How-To

Saturday Supermarket Smarts: How to Pick the Perfect Avocado

Written on January 25, 2014 at 9:00 am , by

The best guacamole is made with creamy fleshed Hass avocados at the peak of ripeness.

Here’s how to pick ‘em:

 

 

1. Look for a forest-green fruit. Darker skin means riper flesh.

 

2. Cradle it in the palm of your hand and gently squeeze. Guac-ready fruit will give slightly.

 

3. Flick off the stem. If it pops off easily and what’s underneath is bright green (brown means it’s overripe), you’re good to go!

Once your avocados are ready to be used…

 

Spread ‘em on toast with eggs for the perfect protein-packed breakfast.

 

Blend ‘em up with sweet ingredients for an Avocado Semifreddo.

 

Or, mix ‘em up with all sorts of ingredients for 11 different twists on guacamole!

Related Links

How to Pit an Avocado

How to Make a Guacamole Mix-in Bar

9 Ways to Make Guacamole

Snack Stadium Showdown

Written on December 18, 2013 at 12:00 pm , by

When you can’t make it to the stadium for your team’s big game, why not craft up one of your own for at-home-viewing enjoyment? Made entirely out of edible football-favorite foods, these seriously cool snack stadiums are worthy centerpieces for any football party. Seem a bit too complicated for your expertise? Five crafty creators are here to help, sharing tips and ideas to master your very own snack stadium.

 

Photo courtesy of Natalie Mclaury, thesweetslife.com

Sweet Victory

Skip the chips-and-dip and head straight for dessert! Natalie Mclaury of The Sweets Life constructed a sweet tooth-approved stadium made out of a fruit pizza using kiwi, skittles and dyed coconut as the grass, thin wooden dowels as the goal posts and chocolate mousse cups with candy on top to represent the fans. Plus, she surrounded her stadium with dippable treats for her creamy Funfetti cake mix dip! Mclaury used non-edible materials to construct the stadium and used foods as decoration that could easily be removed and eaten. ”People took their time to ooh-and-aah over the stadium, but our friends were lured by the site of their favorite treats and couldn’t resist digging in,” she says.

 

 

Photo courtesy of Chad Nikazy, trifatherhood.com

Pizza Playing Field

Chad and Karen Nizaky of Trifatherhood knew that creating their snack stadium was not a one-man job, so they recruited their kids to help build their stadium. With a plan in mind, Chad, Karen and their three children ventured to the grocery store to pick up the ingredients for their snack-worthy project. The “field” of their stadium was a pizza with a large pepperoni football, but since Chad is a seasoned triathlete, they wanted to be sure to include some healthy options in their stadium, as well. Fruits and veggies like strawberries, grapes, carrots and cucumbers filled the stands, and they also included some crowd favorites like Chex Mix, cookies, pigs-in-a-blanket and chocolate croissants ”The hardest part,” Karen says, “was keeping our three children – twin four year-olds and an eight year-old – from eating it during the process!”

 

 

Photo courtesy of Dorothy Kern, crazyforcrust.com

Crust Bowl 

Stepping outside of the baking box, Dorothy Kern of Crazy for Crust constructed her stadium structure entirely out of pizza dough! While many might suspect that this version would be susceptible to crumbling, Kern mastered a secret method to ensure stability: Wrapping the dough around an inverted bundt pan. Kern recommends baking your stadium past the point of wanting to eat it, but slightly before it would burn. This will create a structure that is sturdy enough to stand on its own, hold treats within the stadium and avoid collapsing. Kern filled the stadium with chocolate cake batter dip and green frosting for dirt and grass, and emulated an audience by scattering colorful sprinkles on the wall of the stadium.

 

 

Photo courtesy of the culinary team at Pillsbury

Go Team Pillsbury!

