Category Archives: Kitchen Handbook

Cooking should be easy and affordable, without sacrificing flavor! Let’s get cooking with kitchen tips, and budget friendly ideas that will help you to cook at home. Safe food handling practices are imperative in the kitchen!

Storing Onions, Garlic and Shallots

Ingredients

I don’t know about you but I have always stored my onions and garlic in the refrigerator only to find out recently that the fridge is not the best place to store them. Onions, just like tomatoes, become soft in the fridge — and what’s an onion without its crisp bite? They also have the tendency to impart their flavor on surrounding produce. And while you might love the taste of onions, you probably don’t want everything to taste like one. It’s actually better to keep whole onions in a warm dry place until they’re cut. Once cut, you should store them in the fridge, covered; they will keep for a few days.

If you have a Garlic Pot or an Onion Pot like the one pictured above; these work great! If you don’t have one of these, how should these edible bulbs be stored? Monica, over at The Yummy Life shared her Mom’s (aka Grammy) storage tip using the punched paper bag method for extending the life. I actually did try this and I was able to keep mine for up to two Months using this method.

Here is what you need:

Storing Onions

• onions, garlic, shallots
• brown paper bags (lunch size)
• hole punch
• marker
• paper clips

Directions:

Bag

Fold

Fold flattened paper bag lengthwise and punch holes along one long edge, approx. 1″ apart,

Fold and Punch 1

punching through multiple layers at one time.

Fold and Punch 2

Flip bag over and punch along opposite side.

Stand up

Open bag, insert onions, garlic or shallots; fill the bag up to half full.

Label

Fold top of bag over 2-3 times, label the top with a marker, and use a paper clip to hold the top in place. Store filled bags in cool, dark place, so that air can circulate between the bags.

Additional Tips:

This punched paper bag method should extend the life of onions, garlic, and shallots in most situations. However, their specific life may vary depending on the temperature, humidity, and light conditions where the bags are stored.

Do not use plastic bags as this will accelerate sprouting and spoilage because of the lack of circulation and the whole point of punching the bags.

Do not store near potatoes. Potatoes should not be stored in the refrigerator as well but they should not be stored near onions as they both give off gases that will accelerate the spoilage of each other.

Temperature:
Store in a cool (not cold) dry space such as a kitchen drawer, storage pantry or basement that is between 65 and 70 degrees.

Adapted From TheYummylife.com

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Storing Cilantro

Storing Cilantro

Directions:

Putting in Paper

1. Place one cut square piece of paper in the bottom of the Ziploc container.
2. Next, remove the tie that secures the cilantro into a bunch and discard.

Twisting Off
3. Carefully tear or cut off the stems from the cilantro leafs and discard stems.

In the Container
4. Now, place the entire bunch into the container and cover with a lid.

Storing Cilantro
Store it in the upper crisper drawer of the refrigerator. You need to change out the paper every 4 days or so. The paper retains the moisture and keeps the cilantro fresh for up to 3 weeks! You may have to pick out a few bad pieces
each time but most of it will keep. Do not use a paper towel, as I have not had favorable results in doing so. (The paper is the trick)!

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Food – Safety Tips For Cooking With A Slow Cooker

Irish stew in a slow cooker pot

There’s a chill in the air and the leaves are starting to turn, and while the daylight hours are noticeably fewer; the Fall Season is simply my favorite time of year! That also means that Slow Cooker Season is among us, so yesterday, I pulled out my slow-cooker in preparation for some hearty and healthy comfort foods I generally like to make using the slow-cooker. Slow cookers are a wonderful convenience but anytime your dealing with low temperatures over long periods of time, there is potential for Food-Safety Hazards.

I am fortunate in that my business requires me to be personally licensed and trained for Safe Food Handling Practices. Thankfully none of us need a license to cook at home however, it is important to make sure you are using your slow-cooker properly. These simple slow-cooker safety guidelines will help keep you and your family safe!

Slow -Cooker Safety Guidelines and Tips:

1. Choose The Right Recipes And Arrange Them Carefully Choose dishes with high moisture content such as Soups, Stews, Chili, and Pasta Sauces. The moisture generates steam which facilitates cooking and helps raise the temperature above the danger zone quickly. Vegetables cook slower than meat, so put them in the cooker first in the bottom, then add meat or poultry then cover with water, stock or broth.

