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Discover easy ways to decorate your christmas cake

Discover Easy Ways To Decorate Your Christmas Cake

For many people Christmas time is a hectic round of shopping, cooking, writing cards and wrapping presents. And very often decorating the Christmas cake is left to the last minute, so here are some tips to help you along the way.
One of the quickest designs is a pattern using any of the following: semi-dried fruits, glace fruits, angelica, cherries and different types of nuts. But keep to three or four varieties, otherwise the design becomes too cluttered. If the top of the cake is rounded, cut off, and upturn the cake so the base becomes the top surface. Boil half a jar of apricot jam and press through a sieve. Brush the top surface of the cake with the jam, and cover with a design of fruit and nuts — a circular design for a round cake and straight lines for a square cake. To give the decoration an attractive shine (and to hold the fruit and nuts in place) brush over with jam, and lastly, tie a wide, red or green ribbon around the cake. A similar decoration can be made with marzipan fruits.
If you wish to spend slightly more time, decorate the top of the cake with soft icing, and as before, use ribbon, a cake frill, or a strip of Christmas paper to place around the sides. Again use the base of the cake as the top surface. Roll out sugarpaste (rollout icing) or marzipan, until it is slightly larger than the top of the cake — make sure the paste moves freely. Brush the top of the cake with apricot jam then upturn the cake onto the sugarpaste, and cut away the surplus paste. Place the cake on a cake board. Roll out a length of paste, approximately half inch deep, and cut a strip the same size. Moisten the paste around the edge of the cake and carefully position the strip on the moist surface. Make a design on this edging with cake crimpers — if you have them. Failing that, press the decorated handle of a spoon into the paste. Make an unusual decoration for the centre of the cake by colouring some marzipan red and modelling it into a candle shape. Use a flaked almond for a flame, and then surprise everyone by lighting the almond on Christmas Day — as nuts contain oil the almond will flame for a few moments!
Make Christmas trees from a cone-shaped piece of green marzipan. Use sharp scissors and beginning at the top, make small snips all around the tree. Make snowballs from balls of sugarpaste, very slightly moistened and covered in castor, or granulated sugar. To make holly leaves, roll out the paste and cut into a diamond shape. The sharp points are made by cutting out sections from around the edge of the leaf, with either an icing nozzle or the tip/handle of a small spoon. Mark veins on the leaf with the back of a knife.
For those who wish to venture into the field of royal icing, a quick way to use this icing is by making a ‘snow scene’. First, apply a layer of marzipan to the cake and leave to dry for two days. The traditional way of making royal icing is with egg white and icing sugar, but icing sugar is now available which already contains the correct quantity of dried egg white — however, the icing still needs a good beating!
Test the icing before applying to the cake. Using a palette, or table knife, apply the icing about half an inch deep to the cake. Then, using the flat surface of the knife makes a slow ‘bouncing’ movement on the icing. The icing will stand in peaks if it is the correct consistency. Leave until firm and sprinkle with edible glitter for a sparkling cake. HAPPY Christmas

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].

What is crockpot and how many tips

What Is Crockpot And How Many Tips?

A crockpot is a slow cooker. It is easy to use and can save lots of time.

When buying a Crockpot, it is best to purchase one that has a detachable liner. This model is a lot easier to clean. If your liner is non-detachable, you can line-up your crockpot using a cooking bag to make cleaning easier. You can also spray the inner liner using cooking spray.

The temperature of food should quickly reach is 140oF. You can test this subsequent to cooking after 4 hours on low heat. If it does not reach 140oF, your crockpot may be defective already.

To bring up the temperature to 140oF quickly, you can initially cook on high heat. Return to low heat after reaching 140oF.

High setting is 300oF while a low setting is 200oF.

Avoid placing frozen food inside a crockpot. It should be thawed or defrosted prior to cooking.

Remember that 2 hours on the low setting is equal to about 1 hour on the high setting.

Take the cooked food out of the liner or crockpot before to putting it inside the fridge. It’s because the liner is composed of thick material, and therefore food will not cool down immediately. It prevents the growth of harmful bacteria. For more details www.150-venison-recipes.com .You can only fill up your crockpot about ? up to 2/3 full. If the crockpot is full to the brim, cooking will be difficult. If the liquid and food level is a bit lower, it can quickly cook the food.

Food placed at the bottom part of the slow cooker will be cooked faster and will appear more moist since it is immersed in simmering liquid.

