2 Secrets To Making Great Mexican Food

Have you ever wondered how Mexican restaurants create such amazing Mexican food? If so, then here are 2 secrets that will allow you to make great Mexican food at home too.

The Key to Great Rice

First, rice is a staple in Mexican cooking and is eaten with many meals. If you know how to make great Mexican rice, then you are on your way to creating a great meal. 

One of the main secrets is in the preparation of the rice before you add other ingredients. To start, you need long grain rice that is high quality. Second, you need some vegetable oil and a skillet.

Add the measured amount of rice needed for your recipe, and then add just enough oil so that the rice is coated. Cook the rice on medium until the rice starts to look less translucent and is just barely starting to brown. As soon as you see a few pieces getting slightly brown, remove it from the heat and cook the rice according to the recipe.

By doing this, you give the rice a deeper, richer flavor that will not come otherwise. The rice will be more dimensional in flavor, and people will wonder what you did to make the rice so delicious.

Great Salsa

Second, great salsa is also a sign that you know how to create great Mexican food. The best salsa does not need a tons of spices and ingredients to make it taste just right.

The real key is to use fresh vegetables that are in season. You will always get a better tasting salsa at the height of tomato season when the tomatoes are brimming with flavor. 

To make great salsa, you need fresh tomatoes that are red and ripe, a jalapeno, some cilantro, a couple of cloves of fresh garlic, a yellow onion, and some salt and pepper. You simply need to chop up these ingredients and blend them together until the salsa is as smooth as you want it, and then add some salt and pepper to taste. 

Let the salsa sit in the refrigerator for at least a few hours or even a day before eating, as this will allow the flavors to develop and blend so that you are not tasting separate ingredients.

Now that you know the keys to making two important staples in Mexican cuisine, you can begin creating great Mexican meals at home that are just as good as restaurant meals. Find out more here.

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Want To Make Your Own Specialty Cakes? Tips To Decorate Like A Pro

When you want to create a beautiful cake for a birthday or other event, you may find that you want to place a pattern atop the cake for decoration. The easiest way to do this is to transfer the pattern to the cake surface so that you can follow it while you are decorating. Piping gel is the most effective way to transfer a decorating template to a cake surface. Here are the steps you’ll need to transfer the image with ease.

Create the Base

Before you can transfer an image to the surface of the cake, you’ll need to create a smooth, crusted base of frosting. Make your favorite buttercream frosting recipe, but replace at least half of the butter you would normally use with shortening. The shortening is essential for the frosting to crust over, which creates the surface you need for the decorations.

Smooth the surface completely using an offset spatula. The easiest way to create a flawless surface is to dip the offset spatula in hot water, shake the excess water off and then run the spatula across the surface of the cake. You can do the same to create smooth sides. Then, let the cake rest for at least half an hour so that the frosting can set and form the necessary crust.

Make Piping Gel

There are several varieties of piping gel available at most retail outlets with the cake decorating supplies, but if you prefer to make your own, you might be surprised at how easy it is. For a stiff gel that’s great for decorative piping, put two tablespoons of water into a small saucepan. Sprinkle two packets of unflavored gelatin over the top and let it sit until it starts to dissolve and the water starts to look cloudy.

Once the gelatin dissolves, heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring with a silicone spatula. When the mixture is clear, add two cups of light corn syrup and continue to heat it until everything comes together. Store any leftover gel in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Outline the Image

Tape the printed image to a flat surface and then place a thin sheet of parchment paper over the top. Scoop out a generous amount of the piping gel into a bowl. The amount you’ll need will depend on how many lines you need to go over, so just use your best judgment. It’s always better to have some left over than to run out halfway through the picture.

Think about the primary colors of the image and choose the most common one to tint the gel. This will help you see the lines on the cake surface as you work. Add a small amount of decorator’s food coloring – this is the gel or paste coloring in the cake decorating department – using a toothpick. Mix it thoroughly, then put the tinted gel into a piping bag with a number 1 tip on the bag. The number 1 tip is the fine-point tip used for writing.

