No-Fry Eggplant Parmesan Recipe

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Breading Eggplant Parmesan
Breading Eggplant Parmesan

Although eggplant is often considered to be a vegetable, it is actually a berry by botanical definition. I know, I know; I don’t get it either. Health-wise, it’s got a lot going for it. According to naturalremediescenter.com, ” It is said that eggplant may have effects in preventing and treating high blood pressure, high blood sugar and high cholesterol. Eggplant is rich in phenols which may inhibit an enzyme tied to high blood pressure. Thus eggplant may do your body some favors in lower high blood pressure.” And it tastes great. So what’s to lose?

This recipe is a meatless dish so if you are the kind of person who opts for a soybean-based burger rather than traditional beef, you can’t go wrong here.

Ingredient List

  • 1 large eggplant, sliced 1/4 inch rounds
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 oz. Marinara or tomato sauce of your choice
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil (add other herbs as desired)
  • 1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs, regular or your choice of flavor
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (more is fine)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (more is fine)
  • Optional: hot sauce to taste, added to the tomato sauce

Eggplant Parmesan Preparation

  • The first step is to “sweat” the eggplant rounds. Since eggplant absorbs so much water by itself, it is important to remove as much moisture from the rounds as possible. Do this by salting both sides and then placing them in a colander in the sink. Two colanders should work for one eggplant. Let them sweat for at least 2 hours. More is better.
  • Rinse the salt off and press dry with paper towels.
  • Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  • Apply olive oil to a large baking sheet pan.
  • Whisk the eggs in a small bowl.
  • Spread some panko on a dish.
  • One at a time, dredge the rounds in the egg, coat both sides liberally with panko, and arrange on the baking sheet.
  • Bake 9 minutes, flip the rounds, bake another 9 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and allow them to cool.
  • Lower oven temperature to 350°F.
Layering Eggplant Parmesan
Layering Eggplant Parmesan
  • Stir the basil into the sauce.
  • Spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of an 8″ X 8″ Pyrex baking dish.
  • Lay out a layer of rounds in the dish. Since they are round you can cut one up to fill the “gaps.”
  • Sprinkle with both kinds of cheese; the amount is up to you.
  • Top with another layer of rounds.
  • Spread sauce and sprinkle with cheese.
  • Keep layering in this fashion until you run out of rounds. The top layer should have sauce and cheese.
  • Bake for 35 minutes.
  • Enjoy!

That’s all there is to it! Of course, you can try different kinds of cheese. This really is a bonus if you are feeding picky kids. This no-fry eggplant Parmesan is very versatile for the adventurous cook. You might pair it with a Tuscan kale salad or homemade low-carb egg noodles.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Creamy Potato Gratin Recipe

Creamy Potato Gratin
Creamy Potato Gratin

This very-familiar comfort food is just as well known as Pizza Margherita but the following recipe for Potato Gratin is my take on it and I find it superior to the mainstream version. The name sounds fancy but in reality, gratin just means ” a dish with a light browned crust of breadcrumbs or melted cheese.”

Potato Gratin Ingredient List (use organic when possible)

  • Cooking spray such as Pam
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup mayo (I use the kind made with olive oil because it is more heart-healthy)
  • 1 tsp Himalayan or pink salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes (I leave the skins on for the nutrition)
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 3/4 cup chopped basil

Preparation Steps

Creamy Potato Gratin Preparation
Creamy Potato Gratin Preparation
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Spray the bottom of a 9″ X 9″ glass baking dish with the cooking spray.
  • In a mixing bowl, whisk the mayo, pepper, salt, cream, and cheddar cheese.
  • Wash and slice potatoes 1/8″ thick.
  • Arrange potato slices in the baking dish, spread on a layer of the cream sauce, and sprinkle on some parsley and basil.
  • Repeat layers as needed (you might have some potato left over).
  • Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour.
  • Remove foil, sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top, and broil until the top is lightly browned, about 2-5 minutes.

That’s all there is to it. Creamy potato gratin is suitable for a side or a main dish by itself. Give it a try; if you have any interesting ingredients to add, let our readers know in the comment section. Feel free to pass this recipe along to your friends and social media.


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.


Classic Beef Stroganoff Recipe

Classic Beef Stroganoff
Classic Beef Stroganoff
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What’s not to like about Beef Stroganoff ? It’s a timeless dish that won’t break the budget and is easy to prepare. When I got a hankerin’ for it yesterday I did an internet search and was surprised by all the variations.

