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Are you having problems getting your kids to eat their veggies?

It’s a common problem in many households and finding the right solution can seem just about impossible. What’s the solution? This site provides many tasty recipes that include pureed vegetables. It’s a “stealth” way to get kids to eat their vegetables.

It all starts with determining why most kids don’t like veggies. One of the biggest problems is that due to many of today’s foods being highly processed. This has resulted in cravings for foods that are high in ingredients such as salt, sugar, and fat. At first, it might seem impossible for fresh veggies to complete with sugary cereal, salty chips, and fried foods.

Another main issue has to do less with the taste of the foods and more about the huge advertising budgets of the corporations that make the pre-packaged food that’s advertised on Internet, TV, and radio. As was pointed out in the movie “Supersize Me” it’s very tough for the fruit and veggie industry to compete with the big advertising budgets of fast food restaurants, soft drink, and snack companies, etc. Not only that but the memorable characters in the ads makes it even tougher for parents to get their kids to eat healthy food.

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How you can get your kids to eat more vegetables?

You already know that they’re healthy and low in calories. However, it’s usually not enough just to try to convince your children to eat veggies because they’re healthy. You know that your kids should eat veggies but it’s difficult sometimes to convince them to take that action.

Scientists explain that kids’ disdain for vegetables is in part based on science. For example, there are many sour/bitter substances that are actually poisonous. However, there are few sweet-tasting foods that are also as such.

Hundreds of thousands of years ago our ancestors were more likely to get sick eating bitter/sour foods than eating sweet foods. In fact, if they ate the latter they’d be more likely to survive. In other words, eating sweet foods was a way that people survived. Not only that but obesity wasn’t a problem. However, today sweet foods are great to blame for the obesity epidemic that is occurring throughout the world.

So in a sense when kids don’t want to eat veggies it’s because they’re unfamiliar with the tastes so it’s natural for them to hesitate to eat foods that are bitter/sour instead of sweet tastes. Kids who were breastfed might be more willing to eat veggies. The reason is that the milk differed on a daily basis because it was based on whatever foods the mother ate. Because they’re used to different tastes they’ll be more willing to try new foods including veggies. On the other hand, it might be tougher to get bottle-fed kids to try new veggies because they were accustomed to milk that tasted the same each time.

The goal is to try and convince your kids to eat their veggies. One way is to use logic so they’ll see how healthy it is to eat veggies, and maybe even believe they’re tasty. It might take a dozen times until your kids are convinced that they should eat veggies. However, the entire process can be tough.

Another method you can try is for your kids to see you eating the veggies and observing that they’re delicious. If your kids see that they’ll likely become curious and might be more willing to try the veggies. If you think it’s delicious then there’s a chance they might have the same conclusion.

Since kids already are more prone to enjoy sweet foods it’s a good idea to start out with sweeter veggies like carrots or peas. You might want to wait for more bitter veggies such as asparagus or spinach for later. That’s because they’ll be more prone to try out the vegetables then.

Another option is to ask your kids if they’d like the veggies prepared a certain way. That could include with grated cheese or a seasoning. It goes without saying that there should be limits on what they request. The goal is to boost the taste of the veggies without making them overly unhealthy.

Delicious recipes

That brings us to the focus of this site. It involves making delicious recipes that your children enjoy. However, it’s a “stealth” method because it involves adding vegetable puree to the dish so they won’t realize that they’re getting their veggies with the meal.

There are several benefits of this option. One of the main ones is that they’re 100% vegetable substitutes. So you won’t have to worry about the foods containing unhealthy ingredients that would defeat the purpose of preparing the purees in the first place. Speaking of which all you need is a food processor to prepare the purees.

Another great feature is that they improve the aesthetics of foods. They can help to add more color and even texture to your kids’ favorite dishes. This is an added plus because it can also help them to eat other dishes that they normally wouldn’t because they think it isn’t delicious.

Yet another key feature of this option is that it’s a “stealth” one that can help your kids to gradually start enjoying veggies. You can add the pureed vegetables to just about any recipe to make it more delicious. That, in turn, will help to increase your kids’ appreciation for vegetables.

Conclusions

Within time you could move from pureed vegetables to non-pureed ones. However, it might take some time for your kids to get used to eating veggies even if they don’t know that they are. The number of options is almost unlimited in terms of the types of veggies you can puree and the number of recipes you can add them to.

That’s what this site is all about. We want to provide you with a basically unlimited number of recipes you can use that are already tasty. That’s important because if your kids don’t like the original recipe they probably won’t like it with pureed veggies.

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Home Made Christmas Candy Recipie

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This old country Christmas candy recipe is one of those recipes that has been passed down through many generations and brings a taste of a time when people did as much as they could with what they had on hand. The time I’m alluding to actually isn’t as far back as you might think. The time when this recipe was most likely created was during the 1930’s; a desolate time of true depression when there was truly no money to speak of. My father grew up during The Great Depression and says that if your family was a farming family, such as his family was, then you were the lucky ones who had food which came from the earth which the family farmed and gardened. This old country Christmas candy recipe is simply Potato Candy. I guarantee if you make this recipe and try the Potato Candy, you will love its taste and it will become a Christmas family staple!

