September 28, 2006
Giving recipes is a wonderful way to introduce your family and friends to your favorite local specialties. One great way to give local recipes is to assemble your favorites into a local recipe scrapbook, being sure to include recipes from all the great local chefs you know! What sorts of foods are prized where you live? Do you love soul food? Do you make your meals with a Southwestern kick?
Another wonderful way to gift local flavors is through the mail. A few months ago my friend Beth sent me a package of her favorite local delicacies. She lives in Arizona, so she included some fresh ground chipotle (yum!) and a great Blue Corn Muffin Mix. Included in the package were some of her favorite recipes using chipotle. What a great way to give someone a feel for where you live, and the flavors that color your day-to-day life!
Local foods also make a wonderful wedding favor for fall brides.
Wrapping up some beautiful glass jars of spices with a recipe card is an inexpensive way to give your guests something to remember your wedding by, and a taste of your life! Pretty glass spice jars can be found for under a dollar at places like Crate and Barrel and the World Market.
Remember, Secret Ingredients is holding a great contest to give away ten custom heirloom cookbooks! Enter today to win yours, and fill it with your own favorite local specialties!
September 27, 2006
Sometimes rather than giving recipes as gifts, you can give gifts that celebrate recipes. Making a family recipe book and giving it as a gift is a wonderful way to celebrate recipes. Another one of my favorite ways to celebrate recipes is to make beautiful custom labeled bottles to present to the chefs in my life. Giving them professional-looking packaging for their special recipes is a great way to show them how much I value their recipe, their cooking, and their place in my life.
Making custom labeled bottles and jars is easy to do. There are two components: the label and the jar. Both labels and jars are easy to order online. Here are a few tips to help you on your way.
Creating a label for your special chef is fun! Be sure to think about their product and their personality when designing. For example, take a look at the labels I made for a friend who is a fun salsa chef, and my mom, whose taste is more classic:
I made salsa jars to give my friend James a.k.a. “The Salsa Man” for his birthday.
This label was made to celebrate one of my mother’s favorite recipes, Peach Preserves!
In James’ label, the design references his hometown in the Southwest as well as his current home in Seattle, and is as colorful and spicy as his salsa and his fun personality! My mother’s design is a more elegant, traditional approach, and I included some special uses for her preserves on the label. Personal design touches like these make a really special present.
Once you’ve designed your label, it’s time to print them! In labeling food products, a waterproof label is a must. I use a wonderful online company called Performance Labels and Graphics, which provides waterproof labels in small quantities at great prices. I like this company because not only are their products high-quality, but you don’t have to order five hundred!
Choosing the right jar is important for a successful gift. You need to make sure that your jar is both safe and appropriate for the food that it will contain. Glass jars with metal lids are usually universally suitable for canned foods, but be sure to ask the recipient what features the jars they use have, if you need to.
A good source for ordering jars is SKS, which carries a number of great jars for a variety of foods. Make sure that the jar you choose has enough room for your label design.
A tip for giving the gift:
When presenting the gift, assemble one jar and label, but keep the rest separate. In the canning process, jars are often boiled, and if you affix all the labels onto the jars, they’ll only come off during the canning process. Give one finished example, and allow the recipient the fun of putting on the rest of the labels!
Be creative, and have fun!
Be sure to drop by the Secret Ingredients website to enter to win one of ten free customized cookbooks!
September 26, 2006
The planning, preparation, and consumption of food is a major part of family histories. The recipes that carried your family through the years are precious, and hold in them not only ingredients, but also stories, laughter, and love.Today we begin our series on Recipes as Gifts. Giving recipes is a wonderful way to show someone you care, and an economical way to make someone feel special during the holidays. Recipes are free, but they carry with them the memories of every time a certain dish was made.
Was there a casserole that you and your sisters and brothers loved when you were younger? Give the recipe to your siblings. Was there a special breakfast that your mother made on Sunday mornings? Give your mother those recipes to show her how much those breakfasts meant to you, and how you remember still the food she carefully prepared. Was there a dish that your friends shared laughs over? Give the recipe to them in appreciation of the laughter that they brought to your life.
Now that we have recipes to give, we need to find the best way to give them. Here are some of our favorite ideas:
~ Write out the recipe on some beautiful handmade paper. Include some relevant ingredients or utensils in the gift package. For example, for southwestern recipes, include some fresh, local spices. For baked goods or casseroles, slip the recipe into a lovely oven-to-table baking dish.
My best friend Beth sent me her favorite recipe and chipotle from Arizona.
~ Write out the recipe and frame it in a shadowbox, using decorative stick pins to secure it in place. Include some sprigs of whole dried herbs that are used in the recipe for decoration. This is a great way tell someone how important their special recipe is to you.
