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Category: Cooking

December 28, 2021 by Chris Rice 0 Comments

How to Season Roasted Vegetables

two spoons with seasoning and spices

The best thing you can do for your health is to prepare your own food. The next best thing you can do is to learn how to cook it. And the third-best thing, according to many chefs is how to season properly.

The challenge with cooking isn’t knowing what ingredients are in dishes or even which ones go together (though those things help). The real challenge comes when we’re tempted to take a shortcut like adding salt and pepper without thinking about seasonings that complement the overall flavor of the meal.

In this article, you will learn how to season roasted vegetables properly.

How to Season Roasted Vegetables

Seasoning roasted vegetables is a lot like seasoning any other dish: it’s important to think about how the flavors in each component will interact when they come together.

Understanding how certain seasonings interact both with the ingredients and other seasonings will allow you to make flavor profiles that are better than anything you can buy in a box.

Experimentation, of course, is how we all learn how to season our food properly. But knowing how certain dishes are supposed to taste when they’re done will give you an idea where to start when thinking about how much salt or pepper or spice should be used.

Here’s how to season roasted vegetables.

Don’t Roast Them All

There are certain vegetables that are delightful when roasted. And then some are a little, well, not so tasty. The truth is, though, that you can roast just about any vegetable you want. It is your taste buds – and the taste buds of those you feed – that will determine which ones are the most enjoyable. Or, in other words, which ones you will make again and which vegetables you are sure to run from. 

Root vegetables such as sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots, and parsnips are always wonderful for roasting. So are broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, onions, bell peppers, cabbage, all different types of squash, zucchini, corn, and more can make great options for roasting. 

Try new things. Experiment with vegetables you have never had before. You may be surprised at just how delicious it tastes. Even more so if you add seasonings. Not sure what type? Let’s talk about it. 

Proper Seasoning Method

Once you get the vegetables chosen for roasting, it is time to get started. Rinse, wash, and chip your vegetables of course. You want to stick to bite-sized pieces so they are easy to eat without having to pull out a knife because no one wants to cut their veggies – they just wanna toss them in their mouth. 

When you are ready, you are going to want to toss them around with good oil. You don’t want them dripping, but you want to make sure they do have a little shimmer. Now, if you want them to taste good, you are going to need to invest in good-tasting oil, such as high-quality olive oil, coconut oil, or avocado oil. Use what you like and use the right amount. 

Add some salt and pepper. You want to be generous so you taste them, but we aren’t looking to raise any blood pressure due to eating overly salted vegetables so don’t go too crazy. 

Lay them out on the pan giving them plenty of space. You want to make sure each bite has the chance to be cooked by the heat. If you need to use two pans to make this happen, the final product will be worth having to wash that second pan.

Preheat the oven to 425°F and let it get good and hot before you put those veggies in the oven. And then – wait. You are looking for toasty edges. Seeing a little black around the edges actually adds more flavor than you’d think. Keep in mind that things like broccoli will roast faster than a potato and larger pieces take longer than smaller ones. So watch it. 

Types of Seasonings 

Seasonings are great because they give a little spice or a little pizzazz right where you need it. So depending on what you have a taste for. You can add some of these flavor combinations along with your salt and pepper before you put your veggies to roast. Again, you want to taste the seasoning but you don’t want to go overboard. 

  • Try adding some turmeric, ginger, coriander, and cumin for a little curry flair.
  • Throw some garlic and basil or Italian seasoning for a little flavor.
  • A simple seasoning blend of garlic powder and onion powder does just fine for a simple treat. 
  • If you like spicy food, consider using chili powder or cayenne pepper. Even jerk seasoning is a great option.

Consider playing around with different seasonings and find the one that you enjoy the most!

Having the Perfect Oven

Let’s just say to get the most from these roasted veggie recipes and seasoning ideas, you are going to need to have the perfect oven. That means one that can give you everything you are looking for in an everyday oven for your home – and also one that will evenly roast your veggies to perfection. 

Electric ovens have proven themselves to be the best at providing consistent heat. And that is what makes them perfect for roasting your vegetables evenly. Some people love their vegetables roasted dark and crispy. Others prefer to have them lightly roasted. But when you don’t have consistent heat, then you don’t have control over how they turn out. 

THOR Kitchen’s model number HRE3601 is a 36-inch professional electric range that offers a beautiful stainless steel design and a lot of power. It also comes with the following features: 

  • Smooth glass top that looks flush that offers a seamless look for your kitchen. 
  • Five heating elements offer you cooking flexibility from a warming zone to a powerful heat. 
  • A convection fan for even heating throughout the inside of the oven – giving you the best results. 
  • A large oven capacity that can roast multiple trays of veggies all at once. 
  • Heavy-duty control knobs that give durability and sturdiness – and good looks too. 
  • Beautiful, bold blue porcelain interior that looks stunning. 
  • Multiple cooking modes so you get your food right the first time – including roasting your vegetables. 

Roasted Veggies for the Win!

You are going to go far with your health and in keeping those you feed when you learn to roast your vegetables just right. There are so many possible flavor combinations depending on the vegetables you choose to use and the seasonings you opt for. Go on – be daring and bold. 

December 22, 2021 by Chris Rice 0 Comments

How to Cook a Honey Baked Ham

honey baked ham on a dining table

Honey baked ham is a classic dish to serve friends and family around this time of year. There is just something about that ham that makes people come back year after year after year. Just one look at their lines and you can tell they are doing something right. 

There is just one thing – they are expensive. Who wants to stand in line for what seems like forever just to pay an exorbitant amount on a ham? Alright, well many people evidently. But what if you could do it yourself? 

As the holidays continue to make their way into our lives, we need to find a way to make them extra special and memorable. You could very well do the same old turkey you have done a thousand times over. Or, maybe that simple ham with the pineapple and cherry on top. Or, you could do something a little different – something that will refresh the taste buds of everyone in attendance at your feast. You could recreate one of the best honey-baked hams. 

