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Monday, June 30 2008
The Dragon Boat Festival falls on the 5th day of the 5th month of the Chinese Lunar Calendar. This usually falls in the first half of June.

The festival honours Qu Yuan, who was a poet and high official in the state of Chu. There are several variations on the story but all end with Qu Yuan drowning himself in the Miluo River on the 5th of the 5th, 278 B.C.E.

One versions says that Qu Yuan believed passionately in social reforms but this upset more conservative members of the court. They talked the king into banishing Qu Yuan, a punishment he was unable or unwilling to accept.

Another version says that he warned against the threat from a neighbouring state only to be ignored. When that state attacked and took the capital he wrote one last poem before committing suicide.

The festival arose as his fellow countrymen honoured the memory of Qu Yuan by racing Dragon Boats to the presumed spot of his drowning. They threw special pyramid-shaped sticky rice cakes wrapped in leaves into the water to feed his soul. These Zongzi now form an essential part of any Dragon Boat Festival.

Some say the rice cakes were made like this to feed the fish, preventing them from eating his corpse. Others say that Qu Yuan appeared to fishermen in a dream complaining that their original offerings were being taken by a local dragon, hence the need for a lily leaf wrapping.

Whichever story is true, it is interesting to have a symbolism to any foodstuff, and nice to see a patriot being honoured, even if a little too late.

Zongzi are made from sticky or glutinous rice and shaped as a pyramid. Over time, the style of the wrapping and the contents have evolved to suit local conditions all over China.

Zongzi now often contain bean or nut paste in the centre (peanuts and walnuts being favourites), or even egg or meat.

The wrapping is usually of any common local leaf. Bamboo leaves are used in the south, maize and other similar leaves further north.

The Zongzi are steamed or boiled for hours allowing the flavour of the contents and the leaves to seep into the rice, producing a whole range of snacks rather than one distinct dish.

Ian Ford has lived in China for most of the last 7 years. He has prepared a food guide, Eating Out in China, with background information to Chinese food including more food-related stories, over 60 recommended dishes and handy reference sheets. The sheets show each dish in English, pinyin and Chinese characters and are for you to take on your travels. Order these dishes, and variations, with ease.

Discover more about Foods in China. Get your copy today.

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 10:05 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, June 27 2008

There are many different vegetable combinations for Pasta Primavera. Since Primavera means spring, my version of this classic Italian recipe includes zucchini and tender asparagus. Enjoy!


1 1/2 lbs asparagus
1 lb zucchini
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 cup thinly sliced scallions
Freshly Ground Black pepper
1 lb Gemelli (twists)
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano cheese


1 - Wash the asparagus several times in lukewarm water. Refresh in cold water, drain well and blot dry with paper towel. Slice off tough ends. If asparagus are thin they will not have to be peeled; if larger, peel the lower portion with a vegetable peeler. Slice diagonally into 1-inch thick lengths and place the tips in a separate bowl.

2 - Scrub the zucchini and blot dry with a paper towel. Trim both ends and cut into 2-inch lengths. Slice each piece into 1/2-inch strips.

3 - In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat, then add 3 tbsps butter. Stir in garlic and saute until lightly golden; then discard with a slotted spoon. Add the scallions and cook until tender-crisp, about 2 minutes. Add the bottoms of the asparagus and cook until barely tender, for about 2 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in asparagus tips, 1 tsp slat and pepper; continue stirring and cook until tips are barely tender, about 2 minutes. (do not overcook the tips of they will fall apart when tossed with the pasta).

4 - While you are cooking the vegetables, cook the pasta in 6 quarts boiling water with 1 tbsp salt until al dente. Drain pasta in a colander, transfer to a bowl containing 1 tbsp butter and toss quickly.

5 - Mix half of the vegetables, heated chicken broth and Parmigiano cheese with the pasta; toss well. Spoon the remaining vegetable mixture on top and serve with additional freshly grated Parmigiano cheese.


Serves 4 to 6

Another fine Italian recipe by Tony Scarponi!

