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Category: Cooking

March 8, 2022 by Chris Rice 0 Comments

How to Cook a Perfect Steak

how to cook a perfect steak

If you love a great steak, you need to know the various ways to cook a great steak. Whether it is a giant porterhouse steak, a New York strip steak, prime rib, or a filet mignon – it is delicious. Pair it with a potato and balance it out with some roasted asparagus or grilled veggies, and you’ve got a mouth-watering, appetite-ready meal. Have a craving? You may be used to grabbing your keys and heading out. 

If you have ever enjoyed eating a steak at a steakhouse, but never thought you could create something so juicy and delicious at home – think again. Here’s everything you need to know about cooking the perfect steak.

Choosing the Right Piece of Meat

First things first – all steaks are not created equal. And just because the price tag on one is higher than another, doesn’t necessarily mean it will automatically taste better. You have to know what to look for. So, let’s start a checklist, shall we? As you head out to your local butcher or your local grocery store, you want a steak that: 

  • Is marked as USDA Prime Aged Beef. If this isn’t available, choose the meat marked USDA Choice. These are high-grade meats. USDA Select is not recommended.
  • Is firm when you touch it. 
  • Does not look dark red. Instead, keep your eyes peeled for a steak that is a light, bright red color. 
  • Contains marbling. This fat that creates the marble is what gives it the best flavor. So you actually want the fat all throughout the meat. Just be sure to get the piece of meat that has small specks of marbling rather than large chunks of it.
  • Is 1” to 1.5” in thickness. A little thicker is ok, but try not to get anything thinner than an inch or it will dry out too easily. 

Salting Your Steak

Unless you want to steam your steak thanks to the moisture the salt brings out, don’t salt your steak. This is something so many people do when preparing their steak for the stove or the grill. But top chefs will tell you that it is a terrible idea. If you’ve ever done this and your steaks have turned gray and not brown on the grill, the salt is to blame.

Think about this. The salt draws out the moisture – yet you are looking for a nice, juicy steak, right? You will be missing some of that juice if you suck out the moisture with salt. 

Get the Temperature Right

Cooking the steak on the right level of heat is important. Too high, and your steak may be charred, but raw in the middle. Too low and it may end up overcooked. The best way to ensure you get the right doneness is to monitor its temperature. Having a meat thermometer can ensure that you end up with the perfect steak every time. The list below will give you an idea of what temperature to look for based on whether you prefer your steak rare, well done, or somewhere in between. 

  • Rare (very red-pink): 125-130 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Medium Rare (pink): 130-135 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Medium (light pink): 135-140 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Medium-Well: 140-150 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Well-Done: 155 degrees Fahrenheit or above

Keep in mind that once your steak reaches the ideal temperature, you need to remove it from the heat source. Otherwise, it will continue cooking with residual heat, either in the pan or the grill, which may, in turn, increase its internal temperature. 

Three Methods of Cooking

There are three methods you may use to cook the perfect steak – the stove, the oven, and the grill. We are going to take a quick look at all three. 

Steaks on the Stove. You can pan-sear steaks by placing a little olive oil into a pan on your stove and cooking on medium-high heat. Sear them 5-6 minutes on each side, moving them around occasionally so that they don’t stick. Use your thermometer to monitor the temperature of doneness. Once it reaches near the desired doneness (within 5-10 degrees) cover in aluminum foil and allow it to rest for a few minutes before eating. 

Steaks in the Oven. When cooking steaks in the oven, you want a hot oven – so preheat to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, take an oven-durable pan and put it on your stove on high heat. Once it is hot, add your steaks. Cook on each side for one to two minutes. Carefully, place your pan in the hot oven and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes, give or take depending on the thickness of your steak. Use your thermometer to check for doneness. 

Remove from the oven and cover loosely with foil. Allow the steaks to sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. 

Steaks on the Grill. You will want to let steaks sit out from the refrigerator for about one hour before placing them on the hot grill. And be sure to remove any marinade you had your steaks soaking in. Spray the grill grates lightly with a nonstick spray and add the steaks. Here’s the trick – only flip it once. It will cook one side and then you flip it and let it cook the other side until done. 

