Surprising Things You Can Make in a Rice Cooker

The humble rice cooker is one of those reliable home appliances that everyone has, whether they consume a lot of rice or not. A mainstay in most Asian homes, it has its own quiet corner in the kitchen, always ready to dish out a quick plate of fluffy rice. A standard rice cooker is configured to boil rice, sense when to reduce it to a simmer, then finally, lower the heat to keep the rice warm, without overcooking it.

It’s a smart and simple way to cook, so why stick to just rice? With a little experimenting and a patience, you can easily trick that little non-stick pot to cook a variety of meals, from one pot dishes to delicious desserts. Just think of it as a slow cooker; it may not be as fast as cooking on a stove top, but it’s definitely worth a try if you want to cook your favourite dishes with the least amount of supervision and an easy clean up.

Eggs

The rice cooker may not be the first appliance that comes to mind when you think of making breakfast, but in fact, you can cook a wide variety of breakfast foods in it. It is perfect for boiling a load of eggs at once, especially if it comes with a timer. Alternatively, whip up a few eggs in the rice bowl, throw in some frozen or chopped fresh vegetables and cook on the regular setting for tasty frittatas. Portion size will depend on the size of your rice bowl, but with a medium sized cooker, you can easily feed between two to three hungry people.

Porridge/Congee

Some brands do come with a porridge setting, if not, you’ll have to play around with the oats to water ratio before you perfect your recipe. You can add everything from spices to dried fruits, or even eggs and meat to your congee Just add the oats into the cooker to soak overnight and then turn it on in the morning for a quick breakfast.

Legumes

Soak dried beans and lentil overnight in the rice bowl, before cooking. If the cooker has a timer, you can soak the beans and set the timer to start cooking when you want the beans. When it comes to dried beans, assuming its bean soaked overnight, the cooking time can range between 20 to 35 minutes. If it’s not soaked, cooking time can extend anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours. The benefit here is you don’t need to keep an eye on the pot once its cooking, as long as you put the correct amount of water, it won’t burn.

Pot Roasts

Place all your ingredients in the rice bowl, your choice of meat, spices, condiments and broth/water, then turn on the normal cooking setting. Once the cooking cycle ends, the rice cooker will automatically go into the ‘keep warm’ mode; leave it like that for an hour. This will slow cook the meat further so you’ll be left with deliciously soft meat that falls off the bone.

Soups

Simply throw in your ingredients, add enough water/broth to make a soup, and cook! If you’re adding meat, add it later in the cooking time, otherwise it may overcook. Unless that’s what you’re going for, in which case, go ahead. Just remember, dried ingredients first, followed by fresh vegetables and meat, then frozen vegetables.

Desserts

The rice cooker is a great alternative to baking in an oven, not to mention a space saver. If you have a craving for cake, cheesecakes or even pancakes, just mix the ingredients in the bowl and switch on the normal cooking cycle. It usually takes about an hour to cook, and is done when a fork comes clean off the edges. You can also poach fruit, make your own homemade apple sauce or whip up an assortment of Delicious puddings.

The Benefits Of Using Silicone Kitchen Utensils

Kitchen utensils today can be made of rubber, wood, plastic, glass, stainless steel and metals with non-stick coatings. The latest addition to this list is silicone coated or silicone kitchen utensils. They have become an important part of modern kitchens. Silicone is found in kitchen products ranging from cookware sets to baking pans and pastry brushes.

Silicone is a synthetic rubber polymer made by combining silicon with oxygen, hydrogen, carbon and other elements. If you are unsure about using silicone kitchen utensils, here are some advantages they offer:

Variety– A huge variety of silicone kitchen utensils are available in a range of colors and designs. Not only they are beautifully designed, but also highly functional. They can add a splash of color to your kitchen. You can also find a range of bake ware and storage items.

Easy to Maintain– These utensils can be cleaned just as the regular ones, either by hand or in the dishwasher. They do not accumulate residual substances or stain easily. They are easy to clean and maintain and retain their vibrant colors. They do not retain odors and flavors of the food cooked in them. They are hypoallergenic and contain no open pores to harbor bacteria.

Rust Proof– Unlike other metal utensils, the ones made of silicone are rust proof and are less likely to corrode. They use very little oil to cook.

