Tuesday, 26 August 2008
So, you know you're eating out too much, you've added a few pounds, and the cost is starting to get out of hand. But with your busy schedule and limited energy, where do you start to find the right meal planning idea that will work for your family? Are you one of the people who check with a search engine online about how to plan a spaghetti dinner?
Here are five ideas to get you started:
1. Set up a meal exchange with one or two families each week and agree to try it for a couple of months. Make a double batch of your favorite taco salad to deliver and know that you will have a prepared meal in exchange one night a week. Split the cost of inexpensive containers and lids that can go between homes.
2. If you are tempted to go out to eat, but it's not in the budget right now, you can cook your favorite Red Lobster's garlic cheese biscuits or Cracker Barrel Hash Brown Casserole. Just do an online search for words such as "copy cat recipes" or "top secret recipes." Before long your kitchen will start smelling like you work at the Olive Garden. This is a great way to create healthy meal plans for teens that don't want to join you for dinner any longer.
3. Consider trying a meal preparation service like Dream Dinners. For a set price, you go in and choose meals based on your family's likes, dislikes, eating restrictions, and budget. Then you prepare the meals right there and package them up to bring them home to your freezer. The result? Fast healthy dinner plans and finished meals. The cost may be a bit more than if you did it in your own kitchen, but it's significantly less than eating out and much healthier. It's a good chance to learn how to cook better too.
4. Avoid the temptation purchase entire meals of take-out. Instead, mix part of a meal from your favorite restaurant with a partially prepared meal at home. For example, it simple and inexpensive to make a large Greek salad with tossed with dressing, olives and feta cheese. Then order a large side order of Gyro meat from your local Greek restaurant. You'll get more value for your money and also have a fresh meal of something you typically would not make at home.
5. Get organized with meal planning by deciding what works best for your schedule. Can you make a double batch of meat loaf and freeze half for another evening? Online you can find various dinner menu planning software systems. Or find a blank print out of a weekly meal plan. Does it help to break down the dinners by style of foods? For example, plan six night's meals as: two - fish; one - poultry; one - beef; one - salad; one - sandwich.
The last step is to start flipping through magazines, dusting off those old cookbooks, and taking a poll of your family member's favorite meals. Then start your planning and grocery list. Within just a few days you will likely have at least twenty recipes and that can get you through about six weeks of meals. And forgo taking all the responsibility for meals. Make everyone get involved by making the kids responsible for one meal a week; bribe your spouse to accompany you to a Dream Dinner style meal preparation jaunt. In no time your dinner blues will disappear and leave you with a wonderful feeling of accomplishment... and relief!
Do you have a chronic illness? Get the first 40 pages of "Beyond Casseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend" when you sign up for our monthly ezine HopeNotes at http://www.restministries.org/res-ezine.htm - Plus find other articles all related to chronic illness and information on National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week at http://www.restministries.org - Lisa Copen is the founder of Rest Ministries which serves the chronically ill through Christian resources and other programs and support group materials.
Thursday, 21 August 2008
Preparing a meal isn't really a chore. All you need is proper planning. And also you need to remember that cooking is an art, you can easily prepare gourmets for the family. Moreover, there are so many simple recipes available for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Have a folder dedicated to these recipes, make a list and swap your menu accordingly.
Some helpful tips:
- Plan your weekly menu ahead of time, do the necessary grocery shopping.
- Stock up all the basics that you'll need for the whole week, buy some extras as well. You never know when a guest might land. Have adequate quantities of vegetables, fresh fruits, rice, whole grains, bread, pita bread, brown rice and pasta, yoghurt, milk, cheese, fish, lean meat, poultry, beans, eggs, lentils, seeds and nuts. You'll also need some essential spices to prepare a meal, stock up those as well.
- Store the raw materials on the basis of your planned menu. That will save you some time.
- Have some quick to serve recipes of salads, toppings etc, at hand. These are quick snacks, easy to prepare and serve.
- Have stock of chicken breasts (frozen), they are the main ingredient of every meal, very easy to cook and everyone loves chicken. You can just dump it in the oven and get it baked.
