Category Archives: Recipes & Entertaining

Easter Means Spring, So Eat Like it!

Easter is, of course, a deeply religious holiday for Christians across the country and many observe it in reflection at their house of worship, followed by a rare, sit-down meal with friends and family.  And it is to the latter that this post is focused.  A theologian I am not.

Easter also serves a secondary purpose, just as Memorial Day ushers in summer and Labor Day ushers it out, Easter signifies the end of winter and the arrival (or imminent arrival, depending when it falls on the calendar), of spring.  And spring usually means a change in our eating habits from filling, winter comfort food to lighter, healthier, more active fare.

With this in mind, perhaps we should look for alternatives to the traditional ham or lamb, scalloped or au gratin potatoes, veggie casseroles, and dessert cakes for our Easter meal.  So here are some of those alternatives to consider.

Salads

This is the perfect opportunity to meld the two things that most represent spring: fruits and vegetables…with a light dressing such as vinaigrette, sesame ginger, or garlic balsamic.  Spinach and strawberries always work well together and other fruits that work well in an otherwise veggie salad are grapes, raspberries, diced pear, avocado, mango, cranberries…oh hell, just about any fruit works in a green salad and the same could be said for nuts…walnuts, pecans, pine nuts, etc.

Appetizers

Is it not time to ditch the deviled egg appetizer that everyone thinks is so cute after the kids have spent the morning hunting those same eggs (How did eggs get associated with Easter anyway?  It’s not like Easter bunnies lay eggs).  How about a nice avocado or hummus dip or spicy salsa?  Or some roasted edamame and/or artichoke hearts, or cauliflower wings (essentially cauliflower wedges dipped in various wing sauces.) Martha Stewart, as always, has some great ideas here http://www.marthastewart.com/275143/lighter-appetizer-recipes

Entrées

I guess this subtitle should have read “entrées other than ham or lamb.”  For the vegans/vegetarians in the crowd, a nice eggplant Parmesan, veggie lasagna or pasta primavera (primavera means spring in many romance languages, after all) would be to die for.  For the carnivores, a nice slab of roasted or poached salmon is a great alternative as is a nice baked chicken dish.  Here are some other great ham/lamb alternatives  http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/19868/holidays-occasions/easter/dinner/

And of course, you can always order ready made meals at MagicKitchen.com.

Desserts

I think it goes without saying that I’m not referring to chocolate bunnies, peeps (you know, those fluffy, yellow blobs of sugar), or candied eggs of any type here.  Perhaps your guests would prefer cinnamon baked pears, a fruity sorbet or sherbet, a berry and yogurt parfait, a light and airy angel food cake (topped with fruit, of course), or hollowed out strawberries filled with vanilla yogurt and topped with graham cracker crumbs.  There are plenty of low-cal, spring dessert recipes out there and here are a few examples  http://www.self.com/gallery/9-healthy-3-ingredient-desserts-under-250-calories

Remember, just because you’ve eaten ham/lamb and some creamy potato dish every Easter since you were a kid does not mean it must continue.  This spring, break the bonds of Easters past, step away from tradition, embrace change and eat differently.  It’s not like there’s momentous consequences at stake here…it’s only Easter dinner.

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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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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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6 Healthy Alternatives to Sugary Drinks

Low fat Cod in Mediterranean Sauce from MagicKitchen.com
Low fat Cod in Mediterranean Sauce from MagicKitchen.com

When you’re trying to watch your weight, keeping track of your diet makes a big difference. In fact, a recent study found that people who kept a food journal lost twice as much weight as people who didn’t.

Why? When you make the effort to write down what you’re putting into your mouth or log your meals and snacks with a mobile app, it makes you more aware of your food choices. Stick with it, and over time you start to recognize eating patterns and food choices you can improve on. For example, you might figure out that you’re eating right, but you’re drinking far too many calories in the form of soda, fruit juice, energy drinks, or coffee loaded with sugar and whipped cream.