Again, always use your thermometer to check the temperature. Once your steak is how you’d like it, remove it from the grill and let it rest for another 10-15 minutes or so. 

The Perfect Steak

You can always try to add rubs, seasonings, and marinades to your steak to try to get the best flavor. But, the truth is, if you choose the right cut of meat and you cook it the right way, then you already have the delicious-tasting steak. All the added flavor in the world can’t make a poorly cooked steak taste phenomenal. 

So, light up the outdoor grill or turn on that fancy stainless steel range you invested in and put your appliances to work for you. But, hey – don’t forget the sides. They may not be the main attraction, but every good steak needs an equally good potato

March 7, 2022 by Chris Rice 0 Comments

9 Fast and Easy Chicken Dinners

easy chicken dinners

Looking for a few new fast and easy chicken dinners to cook up?

If you love chicken, you’re probably interested in expanding your menu with new dishes. Whether you’re cooking for yourself, your friends, or your family, everyone will enjoy the experience of trying a new take on a classic meal. 

Finding simple recipes can transform your evenings (as well as your budget and figure). Let eating in, be the new eating out. Embrace it and nourish yourself and those you love. All you have to do is dive into the right recipe.

To help you get started, we’ve gathered a selection of fast and easy chicken dinner ideas to help you experience a wide range of new dishes … and maybe even find a new favorite.

1.  Honey Garlic Chicken Thighs with Carrots and Broccoli

Ok, the idea here is to pair something delicious – honey garlic chicken – with something you may eat because you know it’s good for you, but don’t really jump for joy when it is on your plate, like broccoli and carrots. Though, we should mention that when they are cooked together, the chicken and the veggies end up with the honey garlic flavors. It’s sticky, sweet, and a tad bit tangy. You and your fam are sure to enjoy this recipe – and feel good eating it. 

2. Tuscan Chicken Skillet

Who says you can’t escape to Tuscany after a tough day at the office? With flavors in this meal that tastes like it is straight out of a restaurant, you are going to make this recipe over and over. Tuscan Chicken Skillet includes chicken and bacon along with creamy parmesan and fettuccine. Seems gourmet, but it’s oh-so-easy. 

3. Chicken and Feta Burgers

Sometimes, you just want a burger. Other times, you want to be a little sassy. Combine the two and have a chicken and feta burger.  This is unlike any burger you have ever tasted. The flavor combination in this burger includes everything Greek – including kalamata olive tapenade and feta cheese. Combined with garlic, oregano, and ground chicken, you’ve got quite a tasty treat. Skip the ketchup and mustard and, instead, top with tzatziki sauce. 

The best part is that it is an excuse to fire up the grill! Or, you could use the stovetop, too. 

4. Oven-Fried Chicken

There is something so delicious about crispy fried chicken. Yet, so many of us try to avoid it because we know that, well, it is not the best thing for us. All that deep-fried goodness isn’t so good for the arteries, right? 

This recipe offers you the crispy chicken that is a little better for you – and a little less greasy. Are you ready for this? You did your chicken in a mixture of egg whites, plain yogurt, Dijon mustard, and salt. Then you coat in a mixture of saltine crackers and corn cereal flakes that have been made into a fine powder in the food processor, as well as sesame seeds, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper. Then, you bake it. 

Of course, you want to read the recipe for the details, but the idea is that it is sure to make your family smile ear to ear. Serve with a side of veggies, salad, or oven-baked sweet potato fries! 

5. Adobo Chicken and Kale Enchiladas

Takeout from your local Mexican restaurant? No, no. This is straight from your kitchen, my friend. You are going to see that Mexican takeout and raise it with a little kale. So simple to make and all in one pan. Even easier when you use leftover chopped or shredded chicken. Mix all the ingredients together and then layer them with corn tortillas, cheese, and enchilada sauce – then pop it in the oven. The flavors melt together beautifully. Top with cilantro, sour cream, avocado slices, or whatever tickles your fancy. 

