Tag Archives: Kitchen

Hit the Beach With Arctic Zone’s Popular Zipperless Coolers, All $37 or Less

It’s officially beach season, and if you aren’t happy with your current cooler collection, Arctic Zone’s well-reviewed soft side models are all 20% off on Amazon this week.

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Don’t Miss Amazon’s Best Instant Pot Discount of 2018

If you don’t own a pressure cooker, today’s a great day to fix that, as Amazon’s knocked the highly-rated Instant Pot IP-DUO60 down to $86, or $14 less than usual. While that’s not as good as deals we saw late last year, including a nice $69 one-day deal, it is the best deal Amazon’s run on it in 2018.

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A Last-Minute Thanksgiving Guide to Everything You Forgot

Hosting Thanksgiving can be fun, but there’ll always be stress involved. Stress leads to forgetfulness, forgetfulness leads to anger, and anger leads to wine-fueled fights with your mother-in-law. Luckily, here are quick solutions to fix whatever Turkey Day gaps plague you, so you can avoid the trauma and drama.

You Forgot About the Appetizer

Sure, it would be great if you had remembered to buy endive and lovingly spoon little mounds of chevre into each tender leaf, but endive didn’t make it on the shopping list, and now you have nothing for your guests to nosh on while you wrap up the main meal. You could send your nephew to the store for a sad veggie tray, or you could use this opportunity to clean out your cabinet and fridge.

First, check your pantry for a can of beans, any beans, and whip up an easy dip. Besides beans, you’ll just need a little olive oil (a couple of tablespoons), some salt and pepper, and then one thing from each of the following categories:.

  • A Tablespoon of Something Creamy: Any kind of nut butter or creamy dairy product will work here, so reach for that last bit of sour cream, yogurt, cream cheese, or even that forgotten chunk of brie.
  • A Flavorful Pinch or Drizzle: Ginger and garlic are good options, but don’t be afraid to raid the fridge for flavorful one-offs, like miso, harissa, fish sauce, chilies, Parmesan, Worcestershire sauce, curry powder, or even tin fish like anchovies or sardines.
  • Some Acid: The juice and zest of half a lemon or lime should get you there, but you could also try a teaspoon or two of your favorite vinegar, or even some mustard, pickle brine, or juice from a jar of banana peppers.
  • A Little Bit of Something Sweet: Any kind of syrupy sweetness you have on hand will work, be it agave, honey, or maple, but there’s nothing wrong with using a little white table sugar or brown sugar.
  • Some Sort of Topping: You could grab whatever herbs you have leftover from other Thanksgiving recipes, or add some chopped nuts or potato chips for tasty texture.

Just blend it all together, top with your garnish, and serve in a bowl with what extra veggies or crunchy carbs you have on hand. (Send someone to the gas station for chips if you have to.)

Next, if you have any extra greens or vegetable tops lying around, go ahead and turn those into a pesto using a ratio of 1:2:2:8 (1 part nuts, 2 parts oil, 2 parts grating cheese, 8 parts leaves or herbs), plus garlic, lemon, and salt and pepper to taste. Carrot tops, random herbs, kale, spinach, and arugula can all be blitzed into this flavorful spread, and you can even use a mixture of all of the above.

Just take a couple cloves of garlic and give those a good chop using the pulse function on your food processor. Add two cups of green stuff, ½ cup of olive oil, ¼ cup of whatever nuts you have in your home, and pulse until smooth. Add a ½ cup of hard, grated cheese, squeeze in half a lemon, and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust as needed.

Finally, do not underestimate the power of ramen dip. Just grab a packet of the super salty flavor packet (any flavor except that weird cheese one) and stir into a tub of sour cream. (Top with scallions to dress it up.) Serve with chips and watch it get devoured.

