Category Archives: Cooking

Recipes for what to do with Leftover Steak Include Egg Dishes Sandwiches and Fajitas you Make Quick

Steak is such an awesome food that sometimes cooks prepare more than can be eaten during one meal. Having cooked steak in the fridge can be a very good thing, however, since there truly are many options available for preparing leftover steak. What to do with leftover steak, of course, depends on how much surplus is available. If there is a lot left over, simply use the amount you need in accordance with the number of dishes you are preparing.

Pair leftover steak with eggs for breakfast

Warming leftover steak for breakfast is easy and the fact that the meat is done already means cooks can prepare a quick and hearty meal without a lot of work. One thing to do with leftover steak for breakfast is to dice it, sauté it with onions, and then scramble an egg or two in with it. A couple slices of toast or premade breakfast rolls makes for a delicious well balanced meal. Just add a hot drink and orange juice.

Another breakfast use is to dice leftover steak and then add it to an omelet or two. Making omelets is easy if you know how to scramble an egg. All you have to do is pour the scrambled egg from the bowl into a lightly greased pan and then let it cook over medium low heat for about two to three minutes. While it is cooking, dice up the amount of steak you want to add and sauté it in a second pan along with a few bits of onion. After the steak and onion mixture is ready spread it over one side of the omelet, add cheese (shredded or not), and a bit of salsa and then use a spatula to fold the the omelet in half. Allow the omelet to continue cooking for about another minute and then flip it over so that it can cook a little more on the other side. Once done, remove the omelet from the pan, top with a bit more salsa for added flavor and appeal, and grab that slice of toast that just popped from the toaster.

Make a sandwich for lunch

Make a cold steak sandwich or warm the steak for a few seconds in the microwave. If preferred, however, reheat the steak in a pan over the stove, perhaps with a few onions and or bell peppers. Once warmed, place the steak and fixings on a slice of bread or in a bun and top with a slice of cheese and tomatoes. Adding a bit of mayonnaise or another favorite spread to the bread would be pleasing to the taste buds as well.

Make fajitas for dinner

By cutting leftover steak into strips and then re-warming it in a pan with sautéed onions and bell peppers, you could make a quick batch of fajitas. It is not necessary to eat fajita mixings folded inside tortillas, however, so if you do not have any tortillas – no worries! Simply toast a couple slices of bread until they are golden brown and then lay the fajita mixings over the two slices of toast. Top with salsa, cheese, sour cream, and then enjoy this dish with a knife and fork.

Another way to enjoy fajitas is over rice or noodles (any pasta). Switching things up now and again makes for more variety and helps to keep mealtime exciting. If you have leftover rice or pasta in the fridge, simply place a desired amount of either in a bowl and heat it in the microwave. The best way to get the rice or pasta to come out as if it were just cooked is to place it in a ceramic bowl, add a tablespoon of water, cover it with a microwaveable lid, and then microwave it for one minute. Once the rice or pasta is heated, lay the hot fajita mix on top and chow down.

Make a quick soup

Preparing a quick soup for lunch or as a course preceding a dinner entrée is another great way to make use of leftover steak. Simply cut the steak into cubes or chunks, add it to a pot of water along with a few cuts of carrots, celery, potatoes, and onions, and then bring the mix to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to medium heat and allow to brew for fifteen to twenty minutes. Season the mix to taste with a few sprinklings of salt, pepper, parsley, marjoram, and a bit of garlic powder.

Finding ways to prepare foods that wind up in the fridge following mealtime might seem a bit tricky at first. However, a little imagination goes a long way, even when the thing you are trying to figure out what to do with happens to be leftover steak.

Professional Tips for Baking Great Cakes

“Let them eat cake!” Indeed, cake is a universal food, all cultures and ethnic groups eat cake, and the entire world loves cake.

Cakes come in many forms; we have Angel food and Devils food, Cheesecake and Carrot cake, Cupcakes, Pancakes, Hoecakes, and Australian Lamington cake. There is Upside-down cake, Lava cake, Fruitcake and Croquebouche. You can bake a Moon cake or a Fairy cake, Gooey cake, or bake Petit fours, Pound cakes or a celebration Birthday cake; all of these are delicious and wonderful.

However, there are a few tricks, hints, and tips for baking the “perfect” cake. Whether you make your cake from scratch or use a mix there are a few simple ways to make them all come out with professional panache. In this article, you will find a few of the top tips for baking cakes.

