Sunday, July 31, 2011

How a Simplest Herb Can Make Your Dish Look Very Expensive

Don't under estimate the power of herbs!

Tiny as they are, herbs are enjoyable and easy to grow. Using them in your cooking allows you the possibility to change the flavors in your dishes in different ways. The freshest of them are great in soups, stews, vegetables, pasta, salads and breads.

Different kinds of herbs create different tastes in foods. If you are new to using herbs, work on them slowly, adding just a little at a time will help you adjust as you go along until you have it just right. As you get used to cooking with herbs, you will learn the best ones that can be associated with particular foods. Storing herbs is also not difficult. Even fresh ones will keep in the refrigerator for several days. But once herbs are frozen, remember that they would be best when only used in cooking and not as garnishes.

For instance, basil is paired with tomatoes, oregano with sauces, rosemary with roasts, and chives with butter or cream cheese. Although these herbs are not limited to these items, you will see them paired most often these ways. If you think oregano can be ideal for a particular food you have in mind, use your imagination and go for it. You never know your experiment will discover you a new-fangled recipe.

You will also see that even the simplest meal may seem like a gourmet delight, no wonder why gourmets are masters in associating herbs with food - an expertise that shares in the green movement to save mother earth. You can even make herb vinegar for your salad dressing and herb oils that you can use for recipes that call for oil. You can create your own robust-tasting marinades and herb-inspired spreads and rubs. You can make herb butter by mixing butter with minced fresh herb. You will find it fun using your own herb mixes every time you prepare a recipe that calls for vinegar, oil or butter. Really fun, isn't it?

Imagine how fresh herbs can dress up any dish and make it spectacular-looking. Envision how you can lay individual sprigs of rosemary over your roasts, how you can garnish grilled fish with minced basil, and sprinkle chopped parsley over your potato salad. I like chopping a fresh herb and mix the green pieces in my pale salad dressing. The effect was awesome, and my salad entrée really turned out sparkling. With your own creativity, you can make endless combinations and delicious outcome.

In my little garden, I love growing basil, parsley, oregano, lemon balm, mint and a few others. Mint can over run your garden so growing them in individual cans to prevent the herb from "creeping" all through your garden is worthwhile. My wife makes an instant natural face mask using basil, lemon and avocados. She would pulverize a handful of basil by blending it on high, then throw in half of an avocado and a teaspoon of lemon juice. I tried the trick and there was nothing like an all-natural face mask fresh from my garden!

These are just a few ways you can use fresh herbs from your garden. There are still a lot of fun techniques of using herbs that you can learn for your own culinary style and recipes. But first, start planting your herbs. Need help to start thinking about your garden? Become a Chef Wannabee, sign in to my newsletter for more healthy cooking tips!




Tips to Summer Grilling - Delicious and Fun Vegetables to Grilll

Tips to Summer Grilling - Delicious and Fun Vegetables to Grilll

Posted: Jul 26, 2011 |Comments: 0 |


As the summer rages in warmth and moods starts to warm up, my grill also starts to get busy heating up. This alone is a big fun! My family is so much fond of cooking outdoors either with our Dutch oven, grill pan, or charcoal grill and among our favorite foods to put on the grill are greens that comes out crunchy when served right after being cooked.

It's so fun making it possible to cook just about anything on it. One thing I always make sure in all our cooking adventure - try to cook healthy. If you are planning to make your summer grilling a lot more fun and healthier, pick your greens and start grilling. Here are among our top choices of the most delicious and fun to prepare vegetables.

Zucchini or Summer Squash

You need intense fire when grilling these vegetables to loosen excess moisture to concentrate the delicate spring flavor and aroma of the squash. You sure will enjoy the way it grills the inside thoroughly without burning the outside skin, making it super delicious and crisp to bite.


Even without the sun, we like how peppers make the whole dinner hot and spicy. After seeding, cut them into halves and put on the grill. My children like wrapping them in foil after drizzling with olive oil. The blend of the locked in moisture, flavor and aroma makes the whole side dish powerful and very appetizing you sure would be asking for more.

Endive and Raddichio

If you love salads, try radicchio. The bitter nature are tempered by the intense heat of the grill giving us one of the best vegetable salads. I just leave the lettuce in wedges for a more composed presentation and chop the leaves before tossing the rest of the ingredients together. I toast walnuts in a dry pan until fragrant and make a fantastic nutty, citrus vinaigrette and Parmesan cheese to offset the bitter lettuces in my grilled vegetable salad. Isn't that healthy?


Full of fiber and antioxidant and promoting phytonutrients, I too consider eggplant a staple in almost all of our cooking. Summertime is the best time to grill them, so we would brush eggplant slices with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper then grill. Sometimes we rub minced garlic, or any rub, all over the eggplant for a fabulous garlicky tasting side for dinner.