Let’s do it!

Check the Oven

When you are making something as wonderful as a honey-baked ham, you are going to need to make sure that your oven is working properly. You can cook many sides on top of the range, but you can’t cook that ham. At least, not in this special method. 

So, before the holiday arrives, be sure to take the time to check your oven and make sure all is working well. 

Buying the Ham

In order to make a really good ham, you need to buy a really good ham. You can’t just buy any kind. To get the best results, invest in a spiral ham. Yes, it should already come cooked. Remove it from its packaging, dry it off, and allow it to sit out for just a bit on a towel or paper towels to drip off any excess moisture. You want your ham moist, but you want it moist with your own mixture – not the packager’s water. 

Massage the Ham

The first step in preparing your honey-baked ham is to gather up the honey and the butter and massage the ham. Yes, you read that right – you have to massage the ham. That’s not a typo. You aren’t to message the ham or send it a telegram. Nope, we’re afraid this is going to involve some lathering and getting your hands dirty. 

You are going to use 3 Tbsp of melted butter and 3 Tbsp of honey. Mix it well together and then massage it into your ham. You can just stick to the top and you can pull the slices back and rub it all down in there, too.

Warm it Up

Turn on your oven at a decent but low temperature – say, 275-300-degrees – and warm your ham. You aren’t cooking it as it should already be cooked. Rather, you are trying to get it warm for consumption – that is, of course, unless you prefer eating it cold. If that’s the case, then you can completely skip this step. To protect the ham while baking, it is a good idea to cover the ham in foil, loosely. 

Most hams come with warming instructions listed on the packaging. If yours does, then go ahead and follow that. Otherwise, just know that it roughly takes about 12 minutes per pound to heat a ham thoroughly. 

And, hey! If you don’t feel like having a hot ham, but you just want one that is honey-glazed, then take it out of the refrigerator for an hour or so ahead of time and let it warm up. It shouldn’t take too long to start to warm up. Combined with the broiling, reaching room temperature should be easy to do.  

A Sugary Coat

While your ham is heating, it is time to gather your sugary coat. This is what will turn out to be that crispy sweet layer on the outside of your honey-baked ham. For this, you will need a combination of sugar, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground ginger, ground cloves, allspice, seasoned salt, onion powder, and paprika. You can find the exact measurements here. You will want to mix all of these together. 

When your ham is done cooking, remove it from the oven. Then, turn on your broiler and let it heat up. After patting down half of this mixture on top of your ham and place it in the oven. Broil for a few minutes – until the layer is bubbly and has a caramelized look. 

Remove it from the oven. 

Create Your Glaze

With the remainder of the sugar mixture, you are going to add it to a saucepan with about 3 Tbsp of water. If you are feeling a bit deviant, you may even want to use some bourbon in this mixture for a nice kick. Let it all come to a boil as you stir it regularly. Boil for a minute or so, then remove from the heat. 

Brush this glaze evenly over the top of the ham. Then, place it back in the oven under broil for about another 8 minutes or so. Keep an eye on it as nobody wants to eat a burnt ham. 

Let it set for a few minutes before serving. 

The Aftermath

Once you and your loved ones have consumed the deliciousness of this ham, you are sure to have leftovers. Store it properly. Keep it in a container (preferably air-tight for freshness) in the refrigerator. You may even want to freeze them if you have a lot. 

But perhaps the best part of a honey-baked ham is having the leftovers to make new creations! There are so many recipes online that can lead you to discover a new love for soups, casseroles, side dishes, and more. 

Honey-baked ham is a delicious main course for holiday dining. Whether you are trying to save money this year, just want to see if you can create your own, or you are trying it for the first time to see what the hype is all about – you are sure to love it. 

November 15, 2021 by Chris Rice 0 Comments

9 Types of Pizza to Make with Your Pizza Oven

serving a slice of pizza

Pizza is one of the most popular foods in the U.S. In fact, Americans eat approximately 100 acres of pizza every single day, according to the National Association of Pizza Operators (yes, they have their own group). That’s equivalent to 350 slices per second! Mintel, a market research company, did a study and found that we eat pizza at least once each month. 

There is no denying the fact that we love pizza. And, while you never want to ditch the original pizza – the go-to delicious option, sometimes it is nice to switch it up a bit. Plus, if you have a pizza oven, you have no excuse not to get creative with your pie! 

Check out these 9 types of pizza to make with your pizza oven. But, first… 

Get Yourself a Pizza Oven

Of course, before you can try any of these pizza ideas, you are going to need a pizza oven. And, we’ve got just the one for you. Thor Kitchen’s wood-burning pizza oven adds delicious flavor to your pizza – and a great look to your backyard. 

side view of pizza oven

Thor Kitchen’s Outdoor Pizza Oven and Cabinet

And it comes with some pretty awesome features, including: 

  • A ceramic pizza stone
  • A chimney with flue damper controls to control heat flow and smoke retention
  • An extra large storage cabinet 
  • Accessories such as a pizza cutter, pizza peel, pie server, and brush
  • An accessory rack to store all your accessories. 

This pizza oven comes in stainless steel, which is beautiful and durable for outdoor use. And, when you are ready, you can complete the outdoor kitchen suite with a grill, a sink cabinet, an outdoor refrigerator, and more!

Imagine the family fun nights you can have outdoors with your own pizza oven. Like, what a better way to cook when it’s dad’s night to cook, right? Or have your buddies over for the big game and have a DIY pizza bar right there next to your beer fridge. It is the ultimate setup. 

