How To Pack A Salad In A Mason Jar

 

Salad in jar - a week's supply
Salad in jar – a week’s supply

Salad in a jar is a great way to eat healthy. You can carry them to your workplace for lunch or as an evening snack. If you know how to layer them in a mason jar, you can make a week’s supply and refrigerate them. Always keep in mind that the bottom-most layer is the salad dressing followed by the veggies, dry nuts and the greens at the top. Everything stays separate and don’t come in contact with the dressing until you toss it into a salad serving  bowl.

Choosing your jar

Any kind of canning jar would do, but the best jar is the mason jar with a wide mouth. It makes packing and then shaking them out again easier. For individual size salads, a pint-sized jar would be fine. However, if you want them for lunch or dinner with lot of extra veggies and salad goodies then quart-sized mason jar would be required.

Greens should not get soggy

Generally, you need to pile the heaviest and the most non-absorbent salad ingredients as the first layer above the dressing. Then you work your way up by adding the salad goodies such as roasted nuts, and finally end up with salad greens.

How does everything get mixed

When you are ready to eat, open the bottle and shake its contents into a bowl. You need to shake a bit vigorously as the contents are packed tightly. Here the salad dressing is also mixed with the greens and the other ingredients. Use a fork to ensure that dressing is mixed well once it’s  tossed into the bowl.

How long is the lifespan of the salad in the fridge

If the lid of the salad is tightly sealed, then these salads will last for a week. However, if you plan to add perishable proteins such as hard-boiled eggs or cooked chicken, or soft ingredients such as tomatoes, and avocados, add them on the day you are planning to eat the salad.

Salad in a jar is very convenient way to carry your lunch to office or as your dinner on a day when you are too lazy to cook.  It can also double up as a side dish when you have an unexpected visitor for lunch or dinner.

How To Choose The Right Size Thanksgiving Turkey

Roasted turkey
Roasted turkey

The best thing about Thanksgiving Day is the roasted turkey. With the leftover turkey, you make sandwiches for that night and also add it in various dishes for many days after Thanksgiving. If you buy a small bird, it’s going to be a total disaster. Therefore, you need to know how to choose the right measure of turkey to feed your guests on Thanksgiving Day. Remember, when it comes to feeding a crowd, it’s always better to have excess Thanksgiving turkey than having too little.

Thumb Rule To Pick The Right Amount Of Thanksgiving Turkey

The thumb rule for picking the right size turkey is to buy a pound per person. Never go by the size of the turkey.

If your fridge or oven does not have room for a 20-pound bird, buy turkey drumsticks or breast pieces to supplement the whole bird.

Remember the raw turkey shrinks when its cooked. Therefore, a pound of raw turkey is less than a pound when cooked.

Cut the roasted turkey into small bite able pieces so the guests can enjoy a healthy portion of the same.

A portion of turkey has around 291 calories, 13.6 gms of fat and 39 gms of protein.

Fresh Or Frozen : Choosing Your Thanksgiving Turkey

It’s a personal preference whether you want a fresh or frozen turkey. It also depends largely on how soon you plan on cooking your turkey.

Fresh turkeys are the best if you have very little time to before the final preparation.

Frozen turkeys need several days to thaw and you need adequate space in your freezer as you can store weeks well in advance.

As a last note, you need to know how many guests you have for Thanksgiving Feast.

 

How To Make Thanksgiving Turkey Gravy

Sensational Thanksgiving Turkey gravy
Sensational Thanksgiving Turkey gravy

Turkey gravy is an essential item on the Thanksgiving Day menu. The perfect time to start preparing your turkey gravy is while the roasted turkey is resting on the cutting board to be carved. Allow the bird to rest outside the oven for 20 minutes. Remove the bird on to the cutting board. Transfer the pan drippings into a measuring cup. Then scrape the browned turkey bits from the pan and add it to the measuring cup.

Method To Make Turkey Gravy

Skim 1/4 cup of the fat from the drippings into thick-bottom saucepan.

To this add 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour and stir well.

To the pan dripping in the measuring cup add reduced chicken broth so the entire measure is equal to 2 cups.

Add this to flour mixture in the saucepan and cook while continuously stirring over medium heat until it bubbles.

Strain the turkey gravy into a serving bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Now its ready to serve.

Tips To Make Perfect And Sensational Turkey Gravy

  • De-glaze the pan and use the drippings to add extra flavor to the gravy, if you are making gravy from something that’s been roasted or pan-fried.
  • To make get lump-free gravy, ensure that the corn starch or the all-purpose flour is mixed well with either fat or the cold liquid before cooking it.
  • Use a balloon whisk to stir the gravy while bringing it to boil.
  • Browned bits of turkey, (any meat or poultry) adds flavor to the gravy, so it’s not necessary to strain them out.