In case you’re wondering, a typical 32-ounce soda served at a fast food restaurant contains 272 calories. Gulp down your favorite mocha latte from a coffee shop, and you’re drinking about 360 calories. Even too much fruit juice can ruin your diet at 100-plus calories a glass. And it all starts to add up. Let’s say you have a 32-ounce soda five days a week. That’s 1,360 calories. In a year, you’ll drink 70,720 calories (equal to 20 pounds of fat).

If you’re serious about practicing portion control, making healthy food choices is a good place to start. Check out healthy and tasty Portion Control meals made by MagicKitchen.com. Then take a closer look at what you’re drinking from day to day. If you’re tossing back a few too many sugary drinks, try these low-calorie alternatives:

Water
It’s free from the tap, or inexpensive in bottled form. And it contains zero calories.

Fruit Punch

No. Not the bright red stuff made with sugary powder or high-fructose corn syrup. You can make your own with fresh fruit and sparkling cider. Check out the recipes for Summer Fruit Punch.

Strawberry Citrus Sangria

While this thirst-quenching drink has more calories than a glass of water, it packs a punch with vitamins and nutrients from sliced strawberries, peaches, orange, and lime. Here’s the recipe.

grapefruit-cocktailRuby-Red Grapefruit Cocktail

Mix a little campari, gin, and seltzer water with a freshly-sliced grapefruit and juice. Add ice, and enjoy. It’s only 121 calories per serving, and tastes a lot better than gulping down another soda. Here’s how to make it.

Fresh Cherry Lemonade

If you’ve been drinking sugary lemonade from a can, powder mixture, or some just-add-water frozen variety, you don’t know what real lemonade tastes like. Try making your own Fresh Cherry Lemonade with real cherries and lemon juice.

Cucumber & Melon White Sangria
Can cucumber and basil leaves actually taste good in a drink? You’ll have to try it. Mix these

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Foods for St. Patrick’s Day

cornbeefandcabbageSt. Patrick’s Day is a day for a party all over the United States and of course Ireland, the mother country. Enjoy the day with traditional foods like Corned Beef & Cabbage, Irish Soda Bread, Shepherd’s Pie or Irish Stew. We all know (Or can imagine) what Corned Beef and Cabbage tastes like, but the other dishes might perplex a few readers. Irish Soda bread is a dark quick-bread (meaning using no yeast or other leavener). It has whole meal flour, porridge oats and lots of butter and buttermilk, along with the soda.

Shepherd’s Pie is a classic dish all over the British Isles. Lots of veggies,ground beef or lamb, stock, flour and a bit of red wine, all covered in mashed potatoes, and baked until golden and bubbly. Irish stew uses lamb or mutton,  along with potatoes and barley for a very hearty dish.

Iirsish-bread-dipf you’re not in the mood to throw together a whole feast, here are some smaller recipes that will work just as well. Reuben Braids are the brain child of Kellie Mulleavy, Lambertville, Michigan. What a fabulous and easy way to emulate corned beef and cabbage!

200806-r-avocado-soup-crabNancy Citro’s Emerald Island Dip recipe gives us an easy dish with a wonderful presentation. The shamrock cut-out is perfect for an Irish-themed party.

Chilled Avocado Soup with Crab is just green enough to be pertinent, and definitely delicious enough to be devoured.

Savory cheesecakes like  Pesto Swirled Cheesecake from Elizabeth Jackson, Portland, Oregon, are delightful appetizers, and this one has the requisite green as well as being creamy and divine.

mintbarsReady for some dessert ideas? St. Patrick’s Chocolate & Mint Cheesecake Bars are decadent, creamy, and decidedly green.

Shamrock Milkshake Cupcakes fit the bill, and you can serve them in green cupcake liners.

Last but never least, Martha Stewart, the queen of cuisine, has this dessert recipe to offer:
Lime Squares with Pistachio Graham-Cracker Crust.

