Ingredient of the Week: Rosemary

Rosemary

Related to the mint family, rosemary looks and smells a little like pine needles. It’s an herb that I love to use in the colder months, because of its woodsy aroma. It is bold in flavor, which makes it a great addition to any chicken, pork, or salmon dishes where the meat tends to take on the flavor of the ingredients around it. It’s also perfect for more hearty fare, like roasted potatoes or in soups and stews.

Fresh rosemary is far more flavorful than anything you’ll find in its dried form, but dried rosemary is still great to have on hand when you’re in a pinch. Choose fresh rosemary that is dark green in color and without spots, as this indicates age and won’t be as flavorful.

One of the best things about rosemary is that you can grow it at home, indoors or out, and it doesn’t require much maintenance. If you already have an herb garden or are considering starting one, this is one herb that you won’t want to pass up for your kitchen counter. There are so many uses for rosemary, here are just a few of my favorite:

  1. Flavoring cookies – this one might seem like a stretch, but adding minced rosemary, lemon zest, and a little more salt than usual to a sugar cookie recipe is a serious surprise in flavor. The two times I have made cookies this way, I have eaten almost the entire batch by myself in two days. I don’t make them often, but when I do, they don’t last long.
  2. In roasted potatoes and poultry dishes, like in these recipes.
  3. In winter sangria with dry white wine, a few sprigs of fresh rosemary and slices of citrus. This is a great way to add a little something to a bottle of wine that doesn’t break the bank and for a nice presentation when entertaining.

Do you like rosemary? What are some of your favorite ways to use it?

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Anatomy of a Green Smoothie & Nine Benefits

Have you adopted the whole green smoothie movement? I’ve seen it just about everywhere online and initially was incredibly skeptical of the whole thing. But once I gave it a try (a few times, with a few not so delicious first tries), these green smoothies have quickly become one of the things that I don’t want to live without. So without further ado, here’s the Anatomy of a Green Smoothie:

Anatomy of a Green Smoothie

Many of the blog posts and pins going around on Pinterest lead me to believe that I needed to add bananas to make the flavors of these strange-looking smoothies turn out tasting any level of good. My body doesn’t get along with bananas, so I’ve been out to find an alternative that doesn’t include them. Really, you can use any fruit that you wish – this green smoothie is looking a little on the brown side, and that’s because I added raspberries. If you want a more “true” green experience, just use lighter colored fruits, like pineapples, mangoes, and of course, bananas.

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Ask Rachael: How Do I Properly Measure Honey When It’s So Sticky?

“Ask Rachael” is an ongoing opportunity for readers to ask any cooking or kitchen-related questions they might have. I answer every question I get and feature the most interesting ones here on the blog. Today’s question comes from Amanda:

When I use honey in my recipes, I always measure the right amount, but that amount doesn’t make it into the recipe, because it seems like half always stays stuck to the measuring spoon! Should I add more honey until it looks right? Or is there an easier way to get all the honey off my spoon without having to get in there with my hands?

honey

I love this question, Amanda! I know where you’re coming from on this one and have a fun and handy tip for you whenever you’re looking to use honey or any other sticky ingredient in your cooking or baking and want to be sure you get all that good stuff into your dish!

I have found that if I spray my measuring utensil, either a spoon or cup, with cooking spray or oil before pouring in the honey, that once I go to pour it out into a batter or sauce, that it will slide right out no problems.

This works on anything with a similar consistency to honey too, like molasses, any type of syrup, or even nectars (like agave nectar). You could even try it with measuring nut butters or condiments, like ketchup, mustard, or mayonnaise that tend to stick to the measuring utensil.

I hope this helps, Amanda!

If you have a cooking or kitchen-related question for me, send me a message here and I’d be happy to answer it for you and may even feature it on the blog!

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Interesting Food Links for the Week of 2/24/2012

I come across a number of interesting articles every week, some of which I share on Twitter and Facebook. Here are some of the most interesting from this week:

  • How to Make a Healthy Snack
    A good post on the importance of portion size of healthy snacks, plus a few good ideas for some you can make when you get a little snacky.
  • How to Make 15 Essentials for Quick Weeknight Meals
    A great list of ingredients and techniques to get familiar with to get those healthy and homemade meals on the table even on a busy weeknight.
  • 5 Reasons To Drink Lemon Water In The Morning
    In the summer, I’m an avid lemon water drinker. This post has had me filling my cups with lemon water instead of plain old water lately. Apparently there are other good qualities other than its taste – check this one out!
  • Balcony Container Gardening
    I know, I know. Planting season isn’t even all that close (at least in my neck of the woods), but I’m so excited to start a container garden on my very petite balcony this spring. I’ve been poring over blog posts like this looking for ideas on how to maximize my space and get as many herbs, and veggies on my patio as I can without taking up much room.
  • Can a Diet Clean Out the Toxins In The Body?
    An interesting article on cleansing and detoxification diets. Experts say your body does a better job of cleaning you out than any diet could. Do you agree?

What are some of your best finds this week?

3 Reasons Your Pantry Should Be Your Best Friend

Today, I want to talk to you about why your pantry should be your best friend. That sounds kind of stupid, right? But it’s true. When you’re busy and you don’t have a ton of time to get food to your table on a weeknight or you’re busy on a weekend and you come home tired and hungry, your pantry can be your lifesaver and dare I say it, your best friend. Here are three reasons why:

3 Reasons Your Pantry Should Be Your Best Friend

Reason # 1: It is your secret to quick-cooking meals

If you set your pantry up in a way where you have options, like proteins, whole grains, and canned vegetables to pull from, you can easily grab one from each section in your pantry and throw a meal together. You can create salads, soups, and even sauces to go over pasta if you have some canned or boxed chicken broth. You can mix and match ingredients over and over to create new dishes, and if your pantry is well stocked and well organized for you to work from, you’ll be able to put together meals in under 20 minutes. Read more about this secret here.

Reason #2: You don’t leave the house in order to eat something that tastes good

If your pantry is arranged in a way that works to your advantage and the ingredients you have on hand are ones that you actually like to eat and are good for you, getting a meal that is satisfying to you with flavors that you really enjoy won’t be a challenge. You can come home from that long day at work, pour a glass of wine, get cooking and have dinner ready in under 20 minutes! Cooking comfortably in my own kitchen without having to spend money and that tastes good? Sold!

Reason #3: It can keep you from your temptations

Yep, the big one. Whether it’s burgers, pizza, tacos, or something else, whatever that temptation is for you that you really struggle with, your pantry can be the key to not giving in as often as you desire it. My trick for avoiding temptation involves asking myself a series of questions before making any decisions. These are questions like “how long will it take to get to wherever I need to go for that burger (or taco or pizza)?” “How long will it take for me to make something easy with what I have on hand?” “How will that food make me feel later tonight or tomorrow?” After weighing the answers to those questions, I’m usually about half-way done getting the ingredients out to make dinner from my pantry and have made my choice.

Do you go to your pantry first when you’ve had a busy night? Or do you hit up the drive through or call for takeout? Will you take the extra 20 minutes to make something that tastes good and is good for you?

For more on how to make your pantry work for you, check out my 6-week e-course Kick Start Your Kitchen where I walk you through the entire process of revamping your kitchen to get it to work exactly for you and your lifestyle!

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