Tag Archives: cooking

Take Cooking Classes to Improve your Skills

If you are looking to improve your cooking skills or want to learn how to cook, check out what classes are available in your local area. Surprisingly few people manage to utilize the many wonderful opportunities that are available to them when it comes to cooking classes.

If you are considering a cooking class you should be glad to know that many communities offer them for a nominal fee at night and sometimes on the weekend. These classes are rather basic and often designed to help women learn the basics of a few economical and healthy meals to prepare for their beginning families. If you fit the bill for this, then you should check out your local library for possible leads for these sorts of classes in your area. Even if they do not have the information available it is quite likely that they can point you in the right direction.

If you are looking for cooking classes that you can take with your children, check out your library once again for the first resource. There are also many gourmet food shops that offer cooking classes for parents to take with their children. This is a great opportunity to bond with your child while you both learn to prepare a new dish or two together. It is quite likely that you will be quite surprised by the things you can learn from your child as well as the things you can learn by simply taking the class.

For those among us who are seeking culinary experience with very specific cuisines you will have to search a little more for the perfect cooking classes in which you can achieve your goal. They do exist however, though your chances of learning Thai cooking are much greater in a larger city than in smaller towns throughout the country. If you are really interested in learning some exotic cooking techniques perhaps you should consider a vacation in which you can try out a few new cooking classes while you are there. If you prefer other things on your vacation to cooking you could make a point of attempting one basic class in the cuisine of your choice for each vacation you take. This will give you a little more than the same old souvenir to bring back from your trip and an experience that in many cases is quite memorable.

Finally, if you are looking for a romantic idea, how about signing up to take a couples cooking class? Believe it or not, these classes are often offered in both big and smaller cities. They seem to be all the rage around Valentine’s day, perhaps the hint is that the other partner in a relationship can share some of the cooking responsibility or perhaps the idea is that there is more than one way to steam up the kitchen.

Regardless of the reason for taking cooking classes they can bring not only a great deal of enjoyment to your dining room, but also increase your ease in your kitchen. If you’ve never taken a cooking class, there is no time like the present to do so. There is always something new to learn in the kitchen.

Save Time and Money by Cooking Once a Month

Do you find your time stretched to the limit and it is an effort to prepare good meals for your family? Unfortunately, cooking a good family meal requires both time and energy. A few wise moms have discovered a concept that has become known as once a month or freezer cooking to assist in those nights when time, energy, or both are in short supply.

The thought behind once a month cooking is that for one or two days (if you prefer to spread the process out over a couple of shorter days rather than one long day of cooking) of intense culinary effort your family can dine well for an entire month. Many women who have tried this have also discovered that not only does it help by always having something nice and home cooked for dinner, but also helps families stay within budget.

Far too many mother’s will guiltily raise their hands when asked whether or not they’ve ever resorted to fast food or junk food meals simply because they were too tired to cook or were missing one ingredient for a meal and did not feel up to running to the grocery store in order to pick up the missing ingredient. This practice can get expensive over time and rob your family of some well-earned fun money.

There are some important things you must keep in mind if you are considering once a month cooking as a way of life for your family. The first thing you need to keep in mind is that planning is the key. You will need to set aside a day (or two) for the cooking when nothing else is on the calendar. It is simply too difficult to see to all the details if you are planning your cooking event around car pools, soccer games, or dance practices. You need a full day that will be relatively uninterrupted. If you have a spouse, partner, or family member that can take the children for the day this will be the ideal situation. Otherwise be sure to have plenty of distractions on hand for the little ones or find a way to enlist their help with any cutting, chopping, slicing, dicing, or peeling that may need to be done.

You should also create a thorough menu followed by a list of each and every ingredient you will need. Shopping needs to be done on a day other than when you are planning to cook. This means that you aren’t likely to rush through the shopping trip and forget something as a result. Bring your menu and your list and get everything you need in one trip whenever possible. You can also save money by planning your meals for the month according to the sales circulars and coupons you have for the week in order to stretch your budget a little further.

Finally, you need to make sure that you have all the supplies, dishes, and containers you need in order to prepare and store the meals you’ve prepared properly. You should also make sure that the recipes you are using for your once a month cooking marathon are recipes that freeze well. It is even better if you have recipes that double well so that you can get twice the results from the same effort.

