There’s no doubt that having the right tools for the job makes any task easier, and there’s no better place to illustrate this than in the kitchen, where having the right cooking utensils can be the difference between creating good meals and great meals.
Many cooks think about major appliances such as the stove and refrigerator when planning to equip their kitchens, but to be a success in the kitchen, you need to have a good selection of cooking utensils in addition to the bigger items. And don’t forget, cooking utensils means more than just spoons; there’s a host of small cooking utensils ranging from cutting devices, juicers, graters and more.
Think about what you do in a kitchen and about how different cooking utensils come into play for each task:
• Washing and drying fresh produce – always easy to accomplish with a strainer and salad spinner. A vegetable peeler is also an important addition to your cooking utensils closet.
• Slicing, chopping and dicing all kinds of food and garnishes – a food processor makes short work of vegetables, but mandolins, knives and graters are also helpful cooking utensils to have on hand.
• Measuring – cooking and baking can be a form of art and recipes should be followed as precisely as possible so measuring dishes, cups (both wet and dry measures) and measuring spoons are invaluable cooking utensils.
• Weighing – depending on what you like to cook, you may want to add a food scale to your shopping list of cooking utensils. Such a tool can be excellent for portioning meat and other products that have cooking times affected by weight.
• Temperature – as important as measures are temperatures, which can affect the success of your kitchen endeavors. An oven or meat thermometer is key to having properly cooked meat that is safe to eat, and should be included in your pantry of cooking utensils.
• Mixing – no kitchen would be complete without a cadre of mixing bowls in its cooking utensils cupboard. Having a selection of bowls in assorted sizes is essential to fast, efficient cooking.
• Manipulating, poking, prodding, lifting and stirring – perhaps what most often comes to mind when you think of cooking utensils are implements used to move food: spoons, forks, knives, spatulas, wire whisks, pastry blenders, tongs, salad lifters, slotted spoons, wooden spoons, serving spoons and more.
By imagining the tasks you do every day in the kitchen, you will get a better idea of the cooking utensils you should consider purchasing. Think about every stage of the food preparation process, from storage and cleaning, to cooking and presenting.
Other useful cooking utensils: pastry brush, kitchen shears, rolling pin, salt shaker, pepper mill, cutting board, ramekins, flour sifter, rotary beater, ladles, juicer and a can opener. Cooking utensils come in a range of prices, quality and materials such as wood, metal, rubber and silicone. Regardless of how much you pay, always make sure any cooking utensils that have multiple pieces, fit together securely.
When it comes to barbecuing, there are two main schools of thought for the techniques that you can use.
The first of these techniques – and the most popular method for those who grill in their back yards – is the style where the food is cooked directly over the source of heat. This way, the food is rapidly cooked on a hot grill suspended directly over the charcoals, the wood, or the gas burners. Rarely is the lid ever closed. Any foods, including the most tender cuts, hamburgers, steaks, kabobs of all kinds, chicken, and even vegetables are quickly seared and cooked to perfection using this technique. If sauces are desired, they can be added before hand, during the cooking process, or even after the food comes off the grill. These choices will all create different and enjoyable tastes and flavors.
The second barbecue cooking technique uses heat indirectly. This is more appropriate when you’re cooking much larger or whole cuts of meat, such as especially thick steaks, roasts, a whole hog, or a pork shoulder. When you’re cooking using this method, the food is cooked away from the actual source of heat. This usually requires a water pan of some kind in order to maintain the moisture level of the food. The temperatures generally sit in around 250ºF. During this cooking method, the lid of the barbecue remains closed most of the time, and the length of the cooking is much longer than in the first method. When you’re using an indirect barbecue cooker, there is usually an additional fire box that allows you to combine charcoal and wooden logs for burning. This allows the heat and the smoke to rise through the cooking chamber where the meat is, so that it is heated perfectly. The rule of thumb of this technique is a low temperature for a long time.
No matter which method you use, it’s important not to cook your meat too quickly. If the internal temperature of your meat rises too quickly as you cook it, the water and the fat within it will be expelled before the collagen is able to melt. This means that your cut will be dry and tough. However, you cannot cook too slowly or you will risk a bacterial contamination. Though there is a fine line for barbecuing properly, it’s important to find that line and stick to it.
If you’re already dealing with a cut of meat that is tough, such as a brisket or a pork roast, consider cooking slowly as the collagen adds flavor to the meat. If you buy a less tough, more expensive cut, you can cook at a higher temperature for a shorter period of time. This is why ribs and steaks take such a short time to cook, while pork shoulders or beef brisket can run up to 20 hours.