For more recipes, visit me at


Posted by: Send a Meal AT 09:44 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, June 26 2008

Well, I promised you affordable recipes and here I am breaking my word. But, you see, my son was on a business trip and able to snatch a few hours on the way home to stop and see us. It doesn't happen too often so I wanted to do something special. Anyway, I tore out to the store for T bone steaks, potatoes, and a salad and the first course treat. Extravagant but so what. This recipe serves three, I suppose you could make it four. I call it Lobster Gimigiano after the place I first tasted it but you could also call it Cozy Harbor since they have almost the same recipe on their packaging. Regardless of the name, you can use lobster you cook yourself or a frozen product that tastes as though you just cooked it. I recommend Cozy Harbor Frozen Lobster, in a 7 oz. container.


  • Defrost and drain the lobster.
  • Cut lobster into very small pieces. Set aside.
  • Take three or four handfuls of pasta. I used the very thin, angel hair which works well, broken into pieces so you don't need to do any fancy winding up to eat it.
  • Drop into boiling water that has a few drops of vegetable oil and boil for about five minutes until soft.
  • Drain and toss with a tiny bit more oil.
  • saute a finely diced carrot and 1/4 cup finely diced skinned tomato, in 3 tablespoons olive oil with a knob of butter added.
  • Remove carrot and add 1/4 cup white wine, simmering for about five minutes.
  • Then add a crushed garlic clove and 1/4 cup chopped parsley. Cook lightly until the parsley is wilted.
  • Add lobster and 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil and 2 teaspoons of fresh thyme, leaves only, no stems.
  • Stir until it is heated through. add the pasta, add a teaspoon of grated Parmesan cheese, mix, and keep warm until ready to eat.
  • Serve on small plates with a few black olives with your choice of wine-a great start to any meal.


If I had had time I would have made my French Mocha layer cake, Ladies Home Journal, which you will see on the website link below) but I didn't, so we had strawberry ice cream with fresh strawberries on top. It was a wonderful visit. We hated to see him drive off, the woods swallowing him up after a few seconds. But it's all a nice memory today. Happily, we still have the woods and you have this lovely little recipe to use for a special occasion, from me to all of you.

For more information, plus the French Mocha Cake and other recipes, tested and more affordable from Ruth Graham see Also, if you love the woods, as we do, look for the contact form to send your request for a free limited edition of "Woods, Water,Sky", a set of 10 signed and numbered photographs.

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 11:23 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, June 26 2008
My wife is an excellent cook with my favorite meals she prepares being her prime rib and lasagna, with the newest dish being this her recipe for pulled pork and is just one of many quick easy dinner recipes she has added. Since my son started college we discovered the expensive for her to be at home. This ended a lot of the home cooked meals, due to time restraints. It's just so hard these days to have only one adult working as gas prices seem to be pushing all of our costs upward. Then on top of that we tend to make some of these fast food establishments richer because no one has time to prepare meals. It seems the more money we earn the more it cost to make ends meet. We decided we needed to find some quick easy dinner recipes. Otherwise we would be eating dinner at 8:30 at night. In our search we discovered a great time and money saver in an appliance we had all along stuffed away in the basement. We pulled out our old trusty crock pot and searched for some verity of dishes to prepare with it. To our amazement we found that this was much more than a Band-Aid type fix. We found a huge collection of recipes online and found that even a recipe for pulled pork can be a quick easy dinner recipes.

We found we could still have great taste and could start it before work and let them cook all day unattended to return home and dinner was ready or near ready.

They say it's so important to eat as a family when ever possible. I don't think they had a fast food atmosphere in mind. Some of our greatest discussions come from around the dinner table as were eating. I don't know how families can keep up with out this valuable time. We tend to use these quick easy dinner recipes about 3 times a week and usually on our busy nights. The recipe for pulled pork is only one of the many recipes available. It's nice to come home again and smell the great food aroma smell in the air once again. I've included the recipe for pulled pork as just one of the many quick easy dinner recipes available.