Potato Candy

Ingredients:

  • 1 small potato boiled until tender and mashed while hot
  • 1 box of 10X sugar
  • 1 small jar smooth peanut butter

Directions:

  1. Combine the mashed potato and the box of 10X sugar working the mixture until it forms a dough.
  2. Roll the dough out to a square form.
  3. Spread the peanut butter on the dough.
  4. Roll the dough and peanut butter up into a tube form.
  5. Chill the rolled tube
  6. Slice the rolled tube into approximately 1/2 inch pieces
  7. Enjoy your potato candy!!
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Tips in Using the Sous Vide Machine In Order To Achieve Deceptively Delicious Meal

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Cooking gourmet food similar to that of what is served at the restaurant has been made easy. Thanks to the creation of the sous vide machine. Now, anyone can simply cook deceptively delicious meal without having to become a chef. It cannot be denied that sous vide cooking is one of the easiest methods to preserve the natural juices of the food. It makes all flavors locked in, mixed perfectly to come up with a distinct, flavorful and juicy taste that will surely make your mouth water.

To make sure that you are going to get your desired result out of using such machine, here are some tips that you should always keep in mind when using sous vide machine:

The water bath should be sealed

Make sure that the water bath is sealed with a lead. It’s because the water will start to evaporate, and you want to keep it lingering just inside the tank. It also helps you to prevent causing damage to your machine because if it evaporates just below the heating coil. Making sure that it’s covered properly will help you to prevent the evaporation from escaping from the machine.

Choose what to put in the vacuum bag carefully

As much as possible, do a little research on each and every herb that you are planning to put inside the vacuum bag. There are certain herb that changes the flavour once it’s left too long inside the bag together with the meat and other seasonings. You should always prefer choosing dried herbs instead of the fresh ones when it comes to cooking.

There should no air gaps inside the vacuum seal

Before you put the vacuum bag into the sous vide machine, make sure that there are no air gaps otherwise it will taste differently. If you wanted to utilize the zip lock bag, then you should make sure that there are no air left inside.

Put some vessel to protect countertop

If you know that your countertop is extra sensitive to heat, then you should make sure to protect it using some vessel to be placed before the machine. In that way, you can avoid discoloration on the surface of the kitchen top.

Make sure that the bag is soaked into the water

As what we have mentioned above, there should be no air left inside. If there’s some, then the vacuum bag will bobbed up and down inside the device. You can put a safe weight inside to prevent it from bobbing up and down otherwise you won’t get your desired result.

While it’s true that all you need to do is to place the food into the vacuum bag, leave it for several minutes and come back to get it. There are still factors that you need to consider in order to get the food cooked evenly and thoroughly, just as what you wanted.

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Key Components for Sous Vide Machines

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Are you planning to buy one of the sous vide machines available? If so then it’s important to also know how to operate the unit. This is especially true if it’s the first unit you’ve ever bought. Here are some of the most important components for longer cooks when using the machines:

  1. Cambro Containers

This item is available in various sizes including small and large. You should select one based on the particular recipes that you’ll be using when cooking with your sous vide device. Keep in mind that Cambros are a better option than posts since plastic is a superior insulator.

Another issue is that the big plastic container is a wonderful accessory if you have plans to cook for more than a couple of people. A Cambro with a 4.75-gallon capacity gives you enough capacity to prepare 10 chicken breasts/steaks for guests. It could also be used to prepare 5 full racks of pork ribs.

  1. Cast Iron Skillet

This skillet is needed to give your food a crust in order to add a variety of flavors and textures. A cast iron skillet is definitely one of the best options. One of the best features of this item is that it has a low price tag. This will make it easier to keep down the overall cost of your sous vide system.

  1. Immersion Circulator

What exactly is this fancy-sounding device? You must insert this into the device’s tub/pot. It collects water from the tub, heat up to the water to an exact temperature, then releases the water out again. At the same time, it heats up and circulates the water.

A quality immersion circulator has single-degree precision/accuracy. These devices used to have price tags of thousands of dollars. However, now you can get a quality one for less than $200. This puts the item in the same price range as a skillet or Dutch oven.

There’s a wide range of items to choose from and there are various features to consider. They include the interface, connectivity, and quality. These are just some of the issues to consider.

Another critical one is the system of the immersion circulator. For example, there’s one that includes a fixed tube that the user fills up with water. These are standalone units that you might or might not find to be a good choice for you. What’s important is to consider your particular needs in order to make the best choice.

 

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A Delicious Mother’s Day Recipe

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This recipe from Johnny Sanchinelli for a decadent dessert serves 6.

Ingredients:

*1 box of phyllo cups from the supermarket (frozen desserts aisle)

*3 Red delicious apples

*1 Granny smith apple

*1/4 cup brown sugar

*1 cup caramel sauce

*1 tablespoon of cinnamon

*1 box of instant vanilla pudding (sugar-free is fine)

*1/2 cup of orange marmalade

*1 stick of butter (=1/2 cup)

*powdered sugar for dusting

Directions:

Peel, core and wedge the apples and set aside. In a skillet melt the butter and add the apples. Sprinkle the cinnamon and mix together, add the sugar and cook covered on low heat for about 15 minutes. While the apples are cooking, prepare the pudding according to package directions, and set aside in the refrigerator. Uncover the apples and turn the heat to high for 3 minutes while constantly stirring. Remove from heat and pour into a large mixing bowl. Add half of the caramel sauce and mix, then cover and let it rest while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. On a baking sheet, set six phyllo cups and brush with the orange marmalade, and bake according to box. Pull out the phyllo cups from the oven and remove lids. Fill the phyllo cups halfway with pudding and halfway with the apple mixture. Drizzle with a tablespoon of caramel sauce and put the lid back on. Finish by dusting with powdered sugar. Allow to cool before serving.

