Category Archives: Food

Must-haves for Amateurs in the Kitchen

Cookware Collage

 

(Grill – George Foreman 2 serving Grill, Cookie Sheets – Faberware Nonstick Cookie Sheets, Knives – Ginsu 14 piece knife set, Pots & Pans – Cook N Home 10 piece nonstick cookware set, Cutting Boards – Totally Bamboo 3 piece cutting board set)

 

As a young adult I love eating out at restaurants, ordering late night takeout, or ordering pizza delivery. As a college students, however, I enjoy saving money; and let me be the first to say, that it’s really difficult to save money when you’re spending $20-25 at restaurants. So, mostly out of necessity (and by necessity I really mean thriftiness), I learned how to cook some basic meals at home using the minimal amount of cookware necessary. Since many kitchen appliances can be very expensive, I have tried to make do with what little was available in my apartment kitchen, however there are some basic kitchen materials that I, as an amateur cook and college student, would say are necessary to cook any real meal. Now bear in mind, that I am no expert chef, so when I say “real meal” I’m really talking about some steaks,  grilled chicken and steamed vegetables in portions that serve one or two people, and not full spread, three course dinners for large families. So the items on this week’s list are really more for you bachelors/bachelorettes or hungry college students that are sick of fast food and tired of breaking bank at restaurants.

1. George Foreman Grill. Now this is not like the gas powered portable grill that has been featured in several of my other posts. This one is a smaller electric powered grill that is probably small enough to carry around in a backpack. The beauty of this little appliance is that you don’t need to know how to barbecue or grill something like you would if you were operating a gas powered grill. It is as simple as placing your food in the grill, plugging it in, closing it, and letting your food cook for a few minutes. A simple-to-use and inexpensive alternative to an open flame grill, the George foreman is an amateur cook’s best friend.

2. Cookie Sheets. As the name suggests, you often use these to bake pastries (or cookies). In general, however, I use cookie sheets whenever I need to cook something inside an oven. Since most ovens don’t allow you to place food directly on it’s surface, a cookie sheet is needed to place your food on. And trust me, I use these all the time whenever I attempt to make a baked meal like baked chicken, or baked salmon, or even if I just want to heat up some leftover food. The non-stick surface of the cookie sheets also means that your food will be neat, and you won’t have to scrape it off the bottom of the oven.

3. Kitchen Knife set. This one should be self explanatory. Kitchen knives are essential when attempting to cook something that isn’t a sandwich or burger. Whether you need to chop up vegetables or dice some meats, you will almost always need a good pair of kitchen knives. And don’t bother buying cheap knives! Invest in a durable, high quality knife set that will last a long time and you’ll be sure to feel more like a pro in the kitchen.

4. Pots and Pans. Ramen noodles may be considered a broke college student’s best friend because they are so affordable, but pasta isn’t that much more expensive and it tastes so much better. The only problem is, that unlike ramen, you can’t cook good pasta in under 2 minutes in a microwave. That is where having good quality pots and pans comes into play. If your kitchen is stocked with pots and pans, there really isn’t anything you can’t make. Whether it’s pasta, soup and noodles, fried chicken, or even french fries, a good set of pots and pans will make sure that you never run out of options to cook.

5. A cutting board. This is probably the most underrated kitchen appliance on the list. It’s such a simple thing that some people don’t even bother having one in their kitchen. However, cutting boards are always a necessity when cooking food. They keep your food and your countertops clean while also ensuring that you don’t leave knife marks everywhere. A good cutting board is one that is easy to wash and will endure several years of chopping, slicing, and dicing.

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It’s still nice enough for a Swim, right?

Pool party collage

 

(Grill – Coleman Portable grill, Cooler – Coleman 62qt Cooler, Cups – 18oz Hefty Red Solo Cups, Pool Volleyball – Dunnrite AquaVolly Swimming Pool Volleyball Set, Pool Toy- Waboba Pro Ball, Drink Dispenser – Creativeware 3-Gallon Drink Dispenser)

 

It’s only about half-way through September, but there seems to be a shadow gradually creeping over these sunny days, almost as subtle as a slight change in the weather. Actually, since I’m talking about Winter, it has everything to do with changes in the weather. Yes, that’s right, “Winter is Coming” and it will be here before any of us expect it. Our brothers and sisters living in the northern regions of the world are probably already feeling the first signs of the impending coldness. I, however, am fortunate enough to be living in the American Southwest where I will still be able to enjoy almost-summer type weather. So what does that mean? Well it means for the next few weeks I will be enjoying every last bit of pool party season as I can, before winter snatches it away for several months. So as a last hurrah to pool party season 2014 I decided to make a small list of pool party essentials.

