In Season Foods

As you know from shopping at the grocery store, there is a big price difference in price for food, depending on whether it is in season at the moment of purchase; that fact goes the same goes for your wedding menu. To provide out of season foods, they must be brought in from long distances, which equals higher prices. This price difference can really add up when you are purchasing meals for a whole wedding reception.

Make Your Own Appetizers

Making your own appetizers rather than going with the ones provided by a caterer can save you up to 50 percent of what you would spend for this part of the meal. There are plenty of delicious, quality frozen appetizers that can be warmed up prior to the cocktail hour. There are also a plethora of quick, easy recipes available online.

Limit the Open Bar/Bring Your Own Alcohol

If you are going to have an open bar, consider limiting the selections to wine and beer. Most people just want to get drunk and have a good time and will be happy with anything they can get their hands on.  Make the open bar available during certain times, such as during cocktail hour or after dinner. Also, you might consider serving one signature drink to cut down on alcohol costs. Maybe it could be you and your groom’s favorite; see if BYOB is an option.

Skip the Traditional Sit-Down Meal and Wedding Cake

If you are open to bucking some traditional wedding staples, going for more substantial appetizers in lieu of a formal sit-down meal can save you some money. I know a lot of people love that fancy wedding cake, but it can cost big bucks. Consider cupcakes, a sweets bar where you serve all sorts of goodies, like candy, cookies and brownies.

Check Carefully for Any Hidden Fees

Go over charges carefully to get the full picture. Venues may charge for things that are not explicitly discussed and digging a little deeper can save you money. For example, their total fee may include things like cutting the cake or having servers hand out the champagne, or other things that you could do yourself or that you do not necessarily want.

Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who enjoys helping her clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. As far as the wedding business goes, she suggests you check out EasyLimo for limo hire in London.

Photo Credit:http://www.flickr.com/photos/gracefulcakecreations/

 

 

August 21, 2012 |  by  |  Food and Drink  |  Comments Off

Suzy’s Hot Stuff Salsa Wins a Blue Ribbon at the County Fair

Comments Off

hot-stuff-salsa-labelsThe annual summer county fair is something many families look forward to. Suzy’s been entering cooking competitions there for quite some time – but has never come home with a ribbon or a prize. She’s entered pies, jams and other sweet treats. Even trying her Great Grammy’s tried and true melt in your mouth recipes didn’t persuade the judges to pick Suzy. She still went home with no prize – only the fun memory of attending the county fair that year.

That is until she discovered personalized labels to add to her salsa jars. Now don’t think the labels actually won her the prize – we all know Suzy’s delicious Hot Stuff Salsa is what brought home the Blue Ribbon she so deeply desired. But Suzy found these great looking personalized labels she could add to her salsa jars and realized that her salsa could look just a little more special than the other jars. And that pushed her to try customizing her Hot Stuff recipe a few more times until she came up with the special ingredients (we’ll never tell!) that make Hot Stuff the truly tasty salsa it is. You’ve just got to try it!

Suzy put red and green chili peppers on her Hot Stuff salsa labels. And her full name – because as a County Fair contest entry she wanted to be sure the judges knew whose salsa they were enjoying. She didn’t want her salsa jars getting mixed up with anyone else’s. Her personalized labels had a red, green and black color scheme. She used red and green for the accent colors and black as the font.

We think Suzy was extra savvy about her labels. She added special touches like the red and green chili peppers to stand out. And the red and green colors for a bright effect. Today’s personalized labels give you lots of choices. But Suzy was also very wise when it came to her font. She chose Ariel, an easy to read font that is very simple for a printer to reproduce. Some folks who create a label choose a fancy font like a script or calligraphy style font – and then they are frustrated and so disappointed when people can’t read their labels well. Better to go with something a bit basic we say – and let everyone read it easily.

Suzy was extra pleased as she had enough room to add an Ingredients section to her label. Many folks today want to know exactly what is in a food item, whether for dietary or allergy concerns. Suzy thinks this helped to make her Hot Stuff salsa even more popular at the County Fair.

So we’ll admit we weren’t at all surprised when Suzy was awarded that Blue Ribbon for her yummy salsa. And Suzy’s hard at work on next year’s recipe – making it hotter than ever. She’s even picked out her product labels by Maverick Label for the jars!

Labels help you get organized…and be successful.

June 19, 2012 |  by  |  Food and Drink  |  Comments Off
Great Ways to Cook with Eggs

Great Ways to Cook with Eggs

Comments Off

Just about everybody knows how to make scrambled eggs. But there are many other ways to cook with the versatile, protein-packed egg that are good for you. Unfortunately, many people avoid eating eggs because they assume the cholesterol is bad for you and can cause heart disease. However, eggs are a healthy food, low in calories and fat, and have plenty of protein to build muscle.

The reality is that most of the fear of eggs is a myth pushed by a rather ignorant media. There is really no connection between eating eggs and developing heart disease in people who are healthy to start with, that is. Did you know that one large egg has 6 grams of protein? It also has 13 vitamins and minerals that are essential to your health. There is 215 mg of cholesterol in the typical egg yolk.

