Cookie Tins

I picked up a few cookie tins at the dollar store, as well as some Christmas-y lining paper. Tonight Todd and I baked lots of cookies and packaged them in these tins to send off to his parents and his sisters. Todd also made a CD for his sister’s husband. And we’re done with that side of the family. Bonus: I get to ship them all to one location, as the in-laws will be visiting the sister-in-law in San Diego.

As for this side of the “family” (mine), we’re still trying to figure out how to avoid Christmas, with my grandmother being sick and the whole “it might be her last Christmas” guilt trip that we’re getting. Apparently, my harsh letter expressing my absolute unwillingness to be a part of Christmas doesn’t mean anything. Bastard I wanted to enjoy some grilled mouth-watering dishes but everything is spoiled.

Christmas Cookie Tins:

Cookie Tins

Due to all that fun, nerve-wracking driving that I did in the last week, my right shoulder is absolutely killing me. The pain is shooting up my neck and down to my legs. Todd has been diligently massaging it, but I have no idea how I’m going to get to work tomorrow. Oh, that’s right – yet another reason to not go in! At this rate, we’ll be broke in no time. Weeee!

I can always sell my body. There’s got to be someone out there who wants a hormonal poofy pregnant lady, right? Ha, ha, ha.

Stuffed Shells

I made vegan stuffed shells, based on a few recipes I read, but mostly based on pulling some ideas out of my ass. They turned out yummy, but I made the mistake of cooking them in the oven for too long – mostly because I used brown rice pasta shells, and was too impatient to wait for them to cook in the boiling water on the stove top – so I stuck them in the oven instead for a long time causing the tofu/spinach mixture that was initially very yummy to become rather not-as-yummy.

Before going into the oven, I sprinkled a bit of nutritional yeast on top and then loaded it with spaghetti sauce.

vegan-stuffed-shells

Out of the oven, steaming hot.

Next time I will cook the shells all the way through, and then only stick the dish in the oven for 5 minutes at the most.

No recipe, but the ingredients were:

  • 1 jar organic fat-free sugar-free spaghetti sauce, pureed (Whole Foods is the only place in the world that I have found a spaghetti sauce that doesn’t have oil, sugar and is completely organic).
  • 1 8 oz. box Tinkyada brown rice stuffed shells

And in the filling:

  •  1 lb extra firm tofu
  •  1 lb spinach
  •  2 cloves garlic
  •  tahini
  •  a tiny bit of nutritional yeast

We can make the sauce using a stand mixer attachment. You will be able to make the filling and the sauce quickly in the stand mixer.

I’ll be making this again soon, perhaps with a little more spinach, a little less tofu, and a little less cooking time.  Yummy!

Banana Bread

I loosely followed this recipe with variations to make it healthier. I just tested a piece and it is moist, lightly sweet, and delicious. I don’t bake very often and try to avoid whole wheat flours in general, but the occasional exception is fine. I used whole spelled to this bread. It is lighter than whole wheat.

banana-bread

Here’s the recipe that I adapted:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup agave nectar
  • 1/2 unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed well
  • 2 cups whole-spelled flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened plain soy milk, mixed with 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (I probably would have used a whole teaspoon, but I ran out)
  • 1.5 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.
  2. Mash the bananas and add all the wet ingredients.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry. Mix well. Pour batter into the pan. I used a 9×5 loaf pan, and as you can see it rose beautifully. Baked in the oven at 275-300 for at least an hour and a half. (I prefer to bake banana bread at longer and lower temps – I think this is what helped the bread come out so moist).
  4. Oh, I also threw in a couple spoonfuls of raw unsweetened cocoa bean nibbles. It gives the bread a nice little crunch. Yes, baking with really expensive raw cocoa beans is kind of stupid.
  5. This is really easy to make and quite delicious, I encourage you to try it. Of course, you can use sugar or maple syrup instead of agave nectar, and regular flour instead of whole spelled – but why would you?  If you have any doubts feel free to contact us here. 🙂

Must have stand mixer attachments in every restaurant kitchen

The best feature of a stand mixer is that it comes along with many attachments and accessories which can be used to perform a variety of tasks and makes your work a whole lot easier. With so many stand mixer attachments, the need to buy other kitchen tools to perform various tasks has reduced. Are you wondering which stand mixer attachment should you invest in?