6. Chicken Florentine

Eating both delicious and healthy means involving lean meat like chicken breasts and greens, such as spinach. But you can’t just stop there. If you are going to cook at home rather than order out, you want something that is going to taste phenomenal, right? This chicken florentine has a delicious creamy garlic sauce that tops off the dish – and all the flavors flow together beautifully. 

7. Chicken Fajitas

When it comes to fast and easy chicken dinners, this is, by far, the most simplistic. Slice up onions, peppers of different colors, mushrooms, and chicken and fry it up in a skillet with a little bit of butter. Throw them in a tortilla with any of your favorite fixings, including cheese, salsa, guacamole, cilantro, sour cream, lime, etc. Easy and delicious. 

8. Chicken Fried Rice

Chinese food is often a go-to for takeout. Why not make it at home? With some oil in a pan, you can toss in all your veggies, along with some dried-out leftover rice, and your chicken. Fry it up together – preferably in a wok or cast-iron skillet – along with eggs, salt, pepper, sesame oil, and a splash or two of soy sauce. 

There isn’t much to make chicken fried rice and you have the chance to use all your favorite veggies. This is great for lunch the next day, too. 

9. Baja-style Chicken Bowl

Who doesn’t love a good chicken bowl? Sticking with the Mexican, Tex-Mex theme,  you can throw together a bowl in a matter of minutes. And you can really add anything you like. But, for the sake of this recipe, use a base of brown rice, then add cooked, cubed chicken, corn, bell pepper, salsa, and Monterey Jack cheese. 

It is an easy, enjoyable meal that everyone in your family will love. The best part? It’s pretty good for ya, too. 

Stomach growling? Better get in that kitchen of yours and start cooking a fast and easy chicken dinner!

February 8, 2022 by Chris Rice 0 Comments

20 Ideas for Valentine’s Day Dinner at Home

Ideas for Valentines Day Dinner at Home

Let’s get real for a moment. Have you ever tried to go out for a nice dinner on Valentine’s Day? Was it really a nice dinner? Maybe you had dinner, but it probably was not overflowing with happiness after spending hours waiting on a table. This can quickly spoil the mood. Because so many people go out to eat it just takes away from the quiet romance you are seeking. 

So, what do you do? How can you have an unforgettable Valentine’s Day? Cook an amazing meal at home. In this article, you will discover some ideas for Valentine’s day dinner at home.

Set the Tone

While you can eat anywhere as long as your food tastes good, it is important to set the tone for the meal. If you are forgoing the restaurant to eat at home, transform at home into a romantic setting. 

Decorate the dining room – or an outdoor table setting if you live in an area that allows it this time of year. Use a tablecloth, candles, and the best dishes. Add some rose petals to the table for an extra touch. Then, dress up. Get fancy and make it feel like a date night without ever leaving home. And, by all means, remove any distractions so that you can solely focus on each other. Turn off the television and put on some slow-dancing favorites, send the kids to grandma’s or wait until they are in bed to get your night started, and dim the lights. Bring the focus to each other and the meal you are having, forgetting the world around you for an hour or two. 

Keep in mind that decorating the space is only half the battle. You also have to fire up the kitchen and cook a delicious meal for your special someone. After all, the most beautiful table setting in the world can’t make up for a gross dinner. 

Ideas for Valentines Day Dinner at Home

Take into consideration your preferences and that of your significant other – and design the menu that will give you a perfect meal. Start planning now so that you have everything ready to go. And, if necessary, do a practice run-through of cooking the dish to make sure it will make the night unforgettable – in a good way. 

Here are 20 ideas for Valentine’s day dinner at home.

Creamy Chicken and Pasta

With a little wine and a lot of creamy, this pasta made with chicken, mushrooms, scallions, and cheese both looks and tastes fantastic. No one will even know that it was so simple – and fast – to make. It’s rich and delicious. What more could you ask for? 

Grilled Pork Chops and Cannellini Greens

Ready to fire up the grill? These dry rub pork chops will leave a lasting impression. The secret to these chops tasting so good is the Greek seasoning that is used as a dry rub. Grill them to perfection. Use cannellini beans, onions, artichokes, and olives – with fresh spinach – to create the ideal side. 

