No Fail Recipes

Month: January 2016

Saving Leftover Wine

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Left Over Wine

Wine recycles beautifully into many different pleasures. Learn how that leftover holiday wine can bring you joy well into the new year!

Wine can still go on, even after the party’s over.

Even though the clock starts ticking when you pull the cork. most wines will last at least a day or two. But eventually, almost everyone will have a few glasses of unused wine. And if you’ve just hosted a holiday party, you probably have more than just a few glasses to deal with. You might even have, when combined, a few bottles.

It’s tempting to simply pour it down the drain, but don’t. Wine recycles beautifully into many different pleasures. That leftover wine can go on bringing you holiday joy well into the new year.

Make Mulled Wine SyrupThis recipe comes from Serious Eats. Use the syrup to top pancakes, ice cream, pound cake or fruit.

Add it meals to boost flavor. If you plan ahead, you can prepare a menu that will make use of any leftover vino. If that’s not an option, keep the corked bottle by the stove or in the fridge and use it for impromptu cooking. Add a little to jarred pasta sauce to round out the flavor. Add it to beef stew or soup, or splash a little in gravy.

Cook with it. While wine that has been opened for a while might no longer be drinkable, it is still useful for braising meat or vegetables. You can also use to make a great fondue.

Freeze it! I like to pour leftover wine into an ice cube tray and slip it into the freezer. Once frozen, pop the cubes out and store in an airtight container in the coldest part of your freezer. Use the cubes when cooking or use them to keep wine spritzers or punch cold. Just drop the cubes into any appropriate cold beverage and it will stay fresh without being diluted by watery ice cubes.

Leftover white wine can remove red wine stains. While this seems to work best for a fresh spill, if you have a stain and some leftover Chardonney, why not give it a try? Apply the white wine sparingly to the red stain and blot with a clean, damp cloth. Repeat as necessary to completely remove the stain.

Make Sangria. Both white and red can be use to make various types of sangria, a fruity mixture of wine and other spirits like brandy. Try Spanish Red Wine Sangria or Super Fruity Sangrai

Add it to vinaigrettes and salad dressings in place of traditional vinegar. From Eveningedge.com 

Make Vinegar. You can make vinegar almost by accident if you leave a bottle of wine on the counter long enough, but in case you want to elevate it to an art form, visit thevinegarman.com and try out a few recipes.

Or you could just light a fire and curl up with a big glass and someone cuddly. Yea, I think I’ll do that.

Want to know how to reuse the leftover wine bottle corks? Check out Cork Dork for some neat ideas.

Secrets to a Perfect Pie Crust

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Secrets to a Perfect Pie Crust

Many bakers believe making their own pie crust as too challenging and difficult to make. Follow these secrets and you’ll have a perfect pie crust every time.

Secret #1: Use a glass pie dish. That way you can clearly see when the pie is browned properly on the bottom.

Secret #2: Pie crust get most of its flavor from the fat you use. Use a combination of butter and shortening.

Secret #3: All ingredients should be very cold. That goes for fats, dry ingredients, and liquids. The reason pie crust is flaky is that as you work the fat into the flour, the flour coats the fat, then the fat melts leaving a little air pocket, hopefully in layers upon layers.

Secret #4: The amount of liquid used will vary each time you make a crust. This is because weather varies, particularly humidity.

Secret #5: Use half vodka and half water for the liquid. Using vodka will reduce the amount of gluten produced, thereby making a flakier crust.

Secret #6: If at any time the dough becomes too sticky or soft, transfer it to the refrigerator for a few minutes to firm it up.

Secret #7: For a golden brown crust, whisk an egg with a little water or milk and brush it over the top crust before you put it in the oven. Then sprinkle the crust with sugar if its for a desert.

Great American Blue Cheeses

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Great American Blue Cheese

Classic blue cheeses like Gorgonzola from Italy and Roquefort from France are both excellent for melting on croutons for onion soup but these days there are many excellent blue cheeses produced in the United States too.

