February 28 is Open that Bottle Night – Get Ready!

February 27th, 2015

wine-335672_640The idea of Open That Bottle Night is to finally open that bottle of wine that’s been gathering dust in your basement (or wine cellar), waiting for a special occasion. So take it out, dust it off, then heat up some MagicKitchen.com prepared meals, and enjoy the wine with the meals, along with your significant other.

It got me thinking, though, what other things come in bottles that we could enjoy on that night? How about a fine bottle of beer?

Your favorite liqueur such as Grand Marnier, or a fine brandy,  decanted into a balloon glass would fit the occasion well.

For the kids, how about the old experiment of dropping a mento into a bottle of Coca-Cola? You will want to do that outside or in the bathroom, and be ready for some cleanup! These guys had a lot of fun with it:

Planter_01_grande

It’s time to start your garden, depending on where you are. Use empty plastic bottles to start your seeds.

Maybe you’re not a drinker, but you’d still like to celebrate this awesome holiday, this significant day? You could drink a bottled coffee or tea. Don’t drink caffeine?  Open a bottle of sparkling water, with a lime twist.

Don’t forget your pets on this special occasion!

There are other things you can do for your pets. Apparently you can buy your dog or cat fine (alcohol-free) wine. With names like Pinot Leasheo, how can you go wrong!

Stock up on bottles and get ready for the best holiday of all, Open that Bottle Night!

Melody, MagicKitchen.com blogger

February is American Heart Month

February 20th, 2015

heart-590222_640It’s right there in the middle of your chest and, at a minimum, you sense its presence everyday and can feel its activity at various pulse points around your body. However, many of us take it, and what it does, for granted until something goes wrong, sorta like a car. But unlike a car, it’s vital to our very existence, and far too many of us take few or no preventative measures to ensure it continues to, well, keep us alive.

Why the hell is that? Over 600,000 people die from heart disease in this country every year. That means one in every four deaths is due to heart disease of some kind! Over 720,000 Americans experience a heart attack every year. Even more staggering, for the most part, all of these deaths and heart attacks are preventable! Yet we still go about our lives, not exercising, still smoking and drinking excessively, eating artery clogging foods, and blithely unaware of important numbers, such as our blood pressure or cholesterol levels.

heartmonthDo I have your attention yet? I hope so, because that’s the whole point of the American Heart Associations’ designation of February as American heart month, to raise awareness of these issues. However, awareness will not improve your cardiovascular system, only action on your part will, and not just during the shortest month of the year. To improve your heart health, these lifestyle changes must take on the aspect of permanency.

Make the necessary changes to your diet, like reducing or eliminating saturated and trans fats and eating more fruits and vegetables? Yeah, that needs to be a permanent lifestyle change, not just something you do for a month or two. And this one change can have the beneficial effects of reducing your weight and lowering both your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. MagicKitchen.com can help with that, give us a call toll-free at 877-516-2442.

Vow to get at least 30-60 minutes of exercise on at least five days a week? You guessed it…that’s gotta happen almost every week of the year for you to reap the benefits and fend off the grim reaper (sorry, couldn’t resist). We’re not suggesting that you go hike the Pacific Coast Trail here, like that woman did in the hit movie Wild, but a 45 minute walk most days of the week will, like changes to your diet, reduce your weight and lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and go a long way to improving your heart health.

strong-heartEliminated your use of tobacco products and reduced your alcohol intake? As I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, you can’t slide back down that slippery slope and start smoking like a chimney and drinking like you were back in college ever again.

Relax, by making these three changes a permanent part of your lifestyle does not mean you’ve just entered a nunnery or monastery (after all, taking a vow of celibacy would eliminate one pleasurable source of physical activity). You can still eat the occasional dessert or awaken a bit hung-over once in a while, just refrain from doing it after every meal, or awaken that way every morning! Your heart, and your loved ones, will thank you for it!

Steve, MagicKitchen.com blogger

Beat the February Blahs

February 13th, 2015

winter-stormHello, it’s me, February, and I’m sick and tired of being labeled the worst month of the year by people like comedian Lewis Black. Black once said, “Valentine’s Day doesn’t belong in February. It’s the most depressing month of the year. How do we know that? Because we made it shorter and it still seems <expletive deleted> longer.”