When tasked with the goal of creating a stand-out snack stadium, the masterminds at Pillsbury did not disappoint! It comes as no surprise that the culinary team had a goal of making their snack stadium primarily out of Pillsbury bread products and their own game-day recipes. They achieved this by covering the edges of each section of the stadium with breadsticks and filling them with appetizers and snacks ranging from pepperoni pizza to bacon cheddar pinwheels. The outside of the stadium was stacked with Italian sub sandwiches and the field was made of guacamole and salsa dips, which featured breadstick goalposts and a bread-based “Jumbotron.”

 

 

Photo courtesy of James “JD” DiBella, co-owner of Red Star Bar in Brooklyn

Fly High!

When the Rachael Ray Show announced that they would be holding a contest for the best snack stadium, James Dibella, co-owner of Red Star Bar in Brooklyn, NY, knew he was up for the challenge — and he started with a big idea! Dibella chose to incorporate food items that are most well-known at Red Star Bar. In total, Dibella used 400 sliders, 12 dozen wings of hot, medium, mild and raspberry barbecue variety, 60 mozzarella sticks, 300 nacho flags and five pounds of guacamole and sour cream.

 

What do you think of snack stadiums? Would you make one of your own? 

 

Rocca Stars in the Kitchen

Written on September 4, 2013 at 10:51 am , by

Guess who’s here to dish on cooking with the nation’s most beloved nannas (and poppas)! Daily Show vet Mo Rocca, whose Cooking Channel series, My Grandmother’s Ravioli, kicks off its second season this month.

By David Farley

 

Q: How did the show get its name?

A: My granmother made pasta from scratch, and her ravioli were big pockets stuffed with ground beef, spinach and garlic with a light tomato sauce. They were delicious – and large and light and delicate. So when Nora Ephron was a guest on my NPR show, Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!—and I was talking about the inspiration for my new cooking show—she pointed out that My Grandmother’s Ravioli was the obvious name. I loved going back to the network people to say not only did I have a great name, but Nora Ephron helped me come up with it.

Q: How do you decide who will be featured?

A: We want people who really care about cooking. They also have to have a good personality, but not in that crazy reality TV way. These are people you actually want to be related to.

Q: The show has you cooking with grandmas from everywhere. Have you found a universal ingredient?

A: Garlic. Everyone uses it. In fact, my own Italian grandmother’s apartment always smelled like garlic.

Q: What’s been the biggest surprise?

A: Almost none of the grandmothers measure ingredients. And grandfathers measure even less! They’re extreme non-measurers!

Q: Beyond recipes, what have you learned?

A: How to cut onions without crying. From a Pakistani grandfather, actually, I learned that you should drink a glass of red wine before cutting them. Though he may just have wanted an excuse to drink wine.

 

 

Explore more of our celebrity interviews here.

Technique Tuesday: How to Make Pizza Dough

Written on September 3, 2013 at 9:00 am , by

When done right, pizza dough is crispy and crunchy and delicious. The secret? A long, slow rise. Follow our step-by-step lead for the best-ever 6-ingredient pizza dough!

Learn how to mix, pour, turn, oil, punch, shape, rest and finally roll out the best-ever pizza dough.

 

More technique tips:

How to Make Homemade Bread

How to Buy Coffee Beans

How to Make Your Own Preserves

 

Technique Tuesday: How to Make Your Own Preserves

Written on August 27, 2013 at 3:21 pm , by

Canning and pickling are back in a big way, and it’s easier than you think! If you know how to boil water, you can stock away sweet, juicy, peak-season produce in a few simple steps.

 

 

 

After gathering and sterilizing your utensils, it’s time to parcook the food. This is also the time to season or add flavorings like spices or sweeteners. Learn how to parcook your food, plus what comes next here.

 

 

Explore our full slideshow for the step-by-step canning breakdown. Then, get five more spicy, smoky or even sweet home canning recipes.

 

More technique tips!

Great Grilled Chicken Tips

Cook with Kids

Easy Cocktail Upgrades

Technique Time: Searing Secrets

Written on May 14, 2013 at 11:05 am , by

A perfectly browned sear on everything from steak to stew meat creates a flavorful crust and juicy interior. Just follow these four easy searing commandments.

