The Kentucky Derby Mint Julep Recipe

Kentucky Derby Mint Julep Recipe Blog Header

Wondering how to make a mint julep for the next Kentucky Derby? You’ve come to the right place! I’m sharing my Kentucky Derby Mint Julep recipe!

The History of the Mint Julep

It is thought that the Mint Julep is derived from the ancient Arabic and Persian drink called ‘Julab,’ meaning ‘rose water.’ 

Unsurprisingly that drink was made from crushed rose petals and water. When the recipe moved to the Mediterranean, the rose petals were replaced with the more commonly found and more economical mint leaves.

Soon after, an alcoholic version began to gain favor. Many spirits were used, such as vodka, rum, absinthe, the list was endless.

As the Mint Julep made it’s a voyage to America, the alcohol of choice was bourbon, and this is still the spirit most commonly thought of when requesting a Mint Julep. In the late 1700s, the average Southern planter would have a Mint Julep before breakfast as both a kick start and to ward off malaria. It is now the signature drink of the Kentucky Derby.

Mint Juleps have actually been made with just about every spirit there is. While the name changes with what is in it (mint mojito anyone?), an official mint julep like they serve at the Kentucky Derby is served with bourbon whiskey such as Woodford Reserve. Here’s how to make one!

How to Make a Mint Julep - Pinterest Pin

A Kentucky Derby Mint Julep Recipe

Here are the mint julep ingredients you’ll need:

  • Fresh mint leaves – 2 – 3 fresh leaves (increase if you like it more minty)
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar syrup – also known as simple syrup
  • 6 crushed ice cubes to make ice chips
  • 2-3 oz of bourbon whiskey – I would opt for the smoothest one possible!

Prep instructions:

  1. Put one sprig of mint leaves and sugar syrup in a small glass and mash together using a teaspoon. 
  2. For best results, you’ll want to leave the mixture to stand alone for about 5 minutes. This gives the mint and sugar syrup the chance to fully blend.
  3. Add the ice chips and bourbon. Decorate with the other sprig of mint.

That’s all there is to it! You now know how to make a mint julep for your next Kentucky Derby party!

Alternative Mint Julep Recipes

  • Frozen Mint Julep is a slush style drink. Put 6 mint leaves, 1 tablespoon of sugar syrup, 8 ice cubes, 2 measures of bourbon, and a tablespoon of lemon into a food processor and blend until slushy. Pour into a tall glass.
  • Brandy Julep: pour 2 measures of brandy, 1 teaspoon of sugar syrup, and 4 mint leaves over a tumbler of crushed ice.
  • Virgin Mint Julep: If you opt to make this a non alcoholic beverage you just need 1 sprig of mint along with a teaspoon or so of the simple syrup, a splash of lemon juice (about a teaspoon) and 3 oz or so of cola. Then, just add the ice chips, stir and serve

Final Touches

If you’re feeling fancy, you can add a little more to your Kentucky Derby Mint Julep Recipe. Here are a few examples of things you can decorate the glass with:

  • a sprig of mint
  • a slice of lemon
  • a slice of orange
  • a slice of pineapple
  • a slice of cucumber
  • raspberries
  • Strawberries

If you like Mint Juleps, you might also like Mojitos, another mint-based drink with a completely different history. But for now, if you dream of sitting in a rocking chair on a veranda in the Deep South as the sun sets at the end of a long, heady hot day, then my Mint Julep recipe should be your cocktail of choice.

A Guide to Healthy Kitchen Gadgets

If you want to get healthy, it starts by outfitting your kitchen with the right type of appliances. There are gadgets that make it easier for you to eat healthy by making low fat, flavorful foods.

You can find kitchen gadgets that help you cut out fried foods by still giving you the same delicious crunch, only in a baked and healthier manner. So you won’t feel like you’re giving up anything.

Another thing healthy kitchen items assist with is time management. Many people complain about how difficult and long it is to make a meal from scratch, which causes them to rely on fast food instead.

If you stock your kitchen with the right tools, you can cut down on the time it takes to prepare healthier fare and eliminate the crutch of using a drive-through or food delivery service.

Start with an Instant Pot

An instant pot is a small, but useful gadget. It’s basically a pressure cooker. But, it has the capability of doing so many different types of cooking. You can steam vegetables or you can make a pot of rice.

Whatever you decide to make, unlike traditional cooking methods, the instant pot has the ability to get the food prepared a lot faster than you could make it using a stove. These appliances can be used to mix foods, too.

You can just put in everything that you want to cook, set your timer and then leave it. Once the cooking cycle is over, the food is prepared. It’s healthier to use an instant pot because it allows you to cook at lot of low calorie, but nutritionally rich foods in a short amount of time.

