Category Archives: How to

Here Comes Shark Week: Your Fears can be Delicious

shark-surfThere’s a commonly held belief…rule, really… held by surfers that one should never eat shark.  It’s a karma kinda thing…why tempt fate by eating what might someday eat you out there on the waves.

However, the vast majority of us do not surf, therefore, we are in no way bound by the surfing rule regarding sharks.  And since the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week is upon us once again, we thought this week would be the perfect time to confront your fear of the ocean’s greatest predator head on…with your teeth, in fact.

So, as you violate Bruce’s (the great white from Finding Nemo) rule of “Fish are friends, not food,” there is one important rule that we would like you to follow.  And that rule is when you’re in search of the shark for your Shark Week viewing party, ensure that it’s a sustainable species as the horrible practices of shark finning and factory fishing have decimated many species of sharks.

makoThe Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program recommends the spiny dogfish shark from California, Oregon or Washington or the common thresher or smallfin mako sharks from California or Hawaii.

If you’ve never eaten shark, most find it lean, mild and meaty.  It tends to be denser than tuna or swordfish and doesn’t flake as easily.  Most recipes call for the meat to be marinated prior to cooking to add some flavor, tenderness and to prevent dryness.  As one might expect, steak is the most common and easiest way to prepare shark.  So we thought we’d give you two variations on this method: shark tacos and shark kabobs.

Shark Tacos

 Marinade

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. ground turmeric
  • ½ tbsp. crushed mustard seed
  • ½ tbsp. minced ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • 1-2 tbsp. chopped cilantro
  • Cracked black pepper and sea salt
  • 1 lb. shark steaks, 1 inch thick
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • 1 cup finely shredded cabbage tossed with 1 tbsp. chopped cilantro and a pinch of sea salt
  • Tomatillo salsa (either prepared or purchased)
  • sriracha

Mix the marinade ingredients together in a shallow bowl, sprinkle steaks with sea salt and marinade for 20 minutes.
Grill, broil, or pan fry the shark steaks until they flake easily with a fork, usually 5-6 minutes for each side.  Roughly flake steaks with a fork.

To serve: placed flaked shark meat in warm tortillas and top with cabbage, chilled salsa and sriracha.

Shark Kebabs

Marinade

  • ½ cup rice wine
  • Lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • 3 tbsp. peanut oil
  • ½ cup dry sherry
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 ½ lbs. shark steaks cut into 1 x 1 inch squares.
  • Large mushrooms
  • Onion wedges
  • Red and yellow pepper wedges
  • Bamboo skewers

shark-kebabsMix marinade ingredients in a bowl large enough to hold shark meat and allow to marinade for two hours in refrigerator.

Alternate meat, onions, mushrooms and peppers on kabob skewers and grill or broil 10-15 minutes while marinating liberally and often with remaining marinade sauce while rotating a quarter turn every 3 minutes or so.  Shark meat should fake easily with fork when fully cooked.

Kabobs can be served on a bed of rice of your choosing.

Tbruce-sharkhus you can see, there’s no need to get a bigger boat, fish CAN be food rather than friends, and unless you plan on carving up a wave any time soon you can certainly enjoy some shark without the fear of the roles being reversed.  So fire up the grill and enjoy!

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Diabetic Diet Ideal for All

For the 21 million Americans with diabetes, losing and/or maintaining weight is of critical importance in order to avoid complications caused by the disease.  Most of them manage their weight through exercise and diet…and by diet I don’t necessarily mean being “on” a diet, because that implies their diet is temporary.  It is not.  It is the permanent state of making healthy food choices out of necessity.  It is a lifestyle, not a diet in the traditional sense, and we could all benefit from rethinking what the term “diet” entails as most diabetics already have.

carImagine, if you will, that you’re a car and you’re required to drive up a long, steady incline, which you complete without too much trouble.  Now imagine having to complete the same task with some “junk in your trunk,” say the concrete remains of a sidewalk that was just torn up.  You manage to make it up the hill, but your engine had to work a whole lot harder and as you climb that hill, day after day, parts begin to fail.  The same can happen to humans with excess weight (or too much junk in the trunk).  Complications ensue…heart disease, high blood pressure, increased risk of stroke, cancer, and type II diabetes.

scaleSo, as you can see, being overweight should be a concern to us all, not just diabetics. And one way to lose or maintain your weight is to follow the lifestyle choices most diabetics follow in terms of what and how they eat.  As always, most of us already know what’s healthy (fresh fruits and veggies, lean protein) and what is not (a venti cinnamon dolce latte, muffins the size of your head).  After all, this isn’t rocket science here.