You need to remove the skin off poultry as well as trim off some of the meat’s excess fat. Otherwise, fat will eventually melt with the cooking duration, adding to the unpleasant texture of your dish. Aside from this, foods rich in fat are cooked quickly.

You can concentrate on the flavors and also thicken some juices by taking off the crockpot’s lid, and thus, cooking it on high setting during the last hour of your assigned cooking time.

Since there are types of meat that should be cooked for 8 hours in low setting, you can use cheaper meat. It is not only less expensive but it also works best with slow cookers. Aside from this, cheaper meat also contains less fat, making them more suitable for crockpot cooking.

Take note of layering instructions. Vegetables, compared to meat, cannot be cooked quickly. They should be placed at the bottom.

If you are cooking on low setting never lift the lid to stir food. Every time the lid is lifted heat is released. It extends cooking time from 20 to 30 minutes. Instead, just spin the cover until some condensation falls out so you can check the progress.

For better results, ground meat should be cooked using a skillet prior to placing it inside your Crockpot. You can only add seafood by the last hour of cooking. It avoids overcooking seafood.

You can brown big pieces of meat prior to cooking with the Crockpot. Browning can add color and help give more flavor to the food.

Tabasco sauce and cayenne pepper have a tendency to taste bitter if food is cooked for a long time. You can use only small amounts at the beginning, adding a little at a time towards the end of cooking. For more details www.classic-dessert-collection.com .So that tender vegetables do not become overcooked, only put it in during the last 40-45 minutes of cooking time. Tender vegetables include mushrooms, tomatoes and zucchinis.

Unless stated on the recipe manual, dairy products can only be added around the last 25 to 40 minutes of cooking time.

Add and stir-in the spices only during the last hour. If these spices are cooked with the other ingredients for a long time, it will just lose its flavor.

Cooking for pleasure with a slow cooker

Cooking For Pleasure With A Slow Cooker…

The Slow Cooker is a great invention and is perfect for busy families who want to come home to a hot, hearty meal after work without having to spend time preparing it. It’s worth getting up a bit earlier to prepare some meat and vegetables to throw into your slow cooker to cook while you’re at work.

There are so many recipes that can be prepared in your slow cooker – casseroles and stews, soups, puddings, mulled wine, curry and chilli. Some people even use two slow cookers and have their main meal cooking in one and their side dish or dessert cooking in the other.

Slow cookers are available in different sizes – mini for cooking for one up to large for cooking for large families or for entertaining.

If you have got a slow cooker gathering dust on a shelf or in a cupboard, grab it, clean it and get searching for some recipes.

Using a slow cooker will give you many benefits:-

1.Using a slow cooker uses less electricity than cooking in a standard electric oven.

2.You can use cheaper cuts of meat because the slow cooking tenderises the meat.

3.In summer, using a slow cooker will prevent your kitchen getting overly hot.

4.It saves you the time and energy of cooking a meal at the end of the day when you are tired.

5.No effort apart from initial preparation – The food does not need stirring, it can be left happily for 7-10 hours.

6.Natural juices and flavours are retained rather than boiling away.

7.Easy clean up – just one pot and your plates and cutlery.

8.A slow cooker is ideal for entertaining with minimum effort.

9.The food doesn’t dry out but is kept nice and moist.

10.The low temperature and slow cooking makes your slow cooker ideal for cooking puddings like egg custard.

Tips for Using Your Slow Cooker

• Preheat the slow cooker before adding ingredients.

• Brown meat before adding to the slow cooker and make sure any liquids are boiling.

• Leave it alone – lifting the lid can add 15-20 minutes onto the cooking time.

• Keep it clean – soak the pot after use to enable you to remove any burnt on bits, otherwise they will cook into your next dish!

• Chop vegetables up small so that they cook through and make sure they are covered by the liquid. You could also saute vegetables first.

• Don’t use your slow cooker to reheat left overs, use a microwave to get food piping hot.

• Don’t overfill your slow cooker.

• Read through the manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines to make sure you use your slow cooker properly and that you know what the different settings are for.

• Make sure meat and poultry are thawed out properly and don’t add frozen vegetables.

• Use your slow cooker overnight to cook a hot breakfast recipe.

• Be adventurous – look for slow cooker recipes online and have fun experimenting.

• Make a big casserole, curry or chilli in your slow cooker and then freeze in batches to use on days where you haven’t got time to prepare food to go in the slow cooker.

