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July 2007

Friendly's Restaurant iScream Contest

Guess what?? Today is my birthday! I'm super excited because my family is taking me to get ice cream at Friendly's Restaurant. You see, thanks to The Cheap Gourmet blog, I met a woman named Jessica who works for Friendly's. She let me know about this really cool contest Friendly's Restaurant is hosting.

The iScream Give Us a Shout (expired) contest is open to legal residents of the 50 United States who are at least thirteen (13) years old at the time of entry. It's super easy to participate in the iScream contest. Simply submit a video or photo at the Friendly's Restaurant website that shows how much you love Friendly's or life itself. I LOVE this concept - it's so upbeat and positive!

Two winners in each category (video and photo) are selected on a weekly basis and receive a bounty of prizes including digital cameras, camcorders, iPods® and more.

The contest ends at 11:59 P.M. ET on August 12, 2007 so don't delay! Go to the website and read the details so you can get started right away.

I wish you the best of luck. If you submit a photo or video, be sure to come back here and post the URL for it. Then, we can all go and vote for it!

UPDATE: Here's a photo of why I LOVE life. I caught this handsome Bonnethead Shark on Saturday, July 28th. No worries though, I released him so he could return to hang out with his friends ;-)

Kathys_shark_small  


How to Read a Recipe

Recipe_card Last week, I asked my teenage daughter to look up a recipe for me. She was attempting to read the ingredients, but unfamiliar with the measuring abbreviations used. Shocking, I know! However, it dawned on me that if my own kid didn't know how to read a recipe, there were probably lots of other folks who don't know how to read one either.

That prompted me to write a step-by-step guide to preparing any recipe, which I have published at my Associated Content Portfolio. If you struggle with reading recipes, "How to Read a Recipe" will take you by the hand and help you understand the jargon. You'll learn about different cooking techniques, cooking equipment, cooking measurements, food preparation terminology, cooking and baking temperatures, and more.

Click here to read the full 6-page "How to Read a Recipe".

I invite you to peruse my entire Associated Content writing portfolio at www.KathyBrowning.com. You'll find additional recipes and cooking articles that are not available on The Cheap Gourmet blog. Thanks for reading! I hope you benefit from the articles.


Super Easy Homemade Taco Seasoning

Cowhorn_pepper Have you ever purchased taco seasoning in a packet? Did you know that many of the top brands contain MSG (mono-sodium glutamate), whey solids (milk), sugar, potato starch and citric acid? If you're tired of paying high prices for a packet of artificial seasoning, consider making your own. This super easy homemade taco seasoning recipe will bring a new level of flavor to your tacos, burritos, enchiladas, tostadas and more!

Super Easy Homemade Taco Seasoning
Yield: 1.25 ounces
Prep Time: 10 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

2 teaspoons Adobo Seasoning
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon Black Pepper, freshly ground
1 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon Paprika
1 Cowhorn* Pepper, minced

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a small bowl, mix all ingredients together.
2. Add to one-pound ground beef, turkey or chicken (cooked and drained).
3. Add 2/3-cup water to meat.
4. Bring to a quick boil, than simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.

You can double, triple or even quadruple this recipe and store in an airtight container. If storing, do not include the Cowhorn pepper. You'll need to add that at the time of use.

*You can replace the Cowhorn pepper with any pepper of your choice.

 

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Gourmet Italian Sausage

If you're looking for freshest homemade Italian sausage, pasta, sauces, and Italian specialties, than today is your lucky day! Landi's Pork Store in Brooklyn, NY offers their line of specialty products via their website. Landi's original rice balls were featured on "Road Tested"; one of the Food Network's programs.

Not only will you find a multitude of fine food choices, you'll also be privy to an assortment of recipes. My personal favorite is Sausage, Cabbage and Potatoes.

To learn more about Landi's Pork Store, visit their website at www.BrooklynPorkStore.com.

 

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All-Purpose Meat Marinade Recipe

Here's a recipe for an easy-to-prepare all-purpose meat marinade. You can use this marinade for white fish, chicken, turkey, red meat (it's awesome for London Broil), ribs, hamburgers, meatloaf and more. If you try it, stop back and let me know how you used it and how you like it!