 

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How to Make a Scented Flower Pot Recipe Card Holder

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These flower pot recipe card holders will add charm and a heavenly scent to a kitchen. I personalized my recipe card holder to say Pam’s kitchen. Instead of using the word kitchen, you could also use the word diner, breakfast nook or restaurant. Choose vanilla or a fruit scented potpourri for this project. These recipe card holders are the perfect gift for the cook in the family.

Personalized Flower Pot Recipe Card Holder

Supplies:

  • Medium clay flower pot
  • Paint brush
  • Ivory acrylic paint
  • Acrylic paint in an accent color
  • Letter stencil
  • Inexpensive silver fork
  • Black Sharpie
  • Glue gun
  • Glue sticks
  • Pencil
  • Floral foam
  • Apple scented potpourri
  • Scissors
  • Moss

Directions:

  1. Place the flower pot on top of a covered work area. Paint both the inside and outside of the pot with ivory paint. Let dry. Pour a small amount of accent paint in an old dish. Lightly dab the end of the paint brush in the paint, then dab dots around the rim of the flower pot to add a pretty polka dot border to the pot. Let dry.
  2. With a pencil, stencil the name and phrase of your choice to the front of the flower pot. Fill in the stenciled words with the black Sharpie marker.
  3. Cut the floral foam to fit snug inside the flower pot. Put some glue on the inside bottom of the flower pot and on the bottom of the foam piece. Put the foam inside the flower pot and press down to make sure it attaches to the bottom of the pot.
  4. Push the end of the fork halfway down the center of the floral foam, pull out. Place some glue in the slot that was made with the end of the fork, then put some glue at the end of the fork. Stick the fork end first into the slot . The glue will help keep the fork in place.
  5. Glue the moss on top of the floral foam and around the fork. Make sure the moss is secure to the foam.
  6. Working a section at a time, place some glue on top of the moss, then sprinkle the potpourri on the glue. Repeat this around the moss until it is completely covered with potpourri. Place a recipe card weaved in between the top the fork.

 

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Candy Kabobs for Any Occasion

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There are very few gifts that are perfect for just about anyone and any occasion. It’s hard to find a present that can be a Christmas gift, a goody in an Easter basket, a birthday party favor, a treat at Halloween, and will make happy a child or an adult. But, when you make candy kabobs you’ll find they fill the bill no matter what the occasion.

There are lots of different things you can use to make candy kabobs, but to make any of them, you’ll need wooden skewers. Begin making the kabobs by sliding on the foods you want. Many candies are individually wrapped which is not the best look for the candy kabobs. Instead, remove the candies from their wrappers and then slide them onto the sticks. When finished, you can wrap the kabobs to keep them fresh.

You’ll find that some foods are much more ideal than others when it comes to sliding them on the skewers. For example, marshmallows are a delicious addition to the kabobs but don’t slide easily. Spraying the skewer with non-stick cooking spray can help. Be sure you leave part of the stick clean as this will serve as the handle for the kabob. Also, foods that don’t slide easily should be reserved for the top part of the skewer.

Some of the foods you can use to make the candy kabobs include Snickers, Milky Way, Three Musketeers, Peppermint Patties, Rice Krispie treats, gummy candies, cereal rings, dried fruits, caramels, specialty holiday candy, candy necklaces or bracelets, licorice stick sections, soft cookies, pieces of cakes or brownies and even fudge. Some foods that don’t work well are chocolates with nuts, candy bars with crunchy or cookie centers and M M;’s.

Combine various candies and other goodies to make each kabob or just slide several mini candy bars or other foods to make a kabob that has all the same treats on it. Make unique designs by sliding on a candy, then a stack of cereal rings, and do this several times. Come up with other pleasing arrangements or just randomly slide various foods onto the sticks. When you’re finished wrap each candy kabob in a piece of clear or colored plastic wrap. Tie a bow around the bottom of the stick to gift.

The unique kabobs are perfect for parties, holidays, special occasions or just to gift to a friend in the hospital. There’s no one who doesn’t like the kabobs – you can even make sugar-free versions for diabetic friends! Now, no matter what the occasion, you know exactly what to give. It’s a treat that will be well-remembered by the recipient!

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6 Tips for Easy Shopping — Christmastime or Anytime

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As Christmas approaches, the malls get packed and picked over. Whether it’s weather, illness, time shortage or agoraphobia that keeps you from hitting the stores, here are some alternatives to help you finish that Christmas gift list in fine style. (And don’t forget a little something for yourself, while you’re at it!) Let your fingers do the shopping online to save time and energy. Keep the list handy for other gift-giving occasions, as well.

Gifts for the Palate

Give the gift of interesting or exotic foods to delight the recipient’s taste buds. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

Sauce Gods Teriyaki Sauce

Sauce Gods offers two all-natural teriyaki sauces, one mild and one spicy. These sauces offer a great dipping flavor or marinade for cooking. Order by the bottle or case, or contact the company for information on decorative gift baskets containing one of each sauce as well as serving accessories, such as a pair of dipping bowls and chopsticks.

