Monthly Archives: September 2019

Hopping Good Easter Cooking Ideas

Easter is another one of those days that brings friends and family together. There are many great dishes and plans that can be made for Easter dinner depending on where in the world you may be celebrating. Just remember to try to avoid making plans for Easter dinner that are contingent upon the weather to work because it never seems to do exactly the opposite of what you plan for no matter where in the country you may be.

With so many dyed eggs around it would be a shame not to incorporate them into the meals that are being prepared for your Easter menu. There are many ways to do that and a favorite in my house is with devilled eggs. In addition to devilled eggs, which are excellent appetizers you can also chop the eggs up and include them in potato salad, egg salad, or chicken salad (which also happens to make excellent finger sandwiches for a light appetizer). You may also use boiled eggs in the making of cornbread dressing and/or giblet gravy, which are both popular Easter dishes in some southern states.

The good news is that there are plenty of dishes that go wonderfully well with eggs. If you like ham this is a great dish to serve with dressing, to make ham salad with later, and to simply have along with your favorite egg recipe. Ham is relatively simple to make as the hard part is often waiting on it to be finished. If you want even more simplicity the only thing you really need to do to have an excellent ham dinner is poor a can of Coca-Cola over the ham, cover it in aluminum foil, and bake it for the necessary duration. It really can’t get any easier than that though there are plenty of more complicated ham recipes available.

You will want to offer plenty of side dishes to compliment your main dish. Popular favorites are vegetables, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, dressing, sweet potato casserole, and rolls. These are all relatively simple to prepare, not very time consuming and can also be delegated to guests if you’d like without too terribly much fuss. You’ll also want to have a few appetizers on hand for the time before dinner is ready and a couple of desserts for the perfect finish – as if those chocolate bunnies from the Easter basket’s are not enough.

For those looking for fare that is a little lighter on Easter I recommend offering salads with low fat dressing, steamed veggies, use diet coke on the ham instead of regular and prepare at least one sugar free dessert as well as offer some fruit and a raw veggie platter with fat free dip along with the appetizers. Easter is a day to celebrate and you shouldn’t leave family members who are dieting to dread their lack of healthy eating options. You’ll also find yourself surprised by those who, given the option, will eat the healthier foods if they are available.

Make sure you offer plenty of drink options ranging from bottled water, coffee, tea (sweet and un-sweet if you live in the South), and favorite pop brands of family members as well. If you are hosing Easter dinner at your home in addition to these cooking ideas I also suggest offering a place for your guests to change clothes if necessary. Many people come wearing their Sunday best and while it was great for church services and photo opportunities they don’t often fare too well with gravy, butter, or grass stains.

Of course you could skip all the advice above and go for a down home hoe down of a barbecue for the Easter holiday that in some parts of the country signals the approach of Spring. Barbecues are often appealing because it limits a good bit of the mess to the great outdoors and gives the kids involved a great place to run, play, and let off steam.



Holiday Cooking Tips for Better Outcomes

The holidays are an extremely hectic and chaotic time for the vast majority of the population. We run from one place to another with more “to do” lists than we think we will ever manage to complete. One thing is certain and that is that throughout all the running around and festivities that are going on it is quite likely that you are going to either lose your mind because you are obsessively over organized or you are going to forget one dinner, event, or gift during the season that is going to prove to be important enough for a mad dash out into the cold, harsh, cruel world of reality. Depressing though the thought may be the following tips can help you avoid potential break down as a result of the constant insanity of the holidays.

First of all, you absolutely must adopt the KISS policy. Keep it simple silly. The meals you plan for your contributions to holiday cooking in your own home and for various events and pot lucks that take place this time of year should be simple to prepare, take little time, and cost as little money as possible.

Do things in bulk. Rather than trying to squeeze in a few minutes hear and there mark out large chunks of your calendar and dedicate those times to tasks such as cooking, cleaning, shopping, and wrapping and stick to that one thing during its allotted time slot rather than trying to cook, wrap, clean, and shop at the same time. This saves confusion and lessens the opportunity of something getting boiled, burned, splattered, ruined, or forgotten.

Plan ahead and shop ahead. This saves valuable time and money because you aren’t impulse buying at the last minute. Whether you are shopping for food items for meal preparation and cooking or the perfect gifts for friends or family putting things off often tends to result in spending more money than intended and getting less value for that money.

Make sure you have enough room inside your fridge for the foods you need for preparation and storing the foods that need to be chilled once they’ve been prepared. Space is a must and if you do not have enough space in your refrigerator you need to be making other plans for food that needs to be kept cold in the interim.

Plan a quick and easy back up in case something goes wrong with one of the more complicated dishes or casseroles. A last minute substitution that is quick and easy is a much better option than not having enough to go around. You never know what’s going to go wrong when dealing with the holidays and it is best to be prepared when something does.

Make sure the turkey or ham is properly thawed and that you’ve allotted the necessary time for cooking. In fact an extra hour is often the best way to go as you never know what kind of differences there will ultimately be in cooking time for your main course.

Clean as you go. This little tip will save so much time, trouble, and pulled hair that you will never really know how wonderfully valuable this nugget of advice really is. Dishes are simpler to clean when still warm and before food has time to dry and set in.

These tips do not guarantee a perfect holiday cooking experience but they are an excellent way to guarantee less stress in the mix.