Prime Rib

Who doesn’t love a rare, juicy prime rib? If you and your partner do, then this one is sure to melt in your mouth. Want to know the trick to the best prime rib? You can’t cook it at high temperatures the entire time. For instance, you can start with your oven at 450-degrees, but only for about 30 minutes or so. Then you drop it down to 250-degrees for the remainder. This keeps it from overcooking and from drying out. 

Chicken Parmigiana

Some chicken parmesan can be incredibly soggy and gross. This one, however, is quite the opposite. It is crispy, juicy, and delicious. It has the right-tasting marinara sauce and cheese that is so gooey and creamy melted over the top. It may seem like a simple dish for the holiday, but it is one that is sure to please both of you. 

Sesame Salmon

Sesame Salmon with wasabi mayo can make you feel like you are enjoying sushi – without the roll. The flavors are all there and it is a delicious, simple meal – yet very impressive. Serve it with a side of sticky rice or a cucumber salad. 

Strawberry and Cream Croissant French Toast

Why not have breakfast for dinner? Or kick off Valentine’s Day with breakfast in bed? Top this crisp yet creamy decadent breakfast with either a drizzle of maple or chocolate syrup. 

Or, if you want to make the night delicious with tapas and dessert while you focus on the champagne or wine and the love of your life, then why not create a charcuterie board? Take it to the living room and watch a rom-com or whatever you two are into. Be sure to include fruit, cheese, chocolates, toasts or crackers, and the like. There are so many things you can add here to make it beautiful and scrumptious. Plus, you can easily personalize it to your preferences. 

Bringing it All Together

Now that you have some ideas for Valentine’s Day dinner at home, you can enjoy a romantic night in the comfort of your own home (and kitchen).

Want to go over the top? Invite your partner to dinner. Even if you are married to him/her – formally send an invite to dinner. It’s romantic and sure to bring butterflies. This is a great way to make it extra special. 

From avoiding long waits at local restaurants – and giving your food a personal touch, rather than takeout – you can create a wonderful Valentine’s Day dinner and date without ever leaving home. Decorate the space, cook a delicious meal in your kitchen, get dressed up, and enjoy. You will feel the love in the air. 

January 28, 2022 by Chris Rice 0 Comments

How to Cook Like a Professional Chef

how to cook like a professional chef

Have you taken the time to look around your kitchen? Sit and ponder it for a minute. Do you fully use it? 

Here you have invested in all the most beautiful appliances for your home. They fill every inch of your kitchen – with timeless stainless steel and durable features – just begging to be used. And what did you cook for dinner last night? Frozen waffles and leftover fruit? A bowl of cereal with toast this morning? Come on! With cooking like that, you may as well compare your kitchen to a Lamborghini you never take over 35 MPH. Where is the fun in that? 

It is time you learn to cook like a professional chef. You are grown. You have the tools. Make use of those pro-style appliances and start nourishing your body with something good. Instead of saying you just don’t have the skills or that you don’t know how to cook, keep reading to find out how to learn. (Don’t worry, this is not a landing page for an expensive culinary school.) 

Cooking Like a Pro

You may not believe it but cooking like a professional chef is not such a far-fetched idea – especially in your own kitchen. Most chefs work as part of an assembly line when putting a meal together. It is simple. The fun part is coming up with the meal in the first place! You get to use your creative side to bring different flavors together and ideas for various combinations that will either make a lasting, highly recommended dish by friends and family – or will find its way to the garbage. Either way, it is all part of the experience. 

You have the kitchen to cook like a pro, so what are you waiting for? 

Choosing the Ingredients

You cannot choose the cheapest, oldest ingredients and expect greatness. With some things, sure. But not everything. Sometimes you need to step out of your comfort zone and purchase things you have never imagined yourself buying. Like going to the butcher or your local fish market for your main dish rather than shopping in your local grocery store’s meat or seafood section. Also, always opt for fresh vegetables and produce, in general.

Keep in mind that buying local food provides you with the highest quality and level of freshness you can find. Though, if it is not an option, fresh or frozen is always a much better option than canned. 

