World Heart Day- 10 Things You can do to Improve your Hearth Health!

Today, Sept 29, 2016, is World Heart Day. Cardiovascular Disease is the world’s number one cause of death. Not so cheerful, but there’s so much you can do about it!

  1. walk-dogExercise daily. Getting your kids involved means that they will grow up with healthy heart, body and bones, and the right habits to keep their hearts healthy. Work slowly up to 2.5 hours per week of moderate-level exercise, like brisk walking.A great way to start walking is to get a dog. You’ll never forget it’s time to go for a walk if your pet gets used to it. He or she will remind you quite insistently!You should do some muscle building exercises as well. You don’t have to go to a fancy gym, although if you enjoy that time, you should absolutely spend the money and go! There are plenty of ways to build muscle at home.|
  2. Lemon Rosemary Pork
    Lemon Rosemary Pork

    Eat Right. Eat lean meats, including poultry with no skin, fish,  nuts, legumes like beans and peas, and lots of fresh vegetables. Avoid saturated fats and trans fats. And keep the sodium low.  MagicKitchen.com features lots of low sodium meals in both its A la Carte menu and it’s complete meals offerings.

  3. Read Labels. Part of eating right is looking at the labels of the items you buy in the grocery store.  Make a game of this- look for an item that says, “Lower Sodium!” Or “Low Fat”, then look at the nutritional label. Chances are you’ll find that it’s lower sodium, all right. Lower than it used to be, but still way out of the ball park, and far too high. You’re much better off going with fresh or frozen items than with canned.
  4. Practice Dental Hygiene. Believe it or not, teeth that aren’t taken care of properly can cause all kinds of health problems down the road, including heart disease! Floss, mouthwash, and frequent dental checkups are a good rule of thumb!
  5. smoke-killsDon’t Smoke. If you smoke, believe me, I know how hard it is to stop. But there are a ton of ways now to quit smoking that are a lot easier than going cold turkey. There are medicines, quit coaches,  and ebooks galore out there.Personally, I used Zyban, almost 20 years ago. Here’s what it did for me: Instead of wanting a cigarette roughly every half hour, I would go four or more hours without even thinking of one. After that, it was will power, but computer games helped with that.
  6. Avoid Secondhand Smoke. Inhaling second hand smoke is a risk factor for having a heart attack. Most people smoke outside now, but avoid it when it’s there, ad stay healthier!!
  7. Get Yearly Checkups. Talk to your health care team and get your cholesterol checked, your blood pressure monitored, and control how you eat if you have diabetes or other health issues. Keep on top of it, it’s the only life you have!!
  8. Lose weight if you need to. I’m one to talk, I’m probably 25 pounds overweight right now. But I know that I’ll get on top of it soon. I use weightwatchers, they teach you how to eat. Don’t use fast weight loss plans.I know a couple who got on the pregnant horse hormone diet. (The HCG diet). Thorse-laughhey ate a meager 500 calories a day for a few months, and they lost weight fast. But the day afterwards, they were stuffing themselves with chicken wings and french fries.They hadn’t learned anything about how to eat healthy, and they gained it all back almost as quickly as they lost it.Take the time. It didn’t go on in a week, don’t expect to lose it in a week. They say it take 29 days to break a habit. They also say in 25 days or so, you’ll start to feel the difference in your body. So a good rule of thumb is to give your healthy new lifestyle a full month. You can do anything for a month, right?
  9. Limit Alcohol. Let’s face it, if you’re reading this article, you’re probably over 30, right? It’s time to settle into a more healthy lifestyle, and that means drinking less. A glass of wine with dinner’s fine. A cocktail once in a while is fine. Moderation is the key. ‘ Nuff said.
  10. sleep2Get Enough Sleep. Seven hours a night shouldn’t be too hard.  You might have to give up Stephen Colbert, but you can PVR him.  Getting a sleep routine down is important, too. You sleep more soundly (important for heart health) if you go to bed and get up about the same times.

Here’s to World Heart Day!  Thanks to that organization for their work towards a healthier lifestyle for all of us!

Melody, MagicKitchen.com blogger

 

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Enjoying the Single Life and Meals for One

aloneThere has been quite a bit of recent attention devoted to the benefits of living alone (remember, being alone is NOT the same as being lonely). Studies now reveal that one in four households in America contain only a single individual and in Manhattan that ratio jumps to one in two.

