Tips For Cooking With Asparagus

Most people regard asparagus as an ingredient that needs to be cooked with caution. Here are a few helpful tips on how to cook with this vegetable.

Begin by buying asparagus right. Select asparagus spears that look a fresh and bright green and that have compact but firm tips. If you need to cook with asparagus that has slightly wilted tips, firm them up by soaking them in cold water for a few minutes.

After buying fresh asparagus, you need to keep it in a moist place till you are ready to use it. Frozen asparagus can be kept in the freezer. Remember not to defrost frozen asparagus before cooking. Once you’ve taken the frozen asparagus out of the freezer, do not refreeze it. You can store asparagus in the freezer for a maximum of eight months. If you are using the canned variety, it should be stored in a cool and dry place.

Asparagus is a versatile vegetable and lends itself to various food combinations. You can top steamed asparagus with sour cream, mayonnaise or yogurt. You can also infuse herbs like parsley and tarragon into melted butter and pour the mix over asparagus. Fresh asparagus works well with a squeeze of lemon juice.

Asparagus goes best with dry white wines such as Chenin Blanc, French Colombard or Fume Blanc. After trimming asparagus, do not discard the trimmed ends. These can be pureed and used in soups, stews or sauces.

Asparagus can be cooked in several ways. If you are cooking on the stovetop, you can steam fresh asparagus by boiling it in a small quantity of water until tender. This should take about five to eight minutes.

If you want to steam asparagus while in an upright position, tie the stalks together with a string. Make the stalks stand straight in a double boiler so that the tips stay an inch or so above the salted, boiling water. Cover the double boiler and cook for about five minutes or until tender.

For stir-frying asparagus, start by chopping the spears diagonally into half inch pieces. Keep the tips whole. Next stir-fry the cut pieces in a skillet containing hot butter or olive oil over a medium heat. It should take about three minutes for the asparagus to tenderize. Stir-fried asparagus should be soft yet crisp.

Fresh asparagus can be cooked in a microwave in a baking dish or even in a serving bowl. Place about a pound of asparagus in the cooking dish. If you are using whole asparagus spears, keep the tips in the center. Pour in about a quarter cup of water and cover the dish. Cook at 100% power for 5 minutes. Turn over the spears half way through cooking. Reduce the cooking time by about a minute if you are microwaving cut pieces or tips.

Frozen asparagus can be cooked in the microwave by placing it in a covered microwaveable dish containing about two tablespoons of water. The cooking time is about five minutes at …

How to Make Healthy & Delicious Baby Food

Making homemade baby food puree is simple, easy, and is very healthy and nutritious for your baby! You can save a lot of money by making your own food and your baby will love it! All you need, at a minimum, is a blender or food processor for pureeing, ice cube trays for freezing, and freezer bags and / or storage containers. There are other products available for making baby food at home such as tiered steamers, food mills, ice cube trays with lids, and other gadgets that can make preparing baby food easy (or more difficult depending on your cooking skills!). The Kidco Electric Food Mill has been my best friend in whipping up fresh batches of baby food. However, I've used standard blenders for pureing as well.

Here is how to make puree out of most fruits, vegetables, and meats:

1. Cook the desired food by baking, steaming, boiling, or microwaving.

2. Remove the food and allow to cool down a bit, reserve a little of the cooking liquid.

3. Transfer the food and cooking liquid (or you can use plain water or breast milk if you wish) into a blender or food processor and puree the food.

Note: You can use plain water or breast milk instead of the cooking liquid. However, vitamins see out into the water while cooking, so adding the liquid is a bonus.

4. Remove the food and serve immediately to your baby or freeze in ice cube trays for up to 2 months.

That's all there is to it! …

Easy Christmas Cookie Recipes – Merry Cherry Drop Cookies

These delightful cookies are bursting with cherries, nuts and spices.

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

4 eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3 1/2 cups walnuts, chopped

3 cups maraschino cherries, chopped

2 2/3 cups raisins

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and brown sugar. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one. Beat in the vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg; gradually add to creamed mixture. Stir in the walnuts, cherries and raisins.

Drop by tablespoonfuls 2-inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let cool.

