Quick tips for a novice in the kitchen

If you’ve never particularly been fond of culinary arts, have only entered the kitchen just for the time it requires for you to either grab something from the refrigerator, and are now facing the fact that you might have to start picking up some kitchen skills, you will want to keep on reading!

Many of us are now realizing that possessing culinary skills is becoming a must because: a) dining out is costly; b) you may not always get food that truly flatter your taste buds; c) your waistline continually will expand as you eat out. If you have made the conscientious decision to take on cooking, I’m hoping to help you start at least with these following tips:

  1. Start with quick cooking grains – no matter the meal, a quick cooking grain will help minimize errors. Quinoa is one of my favorites because of its versatility and also as a great source of iron, protein and magnesium, you are sure to have a very healthy component to your meal. If you are not a fan of quinoa, you can easily substitute with one of the following grains: couscous, bulgur wheat, or healthy pastas made of the previously mentioned grains. If you are a real novice and need further guidance, you can search online through websites such as foodnetwork.com or allrecipes.com for step by step recipes. I’ll start you off with this list from Fitness Magazine: http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/recipes/dinner/healthy-quinoa-recipes/?page=1
  2. Select a protein that is easy and quick to cook – my go to protein sources are boneless/skinless chicken breast and seafood: shrimp or snapper fillet to be more specific. These proteins are easy to clean and take usually less than 30 minutes to cook. They are as error proof as ingredients can be and require little experience to make a successful meal with them. You want to ensure that you properly clean them: shrimp needs to be deveined and the connective tissues need to be removed from the chicken breast. Once they are properly cleaned, you can be as adventurous with your seasoning or simply go with salt and pepper. Be sure to thoroughly cook your protein especially your poultry as you risk contracting salmonella poisoning if consumed undercooked. You can refer to the step by step guides following for more assistance: cleaning chicken: http://enchantedspoon.blogspot.com/2011/02/kitchen-basics-how-to-properly-trim.html; deveining shrimp:  http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_peel_and_devein_shrimp/
  3. Invest in great seasoning – the seasoning is what can differentiate a bland meal from an exceptional one! While many people think that producing a great tasting meal requires some of the fanciest seasonings, I’ve always thought that the more natural the seasoning, the better the taste. Some of the best spices to use as seasoning include: garlic, pepper, onion, and thyme (depending on the dish). In addition to these, I like to use lime in the cleaning process but it also enriches the taste especially with seafood. For a more depth in the flavor, you may use a small quantity of mustard and hot pepper. For my quick seasoning blend, see my DIY article: http://glamgirlonthego.me/2015/04/23/is-it-worth-it-to-diy/

It will take some practice before you start to feel comfortable in the kitchen, however, the essential part is that you decide to take on the challenge, start with something small and keep practicing until you feel comfortable enough to move on to more complexed recipes. Remember that you’re not alone in your journey, there are many outlets that will help you find new easy recipes to help sharpen your skills such as allrecipes.com or foodnetwork.com. Keep practicing and remember that your taste buds will guide you through the process. You may not become the next “it” chef but I promise that you will definitely learn your way around the kitchen.

Enjoy!

Reese

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Quick and Healthy Burger Meal

As many of us are trying to adopt a healthier lifestyle, we have had to make many cuts in our eating habits and consequently now start to salivate at the sight of a lot of fast foods such as a good burger, French fries, lasagna, cakes etc. At the beginning of the year, a group of my closest girls (including my sister and cousins) and I decided that we would adopt a new eating habit for the New Year. I’m happy to say that six months in, we are still going strong! What has made us successful thus far is 1) the fact that we have a group chat for motivation and sharing ideas and 2) we have continually been sharing alternatives to popular foods that are usually rich in carbs and sugar. Today, I’m sharing my alternative to the typical burger and fries.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of ground turkey ( I like to get the one from the meat department at Whole Foods)
  • Seasoning salt
  • Black pepper
  • Yellow mustard
  • Homemade Marinade (for recipe, see my DIY article here: http://wp.me/p5DKT0-1G)
  • Egg
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Red pepper flakes or Cayenne Pepper or any other hot sauce

Using a large bowl, pour a couple of tablespoons of the homemade marinade on the defrosted ground turkey. Add in the seasoning salt, the Worcestershire sauce, a teaspoon of mustard, and black pepper and pepper flakes (or substitute) to taste. Add the egg as a binding agent to ensure that your burger will not crumble. Form 4 oz patties and fry in a hot pan coated with a tablespoon of olive oil.

As an alternative to a burger bun, I use a naan flatbread and as a cheese option, I use smoked provolone (my weakness) and substitute the traditional French fries for baked sweet potato fries. To create a steakhouse burger option, I added sautéed Portobello mushrooms with red onions and some mixed greens. Instead of the traditional condiments, I made a glaze with a habanero gold and apricot jam (purchased at the local farmer’s market), some honey and a tad of yellow mustard.

The first time I made this burger, it was a hit with my friends! This recipe is not a definite low calorie one however, the ingredients have higher value in the calories such as higher protein, less fat etc. (The picture attached to this blog is an actual picture of my meal)

Overall, when adopting a healthier diet, the key is to increase the amount of your meals are homemade as it provides you with the opportunity of controlling exactly what goes into your food. Have fun with learning new recipes and Pinterest is your best friend! You may also consider the following websites: allrecipes.com, foodnetwork.com, and myfitnesspal.com.

Enjoy!

Reese