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Thursday, January 31 2008
The cookbooks I buy and the type of homemade meals I prepare seem to be so closely connected to changes in my lifestyle that I am hard pressed to know cause from effect. Did the lifestyle change bring about the change in my eating habits, or did the change in my eating and cooking habits bring about the change in my lifestyle?
When I was a graduate student, I loved to bake breads. I only needed a couple of books and a little practice to start turning out breads as varied and as delicious as any I have since tasted in specialty bakeries, and at a fraction of the cost. But I did not start baking bread to save on food expenses or because I was concerned about healthier eating. Rolling and kneading the dough gave my fingers a break from long hours of churning away at a keyboard.
Shifting back and forth from working the dough and letting it rise, to working at my keyboard and hitting the books, kept me alert through the long hours of intense research work that can weigh heavily on body, mind and soul. Each experience took on greater significance because I was doing it along with the other. Soon I was lifting weights and working out in the basement for the first time in a long time, and I was moving in the direction of healthier whole wheat breads without ever having made a conscious decision to do so. As I worked on my body, my brain started working better, too.
A few years later I started running. After two years of jogging just to stay in shape for basketball and tennis, I started staying out longer on my runs without having planned to run longer distances. It just happened. But changes had been taking place in the kitchen—or maybe I should say that changes had been taking over the kitchen. I had started making my own soy-based main dishes as substitutes for red meats. I was also making my own yogurt and muesli, a delicious granola-like natural breakfast of toasted grains and nuts (and anything else you can think of—raisins, coconut shavings, or chocolate chips).
When I found myself running up to two hours at a time, I began to understand that it was time to set a date for my first marathon. As I was training longer, I had much less time to spend in the kitchen, but I was also preparing foods that could be made in supplies that lasted a week. On my day off from running, I would make a week’s supply of high-energy foods.
Again, I’m not sure which came first: The new eating habit or the new lifestyle--the chicken or the egg? Whatever the case, I was healthier, happier, and fitter. I haven’t always taken such good care of my body. But when my body needs to send me a warning signal, it usually sends it to me in the form of a craving for homemade yogurt or muesli, and I vow to take better care of this body once more by making better meals at home again.
Wednesday, January 30 2008
Welcome to preparing smoked fish. I will offer tips and a simple recipe for preparing your favorite smoked fish from home.
You can use almost ant kind of fish that you want to smoke, but my favorite is Mullet. Be sure to use a fish that has scales because that is important to keep the fillet from falling apart. Scales provide a bonding layer. Avoid using Catfish or any other fish that has no solid scale structure. In preparing Mullet some people prefer to cut or "butterfly" the whole fish down the middle to include the bones and backbone. I like to simply fillet the fish starting from the neck and cutting to the tail. Then I cut out the rib cage(for Mullet). Remember do not scale the fish. Now I have a clean fillet free of bones.
Now let's choose our grill or smoker. You can use most any type of grill to smoke fish from a large cast iron smoker to a small Weber type grill. It is important to separate the location of the heat source from the fish. Larger smokers are equipped with a fire box located next to the cooking chamber so there is no problem there. A smaller BBQ grill will work just as well as long as you don't over cook the fish.
Next you will want to choose the type of wood to use. Any dry hard wood will do. I use Oak because it is plentiful and it leaves a nice smoke flavor. Pecan is another fine wood. Now let's prepare the grill. If you are using a small grill, place a handful of charcoal briquet's on one side of the grill. Charcoal will provide a base fire to keep the wood burning. Light the charcoal and place some wood pieces on top to ignite the wood. Put the cover on the grill and wait for it to start smoking. Open the lid vents and place them opposite the heat source.
We are ready to prepare our fillets. Lay the fillets on a counter and sprinkle with salt(do not over salt). Now sprinkle with course ground black pepper. Now top it off with paprika. This will give the fish a nice red tint and flavor. They are ready for the grill.
Remove the lid from the smoking grill and place the fillets scale side down as far as possible away from the smoking wood. You may have to smoke a couple of batches at a time. Put the lid back on the grill and make sure that the vents are over the fish and not the wood. Keep an eye on your fish as they cook and add more wood if needed. Since fish cook fast we want to get as much smoke flavor as possible while they are on the grill. A good sign that they are done would be a dark reddish brown tint to the meat and the scales at the bottom will curl around the edges of the meat. The fish can be eaten hot or refrigerated and eaten cold or used in a your favorite dip. I hope that I have provided enough information for you to prepare your own smoked fish from home.