Beyond dips, a lot can be accomplished with a pack of bacon. In fact, a whole slew of bacon-based appetizers can be assembled with only one or two other ingredients:

  • Bacon + Club Crackers + Parmesan: This is an old faithful recipe of mine by way of The Pioneer Woman. Simply top a buttery Club cracker with a teaspoon of grated parm, wrap half a piece of bacon around it, and repeat until you’ve gone through a whole sleeve. Bake at 250℉ for two hours.
  • Bacon + Brown Sugar: Toss bacon slices with brown sugar, lay them in a single layer on a parchment-covered baking sheet, top with another layer of parchment and place a baking sheet on top of the whole situation. Bake at 325℉ until crispy, about 20-35 minutes.
  • Bacon + Asparagus: Wrap a slice of bacon around a stalk of asparagus and bake at 400℉ for about half an hour.
  • Bacon + Pepper + Cream Cheese: Make a slit in a jalapeno or serrano (warning: these are spicy) and remove the insides. Stuff with cream cheese, wrap with bacon, and bake at 375℉ for about half an hour, until bacon is crispy.

That should take care of the snacks, or you can just do what my family does and buy a giant, plastic tub of aggressively orange cheese balls. That’s never a bad plan.

You Forgot to Buy Enough Booze

Maybe you don’t consider booze to be a necessary Thanksgiving supply, but I’d rather run out of pie than run out of wine. If you somehow underestimated the ethanolic needs of your guest list, don’t panic, you have a few options.

First, check out your liquor cabinet and see what kind of hard stuff you have lying around. You can make a quick punch out of almost anything, as long as you have something strong (liquor), something sweet (juice), and something sparkling (can be alcoholic or not). Feel free to play around with this to fit your palate, but I like a ratio of 1 bottle (750 mL) of booze:1 bottle sparkling wine:6 cups juice. If that’s a little strong for your taste, consider swapping out the champers for ginger ale or Sprite. Some combinations to get you going:

  • Grapefruit Gin Punch: Ruby Red grapefruit juice + Gin + Off-dry sparkling wine
  • Festive Cranberry Punch: Cranberry cocktail + Vodka + Prosecco
  • Rum Punch: Peach orange mango juice + Rum + Cava
  • Communion Punch: Welch’s grape juice + It doesn’t matter + maybe don’t actually do this
  • Beer Shandy Punch: Lemonade + Bourbon + Lager

If you don’t have time for even that, just send someone to go pick up a few cheap bottles of wine. Trader Joe’s, Walmart, and Costco are all good resources with knowledgeable staff that will help you get the most bang for your buck. (Depending on which state you live in, you may not even need a Costco membership to buy wine there.)

You Forgot About the Non-Dinner Guest

Beyond the main meal, it’s likely you’ll have visiting friends and family pop by sometime over the holiday weekend for coffee or cocktails. To make sure you have something to serve besides leftovers, hit the freezer aisle and stock up on these winners.

You can never have too much pie and, if you’re running low on pumpkin, you can always grab a Marie Callender’s Pumpkin Pie ($6.49)—for that classic pumpkin pie experience—or an Edwards Pumpkin Crème Pie ($6.49)—for something a bit untraditional, but very tasty. Both were ranked as some of the best frozen options by The Kitchn, and both can be found at nearly any grocery store.

But frozen pie isn’t the only chilly superhero, if you want to serve something that is just as easy but a little more high-falutin’, grab some frozen puff pastry. Puff pastry is a dough that can do both (sweet and savory) so grab some sheets and make one or more of the following delectable bites:

  • Super Easy Plum Tart: Cut pastry into squares and prick with a fork. Fan out some pretty plum slices and sprinkle with sugar and freshly ground pepper. Bake for about half an hour at 425℉ until golden brown, and drizzle with honey before serving.
  • Make a “Croffle”: Place puff pastry in your waffle iron and crisp it up. Serve with Nutella and strawberries.
  • Savory Cheese Straws: Mix a cup of grated parmesan, a teaspoon of garlic powder, and a teaspoon of paprika together in a bowl. Cut puff pastry into strips and twist to form straws. Brush straws with egg wash and dredge through cheese mixture to coat and bake for about ten minutes at 425℉ until golden brown.