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12 of the best Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Start with MagicKitchen.com’s Fully cooked Roasted Turkey Breast, and add some of these amazing sides, for an easy Thanksgiving dinner. If you want it even easier, order one of our full Thanksgiving dinners.

SONY DSC

The Ultimate Green Bean Casserole
Sautéed cremini mushrooms and blanched green beans are combined with a luscious sauce of chicken stock and cream. Then the dish is topped with homemade fried shallot rings and baked until bubbling.
See Recipe on Williams Sonoma..

brussels
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts and red onions are seasoned simply with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then roasted until caramelized and sweet.
See Recipe on Martha Stewart…

Dauphinoise

Potato Gratin Dauphinoise
Dauphinoise is the French method of baking potatoes in milk, cream and cheese.
See Recipe on Gourmet Food..

threesomeMashed Potato Threesome
This Mashed Potato Threesome involves butternut squash, curry, and buttery garlic mashed potatoes.
See Recipe on Cooking Stoned

sweetLemon-Glazed Sweet Potatoes
Here’s a delicious alternative to the usual sweet potato side dish, baked with brown sugar, lemon and cinnamon.
See Recipe on About.com

biscuits

Buttermilk Biscuits
These buttermilk biscuits are light, flaky and rich with flavor — perfect for sopping up extra gravy or slathering with butter.
See Recipe on Cooking Channel

glazed-carrotsGlazed Carrots with Thyme
Cooking carrots in a bit of water, butter, and sugar brings out their delicate flavor and coats them with a thin glaze.
See Recipe on Martha Stewart…

 

chhesey

Cheesy Mushroom and Broccoli Casserole
Shiitake mushrooms, rice and broccoli add heft to the cheddar-Monterey cheesy goodness.
See Recipe on Cooking Channel…

garlic-mashed

Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Russet potatoes blended with roasted garlic, butter and milk and mashed to creamy perfection.
See Recipe on All recipes…

cauliflower
Cauliflower with Melted Onions and Mustard Seeds
Cauliflower may not seem like a glamorous vegetable—at least not when you steam or boil it. But roast it and it develops an unusual, delicate sweetness that’s almost exotic.
See Recipe on Food and Wine…

cranberry

 Bourbon-Cranberry Compote
A splash of bourbon adds a kick to this classic cranberry compote.
See Recipe on Real Simple…

ribbons

Carrot Ribbons with Cashews
Nuts and spices surprise the palate in this surprising and delicious dish.
See Recipe on Country Living…

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Fun Halloween Treats for Adults

Ready for a Halloween Party? Here are some easy to make appetizers to make the party extra spoo-o-o-oky. Kids like their Halloween snacks to be gruesome, the grosser the better. These are more classed-up, but still distinctly scary. Flavor without the gloop.

 

These first two recipes come to you courtesy of http://www.myrecipes.com/.

 

chzball-bat-bites

On the left is a delicious cheeseball shaped like a white pumpkin. Plenty of grown-up flavor there, with extra sharp cheddar and goat cheese. White Pumpkin Cheeseball recipe here.  On the right are Bat Bites, with two kinds of cheese mixed with pesto. Olives and peppercorns make the eyes, while tortilla chips become wings. Bat bites recipe here.

The incredibly creative Martha Stewart team gives us the next two adult Halloween snacks.

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On the left, we have Scaredy Crackers, made of puff pastry. They are cut into shapes, sprinkled with spices, and baked. Scaredy Crackers recipe here. On the right are some simple pumpernickel sandwiches, cut into bat shapes. Lots of cookie cutters would be a great prep for these recipes. Or make your own cookie cutters. Bat Sandwich recipe here.

We love these two recipes. One comes from delish.com via Food and Wine, the other from Woman’s Day.