As a final note, it’s important to have fun while you barbecue! Your pleasure will come through in your cooking as it will leave you motivated, and willing to try new and interesting things.
Because cooking takes so many nutrients and vitamins OUT of food, you automatically start feeding your body what it needs when you stop cooking food and start eating uncooked, nutrient-rich foods. A raw carrot has exponentially more nutrition than a cooked carrot.
Cooking also alters the chemistry of foods, often making them harder to digest. Why do we have so many digestive problems in this country? Because we’re putting foods into our bodies in a form that we weren't designed to absorb. High fiber, high water content fresh produce abolishes constipation of the bowels, cells and circulatory system. Obstructions are cleared and blood flow increases to each and every cell in the body. Enhanced blood flow is significant for two reasons: as mentioned above, blood delivers nutrients and oxygen to living cells, and carries away their toxic metabolites.
Obesity is endemic in this country. The diet industry is more profitable than the oil companies. Why? Because the way we eat and prepare our food practically guarantees that we’ll overeat. Psychologists tell us that we overeat because our souls are hungry. But in reality, our bodies are hungry, even though we may feel full. When you start giving your body the nutrients it craves, overeating will cease.
Eating raw foods is a boost to your metabolism as well. It takes a little more energy to digest raw foods, but it’s a healthy process. Rather than spending energy to rid itself of toxins produced by cooking food, the body uses its energy to feed every cell, sending vitamins, fluids, enzymes and oxygen to make your body the efficient machine it was intended to be.
You’ll naturally stop overeating, because your body and brain will no longer be starving for the nutrients they need. A starving brain will trigger the thoughts that make you overeat. The brain and the rest of your body don’t need quantity; they need quality.
Even if you don’t really follow football closely or at all - everyone celebrates the Superbowl. There is fun for everyone, like new and funny commercials, over the top pre-game and half time shows, and an excuse to have a party, eat and drink too much.
The foods that are most famously associated with this event are admittedly geared more towards men and carnivorous choices but, you can find a vegetable or legume on the list too. Some items on the list can be made as unhealthily or healthful as you like by the ingredients you use.
Most would agree that the Superbowl is all about food, friends and fun!
Okay, Here is my list of the top ten Superbowl foods:
10. Chips, Dips, Salsa and Nuts
This is a big umbrella of general "snack food" or " junk food". Beer nuts or any kind of nuts are almost a pre-requisite for a Football party anyway. There are some really great appetizers that are now almost synonymous with Football. For example: Nachos - whether you just pour some melted cheese on them or go all out with salsa, guacamole, jalapenos, black olives, refried beans and spiced ground meat – these are always a crowd pleaser. There’s also the "old fashioned" Chex mix that is really quite a nice retro snack. Purchase, various Chex cereal flavors, add mini pretzels, some peanuts, melt some butter and honey with some kicked up seasonings – mix them all together and spread them out on a cookie sheet in the oven on 350 for 15-20 minutes. Great stuff.
9. BBQ Baked Beans
The classic baked bean recipe can take over 24 hours to prepare and serve. It involves soaking the dry beans which takes up most of the time, and marinating and baking the beans in a combination of Molasses, brown sugar and BBQ sauce. It normally has Pork in it too and that adds a really great flavor but, if that’s not your bag you can substitute ground turkey or have no meat at all.
8. Steak Tips
There are also Turkey, Swordfish and Chicken tips out there too now a days. Whichever you choose, marinating them in a good marinade first is a must. Steak will need the longest in a marinade but, all of them will be great once they are grilled on a nice hot grill. Pair tips with Salad and a mixed rice and you are all set!
I prefer the foot long Italian hoagie from the local deli cut up into 2 or 3 inch size sandwiches. Hot peppers are a necessity but should probably be "on the side" for the less inclined. Any kind of sandwiches will work really and Calzones which are not really considered sandwiches are a great choice because they are easy to eat while not sitting down and come in all kinds of yummy flavors.
Well, I had to put it on the list. It is really popular as a football food. It’s not truly my choice but, considering that watching football is a male oriented past time and most men are not into cooking, it makes sense that something you can pick up the phone and have delivered within 30 minutes (men are not normally planners either) would be on the list. PS: Anything that can be ordered, created and delivered within 30 minutes is not something I would recommend for adults – Children…okay.