Tuesday, January 29 2008
Why celebrate comfort foods? Why not? At Plugged In Parents, we love a good, hearty bowl of soup that warms the body inside out and a slice of crusty bread followed with a mug of hot cocoa while cozying up on the couch. If you're like us, then you'll love these wintery meal ideas. They're great as leftovers and the ingredients will keep you on budget.
VEGETARIAN WINTER STEW
5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
Brown onion on hot oil, add sweet potatoes and fry for 10 minutes on low heat. Add zucchini. Fry stirring occasionally until the zucchini is crunchy-soft. Transfer vegetables to hot broth. Add beans and salsa. Stir in cumin, and salt and pepper to taste. Add peanut butter and stir well. Add rice.
TIP: The rice will absorb some of the broth overnight and the stew will be deliciously thick.
PERFECT WINTER BEEF STEW
2 lbs beef, cut into 1-inch chunks
Mix beef with Italian dressing. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
Add onions and mushrooms and sauté for ~10 minutes. Add the broth, carrots, potatoes, meat without the dressing, and tomatoes with their liquid. Bring to boil stirring occasionally. Let simmer for 1 hour. Uncover, and let simmer for additional 15 minutes until the meat is tender and the sauce has thickened.
Garnish with parsley or green onions.
Serve with fresh bread, toast, or pita chips.
For more health and budget-wise recipes visit us at http://www.pluggedinparents.com
Monday, January 28 2008
This is a great low fat, low cost lasagna recipe that decreases the amount of lasagna noodle, and uses low fat cheeses and meat. Ground turkey has less fat than ground beef, but use what you prefer.
1 whole onion, diced
1 Pint non-fat cottage cheese
75% fat free cheese (available at most grocery stores), grated
2 pounds low fat ground beef or ground turkey
1 box wheat pasta, remove at least 8 strips
Cook meat until almost done
Mix onions, bell pepper, garlic, scallions, mushrooms,1 tablespoon of the oregano-thyme-rosemary mix, tomatoes, salt and pepper together in a saucepan and cook with 1 teaspoon of oil. Add ground beef and ground turkey until the meat mixture is done.
Boil enough Lasagna noodles to cover the bottom of the lasagna pan, and the top of the lasagna mixture, add a tincture of salt to boil.
Now, using an oblong pan,
Place completed mix in an oven and cook at 375 degrees (pre-heated) for about 20 minutes.
Get more recipes at Msfinancialsavvy.com > click money > click cheap recipes.
Friday, January 25 2008
How many times have you stood in your kitchen and wondered what you were going to make for dinner? What about those times when you want to plan a dinner with friends but skip it because pulling a meal together is too much work?
What if you had a one stop resource to make meal planning, and preparing, successful? To plan a meal every chef needs a few items. Once you have these basic items at your fingertips, meal planning and preparing really can be a simple process. Here are the 'must haves' to make this possible.
Recipes. It is incredibly important to have somewhere to go first off to put a meal together. Depending on the meal you may need anywhere from one to a handful of recipes. Chefs usually need a whole encyclopedia of recipes for a complete meal including starters and dessert.
Tools. Creating a meal without the proper tools is like creating a painting without paintbrushes. You don't have to have fancy tools, however it does pay to have quality ones. That way your baking pans, spatulas, and whisks are not breaking in the middle of making a meal. Of course there are some tools that just making cooking more fun like palm peelers, cookie presses, and a culinary torch.
What about tools that make cooking easier? Professional blenders like the VitaMix get any job done quickly and cleanup is unbelievably simple. The NuWave oven makes it possible to make a five course meal in one shot and in half the time it would normally take.
Pantry Staples. When you're preparing a meal there's nothing worse than opening your spice cabinet or pantry and finding that you don't have what you need. Stock your pantry with the supreme gourmet pantry items like spices, sauces, and rubs.
Thursday, January 24 2008
People often say the reason they eat out so often is because cooking at home is tedious work. Not only do you have to prepare and cook the meal, you also have to do the cleaning up afterwards. It all takes time, and isn't it worth just a little extra to pay for that takeout or restaurant meal, rather than eating in? Well, here are 5 tips to get over those hurdles and make eating at home easier.