Trace the lines of the image by piping the gel along each line that’s visible through the parchment paper. Once you’ve traced all of the lines, lift the paper carefully and turn it over so that gel side is facing the cake. Place the image where you want it on the cake surface. Trace over the gel lines lightly with a decorator’s paint brush. Make sure that you go over every line. When you’re finished, gently lift the parchment paper from one corner, pulling slowly. The gel image will remain on the cake so that you can begin decorating.

With these steps, you can create a flawless cake for your next event. Choose the image that you want on your cake and this process will make it easy to transfer it into place. For further assistance, contact professionals , such as those from Denise’s Delicacies.

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The Fascinating History Of The American Hamburger

Ask a passerby to list a few of what they consider to be the most classic foods in America, and there’s little doubt you’ll find “hamburger” on that list. Whether the tasty meat is prepared with cheese, onions, tomatoes, or a special sauce, citizens throughout America love the taste of a hamburger fresh off the grill. As with many things consumed on a regular basis, not much thought may be given towards the historical origin of those foods– but that very history can at times make the meal even more appealing. The hamburger has been on a journey throughout the years, journeying over land and seas to make it to the plate in front of you today:

The Coveted Hamburg Steak

The early origins of the hamburger did not start in the country of the United States, contrary to the belief of some. In the late eighteenth century, ports located in the city of New York were familiar with the foreign delights from lands across the sea. Foreign sailors making the journey from Germany revealed one of their favorite dishes to hungry Americans: a meal they called the “hamburg steak,” beef cooked with special spices and seasonings and named after the place of its origin, Hamburg, Germany.

To satisfy the hunger of the German sailors when visiting their American ports, merchants in New York decided to set up various food stands offering the specially cooked beef– but the German visitors were not the only ones to enjoy the unique taste. Before long, restaurants all throughout the country were offering beef cooked the Hamburg way to patrons.

The Sandwich Transformation

Like any good origin story, some of the details are a bit murky in the history of the hamburger. When it comes to the question of who specifically was the first person to come up with the idea of putting the hamburg steak between two pieces of bread, many individuals have jumped up to claim that they were the one responsible for the modern hamburger. While there’s no way to know for certain if the first hamburger was made in Wisconsin, Ohio, Connecticut, or Texas, one thing is clear: the culinary invention caught on like wildfire, spreading across America at an amazing rate.

Throughout the years, the hamburger has undergone further imaginative transformations– from pretzel buns to turkey burger variations that seem to alter the taste into a whole new sensation. The next time you reach for the American classic at a place like Zac’s Burgers, remember the Hamburg steak… and thank the German sailors for their addition to your menu.

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The Picky Eater’s Guide To Japanese Cuisine

Are you wary of trying new foods because you’re sensitive to certain smells, spices, tastes, or textures? If so, it’s probably difficult to hang with friends who always want to try strange fusion cuisine or even ethnic foods that you’re not comfortable eating. If your friends’ next get-together is at a Japanese restaurant like Koto Japanese Steak House, you should do a little research beforehand to see what you’d be okay with eating. While you may not be to keen on raw fish or natto (smelly, fermented soy beans), there are definitely options out there. Here are a few dishes you may want to consider:

Soups

Ramen

A noodle soup is a safe bet for the picky eater (after all, most people have it when they’re sick). While you may have had basic instant ramen, restaurants serve this wheat-noodle dish with all sorts of flavors, like miso–a traditional flavor from soybeans. If you don’t want to try misoyou could opt for a beef-, fish-, or vegetable-based broth. And if you aren’t too picky with veggies or meat, some good options are chicken, beef, and green onions. 

Udon

While ramen is typically served with various meats and veggies, udon is even simpler: just noodles and broth. This is a great option for picky eaters because the flavor is pretty mild, and if you want more taste, you can add mirin–a condiment that’s sweet like sugar. And like the ramen, you can add some veggies if you’re up to it. Scallions go really well with udon.  