9 Types of Pizza to make with Your Pizza Oven

Now that you are well on your way to having your own pizza oven, here are a few ideas to help you shake things up a bit from traditional pizza options

1. The Classic Cheese

Hey, there are lots of crazy things in this world so sometimes it can be comforting to just stick to the basics – and stick with what you know. For many of us, that is plain ol’ cheese pizza. It is simple, yet delicious. And, even if you have outgrown the cheese pizza of your youth, you can still add a nice twist to this pizza, such as using more gourmet cheese or throwing on some roasted garlic. It’s an ooey-gooey delight. 

2. Pizza Oven

Meat pizza doesn’t have to mean just pepperoni pizza, though we’ve discovered that is the top pick for most people. There are all different types of meats that you can add to your pizza to help make it the delicious meal you have in mind. Meats like pepperoni, sausage, ground beef, ham, bacon, chicken, and more. Choose one, a couple, or create a meat feast with all of the above. 

3. Veggie Pizza

For those who prefer more of an herbivore life, veggie pizza is the way to go. There is no limit to the vegetables you can put on a pizza. In fact, you can get incredibly creative. Topics like onions, peppers, spinach, mushrooms and such are normal. But what about eggplant, collards or chard, sweet potato, radish, artichoke, zucchini, and more? All of these can be delicious additions. 

4. Margherita Pizza

Another gourmet pizza option you may want to consider is the margherita pizza. This one is simple yet divine. Made with fresh ingredients like basil, mozzarella, and tomatoes. It’s a light, delightful choice. It is no wonder why it is the number one option in Italy. 

5. White Pizza

White pizza doesn’t have red sauce. Rather, it is usually made with a light garlic sauce. And, it almost always includes some ricotta cheese along with mozzarella. And, if you are feeling it, throw some spinach on there, too. It is garlicky with every bite. 

6. BBQ Chicken Pizza

This one seems fitting for your outdoor pizza oven. Think bbq, chicken, pizza – oh, yeah. Cook your chicken ahead of time then crumble it on top of this pizza with some cheese and finely chopped red onion. You can either use no base sauce and drizzle BBQ sauce over the top. Or, use bbq as the base in place of red pizza sauce. Either way you get the delicious taste combination. 

7. Philly Cheesesteak Pizza

Philly cheesesteak pizza is one that takes the sandwich and turns it into a pizza! Cook up some skirt steaks or any type of thinly-sliced steak, seasoned well. For the base, you may want to use light alfredo or garlic sauce. Throw on your cooked steak, some onion, green pepper, mushrooms, and even some jalapenos if you are feeling a bit spicy. 

8. French Bread Pizza

Who says you have to have a regular round pizza pie? Cut a loaf of french bread in half and go to town adding your favorite toppings. Throw it in the oven and you’ve got a delicious and crispy option for dinner. 

9. Dessert Pizza

As you sit down to enjoy pizza, don’t forget to create a dessert pizza. This can include cinnamon apples, apple pie crumble, with an icing drizzle. Or maybe try cherries, strawberries, or blackberries. Remember, it’s your choice! Or, go for a layer of chocolate and marshmallow with a graham cracker crumble on top for a s’mores pizza. 

Experiment with Toppings

If you have a pizza oven, then you can make the most out of it by experimenting with different types of pizzas. Change the crust, get creative with your toppings, and push the limit. The idea is to have fun with it. This is the perfect time to work together with family and friends to create a meal everyone is sure to love. That’s the power of the outdoor pizza oven

October 13, 2021 by Chris Rice 0 Comments

Stock Up on these Autumn Fruit and Vegetables

brussel sprouts in cast iron pan

This time of year brings family and friends together over flavorful food inspired by seasonal autumn fruit and vegetables. If you’re looking forward to hosting your friends and family at your home, it’s time for a trip to the grocery store or farmers’ market.

In this article, we’ve gathered a list of some of the most essential autumn fruit and vegetables to cook up this season.

A Few Essential Autumn Fruit and Vegetables

When you have a kitchen packed with powerful, pro-style appliances, there’s no limit to the dishes you can create.

If you’re interested in trying a new dish this season, consider cooking with the flavor of the season. With the right recipe, these ingredients can be integrated and paired with any combination of chicken, beef, or fish.

Here are a few essential autumn fruit and vegetables your friends and family will love.

Apples

Fall is the perfect time for apples. Orchards are full and if you are lucky enough to live near one, picking your own is something you won’t want to miss. Talk about a rewarding experience for everyone involved – with lots of memories to be made. 

Whether you are into crunchy apples, soft apples, sweet ones, tart ones, or somewhere in between — apples are delicious and great sources of fiber and vitamin C, too. 

Cranberries

The much healthier version of dried cranberries is fresh cranberries. They are popular during this time but aren’t in season for very long at all. Cranberries that are fresh can be very tart so they aren’t eaten on their own very often. Rather, it is best to cook them into a sauce, pair them with other fruits, or add them to a sweet pie filling. 

Persimmons

If you are interested in trying something new this fall that you probably don’t normally have in your kitchen, persimmons should be it. Just before Thanksgiving every year, persimmons begin popping up everywhere in the U.S. – with the majority of their crops being in California. 

This spicy fruit is commonly used in bread and other baked goods throughout the holiday season. 

Grapes

Everyone loves a good, sweet grape. They can usually be found year-round, but it is during the autumn months when they tend to be at their peak. It doesn’t matter whether you like green grapes, red grapes, black grapes, cotton candy grapes, or another variety — they are all a delicious treat. Try them frozen!

Pears

Looking for a fruit that tastes great but is also full of antioxidants and fiber? Well, you should be. And, pears are where it’s at. There are Bosc pears and Bartlett pears and Asian pears (which resemble apples, by the way), Comice pears, Anjou pears, and more. They are all juicy and soft and can be both a sweet treat or a great addition to a savory dish. 

