08/31/13

hautemealz Back-to-School Special

shutterstock_60186082-Busy-Mom-on-a-BikeSummer’s wrapping up and life’s going to get busier than ever!

Kids in school, sports, after-school programs…wouldn’t it be nice to help someone you know get something OFF their plate this fall?

How about all of the organizing and planning they have to do to answer the same question every night…”What’s for dinner?”

hautemealz.com can help!

From now through the end of September, introduce a friend or family member to hautemealz.com, and when they sign up for the regular, lighter-side, diabetic-friendly, or gluten-free meal plans, we’ll reimburse your October payment! Sign up two, and we’ll reimburse your November payment, as well!

No Limit!

Let us make the plan, so you can make your family the delicious, healthy dinners they deserve!

-Chef Perry
hautemealz.com

08/30/13

Grilling a Gourmet Hot Dog

System Dog

I love hot dogs on the grill primarily because they taste great, but also because they are one of those foods that are almost idiot-proof. Heat…place in bun…top with something. Dinner is served.

Still, even if your Labor Day grilling involves dozens of hungry guests, there’s always something you can do to take an uber-basic food to the next level.

With the venerable hot dog…there are many, many things you can do.

Click here to read the rest of this post and see my favorite gourmet hot dog recipes on my Sears Grilling is Happiness page!

08/24/13

How to deglaze a pan (video)

Deglazing
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Got some deglazing happening on next week’s meal plans…here’s how we do it!

-Chef Perry
joinmykitchen.com

MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday.

Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids, in our MY KITCHEN Outreach Program.

 

08/24/13

This week’s meal plan…free!

Hey everyone, just a heads up…we’re so excited about next week’s meal plan and shopping list, that we’re giving it away, no strings attached!

Some of my all-time favorite recipes on this one, check ’em out!

This is our most popular plan, Lighter-Side/4 Servings, complete with the full itemized shopping list, tips, and video links…for free!

Recipes include:

~ Coconut Pork & Grilled Pineapple Salad
~ Broiled Salmon with Thai Basil Cuke Salad & Furikaki Rice
~ Curried Egg Salad Wraps with Spinach and Mushroom Salad
~ Stobhach Gaelach (Irish Pork Stew)
~ Bruschetta Grilled Chicken w/ Jasmine Rice & Italian Green Beans
~ Glazed Boneless Pork Ribs with Horseradish Apple Slaw
~ Stuffed Acorn Squash with Summer Salad & Fresh Plums

Download this meal plan here.

Please feel free to share this post with your friends!

(By the way, if you’re enjoying this article, you may want to subscribe to our free meal planning newsletter; we’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each week. Plus, you’ll be helping us feed the hungry, and teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk teens!)

Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com

08/23/13

Tips for storing kitchen knives

SimplySmartDinnerPlans subscriber Anne W., asks:

knife-drawer“I (finally) bought some decent kitchen knives and I’m wondering how best to store them. I’ve heard that I shouldn’t keep them in a drawer, but my counter and cabinet-space is very limited.Any ideas?

Thanks, Chef Perry…I’m loving the diabetic meal plan!” – Anne

Thanks Anne, glad you’re enjoying your meal plans, and congrats on your new knives!

Now, to your question…

Nothing gives me the heebiddy-jeebies quicker than seeing a bunch of knives thrown haphazardly into a kitchen drawer.

USE_MagneticKnifeRack_92753_web2Your knives should be in a block, or (preferably) hanging on a magnetic rack.

However, I also understand that for some folks those options just aren’t feasible.

If you must store knives in a drawer, make sure they’re protected from other utensils, and the blades are covered to keep them safe from dulling and nicks.

Commercially made knife covers can range in price from a few bucks to ridiculous (check our Amazon store for the ones I use…they’re cheap, lol).

Most professional knife sharpening stores will send your knives home with temporary covers (pictured center, below), or sell you a few for under a buck.

Knife Covers

For the super-cheap…er…do-it-yourselfer’s out there, you can make perfectly acceptable blade protectors from heavy paper or cardboard paper-towel tubes, folded over the blade, and taped.

The tubes tend to be a little wider than most knives, so either cut them to fit the blade, or use a rubber-band to hold them in place (see picture.)

