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Cooking for children tips to make your dishes more attractive

Cooking For Children — Tips To Make Your Dishes More Attractive

Meal times so easily become a battle field when we are cooking for little ones. We spend hours preparing a nutritious meal but it all ends in tears with a toddler tantrum at the tea table.
Are there any simple guidelines we can follow when cooking for little ones? I would say after many years of experience and many tantrums, mine as well as the kids, that it is possible to take some of the tension out of cooking for little ones.
My first rule when cooking for little ones is don’t cook. Or at least cook less. Children love raw foods and they are very healthy. Keep some cut up carrot sticks in the fridge. Washed, peeled and sliced into finger sized pieces they make an excellent snack. With a little houmous, or peanut butter maybe, they are extremely nutritious. Raw food really is good for children.
On the same principle why not try homemade smoothies. They can be prepared in advance and kept in the fridge. This is one of the simplest ways of getting children to eat fresh fruit and vegetables. You can also turn smoothies into a kind of ice pop by freezing them. They are lower in sugar than commercially available products.
A thing we easily forget when cooking for little ones is that they have small stomachs. They need to eat little and often. The large meals we habitually prepare for adults are just too much for children. They simply cannot wait four hours from one meal to another. You need to have lots of healthy food in small portions ready to hand.
When it comes to the main family meals the single biggest problem is vegetables. So many small children will not eat vegetables, especially green vegetables. The answer is to get creative. Sauces exist for a reason. Broccoli was surely made for garlic butter or cheese sauce.
Some people will object that children will not eat garlic. But if they are introduced to it slowly they will. It will soon become a favourite and it is very healthy. The same is true of cheeses. It is worth introducing children to variety of cheeses. They might not like them all but they will develop a taste for some. Cheese is a valuable source of calcium and vitamin D which are important to growth of strong bones and teeth.
It is important to introduce children to what we think of as «adult» tastes because that is the way to ensure that their diet is varied. You will also avoid the trap that so many parents fall into of having to cook two meals. One word of warning here: when cooking for little ones never add salt. Salt is very bad for babies and small children.
Many of the problems associated with cooking for little ones can be overcome by cooking with little ones rather than just cooking for little ones. That is to say let them help you in the kitchen. I know that will make twice as much work and twice as much mess, but it will be worth it in the long run. Cooking for little ones should be about introducing them to the world of food and encouraging a healthy relationship with food. It is better for a child to learn that a muffin is something you bake with care and love rather than something you grab in a hurry and eat without thinking. You can guarantee that the peas they have shelled themselves will be eaten and not left on the plate.
Even after we have done all these things there will still be time when the kids simply will not eat the meal you have lovingly prepared. This brings me to what is perhaps the golden rule when cooking for little ones. At this point you must resist the temptation to scream at them and throw dishes across the kitchen. Their refusal to eat is not a reflection on you or your cooking. They are only human and so are you. The best solution is to learn to make soup or keep some chickens in the backyard. They will always eat what you cook. Well, nearly always.