If you are on a low-carb diet but are hankerin’ for something pasta-y and this dish sounds a bit too much, I suggest trying my low-carb spaghetti carbonara recipe.

In case you are curious — the Stroganoff (or Stroganov) family in 18th century Russia is mainly associated with the popular beef dish which bears its name. The dish likely goes back to a much earlier peasant favorite, but is now usually attributed to the household of Count Pavel Stroganoff (1774-1817).

Beef Stoganoff Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds of beef sirloin steak, 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced (2 1/2 cups)
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups Progresso™ beef flavored broth (from 32-ounce carton)
  • 1/4 cup butter (I prefer Kerrygold unsalted Irish butter but suit yourself)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups hot cooked egg noodles

Preparation Steps

  1. Cut the beef across the grain into roughly 1 1/2×1/2-inch strips.
  2. Cook the mushrooms, onions, and garlic in butter using a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Stir occasionally until the onions are tender. Then, remove from skillet.
  3. Cook the beef strips in the same skillet until they’re brown. Next, stir in 1 cup of the broth, the salt, and the Worcestershire sauce. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover the skillet and simmer 15 minutes.
  4. Stir the remaining 1/2 cup of broth into the flour and stir into the beef mixture. Stir in the onion mixture and heat to just boiling, stirring constantly to maintain consistency. Boil and stir for 1 1/2 minutes and reduce heat. Finally, now stir in the sour cream. Heat until hot but do not boil it. Serve over noodles and enjoy.

So that’s all there is to making classic beef Stroganoff. Like most of the recipes that I enjoy, it is very adaptable; throw in any extra ingredients or condiments that you like (I’m fond of homemade habanero hot sauce). If you like this recipe, please share the link with your friends. Enjoy!

Nutritional Information

Calories: 435Calories from fat: 295
Total Fat 23 g
Saturated Fat10 g
Cholesterol 115 mg
Sodium 620 mg
Potassium 560 mg
Total Carbohydrate 31 g
Dietary Fiber2 g
Protein 28 g
Click to learn more about revolutionary ThinMist!

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

How to Make Sauce Cling to Your Pasta

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Cooking pasta with the  emulsion method.
Cooking pasta with the emulsion method

Who doesn’t like pasta? Spaghetti Carbonara, ravioli, elbow, penne, and so much more. It’s comfort food, just like tater tots and cheeseburgers. But have you ever wondered why the sauce clings so well to restaurant pasta but when you make it at home it slides right off and puddles on you plate? The secret is the concept of emulsion. The good news is that you can easily make it happen in your own kitchen!

What is this emulsion anyway? In a nutshell, it’s when two or more liquids that normally won’t mix are forced to come together. For example, mayonnaise is an oil in water emulsion that is stabilized by the lecithin in egg yolk. That’s why you don’t have to stir it up. Peanut butter is another good example (except for the kind that you do need to stir). Now let’s learn how to apply emulsion to home-cooked pasta.

Easy Steps to Making Sauce-Clinging Pasta

  • Bring heavily salted water to a boil in an appropriately-sized pot. I like using “pink” or “Himalayan” salt. Regular table salt has all the minerals stripped out of it.
  • Add the pasta.
  • Do not cook it to the al dente stage; leave it a bit under cooked because it will finish in the sauce.
  • When you go to drain the pasta, reserve a cup of the water. Set the pasta aside.
  • Add your sauce to the now-empty pot. For every 3 ounces of dry pasta that you cooked, use 1/2 cup of sauce.
  • Heat the sauce to a simmer.
  • Add in any extra vegetables that you enjoy.
  • Toss in 1/2 tablespoon of butter (I like Kerrygold Irish butter but it’s your call). Stir in in until it melts. Repeat until you can run a spoon through it and see all the way to the bottom of the pot without the sauce quickly seeping back to fill the gap.
  • Add the drained pasta directly to the pot. Mix vigorously. This will further emulsify and thicken your sauce by grabbing bits of starch from the pasta; mixing your pasta and sauce directly in your pot instead of pouring sauce over a the pasta is the key finishing step to achieve that restaurant quality. Different kinds of pasta interact with different sauces differently. Some soak up more liquid than others. If your sauce is too thick, this is where you can mix some of your reserved pasta water back in, just a wee bit at a time.
  • Serve and enjoy!