- You can opt for ready-to-eat foods; these are usually frozen and canned. Not all of us prefer canned food, it depends actually. If there's no time absolutely, then only one might use these canned food. You get everything in frozen form, from veggies to fruits, salad greens, salmon, beans and meat.
- You can always store cooked food in advance, that save time and gives you space as well. If you are cooking rice tonight, cook double meals. The leftovers can be used the next day. Always cook twice the amount that will help you prepare different meals every day, with same ingredients; just a slight swapping is needed.
- Baking is easier and even quicker. Moreover, you won't need to clean up piles of dishes.
- Do the dough making business all at once and refrigerate. You can also store soups and stews in batches.
- Always cut the fresh vegetables in advance; it takes a lot of time. Veggies are very healthy and you must include it in your diet. Avoid these hassles when you are cooking. Always cut the vegetables and freeze.
- You can use a slow cooker for cooking healthy and nutritious meals. You can place the ingredients that need to be cooked just before leaving home, once you are back, your meal is ready. Recipes for slow cooker can also be availed.
Are you doubtful? Can cooking really be so easy? Yes of course, if you plan well and maintain it, it can be very easy to serve the family a nutritious and healthy meal. Cooked food is far better than the canned ones, follow the above mentioned tips and you will be doing a great job.
Thursday, 14 August 2008
Now that cooking is cool again, this generation may soon surpass
their parents in the kitchen.
Cooking time is influenced by the type, size, and shape of the food,
the degree of intended doneness, the initial temperature of the food
and the oven, the idiosyncrasies of your particular stove, the
presence of other items you are cooking concomitantly, opening the
oven door, and the cooking vessel. Learning to cook will save you a
ton of money, yes, because it's much cheaper to cook at home from
basic ingredients. Like painting or dancing or a perfect tennis
serve, cooking can be one of the most fulfilling of outlets for
We know many of you already are fine cooks. Cook what you like, and
think whichever thoughts you want to. Yes, you have to practice
cooking skills. But just like you learned the lyrics to your
favourite song or how to shoot a left-handed layup, you can learn to
cook three basic pasta sauces and how to cut up onions and thicken
soup and fillet a fish -- basic techniques you can apply to hundreds of
In this part, we'll investigate whether raw food is or is not more
nutritious than cooked food. This will involve the following
considerations: What is the effect of cooking on
digestibility of various foods. Hence, it is necessary to
investigate the effects of cooking on digestibility. We'll see that
there is no general rule, and that there are many examples of foods
for which cooking improves digestibility, and many examples for which
it does not. "One of the main arguments of raw versus low-
temperature cooking is that heating above 104°F (40°C) results in
progressive enzyme damage; hence, even if you steam your vegetables,
your food is dead". It is well-known that cooking may result in some
vitamin and mineral losses. We conclude that cooking does not
represent huge nutritional losses, but of course, when the choice is
given, it is best to eat raw whatever is palatable in that form, and
to cook as little as possible when heating is necessary to improve
digestibility or to improve taste.
Foods can cook in their own natural juices, so that vitamins and
minerals are retained. The rule of thumb among foodservice
professionals is that foods should stay in the temperature range of
40 to 140 degrees as briefly as possible, because bacteria thrive in
this so-called "danger zone".
Few people in the US could agree on which foods are traditional
American cooking. For instance, bold flavors, a variety of spices
and hearty portions epitomize Louisiana dishes such as gumbo,
jambalaya, and red beans and rice prepared foods, Jan, 2005 by Bill
Hahne. To understand the cuisine of Louisiana, try to visualize a
huge cooking pot simmering with foods from France, Portugal, Spain,
Mexico, the Caribbean and even from the American Choctaw Indians,
being stirred up with soul. Much has already been said and written
about Creole and Cajun foods, the major cuisines of Louisiana.
Our cooking is as diverse as our population. But healthy cooking
isn't about subtracting from your recipes. Healthy cooking is about
good recipes that give you the maximum nutritional value for the
calories you're eating.
