Friday, 27 February 2009
If you would like to plan a romantic Italian dinner for you and your loved one, then that does not mean that you have to get in the car and drive off to the Italian restaurant across town. Instead, why not try your hand at some Italian cooking at home?
Here are two easy courses that you can whip up in your own kitchen to surprise your loved ones with a romantic Italian dinner for two. Finish the meal off with tiramisu, gelato, or other Italian dessert.
For the first course of your romantic Italian dinner, why not try some pasta fagioli? This soup is a classic at fine Italian restaurants, and can be accompanied by garlic bread or rolls. You will need:
• 6 ounces of smoked bacon, diced
• 1 Cup onions, diced
• 1 Cup carrots, diced
• 1 Cup celery, diced
• A 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
• Two 15 oz. cans of cannellini beans, drained
• 1 Quart beef broth
• 2 Cups water
• 2 bay leaves
• 1 Cup dried pasta (ditalini is preferred, but you can also use elbow macaroni)
• 4 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 Tablespoons savory, minced
• 1 Tablespoon sage leaves, chopped
• 1 teaspoon salt
• ½ teaspoon black pepper
• Parmesan cheese
To prepare the soup, start by cooking the bacon until it is lightly browned and then drain on a paper towel. Set aside two tablespoons of the drippings and discard the rest. Pour the saved drippings into a stock pot and add the vegetables, cooking on medium heat until the onions are translucent.
Add in the canned vegetables, broth, water, and bay leaves, bring to a simmer, and allow to cook for a half hour. Remove the bay leaves and half the beans. Puree half the beans and then return them to the pot, bringing the entire mixture to a boil before reducing back down to medium.
Add in the pasta, seasoning, and bacon and allow to cook 10-15 minutes or until pasta is done, stirring frequently. Garnish with cheese.
The second course of your romantic Italian dinner can be chicken piccata. If you would like, you can serve this over noodles or rice.
• 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts
• 3 Cups of vegetable oil
• ½ Cup all purpose flour
• 2 eggs
• ¼ cup water
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ¼ teaspoon black pepper
• 1/3 Cup lemon juice
• 1 Cup Italian white wine
• 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon
• ½ Cup hot water
• 2 Tablespoons corn starch
• 2 Tablespoons cold water
• ¼ Cup fresh lemon thyme leaves
• 1Tablespoon capers
Remove the tendons and fat from the chicken and then pound flat. Cut into two inch pieces. Heat the oil in a large pan. Combine flour, eggs, water, salt, and pepper in a bowl, use to coat the chicken. Fry chicken until golden brown, drain on a paper towel.
For the sauce, heat the lemon juice and wine in a small pan. Dissolve the bouillon in hot water and then add to the mixture. Make a paste with the cold water and corn starch, add to the pan. Whisk continuously as you heat the sauce to a boil. Turn the heat to low and simmer until sauce has thickened.
Add in the chicken pieces and cook for about five minutes to reheat. Remove from heat and stir in lemon thyme, sprinkle with capers. Serve. This is an easy romantic Italian dinner that you can serve tonight for your loved one.
Wednesday, 25 February 2009
have not always been a chef. In fact, I was a very picky eater
In 2002 after taking various cooking vacations with my husband,
I am not sure if this happens to other chefs, but one of the down
In fact, I love going to other peoples' homes. Like every other working
For me, eating out in a restaurant is rather boring. Most reasonably priced
And making friends with a chef and cooking for him and her will be
Monday, 23 February 2009
Shrimps are always a great choice for a meal. It is tasty, quick to prepare and versatile. Shrimp can be prepared in several ways and combined with so many different ingredients. You can, for instance, prepare great salads with shrimp. Shrimp salad is a great dish not only for hot summer days, but for every day of the year. A shrimp salad can be served as appetizer or as a meal on its own. It will only depend on the ingredients used to prepare the recipe. A shrimp recipe with green leaves makes a healthy, light appetizer. On the other side, a shrimp recipe with noodle or rice will be a great meal.
Below, you can find some great variations of shrimp salad recipe. Just try and enjoy them!
Spicy Shrimp Salad with Mango Dressing
1 mango, peeled
Shrimp Pasta Salad with Artichoke Hearts
1/3 cup corn oil
In a large bowl combine shrimp, pasta, artichokes, red pepper, olives and onions. Toss gently to coat. Cover and chill for 1 hour.
