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When you begin to prepare a meal the first thing you must do is to make sure that you read your chosen recipe through a couple of times before you actually start to prepare anything. the next step is to gather all the required ingredients together in one place (which helps to avoid the embarrassment and annoyance of finding out at the last moment that you’ve run out of plain flour, sugar, butter etc). Prepare all the ingredients exactly as instructed in the ingredients list – don’t cut any corners here or you’ll regret it later on, as you see with professional chefs on their TV programmes, before you start. If the amounts in the recipe say that they will produce four servings, then you can obviously halve the amounts for two, or keep half in the fridge for a later meal (or double the amount to serve 8 etc.
Next, when cooking soup, the trick is to get as much of the taste as possible out of the ingredients and into the water. Sauté the ingredients before adding the pre-heated liquid or, alternatively, place all the ingredients in a pot with cold water and salt, and let them heat up together.
To sauté means to gently stir-fry over a relatively low heat thus avoiding high temperature frying, which destroys nutrients and is generally bad for health. Prepare all the ingredients and place them in separate piles. Heat a little oil in a pan, then add the ingredients to the pan one pile at a time starting with the ingredient which takes the longest to cook and finishing with the most watery.
When cooking pasta it should usually be served “al dente” (slightly chewy). Pasta loses its taste and texture if overcooked and so it is normally best served al dente. A tiny amount of olive oil in the water used to boil the pasta will help to avoid it sticking together. Vegetables which have been cooked “al dente” are slightly crisp with their flavour and bright colours intact, they also manage to retain more of their vitamins and natural goodness when cooked in this fashion.
Most types of fresh meat usually needs to be browned and “sealed” at the beginning of the cooking process. Sauté it first in hot oil, set it aside to add to the dish, to be cooked through properly later.
Most fish is very fragile and should always be cooked gently to avoid them drying out or even disintegrating.
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15 Quick and Easy After School Snacks
Kids tend to have higher metabolisms and they are also more active than adults, which means they need to eat more often. An after school snack isn’t just a whim, it’s something that will help your kids keep their energy up and give them a boost that will last until dinner.
What can you do for an after school snack? Here are a few ideas that won’t take long at all.
1. Apples with cinnamon. Cut an apple into wedges, then toss with 1 tablespoon of sugar mixed with 2 teaspoons of cinnamon.
2. Tortilla roll-ups. Spread a tortilla with jam and peanut butter, then roll up into a log and cut into 1” pieces.
3. Quesadillas. Take one flour tortilla, grate about ¼ cup of cheese onto it, add chopped ham, tomatoes, etc. or just leave it plain. Top with another tortilla and heat in the microwave for 1 min. or until the cheese is melted. Cut into 6 wedges and serve.
4. Cottage cheese and peaches. This is an oldie, but a goodie that most people have forgotten about. Chop half a canned peach and mix with ½ cup of cottage cheese.
5. Smoothies. Blend 1 cup of milk with 2 cups of any combination of fruit or berries. For a dairy free option, use soy milk or orange juice.
6. Ham and cheese kabobs. Take a bamboo skewer and thread on alternating cubes of ham and cheese. You can use different kinds of cheese or even add some bits of pineapple for a fun change.
7. Cherry tomatoes. These are actually great just on their own, but if you want to make the snack more nutritious, add in some cubed cheese.
8. Milk toast. Float a piece of toast in a bowl with a little milk. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon for a tasty treat.
9. Jam yogurt. Take half a cup of plain yogurt and swirl a spoonful of jam into it for a yummy, healthy treat.
10. Salsa and chips. Serve tortilla chips with a bowl of chopped tomatoes.
11. Quick trailmix. Toss 1 cup of cornflakes with ½ cup raisins, ¼ cup almonds or peanuts and 1 cup of mini crackers.
12. Popcorn. Air pop your own corn for a healthier snack and drizzle with a small amount of melted margarine for flavor.
13. Homemade cup ramen. Boil 3 cups of water with 1 tablespoon of consommé powder of your choice. Add 1 package of chow mein noodles and boil until tender. Serve hot.
14. Celery with raisins. This is also called “ants on a log”. Spread peanut butter in the groove of a piece of celery and top with several raisins.
15. Tuna on crackers. Mix a can of drained tuna with 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise and let kids scoop it up with soda crackers.
After school snacks can help your kids stay alert for chores and homework and will also prevent a lot of those after school grump sessions.
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