Skinny’s Sauces

Southern style BBQ meets Southern California, according to the website for Skinny’s Sauces. No high-fructose corn syrup and no preservatives interfere with the delightful pomegranate-based flavor.

Winterhill

Winterhill Farms produces certified extra virgin olive oils, in both natural and flavored varieties. Their shop, as well as the online store, offers the oils, along with balsamic vinegars and other specialty foods individually and in gift baskets. Don’t hesitate to contact them if you’d like something other than the described baskets; the staff is more than happy to discuss a custom package for you.

David Girard Wine Tasting Gift Pack

Many vineyards offer online ordering of their vintages and the award-winning David Girard Vineyard is no exception. In addition to full-sized bottles, this boutique vineyard also offers a sampler pack with 50 ml bottles of a variety of their finest. You’ll find a number of delicious wines available.

Gifts of Jewelry

Jewelry always pleases and here are two unusual jewelry creators who might offer the perfect solution!

Charming Silhouettes

Leslie Jones takes the photos sent by her clients and turns them into custom charms, suitable for hanging on a bracelet or necklace or using in a wall hanging. She etches the design into hypoallergenic stainless steel. The finished product, polished and gleaming, offers a more personal gift than a generic boy or girl charm – truly, Charming Silhouettes. Jones also uses her method to create earrings.

Terra Rustica

You may see a stone. Carol Dekle sees a beautiful piece of jewelry. Dekle cuts a design into the stone and applies appropriate coloration. She then uses wire to create a bale that becomes a complementary part of the piece, rather than just something to hang it. Her designs range from daring to whimsical. Terra Rustica offers pendants and earrings that bring nature into jewelry.

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Father’s Day Recipie

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BBQ Chicken Tenders

Ingredients:

  • One bag of Chicken Tenders (thawed)
  • One bottle of Italian Dressing
  • One bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce
  • salt/pepper optional

Pre-heat your outside or inside grill. After thawing out the chicken put it in a large bowl and pour the Italian dressing over it. Making sure to well coat all the chicken. Then place the chicken on the grill cooking it until done completely, turning to keep from burning. After the chicken is no longer pink in the middle take the BBQ sauce and glaze each piece with sauce and allow to cook about 5 more Min’s. And thats all there is to this wonderful BBQ chicken!!

Serving Size- 3-5 people

Now that you have this delicious chicken to eat, add a salad and some potato salad and you’ve got a whole meal that your Father is sure to love!! And don’t forget the strawberry shortcake or peach cobbler for dessert!!

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Lose Weight but Keep Your Health with These Recipies

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During pregnancy, my weight had ballooned to almost 180 pounds-I am just 5 ft 3′ tall with petite frame. Yes, I looked horribly unhealthy. The weight didn’t come off for a year.I found to difficult to walk for more than 10 minutes without a break; climbing stairs, heavy lifting and running would leave me breathless and I was hungry all the time.

The hunger part can be attributed to me breastfeeding, and I did not deprive myself. But I was keenly aware that I if I don’t take control over what I eat-my health would be in jeopardy. It was not just about looks but about my health and well being. So, I decided to change and it started in my kitchen.

Here are the recipes that helped me lose about 50 lbs.

Afternoon snack or lunch

Healthy chicken soup with veggies

Chicken soup is not just for you cold or when you are feeling low. It is actually a healthy meal with lean protein that can satisfy your hunger, keep you from snacking on junk food and in long term help you lose weight.

Lean protein is essential to keep our muscles strong, it also provides us strength and energy. And mix some good veggies with your lean chicken soup and you have a healthy meal.

Ingredients:

  • Boneless and skinless chicken breast
  • Carrots
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Peppers-red green and yellow
  • Salt, black pepper for seasoning
  • Oil

Directions

  1. Heat a deep saucepan and add little oil
  2. Then brown cubes of chicken breast-stir the cubes often so that they don’t stick on the pan.
  3. When the cubes are sufficiently browned and tender, add in the veggies.
  4. Stir the veggies and chicken cubes until the veggies are tender.
  5. Then add about two to three cups of water and salt(according to your taste) and let the soup shimmer.
  6. After about two minutes, the soup is ready.
  7. Sprinkle black pepper and the chicken soup is ready to be enjoyed.

Cheat sheet:

Keep calories off by skipping oil and using grilled chicken cubes. Boil the veggies instead.

Use a little less salt that you think you need. Black pepper will add to the taste and you will not miss salt much. High sodium(element found in salt) diet is not heart healthy.

Dinner

Mixed beans curry

Beans are an excellent source of low fat protein.If you are a vegetarian or looking to lose weight, add beans to your diet-you will get protein minus the fat. Also, beans are filling and satisfying so you won’t be snacking unnecessarily and adding calories.

Ingredients:

  • Kidney, garbanzo, pinto, green split beans-socked in water overnight.
  • Onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Cumin powder
  • Salt and pepper
  • Oil

Directions

  1. Heat the oil in deep and heavy bottom saucepan.
  2. Add in chopped onions and let the onions turn slightly golden brown.
  3. Then add finely diced tomatoes(use fresh tomatoes instead of canned-you will keep off extra sodium) and cumin powder.
  4. After the tomatoes are tender, add in the beans and about three cups of water.
  5. Cover the pan and let the beans cook until the water turns thick and the beans are tender.
  6. Then add salt and pepper and serve with chopped cilantro.

