Gift Guide for the Holidays

These two small kitchen appliances are all the rage right now. With everyone looking for the best and healthiest ways to prepare meals at home, these gadgets make for the perfect holiday gifts.

AirFryer

This popular appliance is making its way into the homes of many, especially those looking for a healthier alternative to oily, fried foods. Airfryers come in many sizes catering to any sized household. According to online reviews, Phillips makes the best performing and easy-to-use airfryer.

The well-known brand sells three different models: The Compact, XL and XXL. These models all have the patented “Turbostar Technology,” meaning hot air circulates 360 degrees around the food as it cooks. This ensures the food is cooked evenly and has a crisp outside with a tender inside. And as the food cooks, any excess fat is simultaneously drained, which is 75% – 90% less fat than typical fried foods. You can also download the “Philips Airfryer app” for recipes, tutorials and tips.

Although the “Turbostar Technology” is used in all the models, the portion size and capabilities are what sets them apart. The basic Compact Airfryer model can easily fit on your countertop, has the ability to cook two portions (1.8 lb) at one time and has easy-to-use controls. The XL Airfryer model is the midsized option that can cook up to four portions (2.65 lb) at one time and features digital touchscreen controls with a preset button to remember your favorite foods. Lastly, the largest XXL Airfryer model is the most powerful model that Phillips offers. It can cook two bags of fries or even a whole chicken in one go, which makes this model ideal for larger families.

Anova Precision Cooker

The other gadget that would make a great gift this holiday season is the Anova Precision Cooker. With this simple device and your phone, you can cook professional level meals. The Anova Precision Cooker uses what is called “Sous-vide” (pronounced ‘sue-veed’) or precision cooking, a technique that uses precise temperature control to achieve perfectly cooked, flavor-filled results.

Here’s how it works. Grab any sized pot and fill it about half way with water. Place the Anova wand into the water and use the clamp to secure it to the side of the pot. Use the controls on the wand or the Anova app on your phone to select the temperature specified in the app or recipe book to achieve your desired doneness. Take a resealable plastic bag and place your choice of ingredients and seasoning inside and seal it. Place the bag in the preheated water and clip the bag to the pot. That’s it! The water will continue to circulate eliminating any hot or cold spots, and in no time at all you will have a perfectly cooked meal! Once the ingredients are cooked, you can use a pan to crisp up the outer layer.

The Anova wand can be used to cook anything from steaks and fried chicken to eggs and potatoes. There are over 1,000 recipes available on the app and online. Anova makes cooking so simple, you’ll never want to use anything else!

Take the Pressure Off of Cooking with an Instant Pot!

The Instant Pot is revolutionizing the way that people cook by taking all of the hard work out of the process. By combining multiple appliances into one, the possibilities are endless!

The most advanced Instant Pot has the functions of a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, cake maker, yogurt maker, sauté pan, steamer, warmer and sterilizer. This smart, safe and dependable electric pressure cooker is putting dinner on the table two to six times faster than conventional cooking. This makes the Instant Pot ideal for busy households in today’s fast-paced world.

Almost anything you can think of can me prepared using this one easy-to-use device, which in return saves you time and energy. Dishes like stews, pot roasts and chilis that originally took an entire day to prepare can be done in as little as an hour! Other foods like fresh or frozen vegetables can be soft and ready-to-eat in just two to three minutes.

You can even bake your favorite cake without using your oven. If you are on the fence and need more convincing, go online and research all of the different delicious dishes you can whip up in fraction of the time. Now that summer is here, there will be many parties and events that require you to bring a side dish. Try out the recipe below for an easy Instat Pot potato salad recipe that you can bring to your next outdoor barbecue!

 

Quick Potato Salad in the Pressure Cooker:

Ingredients:

  • 6 medium russet potatoes, peeled & cubed
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 Tbsp dill pickle juice
  • 1 Tbsp mustard
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Put the steamer basket in the pressure cooker pot. Add the water, potatoes, and the eggs. Lock lid in place, select High Pressure, 4 minutes cook time and press start.
  2. When timer beeps, turn off pressure cooker and do a quick pressure release. When the pressure is released, carefully remove the lid. Remove the steamer basket from the pressure cooking pot. Put eggs into ice cold water to cool.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the onion, mayo, parsley, pickle juice, and mustard. Add cooled potatoes and gently mix the mayonnaise mixture into the potatoes. Peel and dice three of the cooled eggs and stir into potato salad. Add salt and pepper to taste. If needed, add more mayo to achieve desired consistency.
  4. Chill at least one hour before serving. Top with slices of remaining egg.