And before I go any further, yes this list features a lot of food and drink related items – Why? Well people spend the pre-summer months getting into shape, and getting a beach-worthy bod to look good at the pool, however, from what I have seen, part of this is because many people like to eat and drink like hippos when at pool parties and by the end of summer have probably put back a some of the pounds they lost a few months earlier.

So, here is my list of ideas for pool party items:

1. The portable grill. This is probably the the third time this item has been included in a list, and it’s not just because I really like barbecuing and food (which I do), but it’s because these grills are just so convenient for almost any situation. From barbecue parties, to pool parties, to just regular parties – any time food and socializing are put together, a portable grill will be there no matter what the venue to save the day and crank out some delicious grilled food.

2. 62qt cooler is just the right size to cool as much food and drink as you want at a pool party. And trust me, you will want fresh food and cool drinks by the pool. After a couple hours in the sun, by the pool you start to get a little hungry and your throat seems a little parched. Well if you ever find yourself in that situation, you’ll be thankful that you decided to bring a cooler, so that you can gulp down a cold drink and snack on a few munchies without having to go anywhere special. And if you have a portable grill like from #1 then you might find that there’s always room for a few frozen steaks or burger patties in the cooler.

3. Red Solo Cups. Do I need to explain? Okay, for the sake of thoroughness I will. Red solo cups are simply the universal american symbol for a party, at least according to Toby Keith. They are an inexpensive alternative to having glass cups and are disposable, which means that you don’t have to wash a few dozen cups when you’re finished. What’s more is that pool parties tend to have pools filled with water and glass has a tendency to break. Broken glass isn’t really a good thing to have at the bottom of a big pool filled with water because you wouldn’t be able to see if you were stepping on it. Luckily, you won’t have that problem with the plastic cups.

4. A drink dispenser is almost essential for any party scene. Simply choose your favorite drink, pour it into the drink dispenser and fill it up with ice, then viola, everyone can enjoy your beverage selection. These large drink dispensers are also great for mixed drinks like lemonade, iced tea, or basically any drink where a small pitcher just won’t do the job.

5. Pool Volleyball. Well any type of sport will do. Pool Volleyball just seems like loads of fun. The important thing is to find a game to play in the pool with your friends, whether it’s pool volleyball, pool football, pool baseball (if your pool’s big enough), pool soccer (if you can manage to figure out how to do that), or even water polo (if you’re a really good swimmer).

6. A Waboba. If you’re reading this thinking “What’s a Waboba?” don’t worry, I didn’t know what it was either until a few weeks ago. A waboba is probably one of the funnest yet simplest pool toys I have ever seen. It’s basically a small ball that can float on water and is soft enough to be thrown around at high speeds without seriously hurting someone. What’s even better is that the waboba can skip on water, similar to throwing a really flat and smooth stone, making it even more fun to play with.

So if you are lucky enough to be able to enjoy a pool for a few more weeks go out and do it!

And if you are someone who is already feeling winter’s chill, don’t worry, at least you’ll have something to look forward to!

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It’s the Simple Pleasures

%22My Favorite Things%22

(Anthology – Disney Movie Collection, Barbecue – Portable grill, Cook Book – Low & Slow, Shirt – Plaid shirt/ T- Shirt, Jeans – Pair of Levis)

If you are lucky enough not to have been exposed to any form of news media in the past few weeks, you’re probably feeling very optimistic about the world. However, since news media somehow makes it’s way into every aspect of everyday life that’s probably not likely. With all the media coverage on the growing violence instigated by ISIS in the Middle East, the riots in Ferguson, and the spread of the ebola virus, it is very easy to get upset about the current state of world affairs. So this week, I’ve decided to take a step back from the rather morose media coverage and focus on the little things in life that can cheer us up when we’re down; things like “raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens” or “brown paper packages tied up with string” (Sound of Music anybody?) that make our day a little brighter without us even realizing it.

Firstly, your favorite shirts or Jeans. Everyone has their favorite shirt that fits just right or their favorite pairs of jeans that are just too comfortable. These are the ones that your not afraid to wear more than once in a week. The ones that you can always rely on if you don’t know what to wear and make you wonder why your wardrobe is unnecessarily big. So appreciate your favorite pair of clothes while they last, they really can make your day a little better.

Second on the list is barbecuing or simply cooking in general. A tasty meal is something everyone can appreciate, but being able to grill, cook, bake, or barbecue is a reward all it’s own. Taking time out of your day to prepare some delicious food can be extremely relaxing and cathartic if done right. The smells of delicious food, the anticipation of a hot meal, and the social interaction that can accompany cooking make it one of the simple pleasures in life that many people underestimate.

Third on the list is Disney movies. Yes you read that right – Disney movies. Let’s be honest, if you enjoyed disney movies as a kid, chances are you’ve watched one or two of them again as an adult. But a little dash of nostalgia can go a long way and re-watching our favorite childhood movies can bring us back to a time when we did have any worries – Hakuna Matata. Plus, no one can watch a kid’s disney movie and feel terribly sad at the end.

