Best Cooking Tips and Tricks — Cooking Guides


How to Make, Use and Store Broths and Stocks 0

How to Make, Use and Store Broths and Stocks

how to make broth and stock

Sure, you can go out and get some store-bought broth or stock for use in your next recipe. There are even “quickie” varieties you can make with bouillon cubes when you’re in a pinch. When it comes to flavorful broths and stocks, however, it’s hard to beat “from scratch” and homemade.

Great thing is, broths and stocks are really not hard to make. They also store well and can be used in a wide range of dishes. So, grab your stock pot (any large, deep-bottomed pot will do, really) and let’s get started!


Broth or Stock – What’s the Big Difference?

We often use the words broth” and “stock” as if they are one and the same. Truth be told, it’s perhaps only the most serious of chefs who would have a bone to pick with you if you used the terms interchangeably. Speaking of bones, by the way, they are exactly what makes the broth or stock difference: stocks must have them, broths don’t need them.

By definition:

A broth is the liquid in which meat has been cooked.

A stock, on the other hand, is the liquid in which bones have been simmered for a long time.

The definitions help to explain why broths and stocks differ in terms of consistency and flavor.

Consistency: Bones and their connective tissues have plenty (lovely) cartilage and collagen which slow-cooking turns into gelatin. This is why stocks are generally thicker than broths and become even more gelatinous when cooled.

Flavor: Stocks are traditionally left unseasoned, deriving flavor from the bones and tissues used. Broths are normally seasoned, have a meatier flavor and are great to have on their own.


Making Broths and Stocks

Not sure just what to put in a broth or stock (and what to leave out)? How about whether to skim or stir and the best way to cool the finished preparation? Read on, we’ll walk you through all the points you need to consider when making your own broths and stocks.

Ingredients:  Beef, chicken, fish, veal and pork are all regularly used in stocks and broths. Each can be used alone or in combination with one or more of the others. Vegetable broth is very common, as well.

For flavor, carrots, celery and onion are almost always added to stocks and broths. They help to add the savory, umami flavor that the liquid will impart to other dishes you use it in. Other often-used ingredients are leeks, parsley, thyme and peppercorn.

We often think of broths and stocks as a great way to use up leftover meat, bones and vegetable scraps. While that is true, bear in mind that undesirable ingredients will produce a low-quality brew. Using the best of what you have on hand (or at least those that are still in good shape) can make a big difference to the taste and nutrient content of the finished liquid.

Time: Stocks are generally cooked much longer than broths because it takes time for the connective tissues to soften and for you to get all the great flavor out of the bone marrow. Broths will cook in about a half or less of the time stocks do. Of course, in either case, starting out with cooked as opposed to raw meat or bones will cut the required cooking time.

Temperature: Both broths and stocks should be simmered. This lengthens the cooking time and allows for maximum extraction of flavors. Allowing the pot to boil vigorously will damage the gelatin and cause the vegetables and meat to breakdown, making the mixture cloudy. (That’s also the reason you shouldn’t stir the pot – just leave it to do its thing.)

Prep: Some chefs suggest soaking the bones for your stock in water to which a little vinegar has been added. This causes the release of minerals from the bones, making the completed stock more nutritious.

To get even more flavor, the raw meat for a broth or meaty bones for a stock may be roasted prior to use. The vegetables can be sautéed, as well, to help bring out their flavor. These two pre-cooking steps will reduce the cooking time, somewhat, as will cutting up the vegetables. Be careful not to cut them into too small pieces, however, as they will breakdown easily and cloud the liquid.

Skimming: While many recipes will call for skimming the “scum” and fat from the broths and stocks you make, it is really a matter of personal preference. Leaving the scum may make the final liquid cloudy and removing the fat will suit persons watching their fat intake. If you do remove the fat, consider saving and using it the next time you fry vegetables.

Cooling: Placing warm broth or stock (or warm anything, for that matter) in your refrigerator will raise the internal temperature, creating conditions conducive to micro-organism growth. Leaving the prepared liquid out to cool on its own is also a no-no for some chefs as bacteria may enter and multiply in it as it cools.

What’s the best way? Quickly cool the liquid in an ice-water bath in your sink and store it away in the fridge or freezer immediately.

What NOT to Put in Your Broth or Stock: Not all vegetables go well with broth and stock making. Take Irish potatoes, for instance. These are more likely to absorb rather than impart flavor to the cooking liquid.

Also, stay away from vegetables that tend to be bitter (outer celery leaves and turnips) or too strongly flavored (turnips, again, as well as artichokes, broccoli and cabbage). Very green veggies (such as kale) will discolor the brew. Also, bypass powdered herbs and go for whole, fresh ones, instead.

chili lentil soup

Using Your Broths and Stocks

Broths and stocks are super versatile and will definitely get used up pretty quickly in your kitchen. Either one works well for adding liquid and flavor to most dishes but stocks are best when you also need to thicken or add body to dishes, such as sauces and gravies.