Brussel Sprouts

Brussel sprouts are one of those vegetables that you either love or you hate. And it always seems that those who hate them are very vocal about it. But, there is a good chance that they have never had them after the first frost. Rumor has it that they are tastier and sweeter when harvested after a frost. So, as soon as those temps start dropping, you know what to do. That’s right, buy some brussel sprouts

Broccoli and Cauliflower

Broccoli and cauliflower are two things that many of us eat regularly throughout the year, whether fresh or frozen. But they are in season during the autumn months. Buying it fresh from your local farmers’ market or produce stand will get you some of the freshest tasting broccoli and cauliflower around. You will surely be able to tell the difference. 

Beets

Beets are a root veggie that many people run from. Sure, maybe they do taste a little like the ground they grew in. But really – they are good. And they are super good for you. As in, beets should be added to the superfood food list for their potassium, magnesium, fiber, phosphorus, iron, vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, beta-carotene, and folic acid. Should we keep going? 

If you ever wanted to add something good and healthy into your diet, now is the time — when beets are in their prime. 

Winter Squash

Different from yellow summer squash, winter squash includes butternut squash, buttercup squash, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, and dumpling squash. And that is just to name a few. Squash is just so good and so well enjoyed. It can be a side, a soup, or the main dish. Those who know how to cook with them, love them. Those who don’t shy away from them. Not because they aren’t good,  but they are a bit intimidating. 

This fall, make it a point to learn how to cook them. They are good for you, too. 

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes can be found anytime throughout the year, but they are most commonly used in recipes and dishes during the autumn months. Sweet potato fries and chips, sweet potato pies and casseroles, or even a sweet potato all by itself. Perhaps one of the reasons they are so popular this time of year is because they pair so well with all the fall seasonings and spices. 

Kale, Arugula, and Other Leafy Greens

Leafy greens like kale, arugula, swiss chard, and all are so wonderful and rich – in both taste and nutritional value. And they make a great addition to our diets – whether cooked or raw or even thrown into a smoothie. 

Isn’t it ironic that all other leaves turn shades of oranges, yellows, and browns until they finally fall off of a tree, but these leafy greens are at their peak during this time of year? That must mean something, right? 

Parsnips

Like beets, parsnips are another root vegetable that many haven’t had or don’t really know what to do with. They look similar to a white carrot, but their texture when cooked feels like that of a potato. They taste a bit bitter but with a slight sweetness like a carrot. 

They can be made like mashed potatoes, roasted, baked, sauteed, or even steamed. And they pack a punch nutritionally, as well.

Well, there you have it. As you start spending more and more time in that kitchen of yours and putting those appliances to work this season, don’t forget to include some fruits and veggies, too. 

October 11, 2021 by Chris Rice 0 Comments

7 Keys to Hosting a Great Fall Dinner Party

meat and vegetables

The fall season is here! That means beautiful colored foliage, a social calendar that is slowly filling up, a little pumpkin spice added to everything, and a feeling of coziness in the air. This season is favored by many – likely since it is the kickoff to the holiday season. 

Before too many fall events take away free time, why not plan to have a great fall dinner party that will get everyone in the fall mood? 

Here’s the thing, though – if you are going to do this, you are going to do it right. You cannot just have people over to eat around a pumpkin centerpiece. No, no. You need to go big. From the moment they walk in the door, your guests should feel like they have been transported to your own little version of a harvest fest. 

Are you ready? Here are 8 keys to hosting an unforgettable fall dinner party.

1. Indoors or Outdoors?

Fall is the perfect time of year to be outdoors. That cool, crisp feeling in the air that makes you want to grab a fuzzy blanket and curl up by the fire only adds to the most magnificent backdrop of oranges, yellows, reds, and browns. Of course, fall outdoors can vary depending on where you live. You want your guests to be comfortable, not too cold or too hot. So base your decision on your location.

For those of you who have invested in an outdoor kitchen, hosting a fall dinner party outdoors is a great time to use it. 

2. Don’t Over Think the Menu

Just because you are encouraged to go above and beyond for an incredible dinner party does not mean you need to make it all complicated on yourself. 

Instead, opt for things that you can easily make, you know will taste great, and that everyone will love. 

3. Create a Signature Cocktail

When you host a dinner party, your guests are going to want a drink. Unless you have an entire bar full of various liquors and mixers, as well as a selection of beer and wine, it is going to be difficult – and expensive – to serve everyone’s tastes. However, if you can focus on one signature fall drink. and make it the signature drink, then you can appeal to all interests and save yourself a little bit of money and aggravation. 

Your signature fall cocktail could have flavors of apple, pumpkin, ginger, nutty, and more. There is so much you can do with these fall flavors. Mulled wine is another perfect option. 

4. Make the Table Count

The table for your fall dinner party should be beautiful. It should be fancy enough to have a tablecloth and cloth napkins that both screams fall when you walk into the dining area. But it should also have a simple centerpiece that consists of fall-colored flowers or pumpkins or gourds. You can even partake in some DIY centerpieces using things like candles, pine cones, candy corn, and other things. You can create something beautiful and breathtaking in a matter of minutes. It doesn’t have to make your great fall dinner party fancy, but it could if you wanted it to. 

The idea is to make your guests feel like this is a special night. It is not just another paper plate, throw hot dogs on the grill and drink a beer sort of get-together. And a set table with all the fixins’ is the perfect way to make that statement

5. Have a Campfire

If you have a fire pit or the ability to have a fire in your backyard, you should do so after dinner. Invite everyone outdoors around the fire. Supply some cozy blankets and comfortable seating. This is a great way to incorporate the fall season into the evening — by enjoying the fall weather you’ve waited all year for. 

If you want, you can even make a dessert out by the campfire with things like s’mores or chocolate marshmallow banana boats

Gather everyone up, bring the drinks and the sweet treats, maybe turn some music on low, and finish out of a fantastic evening. Having an outdoor refrigerator to keep the drinks cold or an outdoor kitchen storage cabinet to keep everything you need close by can make the process even smoother. 