If the holiday has left you too tired to cook, just put a pot of coffee on and set out some sweet, seasonal liqueurs like peppermint mocha Kahlua, Frangelico, or Bailey’s. No one will be angry about that.

You Forgot to Make Name Cards or a Centerpiece

No one has ever said “You know, that was a nice dinner, and the turkey was superb, but I just can’t get over the lack of festive name cards and/or centerpiece.” No one has ever said that because no one gives a damn about tablescaping, which means you don’t have to worry about forgetting them. If, however, you want to give your guests a conversation jumping off point, consider printing out these festive Thanksgiving Mad Libs.

This will hopefully stimulate pleasant, non-political conversation at the dinner table. If that doesn’t work, scroll back up to section two of this article and pick a punch. (Communion punch is your nuclear option.)

Illustration by Sam Woolley. Photos by Didriks, Isaac Wedin, and Iris.

A Last-Minute Thanksgiving Guide to Everything You Forgot

Hosting Thanksgiving can be fun, but there’ll always be stress involved. Stress leads to forgetfulness, forgetfulness leads to anger, and anger leads to wine-fueled fights with your mother-in-law. Luckily, here are quick solutions to fix whatever Turkey Day gaps plague you, so you can avoid the trauma and drama.

You Forgot About the Appetizer

Sure, it would be great if you had remembered to buy endive and lovingly spoon little mounds of chevre into each tender leaf, but endive didn’t make it on the shopping list, and now you have nothing for your guests to nosh on while you wrap up the main meal. You could send your nephew to the store for a sad veggie tray, or you could use this opportunity to clean out your cabinet and fridge.

First, check your pantry for a can of beans, any beans, and whip up an easy dip. Besides beans, you’ll just need a little olive oil (a couple of tablespoons), some salt and pepper, and then one thing from each of the following categories:.

  • A Tablespoon of Something Creamy: Any kind of nut butter or creamy dairy product will work here, so reach for that last bit of sour cream, yogurt, cream cheese, or even that forgotten chunk of brie.
  • A Flavorful Pinch or Drizzle: Ginger and garlic are good options, but don’t be afraid to raid the fridge for flavorful one-offs, like miso, harissa, fish sauce, chilies, Parmesan, Worcestershire sauce, curry powder, or even tin fish like anchovies or sardines.
  • Some Acid: The juice and zest of half a lemon or lime should get you there, but you could also try a teaspoon or two of your favorite vinegar, or even some mustard, pickle brine, or juice from a jar of banana peppers.
  • A Little Bit of Something Sweet: Any kind of syrupy sweetness you have on hand will work, be it agave, honey, or maple, but there’s nothing wrong with using a little white table sugar or brown sugar.
  • Some Sort of Topping: You could grab whatever herbs you have leftover from other Thanksgiving recipes, or add some chopped nuts or potato chips for tasty texture.

Just blend it all together, top with your garnish, and serve in a bowl with what extra veggies or crunchy carbs you have on hand. (Send someone to the gas station for chips if you have to.)

Next, if you have any extra greens or vegetable tops lying around, go ahead and turn those into a pesto using a ratio of 1:2:2:8 (1 part nuts, 2 parts oil, 2 parts grating cheese, 8 parts leaves or herbs), plus garlic, lemon, and salt and pepper to taste. Carrot tops, random herbs, kale, spinach, and arugula can all be blitzed into this flavorful spread, and you can even use a mixture of all of the above.

Just take a couple cloves of garlic and give those a good chop using the pulse function on your food processor. Add two cups of green stuff, ½ cup of olive oil, ¼ cup of whatever nuts you have in your home, and pulse until smooth. Add a ½ cup of hard, grated cheese, squeeze in half a lemon, and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust as needed.

Finally, do not underestimate the power of ramen dip. Just grab a packet of the super salty flavor packet (any flavor except that weird cheese one) and stir into a tub of sour cream. (Top with scallions to dress it up.) Serve with chips and watch it get devoured.

