How to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

October 30th, 2014

chocolates-xmasAlthough Christmas and Thanksgiving come with so much cheer, the holiday season can be the most challenging time of the year. The frosted cookies at the office, doughnuts and baking for a friend’s birthday, the chocolate gifts from your husband, the Thanksgiving turkey, eggnog, ham and rich side dishes certainly put too many of us in the way of a lot of temptation. Don’t get me wrong, the holiday season is all about celebrating but it is important to be smart and navigate those holiday party food spreads. As tantalizing as the cranberry cake sounds, living only for the satisfaction of our mouths and stomachs is unhealthy. After all, if the saying, “You are what you eat” means anything to us then we will try to lay off these foods due to the risk of unnecessary weight gain. As impossible as it may sound, the truth is that those extra pounds you gain during the holiday feasts certainly do not shed off with the holiday decorations.

Well, there is good news for all weight loss believers; you can indulge in sumptuous meals without gaining those extra annoying pounds. Here’s how:

Go for the smallest plate

small-portionThose large buffet plates can be tricky during a party. We always tend to want a little bit of everything, however, portion is everything. Use the smallest plates available to serve your dinner and stick to simple foods, preferably fresh fruits and vegetables. No matter how tempting the sauce and the dip is-it’s probably a bright idea to stay away from those.

Portion patrol

By now, we should understand that our body uses up only the amount of food that it needs- all the extras are converted into fats. It is important to control your food portions. After eating, we should feel satisfied, not stuffed.

Don’t skip a meal throughout the day

Never arrive at a party when you are starving. ‘Saving your appetite’ for Christmas dinner is a bad idea. Take breakfast and lunch regardless of what your taste buds are telling you; this way, you won’t feel the need to stuff yourself with food while indulging. You will definitely stick to eating in the right proportions.

cake-83033_640Chew slowly

Although this may sound like a cliché, science has proven that the faster we eat, the less time the body has to register fullness. So don’t be in a rush-slow down and savor those bites so that you can really enjoy the meals and allow for proper digestion.

Other important pointers include picking protein and healthy fats over other foods-do not pass on the turkey or ham. Ditch the skin, lose the added sugars and simply say no to seconds after you have already cleared your plate of your first serving. If you are already overweight, it is important to avoid weight gain so that you can maintain your current weight or lose weight. It may not be as simple as it sounds but believe me, there is nothing better than getting started on the new year while your outfits still fit-or better yet-getting them in a smaller size.

50 Holiday Food Gifts

October 29th, 2014

The holidays are coming, and you want to give a holiday food gift to one or many people. You should, a gift of food is almost always received with great joy. But what to do? Here are 50 different ideas from all over the web, from easy to difficult.