• Once you have poured meat, vegetables and sauce into the slow cooker, pour a bit of wine or stock into the frying pan you’ve used and scrape the pan. Add to the slow cooker for extra flavour.

• Don’t add too much liquid – Follow recipes and don’t be tempted to add extra liquid. Slow cooking creates liquid because steam hits the lid, condenses and drips back into the food.

• If the finished casserole is too watery, switch on to high, remove lid and cook like that for half a hour.

• Don’t put prepared meat and vegetables in the pot of the slow cooker in the fridge overnight, you don’t want to start with a chilled pot because cooking will take longer.

• Test whole chicken or large cuts of meat with a meat thermometer at the end of the cooking time.

• Most importantly, enjoy experimenting with your slow cooker.

Outdoor cooking fun mouthwatering secrets revealed

Outdoor Cooking Fun — 14 Mouth-watering Secrets Revealed

Outdoor cooking is an activity that can be taken up on all occasions. Family reunions, dinners, weekends, get togethers you name it and it just fits in! A romantic dinner with your spouse with a barbecue sounds just so nostalgic! All the food lovers love to do this activity with the family & friends and keep experimenting new recipes very time.
These simple and quick recipes turn out in great meals is handled with little care. The idea is to prepare good, economical, delicious and light weight meal within no time.
We all must have had hotdogs, hamburgers and chicken in the barbecues. Here are some new and fresh ideas to tickle your taste buds in the next barbecue session.
1. Grilling is the most popular way of cooking outdoors. Creatively grilling fish, chicken, lamb chops, steak and vegetables can make lovely meals.
2. The key is — season the grilled items well.
3. Plan easy and tasteful menu to serve to your guests. This would make your job simpler as the cook. And as is often said, the cook’s mood always reflects in the food.
4. Make use of the right cooking equipments like deep fry kits, cooking grills, & cast iron griddles in order to make your recipes more effective. This would also simplify your job of cooking.
5. Among grilled dishes Souvlaki Mosharisio is a known beef dish.
6. Souvlaki Hoirino is another cherished pork dish.
7. Mixed Grilled Souvlaki contains lamb, chicken and pork. It is prepared with in a very short duration with the outdoor cooking grill.
8. Among spicy and crispy choices, try beer-battered chicken strips, fried butter milk chicken, simple southern fried chicken, fried pork chops. These can easily be prepared with a deep frying kit.
9. Outdoor cooking recipes also include pie iron and foil recipes. These are served with desserts, salads, soups and stews.
10. The outdoor cooking recipes constitute all sorts of light and heavy meals. Baked potatoes & kabobs are often the hot choices.
11. For the kids, the most incredible recipes are meatball sandwiches, hot sandwiches, peanut butter fudge sandwiches, and the list is endless.
12. Good barbecue meals can indeed gift great casual evenings for all your friends & family.
13. Test your creativity. Try innovative and new recipes to surprise your guests.
14. Presentation of the food makes a lot of difference. So after cooking well, make sure to set the right mood and serve in an impressive manner.

Bread baking made easy

Bread Baking Made Easy!