Yeah, I know, in the month prior to me, January, you are still recovering from your Christmas and New Year’s hangovers. You use January to get back into your routines that were disrupted by the holidays. As for next month, March, well, that has the first day of spring within it, and everybody just loves spring!

So here I am, the most reviled month of the year in which the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t quite yet visible. But it’s not my fault. I can’t control the weather! I can’t make those low hanging clouds disappear! I can’t ensure that damn ground hog doesn’t see its shadow! What kinda screwed up tradition is that anyway? I mean, who the hell listens to a giant rodent?!

Anyway, I thought I’d get in touch with all of you and offer some suggestions on how to enjoy my presence and maybe alter my reputation in the process. So here they are, in no particular order:

  1. Remodel a room. I mean, you’re stuck inside anyway, right? And you don’t need to break the bank in order to remodel. Brighten up the dining room with some new paint, change the look of your living room with some new window treatments, or liven up the bedroom (not that way, you pervert) with some new sheets, pillows and bedspread.
  1. Liven up the bedroom. Yes, I mean that way, you pervert. You’re stuck inside anyway, right? Get rid of the kids, light some candles, wear something sexy, administer or receive a massage, give those new sheets a work out, cuddle, explore, experiment. And not just on my 14th day, either, but on the 2nd and 4th and 7th and 10th and…get the idea?
  1. Use Netflix and get hooked on a premium channel series. But don’t do it alone. Turn into a kind of video book club with your friends…make it as serious or light-hearted as you like, so long as it’s done on a regular and continuous basis throughout my 28 (or 29) days. And it doesn’t have to be a current series. Go back through old seasons of The Sopranos, or Mad Men, or Band of Brothers, or Dexter, or Veep. Whatever you and your friends can agree on. Just have something to look forward to (see #2) and I’ll fly by, I promise.

Yeah, I know, there was nothing about exercise, or getting outside, or pampering yourself, those have been written about to death, but if that’s what floats your boat, don’t let me stop you. Enjoy and I’ll talk to you again in twelve months!

February, MagicKitchen.com blogger

20 Best Valentine’s Days Gifts

February 6th, 2015

Ready to be romantic? Here are the 20 top gifts for Valentine’s Day.

1. First, the obvious- chocolates in a heart-shaped box. Be sure you know if he or she likes dark or milk chocolate, and which fillings they prefer.

2. Second obvious one, but only if it’s serious- jewelry.

3.  Make your romantic partner a beautiful meal. Don’t cook? Try MagicKitchen.com’s Valentine’s Day Gourmet Meal.

4. Pop a bottle of champagne, the good stuff.

5. Get the lyrics of their favorite song printed and framed.

6. Make him some chocolate chip cookies.

7. A new book by his or her favorite author sends a message that you care.

9. Tickets to an event you’ll both enjoy are a great way to build shared memories.

hot-air10. Book him or her an exciting experience at http://www.excitations.com/

11. If you’re far enough along in your relationship, buy them their favorite fragrance.

12. Book a trip together, even just for a weekend.

13. If the man in the relationship is into it, schedule a spa day.

14. For those in the beginnings of a relationship, you don’t want to come on too hard. A nice candle and a not-too-mushy card would be nice.

15. Massage oils.

16. Of course, lingerie is always a good choice. Women, try buying it as a present for your guy. Believe me, he’ll love it!

17. Get this Winne-the-Pooh  printed quote. You’ll love it, and so will she!

18. eggglingFind a Be My Valentine coffee mug.

19. Get her a “Grow your own chocolate flowers” kit!

20. Are her hands always cold? Get her fingerless USB warming gloves!

21. She will adore these eggling plants.

22. He will equally adore this instant photo printer.

23. An infinity candle sends a good message.

24. Enjoy together- Chocolate shots.

25. Get your guy his favorite hot sauce, make him feel manly!

 

Health at your Doorstep

February 2nd, 2015

Mailman delivering a parcelEating healthy is smart, but not always simple. MagicKitchen.com is dedicated to shouldering the burden of planning and preparing healthy, tasty meals. These high-quality meals are cooked fresh and delivered right to your doorstep.