Main Courses

Yakitori

Yakitori can refer to just about any food that is skewered and grilled. However, yakitori is usually in reference to grilled chicken. While this could be a main course, you may also want to add an appetizer. Gyoza are dumplings that are quite delectable; and they make a great appetizer.

Tempura

If you’re not opposed to fish–except raw fish–tempura is a great option. Tempura is the catch-all term for any veggies or seafood that are battered in flour, then deep fried. (And what doesn’t taste good deep-fried?) 

Tonkatsu

If you aren’t a fan of either deep-fried veggies or seafood, how about pork? Tonkatsu is pork that is first covered in bread-crumbs, then deep-fried. It’s also a very versatile main course because it can be served with rice, curry, veggies, and so on.

Sushi

You can’t go out for Japanese food and not try a bite of sushi. A very “safe” sushi to try is a California roll. Sometimes sushi can turn people off because of the nori wrapping (seaweed) and because it’s stacked with fish and condiments. A California roll isn’t stacked with raw fish and you only see rice on the outside. Best of all, it uses crab or imitation crab instead of raw fish! 

If nothing sounds appetizing on this list, don’t get hung-up over your eating habits. Fill up beforehand and just go to the restaurant to enjoy the company!

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3 Tips For Safely Eating Out With Food Allergies

Many restaurants are taking steps today to learn more about food allergies because there are so many people affected by this problem. If you have any type of food allergy and want to eat out at a restaurant, you will have more work to find somewhere to eat and something to eat, so here are a few tips to help you stay safe when eating out.

Research Restaurants

While many people can simply pick any restaurant to go to, you might not have this luxury. If you’re planning on eating out, it might require research before you go. To begin your research, you can look online at the restaurant you are planning on going to. This may give you an idea of whether the restaurant is aware of food allergies, and it might help you know what to order.

The National Restaurant Association is an organization that helps restaurant owners manage their businesses, and one of the services they offer is education relating to food allergies. Through the classes offered through this organization, restaurant owners can learn:

  • About common food allergies and the problems caused when people consume foods they are allergic to
  • How to prevent cross-contamination with foods that people might be allergic to
  • How to prepare meal entrees that do not contain certain foods
  • Proper measures for educating their employees on this topic

If a restaurant has completed courses relating to this, they might advertise this on their website. A restaurant’s website may also give you more information about measures they take to assist customers that have food allergies, and you might be able to view the restaurant’s menu on its website. 

Avoid Busy Times

When a restaurant is really busy, it might be harder for the server to spend the necessary amount of time talking to you about your allergies. Busy times also make it harder to talk to a manager or chef at the restaurant. If you plan your visits during times when the restaurant is not as busy, you may feel more confident with the information you are given from the staff.

Play It Safe

When you arrive and place your order, always play it safe. If you are not 100% convinced that a particular entrée will be free of the ingredient you’re allergic to, don’t order it. By knowing and understanding your food allergies thoroughly, you will know exactly what to avoid eating.

The problem to consider is that the server might not comprehend the full nature of your allergy, and you might end up with misleading information.

Eating out with food allergies is possible, but it may take more work. When you end up finding a restaurant that can cater to your needs, you may want to visit that restaurant more often. Plan ahead and learn about various restaurants, such as Franchesco’s Ristorante, before heading out, and you should be good to go.

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Is An Extended Appliance Warranty Worth The Money? 3 Things To Consider

When you buy a large or small appliance, it’s almost a certainty that you’re going to be offered the option of purchasing an extended warranty to go with it. Opinions vary wildly on the benefit of extended warranties. Some believe that they’re simply a way to get extra money out of consumers, others wouldn’t purchase an appliance without one. To decide whether or not an extended warranty is worthwhile the next time that you purchase an appliance, here are some things to consider.

