Sunday, November 27, 2011

Tips How to Have a Coffee Themed Kitchen

Have you always wanted an Old World style kitchen with a coffee shop theme? You can do it in your own kitchen with only a few tips. Read on. You can make your kitchen classy, elegant, or very simple, but a coffee theme must include the basic model... a coffee atmosphere; inviting, accessible, and pleasant to the eye. Only a true dyed-in-the-wool coffee lover is brave enough to take the plunge, and create a beautiful, warm, and inviting coffee atmosphere that will incite rave reviews. If you are confident, go for it!

When one thinks of Old Word Theme... one thinks of Italian! Enhance the coffee theme with your favorite coffee maker. The Bialetti espresso maker screams Italian and is a good place to start. You can purchase a Bialetti at your favorite online retailer somewhere between $20-$30. Some 2-cup models are less than $20.00 and make wonderful espresso. The Bialetti electric cappuccino maker, the Bialetti Mukka Express will retail for around $85.00.

Another inexpensive theme-based accessory for a coffee kitchen is coffee-themed wall-paper border. A fresh coat of paint and a wall paper border works wonders. If you feel really creative and your budget allows the splurge, try wall-papering only one wall with a coffee theme and apply the border to the remaining three painted walls one inch down from the top of the ceiling. Or, simply apply wallpaper border all the way around the kitchen at the top to draw the eye upward if your ceilings are eight feet high or 1-1&1/2 inches down from the ceiling if your ceilings are over eight feet in height. Some decorative cup hooks under the top set of cupboards creates an accessible and decorative look.

If you do not wish to drill holes in the bottoms of your cupboards, a decorative cup holder is a great alternative and serves the same purpose. I prefer the cup hooks as the cup holder stands tend to get in the way when it comes time for clean-up. Enhance the Old World look of your kitchen further with decorative coffee mugs, a sugar bowl, with cream pitcher set. A small china cupboard with your favorite coffee displays will always be a hit.

An additional way to create a coffee themed kitchen is to install a booth in the kitchen to simulate a 1950's coffee shop. An Italian coffee theme will fit very well with the coffee shop booth. Add a vase of fresh flowers and you have a dreamy coffee themed Kitchen.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Tips How to Make Delicious and Cute Cake Pops

Cake pops are cute and delicious treats and are great alternative for traditional cakes. They are specially great for any kind of parties. There are thousands of options how you can make your cake pops look and taste like. But how to make them? Everybody has seen those cute little pops at Starbucks. Next I'll explain how you can make your cake balls look just as cute at home.

The easiest way to make these treats is by using the Bake Pops pan, which you can order online for a bargain price. Using this pan will save you a tons of time and it's super easy to make these treats with it.

You simply have to follow these three easy steps: First you mix up your favorite cake mixture just simply fill the pan with it. Second you close the lid and let them cook in oven. Third you let your cake pops to cool down and decorate them how you want. That's how simple it is when using Bake Pops pan.

Off course there is also the traditional way to make them. It takes a lot more work and time to make these treats the "old" way. You have to start with baking the cake and when it's done, you have to crumble the cake in small crumbs. Then you have to add frosting to your cake to make it moist. Be careful to not make it too moist because then it's hard to get it to stay on the sticks. Refrigerate your mixture for about 30 minutes until firm and make small balls out of the mixture after that. Lastly insert sticks and decorate how you like.

I have made cake pops both the easy and the hard way. I have to say that the taste is pretty similar both ways but with Bake Pops pan your cake pops come out much cuter. That's because with the pan, balls come out equally round every single time.

So I recommend using the easy way. I'm using my Bake Pops pan almost every weekend with my family. Great way to spend a nice Sunday night with your loved ones making easy, cute and delicious cake pops.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Healthy and Hassle Free Cooking

Summary: Cast iron cookware is the latest buzz as people are now understanding the benefits and features of using these units. They are available in a wide range and variety.

Cookware has been used a long time and many variations have been added to offer the best quality cookware to individuals. But the cast iron cookware is something that is commonly used, and liked by many, even though the iron pans and pots have been eclipsed for newer styles and technologies.

No oil fuss with iron cookware! A great benefit of cast iron cookware is that it requires less or no oil for cooking. As the pans and cookware are seasoned, they are even non-sticking and so users can enjoy low calorie food. For all those who are health conscious and limit themselves to using oils and butters, the cast iron skillet, woks and griddles are the perfect choice.

With a wide variety of cookware to select from, including different sizes, and shapes can easily handle the toughest jobs. The most commonly used cookware includes woks, griddles, skillets and pizza pans. As they are made from heavy carbon materials, they require little attention when it comes to greasing as natural iron perfectly serves as the non sticking surface.