~ Create a beautiful recipe scrapbook, and include all the recipes that are meaningful to you. Don’t forget to tell the stories behind the recipes… often those tales are as juicy as the recipes themselves!
When planning your gifts for the holiday season, keep in mind that we’re running a contest to give away ten free Heirloom Cookbooks. To enter, visit the entry page and send us a story about a special recipe in your life.
September 25, 2006
Fall is a season of colors. Saturday, September 23rd was the official start of fall, which means that it’s a great time to be cooking with wonderful, colorful fall produce. A few of the crops which are harvested in the fall are Acorn and Butternut Squash, Apples, Belgian Endive, Cauliflower, Figs, Garlic, Ginger, Grapes, Mushrooms, Parsnips, Pears, Pomegranates, Pumpkins, Quince, Sweet Potatoes and Swiss Chard.
Looking for recipes in your collection that feature these ingredients is a wonderful way to take advantage of fresh produce, and also a colorful and delicious way to bring fall to your table. If you’re looking for extra fall recipes, set up your free Heirloom Cookbook test account and browse through the great collection of recipes in our Stock Pot!
The naturally colorful food that we see so much of in fall is not only a beautiful way to dress up your plate, it is also healthy. The pigments most often found in vegetables and fruits are called flavonoids. Flavonoids are antioxidants, which means that they destroy free radicals in the human body. Free radicals are naturally occurring scraps of molecules which can do such damage as kill healthy cells, promote heart disease, and “induce DNA damage that might foster cancer” (Science News). Maintaining a diet rich in naturally colorful foods and the variety of flavonoids that comes with that colorful food, is a wonderful way to treat both your palate and your body!
Be sure to record and save the best fall recipes that you try, so that you can make them again next year. A recipe scrapbook is the perfect way to preserve seasonal recipes.
This week on the Secret Ingredients blog, we’re going to be exploring the idea of recipes as gifts. Be sure to check back in, as we have lots of wonderful tips on gifting which are economical and personal ways to give during the upcoming holiday season!
September 23, 2006
Autumn is the season for apples, and we’re seeing more and more fresh, crisp varieties of apples available in grocery stores and farmer’s markets. Apples have incredible health benefits, are high in fiber, low in sugar, and are a perfect refreshing fall snack. You can enjoy them fresh, or use them in a pie, a Brown Betty, bake them, or enjoy them in products like Apple Butter, or, my favorite fall treat, Apple Cider. We’ve even included a favorite apple recipe from one of our customers in an earlier posting, THE Apple Cake! Just remember, when eating apples, that it’s a good idea to either eat or include their skins; over half of the vitamin C in an apple is in the thin layer of fruit just below the skin.
Apples are also a wonderful way to lower your sugar intake during the day. Instead of grabbing crackers or cookies, reach for an apple!? In the 1800s, average sugar consumption per person in America was 12 pounds per year. By 1990, Americans were eating 137.5 pounds per year! (Food Consumption, Prices and Expenditures, United States Department of Agriculture, 1991). Choosing fresh fruits and vegetables for snacks can help limit the amount of sugar we eat, and replace the empty calories of refined sugar with healthier fare.
Do you have a favorite fall apple memory? If so, send it in and enter to win one of ten free Secret Ingredients cookbooks! We can’t wait to hear from you!
(When drinking cider, Center for Science in the Public Interest has this reminder:
“Unpasteurized apple cider is a holiday food that may contain harmful bacteria. Check the label to see if the cider is unpasteurized. If serving cider to the elderly or young or those with weakened immune systems, buy pasteurized apple cider. If you want to buy unpasteurized cider or are unsure if the cider is pasteurized, mull the cider by heating it to 160° F or boiling it if you don’t have a thermometer. Serve it warm or cold.”)
September 20, 2006
TEN lucky contest winners will win a free Secret Ingredients heirloom cookbook!
Do you have a funny or sentimental story about a family recipe? Tell us all about it, and you may win one of TEN free heirloom cookbooks.
The contest starts tomorrow. Tell us your story in 250 words or less, and feel free to include the recipe behind the story… if it’s not a huge secret!
Entries will be accepted until December 1, 2006. Winners will be announced by December 8, 2006- just in time for Christmas! Each free cookbook is valued at $195.
September 19, 2006
Email Recipe Requests are a special feature exclusive to Secret Ingredients’ online cookbook projects. Recipe requests make cookbook projects so much easier. It will save you time, help prevent carpal tunnel, and get your cookbooks finished more quickly!
Here are some advantages and ideas for using Secret Ingredients’ Recipe Requests to make your own cookbook:
The Good Cooks!