How to stock your pantry

How To Stock Your Pantry

If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone lament having a full pantry and nothing to eat… We’ve all learned from experience that the difference between a full pantry and a well-stocked pantry is the difference between a delicious home-made meal and… well, takeout. Again. A truly well-stocked pantry has the utility food items that transform a few fresh ingredients into a full meal. The most important pantry items tend to be used in lots of different ways and enable your fresh meats and vegetable to become lots of different dishes.
Key items—like beans, rice and pasta—are the makings of great side dishes while sauces, soups, dressings and marinades are all a snap if your pantry includes broth, good vinegar, and good oils. Good quality olive oil is a must, as is your favorite cooking oil, but peanut oil is also good for frying and high heat cooking as is the versatile and healthful grapeseed oil. Try the broths in resealable cartons and experiment with different pastas. Always get couscous and other grains in plain varieties to jazz up according to your mood. Quantities of all will be dictated by your families tastes and appetites, but start with these:
Oils: Olive Oil, Canola Oil, Sesame Oil, Peanut Oil
Vinegar: Balsamic, Apple Cider, Red Wine, White Wine, Rice Vinegar
Broth: Vegetable, Chicken, Beef
Beans/Canned: Red Beans, Kidney Beans, Black Beans, Chickpeas, Tomatoes
Pasta: Spaghetti, Bowties, Penne, Orzo, Couscous
Rice: Long Grain White, Brown, Arborio, Basmati, Jasmine
Another key group of pantry essentials are the dry ingredients, including baking ingredients, seasoning and dry herbs. All purpose flour is very important, as is kosher or sea salt, fresh black peppercorns. While fresh herbs are always best, often dried herbs will do…just don’t use the herbs that came with your spice rack! Fresh, dried herbs and spices can be purchased by weight in small batches in the bulk foods section of reputable markets. Here is a list to get you started:
Dry Goods: All-Purpose Flour, Cornmeal, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Bread Crumbs
Herbs/Spices: Oregano, Basil, Chili Powder, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Paprika
Seasonings: Kosher/Sea Salt, Black Peppercorns, Cayenne Pepper
Rounding out your pantry are condiments, dry beans and dry storage. The most important condiments to have on hand for cooking are Worcestershire sauce and Dijon mustard. I like to have both a smooth Dijon with white wine and and coarse grained country mustard on hand. Dry beans and lentils are hearty, full of fiber and last forever in the pantry, so stock up on all your favorite varieties. Keep a 10-bean mix on hand for soups and stews. Your dry storage drawer or bin should contain your favorite varieties of potatoes (I like red skinned or Yukon Gold), onions, shallots, and garlic. These items should be kept in a cool, dry, dark space and used or disposed of before they sprout or become soft and yielding to the touch.
Here’s a good list to start with:
Dry storage: Potatoes, Onions, Shallots, Garlic
Condiments: Dijon Mustard, Worcestershire Sauce, Soy Sauce
Dry Beans: Red Beans, Black Beans, Navy Beans, 10-bean mix, Lentils
Once you have your basic pantry items, you’ll want to fine tune your list a bit to your favorite kinds of cuisine. Here are some great items on have on hand, organized by cuisine type to enable what ever kind of food your family likes best.
Italian: Anchovy Paste, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, black olives (canned or in jars), Rosemary (dried), Basil (Dried), Cannelloni Beans, Thyme (Dried), Oregano (dried), Roasted Red Bell Peppers, Sun Dried Tomatoes, Capers, Tomato Paste, White Wine, Red Wine, Cornmeal or polenta, Pine Nuts
Mexican: Tomato Sauce, Chili Powder, Cumin, Coriander, Oregano,Black Beans, Pinto Beans
Thai: Coconut Milk, Red Curry, Green Curry, Garam Masala, Fish Sauce
Asian: Soy Sauce, Sesame Oil, Hot Chili Oil, Rice Vinegar, Rice Wine, Sesame Seeds, Five Spice Powder, Ground Dried Ginger, Hoisin Sauce
Creole: Cajun Seasoning, Cayenne Pepper, Tabasco sauce, Red Beans

Very useful cooking tips

Very useful cooking tips

Wash your hands thoroughly with hot water and soap after handling raw meat or eggs.

Cook by the appearance of the meal over what the cooking time is. Look for it to be «golden brown» before «done in 30 minutes». This is known as «common sense» cooking.

Cook healthier foods by using a little less salt, a little less sugar, and a little less butter. Bake instead of fry when possible and use whole grains and fat-free milks.

Leftovers — Hot foods should be refrigerated within 2 hours after cooking. Be careful with leftovers. Remember; when in doubt, throw it out! Do not «taste test» something that you think might be bad. Even just a small taste can make you ill if the food is bad.

Be extremely careful not to drag your sleeves over the burner. Wear tight fitting clothes while cooking. Also, put your hair up so that it doesn’t catch fire while leaning over the stove.

Are you planning an outdoor camping trip? Plan your meals at home before you go. This way you’ll have everything you need ahead of time for cooking and there won’t be any surprises.

Make sure your knives are sharp. A dull knife not only does not cut well but it can be dangerous to work with. Keep in mind however that although a sharp knife is preferrable, you must handle it with extreme caution.

Cooking outdoors: For outdoor barbequing, add hickory or mesquite wood chips to the coals. It will add much more flavor to the meat.

Safety Tips: Keep the handles of your pots facing inward so they aren’t grabbed by children. Teach your children to stay far away from the stove while you’re cooking.

Try sea salt instead of regular table salt. It tends to have more flavor.

Be aware of what type of stove top you are using. Gas stoves heat instantly, but electric stoves take time to warm up. When using an electric stove allow about a minute for the range to heat up before cooking. When using gas, be aware that things will cook faster. Also, for safety purposes remember that electric stove tops will remain hot for a while after you turn them off, so don’t touch them or place anything that can melt on them until they are cool.