Other suggestions:

  • Drink it as a warm beverage any time of day - with perhaps the addition of a little salt, pepper and crushed garlic.
  • Use it for braising meats and vegetables.
  • Add a little to the bottom of a roasting pan next time you do a roast to help keep the meat moist.
  • Use as the base for soups and stews of all kinds.
  • Pour it over fruits and vegetables in your blender. Blend to create a nutritious and refreshing drink or perhaps some homemade baby food.
  • Use it to replace some of the “plain old water” in recipes whenever possible, like when steaming rice, boiling pasta and making mashed potatoes – get creative!


Storing Your Broths and Stocks

In the Refrigerator

Your prepared broth and stock will generally last up to 4 days in the fridge. To extend this time indefinitely, simply boil, cool and store the liquid again whenever you get to the four-day mark. Leaving the fat layer intact each time will help to protect and preserve the liquid below.

In the Freezer

Broths and stocks will last indefinitely in the freezer. You can pour the cooled stock into ice cube trays or muffin tins and freeze them. Once frozen, remove the solid broth or stock and place it in freezer bags.

Make Homemade Bouillon Cubes

Check out this great recipe for making your own bouillon cubes. They are ideal for taking with you when you travel – just reconstitute with hot water. They also take up much less space for storing in the fridge.


Black bean soup

A Few Recipes You Can Try

  1. Chicken Broth

You will need:

  • whole chicken
  • onion
  • carrots
  • celery
  • parsnip
  • thyme
  • flat-leaf parsley
  • peppercorns

A whole chicken leads to 3 quarts of delicious stock, plus meat left over for other dishes. Place all the ingredients in a pot, cover them with water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and let the broth simmer. When the chicken is cooked, take it out of the pot, remove the meat and save it for use in soups, salads, etc. Put the chicken bones back in the pot and cook some more. Strain the broth into a large pot and set it cool in a sink filled with water and ice. You can store it in the fridge once it’s cooled.


  1. Pork Stock

You will need:

  • pigs feet
  • pork shoulder
  • chicken stock
  • water
  • garlic
  • carrots
  • onion
  • bay leaves
  • peppercorns

Pork stock is a common part of Chinese cuisine and has begun to grow in popularity in Western countries. This recipe uses pigs feet which make a wonderfully thick stock due to the large store of collagen they contain. You can use water to replace the chicken stock the recipe calls for but the result will be less robust.

Begin by roasting the bones and meat then boiling them in water. Add the rest of the ingredients and let the stock simmer for a few hours. Strain, cool and store your stock to use in dishes of your choice.


  1. Easy Chicken Stock

You will need:

  • chicken carcass
  • celery
  • leeks
  • onion
  • carrots
  • bay leaves
  • rosemary
  • fresh parsley
  • thyme
  • peppercorns

This stock recipe calls for the carcass of a roasted chicken so, straight away, you know you will end up with a seasoned brew. Place all the ingredients in a large pot with some cold water. Allow it to boil, then let it simmer for up to 4 hours. When your stock is cooled you can strain it through a fine sieve, divide it up and refrigerate or freeze it.




How to Beautifully Roast a Whole Chicken 0

How to Roast a Whole Chicken

by Jacqueline Samaroo

Roasted Chicken


Few dishes are as impressive to set on your table as a juicy, perfectly roasted and tasty whole chicken. Some persons, however, shy away from trying their hand at it, even when they are capable cooks who produce great dishes, otherwise.

It’s quite understandable why, really. When you roast a whole chicken, you can’t know exactly how well your efforts have turned out until you carve and serve it. Is it too dry? Is it cooked all the way through? How well did your choice of flavors work together? It can be quite stressful!

Luckily, just by bearing these few simple tips in mind, you can take all the stress out of whole chicken roasting. We’ll even share some mighty yummy recipe ideas with you – so read on!


Prepare Your Bird

For the perfect end result, you’ve got to start right. The first step is to thaw the chicken to room temperature. This can be done either in the refrigerator (will take up to a day) or in the sink in a pan of water (needs at least an hour per pound of chicken).

Once the chicken is defrosted, remove the giblets (that little bundle of parts you find in some whole chickens and turkeys) and rinse the bird completely, inside and out. DON’T throw the giblets away – they can be added to stocks and stews.

(Some chefs even season them up and set them to cook in the roasting pan outside of the chicken – they make great chef’s rewards!)

Lastly, pat the bird dry using paper towels and either set it on a couple sheets of parchment paper on the counter or in the roasting pan.