Taking good care of your knives is not only an important safety issue, but it can also mean the difference between good cooking and great cooking!

Cook Great!

-Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com

(By the way, if you’re enjoying this article, you may want to subscribe to our free meal planning newsletter; we’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each week. Plus, you’ll be helping us feed the hungry, and teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk teens!)

08/17/13

5 ways to outsmart snack cravings

cravings

First of all let’s get one thing straight:

Struggling with food cravings doesn’t mean your weak…let’s kick that notion in the butt, straight off. Most often, the foods we crave are processed carbohydrates, which change the brain’s chemistry by increasing the level of serotonin, our feel-good neurochemical.

food-cravingsOur brain will remember how that food made you feel and create neural pathways that trigger addictive cravings when you experience a similar stimulus.

Continue reading

08/14/13

5 easy ways to keep your kitchen sparkling clean

8974DBFF7BA443C2DD5A4C5FB8B2Let’s face it…cleaning the kitchen is a drag, but it’s also part of cooking.

In fact, the less tidy and organized the kitchen, the harder it is to cook in. A clean kitchen is also healthier and safer for you and your family.

Make cleaning second nature, and you’ll find that cooking becomes a lot easier, and a lot more fun!

Here are some simple, “pro-active” kitchen cleaning tips that will keep your kitchen cleaner and less cluttered.

1. Get Organized/Stay Organized

Have a place for everything. Let’s face it, it’s hard to clean up when you’re faced with a pile of stuff that doesn’t have a place to go.

I used to keep all of my utensils stuffed into a couple of overflowing drawers. After years of frustration, I finally realized that a) I have way to much junk in the utensil drawers, and a purge was in order (have I used this in the last year? No? TOSS!), and b) I was spending WAY too much time digging through stuff to find the one thing I needed.

Buckets3

For about five bucks, I found these tin vases that could sit in my counter and organize my gear into wood, metal, and plastic, which left the drawer available for the few items with didn’t fit easily in the vases (like tongs), and made putting away my cooking gear a quick, easy, and organized chore.

(And…yes, I know…I’m a bit of a wooden spoon junkie…)

Later, when I decided to reclaim my counter space, I hung the vases on hooks, off the end of the counter, freeing up even MORE space!

Supreme_13X13_Fa_50dc90f12baee2. Ditch the sponge

Any sponge that been used more than once or twice is usually a disgusting bacteria motel, and a great way to spread germs. If you’d ever seen a week-old sponge under a microscope, I promise…you’d never buy another one.

Growing up in professional kitchens, I almost never saw a sponge. Instead, there were always stacks of white “bar-mops” or small hand-towels. They were easy to bleach, absorbent, and could be washed and dried on regular basis, making them way more hygienic and safe that any sponge. We typically kept a couple in a bucket of bleach water to wipe down counters, stove-tops, and knives between uses.

The also made great pot holders, and the occasional tourniquet…try that with a Scotch Brite!

Sure, they cost a little more up front, but figure what you’re spending using paper towels and sponges for a year, and you’ll probably find you’ll at least break even. Better for the environment, too!

3. Clean as you go

Nothing is more demoralizing, in the post-cooking letdown, than a sink and counter covered with dirty dishes. (Trust me, I know.)

kitchen

Before you start cooking fill your sink half full of hot, soapy water, and place a pitcher or large bowl of hot clean water on the counter next to it. As you cook, drop pots, pans and utensils (but not your knives*) that you think you’re done with, into the sink. Anything you think you may use again, put in the pitcher.

This is an old restaurant trick that keeps food from drying on dishes and utensils, allowing them to be re-used with just a quick rinse, as well as prepping the ones you’re done with for easy clean up.

Every time you have a free moment in your prep and cooking, wash what’s in the sink and put it in the dishwasher. Just one or two pots at a time add up quick. You’ll be amazed at what a relief it is to end a meal with a clean kitchen!

*Knives should be rinsed in hot water, wiped dry, and returned to their block or holder after every use. Never drop a knife in a sink full of water…it’s bad for the knife, and worse for your fingers.

4. Nuke that crud!

One of the biggest pains in the kitchen is cleaning dried up food crud off the ceiling and walls of the microwave.

