What to Look for When Buying a Pasta Cooker

Pasta is one of those foods that could be incorporated in many recipes. A pasta cooker is a must-have in every kitchen whether you’re cooking pasta for a cool pasta salad or a warm winter meal. Cooking pasta is easy. But there’s certainly more to it than adding it to boiling water. Therefore, you should know what to look for when buying a pasta cooker.

To help you get the best pasta cooker, you may want to consider a few things to consider:

Construction

Plastic and stainless steel are the most popular construction materials of a pasta cooker. Depending on the method of cooking, you may want to buy one of each type.

Cooking Method

If you are planning to make plenty of cool pasta salads especially during summertime, you may want to consider buying a microwave pasta cooker. For cooking pasta during the fall and winter months, you can choose to have the stovetop method because the hot water adds moisture to the air and warms up the kitchen a bit.

Clean-up

Cooking pasta is not a messy task. In fact, cleanup is very easy. But depending on how fast you like to finish and just relax after, a dishwasher-safe pasta cooker may be on top of your list.

Features

Though pasta cookers are simple to use, there are some features that will make pasta preparation easier like serving measurers, steamer baskets, and straining lids.

No matter what the season is, there’s a huge selection of pasta recipes to surely entice your taste buds. It’s important that your pasta turns out right to not ruin the whole meal. This is the reason why getting a good pasta cooker is crucial.

Things to Look for When Buying a Potato Baker

If you want to make a quick meal, you may want to include baked potato on your menu. An undercooked potato could ruin your meal. Therefore, it’s important to purchase a potato baker that will suit your needs and your cooking style. You should know what to look for when buying a potato baker.

Before buying a potato baker, you may want to consider a few tips:

Cooking Method

When you think of baking potatoes quickly, you think of using the microwave. The stove-top method is a good idea.

Construction/Finish

There are three types of finishes that you may want to consider for your potato baker: non-stick finish, sturdy graniteware finish, and the plastic finish.

  • The non-stick finish is reserved for the metal-base, potato baker which could be used using an electric or gas stove.
  • The graniteware finish is versatile and could often be freezer, microwave, and dishwasher safe.
  • The plastic finish is a very common type and mostly used in microwave method of cooking.

Size/Servings

Depending on the potato baker that you have, you could cook from a single potato up to 4 potatoes at a time.

Whether you prefer to use the microwave or the stove top when baking your potato, it’s important to know what things to look for when buying a potato baker to save both time and money.

 

How to Choose the Perfect Potato

Do you know the perfect variety of potato in making mashed potato? What about the right potato for baking? Does it really make a difference which type of potato to use when preparing a particular recipe or are all potatoes created equal?

It may be surprising to know but it really does make a difference in what type of potato to use when cooking. Using the perfect potato for the recipe could result in a dish that’s comforting and very delicious. Use the wrong type of potato and it will result in a dish that’s edible but not as good as you know it could be. It could mess up your entire meal.

Which types of potato is used best in different methods of cooking? Here are some tips to help you in choosing the perfect potato for your dish:

  • For hundreds of years, mashed potatoes have been a comfort food. If you choose the right potato, it will give you smooth and creamy potatoes with the right amount of lumps. The best type of potato to use is one that is waxy. Yukon gold, white rose and red rose potatoes are also good for making mashed potato. They aren’t as starchy. Don’t use russet or Idaho potatoes because they are too starchy. They may result in your mashed potatoes becoming mealy than smooth.
  •  Potato salad is another dish that many people love. Since the potatoes need to be boiled, you may want to use the same variety of potato that you use when making mashed potato. Choose one that’s less starchy and you’ll have a perfect potato salad.
  •  Baked potatoes have a crisp outside but they are white fluffy on the inside. Unlike mashed potatoes or potato salad, you want baked potatoes that are starchy and that will result in fluffiness in the inside. Russet potato is a perfect choice to make baked potatoes.
  •  If you want to make homemade French fries, choose potatoes that are very starchy like a russet or Idaho.