Overlap With The Manufacturer’s Warranty

You’re sure to have some type of warranty from the manufacturer of the product, and that may be enough, depending on what the appliance is and how you plan to use it. Imagine that you’re buying a refrigerator with a five-year manufacturer’s warranty. If you know that within that five years, you’ll must likely upgrade your kitchen and replace the refrigerator, then buying a ten-year extended warranty doesn’t make sense.

Before you agree to an extended warranty, find out what’s in the manufacturer’s warranty, including how long it lasts for and what kind of damage is covered. In order to be worth the extra money, an extended warranty should either significantly outlast the manufacturer’s warranty, provide coverage for things that aren’t covered in the manufacturer’s warranty (like breakage caused while moving the appliance, for example) or preferably both.

Reliability of the Company

An extended warranty may be offered to you by the manufacturer or the retailer, but in many case, it’s a third party company that is actually providing the warranty coverage. You wouldn’t buy an expensive large appliance from a manufacturer that you didn’t trust, or from a retailer that had failed to provide good service and quality products in the past. You should put the same amount of knowledge and consideration of past experience into buying an extended warranty for that appliance.

Research the company that is guaranteeing the appliance. What are other customers saying about their experiences? Check your own warranty history. Have you used them before? If so, how did that work out? Doing your due diligence can save you from ending up with a worthless warranty.

Other Options

When it comes to warranties offered at the point of purchase, the question is whether or not this is really the best deal. Even if you’re sure you want an extended warranty, you may not be sure that you want this one. Luckily, you aren’t limited to the warranty offered at the time of the sale.

If you purchase your item with a credit card, you may have warranty protection from the credit card company. If you want to use this, be sure to clarify the terms and conditions with your credit card company before making the purchase. Another option is to seek out a company that sells warranties or appliance insurance policies on your own.

Don’t feel pressured to make the decision in an instant when you’re standing at the register. Many retailers will give you a time frame during which you can come back and add on the warranty if you want it. Take your time, do your research, and make the right decision for your appliance purchase through a company like Amana Services.

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3 Places To Look For Affordable Organic Food

Organic food is becoming more popular these days because people are searching for foods that are not treated with pesticides and other chemicals. However, sometimes people are dissuaded from buying organic food, as it can sometimes be more expensive than food from the regular section in the grocery store. If you have been looking for affordable organic food, don’t be discouraged by high prices; you can still find affordable organic food if you know where to look. Here are three places to check out if you want affordable organic food.

Farmers’ Markets

You may have heard of farmers’ markets, but if you haven’t gone to one, you may not realize the wide variety of locally grown, organic food you can buy. The prices at these markets are usually much more affordable than you would pay in the organic section of a grocery store. Not only that, but you can usually talk directly to the local grower of the food you’re about to purchase. You can ask questions about the growing process, so that you know more about the origin of your food

The Internet

You might have some trouble finding a farmers’ market in your area; don’t despair. The internet has hundreds of online organic food stores that offer a range of choices. You can comparison shop until you find prices that look good to you. You can also check coupon sites to see if you can find online coupons or discount codes, to save even more on your purchase.

It is important that you make sure the online organic food store is reputable before you place an order. Look for honest reviews of products on the store’s site and on review sites, and try calling their contact number to make sure you can talk to a human being about any questions.

Your Backyard

If you are really interested in making a commitment to healthy, organic food for your family, you can give some thought to growing your own food. Growing your own fruits and vegetables can save you a great deal of money. You can buy seeds at online organic food stores, or you may be able to visit a local health food store and get the seeds you want. You can even try using the seeds from foods you already have, such as tomatoes, after you ferment the seeds yourself.

Before planting your seeds, get a soil testing kit and test your soil, so you are sure that your soil can grow and sustain food.

Now that you have some ideas about where you can look for affordable organic food, get started. You will soon be enjoying healthy, delicious food that is free of chemicals and full of taste.

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