Monthly Archives: August 2011

The perfect picnic hamper

Summer is sadly coming to a close, but there’s time for a few more picnics. Here’s my idea of the perfect picnic hamper:

  1. First, no need for a basket or hamper, there are some great coolers and icechests out there with wheels, use one of those!
  2. You’ll want a main dish, a side dish, a dessert and something to drink.
  3. Here are some suggestions for mains:
    • MagicKitchen.com Verdura Gourmet Artisan Flatbread with Kalamata Olives
    • A sturdy bread like a marble rye, Irish Soda bread, multigrain or a baguette sliced in half, Slathered with butter or margarine, mustard or mayonnaise and a meat of your choice. Take thinly sliced tomatoes and cucumbers along in separate containers to add to the sandwiches at picnic time (if you add them too early, the bread will get awfully soggy)
    • Fried Chicken! Or for a more healthy version, try this Oven Fried chicken recipe from Delish.com
    • Grape tomatoes, Mediterranean olives, cucumber slices and feta cheese with a slice of crusty whole-wheat bread.
    • Another recipe from delish.com: Vegetable Hoagies.
  4. For Side dishes,

5. For desserts:

  • Anything off the MagicKitchen.com dessert page, but I’m here to tell you that  the panna cotta is to die for.
  • Whatever kind of fresh fruit is in season. Nothing better than fresh fruit.
  • go to your favorite local bakery and get some soft chewy cookies.

6. To drink:

  • First, make sure there’s a designated driver if the drinks are alcoholic. Light beer, coolers or wine are appropriate, but there are lots of non-alcoholic drinks that are delicious too!
  •  About.com has 10 options right here!* Best Lemonade
    * Boston Iced Tea
    * Brazilian Lemonade
    * Ginger Iced Tea
    * Lime Mint Iced Tea
    * Strawberry Lemonade
    * Thai Iced Tea
    * Iced Almond Coffee
    * Tips for Making Iced Coffee
    * Watermelon Lemonade Recipe

7. Bring along a comfy blanket and some cushions to sit on (and some folding chairs for the older folks)

8. Don’t forget to pack any cutlery you’ll need, whether it’s plastic or not, along with plenty of napkins and a few garbage bags. Pick up after yourselves, and enjoy your day!!

 

Melody -MagicKitchen.com Blogger.

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What would you like to see in this fall’s catalog?

It’s that time of year where MagicKitchen.com is changing the menu up a little bit. We’re looking at adding a few items and taking a few items off.

We know what we want to pursue… but what would you like to see added or subtracted?

For example, I want to see them add my  beans and sausages dish:

Here’s the way I make it for a fast supper:

For 4 servings:

1 carrot, diced

½ onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, diced

2 cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1 -8 oz can tomato sauce or 6 oz of V8 juice (a variation we tried that I liked that also saves calories)

2 to 4 Italian sausages, raw, sliced

½ tsp thyme

Sauté the carrots onion and garlic till soft, or just cook them in a little water in the microwave to save calories. Heat oven to 350, spray a casserole dish, stir everything together and cover. Bake for 35-40 minutes until bubbly.

Let us know what you’d like to see!

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Fall’s Coming, ready or not

It’s always hard to think of fall in the dog days of August, but it’s coming along. Time to start thinking of easy and healthy lunches for work and school. Our new line of complete meals is perfect.

Braised Beef Brisket
Braised Beef Brisket

Main courses of Mango Ginger Mahi, Baked Cod with Lemon Caper Sauce, Crab Cakes, Shrimp Enchilada, Citrus Salmon, Chicken & Apple Curry, and Pepper Steak – sounds pretty tempting, no?

There’s much more to choose from: Chicken In Wine Sauce, Grilled Salmon, Braised Short Rib, Baked Tilapia, Stuffed Peppers, Shrimp in Garlic Sauce and Baked Tilapia a la Mushrooms.