These tips and suggestions work well for scratch cakes as well as mixes; however, for this article we are discussing cakes made using mixes. Cake mixes are quick and easy, all the dry ingredients are premixed for you, and all that is needed then are eggs, some kind of fat and liquid.

Tips for cake mix success:

-Eggs: Use extra large, room temperature eggs. Add these eggs one at a time beating after each addition until the eggs cannot be seen in the batter. Your batter should be light and fluffy after the eggs are incorporated.

-Fats: Professional bakers have a secret and it is this, they do not use oil in their cakes. They use high quality shortening in the batter; whip it in along with the eggs. This creates a solid cake, with height and volume. To each cake mix, add 1/3 cup of solid shortening. (Did you know that Crisco has zero transfats?) In addition, add 1-2 tbsp. of real butter to the batter for a rich taste.

-Flavorings: Do not be afraid to add different flavorings into your cakes mix. Try adding an extra tablespoon of vanilla, almond, cherry, or rum to a mix along with the other liquids. Or try adding some liqueurs into the batter for dramatic high-powered flavors. The alcohol content cooks out.

-Liquids: Substitute any fruit juice, fruit flavored beverage or even coffee and tea for the water required in any cake mix. There are even recipes using melted ice cream to replace some of the ingredients required, what fun!

Many times novice cake bakers rush through the mixing process causing disasters; do not hurry. There is an old saying, “Haste makes waste.” This is very true, when you rush through the mixing of the cake thereby not allowing the ingredients to be fully incorporated so they can meld together; you lose volume, texture, and yes-even taste. Take your time.

*Tip-After all ingredients are mixed into the cake mix, and using an electric mixer, beat batter on high or the highest speed that is prudent (to not flip everything out of the bowl) for 2 minutes, or until you see the batter lighten in color and it is becomes very fluffy.

Pour this fluffy, nice cake batter into prepared pans and bake according to the instruction.

*Tip: Test for doneness, always test; the tester should come out clean, with a few crumbs attached, clean of batter.

*Tip: Professional cake bakers use a product that combines flour and non-stick cooking spray, to prepare their cake pans; it is available in most grocery stores and called Bakers Joy. Get this product and use it for all your cake baking. Cakes slip right out of their pans. After baking, allow cakes to cool 5 minutes before removing from pans.

You do not have to be a professional baker to bake beautiful, tall, soft textured cakes, just keep these tips in mind, follow the baking instructions precisely, use these tips, test, but mostly enjoy your day of baking. And then, let them eat cake!

Product Review Cuisinart Cbk 100 2 Pound Programmable Bread Maker

Bread makers have been around for quite a while now and some people really enjoy their convenience. There are still those that prefer to make bread the old fashioned way: by hand and then bake it in the oven. Neither method is better than the other, it just depends on personal preference. One thing that homemade bread lovers can agree on is that the smell of fresh baked is heavenly.

One bread maker that stands out from some of the others on the current market is the Cuisinart CBK-100. This machine seems to do it all and with style. 

Features

The CBK-100 is push button all the way. The push button convenience makes wiping down the control panel simple and worry free. The machine is available in stainless steel and black which makes cleaning the outside easy also. 

The bread pan is dishwasher safe (top rack) or can be hand washed with warm soapy water. The kneading paddle should be cleaned by hand to avoid losing it in the dishwasher.

The lid of the Cuisinart CBK-100 has a viewing window so that you can see your bread rising and baking. This is a nice feature for those who like to take a peek at their bread while it is baking in the conventional oven. 

Functions

You have several options for types of bread products you can bake, from regular white bread to pizza dough and a variety in between. It even has a setting for making jellies. 

You can choose the size of the loaf (1, 1 1/2 or 2 pound) and you can also choose the color of the crust (light, medium or dark).

The CBK-100 has a “delay start” function which allows you to add the ingredients for certain recipes and then set the timer to begin the process at a chosen time. 

There are tones that let you know when you can add special ingredients depending on the recipe and setting you are using. The CBK-100 also gives a tone when the bread has finished baking and is ready for removal. 

Drawback

There is one drawback to the CBK-100 and that is the hole left in the bottom of the loaf when it is removed from the bread pan. The hole is caused by the kneading paddle being inside the loaf while it is baking. This causes slight problems when you start slicing the loaf. 