Be careful not to ruin your non-stick cookware. Do not use metal utensils or anything sharp on non-stick cookware. Be careful not to use overly abrasive cleaning tools as well. The non-stick coating on is fragile and can easily be scratched off by harsh treatment. Once a scratch occurs the non-stick coating will quickly chip away and you’ll end up with specks of it in everything you cook. And worst of all your food will stick to the bottom of the cookware because the coating is gone.

As a general rule do not leave plastic containers, aerosol cans, or anything that is not oven proof on top of the stove. When the oven is turned on the stove top can become hot as well and cause plastic items to warp or even melt and aerosol cans to expand and explode.

Potato peelers aren’t just for potatoes. You can use them to peel just about any fruit or vegetable. Try using them on apples, carrots, cucumbers and even zucchinis.

They way you store your raw potatoes can effect how they taste. Never store potatoes in the refrigerator, they will become sweet and their texture will change. Never store potatoes in a hot place or a place where they are exposed to direct sunlight. These conditions cause the potatoes to rot faster and develop a green film under their skin which is toxic if consumed too often. Store potatoes in a cool dry place away from direct sunlight, such as a bin or a cupboard.  [url=http://www.planyourdinner.com]special recipes[/url].

Top five things you should know about paninos

Top Five Things You Should Know About Paninos

Are you tired of the usual appetizers served in restaurants or at your home? Would you like to have something different for a change? If yes, then you should try paninos and discover how tempting and delicious they are.  (Many people call panini, paninos however the proper name for grilled sandwiches is Panini.)
Panini are gourmet sandwiches stuffed with a variety of meats, cheeses and high quality toppings and sauces. They are often served in restaurants as appetizers. They can be stuffed with just about anything you can think of.  If you are still unfamiliar with Panini, here are the top fivethings you should know about them:
1. Panini are very nutritious
If you want a tasty yet healthy treat, panini can provide you with both. Although they are made with superior cheeses and meats, you can also include vegetables and fruits in your panini. You can add sliced onions, sliced green peppers, sliced black olives, cucumber and pineapple.
2. Panini taste great grilled
Just like your favorite sandwiches, panini taste best when grilled. Make mouthwatering panini by grilling them on low heat for several minutes or until golden brown. Most people prefer using slightly stale bread compared to fresh since it is usually crispier when grilled.  Bread that is a day or two old can also stand up to the grilling process better.
3. Panini are the best appetizers
Do you often wonder what to serve company?  Panini make fantastic appetizers.  You can pretty much put anything in them, even leftovers, grill them before your company arrives, place them on a baking sheet and in the oven to stay warm.  Cut them up, place them on a nice platter and your company will be wowed!  If you have leftover chicken, make some chicken panini by adding provolone or mozzarella cheese to some ciabatta bread.  Throw in some Italian dressing, pesto or hummus and you have a delicious appetizer that will blow your guests away.
4. Panini are easy to prepare
You don’t need to be a professional chef in order to make panini.  You don’t even need a lot of skill.  Seriously, panini are probably the easiest food you’ll ever prepare. Panini are rarely the same because every time you make them something different will go into them.  Leftovers, frittata (omelet), chocolate, etc… If you can imagine it, you can make it!  You can also surf the Internet or purchase a panini recipe book to help you get on your way. 
5. Panini are fun to prepare
You can enjoy preparing panini with your loved ones especially with your kids. Panini are so much fun to make and you can experiment with different ingredients.  Cut up all kinds of vegetables, cheese and cooked chicken breasts or ground beef.  This will allow your kids to pick what they want to put in their panini.  You can make Italian panini, Mexican panini, and even pizza-style panini depending on the ingredients you use.
It helps to know what exactly that panini are Italian sandwiches.  It’s also great to know the benefits of panini like the fact that you can make them in minutes and that they can be very healthy.  Remember that paninos (a.k.a panini) are very nutritious appetizers which are easy and fun to make.

