Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Celebrate The Change Of Season With A Cozy Dinner Party

Sadly, summer seems to have come to an end, and the colder weather is approaching. You’ve probably already packed the BBQ away, and are looking forward to spending cozy nights in, watching movies, and eating your favorite fall foods. However, just because the longer days are becoming shorter, and Halloween and the festive season aren’t quite here yet; you don’t have to become a recluse in your home and forget about the social side of life.

If braving the chilly air outside just isn’t going to happen when you want to meet up with friends and family; it’s the perfect excuse to throw a dinner party at home. Sharing food with your loved ones on a cold night will help you to ease into the new season happily and healthily. You won’t be sad that summer is over; you’ll be excited for all the new produce and delicious recipes you can cook. The following are some ideas for those who want to welcome fall in style and cook up a storm in their kitchen to feed their favorite people.

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The Theme And Ambience

Whether you fancy going all out and throwing a formal get-together, or you want a relaxed affair that focuses on the food and company; you’ll want to figure out where and how you’re going to serve what you’ve cooked. For something a little more special; use a linen tablecloth and lay the table with matching plates, side plates, and your best cutlery. You can polish the silverware (or whatever cutlery you’re choosing to use), and make sure that there’s a glass for every beverage. If you’re unsure about where to put what regarding your formal dinner table; see Martha Stewart and her advice for instructions.

Make sure the lighting is bright enough to see the food; however, stark, cold lights don’t feel very cozy, so try and stick to a warm glow from lamps and dimmed wall lights. Candles are the perfect addition to any dinner table. Whether you pop several tea lights in between dishes and condiments, or get your candelabra out and fill it with pillar candles; the flicker of them will add a snug touch to the dinner party. The little touches like place names and napkin rings won’t go unnoticed and can add to the theme of the party or tie in with your dining room or kitchen decor.

Make sure that seating is comfortable; you may be sat at the table for quite a while, long after the food has been finished, so add cushions and even throws for later in the evening, to give your guests a warm and cozy feeling. Remember that you’re the host or hostess; no matter how familiar your guests are, you’ll want to give them a special evening, so keep ensuing their drinks are topped up and they have everything they want throughout the night.

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Image credit

The Main Event (Why Everyone Came)

The food you serve will be the reason why everyone showed up; as well as your company of course. Therefore, you’ll want to plan your meal in advance and make sure that you can create each dish successfully on the night. The day of your dinner party is not the moment to be testing out a recipe for the first time, so stick to familiar meals and things that you’ve practiced beforehand.

Make sure you spend the week before gathering all your ingredients together and ensuring you’ve ticked everything off your list regarding what’s in the fridge, cupboards, and ready to be combined for a delicious feast. Save yourself time and energy by ordering quality, fresh meat or seafood online; you can see Citarella for more details, and reduce the number of trips to the grocery store. Order in any special ingredients in advance too; the more pressure you take off yourself on the day, the calmer you’ll be at your party, and you’ll be able to focus more on having the best time.

If you’re doing more than one course; ensure that the food flows well and the menu isn’t too heavy. Starters should never fill up a guest to the point they can’t enjoy the main course or dessert, so keep it light and packed full of flavor. Seafood is the perfect option to start; many dishes can be prepared in advance and served cold, so you won’t be rushing around putting items together on each plate. Salads, sides, bread, and nibbles on the table will give people the option to graze on as much or as little as they want, so fill the table with your favorite culinary choices to give them options and variety.

Your main meal should be the focus of the whole dinner party; whether you have Italian, Indian, or Greek heritage, enjoy a cuisine from a particular part of the world, or your mom’s stew is legendary; the starter and dessert should fit in around the main. Casual dinner parties can benefit from a big dish of food that everyone tucks into an decides on their own portion size; add sides in accompanying bowls and on plates and tell everyone to help themselves. Formal affairs tend to have plates of food that have been prepared in the kitchen and are brought out to the table; things like gravy, jus, and sauces can be added by the guests at the dinner table.

Something sweet to finish a meal off is always a welcome choice; choose a crowd pleaser, containing chocolate or fruit, or even both. If you’ve made a heavy main course; a lighter dessert, like a panna cotta, ice cream, or poached fruit will be a great way to end the meal. However, if there are some big appetites at the table; a pie or an accompanying cheese plate will fill your guests up, and they’ll leave smiling.