1. Plan ahead. I can't stress this enough. The best way to save both time and money is to know what you are cooking ahead of time. There are advantages to doing this. You know what your meals are, and you can do a shopping list. That way you only buy what you need at the supermarket, instead of grabbing items off the shelf that then hibernate in the cupboards until it comes time to clean them out. Planning ahead also means you can pre-prepare meals when you need to.
2. Wash up as you go along. One of the big gripes about cooking and eating at home are the dishes. For some reason they become a hurdle you have to jump over at the end of the meal. If you are left with all the washing up it can take some pleasure out of the meal. If you put some warm water into the sink and wash up utensils, chopping boards and pots as you go along it will save you time and washing the dishes won't seem so bad after all.
3. Use pre-chopped vegetables. Pre-chopped vegetables are great. Most supermarkets stock them these days, and while they can be a bit more expensive, it's worth it to save time in the kitchen. It will still save you money compared to eating out.
4. Use the left overs for lunches. When you clean up in the kitchen pack the left overs into the lunch boxes straight away, and put them in the fridge for tomorrow. It will save time and stress in the morning. No more making lunches just as you are running out the door.
5. Get the children involved in cooking. This may seem like a time waster, but in the long run teaching your children basic cooking skills can save you time and stress. Also, there's nothing better than knowing your children are going to know more about nutrition than the average child, and are less likely to be overweight because of it. Also, your children are going to be happy to sit down to a meal they helped to prepare.
With these 5 tips you should be on your way to eating in more often and enjoying the experience. It can be easy if you plan ahead. Enjoy your meals and keep those restaurant meals for special occasions.
Wednesday, January 23 2008
There are six species of Pacific salmon - chum, coho, king (chinook), pink, sockeye and steelhead - and all are wild. Wild West coast salmon are harvested commercially in Washington, Oregon, Alaska and much of Canada. Smoked wild salmon is a delicious seafood item. The delicacy is simple to prepare and lends itself to a wide variety of dishes.
Salmon is high in Omega-3 fatty acids which is well known as having health benefits. Studies have shown that smoked salmon has a very low level of mercury, unlike some other seafood.The Journal of American Medicine Association recently published a report stating that adding salmon at least once a week to your diet will cut the risk of sudden cardiac death in half.
Tuna is consumed in a variety of ways. Tuna is the most well known and available fish in the USA and many other parts of the world due to its popularity as a canned product. Most of us grew up on tuna salad sandwiches and associate that experience with tuna as a meal. Readers that have been lucky enough to enjoy fresh caught tuna know that there is quite a difference between a canned tuna salad sandwich and a fresh grilled tuna steak! Tuna is delicious grilled, blackened, or as sushi. Those of us that still love tuna salad can enjoy tuna from the can or use leftover grilled tuna to create a unique and delightful tuna salad with a unique flavor.
Smoked fish lovers will be thrilled to know that tuna is excellent when smoked. The finished smoked product makes fish dips, salads or just eaten alone.
Wahoo are beautiful pelagic fish and are excellent table fare. Wahoo live in the open ocean and are common along much of the USA and Caribbean. Wahoo should be rinsed well and then the fillets can be removed from the body. The flanks can then be cut into steaks with the skin on or the entire sections can be skinned before cutting into steaks.Wahoo is delicious grilled, fried or smoked. Fresh wahoo are available in Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Hawaii and other areas.
Mahi Mahi, also known as dorado or dolphin fish are fast growing, pelagic fish. Mahi Mahi are among the most beautiful of all fish. The meat is mostly white with a high content of oil. Mahi Mahi is best grilled or smoked. Fresh Mahi Mahi is available in states such as Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Hawaii and others. Other areas of the country can enjoy this fish as a frozen product or fresh via overnight shipment.
Cooks have a variety of favorites for cooking rockfish. Whole fillets of school sized fish or steaks of larger fish are delicious fried. Other choices for cooking striped bass include grilling, broiling, fish cakes and more.
For top quality striped bass or "rockfish" as table fare, it's important to take care of the fish prior to cooking. The fish should be chilled on ice and laid out flat until cleaned. Once the fish is home, it can be rinsed thoroughly and filleted. Several cleaning methods exist and each angler learns their favorite style. The fish can be scaled and the skin left on, filleted and then skinned or the skin can be cut around the perimeter of the fish and pulled off with pliers. The skin-on version is nice when baking or grilling smaller fish. Skinning the fish before filleting has some advantages, the most important being speed. Filleting the fish and then cutting the skin off removes the most dark meat and leaves the highest quality portion, although some fish is lost in the process.
