Tag: recipes

Maple Pecan Scone Recipe

Scones make an ideal companion to a morning cup of coffee or tea. Simple and delicious, this recipe for “Maple Pecan Scones” from Linda Collister’s “Quick Breads” (Ryland, Peters & Small) is ideal for scone lovers who want something quick to make in the morning.

Maple Pecan Scones

Serves 6

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

A good pinch of salt

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes

1 cup pecan pieces

1 extra-large egg

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

About 3 tablespoons milk

1 greased baking sheet

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Add the butter and rub it in with the tips of your fingers until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Mix in the pecans.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg with maple syrup and 1 tablespoon of the milk. Stir into the flour mixture with a round-bladed knife to make a soft, coarse-looking dough. If the dough is dry and crumbly and won’t stick together, stir in more milk 1 tablespoon at a time. If the dough is very wet and sticky, work in another tablespoon of flour.

Tip out the dough onto a work surface lightly dusted with flour and gently work it with your hands for a few seconds so it looks smoother. Put the dough ball onto the prepared baking sheet. Dip your fingers in flour and pat out the dough to a round about 11/4 inches thick and 7 inches across. Using a knife, cut the round into 6 wedges, but do not separate the dough before baking.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes until light golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and leave until the wedges are cool enough to separate. Serve warm the same day. The cooled scones can be wrapped tightly and frozen for up to 1 month.

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A Family Meal that Packs a Light, Flavorful Punch

Many people aspire to eat light meals that satisfy hunger pangs without creating feelings of fullness. Some may assume light meals must be lacking flavor, but the following recipe for “Silken Chicken” from Madhur Jaffrey’s “Quick & Easy Indian Cooking” (Chronicle Books) is light and packs that familiar flavorful punch that endears Indian cuisine to millions of people across the globe.

Silken Chicken

Serves 2 to 4

For marinating the chicken:

4 boned, skinned chicken breast halves (about 11/4 pounds)

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 teaspoon homemade garam masala (see below)

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground roasted cumin seeds (see below)

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed to a pulp

1/2 teaspoon peeled, finely grated fresh ginger

For sprinkling over the chicken:

Salt as needed

Freshly ground black pepper

A little homemade garam masala

A little ground roasted cumin seed

A little cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon dried mint flakes

Generous squeezes of fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to its highest temperature and arrange a shelf in the top third of the oven.

Cut 3 diagonal slits across the top of each piece of chicken breast, being careful not to cut all the way through and also not to go to the edge. Prick the chicken pieces with the sharp point of a small knife. Put them in a single layer in a large baking dish and rub both sides with the salt and lemon juice. Leave for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the cream with the garam masala, cayenne, cumin seeds, paprika, garlic, and ginger in a bowl. Stir this mixture well and pour it over the chicken. Rub it into the meat and leave for 10 minutes.

Lift the chicken pieces up (most of the marinade will cling to them) and place them down in a single layer in a shallow baking pan lined with aluminum foil. On top of each, sprinkle a little salt, black pepper, garam masala, ground roasted cumin seed, cayenne, dried mint, and lemon juice. Put into the top third of the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until the chicken is just white all the way through. Serve immediately, minted side up.

Garam Masala

1 tablespoon cardamom seeds

1 2-inch cinnamon stick

1/3 of one nutmeg

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1 teaspoon black cumin seeds

1 teaspoon whole cloves

Place ingredients into a clean coffee or spice grinder and ground to a powder.

To make ground roasted cumin seeds:

Put 4 to 5 tablespoons of the whole seeds into a small cast-iron frying pan and set over medium heat. Stir the seeds and roast them over dry heat until they turn a few shades darker and emit a wonderful roasted aroma. Wait for them to cool slightly and then grind them in a clean coffee or spice grinder. Store in a tightly closed jar.

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Master Magical Marinades

Grilled foods boast inviting flavors that put many diners on the lookout for second helpings. Quite often the magic behind grilled meals lies in the marinade used to give foods that flavorful kick.

Marinades can be used to enhance the flavor of meats, vegetables and poultry. While marinades add flavor, they also may be responsible for some other benefits in grilled foods.

Marinades add flavor

Defined as a savory acidic sauce in which food is soaked to enrich its flavor, marinades help break down fiber and tenderize certain foods. The base of many marinades include vinegar, lemon juice or wine, and marinades can be enhanced with spices, oil and herbs.

