Try Making These Six Ingredients Yourself

Once you try making these ingredients, you might decide you prefer doing them yourself. They can be made in small amounts so they stay fresh. Because they are easy to make, and the staples you need are probably in your pantry, you don’t have to run out to the grocery store if you are out of something.

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BUTTERMILK – The easiest way to create buttermilk is to put a tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice into a liquid measuring cup and add enough milk to equal a full cup. Let it sit on the counter for about five minutes. You can make real buttermilk by pouring heavy cream into a blender and run on high speed until butter forms and the buttermilk separates from the butter. Strain out the buttermilk, and make sure none is left in the butter. This is a great way to have unsalted butter to use for recipes that call for it. If you don’t have a blender, the cream can be put into a jar with a tight lid and shaken by hand. The family can take turns!

BUTTER – Using the method above, it produces butter and buttermilk at the same time.

CONFECTIONER’S SUGAR – Making confectioner’s sugar is a simple matter in the blender. Blend one cup of granulated sugar until it turns to powder. This is the equivalent of one cup of confectioner’s sugar.

BROWN SUGAR – To one cup white sugar, add one tablespoon molasses for light brown sugar, or two tablespoons for dark. Stir and mix thoroughly, and then store in an airtight container or zip lock bag. This can be made in larger quantity so you can keep it on hand, as you would any brown sugar.

CAKE FLOUR – If you are baking something that calls for cake flour and you don’t have any, put two tablespoons of cornstarch in a one-cup measuring cup, then fill the cup with all-purpose flour. This will replace one cup of cake flour and can be used in any recipe that calls for cake flour. If you need more, increase the ingredients proportionately. Pour it into a bowl and stir it, then measure out what you need.

BAKING POWDER – For one tablespoon baking powder, mix thoroughly 1 teaspoon baking soda and 2 teaspoons cream of tartar. To keep it from clumping, stir in 1 teaspoon cornstarch. This is healthy because most commercial baking powder contains aluminum.

Cooking With An Air Fryer

Cooking with an air fryer is a healthy alternative to deep-frying using oil. Hot air fryers use heated air instead of hot oil to cook food. The best air fryers for home use all make use of Rapid Air Technology for frying your food with minimal or no oil.

What is a hot air fryer and how does it work?

How can you cook with just heated air? Well, to be more exact, it is rapidly moving heated air. This modern kitchen appliance comes fitted with a heating element and a fan. The heating element heats up the enclosed air inside the machine and the fan blows the hot air around. The food is cooked by this rapidly moving air striking it in all directions.

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Yes, it does seems to work like a convection oven, cooking with hot air.

There are two types of these air frying machines in the market, one type uses a cooking basket and the other type uses a non-stick bowl and paddle.

So, which is the best air fryer for home use?

A popular brand of the hot air cooker that uses the cooking basket is the Philips hot air fryer. There are 2 models available in the United States, the manual HD9220/26 hot air cooker and HD9230/26 digital version.

Both have a maximum temperature of 390 degrees Fahrenheit but the digital model comes with a maximum timer of 60 minutes. The manual air frying machine has a maximum 30 minutes timer only.

It is simple to operate. Just put the food ingredients into the basket which sits on a drip drawer pan, push the basket into the machine, set the timer and temperature and the cooking process starts.

Shaking the food halfway through the cooking process is recommended so as to get the food to be cooked evenly.

As for the paddle type of air fryer, there is only one brand available at the moment. The Tefal Actifry uses a paddle to stir the food around during the cooking process. This eliminates the need to give the food a shake halfway during cooking.

Frozen foodstuff needs no additional oil to cook. Frozen fries, for example, turn out crispy and moist without the need to add any oil before cooking. As for homemade fries, you need to soak them in water for half an hour and then add about a tablespoon of oil before cooking. This will result in tasty and moist fries just like those deep fried in a large amount of oil.

The Art of Cooking With Italian Wines

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Few pleasures feel as amazing as taking a sip of a good Italian wine while enjoying dinner. Well for us it is before, during and after dinner. Yet, it is not necessary to gulp down a full glass of wine if your main goal is to simply savor the flavor of it. You can enjoy the flavor of your Italian wine by cooking dishes with it, too.