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Image via here

After Dinner Fun

The beauty of a dinner party with loved ones is that you can all stay and chat the night away after the food has gone, or continue to pick at that cheese plate while you put the world to rights. You don’t need to plan any major activities; maybe just think of some interesting topics of conversation, and let the evening flow naturally. A pack of cards can be fun, but gauge the mood and energy of the room before you choose to play any games. Prepare the best food you can and put your efforts into making your guests feel welcome, and you’ll have a great dinner party and welcome fall in style.







Tasty, Healthy Veggie Recipes That Will Make You Feel Amazing

Everyone knows that eating vegetables is good for you. They contain lots essential vitamins and minerals that keep the body working right, as well as being jam packed with fiber to help keep you regular. They also have the benefit of tasting delicious too. So what are you waiting for? Get cooking with the delicious vegetable recipes below!

Stir Fried Brussel Sprouts

Brussel Sprouts, not only do they taste great when they are cooked properly, hence the stir fry method in this recipe below. But they are packed with vitamin C and A, as well. Making them a tiny powerhouse of nutrients. So with that in mind check out the following recipe:  

Brussel sprouts - 250 g
Cashew nuts unsalted 50g
Soy sauce, light, reduce salt
Fresh ginger,
Sesame oil 1 tsp
Sesame seeds 1 tbsp
1 fresh chili
1 clove of garlic
Rice wine vinegar 1 tsp

What I love about this recipe it's that it is so easy. To start, add the fresh chili, ginger (peeled), garlic (peeled), and rice wine vinegar to a food processor and blitz until it’s a paste. Then add the sesame oil and stir.

Now on a low heat add this paste to a wok, to gently warm through and release all the flavors, while you chop the sprouts. Cut the bottom off each sprout and then chop into three prices length ways.

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Next, increase the heat in the wok, and add the cashew nuts, so they brown off a little. Then add the Brussel sprouts, and stir as until just cook through or are al dente. Before serving, season with a little soy sauce and sprinkle with a few sesame seeds for a delicious and very notorious meal in itself. As well as a fabulous accompaniment to another dish such as these tempura vegetables.

Roasted Vegetable Orzo Pasta

Have you had orzo pasta yet? It's sort of looks like rice but, yup you've guessed it! It's actually pasta. It tastes great too. Especially, when combined with some juicy tomatoes and grilled veg and just a dash of olive oil. Meaning you can enjoy a pasta hit with no creamy, calorific sauces in sight. Keep reading for the recipe:

75 g Orzo
1 Red pepper
Salt
Pepper
Lemon juice
1 large on the vine tomato
1 red onion
7 black olives
1 bunch chives
1 tsp olive oil

Simply cook the orzo as per the instructions on the packet. Then rinse, drain and leave to cool. While doing so, chop all the veg apart from the chives and olives in a food processor, and either dry fry in a pan, or pop in the oven to bake.

While this is happening, combine a ½ a lemon with the olive oil and season with salt, pepper and the olives and set aside.

Then chop the chives ready to use as a garnish. Once the veg has cooked; combine this with the cold orzo and the dressing. Add the chives to the top, and voila, you have your delicious and nutritious dish! It's that easy!


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Sunday, September 10, 2017

Drive Down The Cost Of Feeding Your Family


There’s no denying it, feeding a family (especially a large family) can be expensive. In fact, the average Australian family spends around $250 a week on their food bill. Sure, processed junk food is cheap, cheerful and convenient to cook but it’s also one of the surest ways to seriously damage your family’s health. For those of us who want to raise our families on a healthy diet with maximum whole foods and minimum processed convenience food things are a little more tricky… But not insurmountable. One might be forgiven for thinking that they have to make a fundamental choice between feeding their families healthily or feeding them inexpensively, but the simple truth is that you can have your cake and eat it… So long as you bake it yourself.


Yes, the simple fact is that the best thing you can do to drive down food costs is by cooking yourself. If you’re already rolling your eyes, don’t worry. This blog has already demonstrated how easy it is to feed your family healthily with a minimum of fuss. Here, we’re going to look at ways in which you can stay just as healthy while also driving down costs.

Ditch wasteful habits

As any Frugal Mom will tell you, eating healthily on a budget is much easier when you cut out bad habits. From aimless shopping in the supermarket to over reliance on restaurants and takeaways, we’re all guilty of forming wasteful habits when it comes to our diet. After a hard day’s work it’s easy to be tempted by takeout instead of cooking for the family but the monetary and health costs clearly outweigh the benefit of convenience.