Point Reyes Blue Cheese

From California, this is a raw cow’s milk cheese aged at least six months. If you like a very sharp blue cheese this is the one to get. While it is very creamy, some find the sharp taste slightly bitter.

Hook’s Blue Paradise Cheese

This is a pasteurized cow’s mile double-cream blue chees3e from Wisconsin. It is smooth, creamy and mild with a pleasant sweetness. A similar cheese is Little Boy Blue made from sheep’s mild, which is equally creamy and mild with hints of hay and caramel. Some find it slightly salty.

Great Hill Blue Cheese

From Massachusetts, this is a raw cow’s milk cheese that some tasters describe as the quintessential blue cheese. It has earthy, mushroomy undertones and hits of Cheddar.

Oregon Blue Cheese

This cheese is from Roque Creamery in Oregon and is modeled after Roquefort. It is funky and sharp while Rogue’s Oregon-zola, as the name implies, is modeled after Gorgonzola, and is gentle and bright with a crumbly texture.

Maytag Blue Cheese

Maytag is a blue cheese produced on the Maytag Dairy Farms outside of Newton, Iowa, the former home of the Maytag Corporation. It uses a process for making blue cheese from homogenized cow’s milk instead of the traditional sheep’s milk. Maytag Blue has a dense, crumbly texture. As it melts in your mouth it imparts a spicy flavor with a final bite.

Berkshire Blue Cheese

A raw milk artisan cheese made from Jersey cow’s milk in small batches, Berkshire Blue is made in Massachusetts. This artisan cheese is made completely by hand, and by only one person. It is hand-stirred, hand-ladled and manually turned, resulting in an exceptionally creamy, smooth blue, mild yet very full-flavored. It isn’t too pungent or salty. It is known for having low levels of both acid and salt in the cheese.

Wine Pairings
While most red wines don’t pair well with strong, salty blues—and there are sweeter, semisoft blues to explore—Port and zinfandel are two to try, as well as, sparkling wine, Chardonnay, dessert wines, barleywine-style ale, Belgian ale, Trappist beer and stout. As a dessert, Sauternes are a classic pairing, the salty cheese balancing the sweet wine.

Facts and Fictions of Marinades

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Marinades

FICTION: Marinades Penetrate Meat Deeply

FACT: Most Penetration is Superficial

Contrary to popular belief, marinades do most of their work on the surface of meat or just below. Some ingredients in a marinade do penetrate the meat—but only by a few millimeters (and oil-soluble herbs and spices in the mix merely add flavor to the exterior). To get better penetration, poke holes in the meat using a fork.

FICTION: Acids Tenderize Meat

FACT: Acids Turn Meat Mushy

Tenderizing meat you have to break down muscle fiber and collagen, the connective tissue that makes meat tough, thus increasing the meat’s ability to retain moisture. While acidic ingredients like citrus juice, vinegar, yogurt, buttermilk, and wine do weaken collagen, their impact is confined to the meat’s surface. If left too long, acids turn the outermost layer of meat mushy, not tender. To minimize mushiness, use acidic components sparingly and only for short marinating times.

FICTION: The Longer the Soak, the Better

FACT: A Long Soak is Pointless—Even Detrimental

Because marinades don’t penetrate deeply, a lengthy soak is pointless. Furthermore, too long a soak in an acidic marinade can weaken the protein bonds near the surface so that they turn mushy—or worse, can no longer hold moisture and dry out.

FICTION: Marinades Add Flavor to Any Meat

FACT: Marinades Are Best for Thin Cuts

With their influence limited mostly to the surface of the meat, we reserve marinades for relatively thin cuts like chicken breasts, pork chops, steaks, cutlets and meat cut into chunks or slices for kebabs and stir fries. A large roast or turkey breast is never a good bet; a spice paste that will adhere to the meat is a better option.