Raw Chicken Ready to go in the Oven

Choose Your Spices

Before adding your seasonings to the chicken, you have the option of first rubbing the outside of the bird with a little softened butter or olive oil. These work threefold by

  • allowing the seasonings to stick to the meat
  • helping the skin of the chicken to become crisp and golden
  • forming the base of a lovely gravy in the bottom of the roasting pan

When it comes to seasoning the chicken, some cooks swear that salt and pepper, applied generously inside and out, are really all you need. By just using those two, you get the natural flavor of the chicken shining through.

If you wish to add extra flavor to the meat, however, here is a list of spices that go well with your roast chicken:

  • onion powder
  • grated garlic
  • dried basil
  • grated citrus zest
  • dried oregano
  • paprika

Here is a simple yet scrumptious three-ingredient roast chicken recipe.


Basic Roast Chicken

Prepare the chicken by first removing the excess fat. Wash and dry the chicken, then season the inside with salt and pepper. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon onto the chicken and rub the juice into it’s skin. Both halves of the lemon go into the cavity before you truss the chicken.

Brush olive oil all over the bird and season well with salt and pepper. Set it to roast in a preheated oven and rest it for a few minutes when done. Drizzle the pan juices over the chicken when serving.

Once you’ve cooked a couple of roasts and have the fundamentals down, don’t be afraid to experiment with the flavors.

For example, to give your bird an East Indian flavor, you can use turmeric, a little cardamom and garam masala, plus some cumin and coriander. For a West Indian taste, try allspice, cinnamon, a little ground cloves and some dried thyme, along with cayenne pepper.


How to properly roast a chicken


Add Stuffing and Accompaniments

Stuffing the cavity of the chicken with aromatics adds flavor from the inside. Popular options include peeled and smashed garlic, quartered onion, chopped celery, whole sprigs of thyme and rosemary, as well as lemon halves.

Many cooks like to roast their chicken on a bed of roughly chopped onions. They might add some carrots halved lengthwise, chopped potatoes, garlic cloves and celery stalks, as well. The veggies multi-task for you as:

  1. a way to raise the bird from the bottom of the pan so air can circulate all around it and help to it cook evenly
  2. additional flavors for the chicken and the gravy that collects in the pan
  3. a tasty roasted side dish once cooking is done

Here’s an awesome recipe built on this idea: 

Sweet and Savory Viking Chicken

Fill the cavity with whole rosemary sprigs and a small lemon or clementine. Truss the chicken and prepare a bed of carrots or asparagus on top of chopped onion and fruit (such as pear and apple) in the bottom of the roasting pan. Season well with salt and pepper.

Place the chicken on top, then scatter more chopped fruits and vegetables all around. You can use Irish and sweet potatoes, mushrooms, garlic cloves and Brussel sprouts. Add a drizzle of olive oil all over and some butter on the chicken. Roast the chicken in the lower-middle of the oven until golden.

Rest the chicken for a few minutes, tented with foil, while you toss the fruit and vegetables in the roasting juices. Serve with pride!


Just some HD roast chicken


Time It Right and Check for Doneness

Cooking times for your bird will vary depending on a number of factors. These include

  • The size of the chicken– A large bird will require more time. Generally speaking, a three-pound chicken will cook in about an hour and 15 minutes. Add another 20 minutes per pound after that.
  • Cooking temperature– At high heat, the chicken will cook faster, allowing you to knock roughly 15 minutes off the cooking time. The chicken will also end up with a crispier skin.
  • Stuffing– Stuffed chickens will require more time to cook through. You will need to add approximately 15 minutes to the total cooking time for stuffed birds.

There are several methods you can use to judge whether the chicken is fully cooked. The safest way is a food thermometer that reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit when inserted in the thickest part of the thigh (not touching the bone).

Here are a few other ways.

  • Cut the thigh all the way to the bone. If the meat is red, the chicken needs more time to cook.
  • Pierce the thigh with a knife.  If the juices run clear, the chicken is done.
  • When the wings and legs wiggle freely in their joints, the chicken is cooked.


Rest Your Bird

Resting the chicken once it’s done cooking helps the meat to relax and the juices to redistribute throughout the meat. The chicken will also continue to cook due to the heat stored inside it.

You can rest it in the pan or remove it to your cutting board or resting mat. Place a loose tent of two sheets of aluminum foil over the chicken and let it rest for around 15 minutes before cutting into it. Some persons suggest tenting the bird in the roasting pan and placing it back in the oven. Just be sure to turn the heat off and leave the door open! This will keep the chicken warm while not overcooking and drying it out.



One of the best things about roasting a whole chicken is deciding how to enjoy the leftovers! From chicken sandwiches, to soups, stocks and salads, you have so many options that none of your delicious bird needs to get wasted.



How to Make Quick and Delicious Pizza at Home 0

How to Make Quick and Delicious Pizza at Home – From Crusts to Sauces to Toppings

by Jacqueline Samaroo

how to make pizza

Want to make something completely fun and easy for a midweek meal, date night delight or comfort food treat? Try a pizza!

