• Baking
  • 2 Party-Ready Appetizers You Can Make with Freezer Shortcuts

    2 Party-Ready Appetizers You Can Make with Freezer ShortcutsThere’s a time and a place for super-fancy, knife-and-fork-needed appetizers, but game night isn’t it. When you invite pals over for a few rounds of poker or a no-holds-barred Scrabble face-off, what you’re likely craving is something easy, not necessarily elegant. And on those occasions, it’s A-OK to take a few welcome shortcuts from the supermarket. The key is dressing them up to make them your own. On this morning’s all-new episode of The Kitchen, the co-hosts hosted a game night of their own, complete with a menu of fuss-free eats and drinks, including two appetizers that get their start from the freezer section. Read on below to get the can-do recipes, then check out all of the how-tos from the show.

    Bacon-Wrapped Onion RingsBacon-Wrapped Onion Rings
    On their own, frozen onion rings turn into crispy, golden rounds after just a few minutes of warming. But these bacon-wrapped beauties are perhaps the ultimate in crispy satisfaction. As Jeff Mauro noted this morning, the key is baking the bacon-wrapped rings on a sheet pan lined with a baking rack. That allows the renderings to drip onto the sheet pan, which means the bacon can get crispy.

    Nacho Cheese Corn Chip-Encrusted Mozzarella SticksNacho Cheese Corn Chip-Encrusted Mozzarella Sticks
    When it comes to frozen mozzarella sticks, there’s surely plenty of gooey-good flavor happening beneath the crust. But when you dunk those sticks into crushed nacho cheese corn chips for a bonus breading blanket, the additional cheese flavor is next-level indulgent. It’s important to dip the packaged mozzarella sticks into a few whisked eggs before moving onto the chips, since you’ll need that liquid to act as a glue for the chips.

    Tune in to The Kitchen on Saturdays at 11a|10c.

    This article was originally posted on the Food Network and can be found here!

  • Baking
  • America Is a Nation of Beer Lovers

    America Is a Nation of Beer LoversIt may seem as if America is becoming a nation of wine sippers — and it’s true that many of those who prefer wine today were more likely to opt for other kinds of alcoholic beverages a decade ago. But don’t worry, beer drinkers, because there are still more of you than there are of them.

    Almost four out of 10 — 38 percent — of alcohol consumers over age 21 in the United States said beer was their beverage of choice, whereas 31 percent prefer wine and 28 percent like spirits/liquor most of all, according to a recent Harris Poll survey of 1,540 adults.

    Beer fans are especially loyal, too, the study found: Fully 73 percent of those over age 31 who prefer beer today said it was their favorite alcoholic beverage 10 years ago as well. Meanwhile, 63 percent of those over age 31 who prefer spirits said it was also their top choice a decade ago.

    Conversely, a fair number of wine drinkers are relatively new converts. Only 44 percent of wine lovers ages 31 and up said they also preferred wine a decade ago, contending that they would have been more inclined then to opt for liquor/spirits (26 percent) or beer (21 percent).

    “For some, that ‘go to’ choice hasn’t changed a great deal, but for a significant percentage of those who favor wine today, they did prefer another beverage type 10 years ago,” Danny Brager, SVP of Nielsen’s Beverage Alcohol Practice, said in a survey release. “Both life stage changes over that period of time as these consumers have aged, as well as today’s younger generations being more open to wine, are likely driving those changes in preference.”

    Preferences, too, differed by age, gender, locale and income, the survey found. While beer was popular among men, younger drinkers and Southerners, wine was preferred by women, drinkers over age 65 and those with annual incomes over $100,000.

    The top choice for beer lovers was domestic non-craft beer (38 percent), followed by craft (29 percent) and imported (23 percent) beers.

    Of the wine lovers, 38 percent prefer red, 32 percent white, and 19 percent rose or blush. Oh, and 10 percent prefer to get their kicks from Champagne or other sparkling wines.


    Photo: iStock

    This article was originally posted on the Food Network and can be found here!