FICTION: Enzymes Tenderize Meat

FACT: Enzymes Make Meat Mushy

The enzyme in many plants—such as papain in papaya and bromelain in pineapple, to name two—can break down collagen in meat. But as with acids, their impact is limited to the meat’s surface, where we find they likewise turn the meat mushy, not tender.

FICTION: Bottled Dressing Is a Great Time-Saver

FACT: Bottled Dressing Makes Mediocre Marinade

Due to high levels of acidity, salad dressings don’t add complex flavor and only make meat mushy. Plus, they are laden with sweeteners, stabilizers, and gums, which add a gelatinous consistency and unnatural flavor. Homemade is best.

Determining Number of Appetizers for Your Party

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Appetizer Table
Tiny bites of anything just taste a gajillion times better than their gigantic cousins and that’s why figuring out how many appetizers you need per person is a huge challenge.

If you’ve ever gone to any sort of gathering where appetizers are on feature, you know that’s where you’re going to find all sorts of happy people who are going to want to try everything on deck.

So if you’re hosting a soiree, make sure your appetizer game is on point, this is going to make the difference between a smiles-and-giggles party and an everyone-leaves-early-and-hungry event.

The key to having the perfect amount of appetizers per person is having enough unique individual tasters and equal amounts of loosey-goosey platters of dip and something. For example, you want to make sure you have at least two platters of either the vegetable and dip platter, fruit and dip platter or cheese and crackers platter for a soiree of 10.

Your appetizer bombs

Then you can add your big guns and by big guns we mean those little loved bites of something special you’re going to create and they’re going to rave about and eat and rave again. With the smaller appetizers you want to approximate 12 appetizers per person. The number may sound like a lot, but remember these appetizers are going to sustain people throughout your event so it is not out of the question that your guests could easily pop back four in one round of the appetizer service table.
Now that we’ve got numbers out of the way, let’s talk about what makes a delicious appetizers table.

Seasonal

You definitely want to be serving according to season so it makes sense and so you can get fresh, flavorful ingredients. Remember it’s not quantity, it is absolutely about quality.

Autumn Appetizer

Chorizo and Sweet Potato Bites
Serves: 10
Prep Time: 10 mins.

Ingredients
2 lbs chorizo sausage
2 sweet potatoes
extra virgin olive oil

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking tray with parchment,
2. Slice sausage into 1/2″ thick slices, set aside.
3. Peel and slice sweet potatoes into 1″ cubes.
4. Heat 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil in skillet over medium heat.
5. Add sweet potato cubes and saute until browned, remove from skillet.
6. Into same pan add chorizo and saute until browned, remove from skillet.
7. Place chorizo and sweet potato on baking tray and place in oven for 15 mins, cool.
8. Thread two chorizo bites in between two sweet potato cubes on a toothpick and place on serving platter.

Winter Appetizer

Meatballs
Serves: 10
Prep Time: 20 mins.

Ingredients
2 lbs lean ground beef
2 green onions, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
extra virgin olive oil

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line two trays with parchment.
2. Combine ingredients in a large bowl and knead.
3. Roll meatballs into 2″ balls and place on lined trays.
4. Bake meatballs for 20 mins. on middle rack.
5. Place meatballs on serving platter and insert toothpick inside each one.

Spring Appetizer

Tomato and Prosciutto Bites
Serves: 10
Prep Time: 10 mins.

Ingredients
20 cherry tomatoes
1 lb Mozzarella
1 lb Prosciutto, thinly-sliced

Directions
1. Slice tomatoes in half.
2. Slice Mozzarella into 1/2″ cubes.
3. Thread 4 tomato halves and two Mozza cubes on a toothpick and wrap a prosciutto slice around, place on serving platter.

Summer Appetizer
Watermelon Mint Bites
Serves: 10
Prep Time: 10 mins.