Not all potatoes produce the same texture when cooked. Therefore, you should spend some time and effort in choosing the right potatoes if you want to make your dish perfect.

Different Ways of Using Radishes in Summer Recipes

Radishes can be found in stores all throughout the year. But often, they could be found in gardens around the country. Many people enjoy eating it raw but there are also other ways of using radishes in summer recipes. Continue reading and you’ll learn more about how to use radishes in your meals.

Did you know that radishes have been cultivated and eaten for thousands of years? Radishes were originally found in China and they spread and enjoyed both in Egypt and Greece. In 1629, they were first cultivated in the United States. They were first grown in Massachusetts.

There are different varieties of radishes that include California mammoth whites, daikon, black, red globe, and icicles, and many others.

Cut the radishes into slices. Then, add them to your next tossed salad. You could eat the fruit and leaves of the radish. Its leaves don’t taste as spicy as the radishes themselves.

Stir fries are also a good way to use radishes. Slice the radish thinly and add scallions. Sauté them quickly until they turn light brown. These could be added to your fish tacos or spooned over your favorite dish.

For quarter larger radishes, coat them with olive oil and you favorite seasoning. Roast them in an oven and set it at 400 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes or until fork tender. Then, add the radishes to the roasted potatoes and make a potato salad. You’ll have a potato salad with a twist.

Make a sharp and peppery relish using radishes, orange zest, lemon, butter, salt, sugar, and pepper to taste. This could either be added to fish or meat. You may even use it as bread spread and serve with your favorite cheese.

Are you looking for an alternative to your usual potato chips? Slice 10 radishes thinly and place them in the microwave and steam them for about five minutes. Season them with 1 teaspoon of chili powder, ½ teaspoon o garlic salt, and ½ teaspoon of paprika. Transfer them to a baking sheet and bake them for 10 minutes. Flip the radish chips and return it to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes. You’ll have a delicious and crispy radish chips.

There are other summer recipes that use radishes as ingredients. Read your favorite cookbook or search the internet and you’ll surely find something interesting and tickle your taste buds.

Peaches Are Not Just Perfect for Dessert

Nothing beats a homemade peach ice cream or a peach cobbler. But there’s probably so much more about peaches that you don’t know. Not only does it make perfect desserts.  Peaches can be added to create savory dishes.

Most of the peaches that are sold in the United States come from Georgia, California or South Carolina. It’s best to get them while they’re in season and use them immediately. But you can also dry or freeze them so you can use them any time you like to. Peaches are a good addition to any diet and they do not have to be eaten just for dessert.

To enjoy peaches, peel them and cut them in half. Brush them off with olive oil and season to taste with a bit of salt and pepper. Place the peaches on a preheated grill. Grill both sides of the peaches for about 3 minutes. Then, remove them from the grill and place them on dish. Grate fresh parmesan cheese over them. Serve and enjoy.

If this doesn’t sound appealing to you, you could try grilled peach salsa. It’s prepared exactly as above but without putting any pepper. When both sides of the peaches have been grilled for about two minutes, remove them and allow them to cool. Then, slice the peaches and add some red onions, finely chopped. To complete the grilled peach salsa, add chopped mint and freshly squeezed lemon.

If your family enjoy pasta salads especially during summer time, roast their favorite veggies along with halves of peaches and place it in a 450 degree oven for about 25 minutes. Toss with vinaigrette and add your favorite pasta. You’ll surely have a savory peach dish that your family will always love.

Though most people think that peaches can only be prepared as desserts, there’s no reason that they’ll be prepared that way. You can try it with a twist. Try something new that your family will love. There are so many ways to use peaches in every dish. Just use your creativity and the entire family will surely enjoy the dishes just as much as they enjoyed your peach cobbler.

Asparagus Pasta Salad

Asparagus Pasta Salad

Asparagus has an interesting and unique taste. Most people either love it or hate it. If you haven’t tried eating asparagus yet and you want to try making a dish with asparagus as the main ingredient, it’s pretty easy. You could make a delicious recipe even if it’s your first time to try it.

