6 Benefits of Drinking Lemon Water

Not only does it taste terrific, but there are many benefits to drinking lemon water.

Sure, cocktails are terrific and many cocktails use lemons in them. However, as doctors and nutrition experts tell us, we may want to back away from all the booze and incorporate more water into our daily lives. Also, many people are now cutting back for abstaining for liquor due to health or religions reasons. Whatever the reason here are some reasons to add lemon water into your life.

*It keeps you looking and smelling good! Besides the other reasons listed below, there are several health effects of drinking lemon water that everyone can begin to see rather quickly. 1.) It reduces blemishes. 2.) It helps you to lose weight by keeping you full. 3.) It freshens your breath! Yeah, so after you hit the pizza buffet at lunch, drink a glass of lemon water.

*Lemons are loaded with Vitamin C, which acts as an immune booster for your body.

*By drinking lemon water during the day, you are helping to rid your body of harmful toxins. They are flushed out with the aid of the lemons.

*Energize yourself. Looking for a boost of energy when you hit that afternoon slump? Try a glass of lemon water. It energizes your body and won’t have you crashing like a sugar rush would.

*Calm yourself. Lemon water helps reduce anxiety. Even the smell of fresh lemons calms your nervous system.

*Got a sore throat? Squeeze some lemon juice into a glass of warm water and let it sooth your throat. You’ll be surprised at how quickly this works.

Hard Boiled Eggs: Oven vs. Stove Top

What’s the Deal with Making Hard Boiled Eggs in the Oven? Is it worth the hype?

If you fancy yourself a kitchen connoisseur in any fashion and keep up with the latest cooking trends, then you’ve seen the videos lately, touting making eggs in the oven vs. boiling them on the stove top as Grandma did. We tried it and here’s what we found.

First, the process:
You will need a muffin / cupcake tin to make hard boiled eggs in the oven. Either six of a dozen will do depending on how many eggs you want to cook. We tried 6 in case it didn’t work out. You bake the eggs for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Of course, oven temperatures may vary, but 350 seems to be standard.

How did the Hard boiled eggs in the oven turn out:
Taking the eggs out of the oven, the first thing I noticed were the dark spots on them. I’m not sure why this happened. When peeled the spots stayed on. The spots didn’t affect the taste but didn’t make them appealing in any way. Since I always immerse my eggs in ice water after they are done boiling, I don’t know that the peeling process was any different using the oven. It certainly didn’t seem any easier. The eggs seemed drier and with much less flavor than when they are cooked on the stove top.

oven boiled eggs
stove-boiled-eggs

The Verdict:
Don’t make oven-boiled hard boiled eggs. It takes much longer for an over to heat up to 350 degrees than it does to bring a small pot of water to boiling. The taste from cooking eggs in the oven isn’t nearly as good as the stove top.

Tip: No matter how you make your hard boiled eggs, they tend to peel easier if they’re at least a week old vs. brand new eggs.

Throwing a party, shower, etc? Don’t forget to stock on up on the best accessories from Culinary Outfitters.

guide to wine buying

Introduction to Wine Buying

Tips for Finding and Buying the Best Wine

When it comes to wine, there are literally hundreds if not thousands of different types to choose from. Determining what wine is best suited for you can be quite difficult if you are new to this the wine buying world. Here are 8 ways to buy the best wine possible.

Go to wine tasting events. This is a fantastic way to discover wines that you will enjoy without purchasing a whole bottle to find out if you like it. Many times wine cellars and wineries offer wine tasting as part of their tours. But in recent years, restaurants all over are having wine tastings for as little as $20 for a tasting of a variety of different wines.

Don’t be fooled into thinking only pricey wines are good. You should experiment with wines from all price points and ratings during your introduction to wine buying. Sticking with only expensive wines is a waste of money and could prevent you from finding the perfect wine for you. There are many wines that are tasty and are under $15.

If you are going to a party or a gathering, and you would like to bring wine, try to stick with something that is not too strong. Pinot Noir is a great choice for occasions like this, because it goes with most food. Also, if you find yourself easing into red wine during yor introduction to wine buying, Pinto Noir is a good choice as it is lighter than bolder cabernet or merlot.