Home-cooked meals are being hijacked by fast food restaurants and heavily processed foods. For many, hectic school or work schedules leave little time for cooking, learning to cook, or learning to cook healthy.

Take your typical college student who is prone to what is commonly known as the “freshman 15″. One study, published in Nutrition Journal, found that 1 in 4 freshmen gain 5% or more of their body weight. College weight gain is a real phenomenon. The transition to college life brings new challenges, such as finding time for exercise, eating breakfast, and avoiding unhealthy snacks, fast food, or high-calorie drinks. Campuses can be an unhealthy food trap, with options that are often costly or far from nutritious. A student with food allergies has even less options available.

College students are time-limited and stressed. The last thing they want to do after a day of course work, studying, taking exams, and writing essays is take the time to plan and cook a healthy meal.

ground-turkey-noodles-87-series

Ground Turkey with Creamy Noodles

Others may have the time, but lack the strength or ability to cook healthy meals at home. Do you have a senior loved one or friend? Shopping, cooking, and cleaning alone is often out of the question. Eating healthy is a challenge and a concern that robs family members of peace of mind. Countless studies show that eating healthy makes a drastic and immediate difference in the strength, energy, and quality of life for seniors. A diet tailored to the nutritional needs of seniors is important for optimal mental and physical health.

Our meal programs offer fresh-tasting, nutritionally complete meals that cater to the needs and preferences of all our clients. It’s the closest thing to having a personal diet chef planning and preparing meals to your like.

In a perfect world, well-balanced, perfectly portioned dishes would be planned, prepared, and ready to eat when we need them. Such meals help maintain healthy weights, keep blood sugar and energy levels stable, and supply all necessary nutrient requirements. But do you have to wait for a perfect world?

Though we can’t promise a perfect world, we can promise an easier one. How can MagicKitchen.com meal programs make your life easier?

  • Portabella Shiitake Ravioli

    Portabella Shiitake Ravioli

    No stress. Healthy meals at your doorstep with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. We promise to replace (or refund) anything you try and don’t like at no cost to you. Isn’t that a breath of fresh air?

  • Taste verdict? See our testimonials to hear what others have to say about our delectable dishes. They don’t taste like bland, boring diet food. We offer a variety of meals for a variety of palates. You can cherry-pick your meals or have us pick them based on your personal taste preferences and dietary needs.
  • Cost-effective. Our meals are healthy for you and your wallet. We even take care of delivery costs for regular orders placed every 30 days or less and at $125 or more.
  • That’s right. No strings attached. No contracts to sign. Going out of town? Are meals piling up in your fridge? Not a problem. Just ask us to start and stop sending when you want.

Read more on our meal plans page >>.

Roxana, MagicKitchen.com blogger

Sugar-free Chocolate Bars – A Reality at Last!

January 30th, 2015

You may not believe it, but there’s a sugar free chocolate that tastes fantastic and is perfect for low-carb diets. I’m on one now, and it’s so nice to be able to have a small piece of 255x150-chocorich, smooth dark chocolate at the end of the day with no guilt.

It’s called ChocoPerfection and it’s available now on the MagicKitchen.com online desserts page. This chocolate is amazing. It has 14 grams of prebiotic fiber in every bar (which reduces sugar cravings.)It’s all natural, 100% sugar-free, and has all the beneficial anti-oxidants of chocolate.

ChocoPerfection bars are sweetened from all natural plants that do not have any effect on blood sugar levels, so they’re ideal for diabetics, too.

You can use it for low-fat, low sugar baking, or just to eat out of hand. With dark chocolate and orange chocolate choices,  you won’t get bored.

Melody, MagicKitchen.com Blogger

 

 

 

January- Time to plan your garden

January 23rd, 2015

It’s January, and winter stretches out before you. The holiday season is over, and you’re wondering what to do. It may surprise you that January is the perfect time to start planning your spring garden.

straw-bale-gardenStart a file folder to store ideas you’ve clipped out of magazines or printed off the internet. Investigate MagicKitchen.com’s pinterest page for gardening tips and ideas. Look around town and join a gardening club to get out of the house and talk to people who love to garden. You’ll get lots of great tips and advice that way.