Healthy Cooking is a Must for Families

When it comes to cooking healthy meals for our families, there is always some degree of dissention among the ranks. The good news is that there are recipes that are very healthy but the healthy nature of these recipes is somewhat disguised. What they do not know in these instances truly should not bring harm their way (outside of allergies, which should never be ignored).

Healthy cooking is often difficult as most of us do not want to spend time planning and preparing meals that our families refuse to eat. At the same time, we want our families to be healthy so we feel compelled to learn new and improved ways of cooking healthy foods for our family to enjoy (and unfortunately in some cases scorn).

With weight and nutrition being known as the culprit in so many health conditions it is impossible to ignore the importance of not only eating healthy ourselves but also of teaching our children the importance of eating healthy. One way to insure that your loved ones are in fact eating healthy is to make sure that you are cooking healthy and nutritious foods for them. This does not mean that you cannot enjoy the occasional calorie splurge or even that you shouldn’t. The key to cooking healthy is learning to control portions and understanding the importance of moderation.

For those that are hoping to incorporate healthy cooking habits into their daily routines, there are no more resources available than ever before in order to assist you in those endeavors. You can seek the services of a professional nutritionist, your doctor can offer advice, you can find all kinds of books on healthy eating, cooking, and living at your local library, and the Internet is an outstanding source of all kinds of information when it comes to leading a healthier lifestyle all around.

There are many books and magazines that are filled with recipes that encourage healthy cooking and eating habits. If you truly love to cook, then there is no shortage of recipes that you can try out along the way. The really good news is that you can incorporate healthy cooking into your cooking routine whether you are cooking for one or a household of ten.

There are many that will argue that cooking healthy food costs more than cooking the prepackaged foods that pack on the calories and additives. The truth of the matter is that when you compare the costs with the medical bills of the future for failing to do so, they seem rather slight by comparison. Yes, good food costs more money. In many cases, that is a simple fact of life. However, by learning portion control and eating the proper portions you just may discover that you are actually spending less as you adjust to the proper amounts of food you should be consuming in order to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle.

Cooking healthy isn’t an overnight change; it is a lifestyle change that should be implemented one step at a time. You do not have to go into your kitchen and through out every little thing that you deem ‘unhealthy’ only work to not buy more of these items once they’ve been used. Make wiser decisions when purchasing fats for food preparation and you will discover that you’ve made a vitally important step in the process of incorporating healthy cooking and eating habits in your home.

It’s those small steps you take towards your goal of cooking healthy foods for your family that will matter far more than any giant leap. Before you know it you will find that you all have more energy and a better sense of overall health than you would have imagined before changing your cooking habits. If that isn’t enough to encourage you however, you can always check out the excuse to go shopping for new clothes after you drop a size or two.



Hanukkah Cooking Traditions

Whether you are sincerely seeking opportunities to explore new cultures or you are Jewish seeking great recipes and cooking tips for this important time of year you’ve come to the right place to get some of the basics. For as long as family traditions have been around eating good food at these events and during these times has also been a part of the merriment. Unfortunately, all that great food cannot be eaten unless someone goes to the trouble of actually cooking it. If you are looking for some excellent treats to help with Hanukkah celebrations or simply want to get a taste of what other cultures experience during their religious or cultural celebrations there are plenty of great foods you should be cooking for this particular holiday.

Oil is important in the celebration of Hanukkah and, as a result, many of the foods that are part of Hanukkah traditions are prepared in oil. One popular favorite is Latkes, which are a type of potato pancake that is deep-fried. Another popular favorite is fried lamb chops. The lamb is breaded and then fried much like many Americans fry chicken. Once again oil is used in the preparation of the meal.

If you are looking for something more in line with finger foods or a snack sort of food you should consider deep-fried ricotta balls, fried zucchini, fried onion rings, and even fried mozzarella are good savory fried delights for the season of light. Of course, fried foods aren’t everything that is eaten during this 8-day celebration but they do play a vital role on the menu and in the festivities.

Even the sweet treats for this celebration include a few fried goodies. From apple fritters and raspberry doughnuts there are plenty of delicious fried foods for your snacking enjoyment. If you like something a little sinful to enjoy during this delightful celebration you might like to try blintzes in your favorite flavor. There are many from which to choose and recipes can be found freely online for these delicious treats.

If you’d like to include something a little healthier in your dining options then you might wish to include an Israeli salad, stewed white beans, and baked eggplant and peppers. These dishes provide the opportunity to have a little something that isn’t either fried or sweet to help watch waistlines that always seem to find room for expansion during the holiday season no matter which religion you practice.

Other Hanukkah favorites include delicious dishes such as cheese gelt coins, loukoumades, vegetable kugel, and brisket. Once again the recipes for these dishes are fairly widely available online and in cookbooks that are dedicated to Jewish cooking and traditions.

To make things go a little more smoothly prepare as much food as possible well ahead of time and store items quickly that may be used again in order to avoid spoilage. Enlist the help of children and other family members at home when needed to make things go a little better and take turns preparing food. You should also make great efforts to keep the preparation as simple as possible in order to avoid possible delays or added stress. This is a time that is supposed to be dedicated to celebration not pulling out your hair trying to cook the meals. The good news is that with so many deep fried foods it is unlikely that you will find these dishes too difficult to prepare. Good luck and have fun exploring the world of cooking for Hanukkah.