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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Great Ways to Prepare Shrimp

By Ryan Lacioca

Shrimp is a delicious seafood that can be used in a great variety of recipes, all of which are very quick to prepare.

The texture of Shrimp enables you to spice it right up or tone it right down. It is highly recommended by nutritionists due the healthy balance that is found is Shrimp meat.

I couldn't begin to go through all the recipes for Shrimp due to the sheer volume, I personally know of at least 600.

There are a few things that you should always bear in mind when you cook Shrimp. Cook it slowly until the skin just turns opaque, if you cook it for any longer it will dry out and become very rubbery. It will also lose its distinctive flavor. More flavor will be retained if you cook the Shrimp in its shell.

If you like your Shrimps to be highly flavored, a simple Shrimp scampi is delicious. You only need red and green peppers, olive oil, onions, garlic and parsley. This can be thrown together in less than ten minutes.

Another delicious 10 minute recipe is garlic Shrimps. Get together some parsley, garlic, lemon juice, salt and butter. Very tasty, very quick and perfect with pasta.

Another dish which combines the two is Shrimp Alfredo. This has pasta as one of its ingredients and is a complete meal. Just get the Alfredo ingredients and buy a ready made Alfredo sauce. This makes life easier and the dish even simpler to make.

When I think of summer I think of Shrimps done on the barbecue. This is another super simple recipe which takes no time at all. You will need basil, rosemary, lemon juice, a bay leaf and some garlic. From start to finish you are looking at no more than 7 minutes.

I hope that this article has erased the images of Shrimps only being cooked successfully by gourmet chefs in a professional kitchen. As you can see, it is just the opposite.

For more by Ryan, see his bead bracelets tutorial at

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

4 Cooking Tips Will End Your Recipe Guessing

Cooking is not made easy when you’re still guessing. In fact, guessing at cooking increases the stress because guessing makes you unsure of the results to come. I’m going to give you a little cooking help by offering some tips on how to end your guessing.

One of the reasons that you guess is because it’s hard to believe something until you can actually see it. But I want to help you to wrap your head around the idea that you have to believe it first and then you’ll see it.

Quantifying your portion sizes, temperature and testing are great ways to allow you to stop guessing. Let’s go ahead and look at how that might work.

4 Ways to quantify your cooking and eliminate guessing:

Cooking Tip #1: Temperature

Temperature is important in cooking. Some foods will make you sick if you don’t cook them at the right temperature. Other foods will be utterly destroyed if you cook them much above “medium heat”.

Use water as an indicator of temperature. Water evaporates at 212 degrees F, so if you are using a saute pan, if you sprinkle a little water in the pan and it evaporates, you know that the pan is at least at the boiling point of water. The quicker the water evaporates, the hotter your pan is. This works on the grill as well.

You can also test a small piece of your food to test for temperature. For example, maybe you’re going to fry some chicken in oil on the stove, but you can’t tell if the oil is hot enough or not. Don’t ruin a whole breast by putting it into oil that’s not hot enough. Instead, take a small piece of the chicken and drop it in the pan. You’ll know right away whether the oil is hot enough or not to cook your food.

Cooking Tip #2: Test a Small Quantity

Sometimes, you just need to test a small quantity of something before cooking the whole thing. This is especially helpful in roasting. I can tell you that when I had my catering business, sometimes we would have to make hundreds or thousands of crab cakes in one big batch. Well, we would take one crab cake, cook it and test it. This would allow us to make adjustments on the rest of the batch and make a superior product! Cooking or roasting a small piece of something is a great way to see if your plan is going to work without sacrificing all of your ingredients during one of your guessing adventures.

Cooking Tip #3: Portion Size

Get a digital scale and begin to understand your raw portions sizes. Let me tell you a story about how I discovered the importance of this tip.

• When I used to make spaghetti for myself and my wife, I would cook a whole pound of spaghetti, basically one whole box for the two of us. When we sat down to eat, because so much spaghetti was available, we ate more than we should. After finishing our meal, there was always spaghetti left over, we would put the leftover spaghetti in the refrigerator and a few days later throw it out because we wouldn’t eat it.

• With my digital scale, I started by weighing 8 ounces of dry pasta for the two of us. I cooked the 8 ounces and still had some leftover, so I adjusted it down until I knew EXACTLY how much dry pasta to cook for the two of us…5.3 ounces is our perfect amount. Knowing this finally made cooking pasta easy, we don’t overeat and we don’t have leftovers.