Why to opt for cast iron cookware? As heavy metal, it is indeed indestructible. In other words, this sort of cookware may be used for generations and with the same level of efficiency as the time they were purchased. Also, the iron cast cookware selection is less expensive than the modern counterparts and you can even save time when it comes to cleaning iron pans and pots. The greatest benefit of cast iron utensils is that they distribute heat evenly and thus eliminate cold and hot spots that you may find on stainless steel and aluminum. Some of the other benefits associated with using these cookware items include:

. Serve as great heating conductors 
. When well maintained, they can last for a life time 
. Strong and durable 
. When seasoned properly, they work just like the non stick pans 
. Are great to retain heat even when the outside temperature changes 
. When you use the enamel coated cookware, you can take them directly from the over to the table 
. Can even be used on stove and are oven safe

Indeed, the cast iron cookware is the kind of cooking units that have proven their nutritional value. These in turn offers health conscious people real comfort in enjoying healthy and calorie free food. Heat retention power is what cast iron cookware features. More so, as these units retain heat, they offer the best heat retention feature, after you remove them from the main heat source. Also they are perfect for serving as the food stays hot for a long span of time. Golden brown pancakes or correctly seared meats are surely the outcomes of using the cast iron cookware in your kitchen. The amazing heat retention quality of these units are the perfect way to enjoy slow simmering and tasty stews and soups.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Making Tasty Meals Daily

Do you have a difficult time coming up with new dishes to make for breakfast, lunch and dinner? You are not alone because many individuals are dealing with this same issue each and every day. If you are not a culinary chef with access to the finest foods, spices, and cooking utensils in the world, how can you prepare distinctive tasty meals for two or three times each day, seven days per week?

This is a tough question to answer because most people have busy lives, and the time and energy to cook just does not seem to be available. This is why most households are dealing with Repetitive Food Syndrome. This pattern comes from making the meals that require absolutely no thought. This usually includes any pre-packaged food that you can boil, fry, or bake in 20 minutes or less.

People will get into the habit of making repetitive dishes if they have small children or very demanding jobs. As making a living becomes more important, making tasty meals regularly becomes less important to them. Some people may feel as if there is no way around this, but by making a few adjustments, these individuals can create a variety of tasty meals that will not take up much of their time.

Purchase a Cookbook. Purchasing a cookbook does not mean you cannot cook. It will not hinder your creativity in the kitchen either. All it will do is give you ideas so you can add variety to the meals you currently cook.

Expand Your Ingredients. Experiment with ingredients and spices that you would not normally use. You may find these ingredients at farmers markets and specialty stores. This will help you add a different taste to the foods you cook.

Take a Cooking Class. If you enjoy ethnic food or, like many people, want to learn to cook healthier meals, consider taking a cooking class. The main dishes, side dishes, and desserts that you will learn to cook will surely allow you to add variety to your regular menu.

Use Creative Presentations. Making a dish look pretty is part of adding variety to the meal planning. Using garnishes and other decorations can make the meal look more appetizing. This is a good strategy, especially when it comes to kids!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tips for Learning How to Cook Different Styles of Food

When it comes to cooking, there are so many great dishes we can make. From appetizers to entrees and soups and desserts, the options are endless. Not to mention, cooking from home allows us to see exactly what we're eating, can help us eat healthier and give us a good hobby to work at.

If you're interested in learning how to cook different styles of food, consider these tips below:

Videos: Looking for a more affordable option when it comes to improving your cooking skills? If so, videos are a great thing to consider. With the help of videos, you can watch step by step directions for certain dishes, and can also learn basic tips for preparation, an easy clean up and learn which tools you need in the kitchen. It's common for us to not even know which instruments to use or even what certain instruments do. As far as videos go, you can either rent them from the library or you can watch them online. Videos can be free; it just takes some time to search for the ones you want.

TV: Whether or not you have a TV in your kitchen, it can be helpful to watch a few cooking shows here and there. Not only are you investing in better cooking skills, but you can also learn how to make good dishes to eat as a family. Since we all like certain things and have different taste buds, we can learn how to modify our meals to what we like.

Cookbook: The great thing about cooking is that you can find all sorts of great books available. From checking books out from your library to going to your local book store, you can find a book on just about everything. So whether you'd like to find books on how to create good Chinese dishes or even books on good hand hygiene and how to avoid spreading germs in the kitchen, there is a book for everything.

Cooking class: It's also a great idea to take a cooking class with your spouse or even a close friend. Cooking classes can teach you all the basic skills and can get you out of the house for an afternoon. From learning the importance of using hand sanitizer after touching raw meats to learning how to avoid dry, overcooked dishes, you can learn all sorts of helpful things in the kitchen. Not to mention, if you're married, this is a great thing you and your spouse can work at together.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

How to Cook the Best Red Beans

Red beans and rice are a staple food of Louisiana. We usually eat them once a week. When I went to school, we had them on the lunch menu every week. Now, there maybe some other group of people that eat them more than us, but I haven't met them. And besides all that, we make them the best in New Orleans.

