Tag Archives: dinner

Organizing Your Teen’s Eighteenth

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Organizing Your Teen’s Eighteenth

Your child turning eighteen is a big deal not only for them, but for you, as well. No matter what country you live in or what culture you live by, the eighteenth birthday is important. It is a sign that your teen is well on their way to full blown adulthood (yikes!). It is a sign that their childhood is behind them. Basically, it’s kind of a big deal. And because it is such a big deal, you need to ensure that you do all that you can to celebrate it properly. And to celebrate it properly, you need to organize it properly. Below, you can find a few hints and tips on how to do so:

First of all, you need to get your teen’s presents sorted. And if this is something that you are apprehensive about, then remember that you will always be able to find a gift for someone, no matter who they are… even if they’re a moody teenager on the cusp of adulthood. Try getting them something that is personalized; you can never go too far wrong with this approach. It shows them that you know them well enough to know exactly what it is that they like. It also gives them something to save as a keepsake from this very important birthday and look back on it in years to come.

But, as with a birthday for anybody of any age, it’s not just about the gifts. It’s about the party you host for them, too. And when it comes to hosting a party, there are a number of things that you have to consider. One thing that must be given thought is the fine balance between childhood and adulthood that is taking place. This is a party that cannot be made up of goody bags, bouncy castles, and clowns. But it is also not a party that can be made up of the more adult things of life either — whether eighteen is the ‘coming of age’ threshold in your country of residence or not. So, you need to find a balance.

One way to induce this balance is by letting your teen invite their friends over to your home and allowing them to take free-reign of what it is they get up to. However, you should always remain in the house in order to ensure that this free reign that you have given them isn’t being taken advantage of. Click here for more ideas on how to host the best eighteenth birthday party for your growing teen.

The most important thing to remember when organizing the essentials of your teen’s eighteenth is that a balance of childhood and adulthood must be procured. They are not quite mature enough to fully revel in the world of adulthood, like, say, somebody celebrating their twenty-third birthday would be. But they are not celebrating their thirteenth birthday either, which means that they are not going to enjoy or appreciate childish things. Think dinner parties, an ice cream social, or a garden party in a spacious back yard and watch your teen have the most fabulous birthday yet!

Featured Image By: Flickr

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Food-Tastic Gifts For The Health Nut In Your Life

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Food-Tastic Gifts For The Health Nut In Your Life

We all know one. In fact, we all wish we could be one! What am I talking about? I am, of course, talking about the health nuts that we all know and love. You know, the people that hit the gym on Christmas Day or don’t eat carbs, sugar, and everything else that tastes good. They are healthy, they are committed, and they are people that we all love and admire. The only problem most of us have with them is gift giving. Yep, there are only so many running shoes a person can buy, which makes getting them the perfect present tough.

But, fear not because we are here to help. So, put away the catalog and shutdown the laptop (after you read this!) because you can find out all you need to know underneath:

Air Fryer: Nope, it isn’t a new age device that belongs on the International Space Station. Although when you look it at, it does have a certain alien quality. An air fryer is a machine that makes the frying process healthier. In fact, according to some studies, it can reduce the amount of fat in a meal by three-quarters. That is a huge amount in anyone’s book, never mind a health-obsessed foodie! If you don’t know where to start, you can find a comprehensive list of the best value air fryers here. After all, you don’t want to give them a gift that isn’t up to standard.

Zoodler: What, you have never heard of a zoodler? Well, I can guarantee that your foodie friend has, and they will be delighted with your choice. In layman’s terms, a zoodler is a tool that strips vegetables into thin slices. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a zucchini or a potato because the effect is the same. Most people will wonder why this is even a thing. But, you have to get into your friend’s brain to understand the genius of this tool. Quite simply, it makes eating vegetables less daunting. Yep, that’s it! As it turns out, people are more likely to eat healthier if the portions are small and non-intimidating. And who doesn’t like the fun noodle shape?!

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I want one!

