Healthy Spinach Artichoke Dip — Simple Soirées

by in Recipes, January 19th, 2012

healthy spinach dip
Now that the holidays are officially over and most of us are in cookie detox mode, it’s time to bring on the lighter appetizers for fun get-togethers you might be throwing. I’m a huge fan of Spinach Artichoke Dip. It’s one of those classic comforting appetizers and it’s perfect for these midwinter gatherings I’ve been throwing. Just because the holidays are over doesn’t mean that fun and simple soirees have to go away. I’ve been having friends over for casual midweek dinners and introducing them to new lightened-up recipes.

This Spinach Artichoke Dip from Ellie Krieger is the perfect example. You’ll never guess that this recipe is lightened up because it’s still super flavorful and just as addicting as its full-fat cousin. Plus, it would be an excellent addition to your upcoming Super Bowl menu. I made a few changes to spice things up a bit more and make it extra delicious. My favorite mix-in wound up being the addition of pepper jack cheese — it gave the dip an extra kick.

Get Gaby’s lightened-up version »

Reduce the Amount of Food Waste — Tips From Alex Guarnaschelli

by in How-to, Shows, January 19th, 2012

food waste
Participating in The Big Waste on Food Network was as eye opening for me as it was to watch it. I consider myself fairly well-informed in matters of buying, selling or, most simply, eating what I buy for my restaurants and home. In short, I didn’t think there would be much to learn doing this show. Or at least that there wouldn’t be much I hadn’t already seen. I was wrong. There were small amounts of precious, expensive things wasted, like chocolate, espresso and prosciutto. There were the stunning amounts of vegetables like corn, in bulk quantity, that I was surprised to learn would never “make the cut” and have a chance to even be bought.

Here are a few things we can all think about when shopping and cooking that can help reduce the amount of food waste:

1. Don’t pick through an entire pile of tomatoes to find the biggest, most perfect one. Settle for a few of the nice, small ones on top. Moving the pile around and shifting the fruit can bruise them and increase the likelihood than people will leave those other bruised fruits behind. Same goes for peaches.

Five more tips to reduce the amount of food waste »

Hoisin — Off the Beaten Aisle

by in How-to, Recipes, January 19th, 2012

hoisin turkey meatball grinders
Mmmm … Nothing says good eats like soy residue.

Except that in Chinese cooking, it really can. And you very likely have enjoyed that soy residue. Many times and in many ways.

We’re talking about hoisin sauce, a classic ingredient for sauces — both for dipping at the table and basting during cooking — in China.

Hoisin is a thick, dark red-to-brown sauce that blends sweet-spicy-savory flavors, a profile not all that different from ketchup. It is made from the leftover mash of fermented soy beans produced when making traditional soy sauces. That mash is combined with sugar, chiles, garlic, vinegar, salt, sometimes five-spice powder and either flour or cornstarch (to thicken).

Though hoisin is widely used on grilled meats (as a barbecue sauce) and in dipping sauces, it’s best known for a starring role in Peking duck and moo shu pork.

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Top Food Trends at the Winter Fancy Food Show

by in News, January 19th, 2012

Sandra's Lemon Filled Coconut Cupcakes
January may be almost over, but the year’s newest food trends are just starting to heat up. Trendspotters at the 37th annual Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, Calif., spent three days combing 80,000 products from 1,300 booths to find the next “it” thing in food.

At the top of the must-have ingredient list: coconut. A surprisingly versatile ingredient, coconut can instantly transform a dish. Whether you’re using the juice or the meaty white flesh, using this tropical fruit to infuse any meal puts you ahead of the curve.

Start with something traditional and easy like Sandra Lee’s Lemon Filled Coconut Cupcakes (pictured above). Light and moist, these cupcakes will turn any skeptic into a full-on coconut fan.

More coconut recipes and food trends »

Slow-Cooker Recipes Fit for Students and Busy Families

by in Community, Recipes, January 18th, 2012

minestrone soup with pastaThis week, Small Kitchen College and The Naptime Chef are teaming up to host a Slow Cooker Challenge and Giveaway. So what do college cooks and moms have in common? They’re both extremely busy. We couldn’t agree more.

