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food (179 posts)
What would it take to change your life for the better? It may be less than you think—we've got mini-makeovers to help you upgrade everything from your workout to your weekend. #24: Bargain shop in a whole new way.
Quit clipping coupons! Thanks to the popularity of sites like Groupon, flash sales (limited edition deals) are oh so of-the-moment. Four sites to suit any shopping style:
At MYHABIT, the new designer sale site from Amazon, shopaholics enjoy up to 60 percent off—and free shipping—from high-end and boutique brands like Alberta Ferretti and Dogeared jewelry.
Get an Android smartphone, iPod nano, or LCD monitor on the cheap with the daily deals at CowBoom, a Best Buy offshoot that offers new, used, and refurbished electronics.
Daily Gourmet dishes discounts on high-quality eats from around the world (think: cask-aged premium wine vinegar, small-batch gluten-free granola, and hand-crafted coffees).
LivingSocial secures savings of 50 percent or more on local products and getaways. Convince three of your friends to purchase the offer as well and you get the deal for free.
More taco nights!
Interactive meals add fireworks to a ho-hum weekday dinner. Grill pizzas, roll up stir fried pork and vegetables in lettuce wraps, assemble fajitas just the way you like them. Even fondue can be a filling supper if you dip cubed ham and vegetables along with bread. This post on how to be a dinner hacker has even more non-boring meal ideas.
One Equals Three
Stop putting pressure on yourself to serve the classic—and outdated!—meat and two full sides every night. At the same time, serving one meat (say, a roasted chicken) with a time-saving salad and baguette gets old fast. Our idea? Skip the meat altogether. Try this delicious pasta with roasted butternut squash and sage.
Pizza with Sausage and Whipped Cream
Nancy Silverton, co-owner of Osteria Mozza, Pizzeria Mozza and Mozza2Go in Los Angeles, was so in love with the sausage and cream pizza she discovered at an Umbrian restaurant that she asked the chef to show her how he made it. When she went back to the kitchen, she saw that the heavy cream had been whipped, so it was spreadable. This is her "number-one favorite" out of all the pizzas she serves, which appears in her new book, The Mozza Cookbook. Here's the recipe.
Whether you pick your own or buy them at the greenmarket, apples are hitting their stride this month. September varieties include Gala, Paula Red, McIntosh, Ginger Gold, Honeycrisp, Jonathan, Golden Delicious, Ultragold, Cortland, Jonalicious, Red Delicious and Jonagold. Find out what to do with these quintessential fall fruits--aside from eat them out of hand, that is--at OrangePippin.com, which catalogs more than 600 varietals, from Aceymac to Zuccalmaglio's Reinette.
A Concord Crush
Dark blue or purple-skinned concord grapes show up most often in wine or juice, but their tangy flavor also shines with vodka and lime juice. New York's Gramercy Tavern serves a seasonal concord grape cocktail made with whole grapes and a grape puree that's so tasty, you'll forget all about the end of summer margaritas by the pool. Beyond their lovely aromatics, concord grapes also contain a miracle nutrient: Polyphenols, which can reduce the risk of heart disease. Get the recipe here.
Art Smith's Make-Ahead Salsa keeps in the fridge for three days
Cream cheese and pesto unite in these Tortilla Spirals hors d'oeuvres, perfect for using up all that basil. Make them in the morning and serve them in the afternoon.
Marinate and grill this Beef Skirt Steak ahead of time and refrigerate it, then just slice before serving.
Bake Cat Cora's Jalapeño-Jack Cornbread Muffins the day before and let everyone eat them at room temperature.
Lee Bailey's fresh Curly Leaf Lettuce, Avocado and Bacon Salad can sit in the fridge, undressed, for hours.
You can prepare and refrigerate White Bean Salad with Tomatoes and Crisped Sage up to four hours before eating it; take it out and let the chill come off it before serving.
Mini Ice Cream Cookie Cups are a breeze to make, and won the grand prize at the 2010 Pillsbury Bake-Off.
What you need to know to feed more than 5 people at once, without scorching anything
The single most important step to grilling the perfect steak
Sides that go with any summer BBQ
Best Chocolate Chip: Get Fresh Bakehouse Chocolate Chip
When Jeff Robbin's daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease, he decided to try his hand at gluten-free baking. After three years of research, his New Jersey team fired up its ovens and started cranking out batches of hefty cookies in flavors like Butterscotch Walnut and Oatmeal Plus (with white-chocolate chips, walnuts and dried cranberries). The classic chocolate chip--huge hunks of chocolate laced through buttery, sweet dough--was a runaway winner in our taste test.