6. Make it Fun

Make the evening memorable and fun for everyone. That means you have to have some entertainment. And, no, we don’t mean anything formal like hiring a band. See, the conversation is great but sometimes you need a little activity to break the ice and get that conversation flowing — or just to lighten the mood or allow everyone to laugh and just feel good. 

Depending on your crowd, this could mean pulling out the board games, creating a fun game of charades, or make it a drinking game. Though, the latter may be the best option as an after-dinner shenanigan. 

7. Give Yourself Enough Time

Finally, just make sure you give yourself enough time to prepare. Hosting any dinner party can be overwhelming and tough — especially a great fall dinner party kicking off the season. It is a lot of pressure,  but it doesn’t have to be if you allow yourself time. 

Start planning in advance – way before you even invite anyone. That way, when you do, everything is in order and ready to go with ease. Get your supplies for your table setting, determine an easy menu — and maybe even do a test run to make sure the recipes are good and the food is enjoyable, and try a few signature cocktails until you find “the one.” After all, your entire night can be planned beautifully, but if the booze is bad? Well, let’s just say that’s a definite party foul. 

Let’s be real, though – the fall season makes us all a little giddy so just getting together with friends to celebrate it is enough to earn the title Great Fall Dinner Party. 

Cheers!

October 8, 2021 by Chris Rice 0 Comments

12 Essential Fall Herbs and Spices

herbs and spices

We are running headfirst into the fall season. Coffee shops are already boasting their fall flavor drinks, like pumpkin, apple, and even cranberry. Pumpkin puree is flying off the grocery store shelves. Halloween stores are opening up and pumpkin decor is placed front and center at home stores. Whether we are ready for it or not, fall is coming — and fast. 

Fall is all about scents and tastes, isn’t it? Kids may tell you that candy and costumes are what fall means, but, as adults, we know that making our way deep into the latest list of the top-ranked beers signifies the season. So, you must stock up on fall herbs and spices. That way, whether you are looking to create your own fall cold foam to top off your coffee or make something scrumptious, you will have everything you need. What better way to get ready for fall? 

And, just so you don’t forget anything, below are the 12 essential fall herbs and spices you need to pick up today. 

1. Cinnamon

For many of us, cinnamon is one of those fall spices. Found in just about every dessert this time of year, it is slightly sweet, with just a little spice. It makes everything from cakes, breads, and cookies to coffee, curries, stews, and oatmeals taste fantastic. 

2. Allspice

Allspice is, well, allspice. It contains some of the major players in the fall seasoning game – such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Allspice can come whole or ground depending on how you intend to use it. And it makes all sorts of baked goods and drinks taste magically fall-like. 

3. Sage

This peppery fall herb is commonly used when cooking turkeys, stuffing, and other common savory dishes. Some people burn it as incense or even drink it as tea. Sage is known to have some incredible health and medicinal benefits – especially when it comes to aging. 

4. Cardamom

Cardamom is found in both savory and sweet dishes – and is one of the main aromatics found in Indian cuisine. During the fall, you are likely to come across baking recipes that require cardamom. Its flavor is spicy and delicious. 

5. Cloves

Whole and ground cloves are spicy and add a deliciously unique flavor to just about anything it is paired with. That means various fall breads and cakes, root vegetables, and coffees. Cloves are aromatic and a definite contender in fall spices. 

6. Ginger

Ginger is zesty and spicy but can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. So it can be used to make gingerbread as well as a delicious stir fry! Ginger is another spice that has been shown to have a great impact on health. It helps soothe nausea and reduces gas, acid, and indigestion. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and nutritional benefits, too. 

7. Star Anise

Have you ever thought of eating the fruit of an evergreen tree? Did you even know that an evergreen tree produces fruit? Those native to Southern China do. And it is known as star anise

This fall spice can be bought whole or ground, but most commonly you will see it whole. Ground it up to add it to things like stews, flavorful sauces, meats, and the occasional baked good. It has a unique flavor that many compare to black licorice. If you’ve consumed your fair share of fall eats, though, you have likely had star anise. 

8. Nutmeg

When it comes to the game of pumpkin spice, nutmeg is the all-star wide receiver. It is sweet, with a deep spicy flavor – and it pairs so well with things like sweet potato casserole, chicken thighs, and lamb, as well as pumpkin bread and pies. 

Nutmeg comes in the form of a hard seed from the nutmeg tree. Want to know a trick? Nutmeg is an important part of fall cooking and baking. So, because the jarred variety of spices will lose some of its vigor, consider buying it in its whole form and just shave or shred it as you need it. The flavor is sure to pop!

9. Cumin

Cumin is commonly found in Indian cuisine, as well as Latin American and Middle Eastern dishes. And it also seems to be popular in our fall dishes. 

You can buy cumin in seed or ground form. But for the most flavor, ground cumin is best. This is made by roasting and then grinding the seeds. With its slightly sweet, slightly bitter taste, it is a great addition to curries, stews, meats, and more. 

10. Thyme

Thyme is a fall herb that makes its way into many dishes this time of year. It has grassy, wood notes but it is also a little sweet, too. It pairs well with savory dishes, including roasted meats and vegetables, as well as stews, soups, and even dips. 

Unlike some of the others we discussed, thyme does well dried and will hold its potency well. 

11. Rosemary

Another commonly used fall herb is rosemary. It is easy to grow and even easier to eat. Just throw it on your turkey, in your stuffing, scatter it on some garlic potatoes, or place it in the oven on a sheet pan with fresh green beans drizzled in olive oil. 

It is a common, delicious herb. And, as usual, the fresh version tastes much better. 