Winter is the perfect time to get cozy in the kitchen with a slow cooker. The ultimate time-saver, throw everything in one pot before heading off to work or class, and dinner’s ready by the time you get home.

Skip the canned stuff and try Robin Miller’s Minestrone Soup With Pasta, Beans and Vegetables (pictured above). It’s a well-rounded meal full of zucchini, spinach, carrots and cannellini beans. Garnish with fresh basil for even more flavor.

Make this Slow Cooker Chicken Chili for a crowd. Chipotle chiles add a smoky heat, while a pinch of ground cloves and a splash of beer keep things interesting.

More slow-cooker recipes »

The Perfect Pizza Crust — Fix My Dish

by in Community, How-to, January 18th, 2012

pizza recipe
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.

Question: “How do I get my pizza crust to have that slightly chewy texture and hollow bubbles to obtain that authentic pizzeria-style crust?” — Stephanie.

Find out the answer to Stephanie’s question »

How to Stretch Your Food Dollar: Herbs and Brown Sugar

by in How-to, January 17th, 2012

fresh herbs brown sugar
Many of you tuned in to Food Network’s special, The Big Waste, that aired last week, and we heard from lots of you about how eye-opening and shocking it is to see how much perfectly edible food ends up in the garbage. Even if you’re not tasked with cooking a meal for 100 people using wasted food like chefs Alex Guarnaschelli, Anne Burrell, Bobby Flay and Michael Symon were, you can still learn how to get the most out of your groceries with the tips below.

1. Treat fresh herbs like flowers and give them a vase. Who doesn’t hate it when you need a tablespoon of fresh parsley for a recipe but you’re forced to buy a giant bunch? You can hang on to the extras for another use if you treat them well. Fill a glass halfway with water, remove any twist ties or rubber bands from the herbs, and then place them in the glass, stems down. Cover with a plastic bag (the produce bag you probably brought them home in is perfect), then secure the bag to the glass with a rubber band. This will keep them fresh and usable for much longer than if you’d just tossed them in the crisper drawer.

Keep brown sugar soft and moist »

Tips for the Perfect Fondue

by in Food Network Magazine, January 17th, 2012

Perfect Fondue

Food Network Magazine has the recipe and tips for the Perfect Fondue. Here’s how to master the melting:

1. Use room-temperature cheese: Grate the cheese straight out of the fridge, then let it come to room temperature before melting.

2. Keep the heat low: Overcooked cheese is tough and rubbery. Melt it slowly, stir constantly and don’t let it come to a boil.

Melt the cheese on the stove and more tips »

Satisfying Salads — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, January 16th, 2012

If your New Year’s resolution is to eat smarter in 2012, it’s no secret that fresh fruits, vegetables, substantial proteins and healthful whole grains will become your best food friends this year. For a light meal that is easy to make and incorporates those hearty grains and good-for-you veggies, try serving a few simple yet satisfying salads in place of a traditional, heavy meal. Ditch those basic leafy green salads and opt for ones that boast interesting ingredients and textures.

Food Network Magazine’s Warm Beet-Orange Salad (pictured above) is packed with such in-season eats as tender roasted beets and bright citrus. Toasted walnuts add a welcome crunch to this colorful plate.

More recipes for Meatless Monday »

Sour Cream Coffee Cake — The Weekender

by in Recipes, January 13th, 2012

sour cream coffee cake
Though I’m known as something of a baker in my circle of friends, it wasn’t until very recently that I tried my hand at homemade coffee cake. You see, for most of my life, I didn’t really think it was something one could make at home. My experience had taught me that coffee cake was something you bought, packaged in a square white box that was emblazoned with the word “Entenmann’s.”

Part of the reason for this is that I didn’t grow up in a coffee cake household. On those rare occasions that we had a sweet morning baked good, it would be hearty, whole-wheat banana bread or a dense, barely sugared scone. My mother did not approve of cake for breakfast.

The only time I experienced this thing called coffee cake was when we’d visit my grandparents. They bought them regularly and kept them tucked into the space on top of the toaster oven. My grandfather’s habit was to have a small square around 10am, with a second cup of coffee and whatever scientific journal he was reading at the moment. As a perpetual dieter, my grandmother rarely sat down to a full slice, instead picking at the edges and crumbs each time she passed through the kitchen.

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