Crock Pot Recipe For Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Cook Time: 10 hours


3 to 4 lb lean boneless pork roast
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp.pepper
2 large onions. coarsely chopped
1 can (12 oz.) Coca-Cola
1-1/2 cups bottled hickory smoked barbecue sauce
3/4 cup water
Preparation -

Spray the inside of a crock-pot with non-stick cooking spray. Trim any visible fat from the pork roast. Place it in the crock-pot. Sprinkle with seasonings. Top with chopped onions. Pour the Coca-Cola over top. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Remove the roast from the crock-pot. Discard the onions and liquid. Pull apart and shred the pork with a fork, removing any remaining fat. Place the shredded pork back in the crock-pot. Mix the barbecue sauce and water together. Pour over and stir into the shredded pork. Cook on low for 2 more hours. Ready to serve on bun or roll.

If this recipe sounds good or you would like to have more like it, please follow my link for 470 great crock pot recipes.

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 08:03 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, June 25 2008
Here is the best way to go about grilling corn on the cob.

The first thing you want to do with the corn is shuck off the husk. To get the proper cooking done in the corn you want to make sure the husk is gone so that you can have those beautiful grill marks. Wash the corn after you have removed the husk to make sure that you don't have any of the "hair" left from the husk. Put a paper towel on a plate and set the ears of corn on top of the paper towel. Try to get as much of the water off of the corn as possible.

Next we need to make the spread that is going on the corn. Take a stick of butter and make sure that it is soft enough for spreading. To test this, use the back of a fork and see if you can press the fork down through the butter without much strain. Take 2 teaspoons of celery salt and add it to the butter. Next, take a teaspoon of fresh ground pepper (regular pepper will work but it won't taste as fresh as the one that you grind yourself.) Add in a pinch of basil to the butter mix. Then we add half a cup of fresh shredded Parmesan. This is not a part you want to skip on, as this will be the trick that takes your corn from okay to fantastic. Don't used grated Parmesan either as that doesn't melt like the shredded Parmesan does. Add all of these ingredients in with the butter and use the fork to combine them into an almost pasty butter spread.

Be very liberal with how much spread you put on the corn. Plenty will fall off during the cooking process so you want to make sure that a lot of it sticks to the corn. I personally cook this at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes making sure you turn them so that the corn doesn't burn on one side and not cook on the other. Be prepared for flare up if you're cooking over a charcoal grill as the butter melts off and lands on the coals. You will want this to be the last part of the meal you cook because this corn is best served hot.

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 11:01 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, June 24 2008

We all know that everybody enjoys grilling, some of us believe that it is an art. Commonly, we are mistaken in grilling with raw chicken, charred steaks and burnt burgers. One of the hardest meats that are to be grilled is the chicken. It is very hard to grill the chicken perfectly; it is always overcooked or raw. Who would want to eat a burnt or a raw chicken? For you to perfectly grill a chicken, here are some tips for you to try when grilling marinated chicken.

· It is always preferred to use low fire in grilling in order to avoid burnt meat. Wait until the chicken is tender and moist before adding any sauces. In order for you to know when the meat is tender and moist, it is when your chicken is nearly cooked. This way there would be no more fire flare ups since it is the sauce that produces them.

· For you to keep the chicken moisten, constantly apply an apple juice. It is not advisable that you use wine on grilling marinated chicken. This is one of the reason fire is produced while grilling. One of the main reasons why meats are obtaining burns is because of the sugar mixed with the sauce. But if you apply your sauce when it is nearly cooked, it will not burn. But if you would want not to use sugar, you could always use rubs. This is a good way to avoid burns in your meat.

· If you have a hard time in telling whether your chicken is almost cooked for you to apply the sauce, you could always purchase a meat thermometer. It's a very handy gadget in grilling; it gives tone alert when the meat is almost cooked. This way you will not have undercooked nor overdone meals. This also saves more of your time, if you are grilling and at the same time need to do other

· You could leave the griller and wait until it gives the tone alert. Grilling marinated chicken is the main reason why our meats produce some very nice flavors and it makes our meats juicier.

· Marinating gives flavors to your meat, it is composed of seasoning, acid and oil. The usual used acids are citrus juice, vinegar and wine, this tenderizes the meat by breaking down the hard fibers from the meat. Oils sucks up the seasonings that were placed into the meat, which then making our meats so juicy and moist. Grilling marinated chicken is truly a very good way to have a delicious meal. Here are some tips in marinating:

· It is better to marinate meat with a big surface area because it can easily absorb the marinade. But, when marinating a very compact meat, it is advised to do it by injecting it into the meat or just cut through the meat then massaging it with the marinade with your hands.