It’s important not to let foods sit in marinades for too long, as any alcohol, acid or salt in the mixture can chemically “cook” the food in a process known as “denaturing.” Adhere to timing recommendations when using store-bought marinades, and keep such guidelines in mind when using homemade marinades as well. Many may tell you to let foods sit no longer than four hours. Marinades with citrus juices may require even less time for flavor to penetrate.

The timing of marinade use also will depend on the foods being marinated. Delicate items, such as seafood, may change with regard to texture or color in a matter of minutes.

It’s important to always marinate foods in the refrigerator. Food left sitting out on a counter – even when it’s in a marinade – invites the growth of bacteria. If a recipe calls for marinating at room temperature, continue to marinate in the refrigerator, but extend the length of time you marinate. This helps to prevent foodborne illnesses.

When marinating, use plastic or glass containers so the marinade does not cause a chemical reaction, which may occur if you marinate foods in metal containers. Discard all marinades for raw meats and poultry when the time comes to cook the foods, as leftover marinades may contain bacteria that makes them unsafe to reuse on other foods.

The nutritional benefits of marinating

In addition to flavor, marinades may improve the nutritional value of grilled foods. In 2008, researchers at Kansas State University discovered that marinating meat in antioxidant-rich spice blends can reduce the risk of forming heterocyclic amines, or HCAs, by more than 80 percent. HCAs are harmful, cancer-causing compounds that form when food chars over an open flame at high temperatures. Marinades must be rich in spices to have any HCA-busting properties.

Marinades are a secret weapon in the creation of tasty, tender and healthy foods. They come in quite handy when grilling, and add an extra dose of flavor when cooking over high heat.

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Give Boring Lunches a Big Boost

Lunch might not be the most exciting meal of the day, and conventional wisdom might not suggest it’s the most important meal. But that does not mean lunch has to be boring.

For those who tend to lean on sandwiches for their midday meals, straying from the sandwich norm can provide some variety and flavor. The following recipe for “Warm Tandoori Chicken Wraps” from Vicki Liley’s “Asian Wraps & Rolls” (Periplus) can make for a unique lunch for the whole family or even serve as an easily prepared dinner.

Warm Tandoori Chicken Wraps

Makes 6 wraps

1/3 cup plain tandoori paste

2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup plain yogurt

Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

12 chicken tenderloin fillets or 3 skinless, boneless chicken breast fillets

2 carrots, peeled

1 English (hothouse) cucumber, halved and seeded

6 pieces naan

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Leaves from 6 fresh mint sprigs, plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint

In a small bowl, combine tandoori paste, 2 tablespoons yogurt, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Put chicken in a baking dish. Pour tandoori mixture over and stir until chicken is coated. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Light a fire in a charcoal grill or heat a grill pan. Brush grill or pan lightly with oil. Cook chicken for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, or until juices run clear when pierced with a skewer. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Cut each tenderloin into 2 long strips (if using chicken breast fillets, slice each fillet into 4 long strips).

Using a vegetable peeler, cut carrot and cucumber into thin ribbons. To heat naan, follow instructions on packet. In a small bowl, stir 1/2 cup yogurt, garlic and chopped mint together.

Place naan on a work surface. Divide chicken, cucumber, carrot, and mint leaves among naan. Drizzle with yogurt mixture. Wrap the naan around filling and serve immediately.

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How to Make School Lunch Healthier

The benefits of a healthy diet are clear and well documented. In addition to providing the nutrients a growing body needs, consuming a balanced diet helps children maintain a healthy weight. Obesity continues to be a growing problem among school-aged children and can contribute to the onset of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, and many other adverse medical conditions.

Children attending school will eat at least one meal away from home each day. A healthy lunch provides sound nutrition to give students energy to do well in school and for the rest of the day. Children who do not eat well at lunch may have difficulty concentrating, while others may feel sluggish or tired.

As part of the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, the United States National School Lunch Program was revised to guarantee healthy, nutritionally sound choices, as established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, for lunch. America’s school menus were altered to be healthier than ever, including more fruits and vegetables while limiting calories. Despite some controversy through the years, including some students saying the smaller portions and food choices aren’t always satisfying, states suffering from high child obesity rates have seen marked improvements.