Avoid wines on the eye-level shelf in your wine store or grocer. They are put at eye level for a reason. Often, these shelves will be “sold” to larger local wineries that can afford to put their wine in the prime shelf position. Smaller wineries that offer some great wine selections are usually relegated to the upper or lower shelves in the market. Don’t be afraid to experiment during your introduction to wine buying.

When thinking about a wine to pair with your meal, do not forget to include champagne and other sparkling wines while you are learning about wine buying. These wines don’t have to be relegated to special occasions. Keep in mind not all sparkling wines are sweet or dry; they can be anywhere in between. Usually these wines go well at the beginning of the meal. It pairs well with salty snacks and light dishes like cheeses and fruits. However, more and more, these have been paired with fried “comfort foods.” Think items like fried chicken or potato chips drizzled with blue cheese.

When shopping for wine, it’s great to seek advice from wine experts at your local wine store, but don’t let them sway you away from a wine you think you’d like to try. It’s best not to spend a small fortune on any wine until you have a solid understanding of what tastes good to you.

Sweet wines are referred to as dessert wine. They often have alcoholic additives in them to make the flavor even bolder. This creates a syrup-like wine which is great in small doses, one of the reasons it is served is smaller glasses. Pairing it with a savory dessert creates the best course of the meal, so try it at your next dinner party.

Unlike other wines, red wine needs a chance to breathe after opening. So, leave the bottle uncorked for about 30 minutes before your drink it. This gives the wine more time to interact with the oxygen in the air. If you are pressed for time (and willing to spend the money during your introduction to wine buying), pour the wine through an aerator and into a decanter so that it breathes properly first.

Becoming a wine expert doesn’t happen overnight. Follow the tips here and you are well on your way of becoming a wine connoisseur in your own right. Just remember to have fun during your wine education and be sure to drink responsibly.

crab-cip-super-bowl

Super Bowl Bites: 2 Easy Recipes

Easy Bites you can make for a Super Bowl party. 

Are you invited to a Super Bowl party or are you hosting one this year? If so here are

HOT CRAB DIP

INGREDIENTS

1 CUP                          CRAB DIP (recipe follows)
1 EACH                       HOAGIE ROLLS
BRUSH                        GARLIC BUTTER (recipe follows)
1 EACH                       LEAF LETTUCE
1 EACH                       LEMON WEDGE

PROCEDURE

  • Place crab dip in microwave for 30 seconds to heat, then place in Salamander until golden brown.
  • Slice hoagie rolls in half lengthwise once. Brush each piece with garlic butter and grill until toasted. (If bread is not buttered evenly it will not brown properly.) Wedge into 16 pieces.
  • Place boat on plate. Arrange bread around boat.
  • Garnish with leaf lettuce and lemon wedge on right side of boat.

CRAB DIP

Yield: Approximately 20-24 CUP PORTIONS

INGREDIENTS
3 LBS.                        Cream Cheese (Softened)
2/3 CUP                     Lemon Juice, Fresh
¼ CUP                        Worcestershire Sauce
2 Tablespoons        Dry Mustard
1 teaspoon               Garlic Salt
4 CUPS                      Sour Cream
5 CUPS                      Mayonnaise
7 LBS.                        Crab Meat, Cleaned and drained

PROCEDURE

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard and garlic salt mix until the cream cheese is in dime size lumps and stop mixing.
  1. Add sour cream and mayonnaise. Mix to combine. Transfer to a mixing bowl. 
  1. Fold crabmeat into cheese mixture until well combined.
  1. Portion 1 cup portions into crocks, wrap, label and refrigerate.

GARLIC BUTTER
Yield: Approximately 2 CUPS
INGREDIENTS

2 LBS.                        Butter, Unsalted
½ CUP                        Garlic, Chopped

PROCEDURE 

  1. Melt butter and garlic in sauce pan over low heat until butter is completely melted. Do not boil butter as it will brown.
  2. Pull butter garlic mixture off of heat and allow to steep for two hours at room temperature.
  3. Strain butter through a fine chinois to remove raw garlic and place in a hotel pan for service.

Bacon Pimento Cheese Deviled Eggs

INGREDIENTS

3 EACH                      Sugared Bacon (recipe follows)
6 EACH                      Egg White Halves
¾ CUP                        Pimiento Cheese Deviled Eggs, Prepped

PROCEDURE

  1. Criss-cross sugared bacon on a serving plate forming an asterisk.
  2. Place each egg white half in between each opening of the asterisk,
  3. Pipe the mixture into the egg whites. Fill it high and big.