Feel Free to visit http://recipe.freeinfo-site.com for more cooking tips and a variety of free recipes
Wednesday, 13 August 2008
Some people can imagine chicken delicious only when it's fried. Granted one has to admit that it really does indeed taste great when cooked like that, but is it healthy? And if it is not healthy, is there another way to prepare chicken quick and easy which not only will taste great but also provide a much healthier option for those on a diet or who simply wish to watch what they and their families eat.
Well, in fact there is, there's a much better alternative of cooking it fried and indeed just as delicious, if not more - the simple question then is: Why not bake chicken?
It is not hard as it sounds either. By following simple instructions you are on your way to a healthy and great tasting meal.
To bake chicken we need either a whole chicken or 6 chicken breast pieces. Wash the dressed chicken thoroughly and coat with olive oil. Sprinkle enough salt and pepper to taste. If we want, we may put some marinade mix, like a concoction of rosemary herbs, thyme or oregano, dried or fresh. For simple marinade, try soy sauce and lemon. As we're doing these, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Now we're ready to bake chicken.
-Put the chicken on the baking dish. Then place it in the oven and make sure it is uncovered.
-Bake chicken for an hour and a half in 350 degrees till we see the chicken skin turn into a luscious and juicy golden brown.
-Place inside a meaty part of the chicken a meat thermometer to check if the meat temperature has reached 170 degrees. If it has then we're ready to take it out of the oven. To bake chicken thighs we need the meat temperature to reach 180 degrees. These standard meat temperatures make sure we bake chicken well with all parts cooked. Half-cooked chicken, or any meat for that matter, can cause stomach upset or even food poisoning.
-Then we cut the fleshy part of the meat deep. This should reveal white meat inside instead of pink and clear lip-smacking juice, not reddish. To bake chicken correctly all these tests should be satisfied. If not, we bake the chicken some more. Then we're ready to serve tender and juicy baked chicken, in all its yummy goodness.
When we opt to bake chicken we come out with a healthy and tastier chicken than when we fry it. Deep frying may be a good idea. But baked chicken is still many times better. When re-heating left-overs through the oven chicken often comes out tasting better than if we re-fry left-over chicken.
When we bake chicken we can even opt to stuff it with potatoes, or garlic and onions. There are lesser chances of burning the meat or ruining the skin cover. Lots of times, we need breading to fry chicken-that's added cholesterol. If we merely bake chicken there is no need for any covering on the skin surface.
So opt to bake chicken more often. It will surely do well for our taste, health, and family.
Friday, 08 August 2008
Healthy cooking doesn't mean that you have to pay outrageous amounts of money for a gourmet chef or those overly-priced cooking utensils, or even those expensive cookbooks. Healthy cooking also doesn't mean that you have to cut out all of the foods that you love to eat.
Essentially, many foods are very healthy. What makes them unhealthy is how people prepare and cook them. Preparing meals healthfully means that you are able to eat all of the food that you like to eat without having to feel like you are ruining your dieting plan or your health.
Cooking healthfully can be done very easily at home. You don't even need to waste time finding a recipe! Here are some tips that can help you turn your meals into healthy, wholesome food or everyone.
Techniques for Healthy Cooking
Despite what you may think, cooking methods aren't created equal. A food can be filled with all of the essential vitamins and nutrients before it is cooked, but after it is cooked the wrong way, all of the nutrients disappear. The question stands, how can you cook delicious food while keeping all of the essential vitamins and nutrients in the food?
There are many ways that you can cook your favorite foods in a healthy manner. These methods will allow you to keep all of the natural nutrients and flavors of the food without adding salt or unnecessary fats.
One way to cook food in a healthy way is Asian stir-fry. With stir-fry, small pieces of food are cooked in a large wok or a non-stick frying pan. If you use a wok, you might need to use a little bit of cooking spray because you will be constantly tossing the food, so you want to make sure that it is not sticking to the pan and causing you any sort of hassle. This works perfectly, especially if you are cooking a meal that includes noodles, rice, vegetables, and small pieces of meat.
Many times when people cook vegetables, especially Americans, they lose the nutrients that they have because salt and butter is added. When a vegetable is cooked the right way, there is hardly any need to cover up the taste with salt and fat.