· If you are marinating a large size of meats, longer time is required for it to absorb the flavor. For such small sizes, it is between 30 minutes and one hour.

· If you want your grilling marinated chicken to be brown, take the meat out of the marinade then dry it, then you could already brown it.

· If you want to save energy in cleaning, better use Ziploc bag in grilling marinated chicken, but a baking dish or glass bowl would also work.

· When marinating the meat, turn it several times and it is preferred to be put in the refrigerator.

· Reusing the marinade for another stock of meat is not good. If you wish to reserve some for your dipping sauce, better do it before marinating it with the meat.

Grilling marinated chicken can really give you a perfect meal anytime!

Richard Myers is the founder of The Grilling Coach. For more information, you can reach him at:

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 11:38 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, June 23 2008
More and more, Americans are avoiding the kitchen and relying on the convenient yet fattening fare offered at fast food restaurants and other national chains. While most people are aware that cooking at home is an effective way to save money, many of us ignore the fact that preparing our own meals can be beneficial to our health, as well. When taking steps to prepare meals in the healthiest possible way, you can not only develop a healthy relationship with food, but also probably have a little fun in the process. Most importantly for patients of weight-loss surgery, learning to prepare healthy meals is one of the biggest steps towards meeting long-term weight loss goals and maintaining healthy eating habits. The following tips represent just a sample of the many ways you can make the meals you prepare as healthy as possible.

Remove the Skin and Fat

Whenever you prepare chicken or any other type of meat, you should remove the skin and fat before cooking. Not only will you leave yourself the best-tasting portions, you will be able to avoid plenty of unwanted calories and unhealthy fat.

Cut the Oil in Half

If you prepare your meals from cookbooks or family recipes, add only half the amount of oil listed - or less - to all of your dishes. Though many cooking oils - such as olive, safflower, sesame and canola - contain unsaturated fats that can help lower cholesterol levels, these additives can also pack plenty of calories that can jeopardize your weight loss goals. If you consume these oils in moderation, you will be able to obtain the healthy benefits, retain the taste of your meals and stick to your weight loss goals.

Coat Your Pans with Cooking Spray or Chicken Broth

One of the easiest ways to avoid excess consumption of such cooking oils is to use cooking sprays and chicken broth instead. When sautéing meat or vegetables on the stovetop, coat your pans with a fat-free cooking spray or healthy chicken broth instead of traditional oils. Once you perfect the simple art of healthy sautéing, you will be able to enjoy meals that are not only healthier, but more delicious.

Pour in Skim Milk Instead of Cream

Much like the suggestion to substitute cooking sprays for oils, using skim milk - especially the evaporated variety for weight loss-surgery patients - instead of whole cream can help you trim fat and calories from your meals. People may also be surprised to hear that buttermilk is also naturally low in fat and is available in low fat and non-fat versions in some markets. When shopping for dairy products, you should also stock up on low-fat yogurt to use in lieu of sour cream or mayonnaise and low-fat cheese instead of the standard variety. Thick, creamy fat free or low fat Greek Yogurt serves as a delicious replacement as well.

Use Applesauce in Your Baked Goods

For all of your baked goods recipes, substitute applesauce for any type of cooking oil. However, you should definitely try to limit your consumption of baked goods, especially pastries that incorporate large amounts of sugar.

Cook with Fresh Spices

Rather than dousing your meals with unhealthy amounts of salt, you should also try to learn the art of cooking with fresh spices. Not only will spices add an incredible amount of flavor to your meals, you can season your food without worrying about the potentially dangerous effects of salt. However, be careful of packaged seasoning mixes as many contain excessive amounts of salt, destroying the benefit of using different spices.

Find Healthy Ways to Prepare Your Meals

Even if you follow all of the previous tips, using the wrong cooking methods can ruin the healthy benefits of your meals. As a result, you should avoid such cooking methods as frying. Instead, try steaming your vegetables and cooking your meats on a grill or in the oven. Your microwave also represents a healthy solution, as most foods can be cooked thoroughly without the use of oils or fatty cooking additives.