This growing popularity in living alone is borne out by the arrival of books (Eric Klinenberg’s Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone) and websites (quirkyalone.net) devoted to this growing trend. And one area that receives a great deal of attention among aloneists (made up word) is eating and the joylessness of preparing meals for one.

Yes, while living alone you can pretty much do as you please without having to worry about pleasing anyone. Vacuum naked? Have at it. Endlessly practice your beat box technique? Knock yourself out. Hold conversations with yourself? You and yourself will be the only ones who know.

portabella-ravioliBut spend time grocery shopping, preparing, and cooking meals for just one? Most singles usually avoid this like a Zika carrying mosquito. Most people prepare meals with others in mind, usually friends and/or family and cooking for one every night loses its appeal quickly. As a result, aloneists usually aren’t the healthiest eaters as they opt for quick and convenient processed food over healthy and vibrant fresh meats and produce.

Delicious, rich, tender pot roast and lots of gravy.
Delicious, rich, tender pot roast and lots of gravy.

But it doesn’t have to be this way…you can eat delicious and healthy meals, every night of the week if you like, without any prep work what-so-ever with the help of MagicKitchen.com. MagicKitchen.com has a whole category devoted to what we like to refer to as “Meals for One.”

Within that category (go ahead, explore it at your leisure) there are eight meal bundles with six options to choose from that get delivered to your door,  apartment or otherwise, flash-frozen and ready to be enjoyed after just a few minutes in the microwave (which you can operate in a thong, if you so desire, without the fear of offending anyone since you live alone).

So to sum up, if you’re alone and loving it, but refuse to spend your valuable alone time preparing and cooking meals for you and you alone, then check out our meals for one bundles. You can do so while standing on your head and singing your favorite show tunes because, you know, there’s no one there to tell you that’s weird.

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Picky, Picky, Picky

picky eater
Copyright: zlikovec

Picky eaters…we all have either been one, will be one, or know someone who is currently picky about what they eat. There are so many different factors that make people picky eaters. They could have started life just not liking the flavor of much, maybe the textures of certain foods drive them away, or maybe lack of adventure has left them only having a palate for the tried and true.

Regardless of the reason, when a medical condition, such as diabetes – either type 1 or type 2, is added on, things become even more difficult at meal and snack times. One thing that we need to realize is that not all picky eaters are children. Many adults are as well. How can one combat this issue and break out of the “ho hum” routine? Here’s some tips on making meal time livelier.

  • Consider new recipes. With the world essentially at your fingertips, it has become so easy to find new ways to cook. Searching the Internet for diabetic friendly meals brings up a ton of different pages. Pinterest is always a great resource, as is Allrecipes.com. They both have hundreds of recipes to help bring new tastes to your palate.
  • ground-turkey-noodles-IMG_3995-(2)
    Ground Turkey Noodles

    For those with young picky eaters, consider having them help you cook. Start from the very beginning by taking them to the grocery store. Have them pick out the ingredients for a meal. When preparing dinner, let them do the chopping if they are old enough. Most kids are happy to pour things into something else, and they love to stir. By allowing them to do this, they are more likely to try new things. It also teaches them to cook, which is a great skill to have.

  • Let them know that it’s okay not to like certain foods, but they still need to eat healthy. Leave the diabetes out of it. Their palates will change as they grow older. If they aren’t getting enough protein, offer them a chocolate protein shake. Toss in some fruit with a vanilla protein shake. Switch it up, let them help you make it.
  • Lemon Rosemary Pork
    Lemon Rosemary Pork

    Another option is having healthy pre-cooked meals delivered to your door. MagicKitchen.com is the perfect answer to this. The internet allows that picky eater to see what their meal will look like and exactly what is in it.The best thing is you don’t have to worry about fumbling about the kitchen trying to prepare something you’ve never worked with before. It’s quick and easy. The options are plentiful for those needing a diabetic meal. It’s almost like having your own private chef in your kitchen preparing foods you and your family will love.

Cooking for a choosy eater can be pretty tough. It gets discouraging when you’ve worked hard to make a meal that is good for your whole family. Turned up noses are never the desired outcome of your efforts.