Oil Mister: Yes I would like some oil, please! Only joking. This, of course, isn’t someone asking if you would like oil (ba dum chhh). It is a small device that turns oil into a mist. What will they think of next? As it happens, oil isn’t very good for the human body when people like you and I fry it in a pan. In fact, it’s downright unhealthy. Even virgin oil in its regular form contains a lot of calories and fat. Any self-respecting health enthusiast can’t afford to consume more than necessary. And with a mister, they don’t have to any longer as the mist covers the food with just one spray. Because it cuts costs as well as calories, they’ll cherish this gift forever.

Finally, don’t forget about a slow cooker. A slow cooker is a great way to eat more vegetables, maintain nutrition, and avoid nasty additives. All in all, it’s a wonder appliance and your foodie friend will love you for it!

Featured Image By: MaxPixel

Which Drink Should You Be Serving With Your Food?

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Which Drink Should You Be Serving With Your Food?

If you’re a bit of a foodie, you probably love cooking for your family and the people that you love. However, it’s important that you make sure that you serve the right drinks with your food, too. The right drink will complement the different flavors of the food that you’ve made, and will make the whole experience so much better. If you serve the wrong drink, the whole thing can taste off and become a bit of a dinner disaster. Some people think that it’s all down to the perception of the person eating and drinking, but the experts disagree! 😉

Here are some tips to help you discover the best drinks to serve with your meal:

Contrast: One thing that you can do to make sure you have the perfect pairing of flavors, is to choose flavors that will contrast your food. This might sound counter intuitive, but it can create a mind blowing flavor experience. It doesn’t have to be too dramatic. Just think about how things like lemon and lime can contrast flavors and make them so much better with just a drop!

Alcohol Level: The alcohol level of the beverage is also important. It isn’t just about the flavor! If you’re serving a light meal, then something with a light alcohol content should be served. If you’re serving a heavier dish, then you can afford to do so with your beverage, too. Bottoms up!

Have Fun With It: And, of course, you can experiment! Read the different flavors in beverages and see if you think that they will pair nicely or contrast with your food and test them out. Eventually, you’ll be able to pair things all by yourself. Just make sure that you pay attention to the temperature of certain beverages, as that can also make a big difference.

Check out this awesome infographic for more on the perfect serve of vino! Cheers!


Thanks To: winecoolers.reviews

Featured Image By: Pixabay

Cooking The Perfect Coq Au Vin

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Cooking The Perfect Coq Au Vin

We should all cook to suit our individual tastes, but there are certain dishes where the cook simply needs to stay true to the dish; its reputation, its history and, for lack of a better word, its soul. If there’s one meal that falls into this category, it’s coq au vin. The chicken, the garlic, and the bottle of wine all need to be prepared in a certain way, even if it is just a chicken stew with a fancy name! Here are some pointers on how to prepare the perfect coq au vin:

The Chicken: The older the chicken, the richer the sauce will turn out. Talk to your butcher ahead of time to ensure that you get the perfect bird for the job. Tell them that you want a chicken that will be good for some long, slow cooking, and they may be able to order an extra-mature bird for you. The best places to look for these are generally farmer’s markets, traditional butchers, and online stores. You should always go free-range, as well. With regular access to fresh air, free-range birds develop stronger, thicker bones than any chickens kept indoors, and will therefore make for a better sauce.

The Wine: Many people think that the wine used in coq au vin is a negligible detail. Don’t believe them! Using a good quality wine in your cooking can make all of the difference to the taste, so go for a full-flavored, fruity wine rather than anything thin and lackluster. You don’t need to really push the boat out, even though some chefs will insist that you can only use a wine from Burgundy in this particular dish. If you can’t make heads or tails of wine in general, then do your homework before you run to the liquor store and buy a bottle! Here’s how you can open wine without a corkscrew in case you’ve forgotten this crucial detail! Yikes!

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YUM!