As you perfect the methods of healthy cooking, you should also try to enjoy the entire process of cooking - from the simple activities to the aromas. You may even want to purchase new pots, pans, utensils or cooking appliances to help you make the most of your healthy meals. Eating should be a relaxing experience and allowing yourself to enjoy cooking will help you develop a healthy lifelong relationship with food. Many people find success by making it a family activity to teach their children how to shop, cook and eat healthy.
Posted by: Send a Meal AT 11:40 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, June 17 2008

This classic Italian recipe is one of our favorites and very easy to make. When making this recipe try substituting smoked Bavarian cheese for the mozzarella or halloumi and grated Cheddar cheese for the Parmesan, for a slightly different but just as delicious flavor. Mangiare!


Butter, for greasing

14 oz dried penne

1 tbsp olive oil

2 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese

4 fresh basil sprigs

1 cup grated mozzarella cheese or halloumi cheese

4 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese

salt and black pepper

fresh basil leaves, to garnish


1 - Lightly grease an oven-proof dish

2 - Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the penne and olive oil and cook until just tender, but still firm to the bite. Drain the pasta, set aside, and keep warm.

3 - Beat the eggs into the ricotta cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper.

4 - Spoon half of the penne into the base of the dish and cover with half of the basil leaves.

5 - Spoon over half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Sprinkle with the mozzarella or halloumi cheese and then top with the remaining basil leaves. Cover with the remaining penne and then spoon over the remaining ricotta cheese mixture. Lightly sprinkle with the grated Parmesan cheese.

6 - Bake in a preheated oven at 375F for 30 to 40 minutes, until golden brown and the cheese topping is bubbling.

7 - Garnish with basil leaves, if desired, and serve hot.

Serves 4 to 6


For more delicious Italian recipes please visit us at

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 10:08 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, June 16 2008

Like rice, pasta is a very versatile food and can be used in recipes and meals in many different ways. Pasta is a carbohydrate and is a great food to fill you up and give you energy. Here are some tips on how to cook and serve pasta:-

1.Boiling pasta - Packet dried pasta is very easy to cook. Check the packet to see the recommended amount of pasta per person, usually about 100g, and place in a large saucepan. Boil some water in your kettle and pour over the pasta, enough to cover and a bit more because many types of pasta double in size as they cook. Add a little salt and a dash of olive oil, to help stop the pasta sticking together, and bring the water back to the boil. Boil for 7-12 minutes according to the instructions on the packet. Stir regularly to prevent pasta sticking to the pan and serve once it is al dente - soft but has a bit of bite. Drain in a colander or sieve and serve.
If you are going to be using the pasta in a salad, drain and rinse the pasta to remove the sticky starch.

2.Fresh pasta - Packet fresh pasta can be found in the refrigerated sections of many supermarkets and is quick to cook because it hasn't been dried. Stuffed tortellini or ravioli pastas are delicious served with a drizzle of olive oil and some grated Parmesan for a quick meal ready in five minutes. Many supermarkets also have chilled, ready made sauces to serve with pasta.

3.Pasta Salad - Tuna pasta salad is a traditional and great tasting pasta salad to serve at BBQs on balmy summer evenings. Simply boil some pasta twirls or shells until cooked, cool and then chill. Mix a can of tuna and some canned sweetcorn into the pasta and then add some crushed garlic and some chopped spring onions. Make a dressing out of English mustard, lemon juice, mayonnaise and stir into the pasta salad. Season and add herbs if you wish. This recipe is also great with roasted Mediterranean vegetables.

Look for pasta salad recipes online and experiment with different dressings and condiments such as soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, tabasco sauce and chutneys.

4.Lasagna - Make a simple lasagna by using precooked lasagna sheets which do not need boiling before use. Layer in a rectangular deep dish with a bolognese sauce and a cheese sauce for a traditional "Ragu" lasagne. For lasagne with a twist, replace the bolognese sauce with a mushroom sauce or a chicken supreme sauce - look for ideas online.

