All Posts In How-to

Easing Into Back-to-School Dinners — Simple Scratch Suppers

by in Family, How-to, August 16th, 2011

back to school
When I first wrote up my outline for this blog, back to school dinners seemed a sensible choice given school starts this week for many families around the country. Nowadays, we all seem to be running short on time. People rely on meals out of boxes and bags, thinking there’s not enough time to cook. I wanted to offer you tips and ideas for making weeknight cooking easier.

Then something happened to change my perspective and outlook.

My husband died suddenly.

When I say suddenly, I mean just that. He was helping our daughter ride her bike, told her he needed to sit for a moment, then keeled over from a massive heart attack. Some of you, perhaps many, probably know about this already given the amazing show of support and love that has filled the food community.

So, why am I here talking to you all about back-to-school dinner ideas?

Read more

Alex Eats: Salad

by in Food Network Chef, How-to, August 16th, 2011

lettuce
alex guarnaschelliEvery week, Alex Guarnaschelli, host of Alex’s Day Off, shares with readers what she’s eating — whether it’s from the farmers’ market or fresh off the boat, she’ll have you craving everything from comfort food to seasonal produce.

Choose lettuces that are bright green and firm — saggy, browning leaves are the hallmark of vegetables on their way to the compost pile. If the outer leaves of a head of lettuce are ragged, peel away a layer or two to see if the heart is worth saving. To make lettuce last longer, keep it dry and cool in a dark place. It’s important not to wash or mix lettuce with anything acidic (lemon or vinegar) until right before eating.

Iceberg: I really love iceberg lettuce. I love a good wedge with blue cheese; it makes me feel American. I also love chopping iceberg and mixing it with scallions, fresh chiles or a really vibrant dressing. It has a great, juicy texture and, on its own, is pretty bland. To me, it’s nice to have a lettuce that can meld with bold flavors.

Watercress, mustard greens and frisee »

How To Eat on the Road

by in How-to, Recipes, August 12th, 2011

Can you make it off your block before a little voice in the backseat proclaims “I’m starvingggg” or begs “Are we there yet?” If not, it’s a good idea to be prepared for hours-long road trips with plenty of snacks, drinks and eats to avoid stopping at every questionable road-side convenience store along interstate. While royal-blue gas station slushies and their pre-packaged, deep-fried side dishes are sweet and unquestionably delicious, homemade snacks are worlds healthier and cheaper. As you squeeze in that last summer trip and prepare for the Labor Day weekend, use our recipes below to make go-to snacks everyone in the car will enjoy.

There’s no denying that potato chips are a classic road-trip pick; they’re easy to eat, pleasing to everyone’s taste buds and available at every rest stop. However, they’re often laden with fat and covered in sodium. Our Curry Potato Chips (pictured above) from Food Network Magazine are baked, not fried, and dusted with warm curry powder. Pack these in plastic baggies to easily dole them out to the back seat crew.

More fun to-go snack recipes »

Off the Beaten Aisle: Anchovies

by in How-to, Recipes, August 11th, 2011

flatbread pizza with anchovies
If anchovies gross you out, know this: Compared to what people ate before there were anchovies, they’re practically cake and ice cream.

Because until about the 16th century there were no anchovies as we know them today. That is, small silvery fish that are boned, salt-cured and packed in oil.

Instead, there was garum — the juice of salted and fermented fish guts. Garum lost favor about 500 years ago when people learned how to make anchovies.

Can’t imagine why.

Anchovies, however, are not a singular fish. Most cuisines around the world have their own “anchovy,” most of which tend to be variants of one variety of fish, a relative of the herring.

Anchovies demystified »

Menu Planning vs. Cooking on the Fly — Simple Scratch Suppers

by in Family, How-to, August 9th, 2011

cooking on the fly
Procrastination has been my strong suit ever since I can remember. Term papers were finished just before dawn on the day they were due. Studying for tests took place until the moment the bell rang, in an effort to cram in all I should’ve been paying attention to during the semester.

It’s quite funny, now that I’ve immersed myself in a world looming with deadlines. I’m not talking about my day job as a food writer. I’m talking about motherhood. Those in the trenches with me understand the feeling of a never-ending to-do list — laundry, homework help, cleaning, etc.

You’re wondering what any of this has to do with getting dinner on the table, right? Well, it certainly explains why I’m not a menu planner. I often give the excuse that I don’t want my “creativity” to be crowded. I say meal planning isn’t for me because I love the flexibility it offers to enjoy what I’m craving at the moment. The real reason I don’t plan our weekly meals, though, is to keep my love for cooking alive. If I planned our meals, I mean really sat down with a pen and paper, dinnertime would feel like a chore — and I already have plenty of those.