Plan new things for the spring. Tired of bending over to weed and pick your veggies? Try starting a hay bale garden. So much cheaper than building raised beds, and easy to do. The straw holds moisture and heat, and is perfect for northern climates. Here’s the go-to source for hay or straw bale gardens: http://modernfarmer.com/2013/07/straw-bale-gardening/

While hardly new, square foot gardening is a great technique for getting more produce out of a smaller garden. Again, less bending and squatting and weeding makes for a better experience.

square-foot-gardeingWhichever garden design you decide to use, it’s a good idea to plot it out on graph paper or on the computer.

Go through your seeds and decide which to keep and throw out any moldy ones. Then go through your nursery catalogs and decide what seeds you will buy, which to start inside, and which nursery seedlings you’ll buy to plant.

Depending on where you live, you may be able to prep your garden bed now. Mulch, spray and prune. Here’s a guide to January garden prep in California: http://3000tomatoes.com/monthly-garden-jobs/january-garden/

Those of us in cooler temperatures are only allowed to dream of our hands in the soil again, but some good planning now will ensure that next year’s garden will shine!

Melody, MagicKitchen.com blogger.

 

 

What is 12th Night?

January 16th, 2015

wassailFrom Wikipedia: “Twelfth Night is a festival, in some branches of Christianity marking the coming of the Epiphany. There is disagreement as to whether the Twelfth Night falls on 6th January or the 5th; the Church of England insists that it is on the 5th and “refers to the night before Epiphany, the day when the nativity story tells us that the three wise men visited the infant Jesus. In pagan days, 12 night originally came from the 12 days of Yuletide which began at sunset on December 20, known as Mother Night, and ended on the night of December 31, the Night of the Oak King and the Roman day of Hecate

Food and drink are the center of the celebrations in modern times, and all of the most traditional ones go back many centuries. The punch called wassail is consumed especially on Twelfth Night, but throughout Christmas time, especially in the UK.

Around the world, special pastries, such as the tortell and king cake are baked on Twelfth Night, and eaten the following day for the Feast of the Epiphany celebrations.

In English and French custom, the Twelfth-cake was baked to contain a bean and a pea, so that those who received the slices containing them should be designated king and queen of the night’s festivities.

In Ireland it is still the tradition to place the statues of the Three Kings in the crib on Twelfth Night or, at the latest, the following Day Little Christmas.

12th-2In colonial America, a Christmas wreath was always left up on the front door of each home, and when taken down at the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas, any edible portions would be consumed with the other foods of the feast. The same held true in the 19th-20th centuries with fruits adorning Christmas trees.
Fresh fruits were hard to come by, and were therefore considered fine and proper gifts and decorations for the tree, wreaths, and home. Again, the tree would be taken down on Twelfth Night, and such fruits, along with nuts and other local produce used, would then be consumed.

In the eastern Alps, a tradition called Perchtenlaufen exists. Two to three hundred masked young men rush about the streets with whips and bells driving out evil spirits.  In Nuremberg until 1616, children frightened spirits away by running through the streets and knocking loudly at doors.

In some countries, the Twelfth Night and Epiphany mark the start of the Carnival season, which lasts through Mardi Gras Day. Modern American Carnival traditions shine most brightly in New Orleans, where friends gather for weekly King Cake parties. Whoever gets the slice with the “king”, usually in the form of a miniature baby doll (symbolic of the Christ Child, “Christ the King”), hosts next week’s party.

12th-1In parts of Kent, there is a tradition that an edible decoration would be the last part of Christmas to be removed in the Twelfth Night and shared amongst the family.

Drury Lane Theatre in London has had a tradition since 1795 of providing a Twelfth Night cake. The will of Robert Baddeley made a bequest of £100 to provide cake and punch every year for the company in residence at the theatre on 6 January. The tradition still continues.

Of course, Twelfth Night is also one of Shakespeare’s comedies, where a shipwrecked Viola pretends to be a man, and much farcical comedy ensues.

Make this Year an Exciting One!

January 9th, 2015

Yeah, Yeah, we know what you’re thinking…here come the pointless New Year’s resolutions that everyone makes but no one keeps. Well, we’re not necessarily going to disagree with that, but we’ve put a different spin on this list of resolutions; 5 things you should resolve to STOP doing to make this year more exciting than the last.