Understanding and knowing your portion sizes will also help you to not overbuy at the grocery store because you’ll know EXACTLY how much to buy of a product to feed your family for a particular meal. And make sure you stick to the portion sizes. If you’re cooking frozen shrimp from a bag and the portions end up leaving 3 shrimp in the bag, don’t just dump them into the meal and cook them. NO, you’ll be feeding too much to your family! Leave them in the bag and cook them the next time. You don’t have to “just make the whole package.”

Cooking tip #4: Test Spices

If you are making a pot of something and you need to add spices, don’t start throwing in the spices and guess what it’s going to taste like. Get the spices that you’re thinking about using and put the “concoction” in a small ramekin or a small soufflĂ© cup first. This will help you to know how the flavors work and give you the confidence that the combination is going to work.

So, by using these quantifying cooking tips, you can stop guessing at what’s happening to your food. Observe your results and purposely alter your steps for the next time. You will be amazed at how starting with these little visual cues can help you to stop guessing and be confident that what you see is what you believe will be true. This isn’t guessing, this is cooking made easy!

Chef Todd Mohr is a classically trained chef, entrepreneur and educator. Chef Todd's simple philosophy - burn your recipes and learn how to really cook - has helped many home cooks and professionals alike finally achieve success in the kitchen. Learn his 1 Secret for Free and discover how online cooking classes can really teach you to cook!

Related Articles - Cooking, health eat, healthy cooking, nutritious food,

Monday, March 29, 2010

Some Best Mashed Potatoes Recipes

By Ben Cook

In many homes, mashed potatoes are seen often as a side dish at the table. They go well with any meat, vegetable and gravy. The great thing about mashed potatoes is the range you are able to choose from. Simply by choosing a different potato, you can give them a completely different taste. There are many spices and other ingredients that can be added to the mixture to provide some extra flavor. Some individuals find mashing potatoes a straightforward task that is easy to do, whereas others put a lot of effort and time into making it to perfection.

Picking the potato of choice, is step one to creating a simple potato mixture. Some people enjoy the taste of red, golden, baking or russet potatoes used in their dishes. Depending on the number of people you are feeding you need more or less potatoes but normally for one family 5 or 6 potatoes is plenty. The potatoes ought to be washed or scrubbed and put into a pot of boiling water. When you place the potatoes in the pot, flip the stove down to about medium and let them boil. It normally takes about 30-45 minutes for the potatoes to become soft and prepared for mashing. Before you add something to the potatoes, you will want to drain the water from the pot. The potatoes can stay right within the pot, as you add the other items. Three teaspoons of butter and three/four cups of milk, is normally enough to get the potatoes started. A potato masher is required to smash up the soft potatoes and help mix up the butter and milk. When the mixture looks fairly smooth, you can add more butter or milk as needed. Utilizing more milk will create a smoother mixture, whereas adding extra butter will give it a buttery taste. For a richer and creamer potato mixture you may substitute the milk for heavy cream and by including in some green spices, you can make a big difference. Probably the most commonly used spices include, bay leaves and chives. They work nicely by bringing all the flavors and ingredients together.

For cheese lovers, there are many sorts that you would be able to include in your dish. Cream cheese comes in many flavors and may be added to give the potatoes a richer and heavier feeling to them. Shredded cheese could be added to the top of the dish, or blended into it. The cheese will give the potato mixture a pleasant color and some texture to enjoy. Half a cup of sour cream is another frequent ingredient present in potato mixtures, it also works well with any chives and bay leaves that could be inside the dish. There are many ways to have your potatoes mashed properly. Some prefer the steel hand masher, that presses down the potatoes and helps to blend in the butter and milk. And other individuals use an electrical mixer to whip up their fluffy potato dish. The mixer will give the potatoes a perfectly smooth texture but if you happen to like having a couple o chunks in your dish, then a hand held masher will do the trick.

There are mashed potatoes recipes for each ones taste and cooking skill. The key to discovering an ideal dish, is to test out a number of ingredients and experiment with potato types. Only then will you discover ways to make the perfect potato dish for you and your family because everyone's taste is unique and everyone will have his own version of perfect mashed potatoes.

Ben Cook uses different kinds of potatoes in the recipes he shares on his website. For instance - try his mashed sweet potatoes recipe or any other among the many recipes for mashed potatoes that are available. Don't eat plain taters, spice them up and surprise your family.

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