Shrimp and Rice Salad
1 cup uncooked rice
Serve at room temperature, sprinkled with sesame seeds and surrounded by snow peas on a large platter or shallow bowl. It makes 6 servings.
Thursday, 19 February 2009
Planning economical meals will not only stretch your grocery dollar but can also produce more nutritious and interesting meals. Some of the suggestions in this article will help you save money in your weekly food budget while cooking tasty and appealing food for your family.
This article is not going to be about saving money by sacrificing quality or variety. Meals need to be tasty and enjoyable; and satisfaction in cooking comes from sharing excellent food that contributes to a sense of comfort and connectedness with those we love. Some articles about eating on a limited budget will urge you to give up (or save for special occasions) some of the foods that you consider important for your well being. So, it is important not to economize in ways that will result in boring or inedible meals, unhappy and hungry diners, or a depressed cook. It is possible to save money and still have pleasing food on the table as well as coffee in the morning and treats when needed.
First of all, consider the likes, dislikes and dietary requirements of those in your household. You want to cook food that others will look forward to eating; and make mealtimes stress free and relaxing. For instance, it is false economy to buy liver because it is on special at the supermarket if no one will eat it. This is an extreme example, but you get the point.
On the other hand, make an effort to broaden the variety of food choices and decide together to try at least one new dish each week. Initially, it is a good idea to stick to nothing out of the ordinary rather than exotic choices. The more people involved in cooking in your household, the more everyone will buy into change. Some families like to have kids cook one meal a week; or, if you are a two person household try to share some of the cooking.
When planning economical meals you should also take into account how much time you have available to cook as well as how much you like to cook. Retired folks or those who work in the home may make different menu choices than those who are away all day. Whatever your circumstances, you can save money on your food selection. Buy a slow cooker if spending lots of time in the kitchen is not an option or an interest.
Slow Cookers are extremely versatile and use much less electricity than an oven. You can put all the ingredients for a meal into the cooker in the morning and come home to a ready to eat dinner. Because the food is braised at low heat, less expensive cuts of meat will be tender and delicious when cooked by this method.
Probably, the key to success in saving money on your grocery bill is menu planning. While it takes time in the beginning to get into the habit, the payoffs are worth it in the long run. Not only will you save money; but your meals will have more variety. And, no more last minute panic about what to cook for dinner.
Keep track of what you spend on food for a couple of weeks. Include last minute and impulsive purchases. Also consider how much food you throw out in leftovers or spoilage in an average week. Check the calendar and consult with others in the household about activities for the week that will affect meal planning. Read up on the specials at your supermarket. Ask members of your household to contribute ideas about what they would like to eat.
Use the resources of the internet and cookbooks to find recipes that feature economical dishes. Explore the cuisine from other countries for new food ideas. When planning your menus make sure to incorporate leftovers into a future meal. Compare what you spend on groceries when buying according to your menu plan with what you previous spent. Hopefully you have saved money and reduced waste.
Watch for the next article about economical meal planning, focusing on food buying and preparation tips, to help you save money in your weekly grocery budget.
Wednesday, 18 February 2009
The secret to good Alfredo sauce is a combination of ingredients and technique. Unlike many Italian dishes, Alfredo sauce is extremely rich, with the base ingredient being cream. This makes this dish an excellent alternative to the standard red sauces and meats normally associated with Italian meals.
When you go to make your Alfredo sauce, you should make certain you have all of your ingredients prepared in advance. The process of making the sauce goes by very quickly, so you will want to make certain you have everything nearby so that you do not risk scorching your cream as you cook. As scorching the cream is the most common cause of ruin of an Alfredo dish, this simple preparation can prevent disaster.
The common ingredients of standard Alfredo sauce are:
- Heavy Cream
- White Salt
- Parmesan Cheese
Cooking times and amounts may vary from recipe to recipe. Also, ingredients may be altered depending on whether or not there are attempts at making the Alfredo more healthy. As Alfredo is so heavy on cream, butter and cheese, it is often viewed as a treat or avoided on many diets.
Once you have your ingredients prepared, there are several things that you can do to prevent ruining your dish.