Ingredients
1 large watermelon
1 bunch mint
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp salt

Directions
1. Slice watermelon into 1″ cubes, remove seeds.
2. Place mint, cayenne, salt and 1 cup watermelon cubes in food processor and mix until you have a sauce.
3. Toss watermelon with mint and thread three cubes per toothpick.
4. Appetizers for all

Perhaps we’re all kids at heart and want little things to play with or maybe we love the fun of tasting all sorts of things without committing to one, whatever it is appetizers are a hit.

History of the Hamburger

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Delicious hamburger and fries

A juicy, succulent grilled all-beef patty tucked into a pillowy fresh bun is an ode to all-American deliciousness. It’s comforting, it’s filling, you can dress it up, dress it down or don’t dress it at all. The Hamburger has become an American classic attracting tourists young and old to America from all over the world! Many au pairs come to America to experience the culture and the food is an added bonus. If you are interested in becoming an au pair be sure to visit Cultural Care Au Pair for information on how to do so! With all of this awesomeness to celebrate, it certainly is no surprise that there are many people that have laid claim to the invention of the modern day hamburger. As far as records go, the truth lies somewhere in the US in the latter half of the 19th century or the first half of the 20th century.

The Hamburg Connection

These days, if you asked anyone to describe what a hamburger is, it’d be pretty simple stuff: a beef patty on a bun with some condiments like ketchup and mustard and toppings like onion and tomato.

BUT

This whole hamburger hoopla may not have happened had it not been to a certain port by the name of Hamburg and a whole lot of immigrants coming to America from that launching pad. The original hamburger a la the Hamburg port would have been a version of steak tartare, which is raw minced meat speckled with spice. This version began to be served up in the latter half of the 19th century to appeal to the European immigrants arriving in New York.

First came the Salisbury

There are many claims made as to when the raw version began to be served fully-cooked. Credit has been given to Dr. James H. Salisbury who prescribed the cooked version to his patients and in turn Salisbury Steak was invented, which could have been the precursor to today’s hamburger.

The salisbury steak began to be served in between two pieces of bread and that is how the salisbury enters into the history of the hamburger. However, claims to when that happen vary and come from different areas from the United States. It is however, commonly understood that the change to eating salisbury steak in between two pieces of bread arose as a necessity for people on the go, people with no time to sit down with a knife and fork.

The smoking bun

As any hamburger lover knows, the bun is of the utmost importance and any old pieces of bread just won’t do. It is believed that the bun and the burger married at one of the many fairs that take place across the US, however who exactly did it first is disputed but in the history of the hamburger it likely occurred around the last decade of the 19th century.

The burger goes viral

The official mass market version can be credited to American burger chain White Castle. White Castle began serving up yummy burgers in 1921 in the midwestern US. These burgers were just $0.05 when the restaurant first opened its doors. The first restaurant was in Kansas, but the popularity of the burger in just the first year had the chain expanding quickly to neighboring States.

The Golden Arches

It is safe to say that McDonald’s is one of the most widely recognized brands in the world and burgers are their business. The company opened up in 1955 and hasn’t looked back since. It was with the opening of fast food chains like McDonald’s that the combination of a burger, fries and a soft drink became the standard service of a burger meal.

A look back at The Roman

In its present-day form, the hamburger is intrinsically tied with American culture, however its beginnings are likely not American and likely not as simple and humble as today’s version. A version of the mincemeat patty may have been around in the 4th century thanks to some crafty Roman cooks. The Roman version involves the use of pine nuts as well as wine, making it an upgraded version of your traditional burger. Here is a quick recipe for you to make your own Roman burger, you can have it with or without bread.

Roman Burger Recipe
Serves: 4
Prep Time: 10 mins.

Ingredients
1 lb ground beef
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 slice Italian bread
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cracked black peppercorn
extra virgin olive oil

Directions

  1. Lightly coat grill grates with a little extra virgin olive oil
  2. Place pine nuts and peppercorn in a spice blender and crush into a powder.
  3. Rip bread into small pieces.
  4. Place wine in saucepan and bring to boil, reduce until syrupy, set aside to cool.
  5. Combine beef with cooled wine, bread, pine nut mixture and salt.
  6. Shape meat into 4 patties and place on grill over direct heat until grill marks appear.
  7. Remove burgers to indirect heat and cook for another few minutes until cooked through.