  • Baking
  • Get Married at Taco Bell and Begin Your Happily Ever After with a Taco 12 Pack

    Get Married at Taco Bell and Begin Your Happily Ever After with a Taco 12 PackBy Lauren Haslett

    Thinking of eloping in Vegas? Do you love Taco Bell with a fierce passion that reserved only for your favorite fast-food establishment and the inventor of the magical fourth meal? Then you might want to pay attention.

    Taco Bell wants to reward the love its serious fans have for the brand with even more love — by letting some of those fans have their weddings at its flagship Cantina location in Las Vegas.

    No, this is not a drill, folks. You can now get married at Taco Bell, and the favorite late-night snack stop wants to help you do it in style!

    “Cookie-cutter weddings are a thing of past for millennials, who are putting new, personal spins on old traditions,” stated a recent company press release announcing the new wedding package. “For couples who love Taco Bell, and each other, tying the knot at Taco Bell is a unique way to spend their big day.”

    The flagship Cantina restaurant in Vegas actually has its own little chapel, so taco-loving couples can get married on-site. Those lucky enough to book the special space for their big day can also order a Wedding Package right off the menu, complete with a Taco Bell-themed garter and bow tie, sauce packet wedding bouquet, “Just Married” t-shirts, T-Bell Champagne flutes and a Cinnabon Delights Wedding Cake — whether that last item is an actual cake or a croquembouche-style stack of cinnamon buns is still TBD, but either way, that sounds pretty good, amiright? The icing on the Taco Bell cake? Newlyweds who choose to tie the knot at this Las Vegas location will be treated to a Taco 12 Pack — their first meal together as a married couple. Awwww.

    The whole package costs a whopping $600, according to the press release, “and will include a full ceremony and officiant.” This may seem like a lot for Taco Bell, but when you compare that to the cost of a wedding ceremony absolutely anywhere else, it’s really a total steal.

    If you’re interested in saying “I do” at your favorite taco spot, you won’t be able to book your nuptials before the summer of 2017. That is unless, of course, you’re the lucky winner of the restaurant’s latest sweepstakes. Find out how to enter for the chance to be the first couple married in the T-Bell wedding chapel! Good luck, taco-loving friends, good luck.

    Photo: iStock

    This article was originally posted on the Food Network and can be found here!

  • Baking
  • 5 Apps That Will Help You Eat Healthy

    There are so many nutrition and fitness apps hitting the market that you just don’t know which to try. I set out to find some apps that may not be on your radar and are worthy of space on your smartphone.



    Cost: Free

    There are now more options than ever for healthy eating when dining out. This app helps you find the best dishes at both chain and non-chain restaurants. Categories include heart healthy, high protein, lactose free, low calorie, low fat, vegetarian, vegan, and more. It’s a quick and easy way to sift through long menus to find choices that are better for you.


    Food Intolerances

    Cost: $5.99

    If you have strict dietary intolerances or allergies, this app may be right for you. Those who have conditions like histamine intolerance, fructose malabsorption, sorbitol intolerance, gluten sensitivity or low FODMAP diet will likely find it a helpful tool. The database of hundreds of foods tells you if the food is allowable with the food sensitivity. A con of the app is that it categorizes all processed foods the same, such as a regular tomato sauce verses one that was created specifically to be low FODMAP-friendly.



    Cost: Free

    When it comes to making healthy changes to our own habits, many nutrition experts will tell you to make small, attainable goals. Once you keep up with a small change for at least 6 months, it becomes a habit. This app helps you attain these small goals, by setting reminders and providing feedback on how to improve your diet.


    Luvo CheckIt

    Cost: Free

    CheckIt is a mobile nutrition label reader designed to help consumers make better informed and balanced food choices. The app works by scanning the barcode of any packaged food item, at which point the user is provided with insight on the food’s nutritional value along with responding to the burning question, “Is this product good for me?” The insight is pretty simple with a basic yes or no with an explanation of why, but a sliding scale in terms of a products healthfulness (like 0-10) would have been more useful. For anyone who wants quick feedback, it’s easy to use (just scan on the products barcode) and get a response within about 5 seconds.