Chile con Carne with Peas & Carrots
Chile con Carne with Peas & Carrots

Finding ways to help that fussy eater in your family change their mindset is a challenge, especially when they are diabetic. Now you have a few more tools to help you get through this battle. The tips/hints listed above are only a few ways to help please the finicky eater. Do you have a situation like this in your home? If so, what are the strategies that you use? I’d love to learn how you make sure your picky eater tries new things.

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The History of Meal Delivery

father and daughter in kitchenI learned to cook when I was a young teenager. My dad was a wiz in the kitchen and he taught me how to make great meals. Like he did, I taught my children their way around a kitchen. They are much better than I am at some recipes. Home cooked meals are truly fantastic, however there doesn’t seem to be as much time to cook as there once was.

Thank goodness we can order from certain restaurants and have them deliver dinner (and sometimes lunch). Most people in the U.S. have had a pizza or Chinese food brought to their front door. Food delivery is a common occurrence for a lot of homes.

Who was the brilliant person to make the first home delivery? When did having hot meals delivered spark the idea of delivering pre-cooked, frozen meals? In order to figure this out, let’s take a look at the history of meal delivery with the facts below:

  1. The first meal delivery most likely was conducted somewhere between 3000 – 700 BC. It wasn’t exactly pizza they were delivering, but something very similar. The crust portion consisted of a breaded type pastry with different herbs, veggies, and cheeses. Surprisingly, people paid the exorbitant price of an entire herd of sheep. If the patrons wanted extra cheese, no problem. That would just be one more sheep, please.
  2. Butchers in 14th century France would send their wares from the block to the homes of the families who could afford it.
  3. Photo from http://www.theskinny.co.uk
    Photo from http://www.theskinny.co.uk

    Cohorts of dabbawalla in Mumbai began feeding hungry workers across the city with home-cooked lunches, back in the 19th century – and they still do it today. Such dedication is astounding.

  4. Food delivery became very popular during World War II, as the Women’s Volunteer Service delivered food to those who had their homes bombed so badly, their kitchen was no longer in working service.
  5. Of course, the Americans took this one step further. During the Colonial era, some of the restaurants in hotels provided patrons with additional plates for the guests’ servants.

The American form of take-out is something more than just delivering boxed lunches and additional plates of food. The way the country has embraced this exposes changes on a larger scale as far as social, economic and tech history. When American troops were over in Japan and China, they would purchase boxed lunches on the trains they had to take.

This showed the locals that the U.S. troops weren’t wealthy, but laborers. Restaurant delivered meals were in the sphere of the wealthy, normally. The deliveries the soldiers received signified they weren’t part of the wealthy.  Eventually, African American women took over the scene by selling take-away. It was a great entrepreneurial stance and it helped feed their own families.

Jamaica_sweetsDelivery and take-away food was soon started down a new path. Fast food joints were popping up all over town and pizza was being sent home, extremely hot, dripping with cheese. Now, there are grocery deliveries, trucks with freezer compartments bringing food to your door, and companies like Magickitchen.com with their meals to go. This adaptation allows for those who can’t leave their homes to grocery shop or who are on very specialized diets to be able to order meals to go right from their computer screens. They can order a meal at a time, enough meals for a week, and some even order a 2 to 3-week supply.

family_diningVery smart people started the delivery and take away food services for the world. I’m sure when they first started in that business, they never thought  that it would never take on wings and fly like it has. Not only has it filled empty bellies of young families, starving college students, and those oh so wonderful romantic scenario dates; it has also allowed those who can’t grocery shop or cook for themselves an opportunity to order tasty and healthy meals.

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Seniors: Fall is the Best Time to Get Out and Get Active

Guess what’s just around the corner…that’s right, season seven of the Walking Dead and season six of Game of Thrones, but viewing those two blood-spattered shows is an indoor activity and involves little to no physical activity.  No, the autumnal equinox is just around the corner (September 22nd, actually) and that means fall is just around the corner as well.

fall1The autumnal equinox is when the plane of Earth’s equator passes through the center of the sun (same thing occurs in March with the vernal equinox).  It is also the day with almost equal amounts of light and dark and ushers in the season we call fall/autumn.  And it means the temperature begins to moderate permitting outdoor activities without sweating away half your body weight.  So, all you seniors out there that have been enjoying air-conditioned, indoor activities for the past few months, it’s time to get outside, enjoy the cooler temps and get active.