1. mexican-truffle Food Network helps out with 50 edible gifts. These look pretty easy, just melting chocolate and adding a few other ingredients. And if it’s Food Network, you know the final product will be yummy. One thing they don’t do is give you ideas on how to present the gift, so that is a drawback.
2. thanksgiving-dinner-plated Holiday Meal Gifts does only that- send meal gifts to your loved ones. They have a page of gift ideas, as well as meals for people on special diets. These meals are fully-cooked, frozen and then delivered. Gift certificates are available too, at their parent site, MagicKitchen.com. They have a selection of turkey dinners for the holidays, for 1 or 2 people or up to 6 people (12, if you double that order). This is so much easier than making the gifts, if you’re not good in the kitchen! They have another section as well, Holiday gifts, so there are lots of options.
3. cranberry-curd Cooking Light has some homemade gifts that are lighter in calories and fat. One thing I like about this website is that they don’t just add no-fat cheese instead of regular cheese, they actually rework the recipes with real food, and make them lighter and very tasty. I’ve had great success with a lot of their recipes.
4.cookies My Recipes has a great article on Homemade Gifts for Teachers that you and your kids will love. Show your teachers how much you and your children appreciate them with these easy and affordable food gifts. If your child’s teacher loves coffee, this holiday coffee mix could be her favorite gift of the season. Another suggestion is a flavorful bag of buttery cheddar cheese cookies topped with pecan nuts.
5. jar Eating Well has a free recipe book for holiday gifts, as well as a slideshow. Treat your friends and family to healthy homemade gifts this holiday season. For fantastic recipes where you will find something for everyone on your list, download a free Homemade Gifts Cookbook from www.eatingwell.com
6. biscotti Real Simple has a lot of less expensive ideas, from infused vodka to a great-looking holiday biscotti! For these and other interesting, easy-to-prepare goodies, log onto www.realsimple.com
7. w-s-spices On the high-end part of the scale, Williams-Sonoma has a selection of food gifts. For the gourmet food enthusiast Williams-Sonama have some wonderful recipes encompassing main courses, deserts, seasonal foods and even exciting breakfast ideas.
8. popcorn Real Food Tips has some holiday food gifts that look yummy, including some rubs for meat. They also have a great pizza recipe that you can make from scratch quicker than you can cook a frozen pizza or get a takeout.
9. lambshank MagicKitchen.com has holiday meal gifts for everyone from vegetarians to those with diabetes, as well as a fantastic homestyle meals menu for those who just want delicious food! Check out MagicKitchen.com reviews to hear what customers are saying.
10. candy-cane Midwest Meals starts out with a Candy cane Snack mix that sounds fantastic, and continues with 34 more ideas. These are attractively packaged and include Toffee Blondies in a jar, and Winter Pomegranate iced tea amongst others.
11. caramel-sauce The Cooking Channel has a lot of recipes, but they are scattered here and there. Their Salted Caramel Sauce sounds divine! Check out their recipes for treats like chocolate coconut candy bars and cocoa brownies.
12. cookies-red-velvet The Today food section contains a bunch of holiday cookie recipes, as well as fudge, cookie bars, scones, tasty pasta and much, much more.
13. rosemary-muffins Farm Flavor has a selection of home-cooked recipes. It includes Rosemary Goat Cheese Muffins, which sounds divine. Take advantage of fresh rosemary for the savory citrus orange and rosemary shortbread cookies.
14. pecan-toffee Decadent Chocolate Gifts for the Holidays is a great idea, and is from My Recipes. It includes Salted Chocolate-Pecan Toffee, which makes my mouth water.
15. christmas-crackers Of course the ubiquitous Martha Stewart has a contribution, with Homemade Food Gifts, including Treat-Filled Christmas Crackers. The level of professionalism in her decorations is virtually impossible to match!
16. cheese-tray Zabar’s famous deli has a large selection of deli foods.  The affordable menu includes genuine, traditional holiday offerings such as roast turkey, classic rotisserie chicken, a perfectly prepared shrimp platter and a colorful cheese and fruit platter containing international cheeses.
17. food-store Charity – The Holiday Food Distribution by Free Store Food Bank is a wonderful way to ensure that people who can’t afford it get some holiday meals as well! Holidays are a time of family, food and generosity. Give your support to this worthy cause.
18. pumpkin-muffins Cooks Recipes has a selection of home made food gifts including a Mini-pumpkin muffin mix. A yummy pumpkin tart with hazelnut crust is also among their recipes.
19. whiskey Not really food, but definitely welcome in the holiday season, Grub Street has a selection of fine liquors. They include barrel-aged gin and some fabulous rums, along with a great Japanese whiskey.
20. cheeses For the real foodie, Grub Street also has some food baskets with truly obscure but undoubtedly delicious ingredients, like Panettone and Dancing Ewe Farms Pecorino.
21. candy-cane-fudge One word- ok, two words: Candycane Fudge! All Recipes has this one, plus a chewy German chocolate thumbprint cookie recipe, and more for the sweet tooth fanatic.
22. hootycakes A cookie recipe in a jar, with the somehow awesome name of Cranberry Hootycreeks. You make the mix, hang a tag with directions, and gift it! A most innovative gift which is sure to please.
