Monthly Archives: April 2012

The Perfect Picnic Hamper

chocolate cake
Chocolate Cake

Packing the perfect picnic hamper for your picnic is crucial to having a great picnic. You can pack gourmet meals in your picnic hamper, but you have to know what all you need to pack and how you need to pack it in order for the picnic to go off without a hitch. The last thing you want to do is plan that perfect picnic with that special someone in your life or with family and it all fall apart because of your picnic hamper was not packed correctly. Packing it right will ensure you have the perfect meal delivery. Here are some tips to help you pack the perfect picnic hamper for that special picnic.

Plan Ahead

For starters, you will need to plan ahead. Make yourself a little plan of the meal and drinks you want to take to the picnic. Ready made meals are the best, that way you don’t have to make your meals once you get to the location of the picnic. By planning ahead, you will know what you will need in order to fix the pre-made meal and also what type of containers you will need.

Purchase Different Containers

A very important part to packing the perfect picnic hamper is packing the pre-made meals so that it doesn’t spill out, get crushed, or spoil. This can be accomplished by buying different types of containers for the food. So, once you have planned out the pre-made meal you are going to fix, you will know the type of containers you will need.

Don’t Forget Your Supplies

When you are planning, don’t forget to add your supplies to the list of things to get. You will need to pack your utensils, plates, cups, and whatever else you are going to need in the picnic hamper.

Grab Your Cloth

To top the perfect picnic hamper off, grab your cloth or cover that you are going to sit on at the picnic. You can fold this neatly and place it on top of the picnic hamper

There you have a few tips that will help you pack the perfect picnic hamper for your perfect picnic. You can also throw in extra things like flowers and a vase or candles. Try not to pack anything that you don’t need though, it will only weigh you down!

Amanda, MagicKitchen.com blogger

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Everyone Loves Shrimp – The Best Shrimp Dishes Ever

Associated with luxury and extravagance, shrimp is definitely the top seafood in America. But that doesn’t mean shrimp has to be prim and proper all the time. If you’re craving shrimp or need ideas to prepare your current stash, check out this article for both classic and funky shrimp dishes.

1. Shrimp Scampi

Just as delicious as it sounds, shrimp scampi is a dish consisting of buttered shrimp prepared with garlic, onions, white wine, and lemon juice.

2. Fried Shrimp

While there are many ways to fry shrimp, this dish often refers to deep fried shrimp that have been breaded in flour and/or cornmeal. Cocktail sauce makes a great side dip.

3. Shrimp Fettucine Alfredo

Shrimp fettucine alfredo consists of pasta and shrimp served in a thick, creamy parmesan sauce, often with broccoli.

4. Shrimp Rangoon

An alternative to crab rangoon, shrimp rangoon are made in the same way: combining the shredded meat with cream cheese, folding it into wonton wrappers, and deep frying it.

5. Shrimp Burrito

Hey, why not? You can use all the same ingredients found in a chicken burrito to make a shrimp burrito—just hold the chicken and add shrimp.

We hope some of these shrimp meals have made your mouth water, or at least given you a new look at an old seafood favorite. Bon appétit!

We need to accompany this article with some serious news (come on, you know we’re never serious!):

Steve, MagicKitchen.com blogger

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My Favorite Dining Experience

red snapper
Red Snapper in Mediterranean Sauce

Mediterranean meals are some of my favorite to eat. I love gyros (pronounced yee-rohs) and they are relatively easy to customize into different meal ideas. Home prepared meals tend to provide me with a superior dining experience than I can get from any restaurant. The meal ideas can come from southern France, Greece, southern Italy, Morocco, Spain or Tunisia. Mediterranean meals overall can help combat diseases such as Alzheimer’s, cancer and heart disease. The overall health of someone who eats a lot of Mediterranean meals improves drastically since most of the meals include extra virgin olive oil, fruits, nuts, vegetables and whole grains. Lean protein is also included (especially fish) as well as low fat dairy, even a glass of wine with dinner.

What’s more, regular Mediterranean meals can help lower the risk for depression. Depression is alleviated through the combination of polyunsaturated fats that are found in extra virgin olive oil and nuts. Antioxidants found in fruits also contribute to the fight against depression. The vegetables and wine provide B Vitamins, flavanoids and natural folate, all of which combat depression. I know it certainly helps me combat my own depression. I have noticed a lot more up days than down days when I have been eating Mediterranean meals. The up days are compounded by the delicious food I’ve been eating all from the meal ideas I draw from the internet or cook books.

The great thing about Mediterranean meals is anyone can make them. You probably have the right ingredients in your pantry as we speak and anything you do not already have in your pantry you will want to get from the grocery store (usually there is an ethnic section with Mediterranean style additions). At the very least you can get extra virgin olive oil and find a recipe online for really great gyros or other pita dips. Fresh vegetables are the best for cooking, but frozen will work if necessary. Canned vegetables are the lowest choice, but they will work if necessary. Likewise using fresh fruits will work the best, but frozen fruits will suffice. Stay away from canned fruits that are marinated in syrup, but those in their own juices or water can be used for Mediterranean meals.

Ned, MagicKitchen.com blogger

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What’s the Best Wine for Cooking Stuff?

When it comes to cooking with wine, there are many great wines you can use. What’s the best wine will depend on exactly what you are cooking. Some dishes call for specific wines, where others will call for a different wine. Take a look at the examples below to understand what I am talking about.