One thing many diabetics do is strictly monitor and track what they consume.  In other words, they COUNT CALORIES…gasp!  And it’s a good idea for all of us.  Just count your caloric intake for a few days.  My guess is that the difference between what you believe that number to be and what it actually is will surprise you…in a bad, OMG way.  Another thing most diabetics do is plan their meals ahead of time and then stick to that plan…no spur of the moment stops at DQ for a $5 nail to place in your coffin. A diabetic diet just makes sense.

supermarketMany diabetics also limit the intake of their carbohydrates and consume non-starchy vegetables (avoid potatoes, corn and peas).  They also eat whole grains and avoid refined or processed flour and sugar (avoid Twinkies and Chips Ahoy cookies).  They eat only lean protein (fish, skinless chicken, pork, beans and soy products).  They eat fresh fruit and avoid the frozen or canned variety as they often have added sugar.  And lastly, they eat “healthy” fats such as those derived from avocados, olives, nuts and seeds.  Just remember, the best diet is one you can stay “on” forever.

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Uses for Leftover food

From time to time we all experience that mess in our kitchen: the unfinished meals and huge amounts of leftovers we often don’t know what to do with. Before cleaning up your fridge, think about these numbers: The annual food waste amount is enough to fill the Willis Tower 44 times. About 40% of food in U.S. is wasted. Yes, almost half goes to trash!

But what if I tell you that you can cook something delicious with your leftovers?

The infographic from Happy To Survive shows 7 simple recipes you can prepare using your food leftovers. Beef hash cakes, pasta with cakes, egg and bacon pie – you can easily cook that yummy dishes and reduce food waste at the same time. Be in trend: Well-known chefs like Jamie Oliver and Matt Jennings also share their tips for getting the most out of leftovers.

Check out these gourmet recipes and share your own hints for dealing with your residual food. (Of course, if you order meals from MagicKitchen.com, there likely won’t be any leftovers!)

7 dishes made using leftover food

7 dishes made using leftover Food Storage

[Infographic] by the team at Survival

 

 

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9 Reasons I Hate to Cook

Frustrated Woman Baker with Rolling Pin Covered in FlourOk, I finally admit, I hate to cook. I used to love it, but as I get older, forget it. I’m not the only one around who hates cooking.  Just turn to Twitter and search “hate to cook” and plenty of Tweeters pop up with the same aggravation! I don’t know their reasons, but here are my top 9 reasons why I can’t stand cooking.

  1. The time involved – Who really has time to prepare ingredients, combine them all in the appropriate amounts, and go through the process of cooking them? Do you realize how long it takes to cook chicken with the bone in? At least 1 ½ hours. A pork roast is just as bad! Who has time for that when you have kids who need to be to practice, dance class, etc.?
  2. Peeling, chopping, dicing, cubing – No thank you! I understand some like the monotony of this task, but I think it’s achieved much faster by someone besides myself. I cringe at the time lost and the cut fingers of the past.
  3. Grocery Shopping – another choredesigned for those who love to cook. I know when I go to the grocery store, I never know if I’m selecting the freshest fruits and veggies or the right cuts of meat. I question my choices and wonder if I’ve picked items with too much fat or gristle. Yuck!
  4. Selecting Recipes – I love Pinterest, but I can’t stand going through the recipes for meals. I get distracted so easily, but I digress…I can’t decide on a recipe. I never have the right ingredients (which usually means a trip to the dreaded grocery store), some of the items in a recipe that sounds fantastic are something I’ve neverheard of, or it’s just too complicated to put everything together.
  5. Clean up – I’m not sure which is worse, making the mess or cleaning it all up. No one in my family likes doing theBook lover. Ready to study hard!dishes! I’d much rather have something quick and easy on paper plates to just toss in the trash when we’re done! Then we can just move on with what we need to get done.
  6. Lack of the correct tools – My knife collection is worse than inadequate. It’s seriously pathetic! I suppose all the chopping and dicing would be easier if I had the proper tools, but it’s just not a priority. Why would it be since I can’t stand cooking?? A whisk is also missing from my kitchen “toolbox”.
  7. Figuring out what to cook – this goes beyond just selecting a recipe. None of us can decide what we want to eat. It’s either that or we all want something different. I’ve tried the menu thing on Sunday evenings for the entire week. We never stick to it, so what’s the point?
  8. No one is available at the same time – this kind of goes with the time issue, but it’s a bit different. Everyone has some activity during the week that makes sitting down together literally impossible! It’s go, go, go around here, as in many families! Homework, sports, dance, dates (for my teens), late meetings, all make it very difficult to pin down a time when we can sit down as a family and unwind together.
  9. I can order healthy, prepared meals – there’s several places online where I can order healthy, prepared meals and have them delivered. MagicKitchen.com is my favorite! They have meals for all types of dietary needs and they are easy to heat up, they are healthy, and they are delicious! I see it as simple, quick, perfect!