SUGARED BACON
Yield: Approximately 2 CUPS
 

INGREDIENTS

9 EACH                      Bacon, sliced, Applewood-smoked
¾ CUP                        Light Brown Sugar

PROCEDURE

 

  1. Place brown sugar in a mixing bowl. Coat each sliced with bacon with sugar.
  2. Lay bacon slices on a rack on top of a sheet tray lined with rack.
  3. Bake until bacon is crisp and sugar is bubbly, 15-17 minutes.
  4. Watch closely as sugar burns quickly.
  5. Cool on a sheet tray lined with foil.
  6. Store at room temperature.

PIMIENTO CHEESE DEVILED EGGS
Yield: Approximately 2 CUPS

INGREDIENTS

9 EACH                     Egg, hard boiled
6 Tablespoons        Mayonnaise
½ teaspoon              Champagne Vinegar
1 ½ teaspoon           Dijon Mustard
½ teaspoon              Dry Mustard
¼ teaspoon              Cayenne Pepper
1/8 teaspoon           Kosher Salt
½ teaspoon              Sugar, granulated
1/8 teaspoon            White Pepper, ground
1 CUP                         Pimiento Cheese, Prepped

PROCEDURE

 

  1. Halve the eggs. Scoop the yolks (using a teaspoon) into a small mixing bowl. Cut a thin slice from the underside of the each white so it will lay flat on the sheet tray.
  2. Add the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, Dijon Mustard and dry mustard and cayenne to the yolks in the bowl and place the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth.
  3. Season with Kosher salt and white pepper. Process until smooth.
  4. Transfer to a mixing bowl and using a whisk, incorporate 1 CUP OF PIMIENTO CHEESE. Mix until well combined.
  5. Place egg yolk mixture in a pastry bag with a plain tip (Ateco 806 1/2″ Plain #6 Pastry Tube). Store, label, rotate and refrigerate.

 

PIMIENTO CHEESE
Yield: Approximately 2 CUPS

INGREDIENTS

3 CUPS                      Kerrygold Dubliner Cheese, grated
½ CUP                        Mayonnaise
1/3 CUP                     Pimientos, diced 1/8”, drained well

PROCEDURE

 

  1. Combine ingredients in a mixing bowl and blend well.
  2. Store, label, rotate and refrigerate.
green-tea

Boost Your Health with Green Tea

Understanding green tea health benefits can help you to begin and maintain a healthier lifestyle. If you’re the type of person who finds it challenging to maintain healthy eating and living, a great way to start is by making green tea a part of your daily diet. In today’s hurry up age, it is very possible to spend much of our days rushing to and fro, only taking time to grab a bite to eat on the run. We don’t blame you for being on the go, but at some point you have to stop and take care of your health and body to make sure they both last you for the long run. Feature Image credit: Medical News Today

There are many green tea health rewards that have been discovered by scientists and researchers over the years. While not all of these claims to healthier living have been verified, there are many which have. Of those substantiated, it has been reported that some major health incentives include reduction or resistance of impaired immune function, high cholesterol levels, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, cardiovascular disease and infection.

Deciding to establish a diet regimen based on the rewards of green tea health doesn’t have to be an ordeal but careful planning and consideration should be given to selecting the type green tea product you want to use. There are many different forms of green tea on the market, many of which are not the genuine article. Don’t fall for imposters that claim to be green tea but actually only have a small percentage of green tea extract listed as a fourth or fifth ingredient on the list.

Some green tea health products can be purchased over the Internet. This is a great way to not only research the various green tea products that are available, but it eliminates the need to travel to the store to buy them. As a rule, however, you should avoid trying products just because they offer a free sample. The something for nothing concept is usually an auto ship program that subtlely invites you to pay regular charges for automatic refills of a product that may or may not work for you.

When you do find a green tea health product that you’re interested in taking, it is the best practice to check with your physician, particularly if you are taking any other medications that may react to the addition of green tea to your diet. Once you’re cleared by your doctor, you’re ready to begin experiencing some of the great green tea health benefits that are said to have helped make green tea the rage that currently is in many countries around the world.