Black Sea Bass
Black Sea Bass are excellent table fare. The meat is firm, white and delicious. Sea Bass are superb fried, grilled, baked or broiled. Sea Bass are easily skinned and filleted. Black sea bass are common along the Atlantic coast from New York to North Carolina. They are best fresh. The fish do not freeze well.
Tautog are excellent table fare. The live a long time in a cooler and may actually be live when you get them home. An ice pick to the spinal cord just behind the head will euthanize them quickly. The fish are incredibly slippery! It is best to rinse them thoroughly and lay them out on a rough surface. A sharp fillet knife is needed to cut around the outline of the fish, making the front cut behind the head and pectoral fin. Then the skin can easily be peeled off by using pliers and peeling from the head to tail.
Once the skin is off the fish can be filleted normally. There are a few rib bones which can be cut out after filleting. The meat is firm, white and mild flavored. Rinse the fillets and immediately store on ice or refrigerate them. Tautog is delicious fried, baked or grilled.
Tilapia have gone from being an obscure fish to one of the most popular fish in many cultures. Tilapia are the second most important group of farm raised fish in the world. Tilapia has been introduced in over 100 countries. Tilapia farming and consumption are rapidly increasing in the US. Tilapia are a good source of protein and is now the fifth most popular seafood consumed in the United States.
Tuesday, January 22 2008
When it comes to a low sodium foods lifestyle, every cook needs some quick easy salad dressing recipes. They are easy to make in small batches. These are some of my favorites:
Sweet & Spicy Salad Dressing
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup vinegar
1 tsp horseradish
I really enjoy this dressing. Amazing, you don't really taste the hot horseradish when using honey. A very quick salad dressing to make adding plenty of flavor to salads! I enjoy it on a garden salad.
Balsamic Vinegar Marinade
1 cup balsamic
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp mixed spices such as garlic, basil, oregano, lemon pepper etc.
If your a fan of Italian cuisine like I am, then a balsamic vinegar dressing is a must. I use it a lot with my low sodium foods Balsamic is a dark-brown syrupy vinegar with a smooth sweet-sour flavor, produced in the Modena region of Italy.
Honey Mustard Dressing
1 cup water
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tbs. cornstarch
Cook until thick and then cool.
½ tsp paprika
1/3 cup honey
1 tbs. canola oil
Mix well and store in a container and refrigerate..
By making it yourself, this can be a nice healthy recipe.
There you go, three of my favorite quick and easy to make salad dressing. Adds great flavor to a low sodium foods lifestyle.
A low sodium diet is often recommended for those trying to prevent or reduce high blood pressure, diabetics or those with chronic kidney disease. Research also shows that populations with high sodium diets experience higher blood pressure as they age. Low sodium diets also tend to have fewer processed foods and more fruits and vegetables, which carry their own health benefits.
Are you looking for a healthy lifestyle? I use low sodium foods to help fight high blood pressure. I am constantly asked about low sodium foods. So I would like to share with you how to go about using low sodium foods in your new healthy lifestyle...Rick
Thursday, January 17 2008
It would not be wrong to say that the Football Party is a complete craze. It is not like the individuals would be sitting silently and watching the football match but they would be booing and clapping and hollering at different times during the match. This is a ground reality. In such an environment and atmosphere it would not be a good idea to think of a detailed menu for your guests but it should be something that they are going to munch throughout the game and while eating they would not have to take their eyes off the game, which is the need of time.
So to keep the menu simple and straight for your Football Party, you can break the menu into three categories. One should be the appetizers, entrees, and the third would be the dessert. It is not that you have to make all the dishes mentioned in different categories but you can select any one or two or as many as you like from the ones listed below. In the appetizers you can have Cheese n’ Ham Spirals, Baked Triple Veggie Dip, Velveeta Salsa Dip, Super Skins, Easy Ritz Hot Wings, Cheesy Football, Barbecue Bacon Party Spread, Easy Layered Tomato Dip, Potsticker Dumplings, Cheesy Beef Nachos, Pizza Roll-Ups With Dipping Sauce.