The Aromatics: The aromatics that go into your coq au vin are another very important detail that will hold a considerable sway over the overall taste. A lot of recipes that you’ll come across online will only call for onions and carrots, but we recommend adding celeriac and celery for their potent, earthy notes. Large French onions are an essential foundation for the actual stew. You can add little, tight-skinned onions near the end, but this ups the risk of you putting in too much or too little. A few bay leaves and some fresh thyme are the only herbs you’ll really need, but don’t be afraid to experiment.

The Bacon: Your coq au vin simply wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t have some strips of thick, juicy bacon to complement the chicken. The thin, common rashers you use in a fry-up will be way too thin. If you don’t manage to burn them when you’re preparing your stew, the meat will disintegrate in too much heat. Ideally, you should source a tough, solid lump that you can easily cut up into thicker strips. Most brands of pancetta will do nicely.

Bon appetit!

Featured Image By: Wikimedia

The Ultimate Dinner Party Guide

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The Ultimate Dinner Party Guide

From tableware to menus and seating arrangements, throwing a dinner party is never easy. Not only do you have to create the perfect ambient setting to enjoy a meal, but you also have to plan, prepare, cook, and serve the food! It can sound like more trouble than it’s worth but don’t be put off. Dinner parties are an amazing way to get family and friends together.

If you struggle to find the time to catch up with loved ones individually it can be a great way to get everyone in the room for a wonderful evening. It’s also a good test of your organizational skills and hosting abilities! Above everything else, it’s a lot of fun. As long as you have a plan in place, the evening will be a huge success. This dinner party guide takes you from the menu planning process to the dinner table decors, all the way to puddings and party favors:

The Guest List: The first thing that you need to decide is who you’re inviting. If you’re co-hosting the dinner party with a friend, partner, or family member, sit down together and work out a list. You need to work out what you want out of the dinner party. A big celebration with friends, intimate family meal, or perhaps an open-to-all buffet style event. Whatever the occasion is, this will indicate who you should invite.

Of course, the amount of space you have around the table will also dictate the number of guests. If you’re inviting more than eight people, a sit-down meal might not be the best idea. First of all, who has a table big enough for over eight? Also, you might want to consider a more fluid set up. For large numbers open up the garden and kitchen to guests, too. That way people can mingle without feeling cramped and confined to one room.

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Partayyy

Creating The Menu: If you’re having a sit-down soiree you’ll need to prepare a menu. If you’re having six people or under round for dinner you can probably cook individual courses. If you’re having more than six people or over, sharer style dishes and one-pot recipes are the way to go. If you’re having a huge gathering, then a buffet station set up in the garden or kitchen for food is best. You’ll have to determine whether any of the guests have allergies or intolerances before you come up with a menu. Also come up with some vegetarian and vegan options, too.

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     YUM

     For Smaller Groups:

Get your prep done before guests arrive, this goes for all group sizes. If you’re hosting for a smaller group of people you can afford to have more attention to detail and more ambitious dishes. Prawns are a good starter because they’re easy to prepare in advance. Buy prawns which have been cooked, cleaned, and peeled already. This will save time. There are so many different ways to serve prawns. A fail-safe option is a simple grilled prawn with a pre-prepared sauce. Get some char on your prawns to increase the smokey flavors in the dish. This goes particularly well with a romesco sauce.

For the main course, food preferences permitted, herb crusted lamb is a real show stopper. To make the crust, combine breadcrumbs, parsley, mint, and oil. Smear some mustard over the fatty side of the lamb and top with the breadcrumb mixture. Be sure to brown your lamb before cooking. www.StoneFryingPans.com/the-best-stainless-steel-cookware has some great stainless steel cookware, perfect for searing and deglazing to make a jus for the lamb. Finally, make sure you leave your lamb to rest for at least 10 minutes. This will ensure that the meat is nice and tender and the juices won’t leak onto the plate. Dessert needs to be something that can be prepared in advance and left to chill. Cheesecake is a good idea, because you can make one large one and portion it before serving. It’s also a great ‘blank canvas’ dessert, so you can add your own preferences, too. Lemon, chocolate, hazelnut, berries, and basically any topping ever work well with a cheesecake.