IStuffed_BellPepper’ve learned there are some great ways to get around the hassles that go with cooking and the subsequent clean up. Having our meals delivered to us by www.Magickitchen.com solves most of our problems. Everyone can select what they want to eat, preparation is a piece of cake…just warm it up, and clean-up is just as easy! We can also manage to grab a meal and quickly eat together before most activities…or we wait until after.
Have you tried MagicKitchen.com meals? If not you really should! Let me know which meals are your favorites!

Valerie, MagicKitchen.com Blogger

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Ten Festive Christmas Cocktails!

With Christmas just a week away, you’ve probably got a lot on your plate. Last-minute shopping, presents to wrap, house cleaning, and meal prep and planning before your guests arrive. And your to-do list probably keeps getting bigger. Sound familiar?

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed with cooking for house full of people with different tastes and special diets, check out MagicKitchen.com for meal ideas everyone will enjoy. But before you serve the big meal, you might want to consider including a holiday drink to go with dinner. Try these 10 easy-to-make Festive Christmas Cocktails.

chambord-kir1. Chambord Kir Royale

Making a drink for the party couldn’t get much easier. All you need is two ingredients. Sweet Chambord liqueur made from black and red raspberries, and good champagne. Add your own signature to this cocktail with raspberries or a twist of lemon. Make your own with this recipe.

2. Tom & Jerry

It’s a holiday favorite that’s been around for a long time. Mix eggnog with brandy and rum, and serve hot in a large mug. Top it with whipped cream sprinkled with nutmeg or cinnamon. For fun, make your own eggnog.  Check out how this drink got its name here.

3. Rum Brandy Punch

This drink is a popular party-pleaser and easy to make a gallon at a time with lemon, sugar, rum, and brandy. Here’s the recipe.

4. Grand Marnier Coffee

If you’re getting by with caffeine and coffee during the last few days before Dec. 25, you’re not alone. But when it’s time to kick back, relax and enjoy the party, you and your guests might like coffee and caffeine with twist. All this recipe calls for to make this drink is Grand Marnier, a cup of Joe, and some whipped cream.

Cardamom-Pop-Punch5. Cardamom and Pop Punch

Make this drink and you’ll get a taste of sweet and a zing of sour in just the right amount. You’ll need sugar cubes, club soda, cardamom, rum, lime juice, grapefruit juice, and orange bitters, according to the recipe, to mix this drink.

6. Hot Buttered Rum

It’s another holiday favorite that can soothe the soul, chase away stress, and keep your guests feeling warm and happy. It’s made from a smooth blend of brown sugar, butter, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Along with a little salt, rum, and boiling water. It only takes about 10 minutes to make this recipe and serve four people.

coquito7. Coquito

You don’t have to live south of the border to enjoy this Caribbean-inspired drink. It’s got just the right amount of creamy sweetness, rum, and spices to make this a party favorite. Try this five-star Coquito recipe.

8. Timmy’s Brandy Milk Punch

Here’s a frothy drink born in The Big Easy your guests will enjoy. Timmy’s Brandy and Milk Punch is made from brandy, milk, powdered sugar, vanilla, and nutmeg, according to the recipe. Some people serve this drink along with breakfast during the holidays.

9. Hot Apple Toddy

madtini_12days_06Serve the kids apple cider. Serve the adults Hot Apple Toddy. All you need to do to prepare this drink is add a few ingredients to the apple cider. Here’s the recipe. Thinly peeled apple slices can a little sweetness nice touch to the presentation.

10. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Cocktail

If you really want to pay tribute to the holidays and that red-nosed reindeer who saved Christmas, you might want to make a drink called Rudolph’s Nose. The recipe is a mix of rum, lemon, grenadine syrup, ice, and cranberry juice. Add a maraschino cherry, and your drink will shine at your party. You can even make a non-alcoholic version for the kiddos.

Enjoy the drinks!

Evan, MagicKitchen.com blogger

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How to Make the Best Soup…Ever

soup-naziThe Soup Nazi, of Seinfeld fame (season 7, episode 6 for those in search of a good laugh), was notorious for keeping his soup recipes secret…well, that and being quite rude and banning those customers who didn’t follow his regimented and Nazi-like rules while in his establishment (Elaine was famously banned for an entire year). We here at MagicKitchen.com are not so secretive regarding the keys to cooking soups that burst with flavor and keep your friends and family returning to your pot for more. After all, we make these types of soup everyday! So, here are a few ideas that are guaranteed to get that…”Mmmmm, what’s in this?” reaction.

  • Wow, I coulda had a V8. Use V8 instead of plain tomato juice if the recipe calls for it. And use it in addition to canned or fresh tomatoes. The fact that V8 also incorporates other veggies, aside from tomatoes, will kick your soup’s flavor up a notch.
  • rindThrow in those cheese rinds. Especially Parmesan or pecorino rinds as they will add a depth of flavor to your veggie soups or minestrone. Some rinds will simply dissolve in the heat. If not, you can either remove them prior to serving, or chop them up to add a bit of chunky texture to your soup.
  • Use those shiitake stems…no bull. They will infuse your veggie or broth-based soups with an aromatic, earthy flavor. Just be sure to remove them before serving as they’re a bit too fibrous to eat.
  • Use more than just chicken in your chicken soup. Toss in some complimentary sweet or spicy sausage or even some crispy duck to get rave reviews. In terms of herbs, add a bit of lemongrass or curry powder depending upon your preference.
  • Add the greens last. Soup greens are meant to be crisp and tender rather than dull and gray. In order to achieve that, add the kale, chard, broccoli or any other green as your soup cools prior to serving.
  • soups delivered to your home
    Soup Bundle from MagicKitchen.com

    Cook the pasta separate. Pasta will suck up the flavor and liquid of your stock, spices and herbs. Therefore, cook it separate, al dente style, and add just before serving.

Or, if you’re pressed for time, you could have some delicious, flavor-full soup delivered to your home. Just browse our varied selections and pick your favorites…and we promise never to ban you or scream, “No soup for you!”

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Thanksgiving Centerpiece Ideas

turkey cookiesOf course, your best source for Thanksgiving Centerpiece Ideas would be Pinterest. But you’ve seen the epic pinterest fails, right? Where it looks soooo easy to do, and ends up looking terrifying? https://www.pinterest.com/mathomson/nailed-it/ These are a few of those.

So we’ll go for some easy, classic ideas that almost anyone should be able to pull off.

harvesttableau-m
Thanks to allyou.com!

1. From allyou.com, try this simple centerpiece. You will need a cake stand and only a few other items, such as red grapes, hazelnuts in the shell and some fall leaves. The three candles set the tone.

2.  I always prefer a short centerpiece, so everyone can see each other and the conversation flows. This elegant but easy design comes to us from  Midwest Living. Flowers under glass.

101753976
Midwest living

 

thanks to shelterness.com1
thanks to shelterness.com!

3. shelterness.com brings us this rustic centerpiece. A glass container, some twine, Indian corn and a beautiful candle make for a country look, very autumnal!

4. I couldn’t resist this amusing and silly centerpiece, also from shelterness. A shallow bowl, some parsnips, and a sense of humor make this centerpiece easy and inexpensive.

silly centerpiece
Silly but adorable from shelterness

5. The Pampered Chef came up with this great idea using a trifle bowl.  Fill with nuts or fruit, and tie a ribbon around it. Simple!

pampered-chef-diy-thanksgiving-centerpiece

 

 

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Food Photography Tips from Amanda

Chicken with Artichoke and Spinach
Chicken with Artichoke and Spinach

Have you ever looked at a photo of, say our Chicken and Artichoke with Spinach, and wondered how Amanda, our food photographer here at Magickitchen, conveys the true sense of freshness and appetizing appeal that our food possesses through her photographs? Or are you an amateur food photographer seeking to improve your skills or become a paid professional? Either way, continue on, loyal reader, and become enlightened.