Cut down on meat and dairy

Meat, fish, eggs, cheeses and milk are among the most expensive items on the supermarket shelf and they’re also the most damaging foods to the environment. Animal agriculture accounts for 18% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. That’s more than the entire transportation industry. Loading up on whole grains and veggies will not only make your food shop cheaper and more sustainable but help the environment out too. A five bean chilli will feed your family just as well as a chilli con carne at a fraction of the price.

Have fun with leftovers

Leftovers are a great way to put yesterday’s food to good use but rather than just throwing them in the microwave you’d be astonished at how easy it is to repurpose yesterday’s food to make it even more delicious. A little imagination or invention go a long way. The carcass from yesterday’s roast can be picked and made into a delicious pie, yesterday’s chilli can be made into today’s burritos or old mashed potato can be pressed into delicious waffles for breakfast.

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Cook in batches

There will be some days when you have neither the time nor energy to cook. As such it’s important to have a backup supply of freezer food to prevent you from reaching for the takeout menu. If you’re making a curry, chilli, pasta dish or stew it makes good sense to make a little extra and stretch it across several meals.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Batch Cooking Recipes To Save You Time And Money

Ask many people why they don't cook, and one of the top answers will always be 'I don't have time'. If you work 9-5, slaving away in the kitchen when you finally get home doesn't sound like the most appealing prospect. For the many people that work from home, 24/7 access to the fridge has a tendency to manifest itself in constant snacking. This can mean that you rarely cook a full meal. Of course, the variety of convenience food available now doesn’t help this issue. But if you’re constantly feeding yourself and your family processed ready meals, you might want to think again. Pre-made microwave dinners contain high amounts of salt and fat, and it’s easy to get hooked on them.

Shun the convenience food for high carb, filling meals for when you need a bowl of something comforting after a long day. It may take a couple of hours work on a Sunday evening, but preparing food for the week will ultimately mean you spend less time in the supermarket and it will save you money too. Try making two separate meals and then bagging them up into freezable portions. That way, you can alternate your meals every evening and you won’t be overeating either. Take a look at some of these big batch, freezer-friendly recipes for inspiration.

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Turkey chilli

Chilli is a classic dish that you’re probably already familiar with eating. But the true beauty of chilli is that it can be served in so many different ways. Keep it classic with rice for a hearty evening meal – perfect with a glass of red wine on a winter evening. Or, if you’re making a summer chilli, cobble together some homemade guacamole and salad for a lighter take on the dish. You can, of course, use beef mince for your chilli, but turkey mince generally carries a lot less fat. At the end of the week, when there’s not enough left for a full meal, pop your chilli mix into pitta breads or tortillas for a healthy lunch.

Steak

Batch cooking isn’t just limited to one-pot dishes. If you spot a good deal on steak at your local supermarket, make the most of it and cook a few portions all in the same night. Make some healthy potato wedges alongside and again, bag them up in freezable portions. Then, when you get in on an evening, all you’ll have to do is heat them up and serve with some salad for a great mid-week treat. Gourmet culinary straight from your freezer!


Caribbean stew

For African inspired flavours, opt for a spice infused stew. The good thing about these simple recipes is that you can tailor them to your own tastebuds. A classic African stew normally features chicken although just take the meat out if you want a veggie version. Simply throw finely chopped veg and meat into a large pan with stock, chopped tomatoes and plenty of spices. Once it’s reduced, you’ll have a stew. If you have a slow cooker, opt to cook your stew in there for more tender meat. Bag up individual portions, and then all you’ll have to do when you get in from work is cook some rice to serve.


Thursday, July 28, 2016

Traveling To Australia? Here's What Every Foodie Needs To Know About Some Of The Well-Known Cities



Australia is one of those countries that you don’t quite realise how big it is. But its area is over seven million kilometers squared. With a population of around 24 million. That’s big. Aussies have a reputation for being quite tough individuals. But actually, the great wilderness can spook us every now and again. And may Aussies wouldn’t last five minutes without a decent coffee. However it isn’t just our drink we are bothered about, we are big into food. As you know from my blog. So I thought I would put together a quick guide about the best foodie inspiration from some of the most well-known cities in Australia. I hope it helps you when you next visit them.