1: Prepare your Pan
Scorching Alfredo is only the first of the risks. By properly preparing your pan by preheating and cooling the pan slightly with water, you can prevent the cream from scorching. When the cream is added to the pan, it should be done off of the heat, with the cream being returned to the heat after it has been warmed in the pan.
2: Remember to stir frequently
Reducing cream by half requires patience and dedication. Alfredo is not a sauce that you can leave alone for long. Plan to make your Alfredo sauce when you can dedicate time to it. This will prevent your cream from burning.
3: Do not add cheese while sauce is on the burner
A common mistake is for individuals to add the butter and cheese to the sauce while it is still on the burner. Do not make this error unless the recipe calls otherwise. The most common recipes do not add cheese or butter while the cream is on the heat, as this can cause the cheese to stick to the pan or the butter to cause the cream to separate. While mainly affecting aesthetics and lengthening cleanup time, it can also affect the flavor of the dish.
4: Have your pasta pot prepared in advance
Alfredo sauce is best eaten immediately. Before you begin cooking, have your water for your pasta already prepared, and the amount of pasta you want cooked put to the side. Start boiling the water part way through the sauce making process so that your Alfredo sauce and pasta finish at the same time.
5: Add toppings
Alfredo sauce is flexible. Great with meats and seafoods, as well as with vegetables, you can easily turn Alfredo into a one course meal. Prepare any toppings in advance, and warm them on a grill prior to serving. In the case of zucchini and other vegetations that do not sit well, put them on the grill or in the frying pan just as the sauce is nearing completion.
Ferdinand Okeke is the author of the Beginners Guide To Cooking With Seasonings http://www.seasoningz.com also he has released a new book How To Make Gourmet Sauces At Home http://www.seasoningz.com/Sauces
Tuesday, 17 February 2009
Wild salmon is the perfect option for almost any meal. The question is just how to cook salmon fillet in order to coax the fish out to its full potential. The light flakey flesh melts in your mouth and partners well with anything from grilled vegetables to garlic mashed potatoes. The only problem with this delicious dish is that it can easily be overcooked. The key is to cook it quickly. There are many ways to prepare wild salmon, it works well raw for dishes such as sashimi, but if you wish to apply some heat to the fish there is no shortage of options.
Salmon can be broiled, deep fried, baked, pan fried, boiled, sautéed, microwaved, or barbequed. With this wide variety of cooking methods a person must simply choose their preference of how to cook salmon fillet. The fish can be done cooking within just a few minutes. In order to see if the salmon is done, simply cut into the flesh and see if opaque color of the center is gone. While the need for attention can make cooking salmon fillet a little more stressful, you get a buttery, flaky dish within only a few minutes.
The beauty and simplicity of preparing salmon is heightened when it is wild. The delicious flavor and texture of wild salmon fillet means that the dish requires little garnishing with spices or sauces. A little salt, pepper, lemon slices, and rosemary folded into a tinfoil pouch with wild salmon fillets and popped in the oven for a few minutes makes for a tasty and flavorful meal. If you wish to be even simpler, then just brush the fillet with olive oil and chopped garlic, pan sear it for a few minutes and a gourmet meal is ready almost instantly. While learning how to cook salmon fillet can be a little difficult, once the skill is mastered there is a whole world of cooking out there to be explored.
Monday, 16 February 2009
Short on time but want to make healthy food recipes for your family? Here are three yummy examples.
Pasta with Spring Vegetables
Spring is a prime time for fresh crisp vegetables. Cook your favorite pasta until it's nearly done. For every serving add one cup of raw vegetables. For example: if you're serving six people you would add six cups of veggies. Spring vegetables could include fresh or frozen peas, asparagus, baby carrots, and cherry tomatoes. Add the veggies to the pasta about 3 to 4 minutes before it's done. You want the vegetables cooked but still crisp. Remove from the heat and strain. Add a handful of your favorite fresh herbs, basil, thyme, parsley are all good choices and a tablespoon of virgin olive oil for each serving. Toss. Add some crunchy bread and dinner is ready.
Citrus Chicken Breasts.
For each serving use one chicken breast with the skin on. Slice a lemon, lime and orange. Place a slice of each under the skin directly on the meat of the breast. Place the breasts on the remaining slices of fruit. Squeeze additional citrus juice over the breasts. Salt and Pepper to taste. Bake in a slow oven 300 degrees for about an hour until the chicken is done. Slow roasting preserves the juiciness of the chicken. It also means the sugar in the citrus juices won't burn.