Beyond dips, a lot can be accomplished with a pack of bacon. In fact, a whole slew of bacon-based appetizers can be assembled with only one or two other ingredients:

  • Bacon + Club Crackers + Parmesan: This is an old faithful recipe of mine by way of The Pioneer Woman. Simply top a buttery Club cracker with a teaspoon of grated parm, wrap half a piece of bacon around it, and repeat until you’ve gone through a whole sleeve. Bake at 250℉ for two hours.
  • Bacon + Brown Sugar: Toss bacon slices with brown sugar, lay them in a single layer on a parchment-covered baking sheet, top with another layer of parchment and place a baking sheet on top of the whole situation. Bake at 325℉ until crispy, about 20-35 minutes.
  • Bacon + Asparagus: Wrap a slice of bacon around a stalk of asparagus and bake at 400℉ for about half an hour.
  • Bacon + Pepper + Cream Cheese: Make a slit in a jalapeno or serrano (warning: these are spicy) and remove the insides. Stuff with cream cheese, wrap with bacon, and bake at 375℉ for about half an hour, until bacon is crispy.

That should take care of the snacks, or you can just do what my family does and buy a giant, plastic tub of aggressively orange cheese balls. That’s never a bad plan.

You Forgot to Buy Enough Booze

Maybe you don’t consider booze to be a necessary Thanksgiving supply, but I’d rather run out of pie than run out of wine. If you somehow underestimated the ethanolic needs of your guest list, don’t panic, you have a few options.

First, check out your liquor cabinet and see what kind of hard stuff you have lying around. You can make a quick punch out of almost anything, as long as you have something strong (liquor), something sweet (juice), and something sparkling (can be alcoholic or not). Feel free to play around with this to fit your palate, but I like a ratio of 1 bottle (750 mL) of booze:1 bottle sparkling wine:6 cups juice. If that’s a little strong for your taste, consider swapping out the champers for ginger ale or Sprite. Some combinations to get you going:

  • Grapefruit Gin Punch: Ruby Red grapefruit juice + Gin + Off-dry sparkling wine
  • Festive Cranberry Punch: Cranberry cocktail + Vodka + Prosecco
  • Rum Punch: Peach orange mango juice + Rum + Cava
  • Communion Punch: Welch’s grape juice + It doesn’t matter + maybe don’t actually do this
  • Beer Shandy Punch: Lemonade + Bourbon + Lager

If you don’t have time for even that, just send someone to go pick up a few cheap bottles of wine. Trader Joe’s, Walmart, and Costco are all good resources with knowledgeable staff that will help you get the most bang for your buck. (Depending on which state you live in, you may not even need a Costco membership to buy wine there.)

You Forgot About the Non-Dinner Guest

Beyond the main meal, it’s likely you’ll have visiting friends and family pop by sometime over the holiday weekend for coffee or cocktails. To make sure you have something to serve besides leftovers, hit the freezer aisle and stock up on these winners.

You can never have too much pie and, if you’re running low on pumpkin, you can always grab a Marie Callender’s Pumpkin Pie ($6.49)—for that classic pumpkin pie experience—or an Edwards Pumpkin Crème Pie ($6.49)—for something a bit untraditional, but very tasty. Both were ranked as some of the best frozen options by The Kitchn, and both can be found at nearly any grocery store.

But frozen pie isn’t the only chilly superhero, if you want to serve something that is just as easy but a little more high-falutin’, grab some frozen puff pastry. Puff pastry is a dough that can do both (sweet and savory) so grab some sheets and make one or more of the following delectable bites:

  • Super Easy Plum Tart: Cut pastry into squares and prick with a fork. Fan out some pretty plum slices and sprinkle with sugar and freshly ground pepper. Bake for about half an hour at 425℉ until golden brown, and drizzle with honey before serving.
  • Make a “Croffle”: Place puff pastry in your waffle iron and crisp it up. Serve with Nutella and strawberries.
  • Savory Cheese Straws: Mix a cup of grated parmesan, a teaspoon of garlic powder, and a teaspoon of paprika together in a bowl. Cut puff pastry into strips and twist to form straws. Brush straws with egg wash and dredge through cheese mixture to coat and bake for about ten minutes at 425℉ until golden brown.

