Happy Mother’s Day!

mothers-dayMother’s Day is a special day for all the moms out there. It is a day where we get the chance to honor them and thank them for all the things that they’ve done for us. Mother’s Day is also a national holiday where a lot of countries celebrate it, too. With this, there is no greater way to celebrate this special day by celebrating it not only with your mother but with the whole family.

In honor of our friends on Moms Many Hats, we want send a special Happy Mother’s Day.  We have been following each other and sharing ideas over the last few months. As all mothers ourselves, we all know we wear many hats in our day to day responsibilities.  It is time to celebrate a job well done!  Enjoy these ideas and have a great Mother’s Day.

So here are some family activities that you could do during Mother’s Day:

  1. Have a weekend getaway. If your family is one of the adventurous ones, a weekend getaway is perfect for all of you. You could go out to spend your weekend in a resort or go for some rides in an amusement park. This is a great family activity especially if there are younger members in the family.
  2. Picnic. A family picnic can be a great way to have a family bonding during Mother’s Day. Just the cool breeze of the wind, the fresh smell of the grass and the blue sky will keep your mother relax. By having a family picnic, you can go on a park or if you have a backyard garden then you can do it there. Having a picnic with the whole family is a great way to maintain your bonding with all the members in the family. Your mother will be surely pleased if you will be the one who will plan and prepare for the picnic, and just let her relax. After the picnic, you can play some family games. An outdoor game or just a simple board game.
  3. Fun at home. You don’t need to go out to enjoy this special day with your mom. Even if you just stay at home, you could still enjoy this day with her. Some of the home activities that you could do is baking or cooking, this time you can ask your mom to teach you and this is a great bonding experience for the family. You could also do some crafts and be creative.
  4. Lunch or dinner date with the family. If you are planning something romantic or you are on a rush in celebrating this special day. You can still make it special by making a reservation on your favorite family restaurant. At this time, you would not think of a lot of things to prepare. Just make it a surprise for your mother to make it more special.
  5. Have a great family experience. If your type of family is an adventurous one and a family who loves sports, then this is a great activity that you could try on this special day. Go out for a hiking, biking, camping and a lot of great outdoor activities. This is a kind of experience that you could add on your family experiences.

These are just some of the common family activities that you could do during Mother’s Day. But there are a lot of other activities that you could choose from. Even if it’s simple, what is most important is that you spend these activities with your mother and your whole family. With just a simple activity, you can make your mother happy by being there on that special day for her.

Roasted Salsa Recipe

Everybody loves salsa and there are so many different varieties out there.  For most backyard cook outs or even a picnic, I love to bring along my favorite salsa.  The best thing about this recipe is it can be tweaked to suit your tolerance for heat.

Over time, I’ve increased the heat by changing up the chiles and I use a ton of cilantro. If we’re having guests, I often take it down a few notches by cutting back on the chiles.

Here’s what you’ll need:
• 1 medium yellow onion
• 14 ripe plum tomatoes
• 4-6 serrano chiles
• 6-8 garlic cloves
• 1 small bunch cilantro
• 2-4 canned or dehydrated chipotles
• kosher salt
• fresh lime juice

Here’s what you’ll do:
Place the tomatoes, chopped onion, whole garlic cloves, and serrano peppers in a glass baking dish (I also added a few habaneros.)  I have also tried this recipe with black beans and corn, they roast nicely.

Roast at 400 degrees for 40 minutes, or until the tomato skins split.

While the vegetables are roasting, remove the stems from the chipotle peppers (I often use dried chipotles, which I simply soak in hot water until they plump up).

Once the vegetables have cooled completely, remove the stems from the roasted peppers.
Place the roasted vegetables, chipotles, cilantro, and salt, pepper, and lime juice (to taste) in the food processor or blender and process until you achieve your desired consistency. (My food processor holds only half of the ingredients, so I do two batches.)

Transfer salsa to a bowl and allow sit for at least an hour. It takes a little while for the flavors to fully come together.

This salsa can be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

The great part about salsa is that you can use it to spice up any dish.  Add it to fish, pork, or even chicken dishes.  I have even used it in eggs.

Share with me some of your favorite recipes for salsa.  I love trying new things.

 

 

 

Hello Spring, Hello Grilling!

outdoor-grillingSpring is finally here and with spring comes grilling outdoors! Do you plan on buying your own barbecue grill for get-togethers, holidays or just for everyday grilling? Well, before buying any barbecue grill, you should first do some research about the best products available. Consider all factors; the type and quality of the product, materials used, operability, price and even warranties if there are any.