Serve with brown rice that you've baked in the oven in a separate pan and a fresh crisp green salad. The dressing for the salad can be 1/2 cup of citrus juice, 1/4 cup of olive oil, salt and pepper to echo the flavors of the chicken.
Each serving is about 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of veggies. That sounds like a lot but veggies shrink as they're cooked. Select from zucchini, carrots, endive, yes you can grill endive, eggplant, portabella mushrooms, celery, yams, red onions, and white potatoes. Rinse and scrub the veggies. You don't have to peel. Clean and scrub veggies. Cut in half or in two inch chunks. Marinate in balsamic vinegar to which you've added crushed garlic, pepper, and fresh herbs.
Grill the vegetables directly on the grill if they're cut in half. Or thread the the chunks onto skewers and grill as veggie kabobs.
And there you have 3 healthy food recipes for dinner.
Tuesday, 10 February 2009
Generally appetizers are used in the parties to have a fun filled atmosphere. The appetizer ideas deal with every aspect of the party from planning the party to managing the party.
In many occasions, host concentrates on preparing food for the guest, which makes the guest bored and irritated. So the host should interact with the guests immediately on their arrival. For this to happen without any trouble, thorough planning should be done at least three days prior to the party. The planning involves two important planning. The first one is to decide the dishes you are going to prepare for your guest and you have to prepare all the possible stuffs as early as possible. For example, onions can be sliced and kept in a plastic cover on day before the party, which will save ample time during the party.
The second one is the maintenance of timing in the party. As in many situations, timing is vital here too. Also, each and every department in the party should be handled by a suitable person to avoid any confusion and also this can help in some emergency situation where instant response might be required.
Usually appetizers require six to seven members for an hour while three to five people are sufficient for managing the sweets and dessert items. You can also serve tea and coffee for your guests which should be provided half the glass.
When you are considering a night party, then you should be clear on what you are going to provide your guests. It is obvious that each guest likes to have something different. So it is very well advised to have various appetizer menus with variety and attractive flavors.
Monday, 09 February 2009
What better time than Valentine's Day to tell your woman how much you love her? Should you wine and dine her? Absolutely!
Nothing shows a woman that you care more than carefully planning a great evening. However, if you really want to impress her and secure your place forever in her heart, you will astonish her if you prepare a meal for her instead of taking her out to dinner. It's really a very simple thing. And let's face it, a money saver as well. We'll lead you through the process, from what kind of wine to buy to a scrumptious homemade dessert. But Shh, don't let on that you had a little help from your friends!
OK, let's begin. You have no idea what to do! You're no Julia Child in the kitchen... In fact, you aren't exactly a wine connoisseur either... But hey, you want to pull off the "greatest dinner ever." And that's exactly what we are going to help you do! Do you need to tell your woman you are doing this? No, but it would be a good idea to let her know you are making
Valentine's Day plans. That way, she will be expecting something, and won't make reservations somewhere herself. (We tend to do that!)
Here's the menu we have planned to wow her, and the steps you will need to follow to pull off this "evening to remember":
Chilled Pinot Noir
• Devise a plan. You'll first have to know when you plan to serve your feast, so you aren't heading to the supermarket 10 minutes before she's starving to death. If you have young kids, you may wish to have them in bed before you sit down to an intimate dinner for just the two of you for a change, so plan for the meal after they are in bed. If this isn't a possibility, then buy enough for everyone. If you don't have this concern, let her know you are going to need free reign in the kitchen, and it will be off-limits to her for a while. She'll love it.
• Set the table ahead of time. Don't be afraid to get creative. You can eat at the dining room table, the kitchen table, or set up a small table like a card table somewhere else in the house- maybe in front of the fireplace.
• Use the fancy dinnerware. Use cloth napkins. If you don't have cloth napkins, allow yourself time to go to the dollar store to pick these up when you go to the supermarket. Nothing says "special" like the little things!If you have good crystal, serving utensils, etc., plan on using these, too. If you have none of the above, just make sure everything matches! But go for the cloth napkins. Don't forget the candles, too. More important...don't forget to light them!