Like most fruits and veggies, asparagus is best eaten when fresh. But before buying asparagus, there is one very important thing that you need to consider. Make sure to look for young shoots because they are tender. When an asparagus matures, you may not really like the taste because it may taste kind of like woody. But if you have bought a mature one, it’s simple. Try removing the portion of the stalk and base before using it. If you can’t find fresh asparagus, you can also use the canned version.

This recipe is good as it is but if you want a twist, you could dress it up by adding some sun dried tomatoes, cooked chicken, pecans, snap peas, or other ingredients you prefer to add.

If you prefer a unique flavor, you can roast the asparagus instead of sautéing it.

Asparagus Pasta Salad

Ingredients  

 

½ c. olive oil

1 lb. fresh asparagus (1 can if fresh isn’t available)

2 tbsp. garlic powder

2 tbsp. onion powder

1 lb. penne pasta

2 tbsp. dried rosemary

2 tsp. seasoned salt

1 c. mayonnaise

Directions:

Cook the penne according to the instructions on the package. Then, drain and transfer it into a serving bowl.

Asparagus Pasta Salad

Remove the woody parts of the asparagus and cut the remaining parts into 1 inch pieces.

Heat the oil using a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. When the skillet is heated, add the asparagus and sauté it at about 5 minutes until crisp. Add the garlic and onion powder and continue cooking for another 1 to 2 minutes.

Asparagus Pasta Salad

Add the cooked asparagus to the pasta. Then, mix.

Asparagus Pasta Salad

To prepare the dressing, add the mayonnaise and the seasoned salt and rosemary in a small bowl and mix well.

Asparagus Pasta Salad

Pour the pasta and fold until everything is well-coated.

Refrigerate until chilled and ready to serve.

Hate Asparagus? 5 Reasons You Might Reconsider

 

Our last post was on how to make homemade Icecream, so I thought we should probably move onto a post about something a little healthier.

How about asparagus? If you’re like me, you may have thought you disliked asparagus for most of your life. As it turned out, I had never given this delicious vegetable a fair chance. Once you know how to cook it and use it properly it may become one of your favorite vegetables.

Asparagus has always been considered somewhat of delicacy and served in high-end restaurants around the world, but did you know that it has also been used medicinally for thousands of years in Asia?

Asparagus contains a compound known as saponins which are believed to fight cancer and to reduce inflammation.  In addition, asparagus also contains vitamin K and B vitamins, which are vital for proper brain function.

To end up with well prepared asparagus you need to first start of with a quality ingredient.   You should try to get asparagus that is young and tender, but if you can only find the thicker and more woody variety you may have to peel the stocks to get the best result.

Try one of these preparations and see if it changes your mind about asparagus:

  •  One of the simplest ways to prepare asparagus is by steaming it. Simply put your asparagus into a covered pan with around a quarter cup of chicken broth. Set your stove to medium heat and let the asparagus steam for 5 to 6 minutes.  Remove from pan and toss with a couple tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and a dash of olive oil.
  • Try at in sliced asparagus to your favorite pasta dish. Simply peel with a vegetable peeler and give a quick sauté and a tablespoon of olive oil. Not only will this add another layer of flavor to your pasta but it will also provide a bright green punch of color.
  • If you have leftovers various there are a couple of different preparations that you can do. One of my favorites is to add the leftover asparagus to an egg omelette in the morning. If you want to get a little more creative, you can purée the asparagus and make a soup out of it.
  • My favorite preparations is grilled asparagus. You have to be a little careful using this technique because asparagus can get overcooked fairly easily especially if you are using very thin stocks. Heat your grill up to medium-high and cook the asparagus 1 to 2 min. on each side. Once grilled, brush a light layer of all oil and season with Johnny’s seasoning salt.