2. Do Not Use Frozen Ingredients – Never Put Frozen Foods Into the Slow Cooker! Defrost all meat, especially poultry thoroughly in the refrigerator before slow cooking. The temperature must reach 140 degrees in 4 hours or less. Frozen meats take well over 2 hours to thaw and start cooking in a slow-cooker therefore, Temperatures between 40 degrees and 140 degrees fall into the so-called “Danger Zone” as bacteria thrive in these temperatures.

3. Cut Up Meat And Poultry Cut meat into chunks or equal size pieces to ensure thorough cooking. Tip: Although the USDA claims it is perfectly safe to place completely thawed and un-cooked meat into the slow-cooker, I pre-cook all of my meats prior to placing them into the slow-cooker. Have you ever noticed the liquid, sometimes blood or even fat and tissue that drains off from the meat after it has been defrosted? Poultry tends to have a stickiness to the touch after it has been thawed.

Gross Chicken

I personally do not want that in my food!

Pre-cooking the meat such as browning or searing before slow-cooking also adds greater depth of flavor! Avoid cooking whole chicken or a large roast in a slow-cooker. The slow cooker cannot heat the large cut of meat quickly enough to avoid a Food-Safety Risk!

4. Avoid Overfilling – Do Not Overfill your slow cooker! Fill it no less than half full and no more than two-thirds full!

5. Pay Attention To Temperature – If you are choosing to cook meat and poultry the USDA suggests that you start the slow-cooker on high for the first hour, then switch to low for the remainder of the cooking time. You can also bring liquids to a simmer before adding them to the slow-cooker on low, thereby jump-starting the creation of heat. The proper Food Temperature must reach and “Hold” (Remain) at 165 degrees or above! Use A Thermometer!

6. Don’t Lift The Lid – Avoid lifting the lid, as the slow-cooker will lose heat each time and will also affect the cooking time. It is best to do it towards the end of cooking to check for doneness.

7. Do Not Reheat Food In Your Slow Cooker – Reheating food in the slow-cooker takes too long to reach a safe temperature. Use the stovetop for reheating! However, you can use a slow-cooker to keep food hot up to 2 hours before serving. Leftovers should be stored in covered containers and refrigerated within 2 hours.

8. Adjust Cooking Times For High Altitude – For high Altitude Cooking, add an additional 30 minutes for each hour of time specified in the recipe.

9. Adding Dairy Products – Recipes that call for dairy products such as sour cream, milk, yogurt and cheese tend to break down in the slow-cooker. To prevent this, I add them during the last 15 minutes of cooking!

Most of these tips and guidelines I have shared with you today came right from my slow-cooker manual that usually comes with your purchase. There are many great models and styles of slow-cookers and crock-pots available today. Manufacturers have made significant improvements to the newer models and they have the capability of reaching the proper temperature very quickly. If you still own one of the older style slow-cookers from about 10 years ago such as the one pictured here,

Old Style Crock

I suggest replacing it with a newer model.  I have a Hamilton Beach Slow-Cooker as pictured below.

Hamilton Beach

I also have the Crock Pot The Original Slow Cooker Trio Cook & Serve, pictured here.

Crock Pot Trio

I use this one for entertaining! I love both of them and they are extremely efficient. Over the next few weeks I will be sharing some of my favorite comfort foods and recipes I like to prepare using my slow-cooker!