• Check to see what you have at home before you buy anything. No need to buy a bottle of Worcestershire sauce if there's already one in the refrigerator. It's not like it gets a heavy workout. Use Our Shopping list. All of the ingredients and directions are at your fingertips with our handy Valentine's Day Shopping list!
• Make sure you allow enough time to hit all the areas in the supermarket without rushing. Plan on heading to the store a couple of hours before you intend to eat. This allows a little breathing room, and time for the wine to come to the right temperature. Nowadays, we can do "one stop shopping" almost anywhere.
It's easy to pick up the makings for a delicious meal, wine, and flowers all in the same place. Here's what you will need:
1. Get yourself a good bottle of Pinot Noir wine. How good? Well, it doesn't have to cost $50, but pass on the $6.99 bottle. If you plan on having a glass ahead of dinner and one with dinner, you may want to grab 2 bottles.
2. Using the list you've prepared based on what you need and what you already have, navigate the supermarket, hitting the floral section last. You should call in the flower order ahead of time - 3 or 4 days. While most floral departments have gorgeous flowers available all the time, we are talking Valentine's Day here after all. They don't have to be roses! But make them very pretty.
• Now you simply head home, and get things going. Make the dessert first. It's simple to make, but does need time to chill.
• Make your salad. We recommend using a bin/bag of mixed, pre-washed lettuce. Easy, and you can then add cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, etc. based on how much time you have and personal preferences. Don't forget to have both of your favorite salad dressings on hand, too. Stick the prepared salad in the refrigerator, and don't add the dressing until you're ready to serve. Nothing worse than soggy salad!
• Set up the coffee pot. Hit the brew switch when clearing the table from the main course. If she likes tea, set up for this now also.
• Prepare the potatoes. These are also easy to prepare, but need about 35 minutes to bake. If you only have one oven like most of us, these can sit after they've baked while you change the oven to broil and put the steaks in.
• Stick the wine in the refrigerator. Good red wine tastes best just slightly chilled, maybe for 20-30 minutes before serving.
• While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the sauce for the steaks. Set aside and broil/grill the steaks.
• Once the steaks are done to your satisfaction, remove them from oven, switch the control back to about 300 degrees, and stick the potatoes back in for a few. Good steaks should sit a minute or two before cut, and this allows enough time for the potatoes to heat up again.
• Pour the wine, place the steak/sauce on serving plates, and add the potato wedges. Serve the salad on the side.
• Don't forget the flowers! Make sure they are in a vase in the center of the table. A little soft jazz would be nice, too.
Now you should be able to pull off a perfect Valentine's Day dinner, even if you've never cooked a thing in your life. Enjoy the evening, and enjoy all the attention, too! Bon appetit! Happy Valentine's Day!
Valentine's Day menus, recipes and shopping list can be found at: http://www.dinnerplanner.com/valentines_dinner.htm
Friday, 06 February 2009
There are many luxuries that we like to give ourselves and our families that take us out of our homes. A fancy day at the spa, or a visit to a hot new restaurant perhaps, or even tickets to a show. These are all a great time, but with all of the travel to and from, and going to the events it can be hard to really connect with your family. That's why I often prefer to stay in and relax with guests at home, entertaining them in a space where we can all connect. But home can still be sheik. When I invite over guests, I like to order lobster.
Lobster is a wonderful luxury because it can be prepared in the home, and served easily to guests. Unlike an expensive restaurant meal, you can order lobsters to feed two guests or twenty, whatever the occasion calls for. It's also an excellent way to order something into your home to prepare yourself, which saves a lot of money on catering. Lobsters are seen as such a luxury that your guests will feel pampered, and will be thrilled that you invited them over for such a special meal. It's a great way to let your friends know that you appreciate them!
The reason that you can have all of these great lobster gatherings is that ordering lobster online is so simple! In the past, it would have been impossible to have a large gathering featuring lobster, without a ton go expense and advanced planning. It's unlikely your grocery store would have enough lobster to begin with, and even then, they were likely old, with claws atrophied with banding. Experts recommend that you eat lobsters fresh, within two days of fishing.
How does ordering lobster online guarantee you more freshness? Easily, because you're ordering directly from the fishermen themselves. Instead of waiting for your grocery store to truck lobster to their locations, by which time they're likely no longer fresh anyway, your lobsters are packaged and sent to you overnight as soon as you place your order, or on the date of your choosing. This means that your lobsters will be ready and fresh for whatever day you need.