Makes 168 cookies.

=> Easy Christmas Cookie Recipes: Coconut Macaroon Cookies

These coconut cookies are a long-time holiday favorite.

2 1/2 cups flaked coconut

1/3 cups all purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray.

In a bowl, combine coconut, flour and salt. Add milk and vanilla; mix well (batter may be stiff).

Drop by tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool.

Makes 18 cookies.

=> Easy Christmas Cookie Recipes: Cream Cheese Delight Cookies

These delectable cheesecake cookies are guaranteed to melt in your mouth.

1/2 cup butter flavored shortening

1 (3 oz.) Pkg. cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

Maraschino cherries or candied cherries, halved

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray.

In a small mixing bowl, cream together shortening, cream cheese and sugar. Beat in the egg yolk and vanilla.

In another bowl, combine the flour and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture.

Drop by teaspoonfuls 2-inches apart onto prepared baking sheets.

Top each cookie with a cherry half.

Bake for 12 to 15 minute, or until lightly browned. Cool completely.

Makes 24 cookies. …

How to Properly Clean a Whole Shrimp

Before cooking the shrimp, it is very important that you clean it first no matter how fresh or frozen it is. If you want to know the ways on how to clean whole shrimp you must prepare the needed equipments such as the plastic toothpick, plastic bag, colander, and gloves if you do not want to risk hurting your fingers.

If you would not clean fresh shrimp but a frozen one instead, see to it that the shrimp has thawed completely. Shrimps can be cooked easily so never use your microwave when defrosting the frozen food. Once the shrimp is completely ice-free, you can start taking out the unnecessary parts. Hold it at the middle part and pull out the head if you do not want to include it when cooking. Some people also take out the short hair-like part just benefit the body of the shrimp. Those were not actually hair but their feet. Take out the soft covering that serves as their shell and the tail if you wish. The parts that you would have to remove actually depend on you and on the dish that you would prepare using the shrimp as the main ingredient.

You can also remove the veins when you clean fresh shrimp as well. A small toothpick will help you take the veins out. A paring knife will also help you take the veins if you want something sharper. When buying it fresh, you can ask them to devein the shrimp for you so you would no longer go through the hassle of deveining it. Anyways, they know the best techniques on how to clean whole shrimp than you do.

By the time you are done cleaning and deving the shrimps, you can put it in a bowl. Then use cold water to wash it thoroughly. This is to make sure that the leftovers and other parts will be removed as well.

When you try to clean the shrimp it is important that you do the process with care. Unlike other meats, shrimps are very vulnerable and can be minced immediately if not handled gently. Buying fresh shrimps and cleaning it on your own is actually more advisable than buying the pre-peeled or frozen shrimps in the market. The flavor and the storage life of the shrimp will last longer compare to the frozen meat or pre-peeled that are readily available for cooking. …

Roasting Tips for a Moist and Tasty Turkey

There are many methods used to cook a moist and tasty Roasted Turkey. Most methods rely on basting. The turkey can be based every 30 minutes with a basting bulb, or covered with cheesecloth soaked in butter. Other methods include brining the turkey (soaking in a salt water solution for 8-10 hours), or injecting a basting solution into the meat. Whatever method you prefer, proper roasting is key to tender moist meat.

Completely thaw the turkey. Start early and thaw the turkey in the refrigerator or in a place where the air temperature is no higher than 40 degrees. A 20-pound turkey takes about two or three days to thaw completely. Be sure the turkey is thawed completely, until no ice appears in the inner cavity and the meat is soft. Be careful: If the inner cavity is still frozen or even partially frozen when you put the turkey in the oven, the outside of the bird will be done before the inside, and the inside temperature will not be hot enough to destroy disease-causing bacteria , or if it is the outside meat will be discharged out before the center is done.

Remove the neck and giblets from the cavities. If this is your first time cooking the turkey, be sure that both cavities are emptied. Reserve the neck and giblets for use in preparing the giblet gravy, if desired.