Information has been compiled from the following resources:

USDA – United States Department of Agriculture
EatingWell Food Safety Guidelines
Personal License and Training for Safe Food Handling Practices

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Maximize The Flavor With Marinades

marinade

As many of you already know, a few years back I made the decision to eliminate as many processed foods and products from our diets. This was the inspiration for creating The Zesty Moose Products! It has definitely been a challenge, but the effort in reducing it for the most part has been much more beneficial for our health and our pocket books! One of the most difficult food items to cut out was the already prepared bottled marinades, sauces and salad dressings. Who can pronounce all of those ingredients listed on the nutritional panel? Just keep cruising past all of those little dry packaged marinades that we are sold on as being convenient. The first three ingredients are usually salt, sugar and maltodextrin. Citric Acid, Corn Syrup Solids and Silicon Dioxide are not ingredients we cook with at home? I think it goes without saying we are not buying real food or quality ingredients in those packets!

photophoto(1)

Here are some ideas and tips on creating some simple, healthy and affordable marinades at home. The purpose of a marinade is to simply add flavor and then to tenderize the meat. A marinade contains 3 basic components:

1. Acid; which is typically some type of vinegar, lemon, lime or orange juice, or even wine.
2. Oil; usually olive oil, but you could use canola, safflower or peanut. There are flavored oils out there but remember the idea of a marinade is to flavor so refrain from getting to complex on your oil choice. The oil adds moisture, and not so much flavor to the meat, while the acid breaks down the protein especially in tougher cuts of meat. A simple vinaigrette dressing or marinade ratio is three parts oil for every one part acid used. This can easily be adjusted depending upon the choice of meat.
3. Flavor; generally accomplished by using a combination of herbs and spices.

Tips And Warnings On Marinades:

1. Pierce the meat with a fork as this allows the marinade to enter the tissue quicker.

2. Use a Non-Reactive container, such as glass, stainless steel or plastic zip lock bags. Never use aluminum as it reacts to the acid.

3. Let the meat marinate in the refrigerator, not on the counter as bacteria can grow, especially on pork and chicken.

4. Remove meat from the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to grilling. Placing cold meat directly onto the grill will make the cut tough.

5. Do Not Re-Use Any Marinade that has come into contact with raw meat! You can boil it first and then use it but I would not suggest doing this. You are safer to just discard it. If you want to use it for basting, I suggest reserving some of the marinade and set it aside before adding your meat.

6. For best results, always marinate over night or at least 4 hours. It really depends on the cut. Delicate cuts such as fish should be 30 minutes, while seafood, like shrimp should only be 15 minutes. This is because the acid will start to cook it.

7. Use Seasoning Blends instead of buying herbs and spices. You can easily spend $15 to $25 dollars alone in buying them individually. Again, in most store bought blends or packets; the first 3 ingredients are usually salt, sugar maltodextrin and sometimes MSG (monosodium glutamate); a chemically altered food enhancer.

Benefits Of Making Them At Home:

• More Affordable than store-bought brands
• No Preservatives, fillers or MSG
• Better Control over ingredients such as salt, sugar and fat
• Capability of creating different flavor profiles

Additional Ingredients And Substitutions:
(This is where you will save money, as these items are normally stocked in
most home pantries).

Marinades

Olive Oil
Grape Seed Oil
Red Wine, White Wine, Rice, Cider or Balsamic Vinegar
Soy Sauce
Worcestershire Sauce
Lemon, Lime and Orange Juice
Red & White Wine
Honey
Yogurt
Buttermilk
Coconut Milk
Mustard
Horseradish or Wasabi Powder
Unsalted Butter
Regular Tap Water
Fresh Onion – Red, White or Shallots
Fresh Garlic

The Zesty Moose Favorites:

Pork1

I use this marinade most of the time because it uses only three ingredients plus one of our Seasoning Blends! For this marinade, I use a one part olive oil to one part red wine vinegar to one part water. I then change up the flavor profile by using one of our many signature spice blends. These are two of our top sellers for creating marinades! The Twigs n’ Stix Southwest Seasoning Blend is a good choice for chicken, and the Rack Ragin’ Cajun Seasoning Blend works well with pork.

The Zesty Moose Marinades (click to go to link)

So give these marinades a try, and get creative with the ingredients! Generally I will always use some type of a marinade for preparing our meats whether we slow cook it in the oven or prior to placing it on the grill. The combination of marinating and using a good seasoning blend (that contains real food ingredients) adds to the infusion of flavor. This is known in the culinary world; as “The art of flavor layering.” We are always developing new recipes for our products so keep checking the food blog on the front page of our website. You can also get new recipes, receive notifications on product releases and updates by subscribing to our page! Click Here!

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