Now let us see as to what we can have as entrees for the Football Party. The entrees can include Superstar Sub, Slow Cooker Sweet and Sour Chicken, Three Bean Chili, Barbecue Ranch Chicken Salad, Beef Fajitas, Tombstone Kickoff Pizza, Halftime Salsa Chili Dog, Southern Fried Chicken. From desserts you can select Baker’s One Bowl Choclatey Football Bites, Game Day Football Game, Touchdown Poke Cupcakes, and Football Jigglers. There is a wide range of meals that you can select from above for your guests and there is no way that they are not going to drool when you are going to present the dishes one by one. Have a happy Football Party.
Wednesday, January 16 2008
Enjoy an elegant evening at home with a lobsterfest designed for two. In a world where fast food is the norm and where all romantic meals tend to be at restaurants, try making lobster at home. What is destined to be a romantic evening at home will not only be less expensive than eating out, but will also have your guest feeling like they’ve received the five star treatment.
Salute your loved one by toasting to life and love with a glass of champagne to kick lobsterfest off. Remember that lobsterfest represents two things, elegance and romance. A multi-course lobsterfest menu exudes class and luxury. Start things off with a cold lobster salad followed by hearty lobster bisque with sherry. This gets the menu rolling and prepares guests for the sumptuous main course or lobster and risotto.
Whether at your personal lobsterfest or the finest restaurant, the simplest preparation is still the finest. Prepare a pot of boiling water of sufficient size to accommodate your lobster. Drop the lobster swiftly into the water and boil for 5 minutes per pound of lobster. As a side dish, prepare a bed of risotto Parmesan. Sauté ½ cup chopped onion in unsalted butter until clear. Mix in two cups Arborio rice. Add a splash of white wine. Cook until the wine has evaporated and begin adding chicken or fish stock until six cups of broth have been absorbed, about twenty minutes. Remove from heat; add ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese to finish the dish.
Remember that a lobsterfest should be romantic, elegant and luxurious. It does not, however, have to be difficult. Prepare the lobster bisque and salad the day before to ease stress on the day lobsterfest arrives.
Tuesday, January 15 2008
Leftovers - A Makeover Story
Most refrigerators are filled with leftovers. While a lot of us hate to let food go to waste, the only option is to reuse food we didn't eat a few days previous and create dinner out of leftovers. While leftovers were once a delicious meal, sadly, to many family members they are no longer appealing. Fear not, with just a few suggestions, you can cook savory meals yet again simply by using leftovers. Here are some options.
Mix Your Leftover Meat Dishes with Fresh Pasta
One way to recreate a great meal from your leftovers is to mix it with fresh ingredients. In this example, pasta works good with many different beef and chicken dishes. Use thin spaghetti, wide noodles, wagon wheels, spirals, the sky's the limit with your meat leftovers. Add gravy, ketchup, tomato sauce or even chili to to turn an ordinary dish into an extraordinary dish.
Vegetable Dishes with Rice- Twice as Nice
If you have leftover vegetable dishes that you would like to reuse, one of the best ways to do so is to mix it with rice. Whether you choose white or brown rice, you can cook an excellent vegetable alternative and make it into an entirely new meal. Many times with vegetables, you have a small opportunity to use them as leftover before they become limp. Strive to keep them crisp and fresh.
Create Soups with Leftovers
If you are stuck with a few meals in your refrigerator and you don't know how to use them, you can always toss them into a pot and make delicious soup. Whether it is chicken, turkey, hamburger meat or beef, creating flavorful soup out of leftovers makes sense and also is quite good.
Making soups using leftover is extremely simple. You can usually add in any sliced meat and chopped vegetable into some broth or cream to create a great tasting soup. Even old bread comes in handy.
Use Leftover Fruit for Fruit Smoothies
In general, many homes will find a couple leftover apples, oranges or bananas in their refrigerator. While the occasional piece of fruit is not necessarily a leftover, most all fruit can be used to make awesome fruit smoothies. Fruit smoothies are easily prepared with some milk, yogurt, fruit and a blender. Not only are they healthy, but perfect for a treat or even breakfast. Fruit smoothies are ideal for leftover fruit or even slightly over ripen fruit. Mixed with lots of other ingredients, they still taste awesome and won't go unused.
The next time you look deep into your refrigerator and see all the meals from the past week, don't worry, utilize them to recreate new meals, soups and even yummy desserts.
Monday, January 14 2008
When we were bedridden and weak, thinking we were going to perish from fever, Grandma's recipe for chicken soup (or Campbell's soup in a pinch) is what nursed us back to health.