Prepare the stuffing. If you are preparing the stuffing early, mix only the dry ingredients. It is recommended that you cook the stuffing separately, but if you do stuff the turkey, do not stuff it until you are ready to roast it. Stuff the cavity loosely. Do not pack it. If you choose to cook the stuffing separately, you can place a quartered onion and some celery leave and other desired herbs in the cavity for flavor.

Prepare a basting sauce. I prefer to baste with melted butter to which I add fresh or dried herbs. You can also baste with a mixture of wine and butter. Baste the turkey with your sauce and place a loose tent of aluminum foil over the turkey to prevent the skin from burning before the turkey is cooked. This tent will be removed during the last 45 minutes or so of cooking. If you are using cheesecloth, soak the cheesecloth with the baking sauce and place over the breast and drape onto the thighs. When using cheesecloth, you do not need the foil tent. Baste the turkey every 30 minutes during roasting.

Roast your turkey at 325 degrees for the recommended time for the weight of your turkey. These times are approximate and should be confirmed with a meat thermometer. Be sure to check the thermometer about 3 / 4th of the way through the time indicated so as not to overcook. Dry meat will result if the turkey is overcooked. The following table gives approximate times for roasting turkey at 325 degrees F.

Estimated Cooking Times

Wt. of Turkey Unstuffed Stuffed …

What Kind Of Food Preserver Do You Like To Use

We have a FoodSaver that I really enjoy to use when it comes to preserving food that I know I would like to eat later. But when you do get a foodsaver see that it is the one that you would like to work and would be easy for you to handle. I'm not real impressed with the roll storage, not bad for occasional use, but not real handy for production use. Adjustable seal times can be helpful. As long as it has a manual seal, adjustable seal time, and handles 11 "bag material, it will work. At least you can control the amount of time that you will need to seal your food or what kinds of food that you are sealing It Just depends on what you are sealing!

Now, if you can find one, there are other nice machine but some are expensive. I'm working on a custom mount for my foodsaver to minimize the problems associated with "high moisture" dishes. Oh, by the way, the newer models seem to have a defect moisture trap, that's another feature to check out.So that when you do open your food it will have moisture. Some of the foodsavers do not have that kind of features. You may end up eating something that is really dry.

My favorite TV show last evening, which is very well made and very thorough. I plan to use it for myself, at a single client location and for use by up to five of my Sunday afternoon culinary students to take their class projects home. Large department stores typically have a good price, including some of the top models. You can even go online to find vacuum bags and other accessories, I have found you can often get them cheaper there, even than large department stores.

Some of the department stores do not like to carry the vacuum bags because not to many use the foodsaver. A lot of people just like to use zipplock bags or other things that is just easy for them. They just want to take the time out to pull out the foodsaver and take the time go thourgh all the stuff after a long day of cooking and dealing with all the clean up mess. They would just like to clean and put away as fast as they can.

I have a FoodSaver and know that it'll smoosh the tar out of it if it's not partially frozen, yet when I put it in a rubbermaid, there is so much surface area exposed to air it worries me. I leave the meatloaf whole so it will not get crushed during the process.

When I do meatloaf, either leave it whole and double wrap it in heavy duty foil suggesting to the someone that they slice it cold prior to reheating or I make mini-loaves in muffin tins. They are the perfect single serving size for kids, require half the cooking time, and are easy to wrap and package …

What is Food Dehydration?

Preserving food by drying has been around as long as man has been hunting and catching his prey. The hunters would lie out pieces of meat and let the sun and wind dry them out naturally in order to have food for the future. This process would dry out the food, preventing the growth of microorganisms and decay. Everything needs air and water, and bacteria are no different. By drying, bacteria and microorganisms can not survive in the food. In addition, a hard exterior forms to help new microorganisms from entering the source.

Evaporation is the key to dehydration as all water is drawn out. The simple scientific principal behind the reasoning is that there is no way for a biological action to take place without water or air. Enzymes can present themselves in the form of bacteria, fungus, or naturally occurring autolytic enzymes within the food itself but without a source of food, they quickly die.

Throughout the centuries, people have denied the practice of food dehydration but have added several methods to obtain the same results. In addition to sun drying, there are now bed dryers, shelf dryers, spray drying, freeze drying and commercial food dehydrators. Your household oven can even be used as a tool to draw out moisture from a variety of foods.