    Cost: Free; Delivery: from $5.99

    Looking to save time in your insanely busy schedule? This app allows you to find recipes, ingredients and order groceries for delivery within an hour. An Instacart personal shopper will pick up your order for you (think Uber for groceries) and deliver them to your door. Instacart partners with grocers like Whole Foods, Costco, Rainbow Grocery and Target. You can even order at multiple stores in the same delivery. The app will save your grocery list, so it’s easy to re-order your favorites next time. Instacart is available in over 25 cities in the U.S. Deliveries start at $5.99, a similar price point to other grocery delivery programs.


    Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

    *This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

    This article was originally posted on the Food Network and can be found here!

  • Baking
  • 5 Pulses That Are Great For You

    As a vegetarian dietitian, I eat a lot of pulses, the group of legumes that includes beans, lentils, dry peas and chickpeas. I top my salads with them, mix them into brownie batter, and bake them into casseroles. And while 2016 was the Year of Pulses, these superfoods continue to grow in popularity. Here are a few of my favorite pulses — which all happen to be great for you — plus some ideas for cooking with them.



    A half-cup serving of cooked chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) offer up about 7 grams of protein, or 15 percent of the daily value. They’re an excellent source of fiber and offer 13 percent of the daily value for iron. Use them to make a Chickpea Crust Pizza or a Squash and Chickpea Moroccan Stew—or bake them into a Spicy Baked Chickpeas dish. Reserve the aquafaba, or chickpea water, and use that to make a vegan meringue.


    Black Beans

    These beans are terrific in a Black Bean and Corn Salad. They’re versatile way beyond Mexican dishes—and make a great protein addition to Black Bean Brownies. A half-cup serving of the cooked beans offers close to 8 grams of fiber, providing 30 percent of the daily value. Black beans are a good source of protein and an excellent source of folate, a nutrient of particular importance during pregnancy.



    There are many types of lentils, including green, French green, red, and black. Lentils are one of the highest-protein beans, boasting almost 9 grams, or 18 percent of the daily value, per half-cup serving of cooked beans, as well as about 8 grams of fiber. They’re also a good source of blood-pressure-helping potassium. Have them in a Lentil Soup, as Cilantro Lentils, or in an Herbed Lentils with Spinach and Tomatoes dish.


    Black-Eyed Peas

    Despite their name, these are actually beans and also go by the name cowpeas. Give them a go anytime of the year—not just on New Year’s Day when eating them is thought to bring good fortune! They’re an excellent source of both fiber and folate. Enjoy them in a Black-Eyed Pea and Spinach Salad or in a savory oatmeal dish, such as Healthy Collard Greens and Black-Eyed Peas Over Oats.


    Lima Beans

    Lima beans make a great Lima Bean Dip, and they also pair well with fish (try Lemon Salmon with Lima Beans). These petite green beans make an excellent source of fiber and a good source of protein, and a half-cup serving of cooked limas delivers 14 percent of the daily value of potassium.


    Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in Jersey City, NJ. She’s a regular contributor to many publications, including ReadersDigest.com, Shape.com, FitnessMagazine.com, Dr. Oz the Good Life, Runner’s World, and more—as well as WeightWatchers.com, where she was a longtime editor. She also pens a recipe-focused blog, Amy’s Eat List.

    *This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

    This article was originally posted on the Food Network and can be found here!

  • Baking
  • Don’t Even Think of Trying to Wear These Chocolate Shoes

    Don’t Even Think of Trying to Wear These Chocolate ShoesThe perfect Valentine’s gift for a well-heeled, chocolate-loving guy? How about a pair of hyper-realistic chocolate shoes? L’éclat, a high-end chocolate boutique at the Rihga Royal Hotel in Osaka, Japan, presided over by chocolatier Motohiro Okai, has created just such a thing.

    The cap-toe oxfords, which are being sold under moniker “Gentlemen’s Radiance,” do, in fact, look buffed-up to shiny-leather perfection, except that they are not leather at all but rather 100 percent chocolate and completely edible. Yes, every bit of them — insole, sole, seams, stitching, shoelaces and all.

    Whether you think the concept of chocolate footwear is sweet or gross probably depends on how you feel about a lot of things — like, say, feet and old leather and the bottoms of your shoes. Still, you have to admire the craftsmanship and the dedication to detail.