We have compiled a list of the 6 stand mixer attachments which you must have for your kitchen:

Grain Mill

One of the best stand mixer attachments which you should definitely have is a grain mill attachment. A grain mill attachment eliminates the need to buy a Grain mill and helps you in milling your own flour and making your own bread as and when needed. With this attachment, you can get a fresh loaf of bread whenever you want.

Meat Grinder

Another great attachment which is a must-have is the meat grinder attachment. This attachment comes handy in grinding your sausages and mincing your meat for hamburgers. With this attachment, you don’t have to manually slice or grind the meat anymore, your stand mixer will do it for you in just a matter of minutes. You can then use this ground meat in your hotdogs or hamburgers and make your own fresh fillings for your burgers and sandwiches now.

Citrus Juicer

Another great attachment for your stand mixer is the Citrus Juicer which can be used to produce any fruit juice that you want. All you have to do is feed the citrus juicer a fruit and it would get the juice out of it in just a few minutes. So, now you can have a daily dose of fresh fruit juice in no time at all.

Beater

This is another must-have attachment for your stand mixer as it comes handy in performing all the tasks of a hand mixer and can mix dough or prepare cake and cookie batter for you quickly and efficiently. You don’t have to put in any manual effort anymore, you can just relax and your stand mixer will take care of it all.

Wire Whip

This attachment is a great investment for all those people who love whisking eggs for breakfast or who love cakes a lot. This handy attachment can whisk your eggs quickly and provide you consistently whisked eggs which you can then use in your cake batter too. One of the best stand mixer attachments to have, this one is a must-have in your list if you don’t want to tire your arms with the constant whisking anymore.

Food Processor

Well, this one is actually a no-brainer really. A food processor attachment is the best attachment for your stand mixer as it allows you to cut up and slice up vegetables and fruits quickly and easily. In fact, with the help of this attachment, you can also make vegetable purees for yourself with tremendous ease.

5 Golden rules for running the perfect restaurant

restaurant-management

Irrespective of what the TV shows and movies make you believe successfully running a restaurant whether big or small is something newbies and so called accomplished businessmen struggle with alike.

It needs tons of work, sweat, discipline and most of all perfect time and task management as you’ll be cooking, tasting, managing, recruiting, need I go on? So we interviewed 5 of best chefs around and asked them what it takes. Here’s what most had to say.

Stay Focussed

Well it’s easy to lose sight of what you love to do with so much work in hand. From one spot to the next it’s always going to seem like a whirlwind of a day which at times gets really frustrating. After all if you love the kitchen that’s where you’d want to be right?

Remember what matters, in the end, is the quality of the food you serve and the customer experience. Give them a lifetime of a dining experience and your PR will peak.

Lay a strong foundation

Not only for your building but laying down a strong foundation or in other words streamlining the work early on sets up a nice tone for the future. You’ll be managing 100’s of tasks and people which during hectic times can result in mismanagement or inconsistencies.

Set firm systems and line of communications amongst waiters, chefs, and other members. No two restaurants function the same way, see what best suits yours.

Build the right team

One of the most difficult tasks you’ll need to accomplish is setting up a team. Finding people that share your interests or have same passion isn’t easy especially if you’ve just started out and have small, hot, cramped up kitchens.

In the end, it’s about getting the job done irrespective of the circumstances and helping your employees learn and adapt. That’s how the best restaurants operate. Here’s a team building guide you’d like to read about first.

restaurant

Maintain a balance

It’s easy to get caught up with the work but one the best traits of any entrepreneur is that they always find a way back home at the end of the day. Finding this balance especially if you’ve got kids is important.

