Categories
Winter cooking

Warm and Tasty Winter Vegetables

There are many great vegetables we enjoy during the winter months. While the foods we probably most think about during that time are turkey, ham, and desserts, the vegetables really play an important role – both in that holiday meal and for the rest of the winter.

Everyone has their must-have vegetable at the dinner table. Here is a list of all of the warm and tasty winter vegetables you should really be taking advantage of this year when they are in season.

Beets

This is a great vegetable to enjoy all winter long. Fall to spring these are in season. They are sweet, especially when roasted and make a great addition to the salad. So enjoy that garden salad all winter long with some fresh roasted beets on top.

Broccoli

While this is a vegetable enjoyed year-round, the winter months are really the season for broccoli. It tastes its best when harvested in cooler temperatures because it is sweeter and less bitter. Broccoli is great added to casseroles or just steamed as a side dish.

You don’t have to do much to it for this vegetable to taste delicious. And if you get fresh broccoli in the winter when it is sweeter, the kids are more apt to like it. No need to cover in cheese and gravy when you have fresh winter broccoli.

Cabbage

Much like broccoli this is another vegetable that tastes best in the winter. The colder the weather it’s grown in, the sweeter it tastes. There’s a reason corned beef and cabbage is a staple of any St. Patrick’s day celebration. It certainly isn’t because it’s the traditional food of an Irish feast. This is one versatile vegetable, though. Have it raw in salads and slaws, or braised over low heat. Add it to your stir fry for that sweet aspect.

Cauliflower

This vegetable is in the same group as broccoli and cabbage. It’s sold and harvested year round, but tastes its best in the winter. It’s another perfect cold weather crop. This is one you definitely want on the menu, too, because of all the great antioxidants it contains.

So serve a broccoli/cauliflower mix as a side with your next dinner. Add it to your pasta dishes with a little garlic, red pepper, olives, and capers for a quick, healthy, and delicious dish. Add it to a fritter or just steam it. It will taste great with your favorite winter meal.

Kale

Another “cold weather makes it sweet” vegetable. This is a good, hearty cooking green. They do take some extra time to cook, but who minds that in the winter. There are so many nutrients in kale that you’ll want to find a way to get this on your menu.

Simply boiling kale with a little salt for about 20 minutes is one way of cooking it, or make some kale chips out of it. To make chips out of kale, place torn leaves on a pan, cover in some olive oil, sprinkle with a little salt and bake for 20 minutes in a 300 degree oven. You can also sauté or slow simmer kale.

Brussels Sprouts

People either love this vegetable or they hate it. This vegetable grows on a stalk and if you can find it on its stalk still you have hit the gold mine. It will last longer this way. If cooked properly this is one tasty, nutty little vegetable. Overcooking or boiling or steaming them bring out a funky, stinky taste. This is why canned Brussels sprouts are so reviled.

If you do steam them, then reduce the water and watch the cooking time. Roasting them is a great way to use them though and not get that stinky gym sock smell. Just toss them with some oil and salt and pop them in a nice hot oven. Or a quick turn in a hot sauté pan will really keep that nutty flavor. You can even use them raw in salad. Just chop them up real thin and add them to a salad or make a slaw out of it. You might find you love Brussels sprouts after all.

Turnips

This is another one of those vegetables that tend to be hated, but fresh turnips have a sharp but sweet flavor. Make sure you have a fresh one; pick one that feels heavy for its size. You’ll probably enjoy it better that way. It’s a root vegetable that’s great for roasting, mashing, and adding to soups and stews. Look for them in fall and early winter; that’s when they’re at their best. Do you get turnips on your table for Thanksgiving? You probably should.

Winter Squash

This vegetable also comes into season late fall to early winter. There are many different types. Most commonly you have butternut squash, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, and pumpkin. All of these can simply be cooked by roasting them. Heat your oven to 375, cut off any stem and cut your gourd in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and place what’s left cut side down on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake until tender when pierced with a fork (anywhere from 15–45 minutes).

All of these vegetables will be great to have this winter. So try something new – you might find a warm and tasty vegetable you really love this season.

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How to ...

How To Choose The Perfect Bread Maker

Bread makers are extremely popular. The average person can make delicious, homemade bread quite easily with a bread maker. Even with the ease of a bread machine, you must still use caution when adding the ingredients, even if you use a mix. You can make a variety of shapes and sizes of loaf with a bread machine. Many people use a bread machine to simply mix the ingredients then bake the loaf in a traditional oven. Sizes range from one pound to two pounds or more, and you will most likely choose between a square or round loaf pan.