Remember, not all green tea products are created equal. When the truth is told, there are many lookalike products and even some pseudo green tea items that make the claim but substantiate nothing. So whether you are searching for green tea health items for the short or long term, make sure you are selecting authentic green tea items.

detox-new-year

Cleansing the Body: Detox Prep and Steps

Cleansing the Body: 3 Detoxification Steps

Cleansing the body is a very important matter to a lot of people. Not only does cleansing the body help anyone who does so in the long run, but it is also a good idea to complete a body detoxification in order for all of the toxins and wastes in your body to leave so that you’ll be left with a healthy system. Even though many people speak of detoxification as though it were really difficult to do, the opposite is true. If you break the body and system detoxification down into 3 simple steps one is able to realize just how easy and exciting this process can be.

The First Step: Preparation

Even though preparing for a body detoxification may not seem necessary, preparing for anything absolutely is. Consider: no one would usually skydive or bungee jump without mentally and/or physically preparing. The detoxification cleansing steps are absolutely the same and those who need a clean system need to prepare before they are able to complete a full, healthy body detox.

One of the ways in which you are able to completely prepare yourself is to perform yoga steps several days before the detoxification actually begins. This will not only help clear your mind, but it will benefit your body as well. Of course, there are plenty of other preparation steps that can be done, but yoga is the most beneficial.

The Second Step: Detoxification

This second step is the actual system of detoxification and cleansing your body. This step alone is usually supposed to contain oils like flax seed, olive oil, and primrose, as well as raw soups and fresh greens that are also juiced and pureed. These are all ingredients that one should be digesting during a body detoxification and one is supposed to consume everything on this list for a period of 24 hours. Some of the suggested meals that one is able to eat during this time include: blended and juiced vegetables, like celery, cucumbers, kale, parsley, wheat grass, barley, and spinach. All of these ingredients can be put into a blender in order to make a raw juice which you should drink at least three times during the detoxification.

Another thing that one should consume during their detoxification is vegetable soup that has plenty of garlic and green vegetables. This is the only type of soup which should be consumed because vegetable broth is the most beneficial to the system.

The Third Step: Finishing Up

Many people call the third step the “exit” of the detoxification cleanses, however, does one ever really leave detoxification? However, the rest of the detox system simply calls upon the person to ease themselves away from the raw and pureed juices, the raw soups, as well as the essential oils. This step is supposed to be completed in a series of three days in order to be the most beneficial to the cleanse, however, some people shorten it as well.

All of these steps are vital and important to clearing out your body’s systems by flushing everything toxic out of your body. A detoxification cleanse is something that is called upon regularly by a lot of people, and it is usually certain to help everything in the body!

boost metabolism with food and excercise

6 Ways Speed Up Your Metabolism This Holiday Season

Most folks pack on the pounds during the month of December with the Holiday season that includes parties and family get togethers. Instead of waiting until the new year to try and shed this extra weight, here are some tips to speed up your metabolism to help curtail packing on the pounds.

Did you know certain foods that speed up your metabolism can help you burn fat and lose weight? There really are certain foods that act as fire stokers for your fat-burning furnace. By incorporating them into your diet, you’re giving yourself even more of an advantage when it comes to weight loss. Image credit: www.shawacademy.com

1. Get moving. Sure, we all know exercise speeds up your metabolism. But who has the time to get out and walk with all the added requirements of the holidays, right. Incorporate these activities at work. Take the stairs 3-4 times a day at work. Park farther away from the front door to the office. Go to the gym for just 20 minutes at lunch and focus on weights instead of cardio. Increasing muscle mass by strength training and weight lifting adds more active muscle to your body, which also increases your metabolism.

2. Cold-water fish: Salmon, tuna and sardines are some good sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for overall health. And eating these types of fish can lower the level of the hormone leptin in your body. Studies have shown that lower levels of this hormone make it easier to lose weight, and keep it off. Sub fish for red meat at dinner.

3. Spices: Cayenne pepper, and other hot peppers like jalapeno contain capsaicin, that gives them their heat. This makes the foods thermogenic, which means that they speed metabolism after you eat them. These foods that speed up your metabolism keep it revved for up to 3 hours after you’ve eaten a spicy meal.