You should also make sure you are mentally prepared for your marathon cooking session. Beginning with a nice and tidy kitchen is a great start. Folding card tables make an excellent flat surface for storing things out of the way and freeing up valuable counter space for preparing and assembling the foods that will be prepared. You should also utilize as many appliances in your kitchen as possible for maximum efficiency. Don’t limit all cooking to the oven. Find dishes that freeze well and can be prepared in the crock pot or on the range top. Cook only once a month is challenging but it will save you time and money.

Don’t let Cooking for Crowds Scare You

cook for one

Are you afraid of cooking for large crowds? With images of huge stockpots boiling over and becoming chained to a hot stove and oven for countless hours on end, it’s no wonder that so many people avoid the idea of cooking food for large crowds with more tenacity than they avoid being last in the dinner line.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be the frightening proposition that so many make it out to be. When it comes to cooking for a large crowd, the planning phase is the most important. You absolutely must plan your meals when feeding a large group of people. This goes far beyond the notion of spaghetti or fried chicken as the meals you are planning. You need to know how many servings you will need. While obviously you never know how hungry people will be or who will eat how much when it comes to cooking for a large crowd it is a good idea to always plan for a few extra mouths in case some need a little more than you may think (you might want to double servings for teen and college aged men that will be dining).

You need to know at least a general number of servings to prepare and adjust your recipe in order to accommodate those needs. Some people find it much simpler if they can double or triple recipes rather than scaling them to specific serving sizes. If this works best for you then by all means incorporate this practice when cooking for crowds. One thing you must be aware of is that you will need to include in order to create the meal you are planning.

Having the proper ingredients and the proper amounts of ingredients is more important in bulk recipes than is often necessary in smaller recipes as there is less leeway when it comes to creating the proper consistency. You should keep this in mind when making purchases for your cooking for a large crowd event.

Some people find the best route to take when it comes to cooking for crowds is to keep everything as close to their normal cooking routine as possible. This would mean that instead of cooking one really huge pan of lasagna for a triple sized crowd, they would instead cook three normal sized pans of lasagna. This accomplishes two things really and is something you may wish to keep in mind despite the extra time spent in the kitchen.

First of all, if something goes, wrong only one third of the meal is in shambles rather than the entire dinner. Second, you have a greater possibility of finding consistency issues before the baking begins if you are using measurements and cooking containers that you are familiar with and comfortable using. It is always best to discover errors and omissions sooner rather than later when it comes to cooking as very few ingredients can be properly added after the fact.

While cooking for crowds may send some into dizzying spells with heart palpitations it helps if you take a few deep breaths, sit down, plan your menu, plan your meals, make a list of your ingredients, and cook in a manner that is comfortable for you. If you would rather get it all over with in one fell swoop, then by all means do just that. If you are more comfortable making multiple dishes of family favorites then that is probably going to be the best course of action in order to meet your large crowd cooking needs.

Most importantly you should remember when cooking for crowds is that you might have just earned yourself a well-deserved night off afterwards. Cooking for crowds is time consuming and should be approached when well rested (if that is even possible) for the best results. It is a great feeling to feed a crowd and know they enjoyed your food.

Cooking for Children

cook for kids

Cooking for children presents a whole new set of challenges in the kitchen. While you want to provide them with those ever so important nutrients, it is often difficult to get them to eat those foods that are best for their growing bodies. We are all probably well aware of the food pyramid and the number of servings our children need of healthy grains, proteins, fruits, vegetables, and calcium products. Getting them to eat these nourishing products is another matter all together unfortunately.

The good news when cooking for children is that you do not necessarily need to incorporate all the important nutrients into dinner food. The truth of the matter is that raw cucumbers, which are thinly sliced and sprinkled with salt make a much healthier snack than potato chips and many little ones love this for a snack. You get a vegetable in their system and they are getting a treat at snack time. The same holds true for melon and cantaloupes. These make excellent snacks and are a much-needed fruit in these important diets for little ones.