Cooking Tips: How To Sear Meat, Step

Commandment #1: Thou shalt pat the meat dry.

 

If excess moisture (aside from butter, oil or fat) is present, the meat will steam, not sear.

Cooking Tips: How To Sear Meat, Step 2

Commandment #2: Thou shalt get the pan hot.
Really hot.

 

Intense heat creates the tasty, burnished crust you’re looking for.

Cooking Tips: How To Sear Meat, Step 3

Commandment #3: Thou shalt be patient.

 

Hands off–and we mean it! If the meat isn’t touching the hot pan

(because you keep moving it), it won’t brown properly.

Cooking Tips: How To Sear Meat, Step 4

Commandment #4: Thou shalt take turns.


To achieve a uniform sear, each side of the meat needs equal attention. However, try to keep flipping of the meat to a minimum as it will dry and toughen the meat.

 
(Illustrations by Claudia Pearson)

 

 

RELATED:

23 Soul-Satisfying Stew Recipes

How To Roast Peppers

How To Make DIY Almond Milk

All Cooking Tips Posts

How to Roast Peppers

Written on May 9, 2013 at 12:40 pm , by

Roasting peppers teases out their sweetness and gives them a smoky edge (And they make Rachael’s Birds in a Nest with Peppers & Sausage oh so good.) Jarred roasted peppers are a good shortcut, but you’ll get a fresher flavor and firmer texture by making your own. It couldn’t be easier: Follow our to-do tutorial below, heat up the broiler and get cooking!

Birds in a Nest with Peppers & Sausage

Get Rach’s Birds in a Nest with Peppers & Sausage recipe!

 

 

1. Place the peppers on a rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan and broil, turning often with tongs, until blistered all over, about 8 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

2. While warm, stick the peppers in a glass or metal bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let stand until cool enough to handle.

3. Remove the peppers from the bowl and peel off the skin. Cut out the stem and ribs, toss the seeds and you’re done!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Illustrations by Emma Kelly

That’s it! Now, get roastin’ and share your success stories with us below in our comments!

Orange You Glad It’s Time For Dessert?

Written on April 10, 2013 at 5:55 pm , by

Here’s an almost-instant dessert: Orange & Ice Cream Trifles. All you need are oranges, orange marmalade, lemon juice, pound cake and vanilla ice cream. What’s better than a 5-ingredient recipe on a weeknight? Get the recipe here.  Then, keep reading to learn how to make it one pretty treat.

Orange & Ice Cream Trifles

Upgrade your dessert by cutting your oranges into pretty segments (“supremes in chef lingo). Just follow our how-to steps below!

Scratch pad

 

 

Prep it!

Cut a small slice off the top and bottom, exposing some of the flesh. Stand the fruit up on one flat side.

 

 

 

 

 

scratch pad image2

Pare it! 

Cut from top to bottom along the curve of the fruit, removing the peel and bitter white pith.

 

 

scratch pad image3

 

 

 

Section it! 

Over a bowl, make a slice on each side of each segment along the membrane and use the knife blade to lift out the freed fruit wedge.

 

 

Illustrations by Emma Kelly

How To Make DIY Almond Milk

Written on April 9, 2013 at 10:24 am , by

“I blend creamy almond milk into smoothies, stir it into my tea and pour it on my cereal. It’s easy to make your own—plus, homemade tastes fresher and is way cheaper!” —Katie Barreira, Senior Test Kitchen Associate

DIY Almond Milk

(Illustrations by Claudia Pearson)

  1. To make 4 cups of almond milk, soak 2 cups raw almonds and 5 cups water in a bowl for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  2. Mix the almonds and water in a blender on high until frothy and smooth, about 5 minutes. (It will seem like a really long time, but just keep blending!)
  3. Line a strainer with 4 layers of
    cheesecloth; place over a bowl. Add half of the almond mixture; let sit 10 minutes, then squeeze out the liquid. Discard the solids; repeat with the rest of the almond mixture.

Almond Hot Chocolate

 

Try your delicious homemade almond milk in our tasty Almond Hot Chocolate!