Every culture in the world uses dehydration. Dried cod was a form of protein for many generations in Europe and the West Indies plantation owners would provide their slaves with the dried, salted fish. Jerky is well known today, made from beef and deer meat. Dried and salted reindeer meat is a traditional Sami food. Saltwater is used to pickle the meat for a few days then it is laid in the sun when the temperature is below freezing. Fruits are good candidates for drying, turning grapes into raisins. Mushrooms are great for storing to use in meals and are much more flavorful than canned. Vegetable bulbs, like chilies and onions also work well but most vegetables, however, are not due due to the removal of critical vitamins.

The most popular method of drying today by far, is using a food dehydrator. A food dehydrator is simple to use, dries the contents evenly, quickly and takes the guesswork out of how long and what temperature is recommended. It provides the heat source high enough to guarantee that microorganisms are unable to grow; airflow to circulate the dry air and even provides trays for holding the food while drying. The ease in preparation makes cooking so much easier and also more economic. Using dried fruits in recipes are wonderful when fresh is not readily available and kids love dried fruits and jerky for treats. No preservatives make dried food a healthier way of eating.

Food dehydration is the perfect solution to keeping food from spoiling and enjoying the taste in the days or months to come. It is not unusual to see treated foods with a shelf life of a year and is quick …

Tips & Gadgets For People With Multiple Sclerosis Or Other Physical Disabilities

Sometimes life has a way of putting some seemingly insurmountable physical challenges in your path, especially if you are in a wheelchair. I like to think of myself as a problem solver, able to sometimes “outsmart” the problem by thinking outside of the box. A time when I had to use this “I can do this” mindset was an Easter dinner several years ago.

Easter was two days away and the whole family was coming for dinner. If I was going to get the ham thawed in time, I needed to get it out of the freezer and into the refrigerator. I decided I could get the ham on the counter and I would ask my daughter to put it in the refrigerator when she visited that evening. Good plan; the only thing is my daughter came and went and the ham never crossed my mind. Now I had a real dilemma. The ham could not sit out all night and I was not expecting other guests that evening. Every time I tried to lift the ham from my lap to the refrigerator shelf, it would drop. Now it was time for some creative problem solving. To overcome this obstacle, I created a transfer board out of a cookie sheet. I put one end of the board on my lap and one end on the shelf. All I needed to do was slide the ham up the cookie sheet to the shelf. Voila! Sometimes we just have to go about things in a different way to accomplish the task.

MS has provided me with enough challenges to last a lifetime but it has helped me realize how difficult and exhausting even everyday tasks can be. Unfortunately, sometimes these challenges are not evident to the people around us. The suggestions presented in this article are an attempt to help families understand how they can help a physically limited relative or friend. Or, these thoughts might give you insight into how to become more self-sufficient.

TIPS TO INCREASE SAFETY AND INDEPENDENCE IN THE KITCHEN

MS has forced some of us to deal with issues of limited strength and dexterity, poor vision or balance, or lapses in memory. Any and all of these problems can make it difficult and unsafe to accomplish tasks that are necessary in the kitchen. In most cases, the longer someone can be safely independent, the happier they will be.

How families can help:

  • Think ready to grab, heat and eat. If some Good Samaritan fixes a large quantity of something, have it stored in the freezer in individual serving containers. Then, it can be microwaved and eaten from the same container.
  • Microwave diner plates with covers allow you to make a plate with multiple items and then freeze it. This would be a way for a family member to offer help. Just save a serving of each dish from a meal created for members of your household. Then, when ready to eat, it just has to be thawed

What Catering Supplies Do New Caterers Need?

When it comes to catering supplies, there are a lot of options to consider. If you are thinking about starting a catering firm, then this article should help you decide which catering supplies you need in order to run a smooth and efficient – and indeed successful – catering firm. There are a multiple of things to consider in order to make food preparation as easy and fast as possible.

As we are focusing here on supplies for catering, we will dispense with looking at ovens and related heating / cooking equipment, as this area could demand enough attention for an article itself. It is of course essential for the running of any kitchen, but here we will concentrate on catering supplies only.