When it comes to cooking for little ones, however man, woman, and child cannot live on macaroni and cheese alone. It’s been tried and tested and failed miserably. Try mixing things up whenever you can while keeping meals kid friendly. It is important that you try to introduce whole grains, proteins, and vegetables whenever possible at meal times around your home. The good news is that there are many prepackaged convenience foods that are introducing whole grains like never before in order to meet the growing demand of consumers for healthier meals that can be prepared with little fan fare or fuss.

Cooking healthier meals for kids is now easier than ever before. Fresh fruits and vegetables are best whenever possible. However, if you cannot manage fresh, you should avoid canned (fruits especially as they are often swimming in sugary sweetness) whenever possible. Frozen is far preferable to canned when it comes to both fruit and vegetables, as there are often fewer additives.

If you need some great meal ideas that are kid friendly and easy on the budget, you can often find recipes readily available online. You can meet your child’s calcium and dairy product needs by adding milk as the drink of choice for meals or a slice of cheese melted over their favorite vegetable. Ice cream, yogurt, and pudding also make excellent calcium rich treats, in moderation of course.

Encourage your children to try new things rather than cooking the same few meals over and over again that you know they are likely to eat. This prevents two things from happening. First of all, it helps you not to get bored when cooking for your children. Second, it allows your children to try new flavors and textures and form opinions about them. By trying new things they will learn not only about the things they dislike but also the foods they really enjoy.

You should also keep in mind that your children are people too when cooking for them. Just as you have foods you like and dislike they also will develop tastes over time. Those tastes may also change in time as well. It’s frustrating, I know, to spend time and money preparing a meal only to have your child push the plate away and refuse to even try the meal. For this, I recommend enlisting their help in the kitchen. Children are much more likely to eat the things they had a hand in preparing as a matter of accomplishment and pride. It’s psychological warfare I know but all is fair in war and dinnertime.

Perhaps the greatest gift you can give yourself (much greater than the help in the kitchen) by ‘forcing’ your little ones to help prepare dinner is that they will learn to better appreciate your culinary efforts and eat peacefully rather than sullenly. This tactic has met with great success in my household when cooking for little ones. And I know you will be successful as well.

Basic Cooking for Beginners

learn cooking tips

If you are learning to cook it is important that everyone started at the beginning originally. I do not know of a single person who was born with a wooden cooking spoon and ready to go. There is a lot of learning that must be done in order to become a prolific cook and then there is always room for improvement. Not only do you need to begin with the basics when it comes to cooking but you almost need to begin again when learning to cook a new cuisine such as Chinese, Thai, or Indian food.

This means that at any given time in your cooking learning cycles there is quite probably someone somewhere that is better and/or worse at cooking than you. Take heart from this because even the best have bad days when it comes to cooking. There are many people who cook for different reasons. Some cook in order to eat and survive while others cook because they actually enjoy the process of cooking. Some cook during times of emotional upheaval and others cook out of sheer boredom. Whatever your reason for cooking or learning to cook you should always begin with the basics.

The first thing that you need to learn is what the different terminology you will find in recipes actually means. There are many new and sometimes foreign sounding terms that you will find in common recipes. These terms can mean the difference in recipe success or failure. You should be able to find a good section in any inclusive cookbook that explains the different definitions for unfamiliar terminology. If you aren’t absolutely certain what is meant by “folding in the eggs” it is in your best interests to look it up.

Another great bit of advice when it comes to cooking basics is to try simpler recipes for a while and then expand your horizons to the more complex recipes that abound. Most recipes will have a little note about their degree of difficulty and you can read through the recipe to see whether or not it is something you are interested in preparing or confident that you can prepare. Remember Rome wasn’t built in a day and it will take quite some time to build a reliable ‘repertoire’ of recipes to work into your meal planning rotation.

The good news is that once you’ve learned the basics of cooking it is unlikely that you will ever need to relearn them. This means that you can constantly build up and expand your cooking skills. As you learn new recipes and improve your culinary skills and talents you will discover that preparing your own meals from scratch is much more rewarding than preparing prepackaged meals that are purchased from the shelves of your local supermarkets.