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Alex Eats: Herbs

by in How-to, August 9th, 2011

herbs
alex guarnaschelliEvery week, Alex Guarnaschelli, host of Alex’s Day Off, shares with readers what she’s eating — whether it’s from the farmers’ market or fresh off the boat, she’ll have you craving everything from comfort food to seasonal produce.

“Never put parsley on green beans,” one of my mentors whispered ominously to me one night in his kitchen. A young cook at the time, I dutifully heeded his advice. Years later, I was absent-mindedly sprinkling chopped chives on some green beans when I realized it was actually chopped parsley. A chill crept up my spine. Parsley with green beans. Help! I looked around to see if anyone was watching. The coast was clear. I tasted it. Delicious. It occurred to me I had never even asked why parsley and green beans don’t make a good match. The truth is, whatever you like is all that matters.

Read her suggestions for basil, dill, sage and tarragon »

Humidity and Cookies — Fix My Dish

by in How-to, August 8th, 2011

chocolate chip cookies
Twice a month, we’re giving readers a chance to ask Food Network Kitchens’ advice about an issue they’re having with a dish. They can’t reformulate a recipe for you, but they’re happy to help improve it. For example, this week’s question is directly related to the intense summer heat we’ve been having.

Question: “With all this humidity, my freshly-baked cookies got stale. How can I crisp them up again?” — Debby D.

Answer: Moisture may be good for your plants or your skin, but not for your cookies. Summer, though welcomed for the sun and fun, also brings humidity that makes your cookies limp — not so fun. Keep those cookies crisp by storing them in an airtight container. Some people toss a piece of bread in with the cookies to help absorb any excess moisture. You could also re-crisp them by baking on a wire rack in a 300 degree F oven for a few minutes.

Have a question for the Kitchens? Leave a comment below and they’ll answer a select number of them in the coming weeks.

Pie Thickeners — FN Kitchens

by in How-to, August 5th, 2011

peach pie cherry pie recipe
There’s no doubt that apple and pumpkin are among some of the most popular pie varieties, but nothing beats a fresh berry or peach pie, especially when the fruits are at their peak. Now, imagine cleaning handfuls of fresh cherries, drying them off and taking time to prepare the filling mixture. You’ve rolled out the crust, baked off the pie and let it cool. The vanilla ice cream is ready and you cut the first piece, only to see your filling run around the pie plate, creating a mushy crust. How can you keep your pie from running and what pie thickeners are appropriate? We asked Food Network Kitchens for their expertise.

The “juiciness” that happens when fruit cooks in a pie is most copious with fruits like berries and peaches, fruits that have a lot of juice, especially during the summer. We use thickeners to add body to these juices so that they can stay inside the pie — or at least close to it — so when we cut into it, the crust stays crisp and the whole thing is more fun to eat.

Find out how to make the perfect pie filling »

Summer Food Safety: Mayonnaise

by in How-to, July 1st, 2011

mayo with knife
During the latest “Ask the Editor” chat on Food Network’s Facebook page, many readers inquired about mayonnaise in salads and how long they can be left out during summer months. With Fourth of July celebrations upon us, it’s important to practice food safety –you don’t want your guests missing the fireworks because they’re not feeling well. Even if you place Grandma’s famous potato salad in the shade, it has a timely expiration.

So how long is too long?

Read the rules after the jump »

How to Keep Your Kitchen Cool

by in How-to, June 14th, 2011

stover burner
In the hot summer months, it’s hard to spend time in the kitchen over a hot stove. Every Wednesday on Food Network’s Facebook page, we host “Ask the Editor,” where readers can ask a question on a specific topic. Last week, we received numerous inquiries on how to keep kitchens cool in the summer heat.

So how can you put dinner on the table without driving you and your family into a heat coma?

Top 5 Tips With Recipes

1. Take It Outside: If you have a grill, use it! You can make dinner — from start to finish on the grill — leaving your house cool and your stove clean.
Recipes: Sausage-and-Pepper Skewers, Tuna Burgers with Carrot-Ginger Sauce, Grilled Ratatouille Salad

2. Use Your Slow Cooker: Set it and forget it — it couldn’t be more simple. While we don’t suggest cooking heavy dinners like you would in the winter, there are lighter, more refreshing ways to use this kitchen gadget.
Recipes: Shrimp Creole, Chipotle-Lime Chicken Thighs, Slow-Cooker Pork Tacos

Three more ways to keep the heat down in your kitchen »

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