The hamburger warriors

The next theory of hamburger history is oh-so very interesting and very clever too. Since hamburgers and fast food go hand-in-hand, it is no surprise that the hamburger is not just tasty but its also viewed as a grab-n-go mood. Now, the Mongols of the 12th century had a similar idea. As they whipped through parts of Asia atop horse, charging and massacring, they had little time to stop for vittles. So picture this, as they raced through the continents they had a piece of meat cooking right under their saddles.

The classic burger is a fast-food staple but it is also one of those foods that taste especially awesome when served up by your fave griller at your fave local diner. Of course if you want to get schmancy-fancy and go gourmet, some of the most expensive restaurants around will have their very own uber-priced versions. Suffice it to say, a burger, a beer, good friends and a Friday night is basically all kinds of awesome Americana waiting to happen.

 

Fad Diets

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If you promise to help people lose a ridiculously large amount of weight in a ridiculously short period of time you have just placed yourself in the arms of millions of people and under the category of fad diets.

These days however, the line between fad dieting and healthy dieting has become a little blurry, in fact the term dieting itself has become a world people only whisper.

These days no one is on a diet but everyone is making “lifestyle changes.”

So shall we talk about these here lifestyle changes a little?

By golly, yes we should.

Atkins

The granddaddy of all diets, the Atkins diet took the world by storm several decades ago and has been going strong since. In fact the diet was so successful that there are numerous offshoots, they all have different names and theories but what is common amongst them all is the basic principles of the Atkins diet.

Essentially on the Atkins diet you do not eat grains, dairy and other simple sugars. Be prepared to lose a ton of weight if you stick to the guidelines of the program. The Atkins approach weans your body off of using carbohydrates for fuel buy completely eliminating carbs from the diet. Once the body goes into ketosis, it starts to use your stored up fat and new fat for energy. Voila, this is how you lose weight on this diet.

Paleo

If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to like thousands of years ago, you’re in luck because there’s a diet that is designed to help you do just that.

The Paleolithic diet, or Paleo for short, was created with the purpose of helping humans return to a more natural state of eating, the kind that existed prior to modern-day machinery.

This means when you’re eating Paleo, you’re essentially sticking to things like fruits, veggies and animal products. Paleo’s dietary restrictions make it similar to the low-carb diet since much of the food items that are banned from a low-carb plan are also items that would not have been produced in the Paleolithic era.

The Paleo diet has been going strong for several years now, and is one of those diets that isn’t just a temporary fix, but seems to be one that has resulted in lifestyle changes for people. There are numerous website as well as cookbooks dedicated to living a Paleo lifestyle. So if you’re ready to say bye-bye to cakes, cookies, bread, ice cream, milk and more than this is the fad you want to get on since you’ll stay relatively healthy and stay slim in the process (or get slimmer).

Vegan

Not so much a fad as much as a personal health and social choice, veganism is becoming increasingly popular.

Vegans do not consume animals and their products. For some people the decision can come as a result of becoming more socially aware of the conditions animals for consumption live in. Other people convert to veganism because it is a health choice or if they want to lose weight.

The trick to losing weight with veganism is staying away from all of the simple sugars that you’re allowed to have. You can still see overweight vegans because they begin to go heavy on pastries and other sugary treats to make up for the meat products they are not eating.

Pineapple Diet

Now here’s one that has earned its “fad diet” stripes. The pineapple diet promises followers they will lose a significant amount of weight in a short amount of time by eating pineapple. Pineapples are said to be a negative calorie food since the energy it takes your body to burn pineapple up is more than the calories you consume. A typical pineapple diet includes eating just pineapple and drinking water as well as eating tuna for its protein intermittently.