Visit https://recipes.instantpot.com/ for more delicious recipes!

Easy Dinner Ideas That Will Impress Your Valentine

Ingredients:
• 3/4 c. balsamic vinegar
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 tbsp. honey
• 2 tbsp. olive oil
• 1 tbsp. dried thyme
• 1 tbsp. dried oregano
• 4 steak fillets, such as sirloin
• 2 tomatoes, sliced
• Kosher salt
• 4 slices mozzarella
• Fresh basil leaves, for serving

Directions:
1. In a small bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar, garlic, honey, olive oil, dried thyme, and dried oregano.

2. Pour over steak and let marinade 20 minutes.

3. Season tomatoes with salt and pepper.

4. Heat grill to high. Grill steak 5 minutes per side, then top with mozzarella and tomatoes and cover grill until cheese is melty, 2 minutes.

5. Add basil and serve.

http://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a48615/caprese-steak-recipe/

Ingredients:
• 1 c. all-purpose flour
• Kosher salt
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
• 2 tbsp. butter
• 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
• 8 oz. baby bella mushrooms, sliced
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 3/4 c. marsala wine
• 3/4 c. low-sodium chicken broth
• 1/3 c. heavy cream
• 2 tbsp. Freshly Chopped Parsley
• Cooked angel hair, for serving

Directions:
1. Season flour with salt and pepper, dredge chicken in flour.

2. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter and olive oil. Add chicken and cook until golden on both sides, about 5 minutes per side.

3. Make Marsala sauce: melt remaining butter in skillet and add mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms are golden and liquid has been released, 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, then season with salt.

4. Add marsala, chicken broth, heavy cream, and parsley and bring to a simmer.

5. Return chicken to skillet and spoon sauce over breasts.

6. Simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.

7. Serve over angel hair, if desired.

http://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a49576/creamy-chicken-marsala-recipe/

Ingredients:
• 4 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips
• 1 lb. fresh strawberries

Directions:
1. Place chocolate in a glass bowl and microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until melted and smooth.

2. Holding the strawberries by the stem, dip in the melted chocolate, letting the excess chocolate drip off.

3. Transfer the dipped strawberries onto a baking sheet lined with wax paper.

4. Refrigerate the strawberries until the chocolate is firm, at least 30 min. Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Peppermint Hot Cocoa

Prep time: 5 minutes Cook time: 2 hours

Ingredients:
2 cups heavy cream
5 1/2 cups milk
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups good quality milk chocolate chips
Marshmallows and mini candy canes for garnish

Instructions:
1. Combine all ingredients (except garnish) in a slow cooker set to low heat.
Let cook for 2 hours, stirring occassionally. When chocolate is fully melted
and the drink is hot to taste, it’s done!
2. Top with marshmallows and mini candy canes for some extra fun.
3. Enjoy!

Doorstep Meal Prep

The thought of making a trip to the grocery store can make some people cringe, especially after a long day at work. So, why not make that stress a thing of the past by having your groceries and planned meals delivered right to your doorstep? Meal prep kits like HelloFresh, Green Chef and Blue Apron have grown substantially more popular in the last couple years with more and more options popping up all the time. So, which one do you choose? We did a comparison of three of the top doorstep meal kits to hopefully make your decision easier!


HelloFresh was our top choice with high ratings of best nutritional value with the most nutritional information, freshness of ingredients, and of course, great taste! However, if you’re looking to step out of the box and try some new flavors, HelloFresh has fewer options for those with adventurous taste buds. On the other hand, if you don’t mind the simplicity, HelloFresh’s meals, on average, had the lowest fat content, calories and sodium, making it perfect for those looking for healthy alternatives. Most of the meals take 30 minutes or less to prepare, but the more complicated recipes required additional time (about 15 minutes). HelloFresh is more on the pricey side with price per portion being about $11.50


Green Chef was our second choice with the majority of its ingredients being fresh and unblemished, its fiber and fat content being tied with HelloFresh, and its tasty flavors. Green Chef focuses on having all organic ingredients (GMO and hormone free) and a higher vegetable content than the other meal kits. Their meat products are also raised without the use of antibiotics. Green Chef also offers an expansive range of kits, which include vegetarian, carnivore, Paleo and gluten-free, making it ideal for diet and health conscious individuals. Meal prep time had a wider range of 20 to 45 minutes depending on the recipe. Green Chef is also one of the more expensive meal kits due to its all-organic ingredients coming in at about $11.99 per portion.


