The Three-Apples-a-Day Challenge

In the modern day supermarket, an apple is something that never disappears. No matter what time of year it is there will be apples. But does that mean there is still a season for apples? You bet there is and that would be from about August until the start of spring.

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Apple season isn’t that difficult to spot. I mean have you been to the market lately? Apples happen to be a great bargain right now. And variety? For snacking you’ve got your Gala, Fuji and Pink Lady, your Red and Green Delicious to name a few. And don’t forget the more tart Rome and Granny Smith, which are ideal for baking.

When you load up on apples starting now but especially come October, which is National Apple Month, you are going to save some dough, and you’re going to save something else, too. Calories! Researchers have compelling proof that three apples a day will get rid of fat. It’s so simple, they say: Three apples, one 30-minutes before each meal. That’s it. Sound too good to be true? There is a medical explanation for why the most common of all fruits can make such a big impact.

Mailable Cookies to Make Someone’s Day

Whether it’s a care package for a college student, a goody box for someone in the military or a way to say Happy Birthday to a friend or relative, there’s nothing like opening a box of fresh, homemade cookies. And if those cookies just happen to be that recipient’s favorite cookies of all time, even better!

Here are tips to make sure your cookies arrive as cookies and not a pile of crumbs—fresh and ready to enjoy.

1. Always cool cookies before storing or packaging into a container. Packing warm cookies allows too much moisture to get trapped inside the package.

2. Certain cookies tend to ship better than others do. For example, do not mail cookies with custard or custard-like fillings or toppings like cheesecake bars. The custard could spoil, making yours a very unwelcome gift. Any cookie that requires refrigeration is not a good candidate for the mail.

Got Five Minutes? Make Beautiful, Fresh Homemade Bread

As the stories continue to unfold for how people survived and continue now to deal with the ravages of hurricane season, I can’t be the only one questioning my own disaster preparedness.

One thing is certain. Here at the Hunt house, we’d have bread.

For years I’d had something of a love hate relationship with baking bread. It’s a domestic skill I could never quite master. And that bothered me in the way that little things can.

This would be my pattern: Four out of five tries would flop, then in an act of mercy by the yeast gods I’d turn out a specimen fit for judging at the Iowa State Fair. But the time involved, the angst, the stress—not much in my life is worth all of that and surely not bread.

Skip the Dinner, Bring on the Appetizers!

Fall is more than the kickoff to all of our favorite holidays. For me, it’s also the season of dinner parties, casual get togethers— and lots of entertaining. We’ll be hosting our first big event of the season this coming week and I’m so excited!

I’ve learned the hard way just how risky it can be to kick off a dinner party with hors d’oeuvres. Generally, guests arrive hungry, fill up on the appetizers becoming less than interested in the main event.

Does this mean we should forget about the appetizers? I’m not ready to do that. Instead, I have a great idea: Make it an hors d’oeuvres party, followed later by dessert—just skip that dinner part between and you’ll save a lot of time and money and at the same time give your guests a guilt-free hors d’oeuvre experience.

Baked Bacon and Clam Dip

  • 1 pound jack cheese, grated
  • 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups (1 pint) sour cream
  • 1 pound cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 1 bunch green onions (scallions), chopped
  • 1 or 2 cans minced clams, drained
  • 2 round loaves sour dough bread

Mix together first six ingredients. Cut off the tops of the loaves and set aside. Hollow out the loaves. Pour mix into the loaves, replace the tops. Wrap the filled loaves in foil. Bake at 300 F for 2-3 hours. Serve with the pieces of bread you removed from the loaves that you have cut into large “cubes.” Serves: 16-20.

Instant Pot Quick-Start Guide

About 20 years ago there was a pressure cooker renaissance in America. Our grandmothers knew that day would come, that we would return to her favorite kitchen tool—a pressure cooker—to make fast braises, stews, soups, and casseroles. They just didn’t know how we’d get there.

If you, like me, are a Nervous Nellie who grew up hearing stories about a great aunt who shellacked her ceiling with country stew when the thing nearly blew her to Oz and back, relax. I’ve powered through the fear and discovered modern pressure cookers have amazing safety features to put all fear to rest. Now it’s time for you to start exploring as well, especially if you’re busy, hate spending hours in the kitchen but hate even more having to go out and spend a fortune on a marginally edible restaurant meal.

Perhaps you impulse bought an Instant Pot—on a whim and now it sits unopened in the garage, nearly forgotten. Or it’s been on the countertop for months and truth be told, you don’t have a clue what to do with it.

Or it’s possible you have used Instant Pot, tried it once and it turned out to be a complete disaster. The pot roast turned out dry and tough as shoe leather. The pasta came out a frothy, sloppy mess. Disappointment, thy name is Instant Pot.

Whatever your situation—even if you’ve never heard of a pressure cooker let alone how or why you need to—today’s the day. It’s time to put away all preconceived notions, rumors, and failures and start over on the right foot.

IT’S DIFFERENT. Pressure cooking is a completely different kind of cooking. You can’t just throw stuff in willy-nilly and expect perfection five minutes later. There are rules, which when followed, pay off in spades. But you have to know them, learn them and follow them. It’s not hard, but it is completely different than what you might be used to.

Got a Big Harvest? Can It!

So, you planted a garden, lucked out when your property included fruit trees, stumbled upon a produce sale you just couldn’t pass up, or joined a CSA. Good for you! Now what? What will you do with all that bounty?

Your choices are 1) quickly consume your harvest before it spoils 2) give it away or 3) preserve it to enjoy in the future.

 

One of the best ways to preserve—the method of food preservation that is making a big comeback—is known as “canning.”

Canning is not difficult, but it is a procedure that should be followed precisely.

How the Right Thermometer Makes Me Look Good in the Kitchen

After such a great response to this when it was originally posted I’ve decided to run it again for readers who may have missed it. ThermoWorks is currently running 15% off on everything through Sunday, August 13th, using code “SITEWIDESAVE15“. If you’ve been holding out on the ThermoPop or MK4, now is a great time to buy for some awesome savings on one for yourself or a gift for a loved one.

Faithful readers know how much I love to cook. That has not always been the case. It was coming face-to-face with how much money we were spending on restaurants, diners, take-out and drive-thrus that forced me (kicking and screaming) into the kitchen.

All those years ago, I looked to TV shows, cookbooks, and online videos to teach me how to cook. I became a marginally decent cook.

 

Several months ago, I ponied up about $20 (I had a coupon) to test a subscription to Home Chef meal kit delivery service (read about that HERE and HERE).

They’ll Think It’s Filet Mignon

From time to time my supermarket runs a special on a cut of beef they label,  “London Broil.” It’s a lean piece of meat, about 1 1/2 inches thick and tough as shoe leather.

photo credit: Jeremy Keith

You may wonder why I load up my freezer when it goes on sale for around $5 a pound. That’s because I have a secret weapon that turns flank steak, or any other tough cut of beef, into filet mignon. Well, not exactly, because it does not have all the fat of a filet, but so flavorful and so tender, some say it’s even better than filet.

But first, let’s clear up something. Apparently, my store is unaware that there is no cut of beef called  “London Broil.” That refers to a preparation method that involves marinade and seasonings.

What I am buying is flank steak. It comes with no seasonings or marinade. Just plain, tough beef. And that’s okay because I know how to fix that problem.

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