Followers say the pineapple diet works and it should since you’re subsisting on very few calories.

Fad Stuff

Some people jump from fad diet to fad diet, losing weight and gaining back twice as much. The truth of the matter is that no diet can actually work unless you make a commitment to actually feeling healthier, looking healthier and losing weight. That’s why if you are currently struggling on what to do in your diet then it might be a good idea to check out something like this website here Discussdiets.com, to give you some helpful hints and tips on what to do to help you lose weight and eat healthier. At the end of the day, a diet with the right amounts of sugar and fat with regular exercise is going to improve your health. If you aren’t doing exercise along side a diet then you aren’t going to gain anything. It doesn’t have to be a gruelling gym session either, it can be just be something like a tennis lesson. If you’re not sure how to start an activity then you can just search it online (E.g. Chicago Tennis Lessons). This means you do in fact need to revamp your whole lifestyle rather than change your eating habits for a few days. So dump the fad and pick up a lifestyle that’s going to take you higher and further than any quick-fix plan ever could.

Making the Best Salmon Ever

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Best Salmon Ever

Even for the most die-hard of meat-eaters the salmon packs a fatty, flavorful punch that makes it a truly viable choice for a bite with boom. Popular salmon species include Chinook salmon, Sockeye Salmon and Atlantic salmon.

Salmon is one of the more succulent fishes you can enjoy; it even has various cuts like steak. In fact you can actually purchase salmon steak. Additionally filet of salmon and whole salmon are also popular for cooking and consumption.

Mega my Omega

Yep, if you want omega you got all kinds of omega in salmon. The fish is an Omega-3 powerhouse, one of the best food sources available to us. Omega-3 fats are the good kind of fat that we need but don`t actually produce in the body. Studies have indicated that Omega-3 is particularly beneficial for mental health by way of encouraging the production of dopamine and serotonin.

In fact the human brain and eyes are composed of a large amount of Omega-3.

The Best Grilled Salmon Ever

So what`s the best way to get the best grilled salmon ever. Well we’re going to share that with you right now. First we’ll start off with grilling a cut of salmon and then we’ll move on to cooking the whole darn caboodle.

Step 1

For the good of the environment and to show kindness to your body, make sure you purchase wild salmon. Farming salmon is an unsustainable practice and pools of farmed salmon can lead to disease in the fish population which of course is not something you want to partake in consuming.

Step 2

When buying salmon cuts, it is best to stick to salmon with the skin on. Leaving the skin on the salmon helps in preventing it from sticking to your grill and can also ensure that the whole thing doesn`t fall apart.

Step 3

Your optimum heat level for your grill is medium-high, this keeps it high enough to prevent sticking but also ensures you get a slower heat so you can a nice, evenly grilled fish.  For a piece of salmon that is 1” thick you’ll need approximately 10 mins. of cooking time with a flip halfway through.

Step 4

The salmon is a smart piece of fish and that`s why you don`t need to pick and prod at it as it is cooking. Just let it cook and after 5 mins. you can gently give it a little push to see if it comes off the grill on its own. A fish that is ready to be turned over will easily slide off the grill.

The Whole Fish

Step 1

Select your salmon and have your butcher gut and clean it for you (or you can do it yourself, but it will get messy if you’re a newbie).

Step 2

Lightly oil your grill grates and preheat your grill at medium high.

Step 3

Prepare your fish by stuffing it with herbs and butter or lemon and then rub the whole fish with good quality oil like coconut or extra virgin olive oil.

Step 4

Make three or four diagonal cuts into the skin of your fish so that it has some give as it cooks.

Step 5

Place your whole fish on the grill and cook until 10 mins. are up, then nudge the fish slightly to see if it comes up off the grill on its own. If it comes off the grill easily then flip it over and cook for another 10 mins. You can gently touch the fish with your finger to see if it is firm, if it is all firm this means it is cooked, but if it’s slightly jiggly then it needs more cooking.

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