You can make something like chicken, or you can make a low sodium vegetable soup. Not only can it cook meat to tender perfection, but it’s able to make side dishes such as potatoes.

Because it’s a set it and forget it way of cooking, it cuts down on the amount of time you have to spend in the kitchen, which can help you stay on track for healthy eating on a regular basis.

If you don’t have one or have never used an instant pot, there are numerous brands that you can choose from. You’re sure to find one that can easily fit your budget, like the Instant Pot Duo.

This one offers one-touch cooking, so it simplifies your meal prep time and makes it more likely that you’re going to eat healthy because it’s so convenient. The cooker can be used to cook rice, to sauté, as a slow cooker and more – so it’s pretty versatile.

The Instant Pot Duo Plus 9-in-1 is another option for you. You’ll be able to use the gadget to cook fast or slow. Not only can you use the function as a pressure cooker, but you can also use it to make everything from barbecue ribs to low calorie yogurt.

One of the issues with trying to eat healthy is that when you’re part of a family with members who are reluctant to change the way their food has always been prepared, it can make it tougher on you.

That’s why something like the Instant Pot Pro 10-in-1 can help. This model has the ability to cook a larger variety of foods so you can find something that everyone will like without having to sacrifice cooking in a more nutritional way.

This one not only has 28 different settings to choose from, but it’s also capable of baking a cake. Family members who are looking for those sweet treats can use the gadget to still have what they like, while you use it to make healthier meals.

Get a Blender

One issue with trying to live a healthier lifestyle is that things have changed over the years. You’re busier than you ever were before. No one really has time to prepare things in an elaborate way.

Instead, you need kitchen gadgets that can get the job done, yet help you with your goal of eating healthy. A blender is one of those convenience tools that you need for the kitchen.

This appliance can help you eat healthier because it gives you the ability to blend all sorts of foods for every meal. You can use it for breakfast, lunch or dinner prep. For example, if you wanted to have a breakfast smoothie, you can just mix up the vegetables and fruits and quickly and conveniently have a blended breakfast drink ready to go.

Plus, when you blend the fruits and vegetables, you’re getting more of the fiber, which is an added benefit when it comes to eating well. A blender can also be used to make puree for a soup.

Or, you can use a blender to make desserts that are low in calories, yet nutritionally dense. Cleaning up after using the blender is super easy, too – which also saves you time.

Instead of having several dishes to clean, you have one gadget to wash. When you have a blender, it makes your goal of eating healthier easier, too – because you can prepare foods that are good for you in advance.

For example, you can make your breakfast drink the night before and just grab it and head out the door on your way to work the next morning. To get started, you’ll need to have a good blender.

One that has a good track record as well as being budget friendly is the Hamilton Beach 58181 Blender. This kitchen gadget has the ability to crush ice in order to make low calorie beverages.

Studies have shown that low calorie beverages work to stave off hunger pangs and can help prevent food bingeing. Plus, it can also puree vegetables for meals like soup. Because it has a travel container, you can take it on the go as needed.

Another blender you might want to consider getting is the Ninja AMZ493BRN Compact Kitchen System. This gadget has a large family size, five cup bowl. The blades on this model are durable enough to be able to mix dough.

Because it has preset programming, you can create the beverages or foods you need simply by pressing a button. A popular blender for a healthy kitchen is the Vitamix E310 Explorian Blender.

This one is a professional grade, so it offers more features and options to aid you on your journey for a healthy lifestyle. It can chop and puree and save you time in the kitchen because it’s self-cleaning.

An Air Fryer Is a Must-Have

To most people, the thought of designing a healthy kitchen with gadgets that can aid them in losing weight or getting in shape, means they have to get rid of anything that cooks comfort foods, such as a fryer.

This had choice is what causes a lot of people to choose to remain unhealthy. They don’t want to give up the foods that they love. The truth is, you don’t have to deprive yourself.

You can have the same great taste of the foods that you love without all the consequences that make those types of fried foods bad for your heart. When you air fry foods, you don’t ruin your health.

This means you’re not going to get that heavy calorie load. Some fryers have the ability to cut out as much as 80% of the calories that you’d normally get by frying foods. Not only that, but many air fryers can make the food using just a tablespoon or less of oil (or by using a cooking spray) versus the big amounts a regular fryer needs.

This means that air frying is better for you – not just with taste – but also health-wise. It lowers your chance of heart disease, high cholesterol and high blood pressure by cutting out almost, if not all of the oil.

Air fryers can crisp whatever you want, yet the gadget can hold onto the tender moistness of items like meats every single time. You can use one like the Dash Tasti-Crisp Electric Air Fryer to make delicious crispy food or snacks like French fries.