You will also discover as your experience and confidence grows that you will find yourself more and more often improvising as you go and adjusting recipes to meet your personal preferences. If you prefer more or less of ingredients or want to make a recipe a little more or less spicy in flavor you can make simple adjustments along the way in order to achieve this goal. In other words you will begin in time to create recipes of your very own. But you need to start at the beginning and learning the cooking basics before you create your own recipes to impress your family.

cooking help online

Italian Cooking in American Kitchens

Most of us have found some sort of Italian cuisine that has become a favorite for our families and ourselves. Unfortunately, far too many of us discount the possibility of bringing Italian cooking into our very own kitchens for fear that many of the recipes are far too difficult. The truth is that learning to cook Italian food just might make your home the favorite drop in dining spot for friends and family all over.

Believe it or not, most great Italian recipes have an easier version that can be made with very similar effects when it comes to flavor and aroma. Also, despite the commercials of old, all Italian cooking does not require an entire day of simmering in order to achieve great flavor. Though you do not have to let your friends and family in on that little secret. Be a martyr for flavor and they will love you even more. You do not have to let anyone in on your best-kept secrets when it comes to preparing these often simple dishes.

The biggest challenge that most Americans face when it comes to Italian cooking is basically learning a new set of essential ingredients. The cheese, meats, or grains that are used in their creation most often identify or define Italian cuisine. It’s the combination of these primary ingredients that create some of the most distinctive flavors on earth. Learn about these ingredients. Identify the flavors and study the combinations of flavors and you should be able to not only follow many great Italian recipes but also to invent a few of your very own Italian inspired recipes.

The greatest thing when it comes to cooking Italian food is that most of these dishes are rather difficult to destroy. This of course does not indicate that it cannot be done, only that it isn’t as simple as with some of the more delicate cuisines around the world. Italian food is durable and flavorful but for the most part not too terribly delicate when it comes to flavor. You can go a little heavy with some spice or cheese without completely ruining the dish in most instances. If you are anything like me, this is a regular occurrence when cooking and one of the reasons I enjoy cooking Italian food so much.

Whether you are a beginner when it comes to the culinary arts or a seasoned pro there is something that will provide the appropriate challenge for you when it comes to Italian cooking. Take a look around there are recipes in abundance across the Internet, at your local library, in specialty cook books, and even in your favorite block buster best selling novels.

Another thing you should keep in mind when cooking Italian food is that nothing seems to bring out the flavor of Italian food better than a good bottle of wine to match. Perhaps this is the reason that it is difficult to ruin an Italian meal, no matter how bad it is, the good wine paired with it, will erase all ill will and tastes in very short order. You will want to spend a little time researching and studying the science (though some will argue that this is truly an art form) that goes along with pairing a good bottle of wine with the right flavor combination when it comes to Italian cooking. Once you’ve mastered this, there is nothing to prevent you from being the diva of all things Italian when it comes to food preparation.

The most important thing for you to remember when cooking Italian food is not to take the cooking too seriously. Good Italians know that the enjoyment of the meal is far more important than the process of preparing the meal. Make your meal an event with plenty of time for pleasant conversation and enjoyment of your company in between courses. You should also never rush a good Italian meal or you will find that all your efforts cooking Italian will be for naught as the true pleasure of Italian cuisine has been lost somewhere in translation.

Use your Microwave for Cooking

cook with a microwave

How often do you use your microwave for cooking? This device offers so many functions when it comes to cooking that most people never bother to utilize. It’s sad really. In most homes, the microwave has been relegated to doing duty as a meat defroster, popcorn popper, and coffee warmer rather than using is as the fabulous device for actual food preparation that it really is capable of being.

Before you set up to change your ways, you need to understand that when it comes to microwave cooking, not all microwaves were created equal. Wattage is vitally important as is the quality of your microwave. The average el cheapo microwave that you can find in discount stores will simply not stand up to the rigors of regular full meal preparation though they are perfectly acceptable for many wonderful dishes that can be prepared as side dishes. The correct microwave however, can actually brown and bake a full sized Thanksgiving turkey.

