Ideas for Snacking on Vegetables

A lot of people feel like they should be eating more vegetables, but often they don’t have many ideas when it comes to doing so. Here are some quick and delicious ways to make vegetable snacks to keep you going throughout the day:

  1. Kale chips. A quick and easy alternative to potato crisps. Try adding tamari for some extra flavour.
  2. You can make it yourself and add vegetables in, such as peppers, and use it to dip vegetable sticks. Carrot and cucumber are especially good.
  3. You can make it with all kinds of different vegetables, and can eat it with cracker bread as a healthy alternative to tortilla chips.
  4. Homemade vegetable soup. A small cup will make a satisfying snack.
  5. Vegetable juice. If you have a juicer, you can juice all kinds of vegetables to find a flavour you like.
  6. Vegetable dips. There are endless recipes around, and you can eat them with bread sticks, cracker bread or crudités.
  7. Tomatoes and peppers are good candidates for putting onto a skewer, and you can make them more interesting with the addition of something like halloumi or feta cheese.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza – a Delicious and Healthy Alternative to Pizza Dough

We’ve previously looked at how to make the perfect pizza, but if you want a lower fat, gluten-free alternative, a cauliflower crust makes a brilliant alternative. Follow this easy recipe:

  1. Cut off the cauliflower florets and put them into a blender. Once they’re ready, they’ll resemble breadcrumbs.
  2. Put the cauliflower into a bowl, cover with cling film and microwave for five minutes to soften.
  3. Tip onto a clean tea towel and allow the mixture to cool. Once it’s cool enough to touch, squeeze as much of the water out as you can. There will be a lot!
  4. Mix the cauliflower with an egg, and anything else you might want to add to the crust. You can use herbs, spring onions, parmesan cheese or anything else you fancy.
  5. Line a baking tray with baking parchment, and grease it. Spread the mixture out into a thin circle on the tray. Make it as thin as you dare – this will help to crisp it up.
  6. Bake at 200°C/ gas mark 6 for about 20 minutes, until golden. Remove from the oven, allow to cool, and spread with your choice of tomato base – a combination of chopped fresh tomatoes and tomato puree works well. Just make sure it isn’t too damp for the base or this will make it crumbly.
  7. Add cheese of your choice, and any other toppings which you’d like. Bake at 220°C/ gas mark 7 for a further 20 minutes or so. When it’s ready, the cheese will be bubbling and the base will be crisp.

Cooking Outdoors With a Chiminea

Cooking outdoors is a popular pastime, especially during the summer months. We’ve already looked at how to create the perfect BBQ, and some of the food which can be cooked on it, but there are all kinds of options for cooking outdoors.

One popular outdoor cooking appliance is the chiminea. Usually made from metal, a fire is built inside and smoke is released through a chimney at the top. They’re an attractive way to heat outdoor spaces, and can also be used for cooking food. One option involves using the heat from the chimney, and placing pans on top of it to cook dishes like scrambled eggs or stews. Depending on the design of your chiminea, you may need an additional platform to place it on, but smoke should just be released from the front instead.

Most chimineas will come with a wire grill which can be placed over the fire, so you can also use this for cooking food. This operates in exactly the same way as a traditional BBQ, so it’s perfect for grilling meat, fish and vegetables. You can also use your chiminea like a pizza oven, placing the pizza on the grill to cook. Chimineas can be used with wood or charcoal, but it might be best to use charcoal to cook with. Test your chiminea a few times before cooking in it to ensure you know how to use it properly, and making sure it is properly ‘seasoned’ will mean the food tastes better too.

The George Foreman Grill

At the time of its release, the George Foreman grill was truly revolutionary; it allowed people to grill their own food without bathing it in fats and oils which could mean their health was harmed. Nowadays, the George Foreman grill has a number of copies out there, all of which are perfectly fine as a grill.

The new variations of the foreman grill have a number of options which increase the value of the device even further. For instance the floating hinge; this is a hinge which can accommodate any size of meat or vegetable, or even multiple sizes, as it will rise up further to ensure an even grill to anything you place in the grill, to a reasonable size, as well as dish-washable grill plates.

The Value a Slow Cooker Can Have For Your Kitchen

A slow cooker is one of those truly indispensable additions to anybody’s kitchen, as, despite the name, it is a great time saving device, and produces far tastier food than a microwave.

So what is a slow cooker? A slow cooker is a cooking device that runs over extended periods of time (cooking things slowly), which makes one of the situations it is most commonly used in is for working people looking to quickly add a bunch of things to a pot in the morning so that they can come home and have dinner ready for them. It uses very small amounts of energy, comparable to a light bulb, so it is actually more energy efficient than most other methods of cooking.

You can cook a lot of different meals with a slow cooker, but typically you produce sauce heavy meals and stews. You can also cook things like lasagne, shepherds pie and a lot more.

Making Your Own Pizza

Unless you’re prepared to fail a few times, your best option with making your own pizza is to buy a ready made base, which is what this instruction will focus upon.