Another great way to cook healthily is to use a roasting pan when cooking meat. When you use a roasting pan, all of the fat is able to drip off of the food while cooking. This way, your meat isn't soaking in all of its fats and juices while you cook it. If you want to find a way to keep your meat tasty and full of flavor, baste it with wine or lemon juice instead of using its own drippings.
If you use these tips in the kitchen, you are sure to be on your way to a healthy cooking lifestyle that you will enjoy.
Thursday, 07 August 2008
Fun loving pasta eaters, rejoice! The fennel, garlic and broccoli go very well with sliced sauteed sausage and freshly grated parmesan cheese along with the crumbled goat cheese - ciao bella! Quick and easy meal to help sneak in some veggies to unsuspecting teenagers and hubbys everywhere!
- 2 or 3 each hot and sweet sausage links, semi-frozen
- 2 small crowns of fresh broccoli
- 3-6 cloves of fresh garlic
- 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
- 1 or 2 bulbs fennel with their fawns
- Olive Oil
- Large pot of boiling water for pasta - try rotitini or penne
- One large deep skillet, enough that when after cooking sausages and veggies, you can also throw pasta in.
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
- A couple shakes of dried red pepper flakes
- Freshly cracked pepper
- Put pot on to boil for pasta
- Take out sausage from freezer, and slice links into 1/3 inch slices
- Put skillet onto stove, add small drizzle of olive oil and put sliced sausages in.
- Add red chili flakes and fresh cracked pepper - the heat from the skillet opens up their flavors.
- While the sausage cooks, mince up garlic and set aside.
- Rinse and break apart broccoli into small bite size pieces and set aside.
- Cut off frawns from fennel, and with the remaining bulb, slice thin and break apart to resemble onion slices. Set aside frawns for now.
- Once water has started to boil, add good amount of salt to water and a bit of olive oil.
- To cooking sausage slices, add sliced fennel and broccoli to skillet.
- Continue cooking broccoli, sausages and fennel allowing the fennel to caramelize along with sliced sausages.
- Mince up two tablespoons fawns from the fennel and grate up your cheese.
- Drain pasta when just al dente, but try and reserve up to 1 cup of pasta water.
- Add drained cooked pasta to deep skillet and add freshly minced garlic to the mix.
- Add 1/2 of the cheese and up to 1/2 cup pasta water and stir till all are combined. Continue cooking for one to 4 minutes. Add crumbled goat cheese.
- Serve up on plates, sprinkle a little of the minced fennel frawns and extra grated cheese. Ciao Bella! Mangia Mangia pronto!
This is one of those great tasting easy dishes, and the goat cheese once is melts creates a similar feel in your mouth to alfredo sauce but without a lot of the naughty added fat.
Leah Quinn, a multi-media artist and writer whose work specializes on food, health, feng shui, and self-improvement. http://leahquinn.com
Wednesday, 06 August 2008
Have dinner ready in a flash with these quick and easy recipes. These tasty dishes will have them asking for more!
1. Linguine with Tomato and Garlic Sauce: Boil 1 lb. linguine until tender. Sauté 3 cloves of chopped garlic and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet for one minute. Add two cans of Italian seasoned, chopped tomatoes that have been drained. Heat through. Add 1/4 cup parmesan cheese. Serves 6.
2. Chicken Taco Salad: Crumble 8 oz. tortilla chips in a large serving bowl. In a smaller bowl combine 1 can drained black beans and 8 oz. salsa. Spread mixture on top of tortilla chips. Add 12 oz. of pre-cooked chicken. Top with a small can of drained, sliced olives (black or green), and shredded cheddar cheese. Serve with sour cream. Serves 4.
3. Pork Tenderloin with Raspberry and Horseradish Sauce: Grill or oven-bake pork tenderloin according to package directions. In a small saucepan combine 1 tablespoon of horseradish and ½ of a jar of seedless raspberry preserves. Heat until preserves are melted and sauce has a smooth texture. Serve sauce with pork tenderloin and add store bought potato salad as a side dish. Servings vary according to tenderloin size.
