Archive of ‘Cooking’ category

free cookbooks – You don’t need a smartphone or tablet to get free e-books

I absolutely LOVE cookbooks. They are definitely my weakness… BUT… my husband HATES clutter. They’re so tempting sitting at the checkout aisle (they’re like candy), but I can’t tell you how many I bought, liked one or two recipes and never make the ones I do like regularly, so, I had wasted a lot of money on cookbooks.

My solution comes in many flavors.

1) The public library (this one is obvious) they have tons of cookbooks in many topics. My library is always getting new cookbooks and has a huge selection. I get one or two a week, photo copy the ones I like or think I’ll use.

2) This one might not be as obvious to everyone. E-books. A smartphone isn’t in my budget (I do get to use one for work and it’s opened my eyes to resources I might not otherwise have looked at).

Holiday Meal Planning

It’s almost time for American thanksgiving and for those cooking the big meal, it’s time to start planning. Locally the frozen turkey’s are going on sale and if you’re buying locally fresh, don’t waste any time, they may already be sold out.

Make your list of main course(s), side dishes and desserts, check your pantry and make your shopping list of all the ingredients you’re going to need. This time of year, more than over makes it easy to overspend, and impulse buy, just adding unnecessary cost to your holidays (I couldn’t help buying leftover discounted halloween candy.. I’m a sucker for Laffy Taffy).

Many home made pies can be prepared in advance and frozen to help make the actual holiday less hectic (I cook the Christmas meal and personally, I like to put the turkey in the oven and crawl back in bed for an hour)

If you’re thinking of trying something new this year, now is the time to try it out in advance and if it’s not as good as you thought it would be, you still have time to adjust your menu and try again.

Are you making your centerpieces (or having the kids help), this is definitely a “do ahead” project and not a night before stress to think about.

Here’s a funny article on the

Ten Steps to a Less Than Perfect Thanksgiving

Remember, this is the NOT to do list 🙂

#5 Begin to defrost your turkey on Thanksgiving morning. You know how magazines tend to exaggerate how long it takes to defrost and roast those little gobblers. And who cares if dinner’s not ready until 9:00 p.m.?

Seven days, seven ways to put a new spin on potatoes

(ARA) – Few things say “fall” like the crispness in the air, the bright colors of changing leaves and the warm, comforting foods that come with the season’s harvest. While the classic recipes that you rely on year after year will always have a place on your menus, simple twists on a beloved vegetable will keep everyone clamoring for a prime spot at the dinner table.

Seven unique potato types mean you can try a new one every day of the week for a fun and varied menu plan. Not only that, potatoes are a healthy addition to your menu. At just 110 calories per serving, they’re packed with essential vitamins and minerals and are a good source of potassium. A medium-size (5.3 ounce) skin-on potato has almost half your daily value of vitamin C, and no fat, sodium or cholesterol.

Try these recipes from to give your family new ways to enjoy a perennial favorite.

* Yellow potatoes – These buttery delights have smooth, golden flesh under a thin golden skin. They’re dense enough to stand up to grilling, and using that method will give you crispy skins and a hint of sweet, caramelized flavor. Recipe to try: Grilled Potato Planks.

* White potatoes – Varieties with light tan skin and creamy white flesh are a great choice for making classic mashed potatoes. Because their flesh is dense, it becomes thick and rich when mashed. Because the skin is thin, there’s no need to peel before mashing. Spice up your favorite mashed dish with new flavor additions. Recipe to try: Chipotle Mashed Potatoes.

* Russet potatoes – They’ve likely been a fixture on the dinner table since you were young, but russets have more to offer than just the basics. Indeed, they’re great for baking, because their flesh comes out light and fluffy, and the skin stays tasty and crisp. Recipe to try: Baked Potato Nachos.

* Petite potatoes – Kids love the mix of colors and adults love them for their concentrated flavor and quick cooking times. Prep is simple for potato salads – cook whole and unpeeled potatoes your preferred method until they’re fork-tender, toss with your favorite potato salad ingredients, and you’ll have a dish that tastes as good as it looks. Recipe to try: Red, White and Blue Potato Salad.

* Fingerlings – Small and slender, these are popular on the menus of gourmet restaurants throughout the country. A secret – they’re easy to cook at home, too. They come in a range of colors and have a firm texture that’s great for pan frying, which brings out their natural nutty or buttery tastes. Recipe to try: Pan Fried Fingerlings with Wild Mushroom Sauce.

* Purples – The vibrantly colored skin and flesh of these potatoes look like something out of your child’s favorite fantasy book, but they’re a healthy, delicious choice for everyday meals. They hold their shape well with cooking and their nutty flavor is a unique addition to salads or other side dishes. Recipe to try: Blackened Blue Potato Salad.

* Reds – Preparing roasted meals is much more appealing in fall’s cool temperatures, and red potatoes are ideal for that cooking method. They stay moist and flavorful even after roasting. They retain their color, making a visually appealing addition to your table. Recipe to try: Roasted Pesto Potato Salad.

Experimenting with different types and preparations of potatoes may just help you find a new family favorite – it could even help you fully accessorize your kitchen. By entering “Better Homes and Gardens” magazine’s Prize Tested Recipe contest, you could win a $500 monthly prize or even a grand prize of $10,000 in Frigidaire kitchen appliances. For more information, go to Deadline for entry is Oct. 23, 2011.

Visit and to see more healthy potato recipes and how-to videos for inspiration.

My new favorite picnic take-along: Boston Cream Pie Minis

Since Memorial Day, we’ve been to quite a few picnics and it’s always a challenge to take something along that’s unique. For the 4th of July, as we arrived at a picnic, my friend’s teenage daughter looked at what I had in my hands and said “Thank goodness you didn’t bring watermelon” (apparently that was a common take-along that year, along with at least 3 trays of brownies). I discovered an awesome recipe for Boston Cream Pie Minis in the Kraft Foods magazine (this is a free quarterly print magazine that I highly recommend, signup at the KraftFoods website)

The cupcakes may look complicated, but they’re actually quite easy, a simple box mix to make the cupcakes, a couple of ingredients whipped together, these are a great cooking project for parents and older children. The cupcakes can be cut with a simple butter knife so there’s no risk to fingers. My only tip is to cut the cupcake, place the bottom half on the tray where you’re going to want it for chilling (I can put all 24 on a large cookie sheet in rows of 4). Put your filling on the bottom, then top it, this reduces the need to move the cupcake before it’s fully set and keeps them looking fluffy and nice.

These cupcakes have been a big hit everywhere they’ve gone (my own teenage son finds them irresistable).

Menu planning

The Flylady system encourages menu planning for several different reasons. 1) it’s simply more efficient to plan your meals in advance and make sure you have all the ingredients you need 2) it’s cost efficient… use what you have, buy only what you need. No more… I don’t know, what do you want to have, let’s just order out 3) it’s time efficient. Nothing worse than starting dinner only to realize you’re missing a key ingredient and need to run back to the store for rolls.

I’ve been getting tired of having the same couple of meals all the time, so this week I decided to have a “new recipe night”. Double bonus, it was a crockpot meal that didn’t need a lot of attention. This week we tried Slow-Cooker Orange-BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches from the Kraft Food & Family magazine.

To find more recipes like this, you can visit the craft site for an archive of this free quarterly magazine with issues going back to 2002. If you sign up on the site, you can request new issues to be sent to you.

I can’t promise that I’ll be doing new recipe night on a weekly basis but the first experiment went very well.