5.Pasta desserts - There are traditional pasta puddings like macaroni pudding, which is a baked macaroni milk pudding, but there are also modern pasta puddings. How about making a sweet lasagne? Layer cooked apples or apple puree with lasagne sheets and ricotta cheese or use cherry pie filling or mashed banana - delicious. Search online for other pasta dessert recipes and stun guests at dinner parties with your creativity.

If you want to make a traditional macaroni pudding, boil a cup of macaroni in water, beat together 3 eggs, 600ml of milk, a tablespoon of granulated sugar, a dash of vanilla and a little nutmeg (freshly grated or dried), mix the cooked macaroni with the egg and milk mixture and pour into an ovenproof dish. Bake on a low heat (approximately 150 degrees Celsius) for half an hour. Serve and enjoy.

6.Homemade Pasta - There are many recipes online for how to make your own pasta dough to make your very own pasta. It is possible to buy pasta machines which press your pasta and cut it into sheets, ravioli squares or into linguine or spaghetti. Making homemade pasta is fun so give it a try.

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 02:47 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, June 10 2008
Purchasing live lobsters can be a daunting task, but after reading this guide, you'll see how easy it really is!

Buying Live Lobsters

I'm sure most of you have seen the lobster tanks in your local grocery store or meat market, but do you know what to look for when you are buying one of them? The most common type of lobster you will encounter is the Maine Lobster. Ask the fish monger to let you hold the lobster. Most places will let you, but if they don't, you don't want to buy from that place any ways. You want to look for a lobster that is very active. The more they move around, the better. One's that act lethargic may be close to dying and that does not make for good eats. When you hold the lobster, squeeze the body. If the shell feels hard and does not give much, you're holding a Hardshell (lobsters that are several months past their last molt). If it feels soft or has quite a bit of give, you've got a Softshell (lobsters that are recently molted). If you aren't sure, ask the fish monger and they will be able to tell you. Unless you live right up the street from where you are buying your lobsters, you should probably bring a cooler to transport them home in.

Storing Live Lobsters

If you come home with Hardshell lobsters, they can survive out of water for up to two days if kept properly refrigerated. Softshells, on the other hand, can only survive a few hours out of water. That's why it's important to know which kind you have. If you are going to spend the money for fresh lobster, we would recommend that you purchase it the same day as you plan to cook it.

Whichever type of lobster you have, store them in your refrigerator on a baking sheet or something similar. Don't worry about them running off, they don't move well at all out of water.

Cooking Live Lobsters

While this website talks a lot of grilling lobsters, steaming and boiling are probably the two most common methods of cooking. Since lobsters are cooked alive, you want to treat the lobsters as humanely as possible. The easiest and cleanest way is to place your lobsters in the freezer for around thirty minutes prior to cooking them. They will effectively be asleep and will feel no pain when the cooking process begins.

Now it's time to cook the lobsters! Please browse through our lobster recipes or follow our grilling lobster tails guide. Happy eating!

Grilling lobster tails and lobster tail recipes

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 12:26 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, June 05 2008

Italian Wedding Soup is normally made with vegetables and meatballs or sausage. This recipe, however, is a meatless version used with chicken broth instead of shredded chicken that is sometimes used in the recipe. Other vegetables used in the recipe other than spinach has consisted of kale or cabbage. Mix and match the recipe below to suit your taste buds and your families likes and dislikes. Great thing about this soup is it can be eaten as a

Italian Wedding Soup


2 cups fresh spinach leaves (chopped)

5 oz uncooked macaroni rings of ditalini

2 cups yellow squash (diced)

1 cup red bell pepper (diced)

2 cups zucchini (diced)

1 garlic clove (minced)

1/2 cup onion (finely chopped)

2 teaspoons olive or vegetable oil

3 cans ready to serve chicken broth (14 1/2 oz)

Fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Next add the onion and the garlic, cook for about 2 minutes, (be careful of the popping garlic). Once the onion and the garlic is tender, stir in the zucchini, the squash and the bell pepper. Cook the vegetable mixture for another 2 minutes.

Next add the broth to the vegetable mixture then add the macaroni rings. Mix well. Once mixture has been brought to a boil, reduce the heat (medium heat) and cook for approximately 6-8 minutes until macaroni noodles are tender. Stir mixture occasionally.

Last you want to add the spinach and cook for about 1 minute. Make sure that the spinach is wilted slightly.