Fresh asparagus brushed with a little sesame oil, soy sauce, salt, and pepper gets its very best flavor and crunch as it is grilled cooking the asparagus quickly over high heat. Since the stalks easily fall down between the grill grates, we make it fun lining them up and use toothpicks to put them together in two places, top and near the bottom, or I use my grill pan.


Potatoes are amazingly comfortable. I partially cook mine by simmering them before grilling so they only need to be seared over direct heat to create a golden brown crust. Grilled this way, the potatoes will have almost the texture of French fries by the time they're done. Who wouldn't enjoy golden on the outside, fluffy and cakey on the inside?

Try this:

Bring slices of just about any vegetable in your pantry and put them in a grill pan. Toss with olive oil and balsamic vinegar then grill for a couple minutes on each side. If you haven't tried that yet, you will realize how versatile vegetables are and how perfect they come when cooked on your grill. Enjoy your summer!

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Terry Retter

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Terry Retterc- Managing Editor,

Your Smart Kitchen, is your online location for quality cookware, bakeware, cutlery, appliances and related kitchenware at very reasonable prices. Sign in for the Chef Wannabee Newsletter and avail of special discount coupons off all Chasseur cast iron items, Fissler Profession and Perfection Knives and Cameron Stove Top. Join the fun now!

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    Wednesday, July 27, 2011


    You are probably wondering why people consider Mexican foods healthy. Like a genuine Asian diet, traditional Mexican foods are also much less in fat but contain a lot of fresh vegetables and spices. The much less fat content in their food is due to the different cooking techniques that they use to avoid too much frying.

    Mexicans love tomatoes, beans, peppers, corn and chili, as seen in most of their dishes and making their food choices filled with vitamins, proteins and nutrients, rich in fiber, and packed with lycopene, a known cancer-fighting agent. Since Mexican cooking is up to thrill your taste buds, you can taste combinations you never have before. No wonder, their food is popular all over the world.

    Vegetarians enjoy Mexican foods, like beans and roasted butternut squash seasoned with chili powder and oregano, salmon with chili mango salsa, or a flavorful, light dish made of thinly carved, bite-sized pieces of raw fish in sauces made not with butter but with toasted nuts, seeds, and spices. Since this authentic cuisine stays away from fried, a low-fat alternative to the almost eaten everyday fried tortilla chips is the baked chips brushed with a little oil, cut into wedges, arranged on a baking sheet, dusted with salt and spices, baked until crisp and dipped in homemade tomato-rich salsa.

    As a replacement for cream, guacamole is preferred to add richness to basic tacos and burritos. The avocado-based ingredient makes it a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and a great thing to help raise "good" cholesterol. Even with recipes that call for fat or butter, striving to substitute butter with healthy oils, such as grape seed or olive, makes it another reason to be heart-healthy. Old folks still adhere to the old traditional light meals of soup, beans and rice, or plain cereal or sweet bread with milk or hot chocolate.

    Rice, beans, peppers, tomato salsa, a few slices of fresh avocado and lots of veggies can make a very healthy meal. If all these are the basis for a Mexican food, then you can be sure doing the same by using fresh than prepared is simply nice knowing. If you see a plate with loads of fresh produce, protein-packed beans, fiber-filled tortillas, nutritious chili, garlic, cloves, and the greenest of herbs - it must be a heart-healthy Mexican dish.

    So the next time you will be craving for something cultural and a low-fat lifestyle, begin with Mexican inspired lean protein, fresh veggies and reduced fat foods. Why not begin with a tomato sauce blended with sweet pineapple and fresh tarragon over any of your grilled food?

    I suggest match your healthy cooking with quality cookware to make all things green and healthy. Visit Your Smart Kitchen and go Terracotta Cooking

    The Secret to a Delicious Grilled Tilapia

    Tilapia is a tender fish with meat that is firm enough to get a nice grill without flaking. It is one of the easiest seafood to grill making it very much in demand in the world market. Tilapia is also one of my favorite fishes to prepare and since I like it perfectly-grilled, I always brush a little olive oil around it before putting on the grill. This way I can be sure it will not stick into the grates and oiling down the grill after cooking can be easy.

    When preparing tilapia on the grill, choose at least an inch thick fish to prevent breaking apart when you turn it. If you happen to get tilapia with uneven sides, cook the thicker half first. Although others find it fine blackening the tilapia, I still suggest grilling the fish at a medium heat for a juicier meat. As soon as the meat turns white, remove it from the grill right away. I usually place my tilapia directly on the grates for five to ten minutes or so then flip it once in a while to prevent the chance of burning the skin. Don't flip repeatedly as it may break the fish apart.

