Tuesday, 29 March 2011
With today's busy schedules, it is often a challenge to put a flavorful meal on the table. Often overlooked and underused, herbs add a new flavor dimension to your meals, taking them from simple to extravagant with minimum time input. Although there is a wide range of culinary herbs available, the five must-have herbs for the home cook are parsley, rosemary, mint, sage, and thyme.
Parsley, most often used in Italian and Mediterranean cuisines, can spruce up any meal, with its vibrant yet subtle flavor. It can be simply chopped and used as a garnish for vegetables, fish, rice or meat. It can also be used to infuse and deepen the flavors of stews and stocks, as well as liven the flavors of a fresh green salad.
Rosemary, another Mediterranean native, is often used with poultry and meats. Its woodsy taste brings an earthy tone to meat dishes, and its strong, pleasant aroma further amplifies the flavors. It is also found in stews and soups, either whole or chopped.
Mint is a versatile and lively herb, which is widely used in desert dishes, brightening simple fruit salads, and awaking warm teas and chocolate drinks. Mint can also be used in savory dishes, as it adds a lively undertone and enlightens the heaviness of some meat-centric meals.
Sage is a wonderful herb to have around, as it can be easily chopped and added to eggs, poultry, lamb and beef, as well as stews. It adds a slight peppery taste to the meal. Sage can also be added whole on the stem, to roasted meats and vegetables, building the aroma and flavor of the meal.
Thyme is used in various cuisines around the world, mainly to add flavor to meats, stews and soups. Thyme has a strong flavor that blends well with other ingredients, and does not easily overpower them. The leaves can be stripped off the stem, or can be kept on and added whole into stews and stocks.
Not only do these herbs provide maximum flavor with minimum effort, but they are also well-known for their many health benefits. They may be bought fresh or dried at the store, or, to add even more flavor to your life, they can be potted and kept in a sunny spot in your kitchen.
Have these five herbs on hand but experiment with some other herbs from time to time to add variety.You just might find another herb you can't live without!
Thursday, 17 March 2011
When people envision the words Mediterranean diet, I think of sitting by a big blue sea eating olives and small little tapas that explode in my mouth with exotic flavors.
My thought process has me believing that making many different varieties of food will cause me to break one of my rules about meal planning. That rule is having one primary ingredient that can be used several different ways. When I think about tapas, my vision conflicts with what I am trying to do while staying within my budget. I have figured out a way that I can incorporate a variety of flavors while using a primary food.
One primary food that I will be using is the Chick pea. Hummus is a word that most people think has a very strange but exotic flavor. The reality is, hummus can be made to bring the flavors you like to life. If you like garlic then add garlic to your hummus. If you want it to have a curry taste then all you need to do is add curry spices to your chickpeas. If you like your food with some heat add your favorite hot sauce or red pepper chili flakes.
The next time you plan to go grocery shopping buy a can of chick peas, this is the easiest way to make hummus since they are ready to use. I purchase dry chick peas as they are inexpensive. They will require some preparation as you will need cook them in water yourself.
Hummus is a great appetizer dip you can combine with your meal plan and may even become part of a main course.
Olive tapenade is tasty and easy to make. Tapenade is the process of putting olives in a blender or food processor and coarsely blend with olive oil and a little salt. You can change the flavor by adding any ingredient you like. If you like your food spicy add cumin or red pepper flakes.
The biggest expense of eating hummus or olive tapenade will be the crackers. Eating a whole box of crackers is not difficult for any family. The Mediterranean diet means 4 -6 boxes of crackers could easily be consumed in a week. Making crackers by hand is not a difficult process if you have a pasta maker. The ingredients are inexpensive. Making crackers from scratch should save you a substantial amount of money compared to purchasing 4 - 6 boxes.
Making crackers will require you to invest in a pasta maker but start with a rolling-pin first and then graduate to a pasta maker. If you do not have a rolling-pin an empty glass jar such as a pasta jar will work.
You can always use fresh vegetables to dip your tapenade or toss with cooked pasta.
Rick and his wife have been able to reduce their grocery budget by almost 50% since they started this challenge in 2010. Their 15 years of grocery shopping for the family has led them to start a blog that includes using the Mediterranean diet, leftovers to save big, money, meal planning, cooking utensils, recipes, and grocery lists.
you can follow their blog and post comments at http://feed4forunder100week.blogspot.com/
Wednesday, 16 March 2011
Thai food is rapidly turning into the most well-liked cuisines everywhere in the world. Thai food is usually lighter in nature and includes many different fresh herbs and spices. Among the many reasons that it has become so common is it's capacity to flawlessly blend and balance the tastes of salty vs spicy and sour vs sweet. If you would like to understand how to prepare Thai food, you'll need to find out about these types of different tastes.
Four distinct curries are Thai food staples. These kinds of curries are red, green, massaman and panang. The area market that sells Thai food will probably have these types of curries available for you to buy, but you need to consider making them on your own because it's not that difficult and they will taste a lot better. A curry is normally simply an oil that doesn't have any flavor and particular spices. The paste that results from this mixture can be put into a mixer. Anything at all that's leftover can be frozen to be used at a later date. The serving dish of most curries will also include jasmine rice.