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Melbourne

Not only is Melbourne known as the world's most livable city, but it is also famous for it’s coffee. While I know I mentioned that this would be more food related, we can’t mention Melbourne without taking homage to the coffee. There is a real difference in coffee culture. It has an air of sophistication and making a point of rich layers of flavour. A culture should be about an escape, and that it is when you are presented with coffee in Melbourne. It’s an experience. Just like eating in a restaurant is or trying a new food. Which is why it’s so important to make you aware of just how good it is.

Perth

The city of Perth has a varied food scene. You can indulge in Spanish flavours, gauge on French cuisines or just stick with something Australian. There is something for everyone. However, you can’t mention Perth without considering how good it is for any meat lovers. From steak to genuinely the best ribs in Perth you can’t go wrong. So whether you prefer your meat seasoned and flavoured from tastes all over the world. Perth has it for you.

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Sydney

While it may not be mainly known for it’s seafood, Sydney has a great advantage for fish lovers. John Dory, being one of the most famous white fish to eat is available in the Sydney waters near the harbour. Meaning if you like your fish and seafood fresh, then you can’t get any better than that. With many fish and seafood restaurants serving John Dory as well as other options, you can’t go wrong coming here if you love your fish.

Caines

If you love your French cuisine, then Cairns is the place to go. There number one restaurant offers French cuisine. With traditional entrees like escargot down to a beef eye fillet and a creme brulee dessert. French cuisines aren’t for everyone, but if you love it then make sure you check Cairns out.

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Adelaide

There is no doubt about it; Adelaide is famous for it’s wines. But there is also some iconic food choices to sample and the pie floater is one of them. While it may not be the healthiest, if you do enjoy the fine wines you won’t be able to refuse this meal. You start with a pea soup and then add an Australian meat pie in the middle. Most often topped with a tomato sauce. If you are feeling extra brave, you may add mint sauce or malt vinegar. I would say Adelaide is more famous for the Australian choice of foods than anything else.

I hope you are feeling more informed of some of the best foodie choices to make when it comes to visiting some of the cities in Australia.

How To Make Healthy Eating Day In, Day Out More Doable

No matter how hard you try to be healthy, there are always those days where you are just too exhausted to make a meal from scratch. It’s these days that can often lead to your falling off the wagon and treating yourself to a ready meal. Being healthy day in, day out, doesn’t always seem doable. However, the truth is, if you plan in advance, it can be. To make being healthy with your meals easier, follow these tips.

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Always have freezer meals on hand

Instead of turning to ready meals or takeaways on those nights when you have no energy to cook, rely on freezer meals. Once or twice a month, spend a morning cooking a selection of meals that you can portion up and freeze.

These should be healthy dishes that can be reheated from frozen. Things like vegetable lasagne, chili con carne, and pasta dishes are all ideal. Aim always to keep your freezer stocked up with healthy meals that you can use for days when you just don’t have the energy to cook.

Prepare in advance

One of the best things you can do to make being healthy day in, day out easier, is prepare in advance. On the weekend, prepare for the week that’s coming and get your meals planned out. This means heading to the shops to buy any ingredients that you might need for the week.

Another option to consider to make creating healthy meals even easier, is using Home Chef meal delivery service. This service, and others like it, deliver your week’s meals to your door, all you need to do is follow the recipe guide and put each dish together. This will make cooking a healthy meal each night much easier as everything will have been measured and weighed out. All you’ll need to do is throw the dish together.

Invest in the right appliances

If your kitchen isn’t well equipped with the right appliances, cooking healthy meals will be harder than it needs to be. That’s why it’s important that your kitchen has all the appliances that you need to make healthy, homemade meals.

The essentials that your kitchen should have are a slow cooker, food processor, and a blender. A slow cooker is ideal for popping your dinner on in the morning, before leaving the house for work, so that when you get home it’s all cooked for you. A good quality food processor makes it much quicker to dice, slice, and chop ingredients up. They can be expensive, but they’re more than worth the cost. As for a blender, when it comes to making soups, sauces, and smoothies, a blender is your best friend. It’s so quick and easy to use.

Sometimes we all have those days where all we want is a pizza and a big glass of wine. However, to ensure that your healthy eating stays on track, most of the time it’s best to opt for a healthier alternative. For ideas and inspiration, take note of the suggestions above.