You can listen for the tone that comes right before it begins baking and remove the kneading paddle and reshape the loaf and put back into the machine. The problem with this is that you will still be left with a hole, from the screw that the paddle mounts to, in the bottom of the loaf. The hole will be smaller, but still there none the less. 

Overall, the Cuisinart CBK-100 programmable bread maker is very easy to use and provides hassle free bread making options. Simply add the ingredients to the bread pan, place the pan into the machine, select your crust color and loaf size and select the bread type and turn it on. The machine completely takes care of the kneading, rising and baking of your favorite breads.

With only one real drawback (the hole in the bottom), this machine is easy to use and easy to clean. It comes with instructions which also include some delicious recipes, a measuring spoon and cup, bread pan and kneading paddle.  

Raspberry summer dessert ideas

Raspberry desserts in the summer can be refreshing, tasty and easy to make.  Many desserts can keep in the refrigerator for a few days. Very little baking during the hot summer months is even necessary with many raspberry desserts. 

Here is an easy, yummy raspberry dessert that is sure to please your family, friends, or guests at that cookout.

Ingredients:

1 cup unsalted butter (two sticks), cut into one-inch chunks
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
½  teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
Softened butter to brush sides of foil-lined baking dish
¾ cup seedless raspberry jam
2 cups fresh raspberries
½ of an eight ounce package of cream cheese, softened
4 ounces of chèvre (goat cheese) OR 4 ounces more of regular cream cheese
½ cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 Tablespoons lemon zest
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon pure vanilla
Powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13x9x2 baking pan with enough foil to leave foil extended over the ends of the pan, and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter with a mixer on medium/high speed until it softens (about 30 seconds).

Add the brown sugar and salt to the softened butter in the mixing bowl. Mix for about a minute, until the ingredients are mixed together. Turn the mixer off and add two cups of flour. Beat on low speed until the flour is mixed in. Increase the mixer speed to medium, mixing all the ingredients until a cohesive dough forms.  Don’t under mix it; you don’t want crumbles.

Break the dough into small chunks and spread the chunks out evenly in the bottom of the pan, using your fingers to press the dough into place.  If your fingers stick to the dough, use a bit of flour on your hands to prevent the dough from sticking.) You want a nice, even layer of dough covering the entire bottom of the pan.

Bake for 20 minutes, until the dough has puffed up and is set.  Cool on a wire rack for five minutes.

Using the soft butter, brush the sides of the foil-lined pan. This will keep your filling from sticking to the sides of the pan. Spread the raspberry jam over the bottom of the crust. Sprinkle the raspberries on top of the jam.

In a large mixing bowl, mix the cream cheese and goat cheese, if you are using goat cheese, on medium/high speed for 30 seconds. Mix in the granulated sugar and one tablespoon of flour until it’s blended. Then add the egg, egg yolk, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla. Beat until the ingredients are smooth.  You want a custard-like consistency.

Pour the batter over the raspberries, tilting the pan back and forth to distribute the batter evenly.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. You want the bars to be just barely set. 

Cool the pan completely on a wire rack. This might take about an hour.

Cover the pan and store in the refrigerator for two hours. As the bars chill, cracking on the top of the dessert is normal.

Using the foil on the sides, lift the pars from the pan. Gently peel the foil down from the sides of the bars. You may need to use a spatula or wide knife to support the sides of the bars as you peel the foil down. Cut into long bars, with the foil still attached to the bottom of the bars. This will provide a cleaner cut. Peel the foil from the bottom and place the long bars on a cutting board; and cut into 24 squares.  Sprinkle the bars lightly with powdered sugar.There are several variations to try when making bars, but if you like raspberry, this is a sure bet. 

Pampered Chef Cutting Edge Food Chopper Review

I love gadgets. In fact, you could say that I am a sucker for them. As long as they cost under $10, that is. I may be a sucker, but I am a frugal sucker who is not going to through large amounts of money away on a gadget.

It is due to this frugal streak that I never bought gadgets through Pampered Chef. Lucky for me I am known among my family and friends as a gadget junkie. I received a Pampered Chef Cutting Edge Food Chopper for my birthday a couple of years ago and not only does it work great, but it has saved me tons of money. I no longer am a sucker for all those miracle choppers under $10 since I already have the best chopper available.