Homemade pizzas are a wonderful mix of tasty and healthy because you are in charge of the type, quality and quantity of ingredients used. You get to customize it exactly as you like, enjoy having that awesome pizza scent waft through your house as it bakes, then slice it up and dive into its deliciousness once it done. Sounds yummy, right?

The “Crust” of the Matter

Well, let’s face it, as much as we’d all like to make, serve up and dig into a perfectly mouthwatering pizza, it’s really the idea of making the pizza crust that usually holds us back. We can’t seem to shake the fear that it just won’t turn out right and instead of being gobbled up, the pizza will simply sit there with everyone staring at it in hungry disappointment!

Keeping reading – we’re about to share some pretty quick and easy ways to make pizza dough. We’ll also give you some great tips to help ensure your homemade creation makes the urge to order in a pizza a thing of the past!

Technique #1 – Pizza Dough WITH Yeast

The basics here are simply water, flour, salt and yeast. Using just these four ingredients, you can get a pizza crust that’s sure to win over even the most discerning pizza connoisseur in your household.

You can, if you wish, add a little sugar and some oil to the dough ingredients. The sugar will add flavor, boost the activity of the yeast and help to tenderize the dough. Apart from improving the flavor of the crust, a little oil can make kneading the dough easier and helps to prevent the top of the crust from becoming soggy when the toppings are added.

Here is a 30-minute recipe that yields a soft and chewy crust:

 Quick and Easy Pizza Crust

Dissolve the sugar and yeast in a bowl of warm water and let it stand for about 10 minutes. Mix in the flour, oil and salt until the dough is smooth and give it 5 minutes to rest. Transfer it to a floured surface and shape out your crust. Place the dough in a pizza pan dusted with cornmeal. Add your preferred toppings then bake your pizza until golden brown.


pizza dough balls


Technique #2 – Pizza Dough WITHOUT Yeast

Let’s say you have a yearning for pizza but you don’t have any yeast and would rather not have to go out to get some. No worries, you can make an absolutely delicious pizza crust minus yeast using the all-purpose flour and baking powder that you most likely already have in your pantry.

Of course, if you have self-rising flour (so called because it already has the baking powder and salt in it) then that can work great, too. Also, you can substitute baking soda for baking powder and simply omit adding any salt the recipe calls for.

Here is a pretty fail-safe recipe you can try.


No-Yeast Pizza Crust

Mix together flour, baking powder and salt. Add milk and oil then stir to make a soft dough. Knead your dough on a floured surface and shape it into a ball. Cover it and leave it to stand for a few minutes. Roll it out and your good to go!


Pizza Crust Tips

Pizza parlors can make extra-large, thick crust, stuffed pizzas piled high with toppings and get perfectly cooked results with ease. When making pizza at home, however, you will have to take things down a notch.

  1. The oven at your local pizzeria gets way hotter than the one in your kitchen could ever hope to, so you will need to ensure your oven is quite hot before you put the pizza in. Most recipes will ask you to preheat it on the highest setting. Some suggest you preheat it like this for at least half an hour to get the entire oven hot, hot, HOT!
  2. Lightly sprinkle cornmeal onto the lined pizza pan. It prevents the dough from sticking, adds a little extra flavor and gives each bite a satisfying crunch.
  3. Go for several small pizzas instead of one large one.
  4. Roll the dough thinly so it cooks evenly from edges to center.
  5. Give the crust a head start. Roll it out and bake it first; add the sauce and bake a bit more; and then add the toppings and set to bake one last time.
  6. Go easy with the toppings. Overloaded homemade pizzas usually end up soggy in the middle.
  7. Changing the sauce you use on your pizza helps to make it new and exciting each time. You don’t have to use store-bought sauces either, homemade sauces are usually much better.
  8. Remember that pizza dough isn’t just for pizzas! Once you have mastered the dough that works best for you, you now have a wonderful start to many other pizza dough inspired dishes.


mini pizzas


Pizza Crust Alternatives

If you’re in the mood for homemade pizza and you want to make it as quick and easy as possible, then there is no need to make pizza dough from scratch. They are many alternatives that will work just fine as your pizza’s crust.


Try Something That’s Kind of the Same … but Different

    Who says pizza crust has to be made from flour dough? Enjoyable crust variations can be made from cauliflower, mashed potatoes (Irish potatoes or sweet potatoes or both), carrots, beets, grated zucchini and a wide variety of mashed peas.

    Many of these are super easy to make – just like this scrumptious sweet potato crust.

