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Blog/My Thoughts

Online Gourmet Food Resources

Nowadays it’s possible to find all kinds of international and gourmet ingredients in regular grocery stores. Some of these products, like sushi rice or Thai red curry sauce, are fairly inexpensive. Others cost more but are occasionally worth it for an extra special occasion.

However, sometimes your inner gourmet screams out for something decadent, unusual, or just plain out of season. Here are a few great online resources to silence those screams.

Cajungrocer.com offers more than just Cajun seasoning. You can add lots of Cajun spice to your life and your meals at this website. They have live crawfish, crawfish tails, crawfish pots and spices, and more.

Do you have a taste for a Cajun turkey, already cooked? Perhaps you want to try the infamous Turducken, which is a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a hen, which is then stuffed with your choice of spicy dressing in between each layer. There are tons of good deals and spicy foods available at Cajungrocer.com. Laissez les bons temps roulez!

Zabars.com has everything from “real” bagels for the displaced New Yorker to cheeses, meats, caviar, foie gras and much more for every gourmand. Zabar’s also sells their own gourmet roasted coffees and teas selected from around the world.

Create your own delicious Sunday brunch with a selection of their smoked salmon, bagels and breads, deli meats, fresh and aged cheeses, knishes, freshly baked coffee cakes and rugelach, and anything else you could want. You can even order their homemade 1 lb. sliced brisket for only $17.98! Zabar’s also makes superior gourmet gift baskets any time of year.

Napastyle.com is Michael Chiarello’s signature line of food and cooking products. The website is truly a delight for the foodie, although it can be fairly expensive. Aside from his delectable food products, such as Napastyle balsamic reduction or cambozola sauce, the website also sells wine glasses and wine accessories along with Michael’s own wines.

There is also some phenomenal copper cookware and enamel bakeware for sale. Investing in one or two really good quality pieces of cooking equipment, oils, vinegars, salts, or other products is really essential for the home cook. This website is a great place to steer your significant other when they ask, “What do you want for your birthday…Christmas…etc.?”

Hopefully these online gourmet resources will help sate your gourmet hunger for the good things in life. While most people can’t afford these indulgences often, it’s good to know they’re out there for the special occasions in life. Just remember though, that a cozy weekend with friends and family is the perfect time to indulge in a few bites of life’s little pleasures. Think ahead and stock up on a few gourmet goodies now.

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Blog/My Thoughts

Six Tips To Help You Save Money On Your Weekly Food Shop

Food is a necessity and I have often heard it said that if we did not eat we would be rich, and this certainly seems to be the case. Groceries and food prices are increasing every time you visit the supermarket, and with the temptation of chocolates, candy and luxurious desserts it is very easy to spend more than you planned. Despite this the good news is that there are several ways you can cut down the amount of cash spent on food shopping.

1) Plan, plan, plan

Before you head to the local supermarket decide what the family will eat for the next 3 or 4 evening meals. This helps you to focus on what food you actually require rather than walking around the supermarket and falling to temptation of all those treats. While you are planning make sure and get a piece of paper and list all the foods you need from the supermarket. Promise yourself that those foods on the list will be the only ones you will purchase.

2) Take a set amount of money to the supermarket

With this newly made grocery list in hand, do a rough calculation and work out how much your shopping will cost. If it comes to $20 take no more than $25 to the supermarket with you. By taking excess cash you may be tempted into buying several extra items which will send your grocery bill rocketing. Limit the amount of time you spend in the supermarket as this will cut down the amount of time you have to browse at non essential food items.

3) Use coupons or money off vouchers

Collect any vouchers you get and make sure you use them on products you would normally eat. These coupons arrive via the post and are also present in local newspapers. As well as coupons make sure and take advantage of special offers, ie buy one get one free. These can help you save quite a bit.

4) Eat smaller portions

Instead of over indulging and eating large portions cut down on the amount of food you are actually eating. Not only will this save your grocery bill, it will also help your waistline.

5) Buy cheaper brands

Do not buy special brand foods. These often do not taste any better than the cheaper brands, you are only paying for the name, and it is not worth it.