Affordable– They can easily be found at local stores for good prices.

High Temperature Resistance– They are resistant to damage by heat and can resist temperature up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes them ideal for a range of cooking tasks, serving and storing of hot food.

Nonstick Capability– Silicone cooking utensils have excellent non-stick capability which allows you to use a little oil or fat.

Environmental Friendly– They are a good replacement for disposable containers like, baking paper and cupcake paper. They are biodegradable and can be recycled. They can be used for many years and are not hazardous when disposed of.

Some of the other benefits include:

– Freezer, refrigerator, oven and microwave safe
– Dishwasher safe
– Can be easily folded and stacked without spoiling their shape
– Cools down quickly after use
– Non-porous

The various benefits offered by silicone kitchen utensils have earned them a lot of loyal customers. You should always use high quality food grade utensils for durability. It is always safe to cook utensils using top grade silicone which is approved and certified by the proper authorities.

Cooking Tip – How to Braise Meat

If you want to enjoy a gourmet meal using inexpensive cuts of meat then you’ll want to learn how to “braise”. Braising means browning the meat oil and/or butter then slowly cooking in a covered roasting pan. The meat is covered in a liquid which usually includes some combination of water, broth and red or white wine. Cooking time can take from one to several hours as this method is used to tenderize and intensify the flavors in the meat and accompanying vegetables. Despite the time frame, most recipes are usually fairly simple and don’t require any advanced skills.

Follow these basic steps and you and your family or friends will thoroughly enjoy the results.

Step 1-Choose your favorite cut of meat. Lamb, beef, veal or pork shanks are very common in these recipes. Beef shoulder roast, chuck roast or brisket are also good choices. These cuts are usually tougher with higher levels of collagen. Collagen, when cooked at low temperatures for an extended time creates a gelatin which helps the tenderizing process. You can use chicken but it should not be skinless and bone should be in. Legs and thighs work best. The real secret is in the slow cooking.

Step 2-Brown the meat in some type of fat… olive oil, butter or some combination suggested in the particular recipe. The browning process is intended to add color and flavor enhancement. Frequently, the recipe may call for rolling the meat in flour seasoned with salt and fresh ground pepper. Again… a flavor enhancement. The browning process is done in a Dutch oven or large heavy pot with a lid. The browning step may take 10 -20 minutes to cover all sides of the meat. It only cooks the surface of the meat and the searing locks in flavor.

Some tips… the meat should be patted dry and free of moisture or it will “steam” more than brown… don’t crowd the meat so any moisture can escape. Size of the portions, if not whole, should be the roughly the same for even cooking.

Step 3-Add liquids. As I mentioned earlier, depending on the type of meat and recipe, you can use wine, water, stock/broth… usually a combination of these liquids. At this point you will usually add onions, garlic, spices, vegetables and any other flavoring you may like. Some cooks/recipes say don’t cover the meat & vegetables entirely. I have covered with liquid and the results are very good.

Step 4-Cover the Dutch oven or pan. You can cook over a stove top or in the oven. I prefer the oven as it provides more even cooking on all sides and results in the best flavor and tenderizing. Follow the recipe for the correct oven temperature. Remember it will always be low… 300-325* or less.

Here are some typical cooking times…

Lamb shanks… 4-6 each a pound… 2 ½ hours

Veal shanks… 4-6 each a pound… 2-2 ½ hours

Shoulder roast… 3-4 pounds… roughly an hour per pound

Chicken (remember bone in/skin on)… 1-1 ½ hours

Give ‘braising” a try… you don’t have to be a gourmet cook to enjoy a wonderful meal!

Take Your Baking To A Healthier Level

While the holidays bring smells of gingerbread and sugar cookies, pumpkin pie, and nutty brownies, baking is a year-round hobby for many, which is great for their friends and family, but not the best when you’re trying to maintain healthy lifestyle. It’s easy to get caught up in the fun of baking and forget about the sugar, butter, and extra calories that go with it, but a few simple tips and tricks can help you maintain the fun (and the yum), while holding onto the healthy principles that support overall good health and wellbeing.

Quality Matters

Even if you did not make any ingredient type or quantity changes to your recipe, simply making sure you purchase high-quality products can improve the nutritional value of your baked goodies.