Season the gravy with salt and pepper. If you want to thin the gravy add either milk, broth or wine.

How to make turkey gravy without roasting turkey

No turkey roast pan drippings? Nothing to worry. Try this recipe

Ingredients

  • All-purpose flour – 1/3 cup
  • Chicken broth – 3 cups
  • Butter – 1/3 cup
  • Ground black pepper – 1/4 teaspoon
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Parsley finely chopped – 1 tbsp.

Method

In a thick-bottom saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until its smooth and it gives out aroma.

To this add chicken broth and pepper.

Allow it to thicken and bubble, while constantly stirring it with a whisk.

Add salt and garnish with parsley.

Share your tips with us on how to make yummy and delicious turkey gravy

How To Make Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte at home

Recently, Starbucks introduced real pumpkin in their Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL). If you do not want to dig a hole in your pocket to get your Fall fix, here is the recipe to make PSL that rivals Starbuck's latte. Pumpkin Spice Latte Ingredients  Milk - 1 cup Pumpkin Spice syrup - 1 tbsp. Vanilla extract - 1 tsp Coffee - 1 cup Whipped cream to garnish Method Add pumpkin spice syrup, milk and vanilla syrup in a microwave safe jar. Seal the jar and shake well till the milk is frothy and the mixture has doubled in volume.  Remove the lid and microwave for a couple of minutes.  Pour the mixture into a cup of coffee. Top it with whipped cream, and season it with a pinch of pumpkin spice powder. The ingredients mentioned above will be enough to make only 1 cup. Increase the ingredients if you want to make more pumpkin spice latte. Pumpkin Spice Syrup Pumpkin puree - 1 can or 15 ounces Brown sugar - 1/2 cup Granulated sugar - 2 tbsp. Cinnamon - 1/2 tbsp. Nutmeg - 1 pinch Water - 1 cup  Method  Whisk together in a heavy bottom saucepan and bring it to boil over a low heat.  Remove from the heat, cool and strain. You will get about 1 cup of syrup. Pumpkin Spice Seasoning Cinnamon powder - 1 tsp Ground nutmeg - 1/4 tsp Ground ginger - 1/4 tsp  Method Sieve all the ingredients together so they mix well. Store in an airtight container.  These measures will be enough for one recipe. Increase the quantity of the ingredients.  Now try this Pumpkin Spice Latte at home. It will taste better than the one you get in Starbucks. Remember, the ones you buy in a cafeteria could be made using pumpkin essence. But when you make it at home, you are using the real pumpkin and not the essence.
Pumpkin Spice Latte, I can smell it . Can you too?

Recently, Starbuks introduced real pumpkin in their Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL). If you do not want to dig a hole in your pocket to get your Fall fix, here is the recipe to make PSL that rivals Starbuck’s latte.

Pumpkin Spice Latte

Ingredients

  •  Milk – 1 cup
  • Pumpkin Spice syrup – 1 tbsp.
  • Vanilla extract – 1 tsp
  • Coffee – 1 cup
  • Whipped cream to garnish

Method

Add pumpkin spice syrup, milk and vanilla syrup in a microwave safe jar. Seal the jar and shake well till the milk is frothy and the mixture has doubled in volume.

Remove the lid and microwave for a couple of minutes.

Pour the mixture into a cup of coffee. Top it with whipped cream, and season it with a pinch of pumpkin spice powder.

Note: The ingredients mentioned above will be enough to make only 1 cup. Increase the ingredients if you want to make more pumpkin spice latte.

Pumpkin Spice Syrup

Make your own pumpkin syrup
Make your own pumpkin syrup

Ingredients

  • Pumpkin puree – 1 can or 15 ounces
  • Brown sugar – 1/2 cup
  • Granulated sugar – 2 tbsp.
  • Cinnamon – 1/2 tbsp.
  • Nutmeg – 1 pinch
  • Water – 1 cup

Method

Whisk together in a heavy bottom saucepan and bring it to boil over a low heat.

Remove from the heat, cool and strain.

Note:  You will get about 1 cup of syrup.

Pumpkin Spice Seasoning

  • Cinnamon powder – 1 tsp
  • Ground nutmeg – 1/4 tsp
  • Ground ginger – 1/4 tsp

Method

Sieve all the ingredients together so they mix well. Store in an airtight container.

Note: These measures will be enough for one recipe. Increase the quantity of the ingredients.