Let us find out what cooking with Italian wine is about.

Why Italian wine?

A number of international dishes make use of wine, most common being Spanish, Italian and French cuisines. All of these cuisines can be prepared using nearly any variety of wine, yet the Italian varieties seem to have established a rather large fan base, especially when it comes to cooking with it. They are the largest producers of wine in the world. Cooking with Italian wine is a wonderful way to give a unique flavor and an added kick to your dish.

Aspiring for greatness

Whether a dish cooked with wine comes out great or not depends on the quality of wine used. If you use a wine of lower quality, your dish may not taste as great. But if you make use of an amazing wine, the same dish will turn out delicious! To determine whether to use a wine for cooking or not, you may want to taste it first. If you like the taste, you can then proceed to cook with it.

Note also that, when it comes to Italian wine, price has nothing much to do with quality. So, buying the most expensive wine is not guaranteed to give you the best results. The way we see it, if you enjoy drinking it, then you will enjoy using it in your dish.

Another technique is to pairing the wine’s region with a regional dish. If you have a Tuscan recipe then try pairing it with a wine from the same region.

Not all wines are the same

Different dishes do best with different varieties of wine. Desserts do best when a fruity, rich variety of wine is used. Strong white wines, on the other hand, compliment sauteed and baked dishes beautifully. Red wines bring out the best of hearty dishes and foods rich in meat.

The best part of cooking with wine

The best part about Italian wine, in the context of cooking, is that foods cooked with it can be enjoyed by everyone. Since the boiling point of alcohol is 175 degrees Fahrenheit, the alcohol contained in Italian wine gets evaporated very quickly during the cooking process, making the final dish free from alcohol. Boiled long enough and the wine will turn into more of a glaze, perfect for use on ice cream and other desserts. Therefore, even food lovers who are underage, or who do not consume alcohol, can enjoy delicious foods cooked using Italian wine!

Top 5 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Grilling Vegetables

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Grilling fruits and vegetables is relatively easy – they cook way quicker compared to meat plus you could easily tell when they’re ready from the grill just by looking at them. However, if you want the most out of your grilled vegetables in terms of flavor and nutrition, there are certain mistakes that a lot of people make that you should avoid.

Here are the top 5 most common mistakes when grilling fruits and vegetables:

1. Not preparing vegetables into workable pieces

One of the most common mistakes when grilling fruits and vegetables is not preparing them into workable pieces for the grill. Don’t just place them there whole – fresh produce need to be cut, peeled or sliced in preparation for grilling so that they can be cooked evenly. Unless you’re using a grill basket for your veggies, make sure they’re the right size for your grill grates – not too small to fall through the grates, but not too big that it would be hard to be cooked through.

2. Lack of preparation

Like meat needs to be thawed and seasoned in preparation for grilling, fruits and vegetables require the same process. What most people do is peel and slice fresh produce then throw them on the grill. This results to an unevenly-cooked and flavorless dish. Boil or steam harder vegetables like carrots and potatoes for a few minutes before grilling in order to cook evenly. After preparing fresh produce into workable pieces, season with salt and pepper or any seasoning of your choice before cooking on the grill.

3. Using too much oil

Oil or cooking spray is used to avoid food from sticking to the grates. Some people slather veggies with oil while on the grill thinking that they would cook much quicker, but this just depletes its nutrients. Exposing oil to high heat results to a smoke that can break down your fresh produce’s antioxidant content. If you don’t want overcooked vegetables with less nutritional value, use only a small amount of oil. If you can, oil your grates and not your food.

4. Leaving vegetables on the grill for too long

As mentioned, fresh produce don’t cook as long as meat does – they cook much quicker. If you’re grilling fruits or vegetables, be sure to keep a close eye if you don’t want them overcooked. Leaving veggies on the heat for too long will result to charring which is a sign that they have been exposed to harmful carcinogenic chemicals. Once vegetables are tender and grill marks appear, they’re good to go.

5. Grilling fruits or vegetables in open flame

When grilling fresh produce alongside meat, be sure to keep them away from the open flame. You don’t want charred and overcooked veggies, you just want a smoky flavor on them. Cook vegetables over medium high heat and only for a few minutes. You can also opt to use a grill basket to makes sure.