4. Whole grains: Whole grains release slower into the bloodstream than simple sugars, and keep insulin levels lower after you’ve eaten them. The more insulin that’s released into your bloodstream, the more your body is signaled to store fat. So keeping your insulin levels low keeps your metabolism humming along faster than if you’d eaten something quickly processed by your body, like cookies, cakes or sweetened breakfast items. Whole grains are foods that speed up your metabolism because they digest slower. You also avoid the blood sugar crash that can happen after lots of insulin is released in the bloodstream to process the sugar. This more even level of blood sugar helps keep your metabolism from slowing.

5. Protein: Protein is necessary for a good metabolism. Eggs, lean beef, chicken or fish, beans and peanut butter are great examples of foods that speed up your metabolism with their protein content. Starting your day with eggs or peanut butter toast is a terrific way to stay full longer and not have the intense hunger than comes on quickly at lunch time, resulting in unhealthy lunch choices. Tip: Make half a dozen hard boiled eggs Sunday evening to have for breakfast throughout the work week.

6. Fuel up. The most important thing to remember, though, about boosting your metabolism, aside from what you eat is how often you eat. If you skip meals, your metabolism-speeding efforts might be for nothing. Eat breakfast to jump start your metabolism for the day, and eat regular meals over the course of the day. If you want a fire to burn hotter and brighter you add more firewood. Give your body the proper foods to ‘burn’ through the day, and your metabolism will have fuel to run on. Add these foods that speed up your metabolism to your diet for even more benefit.

Dinner-with-chopped-food-network-winner

Behind the Scenes: Pop-Up Dinner with Chopped Winner, Ed Harris

Every wondered what it would be like to have a Food Network winner prepare dinner for you? From the time Chef Ed Harris was a young boy, his parents had a hard time keeping him out of the kitchen. Chef Ed Harris took the title as Chopped Winner in 2010 with a Turbot for an entree and a killer dessert made from English Muffins. He is originally from the Caribbean, living in St. Lucia, Guyana, Grenada and Barbados. He later moved to New York to complete high school and get a culinary degree from the Art Institute. He then worked at several high profile restaurants in New York City.

Several food bloggers, myself included, were privy to a pop-up dinner prepared by the talented chef. What is a pop-up dinner. It is a unique menu or meal that is only available for a temporary time. Often times, it is only available for one night. The appeal is that the chef is available and preparing the meal in front of the dinners. They are free to interact and ask questions of the chef throughout the evening.

chopped-iron-chef-dishes

Amuse Bouches: Dragon fruit and Salmon Tartare

A lovely dinner was prepared by Chef Ed Harris and his sous chef. They worked diligently on each course, while happily answering any of our questions on cooking and preparation. Here’s an overview of the EIGHT, yes, eight courses that we enjoyed during the evening at Chopped Winner Ed Harris’s pop up event.

Watermelon ginger soy mint
Yep – he topped the watermelon with Pop Rocks!

chef-ed-harris-pop-rocks-watermelon

Hear the crackle with the addition of Pop Rocks

Boston lettuce topped with beef and tomatoes
These were some of the most tender pieces of beef I’ve ever had.
chef-ed-harris-beef-wraps-chopped-food-network

Ratatouille smoked tomato jam thai basil
What a colorful, tasty and healthy dish. We definitely want to add this to our menu on a regular basis!
chef-ed-harris-ratatouie-iron-chef-food-network

XO tofu baby carrot cilantro
Chef-ed-harris-chopped-iron-chef-winner-tofu-dish
Chef Harris developed a love of Chinese cooking and using spices, especially after a visit to Hong Kong. This dish is overflowing with flavor, you forget there’s no meat. The dried pineapple in this dish are especially appealing.

Lamb with juniper crumbs and ginger cous cous
Chef-ed-harris-Lamb-chopped-iron-chef-winner
The gingered cous cous was the perfect match the the juniper scented crumbs atop the lamb chops. Don’t expect to remain dainty. We had to pick up our chops by the bone to get to the meat.