When it comes to supplies for catering it is the smaller items that are important. But just because they are small, that does not mean they are unimportant. Indeed, without the small things, catering firms can not function properly.

For catering firms that go out on the road and serve people at events such as festivals and sporting events, it is important to have a large supply of catering supplies. A lot of these are likely to be disposable items such as paper plates, trays and cups – as well as plastic forks and spoons – all of which need to be delivered in huge numbers in order to meet the demand that is likely to exist at such events.

Catering Clothes

In order to meet with strict national rules on hygiene in the arena of food preparation, caterers should ensure that there is a sufficient number of appropriate items available for staff members. Among catering supplies there should be enough chefs / cooks jackets, kitchen trousers, aprons and hats. All of these ensure that there is minimal skin or hair contact with food, elevating the general standards of hygiene.

Other supplies for catering that are crucial to the success of any catering firm are utensils; knives and forks, ladles, peelers, can openers, kitchen tongs and turners. Some of those who more conscious about costs would say that buying the cheaper options is preferable. While this notice has some merit, it has to be pointed out that such utensils will be used for a significant amount of time and there before investing the very best is worth considering. Well known, durable brands are likely to better deal with the daily demands of the kitchen.

These are just some of the main catering supplies that are crucial for the success of any catering firm. …

How to Cook Different Types of Squash – 4 Low Calorie Squash Recipes

Seemingly infinite in size, shape, color and taste, there is one thing all of the different varieties of squash share: flavor! But when it comes to cooking different squash varieties, many are in the dark. Fear not – let this guide on How To Cook Different Types of Squash: 4 Low Calorie Squash Recipes show you the wonderfully healthy possibilities of squash recipes.

Sweet Butternut Squash and Apple Casserole
Butternut squash is packed with nutrients, so give it a try instead of the usual sweet potato casserole. It gives you the same great taste with less fat and calories, plus there are tons of tart apples in this dish!

Serves: 8

Preparation Time: 15 min

Cooking Time: 45 min

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash, 2.5-3 lbs.
  • 1/4 cup margarine
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • pinch white pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons buttery spread
  • 2 pounds Granny Smith apple, unpeeled, sliced
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 cups corn flakes or Fiber One Cereal
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons melted margarine
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

Instructions

  1. Measure 3 cups of cornflake cereal and then put through a food processor to make coarsely chopped crumbs. If you already have a box of crushed cornflake crumbs on hand, then use about 2/3 cup.
  2. Cut squash in half lengthwise. Scrape out seeds and steam 30 minutes, or bake on foil, cut-side down, in 350 degrees F oven until tender. (If baking, it will take approximately 40-45 minutes.)
  3. Scrape out pulp and mash or beat in mixer or processor until smooth. Add butter, brown sugar, salt and pepper; set.
  4. Slice apples very thinly. In skillet, melt buttery spread and add apples. Sprinkle with sugar and cover, simmering until barely tender. Spread in an 8 or 9 "casserole and spoon squash mixture evenly over apples.

TOPPING: Mix all ingredients (corn flakes, pecans, melted butter and brown sugar) and spread over squash and bake in 325 deg. oven for 12-15 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Flavor-Packed Gratin Squash
Summer never tasted so delish with this flavor-packed squash gratin. With a cook time of just 20 minutes, you will not be wasting your summer indoors cooking when utilizing this summer squash recipe.

Serves: 4

Cooking Time: 37 min

Ingredients

  • 3 cups sweet potato, diced
  • 2 tablespoons butter substitute
  • 2 cups summer squash, zuchhini or butternut squash, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4-6 scallions, chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups milk, coconut milk or soy milk
  • 1 cup cooked or canned red beans or cannellini beans, drained
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped or 2 teaspoons, dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves, ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup Gouda cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Put the sweet potatoes in boiling water; cover and boil for about 5 minutes, then drain and cool.
  3. Melt the butter substitute in a saucepan and add the summer squash, scallions and garlic; saute for 5-7 minutes.
  4. Add the milk, beans and