If the holiday has left you too tired to cook, just put a pot of coffee on and set out some sweet, seasonal liqueurs like peppermint mocha Kahlua, Frangelico, or Bailey’s. No one will be angry about that.

You Forgot to Make Name Cards or a Centerpiece

No one has ever said “You know, that was a nice dinner, and the turkey was superb, but I just can’t get over the lack of festive name cards and/or centerpiece.” No one has ever said that because no one gives a damn about tablescaping, which means you don’t have to worry about forgetting them. If, however, you want to give your guests a conversation jumping off point, consider printing out these festive Thanksgiving Mad Libs.

This will hopefully stimulate pleasant, non-political conversation at the dinner table. If that doesn’t work, scroll back up to section two of this article and pick a punch. (Communion punch is your nuclear option.)

Illustration by Sam Woolley. Photos by Didriks, Isaac Wedin, and Iris.

Poach Sausages Before Grilling for Perfect Char and Juicy Meat

Poach Sausages Before Grilling for Perfect Char and Juicy Meat

Grilling meat like sausages can be tricky—you want that delicious caramelization on the outside, but still want juicy, succulent meat inside. The Kitchn has a simple solution: poach your sausages before throwing them on the grill. It’s key to keeping them juicy and getting a perfect char every time.

If you want to make it easier to put the sausages on the grill after poaching, or don’t want to have to keep an eye on both the stove and your grill, you can poach the sausages directly on the grill. By poaching the sausages before grilling, you cook them through just a bit, which means you can pull them off the grill when they’re perfect on the outside rather than waiting for the inside to finish cooking. This also means they won’t have to sit on the grill as long, so the inside will retain more moisture and be juicier.

A Smart Tip for Good Grilled Sausages | The Kitchn

Image from philandpam.

What to Look for When Shopping for a Digital Kitchen Scale

A digital kitchen scale is an essential tool for anybody that likes to cook or bake. They provide accuracy for making your recipes more reliable and easy to cook. If you’re in the market for one, these are the qualities you should look for.

In this video from the America’s Test Kitchen YouTube channel, chef Lisa McManus reviews the best kitchen scales out there (you can find a complete list here). Based on their results, a good digital kitchen scale should be:

  • Accurate: If it’s not accurate, it’s useless. Fortunately, every scale they tested with lab-calibrated weights scored well.
  • Easy to use: You should be able to switch from grams to ounces quickly, and the controls should be intuitive and easy to access.
  • Legible: The digital display should be large, use big digits, have sharp color contrast, and a backlight option. Also, a large bowl shouldn’t completely obscure the screen.
  • Durable: You should be able to plop your scale on the counter without it being damaged.
  • Easy to clean: The scale should have a removable platform for easy cleanup, and the scale shouldn’t have nooks and crannies that easily trap food and water residue.

So what was their top pick? They went with the OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale with Pull-Out Display which runs for $50, followed by the Ozeri Pronto Digital Multifunction Kitchen and Food Scale as a best buy option for about $12.

http://lifehacker.com/5840209/why-yo…

Equipment Review: Best Digital Kitchen Scales | YouTube

The Best Way to Load Your Dishwasher Is Buried In Its Manual

The Best Way to Load Your Dishwasher Is Buried In Its Manual

People fight over the best way to load the dishwasher. Forks with tines up or down, pots on the top or bottom—luckily, it’s all meaningless. Your specific model probably has a “right way,” and it’s buried in the back of its owner’s manual.

http://lifehacker.com/5833663/how-to…

Checking the user manual seems like a no-brainer, but with something as easy to use (or that was pre-installed when you moved in) as a dishwasher, you may have never seen it, much less read it yourself. For example, Kenmore’s manual shows you how to use the angled sides on the top rack to prevent those pools of standing water on the tops of your coffee mugs, and the best way to space out dishes on the bottom rack to make sure each one gets properly washed. If you no longer have your dishwasher manual, you can always Google the brand and model number to find a digital version, someone’s definitely scanned it, or the official one may still be available as a PDF from the manufacturer’s site.