Banana earl grey orange mint
Dessert was not an afterthought with the slightly sweet dish with lovely textures and flavors of banana, orange and nuts for crunch.
Chef-ed-harris-Chopped-Iron-Chef-dessert

serving wine for dinner parties

Helpful Tips for Choosing Wine

Do you feel like you’re out of the loop when it comes to entertaining or cooking with wine? Don’t be afraid to experiment when it comes to enjoying a good wine. Sure, we all have a favorite stand-by, but that doesn’t mean something different cannot be enjoyed as well. If red is your go-to wine, investigate the possibility of a Pinot Grigio tonight or be really daring and try something you’ve never even heard of!

We all know red wine is a great choice when eating red meats such as steak or beef dishes. Drinking red wine with these foods can really help to bring out the flavor of both the meal and the wine. You can also use the red wine while cooking to help add to the flavor of the meat.

If you are planning to cook with wine, examine your recipe closely. If it calls for dry white wine, this means that the recipe will not work well with a wine that is sweet. Look for a wine that states that it is dry, and you will avoid ruining a potentially fantastic dish.

Don’t shy away from ordering or buying a bottle of something that you can not pronounce the name of. The proprietor or employee is not going to judge you. Don’t deprive yourself of tasting new wines because you can’t speak the name.

When serving wine at a dinner party, try to have at least one variety of red wine and one variety of white wine on hand. While many individuals are not particular to a specific region or winery, most will prefer a red or white. By having both on hand you are sure to please all of your guests with ease.

Before leaving the house and hitting up the local venue, know what you are looking for and have a firm goal set in mind. Leaving without knowing exactly what you want might end up as a night spent hopping hopelessly from cellar-to-cellar. Have a goal ahead of time and when you find the selection that fits, purchase it and return home to enjoy the work.

When you find a bottle of wine that really hits the spot, put away the whole case for a slightly higher price and you’ll save money in the long run. A case is usually 12 bottles of the same age and flavor. The net cost of a single case is reasonably lower than 12 individual bottles in most venues.

Next time you go to buy a bottle of wine, whether to entertain socially or use to cook, you should be more equipped with the right knowledge. Use what you’ve learned here to make things easier on you. Wine can be used to impress, and you now have the tools.

what-is-endanged-eats

#EndangeredEats – Eat Endangered Species in Order to Save Them?

It might seem counter-intuitive, but celebrity chef, Hugh Acheson of Top Chef, wants you to eat some very rare endangered species. What? Yes, that’s right, the #endangeredeats campaign was in full effect albeit under a mysterious shroud.

There was a big hullabaloo when Chef Acheson announced that we must eat these endangered specials to save them. Many not familiar with the chef, were in an uproar, thinking that he would suggest devouring any animal that was in danger of becoming extinct. Those that knew the chef better knew it had to be some sort of rouse.

Here’s what we were told:

“Endangered Eats is s a one-day only tasting menu featuring endangered species; hosted by celebrity chef Hugh Acheson at Empire State South in Atlanta. By eating these rare species, we can help save them.”

In the middle of the week, media and Acheson groupies waited patiently while a team of camera crews and other important looking people darted in and out of the restaurant. At least we didn’t starve while waiting. Staff came through the line offering up small tastes including a Whisker Shooter and Dangerous Curds.

Endangered-Eats-private-event-Acheson

A Thump in the Night

After being seated, the magical, uni-brow sporting Acheson appeared and uttered these words:

“I am not going to tell you what you are eating until afterwards, but it is nothing unethical and nothing illegal.  Just keep an open mind and have fun.”

Our ambitious group was treated to a  three course meal, of tasty, yet unidentifiable meats. The first, Thump in the Night, a crimson “meat” with various vegetables. A second course, named Fowl Play, although good, was not pretty save for the beautiful lavender flowers atop. A third course, Running Scarce, was a served with a lovely tomato and rice. All the plating was gorgeous.

So, what was this endangered “species” we just consumed? Acheson appeared and the room went from noisy to silent in anticipation of the announcement. “There was just one endangered species…a tomato.” The Cherokee Purple Tomato could soon become extinct. Acheson urged everyone in the room to regard these kinds of fruits and vegetables in the same way we would an endangered animal and sent us on our way with a pack of seeds for the Cherokee Purple Tomato.

In case you were wondering what the meats were:
Thump in the Night (Beef Heart)
Fowl Play (Guinea Hen)
Running Scarce (Pork Tenderloin)