I like to serve it with a side of Tuscan kale salad. Go ahead and experiment with making sauce cling to your pasta. Different kinds of pasta, different kinds of sauce; it’s an adventure.


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.


Enjoying Cold Brew Coffee Makers

Soulhand Cold Brew Coffee Maker
Soulhand Cold Brew Coffee Maker
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“Cold brew coffee” is a trendy item nowadays but the term itself is different from what it was back in the day. My mother used to drink it, but back then it was percolator-brewed coffee that had gone cool and then had ice added.

It’s something quite different today. It’s trendy and gourmet, in other words, pricey. Since it has been going mainstream in local grocery stores in the refrigerated section, and was so expensive, I had to try it. I mean, I’m a coffee fiend, right? Just see my post on making the perfect cup of coffee.

How Cold Brew Coffee Differs from Hot Brew

The first observable difference is that cold brew takes so much longer to make. It’s slow but if you are going to enjoy it on the drive to work, or sitting around in the home office, just start it before you go to bed the night before.

The next thing to note is that it can be strong and caffeine-heavy without the bitterness of a hot brew. This is because the grounds haven’t been hot-water “burned” which results in a cuppa where you can really get the true taste of the beans. It’s slow but the drip is just about one per second so the ice water really does have time to extract all the goodness.

How Much Does Cold Brew Coffee Cost?

The short answer is: whatever you want it to. What I mean to say is that if you have a quality burr-grinder and use whole beans anyway, your day-to-day expense is going to be the same. You should always grind whole beans as you need them because the essential oils that yield the flavor begin to degrade as soon as the grinding is done. This is why commercial ground coffee is vacuum-sealed. But, how long ago? How long has it sat on the grocery store shelf?

As far as the cold brew coffee maker is concerned, the cost is all over the place. The functional parts are negligent price-wise but it goes up from there. I suppose some people like to showcase their brewer as a work of kitchen art (and I can appreciate that as a woodworker) but I just want a good cup of Joe. So as a reference, the one I use (pictured above) is thirty-some-odd dollars, but the fancy tall wooden-frame ones with artistic looking flasks get into the hundreds of dollars.

What Coffee Blend to Use?

That’s up to individual taste and I would suggest experimenting. For myself, I use dark or espresso beans and set the coffee grinder to fine. I have experimented with pre-flavored beans. I have also added ground cinnamon and/or chocolate extract. I commonly add some fresh mint from my herb garden which is the perennial part of my raised bed garden.

Keep in mind that additives don’t always have to be just for flavor. Many also offer health benefits. The cinnamon and mint are good examples but I am planning to try some fresh-grated ginger in the near future.

The bottom line is that if you enjoy your coffee, a cold brew coffee maker could be just the thing during the hot summer months. For my experience, buying it off the shelf at the grocers is just wrong, financially. And doing it myself I can customize it as I like.


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About the author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.


Tater Tots Cheeseburger Casserole Recipe

Tater Tots Cheeseburger Casserole
Tater Tots Cheeseburger Casserole
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There’s something to be said for All-American comfort food. What could be more representative of that culinary niche than the humble cheeseburger? Well, this recipe for Tater Tot Cheeseburger Casserole fits the bill nicely, especially on those summer days when it is raining to much to go out on the backyard deck and fire up the grill. One thing it is not is low-carb.

You’ll notice that this recipe doesn’t really go into all the possible condiments and spices that you may prefer. That is because we believe that burgers should be individually tailored; make this meal your own by throwing in what you are craving. There are things you can add after the fact as well. For example, I’m fond of shaking on some homemade habanero hot sauce.

Ingredients

  • 2 lb. lean (at least 80%) ground beef
  • 1 3/4 cups chopped onion (1 1/2 medium)
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • 3 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (12 oz)
  • 1 cup Original Bisquick™ mix
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 bag (32 oz) Ore-Ida™ Tater Tots™ frozen potatoes

Meal Preparation Steps

  • Pre-heat your oven to 400°F. Spray 13×9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with your favorite cooking spray.
  • Use a 12-inch nonstick skillet to cook beef and onion over medium-high heat for 8 to 10 minutes. Stir the mixture frequently until beef is brown. Drain. Stir in salt and pepper and spread the mixture in the dish. Sprinkle mixture evenly with 2 cups of the cheese.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, stir Bisquick™ mix, milk, and eggs using a whisk until well-blended. Pour over the cheese layer in the baking dish. Arrange the frozen Tater Tot potatoes on top of casserole.
  • Put dish in oven and bake 40 to 45 minutes or until the potatoes begin to brown. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of cheese evenly on top of the casserole. Bake 3 to 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Finally, remove the pan from the oven and let it rest 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe Modifications

As I mentioned above, this is a bare-bones recipe yearning for your modifications. Although this is great for kids that are finicky diners, adults are more likely to tweak the basic. Here are some of the possibilities.