Canada is one of the few leading industrialized countries that does not have a national nutrition strategy to implement healthy school lunches. It’s estimated that only 10 to 15 percent of Canadian children have access to school meals. These meals are not provided by a well-funded national program, but by a patchwork of individual volunteer efforts, some provincial government funding and corporate donations.

Whether students purchase lunch from school or bring lunch from home, there are ways to guarantee a more diverse offering and better nutrition. Here are some guidelines to follow.

* Offer nutrient-dense foods. Foods should contribute to the daily recommended amounts of protein, iron, calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin C. Provide a selection of foods, such as lean protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, that will give children the nutrients they need. Nutrient-dense foods also help kids feel fuller, longer.

* Limit fat intake. Avoid foods that do not get their fat from polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Saturated fats can lead to obesity and clogged arteries. The American Heart Association recommends kids get no more than 25 to 35 percent of their calories from fat. Fish, nuts and olives are healthy fat sources.

* Let kids choose some of their food. Allow kids to pick some of the healthy foods they will be eating. Giving kids a say in their diets will make them more likely to enjoy their lunches and cut back on snack foods. Eating meals regularly will keep energy levels up during school and make kids less likely to reach for unhealthy snacks to fill hunger gaps.

* Make small changes that add up. Switching from white bread to whole grain breads, and opting for low-fat dairy products instead of full-fat dairy products can make a world of difference. Kids may not notice a change in texture or flavor, and many of kids’ favorite foods, such as chicken nuggets, pizza and macaroni and cheese, can be made with healthier ingredients.

* Remember, beverages count, too. Giving children a healthy lunch and then packing a sugar-filled, high-calorie drink negates your efforts. Calories from beverages can quickly add up. Water is always the best option for a healthy drink. Low-fat milk and real fruit juice consumed in moderation also make healthy alternatives to sugary beverages.

Offering healthy school lunches is an important step to raising healthy kids. New guidelines and offerings make it easier for kids to get the nutrition they need for their growing bodies.

Weekly Meal Plans May Save Money

Meal plans provide a clever way to save money on food. Knowing the meals that will be made and which ingredients need to be purchased for these recipes eliminates floundering and impulse purchases at the supermarket.

Knowing exactly what to buy and when also can eliminate food waste and spoilage. According to research from the University of Pennsylvania, people who can avoid impulse spending can save up to 23 percent on their grocery bills.

Planning meals in advance can also provide a host of health benefits. When meals are planned in advance, shoppers have more control over the ingredients they choose and can tailor them to specific dietary needs or healthy eating plans.

Fortunately, time-pressed individuals have a number of resources at their disposal to help them plan and shop for meals. A quick online search for weekly meal plans will yield many results, including recipes and complementary shopping lists. People also can download apps that help with meal planning to their smartphones. Such apps include Yummly, Pepperplate and MealBoard, among others.

Another way for individuals to plan meals more effectively is to take a few moments on the weekend to think about which meals to make during the week ahead. Compare the necessary ingredients against those you may already have in your pantry. The rest can be purchased and saved for subsequent meals. Buying a week’s worth of groceries in one shopping trip is more efficient and can help to conserve fuel.

When planning meals, try to use the most perishable items first. For example, prepare to use seafood, some dairy items and fresh vegetables early in the week, and more durable foods, such as frozen, boxed or canned goods, later in the week.

When buying foots at the store, buy proteins in bulk and subdivide them into smaller packages to save money. Properly repackage foods so they will not spoil or become freezer burned, leading to waste. Other budget-conscious shopping tips include trying store brands, building meal plans around items that are on sale that week and making use of coupons or coupon apps.

Post a weekly meal plan on or near the refrigerator so items can be thawed and ingredients prepared as needed. Building meals around slow cooker recipes also can help those who like to prep foods in the morning and then come home to completely cooked meals. On busy nights, arrange for fast meals, such as sandwiches or one-pot creations.

By planning meals in advance, home cooks never have to stand in front of the pantry wondering what to make.

Master Magical Marinades

Grilled foods boast inviting flavors that put many diners on the lookout for second helpings. Quite often the magic behind grilled meals lies in the marinade used to give foods that flavorful kick.

Marinades can be used to enhance the flavor of meats, vegetables and poultry. While marinades add flavor, they also may be responsible for some other benefits in grilled foods.

Marinades add flavor

Defined as a savory acidic sauce in which food is soaked to enrich its flavor, marinades help break down fiber and tenderize certain foods. The base of many marinades include vinegar, lemon juice or wine, and marinades can be enhanced with spices, oil and herbs.