4. Stuffed Chicken Breasts: Sprinkle 4 thin sliced chicken breasts and 4 quartered potatoes with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. On each chicken breast layer chopped scallions and shredded cheese. Roll up each breast and secure with toothpicks. Arrange chicken and potatoes in a greased or sprayed cooking pan. Spray all with cooking spray. Bake for 45 minutes or until done. Remove toothpicks and slice chicken. Serve with potatoes. Serves 4.
5. Beef Barbecue: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brown a 3 lb. rump roast, sliced lengthwise in 2 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Remove to a greased or sprayed casserole dish. Combine a 15 oz. jar of salsa, 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup water. Mix until combined. Pour over roast. Cover and bake for 2 hours. Serve with rolls and pre-made coleslaw. Serves 8.
Mary Crowther is a writer, webmaster and cook. Visit her successful website KitchenTerms.com
Tuesday, 05 August 2008
Grilling is a very important step in preparing a Barbeque. You can grill over hot live fire made from real wood or charcoal. Gas flames or briquettes can also be used but they are only substitutes and are less ideal for this case.
There are 2 types of heating; direct and indirect. I recommend indirect heating in cases where you do not need intense heating.
Just to be sure that you get the flavor right, you can add wood chips to the gas grill. It is extremely easy to control the temperature of a gas grill. To be sure that the gas grill lasts during the preparation, fill your propane canister adequately.
Are you still wondering what is the best way to cook pork? I usually put the pork in a gas grill, take a nap or go out and do some shopping and come back within three hours. Just be assured that the pork would be cooked, just the way you wanted it.
I have learn this recipe from the book "Thrill of the Grill". The co-author, Chef Chris Schlesinger showed an interesting spice rub which has proven very handy to me.
With the recipe producing a lightly smoky piece of meat which retains its flavors, the dry and the mix ingredients of the rub make this dish taste awesome. I also add some sugar, cumin, paprika and chili powder which I admit is not entirely conventional.
Once cooking is done, you can start serving the pork. Please note some instructions while you serve the pork.
Squeeze few drops of lime and Tabasco or add some chutney to the pork shoulder and serve it straight of the grill.
If you do not like it this way, you can also shred the pork in a vinegar-based red sauce.
Needless to say, this Carolina Style Barbeque will just be delicious.
If you wish to make pork steaks that are ridiculously good, refrigerate after cooking. Then slice the pork and put it back on the grill.
-- Smoked Pork Barbecue --
~ 1 pork shoulder, about 5 or 6 pounds
~ 1 tablespoon sugar
~ 2 teaspoons black pepper
~ 2 teaspoons cumin
~ 2 teaspoons mild chili powder, like ancho or New Mexico
~ 2 teaspoons paprika
~ 2 teaspoons salt
1. Start gas grill, using burners only on one side to achieve a heat of 250 to 300 degrees.
2.Put a couple of handfuls of wood chips in a tinfoil pan, and set it over working burners.
3.While grill heats, mix together dry ingredients, and rub them all over pork, including under skin as best you can and in any crevices.
4. Put pork on cool side of grill and cover. Check about 15 minutes later to make sure chips are smoking and heat is below 300F.
5. Check every hour or so in case heat escalates too much or chips need replenishing.
6. Pork is done when it reaches an internal temperature of about 190 degrees, about 4 hours later.
7. Meat will be very tender. If you like, raise heat and grill meat to crisp it up a bit.
Serve immediately, or refrigerate overnight, slice and grill (or pan-grill) individual slices.
Monday, 04 August 2008
Easy quick dinner made up in a flash, serve this up with a veggie or salad. Healthy, tender and oh so good tasting, I was surprised how quickly it all came together. Double recipe for a family of four. I am a big fan of a product named, 'Better than Bullion' which is found right next to your dried bullion cubes and chicken broth near your soup isle of the grocery store.
The product comes in a variety of flavors, I always have the chicken and beef flavor ready, and it truly makes sauces, stews and soups that much better. It is more economical than using canned chicken broth and similar products like this have been used secretly by restaurants for years. One day you should really try buying it, and then of course using it the next time you wish to make a sauce with your main dish such as a pan gravy. It truly enhances sauces easily making them taste way more complex.
