How to Beat the Clock: 10 Back-to-School Breakfasts Ready in 15 Minutes or Less

by in Recipes, August 26th, 2015

In the throes of back-to-school chaos, the meal that’s most often overlooked is breakfast. Assembling an elaborate plate seems like a scene from Mission: Impossible, especially when there are bookbags to pack and buses to catch. Sure, on-the-go breakfasts like yogurt cups and granola bars are reliable in a pinch, but nothing beats a homemade, sit-down meal. If you’ve been saving your favorite classics like pancakes and omelets for weekends at home, there’s no need: With a few helpful tips and the right ingredients on hand, you can have satisfying plates ready in a flash. Make time for the most-important meal of the day with these 10 breakfast dishes ready in 15 minutes or less, from omelets and poached eggs to pancakes and oatmeal.

Eggs Benedict
Total Time: 15 Minutes
Eggs Benedict is the quintessential brunch item — a dish to be savored and not rushed on a leisurely Sunday morning. But there’s no reason this comforting medley of crisp Canadian bacon and soft poached eggs atop toasted English muffins can’t be part of your weekday breakfast routine. Ree Drummond uses her mother’s quick and easy method to ensure the eggs come out right: When the water comes to a gentle simmer, add a little bit of white vinegar to the pan. Then, use a spoon to create a whirlpool before adding the eggs. This spinning motion encourages the whites to wrap around their yolks.

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Irresistible Pound Cake Ideas, Whether You Make It or Buy It

by in Recipes, August 26th, 2015

Pound CakeMy husband is not a sweets person, but pound cake is his exception. Although I’ll never comprehend his disinterest in chocolate, an obsession with the classic combination of eggs, flour, sugar and lots of butter is understandable. Traditional pound cake is one of the simplest, most-satisfying desserts out there. It’s also a blank canvas that tastes good with just about anything dolloped on top. Here are some of our favorite variations, whether you’re baking a pound cake from scratch or dolling up a store-bought loaf.

Lemon Pound Cake
This homemade pound cake is brushed with a lemon glaze that adds a little hint of citrus and keeps the cake extra moist. You could use the same trick with a store-bought pound cake to give it some added oomph.

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5 Coffee Hacks to Make Your Mornings Easier and More Flavorful

by in Drinks, Food Network Chef, August 26th, 2015

5 Coffee Hacks to Make Your Mornings Easier and More FlavorfulAs I type, I am surrounded by a sea of binders and lined papers, high-top shoes, low-top ankle boots, trendy-again ’70s stretchy hipster pants and crisply colored backpacks smelling of factory nylon. Just removing the tags from all this loot makes me feel like taking a nap.

’Tis the season of coffee. (Did I really just say “’tis the season?” It’s not even Labor Day! I think I even outpaced Costco there!) Coffee and autumn go hand in hand in our household. Any time an alarm clock jolts me out of sleep, I want the jolt of caffeine shortly thereafter. My husband makes the coffee as part of our nightly routine, setting the timer for exactly 15 minutes before I wake up, so that I walk downstairs and into the kitchen at the perfect moment, when the machine is gurgling and spattering lightly as it confirms that all the water is gone from the chamber and the machine can finally, confidently turn itself off, while a final few drops of coffee plop gently into the full pot. It’s the glorious announcement of another day full of possibility.

I am a coffee fan (I don’t say “snob” because I find that loosely translates into people who don’t like Starbucks), so I like my coffee exactly right: no sugar and about two tablespoons of half-and-half, or a quarter-cup of milk (but, in that case, heated). Quite simply, the day doesn’t begin without coffee for me. I love the routine, the smell, the warmth and, of course, the caffeine (although I only drink half-caf so I can have two cups without feeling jittery). And all this coffeepot experience has taught me a few little tricks — some coffee hacks, if you will.

1. Mom’s trick to improve cheap coffee:

Growing up, we were incredibly poor, and my mom bought the cheapest coffee she could find at the grocery store. But, no matter, she insisted, because a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of cinnamon in the filter along with the coffee elevated bargain beans to gourmet status. Well, almost. But this trick did get me through the lean college and graduate school days pretty darned well.

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One-on-One with the Chopped Teen Tournament, Part 1 Winner

by in Shows, August 25th, 2015

Chopped Teens Round 1For a second time, Chopped has returned with Teen Tournament, and on tonight’s premiere, four teens entered the hallowed kitchen to try their luck at the mystery baskets. Many of them have practiced in advance, even training with their culinary instructors. But nothing could truly prepare them for the pressure and the time constraints. Nevertheless the teens took the competition in stride, and ultimately one of them rose to the top with three courses that earned a place in the finale, where he or she will compete for a chance to win the $25,000.

Get the Exclusive Interview with the Part 1 Winner

Competition-Inspired Cooking with Your Kids: Heart Your Food

by in Recipes, Shows, August 25th, 2015

Heart toastWe met our eight kid contestants from Rachael Ray’s Kids Cook-Off this week, and the competition is sure to be fun and fierce. Who else was blown away by the contestants’ cooking skills and understanding of flavor pairings? They cooked with ingredients we never expected, like scallops, mussels and smoked salmon.