Best Oatmeal: Whole Foods Nutmeal Raisin
Imagine the flavors of an oatmeal-raisin cookie--brown sugar, chewy raisins, almonds and cinnamon--minus the actual oats. We were suspect at first, too, but Whole Foods pulls it off with these dense, fist-sized sweets that are safe for people who avoid oats in their diet. The grocery chain offers a line of 30-plus baked goods out of its dedicated gluten-free bakehouse in North Carolina, but our testers fell hard for these ("scrumptious," "addictive") cookies.
Monday is too stressful. Wednesday is already hump day. But Tuesday is "you" day: a day when you have the energy to do—or plan—something fresh and unexpected that might just turn your whole week around.
Relax at your Labor Day barbecue. How to cook for the masses without stress (using the secrets of cruise ship chefs) and how to grill the world's easiest and most perfect main dish (hint: it uses only two ingredients).
Celebrate the other holiday that takes place on September 5th—also known as Be Late Day. How to let yourself be tardy and stop the crazy anxiety that comes from watching the clock.
Invested a little more than you want to in a iPhone or one of the new tablets? How to expedite the return of your portable electronics—easily, cheaply and greenly—in case they get lost.
Have fun (really) getting your kids ready for school. How to whip up a goofy but practical lunch-money change purse out of a child's sock whose match was (once again) eaten by the dryer.
Avocado Oil: With a mild avocado flavor, this brilliant, emerald green oil can be used the same way you use extra-virgin olive oil: In salad dressing, drizzled on a finished dish, or in stir-frying, frying, sautéing or baking. It's nutty and thick, so a little goes a long way.
Roasted Almond Oil: This healthy oil adds a rich almond taste to salad dressing, pasta, grilled meat or fish, or baked pastries. It's a good substitute for olive oil in situations where walnut oil and hazelnut oil are just too powerful.
Apricot Kernel Oil: Thanks to the subtle fruity flavor in this oil—which is pressed from the dried kernels of the apricot tree—it's delicious in sweet baked goods, from fruit cobblers to biscuits. But it's suitable for frying or sautéing, too, and can even be used to add an aromatic element to homemade mayonnaise.
The TopChips chips maker is pretty much as low-tech as gadgets come. It's just a silicone tray with holes in it and a wavy bottom that keeps it elevated above the bottom of your microwave. It comes with a little mandoline that's so simple to operate, I can see myself abandoning my much fancier version, which I rarely use because it's such a production, with all its parts and blades. The slicer makes thin discs out of potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, apples, pears or mangoes (the company that makes TopChips, Mastrad, doesn't recommend any other fruits or vegetables, though thrillseekers might try parsnips or turnips). Then you place them in a single layer on the tray and microwave it for three to six minutes, depending on the food and your microwave.
Finally, Luisa Weiss, who writes the food blog The Wednesday Chef, decoded anchovies for me. "I used to think anchovies were hairy little fish bombs," she says. "They would crop up on the thick-crusted pizza that my Sicilian uncle would make sometimes, filling me with dread. Or I'd see them draped over a perfectly nice salade nicoise at a cafe in Paris, contaminating all the lovely green beans and boiled potatoes beneath." Weiss eventually figured out that raw anchovies were one thing, but that if you used them in your cooking, as a seasoning, they were like a secret weapon.
How it works: You tell Gojee which ingredients you have on hand and which ones you don't like or are allergic to. It then pulls up recipes that meet your criteria, from food blogs like Not Eating Out in New York and Sassy Radish. Beautiful, screen-wide photographs make every recipe look like a winner.
Best for: CSA subscribers with specific tastes, who are trying to figure out what to do with seven pounds of zucchini or three huge bunches of kale.
Food on the Table
How it works: You build a profile, finding your local grocery store on the site's map, selecting which proteins (e.g., pork, beef, fish) you love, and picking which kinds of meals you want to always, sometimes or never make (e.g., heart-healthy, vegan, Italian, kid-friendly). Then, the site creates weekly meal plans with recipes and grocery lists based on that information, and tells you if any of the necessary ingredients are on sale at your store. There's a mobile app, too.
Best for: Heads of households who have a life outside of cooking dinner for their family.
How it works: The site uses real-time data like tweets and Facebook shares to measure which recipes people are talking about online. It rates each recipe from 1 to 100; the higher a recipe's score, the more it has been talked about and shared on the web. New recipes appear minutes after they're published, and the site has a sleek, magazine-like visual layout.
Best for: Foodies who want to make of-the-moment dishes, which might be Blueberry Ketchup one day and tacos made with Pillsbury Grands! refrigerated buttermilk biscuits the next.