3

Scallop-and-Olive Eyeball Canapés on the left are a simple sea scallop mousse cut into rounds and decorated with black olives. Scallop-and-Olive Eyeball Canapés recipe here. On the right is a scrumptious looking dish, little pie-shell sandwiches with ham and good cheddar. Pumpkin Patch Bites recipe here.

We can’t eat all that good food without a couple of drinks, right? Here are some perfectly ghoulish drink recipes that fit the day.

4

On the left is a Vampire Delight Martini from Magnolia Days. Recipe here. On the right is a refreshing Candy Corn Sipper. Recipe here.

Finally, we can finish the night with some slightly scary desserts.

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On the left, OMG chocolate desserts gives us white chocolate mummy truffles, more cute than terrifying. Recipe here. On the right, cute little strawberry ghosts from Taste of Home. Recipe here.

We hope you enjoyed some of our favorite Halloween treats for adults!

Melody, MagicKitchen.com blogger.

 

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Sweet or savory, muffins check all the tasty snack boxes!

muffins1Loved by all,  muffins are loved by kids and adults alike. Traditionally, muffins are usually eaten at breakfast, but this popular snack has evolved and grown in popularity to be enjoyed at any occasion.

Instead of boring old sandwiches, muffins are being packed in school lunches as a tasty alternative. Picnic baskets and coffee tables are now also offering this delicious snack.

This basic muffin recipe is easy to follow and easy to make, but the flavoring possibilities, be it sweet or savory, are endless. Enjoy the experience of experimenting with different flavor combinations. With so many varieties available, you are bound to find something to please everyone.

A basic muffin recipe.
If you are a newbie when it comes to making muffins, then this basic recipe is just the thing to get you started! Once you have successfully baked your first batch, you will have the confidence to experiment with flavors.
Ingredients-makes 12 muffins.

Serves: 12

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, or 2¼ cups pastry flour, sifted
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg (or 2 medium)
  • 4 Tbsp butter (½ stick) or shortening

muffins21. Preheat oven to 400° F.

2. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt.

3. Unwrap the butter and heat it in the microwave, in a microwave-safe bowl, for about a minute, until it’s thoroughly melted. Set it aside at room temperature to cool, but don’t let it solidify again.

4. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl and then add the sugar, milk and vanilla to the eggs.

5. Thoroughly grease and flour a muffin pan (or use paper muffin liners).

6. Pour a tiny bit of the melted butter into the egg-vanilla-milk mixture and stir it in. Repeat 3-4 more times, adding a slightly larger amount of the liquid butter each time until it is all incorporated.

IMPORTANT: Don’t add hot melted butter to the egg mixture as the heat from the butter would cook the egg, and that’s not what you want to do!

7. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ones and mix no more than ten seconds. The batter should be visibly lumpy, and you may see pockets of dry flour. That’s OK! It’s extremely important not to overmix the batter, or the resulting muffins will be too hard.

8. Gently pour the batter into the prepared muffin pan and bake immediately.

TIP: The dry and wet ingredients, respectively, can be mixed in advance, but as soon as the wet and dry ingredients have been combined with each other, the liquid will activate the baking powder and the batter must be baked right away.

Bake 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean

Adding some extra ingredients.
Your choice of extra ingredients must be thoroughly mixed into the wet mixture before baking. They should also be prepared beforehand, e.g. grating cheese or chocolate, mashing banana, finely chopping bacon or onion etc. If you find the mix is too thick, add a little milk to get the consistency right.

Some savory suggestions.( If you’re making it savory, cut the sugar down to 1/4 cup in the basic muffin recipe.)
•  Cheddar. Grated cheddar cheese, chopped herbs, 1 teaspoon mild mustard, ½ teaspoon black pepper.
•  Cheese and corn. One can of creamed corn, grated cheese, ham slices – chopped and fried if desired.
•  Feta Cheese and black olive
•  Prosciutto and Chives
•  Garlic & Sun-dried Tomatoes

muffins3Sweet options.
• Berries. Choose any berries you love!! Popular choices are blueberries and strawberries.
• Banana and bran. Add chocolate chips to banana and bran for something different and healthy.
• Chocolate chips. Add an orange liqueur to chocolate chips for a great taste experience.
• White Chocolate Try some milky, white chocolate chips or butterscotch chips instead of traditional chocolate.
• Nuts. Add a selection of chopped nuts to your mix.