Carefully choosing the ingredients you use when cooking can have an intense impact on its flavor. To get the best meal, you need to buy the best of the best ingredients. 

Practice Makes Perfect

There are no professional chefs out there that create a dish perfectly the first time. And those who tell you they do are probably lying. It takes time to get the right amount of each flavor, the right amount of heat, and so on to get the perfect finished product. And that means practicing. 

Choose a recipe you would like to be able to make – maybe a dish from your favorite restaurant or a recipe you have seen in a cookbook, on a cooking show, or the like. Then, gather up the finest ingredients, and cook it. 

Maybe it will taste good, maybe not. But in doing this, you can see what you did that maybe you shouldn’t have done or what you should have done more of. Maybe you needed to cook it just a little longer. Or, maybe the sauce didn’t have quite as much spice as you’d like. Maybe the meat was a little too chewy. Whatever the situation, the more you practice it, the more you become a pro at the dish. Fine-tune all the details until you have perfection. 

This is how you get a signature dish. 

Taste As You Cook

Every chef tastes their food as they are cooking. Otherwise, how else would you know if you added enough seasoning, for instance? You cannot cook a meal from start to finish without tasting it along the way – or else you will find that somewhere you missed something and it will be too late to add it. 

As you season food, taste it. Then, as it cooks, taste it again to make sure the seasoning flavor is still pulling through. If not, add more. If you added too much, find something to tone down the flavor. Doing this will help you save a dish from its demise. 

Create Your Own Stock

If everyone uses the same base, how would one chef’s dish be elevated above the others? This is where you need to add your own personal flair. Now, don’t panic – or roll your eyes. You may think this is taking it a bit too far, but if you create your own stock you can create your own flavor. 

Homemade stock is incredible and it can be used for everything, from soups and stews to using it as a base to boil veggies, saute meats, and so forth. It is an undeniable flavor that will be unmatched by others. Why? Because you made it on your own – fresh. And that means it is not simply made of sodium-infused generic flavors that have been dried and formed into a cube. 

Check out different means of creating stock and spend an afternoon making it in batches. Then, all you have to do is place it in the freezer. It will stay good for a long time – and you will always have it handy when you need to make your signature dish, chef. 

Take the Title

As we said, you have the kitchen and the counter space – all you need is a refrigerator, a range, a grill, and maybe even a dishwasher to clean up after yourself. So, grab your ingredients, get in that kitchen and start cooking! You don’t have to leave your waffles and cereal in the dust, but it is time you take your chef skills to the next level. Your friends and family will likely be thankful you did. 

January 25, 2022 by Chris Rice 0 Comments

What to Eat on a Keto Diet

What to Eat on a Keto DietDid you tell yourself that you were going to lose weight in 2022? Was this the year you are going to finally do it once and for all? Was it your new year’s resolution? If so, awesome. By this time, you are likely either losing weight and thriving – or, you might be struggling to stick with it. Statistics show that the latter is true for most of us. Losing weight is hard and it is one of the most common – and most commonly broken – new year’s resolutions. 

Some diets just don’t work. And when you are restricting yourself so much, it just backfires. You are going to cave and go eat that cheeseburger, or ice cream, or pizza, or bag of potato chips… whatever tickles your fancy. We are human – carrot sticks only satisfy the urge to munch for so long (for some, it’s only hours). But what if there was a diet that allowed you to indulge in all the good stuff? 

A keto diet is not a junk food diet, but it does allow you a little more flexibility on what you eat – including better tasting food. And, thanks to alternatives that have been created, you can find just about anything you want in the grocery store. Even keto ice cream. 

How Keto Works

The idea behind keto is to burn fat by eating fat. What? Yes, you read it right. The keto diet, formally known as the ketogenic diet, has grown in popularity over the last several years – with many people finding success in their weight loss. It is a low-carb, high-fat diet. Let’s explain how it works so that it makes a bit more sense. 