All-purpose-meat-marinade-the-cheap-gourmetALL-PURPOSE MEAT MARINADE
Makes 1 cup

INGREDIENTS:

1/3-cup Soy Sauce (reduced sodium is a healthier choice)
1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/3 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Adobo Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 teaspoon Black Pepper, freshly ground

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Using a small wire whisk, combine all ingredients together.
  2. Place your choice of meat in a glass baking dish and pour marinade over meat. Flip meat and coat the other side.
  3. Place meat in refrigerator for 30 minutes and no longer than 2 hours.
  4. Transfer meat to oven or grill and cook until done.

Note: If using the marinade to season hamburgers or meatloaf, use just enough to moisten the meat. Otherwise, you'll end up with a liquidy mess that won't be pretty or edible.

Tip: You can double or triple the recipe and store in a shaker bottle. Store in the refrigerator and use to season rice, vegetables, potatoes, or whatever strikes your fancy.

Enjoy!

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Food Wishes Video Recipes

I recently found an amazing cooking blog. It's called Food Wishes Video Recipes and it's owned by Chef John. This blog features step-by-step cooking videos for American Classics, Asian and French Cuisine, Desserts, Dressings, Pasta, Poultry and much more. It truly is a feast for the eyes!

At Food Wishes Video Recipes you will find an ever-growing collection of mouth-watering gourmet recipes including. A few of the delectable creations include:

Chicken Breasts with Herbs de Provence and Mushrooms
Braised Chicken and Artichoke Hearts with Lemon, Cherry Peppers and Thyme
Mascarpone Brulee with Fresh Berries

If you love to cook, you're going to love this Food Wishes Video Recipes. Be sure to thank Chef John for sharing his cooking secrets!

Click here to visit Food Wishes Video Recipes blog.


Rules for Healthy Eating

 

If you are confused about what to eat, you are not alone! Every day we are bombarded with ads about the latest fad diet and conflicting information about what is healthy and what is not. In today’s fast-paced society, it’s easy to get sucked in to the fast-food lifestyle because we simply do not have the time or energy to prepare our meals.

On the flip side, by living this lifestyle we are robbing our bodies of precious nutrients, which will give us the vibrant health and energy we desire. Eating well is not difficult and the benefits of taking the time to properly fuel your body is worth the investment. By following these simple rules, you can experience a wide range of benefits including more energy, better sleep, and less stress.

Rules for Healthy Eating

Keep a food journal. Write down everything that crosses your lips and how it makes you feel. Everyone has unique biochemical needs, so when possible work with a nutritionist who can help you determine your nutritional needs.

Clear out cabinets, refrigerator and freezer. Get rid of foods that contain hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil or shortening. Hydrogenated fats have been associated with atherosclerosis, some types of cancer and all inflammatory disease. Hydrogenated oils are often found in crackers, cookies and packaged foods.

Eliminate foods that are high in sugar. The average American consumes 135 pounds of sugar. Sugar is considered an empty calorie because it depletes us of nutrients like chromium and B-complex vitamins, which are necessary for its metabolism, but missing from sugar itself.

Eliminate processed foods that contain white flour, food additives, artificial colors and flavors, and preservatives. The average American consumes 14 pounds of food additives each year. White flour has only about 30 percent of the nutrients of whole wheat flour and individuals with autoimmune disease should avoid gluten products altogether.

What Foods Can I Eat?

The life in foods gives us life. Whenever possible eat local fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season. Fresh food contains a higher nutrient content and has greater enzyme activity. Enzymes are our very own spark plugs and without them, our bodies won’t function at full efficiency. Processed foods have been stripped of these “sparks” but fresh, healthy foods provide us with the energy we need.

Eat fresh fruits and vegetables. To achieve optimal health, you should strive to eat 9 to 12 servings each day. At the very least, you should consume a daily minimum of 5 servings. Fresh fruits and vegetables contain enzymes, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and important phytonutrients such as bioflavonoids and carotenoids, that protect us from diseases such as cancer, heart disease and chronic degenerative disease.

