Archive for May, 2010

Please your palate with some parsley

Parsley is perhaps the most overlooked component on plates in restaurants near and far.

Too often, the most attention it receives is a diner gingerly picking up the green, leafy herb, looking at it in bemusement, and then shoving it to a far corner of the plate or — if no one’s looking — tossing it on the ground.

Aww, what a plight parsley faces.

Here’s a newsflash: Parsley can be so much more than mere plate decoration. Used regularly in recipes, parsley can actually be a secret weapon in the kitchen of home cooks everywhere.

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Bodacious banana pancakes

There is nothing quite like the breakfast comfort food that is a big stack of pancakes. They stand triumphant before diners everywhere, a tower of fluffy goodness bathed in syrup and butter. Does it get any better than that?

Well it certainly can with additions such as chocolate chips, pecans, or my favorite – bananas.

While it’s easy and inexpensive to grab a box of Krusteaz or the premixed stuff from Aunt Jemima, making your own pancakes is even cheaper and tastes way better than that stuff that comes from a box or (gasp!) a jug. It really doesn’t take much longer to make ( we’re talking all of 10 to 15 minutes), and you can tailor it exactly to your tastes and nutritional needs, such as substituting all-purpose flour for whole-wheat flour.

Basic pancakes are made with just a few pantry and refrigerator staples, and are a magnificent way to begin the day. All it takes to make your own is combining ingredients, mixing them together and cooking on a nonstick griddle or skillet.

If you’ve never made your own pancakes from scratch, here’s your chance. Try this recipe and odds are that pre-made stuff will never taste the same.

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How about some homemade hummus?

Hummus is one of those party favorites that’s hard not to dip into, but if you quiz the average person on how to make the stuff, they might respond with something like, “Hummus? Hmmmmm.”

Hummus has been a Mediterranean staple for eons, and its popularity here in the U.S. has exploded in recent years, to the joy of pita chip makers everywhere. It’s a creamy mixture that, in addition to being a dip, is also wonderful used as a spread on sandwiches in place of mayonnaise or dressing.

The stuff sells like wildfire at places like Trader Joe’s and Henry’s Farmers Markets, and is also commonly found in mainstream stores as well, usually costing several dollars for a small tub.

But here’s a secret: Hummus is actually a snap to make, and doing it yourself will only cost around a buck fifty. Heck, you don’t even need any cooking utensils (well, OK, a can opener, if that counts). The only device required is a blender or food processor.

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Spice up your life with these tacos

If you happened to go out for dinner last night, there’s a good chance the meal involved tacos, those meat-filled soft- or hard-shell wonders that are as popular in the United States as they are in Mexico. And if you were out celebrating Cinco de Mayo, I bet at some point between bites of your treat you thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to make these at home?”

Good news, amigos: Tacos are totally easy to make. More precisely, today we’ll conquer the ground meat filling, which in addition to being the main attraction in a tortilla or crunchy taco shell, can do double duty bulking up tostadas, nachos, burritos or even a salad.

Making your own taco meat is surprisingly simple and surprisingly cheap: Plan on serving a family of four with it for about $5. The filling can be made in under 30 minutes and tailored exactly to your liking, from mild to super spicy.

Ground beef is the ingredient of choice in many a taco, but I prefer ground turkey because it contains less fat and is even easier to cook since you don’t have to drain the grease that comes with beef. Add some zest with onions and peppers, along with tomatoes, corn and spices, and any night can be taco night at your casa.

Ready to get the fiesta started? Let’s make some tacos

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