23. kitchn The Kitchn has a great blog with a selection of cookies, candies, cakes and infusions. A great group of food gifts indeed! In addition, they offer simple, straightforward preparation of comfortable classic meals.
24.caramels Taste of Home gives you 25 different recipes, including creamy caramels, my weakness. I don’t suppose you have some extra time? You could send some to me. :)
25. whoopie The Cooking Channel also provides this list of 50 homemade holiday gifts. They include these decadent Red Velvet Whoopie Pies. And what about a salted caramel apple pie to tickle the tastebuds?
26. gift-in-jar Organized Christmas provides a bunch of Mason Jar recipes for gifting over the holidays. These easy homemade Christmas gifts are topped with a colorful fabric circle and a free gift tag.
27. sl Southern’s living’s list includes Cranberry-Pecan Cheese Wafers that looks simply divine. These food gifts, suitable for any occasion, are complete with attractive packaging that will put a smile on anyone’s face!
28. Lemon-Tart3 Speaking of dessert, Mostly Desserts has your holiday dessert delivery handled! A wide selection of delectable desserts delivered to your door, or that of a friend with a sweet tooth.
29. vanilla Simple Bites is an excellent blog by Aimee, with 20 of her favorite holiday food gifts. She includes some lovely photos, including this one of homemade vanilla extract.
30. reese Food.com has these amazing and easy No-bake Reese’s squares. With only 5 ingredients, these couldn’t be easier to make. Rose’s peanut butter squares are also a no-bake item.
31. shapecom Shape.com has mason jar cookie gift recipes that are actually sort of healthy! That would be a nice offering at the time of excess that is the holidays.
32. 100days Trust 100 days of real food to offer some of the most interesting recipes in their “12 Homemade Holiday Gifts (that aren’t cookies!)“. Only the finest natural ingredients are used in the clean cuisine cottage pie. Give it a try.
33. Crab-stuffed-Sole Gourmet Food Deliveries delivers- what else? Gourmet food right to your door. Frozen gourmet food, what a great gift.
34. lobsterguy The Lobster guy delivers real live Maine lobster everywhere in the USA. If that’s a little too live for you, he also delivers already-cooked lobster. Great gift!
35. wreath Harry and David will send out all kinds of beautiful gift baskets, including this really cool fruit wreath. They delivery for every social or personal occasion, as well as seasonal such as Harvest and Christmas.
36. basil-chicken MKMeals.com has a selection of meals that are ideal for people on special diets. That could be people with heart conditions or diabetes, or even people on dialysis. People on special diets would really appreciate these food gifts for special diets.
37. booze-basket If your loved one appreciates a good quality drink, give a thought to a gift basket from Spirited Gifts. Excellent spirits, beautifully presented, just make your choice!
38. gifttree The Gift Tree has a large selection of gift baskets, with cheese, nuts, crackers. wine and fruit in many combinations. Get the selection that appeals to you the most.
39. citarells Citarella sends high-end gift baskets with such delicacies as smoked salmon, caviar, imported cheeses and antipasti. Citarella also caters to the ultimate foodies in the gourmet market, using healthy food from plant and animal sources.
40. karmel Good Karmal sends out luscious, handmade caramels in boxes or baskets. Caramel pieces are individually wrapped in inspirational quotes of wisdom.
41. onastick Heather Baird from Sprinklebakes wrote a lovely blog post on how to make these delightful Spiced Hot Chocolate on a Stick treats. Really easy to follow, with beautiful photos, this would be a very impressive gift to make!
42. candy-vodka OK- Bacon Infused Vodka. What person wouldn’t want to at least try that? Reader’s Digest shows you how to that and many more infused vodkas. How about cake? Candy sounds good. The bacon infused vodka would make an amazing Bloody Mary.
43. baconjam While we’re on the topic of bacon, Skillet Street Food sells an amazing Bacon Jam. I’m told this jam is insanely good on a burger or grilled cheese sandwich, giving a wonderfully flavorsome taste.
44. lemon-syrup One Good Thing by Jillee is a gorgeous blog, and her recipe for Lemon and Ginger Syrup is simple but would make an elegant gift. The clear bottle shows off it’s exquisite deep yellow color.
45. oolo Pepper Design Blog has an incredible recipe for Rosemary Infused Olive Oil – add a loaf of artisan bread in a basket to make a beautiful and tasty gift.
46. truffles Homemade Christmas Truffles from Yum Dim Sum – a beautifully-photographed blog, with clear directions. She even gives ideas for boxing them up!
47. bovine Bovine Bubbles at Etsy.com creates beautiful, sparkling jams and jellies, and ships them. These handmade products are all-natural, fresh and healthy.
48. button-cookies2 The Whimsical Wife shows you how to make these adorable Button Hole Shortbread Cookies. Try them for a-melt-in-the-mouth experience.
49. grist Grist.org has gotten tired of cookies, apparently, and put up their Enough with the Christmas cookies: Five unpredictable homemade food gifts. It includes homemade granola, lemon curd, and pesto.
50. fanciful Last but not least, Fancifull Gift baskets send out anything and everything, including vegan and gluten-free baskets. A fantastic option for family or friends with special dietary requirements.