Because this one is compact, it doesn’t take up a lot of space on the counter. Once you select the temperature range, your food is ready to go in just a few minutes. No more waiting for frozen food items to cook in the oven.

If you want one that’s a little bigger and can do more, then you may want to get the Instant Vortex Plus 4 Quart Air Fryer. This tool is a 6-in-1 and can also roast or dehydrate as well as simply reheat food items.

But it can also be customized so that you can make things like vegetables, healthy desserts or snacks. For those who want to cook larger portions in an air fryer, you’ll want to check out the Ninja AF150AMZ air fryer.

This gadget has a capacity of 5.5 quarts. So instead of cooking a single serving size or smaller portions of something like sweet potato fries, you’ll have the ability to cook as much as 3 pounds of that delicious treat.

A feature that this one has is the ability to dehydrate foods, too. So you can create vegetable or fruit snacks that can help you not only get the vitamins and the fiber that you need, but also the antioxidants.

Buy a Kitchen Scale

One of the best tools you can have in a kitchen is a scale. Yet many people neglect to get one because they still think they can “eyeball” a portion size or measure out food just by using the palm of their hands.

But not everyone’s hands are the same size, so you might be getting an extra-large portion and many more calories than you think you are. The problem with not having a scale is that when you’re hungry or in a hurry, you engage in guesswork and then settle for “good enough” when it comes to measuring stuff out.

But a scale never lies, never plays the guessing game and can help keep you on track with any weight loss or healthy eating goals that you might have. It can be used for any food.

This means that you can use the scale to make sure that you get the right amount of protein in your diet. But you can also get the specific measured amounts of other foods, like your grains.

On top of that, when you’re working on a new, healthy dish that calls for certain measurements, it can be easier to use the scale – especially when you need to configure the measurement between grams or ounces.

Using a scale teaches you to limit your calories to what your body actually needs. By practicing portion control with the help of a kitchen scale, you’ll start to develop a habit of measuring out your food, which in turn will help you to lose weight and live healthier.

The Greater Goods Digital Food Kitchen Scale is designed to be thin and non-intrusive. You can use it to measure out ingredients, to weigh your foods or to be able to count the macros if that’s part of your healthy eating plan.

This scale is known for its accuracy. It also has a great LCD screen that’s easy to read. So at a glance you can see the ounces, pounds and more. The Escali Primo Lightweight Scale has a lot of great features.

One of these is that the buttons on the front are sealed. If you knock something over and spill liquid, the scale’s function won’t be affected. It has touch button use and the technology to be able to weigh just the contents of whatever container you sit on the scale.

The Nicewell Digital Food Scale is a good addition to any kitchen. This one uses four sensors that allow it to accurately weigh any food up to 22 pounds. It boasts a backlit LCD so you can read it even when the kitchen light is off.

There are numerous measuring units to choose from. The front of the scale is kitchen friendly, meaning if something splashes on it, all you have to do is wipe it down and it has a tare function, too.

Grill for Healthier Meal Choices

You might have heard of numerous fat reducing tips if you’re trying to eat healthy. One of these tips includes grilling over cooking your foods using other methods, and a countertop grill can be a great addition to your kitchen.

By grilling your foods, you’re preparing it in a way that lowers the amount of fat that you would normally get from that item. For example, countertop grills may be slanted or have a way for the fat to drain off.

This design is what lets the fats from any meat run off the grill. The fat travels into a catch that usually sits under the edge of the grill. If you allow that runoff to resolidify, you’ll see just how much fat you cut out of your meal by grilling it.

When you prepare your food items using other methods, the fat doesn’t run off. Instead, the meat or whatever your cooking is cooked in that fat. You only see a portion of it left in the pan. The rest of it cooks right back into the food.

Not only is it healthier to cook meat on a countertop kitchen grill, but other food items as well. For example, you can cook fruits and vegetables using this type of method. By doing that, you gain more of the nutritional value of the food.

This means you get more health benefits by getting to consume those vitamins. Plus, countertop grilling eliminates the need for additional toppings. You can use herbs when grilling that give the food plenty of flavor but no additional calories or sugar, which is linked to cravings and weight gain.

The Nonstick Electric Indoor Smokeless Grill is a budget friendly option. This grill has a surface that is large enough to hold an entire meal as it cooks so you can save time – plus give your family members different food options.

It has an even cooking temperature that offers five selections to choose from. A household name in countertop grills is the George Foreman line. The George Foreman 6-Serving Removable Plate Grill is one that is designed to keep your food from being cooked in the fat.

It has an adjustable temperature option. Plus, one of the best features is the floating hinge. That means it’ll expand for thicker food options. The removable plates are dishwasher safe.