Chocolate

For example, when you make brownies, do you buy Dutch-processed cocoa powder or natural unsweetened cocoa powder? If you buy processed, it is an ingredient you can improve. Even if you buy natural cocoa powder, you can kick the ingredient up a notch by going for raw cacao powder (no, cocoa and cacao are not the same thing), which offers more nutritional benefits.

Sugar

The quality of your sugar matters too. Do you buy the same old bag of white granulated sugar? You can get the same sweetness and even a little more actual flavor with raw cane sugar (that has not been bleached or overly processed).

Butter & Milk

Now, when it comes to butter, we have a question for you… What color is it? Is it almost white or is it yellow? Butter from pasture-raised, grass-fed cows is yellower and creamier than the usual garden variety butter you see at the supermarket, and it is higher in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin K2 and other good-for-you nutrients. The same goes for other dairy ingredients, like milk. Choosing organic milk from pasture raised, grass fed cows is much better for you than generic milk.

Eggs

Eggs, preferably organic, from pasture-raised hens provide the most nutritional benefit AND, being a product from a healthier and happier hen, will do a better job binding your ingredients.

Tips and Tricks

Once you’re committed to buying high-quality ingredients, you can use these tips to make your baked goods a little healthier.

  • Cut the fat by ¼. If the recipe calls for 1 cup of butter, use ¾ cup.
  • Cut sugar by ¼ to ½.
  • Add finely grated beets to brownie or other chocolate recipes and reduce sugar by ¼.
  • Make cookies and brownies smaller.
  • Substitute ¼ of the white flour in your recipe with buckwheat or almond flour.
  • Keep the cake frosting thin. Add moisture to inner layers by brushing apple juice on the layers surrounding the frosting.
  • Make pie crust out of meringue.

Happy Baking!

At reveal23, we are committed to encouraging healthy lifestyle choices and offering the opportunity for people to be well informed about inherited health risks. Good health is our first line of defense against sickness and diseases, like cancer, and we can help you obtain the information you need to make the best lifestyle choices for cancer prevention.

10 Timely Tips for the Holiday Kitchen

Invite these savvy secrets into your kitchen this season as you host festive dinners for your own household or for a house-full of guests. Here you’ll find some helpful guidelines for prep, service and preservation.

* Who likes to chop garlic? Nobody! If you press the clove it can add in bitter oils and if you chop it the pieces stubbornly stick to the knife blade and all your fingers. Do this instead. Start pressing a fork all along the perimeter of the clove, working gradually toward the middle. What’s so nice about this technique is how you can control the result, stopping when you have a coarse chop, or continuing for a fine texture, or adding a little salt to work it into a paste.

* And what about ginger? Here the challenge is navigating around the bumps and trying not to remove too much of the good stuff. In this case, go back to your silverware drawer but this time pull out a regular ol’ teaspoon. Use the tip to scrape off the peel, gliding smoothly over the terrain, and you’ll find it’s pretty much just thin strips of the peel that you easily remove.

* What would the holidays be without mashed potatoes? But if yours tend to turn out a bit watery it’s because of… water. Here’s what you do. After you’ve drained the pot, return it to the stove over low heat and shake the pan and stir the potatoes until they’re quite dry, of course staying with them to make sure they don’t burn. Next add into the pan whatever you like, milk, cream, butter, cheese, garlic, seasonings, then heat and mash.

* Serving salad? It’s so handy to pre-dress it, so you don’t have to set out an array of dressings and your guests don’t have to juggle the containers. But, once you add the dressing, especially a creamy one, all those pretty vegetables are coated up and dulled out. Here’s what you can do. Set aside a little bit of each ingredient, then mix the bulk of the salad with your dressing (I get rave reviews for a simple mix of Ranch & Italian). Then top the dressed salad with the reserved veggies. All pretty.

* Making cornbread? Prepping it from scratch is so awesome, but a lot of us find the store-bought mix to be just fine and of course quite the time saver. But here’s an easy way to upgrade it pretty much to restaurant quality. Prepare the mix according to the package directions – then fold in a 6 oz container of vanilla yogurt. Good! You might have to bake it a little longer than usual – just test it as always with a metal skewer or toothpick.