The Pampered Chef Cutting Edge Food Chopper is not a huge gadget so it will not take up a lot of space in your kitchen. Don’t be fooled though, just because it isn’t big does not mean that it can’t take on a big job. I have used mine to help prepare a meal for two as well as preparing a meal for 12. It is a tough little gadget that takes what you throw at it and keeps on chopping.

This food chopper is made from clear and white plastic. The handle has a rubber top that is gentle on your hand when you are plunging the handle to chop what you have put inside the clear collar of the food chopper. You can either chop your food over a cutting board or you can use it as a self contained chopper by replacing the white, plastic cap before you chop. I prefer to use a cutting board in order to be sure that the cap does not become stained or retain odors.

While the Pampered Chef chopper does not chop a great deal at a time it does chop very quickly; so even if you are making a huge bowl of salsa for your Super Bowl party you will be done in a flash. The steel blades are very sharp and will make short work of whatever you need them for. This ensures you spend more time with your guests than in the kitchen.

The Pampered Chef Cutting Edge Food Chopper not only chops quickly, but it cleans quickly and easily as well. To clean the chopper, dismantle the chopper by removing the cap (if needed), twisting off the clear collar, and then pulling the blade guide out. The plunger can then be separated into two sections so you can clean the inside and the blades.

All parts of the Pampered Chef food chopper are dishwasher safe. However, I prefer to wash them by hand in hot soapy water.
I am always afraid that one of the kids would go to unload the dishwasher and not watch what they were doing and get cut on the blades. I don’t want to take that chance and it doesn’t very long to wash it by hand and put it away.

Putting it away, that leads me to one thing I didn’t mention as a benefit of the Pampered Chef Food Chopper and that is the amount of space it has saved in my kitchen. Not only is it small, but it has allowed me clear out all of those cheaper gadgets that I was suckered into buying.

I definitely recommend the Pampered Chef Cutting Edge Food Chopper to anyone that likes gadgets and wants extra time and space in the kitchen. I found mine to be a great time, space, and money saver. You can find one of your own through your local Pampered Chef consultant or through their website at www.pamperedchef.com.

Prepare your kitchen for cooking in a power outage

Feeding yourself and your family can be challenging during a power outage, especially one that extends to several days or more. Prepare now for that eventuality and you might even be able to make it feel like an adventure. A good supply of drinking water, a well-stocked pantry and a few essential camping tools will go a long way toward easing the stress of dealing with daily life without power.

Water is critical to survival, with or without power, and it is a good idea to keep a regular supply of at least one gallon per day per person in your household. If you’re a two-person household and want to prepare for 3 days without power, you’ll store at least 6 gallons. Glass is the ideal container for water because it can be sterilized and it won’t leach anything into the water, like plastic containers can do. You can easily find fruit juice sold in one-gallon glass jugs at most grocery stores. Once you’ve enjoyed the juice, recycle the jug. If you don’t want to buy juice, you can buy one gallon canning jars. Either way, thoroughly wash and sterilize the lids and jars, then fill them with fresh, clean drinking water from your tap.

If you aren’t confident about the quality of your tap water, research the options for water filter pitchers or in-line systems, rather than storing water bottled in plastic. Safe fresh drinking water should be in ready supply at all times and there are many reasons not to rely on commercial bottled water. Apart from the added cost to your grocery bill, the plastics from bottled waters are becoming an increasing problem in landfills and in the oceans. Most plastics used for bottling water break down over time and exposure to light and heat, leaching their components into the water. Some constituents that are used to make plastic bottles have been found to contain hormone disruptors and carcinogens linked to certain types of cancer.

Be sure to tightly secure the lid on the jug to keep bugs or dust from getting into it. Store your water in a dark cool place to inhibit the growth of algae. Even if your water does develop algae, it won’t kill you to drink it, but it doesn’t taste great, which may mean you won’t drink as much as you need to stay properly hydrated. Use the water for cooking and drinking every couple of months and replace it to keep your supply fresh. You can safely drink water that has been stored for years in a glass, enamel-coated metal or stainless steel container, but it will taste better if it hasn’t been stored for so long.

Most of the food in your refrigerator (depending on how long it’s already been in there) and freezer will hold for several days, especially if you don’t open them more than once or twice a day. If the forecast is for extended power outages, it’s a good idea to cook most of the contents of your fridge and freezer (particularly meat, fish and poultry), unless you can take them to the home of a friend or family member who isn’t without power. Most foods that have been fully cooked can be safely eaten, even when they haven’t been refrigerated, by bringing them to a full boil for at least 5 minutes before eating. This method can be used to hold food like soups, stews and sauces for up to 2 days longer than non-refrigerated, uncooked food.