A lot of times (especially in curry recipes) the recipe will demand coconut milk to be used as the liquid element of the recipe. The interesting thing about coconut milk is you do not have to keep it in the refrigerator. In fact, if you pick to store it in the fridge, it'll separate. This separation can be good though, because you are able to make use of the thicker parts of the coconut milk to fry your paste in and it is possible to utilize the thinner part to thin the sauce as needed when you are done.
Lemongrass is one of the flavors in Thai food that actually stands out. You normally chop up the lemongrass and add it for more taste to your chicken or fish. You are able to also eat it just like french fries if you slice and stir fry it. Make certain to cut off of the stalk just before you slice or chop it. You will also need to peel off the external layers of the plant.
Another ingredient in Thai food that helps make it distinctive is fish sauce. The sauce is made from fish that have been aging for over a year and a half. A lot of people think of fish sauce as the traditional alternative for salt. Fish sauce can be saved for more than a year on your shelf. If you're searching for methods to save dollars, do not do it here. If you're planning to get it, make certain it's the good stuff.
Other ingredients you will need to learn more about are kaffir, bird's eye chilies Thai basil and galangal.
Monday, 07 March 2011
The word "casserole" is coined from the French word for saucepan, which is what is often used to create the one-dish casserole meals that we know today. Casseroles are complete meals by themselves, because they are usually made from potatoes or rice, mixed vegetables, meats and cheeses. You get a healthy and delicious combination of carbohydrates and proteins.
In the early days, people used earthenware for cooking and casseroles back then were mainly made from a mixture of pounded rice and meats. It was only in the 1950s when casseroles became popular in the US and Canada due to the mass production of affordable glass cooking ware.
Glassware manufacturers were smart enough to include chicken casserole recipes and other chicken breast recipes in their products as marketing come-ons. Soon, homemakers all over the country were cooking chicken breast recipes regularly, which later on became traditional meals among North American families.
Besides being lured by marketing campaigns for chicken casseroles, homemakers back then and now find it more practical to serve these meals because ingredients used for casseroles are affordable. There is a wide variety of ingredients to choose from and the ingredients can easily be adjusted to feed small or large families. Chicken casseroles became the main fare especially during gatherings for family and other group celebrations because they are inexpensive, easy to prepare, healthy and tasty.
One of the most loved casserole recipes is the chicken and stuffing casserole. This type of casserole started to be quite popular during the 1950s, and has since then enjoyed interesting variations through the decades. A chicken and stuffing casserole is easy to prepare - you only need to mix the ingredients and bake them. It usually has two layers - the top layer has the stuffing or cheese and the bottom layer will have the chicken pieces and vegetables. These days, most cooks prefer to use condensed soup to enhance flavor and to make cooking time shorter.
Chicken casserole recipes have also evolved to become more health-friendly, with much emphasis on the use of more vegetables, less fat and only white chicken meat, to create a meal that is both nutritious and low in calories. Chicken casseroles are great meals for those who would want to serve nutritious and tasty meals to their families, yet avoid the hassle of spending too much time in the kitchen.
A shift to healthier recipes is the trend these days in family nutrition. Choosing the right meals to serve your family is important to their health. Chicken casseroles provide a good option for those who would want to limit their calories and yet still enjoy a nutritious and delicious meal. Today, different variations of chicken casseroles are served in homes and restaurants everyday and they will continue to be part of family traditions in the years to come.
Tuesday, 01 March 2011
You can't have a St. Patrick's Day meal without beer.
Smithwick's: If you like ale, then this amber colored Irish beauty is the thing for you. You'll find it is crisp and refreshing, but also offers far more taste than many others out there. It also offers a lovely malt flavor. Other red ales that you might enjoy include Macardles and Rebel Red, as well as Maguire Rusty. Put the Killian's down, though, as it's actually brewed by Coors.
Harp: For those who prefer something lighter, Harp is the way to go. Again, it is clean and crisp, but still manages to provide more taste than the watered down mass-produced American yellow fizzy stuff that is best served ice cold to numb the taste buds.
Guinness: If you try no other beer this Saint Patrick's Day, hoist a pint of Guinness. If you have been put off by the stout's color, don't let that fool you. It's just a darker roast. If you are worried that the beer is thick or "chewy," don't be. That misconception is easily debased with a single sip of this smooth, flavorful brew.
There are many other Irish stouts out there too, though. You might prefer a pint of Murphy's, or even Beamish. Stout has long been the favorite alcoholic beverage of the Irish, though lager has replaced it in recent years. Still, if you are trying to embrace your inner Irish, there are few better ways than with a creamy stout.
Craft Beers: If you're lucky enough to have a connection to the Irish craft beer scene, you'll find a ton of other options out there. Franciscan Well, Porterhouse and Carlow Brewing Company all make excellent brews that can help you get into the spirit of the day. Of course, there are plenty of excellent American craft beers that hearken back to Irish roots - you'll find a tremendous list of stouts, oatmeal stouts, red ales and more.