Great Holiday Baking Recipes for You and Your Kids

When the holiday season arrives, many people begin to get out their baking pans, ingredients, cookie cutters, and decorations to make delicious treats for family and friends. Here are a few fun and festive treats that bring the holiday season to life.

Old fashioned sugar cookies sprinkled with just a small amount of sugar and red and green candies are a treat to make holiday memories with the family. Cut the cookies in shapes that include bells, trees, snowflakes, and mittens, decorating them with icing so that each cookie is different. Gingerbread cookies are an idea as well. Cut out gingerbread men to decorate as well as other shapes for a treat with a little spice. These are an excellent cookie to leave out for Santa, decorating the gingerbread men to look like each child in the home.

Get creative by making a gingerbread house for Christmas. Use white icing to hold the pieces of the house together, putting more icing on the base of the home to look like snow. Any kind of candy can be used to decorate the house, such as red and green gumdrops or red and green sprinkles.

If you want to make a decadent treat for the holiday season that you can enjoy at home or that you can give as a gift, then consider fudge. Change the recipe by using white chocolate or adding walnuts to the fudge that you make. Chocolate drop cookies are another decadent Christmas treat to make as well. Make small sandwiches using the cookies and a small amount of cream flavored with eggnog. Roll the cookies in red or green sugar crystals to bring the holiday season to your dessert.

Red velvet cake with cream cheese icing is a moist dessert to make for Christmas. The red color of the cake blends well with the holiday, and the white icing gives the impression of snow. Add red or green sprinkles along with red candies along the edge of the cake. Another idea is to add a small amount of peppermint extract to the cake batter. After the cake is iced, decorate the top with red icing to look like a candy cane so that it can blend with the flavor of the mint used in the batter.

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Thanksgiving Alternatives to Turkey

While roasted turkey is the traditional Thanksgiving Day meal in most households, many individuals want to serve something else for this holiday. Here are some of the alternative foods that experts suggest for Thanksgiving Day.

Alternative Meal 1: Pork Roast

Rather than having turkey for Thanksgiving Day, cooks can make a delicious pork roast with the same types of side dishes, including mashed potatoes, candied yams, and green bean casserole. Today, many families serve various types of turkey meat for their daily meals, so having a pork roast on a holiday is a better choice.

Alternative Meal 2: Wild Game

While the earliest settlers in the United States may have had roasted turkey for a special meal, they more likely had wild game instead. Cooks can cook tasty venison or bison for Thanksgiving Day to have an authentic old-fashioned feast. It is essential to understand how to prepare wild game correctly because this type of meat is often lower in fat.

Alternative Meal 3: Baked Chicken

A single person or couple may want to have baked chicken for Thanksgiving Day rather than roasting a large turkey. There is a lot of meat on a turkey, and unless an individual wants to have leftovers for several days, preparing a smaller chicken for this holiday is a better decision.

Alternative Meal 4: Grilled Steak

When a family lives in a warm climate, grilling steaks outside is an excellent idea on Thanksgiving Day. No one living in a hot environment wants to heat the house for several hours while roasting a large turkey, but it is fast and easy to grill steaks outside.

Alternative Meal 5: Roasted Goose

In the past, many families had roasted goose for their holiday meals, so by serving this meat, a cook is preparing a traditional Thanksgiving Day meal. To find a goose for roasting, look in specialty butcher shops or larger supermarkets.

Alternative Meal 6: Lobster

When a family lives in a geographic region where there is a lot of seafood, having lobster for Thanksgiving Day is an excellent choice. Learn how to shop for healthy live lobsters along with having a large cooking pot for boiling or steaming this seafood. Coleslaw, roasted corn and baked potatoes are great side dishes with lobster on Thanksgiving Day.

5 Foods That Are Healthier to Eat Raw, and 5 That Are Healthier to Eat Cooked

It may come as a surprise to the raw food movement but as it turns out not all foods are best consumed uncooked. The nutrient content of veggies actually changes based on whether they are raw or cooked. In order for some nutrients to be digestible by the body heat is actually needed. Don’t worry- you don’t have to torch your veggies in order to receive their maximum benefits. Light steaming or roasting is enough to break down the cell walls in order for your body to better absorb them. Here are 5 foods that are best to eat raw, and 5 foods that are best to cook before consuming.

 

Foods best eaten raw:

  1. Onions- When raw, onions have higher concentrations of sulfur compounds that help fight and prevent cancer.

 

  1. Red peppers- When aiming to get the most vitamin C a red pepper provides, it is best to consume them raw.

 

  1. Nuts- Did you know that roasted nuts have higher fat and calories than raw nuts?

 

  1. Blueberries- When cooked, blueberries lose their high amounts of fiber and anti-oxidant content.

 

  1. Kale- Kale is an anti-oxidant powerhouse and when you heat it up, it loses the bang to its buck. Opt for a kale salad instead of kale that has been steamed.