    Three Ingredient Sweet Potato Pizza Crust

    Peel the sweet potatoes and add them to your food processor along with some rolled oats. Pulse them until the mixture is very fine then add an egg, garlic powder and salt. Pulse it a bit more then shape it into your pizza crust. Bake for about 30 minutes, let it cool and then turn it over in the pan. Brush the top with a little olive oil and bake some more until crispy. Now, it’s just begging for you to add you favorite sauce and toppings!


    Go Basic

      Try pita bread, tortilla wraps or slices of French bread. Why not bake up a batch of waffles and turn them into personalized pizza? You can also cut hotdog rolls, hamburger rolls, bagels or English muffins in halves and use those as the base for small unique pizzas. Kids, especially, will love building up their mini-pizzas with their own choice of toppings.

      Slices of your regular bread work great, too! Just check out this quick video for “Easy Bread Pizza”


      Get Fancy

        Truth be told, you can build your pizza on top of practically anything, just as long as it’s flat! Some fancy, healthy and tasty ideas that are sure to surprise and please everyone at your dinner table include:

        • slices of heirloom tomatoes
        • zucchini rounds
        • butternut squash rounds
        • Portobello mushrooms
        • slices of eggplant

        Here’s an example of just how yummy these intriguing pizza base ideas can be!


        Mini Zucchini Pizzas with Pepperoni

        Start off with half-inch thick zucchini rounds. Rub them with salt and leave them to rest for up to 15 minutes. (This pulls out some of the moisture.) Wipe the rounds dry, place them on a baking sheet and start assembling your pizza. First on is pizza sauce, then shredded cheese, pepperoni, tomato slices and red onion. Bake it to melt the cheese and serve topped with fresh basil.




        How to Cook Quick and Healthy Stir-Frys Every Time! 0

        How to Cook Quick and Healthy Stir-Frys

        by Jacqueline Samaroo


        How to cook quick and healthy Stir fry

        Want to know what happens when you master stir-frying? Something wonderful! Suddenly, you have a sure way to get great tasting, scrumptious looking and healthy food on the table in no time flat!

        This quick Chinese method of cooking has spread across Asia and into the Western world. Many people embrace stir-frying as a part of their weeknight meal routine because it dramatically cuts cooking time. With a stir-fry, you and your family get to enjoy a freshly made, home-cooked meal even when you are short on time (and energy).

        Let’s take a look at some stir-fry basics and once you are ready to get started, we have some quick and easy stir-fry recipes for you to try.


        To Wok or Not to Wok?

        When you think “stir-fry” a wok immediately springs to mind. This round-bottomed pan is an integral part of the traditional Chinese stir-fry method. Unfortunately, woks with rounded bottoms don’t work so well at heat distribution when used on the flat surface of an electric stove.

        So, what the answer? Well, you actually have 2 choices.

        1. Go with a flat-bottomed wok. These are designed with high sides to facilitate all the quick and often vigorous stirring that goes into stir-frying. They sit nicely on a flat cook top, distribute heat evenly and do a great job of ensuring bits of food don’t go flying all over the stove.
        2. Use a regular skillet. Most persons already have frying pan, skillet or sauté pan at home which will make a pretty good wok substitute. Just ensure that it is wide enough to give the food maximum contact with the heat. It should also have sufficiently high sides to keep food in the pot as your stir.


        classic stir fry wok

        Tips for Stir-Frying Success

        Prep, Prep, Prep!

        In stir-frying, the heat is high, the oil is hot and everything cooks (and possibly burns) real fast. That’s why you have to be prepared.

        • Make the stir-fry sauce You can mix it in a bowl or shake it in a jar and set it aside. Give it a final stir or shake just before adding it to the stir-fry to ensure that all the ingredients are well-combined.
        • Have your vegetables, spices and aromatics (onion, garlic, ginger, etc.) ready in bowls nearby. For firm vegetables, such as carrots and peppers, cut them into small and/or thin pieces so they will cook easily.
        • Ready the meat by having it thinly sliced, seasoned if required and at room temperature if possible. Meat that is too cold will lower the cooking temperatures and slow the process.

        Use tender cuts of meat in your stir-fry. Beef and pork fillets are a good choice, as is chicken breast meat. Cut the meat across the grain and if you prep the ingredients in advance, then season the meat and allow it to marinate. This will help to tenderize it but you can also try poking it all over with a fork as a way to help break up the strands of protein and have the meat cook quicker.


        Choose the Right Oil

        Due to the high temperatures involved in stir-fry cookery, you will need to use oil with a high smoking point. Some good options for stir-fry oil are:

        • groundnut oil
        • almond oil
        • extra light olive oil
        • sunflower oil
        • peanut oil
        • corn oil


        Order Matters and It’s a Matter of Choice

        At the end of your stir-fry you want to have all the food sufficiently cooked regardless of whether they are meat, another type of protein such as tofu, firm vegetables or softer leafy ones.