Trouble at home means trouble at work. Everyone starts small. Make the most of what’s around you and don’t let complacency slip in.

Keep up the quality

Like I said everyone starts small but only the ones that take their service and quality seriously are the ones that succeed. Make the most of the funds you have. Bring the best ingredients, materials and more importantly the best employees.

Having happy employees translates to happy customers. You’ll not always around so make sure you train them right and treat them right and you’ll have a lot less to be tensed about or running around.

5 Reasons why I recommend pressure cookers over slow cookers

slow-cooker-vs-pressure-cooker

When talking about cookers for most people there’s an obvious first choice and that’s a slow cooker a choice that has often irked me. Why not a pressure cooker? I have been using one for a long time and love it but I am sure lots of you still have questions and doubts. So today I am going to take some time out and share with you the 5 reasons I always recommend pressure cookers over slow cookers.

Perfect for unplanned meals

Like the name suggests slow cookers are actually slow comparatively. So if you’ve got a party at let’s say 9 you’ve got to  get started by 5-6 to get things done on time whereas with the latter you could wait until 7-8 pm and yet end up with a tender and juicy steak or stew.

But it comes down to your work style. Like getting things done early? Sure get slow cooker but if you’d rather wait or are lazy and disorganized a pressure cooker works best.

Efficient at high altitudes

At heights water tends to have a lower boiling point which means cooking of beans, lentils etc. in slow cookers is going to be slower and inefficient as compared to a pressure cooker.

Apart from that most slow cookers prep food at increased temperatures and while it’s assumed safe it’s not ideal when you need your stew or soup to be cooked at low heat.

Takes up less space

Cramped for room on the kitchen counter? Well then a slow cooker is a big no.  Not only because of its bigger dimensions but also because a slow cooker generally can only be used for one task and that’s slow cooking.

While on the other hand a pressure cooker is smaller and also allows you to sauté or brown ingredients in case the recipe calls for it once they are cooked.

Ideal for vegetarian foods

Love beans or veggies? Then note that a slow cooker only tends to make them soggy and soft and neither do they taste the same especially the beans. Comparatively the pressure cooker does a far better job in lesser time and keeps the beans from splitting and once it’s ready you can further crisp it up and add a few more flavors by putting on the grill or stir frying it.

Helps with cooking variety

One of the best things about these cookers is their unmatched ability to make and store soups and stews. Yes a slow cooker does an efficient job but what sets a this cooker apart is its ability to act as a container i.e. store food which in turn increases shelf life, a process often referred to as canning.

This is especially useful for restaurants offering soups and soup lovers alike. An investment worth the price tag.

Have your say on this in the comments section below and let us know what’s worked best for you.

In for some Grill? Try these mouth-watering recipes out

A perfectly grilled and juicy steak is hard to turn down any day. After all who does not love the smoky flavor and smell right? But grilled dishes aren’t always about chicken legs or steaks. There’s more to grilling than that. So today we decided to take a tour around and compile this list of 5 mouth-watering grill recipes that are simply hard to miss out on.

Stuffed Jalapenos

Want to tickle your spice buds? Well this combination of bacon, some cheese and cream layered into jalapeno peppers, covered with foil and grilled till cooked well is exactly what you need.

Usually served fried with breadcrumbs, the grill version adds not only a healthy touch but also flavors you’d miss out on otherwise. In case you prep them over night for a party simply refrigerate it and grill accordingly.

stuffed-jaleenos

Blue Cheese burgers

What’s a burger if it isn’t grilled right? And these blue cheese burgers are simply too hard to resist. If grilled right they’ll come out as one of the moistest and flavorsome burgers you’ll ever taste and thus are the perfect burger recipe for any restaurant.