In India, however, the idea of food as medicine is as old as Methuselah. Tradition holds that there is no waiting until you get sick in order to get well. In the ancient Ayurvedic tradition, the aim is to keep your body and mind in constant balance -- to always be healing. Therefore, using food to fine-tune your body and spirit becomes an everyday affair.
With that in mind, practitioners of Ayurvedic healing have developed and passed down recipes that are not only simple -- but can also be customized to nurture your unique constitution.
No More Slaving Over the Stove to Eat Well
At the center of all this is a versatile staple called kicharee. Kicharee is the Hindi word for "mess" or "mixture." Some might call it a simple stew containing fiber, fat (ghee) and healthful spices.
Depending on your doshric makeup (vata, pitta, or kapha), kicharee can be dressed up, dressed down and flavored for maximum benefits. It is the base upon which a tasty and nourishing meal is created.
The beauty of kicharee is that, not only is it simple and quick to make, it can be tweaked according to your health needs and tastes.
At its most basic, kicharee contains rice, mung beans (a legume related to lentils), ghee (oil from butter) and spices. All of the ingredients are inexpensive and available in groceries and health food stores.
The Myth About Cooking Ghee
One thing that holds some people back from making kicharee is the preparation of ghee. People think it is complicated because we associate clarified butter with fancy French chefs. In fact, ghee is simple to prepare and lasts for months. You can make a batch once and have it on hand for a while. Ghee is nothing more than cooked down butter that has lost its liquid.
Patients who have treated a specific health condition by frequent consumption of the proper kicharee have discovered that it helped maintain -- and even improved their health.
If you would like to experiment with kicharee and see how it benefits your health and emotional well being, try this simple recipe below...
Kicharee Recipe From Dr. Helen's Guide to Ayurveda
Kicharee is a medicinal meal and was used traditionally to bring very sick people back to health. You may eat this special dish whenever you are recovering from an illness.
1/4 cup split mung dahl (yellow lentils)
1. Wash the beans and rice until the water runs clear.
2. Warm the ghee in a medium saucepan; add the cumin, bay leaves, coriander, and oregano.
3. Brown slightly until their aroma is released. Stir in turmeric, rice, and dahl.
4. Add water, salt, kombu, and ginger. Simmer, covered, over medium heat for about 1 hour, or until the beans and rice are soft.
5. Add vegetables and cook 10 to 15 minutes more, or until tender.
Friday, January 11 2008
Long before the advent of charcoal briquettes and propane people were cooking their meals over wood fueled fires. From the days of cave-men to less than one hundred years ago wood was the fuel of choice when it came to cooking. In this modern age we are constantly looking for a faster, cleaner and easier way to do everything, including preparing our meals. This has led to the development of bigger accessory laden gas fueled grills lining the isles of home improvement stores and showing up in our backyards.
But for the barbeque purists out there nothing tastes quite the same as preparing their favorite barbeque dish over a wood fired grill.
Why is this? What could possibly work better then the latest and greatest in barbecue technology?
Depending on the type of wood used the “Grill-Master” (that guy who hovers over the grill creating barbecue master pieces) can create flavors in the meat, poultry or fish that just cannot be had over a more modern gas fueled grill. This flavor can further be adjusted just by the amount of wood used, how hot the fire is, and how much smoke the meat is allowed to marinate in.
There are several types of wood fired barbeques on the market today. They are sometimes referred to as smoker grills.
The offset firebox is the one most of us are used to seeing. These come in all sizes, from small family sized units to large trailer born monsters capable of feeding several hundred people. The distinguishing characteristic of the offset firebox is, well the offset firebox. Set off to the side and slightly below the main cooking chamber is the firebox. This separates the food from direct heat and allows for a nice slow cooking temperature.
The bullet style smoker is not actually a smoker but more of what is called a cold smoker or water smoker. They use a pan of water between the heat source and the meat, thereby blocking any direct heat that would cause any overcooking. In a sense they are not really considered a barbecue because of the way they work.
The main chamber cooker is the third type of wood fired barbeque. These are barrel shaped and allow the fire to be built off to one side with the meat offset from the wood allowing for an indirect cooking method. You do need to be careful with how large of a fire gets built because there is no physical separation between the heat source and the meat. The fire need to be kept small and tended in a timely manner throughout the cooking process.
