Monthly Archives: July 2016

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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Best Summer Meal Pairings

The best thing about summer is eating easy meals. Nothing’s easier than MagicKitchen.com meals. Here’s our take on the best summer meal pairings for 2016!

    • Sliced Beef Brisket, for easy summer meals
      Sliced Beef Brisket- yummy!

      Try our sliced beef brisket, warm, on big rolls with hot mustard and coleslaw with potato salad on the side.

    • Here’s something summery: Warm our crab stuffed sole and serve with fresh-tasting barley vegetable pilaf.
    • In the mood for hearty? Try our corned beef inside toasted rye bread with sauerkraut and German mustard.
    • Grill our Bone-in Ham steaks and pair them with Scalloped Potatoes you can heat in the microwave.
    • A vegetarian option is to warm our stuffed baked potatoes as your main course, with a couple of your favorite salads.
    • Grill Bone-in Ham steaks, slice thin, and serve on corn tortillas with a pineapple salsa.
    • sliced-beef-tacoSpeaking of tacos, our Tritip or beef brisket would both be incredible inside a tortilla with some homemade pico de gallo.
    • Sliced Beef Tri-Tip Au Jus, served on a French roll, with the jus on the side. We’d serve this with oven fries and a side of coleslaw.
    • A website called It’s Yummy! has a recipe for a Reuben Salad that sounds like a perfect way to repurpose some delicious corned beef.
    • Love a lettuce wrap? So do we! Try putting out a variety of meats and veggies, with a couple of sauces, and let people help themselves. Suggestions: Beef Brisket, caramelized onions, sliced tomatoes with a smoky BBQ sauce. Or grilled prawns, rice noodles mixed with sesame oil, sliced jalapeños, and a smear of Hoisin Sauce.
Ham Steak for tacos, sandwiches and other easy meals
Bone-in Ham Steak
Ham Steak for tacos, sandwiches and other easy meals
Slow Smoked Corned Beef
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20 Easy and Healthy Summer Breakfast Ideas

Summer, of course, means more than just heat.  It also, for most of us, means a more, shall we say, relaxed pace to life.  And in this more relaxed lifestyle, we tend to sleep in a bit more whenever possible and then scramble (egg pun intended) around in the AM for breakfast…or brunch in some instances.

Well, here are 20 easy, light and healthy breakfast ideas and most do not require the use of a heat generating device, such as the stove top or oven.  We used the term “ideas” rather than “recipes” because we’d like you to experiment with the ingredients and prep methods in order to perfect them in your own, personal way.

  1. Smoothies – of any variety.  Simply combine your favorites (berries, bananas, flavored yogurt, milk, protein powder, jam, honey, etc.) and blend.
  2. Fruit pizza on a bagel – Simply spread a bit of cream cheese (but not too much…these are “healthy” ideas after all) on a whole wheat bagel and add your favorite sliced fruit.
  3. Granola, yogurt and fruit – Mix…you guessed it…granola, your favorite yogurt and fruit together in a bowl or cup and enjoy.
  4. yogurtbananaYogurt granola banana popsTake half a banana, insert a popsicle stick in the end, role it in yogurt, then granola and freeze.
  5. Muesli – aka cold oatmeal (certain types of oats need to be soaked overnight in milk) mixed with yogurt, fruit, nuts, cinnamon, orange zest, some maple syrup…simply add whatever flicks your switch.
  6. Breakfast wrap – slice some banana and pineapple, add some granola, and cottage or feta cheese and then just wrap in a tortilla…breakfast on the go.
  7. Avocado toast – thinly slice some avocado and place on lightly toasted whole wheat indexbread and add a pinch of sea salt and pepper along with some lemon juice, olive oil, strawberries, goat cheese and/or honey.
  8. Breakfast salad – cube some watermelon and mix with chopped and peeled cucumber, add some lime juice, feta cheese and a bit of chopped mint.
  9. Raspberry cheesecake bagel – Simply spread some mascarpone or cream cheese on a bagel and top with fresh raspberries.
  10. English muffin egg pizza – Hard boil some eggs ahead of time, slice or crush and place on a toasted English muffin with a tomato slice and your favorite type of shredded cheese.
  11. The “works” bagel – Toast a bagel and spread on some cream cheese.  Then add diced tomatoes, capers, red onions, and sprouts…or whatever your heart desires.
  12. Farina with apricots and almonds – Bring some farina (think Cream ‘o Wheat) to a boil with milk, let cool and top with brown sugar, diced apricots and almonds.
  13. Cottage cheese crunch – Real easy one here…just mix some granola with cottage cheese and add some of your favorite fruit…peach slices work well here.
  14. Fruit kabobs with vanilla yogurt – Cube your favorite fruit (pineapples, melons, pears, etc.) and place on kabob skewers.  Place some vanilla yogurt on the side for a dipping sauce.
  15. English muffin with burled banana and peanut butter – OK, this one requires you to fire up your broiler, but only for a few minutes.  Slice up a banana or two and sprinkle with some brown sugar.  Broil for 3-5 minutes, or until the sugar is caramelized.  Spread some peanut butter on a toasted English muffin and top with the bruleed bananas.
  16. breakfasttacoBreakfast tacos – place some sliced avocados, tomatoes, and blueberries in a soft taco shell and enjoy.
  17. Fried honey bananas – Slice up some bananas and fry in some olive oil (1-2 minutes per side), drizzle with honey and sprinkle with some cinnamon.
  18. Savory oatmeal with an egg – Take some oatmeal (duh!) and add an egg that’s been prepared over easy.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper and some shredded cheese and you’ve got your new breakfast favorite.
  19. PB+J waffle sandwich – toast some whole wheat waffles and then make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with them.
  20. Avocado toast with egg – On whole wheat toast, spread some smashed avocado, top with a fried egg (over hard works best…less mess) and finish with a pinch of sea salt and pepper.
  21.  Bonus idea – Order in any of MagicKitchen.com’s Complete Breakfast Meals,  or some of our a la carte breakfast items, like Carrot-Zucchini-Walnut Muffins, or Corn Bread Blueberry Toaster Cakes.