Healthy cooking with kids is beneficial to both parents and kids

Healthy Cooking With Kids is Beneficial to Both Parents and Kids

Cooking is one of the most enjoyable activities that parents can do with their kids. Every child should experience the fun of creating healthy meals in the kitchen and it should not be a place reserved just for mom.
Healthy cooking with kids is beneficial to both parents and kids. Children can learn essential living skills such as how to cook and how to be organized. They can also apply the knowledge that they have learned in school; for example addition and subtraction in math. Moms can ask simple questions such as, «If we are serving one muffin per guest and we have five guests, how many muffins should we bake?» This type of question is fun for kids and they get to use math in a real world way. As the kids get older they can learn about ratio, weight, and even science in the kitchen.
When kids are given simple tasks like spreading jam on bread using a blunt knife, it lets them practice using their eyes and hand and helps improve their motor skills and coordination. For more details www.bread-bakers-assistant.com .By completing each task, the kids will gain more confidence and they will become independent because they know they can do anything if they put their mind to it.
Parents who practice healthy cooking with their kids are spending quality time with them while doing something fun. This is a great opportunity for parents to communicate and interact more with their children, thus strengthening the family relationship. Encourage the kids to ask questions during the cooking activity so they can understand better the process of cooking.
After the kids have completed their tasks; such as cutting vegetables or peeling potatoes, remember to compliment them for doing their jobs well. We adults love compliments and kids feel the same way too. This will definitely boost their confidence.
Children are more likely to eat what they have prepared or cooked. This is a chance for parents to introduce new food to their children who are picky eaters. If they do not like their greens, let them pick a salad recipe and prepare it. Give them options to add things like dried cranberries, mandarin oranges, small goldfish crackers, etc. Make fun, colorful desserts together such as berries with yogurt.
Your kids will be so proud of the food they’ve prepared so keep that in mind when you eat it, even if it looks a little «funny.» Parents can also encourage their children’s inner chef to prepare their own lunch box for school. For more details www.tailgating-recipe.com .Steer them in the direction of interesting ways to prepare healthy food when they’re young and they may learn to love their veggies. In other words, they can learn healthy eating habits through learning how to cook healthy food.
Parents cooking with their kids can be a weekly activity. By having our kids help us in the kitchen, they will learn some of the necessary skills to succeed in life and who knows, they may become the best chefs in the world.

Fat free desserts can be your sweet treats

Fat Free Desserts Can Be Your Sweet Treats

Man has always liked sweet things. In times past they braved bee stings before they learnt to control the bees. Later came sugar from cane — so precious that in earlier times it was used more as a condiment is today, merely being sprinkled over food. In more recent times, beets, parsnips, carrots and other foods that are naturally sweet have all been used to provide that sugary flavour. Then, with modern dietetics we began to realise that eating lots of very sweet, fat heavy foods wasn’t the best for the human body.
But we still like that little treat. Hence the popularity of low fat desserts.
Biscotti
1-1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
9 tablespoons low fat spread
3/4 cup sultanas
2 eggs, beaten
grated zest of 1 lemon or orange
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons water
How many cookies you get will depend on how big you make them, but it averages at about 3 dozen. They keep well in an airtight container, but only if you don’t let anyone know they are there.
Pre-heat oven to 325 F, 170 C, Gas 3. Mix together the cornmeal and flour and then rub in the spread until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. You could do this in a food processor, but you will have to transfer to a bowl before adding the fruit and zest. Beat in the eggs, vanilla and water. Divide the dough into three parts and make these into long log shapes, about 8 inches long and 2-3 inches across. Place these on a non-stick baking tray and bake for 20 minutes. Let them cool for a few minutes and then slice diagonally into ¾ inch pieces. Place these cut surface down back on baking trays. These are then baked further for 5 minutes, before turning over for a further 5 minutes. Let them cool on racks and then either eat the lot or store them in an air tight container.
Coffee Brownies
These are great served after a not too rich meal with some fresh fruit — mango pieces, strawberries and so on.
½ cup low fat spread
I cup of sugar
I egg plus another white
I teaspoon of vanilla or almond extract
11/4 cups of all purpose flour
level tablespoon of instant coffee powder ( not granules)
1/3 cup of sifted cocoa powder
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/3 cup raisins or choc chips
Preheat oven to 350F, 180C, Gas 4
In a large bowl beat together the egg, egg white, low fat spread, sugar and flavoring. Sift together the dry ingredients — cocoa, flour, baking powder and coffee powder and then mix these into the egg mixture. Stir in the fruit or chocolate chips. Pour into a greased or non-stick baking pan — 9 inches by 9. Bake for 20 — 25 minutes until a fork inserted comes out clean. Turn out and cut into 25 pieces or fewer larger ones.
Strawberry and Rhubarb Cobbler Serves about 6 unless you all have seconds
I f you haven’t tried the combination of strawberries and rhubarb then there is a taste sensation awaiting you.
For the filling
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
Finely grated orange zest or a teaspoon of marmalade
4 cups rhubarb, chopped
2 cups strawberries halved or sliced
For the Topping
1 cup of all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons low fat spread
2/3 cup low fat buttermilk or yoghurt
Preheat oven to 400 F, 200 C, Gas 6.
Filling — In bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon and orange zest or marmalade. Add rhubarb and strawberries; toss to mix. Spread mixture in an 8-cup shallow glass or ceramic baking dish and bake in for 10 minutes.
Topping — Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Rub in the low fat spread until mixture resembles bread crumbs. Stir in the buttermilk or yoghurt until a soft dough forms. Drop by spoonfuls in 6 evenly spaced mounds on hot fruit. Bake for 25 minutes, or until top is golden. Serve with low fat vanilla ice cream or fromage frais.