Of course all this is a moot point if you do not select the right type of wood. For a wood fired barbecue nothing works better than a fruit bearing hardwood such as oak, hickory, pecan, maple apple and of course from Texas mesquite. Do not use softwoods or the wood from evergreens or conifers. Aside from burning at a lower temperature they are loaded with sap which will leave a bad taste on anything you cook.
Cooking meat over a wood fire has been something humans have been doing for thousands of years. With the newer and more modern wood barbecue smokers on the market today it is possible for just about anyone to enjoy real wood fired barbecue.
Thursday, January 10 2008
Celebrating the 25th Anniversary truly means sharing love and happiness and to remember those years that have brought the couple so close together. On this special day the arrangements have to be superb and for that matter one just needs to have a wonderful party plan. While working on different party arrangements, the food just takes a very important place and the best menu should be carefully selected to make sure that it reflects the event in the best way.
There are a lot of menus and recipes that can be explored for this special day. Different recipe books can be explored as well as the menus that you like at different restaurants, etc. There can be different combinations of appetizers, main courses and desserts that can be combined together to have a perfect meal. For example, Hot Pepper Poppers as appetizer, Plain Great Cheesy Catfish and Cabbage and Corn as the main course and Blueberry Muffins as dessert. Another menu that can be considered is Special Deviled Eggs as appetizer, Baked Fish, Rice, Pine Nut Pilaf and Creamy Carrots and Peas as main course and Decadent Coffee Chocolate Trifles as dessert.
Now just let us take a quick look as to how we can make fish in a quick and efficient way. First of all preheat the oven to about 375 degrees. Then you need to arrange the flounder fillets in a baking pan that is lightly oiled. Then season it with pepper to taste. The fillets then need to be baked for about 12-15 minutes or till the fish flakes easily. Then heat the oil in a saucepan with medium heat and then add tomatoes, vinegar and pepper to taste and simmer the sauce until it thickens. Then you need to stir it in chives and serve over flounder. Yum Yum.
The wines that you can serve with this food are White Zinfandel, Chenin Blanc, or Sauvignon Blanc and with all these arrangements you can celebrate this awesome event with your family.
Wednesday, January 09 2008
Here's another idea for a special Valentine's Day meal that you can prepare at home for that special someone. Get your creative juices going and cook your own Valentine dinner. This is the second of 4-part series of ideas. This combo uses potato as salad, shrimp and pasta for main dish, ginseng fudge for dessert, and a special Valentine punch.
Pink Mashed Potatoes
Peel potatoes and cut into 10-12 pieces, put in pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, and cook for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Turn off the stove, pour the potatoes into a colander and shake to remove the water. Cut the potatoes in a bowl; with an electric mixer or beater, beat the potatoes, butter and a little salt and pepper, adding the milk while you mix. Add food color carefully until it is a pretty color
Champagne Shrimp and Pasta
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta in boiling water for 6 to 8 minutes or until al dente; drain. Meanwhile, heat oil over medium-high heat in a large frying pan. Cook and stir mushrooms in oil until tender. Remove mushrooms from pan, and set aside. Combine shrimp, champagne, and salt in the frying pan, and cook over high heat. When liquid just beginning to boil, remove shrimp from pan. Add shallots and tomatoes to champagne; boil until liquid is reduced to 1/2 cup,for about 8 minutes. Stir in 3/4 cup cream and boil until slightly thick, for about 1 to 2 minutes. Add shrimp and mushrooms to sauce, and heat through. Adjust seasonings to taste. Toss hot, cooked pasta with the remaining 1/4 cup cream and parsley. To serve, spoon shrimp with sauce over pasta, and top with Parmesan cheese.
Valentines Love Fudge
Lightly grease a 13X9 inch baking dish. Mix margarine, sugar and milk in a large heavy saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil for 5 minutes. Stir constantly. Turn offthe heat and stir in chocolate chips. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Pour into baking dish and let it set up at room temperature.
Mix all the ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes.
If you like these ideas, look out for the next meal combo for your special Valentine dinner.
Valentine's Day Recipes
Tuesday, January 08 2008
Preheat oven to 400°; spray 2 cookie sheets with cooking spray. Melt butter in medium skillet over medium heat. Cook onion, celery, and yellow squash in butter about 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Mix vegetable mixture with soft bread crumbs, bisquick, pepper, season salt, slightly beaten eggs, chopped crabmeat. Shape mixture into small patties and place on cookie sheets. Bake about 12 minutes, turning once, until golden brown and serve with or without cocktail sauce.