    The fashionable-foot-forward chocophile can choose between three hues (dark, light and “red”), but sizing is standard; each shoe is 26 centimeters (or about 10 and a quarter inches) long.

    The edible lace-ups will set buyers back 29,160 yen (a tad less than $260), which is, you know, a pretty big hunk of cocoa-buying cash. Also available and somewhat more modest: a set of chocolate shoe accessories, including chocolate shoehorns and a jar of chocolate shoe polish.

    Alas, the first batch of both shoes and accessories, which will be delivered in time for Valentine’s Day, are all sold out. But given the enthusiastic response, perhaps the chocolate makers behind the shoes will roll — or stroll — them out again in the future.

    Just please no chocolate socks.

    Photo courtesy of Rihga Royal Hotels

    This article was originally posted on the Food Network and can be found here!

  • Baking
  • Chefs’ Picks: Miami Pizza

    Pizza Bar Restaurant
    Chefs’ Picks tracks down what the pros are eating and cooking from coast to coast.

    Miami may not be a traditional pizza town, but with a constant influx of former New Yorkers and European expats joining the ranks of enterprising locals, the Magic City has seriously elevated its pies. Here, five local chefs share their favorite places for pizza in South Florida.

    Pizza Bar, Miami Beach
    After a night of turning out pan-Asian dishes at KOMODO in downtown Miami, Chef Oscar Toro often seeks out a slice. “While Asian cuisine is my favorite, sometimes I just need a slice of good New York-style pizza,” says Toro. He is partial to Pizza Bar for its late-night hours (the spot is open until 5 a.m.) and numerous menu options. “They have huge thin crust slices and so many different varieties that there is always something to fulfill my craving. Added bonus: Their garlic knots and chicken wings are great, too.”

    Lucali Pizza in Miami
    Lucali, Miami Beach
    The Miami outpost of a Brooklyn original has made a dazzling impression on many a culinary-minded member of the Magic City, including Chef Michael Lewis. “Lucali in Sunset Harbour is my favorite after-work spot,” says Lewis, who heads here after a day of dishing out wood-fired creations at the Asian-inspired restaurant KYU. For Lewis, Lucali’s allure stretches beyond the pizza. “The pies are consistently really good, but beyond that, the whole vibe in there is relaxed, friendly and welcoming.”

    Another Lucali aficionado is Chef Sunny Oh, who is no stranger to the pizza-making process itself. Though he’s now chef and partner at Sushi Garage and Juvia Miami, Oh spent time at the start of his career creating gourmet pies. Years later, his affinity for pizza was stoked anew after Oh became a parent. “When my daughter started to get older, I found myself eating more [pizza]. Nowadays, I like all types, but my two favorite are artisanal and classic New York-style,” Oh says. In addition to Lucali, Oh is partial to Steve’s Pizza, where he opts for sausage on a classic New York-style slice. He’s also a fan of Mister 01 (formerly named Visa-01), which is tucked away in a discreet office building in Miami Beach.
    Mister 01, Miami Beach 
    The stellar artisanal pies turned out at Mister O1 have also made a devotee out of Executive Chef Dario Bellofiore, who works just down the road from the pizzeria at Quattro Gastronomia Italiana. He can’t resist the siren call of Mister 01’s authentic Neapolitan pizza. “Owner and pizza maker, Renato [Viola] from Naples, Italy has received many awards for his thin-crust pizzas,” Bellofiore says. “I feel like I am back in Italy whenever I go there.”


    Andiamo Pizza
    Andiamo Pizza, Miami
    When Executive Chef Clark Bowen isn’t busy making decadent burgers and modern French specialties at db Bistro Moderne Miami, he seeks out a simple pizza served at a laidback neighborhood joint. “My favorite local pie is from Andiamo Pizza in Midtown Miami,” says Bowen. “It’s brick-oven pizza with a thin, crispy crust. It’s always fresh and they offer unique toppings.” And for those who want to soak up that famous Miami sunshine while eating a slice, Bowen recommends Andiamo’s outdoor dining area.









    This article was originally posted on the Food Network and can be found here!