Cheat sheet:

Use fresh tomatoes instead of canned tomatoes. You will keep off extra salt from the curry. High sodium diet is not good your heart.

Skip rice or bread and serve the beans with whole wheat baked tortilla chips.

Afternoon delight/dessert

Sweet and healthy smoothie

This smoothie will get you your fruits in a very delightful way. Instead of stuffing yourself with high calorie store bought dessert, try making this healthy smoothie at home-you will enjoy fresh, delightful drink and it won’t cost you your health.

Ingredients:

  • Strawberries
  • Bananas
  • Almonds
  • 1% Milk
  • Apples

Directions:

  1. Slices the fruits into small pieces and put them in a food processor along with chopped almonds and milk.
  2. Blend all the ingredients until the smoothie is thick and there are no fruit chunks.
  3. Serve chilled.

Enjoy!

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Gift Ideas for the Liquor and Spirits Enthusiasts on Your Holiday List

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If you have a liquor or spirits enthusiast on your holiday shopping list, you’re in luck. There are many novelty products tailored specifically to the appreciation of fine liquors. This makes them the perfect gifts for those aficionados who pride themselves on their refined palate for distilled beverages. These gifts range from sophisticated to obscure, making it easy to find just the right fit. Here are a few ideas, each paired with a fine liquor so that your gift recipient can start enjoying right away.

Glencairn Scotch Tasting Glasses (Set of 4) $39.95

This scotch tasting glass is modeled after the traditional nosing glasses used by professional scotch distillers around the world. Its unique shape enhances the overall experience of the drink. The widened bowl allows the taster to appreciate the nuances of color, while its tapered mouth facilitates the intake of aromas before actually tasting. The result is a full tasting experience that enhances all the nuances of the scotch. Although this is a glass specifically made for scotch tasting, it is great for whiskeys of all types.

Recommended accompaniment: Laphroaig Single-Malt Scotch 15-year $65 – $74

Vodka Shooters Set (7-Pc Set) $34.95

This fun and inviting vodka set is made of mouth-blown, lead-free crystal. It contains six handsomely designed shot glasses that all nestle together inside the crystal ice bowl that keeps your vodka at just the right temperature without watering it down. Individual shooters are 6″ high and hold 3 ounces.

Recommended accompaniment: Grey Goose Vodka $50 – $58

Brandy Warmer (4-Pc Set) $22.46

When your brandy vintage deserves special attention, this classic brandy warmer can turn your after-dinner libation into a memorable production. As the brandy warms, its deep, flavorful aromas are enhanced and released, to make holding and sniffing your beverage as enjoyable as drinking it! This set includes one mouth-blown, 25-ounce lead-free snifter, chrome stand, votive candle, and glass votive holder.

Recommended accompaniment: Hennessy Cognac VS $58 – $63

Whiskey Stones (Set of 9) $20.00

This gift gives “on the rocks” a whole new meaning. The set contains nine 7/8″ soapstone cubes that are stored in your freezer until you’re ready to enjoy your next fine whiskey. Simply add three of the stones to your drink, and they will chill it to perfection without watering it down.

Recommended Accompaniment: Whistle Pig Rye Whiskey $66 -$73

Absinthe Pipe $30.50

The adventurous liquor lover on your holiday list will take a step back in time with this two-part absinthe pipe. After pouring the absinthe into the bowl of the pipe, the brouille is laid on top. This allows the water to slowly drip into the absinthe, resulting in the perfect louche.

Recommended accompaniment: La Muse Verte Absinthe $68 – $75

Regardless of the psychographic makeup of those on your gift list, you’re sure to find something to please anyone who enjoys fine distilled beverages. They don’t have to enjoy wine to be connoisseurs of spirits.

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Mardi Gras Recipes: Cajun Style Meals, Snacks, Drinks and More

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There are many traditional recipies that come from New Orleans that are easy and delicious. Cajun food is an interesting cultural food. It originates from the French immigrants from Canada that were relocated to New Orleans area. Cajun food was born from necessity and the changing of traditional French dishes to adopt the local available foods. The West African slaves gave the culinary dishes there lasting flavor and ingenuity. Today many of these dishes are served and enjoyed worldwide. Many people also partake in Cajun food during Mardi Gras.

Gumbo is a traditional favorite of New Orleans. Gumbo originated when French cooking soup bases met West African Slaves (okra).

To make a classic shrimp and okra gumbo:

Ingredients-

3 tablespoons of vegetable oil,

1 large chopped onion,

3 tablespoons of flour,

5 cloves of garlic chopped,

1 cup celery chopped,

1 can of tomato sauce,

1 cup of green pepper chopped,

1 can of tomatoes (Rotel tomatoes are usually preferred in classic New Orleans cuisine because of the spicy taste they have) ,

1 pound of sliced okra,

2 pounds of shrimp,

2-3 cups of water. (For seafood gumbo add to above recipe: 1 small can of crabmeat or 3 jumbo crabs, 1 jar of oysters).

Instructions-

Slowly stir the flour into a heated oil skillet. Stir until the flour is brown. Add onion, celery, garlic and pepper until onion is clear. Add tomatoes and fried okra. Add water and boil stirring occasionally. Add bay leaf and shrimp (and other seafood) cooking another 30 mins, adding seasonings (salt, pepper, sugar) to taste. Serve over boiled or steamed rice.