It’s important not to let foods sit in marinades for too long, as any alcohol, acid or salt in the mixture can chemically “cook” the food in a process known as “denaturing.” Adhere to timing recommendations when using store-bought marinades, and keep such guidelines in mind when using homemade marinades as well. Many may tell you to let foods sit no longer than four hours. Marinades with citrus juices may require even less time for flavor to penetrate.

The timing of marinade use also will depend on the foods being marinated. Delicate items, such as seafood, may change with regard to texture or color in a matter of minutes.

It’s important to always marinate foods in the refrigerator. Food left sitting out on a counter – even when it’s in a marinade – invites the growth of bacteria. If a recipe calls for marinating at room temperature, continue to marinate in the refrigerator, but extend the length of time you marinate. This helps to prevent foodborne illnesses.

When marinating, use plastic or glass containers so the marinade does not cause a chemical reaction, which may occur if you marinate foods in metal containers. Discard all marinades for raw meats and poultry when the time comes to cook the foods, as leftover marinades may contain bacteria that makes them unsafe to reuse on other foods.

The nutritional benefits of marinating

In addition to flavor, marinades may improve the nutritional value of grilled foods. In 2008, researchers at Kansas State University discovered that marinating meat in antioxidant-rich spice blends can reduce the risk of forming heterocyclic amines, or HCAs, by more than 80 percent. HCAs are harmful, cancer-causing compounds that form when food chars over an open flame at high temperatures. Marinades must be rich in spices to have any HCA-busting properties.

Marinades are a secret weapon in the creation of tasty, tender and healthy foods. They come in quite handy when grilling, and add an extra dose of flavor when cooking over high heat. TF167209

How Bulk Cooking Can Make Meals Easier

Healthy family meals can get lost in the shuffle of busy schedules. Convenience may win out when parents are short on time, and it’s hard not to be enticed by the ease of fast food or the lure of frozen foods. While these options are certainly fine on occasion, there is a more nutritious solution for time-crunched families.

Planning is a big part of enjoying a homecooked meal, and cooking in bulk can help families enjoy more homecooked meals. By thinking ahead about meals, you can more easily enjoy homecooked dinners than if you were to wait until the last minute to think about what’s for dinner.

If bulk cooking is a foreign concept, the following are some resources to help you along.

· Get started by browsing cookbooks, online recipes or speaking with friends and family members about their favorite meals, especially those that may be popular with younger eaters. Concentrate on a specific meal each day. Dinner is the meal many families hope to share, as breakfast and lunch are often eaten outside of the home. Make a list of the ingredients that go into your family’s favorite meals, selecting recipes that use many of the same ingredients.

· Wait until you have a free schedule and ample time to go to the store to shop for all of your supplies. Have a list on hand and check off each item as you find it. Cooking in bulk also means you can buy in bulk. Very often bulk-size foods are discounted, saving you both time and money. Shop for the staples that are needed for most meals, including fresh herbs, cheese, spices, oil, and whatever flavorings your family finds most appealing. Large bags of rice and potatoes also are handy to have available.

· Take advantage of warehouse club membership fees or manufacturer or store coupon deals on multiple buy specials. Buying jumbo-sized packages of food makes more sense when you intend to cook in bulk.

· Clean out the refrigerator and freezer, as you will need plenty of room to store your ingredients, and later, your prepared meals. Figure out when you will be doing the cooking so you know what will need to be refrigerated or frozen once you return from the supermarket.

· Establish a dedicated cooking day. Many bulk cookers cook on the weekend. You may be able to have a spouse or friend take the children for the day so there will be no interruptions.

· Gather all items that need to be chopped or sliced and set them aside. Leave ample time to chop or slice, which can take a lot of time. Use all of your available cooking resources, such as the grill, stovetop, oven, and slow cooker, at once. Then just drop the ingredients in as necessary.

· Have plenty of freezer-safe storage containers on hand. Divvy up the meals into containers and label clearly. Now each day of the week you have a fast meal that can be heated up in no time. Fresh bread and a salad may be the only other components you need.


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How to Bake Healthier Treats

Baking can be a relaxing and rewarding pastime that parents can share with their children. Baking promotes a variety of skills, including the ability to follow instructions and make measurements. Baking also employs mathematics, making baking a rather delicious science experiment. Perhaps one of the few pitfalls of baking is indulging in too many sweet treats when taste testing and then enjoying the fruits of your labors.