Ordering lobster online also helps you to save money. The grocery store not only has to pay for the lobsters, but also the fee of the middleman who arranges the sale, for the shipping, and for their store costs. That adds up to one huge surcharge. When you order lobster for yourself, you only have to pay the going price per pound, and the shipping fee. This means you've gotten yourself a great savings on lobster.
When you're ready to treat yourself and your friends to a night of luxury, lobster is the easy answer. You can order quickly online without having to make arrangements at the store, and your lobster, which will be bought at a nice savings, will arrive right when you need them. So treat yourself to lobster today!
Stumped for what to serve at your dinner party? Order lobster online?
Thursday, 05 February 2009
Make this a special addition to your Valentine's Day Tradition.
Heart Shaped Pizza
You can make your own pizza crust from your favorite recipe or purchase a ready made crust and then cut into a heart shaped. Then you simply add pizza sauce and your family's favorite toppings and bake.
If you want individual pizzas just use a very large heart cookie cutter to cut your pizza dough. If you don't have a cookie cutter you can cut out a heart shape in paper and then lay on your dough and cut around it with a knife. Then add all your ingredients and bake.
Serve with your favorite side salad and drink and then serve the delicious dessert below.
Valentine's Delightful Dessert
2 - cups flour
Mix together flour, butter and pecans. Mixture will be crumbly. Spread over bottom of 13 by 9 inch pan and bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown; cool. Beat together powdered sugar and cream cheese until smooth. Add whipped cream and spread over cooled cake. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Spread cherry pie filling over cheese mixture. Refrigerate until well chilled and serve to your Valentines!
How much easier could a simple dinner be? This is easy on you and easy on the budget. The kids can even help with this simple dinner. You can even make a little Valentine to put at each plate showing your love to your family.
Wednesday, 04 February 2009
Are you planning a special dinner for Valentine's Day? I love to cook special dinners but don't have much time to prep (sound familiar?). I have some 30-minute dinner menu suggestions for you! You really can prepare a special dinner in 30 minutes - Flat!
You will find that I use several cooking methods, mix and match, to put dinner on the table quickly. The foods I use to speed the prep are noted in parenthesis; you can always substitute your favorite made-from-scratch recipes when you have more time. Let's get ready...
Crab Stuffed Chicken (boneless, skinless chicken)
Pasta with Fresh Vegetables
Crabapple Salad with Pink Mayo (jarred crabapples)
Banana Napoleons (puff pastry, instant banana pudding mix)
Glazed Cornish Hens (microwaved with brown sugar / mustard glaze)
Pecan Stuffing (boxed cornbread stuffing mix)
Dilled Baby Carrots (bagged baby carrots)
Mixed Greens with Cranberries and Citrus (bagged greens, jarred citrus)
Pecan Pie with Whipped Cream (purchased pie, canned whipped cream)
Turkey Breast with Cranberry Glaze (crock pot, canned cranberry sauce)
Roasted Potatoes (microwaved then baked to finish)
Red Pepper and Broccoli Medley (bagged mix)
Pound Cake with Ambrosia (purchased pound cake, jarred fruit)
Beef, Lamb, Pork Dinners:
Steak with Blue Cheese Topper (crumbled blue cheese, Panko bread crumbs)
Baked Potatoes (microwaved then baked to finish)
Caesar Salad (bagged mix)
Grown Up Smores
Lamb Chops with Savory Butter
Rice and Vermicelli Mix (boxed rice mix)
Parslied Carrots (bagged baby carrots)
Beet, Goat Cheese & Walnut Salad (red tip lettuce, canned beets, bottled vinaigrette)
Minted Pears with Ice Cream and Raspberries (canned pear halves)
Asian Stuffed Steaks
Fried Rice (rice mix)
Sesame-Ginger Slaw (bagged slaw mix)
Un-Baked Alaska (purchased pound cake and ice cream, chocolate syrup)
Surf and Turf (cleaned and deveined shrimp, beef fillets or top sirloin cuts)
Caesar Salad (bagged salad mix)
Chocolate Eclairs with Strawberries (puff pastry, instant pudding mix, chocolate syrup)
Shrimp Scampi (cleaned and deveined shrimp)
Mandarin Orange Salad (canned mandarin Orange sections)
Grilled Salmon with Dill Butter
Long Grain and Wild Rice (boxed mix)
Tossed Salad (bagged salad greens, jarred dressing)
Lemon Affogato (purchased sorbet)
Watermelon / Raspberry / Strawberry Salad (jarred raspberry vinaigrette)
Fresh Fruit Tart (jarred fruit, purchased pie shell)
Fresh Tomato and Double Cheese Tart (puff pastry)
French Green Beans (canned Frenched green beans)
Pineapple Salad (canned pineapple and mandarin orange sections, bagged baby spinach)
Embellished Chocolate Cookies (prepared cookie dough)
French Onion Soup
Mixed Green Winter Salad (bagged salad greens, jarred dressing)
Cheesecake Filled Pears with Fresh Raspberries (canned pears, instant cheesecake pudding mix)
An appetizer course will make your meal even more special. I like the Easy Elegance party menu for an elegant start to a wonderful meal: brie with mango chutney; smoked salmon with a dill dip; grapes and a green vegetable platter that will go well with the dill dip; water crackers; gourmet olives.