        In order to accomplish this, there are different approaches you can try. In all cases, you will have to end up cooking most proteins longer than the vegetables to ensure they are properly done. Fish and most other types of seafood will, however, cook quickly and so can be added in with the vegetables.




        Technique #1 – In this method, the protein is cooked first and removed from the pan while the rest of the dish cooks. It is returned to the pan later.

        1. Set the pan on medium-high heat and heat the oil.
        2. Brown the meat or other form of protein, remove it from the pan and set it aside. If it is a little underdone, that’s okay – it will finish cooking later when you toss it back in.
        3. Allow the pan to reheat and add more oil if needed.
        4. Stir-fry the aromatics until their fragrances start to fill your kitchen.
        5. Add in the firmer vegetables and allow them to cook until near done.
        6. Return the meat to the pan along with the more tender vegetables and stir-fry some more.
        7. Stir in the sauce to thicken as it coats all the food.
        8. Serve with the garnish of your choice.


        Technique #2 – Here the aromatics are first in and first out. Next in is the protein which cooks while the other ingredients are added in stages.

        1. Set the pan on medium-high heat and heat the oil.
        2. Add the spices, garlic, onion and ginger. (Nuts can go in at this stage as well.) Allow them to brown then remove them and set them aside.
        3. Allow the pan to reheat and add more oil if needed.
        4. Stir-fry meat until it is opaque.
        5. Add the firm vegetables and let them cook for a while before adding the more tender ones.
        6. Return the aromatics to the pan.
        7. Stir in the sauce to thicken as it coats all the food.
        8. Serve with the garnish of your choice.


        Garnish for Extra Flavors

        When you plate the stir-fry, the garnish you choose will add an attractive final touch. Don’t just garnish for eye-appeal, however, as the right garnish can help bring out the flavors in the dish or add its own unique taste to the stir-fry.

        Here are some good stir-fry garnishes:

        • green onion stalks
        • cilantro (coriander leaves)
        • toasted coconut
        • sunflower seeds
        • peanuts
        • cashews
        • sesame seeds
        • maraschino cherries
        • hot sauce
        • tomato slices
        • carrot curls


        Here is a video of a yummy stir-fry that adds noodles to the list of ingredients.

        By including the noodles you end up with an easy, satisfying and complete one-pot meal. For stir-frys, the noodles are usually either cooked or softened before they are added to the stir-fry. You can have fun trying out the many noodle options that are readily available.

        So, are you ready to try your hand at stir-frying? Check out your fridge – those leftovers would make great additions to the dish. Grab them and get cooking!





        How to Cook Rice Properly Every Time! 0

        How to Cook Rice Properly Every Time!

        If burnt rice is a staple in your kitchen (it used to be in mine!) then this article is just perfect for you. It’s not just the burning you have to worry about either, as it often seems like cooking rice is a delicately balanced game of hit-or-miss (mostly “miss” for me until recently).

        Most of us have had the experience of cooking rice that is too dry, crunchy and undercooked. Then there are the occasions when it turns out too wet, soggy and simply unfit to be served. Frustratingly, these unpalatable results occur regardless of whether you use white or brown rice. Even wild rice (which isn’t really rice but a close enough relative) is a challenge.

        Well, no more! Here are some sure-fire tips and techniques for cooking rice – the kind of perfectly cooked rice that you’ll be proud to serve up with your next meal.

        how to cook rice properly - delicious meal


        Before You Begin – Important Tips for Cooking Rice

        • Quality matters – Whatever type of rice you use, start with fresh rice. You’ll end up with fluffier and much better tasting rice if you do.
        • Choose your liquid – Rice can be cooked in water, milk, stock or broth. So, aside from the water, you really have quite a good bit of options to experiment with in terms of the final taste of your rice. Try stocks and broths of different flavors or switch out regular milk for almond milk instead.
        • Wash (or not) – Rice bought in Western countries is most often pre-washed and has nutrients added to it. While washing will remove these nutrients, it does serve the beneficial purpose of separating the grains of the rice so you end up with lighter, fluffier and less sticky rice.

        uncooked rice - learn how to cook rice properly

        If you decide to wash your rice then two or three times is good enough. “Until the water runs clear” as some rice package instructions say, could see you washing your rice well into tomorrow!