The Ninja FG551 Foodi Smart XL is a little more expensive, but that’s because it’s also a 6-in-1 gadget. Not only can it sear or crisp food, but it also offers specific protein choices so that you can determine how well you want the meat done. This gadget can let you bake or broil – plus three other options in addition to grilling.

They say that those who fail to prepare, prepare to fail. The same can be said for those who don’t stock their kitchen with the tools they need to help them stick to a healthy way of living when it comes to nutrition.

Not only do these products help cook your food healthier, reducing fat and calories, but they serve as a great help when it comes to time management and stress relief – two things that often cause people to turn to unhealthy foods as a matter of convenience.

You can shop for these gadgets no matter if you’re on a budget or want the top of the line. Look for items that help you achieve the most important health goals you have, and then look for things that have the right features and price points for your needs.

How To Pair The Right Wine With Your Meal

Learn how to pair wine and food at home. This article will cover the basics of pairing, plus some tips for matching different varietals with your favorite meal!

How To Pair The Right Wine With Your Meal

Dedicated wine lovers with good taste have followed a certain protocol when picking the right wine with meals for over 5,000 years. These arrangements consisted of specific wines addressing individual food choices-red wine with meat or game, and white wine with seafood and poultry-while keeping in mind that wines were chosen to accent the five major food tastes: spiciness, saltiness, bitterness, sourness, and sweetness. Linking food with the right wine is a fine art which requires certain knowledge of different taste sensations.

The Etiquette Of Wines

The serving of wine at a meal has been one of the most enduring forms of etiquette throughout human civilization, enhanced with the chosen wines originating from the same area as the main dishes or local recipes. Wines such as Cabernet, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Pinot Noir are all quality wines which enhance specific dishes.

For example, there is nothing better than serving white Beaujolais or even Pinot Noir with a mouthwatering Salmon Tuna and Swordfish steak, while a lighter red wine can also be used to bring out its delicious flavor. For those who prefer a more robust flavor, a buttery Chardonnay wine enhances a Barnaise sauce on top of any red steak of their choice, cooked to perfection.

Poured in correct logical progression, if more than one wine is served at a meal, protocol requires that the wines are served from light to dark while sweet dessert or heavy wines follow last. When the meals are served, the appetizers or smaller light courses, such as soups, can be served at the beginning with a light white wine.

Following this, a red wine is served with a heavy red meat dish while a white wine or champagne is served with a main course of poultry, fish, or lamb. The after-dinner dessert wines of Eiswein, Beerenauslese, Moscato d’Asti, or Champagne Doux are used with sweet desserts that compliment their sweet tastes, while brandy and dry sherry are considered better with treacle or ice cream.

Vegetarian Diets And Wines

With so many individuals becoming health conscious in today’s world, a simple white wine can easily do a vegetarian diet justice. Most vegetarian meals are made from fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and legumes, requiring a white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc.

Meanwhile, heavy-tasting vegetable casserole recipes -Vegetarian Casserole or Spinach Lasagna – do best with a Merlot or Chardonnay. Strong tasting onions, leeks or green peppers dishes are brought to the surface in specific dishes with a Dry Rose or Sparkling Wine, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio or Muscadet.

The heavier Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz have a tendency to overpower vegetables, with protein-free vegetables tasting bitter and metallic with most red wines. However, light red wines such as Pinot Noir, Gamay, Tuscan Chianti can be served with vegetarian protein dishes like bean dishes, enchiladas or a meatless Italian pasta casserole served with lots of vegetables and spices.

The Rules Of Simplicity

To develop a satisfying relationship between wines and foods, a good rule of thumb is that a very strong tasting wine should never be served with a delicate entre, instead chosen to complement each other.

Think of the phrase, “Simple wines with complex foods…complex wines with simple foods” with personal likes and dislikes always taking precedence over protocol. As always, a good wine will always take care of itself in any meal.

How To Make Tasty Iced Beverages With Coffee

Learn how to make delicious iced coffee drinks with this simple guide. With easy recipes and step-by-step instructions, you can make tasty beverages in no time!

How To Make Tasty Iced Beverages With Coffee

Making iced coffee can be simple, easy, and a great way to enjoy coffee beverages in the hot summer time (or if you are one who enjoys cold drinks in the winter time!). For general iced coffee it is really really easy. You can make other iced coffee drinks for a wide variety of great taste and several options.

Iced Coffee

Iced coffee is much like iced tea. It is simple to make. First brew some strong coffee. If you use coffee ice cubes instead of regular ones, you can make it the strength you normally make coffee at. If you are going to be using regular ice cubes you will want to make your coffee stronger.

Once it has brewed and cooled a little, stick it in a pitcher and put it in the fridge. This will cool it down. Add ice to a glass and pour the cold coffee over the ice. You can also make iced cubes using leftover coffee by pouring your coffee into ice cube trays. These make the best iced coffee and makes it so you don’t waste coffee and you also don’t water down your iced coffee.