100 Gift Ideas for Seniors

October 17th, 2014

In this list of 100 Gift Ideas for Seniors, we’ve tried to give you ideas in all price ranges. You should be able to find a gift idea here for your parents or grandparents.

  1. Gym Pass – Keeping fit is important for seniors.
  2. Stationery Set with Stamps – Believe it or not, lots of seniors still like writing letters and using snail mail. They really like it!
  3. Wii System – A wonderful way for seniors to stay fit and have fun in their own homes.
  4. Shower Bench – It’s hard as you get older to get everything done in the shower due to decreased flexibility. A shower bench helps.
  5. Chair Lift for Stairs -An expensive item, but for some seniors it’s a big help.chocolates
  6. Netflix Subscription -Buy it, get their TV set up to use it, they’ll be thrilled!
  7. Homemade Cookies -Who doesn’t like homemade cookies or bars?
  8. Chocolates -because chocolate is the best gift for everyone.
  9. Spa Gift Certificate -Let them feel pampered for a day.
  10. Supplies for Any Craft, Sport or Interest -Many seniors have a hobby or craft they enjoy, but limited funds. Help them out with materials.
  11. Special Kitchen Tools for Arthritis -Arthritis can stop them from enjoying cooking, but there are special tools out there to help those with arthritis.
  12. New Luggage for Travelers -Seniors may not be aware of all the new advances in suitcase technology. Get them something new and fancy.
  13. Membership to a Wine Club - They’ll receive a new bottle of wine every month.
  14. Sunglasses That Fit Over Their Regular Glasses -Saves them from having to buy prescription eyeglasses, and they’re stylish!
  15. Pay For Grocery Delivery -For seniors on a budget and without a car, having their groceries delivered is a wonderful gift.
  16. Picture Books (Coffee Table Books) -Everyone loves paging through a book on something that interests them.
  17. Pay For Their Television or Internet Bill for The Year. -Seniors’ budgets get stretched thin quickly, give them the gift of easing their monthly bills.
  18. A Lawn-Care Service -They can still do yardwork, but chances are they’re not enjoying it anymore. Be sure you know they want this, some seniors enjoy the exercise.
  19. Gift Certificate for a Night Away In A Hotel -a weekend getaway in a luxury hotel is a treat.polar1
  20. Medical Alert -to be sure they are safe if there’s a home accident, this is an excellent gift.
  21. Instant Print Camera -for instant gratification
  22. Gift Card to Pharmacy -Even with medicare, not all medicines are covered.
  23. Roomba Robotic Vacuum -Keep the housework down! Especially helpful if they have a pet.
  24. Gift Certificate to Favorite Restaurant -If they like to go out, get them gift certificates to the restaurants they love.
  25. Older Movies On DVD -We all like the nostalgic movies from our youth, and seniors are no different.
  26. Magazine Subscriptions -whatever their passion, get a magazine to match.
  27. Slippers -warm, quality comfy slippers feel great on older feet.
  28. Gift Certificate to Their Barber/Beauty Parlor -If money is tight and they have a regular appointment, taking care of that expense will help.
  29. Warm Socks -warm, comfy socks on cold floors are the best.
  30. Hands-Free Flashlight -So they can focus light right where they need it!
  31. Magnetic Buttons -the double-sided MagneButton is the perfect no-holes solution.
  32. Gift Certificate for a Pedicure -It’s a strange thing, but footcare becomes harder as you get older, and a pedicure is often welcome.
  33. Garden Tool Set -an ergonomic tool set for the garden will help relieve wear and tear.
  34. seniors-exerciseSilk Scarf -for a beautiful fashion statement
  35. Voucher for Senior’s Exercise Classes -if we’re going to exercise, we’ll have the most fun with people of our own age.
  36. Pull-down Shelving in Kitchen -brings hard-to-reach items down 10″ while pulling out 14-3/4″ from the cabinet.
  37. A Good Set of Sheets -seniors may not be able to afford new sheets, it’s one of those luxury items.
  38. Tickets to a Play Or Symphony -go with them, they’ll love the company!
  39. Membership to a Cheese Club -Monthly delicious cheeses arriving on their doorstep, what’s not to like?
  40. Recliner Chair Lift -helps seniors get up out of their favorite chair when they have mobility problems. No need to buy a whole new chair.
  41. A Warm Throw -something that fits their decor and is warm and comfy will be welcome. Seniors are often cold.
  42. Lottery Tickets -For some, a lottery ticket or several can be a lot of fun.
  43. Pay Their Cell phone Bill for a Year -help out with the finances by taking care of this expensive bill.
  44. Bird or Squirrel Feeders -They will love seeing the animals coming to their yard.
  45. Mental Aerobics Books -keep the brain fit as well as the body.
  46. Robes or Pajamas -when these items are new, they’re even more comfortable.
  47. Basket of Beauty Items and Creams -staying younger-looking isn’t cheap! Buy them their favorite potions and lotions.
  48. Movie Tickets -Let them get out to a movie or two, they’ll enjoy the night out.
  49. Wireless Headsets for TV or Radio -With these, the TV can be at a different volume for each person.
  50. Books by a Favorite Author – whether it’s a new hardcover or a new kindle book, readers will love it.
  51. knittingSweaters with Large Buttons – larger buttons are easier to manipulate with arthritic hands.
  52. Classes Of Interest (New Language, Knitting..) – If you’ve heard him or her say they wish they’d learned to …. anything, get them a class in it.
  53. Shipboard Credits for Those Who Love Cruises – Shipboard credits can be used for anything on board a cruise- drinks, classes, shows..
  54. A Good Walker – There are good walkers and cheap walkers. Maybe your favorite senior needs a better quality walker, one with a  seat or one that folds up for easy travel.
  55. Gift Certificate for Car Detailing – Cars are very important to some people, and paying for their baby to be detailed might be the ultimate gift!
  56. Lawn Bowling Game – or Bocce, anything that gets them outside and interacting, along with a bit of exercise.
  57. Large Button, Universal TV Remote – No doubt about it, our eyes get worse as we age, or else people start using little tiny fuzzy fonts. A large button remote is good for failing eyes and also shaking hands.
  58. Cookbook – If they still love to cook, get them a Thai or Indian food cookbook, to try something a little different.
  59. Easy Reach Seat Belt Handle - It’s hard for some older people to reach up and over to get the seatbelt. This just makes it a lot easier.
  60. craft-lightGood Cigars- This is usually more of a guy thing, but maybe you have that cigar-smoking grandma?
  61. Bright Lamp for Crafts or books – having the right light helps older eyes see better.
  62. Playing Card Holder – Believe me, if you have arthritic hands, holding a lot of cards can be painful.
  63. Things They Can’t Afford (Kitchen Items like Good Olive Oil) – Good olive oil can run between $20-$200, good Balsamic vinegar the same.
  64. Folding Travel Cane – If they own a cane, a folding one will be a great gift for when they travel.
  65. Reaching Aid – bending and reaching aren’t great movements for certain people, this will be a huge help.
  66. A Portable TENS Unit – A TENS unit is a portable pain relieving device that puts a mild electrical current through the area with pain.
  67. Subscription to GymCube - A site especially for senior exercise.
  68. Satellite Radio – This is so easy to use, and seniors often like to have the radio on most of the time.
  69. Board Games you can play with them – Could be Rummoli, chess, checkers or parchees. They’ll adore spending the time with you.
  70. A Cleaning Service – Once a week, once a month or just every now and then, a cleaning service is such a lovely luxury.
  71. A Donation To Their Favorite Charity – If a senior insists on not wanting a gift, this is a nice alternative.
  72. A Digital Picture Frame – Set it up for them with their favorite photos.
  73. Their Life Story Video - Put together a video with a service who specializes in telling life stories.
  74. Object finders- There are a lot of devices out there now to help people find lost keys, phones, etc.
  75. MagicKitchen.com Lasagna