Some bread makers will have a preheat cycle to heat the ingredients before baking. If you want your bread to rise properly, choose a bread maker that does not heat before time to bake the bread. Bread makers will generally have separate settings for different types of bread. There may be settings for wheat or French bread, and you will be able to choose the doneness of the bread such as a light, medium, or dark setting. There will also normally be a regular or rapid bake cycle. It is desirable to have a window in the top or side of the bread machine to allow you to see the progress of your bread while it is baking.

There are a variety of options from which to choose in bread makers, so you may first want to consider how much space you have to store your new machine. Bread makers come in a variety of sizes, so choose one that you can store easily. You should choose the capacity of the bread maker based upon how big your family is and how much bread they eat. You can choose a bread maker with a delay timer which will allow you to place the mix in the bread maker before you leave home each day and the bread will be ready when you return. If you want your bread maker to prepare the dough but not cook it, you will need to find a bread maker with this feature. Choose a bread maker that will alert you when it is time to add additional ingredients such as fruit or nuts. You will also want a “keep warm” feature in case you are gone when the bread is finished. Look for crust control features and special setting for fruits, nuts, cheese, and vegetables.

Study the warranty very carefully to make sure you will be able to get service and replacement parts if necessary. Keep in mind that if your family consumes a small amount of bread now, once you purchase your new bread maker that consumption is likely to increase dramatically. Choose a slightly larger size that you anticipate needing. Remember that the keep warm feature is great, but if you leave the loaf in the bread maker for an extended period of time it may become soggy and flat. A bread maker is a wonderful addition to your home. Nothing compares to the smell of freshly baked bread from your very own kitchen.

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Barbeque

Barbecuing: A Quintessential American Tradition

Next to baseball, nothing says summer like the sizzling sounds, enticing aromas, and mouth-watering flavors of barbecuing. In fact, according to a recent survey commissioned by Hormel Foods and conducted by Harris Interactive®, 90 percent of respondents2 agree that barbecues make them think of summer.

Where does America barbecue? According to the survey, 89 percent prefer to hold family barbecues in their backyards, compared with 3 percent who prefer a public park or picnic area. Barbecues are a great way to bring the family together, entertain friends and family and enjoy the summer nights-right in the backyard!

A few simple tips, courtesy of Hormel Foods, can make your next grill-out even easier:

• Marinating musts: Marinating meat adds flavor and tenderization before cooking. Every marinade should contain an acidic ingredient, such as vinegar or wine; an oil, such as olive or canola; and seasonings, such as herbs and spices. For a no-mess solution, try a pre-marinated variety of Hormel® Always Tender® pork.

• Barbecue in bulk: Got leftovers? No problem. Barbecue meals freeze well, and often become more flavorful when the sauce and spices are reheated at a later date. Once you have fired up the grill, cook as much as your pit can handle since your food will maintain its flavor for future meals. Then thaw, reheat and just add sauce for a delicious leftover treat.

• Fire up a fast-cooking feast: To spend more time with guests instead of the grill, choose a pre-cooked variety of barbecue meat, like Lloyd’s® barbeque fully cooked ribs, which cuts cooking time to less than five minutes. Just heat and eat!

• Deck out your deck: Minimal meal preparation time gives you a chance to focus on the details. To make your barbecue spectacular, set the mood by hanging lanterns around the yard, blending a signature summertime cocktail and presenting the meal on brightly colored plates.

Now that the days are long and school is out, it’s easy to step outside and cook dinner on the grill. A relaxing backyard barbecue dinner will melt the stress of the workday away. Your family will love the meal, and you’ll love the convenience.

Categories
Barbeque

Barbeque Techniques: Two Methods to Consider

When it comes to barbequing, there are two main schools of thought for the techniques that you can use.

The first of these techniques – and the most popular method for those who grill in their back yards – is the style where the food is cooked directly over the source of heat. This way, the food is rapidly cooked on a hot grill suspended directly over the charcoals, the wood, or the gas burners. Rarely is the lid ever closed. Any foods, including the most tender cuts, hamburgers, steaks, kabobs of all kinds, chicken, and even vegetables are quickly seared and cooked to perfection using this technique. If sauces are desired, they can be added before hand, during the cooking process, or even after the food comes off the grill. These choices will all create different and enjoyable tastes and flavors.

The second barbeque cooking technique uses heat indirectly. This is more appropriate when you’re cooking much larger or whole cuts of meat, such as especially thick steaks, roasts, a whole hog, or a pork shoulder. When you’re cooking using this method, the food is cooked away from the actual source of heat. This usually requires a water pan of some kind in order to maintain the moisture level of the food. The temperatures generally sit in around 250ºF. During this cooking method, the lid of the barbeque remains closed most of the time, and the length of the cooking is much longer than in the first method. When you’re using an indirect barbeque cooker, there is usually an additional fire box that allows you to combine charcoal and wooden logs for burning. This allows the heat and the smoke to rise through the cooking chamber where the meat is, so that it is heated perfectly. The rule of thumb of this technique is a low temperature for a long time.