Go for a walk.  But not just any walk.  Turn it into a nature walk, also know as a hike.

group of senior hikers doing outdoor sports

Please don’t simply walk around an idle high school track or your block or housing complex.  Get out into the woods every once-in-a-while and enjoy all the sights, sounds and smells the forest has to offer and take a friend along…or not, there are times when solitude is nice.  Use the internet machine and learn how to identify the local flora and fauna your woods have to offer.  You’ll be amazed by the variety within just a few dozen acres of forest.

And if you’re feeling really adventurous, try a little geocaching…it’s like Pokémon Go! for adults.  Google it and see if it’s for you (you can Google Pokémon Go! as well if you’re curious, but be warned.  It can be as addictive as crack).

Take up bird watching.  Yes, bird watching.  It is certainly linked to the above activity as it birdwatchgets you out into the wild, but there can also be a competitive component involved as well…just watch the 2011 movie “The Big Year,” which stars Jack Black, Steve Martin and Owen Wilson and you’ll see what I mean (and yes, I was as surprised as you to discover that Hollywood had produced a movie about bird watching, of all things).

Use the help of the Audubon Society or the American Birding Association to get you started identifying the birds in your area by both sight and sound, as the auditory component is perhaps more important than the visual.  Better yet, join a local birding club…you’ll be astounded how many people are involved in this hobby.  Start small and simply identify the birds you see in your neighborhood and then expand your range, walking in search of your avian friends as much as possible.

Become an amateur outdoor/wildlife photographer.  Once again, grab your camera or photogsmart phone (no professionals here), head outside and simply observe.  Snap pics of anything that seems interesting…a dew-soaked spider web, sunlight streaming through the clouds, a small brook meandering through leaves of red and orange, a chipmunk on a log, fog rolling along a forest floor…whatever YOU find appealing.  Remember, you’re just doing this for fun, relaxation, and to get out walking during those glorious autumn days.  And with today’s digital cameras and the storage capacity of home computers, it’s easier than ever to snap and store as many pics as your heart desires.

So did you sense a trend with the suggestions?  Get out of the AC and get into the woods as the temps cool and the leaves turn and discover the calming catharsis that is the forest and wild spaces.

fall3

 

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Tips for Back to School

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…I know there are millions of parents out there feeling the exact same way I do. Why? It’s that time of year again, time for those kids to head back to school. In some parts of the country, school has been in session for several weeks already. Some even started the end of July.

College students, though aren’t quite so fortunate. The average start date across the nation is late August. Right now there are many college students buying bedding, laptops, and other electronic devices and accessories. Here’s a few tips for those headed back to class soon.

  1. 41oiFXyshXL._AC_UL480_SR480,480_Stay Motivated: It’s hard to stay motivated to study or go to class when the memories of Summer are still on the surface. Who wants to be stuck in a class room when the sun is shining outside and the thoughts of the pool are beckoning? How do you stay motivated? Here are a few suggestions. Use fun flags to mark the important items for tests or papers. These are super cute and you can find them on Amazon.Another great way is to make your notes look pretty with different colored pens and highlighters. Change colors every 10-20 minutes, or as your focus/topic changes. You’ll start to see a difference and it will make you want to study those pretty notes.
  1. organizedBe Organized: Organization is one of the best ways to get your act together and keep it together the whole semester. There are literally a ton of planners and organizational tools on the market right now. If you choose to start being a more organized person when heading to college this year, start with a planner. Get one that has plenty of room for keeping track of your activities. Write down the dates/times for those study groups, keep your goals in one place, and color code important items.
  1. college-sleepGet enough sleep. This is when you rest and recharge your body and brain. Something we all need. Late night study sessions…or parties…aren’t great for when you have class at 8 am.
  1. Resources: Know what resources are available to you and how to access them. I’m not talking about just the library and tutoring. You should have online access at this point, so don’t forget about the resources there…possible books (free?), local maps, check for discounts for being a student, transportation, and other opportunities available to you as a student. Don’t be afraid to ask.
  1. Meals for One from MagicKitchen.com, prefect for college kids
    Meals for One from MagicKitchen.com