  1. hikingStop staying at home so often. Stop binge watching Orange is the New Black, Breaking Bad, and Game of Thrones. Stop reading all those Nicholas Sparks novels. Stop trolling on Facebook and Twitter and get out there and do something. “But what?” we hear you ask. How about trying a new restaurant, or visit a museum, or travel to a nearby place that you’ve always wanted to see, or find an outdoor café and people watch. The possibilities are endless if you just resolve to visit one new place every week of 2015. That’s just 52 new places…you can handle that, can’t you? We thought so!
  1. Stop being sedentary. And no, we don’t mean get out there and train for a marathon! Simply resolve to move more in 2015. Purchase one of those new, funky fitness wristband things and set a goal to take a certain number of steps throughout your day. Or find some local hiking trails and reconnect with the flora and fauna of your area…just get out there and be more active than you were in 2014.
  1. Stop eating and drinking so many empty calories. Look, we’re not saying eliminate ALL the junk, no one can do that, just some of it. Here’s a stat to remember, on average we only burn 110 calories per mile traveled. So, drink a 5 ounce glass of wine? Plan on jogging/walking a mile to burn it off! Have a slice of pepperoni pizza? It’ll take you almost 3 miles to rid yourself of that little indulgence. Don’t become an obsessive calorie counter, just resolve to reduce those useless, empty calories in 2015.
  1. convoStop being quite so introverted. Want more excitement in 2015? While you’re out there (see #1), meet new people. Just strike up a pleasant conversation. Compliment them on their shoes, ask to pet their dog, comment on how cute their child is, just be nice and that generally works. Again, set a goal to at least talk to one new person a week. You don’t have to start a long term relationship here (unless you want to), just start a conversation…that’s usually how new friends are made!
  1. Stop being so pessimistic. Look at the glass as half full more often! Locate and embrace you’re inner optimist. We know it’s in there somewhere. You’ll be surprised what a positive attitude can do for your outlook on life. Need help getting started? Hang out with self-professed optimists, read guides on positive thinking/optimism, create a positive mantra that you recite when you feel your inner-pessimist whispering in your ear. Resolve to make 2015 a more optimistic year, and the previous four resolutions will help get you started.

There you have it. Five simple things we should all STOP doing to make 2015 better than 2014. Remember, all goals (or resolutions) should be achievable, and these five certainly meet that criteria. Now it’s up to you to make them happen for a happier, healthier and more exciting 2015!

Steve, MagicKitchen.com blogger

A Brand New Year

January 2nd, 2015

2015 is here! I look forward to it with excitement, as I do every new year. What will it bring?  Of course, I have my own New Year’s resolutions.

Often I don’t bother, because I doubt myself; I don’t think I’ll keep them, so what is the point of trying? But this year, I have a new hip, new physical strength and flexibility, and I can do it!

Here they are, drum roll, please….

ground-turkey-noodles-87-series1. Lose 20 lbs.
Yep, I have been eating too much, and I need to get smart about eating. MagicKitchen.com will help with that, as I will order some diet meals from them.  What that will do is put into perspective what a proper portion looks like. I think that’s where we too often mess up. I saw a Survivor episode once where they showed the half a cup of rice the players get every day. Jeff Probst, the host, compared that to what most Americans eat every day. He said this was 2500 calories:

Breakfast with 2 fried eggs, hashbrowns, 3 strips of bacon, toast with better. Lunch was a burger and fries, and supper was a big plate of spaghetti and meatballs. It looked like more than 2500 calories to me, but in any case it reminded me that small portions mean a healthy life.

So I’ll go on Weightwatchers,  because that has worked for me before, and re-learn the fact that portions only need to fill you up, they don’t need to be massive eating events. And I’ll use MagicKitchen.com’s portion controlled meals, because they will help me with weight loss.

2. More exercise!!
I had a hip replacement 7 months ago. It feels great now, but I’m not really exercising much more than I was a year ago. So there will be much more walking, some bike riding, and I’ll be doing some weight training. I haven’t developed a schedule for it yet, but I’ll do that too!

exerciseThat’s it! I’m not going to take on more than I can handle. Those two will take time and commitment.  Off we go into the shining new year!

Happy 2015, everybody!!

 

Melody, MagicKitchen.com blogger