Be sure to steer clear from these common mistakes when grilling vegetables and you’ll be able to enjoy a fresh and nutritious meal!

The Best Way of Making a Delicious and Low Calorie Salad Entree

A salad can be your appetizer, dessert, side dish or even your entrée. Your salad can be sweet, sour or everything in between. Making a salad can be simple, but once you learn about the structure of it, your salad will become the best one you have ever made yet.

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A salad should have a base. It’s considered as your motif for your dining entourage. A great foundation for a salad is made up of foods that are rich in fiber and lutein. A cup of spinach, broccoli or collard greens are great for a salad entrée base. Be it raw or lightly steamed, you just can’t go wrong with a light dinner packed with delightful nutrients.

Once you have established a base for your salad, then you can start tossing in your favorite vegetables and fruits. This time, make it as colorful as possible. You can toss in your tomatoes, carrots, fruits, and beans. Despite its contrasting taste, it will definitely end up in a flavorful medley to your palette.

Salad as an entrée should contain some protein. Dark meat proteins like turkey, chicken fillet and lean beef are delicious healthy meats that you can add-on to your salad. If you are a vegetarian, then you can always go for lightly steamed tofu, soybeans or peas to substitute the meats.

What could be more exciting than to add that certain kick of flavor in your salad? Every salad has an extra. You can either have croutons or cheese as your salad extras. However, keep the serving light so that it won’t overpower the wholeness of it. Extras usually contain the most calories in your salad. To leave you worry-free, opt for something low-fat for cheese, and just a little on the croutons.

The last part of making a salad is to add your favorite dressing. There are different kinds of dressing. Dressings like vinaigrette, thousand islands, ranch, or could be a simple olive oil drizzle on top is a popular favorite. Dressings may contain loads of calories in it. Hence, if you are aiming for a low-calorie diet, then making your own salad dressing is a better way than getting those pre-made dressings from the grocery store.

Making a salad is easy. It doesn’t require any cooking or any technicalities that can ruin the taste if done wrong. However, what makes it a little challenging is going back to its fundamentals and really knowing the structure of keeping your salad as nutritious as possible. It is all about being knowledgeable with the foods that you include in your bowl.

Salads should be a part of your daily life. Perhaps start including them as an appetizer, then slowly transition the serving as your entree. From then on, you will realize how much of an impact a salad can make once you notice an improvement to your physical and mental health.

How to Choose a Wine of Quality Without Breaking the Bank

First things first, there’s delicious, top quality wine at all price points. That means that whatever your budget, you can find a wine that doesn’t completely suck.

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That’s right… for as little as a few dollars, there are wines available on the market that perform every task a quality wine needs to: they have pleasant and enjoyable flavors and have a balance of attributes between fruit, alcohol, and acid.

The fact is, if you are overwhelmed by the prospect of hunting down a wine of quality, the remedy lies in a bottle of simple, mass market supermarket wine. These kinds of wine, while rarely distinctive, are created to appeal to a broad market, and that’s their primary mission.

Now we’ve established that a wine with a “cheap” price may not be “cheap” in quality… but did you know it’s possible to have a wine that’s high in price be low in quality? Yup, it happens all the time. And so too will you find inexpensive bad wine and expensive good wines. The point is that price and quality really have very little to do with one another when it comes to wine.

Are you ready to learn the secret to finding wines that you’ll enjoy and are within your budget? Okay, here we go:

Step One:

Find sources you trust to inform your buying decision. Reviews from international wine publications or recommendations from wine professionals based on their understanding of your personal preferences are examples of good sources. Advertising and cute labels are probably not.

Step Two:

Buy a few wines based on the above. If you are buying several at one time, try going for diversity to you have the opportunity to try a number of different grape varieties or wines from different regions over a week or two.

Step Three:

This may be the most important step of all… pay attention to what you like, what you don’t like, and why. If you loved the dark fruit flavor of one wine or the vibrant acidity in another, make note of that. If you loved drinking a wine on its own, but found it less appealing with food, think about why that was the case.

Step Four:

Use the powerful new knowledge you’ve gained in step number three to find and buy wines that are of a quality and at a price that meets your standards.