    MagicKitchen.com Lasagna

    Magickitchen.com meals – customized, flexible senior meal programs with senior lifestyles in mind.

  76. MagicKitchen.com Gift Certificate – Let them make up their mind, get them a gift certificate for senior meals.
  77. Extra Loud Cordless Phone - amplifies incoming voices, making it easier for old ears to hear.
  78. Big Button Calculator – Bigger buttons and a large display make a big button calculator easier to use for seniors.
  79. Computer Speakers- boost their computer sound a little with a pair of exterior mini-speakers.
  80. old-radio

    Nostalgic Internet Radio

    Grace Digital Nostalgic Internet Radio – This looks like one of those classic old radios, but it brings in internet music from Pandora, SiriusXM, Rhapsody.

  81. Jigsaw Puzzle - Lots of seniors love to do these, in varying complexities
  82. No Bend Shoe Remover – Does just what it says!
  83. A newspaper from the day they were born – This can be a great treat for someone of any age.
  84. Framed collage of old photos – ask for photos a few months before, and make a collage of memories.
  85. Day Clock – a clock to help them keep track of what day it is.
  86. Bath Safety Grip – getting in and out of a tub can be treacherous as one gets older, this can be a great safety device.
  87. LifeBio Memory Journal – Over 250 carefully-crafted biography questions in a beautiful hardcover 6 x 9 inch book  with book jacket
  88. Handybar for autos – Makes it much easier for an older, less mobile person to get in and out of a car.
  89. Snow thrower- I say snow thrower, you say snow blower; either way, it makes it much less work to clear a driveway.
  90. bigcellBig-button cell phone – Someone with shaking hands or poor vision would find this to be a a very useful gift.
  91. Doorbell-telephone flashing-light signaler - easier to know when the phone or doorbell is ringing, when hearing is an issue.
  92. Fill MP3 player with their favorite music – Hours of contentment.
  93. A calendar of family photos -Make up a calendar of family photos using shutterfly or another photo service. A year’s worth of looking at their loved ones will delight them.
  94. Tablet or ipad – you may need to help them with these, but they’ll love it.
  95. Plane tickets to visit – this could be plane tickets to visit your family, or tickets to visit a long lost relative.
  96. Pay their cellphone bill for a year – Keep their expenses down by taking care of this cost.
  97. Magnetic shirt for men – developed for a man with Parkinsons, this shirt is easy to put on by virtue of no buttoning.
  98. Add Sliding Cabinet adapters in the Kitchen – add sliding units to the cabinets, so they don’t need to kneel down to find a pot or pan.
  99. e-Mail Printing Mailbox – Your loved one doesn’t need to check for messages, open attachments or download anything. If there are new messages, they print out. It’s just that simple.
  100. AARP Membership – Membership really does have its privileges, including a ton of discounts.

Why MagicKitchen.com meals are perfect gifts

October 10th, 2014

MagicKitchen.com meals are perfect gifts for many people in your life. Here are just a few examples. In any of the examples, a gift certificate would be a great alternative to picking the meals for them.

 

1.reading For Young Parents – young working parents may have trouble finding time to cook nutritious meals. A bundle of  MagicKitchen.com meals would be accepted gratefully.
AvoidStress2. Get well – Anyone recuperating after surgery or a stay in the hospital would be thrilled to receive easy to heat, delicious meals. I recently had a hip replacement and received some meals. It made my  recovery much easier.
rise-shine3. Senior’s Gifts – Seniors often don’t eat well. Most of us, when faced with cooking for one, would do the same. Surprise them with easy, healthy meals and they will thank you.
turkey4. Thanksgiving – For people who can’t make the big day. A turkey dinner delivered to their door, along with a Skype call, will make them feel as though they are there.
5. sympathySympathy Gifts – Help out from afar.
two-majors6. College Student - MagicKitchen.com has many packages that can be easily heated and are perfect for college students.