I sincerely hope you have fun with your holiday meal planning and preparation,
Tuesday, 03 February 2009
Valentine's Day is without a doubt a very special day and even though we should show our affection to our loved ones throughout the year, there's still something magical about February 14 that makes it like no other day of the year. And being such, there's no better way to get the romance going than a special breakfast prepared with much love for your special someone.
Breakfast is very special because it provides us with our day's starting nutrition until we make it through lunch time. This is also the reason why it is considered as the most important meal of the day. Being important, there are also plenty of suggestions for Valentine's food for breakfast that husbands and wives can make for their spouses. Kids can make some of these for their parents too! Well, Valentine's is about love anyway, right?
Casseroles can be a good meal to start the day right. Men can do this dish very well since preparing them doesn't necessarily require many steps to make. Even so, most of them can also be put together ahead of time, setting aside the previous day and baked on Valentine's morning.
Eggs contained in most casseroles hold the entire meal together; however, if the someone you're cooking for does not eat or just plain don't like them eggs, you can choose some other ingredient to make. Some popular and delicious add-ins for casseroles include: sausage, ham, bacon, cheese, onions and pepper. Just choose which can make him/her happy and cook away!
Breakfast in bed is also a very popular Valentine's food offering for your loved one. Well, in some parts of the world, it really is, and there's no sweeter way than a surprise breakfast for your just-waking spouse, complete with a flower and a Valentine's Day card to boot!
Breakfast in bed arrangements are best included with centerpieces that will definitely show that you love the person you're giving it to. Good ideas for Valentine's breakfast in bed are pancakes or French toast. Pancakes can be shaped into hearts when batter is poured inside heart-shaped metal cookie cutters. French toasts, on the other hand, should be cooked first before using the cookie cutters to make shapes. That way, your Valentine's food can definitely say "I love you" even without you uttering a single word!
If you plan on making a light breakfast or if you're just accustomed to it, how about trying a simple breakfast consisting of some fruit and toast? Some yogurt can be a great add-on for fruit, and to add some sweetness, add some jam to brighten up the toast. This clearly suggests that Valentine's breakfast can be very healthy too.
Valentine's day usually comes when the season is still winter and it's still cold in the morning. If this happens, try serving some hot cereal like oatmeal or cream of wheat for a Valentine's breakfast. A great idea too is to write in some message using some syrup on the top, like "Happy Valentine's!" or "I Love You". Now, we're talking sweet, eh?
Valentine's food for breakfast is really a great time for you to show that you really adore the person you love. It's a great opportunity to express how you feel, and what's best about it is that many times, it comes as a surprise to the person who's just waking up to greet the day.
Monday, 02 February 2009
In the olden days, soups were just whatever leftovers were boiled in water. Today they have progressed into something much more sophisticated, and used not as a last resort, but often as a centerpiece. The great thing about choosing to make a soup for a special occasion is that it is often easy to make, making the experience fun, but short.