Positive tips for cooking surrounded by a wok

Positive Tips For Cooking Surrounded By A Wok

Good quality woks have heavy features so that it can maintain heat. Woks come in different sizes for different recipes.
• Stir-frying — This is considered as the classic way of cooking with the use of a wok. It gives off a smoky flavor because of the cooking technique, which is stirring. For the preparation, make sure all the ingredients are ready.
• Deep-frying — For this technique, make sure that there is enough oil in the wok. Aside from this, maintain a medium-high heat, which ranges only up to 375 degrees. It has a built in structure that can maintain the heat. After this, you only need to wait until the food turns golden-brown. Hence, use a wire strainer in removing the food out of the wok. This is for draining the oil. Another option is to place a paper towel on the plate. Doing so will help absorb excess oils.
• Steam — With steaming using a wok, most people often use bamboo steamers. A bamboo steamer is a round basket that holds the food over the steaming water. In order for the steam to come out, the lid should be tightly closed. Then, place the bamboo steamer in the wok and fill it with some water. The water should be half inch below the steamer. After this, cover the wok and let the water boil over high heat. The duration of the steaming process depends on the particular recipe. Next, carefully remove the bamboo steamer from the wok. Another way of steaming is with the use of a so-called «wire streamer». This is a good way of braising and smoking food. All you need to do is to place the rack inside a wok and add 1 inch water below the rack. Make sure the water does not touch the rack. You need to then arrange the food which can be steamed in a heatproof plate. You will then put the plate on the rack of the wok. Lastly, cover the wok and maintain medium-heat or as directed in the recipe.
Hence, the curved shape of this utensil acts as its main advantage. This can make the large foods shallow fried. The other spices are automatically deep-fried even with a small amount of oil. Aside from using gas, you can also make use of electric heating elements for woks. Although usage of gas can provide even heat at the bottom of the wok, the electric stove is much needed in a household kitchen. The electric stove can also provide a concave induction along the cooking surface. It can also respond quickly to the changes in temperature. A type of wok that is perfect for a flat round electric stove is the one with the round flat bottom. People are now enjoying the benefits and efficiency of using a wok.
A wok is a utensil used for cooking. It has special features for different cooking styles. It is made of stainless steel iron, copper or aluminum along with a handle found in both sides.
Woks are traditionally used in Chinese cuisine. Chinese recipes have different techniques in cooking. Due to its concave curve structure, heat is being distributed evenly. It is perfect for stir-frying as well. Aside from this, it has a hot spot on the bottom, giving more heat in very low to medium-high fire. This makes it perfect for deep-frying. Wok even has features that can be used for steaming foods.
Woks are also used in restaurants due to their very fast attribute of increasing temperature, allowing the cooking of food even in a short span of time. Although there are various types of pans in the market today, the wok may be the chefs’ first choice.
Chefs can cook with their own style and technique. This piece of art wok makes cooking very easy. The lower arm will then exert a large amount of force since this part is quite heavy, especially if it is used in stir-frying. It’s easy to stir while cooking because the edges make the food seem to push up onto the sides.
Woks have different handles, depending on the brand and type. A wok that has a single handle will help the chef toss the food. It also requires a large amount of arm and wrist strength in order to produce this.
At current, the most common material used in making woks are carbon steel and cast iron. These materials are more costly as compared to the traditional ones. A non-stick wok which is covered with Teflon is the most used variety. Aluminum is also the best conductor of heat. Plus, this makes it much easier to clean. Although it’s the traditional way, aluminum is still soft and can get easily damaged, making it durable for steaming. This is especially because of its lid.

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