5. BBQ Pork with all the fix’ins
This choice is really for a dedicated BBQ’er and will take some time to do right but, boy. It is well worth it. You really have to start this menu item the day before you want to enjoy it. It takes a smoker and a pork butt, some good dry rub, a mop sauce (this is important as far as I am concerned) and some good BBQ sauce along with a dedication to the low and slow way of cooking. In addition to the pulled pork, lay out some hamburger buns, home made cold slaw, and some chips and you have the perfect football party meal.
This is one of the most versatile and easy one-pan dishes you can make. You can prepare it for a whole crowd using a crockpot and it has so many variations there is bound to be one that’s to your liking. Just type in "Chili Recipes" in Google or your favorite browser and see all of the hits you get. Yep, you can’t go wrong with a good chili. Make sure to have extra hot sauce for the diehards that insist on kicking it up a notch!
Short ribs, Long ribs, Dry ribs, Wet ribs….There is a whole big debate about the best type of meat to use and the best way to cook ribs that is almost as hotly debated as who is going to win the big game. Two things I can tell you about ribs: 1. They are difficult to cook just right and, 2. When they are cooked correctly they are delicious! My suggestion to you is to purchase some ribs at your best local BBQ restaurant or grocery market and pop them in your oven before your friends arrive, set out your favorite BBQ sauce and pass them off as your own creation. See if anyone figures it out.
2. Sausages, Hot Dogs
These may not appeal to those of you that are on a health food kick but, really there have been vast improvements in the hot dog and sausage varieties and quite a few are now more healthy options than other choices. And really, what’s better than a sweet Italian Sausage smothered in sauted peppers and onions with gobs of mustard all wrapped up in a bun – mummm mummm. You can take a walk at half time to make up for it.
1. Chicken Wings
Okay, No surprise here. I don’t know exactly how Chicken Wings became the unofficial Football food but, I am cool with it. I have no complaints. Wings are pretty easy to make and you can make small batches at a time which is great if you are not sure how many people will be showing up demanding to be feed on the big day. The secret to great wings is the Wing sauce. There are almost as many brands of Wing sauce these days as BBQ sauce and mustard! That tells a little something about how popular these babies are.
Whether it's a small gathering of family members or an invitation extended to friends and neighbors, entertaining can take on a delightfully casual approach when it's done outdoors.
Add instant sophistication to a casual atmosphere with these entertaining and grilling tips guaranteed to impress every guest.
Be Courteous to Your Guests
Be sure to note any food restrictions or allergies and prepare alternate options.
Prepare ahead. Cut meats and vegetables, set the table, and toss the salad before the guests arrive. This will give you more time to relax and enjoy your company.
Create an Ambiance
White dinnerware always looks appropriate and pairs nicely with casual double-duty prep and serving pieces, such as rustic wood cutting boards for an outdoor meal.
Add instant elegance to your casual get-together with flowers. Just trim a few stems from the garden and arrange them in glasses or bowls.
Offer a few different bottles of wine at the table for a great conversation starter. The best wines to serve are ones that pair well with all types of food and do not require additional aging once purchased. For example, Rioja, one of Spain's oldest and most renowned wines, includes reds, whites and rose at all price ranges, aged to be ready to drink at purchase and complement meat, fish and vegetables.
Efficiency Is Key
To speed up grilling time, partially precook chicken, red meat, potatoes, carrots and other slow-cooking food in the oven or microwave. When grilling, if you need more than one cooking temperature, mound some coals on one side to create a hot section and spread coals out on the other side for a cooler section.
When grilling food on skewers, cut pieces into chunks that are too large to fall through the grate. Or for easy cleanup, consider using foil packets to grill onion rings, slices of zucchini and squash or even pineapple rings.
When basting, use two brushes - one green and one red. Use the green brush to baste raw meat. Once the meat has begun to cook, switch to the red brush to continue the process. This will help to avoid contamination.
When it comes to any party, including a Thanksgiving party, food and snacks are important. That is why you may be trying to decide which food and snacks, you should have at your next Thanksgiving party. As you will likely see, you have an unlimited number of different options.
Before you can begin to examine popular food and snack ideas, it may be a good idea to examine the focus of your Thanksgiving party. This may make it easier for you to decide on a particular food or snack. In most cases, you will want to try and tailor your food to the type of party that you are having. For instance, if you planning a kids’ only Thanksgiving party, it may be a good idea to have a collection of finger foods or other age appropriate snacks on hand. In addition to ensuring that your guests will enjoy your food, choosing the right type of food and snacks may make it easier for you to plan for and prepare for your Thanksgiving party.