Now try this Pumpkin Spice Latte at home. It will realize that it tastes better than the one you get in Starbucks. Remember, the ones you buy in a cafeteria could be made using pumpkin essence. But when you make it at home, you are using the real pumpkin and not the essence.

How To Keep Your Veggies And Fruits Fresh Longer

How to keep them fresh
How to keep them fresh

One of the biggest challenge faced by many of us to find a bunch of wilted greens, rotten apples, bruised fruits and moldy berries by the end of a week. If you are willing to show a bit of little attention, you can save the fruits and veggies from ending up in the compost bin.  If possible try making multiple trips to the market in a week, if that’s not a feasible thing, make a food plan and buy on those veggies and fruits that’s required.  Also if you happen to buy more in a week, here are a few tips to preserve them fresh for a longer time.

A Few Tricks To Make The Fruits And Veggies Last Longer And Fresher

  • First and foremost thing to keep in mind is to buy only what you need for three days. If that’s not possible, plan out all your meals on a weekly basis and buy only what you need for those meals.
  • Ethylene, a gas is produced by certain fruits and vegetables. This gas prematurely ripens the veggies and fruits. Therefore, keep ethylene sensitive foods away from the ethylene sensitive foods.
  • Also keep food away from direct heat and sunlight. Mangoes, pears, plums and tomatoes should never be stored along with leafy greens, watermelon, carrots, broccoli and apples.
  • To retain the flavor of onions, tomatoes and potatoes, avoid refrigerating them.
  • Cut and store vegetables/fruits only if you are going to use them very soon. Even with proper storage it can spoil fast.
  • Store potatoes with apples so they don’t sprout. Never put onions and potatoes together. Onions are not good for potatoes while apples are.
  • Store mushrooms in brown paper bags and then refrigerate.
  • Chopped greens for salads should be wrapped in paper towel and then placed in a bowl. Cover the bowl with a cling film.
  • Clean the berries only if you are consuming immediately. If you want to store them after cleaning. Soak them in a mixture made by combining 10 parts water with 1 part of white vinegar. This will remove not only pesticides and dirt but also prevent mold from settling in.
  • Keep bananas away from other fruits because it one of the fruits that produce highest amount of ethylene gas.
  • If you want to delay the ripening of a bunch of bananas, wrap a plastic cover over the crown of the banana.
  • Store your greens and herbs in vases of water as you put your flowers in a vase. However, if you do not want to loot the space of your refrigerator, then store them in an aluminum foil to reduce the spoilage time.

Avoid over loading your refrigerator. Therefore, should proper air circulation inside the fridge else, the food items will get spoiled fast.

Share your tips with us.

How To Freeze Cherries At Home

Frozen cherries to be used in salads and desserts
Frozen cherries to be used in salads and desserts

Cherries are harvested in the month of May and by end of summer it’s time to preserve them so it can be used during the off-season. Fresh fruits are sweet to taste and the color of their skin is deep red. The cherries can be preserved in many ways. In fact, it depends on how you plan to use them later. Like apple and peaches, cherries also freeze well. They can be dried, pickled, made into jam, canned and more. Preserved cherries can be used in baking, making smoothies, jellies, pies and cobblers.

To Preserve

You can use sweet as well as the sour cherries. Once you have decided to preserve the cherries, select freshly harvested fruits that are deep red in color and ripe. You can preserve them with or without seeds.

Preparing To Preserve

Remove the stem and wash the fruits well. If you want to pit, ensure that the pitted cherries are kept in cold water containing 4 to 5 vitamin C tablets or a teaspoon of powdered ascorbic acid in a gallon of water. This is down to prevent discolorations of the fruits. If you want to preserve  it un-pitted, prick the skin on both sides with a clean needle to prevent the fruit from splitting.

Freezing the Cherries

These can be frozen in either sugar syrup or dry sugar.

  • To make sugar syrup
  1. Sour Cherries – Dissolve 2.5 cups of sugar in four cups of water.
  2. Sweet Cherries – Dissolve 1 1/4 cups of sugar in 4 cups of water.

For a quarter kilogram of prepared fruits, add 1 cup of syrup.

  • To Make a Dry Sugar Pack
  1. Sour Variety – For quart of the fruits mix 2/3 cups of castor sugar.
  2. Sweet Fruits– For quart of the fruits use 1/3 cup of castor sugar.

Mix the sugar well with these prepared fruits.

How To Pack Syrup Or Dry Cherries

For dry sugar packed ones leave 1/2 inch of head space in the freezer bags.

For syrup pack use either plastic freezer containers or tapered freezer jars. Here leave 1-inch head-space for syrup pack.