 

Food best eaten cooked:

  1. Carrots- WHen you cook your carrots, you increase their beta-carotene amounts which can improve your eye and bone health.

 

  1. Tomatoes- Tomatoes are surprisingly better for you when cooked! It increases the anti-oxidant properties in the fruit.

 

  1. Pumpkin- The anti-oxidants found in pumpkin are more easily digested by the body when cooked.

 

  1. Mushrooms- If you want more fiber out of your mushrooms, give them a light steam!

 

  1. Asparagus- Asparagus is a superfood packed with antioxidants, vitamins A, E, and K, niacin, and magnesium. These are all better absorbed by the body after they are cooked.

 

As it turns out, nutrition is not all black and white. Some foods end up being better for your body when cooked and others are better consumed raw. Use this list as a guide and see if you can feel the difference!

 

Cooking Tips from a Food Scientist

Top chefs may like to think of cooking as an art, but the truth is, there’s more chemistry involved than anything else. In fact, one would be hard-pressed to find another everyday activity that calls up so many skills learned in high school science classes. Here are some insider tips from food scientist Harold McGee that are sure to come in handy.

Keep heavy cream as a refrigerator staple

If a cream sauce contains an acidic ingredient (such as lemon juice), use heavy cream in lieu of milk — otherwise the sauce will curdle when brought to a simmer.

Scrape and rinse steaks before cooking

This is especially important if the steak has been sitting in the fridge for a few days, as it will rid the meat of any debris or discoloration (just make sure the meat hasn’t actually spoiled, as there’s no bringing it back in this case).

Blanch fresh berries

Upon bringing fresh berries home from the local patch, dunk them briefly in hot (125 degree) water, to kill off any lingering microorganisms that might cause them to spoil more quickly. See this YouTube video for instructions.

Coat steamed veggies with oil or butter

Immediately after draining, help steamed vegetables retain their moisture by giving them a “fat bath.” No need to dump and drench — just a light coating will do.

Ice down turkey breasts

Want to keep the breast meat from overcooking while the drumstick and thighs attain that prized, caramelized succulence? Remove the legs and cook them separately — or, alternatively, put ice packs on the breasts and let the bird sit at room temperature for a few hours before roasting.

Use thick-cut fish fillets for crispy skin

If the fillet is too thin, it’s impossible to attain a nice, crisp skin without turning the fish into jerky. Go for a hearty thick cut instead to keep the interior moist and flaky.

Revitalize brown sugar with damp paper towels

It’s all too easy for brown sugar to turn into an unusable brick in the cupboard, but it can be easily restored to its former glory by sealing it in its bag with a moistened paper towel — or even a slice of apple.

5 Foods That Are Healthier to Eat Raw, and 5 That Are Healthier to Eat Cooked

It may come as a surprise to the raw food movement but as it turns out not all foods are best consumed uncooked. The nutrient content of veggies actually changes based on whether they are raw or cooked. In order for some nutrients to be digestible by the body heat is actually needed. Don’t worry- you don’t have to torch your veggies in order to receive their maximum benefits. Light steaming or roasting is enough to break down the cell walls in order for your body to better absorb them. Here are 5 foods that are best to eat raw, and 5 foods that are best to cook before consuming.

Foods best eaten raw:

  1. Onions- When raw, onions have higher concentrations of sulfur compounds that help fight and prevent cancer.
  1. Red peppers- When aiming to get the most vitamin C a red pepper provides, it is best to consume them raw.
  1. Nuts- Did you know that roasted nuts have higher fat and calories than raw nuts?
  1. Blueberries- When cooked, blueberries lose their high amounts of fiber and anti-oxidant content.
  1. Kale- Kale is an anti-oxidant powerhouse and when you heat it up, it loses the bang to its buck. Opt for a kale salad instead of kale that has been steamed.

Food best eaten cooked:

  1. Carrots- When you cook your carrots, you increase their beta-carotene amounts which can improve your eye and bone health.
  1. Tomatoes- Tomatoes are surprisingly better for you when cooked! It increases the anti-oxidant properties in the fruit.
  1. Pumpkin- The anti-oxidants found in pumpkin are more easily digested by the body when cooked.
  1. Mushrooms- If you want more fiber out of your mushrooms, give them a light steam!
  1. Asparagus- Asparagus is a superfood packed with antioxidants, vitamins A, E, and K, niacin, and magnesium. These are all better absorbed by the body after they are cooked.

As it turns out, nutrition is not all black and white. Some foods end up being better for your body when cooked and others are better consumed raw. Use this list as a guide and see if you can feel the difference!