The Correct Way to Load Dishes for Every Major Dishwasher Brand, As Shown In Their Manuals | The Kitchn

Image from Matthew Paul Argall.

Why It’s So Hard to Overcook Mushrooms

It’s easy to overcook most ingredients like meats, vegetables, and even pasta. Mushrooms, however, are so resilient even novice cooks can master them with ease. Here’s why they’re the most forgiving ingredient in the kitchen.

In this video from the America’s Test Kitchen YouTube channel, chef Dan Souza uses tests to show why mushrooms are one of the easiest ingredients to work with in the kitchen. Using a machine called a CT3 Texture Analyzer, they measured the toughness of steak, zucchini, and portobello mushrooms while being steamed. Over the course of 40 minutes, the steak got 293% tougher, the zucchini became mushy and structureless, but the portobello only increased in firmness 57% (and remained flavorful to testers). So why is overcooking mushrooms so difficult? It has to do with their cell walls that are made of a polymer called chitin. Neither the protein found in meat or pectin found in vegetables is heat-stable, but chitin is. No matter how you prepare your mushrooms—a quick sauté or a long roast—you’re almost guaranteed to end up with a great tasting, perfectly tender ingredient.

http://skillet.lifehacker.com/heres-the-righ…

Science: Why You Literally Can’t Overcook Mushrooms | YouTube

Why It’s So Hard to Overcook Mushrooms

It’s easy to overcook most ingredients like meats, vegetables, and even pasta. Mushrooms, however, are so resilient even novice cooks can master them with ease. Here’s why they’re the most forgiving ingredient in the kitchen.

In this video from the America’s Test Kitchen YouTube channel, chef Dan Souza uses tests to show why mushrooms are one of the easiest ingredients to work with in the kitchen. Using a machine called a CT3 Texture Analyzer, they measured the toughness of steak, zucchini, and portobello mushrooms while being steamed. Over the course of 40 minutes, the steak got 293% tougher, the zucchini became mushy and structureless, but the portobello only increased in firmness 57% (and remained flavorful to testers). So why is overcooking mushrooms so difficult? It has to do with their cell walls that are made of a polymer called chitin. Neither the protein found in meat or pectin found in vegetables is heat-stable, but chitin is. No matter how you prepare your mushrooms—a quick sauté or a long roast—you’re almost guaranteed to end up with a great tasting, perfectly tender ingredient.

http://skillet.lifehacker.com/heres-the-righ…

Science: Why You Literally Can’t Overcook Mushrooms | YouTube

Why It’s So Hard to Overcook Mushrooms

It’s easy to overcook most ingredients like meats, vegetables, and even pasta. Mushrooms, however, are so resilient even novice cooks can master them with ease. Here’s why they’re the most forgiving ingredient in the kitchen.

In this video from the America’s Test Kitchen YouTube channel, chef Dan Souza uses tests to show why mushrooms are one of the easiest ingredients to work with in the kitchen. Using a machine called a CT3 Texture Analyzer, they measured the toughness of steak, zucchini, and portobello mushrooms while being steamed. Over the course of 40 minutes, the steak got 293% tougher, the zucchini became mushy and structureless, but the portobello only increased in firmness 57% (and remained flavorful to testers). So why is overcooking mushrooms so difficult? It has to do with their cell walls that are made of a polymer called chitin. Neither the protein found in meat or pectin found in vegetables is heat-stable, but chitin is. No matter how you prepare your mushrooms—a quick sauté or a long roast—you’re almost guaranteed to end up with a great tasting, perfectly tender ingredient.

http://skillet.lifehacker.com/heres-the-righ…

Science: Why You Literally Can’t Overcook Mushrooms | YouTube