The most common material used to make a barbecue grill is stainless steel. Aside from the durability of stainless steel, products made from this material are also easy to clean and maintain. Stainless steel products last for a very long time. Stainless steel barbecue grills also require less time to heat up as compared to other grills made of different materials. Barbecue grills that are made of stainless steel are typically the best sellers.

There are four types of barbeque grills:

  • Gas Grills. This is the most common type of barbecue grill. You can use it indoors or outdoors whichever you want. This kind of grill can be used with propane or natural gas. Although using liquid propane is more convenient, using natural gas is more practical since it is cheaper. This kind of grill is actually really good for fast cooking/grilling. However, the main disadvantage of using this grill is that it doesn’t give that smokey flavor that barbecues are known for. If you are willing to sacrifice flavor for speed, then go for gas grills.
  • Charcoal Grills. This kind of grill uses charcoal to perfectly make tasty and savory barbecues. Charcoal grills however are time consuming. If time is not that of a big deal to you, then go for this kind of grill. It may take some time to fire up those meats, but the results are going to be mouthwatering and perfectly smoked barbeques. Charcoal isn’t very expensive either. Cleaning this kind of grill may be a turn off to some people. The ashes need to be removed after grilling to maintain the quality of the product.
  • Electric Grills. Electric grills are simply grills that are powered by electricity. If you live in the city and lovesto cook barbecues, this kind of grill is the perfect match for you. Charcoal grills are still the best grills for getting that perfect barbecue taste. However, charcoal grills can’t be used indoors. Electric grills are best for apartment uses. This type of grill is also very easy to operate.
  • Portable Grill. This kind of grill is best for picnics, camping and outings. Portable grills usually come in small sizes. There are different kinds of portable grills. There are portable grills that make use of charcoal, natural gas and even powered by electricity. Because this type of grill is small, you can only grill/cook food one at a time.

Barbeque is one of the best foods in the world. Everybody loves barbecue. Get the right kind of grill that would suit all your grilling needs. Enjoy barbecuing!

Fresh Strawberry Tart

Fresh Strawberry Tart Sliced/Fresh Strawberry Tart

Every year in my garden I grow strawberries, although I can never seem to gather enough for a delicious strawberry tart, the kind I dream about making each spring.

Maybe that is because I can’t resist the urge when I see a bright red, fat, juicy strawberry peeking out under a leaf to pick it. I swear those strawberries actually call my name. I should just ignore it, BUT I CAN’T!

I immediately hurry over, pick it, run to find the garden hose for a quick rinse and pop it into my mouth before anyone notices. It is sooooo…. good! And I feel so guilty!

That is why last week while running errands I just decided to pull into Gnisner’s Farm and pick my own. I got a cool cardboard box with their name on the outside and I could pick to my hearts desire all the red fat juicy strawberries I wanted. All 3 pounds of them. And finally, I could go home and make my fresh strawberry tart.

Fresh Strawberries/Fresh Strawberry Tart

Fresh Strawberry Tart
Sweet Pastry Crust

 

  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds, finely ground
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted after measuring
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour (spoon flour into dry measure cup and level off)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted, cold, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • One 9.5″ tart/quiche pan with removable bottom

Filling and Topping

 

  • 8 oz. mascarpone
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp. Grand Marnier
  • 1/4 cup apple jelly
  • 2 pints strawberries (4 cups, rinsed, hulled and thickly sliced)

 

 

For the Crust: Combine the almonds and confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse repeatedly until finely ground, about 1 minute. Add the flour, lemon peel and salt and pulse a couple of times to mix. Add the butter and pulse again repeatedly until no visible pieces of butter remain. Add the yolk and vanilla and pulse again until the dough forms a ball.