Choose organically grown foods whenever possible. Commercially grown fruits and vegetables are filled with herbicides, pesticides and fungicides. It is estimated that the average American consumes one pound of these toxic chemicals each year. Research has linked these toxins with breast and prostrate cancer, as well as autoimmunity and numerous other diseases. Studies have shown the mineral content of organic fruits & vegetables to be twice as high as those in commercially grown.

Eat more fiber. Recommendations from the National Cancer Institute are to consume 20-30 grams of fiber each day. On average, Americans only consume 12 grams. Fiber helps to flush our colon of toxic waste and reduces our risk of colon and breast cancer. The richest sources of fiber include whole grains (brown rice, millet, quinoa), legumes, vegetables and fruits.

Eat the right type of protein. Protein is the main building block of our body and governs our bones, muscles, immune system and many of our hormones. Protein can be found in fish, poultry, lean meats, legumes, low-fat dairy products, and eggs. Fruits, vegetables and grains also contain protein, but in a smaller amount. Protein can be found in nuts and seeds; however these should be limited as they are high in calories and fat. A good rule of thumb is to consume a small handful of almonds (10-12 nuts) each day. The Recommended Daily Allowance for protein is age and gender dependent; however the average adult requires approximately 50 grams of protein per day.

Eat the right fats. Fats found in fish, nuts, seeds, and grains provide nutrients called essential fatty acids (EFA’s), which are necessary fats that humans cannot create on their own and must be obtained through diet. EFA’s support the cardiovascular, reproductive, immune and nervous systems. The human body needs EFA’s to manufacture and repair cell membranes. A primary function of EFA’s is the production of prostaglandins, which regulate the body functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, blood clotting and play a role in immune function by regulating inflammation and encouraging the body to fight infection.


Drink pure water. The most economic way is to install a filtering system of some type to remove chlorine and toxic substances. If consuming bottled water, read the label to determine the source of the water. Spring water is the preferred choice of bottled drinking water.

If you’ve been eating an unhealthy diet, changing your habits will require some practice and patience. Be gentle with yourself and focus on making one change at a time. Start by eliminating your biggest culprit.

For instance, if you eat red meat every evening, begin by eliminating it just once the first week, then twice the second week and so on. If you struggle with not eating enough fruits and vegetables, make a commitment to replace a donut with some fresh pineapple slices or a delicious fruit cup. Instead of eating those fries today, choose a side salad. Take it one day at a time.

You can change the way you feel simply by eating better quality, healthy foods. Take the time to review your eating habits and create a plan for improving them day-by-day. You’ll be glad you did!

 

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Gift Ideas for Coffee and Tea Lovers

Starbucks_coffee_basket Buying gifts can oftentimes be challenging, but when it comes to purchasing gifts for coffee and tea lovers, there is an abundance of choices. You'll find seven unique gift ideas to suit every budget in the "Gift Ideas for Coffee and Tea Lovers" article. The tips will help you choose the perfect gift for loved ones who are passionate about their brewed beverages. 

Seven Gift Ideas for Coffee and Tea Lovers

Buying gifts can oftentimes be challenging, but when it comes to purchasing items for coffee and tea lovers, there are an abundance of choices. The following tips can help you choose the perfect gift for loved ones who are passionate about their brewed beverages.

GIFT BASKETS:
One of the most common gifts for coffee and tea lovers is the gift basket. Gift baskets come in all styles, sizes, and colors. You can create your own or purchase one from a specialty store or coffee shop. Coffee and tea gift baskets can be shipped via the mail or carrier service, or they can be delivered just like a bouquet of flowers.

Coffee and tea gift baskets are generally filled with a selection of coffees and/or teas, condiments, a coffee cup or mug, and sweet treats such as biscotti or tea biscuits. Baskets can be given for a variety of occasions. They are perfect for housewarming and wedding gifts and make great gifts for friends, neighbors, teachers, and college students.

Many people enjoy receiving an organic coffee and tea gift basket. This type of gift basket includes organic coffees and teas; raw sugar, stevia, or agave syrup; a hemp coffee filter or tea bag; and coffee mugs made from recycled materials.

Another idea is to fill a coffee mug with individual packets of coffee, tea or cocoa mixes. Add a handful of chocolate mints and wrap in decorative paper. Finish it off with a bow and you have an instant and inexpensive gift.

