07/3/13

Q & A: How much do I cook for a party?

hautemealz.com subscriber Donna asks:

“I’d love to host some dinner parties this summer in our new house, but I never know how much to cook, especially for a large group. Any tips on serving in big numbers?”

One of the most frustrating aspects of cooking for a crowd is the fear of running out of food.

I HATE seeing an empty pan on my serving table! So, how much should you buy? Too little, and you risk running out, too much and you’ve spent more than you need to.

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Portion Guidelines

Here are some general guidelines to help you calculate how many people you can serve with that raw chunk of meat on the butcher’s shelf…

When planning a meal, it is always better to purchase too much meat than not enough. Always be prepared for people with larger appetites.

The “Mystery Guest”

Mystery-GuestOne trick I use is to add a “mystery” guest for every 4 confirmed.

In other words, I plan 5 portions for 4 people, 10 portions for 8, 15 for 12, etc. If there are leftovers, the cooked meat will keep in the refrigerator for several days or the unused portions may be frozen for long term storage.

Party on!

– Chef Perry

07/3/13

New “Kid Friendly” Recipe Steps

Heyya hauties…keep an eye on your upcoming hautemealz.com meal plans for our new “Kid Friendly” icon:

Kid Friendly recipe

These are steps in the recipe that are easy and safe enough (no sharp knives, or hot pans) for your youngest and least experienced “sous chefs” to handle!

The Kid Friendly icon will be followed by specific instructions, as well as tips and ideas for making the job easier (and less messy) for your prep-monkeys.

Get a little help in the kitchen, have some fun family time, and who knows… maybe even start training your future personal chef!

-Chef Perry

06/14/13

Q & A: The Healthy Foodie

Angel asks:

Q: Regarding dieting, healthy eating, and shopping…I’m curious if you find special challenges on this endeavor since your a chef or if your knowledge of food helps.

I’m not a chef, but I do love food and my knowledge of nutrition has been very slowly expanding since I had my son. I find myself often wishing I knew more about the taste dynamic of different herbs, spices and foods that would help me to come up with more tasty versions of healthy dishes. Any tips?

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05/13/13

The Perfect Gift for Wedding Season

Newlyweds-CookingNewlyweds are busy folks!

What with jobs, getting settled in, school, hobbies, and…other stuff…many of us can look back on that first year or two of married bliss and admit that those wonderful memories didn’t always extend to the kitchen.

A hautemealz.com gift subscription (monthly, or a full year) is a great way to make sure those crazy kids are enjoying healthy, delicious, and easy-to-prepare meals, that fit their budgets and hectic schedules.

This is especially true if one half of the happy couple has specialized needs like diabetic-friendly, calorie-restricted, or gluten-free…creating a whole new learning curve for the cook!

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04/4/13

Grocery Budget Questions

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Okay, I know that this is a somewhat personal request, so please feel free to send me your responses privately to hautemealz@gmail.com if you’d rather not comment below.

I’m gathering data for our upcoming outreach meal-plans and cooking classes, and I need some info…

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03/20/13

Winning the Food War with our Kids

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Cooking for little ones (and not so little ones) often presents some unique challenges.

While, obviously, you want to provide them with nutritious meals, it can be a pain in your….patience…to get them to eat the foods that are best for their growing bodies. We’re all probably well aware of the food plate and the number of servings our children need of healthy grains, proteins, fruits, vegetables, and calcium products.

Getting them to eat these nourishing foods…well, that’s another matter altogether, isn’t it?

Here’s the good news when cooking for children: you do not need to incorporate all the important nutrients into every dinner. This is not Chopped, and the judges won’t send you home for not using all of the ingredients.



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SETTING FOOD TRAPS

If the dinner table has become a battle ground, if the kids are marching to the table, already prepared for war…go guerilla on them! Avoid pitched battles and sneak those healthy foods behind enemy lines when they least expect them.

MMM_9343_2Let’s face it…raw cucumbers, thinly sliced and sprinkled with salt, are freakin’ awesome,  and make a much healthier snack than potato chips! But don’t just chuck a bowl of them in their face like a hand grenade…just set them out of the table, let them see you nibbling a couple yourself, and their own natural curiosity will eventually spring the trap.

Jungle warfare, baby!