    Food: You need some…make it healthy. The Freshman 15 (15 pounds added your Freshman year) are REAL! Parents of new Freshmen – (ok, even Seniors) we want to make sure our kids eat healthy. They will always be our kids, right? What better way for them to kick off the new school year than with a send off gift they can really appreciate? I’m not talking about a new laptop or cell phone. I mean healthy meals, delivered right to their apartment or dorm rooms. None of us want to see our kids spending either their hard earned money (or ours) on fast food. They need to eat much healthier than that in order to be able to soak up all the information they will be getting during the semester. So do them a favor and make sure they have a few healthy, “brain food” meals for the week.

Good luck this year to all college students, near and far. I wish you a happy, safe, and productive year!

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5 Food Myths Busted and/or Debunked (Your Choice)

I’ve never understood the use of “busted” and “debunked” when referring to the process of proving a previously held belief (myth) to be false.  In my youth, “busted” meant being caught by some authority figure in an act of wrongdoing, such as placing 47 “for sale” signs in the yard of a “friend” in the middle of the night while being observed by said friend’s neighbor who happened to be a local police officer.  And “debunked” sounds like the act of exiting a bunk bed, as in “When her boyfriend burst in I debunked in world record time.”…but that’s another story for another time.

Fresh produce is healthier than frozen.

wiltedActually, depending upon how long the produce has been sitting around, the exact opposite is true.  As fruits and veggies age, in a warehouse, the produce section, or in your fridge, their sugar content increases as their nutritional content declines.  So long as they are frozen soon after they’re picked, frozen veggies and fruits can actually have MORE nutritional value than those that have been languishing for days or weeks prior to being consumed.

Eggs, especially the yolks, are bad for you.

eggsActually, people have climbed out of their bunks (see: debunked above) on this one years ago.  Yes, egg yolks are high in cholesterol, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to raise your blood cholesterol levels.  Well, let me re-phrase that…studies have shown that eggs actually raise the levels of your “good” cholesterol (HDL).  They also are low in calories at around 75 and high in protein (6-8 grams).  They also contain essential amino acids as well as lutein and zeaxanthin which promote eye health, and choline which supports brain health.  So next time, go crazy and use the whole egg when making your omelet.

Oranges are the best source of vitamin C.

strawberriesLook, I’m not saying oranges aren’t a great source of vitamin C.  However, there are other, lower-calorie sources of this essential vitamin that we can’t store or produce and that supports our immune system and helps build collagen for healthier skin.  An average sized orange gives us 70 micrograms of vitamin C with 70 calories that tag along for the ride.  Compare that to these other sources that provide the same amount of vitamin C:  1 cup of Brussel sprouts (I know, they taste horrible and I cursed the Belgian city that they’re named after every time I was forced to eat them) at 40 calories; 7 strawberries at 40 calories; ½ stalk of broccoli at 25 calories; and ½ a red bell pepper at 20 calories.

Meat is bad.

brisket-saucedThis broad myth simply needs a qualifier: processed meat is bad.  Pork, beef and lamb offer complete proteins, as well as vitamin B12 which helps us build red blood cells and promotes healthy brain activity.  Studies have recently found that unprocessed lean cuts of meat present zero risk of heart disease or diabetes and in no way increase your risk of kidney disease unless you have a pre-existing condition.  So, to sum up, avoid processed meats, such as bacon, sausage, Slim Jims and deli meats such as bologna…my bologna has a first name…I’d never be able to spell it without that kid.  And consume lean cuts of meat such as eye of round and top sirloin (I dub thee Sir Loin of Beefshire) cuts of beef and pork tenderloin or loin chops.

Different types of alcohol cause a different type of “drunk.”

I swore off Southern Comfort way back in 1988 due to the fact that every time I consumed it I lost my mind (and memory) and usually woke up in a strange place with a strange person (or people) the next morning.  I was convinced that these varied humiliations had to do with neither the amount I consumed, nor the rate at which I consumed it.  It was simply the fact (myth) that Southern Comfort “…was some wicked stuff.”