6) Buy in bulk

When buying items look out for cheaper offers for slightly bigger items, for example buy a 750g box of Corn Flakes for $3, rather than the 500g for $2.50. Here you are making a 50 cent saving on one item. This only works with items will good best before dates and items which can be frozen.

There are many ways to save money on your grocery shopping, and this is by no means a complete list but should help you save quite a bit each week. The key is to plan and be organised.

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Recipes

Cooking With Food Scraps: Stretching The Family Food Dollar

Grocery prices have skyrocketed in recent months and families are trying stretch their food budget which is where cooking with scraps can help. Instead of scraping those plates into the trash or tossing those vegetable bits into the compost pile, make another meal or side dish out them. Cooking with your food scraps can help make the most of your food dollars.

Chili from Scraps

Use a resealable freezer container to hold leftover scraps. Ground beef leftovers such as taco meat, sloppy Joes, a single hamburger patty or the end of the meatloaf can go into the container. Tomato based products like spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, marinara, even tomato juice or tomato soup can be added to the container. When it is full, dump the contents into your stock pot and add kidney beans, onions and seasonings. Even though the dish may be different every time, it’s always good.

Leftover Potato Skins

Next time you bake potatoes, bake some extra ones. When they are finished, remove the flesh from the potatoes and store in a freezer bag or container. These can be used for adding to mashed potatoes or by themselves as a quick side dish. Lay the skins out on a baking sheet. Top them with cheese and bacon bits. Heat in the oven until the cheese melts. When they are cooled, slip them into freezer containers and save until you need a quick snack. Then reheat and top with sour cream.

Citrus Rinds

Many recipes call for lemon peel or the zest of 1 orange. These seasonings are not used often and can be difficult to keep fresh in the cupboard for extended periods. After squeezing lemons to make juice or peeling an orange, grapefruit or lime, save the large pieces of the rinds. Store them, separately, in freezer bags. Next time you need a little lemon peel, take the bag out and grate the rind while it is still frozen. It is easy to handle and your ingredients will be fresh.

Vegetable Soup Base

Vegetable scraps are so versatile. Many folks save them for the compost pile but you can sometimes get another meal out them and THEN add them to the compost pile. Save carrot and celery ends, mushroom stems, onion and garlic peels, and the stems and leaves from herbs.

Store them in a container in the freezer and keep adding to it. When you have enough, dump the contents into your stock pot, add water and the meat of your choice unless you are just making vegetable broth. You can skim the vegetables out when you’re finished so the compost pile isn’t neglected.

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Blog/My Thoughts

Grocery Shopping Tips: Eating Healthy On A Budget

Making healthy food choices on a budget doesn’t mean bringing home half-empty bags from the grocery store. By making smart decisions, eating healthy on a budget can become second nature. Here are three kitchen staples you can easily replace with healthier, inexpensive options on your next shopping trip.

1. Rice

If you love stir fries, casseroles and soups, you probably have rice in your pantry. Did you know there are many types of rice available? The everyday white sticky rice you enjoy in your Chinese takeout isn’t the only option out there. Try buying whole grain brown rice.

Unlike refined white rice, whole grain brown rice is packed with energy-boosting B vitamins and antioxidants manganese and selenium. Whole grains help stabilize blood sugars, encourage weight loss and prevent cancer, according to registered dietician Keri Glassman, a contributor to CBS. To save even more pennies, buy rice in bulk. The individual boil-in-bag pouches cost more and produce more waste for landfills.

2. Bread

From sandwiches to a morning plate of French toast, bread is a staple in many homes. Eating healthy on a budget doesn’t mean you have to give up bread. The carbohydrate-filled food is a great way to add even more cholesterol-lowering whole grains to your diet. Instead of grabbing the loaf of white bread made with processed bleached flour, opt for something darker.

Look for breads made with oatmeal, quinoa, whole grain wheat or brown rice. These breads not only add fiber to your diet, they also add more flavor to your meal so you won’t grab for extra slices just to fill up. Eating less means your cost per serving goes down — saving you money.

3. Beans

Consider going meatless for one meal a day. To get enough proteins and fiber in your diet, try making a meal based on beans, recommends the United States Department of Agriculture. When purchased dried, you can easily walk away paying a dollar or less for a pound of dried lentils, kidney beans, pinto beans or chickpeas.