The body typically burns carbs for fuel. But when you are on a keto diet, your body will begin to transition and slowly start burning fat for fuel. Ketosis is the process by which your body breaks down fatty acids, producing ketones in the liver. These ketones then supply the brain and body with energy. To get the body into ketosis, you have to avoid carbs. In fact, you want to stay under 25 grams of net carbs (total carbs minus fiber) each day. Keep in mind that this is just a general number that will vary for each person. 

Protein plays a huge role in this diet as does fat. Both of these things need to make up the biggest part of the keto diet. 

Why Choose Keto?

As unhealthy as it may sound to consume high quantities of fat, it does seem to have some great benefits that come along with it, such as:

  • Weight loss, which leads to a plethora of other health benefits. And the weight loss most experience on keto is often greater than what people find on other diets.  
  • Reduce inflammation throughout the body. 
  • Increase energy levels with fewer drops in energy. After all, carbs are notorious for drops in energy levels so eating minimal carbs can reduce that greatly. 
  • Better blood sugar – and type 2 diabetes – control. Some may even reduce the need for diabetes medication altogether!
  • Better brain health and cardiovascular health.

What to Eat on a Keto Diet

Ready to kick off a new way of eating to see if it works for you? Let’s look at all the foods you should be eating on a keto diet. 

Meat and Poultry. Protein is important on a keto diet – which means meat and poultry are important, too. Consider choosing grass-fed meats, if possible. 

Seafood. Fish and shellfish are both good for a keto diet and they contain some much-needed nutrients, too. Though beware because some shellfish have carbs that others don’t, such as oysters and octopuses.

Eggs. Eggs are high in protein and have very few carbs. This makes them a frequent part of the keto diet. 

Cheese. Another common find in a keto diet is cheeses of all types – sans American cheese. Most cheese is low in carbs and high in fat – and they taste great as part of many dishes. There have been many findings over the years that, although many believe it to increase your risk of heart disease, it may actually protect against it while offering many other benefits, too. Do your research!

Greek Yogurt. Greek yogurt is one of the healthiest types of yogurt – and it is high in protein, too. It is important to note that many do contain carbs so you will want to keep an eye on that. 

Vegetables. Not all vegetables are keto-friendly, but they are important for your overall health as they provide a long list of nutrients your body needs to be healthy. Consider adding the following to your diet:  

  • Green leafy vegetables, such as lettuce, spinach, collard greens, kale, swiss chard, cabbage, etc.
  • Peppers
  • Summer squash
  • Avocados
  • Olives
  • Cauliflower
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Turnips
  • Asparagus
  • Tomatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Green beans
  • Mushrooms
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Celery
  • Cucumber

Foods to Avoid on Keto

Just like everything in life, there are restrictions. Some foods you have always considered good for you – like fruits and vegetables – have a higher level of carbs, for instance, than you may realize. Limiting them is important to achieve and maintain ketosis. Certain foods that you should not include in a keto diet include things, such as: 

  • Grains, including rice, quinoa, oats, wheat, and more
  • Fruits, including apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, mangoes, and more
  • Beans, including kidney beans, black beans, lentils, chickpeas, pinto beans, and more
  • Vegetables, including corn, carrots, peas, yams, potatoes, and more
  • Sugars, including honey, maple syrup, agave, and more
  • Drinks, including sodas (regular and diet), sweet coffee beverages, sports drinks, beer, and more 

Well, there you have it – everything you didn’t know that you needed to know about keto. If you decide to give it a whirl and watch it transform your life, it is a good idea to consult with your doctor first. Then, make yourself a list, head to the grocery store, and load up your refrigerator with all the foods you will need to succeed. Happy losing!

January 24, 2022 by Chris Rice 0 Comments

How to Meal Prep for the Week

how to meal prep for the week

It is the beginning of a new year so there is a good chance you have, at one point or another, seen a tv show segment or social media post about meal prepping. Or maybe you have heard your friends, co-workers, or family members talking about ideas or showing off photos of their weekly meal prep.

If you aren’t taking advantage of this time-saving means to healthy eating, perhaps it is time. So, to help you get started, let’s dig into all things meal prep. Ready? 

Meal Prep: What Exactly Is It?