Blue Apron is our third choice, although it offers the most diverse recipes and the most budget friendly meal plans compared to the others. As far as taste, the dishes are fresh with good flavor and texture. The majority of foods were crisp, often organic and unblemished. The recipe cards do list calorie information, however they do not list any in-depth nutritional information as amounts may vary depending on how each meal is prepared. Meal cook time ranged anywhere from 25 minutes to 60 minutes depending on complexity. As stated above, Blue Apron is the most affordable with an average per portion price of $9.99.

Whether you’re cooking for your family or just yourself, make the process easier and skip the grocery store. All three of these meal prep kits offer a deal when you sign up to give it a try. HelloFresh offers $15.00 off when you subscribe to their email, Green Chef offers two free meals in your first week and Blue Apron offers 3 free meals on your first delivery. Choose the best kit for you and put those culinary skills to the test!

Carrot Patch Pudding Cups

Ingredients:

  • Pudding:
  • 1/4 C Cornstarch
  • 1/2 C Granulated Sugar
  • 1/8 TSP Salt
  • 3 C Whole Milk
  • 6 oz. Semisweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1 TSP Pure Vanilla Extract

Decorations:

  • 15 Strawberries
  • 1 (12 oz.) Bag of Orange Candy Melts
  • 10 Oreos, Crushed to Crumbs

Pudding Instructions:

  • In a medium saucepan, combine the cornstarch, sugar and salt
  • Whisk in the milk slowly until fully incorporated
  • Heat over medium-low heat for 10 minutes until the mixture thickens –
    whisk occasionally to break up any clumps
  • Add the chocolate and continue to stir until smooth, about 5 minutes
  • Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla extract
  • Pour mixture through a fine-mesh strainer to remove any remaining clumps
  • Portion pudding into individual cups about 3/4 of the way full – place in
    fridge 2-3 hours

Decorating Instructions:

  • Line a cookie sheet with wax paper- Place candy melts in a microwave-safe
    bowl and heat for 30-second intervals – mixing well between each
    interval until smooth
  • Dip each strawberry in the candy melts as far up to the green as you can
  • Place the dipped strawberries on the wax paper
  • Use a spoon to drizzle more orange candy melts for a striped look
  • Place strawberries in the fridge for 5 minutes to allow the chocolate to
    cool completely*When the pudding is ready, sprinkle each cup with a layer of Oreo
    crumbs. Place a dipped strawberry in each cup, submerging the
    strawberry about halfway down. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.

Recipe: Taste the Love with Red Velvet Puppy Chow!

Ingredients:
• 5 C. Rice Chex Cereal
• 3/4 C. White Chocolate Chips
• 1/4 C. Chocolate Chips
• 2 oz. Cream Cheese (room temp)
• 1 1/2 Tbsp. Milk
• 1 C. Red Velvet Cake Mix
• 1/2 C. Powdered Sugar
• Valentine Colored M&M’s
• Heart Sprinkles

Directions:
1. Measure out Rice Chex cereal and place into large bowl.
2. Place cake mix and powdered sugar into a large plastic bag or tupperware with a lid.
3. Melt chocolate chips together in the microwave for 30 second increments. Careful not to burn and stir until smooth.
4. Stir cream cheese and milk into the melted chocolate.
5. Pour chocolate over Rice Chex cereal and stir until coated.
6. Dump cereal into the bag or tupperware with powdered sugar and cake mix. Shake well.
7. Spread onto a cookie sheet and let cool.
8. Mix with M&M’s and sprinkles and serve!

Recipe from: www.yourcupofcake.com/2013/01/red-velvet-puppy-chow.html

Recipe: Life is better with fresh baked cookies!

Ingredients:
2 Eggs
1/2 cup Canola or Vegetable Oil
1 box Betty Crocker Dark Chocolate or Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix
1 bag Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips

Instructions:
1. Combine cake mix, eggs, and oil in a large mixing bowl and beat well.
2. Stir in peppermint crunch baking chips.
3. Chill dough in refrigerator for 1 hour.
4. Form 1 inch balls and drop onto ungreased non-stick cookie sheet.
5. Bake for 7-9 minutes at 350 degrees.

Recipe from: http://thefrugalgirls.com/2013/12/peppermint-crunch-dark-chocolate-cake-mix-cookies.html