There are hundreds of thousands of wines released each and every year (maybe more), and it’s impossible to be able to try them all in one lifetime… but knowing what appeals to you, and what doesn’t will open up a whole world of exploration and tasting opportunities.

How Are Wines Prepared?

Wine is, technically speaking, nothing more than fermented fruit juice. Contrary to popular belief, Wine can be made from practically anything that has a considerable amount of sugar content in it! The wine making process begins with choosing the correct type of produce and eventually finishes with the final product being bottled.

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Winemaking is more of an art and demands a huge amount of dedication to the job. The decisions taken during each step of the winemaking process determine the final quality of the wine. These decisions can be anything from choosing the region for the grapes to grow right up to deciding where and for how much time the wine is to be allowed to ferment in order for it to get the distinct taste.

Given below is an extremely simplified explanation of the actual steps followed for winemaking:

1) Select the right vineyard

This is by far the most important decision to be made in the wine making process. The climactic condition, soil composition and the overall atmospheric condition must be favorable for the growth of grapes from the vines. Wine made from different regions of the world have a distinct taste to them.

2) Harvesting at the right time

This is the second most important decision to make in wine making. Harvesting is the process of picking of the grapes. Harvesting can be done either by hand or mechanically. In most places, harvesting is done by hand as the mechanical process of harvesting might result in non-grape material inclusions in the final product. Thus hand harvesting improves the final quality of the wine.

However, mechanical harvesting methods are also used due to labor shortage.

3) Crushing of the grapes

Next, the grapes are crushed either by stamping them with the feet (done in small-scale industries) or by using crushers operated mechanically. During this process, red grape skin will be allowed to stay with the juice thus imparting color and flavor to the wine, while the white grapes are crushed and the juice separated from their skins.

4) Fermenting

The crushed grape juice is allowed to ferment with the aid of yeast. This causes the alcohol to be formed from the sugar that is naturally present in the grapes. The duration of fermentation depends on the type of wine made.

5) Filtering and bottling

The unwanted residue is then filtered out and the finished product is then bottled. It is the filtration that makes the wine bright and clear as well as removes any risk or microbial spoilage.

Why You Should Try Blending Wines

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Some things are way better when combined. This holds true with wine blending. When you mix two types of wine, you get an excellent blend, as long as you get the right ratio for each wine type you’re blending. There are also certain varietals that go together really well, either because one enhances the other’s flavor profile or both of their characteristics complement each other.

There can be quite a few reasons why certain winemakers blend wines, and here are some of them:

Adjust the wine’s acidity

Acids are integral components of any wine. Those that have low acidity can taste bland and lifeless, while we have those at the other end of the spectrum – those that have high acidity – that taste really sour and sharp. When one type of wine has too much acidity, the taste can be corrected by mixing it with a varietal whose acidity is low.

Improve the color

This reason for blending wine is generally applicable only to reds. When one red wine is too dark and the other is a bit pale, mixing them together adjusts the color. True appreciation of wine involves many most of our senses, and it certainly includes the sense of sight. When a good color is achieved, the overall wine-tasting experience becomes surprisingly better.

Enhance the aroma

On their own, some wines already give out excellent odors once you start swirling them inside the glass. However, those who want to achieve a more complex aroma blend certain varietals to achieve just that. For example, Merlot can be blended with certain reds like Cabernet Sauvignon for a better aroma.

Improve the flavor

Certainly, this is one the major reasons why wines are combined. An excellent example of an exquisite blend is when you mix Grenache with Shiraz and layer it with Mourvedre. The resulting blend is a liquid that has a unique complexity of flavor that you’ll never taste from a single varietal. The Australia Cabernet Shiraz is another fine resultant of combining the popular reds Cab and Shiraz.

Adjust the tannin levels

Tannins are responsible for giving reds their defined structure. The best analogy that can be used how important tannins are is that they are like the frame that provides support and movement to a human body. They are derived from the stems, skins, as well as the seeds of the grapes that are used to make wines. Blending two or more wines is done to raise or lower the tannin levels and in the process giving the resulting combination a different structure.

If you want to have a wine-tasting experience different from the usual sipping of single varietals, reach for a wine blend next time you head out to your favorite wine shop.