  • A layer of tomato slices between the cheese layer and the Bisquick™ mixture.
  • Jalapeno or Serrano peppers anywhere.
  • Powdered ranch dressing mixed into the hamburger meat.
  • Bacon (of course!).
  • And the list goes on…

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.


Habanero Hot Sauce Recipe

Habanero Pepper Plant
Habanero Pepper Plant
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This article was updated on 03/04/19.

I don’t make any bones about it; I like hot sauce and spicy food. I’m not sure if this is something masochistic or not–I try not to overthink it. We have a lot of hot sauce choices here in South Texas; we are not limited to the ubiquitous “Tabasco” brand. But I wanted something different. So here is what I came up with and I think you’ll like it too.

I have to tell you in advance that I am, as much as possible, a stickler for homegrown and organic ingredients (the photo above is one of the habanero pepper bushes I have been cultivating for the past year).

To be honest, I’m not sure about the name of the pepper. It depends. The one I bought called it habanero but they are also called Scotch Bonnet. Back home in Panama we called them Aji Chombo which is likely not a politically-correct term anymore so if you do not want to be called racist do not use it. Whatever you call them, they register, on the Scoville heat unit (SHU) rating, 350,000, which is 100 times hotter than a 3,500 SHU jalapeño. Hungry yet?

I am always looking for more seasoning and sauce recipes for dishes like low-carb egg noodles so here we go.

The Hot Sauce Ingredient List

I did a lot of research and took what I considered to be the best ideas for the ingredients. This is not to say that I plagiarized any other cook’s recipe. I simply developed my own and is quite simple.

  • 6 habanero peppers
  • 6 oz. balsamic vinegar (other recipes favored regular but I just prefer the flavor of balsamic)
  • Juice of 3 limes
  • (optional) 1/4 cup ground flaxseed. High levels of Omega-3 fatty acids is great for cardiovascular health.

Making the Hot Sauce

This is easy as well. Simply whip up all the ingredients in your food processor or juicer. I used my Ninja Bullet that I use to make spaghetti sauce, pesto, and smoothies.

To store the sauce I used one of those glass salad dressing carafes that you can find on the grocery store shelf. I haven’t researched it but I know that when I make hot pepper dishes like Panamanian ceviche I always have to use either glass or metal. It has to do with the acidity, hotness, etc. In any event, I don’t want to be melting a plastic container.


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About the author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.


10 Common Turkey Cooking Mistakes

Turkey for Thanksgiving Dinner
Turkey for Thanksgiving Dinner; YUM!
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It’s fair to say that there is nothing quite as emblematic of Thanksgiving as that prince of birds — the turkey. It didn’t make it to be the national bird as Ben Franklin lobbied for, but it did make it to being the savory symbol of one of our favorite national holidays.

That said, the preparation can cause severe anxiety. It’s far too easy to get it wrong; too dry, undercooked, or overcooked. Let’s look at 10 common turkey cooking mistakes.

Not Thawing the Turkey Long Enough

This is a very common mistake, especially for those first-timers. This mistake will lead to forehead slapping and a mad attempt to finish the thawing process in a sink full of warm water.

As a rule of thumb, allow one day in the refrigerator for each 4 pounds of turkey. Using this rule it is easy to determine approximately how long you need to let it defrost before getting busy cooking your turkey.

Over-Brining the Bird

Many recipes call for brining — soaking in a solution of salt and spice. However, many of the most available commercially-produced turkeys, such as frozen Butterball birds, have already been pre-treated with a solution of salt and spices. This is done in order to stretch out the shelf life, not necessarily to please your palate.

If you do this again (just because the recipe says so), you will end up with a salty bird indeed. Just check the label before you proceed. On the one hand, if the producers have already done it, you have less work to do. On the other hand, you can’t hand-pick your favorite spices. Keep this in mind when you are shopping.