These are just a few of the little things that I enjoy and can brighten up my day no matter what mood I’m in.

What are some of your simple pleasures that can make your day just a little better?

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Fourth of July Weekend

July the Fourth

 

(Chair – Patriotic portable chair, Glasses – Patriot Aviators, Shorts – Patriot Shorts, Tank Top – Patriot Tank, Grill – Portable Coleman Grill, Cooler – Coleman Red Cooler)

Barbecue + Fireworks = Tailgate Opportunity

The Fourth of July. For some people it’s just a date that marks a halfway point that summer is over, but for us living in America, it’s the day that we officially remember and commemorate our Declaration of Independence in 1776 – hence the name “Independence Day”. And in a very American fashion, we honor this historic occasion by hosting parades, barbecuing, eating, wearing the stars and stripes, and lighting up the nighttime sky with explosives. The Fourth of July is, simply put, a nationwide birthday party for America and everyone celebrates in their own way. From my experience, The Fourth is mostly about going to barbecues and watching the fireworks, all while donning some America gear. So, why not combine the barbecue and fireworks into a tailgate event? Grill up a few steaks and hotdogs, open a few drinks, pull up a chair and wait for the show to start. Of course, you’ll need a few things first.

portable gas grill is essential if you’re going to have a barbecue at your tailgate. Sure you could bring steaks or hotdogs with you before you set up, but your food might get cold. Bringing a portable grill and cooking your food on the spot will ensure it’s fresh. Plus it’s a tailgate and will be much more fun to cook it out in the open. A cooler is also important unless you want warm drinks to go with your food. If you’re feeling patriotic, you could also paint the stars and stripes, just to get in the spirit. And what’s a Fourth of July tailgate without some portable freedom chairs to kick back and relax on while watching the fireworks.

Since this is America day, you might as well have get some America themed clothes. A Patriot tank top is a good way to show your American pride and a very good way to keep cool in the summer sun. If you really just have to go all out, throw on some patriot shorts to match your shirt, and if it gets too hot, you have a nice pair of America themed swim shorts. Aviator shades with a freedom theme to them are a good way to keep the sun out of your eyes and a good way to make Uncle Sam proud! You might be thinking all this America themed clothing might be going a little overboard, but when it comes to showing your patriotic side, there is no such thing as “overboard” – let lady liberty know you love her.

If for whatever reason, you’re busy today and can’t make the festivities, don’t worry. We have an unofficial celebration for after Independence Day known as “Fourth of July Weekend” – think of it as the after-party for America’s birthday party. So go out with your family and friends today or this weekend and celebrate America!

 

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My Favorite Healthy Foods

Image

( Celery snacks – Greatlist, Chickpea cookie dough – FitSugar, Salmon pasta dish – Fitness Magazine, Green smoothie – FitSugar, Cauliflower pizza – Closet Cooking )

When I first started eating healthier, it was difficult for me because I often felt that there was a lack of meal variation. After doing a bit of research years back, I found out I was very wrong. Eating right isn’t just about staying away from processed foods, but it’s also about what you specifically enjoy preparing.

My favorite snack is celery, peanut butter, and almonds. A great energy booster and it tastes amazing at the same time. Keep these with you throughout the day to avoid vending machine food. Since it is high-protein snack, it will keep you full for longer!

Don’t let this next snack deceive you, because that is not actually cookie dough made from mounds of sugar. This vegan chickpea cookie dough is absolutely life changing (maybe I wouldn’t go that far, but it’s pretty awesome). It is a great source of protein and fiber in one snack, plus it tastes great. Although you can’t bake it in the oven like real cookie dough, it’s a tasty healthy alternative paired with apples or any other fruit.

When you’re in need of an energy booster, try a sweet spinach smoothie. It combines protein, calcium, and fiber into a filling drink. It’s awesome after a workout or to start your day.

The real fun begins when preparing a meal. This grilled salmon, broccoli, and whole-grain penne pasta dish is a great alternative to a carb packed dinner. If fish isn’t your thing, you can even substitute any protein you desire! Make sure to add a little lemon juice and garlic at the end for the perfect finishing touch.

Last but not least, one of my favorite meals. It looks like a normal pizza right? Guess again. This BBQ chicken pizza has a cauliflower pizza crust, a new discovery for the same great taste as a regular pizza but without the bad carbohydrates. You’ll need a food processor for this one and a good amount of cauliflower. Once you process the cauliflower, you can put it together like any pizza crust, top it with desired ingredients, and bake for 10-15 minutes. Finally a delicious pizza you won’t feel guilty about devouring the entire thing.

Even if you don’t enjoy cooking, there are so many fast and easy meals that aren’t loaded with trans-fat and chemicals. Have fun and get creative!

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