12. Pumpkin Pie Spice

Pumpkin pie spice is the epitome of fall spices – and is essential for your spice cabinet. It is a combination of various fall spices all blended to give you a wonderful tool for baking and creating this time of year. Pumpkin pie spice contains: 

  • Ground cinnamon
  • Ground ginger
  • Nutmeg
  • Ground allspice
  • Ground cloves

You can even try making your own!

Remember, fall is a really busy season. In fact, it is one of the busiest times of the year. So if you want to get ahead of the crowds and make sure you have everything you need to turn your kitchen into a delicious fall festival, gather up these essential fall herbs and spices before it is too late!

September 27, 2021 by Chris Rice 0 Comments

How to Prep Your Kitchen for Fall Cooking

cooking ingredients on shelf

Fall is right around the corner, which means you may be wondering how to prep your kitchen for fall cooking.

We tend to get in the fall mood as soon as the calendar changes over to September. It is one of the coziest, delicious times of year – from the changing of the leaves and pulling out the hoodies and fluffy sweaters to flavoring everything with pumpkin. 

To help you get started, we gathered a few steps to help you understand how to prep your kitchen for fall cooking.

How to Prep Your Kitchen for Fall Cooking

The season is not only about pumpkins and falling leaves, though. It is a great time to do some version of spring cleaning for your kitchen. After all, you are going to need some space for all those Thanksgiving leftovers, apple cider (spiked?),  and pumpkin-spice treats. And you need to make sure you fill your pantry with everything to cook and bake it all! 

This is a busy, busy season. Make it go smoothly by being prepared before your social calendar fills up. Here’s how to prep your kitchen for fall cooking.

Step One: Clear Out the Pantry

The size of your pantry and how packed it is will determine just how big of a chore this step is going to be. Remove everything from your pantry shelves and group them in piles of like items. For instance, keep all your pasta together, all your dried beans and lentils, your flour, sugars, etc. Consolidate those things you have more than one of — such as two bags of flour. Take it one step further and look at all the expiration dates, ditching anything that is expired. And, finally, make a note of anything that you have that is running low.

Wipe down the pantry shelves, sweep the pantry floor, and make the whole area clean and fresh and new. This is the perfect time to add shelf liner if you’ve always wanted to do that or transfer your spices, baking ingredients, or dry goods into glass containers. 

When you are ready, reload your pantry, keeping it organized and accessible. And, after everything is put away, make a list of items you need to pick up such as baking ingredients for the upcoming season, pantry staples for easy throw-together meals on a busy day, and so on. 

Step Two: Tackle the Refrigerator

If you are like the majority of people, you likely don’t clean your refrigerator out very often. It is one of those things that is always there but doesn’t get the attention it should. There are probably a lot of condiments and jars of things that are near empty. Like how long are you going to keep that big jar with one pickle? Or that little dab of honey mustard? It’s time to clear things out. 

Start by removing everything from the fridge. Consolidate items where you can, find uses for items you have just a little of, and look at the expiration date on those items you don’t replace often. Take a look at cheeses, herbs, spreads and dips, and so forth. Smell them, check dates, keep what is good and toss what isn’t. 

Now that you have narrowed all that down, take out your shelves and drawers and clean them up with a soft cloth and some soapy water. Wipe down inside, too. Get rid of all those stains and spilled food. DO NOT use heavy cleaners inside your refrigerator or on your shelves/drawers. 

As you begin to reload your refrigerator, organize it and make note of the things you are short of, the things you tossed that you may want to repurchase, and so forth. 

Step Three: Oven Time!

If you intend to bake some of your grandma’s molasses cookies during the season or you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner, then it is important your oven is in tip-top shape. And what works better than a clean oven? Kick-off your oven time by using your oven’s self-cleaning feature

Then, take a moment to make sure your oven is working properly. Invest in an oven thermometer to make sure that your food is cooking at the proper temperature. 

And, hey, you’ve worked hard today. Why not cook or bake yourself something delicious while you are at it? You deserve it, friend. And you get to test your thermometer out. 

Step Four: Check Out Your Cooking Tools

Clutter can add to life’s stresses and frustrations. If you walk into your kitchen to cook something and you can’t find the utensils or the pan you need easily – without digging through everything – then that’s a good sign it may be time to unload some of your clutter. 

Go through your drawers and your cabinets. You may be surprised to find that you have 7 spatulas and 4 whisks. Nobody needs that many. Get rid of them. Donate them. Pass them on to a friend. Sell them. Whatever you feel comfortable doing — just get them out of your kitchen. 

Your pots and pans and baking sheets, etc. should be organized. If you have an overload, consider getting rid of them in your preferred way, too. Clean out your cabinets, wipe them down, wash and scrub your cookware, and reload your cabinets. 

Everything is so much easier when you can find what you need when you need it. 

Step Five: Show Your Appliances Some TLC

Appliances may not have feelings, but they do require a little TLC to run properly and look their best. While you are prepping your kitchen, take the time to wipe down the outside of your appliances with some warm soapy water. Yes, focus on the big things like the microwave, the range, the dishwasher, the refrigerator, and so on. But, by all means, don’t leave behind the small appliances like your air fryer, the mixer, the food processor, and so on. 

If you have been on the fence about investing in a new appliance, whether a dishwasher, refrigerator, etc. – now is the time. You are headed into the busiest season of the year and the last thing you need to worry about is a non-working appliance. 

Sanity comes when we take those little steps, you know? Like keeping your kitchen clean and organized – and buying a new appliance when you need it. 

Grilled Artichokes with Caper Mustard Aioli

This blog is written by celebrity chef and THOR Kitchen brand ambassador Derrick Fox. Each month, Chef Fox will be sharing his favorite recipes with step-by-step directions, pictures, and his signature style.