Try this:

Place a small bowl of water and vinegar (50/50) in the microwave and heat it on high for  five minutes. Let it sit there with the door closed for another five  minutes to allow the steam to loosen the goop, then use the damp towel to easily wipe it away!

Cleaning-the-microwave-2

Don’t like the lingering smell of vinegar in your microwave? Repeat the process using 50/50 water and lemon juice.

FYI…this trick works in the oven, too!

(By the way, if you’re enjoying this article, you may want to subscribe to our free meal planning newsletter; we’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each week. Plus, you’ll be helping us feed the hungry, and teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk teens!)

5. Five in Five

Lastly, get in the habit of spending just 5 minutes doing these 5 chores after every meal:

~ Wipe down the sink after loading the dishwasher (30 seconds).
~ Wipe down the stove top (1 minute).
~ Wipe down the counters (1 minute).
~ Sweep or vacuum the kitchen floor (2-3 minutes).

kitchen15min-lA clean desk may indeed be the sign of an unstable mind, but a clean and well organized kitchen is the sign of a happy cook!

Cook happy!

Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com

08/13/13

Slicing boneless pork safely and easily

Grilling pork

Photo by Robyn Medlin Lindars, http://grillgrrrl.com Use with permission.

When grilling boneless pork ribs, I like to do them Korean style, in long thin planks about 1/2 inch thick.

This allows me to fully cook the pork very quickly, keeping the meat moist and tender on the inside, while forming a nice crust (but not burning) the outside, when cooking directly over very hot coals.

Also, by increasing the grilling area of the pork, I get a lot more flavor from both the fire and any spices I’ve rubbed the meat with.

thin sliced pork

However, boneless pork ribs are slippery little suckers, and can be difficult to cut evenly and safely, when raw.

One trick we use often is to unwrap our ribs and place them on a plate or cookie sheet in the freezer for about 10 minutes. Flip and chill another 5 minutes, and the meat will have frozen just enough that it’s no longer slippery, and is firm enough to slice evenly.

Just a note: if you slice your ribs the other direction, into very thin (1/8th inch) squares, let thaw completely, and sprinkle with a little salt, it’s awesome when added raw to hot Asian style soups and hotpots (the boiling broth cooks the meat almost instantly).

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This method will also improve your Cup O’ Noodles or bowl of ramen like you wouldn’t believe!  Just make sure that water is boiling when you add the meat.

Chef Perry
hautemealz.com

08/12/13

Easy Southern Greens

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m originally from the south, and I love my southern food. One of my favorite is greens and ham.

Served as a side dish with ribs, fried chicken or catfish, you name it, I love it!

Easy Greens RecipeHere’s a super-simple recipe I whipped up the other night. As I didn’t have a handy ham-hock, I substituted by using some Better Than Bullion ham base.

Now, I love BTB, but I’d never used the ham flavor before…lemme tell ya…it’s awesome!

Turned out one of the best batched of greens I’ve ever made, and I didn’t have to cook it 8 hours to get the hocks to cook down.  For this dish I used a combination of kale and red chard…lovely stuff. Oh, and I cooked up a HUGE batch, so if that looks like a lot of bacon in the photos…it is.

If you want a real taste of the south, but are pressed for time, I definitely recommend this recipe…look for it on an upcoming hautemealz meal plan!

Enjoy,

Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans

Greens8Easy Southern Greens

Serves 4
4 slices thick bacon
1-2 lbs greens (collard, kale, chard, or a mix)
1 tsp. black pepper
4 cups water
5 tsp. Better than Bullion Ham Base

Optional
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes for an extra zing.
1/2 cup chopped white onions
4 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
Hot sauce

(By the way, if you’re enjoying this article, you may want to subscribe to our free newsletter; we’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each week. Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk teens!)

Mise en Place

Greens3 - Copy

Rinse greens thoroughly, remove tough ribs and stems, and chop leaves. Cut stems into 1 inch pieces. Combine water and ham base to make ham broth. Chop onions. Slice bacon.

Prepare the Dish

Greens1

Cook the bacon in a skillet until the fat renders and bacon becomes translucent. (Do not drain!)