Invert the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap, shape into a thick disk and wrap. Refrigerate until firm.

strawberry tart dough disk/Fresh Strawberry Pie

Take the crust out of the refrigerator and let is loosen up a bit. Spray the tart pan with cooking spray. Tear a large piece of the dough off and with your fingers push the dough into the sides of the tart pan. Continue tearing off large pieces of the dough and pressing it into the tart pan evenly covering the bottom and sides with the dough. I use a small rolling pin to even it out.

strawberry tart crust/Fresh Strawberry Tart

strawberry tart pie crust completely formed/Fresh Strawberry Tart

After the crust is prepared, chill for several hours or overnight before baking. When you are ready to bake the tart crust, set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 350F. Pierce the chilled tart crust all over at 1 inch intervals with a fork. Line the crust, bottom and sides with a 15 inch disk of parchment or wax paper and fill with dried beans or other small weights.

blind baking beans/Fresh Strawberry Tart

Bake for 15 minutes and take out of the oven and remove the beans and parchment paper. Return to the oven and bake until the crust is brown and dry, 10-15 minutes longer. Take out of the oven and let cool completely.

strawberry tart crust baked/Fresh Strawberry Tart

For the Filling and Topping: Place the cream cheese and mascarpone in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed just until it is smooth.

strawberry tart cheese filling/Fresh Strawberry Tart

Arrange the berries over the filling in an attractive pattern. Place the jelly and Grand Marnier in a small saucepan and simmer over low, stirring constantly, heat until smooth. Remove from heat. Use a pastry brush to paint the jelly glaze over the fruit.

Remove the tart from the baking pan and place it on a serving platter. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Fresh Strawberry Tart

To serve, cut into wedges.

Fresh Strawberry Tart Sliced/Fresh Strawberry Tart

The finished tart is quite the show stopper and tastes even better than it looks. And with the delicious strawberries that I picked from Gnisner’s Farm, I can honestly say, it doesn’t get any fresher than this!

Who knows, maybe one spring I will wait and be able to boast about my own home grown strawberries in my tart. Yeah right! Did I tell you they actually call my name? Enjoy!

Top 5 iPhone Apps for the Amateur Chef

Cooking at home is by far the cheapest and healthiest way to eat.  If you’re good at it, you can quickly and cheaply make healthy, restaurant-quality meals in the comfort of your own home.  Unfortunately, cooking is a skill, and a lot of us (let’s face it) aren’t very good at it.  Cookbooks are fine, but they only get you so far.  Fortunately, modern smartphone science has your back – there are a number of apps that simplify the process.  So, next time, rather than just going out for fast food, try out these apps and see what happens.  You might just surprise yourself.

1.  How To Cook Everything - IOS - $4.99 / $9.99

Based on his famous, enormous cookbook, this app by Mark Bittman provides handy interactive recipes for literally hundreds of meals.  Whatever you want to cook, from pizza to duck l’orange is in there.  Better, the app allows you to search by ingredient, making it easier to make meals based on whatever you happen to find in the fridge.  The app also breaks down the details of food preparation for the culinary-challenged, with built-in timers, how-to drawings, and emailable grocery lists.

This app provides a sense of comfort for the mildly-incompetent home chefs among us.  If you trust the app and follow its instructions precisely, the food comes out great.  There’s no room for interpretation, and, thus, no room for error.

2. in the Kitchen – IOS – $1.99

A budget option compared to the previous entry, ‘In the Kitchen’ provides a “Deep Impact” to ‘How to Cook Everything’s “Armageddon,” if you see what we’re saying.  It’s developed by the food network, and isn’t quite as good as ‘How to Cook Everything’.  It is, however, a lot cheaper.  If you just want a replacement for your moldy old recipe book, and can handle the details on your own, this app will do exactly what you need for cheaper than a trip to the used book store.

3. Kitchen Math – IOS – $0.99

This app is one of those apps whose usefulness is hard to explain until you try it.  The app provides simple, fast conversions between all the various weird units of measurement that come up in cooking.  Over the course of your cooking lifespan, it’ll save you endless time doing tedious arithmetic.  The app also tells you exactly what temperature and time you need to cook meat for to achieve a desired level of doneness, eliminating a lot of guessing and possibly a nasty case of salmonella.

4. Harvest – IOS $9.99

Another simple, surprisingly useful app, this app is perfect for anyone who wants to eat well, but doesn’t know enough to distinguish bad produce from good.  This app provides a great tool that tells you which vegetables are in season, and provides an easy checklist to see if your vegetables are ripe, without squeezing all of the cantaloupes in the store.  For the health-conscious the app also provides a simple utility for determining pesticide levels in a given produce, to determine whether or not it’s worthwhile to buy organic produce.

If you’ve ever found yourself in the vegetable aisle trying to figure out what on earth constitutes an acceptable breadfruit, this is the app for you.