Do you have a sister or aunt who is an incredible cook? Now you can ask her for her recipes through the Secret Ingredients website, and you won’t even have to type them yourself! Bingo!
Creating a Cookbook with a Large Group of People
We have had several families use Recipe Requests lately to create a family cookbook for birthday or wedding gifts. If you would like to create a cookbook quickly, simply create an account and send your family members and friends recipe forms that they can fill out at their convenience. Usually the more people involved the more quickly your cookbook is finished. That, of course, depends on the number of procrastinators in your group!
A Surprise Gift
If you want to create a family or heirloom cookbook as a surprise gift, but you need to get recipes from the gift recipient… you can! Sending Email Recipe Requests only allows the recipient to add recipes. They will not have access to your cookbook project, and therefore will not figure out your surprise!
To send Recipe Requests simply log into your Secret Ingredients cookbook project. Click on Email Recipe Requests. Add your email addresses, and we will take care of the rest!
If you do not have a Secret Ingredients account, be sure to sign up for a FREE Trial Account today!
Stay Tuned tomorrow for a very special announcement! This week we are launching a HUGE contest and will be giving free Secret Ingredients cookbooks to our winners!
September 18, 2006
Wanting to get a last minute dose of sunshine before fall officially sets into the mountains of Western North Carolina, I made a last minute dash to the shores of Pawleys Island
, South Carolina last weekend. This is the perfect time of year to head to the beach. I was welcomed with perfect weather, less crowded beaches, and no wait at some of South Carolina’s best restaurants. Southern food and South Carolina seafood is hard to beat. It is definitely comfort food for me!Full of southern soul food spirit, I made these delicious fried green tomatoes last night and wanted to share this recipe with you!
This recipe came from a Secret Ingredients family cookbook I created last spring. It adds a nice southwestern kick to a southern staple! I demonstrated this recipe on the local news in Asheville, NC in July. Not only did the audience love the creativity behind this recipe, but the crew gladly cleaned my plates!
Perfect Southwestern Fried Green Tomatoes
1 cup milk
½ cup flour
½ cup yellow corn meal
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon ground chipotle
2 teaspoons salt
In a bowl, combine all the dry ingredients: flour, corn meal, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, chipotle, and salt. Pour the milk into a separate bowl.
Slice the tomatoes about 1/3” thick. Only keep the pretty, center slices and discard the tops and bottoms.
Cover a large skillet (12-inch) with a thin layer of olive oil. Heat it on medium until hot but not smoking.
Dip your tomato slices into the milk, and then cover them in the dry ingredient mixture. Pat the mixture around them until they are well covered.
Place them in the pan and fry. Resist the temptation to flip them until you see the edges begin to curl slightly up. This will help keep the breading on the tomatoes.
When fried to a lovely golden brown color on both sides, remove from the oil to a paper towel. Repeat with the rest of the tomato slices!
To make a napoleon (2 choices):
1. Add sour cream between each layer of tomatoes. Top with salsa and cilantro.
2. Add goat cheese (heat slightly so spreadable). Top with green salsa.
Note: Your tomatoes do NOT have to be green, but they do need to be hard! Buy the hardest tomatoes you can find!
You will find this recipe in our Stock Pot. Give the recipe a try. I think you’ll find that it is a crowd-pleaser- hands down! Also, feel free to add it to your cookbook project. For instructions on adding Stock Pot recipes to your cookbook project, click here.
Belly DuJour, our favorite foodie newsletter, gave us some great apple tips today and a link to Chef Scott Carsberg’s (of Seattle’s Lampreia restaurant) All About Apples downloadable cookbook.
Click here to check out Belly DuJour’s Apple-icious newsletter. To skip to the free apple cookbook download check out this site: All About Apples. The cookbook, filled with beautiful photographs, is absolutely gorgeous.
What is Belly DuJour?
Belly DuJour is a free twice-weekly email newsletter. It is the “definitive insider sourcefor epicureans, gourmands, foodies, gastronomes, bon vivants, hedonists, gluttons, and all-around eating enthusiasts seeking delectable specialty foodsfoodies, gastronomes, bon vivants, hedonists, gluttons, and all-around eating enthusiasts seeking delectable specialty foods.”
Click here to sign up for Belly DuJour. It is a Secret Ingredients‘ favorite!
September 17, 2006
Next Page »
Today I found another great recipe site from the one and only Williams-Sonoma. Recipes are categorized by course which is really helpful, and you will find “Basics” under each category. Each recipe has an irresistible photograph. The website is clean, easy to use, and delicious!
Check out Williams-Sonoma Recipes now!