        • Soak (or not) – Soaking rice has it place if you are cooking Thai, wild or basmati rice. Otherwise, skip this step unless the recipe specifically calls for it.
        • Salt (or not) – Adding salt to rice as it cooks is a completely personal choice. The salt will improve the flavor but some persons warn that it does have the potential to cause the rice grains to split, leading to soggy rice.
        • Butter – Adding a little butter to the pot gives the rice a nice creamy flavor, a lovely yellow tinge and helps to keep the grains from sticking together.
        • Size matters – … when it comes to your choice of pot to cook your rice in. That’s because rice swells (a lot!) as it cooks. Also, a large enough pot will give the rice grains space to move around and not stick or burn.
        • Other pot considerations – To give you a much better chance of NOT burning the rice, use a pot with a heavy base. The lid of your pot is important as well. Rice needs to steam and it can’t do that if the lid keeps letting the steam out! So, choose a pot with a tight-fitting lid. If your pot does not have a tight-fitting lid then place a CLEAN kitchen cloth over the pot before you put on the lid.
        • Take a peak – Yes, the steam is needed to cook the rice properly and when you open the pot you will be letting some of the steam out. It’s still okay, however to take a peak or two into the pot as the rice cooks (or you could use a pot with a class cover, if you have it).

        You’ll be able to check its progress and determine if the heat needs adjusting or perhaps you need to add a little water to get the rice to the right texture. Over time, as you become more sure of your rice cooking skills, you may find that you are able to cook a perfect pot of rice without a single peak inside!

        lovely rice - mmm


        How Much Water Should You Use?

        How much water (or other liquid) you add to your rice will depend on several factors. For example, if you prefer the finished rice to be on the moister and stickier side, then add more water. This softer rice is great for use in a stir-fry. Use less water if you like your rice cooked firm and dry or if you intend to use it in a rice salad.

        A big factor affecting the amount of water is the type of rice you are cooking. Brown rice will need more water to cook it perfectly than white rice will. The same is true for wild rice. Also, long-grain white rice will need more water than either medium-grain or short-grain white rice.

        Here are some good proportions to use:

        • 3 cups of water for one cup of basmati rice
        • 5 cups of water for one cup of white rice
        • 2 cups of water for one cup of brown rice
        • 4 cups of water for one cup of wild rice

        Basic Method for Cooking White Rice

        1. Wash the rice and place it in the pot.
        2. Add water and salt.
        3. Bring it to a boil uncovered.
        4. Once it’s boiling, reduce the heat and cover the pot.
        5. Allow to it to simmer until all the water has been absorbed (anywhere from 10 – 20 minutes).
        6. Remove it from the heat and fluff the rice with a fork
        7. Serve.

        Basic Method for Cooking Brown Rice

        1. Wash the rice and place it in the pot.
        2. Lightly toast it in a little oil (if you want it to have a more nutty flavor).
        3. Add water and salt.
        4. Bring it to a boil uncovered.
        5. Once it’s boiling, reduce the heat and cover the pot.
        6. Allow to it to simmer until the rice all the water has been absorbed (anywhere from 40 – 50 minutes).
        7. Remove it from the heat and allow it to rest for roughly 10 minutes (to fully absorb and evenly distribute the moisture).
        8. Fluff the rice with a fork.
        9. Serve.

        Basic Method for Cooking Basmati Rice

        1. Wash the rice and leave it in a large bowl of cold water to soak for 30 – 60 minutes.
        2. Drain the rice and place it in a pot with a little salt.
        3. Add boiling water to the rice.
        4. Once it’s boiling again, tightly cover the pot with foil and then with the lid.
        5. Reduce the heat and allow it to simmer for about 15 minutes.
        6. Remove it from the heat and let it sit for about 5 minutes before removing the lid and the foil.
        7. Fluff the rice with a fork.
        8. Serve.

        Basic Method for Cooking Wild Rice

        1. Wash the rice and place it in the pot.
        2. Add water and salt.
        3. Bring it to a boil uncovered.
        4. Once it’s boiling, reduce the heat and cover the pot.
        5. Allow to it to simmer until the grains are tender (anywhere from 45 – 60 minutes).
        6. Remove it from the heat and drain off any excess water through a strainer.
        7. Fluff the rice with a fork
        8. Serve.

        Check out this quick video for some more great rice cooking tips.


        Rice goes so very well with so many things. Once you know how to cook it properly you will be enjoying yummy rice dishes any time you wish!





        How to Make Quick, Easy and Appetizing Salad Dressings 0

        How to Make Simple Salad Dressings

        vinaigrette bottles

        A salad dressing is the perfect way to take your salad to the next level of yummy (and possibly through the roof!). It doesn’t matter if you’re having a salad for one or aiming to serve up an impressive side dish at a dinner party. With a salad dressing, you can add an enviable sweet, spicy, flavorful zing to scrumptious salads simply by following a few basic steps.

        Once you’ve got these basics down, you can easily play with the ingredients to create something different, wonderfully appetizing and totally pleasing every time!