Another classic New Orleans favorite is Jambalaya. The dish is a New World version of the Old World dish paella. A Cajun version was adopted after White French Creoles were absorbed into the Cajun population after their fall of power from the Civil War.

To make Jambalaya:

Ingredients-

2 lbs of italian sausage,

3 packs frozen chopped celery or bell pepper, garlic powder,

1-2 cans (Rotel) tomatoes,

1 can vegetable broth/chicken broth,

1-3 cups of desired meat (shrimp, turkey, crawfish, chicken, etc.),

2-4 cups of rice.

Instructions-

Saute sausage in large pan. Add frozen vegetables to sausage and add garlic powder to taste. Add tomatoes and broth. Cover and simmer for a few minutes. Add 1-3 cups of meat and simmer another 5 mins. Add rice, then cook on high for 10-15 mins. Let cool and serve!

A delicious side dish to Jambalaya or Gumbo would be Red Beans and Rice New Orleans Style.

To make Red Beans and Rice New Orleans Style:

Ingredients-

4 cans of kidney beans,

2 medium onions chopped,

1 cup celery chopped,

6 green onions chopped,

1 lb of sausage sliced,

3 gloves of garlic minced,

seasonings to taste (salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, etc).

Instructions-

Boil beans over high heat. Stir well. Add sausage, onions, garlic and seasoning. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 2 hours until beans are tender. Serve over rice.

Cajun meatloaf is a simple yet delicious recipe that has the Cajun New Orleans flavor.

To make Cajun Meatloaf:

Ingredients-

2 whole bay leafs,

1 tablespoon salt,

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper,

1 teaspoon black pepper,

1/2 teaspoon cumin,

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg,

4 tablespoons of butter,

1 cup celery chopped,

1/2 cup bell pepper chopped,

1/4 cup chopped green onions,

1/2 teaspoon of garlic minced,

1 tablespoon of tabasco or hot sauce,

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce,

1/2 cup milk, 2 lbs ground beef,

1/2 lb of ground pork,

2 eggs,

1 cup bread crumbs.

Instructions-

Combine seasonings in bowl and set aside. Melt butter in medium saucepan add onions, celery, bell pepper, green onions, garlic, tabasco,Worcestershire sauce and seasonings bowl. Saute until it starts sticking to pan, 6 mins stirring well. Stir in milk and 1/2 cup catsup. Continue cooking for 2 mins. Place beef and pork in ungreased 13 inch baking pan. Add eggs, cooked vegeatble mixture, bay leaves and bread crumbs. Cook on 400 for about 45 mins, not overcooking.

A great addition to any New Orleans style meal is Bread Pudding. Bread Pudding is a delicious New Orleans treat that only takes less than an hour to create.

To make Bread Pudding:

Ingredients-

7 slices of bread broken up into pieces,

1 stick butter,

8 eggs,

1 1/2 cups sugar,

1 can evaporated milk,

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.

Instructions-

Mix all ingredients into a large bowl. Preheat Oven to 350. Pour contents in pan, place in oven and do not exceed an hour for baking.

To make the sauce for Bread Pudding:

Ingredients- 1 box powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 1 teaspoon rum flavoring, 1 1/2 stick melted butter. Milk (to make sauce thin). Mix and add over Bread Pudding.

Another New Orleans style food that is a desert is Strawberry Beignets.

To make Strawberry Beignets:

Ingredients-

1 cup water,

1 cup milk,

1 egg beaten,

2 tablespoons of baking powder,

3 cups of all purpose flour,

1 teaspoon salt,

2 teaspoon sugar, powdered sugar,

5 qts vegetable oil,

1/2 cup of sugar,

3 pints of strawberries.

Instructions-

In a bowl mix water and beaten egg. In another bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Add dry and wet ingredients, stirring well. Heat oven to 350. Drop spoonfuls of batter onto cookie sheet. Turn over after 4 mins. Puree strawberries and sugar. Sprinkle powdered sugar on beignets. Add strawberry mix as topping.

A great appetizer for your Cajun feast would be a simple but delicious crab dip.

To make Crab Dip:

Ingredients-

1/2 lb cooked flaked crab,

1 8 oz package cream cheese,

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice,

1/4 cup sour cream,

1/8 teaspoon cayenne,

1/4 teaspoon dill weed,

1/4 cup minced scallions,

1/4 cup minced green pepper,

1 tablespoon milk.

Combine all ingredients in food processor (or blender) and chill before serving with raw vegetables or crackers.

The perfect addition to any of these foods would be a good drink. By drink I mean alcoholic, after all it is Marti Gras that you are celebrating. A classic New Orleans favorite (according to gumbopages.com) is the Sazerac cocktail. The drink was traditionally made with absinthe, which is illegal in the United States. How to make a sazarac- Place ice in glass, let chill. Place a lump of sugar in another glass. Moisten sugar with a few drops of water and crush with a spoon. Add the ice and whisky and dash with absinth substitute (Assent, Pernod as an example). Lastly twist a lemon peel over the mixture WITHOUT dropping it in to the glass.