We loved Olivia’s sweet heart-shaped one-bite creation, and we were super-impressed with her last-minute sweet-to-savory shift. It’s amazing how changing an ordinary food into a fun shape can totally inspire kids (and some adults) to retry a once-refused dish. Or it can just make an old favorite even more fun to eat!

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Ice Cream Styling Tips from an Expert Instagrammer

by in News, August 25th, 2015

Ice Cream Styling Tips from an Expert InstagrammerI scream, you scream, we all scream for … Instagram? Here’s the thing: Snapping a photo of your favorite ice cream treat (be it in a cone or cup, squished between two cookies or floating in root beer) so you can share it with the world can be its own brand of challenging.

How do you convey all that dairy-smooth deliciousness to your followers without ending up with a milky, melty mess on your hands (and your phone and your floor)?

Blogger Nastassia Johnson, who regularly posts droolworthy ice cream images, along with snaps of other sweets, to her Instagram account, @letmeeatcake, recently shared a few styling tips with Mashable.

Here are a few of her ideas you may want to incorporate into your own social media routine:

Get Vertical: Height adds dimension and visual interest, so layer scoop atop scoop. Stack flavors in alternating colors. Feel free to add unusual elements — like doughnuts or fruit — to make your photos even more eye-catching.

Mitigate the Melt: Johnson suggests popping a sheet tray into your freezer before you scoop. Then lay out the sheet tray with your scooper, a paper towel, a bowl of water and your pint(s). For ease and beauty, dip the scooper into the water and give it a quick tap on the paper towel between scoops. Put the scoops onto the sheet tray and pop the whole shebang back into the freezer (set to zero or lower) for about 10 minutes. This will ensure the scoops are good and frozen so you can maximize the time before they melt. Read more

Kid-Approved Smoothies That Aren’t Packed with Sugar

by in Family, Recipes, August 25th, 2015

Orange Banana Smoothie“Healthy smoothies” sounds a little repetitive, right? Smoothies are good for you! They’re loaded with fruit! The truth is, like granola bars, smoothies can sound healthy but sometimes actually have so much added sugar that they’re really more like milkshakes. (And those granola bars are basically candy bars.) But these homemade smoothies are all low in added sugar, full of fruit and some are even full of veggies too.

Orange Banana Smoothie (pictured above): Spring for fresh OJ to make Ina Garten’s recipe once and you’ll be hooked on this healthy smoothie forever.

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10 Recipes Every Giada De Laurentiis Fan Should Master

by in Food Network Chef, Recipes, August 25th, 2015

10 Recipes Every Giada De Laurentiis Fan Should MasterYou may know Giada De Laurentiis for cooking up classic Italian dishes or adding a California spin to cooking and entertaining on Giada at Home. As a versatile chef, Giada has shown Food Network fans how to make everything from fresh pasta to light and healthy West Coast eats. Most recently we’ve seen Giada exploring her homeland on Giada in Italy — sharing those family traditions and recipes that influenced her early love for cooking — and providing her culinary expertise as a mentor on Food Network Star. Check out Giada’s best-ever dishes below, from her Sunday-supper-ready Bolognese to creamy tiramisu and rich ravioli bites ideal for parties.

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A Lot of People Are Eating Alone These Days

by in News, Restaurants, August 24th, 2015

A Lot of People Are Eating Alone These DaysWe love to break bread together — relish the idea of sitting down to a hot meal with family and friends — but increasingly, Americans are dining solo.

Just shy of half of all adults’ meals and snacks — about 46 percent of them — are eaten alone, according to information compiled by market researchers at the Hartman Group, released in a recent Food Marketing Institute trend report and cited by NPR’s The Salt.

Hartman Group CEO Laurie Demeritt suggests we’re in the midst of a “true cultural change” in which it is becoming “more socially acceptable to eat alone.” Not only has the percentage of single-person households been on the rise in the United States — increasing from 17 percent in 1970 to 27 percent in 2012, according to Census Bureau data cited by NPR — but we’re also a nation of people on the go, grabbing food at our desks, in the car and on the street.

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7 After-School Snacks That Won’t Spoil Dinner

by in Recipes, August 24th, 2015

Light, energizing and easy to prepare: That’s the elusive after-school snack trifecta. When store shelves are lined with chips, sugary fruit snacks and other empty calories, shopping for something that fits the bill can feel a lot like searching for a needle in a haystack. The obvious alternative is to skip store-bought options in favor of something homemade, but few people have time to prepare snacks in addition to dinner. Beat the after-school crunch by preparing healthy foods over the weekend and keeping them on hand for later in the week. Homemade granola bars and trail mixes are a great place to start. Fresh veggies can be washed and cut in mere minutes, and vegetable-based dips such as guacamole or hummus make crudites seem appealing. Here are some more quick, nutritious, kid-friendly snacks to tide your family over till dinner’s ready.

Protein Bars
These nutty bars studded with dried fruit will stave off hunger pangs between lunch and dinner for only 167 calories per serving. Make a batch over the weekend so your family will have them on hand for quick and convenient after-school snacking throughout the week.

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