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Cookies that keep you on the "nice" list

When baking cookies for the holidays at home, there are ways to help the calorie count that won’t sacrifice flavor. Try these tips to stay on Santa's nice list...and you looking good this holiday!

Fat is the number one issue for many people. One half of the butter in a recipe can be replaced with applesauce, Greek yogurt  or prune puree. If baking a sweet bread like banana, you can replace all the butter with applesauce for a moister, denser bread. Mashed avacado can also stand in for half your butter and results in a softer, chewier cookie.

Salt of land and sea

Salt of the earth? Sea salt? Which is better and what’s the difference?

Nutritionally speaking, the difference in salts is really in the minerals they contain which will vary by location. China is the largest producer of salt, followed by the USA, but countries around the globe have salts of varying colors, tastes and mineral components.

Salt has a strong presence in our culinary and ancient history. Man’s relationship with salt goes back to ancient times, with writings of salt being used in ancient Babylon and Egypt.

An apple a day

Fall has arrived and that means apple picking season. Many of you probably have your favorite orchard to visit, or can easily find one not too far from home. Now that you have decided to go...what kind of apples shall you get? I love thisvisual guideto apples as a starting point. It is always wise to speak to the growers to find out what they have at peak season when you visit their orchard to get the best selections. 
So you fiound the good apples, you buy a bag or two, and get home. Maybe even enjoy an apple on the ride home.

Summertime Suppers

Summer time is notorious for easier meals, hot hazy weather and little desire to cook big meals. So how does one continue to eat healthy, balanced meals when you'd rather be at the beach, or are glued to the A/C? 
One option of course is the grill. We all know how to grill a burger or hot dog, maybe even some shrimp. Try some different glazes instead of the typical BBQ sauce. Anapricot glazefor chicken,rum glazefor shrimp and apork glazewith a buzz (works on beef too)But do you grill your veggies too?

More Peas Please

Peas in a pod or pea pods? Sugar or snap peas? Black-eyed peas and field peas?   Want more peas? Please! Like peas in a pod, we line up for dinner to see those little green spheres on our plate. Some of us relish them, savor them with butter or a little mint. Others, well they try to hide them in their mashed potatoes. So why eat peas and which ones to choose?

I hope I can decipher the pea family for you a bit here....then perhaps encourage you to try more of them, especially in the spring when they are oh so good!

For the love of food.....

If you are like me, you love to eat. If you are lucky, you have someone to love in your life....a valentine of any sort to share food with. But what to share? There's chocolate and those candy hearts, a plate of spaghetti or a glass of wine....but isn't that almost cliche? Here are some ideas to break away from the expected and spice up any romantic evening. I referred to several writings on sensual foods (there were many), including one on http://www.gourmetsleuth.com, About.com and an article in the Seattle Herald.

Winter Warmers

It's winter. It's cold and dark. The holidays are upon us, but perhaps the spirit is missing? Well, here are some holiday "spirits" to lift your mood, warm your toes, and maybe even put a smile on that bah humbug face of yours.

Eggnog.A classic Christmas drink made from eggs, milk, cream, nutmeg, and vanilla, bourbon, and brandy. Rum can also be used or left out for those underage drinkers in the home. There are hundreds of variations, including flavored eggnogs, eggless eggnogs, and even vegan eggnogs.

Pumpkin Pie Throwdown

LastThanksgiving, I continued my Throwdown studies with a pumpkin pie challenge. Bobby Flay took on Michele Albano in CT in a pie challenge. Michele made a fresh pumpkin with Maple flavors and pecan Struessel. Bobby used canned pumpkin in his pie and a graham cracker crust, resulting in boos from the crowd. Bobby had a Bourbon Maple whipped cream, while Michele served a maple whipped cream on her pie.
In my kitchen I did use canned pumpkin in both of my pies. (Sorry Michele). The taste test took place at the dinner table and the results were mixed.

Oh Great Pumpkin

October brings Pumpkins, Ghosts and Halloween.....but only a pumpkin will nourish you.

Did you know that pumpkin is edible? According toIntervale Farmin Maine   these are the best edible pumpkins:

Baby Pam,Long PieandWinter Luxuryare favorites for pies.  The
Small Sugaris the traditional, standard pie pumpkin weighing 3-6 pounds.

Snack Jack- For gourmet roasted seeds, this is the best pumpkin.  This small pumpkin produces about 3/4 cup of hull-less pumpkin seeds. 
Recipe:Mix fresh seeds with olive oil, garlic, and seasonings such as garlic pepper and salt.

Heirloom Tomatoes

Summer time brings a bounty of good things to eat, as you probably can tell by all the farmers markets popping up. One thing that we can look forward to in August is tomatoes.

As a native New Jersey girl, I will always hold a fond memory of Jersey tomatoes.....red, luscious, full of flavor and overly abundant. But I live a bit further north these days, and rely on my local farms. Tomatoes come in all shapes and sizes, from grape to cherry, plum to beefsteak. And then there are those funny looking heirloom tomatoes.
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