There is a true intimidation factor in cooking for some people—I get the emails from them so I know this is true. For me, having grown up in a home with parents who cooked, rarely eating out, I learned how to navigate my way in a kitchen early on.
It was (being honest here) a bit of surprise when I first started my website back in 2001 to learn that not everyone knew how to chop an onion. The cooking terms that I learned before I got my first Girl Scout badge (The Cooking badge naturally—I’ve got it taped to my bookcase, LOL!), have fallen by the wayside. Terms like dice, mince and julienne have turned into much simpler terms like chop, chop fine and chop into matchstick-sized pieces. But who cares, right? The deal is to get the cooking DONE, not worry about semantics.
Check out this testimonial we received from Heather:
Okay, I finally decided to try your system.
Well, first I get the menu – looks good, but I’m worried, because spaghetti and sauce is about the most I do. Then I see the grocery list – there are things on there that I’ve never ever bought before!
I go to the grocery store with your list in hand. For a family of 6 my average grocery bill was always over $120/week. With Leanne’s list – I spent $67.52.
Now, I decide to prepare the meal. First thing that I discover, a fancy sounding name doesn’t mean hours of cooking. Second thing, it really only takes about 1/2 hour to cook the whole thing! Finally, I find out that my kids eat things that don’t include mounds of sugar.
Thank you for helping me save money and my family’s health!!
Me again—the trick is, as Heather wrote, was not to be intimidated! She took a tool (the menu) and dove in and did the work. She discovered that doing so saved her a ton of money, her sanity, and made her feel like a hero in her own home! Isn’t that what we all want?
Don’t be intimidated by cooking! I’ve said in a million times, this is not brain surgery and it is something everyone can do, I promise! If you need help, I’ve got it for you in every way imaginable from free daily newsletters, to recipes and tips, grocery lists, freezer cooking, you name it. Don’t lose hope and think you can’t do this thing called cooking. YES, you can!!
Ready to try Dinner Answers like Heather did? We’ve got it right here for you.
Ever hear that expression, “bowl you over?”
Well, today I’m going to “bowl you over” and show you the wonders of the oft looked over Bowl.
The lowly bowl most often used for soup, ice cream and cereal is really a super powered implement, ready to leap nutritional boundaries in a single bound, resist fast food bullets and are faster to make than a speeding train…
I’m talking power bowls, people. Power Bowls. Capital P, capital B. Pump your fist when you say that!
Power Bowls are nutritional powerhouse meals, all in one bowl. These delicious power bowl recipes are beautiful to behold, delicious to eat and a snap to put together.
From breakfast to dinner, they pack a punch and deliver on all fronts. From Shallot Wilted Arugula with Poached Eggs to Loaded BLT Bowl, you’re going to love having your meal in a bowl!
PS–all recipes are delicious, nutritious and will meet whatever eating style, whether you’re paleo, low carb or just want a bowlful of goodness! Grab these super bowls now.
By: Leanne Ely
Regardless of how you feel about cooking, nobody wants to be a slave to the kitchen. We are all so busy these days that we need as many shortcuts as we can possibly find for getting a good home-cooked meal on the table with the minimum amount of stress!
It’s no good to find yourself at the end of a crazy day standing in front of the fridge praying for inspiration to hit as you try to figure out what to feed the hungry people in your house. (That’s the danger zone where you’re likely to pick up the phone and call for pizza, don’t do it!
Here are 7 shortcuts to help you get your evening meal under control!
1. Crock and roll. Dust off the crockpot and put it to work. This ultimate shortcut appliance can save you a ton of time on dinner prep. Assemble your crock ingredients in the crock liner the night before and refrigerate the works overnight. Then, all you need to do in the morning is plunk it in and plug it in!
2. Marinate meat before freezing. How many times have you gone to make a recipe and realized that you have to marinate the meat for several hours first? When you’re freezing your chicken, beef or pork, freeze it along with a marinade. That way, it will get good and tasty while it thaws, and you’ve saved a step. Oh, and that thaw? The new way to thaw is in a sink full of hot water—yup, it’s safe!
3. Cook more than you need. If you are cooking a meal for two, you might as well cook for four. Cooking for four? Why not cook for eight? That way, you have a double dinner!
4. Parchment paper. If you don’t already use parchment paper to line your pans before you bake or roast something in the oven, you’re working too hard on clean up! This oven-safe paper will cut your scrubbing in half! Boom!
5. Chop the veggies beforehand. Wash and cut that broccoli and cauliflower after you get it home. Same goes for making pepper strips, slicing mushrooms and peeling Brussels sprouts. Do that work all at once (or even better, put the kids to work!). Place all those veggies in zipper bags and you have grab and go veggies that you can either snack on raw or quickly steam for a side dish. Keep carrot sticks and celery sticks in a bowl of water in the fridge (keeps them fresh!), and let the kids help themselves when they need a snack.
6. Go with salad. Making a big raw salad is much quicker than any other side dish you can possibly think of! And if you have some leftover protein, voila, there’s a quick dinner!
7. Plan ahead. This would arguably be the number one shortcut when it comes to getting dinner under control. Planning your meals for the week puts you in complete control of the dinner table. We created the original meal-planning service on the Internet with our Menu- Mailer. We provide you with a menu for the week, along with recipes and shopping lists! Thousands of people are currently hooked on this service.
By: Leanne Ely
Not all bell peppers are created equal. First there are the colors – red, orange, yellow, and green are the most common. Second is the flavor – from sweet to hot. It is all from the same plant. The only difference is when they are picked. As the pepper gets riper, it gets not only a better taste, but it also gets more nutritive value. A red pepper is actually a fully ripened green pepper with a milder flavor.