The Artichoke. You are obviously familiar with the artichoke hearts in the jar, in oil with some herbs. More recently you may have seen them popping up at your local grocery store, and thought, “wow, what do I even do with those?” Well, I’m here to help you conquer the daunting artichoke. The flavor of a fresh, grilled artichoke is delicious.

There are a few ways to tackle an artichoke. I’m going to share an easy way to clean, steam, and grill them, so you can eat the heart but also all that good meat on each leaf – #COOKLIKEAGOD!

Grilled Artichokes with Caper Mustard Aioli
Ingredients  Equipment
3 whole artichokes scissors
grapeseed oil spoon
rice wine vinegar 8qt pot with steam basket
salt grill/grill pan
pepper tongs
1 tbsp pickled mustard seeds (whole grain mustard)  whisk
2 tbsp capers   small mixing bowl
2 tbsp fresh chopped Parsley  
½ cup mayo  
½ fresh squeezed lemon

Quick tip, there are videos and techniques that use lemon to keep the artichoke from oxidizing and turning brown. Because we are grilling these, we can skip that step.

First, make your dipping sauce. Chop up capers and parsley. Mix mayo, chopped capers, parsley, pickled mustard seeds, lemon juice, and black pepper. If you like spicy, this is a good place to whisk into your aioli.

Artichoke time! Start with snipping the thorn off each leaf. Don’t worry about the leaves towards the top/middle that are tight together. These will be cut off with a knife once we open it up.

Now that all the thorns are snipped, use a vegetable peeler and peel the stalk. Take it down until you see the tender yellow stalk.

Now once they are all are nipped and peeled, cut the Artichoke in half from the stem to the top. With a spoon, scoop out the choke, the fibers in the middle, and any prickly leaves. Once the middle is cleaned, lay the artichoke on its back and slice the top off where the leaves are tight and still have thorns about ½ an inch.

       

Next place them in the large steam basket and place in the pot with a couple of inches of water, cover, and steam for 30-40 minutes. Definitely check the tenderness at 30 minutes. Do this by pulling one from the pot and poking the artichoke heart. It should be tender, but not too soft.

Once steamed, remove from the basket and place on a baking sheet on their backs. You can do all those steps ahead of time if you like and put them in the fridge here and grill later.

Next, drizzle with grapeseed oil, and splash with rice wine vinegar, and generously season with salt and pepper. The grapeseed oil can handle the high heat of the grill better than olive oil, and the rice wine caramelizes nicely over the flame. Get the grill nice and hot, and your grill rack is nice and clean, lay the artichokes fast down on the grill and then close the grill for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes, turn the artichoke 45º to get those beautiful cross hatch marks on the heart and grill for another 1-2 minutes. Flip the artichokes on their backs for 30-45 seconds and remove them from the grill.

When you place them on the platter or plate that you are serving on, finish with a drizzle of olive oil (the fancier the better, I prefer a Spanish olive oil) and spoon over some pickled mustard seeds. Place your sauce in a ramekin for dipping. Enjoy!

 

How to Use a Cast Iron Griddle

You’ve got yourself a griddle. Maybe you’ve had one before. Maybe you’ve always wanted one. Or maybe you have found yourself staring face to face with a griddle and have no idea what to do with it. No matter where you are on your cast iron griddle journey, you have come to the right place. We are going to take a moment to look at all the perks and benefits of having one of these cast iron griddles – as well as how to care for it. And, who knows, perhaps you will stumble across some pretty stellar recipes, too. Ready? Let’s go!

The Power of a Griddle

The idea of cooking on a griddle may seem a bit odd to some people. After all, what’s the difference between cooking on a griddle and cooking on a pan, right? Well, there is the power behind that griddle – and once you use it, you probably won’t stop. A cast iron griddle is one continuous large cooking space that sits over the space of two burners on your stovetop. Whether you are cooking for a crowd or just cooking for your family, you can cook a lot of food all at once on its surface. Think about how many times you have tried to cook a large breakfast, for instance. Were the first eggs you cooked ice cold by the time the last eggs finished? Sitting down to eat together always means someone is left with cold food. With a griddle that doesn’t happen. All your food can be cooked at the exact same time. Moving on, glancing at a griddle, you will notice that it has a smooth, wide-open space with no big sidewalls as a regular pan does. You may not realize it, but the walls of a skillet can hold moisture that, in turn, affects the food you are cooking. Without them, your food can get nice and crispy – and there is nothing to get in the way of an easy flip! Finally, the power of a griddle comes with the ability to cook different foods on the same surface at the same time. It may sound scary or even overwhelming, but it shouldn’t. Do you know why? You will only have one pan to clean afterward. What a score!

A Few Griddle Safety Precautions

Safety is always crucial. It’s no different when it comes to a griddle. As you venture about your kitchen creating delectable meals using your cast iron griddle, keep everyone safe with these 2 important tips:
  1. Monitor the grease. With no sidewalls, grease can build up and have nowhere to go. If it overflows, it could cause a serious situation – especially if you are using your griddle with a gas stove.
  2. Protect your hands with an oven mitt. The surface of a cast iron griddle can get very hot, just like touching a burner or the grate on your grill. If you need to move your griddle or touch it in any way while cooking, put on a mitt.

Tips for Griddling Perfection

Griddling is not hard. You don’t have to watch hours of YouTube videos or read thick manuals in order to gain expertise. You just need to use it. Of course, knowing a few cooking tips in advance is always beneficial. To get you started, here are 3 notes for griddling perfection:
  1. Timing is different on a griddle. Things will cook much faster than if you were cooking in a skillet. This is important so you don’t walk away and come back to charred food. Remember, nobody likes charred food.
The reason for the faster cooking times is that the entire griddle is a solid block of heat – with no means for the heat to escape.
  1. The surface is not non-stick. Your cast iron griddle is just like any cast iron pan – it requires oil. Be sure to use a good oil or cooking spray to coat the surface before you begin cooking. This will not only reduce the chance of your food sticking to the surface, but will also make cleanup much easier.
  2. Cook multiple items with foil. You don’t have to use foil, but it will make cooking different foods at once much easier. Plus, for thicker foods, the foil allows them to cook and sort of steam at the same time which leads to faster cooking.
The more you use your griddle, the more you will get the hang of it – and find what works best for your cooking habits.