-Grilled Rosemary Chicken, Chili Con Carne, Pot Roast, Roast Pork, Basil Beef Stir Fry, Seared Flank Steak and Orange Glazed Pork Chops

-Chicken Marsala, Braised Beef Brisket, Chicken Pasta with Red Pepper Sauce, London Broil, Chile Colorado,Chicken Stir Fry , Roasted Turkey with Cranberry Pilaf

Go to our Complete Meals for One page to see nutritional breakdowns (Click on the individual meals). They are portion-controlled, so they fit into most healthy diets.

We’re proud of these meals, we think you’ll love them for fall – check them out!

Grilled Rosemary ChickenGrilled Rosemary Chicken with Cranberry Dressing

Citrus Salmon with Vegetable Paella
Citrus Salmon with Vegetable Paella

Mango Ginger Mahi
Mango Ginger Mahi

 

Melody, MagicKitchen.com blogger

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Basil Ideas

I have a very healthy basil plant; actually, two! A Thai basil plant on one side of the house and an Italian basil plant on the other. They are both growing so well that I needed to come up with some ideas for using it.

Of course, pesto, like MagicKitchen.com’s Spinach Mushroom Lasagna With Light Pesto Sauce and Pesto and Cheese Flatbread  is always a great idea, and I did that, although with pecans instead of pine nuts, for a rich, decadent taste.

I also did stuffed basil leaves: put a little piece of goat cheese on a piece of basil, drizzle it with extra-virgin olive oil or a little liquid honey, and sprinkle with finely chopped pecans or walnuts. Wow.

If you have some Thai red Curry paste and a little coconut milk, mix those together to taste and heat it up. Add chicken broth to thin a little, then toss in some shrimp or diced chicken. Cook till done, and add a handful of chopped Thai basil- serve over rice.

Epicurious has this great recipe for Tomato, Mozzarella & Thai Basil Crostini.

Basil is amazing on a light cheese pizza. A thin crust, a drizzle of good olive oil, a thin layer of flavorful cheese like smoked  provolone, some sliced roma tomatoes – bake until done and sprinkle with fresh basil.

 

Basil butter- process basil, butter and fresh garlic in a food processor to taste. Put tablespoons-full on a cookie sheet and freeze. Once frozen, put into a plastic freezer bag. Use it on top of steak, to flavor vegetables, to flavor a sauce, or to fry eggs.

Melody, MagicKitchen.com blogger

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MagicKitchen.com answers Summer Meal questions

Here are ten answers to questions about summer meals.

  1. What are some good summer time meal ideas that require little to no cooking? MagicKitchen.com meals are sooo easy and just heat up in the microwave. Other great ideas include salads or sandwiches. Great salad dinner ideas include a steak salad; wash and trim your favorite greens and veggies and toss them in a bowl. Grill up some tender steaks like beef tenderloin or rib steak. Let them sit until just warmer than room temperature, then slice thin. dd to the salad, and toss all with Horseradish dressing: Just whisk together 1/2 cup of light mayonnaise, 2 Tbsp of horseradish, and a little milk to thin the mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. This serves as many as you have greens and steak for, just mix up more dressing! You can substitute chicken or fish; change the dressing to a bottled vinaigrette.
  2. What are some good cold recipes for summertime meals? The salads above would fit the bill, if you used canned tuna or shrimp. But most meals need just a little cooking. If you don’t mind throwing on a pot of pasta and draining it when done, this pasta salad is served cold and is filling and delicious.
    BLT Pasta Salad
    * 1 cup light mayonnaise
    * 1/4 cup lemon juice concentrate
    * 2 teaspoons sugar
    * 7 oz of pasta, cooked
    * 8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
    * 1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
    * 1/4 cup green onion, sliced
    * 4 cups romaine lettuce, thinly slicedDirections:1.Combine mayonnaise, lemon juice and sugar
    2. Combine cooked pasta, bacon, tomato, and green onion.
    3. When ready to serve, add cold lettuce and dressing and toss.
    Serves 4 as a main course.
  3. What are some good summer vegetarian meals? Of course this depends on what type of vegetarian, but gazpacho with some good croutons, salmon lightly brushed with good olive oil and grilled, a salad with a peanut sauce,  hearty barley salad, veggie fajitas with grilled veggies, a quick fritatta, or a bean salad all fit the bill.
  4. What is a good summer meal to make for a family with a new baby? Again, MagicKitchen.com has some great meals for a family with a new baby.  You want to make it healthy and delicious but really easy to make for the new parents. Lasagna, stews and the like are good winter meal ideas. But for summer, a vegetarian pasta they can heat up in the microwave and sprinkle with good parmesan cheese,  a Greek rice salad, or some interesting chicken salads should do the trick.
  5. Can you suggest a cool summer meal for company? Your best bet is to get a really good cut of steak. MagicKitchen.com has some amazing beef steaks and roasts. Or talk to your butcher. Beef tenderloin (or pork tenderloin) are sure winners. Then take some baby potatoes and rub them with salt, rosemary and a good olive oil and throw them on the grill just a few minutes before your steak goes on. A lovely green salad and you’ve got your meal!