Growing Food From Scraps

Love this! Fantastic read on how to turn your food scraps into fresh, home-grown fruits and vegetables.

kelleysdiy

Grow Food From Scraps

Did you know that 1/3 of all the food globally is wasted? Yes, it is! 1.3 billion tons gets lost or wasted or not consumed. And only a small percentage of that waste can be diverted for composting. Compost will help lessen these waste but did you know that there is a better way to save food? Read on to learn how to grow food from scraps!

Save food and money by planting food scraps. Yes, there are foods that can be regrown from scraps – without starting from seeds. Take a look at what you are throwing away. You’ll be surprised what you can grow. We love teaching our kids about recycled and reducing waste.

First things first. Aside from the common soil where plants grow, there are plants that grow in water and also dozens of windowsill plants from that can be from from vegetable leftovers. Ever grow a potato…

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Recipe Hacks That Will Change the Way You Make Soup

Soup is great meal to have and make. It’s easy, fun, usually healthy and allows you to use the minimum amount of supplies in your kitchen. Furthermore, storing and serving soup is easy and stress-free. Here are some tips and hacks that will revolutionize the way you make and prepare soup.

1) Store your soup in the freezer:

Are you busy during the week? Do you not have time to make a dinner every night? Well luckily, you can store soup in containers, Ziploc, glass etc., and put them all in the freezer. This will keep the soup fresh for a longer period of time and allows you to have soup all week long in advance.

2) Make Creamy Soup without Cream:

We all love those creamy. comforting, delicatessen soups. However, they can be generally unhealthy because they are stuffed with cream and other fattening ingredients. However, you can substitute this by using a blender and adding ingredients like butternut squash and pumpkin. They taste wonderful, give your soup a fulfilling flavor and texture and additionally are extremely nutritional. You will not have to use heavy cream again. If you cannot avoid dairy at any cost, feel free to try unsweetened nondairy milk such as pea milk, which has a lot of protein, as well as almond, coconut or oat milk.

3) Reduce the sodium and substitute for other flavors:

If you want to reduce the amount of sodium in your soup but not lose previous flavor, use lots of spices instead. You can get away with using low-sodium chicken or vegetable broths so long as you always load your soup up with spices like paprika, cumin, pepper etc. They will give your soup a hearty taste and you might not even remember its lacking salt. Also, herbs and spices tend to have better health benefits than excess sodium does.

4) Make a satisfying vegan soup:

Yes, you might want to eat super healthy. But yes, you understand that some vegan stuff might not be that satiating. When making sure your vegan soup is satisfying, you must make sure that it has lots of protein in it. Use high protein vegetables like pea protein and other high-protein plant-based foods. For more information about all these great soup hacks, check out this article

How to Use “Root to Stem” Cooking to Cut Down On Food Waste

Nearly a third of all food produced in the world is thrown in the trash on a yearly basis. More people are looking to cut down on food waste by turning to root to stem cooking. Restaurants have been doing this for years and now it is becoming a worldwide phenomenon. Learn how to make the most of food scraps with the tips below.

Save Peels and Stems

When thinking of using fruit or vegetable peels, citrus zest is often the first thing that comes to mind. However, almost all produce scraps can be utilized in other ways. Peels from root vegetables such as carrots, turnips, and parsnips can be used immediately or frozen in a storage bag for later use in a vegetable broth.

Broccoli stems are often thrown away because they are very fibrous, but they can also be steamed or pan fried if the stalks are peeled away. The same thing can be done with cauliflower and asparagus.

Make a Salad

The leafy tops of vegetables like celery and carrots are often thrown in the trash, but they are actually very tasty when used in a salad. Beet greens, radish tops, and broccoli leaves are equally delicious when tossed with a bright vinaigrette.

Turn Them into Chips

A crunchy snack is just minutes away when you use fruit and vegetable scraps to make homemade chips. The peels of regular and sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, onions, even broccoli and cauliflower stems, can be used to make this tasty snack.

Fruit peels are equally delicious when baked or candied. Make delectable apple chips in the oven, or candy citrus peels to enjoy on their own or in different recipes.

Meat Scraps and Trimmings

While vegetable and fruit scraps are very useful in the kitchen, meat trimmings are equally valuable. Bone broth is delicious and healthy and a great use of chicken, beef, and any other leftover bones. Other unused meat scraps can be ground down for burgers, fried as a topping for salads, or used in a stew.

Root to stem cooking is a great way to save money at the grocery store and cut down on waste. It’s a healthier way of cooking that’s benefits will far outreach your kitchen.

How To Cook With Different Trendy Salts

When learning to cook as a child, one of the most important things that we learn is that our food needs salt. Most likely you weren’t allowed to add the salt right away due to fear of over or under-salting (which if you haven’t learned by now, both can completely ruin a meal). However, now as a full-grown adult, there is so much more to salt than you even know. Besides the simple white salts, there is a colorful array of delicious, gourmet salts that can take your dish to the next level.