12 of the best Thanksgiving Side Dishes

October 10th, 2014

Start with MagicKitchen.com’s Fully cooked Roasted Turkey Breast, and add some of these amazing sides, for an easy Thanksgiving dinner. If you want it even easier, order one of our full Thanksgiving dinners.

SONY DSC

The Ultimate Green Bean Casserole
Sautéed cremini mushrooms and blanched green beans are combined with a luscious sauce of chicken stock and cream. Then the dish is topped with homemade fried shallot rings and baked until bubbling.
See Recipe on Williams Sonoma..

brussels
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts and red onions are seasoned simply with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then roasted until caramelized and sweet.
See Recipe on Martha Stewart…

Dauphinoise

Potato Gratin Dauphinoise
Dauphinoise is the French method of baking potatoes in milk, cream and cheese.
See Recipe on Gourmet Food..

threesomeMashed Potato Threesome
This Mashed Potato Threesome involves butternut squash, curry, and buttery garlic mashed potatoes.
See Recipe on Cooking Stoned

sweetLemon-Glazed Sweet Potatoes
Here’s a delicious alternative to the usual sweet potato side dish, baked with brown sugar, lemon and cinnamon.
See Recipe on About.com

biscuits

Buttermilk Biscuits
These buttermilk biscuits are light, flaky and rich with flavor — perfect for sopping up extra gravy or slathering with butter.
See Recipe on Cooking Channel

glazed-carrotsGlazed Carrots with Thyme
Cooking carrots in a bit of water, butter, and sugar brings out their delicate flavor and coats them with a thin glaze.
See Recipe on Martha Stewart…

 

chhesey

Cheesy Mushroom and Broccoli Casserole
Shiitake mushrooms, rice and broccoli add heft to the cheddar-Monterey cheesy goodness.
See Recipe on Cooking Channel…

garlic-mashed

Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Russet potatoes blended with roasted garlic, butter and milk and mashed to creamy perfection.
See Recipe on All recipes…

cauliflower
Cauliflower with Melted Onions and Mustard Seeds
Cauliflower may not seem like a glamorous vegetable—at least not when you steam or boil it. But roast it and it develops an unusual, delicate sweetness that’s almost exotic.
See Recipe on Food and Wine…

cranberry

 Bourbon-Cranberry Compote
A splash of bourbon adds a kick to this classic cranberry compote.
See Recipe on Real Simple…

ribbons

Carrot Ribbons with Cashews
Nuts and spices surprise the palate in this surprising and delicious dish.
See Recipe on Country Living…

Fun Halloween Treats for Adults

October 3rd, 2014

Ready for a Halloween Party? Here are some easy to make appetizers to make the party extra spoo-o-o-oky. Kids like their Halloween snacks to be gruesome, the grosser the better. These are more classed-up, but still distinctly scary. Flavor without the gloop.

 

These first two recipes come to you courtesy of http://www.myrecipes.com/.

 

chzball-bat-bites

On the left is a delicious cheeseball shaped like a white pumpkin. Plenty of grown-up flavor there, with extra sharp cheddar and goat cheese. White Pumpkin Cheeseball recipe here.  On the right are Bat Bites, with two kinds of cheese mixed with pesto. Olives and peppercorns make the eyes, while tortilla chips become wings. Bat bites recipe here.

The incredibly creative Martha Stewart team gives us the next two adult Halloween snacks.

2

On the left, we have Scaredy Crackers, made of puff pastry. They are cut into shapes, sprinkled with spices, and baked. Scaredy Crackers recipe here. On the right are some simple pumpernickel sandwiches, cut into bat shapes. Lots of cookie cutters would be a great prep for these recipes. Or make your own cookie cutters. Bat Sandwich recipe here.

We love these two recipes. One comes from delish.com via Food and Wine, the other from Woman’s Day.

3

Scallop-and-Olive Eyeball Canapés on the left are a simple sea scallop mousse cut into rounds and decorated with black olives. Scallop-and-Olive Eyeball Canapés recipe here. On the right is a scrumptious looking dish, little pie-shell sandwiches with ham and good cheddar. Pumpkin Patch Bites recipe here.

We can’t eat all that good food without a couple of drinks, right? Here are some perfectly ghoulish drink recipes that fit the day.

4

On the left is a Vampire Delight Martini from Magnolia Days. Recipe here. On the right is a refreshing Candy Corn Sipper. Recipe here.

Finally, we can finish the night with some slightly scary desserts.

5

On the left, OMG chocolate desserts gives us white chocolate mummy truffles, more cute than terrifying. Recipe here. On the right, cute little strawberry ghosts from Taste of Home. Recipe here.

We hope you enjoyed some of our favorite Halloween treats for adults!

Melody, MagicKitchen.com blogger.