  • Baking
  • 3 Brownie Recipes to Make Your Valentine Swoon

    3 Brownie Recipes to Make Your Valentine SwoonValentine’s Day is just days away, and if you’re suddenly experiencing an uh-oh moment at that realization, we have just the advice for you. It’s surely not too late to pick up a bottle of Champagne for you and your bae to share, but if you want to up the romantic ante this year, look no further than a decadent dessert of chocolate. Brownies are a tried-and-true classic, as they’re easy to make and loaded with rich chocolatey flavor. But they’re also somewhat divisive. If you’re a brownie fanatic, you’ll likely land in one of three camps when it comes to preferred brownie texture — chewy, cakey and fudgy — and it’s not likely you can be convinced that another one is better. And that’s OK, because on this morning’s all-new episode of The Kitchen, the co-hosts introduced a trio of recipes for brownie lovers of all kinds. Read on below to learn tips for turning out chewy, cakey and fudgy brownies, then check out all of the chocolate-focused recipes from the show.

    Chewy BrowniesChewy Brownies
    As Jeff Mauro explained today, it’s all about balancing key wet and dry ingredients — “fat and flour,” he noted — when baking chewy brownies. A combination of whole eggs, egg yolks, butter and oil is offset by a generous scoop of flour, so that after baking, you turn out that craveable balance of bite and give.

    Cakey BrowniesCakey Brownies
    A tad drier than chewy or fudgy brownies, these cakey beauties boast a texture similar to cake. They come together with traditional cake ingredients like baking soda and baking powder, which cause the brownies to rise a bit. As Katie Lee mentioned, it’s important to cream the butter with the sugar instead of melting it; that’s just how you would start the process for baking a cake too, she noted.

    Fudgy BrowniesFudgy Brownies
    These sweet-tooth-satisfying brownies are made with more butter and less flour than their cakey and chewy counterparts, because, as Sunny Anderson said, “What makes a brownie fudgy is it has more [of a] fat-to-dry ratio.” Ultimately, this results in the decidedly fudge-like center you know and love. But like chewy brownies, these are laced with equal parts of brown and granulated sugar, and they’re also studded with chocolate chips for over-the-top indulgence.

    This article was originally posted on the Food Network and can be found here!

  • Baking
  • What to Watch: Decadent Chocolate Recipes & Chocolate Games on Triple G

    Chocolate Strawberries
    Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and this weekend your favorite Food Network chefs are sharing their recipes for rich chocolate treats to help you impress your sweetheart. On Saturday morning, Ree Drummond is whipping up a Triple Chocolate Tiramisu, Chocolate Butterscotch Caramel Bars (pictured), and a Crazy Chocolate Shake. Then, Trisha Yearwood is taking a tour of a chocolate factory to inspire a chocolate-themed menu, and it’s the annual chocolate show on The Kitchen where the co-hosts are making batches and batches of brownies and trying unusual chocolate pairings.

    On Sunday, Giada De Laurentiis is hosting a Valentine’s Day dinner party and making a Chocolate Hazelnut Fondue for dessert. On Sunday evening, Guy’s Grocery Games is all about the cocoa when four chocolate-loving chefs will turn their favorite rich treat into sweet and savory dishes, and on Worst Cooks, the recruits are facing their culinary fears and cooking with some interesting ingredients.