Cleaning Your Griddle

Perhaps one of the best features of cooking on a cast-iron skillet is the cleanup. Very few people – if any – enjoy cleaning up a kitchen. But, when the cleanup is easy, it is more tolerated. That’s exactly what you will find with a griddle. When you are done cooking, use your oven mitts to protect your hands and remove all excess food from the griddle’s surface. You can do this once it has cooled, but some foods will harden and stick to the surface making it more difficult to remove. Once the surface is clear – and cool – use a wet rag to wipe down the surface. Follow this up with a light layer of oil to protect the cast iron surface. And, you’re all set! Cleaning your griddle is something you should do after each use. The longer you wait to clean it, the more difficult it will be to remove stuck-on debris. Follow the steps above every time for a no-mess, simple way to a clean griddle. Whether you have a griddle that is part of your gas range or you have purchased a cast iron griddle plate, you will find joy in the easy use it brings. Cook larger meals faster, enjoy an easy cleanup and save time. It doesn’t take long for someone new to griddling to quickly become hooked on its ease of use and multiple benefits. Now, all you have to do is search for some griddle recipes and get cooking!

Future Proof Your Kitchen with This Timeless Electric Wall Oven

It’s hard to keep up with the latest kitchen appliance trends. They’re always changing and when you buy something it’s usually outdated by the time you get it home and out of the packaging. If you’ve ever committed to a kitchen design style only to find out that it’s no longer trending, we feel your frustration! You’ve spent months browsing the web, saving YouTube videos, and building Pinterest boards for nothing. Realizing that your dream kitchen theme made it to the out-of-trend list is a real punch to the gut. When it comes to the popular wall oven solution, we decided to offer a classic, timeless design with modern functions to future-proof your next kitchen remodel. We kept it simple. So, you don’t ever have to reimagine, re-pin, or restart your plans for a very long time. Dual wall ovens next to range top

A Simple, Modern Look

Your mother or grandmother may have had a single electric wall oven. But trust us when we say this is not your grandmother’s oven. THOR Kitchen’s 30 Inch Professional Self-Cleaning Electric Wall Oven is designed to be simple and effective while offering a timeless look. So bring on the ever-changing trends, this wall oven is future-proof. Designed with a stainless-steel exterior finish, you have an easy-to-clean surface that shines beautifully. And, the great thing about stainless steel is that it fits well with any design style. So, whether you have a modern, contemporary, traditional, elegant, or farmhouse kitchen, this wall oven could never look better. The idea of keeping things looking simple means hiding all the unsightly – yet necessary – pieces of an appliance. For example, the bake element. We all know that every electric oven has a bake element. Does that mean you have to see it? It sure doesn’t. This wall oven comes with a bake element that is hidden under the floor of the oven. This not only gives you a seamless look, but it also reduces the need to reach into those hard-to-reach crevices where food and spills like to gather. The result? Beauty that is easy to keep clean. Just because you have an electric wall oven doesn’t mean you have to have an appliance with unsightly buttons and knobs. This wall oven comes with a glass touch control panel that looks sleek and is easy to clean. Plus, the minimal aesthetic fits into any design style you’re currently into, whatever that may be.

Simple, Powerful Features

When you have a powerful appliance, it’s going to come with powerful features. The two just go hand-in-hand with one another. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the many features that come with THOR’s 30 Inch Electric Wall Oven, shall we?
  • Multiple Convection Modes. Convection baking allows for much faster cooking times and for the even circulation of heat thanks to the internal fan running continuously throughout the cooking time. Convection roasting surrounds the meat on all sides, similar to a rotisserie, sealing in the juices quickly for moist, tender results.
  • Large Oven Capacity. What use is an oven if it isn’t big enough to fit your food? With this wall oven, you’ll find a large 4.8 cubic foot capacity that’s ideal for everyday family meals as well as weekend and holiday feasts. You have the flexibility to create delicious dishes of all shapes and sizes.
  • Power and Control. You need an oven that can be flexible – and one that allows you to maintain power and control. When you need it to be strong and tough for family feasts, it will be. And, when you’re making a delicate gourmet dish, this oven can hold back giving you just the right amount of heat you need. This is all thanks to a 3500W top heater and 3000W bottom heater.
  • Self-Cleaning Function. To give your oven a long life, you need to take care of it. Oven maintenance should be part of your baking routine. But who has time for that? With the self-cleaning function, you get quick and efficient cleanup that helps the longevity of your oven.
  • Easy-to-Clean Interior. When you don’t want to do the deep cleaning of the self-cleaning function, but prefer to just wipe up some small drippage, you’ll be happy to know this blue enamel oven interior is designed for high-temperature resistance and is easy to clean.
  • White LED Display. LED lighting is not only energy-efficient, but it is also ideal for electronic displays. With this display, you’ll be able to read the time and function displays easily for a wonderful cooking experience.
Of course, we should also mention that this electric wall oven is CSA Certified, has two racks with six rack positions, and has multiple oven settings such as delay bake, delay start, keep warm, and Sabbath mode.

Future Proof Your Wall Oven Today

Committing to a kitchen design style comes with the risk of it becoming outdated someday. The real anxiety lies in the uncertainty of when it may become outdated. With the simple and modern yet timeless design of THOR Kitchen’s 30 Inch Professional Self-Cleaning Electric Wall Oven, you can future-proof this part of your kitchen to match any and all design trends in the years to come. Start by locating a THOR Kitchen dealer near you.

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