You know that’s less than what you pay for a pound of ground beef. Now that’s eating healthy on a budget! In addition to chili, soups and vegetarian bean burritos, beans can be mashed and made into hamburger-like patties, bean loafs and seasoned for taco filling. As a bonus, beans are extremely low in saturated fat — unlike most meat-based proteins.

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Food

Best Vegetarian Thai/Pan Asian Food in Seattle, Washington

Vegetarians typically have a limited amount of dining choices when it comes to eating out in the Seattle, Washington area. However, if it’s Thai food that they are seeking, then their vegetarian options are more abundant.

Thai food is delicious as well as a healthy alternative to those who do not eat meat. Thai food focuses mainly on deep sauces mixed with vegetables and some form of noodle. Tofu is a popular ingredient in many Thai cuisines such as basil fried rice; Phad Thai and vegetable stir fry dishes.

Many “vegetarian friendly” restaurants end up having very limited vegetarian choices and leave customers in a huff. However, there are two vegetarian Thai restaurants that stand out above the rest and should be visited by those who are vegetarian, or want to be vegetarian for a day.

Araya

Araya is located on the corner of 11th avenue and NE 45th street and is within the heart of the University District. People who are used to eating a lot of meat dishes will realize that they are not missing out on the meat when they go to this restaurant. The secret to success in any vegetarian restaurant is that the food needs to be flavorful without the addition of meat.

The most popular dish at any Thai restaurant is the Phad Thai dish. Phad Thai is made with Thai spices, rice noodles, peanuts, tofu, egg and an assortment of vegetables. Besides noodle dishes, Araya serves a variety of curry dishes with zesty curry paste and coconut milk. The menu variety alone is enough to impress many vegetarians and will leave the appalled at the amount of choices that they have.

Teapot

The Teapot is located on the corner of E. Thomas St and 15th Ave E in the Capitol Hill area. The Teapot focuses on Pan-Asian cuisine such as Thai, Indonesian, Singaporean, Japanese and Chinese. All the food here is vegan, meaning that all the cuisine is prepared without milk, egg, meat, or animal products. Many people are apprehensive when they hear the word “vegan”.

However, after having one bite of Teapot’s “Vegan Cheesecake”, all apprehension will melt away. The Vegan Cheesecake is to die for and taste exactly like cheesecake (without all the fat!). The menu is expansive and includes anything that a regular Asian restaurant would carry (except meat dishes).

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Recipes

Edy’s Cookie Dough Ice Cream – Food Review

Both of my daughters and I share a love of ice cream. Although we eat far less of it during the Fall and Winter, I still buy a carton of ice cream every few weeks during the colder months for an occasional treat. I usually don’t buy Edy’s Ice Cream because it is too pricey.

When I spotted Edy’s Cookie Dough Ice Cream on sale for $2.79 instead of six dollars and change for a one point five quart container, I knew I had to “scoop” up this bargain. Here is what I learned about

Edy’s Cookie Dough Ice Cream

Edy’s Cookie Dough Ice Cream is packaged in a very cute ice cream container. The lid is striped in brown, yellow and white around the rim and the front of the carton has the flavor of ice cream spelled out in bubble letters with a bite taken out of the “c” in cookie. The picture on the front shows very delicious looking ice cream with tons of chocolate chips and bits of cookie dough.

My younger daughter was practically jumping up and down in front of the freezer door; she was so anxious to try this frozen treat! The very appetizing looking ice cream as well as the great sale price convinced me to give this ice cream a try.

Edy’s Cookie Dough Ice Cream contains one hundred and fifty calories per half cup serving. There is a total of six grams of Fat, fifteen milligrams of Cholesterol, seventy five milligrams of Sodium, twenty three grams of Total Carbohydrate, and sixteen grams of sugar in each serving.

There is also two percent of Vitamin A, four percent of Calcium and two percent of Iron in this sized portion. Most people do not consume only a half of a cup of ice cream at a sitting, so these amounts should be doubled to get a more accurate idea of the nutritional value and fat and sugar content consumed at each indulgence.

From the very first taste of Edy’s Cookie Dough Ice Cream I was hooked! The ice cream is creamy with an ample amount of cookie dough and chocolate chips in each spoonful. This ice cream flavor truly combines the delicious treats of ice cream and cookies in one dessert. I had high hopes for this ice cream and my expectations were happily met.