Makes about 24
Note: If you don't have Bisquick just replace it with all purpose flour. Sometimes I use bell pepper instead of yellow squash or if you want to spice it up use green chili's or jalapenos instead of the squash or bell pepper.
You can find these and much more at Cristie's Cookin. Don't forget to submit your favorite recipe for a chance to win a free "Gotcha Covered" apron. Check out Cristie's unique spices, Bling It, Ring It, and Zing It. For you thriller seeking novels check out Cristie's new thriller "11.11.11" by TJ stokes.
Thursday, January 03 2008
Wild American shrimp are delicious steamed, boiled, grilled, fried and in recipes such as scampi. They are also popular as an appetizers such as cocktails, bisques and salads. They also freeze well and can be purchased in large numbers, processed and excess amounts frozen for later meals.
Shrimp tend to be low in fat and calories and have no carbohydrates or trans fatty acids. They contain vitamins B3, B6, B12, vitamin D and Omega-3 fatty acids and are sources of tryptophan, selenium, protein and minerals including iron, phosphorus, zinc and copper.
American species include white (Litopenaeus setiferus), brown (Farfantepenaeus aztecus), pink (Penaeus duorarum) and royal red (Pleoticus robustus or Hymenopenaeus robustus) rock (Sicyonia brevirostris) and Northern (Pandalus borealis).
Shrimp are sized by "count". The number is the average number of specimens per pound. This applies to both whole and heads-off products. For example, headless 16/20 count means there are 16 to 20 headless product per pound. Counts for headless product typically range from 16/20 (large) to 60/70 (small). The Pacific pink species are even smaller, having counts of about 100 to 140 whole specimens per pound.
Wild American shrimp are also a good choice in terms of sustainability. Several American fisheries have been recognized for ethical harvesting techniques.
The Wild American Shrimp Certification Program certifies that warm-water, wild caught shrimp from U.S. coastal waters meet a high standard of quality and consistency. Certified wild American Shrimp receive special labeling. Participation in the certification program is available to harvesters, processors, distributors, retailers, grocers and restaurateurs.
Another American fishery has received international recognition. Oregon's pink shrimp fishery has earned the world's first sustainable shrimp certification under the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification program.
Pink shrimp, also known as bay or salad shrimp are small (100-140 whole per lb). They are harvested using advanced trawl methods. Pink MSC certified shrimp are delivered to shore for cooking, peeling and freezing, resulting in an extremely fresh product of excellent quality.
The variety of high quality, healthy and sustainable American shrimp makes them an excellent choice for seafood lovers.
Wednesday, January 02 2008
It's that time of year again. Don't have your New Year's Resolutions lined up? How about one of these?
New Year's Resolution #1 To entertain more. My Secret Pantry makes entertaining fun and easy. Try the Margaritaville frozen concoction maker or cook a whole turkey, ham, or roast in half the time using the Nu-Wave Pro Infrared Oven. Spices, sauces, and seasonings make it easy to add extra zing to your meals and flare to your party menu.
New Year's Resolution #2 To eat healthier. Green tea, Barlean's flax seed oil, wine, and vegetables are all part of a healthy diet. My Secret Pantry helps you achieve great health by providing only the best for you including wine accessories and the AeroGarden to grow a vegetable garden right in your home.
New Year's Resolution #3 To lose weight. Losing weight is a common resolution and My Secret Pantry is here to help with many excellent tools including the Nu-Wave Pro Infrared Oven makes cooking a complete healthy meal easy. The VitaMix Blender makes whipping up a smoothie, salad dressing, juice, soups, salsas, very easy!
New Year's Resolution #4 To live like royalty. Why not? Small luxuries can make a big difference and decadence isn't far away at My Secret Pantry. Smoked salmon, chocolate, luxurious picnic baskets, wine accessories and coolers, and espresso and cappuccino machines all help to add a high note to the day to day.
New Year's Resolution #5 To become a better cook. A good chef is only as good as their tools. That doesn't mean you have to have a professional kitchen to make a good meal but a few key items will definitely make the job easier and more fun. ScanPan Cookware is the perfect beginning to a future of fantastic meals. The Shun Cutlery and Kershaw knives will make meal preparation speedy.