These are just a few suggestions you can try. But the options are endless! Use your imagination to try out any combination that appeals to you!

Heather,  guest Blogger.

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How to make Butternut Squash Crostini

Today I am going to show you how to make a delicious appetizer. This is a great appetizer to serve because it is so simple to put together, you only need five ingredients and it is a really beautiful and vibrant bite to serve your guests while you are preparing the main meal. (Or reheating your MagicKitchen.com prepared meal).

List of Ingredients

1 lb. butternut squash

Sprinkle of salt

½ c  water

1 baguette, cut into ¾ inch slices, toasted if you like

7 oz  whole milk ricotta

¼ c of balsamic glaze

½ c toasted and chopped hazelnuts

crostini1

The first thing that you need to do is to prepare your butternut squash so start by cutting off both ends of the butternut and once the ends are off, you just want to cut through the length of the butternut, then you are going to take a melon-baller or spoon to scrape out the seeds.

Put the butternut on a sheet tray, sprinkle the tops with some salt and bake them in a 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes until the squash is nice and tender.

After the butternut is cooled, you can scoop out the flesh and put it in the bowl of a food processor. Now add a half cup of water to start and a pinch of salt, you are going to purée this until it is nice and smooth. If your butternut squash purée is a little bit too thick you can add a little bit more water to thin it out.

crostini2

Now you’re ready to assemble everything, Take a spoonful of the butternut squash pure, spread that on the piece of baguette, then take a spoonful of whole milk ricotta, add that on top, then finally add a drizzle of balsamic glaze.

Balsamic glaze is basically a reduction of balsamic vinegar, it is a bit acidic and it is much thicker and sweeter than balsamic vinegar, it is a really great ingredient to have on hand.

Then you are going to finish this with some toasted and chopped hazelnuts. The taste is absolutely delicious; there are so many flavors and rich textures in here. This is a great appetizer to serve with some nice orange juice or a tropical blend of banana and orange, your guests will surely appreciate this.

 

Chef Linda Rosario is a food blogger from Chef Needs, one of the trusted suppliers of unique bar stools. She also loves to paint and dreams of having her own art gallery. Aside from painting and drawing, Linda has a heart for cooking and food.

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Meal Ideas for Couples without Children

Shrimp Fettucini Alfredo for two
Shrimp Fettucini Alfredo for two

You could be a senior couple whose children have left the nest, or a younger couple who happens to be childless. Either way, it’s hard sometimes to come up with meal ideas that don’t leave leftovers. Here are some recipes and tips just for you!

  1. Of course the number one recommendation is to order frozen meals online from MagicKitchen.com. With the large and ever-changing menu, you’re sure to find meals you’ll agree on! Like us on Facebook!
  2. Here are some gourmet recipes for two: Food Network Meals for Two.
  3. On quiet weekends, you might enjoy these breakfast recipes for two.
  4. Trying to stay healthy? Here are some healthy recipes for two.
  5. Here are some different  healthy recipes for two.
  6. If you love to travel and want great recipes for two, bookmark this blog about food and travel.
  7. Enjoy this list of tips for planning healthy meals for one or two.
  8. Looking for vegetarian recipes? Look no further than this site with vegetarian recipes for one or two.
  9. Here’s a blog with Vegan recipes for two.
  10. Are you on Facebook? Get daily updates on recipes for two.

I hope you’ve enjoyed investigating these sites- happy cooking!

Melody- MagicKitchen.com blogger

 

 

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