If you want iced coffee right away you can pour the hot coffee over the ice. However, it won’t be as cold as if the coffee was cold to start with. You might also need to add additional ice to make it cold and not warm.

Adding to Iced Coffee

Many people like coffee best when it has things added to it. You can do this with iced coffee just as you would with hot coffee. You can add sugar to the hot coffee so that it dissolves best, or you can add it when you make your coffee. You can also add cream or milk. If you want to get really creative you can add chocolate syrup or hot cocoa mix (best added with the hot coffee before it is chilled) for an iced mocha type of drink.

Throw it in the Blender

There can be a lot of great things done with coffee and ice. You can throw it in the blender for an icee type of experience. You can also blend it up with your favorite additives. A blended mocha is great treat. For a super great treat add a scoop of your favorite ice cream!

Getting Very Creative

You can make juice or fruit teas into ice cubes and add one or two to your iced coffee for something new. Start with only one or two in case you come up with a bad combination. Flavored syrups can also add a lot of yummy goodness to coffee including iced varieties.

You can buy these at many coffee shops. Sprinkles make for great additions as well. These include cinnamon, cocoa powder, and nutmeg or other spices. You also can experiment with hot cocoa mixes, flavored creamers, and “cappuccino” mixes. All are rather inexpensive and you could find a drink you never want to leave behind for the expensive coffee shop!

However you like your coffee or your iced coffee, you can have it quickly and simply. It can be a great at home treat with little work and awesome results. You don’t have to pay two dollars for an iced coffee!

How To Make Two Easy Mousse Recipes

This article will teach you how to make two easy mousse recipes that are sure to impress any guest!

How To Make Two Easy Mousse Recipes

The tastes of espresso coffee and spicy-sweet cinnamon join with bittersweet chocolate, whipped cream, and eggs to make an easy dessert with South-of-the-Border flair.

Nothing complements the flavor of chocolate more distinctively and classically than the taste of strong coffee. Indeed, the two flavors together are commonly known as “mocha,” after the name of the port in Yemen whose distinctive coffee variety has a rich, chocolate note.

And no seasoning complements both chocolate and coffee more enticingly than cinnamon. Together, the three distinctive ingredients capture a flavor combination often found in the desserts of Mexico. Chocolate, coffee, and cinnamon join forces in the easy chocolate mousse recipe that follows.

Mexican Chocolate Mousse

Serves 18

Ingredients:

 1 cup heavy cream
 3/4 pound semisweet chocolate, broken into 1-inch pieces
 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
 1/2 cup hot espresso-strength brewed black coffee
 6 egg yolks
 12 egg whites, at room temperature
 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 1/2 teaspoon coffee extract
 18 cinnamon stick pieces, each 2 to 3 inches long, or chocolate shavings, for garnish

Directions:

  1. In a heavy saucepan, heat the cream over medium heat until bubbles just begin to form around the edges.
  2. Put the chocolate and ground cinnamon in a food processor fitted with the stainless-steel blade. Pulse until coarsely chopped. With the machine running, pour in the hot cream and the brewed coffee. Continue processing until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth and thick, 30 to 45 seconds. Scrape down the work bowl with a rubber spatula and return the lid in place.
  3. With the machine running, add the egg yolks and continue processing until smooth, about 20 seconds more. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and set aside.
  4. In a clean mixing bowl, using a hand-held electric mixer with clean beaters, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks that hold their shape when the beaters are lifted out. With a rubber spatula, gently fold about a quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture until only a few streaks remain; then, fold in the remaining egg whites until smoothly blended.
  5. Divide the mixture evenly among 18 attractive individual serving containers, such as wine glasses, wide champagne glasses, or glass dessert bowls. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the mousse is well chilled and set, at least 3 hours.
  6. Before serving, beat the whipping cream until it forms firm peaks, gradually adding the confectioners’ sugar and the vanilla and coffee extracts. Pipe or spoon a dollop of the whipped cream in the center of each serving and garnish with a piece of cinnamon stick or chocolate shavings.

The resulting dessert is elegant and flavorful enough to serve for a holiday buffet. But it’s also so easy that, by cutting the ingredient quantities by two thirds or three quarters, it can also be enjoyed for a weekday or weekend family meal.

Best Meals For 5 Bucks Or Less

Want to save money on your food budget? Check out these cheap and easy recipes for meals that will cost you less than $5.

Money is a concern for most people now, and as a result food is often one of the first things that people sacrifice. But eating on a budget does not mean you have to give up good taste. Below are recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner each of which can be made for five dollars or less.