As a former member of the United Kingdom’s Medical Council on Alcohol, Dr. Guy Ratcliffe, recently stated, “The effects of alcohol are similar, whichever form they come in.  Any difference is dependent on the rate at which it is drunk and the amount.”  Yes, by volume tequila contains more alcohol than red wine, but at crucial times we tend to forget that…usually to our lasting detriment.

So, don’t feel guilty about feeding frozen veggies to your kids, eat a yolk for God’s sake, realize there are other sources of vitamin C, enjoy some unprocessed red meat, and come to understand that the over indulgence of tequila or that fruity chardonnay can both cause you to awaken in a strange bath tub with all your clothes on backwards…but that’s another story for another time.

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Tomorrow is National Left-Handers Day!

Here are 5 Kitchen Tools for Left-handers

Are you a southpaw? Don’t you wish companies would take Left-handers into consideration when producing kitchen tools? Well, it looks like some have started doing just that. Some of the gadgets look pretty intriguing. The holidays are just around the corner, so making sure you have the proper tools to make your family meals easier for you to cook, is vital for kitchen success. in order to assist you a bit, here’s a list of some incredibly useful tools, toys, and gadgets – made especially for the southpaws.

  1.  4 Piece Bamboo Utensil Set – This set is from Lefty’s The Left Hand Store. I love using bamboo utensils. They are elegant and strong at the same time. There aren’t many things you can say that about. This set is specifically designed for the lefty. The ends are angled to have an ergonomic fit, making cooking easier on the hands. This set includes: 14″ Slotted Spatula, 14-1/2″ Pot-Sitter, 15″ Wok Tool, and 13″ Stir Spoon.
  2. LH Salt_Pepper  I couldn’t pass this one up. Everyone needs a salt and pepper shaker. Lefty’s has this quirky left hand that serves as a pepper mill and salt shaker. I know its not possible for these things to be specifically designated left or right handed. It’s just not every day that you see someone using a hand to season their food!
  3.  minnowHanging on for a moment longer to the odd and quirky gadgets for southpaws, I found a minnow cork screw. Yes, I said minnow. The fin even has a function. This little fish corkscrew will make opening a bottle of wine a pleasure.
  4.  Can openers…two words that used to send a left-hander running out of the kitchen pulling their hair out and screaming. Finally, there are several companies that make opening cans for southpaws a breeze. Check this one out here.
  5.  Some veggies just need to be peeled. Some fruits just need to be peeled. Now the left-handed community can do so in sheer comfort. This peeler has 3 different positions so your creative mind can peel as you please. They include vertical, horizontal, and one at a 45 degree angle.

Since I’m a right handed girl, I may have over looked an important tool that you use in the kitchen. If I did, let me know in the comments. Another thing I would love to learn about is the left handed knives. Do you use those or knives made to be ambidextrous? The comments below are open.

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The Solution for Those Who Hate Cooking in Summer

fireinpanThere’s a reason two of the more popular kitchen clichés involve the word “heat” (“If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen” and “That’s taking the heat out of a hot kitchen”).  And that reason is because it can get frickin’ hot in the kitchen, especially during the summer months.

Think about it…it’s 90 degrees out there with 87% humidity and you’ve got the stove cranking at 425° and two boiling pots going on the stovetop.  That combination tends to cause one to sweat their (fill in the blank) off!  The grill does offer a solution, but there’s only so much grilled meat, seafood, and veggies one can eat.  The solution, obviously, is to have some cooked meals delivered to your home via the magic of MagicKitchen.com.

Lasagna without using the oven!
Lasagna without using the oven!

Every so often, during the summer months, wouldn’t it be nice to have a delicious, non-grilled meal, already cooked, waiting for you and your family in the freezer?  You bet your a$$ it would!  No marinating, no firing up the grill or oven, no prep work, no time spent cooking in a kitchen that doubles as a sauna in summer, no worrying about over or under cooking the entrée…the “no” list goes on and on.

Beef Pot Roast dinner, just heat in microwave.
Beef Pot Roast dinner, just heat in microwave.