To take the health quotient up a notch we would recommend you switch to whole grain buns but otherwise it tastes best with English muffins.

blue-cheese-burgers

Flank Steak

A grill recipe list isn’t ever complete without a steak but this isn’t an ordinary steak recipe. These flank steaks combined together with some cilantro and almond pesto packs an awesome spicy punch.

So if you love steak add this to the top of the list. Grilling should take about 5-6 minutes. Once done, slice them diagonally as thin as possible. For the dip recipe, check out the video below.

 

Arugula and yellow tomato veggie salad

Any vegetarians in the house? Well here’s a veggie salad you’ll love. It’s a perfect evening salad to cool off on hot summer days. The smokiness and other flavors of the grilled onions, red peppers combined together with the arugula and sweetness of the yellow tomato add a refreshing touch.

This salad is easy to prep and should take about 2-3 minutes on the grill and thus makes the perfect on the go lunch for office goers.

arugula-and-yellow-tomato-veggie-salad

Spicy chicken and chutney (Indian Style)

Need a quick yet yummy Indian dish for dinner tonight with your guests? This grilled chicken with Indian spices and tomato chutney is the ideal recipe. Takes about 20 minutes to cook and is the perfect combo of sweet and spicy.

You can further serve it with some steamed rice or other grilled veggies like broccoli, beans, carrots etc. This is one Indian dish I am glad I’ll never have to pay for.

chicken

Grilled salsa

Bored of the regular, sweet salsa? Here’s a one with a smoky twist and will make sure those boring nachos or grilled fish don’t taste the same again. Here’s what you need to do for it.

5 Appliances every small restaurant must have

Appliances are the essence of every kitchen whether you’re cooking dinner at home or running a restaurant. Having the right equipment can make a world of difference.

Not only will you save tons of hours and effort but in the long run it’s cost effective too. So exactly what appliances are we talking about here? Here’s what those running a small scale restaurant must have.

Blender

This goes without saying, a blender is one the most widely used appliances and is simply a must but a question we often get asked is whether an immersion model is better or a countertop one. Well it’s an easy choice.

A countertop model is perfect for restaurants and can be further upgraded to add more power and functionality at lower cost as business grows. An immersion blender is best suited for home use as it’s smaller, cheap and perfect for small tasks like puree etc.

countertop-blender

Pressure Cookers

Surprised? Contrary to popular belief pressure cookers beat slow cookers hands down. It’s the perfect utensil for those with smaller workspace and to top it all off it’s also much faster, a necessary quality for restaurants.

With these cookers recipes like hard boiled eggs, brown rice etc. can be cooked in minutes but in case you’re still tangled over the decision about the best cooker, get the best of both worlds with an instant pot.

pressure-cooker

Electric Kettle

Tea and coffee are the mainstays of most lifestyles and thus you’re going to get plenty of orders and to keep up an electric kettle will come in handy. Its cost and energy efficient and will save you plenty of hours as you’ll not be spending time boiling water on stoves.

The latest models come with pre-set temperature variations for green, oolong, black teas and coffee. The Breville Temperature kettle is one such model and worth every penny you’ll invest.

breville-kettle

Food Processor

Multitasking is important for the success of any restaurant and thus a food processor is indispensable. Why? That’s because whether you’re looking to prep some dough for pasta or grind meat for meatballs or blend together ingredients for puree, a food processor can cover it all.

If you’re only starting out get a 3 cup processor as it’s easy to fit in and costs less but if you’re looking for an upgrade a 12 cup should be the ideal choice.

food-processor

Stand Mixer

Our pastries, cookies, and cakes your forte? Well, then a food processor alone isn’t going to cut it. It’s time to get real and go big and stand mixer is precisely what you’ll need.

Not only are they more efficient with doughs and batter with the multiple attachments and upgrades even tasks like grinding, chopping etc. can be done within minutes. Opt for a commercial stand mixer for large scale production.

stand-mixer

Apart from these industrial scale ovens, good quality pans, stoves etc. are few other essential tools.