    For a deliciously grilled tilapia, you need hot coals and a marinade or rub for seasoning. You can put fish directly on the grill, on a grill basket to make it easy to flip, or on a grill pan. Regardless of how you want to prepare tilapia on the grill, do not overcook. You can salt the fish all over, marinate it prior to grilling, or coat it with your own rub and enjoy the aroma while it grills, but never overcook. Here's an example of preparing tilapia on the grill:

    You'll need:

    • ½ teaspoon pepper
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ¼ cup vegetable oil (olive oil is best)
    • 8 tilapia fillets (scales scraped off)

    How to Grill:

    Brush your grill with oil. Fire up the barbecue grill and preheat. Season the fish with salt and pepper then wrap the seafood with aluminum foil and place at the center of the grill. Cook each side 4-6 minutes, depending on the size of tilapia. To check for doneness, remove fish from foil. Return to grill if not yet cooked. Transfer into a serving plate and garnish with your own creativity. Serve while still hot.

    Oh by the way, since tilapia is generally mild in flavor, season it well to make it tastier. It's the top most secret for a fantastic tilapia grill. To get a good Fry Pan and Grill, visit Your Smart Kitchen.

    Tuesday, July 26, 2011

    Wine Helps Fight Ovarian Cancer - Recent Studies Show

    I thought it would be worth copy pasting this very useful and informative wine article from a Health Magazine I was reading. I hope this gives us the information we need about some health benefits of wine.

    With America likely to edge out France and Italy in total wine consumption in the near future, according to one analyst, and with women buying wine more than 6 out of every 10 bottles sold in this country, we’re happy to report that wine may do all of the following:

    1. Feed your head
    Wine could preserve your memory. When researchers gave memory quizzes to women in their 70s, those who drank one drink or more every day scored much better than those who drank less or not at all. Wine helps prevent clots and reduce blood vessel inflammation, both of which have been linked to cognitive decline and heart disease, explains Tedd Goldfinger, DO, of the University of Arizona School of Medicine. Alcohol also seems to raise HDL, the so-called good cholesterol, which helps unclog your arteries.

    2. Keep the scale in your corner
    Studies find that people who drink wine daily have lower body mass than those who indulge occasionally; moderate wine drinkers have narrower waists and less abdominal fat than people who drink liquor. Alcohol may encourage your body to burn extra calories for as long as 90 minutes after you down a glass. Beer seems to have a similar effect.

    3. Guard against ovarian woes
    When Australian researchers recently compared women with ovarian cancer to cancer-free women, they found that roughly one glass of wine a day seemed to reduce the risk of the disease by as much as 50 percent. Earlier research at the University of Hawaii produced similar findings. Experts suspect this may be due to antioxidants or phytoestrogens, which have high anticancer properties and are prevalent in wine. And in a recent University of Michigan study, a red wine compound helped kill ovarian cancer cells in a test tube.

    Sunday, July 24, 2011

    Few Light Wines for Your BBQ

    Enjoy your BBQ with the Wine you love
    Courtesy from Ger-nis Summer BBQ Bonanza
    I don't know why buttery and biscuity aromas define a vintage champagne that's fashionable all the time. What about the touch of native grapes, its little elegant, refreshing and abounding complexity of flavors and scents from the fruits of summer? Would you go for raspberries and cherries to make sipping on a sunny day brightly cool? 

    As tastes shift toward lighter, less alcoholic whites reign especially for summertime. For refreshing wines to compliment the grilling fever, the citrusy character of Muscadet perfectly pairs your seafood on the grill feast. Even if you're not in  Spain, the crispness and tingling lemony and seashell-nuanced pale Portuguese wine can describe real light summeriness, Vihno Verde is still unbeatable.  If breezy but graceful is what you're up to, peachy white grape wines will give you the complexity of flavors that you may be looking for in a Pinot Grigio.

    Barbecues are the most popular family gathering not just in the summer but all the time. In one of my wine articles, I talked about Wine Pairing Rules, although going for the wine that you like is still the best guide to make the most of your wine dining. If you follow the rules, it depends on a little by what you barbecue. If you’re simply grilling red meat, then go for popular reds like Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. They are sure to stand up to smoky notes. If you’re putting barbecue sauce on these grilled meats, Sangiovese, Zinfandel and Riesling are what's best to hold up to tangy, sweet flavors. If poultry or fish is your menu, there are the Blancs like Chenin Blanc or Pinot Grigio.

    Still having a hard time to decide? Don't worry, buy an all-purpose wine that can compliment to almost everything on your grill - go for a Rosé.  I go for Prosecco, though, the peachy nuance never gave me issues with most of my (our) BBQ, plus, it's cheap. If you can't find one, buy Malbec or the simplest Merlot (available at supermarkets).

    Click on the links for the different wines. Enjoy. Thanks. -Tonette

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