When temperatures outside are cold enough, as in the case of winter outages, you can use the outside to keep foods cold. Most refrigerators are set for around 42 degrees, so if the temperature outside is that or colder, you can store foods like dairy products and meats outside.

Fruits and vegetables do not hold well at temperatures much below 42, so if the outside temperatures are lower than that, keep your produce in the coolest spot in the house, or place it outside in an insulated cooler and check it regularly to make sure it isn’t freezing. If you find your produce frozen, all fruits and most vegetables can still be cooked with at that stage. Even though the flavor and texture won’t be the same as fresh, it will still keep you from going hungry and provide some nutrition.

A well-stocked pantry, or kitchen cupboards, is generally a good idea anytime to make cooking at home easier to do if you’ve got a busy schedule with little time for regular shopping. Keeping more dry and canned goods on hand than you’d use in a couple of weeks will mean there will be something on hand to cook with in the event you can’t get out to stores, or should stores run short of supplies, due to transportation issues caused by severe weather. Much the same as rotating your water supply, be sure to use up and replace your dry and canned goods regularly to keep them as fresh as possible. Flour and flour-based foods, such as pasta, do eventually go stale or rancid, and rancid food can cause digestive problems if consumed regularly. The same goes for cooking oil. It’s best not to buy cooking oils in plastic containers, or containers larger that what you’ll use within a couple of weeks. Time, heat and light will all add to a breakdown and leaching of plastic containers, and in promoting rancidity in oils.

Canned goods should also be used up regularly, and whenever possible buy canned goods from companies that do not use BPA to line their cans. High acid foods in particular can leach the BPA from the can lining into the food. Research into the effect of BPA on health is ongoing, but studies have already shown that it can have adverse effects on the body, especially in infants and children.

Whether or not you go camping, if you live in an area that frequently experiences power outages and you don’t already have a wood-stove for heat, it is worth investing in a small camp stove to cook with outside. A simple stove with two burners that uses canned propane will keep you cooking for as long as you can access the fuel. Of course, you can also use a barbeque grill, provided it’s a propane grill, for cooking meat, poultry, fish and some vegetables.

Never use any propane appliance in an enclosed area because they produce carbon monoxide (CO2). CO2 is a lethal gas if enough of it is inhaled, and it’s not detectable unless you have a CO2 detector installed in your home.

If you already have a wood stove, it’s pretty easy to use it to heat water, make soups and stews, steam rice or vegetables, even bake if you have the right pots and pans. Cooking on a wood stove harkens back to the days before homes were built with central gas for heating and cooking, or electric appliances. Plain or enameled cast iron cookware works great on wood stoves and is durable enough to hold up to long-term exposure to high heat. Some modern cookware with special coatings are not designed to sit on the type of high heat coming off the top of a wood-stove and can be damaged or ruined if used in this manner. A medium-sized skillet and a Dutch oven, along with a couple of heavy bottomed non-coated sauce pans and a tea-kettle will serve very well for wood stove cooking adventures.

Practice makes perfect, as the saying goes, so practice with your emergency kitchen setup a couple of times a year. Becoming comfortable using it will help alleviate some of the stress that comes with living through a power outage.

Oven Check Temperature

Ovens are notorious for either running too hot, burning your food, or running too cold, not cooking your food all the way through. Most ovens are consistent and either run too hot or too cold, but some older ovens will be totally erratic and will, at times, be too hot or too cold.

Knowing the temperature that the oven is running at is important, but measuring the temperature of an oven is often complicated by the fact that an oven will cycle above and below a given temperature in order to maintain “on average” the temperature set on the dial. Added to this “cycling” effect, is the reality that ovens take varying amounts of time to warm up (depending on the temperature of the day) to the temperature about which they will cycle.

The starting point of measuring oven function should be an oven thermometer. These are relatively cheap devices that can be purchased in homeware shops or online. The CDN High Heat Oven Thermometer is just one typical oven thermometer that you can hang inside the oven or place on a middle shelf and view from outside.