     For Larger Groups:

Cooking for larger groups needn’t be challenging, you’ll just need to tweak the menu accordingly. Choose some large platters or boards and arrange some cured meats and cheeses on them. Serve olives over ice and sourdough bread, too. Balsamic vinegar and oil make a great dip to go alongside this sharing starter, as does tapenade. For the main dish, consider doing a one-pot wonder. A homemade curry or a big paella served straight from the pan works really well for larger groups. You can stick these on and leave them to cook with minimal effort, apart from stirring. Serve curries with homemade flatbreads, onion salad, and a yogurt dip. For dessert opt for an easy crowd pleaser like ice cream or mousse. This can also be made ahead of time and left to chill.

     For Vegetarians:

Buy some spelt pasta from a health food store and use this as the base of your dish. Blend spinach and basil in a blender with some oil, seasoning, and pine nuts. This will create a pesto to use as a sauce over your pasta. Cook some courgettes and asparagus, too. Toss the pesto through the pasta and top with the cooked courgettes and asparagus.

Which Drinks To Serve: Setting up a drinks tray is the best idea. Nobody wants to have to make drinks all night for their guests. Prepare a table in the living room or kitchen with a variety of soft drinks and alcohol for guest to pick and choose. Another good idea is to make one signature drink. Making jugs of cocktails is an especially good idea if it’s a summer party which spills out into the garden.

To make a mojito simply mix lime juice, mint, and sugar in a large jug or bowl. Mash these gently to let the flavors start to seep out and sugar dissolve. Top with rum, soda, and plenty of ice. Put slices of mint and lime to garnish in little bowls next to the jug.

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My kind of party!

Setting The Scene: Whenever you go to a great dinner party, the atmosphere is one of the things that makes it so special. Creating the perfect atmosphere is partly down to planning. If you are having a sit-down meal you’ll need to dress the table. It can be tempting to go overboard with accessories and cram the table but try to avoid this. Guests want to be able to talk, share food, and relax without having to navigate lots of decorative pieces. A few tea light candles with lantern-style covers are a pared back but sophisticated touch. Fresh flowers are also a great centerpiece, but if you have a small table don’t clutter it. Station a drinks table with an ice bucket nearby so that you don’t have to keep rushing backward and forwards.

A seating plan shouldn’t be necessary and can feel a bit too formal. Adding a little gift for each person is a nice touch, too. They don’t have to be expensive, in fact, the more whimsical the better. Masks or joke shop presents are a great idea for a group of friends. Family members may appreciate birthstones or small bags of truffles. These tokens will help to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere, plus they’ll lift your guest’s mood!

After Party? Some dinner parties can continue long into the night and become a party as well as dinner. Make it clear to guests on the invite whether you’re open to that. There’s nothing worse than wanting to go to bed but still having a few guests. If you’re having people stay over, set up the guest bedroom early on in the day. By the end of the night, you won’t feel like changing bed linen and arranging flowers!

Nobody wants to clean up after a party, either, but facing all the debris in the morning is probably worse. Compromise and go around with a bin liner and chuck in any bottles or plastic cups. Wash up your plates and cutlery and leave them to dry. Leave larger pans to soak overnight, and head to bed. That way there will be a manageable amount to tackle in the morning.

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Cheers!!

Featured Image By: Pixabay

Asian Food? Give It A Thai

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Asian Food? Give It A Thai

Did you know that the average household uses a range of five or six main ingredients in their diet. This doesn’t include seasoning and herbs but focuses on the main features such as one or two types of meat, a source of carbohydrate such as potatoes or rice, and three main vegetables. That’s about it.

With busy lives we tend to scale down how adventurous we are in the kitchen and spend less time creating exciting meals than we do sitting down to eat. It’s kind of sad. There are so many great recipes out there that are quick, easy, and above all tasty so if your taste buds need a little treat at home, try including one, out of the safety zone, meal every week (and try to enjoy the cooking as much as the eating!).