The same holds true for melon and cantaloupes. These make excellent snacks and are a much-needed fruit in these important diets for little ones.

Here’s another biggie: If they don’t like apple slices…DON’T GIVE THEM APPLE SLICES! How hard is that? I don’t care if YOU love apple slices, if you do…great, YOU eat them. Give them some options. The goal here is not notches on your rifle-stock, it’s winning the war, long term!

MESS HALL FARE

There’s an old saying that an army marches on its stomach, and many a war has been lost not to bad planning, or bad soldiers, but to a lack of good food.

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.

 

Bad attitudes, lack of motivation, poor school performance…all of these “symptoms” have been tied to a lack of proper nutrition.

Regardless of what we think we can or can’t cook, the reality is that our kids cannot live on macaroni and cheese alone. It’s been tried and tested and failed miserably.

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Try mixing things up whenever you can while keeping meals kid friendly. It is important that you try to introduce whole grains, proteins, and vegetables whenever possible at meal times around your home.  Remember the “2 out of 3” rule:

Kids (and many adults) are quicker to accept a new dish if at least 2 out of every 3 ingredients are familiar favorites. Their favorite peanut-butter and jelly can be a Trojan Horse for whole-grain bread or crackers. Shredded cauliflower, carrots, or broccoli virtually disappear in spaghetti sauce. Land mine that home-cooked macaroni with cheese sauce (not that glowing-orange powdered junk) with fresh cooked peas and carrots.

You get the idea!

Mac n Cheese

Cooking healthier meals for kids is now easier than ever before. Fresh fruits and vegetables are best whenever possible. However, if you cannot manage fresh, or frozen, at least avoid “canned with syrup” (swimming in sugary tooth-rotting sweetness) whenever possible. Frozen is far preferable to canned when it comes to both fruit and vegetables, as there are often fewer additives.

Turn their ration of milk into dessert (and get a healthy dessert at the same time) by mixing it into a frozen fruit, like our Blueberry Slush.

Blueberry Slush

TRAIN THE TROOPS

Encourage your children to try new things rather than cooking the same few meals over and over again that you know they are likely to eat. This prevents two things from happening. First of all, it helps you not to get bored when cooking for your children.

Second, it allows your children to try new flavors and textures and form opinions about them. By trying new things they will learn not only about the things they dislike but also the foods they really enjoy.

Kids tastes change over time. It’s frustrating, I know, to spend time and money preparing a meal only to have your child push the plate away and say “Yuck.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor this, I strongly recommend enlisting their help in the kitchen. First of all, children are much more likely to eat the things they had a hand in preparing as a matter of accomplishment and pride. (See our post: Tips for Raising an International Gourmet)

Second – you’re training a new kitchen commander who, with any luck, will have dinner ready for YOU, one of these nights!

It’s psychological warfare I know, but all is fair in war and parenting.

1One of the greatest gift you can give your children is to teach them how to prepare delicious, nutritious meals, and free them from a lifetime as a Fast Food P.O.W.

I’ve used these tactics to great success in my own household, and I hope you will enjoy the same degree of success on the field of battle, as well!

-Chef Perry

 



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01/30/13

Bad Food?

Hey peeps, the  hautemealz.com crew is going to start teaching a sort of “intro to home cooking” series of workshops for underprivileged kids and families.

For the sake of this question, assume we’re discussing people with a near-zero level of kitchen experience. I’m working on some themes for our “syllabus”, and I’d like you to answer one question for me, from the perspective of home cooking…

“What makes bad food/a bad meal?”

No rules, no guidelines, no “level of expertise” required. Read into that question anything you want, but PLEASE respond with something helpful. “Bad cooks”…is not helpful, lol.

We believe that, with the proper education, good , healthy meals can be prepared simply and on almost any budget, and that’s what we want to teach.

Thank you,

Chef Perry

12/7/12

My “Why”…

I was talking to a fellow business person at our Chamber of Commerce meeting this morning about next week’s KOIN6/ Impact NW Toy Drive, and how we are cooking a big Italian dinner for the families and kids that come in for toys on December 14th.

After I told her all about it, she asked me an interesting question. “So, why did you choose to work with the toy drive?”

I’m sure she was expecting me to say that we’re doing it for the kids, or because we feel a ethical or spiritual responsibility to give back (and both of those are true), but they’re not my reason why.”I do it for my Mom,” I told her.It seems that most of the focus during the Christmas season, especially at an event like the toy drive, is all about the kids (and that’s a good thing!), but as a daddy myself, I can’t help but think about the parents, too.

As terrible as it seems, to think of a child waking up on Christmas with nothing from “Santa”, how much more terrible must it be to be that child’s parent?

How crushing and desolating would it be for a mom or dad, already (obviously) in a tough place, to wake up on Christmas morning without a single gift for their child to open?

You see, one December, about thirty-five years ago, my mom and I were in a tough place. Recently divorced, a glitch in the welfare system had temporarily stopped my invalid mom’s meager monthly allotment of food stamps and disability coverage, and we were broke…I mean, living on nothing but boiled potatoes and government cheese, stoney broke. (I know some of you have read this story, bear with me.)

My mother was getting up every morning not knowing what she was going to feed her child that day, of if the power would be turned off that day, or, God forbid, if I’d get sick and need cold medicine, or something.On top of that, Christmas was coming and there was nothing. Nothing.Then, just a couple of days before Christmas, someone, at someplace very like the ImpactNW Toy Drive, gave my mother a small box of toys, a roll of wrapping paper, and some scotch tape.

They weren’t fancy toys. In fact, they weren’t even new toys…but they were something. Something to wrap and put under the tree, something to see her child run out early Christmas morning, laughing and excited, and tear into. What someone gave my mom was a gift far greater that whatever I unwrapped that morning, they gave her a glimmer of hope, a momentary lifting of her flagging self worth, and maybe even a little whisper from above saying, Hey Betty, I haven’t forgotten you guys…

I owe someone for that. To pay-forward what someone did for my mom.

That’s why I do it.

So, I encourage you, whether you want to be a part of what we’re doing with ImpactNW and KOIN6 (and, yeah, I’m gonna hit you up for that in a second), or whether you have a local church or community toy drive, or even if you just know a neighbor or co-worker who’s in a tough place and maybe needs a little whisper from above… pay it forward.

Please?

It doesn’t have to be expensive; it doesn’t have to be fancy…believe me, I know.

Now, if you DO want to help us with the ImpactNW Toy Drive, you can use this secure link to make a charitable contribution towards the meal. We’re cooking at the event on Friday for sure, and again on Saturday if we can buy enough groceries. Donations can be made via a PayPal account, or with a credit card (no account required).

I personally guarantee you, every penny we receive will be spent on the meal, and any extra will be donated to ImpactNW to buy additional toys and gifts. If you include your contact information with your donation, ImpactNW would be happy to send you a tax-deductible receipt for your donation, as well.

If you can’t give much, I totally understand, every little bit really does help.

If you can’t give anything financially, I really do understand that too…and ask that you would give the most important gift of all…please pray for the families and children that are in need this season, and ask God how you can help.

He has something for you, trust me.

If you’re local, and would rather donate a new, unwrapped toy, please contact us at hautemealz@gmail.com, and we’ll make a plan to pick that up from you before December 14th, or get you the location of your local drop-off.

Here’s ImpactNW’s Wish List:

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Thanks for reading, and please share!

-Chef Perry

10/29/12

Preparing to cook when the power is out

Usually in emergency situations, the power goes out and your refrigerator, freezer, and oven become useless.

Stocking your kitchen with the right ingredients and equipment ensures that you’ll be able to prepare healthy meals even in times of crisis.

Fresh water is number one on the list. Keep a minimum of one gallon of water per person, per day, and an extra stash for pets. “If stored water was bottled at home, we recommend replacing it every 6 months, and if it was commercially bottled, it should be replaced each year,” says  the Red Cross.

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09/7/12

Diabetes, heart disease, or gluten-intolerance? We can help!

Do you know someone who’s been recently diagnosed with diabetes, heart disease, or gluten-intolerance?

Making a major life-change in planning, cooking, and eating can be depressing, frightening and overwhelming, and frankly…many folks just give up.

Let hautemealz.com help them make the transition to a healthier life easier, by giving them a simple-to-follow, easy to prepare, and delicious plan to healthier eating.

A recipe for every night of the month, a grocery list for every week of the month… all for just $5.00 a month.

hautemealz.com…we make the plan, you make the meal!