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Tips For Organizing Last Minute Meals

If you've had a bad day all day long and traffic coming home was a disaster too, when you finally do get home the first thing you hear is "What's for dinner?" You're drained from your day and that's the last thing you want to hear. These days' funds are tight and calling for a pizza may simply not be possible. Now you've got a hungry husband and clamoring kids to feed, and quick!

You go to the kitchen and while you want to just cry, you search the cabinets for something easy to fix and that can be on the table fast. Here's where a little creativity is a very handy thing to have. A little meat of practically any kind, pasta and some kind of sauce is all you need. A little fruit is a kicker. With this in mind, the next time you go to the grocery store you can pick up a few simple things to keep in the back of the cabinet for next time.

Make a meal from ground beef and beef flavored quick cooking rice to fill a family of four. The pasta sides in a packet and a couple of pieces of chicken will make a meal in a few short minutes. A box mix of macaroni and cheese can be turned into a cheesy tuna casserole and any pasta noodles along with a jar of meat flavored pasta sauce will turn into a fast supper for the family.

Now these ideas will pull you out in a pinch but they may not be the healthiest choices to make. If it's possible, add fruits and vegetables when ever you can. Frozen or canned fruits and vegetables aren't as good as fresh ones, but they are better than none at all. Of course you want to provide your family with the best possible dinner, but in a pinch practically anything will do.

So, the next time you hit the super market, be sure to pick up a few of these time savers for the next disaster day you have. Unfortunately these days happen to all of us and the best you can hope for is to be prepared. Some of these ideas are so easy that even a teenager or your husband can do it!

You can even make kitchen clean up go much faster by cleaning while you're cooking. Instead of watching a pot until it boils, set the table. Instead of standing around waiting for something in the oven, wash the pots and pans that are dirty so far. Make crock pot casseroles whenever possible so you'll have fewer dishes to do when dinner is over. Slow cooker recipes are great because of the time saving factor. Incorporate your family's help after dinner so you can get out of the kitchen faster. Even the youngest family members can help you out.

So try to be prepared for a last minute meal by keeping something in the back of the cabinet just for that purpose. Encourage your family to help when ever possible, and make the very best of the time you spend in the kitchen by multi-tasking to get it all over with as quickly as possible. Sticking to this plan will allow you enough time to soak in a nice warm bubble bath before you hit the bed!


Bread: A Staple in Your Kitchen

Bread is a staple food in almost every country. Although different countries prepare it differently and may have different names for it, bread is a universal food that everyone enjoys. In America, white bread is the most popular but that is changing with growing awareness of the health benefits of multigrain breads. Thanks to the diversity of American citizens, many varieties are available for purchase in bakeries, markets and grocery stores.

The most common kind of bread found in grocery stores is sliced bread. But fortunately this type of bread can also be split into varieties. There is simple white, wheat, whole wheat, potato, oat and multiple kinds of bread with varying grains baked in. Sliced bread would fit into the yeast bread category.

Alongside sliced bread in the store, you can find many other varieties of yeast type breads. For sandwiches, burgers or hot dogs, there are buns to fit each one. Bagels and English muffins are among the miscellaneous types of bread at grocery stores.

Some people prefer to have bread baked fresh for them and in that case they would visit a local bakery. By visiting a bakery, you will have a larger selection of breads that may not be available at a larger chain store. Often times you can find pastries and other baked good alongside bread at a bakery.

The bread offered for sale at a bakery may be unsliced and unpackaged. If you are able to buy your bread at a bakery instead of a grocery store, you won't regret paying a bit more for the quality. If not, sometimes grocery stores will also offer fresh baked bread from their own bakery. Alternately, try baking your own bread to save time and money.

Besides yeast breads, you are probably familiar with quick breads. Quick breads can be any kind of bread that does not have yeast in the list of ingredients, such as fruit breads. Quick breads are easy to make and can make for simple breakfast or are a great addition to a brunch. If you have some bananas that are turning brown, do not throw them away, they will work great to make a loaf or two of banana bread.

Though loaf bread is great and saves time, sometimes you will want individual servings of bread. In that case you can use a tried and true yeast bread recipe to make dinner rolls or even sweet rolls such as cinnamon buns.

Other individual sized treats in the bread category include biscuits, muffins or buns. Most quick bread recipes can be modified to make muffins, just remember to modify the bake time. Homemade buns are also a great thing to bake at home. Many people find that they prefer the taste of homemade breads.

If you are interested in trying new breads, visit an international bakery if you can. You may think you have tried every kind of bread there is, but remember there is more to bread than yeast and quick breads. There are always more recipes being created every day, so make it your duty to try a new kind of bread every day.


Top Tips For Turkey Day in America

Next to the Fourth of July, the holiday that is quintessentially American is Thanksgiving. Observed annually on the fourth Thursday of November, the day commemorates one of the great legends of American society, a harvest feast at which the colonizers known as Pilgrims invited their Native American neighbors to a feast at which they thanked God for their survival. The centerpiece of this contemporary feast has become the bird that Benjamin Franklin proposed as the national symbol: the turkey.

Of course, old Ben wasn't referring to the toms and hens that grace Thanksgiving tables today. Turkey back then was a wild bird and required the same kind of preparation that other game did. These days, cooks preparing for Thanksgiving need hunt no farther than their local supermarkets for a turkey that has been cultivated domestically for large breasts and meaty thighs and legs.

A contemporary turkey hunt for most home cooks starts with deciding what kind of turkey to buy - fresh, frozen, natural, free-range, kosher, self-basting, with or without a pop-up thermometer. The next decision is the cooking method: roasting, grilling, barbecue, crock pot, covered, uncovered, stuffed or unstuffed, breast up or down, traditionally seasoned or spicy Cajun fried turkey. Baby boomer cooks can remember when there weren't nearly as many choices in turkeys. In fact, it was once a major rite of passage for a homemaker to produce a well-roasted Thanksgiving turkey that wasn't too dry, especially the white meat. There were no self-basting turkeys back then, and certainly none with a pop-up thermometer to tell the cook when the turkey was done.

Purists among home chefs still prefer fresh turkey without additives such as the water and oil pumped into a self-basting turkey. Some will concede that the pop-up thermometer is a helpful gadget, but still not an infallible test of a completely done turkey.

So what kind of turkey should a home cook get for Thanksgiving? The choice is pretty much up to the cook's preference. Some cooks insist that frozen turkeys lose their flavor because freezing causes a loss of moisture. Others will say they've eaten frozen turkey for years and never noticed a difference.

For most experienced cooks, a major factor in choosing a turkey boils down to how much time is needed for preparation. In other words, if buying a turkey the day before Thanksgiving, go for fresh turkey unless you plan to serve turkey popsicles at your feast. That's because frozen turkeys must thaw in the refrigerator for safety, and that process can take several days. Turkeys also take several hours to roast depending on their size. If you are really one of those people who don't have the time, consider slow cooker recipes to make your turkey.

Beyond prep time, the other biggest factor for a flavorful bird is the turkey's age. Succinctly, younger turkeys will have better taste. Turkeys for frying should be no older than four months, while roasters can be 5 months to one year old. It really doesn't matter whether the turkey is a hen (female) or a tom (male). Either one will taste delicious if it's properly prepared - especially when topped with turkey gravy and accompanied by a mound of mashed potatoes and a dab of cranberry sauce.


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