With all of the above cooking techniques to try and the health benefits that I explained above maybe now is a good time to give asparagus another chance.

photo by: bongo vongo

How to Make Easy Homemade Ice Cream

homemade ice cream at homeIce cream dessert is an American pastime that seems to never get old. Whether it’s soft serve, old style, in the cone, in a cup, or from the ice cream man,  this cold treat is something that family’s can enjoy everywhere. What most people don’t realize is that homemade ice cream is extremely easy to make. Not only will this help the family to save some money on dessert, but it is also a great way to make sure you are getting a healthier treat than what you might find at the store.

The first thing you need to do when learning how to make homemade ice cream is to find yourself a nice ice cream recipe. Since this is likely your first time, you may want to start with something basic like Chocolate or Vanilla flavored ice cream. As you get used to the process, you can advance on to other, more exotic, flavors. You can find ice cream recipes everywhere. They are in cook books, magazines, and online recipe websites. Just pick one a go with it. Most ice cream is made up of milk, sugar, and various forms of cream.

Once you have chosen the homemade ice cream flavor you want, it is now time to mix everything together. All you need to do is mix all of the ingredients in a big plastic bowl or deep baking dish. Feel free to begin mixing your concoction by whisking the mix with a fork. After a little while, you can switch over to a spatula or electric hand mixer to make things easier. When you feel that all of the ingredients for your homemade ice cream are mixed sufficiently as per the recipe, you can place the bowl or baking dish in the fridge to cool for thirty minutes. You want to cool the mixture in the fridge before placing it in the freezer so that the different ingredients have time to join together instead of freezing separately.

Now that everything has mixed together, you will want to remove the homemade ice cream from the fridge and quickly mix it again before putting it into the freezer. From here on out, the process is very simple. Just place your bowl or baking dish into the freezer and make sure it is covered well by tin foil, plastic wrap, or an airtight cover. Remove the mixture every thirty minutes and stir it up vigorously. The more you mix it while it is freezing, the creamier the homemade ice cream will be when it is finished.

Your fresh and easy homemade ice cream will be ready in about two hours. Once it is ready, you can feel free to serve it to the family immediately, or leave it in the freezer so that you can enjoy it later on. You can feel proud now that you have just made a treat that is both healthy and cost-conscious for your family. Homemade ice cream tastes great and is easy to make. You’ll be hooked after your first taste!

How to Make Homemade Butter

Always seen in old time movies, photos and magazine pictures of life in the “olden days” was the wooden butter churn sitting in the kitchen or on the porch. It was common practice for homemakers to make their own butter at the end of the 19th century.  In the beginning of the 20th century, innovative inventors started making the process of churning with a paddle, easier with machines that had a whirly gig handle, and of course butter started being manufactured and available at the grocers around that time too.

I wonder if people today, if they knew just how easy it was to make delicious butter from any type of cream available, would feel just a little bit guilty at throwing sour creams not perfect for dipping, or sweet cream just a little “off” for morning coffee right down the drain!

There are butter churns still around today for people who make their own, but making it in a blender or food processor is of course the fastest method.  What used to take muscle, endurance and about an hour with a wooden churn is now about a 5 minute process in a blender.  Here are the steps to making one’s very own butter (wow, wouldn’t that be cool to brag about?):

  1. Use any kind of cream: sour, sweet or recommended as the best is raw cream from grass-fed cows. Cream that has been previously cultured in refrigerator, but now room temperature is recommended.
  2. Blend, holding the lid of the blender very firm. After about five minutes, the butter separates from the buttermilk in little pieces.
  3. Stop and let the butter rise to the top.
  4. Pour off buttermilk, squeezing as much liquid out as possible by pressing butter with a spoon.
  5. You could stop right here.  You have made butter!  But “washing” the butter is better, so one more step.
  6. Pour ice cold water into blender with butter.  Blend for 30 seconds, then again pour off liquid.
  7. Mix in sea salt to taste and store in glass jars.
  8. You can experiment with butter by using different creams, different spices and different herbs.