Here’s Today’s Trick:
Bell peppers freeze well without being blanched, but it is better to wash them first. For maximum flavor and nutritional value, store them whole. Sweet peppers lend themselves well to drying and keep at least 1 year when dried. They are also good marinated.
Here’s a Tip:
Red pepper has more vitamin C than oranges and are also high in beta-carotene.
And your Recipe:
Chicken Verde Fajitas
1 1/2 pounds green tomatillos, husks removed
1/2 small onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 medium limes, juiced
2 small jalapeño peppers, seeded and diced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 pounds bone-in chicken breasts
2 tablespoons cumin
3 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons paprika
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
Preheat broiler to high.
Slice the tomatillos in half lengthwise, and place cut-side down in a baking dish. Roast under the broiler 6 to 8 minutes, until skin takes on a darker color. Remove from the oven and let cool.
In a food processer, add cooled tomatillos, chopped onion, garlic, lime juice, jalapeños, salt, pepper, and cilantro. Blend until a puree is formed. Pour this mixture into a small freezer bag, remove excess air, and seal.
In a small mixing bowl, mix together cumin, chili powder, and paprika. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over chicken breasts. Place seasoned chicken in a freezer bag, remove excess air, and seal.
In a final freezer bag, place sliced onion and bell peppers, remove excess air, and seal.
To prevent freezer burn, place the filled bag in a second 1-gallon freezer bag; carefully squeeze the bag to force out any air, then seal. On the outside of the bag, label with the recipe name and date of preparation; place it in the freezer
Defrost your freezer meal the night before in the fridge. If you don’t have a full thaw at cooking time, remove it from the holding bag and place it in a sink of water to speed-thaw your food. New rules allow for thawing in hot water (100 degrees) with no issues regarding quality or safety (old rules said to use cold water for thawing, but this is no longer necessary – hot water is fast, effective and safe).
At time of cooking ingredients:
2 ripe avocados, sliced
1 head romaine lettuce
In a large crock cooker, add half of the tomatillo puree. Place chicken breasts on top of tomatillo puree. Add all vegetables and the rest of the tomatillo puree.
Cover and cook on high for 4 hours until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken from crock cooker. With two forks, remove chicken from bone and shred. Return chicken to crock cooker and mix well.
Serve in romaine lettuce cups topped with fresh avocado.
Dinner Answers will give you what you need to get all your meals on the table, pronto. Click here!
By: Leanne Ely
It’s time once again for Tricks, Tips and a Recipe. Today you’ll learn a tip, a trick and you’ll get a great recipe to try it out with. Isn’t that great?
Today’s focus is on: CAULIFLOWER
Also known as Cabbage Flower, cauliflower is a member of the Brassica family of veggies, well-known for their cancer fighting capabilities. Mon petit chou means (in French, chou is pronounced “shoe”) “my little cauliflower” and is a term of endearment! How do you like that?
Here’s today’s TRICK:
Take the stem off your cauliflower and keep it in an opened plastic bag in the fridge. It will last a good week, maybe longer!
And here’s a TIP:
To tone down the smell of cauliflower cooking, add a few celery seeds or some celery leaves to your cooking water. It won’t pick up the celery’s flavor, but it will certainly tame the smell!
And your RECIPE:
Bacon and Cauliflower Stir-Fry
1 pound bacon, chopped
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 large shallot, minced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 large avocados, pitted, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cups baby spinach
In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until dark brown and very crisp, about 15 minutes. Remove from skillet and drain on a paper towel lined plate; set aside. Melt the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add cauliflower, shallot, salt and pepper; cook for 10 minutes or until cauliflower is slightly tender. In a large bowl, combine bacon, cauliflower mixture and avocados.
In a small bowl, whisk together honey, lemon juice and olive oil; pour mixture over bacon/cauliflower stir-fry. Serve stir-fry over a bed of baby spinach.
Want more great recipes like this one? (you know you do!) check out our new Dinner Answers here!
By Leanne Ely
I just love the sweet, tart flavor of a juicy ripe cherry. But really, who doesn’t? Cherries are not only delicious, these delicate little fruits are also very healthy. If you suffer from gout pain, you probably already know that cherries can help prevent flareups but there’s much more to cherries than that.
Cherries are known to reduce inflammation in the body and if you eat them on a regular basis, you’ll find they can also help reduce muscle pain. Some studies have actually shown that eating cherries on a daily basis is similar to regularly taking ibuprofen.
Cherries are also a good source of vitamin A, E and C, and they’re a yummy way to get your fiber into you.
Tart cherries are available year round, and I use them frequently in savory dishes. During the summer when sweet cherries (also known as dark cherries) are in season, I am constantly snacking on them and tossing them into salads.
So what else is there to know about cherries?
It’s time for your Trick:
Cherries bruise easily and they are very perishable. Cherries will only stay fresh in the fridge for a few days so eat them shortly after bringing them home.
And your Tip:
When shopping for cherries, look for fruit with the stem still attached. The stem should be nice and green and not wilted. A fresh looking stem is a sign that the fruit was picked recently.
And your Recipe:
Sweet and Tangy Cherry Baked Turkey Strips
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 pound boneless skinless turkey breast meat, cut into 1-inch strips
1/2 pound black cherries, pitted and chopped (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped basil leaves
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper and garlic; cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until tender-crisp. Add turkey, cherries, broth, brown sugar and balsamic vinegar; blend well. Bring mixture to a slow boil then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Carefully remove skillet lid and stir in basil; cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Meanwhile, in a cup, combine cornstarch and water; stir into sauce and cook just until thickened. Serve immediately.
I adore cherries and one of my favorite ways to enjoy them is turning them into epic smoothies! Here’s my favorite Chocolate Cherry Smoothie recipe!