As everyday cooks and chef get more creative in the kitchen, it is time to learn how to ‘spice up’ your cooking with these specialty salts. Let’s take a look at the five different types of salt and how to use them.

Table Salt

Sodium Chloride, or table salt, is harvested from salt deposits found underground. Even though this is the most used type of salt, it is the most unnatural and refined form there is. It contains iodine to prevent iodine deficiency and anti-caking agents to prevent the salt from clumping. It is artificially sprayed and processed to remove any impurities or trace minerals.

Kosher Salt

This salt got its name from the Jewish religion. This particular type of salt works well to cure meats, which is a part of the process to make a food “kosher” according to the religion. Kosher salt is flakier and coarser than regular table salt. It dissolves quickly and works well as an all-purpose cooking salt. Although, it is important to remember that this type of salt does not contain iodine, and a lack of this element can cause hypothyroidism and other maladies.

Pickling Salt

Containing no additives, such as iodine or anti-caking agents, or trace minerals from natural salt, this salt is perfect for pickling or brining vegetables, like sauerkraut or cucumbers. Since the minerals and elements that typically cause ugly discoloration of pickled or brined food is left out, this salt is the obvious choice for preserving food. The flavor is exceptionally concentrated, so it is important to remember that when seasoning with this salt, less is more.

Sea Salt

The natural minerals found in rock salt that are stripped away when processing table salt is kept intact with sea salt. These minerals, such as zinc and potassium, help balance your body. This type of salt is pure, giving it an exceptionally salty taste. It is usually not processed, comes in a variety of flavors and colors, and can be eaten with practically anything. Sea salt can also be used as an all-purpose ingredient, as well as a finishing highlight to a dish.

Himalayan Pink Salt

Himalayan Salt is the oldest and one of the purest salts on earth, is harvest by hand, and is chock full of minerals and health benefits. It is an air purifier, a sleep inducer, it prevents respiratory problems and contains more than 84 minerals. Slabs of the salt are used for serving food as it retains temperature for hours. It can be used as a cooking or finishing salt, as it comes with a bolder flavor than many other salts. And it’s pink color? It comes from remnants of iron oxide (a type of rust) that makes any prepared meal look fancier.

Useful Tips For Those Trying To Cook More In 2018

It is 2018, and if there is one thing that memes have taught society, it is that it is time for us all to learn how to cook better. Along with our need for paved streets, honest politicians, and forward progress, as a society, we need to feed ourselves better. Let fast food live in the past and embrace a new way of health: cooking more nutritional meals this year. Practicing healthy living is a gradual process, but we’ve got to begin somewhere. Leave the stress and start here with four useful tips for cooking more in 2018.

Cutting Boards

Out of all the useful tips on this list, this one matters most when it comes to your health. If you do not have two cutting boards, or even two knives (and don’t want to wash it in between cuts), prioritize your chopping. Choose to dice up any fruits or veggies before moving on to the meats. This will prevent any bacteria from your raw meat from contaminating your fruit or vegetables. If you forget to prioritize cutting, wash both your knife and cutting board before continuing to cut and cook.

Refrigerated Food

One of the first things we should learn when it comes to cooking is how to handle stored food. We know that before we can cook something, it should be defrosted first. For example, if you take a pork chop out of the freezer and throw it on a flame, the outside will be seared and browned, but once you cut it open, the inside will be far undercooked. But did you know that even if you have defrosted that frozen pork chop in the fridge, you should still take it out and let it reach room temperature before cooking? The reason being is the same as with frozen: the outside will overcook by the time the internal temperature rises.

The same goes for frozen vegetables. Let them defrost before placing them in a greased and hot pan. If not, the steam that is created from the “frost” could very well burn you as you cook it.

Pasta Water

The #1 rule of pasta making: salt the water when boiling. This gives your food flavor before any sauce is added to the noodles. And if it helps, most of the salt goes down the drain with the water, so no reason to be wary of consuming too much.

The #2 rule of pasta making: DO NOT RINSE the pasta. The water that boiled the pasta contained starches that make the pasta more flavorful and helps the sauce stick to the pasta.

The #3 rule of pasta making: DO NOT ADD oil to the boiling water. This will make your pasta slick which leads to the sauce not sticking. The only time to consider adding oil to pasta is after cooking. Adding a small amount of oil to sitting pasta allows it to cool without sticking together.

Let It Sit

There is a common tendency to move to food around while it is cooking. We think that this keeps the food from burning, so we continually move it, even though it actually can take away from the finished product. Instead, allow the food to sit until it is golden brown. This helps the juices to stay within the food and keeps the cook time to a minimum.