Asia is the largest continent in the world and has such a diverse range of cuisine. There are flavors that will suit every palette, from Freekeh which is a gentle, smoked grain from Palestine to the complicated layers of spice and herbs that you would find in India. Asian food, on the whole, is healthy and boosts longevity which makes it a great addition to any household that is trying to get healthy but doesn’t want to spend their weeks eating salad and poached chicken. There are loads of recipes that are based around quick cooking and high flavor, which you can recreate at home.

When was the last time you bought any shellfish?  If it has been a while then you are really missing out. Steamed crabs offer a delicious meat and because of the delicate flavor, they only get better with a little bit of creativity. So check out this brilliant Thai Crab Cake recipe and see if you can add a little spice to your life:

Place about a half pound of crab meat, onion, lime zest (or kaffir lime leaf), chili powder, fish sauce, oyster sauce, 1 egg, and ¾ of a cup of panko (or polenta) into a food processor and blitz to combine all of the ingredients. Add another ¼ cup of panko (or polenta) and stir to combine. The mixture should be moist enough for you to create a cake but not so moist that it sticks to your hands and falls apart. You are better off if you find yourself in a situation where you need to add more panko, than trying to moisten things down.

Create your cakes, which should be about 3 inches in diameter, then place aside.  Add garlic salt into ¾ cup of your panko or polenta and set into a bowl. In another bowl whisk 2 small eggs. Dip your cakes into the egg first, then roll in the panko/polenta mix until completely coated.

In a sizzling hot pan, drop your cakes into the oil and cook for 2 minutes on each side.  Serve with a squeeze of lime, a little coriander salad, and some Thai sweet chili sauce. Simple as that – a delicious meal in under twenty minutes!

Featured Image By: Pexels

Hodge Podge Weekend Dinner

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Hodge Podge Weekend Dinner

Hey everyone and happy weekend! So yesterday I slaved away for the afternoon creating a hodge podge feast for dinner. We had a lot of odds and ends in the fridge and pantries that needed rid of so our meal consisted of a Minestrone soup compliments of our beloved Moosewood cookbook and then, I freestyled an avocado and black bean salad and a mozzarella ciabatta sandwich. Take a look at the finished products and then I will share my secret recipe for the avocado salad:

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In the fridge, I had a leftover avocado and lime from when I made guacamole last week. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with these, so I Googled avocado recipes to see if I could get some inspiration. I saw a recipe for an avocado and black bean salad but it looked incredibly lackluster, so I decided to just whip together something from my imagination and came up with the first picture seen above.

I was so pleased with the final result of my salad that, for once in my life, I actually wrote down how I made it so that I could share it with all of you. In my opinion, it looks like something that you could buy from the store and I was incredibly impressed with both its taste and overall appearance. This salad is perfect for eating plain, scooped up with tortilla chips, wrapped in a tortilla, or as a filling for fish tacos. Here is the recipe for my avocado and black bean salad creation:

  • 1/2 of a large avocado (if you go for a huge avocado like what was in my fridge, 1/2 is really all you need)
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 cup cooked corn kernels (so happy to be rid of a leftover in my fridge!)
  • 1/2 of a tomato, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup red pepper, finely chopped
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro
  • A few shakes of Morton Kosher salt
  • A few shakes of cayenne pepper
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Now, bear in mind that all of the above amounts are approximations and you can really add as much or as little of an ingredient as you want. Love tomato? Use the whole thing! Want it spicier? Add some chili powder and cumin. It’s totally up to you to personalize the salad and turn it into something that you and your whole family enjoys!

Interested in my recipe for mozzarella ciabatta sandwiches? Let me know in the comment section and I’ll publish that, too!

Overall, I am so happy with how my Hodge Podge Weekend Dinner turned out and the leftovers for days is definitely going to be nice! What dishes have you cooked or baked recently? Who is going to be making my avocado and black bean salad soon? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah