Come join the fun!

You may have noticed my lack of posting this summer and it’s all because I’ve been working hard on building a new website that I hope will serve as a useful resource for people interested in cooking. It’s all about making cooking accessible to cooks of all skill levels. I’ll share tips, tools and techniques in 150-word posts daily, as well as videos and lots of other fun things I’ll be adding in the coming weeks.

I hope you’ll join the party at!

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How to Whip up a No-Bake Dessert

No-bake desserts are a lifesaver, especially during hot summer months. They can also be quick to put together, making them perfect for entertaining or pot-lucks.

You can make a super quick and easy classic dessert with your favorite cookies and ice cream. Leave the ice cream on your counter for about 15 minutes to soften it. Place one scoop in the center of one cookie. Top with a second cookie, pressing gently to spread the ice cream evenly between the two cookies. Roll the edges in cookie crumbs, chopped nuts, toasted coconuts or mini chocolate chips. Pop your sandwiches back in the freezer for 30 minutes before serving.

Check out No Bake Desserts to Die For for more cool ideas.

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How to Grill with Flavor

There’s more to grilling great food than cooking over an open flame. Turn up the heat on your next grilled meal by adding one of the three basic ways to flavor grilled foods — marinades, rubs or sauces.

Marinades are usually a mix of oil and an acid like citrus juice or vinegar. Soaking food in a marinade, which can also contain herbs and spices, allows food to absorb all the delicious flavors in the marinade. Make sure that any marinade that comes into contact with raw meat or poultry not come into contact with cooked foods.

Rubs are mixtures of herbs and spices that are literally rubbed onto raw meat to add flavor. Some rubs are made with a little oil or liquid, just enough to make a paste that’s applied the same way as a dry rub.

Sauces are brushed on in the last few minutes of cooking. Applying them early on in cooking will cause them to burn before your meat is cooked.

For more tips on how to get your grill on this summer, check out Five Tips for Grilling Greatness.

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How to Poach an Egg

For me, a poached egg is all about the yolk. Don’t get me wrong. I’ll eat the egg whites, but even at their perfectly plump and supple best they can’t hold a candle to my precious yolks. There’s not much better – where food’s concerned – than a warm, buttery poached egg yolk oozing like a river of creamy, golden lava over baby greens or a toasted English muffin with bacon or a pile of roasted asparagus sprinkled with crispy, crumbled prosciutto. Perfection on a plate.

Here’s how to make it happen:

1. Fill a skillet or sauté pan with enough water to cover the egg, about two to three inches.

2. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer, about 200° F (tiny bubbles instead of the big, rolling bubbles that come with a boil).

3. Stir in a teaspoon or so of white vinegar to help the white set faster. (Darker vinegars will also work, but you’ll be left with a darker colored egg that tastes like your vinegar.)

4. Crack your egg (make sure it’s still cold) into a small bowl or ramekin and gently slide it into the simmering water.

5. Leave the egg alone to cook for three minutes.

6. Carefully lift the egg from the water with a slotted spoon, draining any excess water onto a paper towel.

7. Enjoy!

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Happy Father’s Day!

Here’s wishing the happiest of Father’s Days to all the great dads out there, especially to my fantastic husband! If you want to cook up a delicious dinner for your favorite Dad (we’re talking Grilled Rack of Lamb, Grilled Potato Skewers & Grilled Pineapple), check out my mouthwatering, dad-pleasing Father’s Day grilling menu.


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How to Serve Prettier Plates

According to my 6-year-old daughter, I am now famous. Pick up the June 14th issue of Woman’s World magazine and you’ll find my name on page four offering a few simple plating tips to make your home cooked meals look they were prepared and plated by the latest celebrity über-chef.

Why bother? Someone smart once said we eat with our eyes long before we eat with our mouths. And they were right. Creating a beautiful plate can make an ordinary dinner feel like a special occasion.

You can read my Woman’s World plating tips below, but here are a couple more to help you create prettier plates.

1. Plan Colorful Menus

Rice. Chicken breasts. Cauliflower. Tasty? Perhaps, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more boring or beige plate of food. Plan your menus to include foods in a variety of colors. You’ll not only have a more appetizing plate, you’ll likely have a healthier plate, as well. Colorful foods – think carrots, broccoli, tomatoes – are chock full of vitamins and antioxidants. Consider your plate a canvas. Fill it with delicious color.

2. Choose Plates Wisely.

You can never go wrong with a nice, white plate. A bright, white background will make your food the star of the show. If you do use colorful or patterned plates, choose colors that will complement whatever you’re serving.

Now I’m off to take full advantage of the fact that my daughter thinks I’m cool. As we left the grocery store with our copy of Woman’s World in tow, she turned to me and asked, “Mommy, do you think people are going to recognize you now that your name’s in that magazine?”

Any minute now, kid.

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How to Pop Corn

Anybody else remember Jiffy Pop Popcorn and the excitement that came with watching that foil tin nearly burst at the seams as the popcorn popped and popped and popped on the stovetop? Jiffy Pop was all but replaced by microwave popcorn and what could be easier than that? Toss the small envelope in, press start and wait for all those additives, preservatives and faux butter to pop.

You can make your own microwave popcorn quickly and easily without all the extras. All you need is corn, a little oil and a brown paper sack. Here’s how.

Microwave Popcorn

1/3 cup unpopped popcorn

½ teaspoon olive oil

Pinch of salt

Pour popcorn into a brown paper lunch sack. (The kernels should cover the bottom of the bag in one layer.)

Drizzle oil over the kernels, then sprinkle with the salt. Fold the top of the bag over twice and place upright in microwave.

Cook at 100% power for two minutes. (Microwave power levels may vary. Cook until pops are about 5 seconds apart.)

Makes about 7 ½ cups of popcorn.

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