Not Drying the Turkey Sufficiently

If your aim is a crispier skin on the outside you’ll want to thoroughly pat the bird down using paper towels before it goes in the oven. Drying the inside cavity of the turkey is also important but not doing so is also a common mistake. Generally speaking, having a well dried turkey inside and outside will yield a more evenly cooked and flavorful bird.

Cooking the Stuffing Inside the Cavity

Whatever Grandma told you, this is not the best of ideas. The main problem here is that to cook the stuffing through fully and guarantee that all of the bacteria inside the raw bird has been eliminated, you will need to cook the turkey for a longer period of time. The result? Dry, overcooked meat. Embarrassing, chef.

The obvious answer is to make the stuffing from scratch or use one of those basic boxed delicacies. I like to bake a loaf using my oatmeal flax seed bread recipe ahead of time and make it from that. Super healthy. Either way, cook it outside the bird. We won’t tell if you don’t.

Trussing the Legs too Tightly

It makes sense when you think about it; closing off the cavity means longer roasting time and possibly uneven cooking. Your only real limitation is the width of your roasting pan.

Not Investing in a Real Meat Thermometer

Sure, it’s tempting to rely on that little pop-up button thingamajiggy, but these are notoriously unreliable. These may be faulty and pop up when the meat is already overcooked. Since you’ve only got one shot at this, go ahead and invest in a real thermometer. You will get more accurate results and as a bonus, you dinner guests will regard you as a professional. 

Cooking at the Wrong Oven Temperature

We all know some cooks that recommend blasting the turkey at high heat (425°F) for about 30 minutes first and then lower the temperature. However, a low, steady temperature of  325°F from beginning to end is preferable.

Certainly, the initially high-heat method may take 30 to 90 minutes off your total cooking time, but remembering to reduce the temperature  is just one more thing to remember on what is already very busy day.

Not Allowing Your Bird to Rest

No, we’re not talking about letting the turkey take a break. Resting simply means taking it out of the oven when it’s done and simply letting it sit there. This should be done with all meats actually. With a turkey the recommended resting time is 15 minutes.

Why do we do this you might ask? Resting time allows the juices inside the turkey to soak back into the meat, instead of dripping out as soon as you you slice into it. This results in a moister bird. It’s still important to keep the turkey warm so tent it with foil until carving time arrives.

Not Preparing the Surface of the Turkey Properly

It’s not clear whether the Pilgrims did this step or not but things have changed since then. It’s not a difficult step; just rub the turkey all over with olive oil or melted clarified butter. The main reason for this is to ensure that the turkey browns evenly. Aesthetics is important; just ask any chef.

Not Inserting the Thermometer in the Correct Spot

You can’t just spear the bird willy-nilly and expect to get the result that you want. Your target is in the thickest part of the thigh, right smack-dab in the crease where it meets the breast. If your bird weighs in at 18 pounds or less, monitor the temperature beginning at 2.5 hours and every 15 minutes following that. For a turkey above 18 pounds, start checking at 3 hours.

Avoid these 10 common turkey cooking mistakes and you and your guests won’t have to be confronted with a foul fowl.

It’s true that stuffing is the most traditional side dish and that’s fine. But if you like to step out of the box and add a very non-traditional dish, you won’t go wrong with Spaghetti Carbonara.

If you are worried that your guests are getting too hungry due to the extra preparation time it takes to do it just right, why not put out an appetizer? I’ve found that Panamanian-Style Ceviche hits the mark rather well.


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Don’t Make These Mistakes Brewing the Perfect Cup of Coffee

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Cup of coffee and coffee beans
Love a hot cup of coffee!

Coffee; there’s nothing like it, whether when waking up to a breakfast of toast made with homemade bread, taking a social break, of settling a satisfying dinner. It seems so easy but many people make these following mistakes when brewing the perfect cup of coffee.

Using Water from the Faucet

Tap water can be full of impurities and various minerals. This is not to say that it will make you sick, but there is a strong possibility that it will throw the flavor of your java off and deposit scale in your coffee pot. Instead of using tap water, use bottled spring water or filtered water.