As previously mentioned, if you are having a kid only Thanksgiving party, it may be a good idea to have kid friendly snacks on hand. These snacks may include chips, pretzels, cheese and crackers, pudding, or a veggie tray, and so on. If you are planning on having an all ages Thanksgiving party, a party where both adults and children will be present, it may be ideal to have a collection of common foods on hand; foods that will likely appeal to all ages. These snacks, as mentioned above, many include cookies, cheese and crackers, and vegetable snacks.
If you have decided on a formal Thanksgiving party, you will likely want to your party snacks to mirror the theme of you party. This means that you may want to purchase or make more elegant party snacks. These types of party snacks typically include vegetable trays and seafood. In addition to snacks, there is also a good chance that your formal Thanksgiving party will include a formal Thanksgiving dinner. If this is the case, you will need to purchase more than just snacks. You will need to purchase the main course, such as a turkey, as well as side dishes, which may include potatoes, cranberries, and a salad.
It is also important to examine the drinks that you will have at your Thanksgiving party. You will need to decide right away whether or not you want to serve alcohol at your Thanksgiving party. If you are hosting a causal Thanksgiving party or a formal Thanksgiving party, where adults will be present, alcoholic beverage may be ideal. Despite the fact that many party guests expect to see alcohol at a party, you do not have to serve alcohol if you do not want to; the decision is yours to make.
Although it is important to examine the types of foods, snacks, and drinks you would like to have at your Thanksgiving party, it may also be a good idea to examine when and where you will buy your items. In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, you will find that many retail stores, namely grocery stores, place popular Thanksgiving food and snacks on sale. Waiting until this time to purchase you party food, snacks, and drinks may make it so you have can everything that you want, but at an affordable price.
Experts say there are two basic categories of foods that can be considered "keeping it off super foods" because they fill your tummy without piling on the calories: fruits and vegetables. And the nutrient that gives fruits and vegetables that ‘staying power?’ Fiber. So, if fruits and vegetables are the "keeping-it-off superfood groups," fiber may well be the "keeping-it-off super-nutrient." Protein is another super-nutrient. It's becoming more scientifically accepted that protein may help to curb appetite. Protein also offers staying power, and can slightly boost your metabolism in the process. But it’s imperative that you choose your proteins wisely, because like all other foods, if you’re eating more than your body needs, it’ll show up on the scale as a gain, instead of a loss.
The following superfoods are smart, low-calorie choices that will benefit your weight loss efforts:
Green Tea - Researchers suspect that the catechins (helpful phytochemicals) in green tea may trigger weight loss by stimulating the body to burn calories and mildly decrease body fat. So indulge in either a hot cup or a nice tall iced glass of green tea.
Broth or tomato-based soup – Soups can help reduce hunger before meals and increase your feeling of fullness.
Low-calorie green salads - Having a low-calorie salad – which is not defined as one that’s loaded with croutons, high fat dressings, and cheese - as a first course can help you feel full, thereby reducing how much you eat with your main course. Wisely choose your ingredients, and its high fiber content can be the key to helping you fight cravings later in the day.
Yogurt – Including dairy products as part of your healthy diet may promote your weight loss efforts. Choosing a light yogurt may help you fight off hunger pangs due to its combination of protein and carbohydrate.
Beans – A great combination of fiber and protein, beans help you feel full longer, which means they may work to curb your between-meal appetite.
Water – Water is your body’s lifeblood, and you should be drinking it through your day. It’s a great no-calorie beverage, and you can get it by drinking unsweetened tea, flavored unsweetened mineral water, regular water with lime or lemon, or even in your cucumber. In addition to helping flush toxins from the body, it can also help you feel full. So when those hunger pangs strike, try drinking a glass of water before grabbing that snack.
High-Fiber, Whole-Grain Cereal - Whole grains in general help boost fiber and the nutritional value of your meal. One of the easiest ways to give your daily diet a whole-grain boost is to have a bowl of higher-fiber whole-grain cereal as breakfast or a snack.
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"The gloves really work! I used them to remove hot trays from the oven, in addition to not feeling any heat at all the trays didn't slip out of my hand. I was anxious to use them while grilling and they really made the whole experience much easier. I was not worried about getting burned when I was turning the food."
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