Greens2

Transfer bacon and dripping to a large pot over medium heat, add the onions and cook until softened.

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Add greens, stems, pepper flakes (optional), pepper, and ham broth.

Greens8

Simmer over over medium heat for 45-60 minutes.

Serve greens drained (or not) with minced onion, vinegar and Tabasco, if desired. You can also add a splash of red wine vinegar of hot sauce (or both!)

LikkerPS – Half of the awesomeness of southern-style greens is the potlikker.

Potlikker is the amazingly flavorful broth of the ham stock and cooked down greens. You definitely want some crusty bread or (preferably) a good  savory cornbread to mop it up.

Only a “damnyankee” would throw out the potlikker!

08/7/13

Low & Slow Southern Baked Beans

baked beans recipe

Okay, so here at MY KITCHEN we do not typically advocate boxed, frozen, or canned foods in any of our recipes or classes. We like our ingredients fresh…in fact, we’re a little snooty about it.

One exception that I make to the “fresh only” rule, is my baked beans.

I’m sure I could expand the ingredient list, and pre-make each kind of bean separately, but it would be a HUGE process, and I’m skeptical that they could really taste that much better than they do now.

Given that we might have these only once or twice per summer, I don’t feel too guilty about bending the rules a bit and using canned beans. The fact that we always (and I do mean always) get rave reviews may do something to assuage my guilt, as well!

The secret to this, or any great “one pot” dish, begins with the the process of “layering flavors” (like those wacky French taught us).

Just dumping all of these ingredients into the pot will NOT get you the same results (trust me…been there), but it’s the mingling of specific ingredients and building flavors, before introducing others, that gives these beans layer after layer of subtle, complex awesomeness.

Btw, we’re cooking up a 5 gallon mess o’ these today for a BBQ Feast tomorrow night at Roloff Farms, with the folks who won us at the 2012 Amy Roloff Charity Foundation dinner. Slow smoked pulled pork, southern baked beans, fresh baked green chili corn bread, cilantro-sesame slaw, & Chef Terry’s homemade peach pies!

ARCF is one of our key charities in our MY KITCHEN Outreach Program, and we’ll be on the auction block for this amazing charity organization again this year, don’t miss it!

Enjoy!

Chef Perry
MY KITCHEN Outreach

Chef Perry’s Low & Slow Southern Baked Beans
Serves 10-12
1 lb thick bacon
1 lg. sweet onion
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 each red, yellow, green bell pepper
Dash of salt & pepper
1 cup strong chicken broth*
1 (15oz) can of black beans, drained
1 (15oz) can of baked beans, drained
1 (15oz) can of pork & beans, drained
1 (15oz) can of ranch beans, drained
1 (15oz) can of diced tomatoes (fire roasted, if poss.), drained
1/4 cup of honey
1/4 cup Sweet Chili Sauce 
2 Tbsp. Stubb’s mesquite liquid smoke

Mise en Place
Slice bacon into 1/4 inch lardons. Dice onion and peppers. Open cans and drain.

*I suggest 2 tsp. of Better than Bullion Chicken Base in 1 cup of hot water.

 

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Prepare the Dish

Preheat oven to 250

Southern Baked Beans RecipeCook bacon (limp) in a large, heavy bottomed, pot over medium heat.

Add onion, garlic, bell peppers, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until veggies have begun to soften. Drain bacon renderings, and raise heat to medium high.

Southern Baked Beans RecipeCook, stirring, until veggies have just started to brown at the edges, and begin sticking to the pan.

Deglaze the pan with chicken stock, scraping up any bits from the bottom, and lower heat to medium low.

Add all beans, tomatoes, honey, chili sauce, and liquid smoke. Stir well. Bake, uncovered, 8-10 hours.

You can serve immediately, or for best possible results, cook a day or two in advance, cool on stove-top, and refrigerate 24-48 hours. Reheat in a 225 degree oven, for two hours. Stirring occasionally.

Note: I like to serve these beans with pulled pork or brisket, in which case I’ll stir in about a 1/2 cup of the reduced pan drippings (start with 2 cups), during the last 1/2 hour of baking. Adds an amazing flavor and really marries the beans to the entree.

baked beans recipe