Meal prep is just the act of preparing meals in advance so they are easier to grab and eat when the time comes. Many people use meal prep for the 5 workdays to make life simpler during and after a long day, leaving the weekends with a little wiggle room. Others prep for the entire week. So, yes, meal prep is essentially all about cooking at least 5-7 meals at once – or more if you are throwing together breakfast and lunch, too. 

The idea behind meal prepping is easy. We all know that we need to eat healthier and avoid fast food, takeout, and convenience foods every single day. We also know that after a long day at work, coming home and cooking dinner is not something most people look forward to. It is much easier to hit up the drive-thru on the way home or have a pizza delivered than it is to cook. But what if your dinner was already prepared? What if you had a healthy meal all ready to go and all it required was heating? 

Ding, ding, ding! There you have it – the reason why meal prep is so important and popular. If the healthy, nourishing meal is convenient, you are more likely to eat it. 

Benefits of Meal Prep

Sure,  you eat healthier when your food is prepped and ready to go. But that is not the only benefit you will get when you decide to give this a try. You can also reap the following benefits, too: 

  • Save time by preparing everything in advance – or at least the major parts of the meal. Then you don’t have to worry about dealing with it when you are crunched for time. 
  • No longer worry about what you are going to cook or eat – or stress out about not sticking to your healthy eating plan. It is just one less stress you have to worry about. 
  • Save yourself some money by eating the stuff you buy at the grocery store – and not wasting it. Plus, you will be less likely to order takeout – and that can lead to huge savings.  

Types of Meal Prep

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to make full meals to reheat when you are doing your meal prep. There are other ways to meal prep, too. Remember, the key is to make it easy, accessible, and convenient. Below are a few types of meal prep that may spark your interest:

Cooked, Just Reheat. These are your typical meal preps – the ones you see stacked in the fridge all ready to grab for work lunches or for dinners. They consist of a fully cooked meal that simply requires reheating. 

Assemble Now, Cook Later. This one is especially good for family dinners, such as stews, soups, and one-pot meals. You assemble everything you need to for the meal, put it together in a baggie, then place it in the freezer. 

Prepped Ingredients. Chop and portion your ingredients. This comes in handy with meats, produce, etc. You are more likely to eat healthy when you can just grab it. If the veggies are already chopped, then you don’t have to worry. Just grab them from the fridge and get to cookin’. 

Mix and Match. Prep all your basic ingredients and store them. Again, if it’s easy, you can grab and eat something healthy. Go grocery shopping and have everything prepped, portioned, and ready to go. This way you can create different meals throughout the week, but you don’t have to do the prep work. 

Batch Cooking. Finally, the last type of meal prep is batch prep. Pick a few ingredients that you commonly use in different recipes and then prep them in advance. For instance, chicken. Cook up a big batch of chicken and store it for use later. Maybe you shred it and make tacos, chop it and put it on a salad, or heat up a chicken breast alongside some veggies. 

Tips for New Food Preppers

Starting a new routine of preparing your food in advance doesn’t have to be tough, but it can be overwhelming. If your interest has been sparked and you want to start fitting in, then you are going to need these tips for new food preppers. 

Make a Plan. You have to first decide what you want to cook and how you want to meal prep. Then head to the grocery store and gather all the ingredients. 

Buy Reusable Containers. Get yourself containers that will work for whatever you decide to do. If it is reheatable cooked meals, buy 5-7 microwavable containers that allow you to easily store them. If it is prepping veggies and staples, get the right containers for that. Prepped ingredients sometimes work well in gallon-size freezer bags for storing in the freezer. Just be sure to write with a Sharpie what the prepped meals are. 

Clean Out Your Refrigerator – Or Get a New One. You are going to be filling your refrigerator so it helps if you have one that is organized and has a lot of space to keep your foods right where you can see them for easy access. Rearrange things if you have to. 

Get to Work. Once you have everything ready to go, get to work cooking, prepping, and organizing. Whatever it is that you decide to do, pick a day and do it. Then it’s done for the week and you don’t have to think about what you are going to eat because you already know!

Well, there you have it. Everything you need to know for meal-prepping your way through 2022.

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. 

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