With the oven thermometer, you should run a range of tests. First, place the thermometer in the oven, set the oven temperature dial to around 350F and warm it up for 45 minutes. Then check the temperature of the internal thermometer and compare to the outside dial. Note any difference and then raise the temperature of the oven to 375F, wait another 45 minutes and check the temperature again. Finally raise the oven to 400F and repeat the test.

These three measurements should help you determine if your oven is generally running too hot or too cold. You may even be able to get a consistent difference, showing, for example, it is running 25F lower or higher than it should be, according to the dial. However, the thermometer should be placed in the same location inside the over since the top shelf is usually hotter than the bottom one, even if the oven is running “correctly.”

There are some ways of measuring oven temperature without an oven thermometer (see Bake Like a Ninja).

Another way of testing oven temperature without a thermometer can be found at food.com, where sugar is placed in a pre-heated oven and left for 15 minutes. In an oven pre-heated to 375F, the sugar should melt. If it does not, the oven is running cold. In an oven pre-heated to 350F, the sugar left for 15 minutes may brown slightly but should not melt unless the oven is running hot. While you will not know exactly how much the oven is over or under heating, you will have a good idea about its tendency.

Pointless gadgets for the kitchen

Over the years many gadgets, designed for use in the kitchen, have hit the market. There is a gadget for everything from fruit slicing to drink mixing. Some of those gadgets have proven extremely useful and remain popular. 

Some gadgets, while potentially useful, are rather pointless. These seemingly silly gadgets are novelties but do not really save much time, energy and certainly don’t save money. Of the hundreds of pointless kitchen gadgets out there, a few rise to the top of silliness fame. 

Banana slicer

Many people would think of a knife as a banana slicer. Some don’t bother slicing the banana, they simply break it into chunks and go on about eating or using it in a recipe. Whether the world needed a banana slicer or not, it got one anyway.

The banana slicer is a cute idea and has merit in that it slices a whole banana in one shot. The downside is what happens when the slicer gets dull and smashes the banana? Is it going to work for the next twenty years without being sharpened? Does it come in colors other than yellow? The world may never know the answers to these important questions. 

Mayo knife

It can be said that some people get frustrated with trying empty a jar of mayonnaise. A regular butter knife or even spoon can leave hands messy and still not empty that jar. Many people don’t even give such things a second thought, until they are trying to get that last bit of mayo out.

There is no denying the heart was in the right place for this gadget. However, a mayo knife is not exactly in the top ten for most useful kitchen gadgets. In fact, a mayo knife may seem rather silly to some consumers. Silly or not, the gadget is here.

Motorized fork

A spinning fork for spaghetti and other pastas is an amusing thought. It is also a little scary, what if it spins so fast that the spaghetti goes flying across the room? Then you are left with a big mess!

All that can really be said is that there are spinning toothbrushes and no one is laughing much about that! For some pasta lovers, learning how to properly wind spaghetti onto a fork might be a little frustrating. The motorized fork does the work for you, not that you need it to. 

These are only a few of the most pointless kitchen gadgets out there. Sure, the gadget might be fun to use or actually have a valid intention. However, sometimes you have to ask yourself if it is really necessary. The answer is probably no. Most kitchen gadgets are not necessary or even a practical; a spinning fork, for example. 

No matter if these pointless gadgets have an intended purpose or not, each one found homes somewhere in the world. The truth is that the people that purchased these gadgets probably enjoyed using the item(s) at least once, if not on a regular basis. The funniest part is that each season you can count on more kitchen gadgets to hit the market. 

Quick and Healthy Breakfast Dishes

We are all swamped with extremely busy lives. It seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day as we try to commute to school, workplace and elsewhere in the morning hours. But, in spite of the tight schedules, it is vital that we find time to include breakfast as it’s the most important meal of the day. And because time is of the essence, it is very imperative that the meals chosen should be easy and fast. Not only should these breakfast meals be fast, but they should consist of essential nutrients that detrimental for energy and growth.

Some of the fast and healthy breakfast meals to consider are:

*Smoothie

One great way to sustain great energy and vitality is to have a hearty smoothie. It is quick, easy and healthy. It’s a meal in one that you can actually grab and head through the door. This smoothie could be made with milk, Greek yogurt, berries and/or bananas, and flax seeds. It is packed with protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients. It’s best to freeze the preferred fruits overnight in order to gain a thicker and cooler consistency.