But don’t trust us, have a look at what Katie has to say about wine:

For example, if you are cooking Chicken Marsala, you should use Marsala wine and Sherry. If you are cooking Beef Bordelaise, you should use Red wine or Drycabernet Sauvignon wine. So, it really depends on what you are cooking. Another thing you will want to consider when cooking with wine, is what type of meal you will be using the wine with. Will you be making a sauce with wine, a desert with wine, or a meat with wine? This will help determine the best wine for cooking stuff. Here are some of the best wines for cooking stuff.

Red wine is the most used wine for cooking. Red wine is often used for meats and sauces when cooking. Under the Red wine category is the Dry Red wine and it is often used for meats as well. Red wine is the recommended wine for Beef Bordelaise too. So, many dishes call for Red wine and will make the dish so much better!

White wine is another wine that is used with a lot of dishes. White wine and Marsala wine is pretty similar, so if you are cooking something like Chicken Marsala, you will want to go with the White wine or the Marsala wine.

Red wine and White wine are the two main categories for wine most used to cook with. Under these categories, you will find wines such as Marsala, Sherry,  Drycabernet Sauvignon, and so on.

Keep in mind when choosing a wine to cook with, you should only use wines that you would actually drink. If a recipe calls for a wine you wouldn’t dare drink, don’t use it. That is a rule of thumb to always go by. Cooking wines are the worse and should never be used. Instead, substitute it for wines that you would drink.

 

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5 Easy Summer Cocktails

Whilst, undeniably, there is a lot of artistry involved in crafting the perfect cocktail, the most enduring recipes are not only delicious, but also so easy that anyone could make them. All of these summer drinks taste great and are pretty much fool proof- the perfect way to set off a gathering with friends! See which takes your fancy;

Dark and Stormy

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This drink, very popular in Bermuda, is one for the rum fans, pairing the intense complexities and natural spice of a dark rum with the fiery taste of ginger beer. It packs a punch, but it’s still very refreshing. Simply combine one part dark rum with five parts ginger beer. You can shake things up by either adding some fresh lime juice, or by trading the dark rum for white rum to create a ‘light and stormy’.

Lynchburg Lemonade

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This is such a refreshing drink that even those who don’t normally find whisky to be to their taste may want to give it a go. You’ll need a bourbon or sour mash whiskey, triple sec, and sour mix, all of which are used as one part each against four parts of bitter lemonade. Add the lemonade last and stir well. Serve with crushed ice, garnished with a few maraschino cherries.

Mojito

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This Cuban cocktail combines a number of ingredients which come together to perfectly compliment the rum base. White rum is used, along with sugar, mint, lime juice and soda water.

The exact method to follow (and even the exact ingredients that should be used) to make an authentic mojito are subject to much debate, but the following steps should do the trick;

Place four mint leaves in a tall glass and then squeeze in the juice from your lime. Add a tea spoon of sugar and use the back of the spoon to mash the leaves, juice and sugar together. Next, add your rum before topping off with soda water.

Michelada

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This Mexican concoction is something of an acquired taste, but for those who enjoy a bit of spice, it’s the ideal refresher. In some parts of Latin America it’s even used as a hangover cure!

Take a glass, rim it with salt by running lime around the edge of the glass and placing it upside down on a plate with salt spread across it. Squeeze in the juice of a lime, then add a dash of Tabasco, a dash of Worcestershire sauce and a dash of soy sauce, before filling to the top with your Mexican larger of choice.

Vodka and Cranberry Juice

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Okay, so this isn’t so much a cocktail as a single spirit with a single mixer, but then it’s so good, why add anything else? Of course, there are a number of ways you can build on this drink. Pineapple, orange, lime and grapefruit juice can all agreeably enter into the equation, and if you want to throw in something a bit weightier, try using peach schnapps as well as vodka.

Will Kerr uses his experience of student life to write on a number of topics, from having a good time on a budget, to revision tips.

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Teaching Mom to Use Skype

Technology can change so rapidly that even the existing popular technologies seem daunting to someone that isn’t very familiar with them. Something like Skype can be a great tool for many different things, from business to correspondence. However, it’s only useful if you know how to use it. Previous generations don’t usually spend much time working with the latest trending applications, but taking some time to show them how things work can be essential to their well-being. For example, teaching mom how to use Skype not only shows her something cool, but it can help her in the long run, too.

Set her up with a Skype account. It only takes a couple of minutes and you can even do this with her over the phone. Getting mom connected is the first step, but to show her that it’s worthwhile you’ll need to start using Skype in a positive way.

Senior nutrition is important to remember when you’re getting older. There’s nothing wrong with dieting, but overall senior nutrition needs to be kept in mind. It’s not so much about losing weight anymore as it is maintaining your health.

Use Skype to show your mom how important balanced senior nutrition really is. Send her links on general nutrition as it relates to older people. Send her recipes for meals for seniors. Cook with her via Skype and support her in her senior nutrition!

Skype can be a great tool, but only if you know how to use it right. Stay in touch by teaching mom how to use Skype. Show her new things, share information that will only benefit her, and you’ll develop a new kind of relationship that will make you both feel great.

Skype isn’t just for catching up with old college buddies or discussing business from half a world away. By teaching mom how to use Skype you can make social media personal again!

And as you can see, some seniors need a little help (this is a re-run but we couldn’t resist!), so give your mom or dad a hand today!

Doug, MagicKitchen.com blogger

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