Breakfast Burritos

Step 1: Scramble eggs. 
Step 2: Decide on other fillings. At this point you can add sliced ham, onions, tomatoes, peppers. Choose whatever is in season and what is on sale. 
Step 3: Add cheese
Step 4: Cook tortilla shell. This can be done quickly by the desired number of tortillas between two napkins and microwaving for approximately 30 seconds
Step 5: Fill tortilla shell with eggs, fillings and cheese.

Polish Sausage and Rice

Step 1: Simply slice polish sausage or kielbasa into rounds  a quarter of an inch to half a inch thick. 
Step 2: Place the sliced meat in a pot over medium heat.
Step 3: Add two tablespoons of butter and your favorite rice (Knorr brand is good).
Step 4: Add water according to rice package plus two tablespoons. 
Step 5: Cook until rice is soft. Meat should be cook through at this point. 

Hamburgers with Homemade Fries

Step 1: Season hamburger meat. Salt and pepper will do fine, but if you have Worcestershire sauce in your pantry this is a nice flavor addition. Also when fresh pepper and onions are in season these are very affordable and good to dice finely and add to ground beef. 
Step 2: Pat out hamburger. One pound of ground beef should make about four hamburgers. 
Step 3: Grill hamburgers outside if weather permits or inside using a griddle skillet. Cook over medium heat. Remember to cook the meat slow enough that it retains the flavor. 
Step 4: Wash potatoes.
Step 5: Peel potatoes and cut lengthwise into the desired shape. Wedges or slices slightly larger than fast food French fries work well. 
Step 6: Heat oil in skillet over medium/high heat. Oil should cover the entire bottom of the skillet. 
Step 7: Add potatoes to hot oil. Cook until light brown in color. 
Step 8: Remove hamburger from grill. Check to make sure that they are fully cooked (there should be no pink coloring). Place hamburger patty on buns and top with whatever is available - ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, cheese, onions, pickles.
Step 9: Remove potatoes from oil and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle salt over potatoes while still hot.

Other great meal ideas include:

Spaghetti
Meatloaf
Homemade Pizza
Omelets

One other thing to consider is going meatless one night a week. Add beans to your meal to get the needed protein.

Chicken Tikka Masala – My Take on a Classic

Y’all! I LOVE me some Indian food, but since moving to Kentucky, there are not as many places to find it as there were in Tampa, Fla. So, I went on a mission to recreate one of my favorite dishes, and modified it to my tastes.

In other words, this may not be the 100% authentic recipe you will find on other sites, but it hit the exact spot I had a craving for.

Though I confess it does take a while to make this recipe, I was so happy with how it turned out. And, my husband and I have added it to our meal plan rotation! Best part is you could easily double it to have plenty of leftovers!

Active time: About an hour

Total time: About 90 mins

Servings: 4-6 depending on portion sizes

Ingredients Chicken Tikka Masala (Modified)

For the Chicken Coating:

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice (I totally used a bottle of concentrate, but you could juice 1 lime and get about 1 tablespoon)
  • Generous 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (Note: the more you add, the spicier this dish will be!)
  • 3/4 teaspoon paprika (I used smoked paprika, but many Indian recipes call for sweet paprika)
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala (spice blend)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup plain, full-fat Greek yogurt or full-fat sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (I used the minced garlic stir-in paste, but you could use about 3 cloves and mince it yourself)
  • 1 tablespoon of stir-in ginger paste or you could use one 2-inch piece peeled fresh ginger root, minced

For the Tikka Masala Sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 8-ounce cans of plain tomato sauce (Make sure you don’t make the mistake of grabbing the one with oregano and basil like I’ve accidentally done in the past!)
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (Again, if you add more it WILL kick up the heat level!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala (spice blend)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

Additional Ingredients Needed:

  • 1 tablespoon of baking soda
  • 1 tsp approximately of garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How to Make Chicken Tikka Masala (Modified)

Step 1

In a 2 qt saucepan, start melting your butter on medium heat, but don’t brown it! Then, add your tomato sauce, and give it a stir. Then, add your other sauce ingredients, stir, and when it begins bubbling, add a lid and turn your stove down to simmer so it can cook while your chicken is velveting and then baking.

You’ll need to stir it roughly every 15 minutes just to make sure the sauce isn’t burning.

Step 2

For the chicken: Using thawed chicken breasts, velvet the chicken with your baking soda

To velvet the chicken you will sprinkle the baking soda all over it and rub it in. Then, let it sit a full 20 minutes.

Pro tip: Set a timer because you don’t want this to sit longer than 20 minutes as the chicken will become mush!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees while you are velveting the chicken.

Step 3

Wash the chicken and then pat dry with paper towels. Then place the breasts in a greased 9X13 pyrex or equivalent glass baking dish.