Serve soup in individual bowls and top with fresh grated Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 09:48 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, June 04 2008
Whether you're a seasoned pro (no pun intended) or brand new to the world of barbecue, your spring and summer nights are sure to be full of grilled meals. Besides the wonderful flavor when food is cooked outdoors, there's also the added benefit of less clean up time! Here are six secrets for successful and savory outdoor grilling.

1. Before you fire up the grill, you'll need to do some prep work. Make sure to choose your piece of meat wisely. Good grilling starts at your butcher counter. Choose cuts of meat that are fresh, good-looking and preferably large sized. Small chunks are more likely to fall through the cracks in your grill and should be left for stovetop cooking.

2. Get some nice steaks, chicken pieces or a tri tip roast. Decide whether you're going to season on the grill or marinate ahead of time. If you're trying a marinade, make sure to give the meat enough time to soak up the seasoning. Overnight is best, but if you're in a pinch for time, try to give it at least a few hours to sit.

3. After you've prepared your meat, the first step is to heat up the grill. Pre-heating your grill is absolutely essential! Charcoal grills will heat up more slowly than gas grills, so make sure to start up the grill ahead of time if you're using the former. Heating up the grill beforehand will allow you to heat the meat evenly and also help to clean your grill from the last meal.

4. Make sure you have the proper tools to get your grilling done. A lot of people use a fork or tongs to rotate the meat on the grill, but this should be avoided at all costs. Poking holes in your meat allows juices to escape and will give you a dried out meal by the time you are done. Invest in some barbecue tongs so you can rotate without poking.

5. If you're using barbecue sauce instead of a marinade, make sure that you don't put it on too early. Wait until the last few minutes of your cooking time. If you put it on too early, you'll end up losing most of it. To prevent it from sliding off into your drip tray, wait until just a few minutes before you take it off the grill. This way it will heat up but stay on your food.

6. Once you've mastered the basics of meat and chicken on the grill, try expanding your repertoire. You can find recipes for everything from pizza to dessert that can be cooked right on the grill. Barbecued veggies are an excellent side dish and can be cooked right along with your main dish.

Above all, don't be afraid to try new things. The more items you learn to cook on the grill, the more you'll use it this summer. And the more you use it, the less clean up you'll have to do in your kitchen!

Jamie Jefferson writes for and, where you'll find coupons for barbecue grills and accessories as well as coupons for great cuts of meat.

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 09:38 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, June 03 2008

Chicken is my nations most popular meat however when it comes to the barbecue it's probably less popular because people are more concerned to ensure that the meat is properly cooked. I've known some even to pre-cook chicken in the microwave first but this really isn't necessary if you follow the basic rules that I've set out before.

Just to re-iterate one point when using a charcoal barbecue grill, always give the coals time to settle before starting to cook (about 45 minutes) because despite chicken being described as a lean meat, the fat that is under the skin mobilizes very quickly and makes for serious flames. You don't get beautiful barbecue chicken with a crispy skin but raw chicken with what looks like an dirty oily coating, best described as a health hazard.

So when it comes to how to barbecue chicken there are essentially four different styles, rotisserie, spatchcock, smoker or roast, the fist two are the ones I'm going to concentrate on being specifically for the grill. Hopefully smoked chicken is self explanatory and roast chicken is great in a kamado ceramic BBQ but maybe that's for another day.


Rotisserie is when you barbecue chicken on a spit roaster and rotate it over the heat so effectively grilling and continually turning to ensure that the chicken is cooked evenly all over. Rotisserie is probably the most difficult way to barbecue chicken because it's not so easy to tell when the chicken is done and it's important to ensure that the inner cavity is cooked. This means that it needs to be cooked well and for longer than if you were roasting the bird but that doesn't mean that it's going to be dry. The secret is to ensure that your barbecue chicken is basted every 15 minutes with the juices in the drip tray. Check for good cooking either by using a BBQ thermometer or simply stabbing the thigh with a skewer and when the juices run clear (no blood) then it's done. If using a barbecue thermometer then you're looking for a breast temp of 165°F and 180°F in the thigh and wing.