Why Vegan Chocolates Are Better Than Regular Chocolates

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Many people assume that a vegan diet is limiting, because there are many types of foods that can’t be eaten. But, the truth is that you can find a variety of food substitutions that can be used, so that you can follow a vegan diet without missing out on some of the delicious treats. Chocolate is one decadence that you can still enjoy, because you can find vegan chocolate brands that make sweet treats without any milk or other animal products.

Why Vegan Chocolates?

There are various reasons why someone might follow a vegan diet. For example, some people need to be on a lactose free diet because they get sick when they eat dairy foods. Milk and other dairy products contain a protein called “lactose,” which is difficult for some people to digest. Because of these health concerns, it is better to stay away from dairy foods in order to avoid getting sick.

Another reason to follow a vegan diet is if the person doesn’t support the use or consumption of animal products. Animal products might be avoided for religious or personal reasons, because some people don’t think that it is right to eat foods that came from animals.

Regardless of the reason that you are following a vegan diet, you don’t need to worry because there a few companies that produce vegan chocolates.

Delicious and Healthy Vegan Chocolate Truffles

Even if you aren’t vegan, there is another reason why you might consider vegan milk chocolate instead of traditional chocolate: it’s healthier. Vegan chocolate is often lower in calories and contains better ingredients than regular brands of chocolate, making it a healthier substitution if you want a sweet treat.

If you are focusing on your health, then you might consider vegan dark chocolate instead of vegan white chocolate. Dark varieties are lower in sugar, milk chocolate contains average amounts of sugar, and white varieties usually contain the highest sugar content. So, you can cut additional calories and avoid the blood sugar spike by selecting a dark chocolate brand. Read the labels, and you will see that dark chocolate contains a lower carb and sugar count compared with milk and white chocolate.

There are many health benefits to eating chocolate, because the antioxidants in the cocoa beans can support your health. But, eating those antioxidants with a lot of sugar isn’t very beneficial and the milk ingredients can also have a negative impact on your health. So, if you want to support your health, it is important that you choose vegan brands with lower amounts of sugar.

Why Chocolate Is Actually Good for Women’s Health

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Indulging in chocolate does not necessarily mean eating unhealthily. In fact there are some studies that prove that chocolate is actually good for you. Learn the secrets behind why chocolate is actually good for women’s health in particular.

Women more so than men are known for enjoying their chocolate. In fact they have been stereotyped to needing chocolate when they are upset, or being given it as a gift if their partner has done something wrong. What most people don’t know is that chocolate is actually good for women’s health. The next time you want to indulge in a piece of chocolate, remember these facts and you won’t feel as guilty:

1. Mending a broken heart: chocolate is often a way to say sorry, but it is in fact also good for maintaining a healthy heart. Recent studies have proven that chocolate has cardiovascular benefits. Eating 2 servings of dark chocolate a week, can make the heart healthier and less at risk of heart failure. This is because dark chocolate has many antioxidants in that can reduce blood pressure.

2. Get rid of that extra weight: they say everything in moderation while dieting. Well the truth of the matter is increasing your intake of dark chocolate can actually help with weight loss. This does not mean that you can eat dark chocolate all day, every day but rather introduce it as a substitutes for sugar or salt cravings. A piece of dark chocolate will fill you up and conquer that craving without having to indulge in other bad foods.

3. Baby making material: dark chocolate that is consumed during pregnancy has shown that women were able to curb cravings more and had less mood swings. Some studies have even suggested that partaking in a bit of chocolate every now and then during the pregnancy actually creates happier babies.

4. Happiness is, chocolate: chocolate can even help to reduce stress levels. Instead of sitting there feeling like you are about to explode because there is just too much going on reach for a piece of chocolate, instead of a bat.

5. Brain power: there are many studies to show that eating dark chocolate can help you to concentrate. Due to chocolate being rich in flavanols it can help to increase your brain power. While studying indulge in some dark chocolate and nuts to help keep your brain at its optimal working power.

Whatever your reason for indulging in chocolate you can now feel at ease knowing that it is not all bad. Milk chocolate that is filled with sugar and other additives does not apply when trying to get health benefits from chocolate. Stick to chocolate that has 70% cocoa or more.