So let's get cooking! This recipe calls for 1-2 pork chops per person that are 1/2 - 3/4 inches thick. Depending upon their thickness, you may need to cook your pork chops longer, so do take note. Enjoy!
- 1-2 pork chops per person 3/4 inch thick - at near room temperature
- 1 large apple - use a granny smith or red delicious
- salt and pepper
- 1 large onion sliced thinly
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/3 cup port wine (I used Sandeman's)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon 'better than bullion paste' chicken flavor (optional)
- 1 teaspoon freshly dried thyme
- olive oil and a little butter
- 1 skillet
- 1 bowl
- Sprinkle freshly cracked pepper on one side of pork chops and a little of the thyme and set aside on a plate.
- Slice onion thinly while skillet heats up on medium heat.
- Drizzle maybe 1 tablespoon olive oil into hot skillet and add onions.
- Cook for 4-6 minutes, stirring frequently.
- While onions cooking, mince up garlic and set aside.
- Once onions are cooked and slightly browned, take out of skillet and put in bowl and set aside.
- Put skillet back on heat, add a little olive oil and a teeny amount of butter and place your pork chops (spiced side down into hot skillet. Cook 3 minutes on each side.
- If you chops are thicker than 3/4 inches, you will have to cook them longer.
- Chops are done when they have just lost their pinkish color. They will continue to cook a bit once out of the skillet.
- Sprinkle salt, pepper and additional thyme on the other side of unseasoned chops.
- While chops are cooking, peel and slice thinly your apple.
- Turn chops and let brown on the other side.
- Remove chops onto a plate.
- Add apple to skillet and let brown, stirring frequently, let cook for 3-5 minutes, add a little butter if you have to. Add garlic and let cook ONE minute only, you do not wish to burn the garlic.
- Add port wine carefully to skillet, scrape bottom to remove brown bits. Add onions back to skillet. Let cook for two more minutes.
- Add bullion paste, and water and let reduce by a half. Add one small pat of butter to remaining sauce...taste for any need of salt or pepper.
- Pour mixture over your pork chops and dinner is ready.
- I was in such a hurry to eat this amazing dinner, I didn't take a photo which is unusual for me.
You could easily substitute chicken breasts for this dish, and this easily dish is also perfect to serve when you have unexpected guests. I served my dish with oven roasted fennel with freshly grated parmesan cheese and steamed broccoli. Enjoy!
Leah Quinn, a multi-media artist and writer whose work specializes on food, health, feng shui, and self-improvement. http://leahquinn.com
Friday, 01 August 2008
As a busy mom of 4, I often have the challenge of finding recipes that are tasty enough for kids, yet not the traditional chicken-nuggets-or-hot-dogs kind of menu my kids would eat everyday if they were allowed to do so. Add the convenience of using the crockpot, which is such an amazing time saver, and you've got the makings of a great recipe.
This simple seafood soup
feeds 8-10 people, and has the Kenny children seal of approval. It is also fairly inexpensive, with ingredients that you can find in any grocery store. We usually serve it with homemade bread & a big salad.
3 cans of cheddar cheese soup, 3 cans of cream of potato soup, 6 cans of milk, 1 8oz. package of imitation crab meat, 1 can of chopped or minced clams, 1 can of shrimp, choice of spices to taste.
First, empty all cans of soup (both kinds) into the crockpot. Add 6 cans of milk, using the soup cans. Mix together with a whisk. Add clams & shrimp, including liquid in the cans. Mix with whisk. Cut up the crab meat into bite-sized pieces. Mix with whisk again. Add your choices of spices to taste and whisk one final time. Cook in crockpot on high for 4 to 6 hours. Stir before serving.
This recipe serves approximately 10 bowls of soup, and freezes very well. For added flair, you may also use canned crab or lump crab. This soup can be very versatile. If you do not enjoy potatoes in your soup, I recommend you use 6 cans of cheddar cheese soup, leaving out the cream of potato soup completely. Hope you enjoy the soup!