Another great drink that hails from New Orleans is the Hurricane. While the amount of booze may be modified to your tastes, as recommended, the drink contains, 1.5 oz light rum, 1.5 oz dark rum, 1 oz orange juice, 1 oz fresh lime juice, 1/4 cup passion fruit juice, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 tablespoon grenadine, cherries with stems and orange slices as a garnish, as well as ice cubes.

In addition to these recipes I felt it necessary to include those who choose not to eat meat as well. An important part of cooking for a vegetarian or vegan that wants to enjoy New Orleans style food is a roux. You need a good base before you can try to make a gumbo or jambalaya.

To make a Vegan Roux:

According to Vegetarian Journal “For the traditional version, melt vegan margarine or heat oil in a heavy pan over low to medium heat. Whisk in an equal amount of the flour until the mixture is smooth. Whisk constantly so that it does not burn, but allow the mixture to bubble slowly. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, or until it is pale golden in appearance. This is a white roux, and it will have lost some of its raw flour taste.The longer you cook the roux, the more flavor it will develop. Blond roux is slightly darker and thinner in texture than a white roux. It cooks for approximately 6 minutes.”

You can add this base to more traditional New Orleans style dishes substituting meat for larger servings of vegetables or fake meat products.

Also, to make a good vegan seasoning, combine cayenne, cumin and paprika for that spicy taste.

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How to Use a Meat Thermometer

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There are two types of thermometers; one is oven-proof, and you can stick the thermometer into the food at the beginning of the cook time. The second type of meat thermometer is called instant-read and is not intended to be in the food during the cooking process. Instead, you pull the food from the oven, insert the thermometer, wait about 15 seconds to get a reading, then pull the thermometer before reinserting the food into the oven (if additional cooking is necessary). The type of thermometer used is a matter of preference. All temperatures shown below are in degrees Fahrenheit.

Ground Meat and Ground Poultry

The proper way to insert a meat thermometer into meat loaf or a burger is to poke the thermometer into the thickest part of the loaf, or when it comes to burgers, insert it on an angle. The minimum cooked temperature should be 165 degrees for ground turkey and 160 degrees for meat (beef, veal, lamb, pork).

Poultry

When it comes to cooking poultry, poke the meat thermometer into the thigh. When you push the thermometer in, make sure it doesn’t touch the bone. The minimum cooked temperature should be 180 degrees for a whole bird; 170 degrees for breast; 165 degrees for ground chicken or turkey.

Four-legged Meat: Beef, Ham, Lamb, Pork

Push the thermometer into the center of thickest part. The minimum temperature should be 125 degrees for medium rare; 160 degrees for medium; 170 degrees for well done; and 160 degrees for ground.

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Why I’m Okay with People Who Use Food Stamps at Whole Foods

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Several months ago, I read a very interesting article on Salon.com about “Hipsters” who were using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) cards, otherwise known as “food stamps”, to purchase groceries at expensive markets like Whole Foods. The article, authored by Jennifer Bleyer in March 2010, was about young, broke, single and often college educated people who qualify for food stamps because of the economic downturn. For the most part, these people have never needed nor qualified for government assistance before, but suddenly found themselves eligible after the economy tanked and rules determining who qualifies for government assistance changed.

I was fascinated by Bleyer’s article because I could relate to it on many levels. I have never been on any kind of government assistance, but I have been a young, broke student. I do enjoy good food. And, as someone with master’s degrees in public health and social work, I know a few things about the food stamp program. Historically, it’s been intended for use by poor people with families. But single people can qualify for food stamps too, and it seems that more and more of them are using them to help make ends meet.

Bleyer’s article explains how several young people with foodie sensibilities applied for and were granted Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program cards with varying amounts of benefits. These young people then proceeded to use government assistance to purchase expensive organic foods at trendy, upscale supermarkets like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. Instead of heading for the local Wal-Mart or Food Lion to buy canned goods, ramen noodles, and cheap ground beef, they’ve been buying products like raw honey, wild salmon, gourmet ice cream, and fresh, organic vegetables.

I was interested to know how some of my peers would react to Bleyer’s revelation about single people using food stamps to buy organic foods, so I posted a link to the article on Facebook. I wasn’t surprised when several friends expressed disgust and anger that these people were purchasing food at Whole Foods using food stamps. At first, I couldn’t blame my friends for their reaction. Government assistance programs are paid for by taxes and many people would rather not see an able-bodied, educated, single adult benefiting from a program paid for by tax dollars. Instead, they would prefer to see those people paying their own way.

But then it occurred to me that I’d rather see people who need government assistance to buy food use it on food that will promote their health. What’s a healthier food option, boxed macaroni and cheese and potted meat or an organic fish filet paired with fresh vegetables? Eating a better diet will have a better effect on a person’s health. While it’s true that someone who uses food stamps will get a lot more for the money at a mainstream or discount supermarket, it’s also true that discount supermarkets don’t tend to stock locally farmed meat and produce.

One can certainly buy less expensive fruits and vegetables and lean meats and fish at the local supermarket, but chances are good that they have been trucked in from a location far away from the store. And modern farming methods tend to focus on mass production, which often means using chemicals, hormones, and inhumane treatment of animals to produce the most product for the least amount of money. The jury is still out as to what long term effects some of those chemicals, pesticides, and hormones will ultimately have on a person’s health. While many people are fine with the risks, I don’t have a problem with people who question the risks and prefer to spend more money on higher quality food, even if that money comes from a government assistance program. After all, poor people who use government assistance programs to buy food may also be using government assistance programs for their healthcare.