To Freeze The Cherry Without Sugar

You can freeze cherries pitted or with pits without in water, dry or unsweetened fruit juice like orange or grape juice. When thawed the texture will be soft. The sweet varieties should be frozen in shallow trays in single layer before packing them in the Ziploc freezer bags.

Frozen cherries can be used in salads and desserts.

 

How to Freeze apples at home

Use only Ripe and Sweet apples for freezing
Use only Ripe and Sweet apples for freezing

Apples store well in the cellar. They will dry out and wrinkle with time. And subsequently, lose its flavor and taste. However, if you freeze apples it will retain the nutrients as well as the taste, and can be used in the recipes. There are a few things that you need to understand before freezing the apples. Fujis, galas and the similar sweet apples will retain the flavor compared to the tart varieties. How you freeze this fruit depends on how you wish to use the frozen ones.

Frozen whole apple
Frozen whole apple

Freezing Whole Apples

Choose firm, sweet, and ripe fruits. Wash them well and dry. Put them in freezer bags and store them. It sounds easier. But it’s always better to cut the apples into manageable pieces before storing it in the freezer.

Freezing Apples for Apple Pie

  • First things first. Peel and slice the apples into pie sized chunks.
  • Put the slices in to the lemon water to avoid it becoming brown.
  • Rinse the slices well and transfer them into a bowl. To this add sugar flour, salt and cinnamon powder. Mix well and coat the apples.
  • Line the pie pan with a full length aluminum foil.
  • Transfer the mixture into the prepared pie pan.
  • Fold the foil over the mixture and place them in the freezer.
  • After 24 hours, remove the frozen apples from the foil package and transfer it into a freezer Ziploc bag. Seal and write the date on the freezer bag.
  • You can take it out before baking.

Freezing Apples in Honey or Sugar Syrup

  • Peel and slice the fruit and put them in the lemon. Rinse well and transfer the same into the sugar syrup.
  • Store this in airtight freezer containers and put it in the freezer.

How to make sugar syrup

Combine 1 quart of water with 2 to 3 cups of sugar. Heat the mixture until its dissolved. Cool this mixture well before adding the fruit slices .

How to make honey syrup

Boil 4 cups of water. Remove it from the heat before adding the 2 cups of honey. Stir well so the honey dissolves well in the mixture.

Dry Pack Of Frozen Apples

  • Here the fruit can be stored with or without sugar.
  • Peel, core and slice the quart apples and place them in lemon water.
  • Drain well. Sprinkle 1/2 cup sugar and mix well to coat the slices.
  • Place the apples in the freezer bags, seal well and freeze. Ensure to label the apple freezer bags.

Use these slices in your recipes.

How To Puree And Freeze Baby Food

Carrot pureed and transferred to ice cub trays to be frozen.
Carrot pureed and transferred to ice cub trays to be frozen.

Feeding your bundle of joy can be fun and made simple if you know how to puree and freeze the fruits and vegetables. Its no rocket science to puree veggies and fruits such as zucchini, avocado, yellow squash, water melon, blueberries, red apple, carrots and sweet potato. Here are the steps to puree and freeze baby food.

How To Make Puree  of Vegetables/Fruits

  1. Wash the cut veggies a couple of times before steaming, microwaving, baking or boiling. If you are removing the peels of your fruits, wash them after peeling them. Else you can wash them and chop them before cooking. It’s better to steam the vegetables and fruits because the nutrients are not lost. Also you can cook a larger quantity of vegetables/fruits if you steam, bake or boil.
  2. Microwave the best option if you want to puree in small quantities. But it’s better to avoid microwaving.
  3. Once the cooked veggies/fruits are cool enough, transfer them into a mixer or bowl of the immersion blender. Use the water in which the fruits or vegetables were cooked in, to make the puree. When you use this water, the nutrients are not lost.
  4. You can also puree without adding any water or other liquids. You can preserve the water to thin the baby food before feeding the babies.

Now you need to store the pureed baby food in the freezer.

Pureed food frozen in ice cube trays and then in ziploc bags
Pureed food frozen in ice cube trays and then in ziploc bags

How To Freeze The Pureed Baby Food

  1. Transfer the pureed contents into ice cube trays for freezing.
  2. Cover the ice tray with a cling film. Its wise to avoid aluminum foil. Tupperware ice trays come with a lid. So if that can be procured then there is nothing like it.
  3. Each cube of the pureed veg/fruit is about one ounce.
  4. Once the puree is frozen well. Take the trays out of the freezer and transfer the contents into a thick freeze bags.
  5. Ensure to label the bags with date of preparation as well as the type of food. The frozen pureed baby food should be consumed within a month from the day of freezing.
  6. You can thaw the puree and then reheat it before feeding your baby.