 

Ten Housewarming Gift Ideas

September 26th, 2014

Moving to a new house is always a hectic job and nobody wants to do it. But remember that your new house will bring new memories, joy and happiness, which calls for a housewarming party. If you are visiting a housewarming party, you should find a gift that can give them comfort and ease their job of furnishing. Try one of these 10 best gifts.

  1. A Set of Tools

cushionsA set of hardware tools comprising of a hammer, screwdriver, measuring tape, some nails and pliers or vice-grips will do the job for movers. These are some of the most useful tools you can give to someone who moved to a new house. These will help them in various tasks such as in carpeting, hanging photo frames and doing basic renovations. You can also buy a cordless drill and a set of drill bits.

  1. Cozy Cushions

Some new cushions on a couch or sofa look great. People want to bring new things to their house when they move and furniture is usually their top priority. It will give them a sense of comfort and they will be happy to use your cushions with their furniture.

  1. MagicKitchen.com Lasagna

    MagicKitchen.com Lasagna

    Pasta

Who wants to cook after moving and hours of furnishing? Some nicely cooked pasta will do the job. Try adding meatballs and keeping it less spicy, and it will be a great housewarming gift. You can cook yourself for the couple or family, or order it online at http://www.magickitchen.com/menu/Pasta.html

  1. Home Sweet Home’ Mat

A door mat with a nice quote or message line is an excellent choice. It will probably be one thing that the couple will have forgotten about, and it would be a great idea to give them just what they missed.

  1. Set of Kitchen Knives

A set of kitchen knives is also a very nice gift that they will always remember and which will remind them of you. Cooking knives are very useful, and a complete set makes it even more cherished. If you add a wooden knife block, the gift is complete.

  1. Set of Glasses

Try giving a set of glasses that they don’t have- a set of martini glasses or nice wine glasses. How about bringing champagne flutes and a bottle of cold Champagne?

  1. Key Chains

Your friend moved to a house with new keys but probably have no key chains. There are plenty of varieties of key chains with wooden carved zodiac signs, photo holders and leather straps. There is no shortage of designs and they cost only a few dollars.

  1. plantsA Small Plant

A plant gift doesn’t sound like much, but it can bring a sense of calmness and harmony to the house. A small plant on your working table actually makes you feel good. Just don’t bring a meter tall plant but a miniature cactus or ones that are only few inches tall will work best.

  1. Painting

An oil or pastel painting is a great way to fill a blank wall. You can choose scenery, showpiece, fruits or sunset as they easily blend with the surroundings.

  1. A Good Corkscrew

There are lousy corkscrews that break or bend with the first bottle opened, or there are good corkscrews in a huge variety of costs and complexity. Get a good one!

 

Guest Blog by Haris.

Get Well Soon Food Gifts and Recipes

September 24th, 2014

If you have an ailing friend or relative who is not feeling well, or perhaps recuperating at home from a hospital stay, a get well comforting meal or food hamper is the perfect gift. People recovering from illness or surgery are greatly appreciative of a nutritious get well food gift.

A get well soon basket or hamper filled with snacks, foods, fruit and chocolates will lift the spirits of under-the-weather friends or family. They will feel great knowing that they are remembered and thought about during the difficult days of illness.

A unique get well gift from MagicKitchen.com, who offer a country-wide delivery service, will be a get well soon gift that won’t be forgotten. They have a variety of homestyle or gourmet menus to choose from.

Get Well Meals from MagicKitchen.com

Get Well Meals from MagicKitchen.com

Listed here are just 4 of the delicious get well meals on offer from MagicKitchen.com:

  • Tomato Basil Bisque, 9 grain rolls.
  • Magic Meatloaf, Haluski Kapusta (noodles and cabbage.)
  • Pot Roast, Rosemary Potatoes.
  • Roasted Turkey with Gravy, magic Mashed Potatoes.

DESSERT:

  • Pucker up Lemon Loaf.
  • U-Bake Apple Strudel.

MagicKitchen.com also offers gift certificates which you can purchase and send to family and friends, enabling them to make their own choices from the exciting range of menus.

For more information and advice visit www.magickitchen.com

As another alternative, you can make food gifts yourself to deliver.

Simple recipes you can prepare yourself.

chicken-noodle-soupGet-Well Chicken Noodle Soup

Spray of cooking spray
1 cup chopped onion
1/4 tsp thyme
8 cups Chicken Stock
2 cups diced carrot
2 cups diced celery
6 ounces egg noodles, uncooked
6 ounces leftover chicken meat, diced
1 cup mixed frozen vegetables- peas and corn
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  1. In a Dutch oven or large pot, spray with cooking spray and saute onions and thyme over medium heat until soft.
  2. Add chicken stock, carrot and celery. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook until vegetables are barely soft.
  3. Add noodles, chicken meat, frozen vegetables and salt & pepper. Bring to a boil and cook until noodles are soft.
  4. Serve immediately.

Note- if you are not going to serve this within a half hour, then cook the noodles separately and add them to the soup just before reheating. Otherwise, the noodles with soak up all the broth.