But bakers concerned about their health can substitute healthy ingredients when recipes call for foods bakers would prefer to avoid. The following ingredients can make healthy additions to baked-good recipes without sacrificing flavor.

· Whole wheat flour: Flour is at the heart of many baking recipes, including those for cakes, cookies and pies. Refined white flour may not be the healthiest ingredient, so try whole wheat flour, which is full of nutrients and an extra dose of fiber. Fiber can help lower the risk for heart disease and diabetes. Try slightly less than one cup of whole wheat flour for regular flour as a swap if a recipe calls for one cup of flour.

· Fruit puree: When a recipe calls for oil, margarine, butter or shortening, consider replacing such ingredients with fruit purees, which often add moisture and texture just as well but without the same amount of calories. Applesauce and prunes can be helpful in chocolate dishes. Pumpkin or sweet potato are other purees that can add a nutritional boost as well.

· Greek yogurt: Greek yogurt is a powerhouse of protein and flavor with relatively few calories per serving. It can make a super substitution in recipes for things like sour cream, buttermilk or even cream cheese.

· Applesauce: Believe it or not, unsweetened applesauce also can replace some or all of the sugar in a recipe. When doing a 1:1 ratio swap, reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by 1/4 cup.

· Marshmallow or meringue: Ever check the nutritional information for many store-bought cake frostings? They pack a considerable amount of calories, sugar and fat. Some also are made with hydrogenated oils. Consider using a marshmallow fluff or homemade meringue to top cupcakes or decorate cookies.

· Stevia: Stevia is an herbal plant that grows primarily in South America. Stevia has a long history as a sweetener in that area, and now has become a popular sugar substitute elsewhere. Stevia is an all-natural, no-calorie, no-carbohydrate sweetener. The FDA approved only the purified form of stevia, called stevioside. Remember to check each brand’s sugar-to-stevia ratio to make sure you get the right measurements for your recipe.

· Egg whites: Replace a whole egg in a recipe with two egg whites or 1/4 cup of egg substitute.

· Chocolate nibs: Nibs are processed morsels that do not have the same amount of added sugar as many chocolate chips. Dark chocolate nibs can provide a healthy dose of antioxidants as well.

· Evaporated skim milk: Try evaporated skim milk in place of heavy cream to make whipped cream for a low-fat option.

Baking brings family together, and the treats prepare can make an enjoyable finale to a great meal. With healthy substitutions, any recipe can be altered for the better.


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Tips for Perfectly Grilled Vegetables

One of the highlights of the summer season is the incredible bounty of fresh produce, and grilling these vegetables gives them a smoky, delicious dimension. Chef BBQ Naz, a grilling expert from Broil King, shares some simple tips for flavor perfection.

* When preparing vegetables, slice them to expose as much of the vegetable to the grill surface as you can.

* Coat vegetables with olive oil before placing them on the grill. This will help prevent them from sticking to the grill.

* Use the right tool for the job. Accessories like grill toppers and skewers are perfect for keeping smaller foods like cherry tomatoes and onions from rolling around or falling through the grate.

* Don’t leave vegetables unattended. Vegetables are delicate and can easily overcook if not monitored.

* Grill extras. Leftover grilled vegetables are great in soups, salads, sandwiches and on pizzas and pasta.

When grilling vegetables, consider this popular recipe.

Grilled Zucchini Rolls

Ingredients

3 medium zucchinis, sliced 1/4-inch thick, lengthwise

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 ounces chevre (soft goat cheese), at room temperature

Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Pinch of kosher salt

2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, oil-packed and minced

1 teaspoon oil from the sun-dried tomatoes

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Directions

Preheat the grill on medium.

Brush both sides of sliced zucchini with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place on the grill and cook for 4 minutes per side.

When cooked, set on a wire rack to cool.

In a small bowl, combine the chevre, salt, pepper, sun-dried tomatoes, oil and thyme.

Using a small spatula, spread the cheese mixture thinly over one side of the zucchini. Lightly roll the zucchini, and place seam side down on a small, parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Place baking sheet on top rack of the grill for 15 minutes.

Remove to a platter and serve.

Additional recipes and a complete vegetable grilling guide can be found at www.broilkingbbq.com.


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