Step 4

Sprinkle salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika onto both sides of the chicken. I eyeballed this, but it ended up being about 1 tsp of each spice across the chicken.

Step 5

Place the chicken in the oven for 12 mins, and get to work on your sauce. In a bowl, combine the lime juice, cayenne pepper, paprika, garam masala, salt, yogurt/sour cream, garlic and ginger in a mixing bowl until evenly mixed.

Step 6

Pull out the chicken, spoon on half of the chicken coating to the top of your chicken, then flip it over, and spoon the other half on and rub it all over the top

Step 7 

Place it back in the over for another 10-15 mins or until the internal temp reaches 165 degrees

Step 8

When your chicken is cooked through, cut it into 1 inch cubes and place the cubes back in the pan.

Step 9

Pour your Tikka Masala sauce onto the chicken and give everything a good stir to ensure all those yummy bits of your chicken coating are fully incorporated throughout.

Step 10

Serve with Basmati rice and Naan. I like to pour some of the sauce into the rice and chicken so I can dip the Naan into it. Damn tasty!

To give the sauce a little heat, you can add more cayenne pepper, red chili powder, or Kashmiri chili sauce. We felt the flavor was just fine without extra heat, but we did add salt and pepper to taste.

Cooking And Hosting A Christmas Feast For Two

It’s not always possible to be with family and loved ones during the Christmas holidays. That doesn’t mean missing out on a tasty Christmas feast and all the trimmings.

The high cost of airfare during the holiday season, family members in all corners of the world, financial restrictions and poor health are just some of the many reasons seniors might find themselves faced with a quiet Christmas.

Many people, old and young alike, experience feelings of loneliness at this time of the year, especially if they live a long way from family or have lost their partner. While it might be tempting to “cancel” Christmas altogether, nobody really wants to miss out on the traditional turkey dinner and the sense of belonging that goes with it. So instead of giving in to feelings of sadness, why not consider asking a friend over and cooking a holiday feast for two on Christmas Day?

The Media and Christmas: Learn to Ignore the Message on the Television

During the Christmas season, the media is full of representations of the old fashioned Dickensian Christmas: Large families gathered at the heavily laden table, laughing, talking, drinking and eating. TV commercials, movies and magazine ads depict an indulgent image of Christmas – Christmas trees as tall as the rafters harbouring piles of presents beneath their branches, surrounded by three generations of family members, singing carols and toasting each other. This image is an exaggeration and the subliminal message is disheartening: Christmas just isn’t Christmas without hoards of family and friends and loads of presents.

Loneliness and the “commercialization of the winter holiday season,” means a greater number of people experience feelings of depression in the days leading up to and surrounding Christmas.

The study goes on to conclude that one of the best ways to alleviate holiday stress is “to reach out” to others. Those who find themselves alone during the Holiday season should not hesitate to invite a close friend or maybe a neighbour over to share a small feast on Christmas. This recommendation is valid for all ages including seniors. Don’t worry about the food. Christmas can be a culinary delight with a little menu adjustment.

Reasons People Don’t Want to Cook a Small Christmas Dinner

People generally don’t enjoy cooking a small Christmas feast because:

 It's impossible to find a turkey under ten pounds.
 It's far too much work for only two people.
 Who will eat all the leftovers?
 Buying a Christmas tree when there is nobody to enjoy it is silly.
 Christmas just isn't Christmas without lots of family or friends.

Of course, all of the above reasons are valid. Nobody wants to cook a 12 pound plus bird for two people, especially if they have never done so before. Even less appealing is the thought of spending hours in the kitchen when there isn’t a loving crowd to appreciate the effort that goes into cooking a Christmas feast. Moreover, a fridge full of leftovers isn’t much good if there isn’t a small army to feast on turkey sandwiches, turkey soup and turkey everything for the few days following Christmas.

Tips on How to Host and Cook Christmas Dinner for Two

It is, however, very possible to prepare a small Christmas dinner. Here are some practical ideas.

 Instead of buying a large turkey, purchase a free-range roasting chicken – a delicious and moist alternative.
 If turkey is a must-have, purchase one or two turkey breasts.
 A small amount of stuffing can be cooked in the oven and served beside the turkey breasts
 Instead of a full-sized Christmas tree, put up a string of lights in the room where dinner will be eaten, along with a few favourite Christmas decorations.
 Decorate the table with holly and candles – this is inexpensive and easy to clean up.
 For dessert, buy a small Christmas pudding or serve mince-meat pies – these can be purchased in single servings at delis or in packages of six at the grocery store.

Remember What Christmas is About

Christmas is about spreading love and joy. One of the best ways this is expressed is when one person opens his door to another. This year, if faced with a quiet Christmas, try something different – reach out to somebody else and invite him into your home for a small, but delicious Christmas dinner – there is no better gift during the Holiday season.