*Oatmeal

Get a jump start on the choice of oatmeal by utilizing the packet version without sugar. This move will reduce cooking time. A healthy serving of oatmeal for breakfast will keep you satiated for a long period. Oatmeal contains excellent fibers along with other nutrients that aid in good heart health. Another way to reduce cooking time is to prepare oatmeal in the microwave oven. Cook oatmeal in a glass bowl and sprinkle a little cinnamon. The cinnamon will also aid in lowering the glucose level in the body. Top your oatmeal with choice of berries and/or bananas. If fruits don’t provide enough sugar, sweeten further with honey or any other sweetener.

*Eggs

When it comes to a quick and healthy breakfast meal, eggs are the perfect items. Eggs are loaded with a number of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants that are great for the body. And, one great way to prepare these is to scramble or make an omelet. The omelet can be filled with cheese, leftover veggies or any other filling. Serve preferred egg dish with buttered toast and fresh fruits.

*Pizza (Savory/sweet)

Make your own breakfast pizza by using English muffins. This dish can be either savory or sweet. Finely chop strawberries or raspberries in a bowl and add a sprinkle of sugar or honey along with a dash of cinnamon. Do a quick simmer in the microwave oven or stove top until it thickens. Set this aside. It will only take a few minutes. Maybe, this could be done overnight. Toast English muffins and then spread and top English muffin slices with berries.

For a savory delight, slice tomatoes and season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Place seasoned tomatoes on English muffins and sprinkle choice of shredded cheese on top.  Heat in the toaster until muffin is crusty and cheese is melted.

A good and hearty breakfast always starts the day right. And, one great way to see that it’s incorporated in the daily dietary plan is to select fast and healthy dishes that will fit into your lifestyle.

Plastic vs Wood vs Stone Cutting Boards

Plastic vs. Wood vs. Stone Cutting Boards.

The sheer variety of cutting boards available on the market today can be staggering. Which type is best? Which is safest? Which should you buy? Here is a guide to helping you choose.

PLASTIC CUTTING BOARDS

These are relatively inexpensive, lightweight and come in many different shapes and colors to match your kitchen decor. There are regular solid cutting boards, as well as flexible cutting mats. Cutting mats are especially handy for collecting what you’ve just chopped, and funneling it directly into your measuring cup or pan.

The downside is that plastic cutting boards can dull and possible damage your knives over time, and every good cook wants to take good care of his or her knives! Also, constant cutting can create scratches and grooves in the plastic, and unsightly, difficult (impossible!) to clean stains can develop in the grooves. Plastic cutting boards may need to be replaced frequently, as they often do not hold up well over time.

WOOD CUTTING BOARDS

Many people find wood cutting boards more attractive than plastic. A solid maple cutting board is truly a beautiful and long-lasting addition to your kitchen, although it can be heavy and awkward to handle.

Wood cutting boards are usually much gentler on your expensive cutlery than plastic, as the wood surface is softer and more giving than plastic. Also, the knife cuts on your board will generally “heal” themselves, and food stains may be easier to clean than plastic. For this reason, a wooden cutting board can remain beautiful for a longer time than plastic.

STONE CUTTING BOARDS

Stone cutting boards are generally not recommended. While the typical types of stone (marble, granite, slate) are generally resistant to harboring bacteria when washed carefully, the hard stone surface itself can cause great damage to your fine knives.

SAFETY

Controversy continues to rage on the Plastic vs. Wood safety debate. Conventional wisdom has long said that plastic has antimicrobial qualities, unlike wood, which is believed to harbor bacteria in its surface. Some studies have shown that wood is safer in some respects, but again and again, plastic is found to be safer.

Whichever type of cutting board you choose, safety should be first on your mind at all times. To protect yourself and your family, you should ideally have one board dedicated to raw meats, and another purely for vegetables. The juices from raw meats can carry dangerous or even deadly bacteria. While the meat itself will be cooked to a temperature that kills the bacteria, the juices left behind can contaminate your cold ingredients. For example, if you were to cut salad greens on the same board as raw chicken, your salad could be contaminated.

After every use, wash all your cutting boards thoroughly in hot soapy water, and scrub well with a brush to remove any bacteria that might linger in the scratches or grooves of the board. Occasionally rinsing your cutting board with white vinegar, followed by hot water, can be beneficial, also. Most plastic and some solid wood boards may also go into the dishwasher for an occasional thorough cleaning.