The only work required by you is to simply place your pre-prepared and cooked meals in the non-heat producing microwave, watch it spin for a few minutes, and then present the meal in a pleasing manner to friends and/or family.  You can then, if you so desire, simply brush off all the praise heaped upon you for spending so much time and effort in a hot kitchen to prepare such an awesome meal…or you could simply tell them our little secret… cooked meals delivered from MagicKitchen.com

Custless Spinach Quiche
Crustless Spinach Quiche

MagicKitchen offers quite a variety of foods not usually eaten during summer, but are still missed none-the-less.  Sure, August is a great time for summer salads and grilled salmon, but there’s only so many summer salads and grilled cuts of fish one person can eat.  How about a nice change of pace with an appetizing Stuffed Peppers with Marinara Sauce, or Chicken Marsala, or crab cakes, or lasagna, or crustless spinach quiche?  And best of all, they come right to your door, frozen and ready to enjoy after a few minutes in the microwave.  Simply check out MagicKitchen.com’s extensive cooked meals delivered menu, select what appeals to you and then wait for the FedEx truck to deliver your delectable dinners all while not sweating your (fill in the blank with a different body part from the first fill in the blank) in a tropical kitchen!

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Chef Francesco’s Secrets

soups
MagicKitchen.com Soups, Unbelievably Good.

If you are familiar with the, now defunct, classic television series Seinfeld, then you are familiar with one of the most beloved and hilarious single episode characters known only as the “Soup Nazi” (the Soup Nazi’s name was later revealed to be Yev Kassem for those interested in such things).

For those of you unfamiliar with the character, he was the creator of soup that was to-die-for.  However, if you wanted to enjoy his delicious soup you were required to go through a very strict ordering process and if you broke any of the Soup Nazi’s rules, well, then…NO SOUP FOR YOU.

So what does this have to do with our own Chef Francesco and his secrets?  Well, in the episode, the character of Elaine stumbles across all the Soup Nazi’s secret recipes and makes them available to all, effectively driving the recipesSoup Nazi out of business.

Needless to say, many chefs are very protective of their recipes and Chef Francesco, who is responsible for such MagicKitchen.com classics as beef stroganoff and lemon rosemary pork, is no different.  However, since many of you have asked for (demanded?) some of our recipes, we managed to “acquire” a few of Chef Francesco’s just for you…at great risk to our own personal safety.

Unfortunately, all we managed to abscond with were two sauce recipes (marinara and lemon butter).  However, since they are such versatile sauces, maybe it was actually quite fortunate that these are the first two recipes we’re publishing.

Lemon Butter Sauce

lemonsauceIngredients

1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup dry white wine
3 lemons, juiced
2 Tbsp minced yellow onion
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a nonreactive skillet over medium-low heat.

Add the onion and garlic and cook gently, stirring often, until the onion is translucent – turn heat down if onion and garlic are browning.

Add the wine and lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce and bring to a boil over high heat.
Cook until the liquid is reduced to a syrupy consistency. Use the spoon test. If it coats the spoon, it is thick enough.

Whisk in the rest of the butter, in chunks, one at a time, until melted. Let each piece melt before adding another.

The sauce should be emulsified at this point. Strain through a sieve, taste and season, and serve immediately.

Makes about 1/2 cup.

Marinara Sauce

Franceso says the most important thing for a marinara sauce is the tomatoes. He uses Valoroso Pear Tomatoes , but use any quality canned Italian tomatoes.

MagicKitchen.com’s Stuffed Peppers in Chef Francesco’s Marinara Sauce

Ingredients

1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil
10 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
a few red chili flakes
1 tsp dried oregano
2 bay leaves
3 (28 ounce) cans good quality tomatoes, blended to a thick consistency
1 cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil gently in a large pan over medium-low heat. Add onion, garlic, celery and carrots and sauté until onion is translucent.

Sprinkle with chili flakes and oregano and cook 30 seconds longer. Add bay leaves, and pour tomatoes over. Stir well.

Increase heat and bring to a boil. Then lower heat to a simmer, cover and cook until thickened, stirring frequently. When sauce is about halfway to being thick, add the basil and stir in well.

Strain the thickened sauce, pushing on the remains with a wooden spoon to extract all the flavor.

Use an immersion blender to make the sauce smooth, or put the sauce into a blender. Be careful with the blender; fill it no more than half way, and put a towel or pot-holder on top and hold down firmly. The hot liquid will make the lid jump!

Taste and season.

Makes about 5 cups.

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