Here are two great soup recipes:
- 1926 Rice Soup Recipe
- Veal and Sago Soup Recipe
1926 Rice Soup
This soup is an oldie, but a really great recipe. You need about a fourth cup of rice, a teaspoon of salt, a slice of white onion, two red pimentos, a stalk of fresh celery, two cups of veal stock, two cups of cream, parsley, a dash of white pepper, and three table spoons of butter and flour. Start by boiling three cups of water in a medium size pot, adding in the salt, onion, and celery. Cook the rice and make sure it is thoroughly cooked and tender. Put this in with the boiling water along with the pimentos. Now you don't really want the water as you have the veal stock, so put this mixture through a strainer and add the veal stock instead. Next, add the cream, pepper, butter, flour, and mix until silky. The parsley is used to serve on top, so add it when the cream has warmed, making sure not to burn the bottom.
Veal and Sago Soup
This is another great veal based soup. You will need two and a half pound of veal, three quarts of water, a fourth of a pound of pearl sago, two cups of scalded milk, four egg yolks, salt, and pepper. If you want to do this soup justice, the best thing is to plan for it. Try and order the meat from a local market to make sure it is really fresh. After you get the mean you should place it in a pot and submerge it. Bring up the water to a slow boil and let it cook for about two hour (you may need to strain the water out and put new water in). Next let the sago soak in cold water for an hour, and stir into your cooking meat. Then add your milk, eggs, and seasonings. Voila, you have a sophisticated soup for any occasion-let the compliments fly your way!
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Sunday, 01 February 2009
Smoking ribs is an art form and the best rib smoker will tell you that there is not a better meal to be had. I've been smoking babyback ribs and pork loin ribs for eleven years and I have made plenty of mistakes. I've had to regrow my arm hair on three different occasions and have been introduced to the nice nurses down at the emergency room twice. We will not discuss eyebrow hair.
I've used about every combination of ingredients in my rib rub and marinades only to realize that making the perfect smoked ribs is not so much dependent on the spices or marinades as it is on the method with which you smoke the ribs.
Having said that, I realized that submitting a specific recipe for smoked ribs is not necessarily what you need. Although I have submitted some recipes, I now want to just discuss how to smoke ribs instead of focusing solely on ingredients. Many different ingredients for rubs do well and it really depends on your tastes. Some like their smoked rib quite spicy while others prefer a sweet or citrus taste. So, I will leave the experimentation to you with regard to the seasonings; for now let's just talk about the how-to smoke ribs part.
The key to quality smoked pork ribs is in the cooking method. Start by making sure that you have good quality wood to smoke your spare ribs with. This means untreated (no chemical treatments such as stains or pretreated, duh!) wood. Look for wood pieces that don't have rotting bark, haven't been burned before, don't have insects in them. Nice, clean pieces, regardless of size, work the best. Not too green either. Many rib smokers prefer to soak the wood in water or spiced water prior to using.
If you do not already have a smoker, please consider getting one. They can double as a charcoal grill so you will get plenty of usage out of it. For now, let's assume you have one.
Build your fire in the lower smoking section of the smoker. I start out with a normal charcoal fire before wasting wood on it. After the fire is ready, place your racks of babyback or spare ribs in the meat compartment of the! smoker. Make sure that the meat is as far away from the fire and heat as possible. If you smoker does not have a divider or some sort of heat diffuser between the fire area and the meat area then try to make one. You can use bricks or foil or just large rocks. The point here is to allow the smoke to get to the meat without allowing so much heat. We don't want to thoroughly cook the meat in this part of the process.
Shut your air valves (my wife has told me this on occasion. She is so nice to offer me smoking tips now and then), leaving only enough air flow to keep the fire at a low smolder. Rotate the ribs every couple of hours from rack to rack and turn them as well. Add wood as necessary to keep the fire alive.
After about 3 to 5 hours of smoking, bring ribs inside to cool. Double wrap smoked ribs with a quality foil. Seal them good. Wrap each slab individually. Refrigerate overnight or for several hours. The ribs should not be cooked at this point, but they should have about a quarter of an inch of smoke penetration on all sides.
Put ribs into oven at a very low temperature, I suggest 225 degrees. Cook for 5 to 7 hours. The key here, guys, is to leave the ribs in the foil. Just place the foiled ribs onto a cookie sheet or in a large cake pan before cooking in the oven. Guys, this is going to be great. Try these babies with some warmed barbeque sauce and you will see. Enjoy. You can see the full recipe for smoked ribs here. Try them with a good barbeque sauce.