        Salad Dressing – The Basics

        The simple vinaigrette is by far the easiest of salad dressings to make. All you need are two ingredients – oil and vinegar. Proportions traditionally used for a vinaigrette are three parts oil to one part vinegar. That’s a very flexible guide, however, and your final proportions will depend on your taste, the type of salad you are dressing, the oil and vinegar used, as well as on the other ingredients in your vinaigrette.

        olive oil for a quick dressing

        The Oil and Vinegar

        Oil – You have a pretty wide choice here and can decide to go with olive oil, grapeseed oil, canola oil, corn oil or any other neutral vegetable oil. Of course, you can select an oil with a stronger flavor such as extra virgin olive oil, which has a range of tastes for you to explore. Nut oils (roasted for extra flavor) are also bold contenders. Good examples are almond oil, peanut oil and walnut oil.

        Vinegar – Apple cider vinegar works very well and sweetly tart balsamic vinegar is another very popular choice. Wine vinegars are also commonly used, so feel free to try red, white or rice wine vinegar. You may also wish to try any type of fruit vinegar you might have at hand.

        If you are not a fan of vinegar or would just like to try your salad dressing without vinegar then simply substitute another acidic liquid. Just be reminded that, technically, without the vinegar it will no longer be vinaigrette! Citrus juices, especially lemon juice, work well as vinegar replacements. Wines are also good alternatives and using your favorite sherry or champagne is a great idea.

        Other Vinaigrette Ingredients

        Salt and pepper – These are added to enhance the taste of the dressing as well as the flavors in the salad itself. Some persons leave them out altogether which is quite okay, especially if components of your salad have already been seasoned, are salty or are spicy.

        Herbs, spices and flavorings –While the list is practically endless, some of the more common add-ins in this category are: basil, chives, cilantro, coriander, cumin, dill, garlic, mint, oregano, parsley, red pepper flakes, rosemary, shallots, smoked or sweet paprika, and thyme. Just as with the salt and pepper, add these to suit your own taste or to complement the tastes in the salad.

        Dried versions of herbs tend to be stronger so recommendations of the amount to use will usually be less for the dried (about a half a teaspoon) and more of the fresh (about a tablespoon, chopped) to each tablespoon of vinegar in your vinaigrette. Go lighter on the spices, using only a quarter to a half teaspoon of these.

        chili salad dressing

        Sweetener – Sweeteners do double duty in your vinaigrette. On the one hand, they temper the taste of the vinegar making the finished dressing less acidic and so more palatable to some persons. By lessening the acidity, they also lessen the amount of oil you use. This means the vinaigrette will have a lower fat content and be a healthier choice for persons mindful of their fat consumption.

        Among the sweeteners to use are white and brown sugar (brown gives more flavor), maple syrup, honey and molasses. You won’t need to add much – a good starting amount is half a teaspoon of sweetener per tablespoon of vinegar. Give it a stir and add a little more if needed.

        sweet vinaigrette

        Mustard – Change the consistency of your vinaigrette by whisking in some mustard (Dijon and grainy mustard both work quite well). The mustard turns the vinaigrette into a creamy and smooth emulsion while adding new elements to its flavor profile. At first, add just a half of a teaspoon of mustard for every tablespoon of vinegar, then take it from there – adding more if you feel you need to.

        Putting It All Together

        Here are 5 salad dressing ideas to get you started. Remember that personal tastes vary so experiment with ingredients and proportions. If you hit upon a combination you really like, you could write it down or you may prefer to play it by ear (or rather taste buds) each time.

        1. Lemon Garlic Dressing – Mediterranean

        Crush one chopped garlic clove in salt. This helps to ensure the garlic is fine enough to be distributed evenly in the finished dressing. Stir in some fresh lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. Try it on a fresh garden salad, bread or noodles.


        1. Red-Wine Vinaigrette

        Whisk together some red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, sugar, salt and black pepper. Slowly add the oil as you continue to whisk and allow the mixture to thicken. Try it on a bean salad, some spinach or tomato slices.


        1. Creamy Parmesan Dressing

        Here is a super easy version of the classic Caesar salad dressing. Use a whisk to combine mayonnaise, grated parmesan cheese, fresh lemon juice, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire and Tabasco sauce. Season with a little salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Try it on a Caesar salad or use it as your new go-to dipping sauce.


        1. Zesty Lemon Shallot Dressing

        Combine lemon juice, a minced clove of garlic, a minced shallot, some lemon zest, Dijon mustard, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Slowly add in some olive oil while you continue to whisk or alternatively while you combine the ingredients in a blender. Try it on fish dishes, salad greens and roasted vegetables.


        1. Japanese Restaurant Style Carrot Ginger Salad Dressing

        This dressing has a total of 11 ingredients. Don’t be fazed by that, however, as all you have to do is place everything in a blender and blend at high speed until smooth. Those ingredients are carrots, white onion, chopped garlic, white miso paste, raw honey, toasted sesame oil, olive oil, water salt and freshly ground black pepper. Try it on fish, steamed vegetables, roasted chicken or a green salad.


        Just to give you a bit more (tasty) inspiration, check out this awesome video of 5 delicious and easy salad dressings you can try.



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