There are three essential ingredients for any pizza; the base, the tomato paste and mozzarella. In addition to these you can add any number of toppings, with some of the most common being pepperoni, mushrooms, olives and ham.

To start your pizza off you need to apply the tomato paste. This will bind all of the other ingredients to the base while it is being prepared and when it is cooked. After this you need to add the toppings you want, followed finally by the mozzarella.

Once you’ve finished preparing your pizza you need to put it into the oven. They should always be placed on a flat baking tray, and put into an oven at around 200 degrees centigrade. The oven should be preheated well in advance in order to ensure a proper cooking. The whole cooking process can take anywhere from 15-22 minutes depending upon the thickness of the crust and the amount of ingredients, so it is best to occasionally check and only pull your pizza out when it golden and crispy.

Cleaning and Maintaining Your Barbecue and Grill

It can be very easy to allow your barbecuing set to fall into disrepair, and most people don’t really feel that the stakes are very high anyway. Unless you know some simple tips it can also be quite a difficult task which will require a lot of effort.

Firstly, keeping your barbecue station is pretty important. Making sure that any ash left over from old sessions with the barbecue are cleared away is very important as this ash can blow around once your fire starts and get into your food, and it can also impact the amount of oxygen which will reach the fire.

Secondly, you should try to keep your grill clean. Ideally you would do this at the end of every session as the carbon and grime can build up over time and will periodically attach itself to the food you’re cooking and make the food stick to your grill even more.

To clean your grill, the best time is while it is still hot. This is because the grease and oils will still be liquid at this point, which will make the task to rub off the carbon attached to the grill considerably easier. You should also purchase a grill brush, which are designed to be really effective at cleaning barbecue grills; able to withstand heat and really scour the grills clean quickly and efficiently.

Some More Tips on Barbecuing

Part of the charm of a barbecue is that you can make it up as you go along. As long as you pay very close attention to what you’re doing, you can avoid almost any disaster to your food. However, there are a few things which you can do to make your life easier, attain greater control over what and how you’re cooking, and produce better food.

Last week, we talked about how to ensure you had a fire which was perfect for barbecuing, but there are a lot more things that you can do. For instance, one option you have is to not spread the coals throughout the barbecue basin, instead focussing all of them on one side of your grill. This allows you to switch food from being on a very high heat to a slow and gentle cooking temperature; allowing you to quickly sear the meat and vegetables you’re barbecuing and then switch to a slow cooking styles to make sure that it is thoroughly cooked.

Some of the Common Barbecuing Mistakes

It has come a round to that time of year again; the time of year where suddenly everybody looks at the nice weather and thinks that it is time to get the grill out and have a family barbecue, perhaps even every couple of days. Even though there are a lot of people who barbecue regularly, people who make mistakes while grilling are still far more numerous than those who know what they’re doing.

The most important part of getting a barbecue right is the fire and temperature control. If you’re using coals, which will give the best results, then you should pile all of the coals into one location and put your fire accelerant at the bottom of the centre of the pile. If you can avoid using lighter fluid or other gasoline based accelerants then that will mean you can avoid the flavour of gasoline suffusing your food when you begin grilling.

After you’ve started your fire, you should wait for the coals to begin to turn grey before you start spreading your coals out. If there is too black areas among your coals then you’re going to see spikes in temperature which could damage your food as well.

Another important thing is to remember to put your grill onto the fire around 5 to 10 minutes before you start grilling. This is going heat up your grill so that your food cooks more efficiently, and it will also actually reduce the chance of the food sticking to he grill as well.

Making a Perfect Beef Burger

Before you can say you’ve made the perfect beef burger, you should understand that there are really two different types of burgers; those which are thick and those which are thin. Each of them can be perfect within their own right, but depending upon the type of burger you’re making there are a number of differences that you’ll have to take into account.

When cooking the burger, which ever type you’re making, you should try to avoid flipping the burger too often. Ideally, you would limit yourself to one turn on each side. The temperature for a thick burger should be slightly lower than for a thin one, because you’ll want to leave enough time for the insides to be cooked, although this can change depending upon what level of rareness you want for your burger. If you want to turn it into a cheese burger, then after the first flip you should place your cheese on top of the burger and, unless you’re grilling it, cover the lid of your griddle/frying pan and allow the cheese to melt.

The type of bun you use and where exactly you cut the bun in half is also very important to creating a perfect burger bun. If you’re cooking a thin burger you’ll also want a comparatively thinner bun; the ideal height of a bun is around 1.5-2.5 times the thickness of a thick burger, while for a thin burger you’ll want anywhere from 2-3 times the thickness. The bun should also be of fairly thick bread as well, as if it is too thin then it will disintegrate when eaten. The ideal width to cut a bun is to divide its width into ten. From these tenths, you want to cut it so that there are 6 tenths on top and 4 on the bottom parts of the bun; so the top should be slightly larger than the bottom.

After this you should you should lay the burger directly onto the bun and add whatever garnishes and toppings that you want. Some good options are burger sauce, ketchup, onions, lettuce, mustard, bacon and pickles.