Edy’s Cookie Dough Ice Cream very tastily satisfies a sweet tooth and makes a nice dessert to a well balanced meal. I don’t know that I would pay full price for this ice cream, since every grocer dollar counts these days, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it to others who are ice cream lovers like me.

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Food

How To Transform An Egg Mayonnaise Sandwich Into A More Exciting Sandwich!

An egg mayonnaise sandwich is a comfort food that is easy to prepare and is tasty into the bargain. But it can also get boring after a while if you use the same old ingredients every time, sliced eggs, mayonnaise and two slices of bread. This article will offer some alternative ways to enjoy the traditional egg mayonnaise sandwich that will be sure to please.

Rather than using your normal brand of full fat mayonnaise, why not use reduced fat ranch or blue cheese dressing? As you chop or slice the eggs, place a small amount of the dressing onto the bread, and spread it as you would with butter.

Alternatively, just place a tablespoon of ranch or blue cheese dressing onto the top of the eggs. It’s surprising how different the egg mayonnaise sandwich will taste. It will still taste good and refreshing, but it will not be full of fat. This is a healthier alternative to the traditional egg mayonnaise sandwich.

When I make an egg mayonnaise sandwich, I also add vegetables to the egg and dressing mixture before applying it to the bread. Thinly sliced celery, green pepper or even sliced mushrooms will work well.

When all the ingredients have been blended together, season it with black pepper or a sprinkling of herbs. It gives the egg mayonnaise sandwich a crunchy texture, plus, you can squeeze in some vegetables too.

An egg mayonnaise sandwich does not have to be out of bounds for people who are watching their cholesterol levels. If you choose to use an egg alternative, such as Egg Beaters, you can still enjoy the genuine taste of real eggs, but without the cholesterol content.

Simply pour a small amount into the pan and cook as you would scrambled eggs. Once the mixture has cooled down, mix in your dressing, and/ or mayonnaise and any other ingredients you wish to add. Season the mixture and then add it to your bread.

When preparing an egg mayonnaise sandwich, you do not have to use 2 slices of bread. Try alternatives such as pita bread, chapattis (Indian bread), naan (Indian bread) and other types of bread. Cut the bread lengthways and stuff the prepared egg mayonnaise into the middle of the bread.

You can also finish this off with lettuce, sliced onion, tomato and meat. An egg mayonnaise sandwich can be easily transformed into a more exciting and tasty meal option if you just use your imagination and add your favourite ingredients.

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Blog/My Thoughts

Behind The Food Trends: Why Is Pie Suddenly Ms. Popular

With almost every food blogger this month writing cupcake’s obituary and declaring pie the new belle of the bakery, it occurred to me the psychological subtext of these two desserts could reveal a deeper trend in society. As sweet indulgences, both cupcakes and pie are enjoyment foods, but each evokes a different emotional response.

Cupcakes are fun and exciting-what mommy brought to school when you had a birthday. Pies are cozy and comforting-what Aunt Mildred baked for Sunday dinner. If baked goods were humans, cupcakes would be six-year-olds; pies, their grandmas.

Culture Map: “Rachel Ray says pie is the new cupcake . . . “

During cupcakes’ recent heyday, boutique cupcakeries seemed to magically appear out of nowhere. The financial bubble had burst; it was difficult to cope with the economic and emotional aftershocks.

Many of us reverted to our childhood pleasures, escaping into a world of child-sized cakes with fanciful frostings. It was as if a modern day Marie Antoinette (Barbara Bush?) had commanded, “Let them eat cupcakes,” so we did.

With their serious foundational crusts, pies connote strength and stability. They contain wholesome good-for-you fruit and, unlike childish cupcakes, are not overly sweet.

Pies evoke a Norman Rockwell feeling of nostalgia, a happier and simpler time in American history, if only because societal cracks were airbrushed back then instead of magnified under the relentless cable news microscope.

NPR: “Texas and New York restaurants offer pie happy hours . . . “

Some food forecasters are predicting that pies will adopt some of cupcakes’ traits; for instance, miniature one-serving pies (think Hostess fruit pies but better). Others are predicting a merger with the locavore trend, with serious pie bakers using only fresh local fruit.