Poor nutrition promotes poor health. Studies show a direct correlation between poverty and obesity in the United States. Indeed, we don”t have a problem with a lack of food in this country. We have a problem with a lack of good food that is affordable and accessible. Whole Foods markets don’t tend to be located in poor neighborhoods, but even if they were, most poor people wouldn’t shop there because the food Whole Foods sells is often very expensive. I guess that’s why so many of my friends of Facebook have such an issue with newly poor people with expensive culinary palates shopping at Whole Foods with their SNAP cards. But aside from having a problem with young single people who use food stamps to buy organic food, many Americans also have issues with obese people, even though so many Americans are, in fact, obese. And it’s a known fact that obesity contributes to chronic health conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and many types of cancer. Personally, I would rather my tax dollars go toward promoting and protecting good health through eating high quality whole foods rather than paying for treating chronic diseases that might have been preventable through eating a better diet.

Aside from the practical reasons why I think it should be okay for people on government assistance to use food stamps to buy organic foods, I also appreciate the way a good meal can boost morale. A person who is struggling to find gainful work, especially in a very tough economy, may be having a hard enough time getting up in the morning and getting on with the business of living. While some people may argue that having to eat a cheap, unsatisfying diet using food stamps might be excellent motivation to find a good job, I would submit that having to eat a poor diet is a recipe for depression and despair. And being depressed makes finding gainful employment much harder and less likely.

For me, what it comes down to is this– I would much rather see young, healthy, able-bodied, but temporarily underemployed people use whatever means they can to stay healthy and productive. While I know that poor families are not likely able to use their food stamps at expensive markets like Whole Foods, I don’t have a problem with people doing whatever they can to get by. As long as those people who need government assistance are using it to purchase food, I don’t care where they do their shopping or what kind of food they buy. In fact, I think using government assistance to purchase better food may be one of the best ways to stay out of long-term poverty. When it comes down to it, you really are what you eat.

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Two Boxed Recipies Made from Scratch

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In our world today, there is a lot of concern about the food we eat. Boxed items are very popular, and convenient, but don’t offer the nutrition we need. Here are two classic boxed recipes made quickly and easily from scratch.

Classic Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Whole Wheat Macaroni
  • 1 tbsp margarine
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Boil about six cups of water, add noodles and cook until al dente. Drain pasta and set aside.

Reheat pan on stove and add margarine. When margarine is melted add flour and whisk until well combined to make a rue. Slowly whisk in milk and bring to

a simmer. Milk should begin to thicken but not get pasty, if to thick add more milk. Add cheese and stir until melted.

Carefully stir pasta into the cheese mix. Salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Easy Salmon Casserole

This recipe is a great alternative to tuna if your concerned about mercury.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb short pasta (I recommend Penne whole wheat if possible)
  • 1 tbsp margarine
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 pouch salmon
  • 1 bunch fresh broccoli or 10 ounces frozen, thawed, Chopped well
  • 1 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp margarine

Preheat oven to 350

Prepare noodles following the directions for Classic Macaroni and Cheese above, Before adding noodles add broccoli and salmon to cheese mixture, then add noodles and mix well

While noodles are cooking prepare the bread crumb topping. Place two tablespoons of margarine in microwave safe cup or bowl and microwave in ten second

intervals until melted. Add to bread crumbs and mix until crumbs are coated.

Pour noodles and sauce into an 9×9 casserole dish and top with bread crumbs. Bake for ten minutes until bread crumbs are golden brown.

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Thanksgiving Lunch Recipes

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Chapati served with Nyama na Irio (Steak and Irio)

Servings: 10 – 12

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole wheat pasty flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • About ¾ cup warm water, enough for kneading dough
  • 16 oz. peas
  • 16 oz. corn
  • 8 – 10 oz. steak
  • 5 – 6 pieces of potato
  • ½ piece of onion
  • 2 – 3 pieces of tomatoes
  • Spices of your choice
  1. Knead dough, cover and leave for at least half an hour
  2. Make 10 – 12 ½ inch balls, dip each one into a bowl of dry flour, and roll out into thin 5 – 6 inch circles
  3. Place a flat and unoiled griddle on the stove at medium heat. When hot, place a rolled out chapatti on the griddle, move it around for even cooking.
  4. When bubbles are visible, turn over and cook until shades of brown appear on the side facing the griddle. Use tongs to avoid burning your fingers.
  5. Apply one tablespoon of oil and spread evenly. Turn it over to do the same on the other side. Cook both sides until evenly cooked
  6. Repeat the same for all 10 pieces.
  7. Preparing Nyama na Irio (Steak and Irio)
  8. Drain 16 oz. can of peas, 16 oz. can of corn. Peal some potatoes and cut into small pieces.
  9. Cut steak into sizeable pieces and wash clean. Put the small pieces of steak into a pot and boil till all water evaporates
  10. Add some oil and mix. Cut the onions and tomatoes into small pieces and add.
  11. Let it cook for about 2 minutes and add the small pieces of potatoes. Add spices of your choice, and some salt for taste.
  12. Mix and let it cook for 5 – 7 minutes. Add corn and peas and mix. Add some water, about 6 ounces and let it cook until potatoes are well cooked.

Serve with chapatis while hot.

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