Below are some of Amanda’s “secrets” to her food photography success:

Freshness – Obviously, all the food items to be photographed must be the freshest available. If the dish in question is cooked, it’s best to remove it from the stove or oven a few minutes before it’s completely done as it will continue to cook once removed from heat. This also gives you the opportunity to snap a picture while it’s still simmering or while steam is still rising from it.

Buttered Carrots
Buttered Carrots

If the dish includes raw ingredients, either as the main item or as garnish, those ingredients should be as fresh off the vine as possible. This ensures vibrant colors and that no wilting has, or will, occur while photographing. Also, spritzing the fresh ingredients with water or oil adds to their deliciously fresh appearance.

Lighting – Proper lighting is essential in food photography and backlighting your subject material with natural light (aka sunlight) works best. Backlighting reduces glare, enhances the color highlights and texture of the food, and permits you to add dramatic shading or shadows. Do these lighting requirements demand a studio in which to photograph your food? Well, consider the fact that Amanda achieves great results without the aid of a studio and you have your answer. All you need is a clean kitchen counter, stove, or dining table with a few props, such as silverware or clean plates, and the correct placement of your dish backlit by the sun, and voilà, photographic masterpiece.

Adding color — …especially if the dish in question is monochromatic or contains boring, bland colors. Generally speaking, adding

Chile con Carne
Chile con Carne

fresh veggies or fruit that accent a cooked dish works best. For example, the crisp green beans and pomegranate seeds added to the previously mentioned Chicken and Artichoke with Spinach entrée adds a new level of delectability to an already delectable dish.   Also, the inclusion of a few sprigs of fresh thyme to a

simple bowl of chile con carne greatly enhances that dish’s appeal.

So, next time you’re preparing a menu, starting a food blog, or composing recipes, for whatever reason, why not add some photographs in order to get some mouths watering. Just remember fresh ingredients, the proper lighting and an appetizing color palate and you’ll certainly please your audience’s palate.

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Organizing the Kitchen Chaos that is Pots and Pans

By Ty Schmidt

It’s a sound with which most home cooks are all too familiar. The clanging and clattering of pots and pans in what is most likely an unruly stacking situation is one of those battles many home cooks face on a daily basis. After all, finding ways to creatively stack and arrange the precious cooking vessels in an organized fashion can prove challenging given the space and layout of the average kitchen. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

There are creative methods of storing pots and pans that can help even the disorganized cook be more efficient in the kitchen. Here are a few of our favorites:

The Pot and Pan Pantry. This idea may work best if you have pantry space to spare. Maybe you have a lazy Susan that’s packed with all the pantry basics and you also have a pantry closet. Or you keep canned goods and other pantry essentials at a minimum and have extra room. All it

kitchen1
Via Modernize

takes is a few hooks hung from a pantry shelf to convert that space into prime real estate for frying pans. Use the space below for larger pots and dutch ovens, and store the lids nearby as well.

Think Julia Child. You don’t necessarily need to include the outlines of pots and pans to keep them in place like Julia Child did, but especially if your pans are something special, they can play double duty. Integrate them into the decorative motif of the kitchen by hanging them from the walls or from a rack above your counters or island if you have one.

Find New Purpose. A lot of other organizational or home items can serve a dual role in the kitchen if you’re willing to think outside the box a bit. An example would be to incorporate some inexpensive towel rods within the inside of the cabinet you use for pots and pans. Those lids can be the toughest to figure out, and using towel rods on the cabinet doors allows you a place to effectively and efficiently store what may be one of the most challenging yet necessary components of kitchen cookery.

kitchen2
via Modernize

Command an audience. Another option for those pesky lids is to install Command hooks (or something like them) on the inside of those storage spaces. Strategically placed hooks can serve as a very helpful organizational tool that provides easy access and helps improve efficiency, allowing you to focus on more important things, like perfecting that homemade barbecue sauce.

Make a small investment. For the less do-it-yourself minded folks, there are plenty of options as well. Most home improvement stores have kits that allow you to convert cabinet space into pull-out storage for pots and pans that will help simplify and organize your valuable cabinet space.

For more organization ideas and other tips and tricks, head to Modernize.com.

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