5.  Ratios – IOS – $4.99

Recipes are great!  They greatly simplify the cooking process and help you reliably make decent food.  However, sometimes you want to experiment and try something new.  This app helps you do that in a clever way.  Like an elementary physics text, this app provides fundamental principles of the science – it tells you the basic ratios that are involved in the building blocks of cooking.  From there, you are free to improvise anything your heart can desire and your stomach can hold.

Scott Johnson is a tech blogger who writes on behalf of companies such as Protectyourbubble.com smartphone insurer, a popular brand who insures gadgets that people can’t live without.

 

 

Beef Short Ribs With Pappardelle

It is rainy and cold in Texas and I am craving one of my favorite comfort foods – Beef Short Ribs With Pappardelle.

The ribs are simmered in a flavorful sauce until the meat is fall-apart tender, shredded and added back to the sauce along with mascarpone cheese to make a rich delicious stew. Serve this over hot, buttery pappardelle noodles and start tasting that satisfying comfort. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! All you need is some hot crusty French bread and you have a meal that will take the chill off any cold, rainy day.

What I also love about this recipe is that you can make so many other things with it. After shreddeding the meat, bind it with mascarpone cheese and make delicious ravioli. Use the delicious rich sauce in risotto or over any steak. Or you could serve halibut on top of the stew for a very satisfying meal.

Beef Short Ribs With Pappardelle

  • 2 pounds beef short ribs
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Flour, for dredging
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup diced Spanish onion
  • 1/4 cup diced carrot
  • 1/4 cup diced celery
  • 1/4 cup cored, seeded, and diced red bell pepper
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoons chopped thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • Pinch ground allspice
  • 1 cup dry sherry
  • About 8 cups chicken stock (homemade or low-sodium store bought chicken broth)
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire
  • 1/2 habanero or scotch bonnet pepper, de-seeded and chopped
  • 1 pound dried pappardelle (or other wide noodle)
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorina Romano cheese

Season the short ribs generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper and dredge in flour.

Heat the oil in a dutch oven or other large, heavy-bottomed vessel over medium-high heat. Add the short ribs and cook until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes total cooking time.

Beef Short Ribs With Pappardelle - browning short ribs

Use tongs or a slotted spoon to transfer the pieces to a plate and set aside.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the Dutch oven. Add the onions, carrots, celery, bell peppers, and garlic and cook until softened but not browned, about 4 minutes.

Beef Short Ribs Wtih Pappardelle - sauteing veggies

Stir in the tomato paste, parsley, thyme, cocoa, cloves and allspice. Cook, stirring to coat the other ingredients with the paste, for 5 to 6 minutes.

Beef Short Ribs With Pappardelle - making the sauce

Add the sherry and cook, using a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits cooked onto the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil and cook until reduced by half, about 4 minutes.

Beef Short Ribs With Pappardelle - short rib broth

Stir in the stock, Worcestershire, and chile pepper, and return the meat, along with any accumulated juices from the plate, to the pan.

Beef Short Ribs With Pappardelle - short rib broth with ribs

Return to a simmer, cover and cook, checking every 30 minutes to be sure there is enough liquid to come three-quarters of the way up the sides of the solids, adding more stock or water if necessary, and stirring periodically to prevent scorching or sticking, until the meat is falling-apart tender, about 3 1/2 hours.

Transfer the meat to a plate, remove the meat from the bones, cool and refrigerate overnight.

Beef Short Ribs With Pappardelle - shredded short rib meat

Cool the sauce down and refrigerate overnight so that the grease rises to the top.

Beef Short Ribs With Pappardelle - degreasing broth

The next day, skim the grease off and discard. Heat the sauce and using an immersion blender, blend the sauce until smooth.

Beef Short Ribs With Pappardelle - immersion blending rich broth

Add the shredded short rib meat back to the pot and heat thoroughly.

Beef Short Ribs With Pappardelle - rich broth with shredded short ribs

Gently stir in the mascarpone and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Beef Short Ribs With Pappardelle - adding mascarpone to broth

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pappardelle noodles.

Beef Short Ribs With Pappardelle - pappardelle noodles

Cook until al dente (firm to the bite), about 8 minutes.

Beef Short Ribs With Pappardelle - boiling pappardelle noodles

Drain the pasta and toss with a little butter. Divide among 4 to 6 bowls.

Beef Short Ribs With Pappardelle - pappardelle noodles plated

Ladle the stew over noodles and garnish with the grated cheese. Serve piping hot. Enjoy!