The important thing to remember when cooking eggs is to prepare them in ways that are healthy. When are doing various egg recipes in a skillet, there rarely is any need to lay down a lot of oil or butter. Most nonstick skillets can handle an egg with virtually no oil at all.

Some of the very tasty and healthy ways you can cook eggs include the following:

How to Make Scrambled Eggs

Use one tablespoon of skim milk for every egg you are going to eat. Whisk it all together and add a bit of salt/pepper. Heat a teaspoon of butter or olive oil on medium heat, and then pour in your eggs. Don’t stir them. Just turn and fold them with a spoon, after the liquid is all set.

scrambled-eggs

How to make delicious, fluffy scrambled eggs

Making scrambled eggs isn’t an art form, but taking the time to scramble them into a delicious breakfast may be.

Hard Boiled Eggs

Put your eggs in a large saucepan so that they are one layer across the water. Cover the eggs with an inch of water. When the water boils, you should remove the saucepan from the stove top. My personal favorite way to make sure the shell is easy to peel is to immediately empty the hot water from the pan, but leave the eggs inside. Immediately run cold water over the eggs in your sink. Let the water overflow the pan and continue to put in fresh cold water for about three minutes. This will usually result in the shell contracting from the egg itself and makes the eggs a breeze to peel and enjoy.

How to Make an Omelet

Omelets are a great way to make a delicious egg recipe that is very healthy. You can add veggies to your omelet, including peppers and onions. For a regular omelet, you will want to whist your two eggs with 2 tablespoons of cold water and a bit of salt/pepper. Do your skillet as you did for your scrambled eggs. However, as your eggs cook, push the egg edges into the center of the skillet until the entirety of the uncooked egg liquids that want to flow below becomes solid. If you like to add cheese or veggies, put them in half of the egg. Fold it over the other side of the egg, then put it on the plate.

How to Make Fried Eggs

To fry your egg, you just need about a teaspoon of a heart-healthy oil. Heat the oil until it is hot. Crack your egg and put it as gently as you can into the skillet. Cut the heat to low, and let the egg cook on one side for five minutes. The yolk will start to get thick, then you just need to decide if you want the egg sunny side up, or if you want it over easy. If you like a hard yolk, as I do, flip it over and cook it for another 4-5 minutes.

Visit protctorsilex.com for the best slow cookers and toasters.

March 8, 2012 |  by  |  Best Of, Food and Drink  |  Comments Off

Tips for Buying and Cooking Your Fish

how-to-cook-fish

Making fish for dinner isn’t as complex as many seem to believe. Fish is very tasty, versatile and healthy, and it should be part of your dinner menu every week. We like to have fish for dinner at least three times per week, and there are so many tasty fresh varieties of fish to choose from in the modern supermarket. To make your fish dinner as easy as possible, we have some tips for you to follow below.

When it comes to buying your fish, we like to buy whole, fresh fish when we can. It is simply better tasting when it is so fresh. However, you should look for fish that look as if they were just taken out of the water that day. You should look for fins that are glistening, eyes that are not cloudy, and gills that look clean and fresh. If it smells too fishy, you should not buy it. It always is a good idea to ask the people at the counter which is the freshest fish of the day.

If you are going to buy frozen fish, you should make sure that ice crystals are not built up inside the wrap. Also be on the look out for discoloration on the fish skin. The fish at the store should be stored at 35 degrees or so F.

When you bring your fish home, you should wash it, dry it off with a paper towel and put it in wax paper. Then, put it in a plastic, sealed container at about 35 degrees until you are going to cook it.

If you want to freeze your fish, you should wash the fresh fish and put it in the freezer on a tray. Once that first coat of ice has formed, you should put it in ice water and put it back in the freezer. Do this until you have a glaze on the fish. Next you wrap it up in wax paper or in plastic and put it in a freezer bag and store it. You should store the fish at zero degrees F, and you should eat it in 6 months. If the fish is very fatty, you should eat it in two months or less.

When you thaw your fish, do not let it sit at room temperature. You should leave it in your fridge over night, or in cold water for a couple of hours. We like to thaw fish in milk. It seems to get rid of the frozen taste and makes the fish taste fresh. After you have thawed your fish, you should not freeze it again. Use it immediately or toss it.

If you intend to fry, grill or broil your fish, you should totally thaw it. This will keep you from getting spattered with oil or having it cook unevenly. If you are going to steam or poach, you do not need to pre-thaw the fish.

One way we like to cook the fish is to do the entire fish. This is a great way to cook it. Whole and still on the bones is a great way to keep the fish moist and to get all of the natural flavor. You can put it in the oven in aluminum foil with lemon, butter and wine. Put the fish on stalks of green onion or celery; this will let air and heat circulate around the fish, and will give it a great, subtle added flavor. It is a good idea to leave the head and tail so you get as much moistness in your fish as you can. We always find that this is one of the tastiest ways to enjoy fresh fish.

Written by Lawrence Reaves for HamiltonBeach.com, a company that provides tools for you to make fabulous meals – tools like toasters and slow cookers and other small kitchen appliances.

March 8, 2012 |  by  |  Food and Drink  |  1 Comment