Purchasing Pre-Ground Beans

OK, in today’s busy world, you might not want to take the time to grind up some beans in the morning. Just grind it before you go to bed the night before. It will still be great in the morning. Why is this important? Many of the aromas contained in coffee are volatiles. This means they are in a gas form and they are imprisoned in the cells of the beans. But when you grind the beans, these gasses are liberated. Ground coffee from the store, whether it is Free Trade or not, has lost aromas 40 times faster than whole beans by the time you see it. This is why a home grinder is a must-have.

What Kind of Grinder? I’m Confused.

There are basically two kinds of coffee grinders, blade grinders and burr grinders. The blade models have just that–blades, similar to your blender. Of course they are the less expensive of the two.  

Burr grinders utilize two revolving abrasive surfaces (the burrs), in between which the coffee is ground, a few beans at a time. Coffee aficionados will pick burr grinders over blades every time. The reason is that that the beans are ground in a uniform size, the machine is sturdier and will last longer, and you have more control over your grind than you do with a blade. I use the Capresso 560.01 Infinity. It has commercial-grade solid conical steel burrs with advanced cutting design. And the price is reasonable.

Using a Cold Coffee Cup/Mug

This one is a no-brainer, right? There is no sense in having a hot beverage if you are just going to pour it into a container that is going to cool it off. So pre-heat your cup!

You can either pour boiling water into it or pour cold water into it and microzap it for 45 seconds or so. Either way you will be off to a good start. I once worked with a fellow who had a small heated coaster on his desk to keep his brew hot since he drank it sloooowly.

Not Using the Correct Sugar and Milk

OK, if you’ve made it this far in the article, you are serious about your cuppa Joe. There’s no point in not doing it right all the way. Now, I am a stickler about drinking mine black and strong but I realize that many of you like the milk and sugar thing. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that, as Seinfeld would say.)

As far as the sugar goes, raw sugar (turbinado sugar) simply tastes better than white sugar. As for milk, put away the skim, nonfat, or 2% stuff; it will just water down your brew. Instead opt for whole milk or half-and-half. It won’t add that much cholesterol to your diet. If that’s a concern, ask your doctor about statins. A good cup is worth it.

Storing Coffee Beans in the Wrong Place

A popular misconception is that the freezer is a good place to store your coffee beans and grounds. That might sound logical but it doesn’t work that way, no matter what Grandma said.

Ideally they should be stored in a cool, dry place. They will remain in tip-top shape for 1-3 weeks in your pantry if you should store them in an airtight opaque container. They degrade quickly in the presence of light, heat, or oxygen.

So there you have it. Following these tips will ensure that you don’t make the most common mistakes brewing the perfect cup of coffee. And it never hurts to buy organic coffee beans.


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Low-Carb Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe

Carbonara spaghetti may sound exotic but it is really a simple dish. This recipe is a variation on the typical one as it is made with a low-carb diet in mind. One of the things I like about this recipe is that it is open to modification if you feel like adding more spices, using a different species of cheese, etc.

Low-carb black bean spaghetti carbonara
Low-carb black bean spaghetti carbonara

I for one love Italian food. Homemade pizza always goes over big here and one of our favorites is Pizza Margherita. Of course there is always that debate over crispy or thick crust. That’s a battle I have yet to win, yet in the pursuit of domestic tranquility…

Speaking of low-carb Italian dishes, have you tried your hand at making egg noodles? Zero carbs with plenty of nutritional value is a good thing.

Ingredient List

  • 16 oz black bean spaghetti (this is what makes the dish low-carb; if that is not important to you use any kind of past you prefer)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup onions, chopped
  • 10 slices chopped bacon (nitrate free if possible)
  • 1 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 30 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 16 oz black bean spaghetti
  • Chopped parsley (you decide how much)
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Directions

  • Whisk the eggs thoroughly in a large mixing bowl.
  • Whisk in the basil.
  • Whisk in the cheese.
  • Put the spaghetti in a large pan, cover with water, and bring to a boil; stir occasionally.
  • Start cooking the bacon in a skillet or sauce pan; add the onion when the bacon is half-way done; set the pan aside when the bacon is done. There is no need to drain it.
  • When the spaghetti is al dente begin adding it to the egg mixture. Add a bit at a time while mixing.
  • Mix in the bacon/onion mixture.
  • Serve and top with more cheese and parsley if desired.

Did you make any interesting and tasty tweaks to this low-carb spaghetti carbonara recipe? If so, share with our fellow foodies in the comment section below.


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