Melody, MagicKitchen.com blogger

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Ten Chicken questions and answers

Don’t forget that MagicKitchen.com has lots of scrumptious, easy chicken dishes.

  1. How many pounds of chicken does a rotisserie chicken yield?
    -lots of people want to know this so they can use the ready-cooked meat for another recipe. It comes out to about 3 lbs.
  2. How many cups of chicken does a chicken breast make?
    -another good question, again related to a new recipe, maybe for a great sandwich? 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of chicken breast meat will yield about 3 cups of diced, cooked chicken.
  3. Best way to cook chicken to use in recipes that call for cooked chicken?
    -I like to use the Chinese method, it yields really moist chicken and as a bonus, you get some light broth. Bring a large pot of water to a boil (enough to cover the chicken). Throw in some vegetables and herbs for flavor. Put the chicken in the pot. The water will stop boiling- take the chicken out immediately and set it aside. Bring the water to the boil again, put the chicken in, turn off the heat and cover the pot. Leave it for an hour. strain the broth and use it later, and let the chicken cool, then tear it apart.
  4. Can I make chicken stock from a cooked chicken carcass and raw chicken parts?
    – Definitely! Simmer it low and slow for the best flavor.
  5. Why does baked chicken always come out so dry and chewy? What can I do to make it more appetizing?
    -You could marinate it, but it sounds as though it’s not covered. Try a roasting bag for a never-fail chicken, and use a thermometer to make sure you’re not over-cooking the bird. http://www.fsis.usda.gov/food_safety_education/proper_thermometer_placement/index.asp
  6. What are the best sides for MagicKitchen.com’s Stuffed Chicken ana Luisa?
    We always suggest Broccoli and Cauliflower with Cheese Sauce, Rice Pilaf, Broccoli, Peas and Corn, or your own Basmati Rice
  7. What prevents chicken eggs from developing when buying them from the supermarket?
    Chicken eggs are not fertilized when we buy them. Hens lay eggs whether they are fertilized or not. Also, the refrigeration would not allow fertilization even if they were.
  8. How to cook boneless chicken thighs in the oven?
    Chicken thighs are great in the oven, because they don’t dry out as easily as breast do, but they cook quickly. Salt, pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, a couple of spices you like (rosemary and basil are nice), and pop them into a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes (Preheat the oven first).
  9. How to make good chicken for chicken sandwiches?
    -Simmer it in water for about 20 minutes. Add peppercorns (or just ground pepper), a little oregano and salt to the water. That will keep it tender and moist.
  10. Does chicken soup really make you better if you’re sick?
    Well, it won’t hurt- it’s easy to eat, comforting, and reportedly has anti-inflammatory and mucus-thinning effects. It’s not a cure by any means, but might make you feel better for a while.