This is my preferred way of how to barbecue chicken because it's relatively quick (about 45 - 50 minutes) and because the cavity is exposed, you're guaranteed to have the inside well cooked. The challenge is in the preparation because you've got to cut the chicken down either the backbone or the breast bone and this is best done with shears or a sharp knife. When using a knife I tend to cut the breast bone because it's easier. When you finished cutting, flatten the bird and place it in a BBQ basket and then you're ready for the grill, 25 minutes each side and then your done. TIP - less fat drips from the inside of the chicken so cook this side first.

Both the above are essentially grill techniques and to simply turn these into full blown barbecue chicken recipes then simply season with salt and pepper. This will add flavor but most importantly the salt will help crisp up the skin - not the most healthy part of the chicken but certainly tasty. If you then want to enhance the recipe then break out your favorite homemade barbecue sauce.

Barbecue Chicken - Free barbecue grill recipes.

Smoked Chicken - Easy recipes for the smoker grill with lots of tips.

Homemade Barbecue Sauce - Great easy recipes.

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 09:33 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, June 01 2008

With the weather being nice and warm outside, why not let the kids help prepare dinner for dad on Father’s Day and make it a fun night out by the grill.

During the day, let the kids make decorations like handprints on a paper tablecloth, blow up balloons or make some simple paper lanterns. Then let them help you with dinner preparations. A great Father’s Day dinner from the grill includes delicious grilled steaks, pasta salad and Texas toast. Finish it all off with scrumptious brownies a la mode.

Start by making this simple pasta salad. Cook the pasta ahead of time, and then let the kids mix all the salad ingredients together. Chill the pasta salad for several hours before serving.

Pasta Salad

Makes 5 servings

· 1 16-ounce package corkscrew pasta

· 1 cucumber

· 3 carrots

· 1 bunch broccoli

· 1 15 1/2-ounce can garbanzo beans

· 3 tablespoons salad supreme

· 1 16-fluid ounce bottle Italian herb dressing

Cook noodles and combine with everything else.

Now it’s time to prepare the marinade for the steaks.

Marinated Steaks

Makes 4 servings

· 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

· 1/4 cup soy sauce

· 3 tablespoons garlic minced

· 2 tablespoons honey

· 2 tablespoons olive oil

· 2 tablespoons ground black pepper

· 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

· 1 teaspoon onion powder

· 1/2 teaspoon salt

· 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke

· 1 pinch cayenne pepper

· 4 beef steaks - cut of your choice

1. In a medium bowl, mix the vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, honey, olive oil, ground black pepper, Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, salt, liquid smoke, and cayenne pepper.

2. Place steaks in a shallow glass dish with the marinade, and turn to coat. For optimum flavor, rub the liquid into the meat. Cover, and marinate in the refrigerator overnight or up to two days.

Now it’s time to cook those steaks on the grill. Of course Mom or Dad should be taking care of this.

3. Preheat grill for medium-high to high heat.

4. Lightly oil the grill grate. Grill steaks 7 minutes per side, or to desired doneness.

Texas Toast

What would dinner be without some sort of bread? Dad is sure to love this hearty Texas Toast. Kids can help spread the butter and sprinkle the seasoned salt.

· 1/4 cup butter or stick margarine, softened

· 4 slices thick-cut white bread, about 1 inch thick

· 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

1. Set oven control to broil.

2. Spread butter on both sides of bread slices. Sprinkle with seasoned salt. Place on rack in broiler pan.

3. Broil with tops 4 to 6 inches from heat 2 to 4 minutes, turning once, until lightly toasted. Cut each slice diagonally in half. Serve warm or cool.

Help the kids mix up a boxed brownie mix and bake them just before you sit down for dinner. Allow the brownies to cool while you eat, then get the kids to make dessert by placing a piece of brownie in a bowl, top it with some vanilla ice cream. Drizzle chocolate syrup over the ice cream and dessert is ready.

There you have it…the perfect Father’s Day dinner that Dad is sure to love, especially since the kids were busy making most of it.

Want more family friendly recipes and crafts ideas? Visit for a sample weekly menu plan your entirefamily will love and for tons of craft and activity ideas that are sure to keep your little ones entertained.

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 11:24 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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