NPR reports pies are even being served at weddings (let’s just hope passive-aggressive brides and grooms don’t smash pie in each others’ faces).

The return to pie could mean we are ready to go back to a roll-up-your-shirtsleeves (and pie dough) era. Or it could just signify Americans have grown tired of cutesy cupcakes. As Freud might have said, “sometimes a pie is just a pie.”

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Recipes

Quick Easy Chili

It truly amazes me how some people blow cooking way out of proportion. I am known as the best cook in my family, and I have a really big family! Basic food preparation doesn’t have to be long and laborious. My chili, which takes only 30 minutes to make, taste just as good and even better than chili that some have labored all day on.

A business associate of ours used to sponsor chili cook offs at his place of business. He loves chili and a few years ago he suffered a death in the family. I made him a pot of chili and he said it was the best chili he had ever tasted.

He had no idea how I made it and for all he knew I had spent hours on it. I know him well and he wouldn’t say it was good if it wasn’t.

Ingredients

  1. 2 pounds of ground beef
  2. 3 cans of pinto beans
  3. 1 can of diced tomatoes
  4. 3/4 cup of olive oil
  5. 3 packages of chili seasoning (any kind- they’re all basically the same, even the store brand)

You can add onions and peppers if you like. I sometimes add them if I have them on hand and if I have the time to chop them but they’re not necessary. The chili will still taste good without them.

In a large pot, brown the ground beef and chop it fine with the spatula until it’s as fine as you like it. Some people like big chunks of meat in their chili and some don’t. As for me, it depends on how much time I have. Sprinkle a little salt over the meat if you like. I usually sprinkle it with a little garlic salt.

Once the meat has browned, drain off the grease and add the olive oil and spices. Blend the spices with the cooked meat then add the 3 cans of pinto beans. You can use kidney beans if you prefer but to me they’re too firm and don’t absorb the spices as well as the pinto beans.

Add the tomatoes. Don’t drain it. Just empty the whole thing in. Fill the empty can three times with water and pour it into the pot. Stir until it is well blended. Bring it to a boil then lower the heat and let it simmer about ten minutes or until you’re ready to serve.

Dried pinto beans are especially good for chili if you want to go through the trouble. When they’re done, drain the liquid off then measure about 5 cups into the pot and about 5 cups of the liquid then follow the other directions.

Ground turkey can be used instead of ground beef. Blend the chili spices into the ground turkey really well so it picks up the color and flavors of the spices.

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Blog/My Thoughts

What You Can Give Deer For Food

Feeding the wildlife is a fun thing to do when you have kids or if you just want to enjoy the beauty of some of the nature that is around in your area. I know that for me I usually put out some feed for the deer that wander in and out of my yard, but I mainly do this in the winter months when it is super cold outside and they have trouble finding food because of snow or ice covering the ground.

However, one thing that I have always wondered is what should I put out that the deer would be able to eat. Here are some things that I found through experimenting with putting things out that the deer will eat.

The first thing that I found that the deer will eat is fairly obvious and that is corn. Now I know that they eat corn because that is what you can buy commercially as feed for deer. So that one is fairly straight forward, but if you’re like me buying deer feed all the time can get rather expensive and hard to maintain so I had to find some other things that the deer would eat.

The second food that I put out for the deer to eat was some of my green beans that I could not use. Now I placed them in the same area that I put the corn and then sat back inside my house and watched.

I know that some other critters came around and ate out of the same area that I put my corn in so it could have been a combination of all of them eating out of this, but when I went out the next morning all the food that I had put out was gone and a ton of deer tracks were present.

The third food that I have put out for the deer to eat was a wide variety of apples. Now the apples were mainly ones that my kids didn’t eat. So they would have pieces missing out of them in spots so I would cut out near where my kids ate off of the apple to help prevent my kids giving the deer any type of sickness. Now I know that the deer ate parts of the apples with some other animals eating other parts of it.

These are the foods that I have found that the deer in my area really eat a lot of. Now I know that each type of deer will enjoy different foods so that it will be difficult for you to follow all advice strictly. So you will need to experiment as well to find out what food the deer in your area will like as well.