Melody, MagicKitchen.com blogger

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Why do most women crave chocolate?

You know you do. I certainly do. But why do  most women crave chocolate? Why is it that 9/10 women say they’d rather have chocolate than sex? (This is documented, although if you add the word “Great” before the word “sex, the numbers change dramatically).

Here’s a quick video on how to make chocolate-covered strawberries. Mmmmm.

If the chocolate craving is true for you, MagicKitchen can help out. I had the chocolate ganache cake last week, and wow is all I can say. But the question remains. So I did a little research.

Chocolate contains:

-theobromine and caffeine, providing a little extra mental energy
-phenylethylamine, which increases your nervous system and produces “Feel-good” hormones.
-anandamide, a built-in flavor enhancer that some say has a structure very similar to that of tetrahydrocannabinol, the active constituent of marijuana.

So there it is! Chocolate really does make you feel better. But keep in mind that dark chocolate is better for your health, and in this case moderation is definitely the better part of weight watching.

Melody, MagicKitchen.com blogger

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Reviews and Testimonials

Ok, I admit it, sometimes I get lazy and want our customers to do the talking for me. Here’s what some of them have had to say this year.

Chicken Montrachet
Chicken Montrachet

About our HomeStyle menu:

“You catered our Christmas dinner. The appetizer, side dishes, entree, and dessert were restaurant-class. Since we couldn’t be there in person,

you’ve now become Mom’s Mother’s Day meal!”~ Mike K.

“again you surprise me with even tastier dishes we have just tried….I shall be placing another order today with a repeat of some of the chicken dishes that have proven to be exceptional and to try again something new…….bravo” ~ Nancy H

Nancy also proclaimed about the Chicken Montrachet, “exceptionally good and am ordering again today….so delicious I ate it all and it is a large piece. Mmmmmmmmm”.

Tracy B said regarding the Chicken Ana Luisa, a customer favorite: “This is the first meal we’ve tried and were pleasantly surprised with the flavorful, freshness and quality of the meal. We paired this with the Lemon Risotto (also delicious!) Thank you ”
About the MK Special Diet menu:

“My 85 year old diabetic father-in-law was frequently having to go to the local hospital ER for poor health directly associated with eating improperly. My husband & I live 600+ miles away and needed to find a healthy and reliable meal service to provide for him. We have been ordering food on a weekly basis since February 2011. We ran into some difficulty in having the food delivered on the day that a health care worker could be there to carry it indoors and place in the freezer. So a direct phone conversation with Greg assisted us and he was very informative of the methodology that we would need to set-up for the proper delivery. My Father-in-Law truly enjoys the meals-(although the food is non-salted!) and prefers the beef meals over the chicken! Also he readily admits he doesn’t eat all the veggies! This has brought great peace of mind to us, and solves a family dilemna, and he has not had a diabetic complication since he has been recieving the regular meals. I highly recommend your meal service and will continue to use it for him, hopefully for a long time!”~ Lee V.

“I ordered the low sodium dinners for my mother and father. They are so thrilled with the quality and ease of reheating, they are spreading the word to their senior friends. Finally I found something FROZEN that they will eat and enjoy. It’s tough when your senior parents are 3,000 miles away! Thank you Magic Kitchen! ” ~ Wendy P

“I purchased these meals for my step dad while Mom is recuperating with knee replacement surgery. My brother tells me the meals look very fresh. My step dad who is 83, called to tell me that he really appreciated the thought and that the meals were delicious! That was all I needed to know.” ~Donna H

And finally. Maureen B. wrote, “Couldn’t decide what to get my husband’s grandmother who needs nothing and is continually trying to downsize; so we ordered her this meal pack. I have to admit myself, it was a great idea. She LOVED all of the meals and it was a gift that kept on giving. She has asked us to share the magic kitchen idea to other family members. Thank you Magic Kitchen!! ”

Melody
MagicKitchen.com blogger

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