Microwave cooking is definitely not something that is meant for those who are afraid of trying something new or those that are afraid of making mistakes along the way. This is a process that is one part science and one part figuring it out. Research helps a great deal but even many of the recipes you will find for microwave cooking are written for microwaves of varying wattage so you will need to ferret out what times and temperatures would be appropriate for your microwave. This is to a large degree going to be a process of trial and error unless you are using the recipe book that came with your microwave.

Do not despair however, most that have tried microwave cooking find it to be a much better process for their meal preparation needs. While microwave cooking is great for big families it is an outstanding way to save money when cooking for and feeding one. It is also rather simple. In other words, even college students can benefit by learning microwave cooking for one or more as it will help them limit their expenses while still eating healthy fresh made meals.

Another great thing about microwave cooking that is often overlooked is that there are far less messes to be made than when cooking part of a meal stove top, part of a meal in the oven, and part of the meal elsewhere. By and large, microwave cooking keeps any spills and splatter isolated to your microwave. Most of these can be cleaned and controlled rather easily by using a removable plate in your microwave (that can be washed in the dishwasher) and covering your food whenever possible to avoid splatters.

Microwave cooking is gaining popularity despite the fact that is hasn’t caught on as well as the inventors would have liked. The proof of this is in the many products that have been created to make microwave cooking a little bit easier. From omelet makers to special trays for cooking bacon in the microwave industrious people are working to make the easy way of cooking that much easier.

If you have a microwave in your home that is used mostly for melting butter and warming pizza, then you have a microwave in your home that is being terribly under utilized. It is time you hit the search engines for recipes that will be appropriate for your microwave and get busy trying something new and different that will have your family awed and amazed. Imagine having them toss accolades for your tireless devotion and standing over a hot stove for hours when in actuality you only checked on the microwave when the proper time approached.

Microwave cooking very well may be the wave of the future. Get a head start and begin building your collection of wonderful microwave recipes right away for the best selection. Microwave cooking will make your life in the kitchen easier.

6 Recipes to Help You Recommit to Cooking in the New Year

Crispy chickpeas and smashed potatoes share the plate with lemon-juiced onions, tomatoes, and olives, all balanced by a creamy spread of yogurt. Brought to life with Greek Seasoning, made with oregano, garlic, cinnamon, peppermint, dill, nutmeg, red pepper, and chives. It turns your favorite staples, like potatoes, into flavorful masterpieces.

https://www.bonappetit.com/gallery/6-recipes-to-help-you-recommit-to-cooking-in-the-new-year

Cooking with Wine: Can You Use the Really Cheap Stuff, or Nah?

I love cooking with wine. But whenever a recipe calls for wine, I’m confronted with an inevitable internal debate. It happens every single time. This is how it goes:

Me: Oh, we need to add wine to this recipe.

Also Me: Cool, let’s look at what we have.

Me (opening fridge): Well, we have this bottle of really cheap wine that’s been sitting open in this fridge for two weeks. That will work, right? I’m not going to drink it, so we can just use it and be budget conscious and everything will be great, right?

Also Me: Ummm, I don’t know dude. Isn’t that bottle of wine kind of gnarly at this point?

Me: Yeah, probably. Good call. So we can just run out and grab cheap wine, right? Like a three dollar bottle? And use that?

Also Me: But isn’t that also pretty gnarly? Three dollars for a bottle of wine? What’s even in that stuff? What about that decent bottle of wine you have on the counter over there. I’m sure that would be great!

Me: Yeah, but I kinda wanted to drink that…not pour it into my Dutch oven.

Beef and Bacon Stew

That’s how it goes, without fail, and now, I’m writing this article to remind myself that there is a winner in this debate. There is a correct answer. Also Me was right: The cheapest wine available shouldn’t be your first choice when it comes to braising short ribs or adding flavor to scampi.

I obviously get the appeal of that Two Buck Chuck. It’s affordable. It’s there. It might already be open. Why would you open another bottle of perfectly good wine when you could just use what’s around? In short, it’s because bad wine will make good food taste bad.

When you cook with wine, you’re burning off the alcohol to get rid of that sharp flavor (and so your pasta doesn’t get you buzzed). But the rest of the flavors will remain intact, which means that if you’re using an old, oxidized bottle of not-delicious wine, all your food will taste like, well, an old, oxidized bottle of not-delicious wine. The flavors will not be pleasant, and that’s something that I can’t get down with. It’s a sure-fire way to make sure your food falls short of its potential.