    Crispy Chocolate Dippers
    The Pioneer Woman: Sharing Chocolate – Saturday, Feb. 11 at 10a|9c
    Ree is sharing the good stuff with the chocolate lovers in her life, and she’s starting big with a magnificent Triple Chocolate Tiramisu as a thank you to her best friend. Then, she’s layering divine on delicious in Chocolate Butterscotch Caramel Bars (pictured) for her father-in-law, Chuck. Next, Ree takes things to a whole new level with a sweet and salty mash-up of Crispy Chocolate Dippers to use in a Crazy Chocolate Shake, assisted by her son, Todd.
    Cafe Mocha
    Trisha’s Southern Kitchen: Chocolate Rules – Saturday, Feb. 11 at 10:30a|9:30c
    Trisha visits Mackenzie Colt, owner of the famous Colts Chocolates, to get a tour of the factory and eat a piece (or 10!) of chocolate. She then heads back home to make a menu of chocolate recipes, including Boston Cream Pie, Chocolate-Covered Cereal Mix with Dried Cherries and Pistachios, Cafe Mocha (pictured) and a Frozen Chocolate Mudslide.
    Chocolate Covered Strawberry Tart
    The Kitchen: Chocolate Overload – Saturday, Feb. 11 at 11a|10c
    The Kitchen kicks off its annual chocolate show with Katie Lee’s decadent Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Tart (pictured). Brownie 101 will give you the ultimate guide to making your favorite type of brownies, then the gang passes the Brownie Bombe and chocolatier Valerie Gordon stops by to make her delicious Chocolate Pots De Creme. Then, the co-hosts try or deny some surprising chocolate pairings, and the Kitchen Helpline is open for all your chocolate dilemmas!
    Chocolate Hazelnut Fondue
    Giada Entertains: Fro-mantic Dinner for Eight – Sunday, Feb. 12 at 12|11c
    Valentine’s Day should be about sharing love and affection for all of the special people in your life, so Giada is hosting a dinner party around a long dining room table filled with friends. The indulgent dishes include a Cheese Ravioletti in Pink Sauce, Italian Wellington and Chocolate Hazelnut Fondue (pictured).
    Guy's Grocery Games
    Guy’s Grocery Games: Guy’s Chocolate Games – Sunday, Feb. 12 at 8pm|7c
    Four chocolate masters compete to turn this rich treat into sweet and savory dishes that could earn one of them up to $20,000. First, they have to flip a German chocolate cake into the ultimate lunch. Next, the chefs play an arcade game to determine their personal budgets for a decadent chocolate dessert. In the final game, two chefs determine the not-so-sexy ingredients in their romantic chocolate dinner with the spin of a wheel of chance.
    Worst Cooks in America
    Worst Cooks in America: Facing Your Fears – Sunday, Feb. 12 at 9pm|8c
    For the Skill Drill, the recruits must face the foods they fear most by creating a dish that utilize their least favorite ingredient. Anne Burrell and Rachael Ray strive to expand their recruits’ culinary horizons to help them in Main Dish challenge, where they have to spatchcock a Cornish game hen and put their own flavorful twist on a special side dish.

    This article was originally posted on the Food Network and can be found here!

  • Baking
  • The Downright Quickest Ways to Get Your Chocolate Fix

    Chocolate PuddingOur biggest chocolate cravings often come as emergencies — need-it-now moments that just can’t be stopped. Before you tear into another chocolate bar with abandon or resort to the freezer-burnt pint in your stash, know that it’s possible to whip up full-fledged chocolate desserts a lot faster than you might think. These are a few of our favorite quick fixes.

    Peeling open a store-bought pudding cup might be your fastest option, but Ree Drummond’s homemade Chocolate Pudding is your best. This rich and creamy dessert just takes 15 minutes to make, and it’s ready to be eaten as soon as it’s done cooking — or after some time in the fridge if you prefer it chilled.

    S'mores Dip

    Dip isn’t just for snacking. Food Network Kitchen’s toasty S’mores Dip is a scoopable chocolate treat that’s ready for dipping in 30 minutes flat. And for an even quicker version, use 1 1/2 cups of your favorite prepared fudge sauce instead of making it from scratch.

    Chocolate White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

    Though baking a batch of cookies from scratch might not line up with your need-chocolate-now motto, Ina Garten’s Chocolate White Chocolate Chunk Cookies are a breeze to bake. With just 20 minutes of prep and 15 minutes in the oven, these triple-chocolate cookies go from batter to bake sale in no time.

    Chocolate Cake in a Mug

    A chocolate cake craving can’t always result in baking a chocolate cake, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have your cake and eat it too. In fact, it takes just 90 seconds to zap The Pioneer Woman’s Chocolate Cake in a Mug in the microwave.

    Chocolate FondueTake a page from the Swiss and stir together a rich (and surprisingly healthy) Chocolate Fondue that’s good to go in 25 minutes. It’s a just-right blend whisked with cocoa powder, just two ounces of dark chocolate and evaporated milk.

    Get more of our favorite chocolate desserts here.

    This article was originally posted on the Food Network and can be found here!