Hopefully you find a few of these ideas appealing to your palate, and as stated previously, don’t be afraid to substitute ingredients as you see fit…live dangerously and bon appetit!

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Amazing, Inspiring Seniors

Aging isn’t for wimps. There’s some pretty tough stuff in the pasts of most senior citizens. When those of us who aren’t already in those Golden Years get there, we too will have gone through tough times. Given those tough times, today’s seniors aren’t taking aging laying down. They are embracing the age and are becoming involved in things the elderly of the past would never have dreamed of doing! They are accomplishing goals and achieving dreams imagined decades ago.

seniors-dancingSenior Citizen “Proms”

You may not be able to turn back the clock, but you can wind it up again!
~Unknown

The month of May has been humming with excitement of the impending prom. No, I’m not necessarily talking about the junior/senior high school prom, but the senior citizen prom! These festive, romantic dances are no longer just for the senior getting ready to graduate and move on to college. Retirement communities in many areas are hosting proms for the local senior citizens. Why shouldn’t they?

Activities such as this are good for both the physical and mental health of the elderly. Even during the Golden Years it is important to maintain a fulfilling social life. Proms are perfect for encouraging new friendships as well as bringing different generations together. Many times the volunteers serving drinks and helping the physically limited seniors are actually high school students! Proms are no longer just a rite of passage for the young…the young at heart have the opportunity to experience this magical time once again.

Back to School

Asenior-schoolnyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.
~Henry Ford

A lot of senior citizens never had the opportunity to go to college for one reason or another. Right out of high school they entered the workforce or got married without continuing their education. Many are picking up the school books and going to class in person and online. They have discovered since they are now retired that they have time to get their degree.

Not only are they showing amazing strength, but they are also encouraging younger generations at the same time. Going back to school can also revitalize the memory, rouse the cognitive ability, and allow for some great socializing. All of these are vital for improving your quality of life.

Healthy Living

seniors-exercise2You must keep active, or you will just wither away. Always be involved in some activity.
~Miriam Henson

Many people in their 70’s and 80’s are adopting a healthy lifestyle. They are eating clean and exercising regularly. Some are eating vegan and look incredibly young. Fitness has become important and for many, the 70’s and 80’s can possibly be considered the new 50’s!

Working out and lifting weights tones elderly bodies just as it does for the younger generations. Physical activities such as skateboarding and sky-diving aren’t off limits to this age group. One of the most amazing and inspiring senior has to be 104 year old Robert Marchand. He continually gets on his bike and races! He holds the speed record for people his age, riding 100km in 4 hours 17 minutes 27 seconds. Pretty impressive.

gardeningMy Inspiration

Age is whatever you think it is. You are as old as you think you are.
~Muhammad Ali

Another inspiring person that has reached the Golden Years happens to be someone I know personally, my Mom. She has had a pretty tough go at things, suffering burns from a house fire in her late 30’s, moving around the country multiple times, and raising two daughters on her own.

In spite of many surgeries and medical issues, she still has the gumption to keep living life to the fullest. She will be 70 this year, and nothing seems to keep her down. She travels to multiple states to visit friends, family, and places she used to dream about. She loves to tend to her garden, growing beautiful fruits and veggies that we all reap the benefits of. None of this sounds extraordinary to begin with, but when you take into consideration her history it’s pretty astounding. I hope to be as active and full of life when I reach her age.

Do you know seniors who amaze you? Let us know!

Valerie, MagicKitchen.com blogger

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