Basically Beef Bacon Stew 01

If your sauce is mostly wine, don’t use something you wouldn’t drink a glass of.

Especially if you’re using high-quality meat or seafood or organic vegetables in your dinner. That whole thing about not putting a bumper sticker on a Ferrari? Yeah, same thing here. Spending money on responsibly-farmed meat and produce is something we should all be doing, but pouring cheap-o wine on top of those ingredients is doing them a disservice.

I’m not saying that you have to go and buy an expensive bottle of wine every time you have meat to braise. Or to open the bottle you’ve been saving for your birthday. I certainly can’t afford that. What I’m saying is that you shouldn’t use the swill. When you open a bottle of wine to cook with, just pick one that you’d want to drink a glass of, and feel good about using the rest for whatever you’re making.

And that glass you drink is crucial, because it will give you an idea of what your food is going to taste like. Was the wine acidic? Your food will probably taste more acidic. Was it tannic? That bitterness will show up in your sauce. Sweet? Fruity? Earthy? All those flavors will come through in your dish. That glass you drink while cooking is nice to relax with, but it’s also a barometer, telling you what other flavors and seasonings your food will need.

At the end of the day, you should buy the best wine you can afford to cook with. Maybe it’s organic. Maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s $7.00 a bottle. Maybe it’s $12.00. But you should always keep the quality of the bottle you’re using in mind, so when you get into an internal debate, you can emerge the undisputed winner.

Make some wine-braised beef and see for yourself:

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https://www.bonappetit.com/story/cooking-with-wine-can-you-use-cheap-stuff

Stylish Cooking That Performs

Designing a charming and stylish kitchen is one of the most fulfilling and creative experiences I’ve had. I started Sugar and Charm in 2010 to inspire readers on how to host beautiful parties and teach the art of entertaining. From shooting recipe photography to cooking for my own family, our kitchen is the most important room in our home–and for a good reason!

We’ve designed our last two kitchens, and the options for stylish appliances have been pretty minimal. Of course, we still love a classic stainless-steel look, but gone are the days that you are limited to one color. With the new Café Matte Collection, you can build your own beautiful appliances to match your dream kitchen and choose something that reflects your personal style–select from a stylish Matte Black or an elevated Matte White finish, and match with four different hardware options. From Brushed Black, Brushed Bronze, Brushed Stainless, and Brushed Copper, you can refresh your kitchen just by switching out the hardware.

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There’s something about a clean, all-white kitchen and this one is stunning! It uses the Matte White finish with Brushed Bronze hardware. The Matte White is timeless and creates a warm and inviting atmosphere. This kitchen would be a dream to bake something sweet and savory in like Cast Iron Olive Oil Apple Pies, one of my favorite recipes for fall.

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Notice how everything goes beautifully with the matching cabinet knobs? The Brushed Bronze accents perfectly complement some of our favorite kitchen accessories. Whip up a Tokyo Mule and serve it in a copper mug.

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Eden Passante

For a bolder look, I love the sleek Matte Black appliances with a darker cabinet color. It connects natural tones and creates a soothing, layered look with just the right amount of contrast.

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Grab your favorite serve ware and throw together your go-to meal. One of my all-time favorites for entertaining is Slow Cooker Chili, which is great for making in large batches and easy to prep (plus, the aromas that fill the house from cooking all day are sure to get them hungry!). Serve your guests in matte black bowls to match your kitchen.

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Eden Passante

If white is more your preference, the Matte White also looks great with darker cabinets. Paint your open shelving the same color as the cabinets for a complete chic look. Brushed Bronze looks fantastic in this kitchen and adds warmth to the kitchen.

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Finally, high-performance appliances that are incredibly stylish and customizable. Hope you’re all inspired to cook something stylish in your kitchen. Check out our Pinterest Board to save these images later and see our must-have kitchen accessories that go perfectly with the Café Matte Collection!

Visit CafeAppliances.com and start customizing your own kitchen!

https://www.bonappetit.com/story/stylish-cooking-that-performs

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