How To Preserve Blueberries

Blueberries - Power packed with antioxidants, minerals and vitamins
Blueberries – Power packed with antioxidants, minerals and vitamins

A mouthful of blueberries in the silvery wintry month would bring back the memories of the long sunny summer days. Blueberries are highly nutritious and healthy berries that help to

  • Lower cholesterol
  • Prevent the risk of heart disease
  • Keeps the free radicals at bay as it has antioxidants
  • A rich source of potassium and vitamin C

Since it has the afore mentioned health benefits you should preserve some blueberries for making smoothies, jellies, jams, pancakes, muffins, waffles and other desserts in the months when these berries are not available.

Blueberries can be preserved in several ways. Please note that its always better to use fresh and crisp fruits for preservation.

Ways To Preserve Blueberries

  • Freezing Blueberries

Use only plump and fully ripened fresh blueberries for freezing. It’s not necessary that you need to wash these berries as they may become tough-skinned and mushy. These can be washed later when you thaw them. Remove any visible dirt before putting them in a freezer bag and put them in the freezer compartment. You can pull them apart when you want to add it to the muffins, pancakes or any other recipes.

  • Dehydrating Blueberries

These berries can be dehydrated and stored as dry fruits. They can be used in your cereals as a substitute for raisins or muffins. To get a pound of dehydrated blueberries you need close to 7 pounds of fresh berries. Dried berries have a shelf life up to six months and they will retain all the nutrients of fresh berries. The dehydrated berries can be re-hydrated by soaking in warm water for a couple of hours.

Poke the skin of the berries with a needle and lay them on the dehydrator trays and place them in the oven at 115 Degrees F. Else you can boil them in water till the skin breaks. Remove from the water and air dry for an hour on the kitchen towels before putting them on the dehydrator trays. Also note that the process of dehydration takes around three to seven days and this depends on the thickness of the skin of the berries as well as the size of the berries.

  • Canning Blueberries

Blueberries can be canned in sugar or non-sugar syrup and used in pie filling or made into jam. These berries can also be infused in vinegar and can be used as salad dressing.

Stay tuned for more on blueberries.

 

How To Enjoy Lychee Fruit

The Queen of Fruits ,  Lychee
The Queen of Fruits , Lychee

Lychee is the divine fruit that resembles leathery strawberries on the outside, while inside the leathery peel its white and translucent. The flesh is closer to grapes in texture and appearance. Lychee has a unique flavor that is very soothing to the palate and is extremely fragrant.

Enjoying The Divine Fruit Lychee

Selecting the fruit – A unique feature of lychee fruit is that, it has to be fully ripen on the tree. Unlike mangoes or other fruits, it will not ripen after its harvested and un-ripened fruit will leave a bitter after taste in the mouth. Therefore, a fully ripened fruit will be red or pinkish red with traces of yellow, purple or brown. Pick up those fruits that have no or fewer spots, have an excellent fragrance and simply avoid fruits that are green or have cracks on the peel.

peeled-lychee-fruit
Peeled Lychee Fruit

How To Eat Lychee Fruit

The leathery skin of the lychees must be peeled off before eating. Use a knife or simply remove the peel with your finger nails.

Once the skin is removed, pop the lychee into your mouth or you can use a knife to slice the fruit. You will find a single seed inside.

Lychee refrigerated with the peel on turns brown
Lychee refrigerated with the peel on turns brown

How to Freeze/Preserve Lychee Fruit

  1. Refrigerator – The fresh lychees can be refrigerated. Put them in a plastic bag or a container and leave the mouth of the bag or container slightly open. This will prevent condensation and mold from setting in. Though the skin will turn brown and also harden a bit, the flavor of the flesh will not be affected. The fruit can be stored in the fridge for two weeks.
  2. Freezer compartment – This fruit will also freeze well. Though some may peel the skin before putting them in a freezer bag for freezing it’s not necessary. You can simply put the lychees in a freezer bag or container and freeze it. It will stay fresh for about a year.

Recipes Using Lychee Fruits

Lychees are highly nutritious fruit. A cup of fresh lychee has only 125 calories. It is enriched with Vitamin C. Dietary fiber equals that of an apple and is a rich source of potassium. Therefore, you can use it in your recipes  such as

  • Fruit salads and desserts
  • Chicken salad and stir fries
  • As a topping on baked ham
  • Sorbets and ice creams.

Watch out this space to read the recipes and health benefits of devouring lychee fruit.