Halloween Martinis

Easy martini recipes that are perfect for entertaining, especially if you are hosting a Halloween party.

These cocktail recipes for Halloween themed martinis are sure to make your Halloween party a success! These martinis feature the colors of Halloween, orange and black, and the flavors of the fall season, such as pumpkin.

Chocolate Orange Martini

2 Parts Vodka
1 Part Godiva Dark Chocolate Liqueur
Splash of Cointreau

Combine the vodka, chocolate liqueur, and Cointreau in a shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a martini glass. You can garnish this martini with a chocolate stick, orange slice on the rim of the glass, or by creating a sugared chocolate rim (prior to pouring the drink, coat the rim of the glass with orange juice then dip the rim of the martini glass in a sugar and powdered chocolate mixture).

Frozen Creamsicle Martini

2 Cups Frozen Orange Sherbet
¼ Cup Smirnoff Vanilla Twist Vodka
¼ Cup Cream
½ Cup Ice

Place all of the ingredients in a blender, and blend well; be sure that no ice chunks remain in the mixture. Pour the creamsicle mixture into martini glasses; the amount of vodka can be increased or decreased depending on the tastes of guests.

Pumpkin Pie Martini

2 Parts Smirnoff Vanilla Twist Vodka
1 Part Pumpkin Spice Syrup
1 Part Cream

Combine the vodka, syrup, and cream in a shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a martini glass. You can garnish this drink by sprinkling nutmeg over the drink.

Frozen Pumpkin Spice Martini

2 Cups Vanilla Ice Cream
¼ Cup Vodka
Splash of Cream
½ Teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice

Place all of the ingredients in a blender, and blend well. Pour the mixture into martini glasses; the amount of vodka can be increased or decreased depending on the tastes of guests.

These are easy cocktails to prepare, which is why they are so perfect for serving at holiday parties. Furthermore, specialty martinis are one of the hottest beverage trends today.

Keep in mind that all of these martini recipes can be easily adjusted to suit your guests’ tastes and tolerances for alcohol. One of the greatest things about mixology is the freedom it allows in mixing cocktails. Take a stroll down the aisles of a local liquor store and browse the selection of cordials and flavored liqueurs; get inspired by the multitude of options and get creative behind the bar.

Basically any flavor martini is possible to create, just combine two parts of vodka (consider using flavored vodka) with one part of any flavored liqueur (or several different flavored liqueurs). Splashes of juice, milk, or cream can also be added to martinis to enhance flavor or balance the alcohol.

Tips on How to Buy Wine

There are four strategies to keep in mind if you want to find the best wines at the best price in your local wine shop.

To make sure you get a great bottle every time, remember these four things: go to a reliable source, ask questions, know what you want to spend and remember what you’ve tried and liked.

Go to a Reliable Merchant

Reliable has three parts. You have to look for •honest people who know their product and take good care of it.

There’s not much dishonesty in the wine business, but at the least you should ask people who work in the retail end of the business if they drink what they sell. Never buy wine from merchants who don’t drink wine themselves. Feel free to ask a lot of questions and feel comfortable expecting good answers.

Good wine can be ruined by bad storage so avoid any place that’s warm in the summer. It’s always a good idea to ask store personell where they keep their wine. The answer you want is something like “In climate-controlled storage, would you like to take a look?”

The best way to find a reliable source is to ask all your knowledgeable wine friends. If you don’t have any savvy wine buddies, maybe you should seek some out at wine tastings and wine societies.

Ask Questions

Along with information on particular wines, this is how you’ll find out if you have a reliable source. A good wine store hires people who love wine. Your questions should be answered enthusiastically. If a clerk recommends a wine, be sure to ask if he’s tasted it himself. If the staff can’t answer your questions, there’s not much chance they can make a recommendation.

Know What You Want to Spend

There’s a place for every day wine and a place for special wines. Have an idea of what your budget is for each type and only let yourself be talked over-budget occasionally. Remember that there’s a lot of really good wine available for about ten bucks a bottle.

Remember What You Liked

If you have a great memory, good for you. If you’re a person who needs a list for a three-item trip to the grocery store, it may be worthwhile to start a little wine notebook. Your notes don’t have to be elaborate affairs worthy of a magazine, just write down the name-including vintage year-the price you paid and whether that wine, at that price seemed like a good purchase. I suggest a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ scoring system. ‘Yes’ means that you felt that the wine was worth the price you paid.

You can use your notes to feed back into step two above: ask for wines like the ones you said ‘Yes’ to.

All this is about buying wine in a bricks-and-mortar store. There are a lot of on-line sources for buying wine these days.