Don’t you just hate it when you follow a recipe to the letter and when the bread baking is finished the bread not only looks nothing like the recipe book’s picture, but tastes terrible as well? 
There is no denying that bread baking as with baking anything is a delicate process. 
Bread baking involves so many things that first time bakers are often discouraged after a few failed attempts to turn out professional looking and tasting loaves. 
Little do they realize that if they only possessed the professional Baker’s secrets bread baking would be so easy that the bread would practically make itself! 
For instance: How many amateur bakers know the secret to keeping bread from sticking to the pan every time? 
None! So when they try their hand at bread baking for the first time their bread sticks to the bread pan, and ends up a crumbled mess if they try to force it out. 
Then they cry and give up thinking that the problem lies with them. 
The shocking truth is that it doesn’t!  
The problem lies with their lack of knowledge of THE baker’s bread  
baking secret. 
The secret professional chefs and bakers won’t tell you, the secret they guard so jealously. 
My father happened to learn this bread baking secret in his younger baking days and has passed it on to his children ever since. 
Okay, okay, I know you’re probably screaming at me by now »Beth, get on with it! Tell us the bread baking secret already!» 
So here it is; You will need only one tool besides for the oil and bread pan you already have, and that is quite simply CORNMEAL (you shouldn’t need more than 1/4 to 1/2 cup for two loaves of bread). 
»Cornmeal?» you ask doubtfully. »YES, cornmeal!» 
No, you do not add the cornmeal to the bread ingredients! That is not the bread baking secret. 
What you do is you oil your pan as usual, and you lightly sprinkle cornmeal on all of the sides and bottom of the bread pan. 
Now you can safely place your bread dough into the pans without fear of it sticking to them. 
While your bread is baking instead of sticking to the pan, your bread will stick to the cornmeal and slide easily out of the pan when done baking. 
You may need to use a butter knife and slide it in between the pan and the bread before turning the pan over and allowing your bread to pop out. 
A lot of the time this will be unnecessary however and your bread will pop out just by your turning the bread pan upside down. 
You will probably also want to use the butter knife to scrape the excess cornmeal off the bottom and sides of the bread as you may not care for the taste of cornmeal. 
This bread baking secret will work whether you’re baking a batter bread or a rising bread (also called yeast bread). I personally use it for both. 
Here is another treasured bread baking secret, this one only for batter breads:  
On the last ten minutes of its baking time cover the bread pan containing the batter bread with another bread pan (a steel bread pan works best), and leave it on until the bread is finished baking. 
This will keep the batter bread from burning or becoming too hard on top. You may vary the time you leave the steel bread pan on according to how your batter bread usually looks when it is finished. 
If it is a very dark brown on top and difficult to slice because the top is so hard, then 20 minutes will work best. But if it is just a little too hard on top and a little too brown the 10 minutes should suffice. 
Do not cover the bread at all if it usually comes out golden and soft on top after the baking is completed. 
You may also glaze a batter bread on top with a tablespoon of melted butter mixed with a tablespoon of honey, and sprinkle some flaked coconut or sliced nuts on top of that.  
To glaze you start by taking the bread out of the oven five minutes before the required baking time is finished, then spread the butter/honey mixture on top of the bread, sprinkle on your coconut or chopped nuts and bake for the remaining 5 minutes. 
Here is another useful bread baking tip for rising breads… 
If your bread loaves over rise (say because you were busy and forgot about them), then you can use a pair of scissors to cut off the excess sides, being careful not to cut any dough from off of the top. 
You may then use this excess dough to make rolls. You simply oil a pizza or cookie sheet and form the dough into several small balls. 
Rise them for another half hour and then bake on 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. 
Do yourself a favor and put these tried and tested bread baking secrets immediately to use in your kitchen, and your family will rave over the results.

Thanksgiving turkey avoid the dry bird blues

Thanksgiving Turkey – Avoid The Dry Bird Blues

It’s that time of year again. The holidays are upon us and it is Turkey time again. Wow, the year went fast! Given the economic mess, that is probably a good thing. Regardless, it is time to do some cooking. In this article, we take a look at how to avoid the dry bird blues when cooking turkey for your friends and loved ones.

…and the turkey shall feed them! That’s not a biblical quote, but it is appropriate for the Thanksgiving holiday. You need a bird that is going to feed everyone at the table. This means you need the right size. Obviously, having too much is better than not enough. Regardless, the basic guideline is to buy a bird that will provide 1.5 pounds for each person invited. It sounds like a lot and it is, but you can always turn the rest into sandwiches and such.

Okay, you have the bird. There are a host of recipes you can use. I’ll let you choose your own, but we are going to focus on keeping the bird juicy. The key is pretty simple – cooking time. The longer you cook, the drier the bird. So, let’s get down to the brass knuckles of the basic turkey preparation.

Tradition calls for the turkey to be cooked in an oven at 350 degrees. The turkey should be on the center rack and sitting in a roasting pan. The cooking times depend on whether the turkey is stuffed or not. For a bird less than 16 pounds, the cooking time is generally 3 hours if not stuffed and 4 hours if stuffed. For a bird up to 22 pounds, the time increases to 4 and 4.45 respectively. Birds up to 30 pounds are going to see times in the 5 hour and 6 hour range respectively. As you can tell, these are general guidelines, but there is a better way to tell exactly when the turkey is done.

The key is the temperature of the turkey. This is known as the thigh method. When the thigh meat reaches a temperature of 165 degrees, the turkey is done. Make sure you are testing the meat and not the bone. Ah, but what about basting? Basting actually doesn’t keep a turkey from drying out. It is a topical treatment that just makes sure the bird browns more completely.

Juicy turkey is a great Thanksgiving staple and treat. Keep an eye on the thigh meat temperature and you should be able to avoid the dreaded dry bird syndrome that many suffer from this time of year.