Nutritious Health Bread.

  • Total Time: Preparation 20 minutes, bake 30 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup chopped onion, 1 tablespoon canola oil.
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk, 1 egg lightly beaten.
  • 1 ½ cups biscuit or baking mix. 1 cup grated cheddar cheese.
  • 2 teaspoons poppy seeds.
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted.
  1. Saute onion in oil until golden brown, allow to cool. Combine buttermilk and egg in large bowl, stir in the biscuit mix, onion and ½ cup cheese.
  2. Pour into greased 9 inch round baking pan, sprinkle with poppy seeds and remaining cheese, drizzle with melted butter.
  3. Bake at 400deg for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool before cutting.

Serves 8.

There are other simple recipes you can try, to help build up the strength of a friend or family member who is ailing.

You can also serve warm ginger tea to soothe the throat and build up their immune system!

And of course, if you want to send a comfort food get well gift to someone who is not living all that close to you, remember to visit www.magickitchen.com for amazing ideas.

More Kitchen Tips and Shortcuts

September 19th, 2014

Ten great tips and shortcuts to help you out in the kitchen!

rod

1. Using a hanging rod to take advantage of unused space under the sink.

brown-sugar

2. Keep your brown sugar from hardening, just put it into an airtight container. Stays soft for years.

ice

3. Clear Ice Cubes- This is pretty interesting, if you use boiled filtered water to make your ice cubes, they will come out clear instead of cloudy. We recommend you cool it before putting it into trays. ;)

lemons

4. Chef Tip- If you think you’re “missing something” in a dish you’ve cooked, chances are good that it’s something acidic. Try adding a little squeeze of lemon or lime, a flavorful vinegar, tart yogurt or some tomato.

5. Shuck corn in a hurry- Use your microwave! Cut off the stalk of each ear about one inch above the last row of kernels and microwave for two to four minutes. Holding the uncut end, shake and squeeze the husk until the corn slides out. See video  for the technique.

 

squash

6. Easily scoop out pumpkin or squash seeds – Use an ice cream scoop. It’s got a hard edge, perfect for cutting, and a big bowl to hold the seeds.

pomegranate

7. Get Pomegranate seeds out easily- Cut the fruit in half, then take one half and hold over a bowl. Tap the back briskly with a spoon, and the seeds will fall out! I first saw this in Turkey, where they really know their pomegranates.

honet

8. Measure sticky stuff without the mess- Coat the cup or spoon with cooking spray before putting homey or molasses in it, and the sticky goodness will slide right off.

egg

9. Use the empty half of an eggshell to get rid of bits of shell that end up in the bowl.

eggs-tack2

10. Use a Thumb Tack for the Perfect Boiled Egg. Push the thumb tack into the round side of the egg, just through the shell. Boil as usual, but add a tsp of baking soda to the water. Put into ice water and. after they cool, they should peel perfectly.

10 Perfect Client Gift Ideas

September 12th, 2014

There are times when you want to buy your most important clients a special gift. It may be in celebrations of the holidays, for a birthday, anniversary or just to say thank you for their business.

Gifts need to be well-thought out and it is sometimes good to know your clients likes and dislikes. Buying them something they wouldn’t buy themselves because it’s too pricey is a good way to get their attention.

digital-frameHere is a list of some popular gift ideas.

  1. A digital photo frame can be a great addition to any home or office.
  2. A Kiva gift card Kiva gives you the chance to make a loan to people in over 70 countries so they can start businesses, go to school, and change their lives. Giving a Kiva Gift card involves the recipient in a truly life-changing event.
  3. Is your client a huge MLB fan?  Get them a bottle opener made from a game-used bat. The very definition of something they wouldn’t buy themselves.
  4. Smartphone accessories  like lens systems, speakers, stands and carrying cases all make great gifts.
  5. gemstoneReal gemstone drinks coasters will catch the eye!
  6. How well do you know your client? If they enjoy good wine, whiskey or tequila, a good quality bottle of one of those spirits would be very welcome.
  7. Birchbox sends out monthly boxes with high-end skin and hair care products. We know a lot of women (and some men)  who’d love that.
  8. Do you have a client who loves his or her dog to distraction? BarkBox might be the answer for a gift for the doggie lover.
  9. Dinner and a show is a classic winner for a client gift. You will want to know their tastes for this, you don’t want to send them to something too racy if they are easily shocked.

10. An exciting different idea for corporate gifts.

Shrimp Fettucini Alfredo for two

Shrimp Fettucini Alfredo for two or four

A MagicKitchen.com Food Gift Certificate is a wonderful alternative to traditional gifts. The certificate includes a personal greeting and the recipients can choose their meals from a wide range of menu options.

The gift certificates can be purchased online and are immediately available to print and send via e-mail. The certificates can be redeemed by the recipients to purchase gourmet meals or any other traditional items on the menu.

Meals are delivered nationwide in the USA.

For more information about this innovative service visit www.magickitchen.com