No matter which method you use, it’s important not to cook your meat too quickly. If the internal temperature of your meat rises too quickly as you cook it, the water and the fat within it will be expelled before the collagen is able to melt. This means that your cut will be dry and tough. However, you cannot cook too slowly or you will risk a bacterial contamination. Though there is a fine line for barbequing properly, it’s important to find that line and stick to it.

If you’re already dealing with a cut of meat that is tough, such as a brisket or a pork roast, consider cooking slowly as the collagen adds flavor to the meat. If you buy a less tough, more expensive cut, you can cook at a higher temperature for a shorter period of time. This is why ribs and steaks take such a short time to cook, while pork shoulders or beef brisket can run up to 20 hours.

As a final note, it’s important to have fun while you barbeque! Your pleasure will come through in your cooking as it will leave you motivated, and willing to try new and interesting things.

Categories
Winter cooking

Stay Energized during the Winter with These Ten Foods

There’s just something about winter that is very draining. Perhaps the indoors and the cold does it, or maybe it’s the lack of sun. Feeling energized during the winter is just hard to do. Couple that with illnesses that like to breed during the winter months, and you probably find yourself dragging and looking for a pick-me-up. Here are some foods that will keep you energized all winter long, and really all year long.

Ten Foods That Energize You in the Winter

  1. Water. You can’t forget to stay hydrated in the winter months. While it’s easy to remember to drink your eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day in the summer because you’re thirsty, you might need to force yourself to drink water more in the winter. Staying hydrated will keep your energy up, but that doesn’t mean with coffee either. Caffeine seems like the natural solution to energy, but remember it’s a drug and its effects will only last for so long. Stick to the water.
  2. Nuts. With plenty of protein and magnesium, this is a great choice for a midday pick-me-up. Some good ones to try which will help pick you up and improve your mood are almonds, walnuts, or Brazil nuts. Pumpkin seeds are also a good source of energy-rich minerals. And since pumpkins are in season this time of year, you can get them pretty cheap. When you carve your pumpkins this year, save those seeds and roast them to snack on all winter long.
  3. Whole grains. Start your morning off with a nice steaming bowl of oatmeal. The fiber and B vitamins make it the perfect breakfast choice. And who doesn’t love a nice hot bowl of oatmeal on a cold winter morning? Brown rice, whole wheat pasta, and whole wheat bread are also great energy-rich foods to eat throughout the day and help keep your energy up.
  4. Leafy greens. You need iron to help transport and store oxygen in the body, which is what you need for energy. Spinach, lettuce, and broccoli are great choices. Make yourself a veggie smoothie if you’re looking for an afternoon pick-me-up. Don’t discount celery in those leafy greens either. Ants on a log are a fun snack to have which will really help keep you energized during the day.
  5. Fresh fruit. An apple a day does more than keep the doctor away. Apples, blueberries, and bananas are perfect fruit choices. Blueberries might be hard to come by in the winter, but apples are a great fall and winter fruit. There are so many ways to enjoy fruit, too. A smoothie, added to your cereal, or a fruit salad and you have a delicious treat that will give you the energy you need throughout the day.
  6. Lean meat and fish. Chicken, pork, turkey, and lean ground meat are all great sources of iron. And much like with the leafy greens, you want that iron to help store and transport oxygen in the body to keep you energized. Salmon contains riboflavin, protein, niacin, and Vitamin B6, which all have energy-converting properties. Poached salmon is a quick and easy way to prepare this energy-rich food.
  7. Legumes. Lentils, beans, and peas contain iron, protein, and magnesium, making them a great food for energy. Chickpeas and black beans are full of fiber which slows down digestion. This helps keep you full and energized longer.
  8. Eggs. What a great way to start out your day with an egg. Once upon a time it might have been recommended that you not eat an egg every day, but they have such a high amount of protein in them that it is the perfect energy-fueled breakfast. No matter how you prepare them, it’s the perfect choice to start your day with plenty of energy.
  9. Yogurt. Greek yogurt is really becoming popular and there’s a reason for this. The amount of protein you consume from Greek or low-fat yogurt will multiply. And the probiotics in yogurt will help keep you healthy and keep your immune system strong.
  10. Dark chocolate. Satisfy your sweet tooth with this treat. Make sure it’s dark chocolate, though. The caffeine in dark chocolate will give you that initial pick-me-up, but then it just keeps on giving. It helps increase blood flow to your brain and contains antioxidants, magnesium, and iron. So it’s really a natural choice to fill your cravings and give you energy.

If you eat these foods throughout the day, then there’s no doubt you will feel energized and able to get through the long winter months without a problem.