Red beans, like all beans, are hard and dry when you first start with them. The first thing you want to do is wash them and pick out the bad beans. Skip this step and you will have Aunt Mary out to get you for leaving a funky bean in your red beans. After you wash them you need to soak them over night. Soaking them will soften them because the water is absorbed into the bean. This will also make them become larger.

There are a few ingredients you will need to make your red beans really stand out. You definitely need some rice and smoked sausage. In addition, you need onions, bell pepper, and spices. The spices will be combined to make a dry mix that you will add to the beans. The spices consist of onion powder, garlic powder, dry mustard, thyme, cayenne, chili powder, salt and pepper. For all of the spices you use one to two teaspoons per pound of dry beans, except for the salt, pepper, and cayenne. You should use these according to your taste and your specific diet needs.

Once you have the dry spice mix prepared and you have chopped 2 medium onions and 2 green bell peppers, you need to drain the beans and put them on the side. In a 5 quart pot, heat up a table spoon of olive oil, placing the onions and bell peppers in after the oil just starts to smoke. Cook the onions and bell pepper for 6 minutes or until they are brown. After this, lower the heat and add the soaked red beans and stir in the spice mix. Be sure you coat all of the beans with the seasoning mix.

Next, you want to add 3 cups of water to every cup of red beans. For one pound of beans you would add six cups of water. Turn up the heat and bring the beans to a boil. While the beans are heating up, you need to cut up the sausage and pan fry it in olive oil. Then add the sausage to the beans. Once the beans start to boil, cover them, reduce the heat to medium low and cook for 2 - 2 1/2 hours or until the beans are fork tender. Stir the red beans occasionally, being sure to move the beans on the bottom of the pot. Also, check the water level as they are cooking. You want to keep a bit of a soupy quality to the mixture.

Once the beans are fully cooked, take a cup of them out, blend them, and add them back. This is the secret to making your beans creamy. If you want them to be creamier, just blend up some more. An alternative to blending them, and the technique that I use, is to get a big fork or spoon and mash them up against the side of the pot. Just make sure you mix the beans well when you are done.

The only thing left after all of your hard work is to serve them over rice, we use brown rice. Bread goes really well with red beans; so we always have fresh french bread or corn bread with them.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Some Tips for Preventing Food Poisoning

Food poisoning is one thing that people often worry about when eating food at a restaurant, especially if they have not eaten there before. While food poisoning is widely regarded as something that comes from food in a restaurant, or somewhere else outside of the home, keep in mind that food prepared within your own home can cause this problem as well. One benefit, though, is the greater degree of control you can have over the food prepared in your kitchen.

To reduce the risk of food poisoning, one must understand how the food poisoning process works. Coming down with a food-borne illness is a direct result of digesting food that has viruses, bacteria, and even parasites, which have developed on the food over time. While harmful bacteria and other "germs" are common in virtually any environment, a healthy immune system usually protects the body from becoming ill. When you introduce tainted food directly into the body, however, it becomes harder to combat.

Coming down with a food-borne illness typically leads to symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, and even vomiting. Food poisoning symptoms can appear either within a few hours or can take up to a few days to manifest; any timeline will greatly depend on the food that was digested, as well as how your body handles it. With that said, here are a few safety precautions that one must take in order to avoid this type of poisoning:

Know the Risky Foods

If you cannot control the foods that are handed to you such as dishes at a restaurant, you must know which kinds of foods that can cause this sort of poisoning. Food such as undercooked meats, raw produce, and even seafood are notorious for carrying viruses and parasites. Avoiding these dishes altogether can reduce your risk of food poisoning a great deal, but may be considered an unreasonable precaution for meat eaters. It is important to consider both your appetite for risk along with your literal appetite when making choices. However, if you ever feel your food is undercooked, never be afraid to send it back.

Always Wash your Hands and Food Contact Surfaces

Before serving any type of food at home, always make sure that you wash your hands properly and with antibacterial hand soap. You should wash both before and during preparation, especially after handling raw meat, fish, and poultry. Not washing your hands between handing raw meat and lettuce used in a salad, for example, can easily cross contaminate the salad. You also need to sanitize cutting boards, countertops, pans, utensils, and other surfaces that encounter food.

Use a Thermometer

When preparing and cooking items such as meats, use a meat thermometer to ensure that the inside of the meat is at an appropriate temperature. When cooking foods such as fish and chicken, the temperature should always be higher than 140 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. By reaching these temperatures, you will kill the vast majority of live bacteria or parasites.

Always Chill Food

The longest that raw meats should stay out of a refrigerator is two hours. It is best to either thaw your meats in the microwave, or let them sit in the refrigerator until they are ready to be cooked. When thawing food at room temperatures, be sure to set it down on a plate away from any other types of food and make sure that it does not touch the countertop.

Check the Expiration Date

Although this may sound obvious, it is crucial that you check the expiration date on the meats that are going to be prepped. All grocery stores and butchers will place a date to use by on all labels. Be sure to glance at these labels before cooking. If the meat has expired, do not gamble and try to cook it - play it safe and toss it out.