Coffee gift baskets can be simple to elegant. There are many coffee gadgets and accessories that can easily be incorporated. Let your imagination run wild and you're certain to come up with the perfect gift.

PERSONALIZED DRINKWARE:
Nearly everyone enjoys drinking their favorite beverage from personalized drinkware. It's fun to have your very own coffee cup or travel mug.

Personalized drinkware makes an ideal gift for corporations, as they can be used to brand a product or company. They are also perfect for individuals to give as gifts to family, friends, and loved ones.

Personalized coffee mugs are available in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and colors. They can be personalized with a company logo, individual name, and even a favorite photo. Personalized stainless steel travel mugs make a perfect gift for those on the go. Personalized glassware makes an excellent choice for tea lovers.

COFFEE CAKE:  
Nearly everyone who enjoys coffee appreciates a great coffee cake. Generally coffee cakes are a dense cake and include nuts, brown sugar and cinnamon. They are available in a range of flavors such as banana, pumpkin, blueberry or apple. Coffee cakes are easy to make at home or they can be purchased at a bakery or even the grocery store. Many on-line gourmet food companies offer a wide range of delectable and tasty coffee cakes.

COFFEE CONDIMENTS:
Homemade flavored creamers and sugars are a fun gift to give and super easy to make. It's just a matter of incorporating a few ingredients together and transferring them to a glass jar or decorative container. The container can be personalized if desired. Add a fancy serving spoon or coffee scoop and you have a unique and inexpensive gift. Once you've made your own, chances are good that you'll be hooked! To locate recipes type in "flavored creamer recipes" or "flavored sugar recipes" at your favorite search engine.

COFFEE TABLE BOOK:
A coffee table book is a hardcover book that is displayed on a coffee table in an area where guests sit and are entertained. Coffee table books are generally oversized and filled with photographs and illustrations. Coffee table books are intended to be "browsed" as opposed to being read like a textbook or literary work.

The coffee table book was conceptualized by David R. Brower while he was serving as executive director of the Sierra Club. The first coffee table book, "This is the American Earth," was published in 1960 and included photographs by Ansel Adams and other well-known photographers. Coffee table books can be found in most bookstores and some retail outlets.

COFFEE ART:
Coffee art is a collection of art works that depict anything to do with coffee. Coffee art could be as simple as a print of a coffee cup, or as exquisite as a painted mural of a coffee plantation.

Andrew Saur and Angel Sarkela-Saur are artists who use coffee to create beautiful coffee art. Using coffee as water color paint, they create portraits, coffee themes, and even wildlife using their specialized technique. The art work is very affordable and makes for an interesting and unique gift. To learn more about coffee watercolor art visit their website at www.CoffeeArt.com.

As you know, art can mean a lot of different things to different people. For example, here's a 3-minute video of a person creating art with a cup of coffee.

COFFEE TABLES:
Coffee tables can be an expression of art as well as a functional piece of furniture. Coffee tables are designed to be lower to the ground than other tables, and are intended to be placed in front of a sofa or loveseat. Coffee tables are usually found in the living room, family room, den or sitting room.

There are many styles of coffee tables including round coffee tables, square coffee tables, rectangular coffee tables, and even odd-shaped coffee tables. Some modern coffee tables are made from plastic or PVC pipe. Others are made from exotic woods, such as teak.

Glass coffee tables and tables with sharp edges should be avoided in households that have young children, as they can be a hazard. While glass coffee tables can be exquisite to look at, they can be a real pain to care for. Not only does the glass attract a lot of dust, it also collects fingerprints and smudges.

Coffee tables make a good choice for college students, and as housewarming gifts. Some of the best coffee tables can be found at yard sales, public auctions, antique shops, and estate sales. Modern and traditional coffee tables are sold at retail outlets, fine department stores, home interior stores, and furniture stores. Oftentimes, you can find great deals on coffee tables by shopping on-line or through on-line auctions.

An 8th gift idea is a coffee club subscription. Click the graphic below to learn about Coffee Club offering freshly roasted fair trade organic beans delivered to your home every 2-6 weeks. It's good to be in the club!

It's good to be in the club!

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