* Baking… anything? It seems no matter how careful you are, some measure of flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cornstarch, tends to shower onto the counter. And also need something or other to rest the spoon, whisk, et al, upon between uses. Good ‘ol Press n Seal to the rescue. Spread out several lengths of it, sticky side down, and place your ingredients, bowl, and utensils on it. Afterwards just wrap up the “mess” and toss it. Voila! Clean counters.

* Pie on your menu? You may wonder if your filling came out all right, particularly a refrigerated one. Did it gel, does it taste OK, if more than one layer did they stay separate? Here’s how you can have a preview. In addition to what goes in the pie shell, put a bit of the filling in a small ramekin and refrigerate it along with the filled pie. Then well before you plan to serve the pie, test the sample. Came out OK? Yay! Didn’t? There’s always the grocery store.

* Sticky stuff? Whether for baking or cooking, you’ll often have occasion to measure out something that would like to cling to the cup – honey, agave, syrup, peanut butter, ice cream topping, e.g. Before you pour any such thing into you measuring cup first lightly treat the cup with non-stick spray, then add the sticky stuff. And out it comes.

* Did you make stock from your turkey or ham bones? Freeze any leftovers in an ice cube tray then pop them out into a freezer bag and keep them frozen for future use. If you want to know how much is in each portion, thaw an ice cube from the same size tray and measure the liquid.

* Stressed? With all the work that goes into all the dishes for the main course, wouldn’t it be nice to have a quick and easy way to serve impressive appetizers or desserts or both? Eureka! Break out the skewers. For a first course spear cubes of cheese, sausage, and French bread along with some big fat grapes. For dessert, think cubes of a variety of small cakes and brownies, marshmallows, chocolate candies, and then finish off the top with, in this case, a big fat strawberry. Btw, that appetizer one minus the sausage could alternatively serve as cheese course dessert.

Holiday cooking can be a lot more fun when you know how to take some clever shortcuts – with your guests none the wiser. It will be our little secret.

Easy Cooking Ideas

Cooking could be a tiring task for all whether it is working parents, singles or housewives. Preparing lunch boxes for your kids or making lunch and dinner seems like such daunting tasks especially if it is too hot or too cold out there. But why should we worry when we can cook quite easily and conveniently? Feeling confused that how can cooking be easy? Read on to learn how you can switch to easy cooking solutions.

Instead of over burdening yourself, simply adopt easy cooking ideas. No need to go through the tiresome task of baking muffins and breads for breakfast, try smoothies and delectable fruit cereals. To do this, buy a juicer and blender to share your workload and help you create a wonderful breakfast for your loved ones. Juicing is an extremely healthy option for people of all ages and this is why we stress upon using your juicer quite often. Make use of the freshest fruits of the season or try nutritious veggies, all can be done easily if you buy blender that is of top quality.

Research reveals that what you eat has its impact on your brain. So use nuts and seeds to boost the brainpower of your child. Just use a blender to shake nuts and seeds with milk or any other beverage. Make your child have this healthy drink. It improves brain performance so that you and your family gets wholesome nourishment and you better life styles.

Easy cooking not only helps you in kitchen but it also reduces the required cooking time. In such busy routines that we are so accustomed to, we can’t afford to spare 3-4 hours to make curries and casseroles. Buy juicer and food processors to help you make complex recipes without much ado. The time saved will help you spend more quality time with your family. Don’t forget to wear good quality oven gloves when you set out to make a delicious casserole or baked goodies.

Whole grain cereals, berries juices, peanut butter and your favorite veggies all these can be so beneficial to make cooking easy. Buy a blender and make juice, shakes and smoothies along with soups and even porridges.

Buy juicers to make fresh juice of berries, as berries are full of powerful antioxidants which promote strong cognitive function and protect you from negative health issues. How can we forget an avocado here which contributes to healthy blood flow, leading to impressive growth of body and brain. The fruit is also famous for lowering the blood pressure too.

Whether you are into juicing or not, it is a fact that having fresh fruit juice at any time of the day is far more satiating than processed foods and unhealthy items. Make your families habitual of eating vegetables as they are main source of vitamins and full of fuel for healthy brain function.

Do not over-cook them; just stir fry them to save nutritious value that is so important for us. Use green vegetables like spinach, broccoli, cucumber, collard green and cabbage etc., these are powerhouses of minerals and vitamins and these can be cooked in merely minutes.