Dec 1, 2008

By Natalie Mitts

Salad Hands

Make dishing up salad or pasta a bit easier with these serving hands. With one in each hand, you won't have to fight to get your salad on your plate. Toss your salad in half the time while spreading ingredients evenly throughout. These hands are sturdy and wide enough to keep all the croutons from cumulating on the bottom of the bowl. Don't waste any more time spinning pasta around a fork when you can use these serving hands instead. Though most salad hands are made out of bamboo (and come in either a light brown or cherry stain), others are available in clear glass, black metal or stainless steel. Some are flat on top (like the ones shown here), while others have thinner handles. They range from $7 to $20 and are sold at most kitchen supply stores.

Christmastime Centerpiece

Christmas is just around the corner. The stockings are hung, the tree is decorated...but have you thought about how to decorate your kitchen? Thanks to the help of Campus Craft and Floral, MIX! has a great idea to spread some holiday cheer in your kitchen.

Christmastime Centerpiece

"This is a traditional holiday centerpiece in a silver bowl. The foundation for the piece is holiday greenery - a fragrant mix of princess spine, blue spruce and cedar. We used  standard burgundy carnations, white cushion chrysanthemums and holy. The arrangement is accented with silver Christmas balls... it would make the perfect centerpiece for a holiday party or at any entry way."
   -- Michelle Virtue, manager Campus Craft & Floral

Slow Cookers

By Natalie Mitts
So you've never used a slow cooker before? If you follow just a few simple rules, you'll soon be slow cooking like a pro.

What do I put in a slow cooker?
Slow cookers are great for soups, stews, meat and a variety of other dishes. When cooking dense veggies (like potatoes and carrots), remember to keep the pieces small so they cook faster. It's also good to keep them near the heat (on the bottom of the container). Remember to have enough liquid in the pot since much of it evaporates or is absorbed in cooking. If you're not sure how much to add, check on your dish periodically and add more as needed. A good idea is to fill the slow cooker one-half to two-thirds full.

Are there some ingredients that I should add near the end of cooking?
Definitely. Wait to add cheese, dairy, herbs and spices during the final hour of cooking. This way they will maintain their flavors and still be mixed in with the rest of the ingredients.

How long do most dishes take to cook?
Most meats require around 8 hours of cooking on low. Depending on your time frame, it's good to know that it's generally true that one hour on the high setting is equal to two hours on low.
Unless the recipe calls for it, it's advisable to keep the lid on the length of the cook time. Every time you lift the lid, steam escapes, which can prolong cooking time.

Can I convert regular recipes to slow cooker recipes?
In most cases, yes. Soups and stews are the easiest, although many casseroles and meats can be prepared in the slow cooker just as well. In some cases, you may want to reduce the amount of liquid the recipe calls for, because liquids do not evaporate in a slow cooker. The only time you do not reduce is if you are cooking rice, beans or pasta.
Here are some conversion times for converting conventional recipe times to the slow cooker:
15 to 30 minutes - 4 to 6 hours on low
35 to 45 minutes - 6 to 8 hours on low
50 minutes to 3 hours - 8 to 16 hours on low

Should I prepare the meat in any way before putting it into the slow cooker?
It is recommended that you do not put frozen foods into a slow cooker and many prefer to brown meat and poultry before adding. However, it is not necessary to cook the meat beforehand in many recipes. It is important to remove skin from poultry and to trim the excess fat from the meat before cooking. For seafood, it should be added in the last hour of cooking time or else it will overcook.

Does high altitude make a difference?
It is possible that higher altitudes make affect the cooking time, so it's a good idea to allow yourself about 30 extra minutes for each hour of cooking in the recipe.

Oct 1, 2008

The Blue Line Deli

by Natalie Mitts

The Blue Line Deli and Market is now open on the first floor of the new addition to the Tanner Building. At the Blue Line, it's New York style eating all the time. The name comes from the blue line of the subway in NYC, which runs through the financial district. BYU Dining Services decided to name the deli as such because it is located in our financial district - the Marriott School of Management in the Tanner Building.  This deli features NYC cheesecake, chili, sandwiches, soups, salads, sushi, pie a la mode and Nathan's famous hot dogs. There's also a market where customers can purchase drinks, fruit and a variety of snacks, including NYC style black and white cookies. While Utah has fry sauce, the Blue Line has NYC's own sauce. Students can purchase Marriott School memorabilia and even get a copy of The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal. Since the setup is aimed at getting customers through fast, you can get your sandwich in a NYC minute.

Personalized Presents

by Ellen Wilson

As Christmas approaches, the time for shopping and making gifts is upon us. This year, don't go over your budget with high-cost items. Instead, create some personal gifts for your loved ones that will be treasured without emptying your wallet. Try out one or more of our ideas to make both the presents you give special and also the time you spent memorable.

Set up an amount that you will spend on each person. Make it low, around five or ten dollars.

Whatever you purchase for that person should add up to that amount, whether you buy one present or several. Turn your present shopping into a treasure hunt while you try to spend that exact amount on each person. Up the excitement and make the price specific, like $5.67 and see how close you can get to that amount.

Go vintage. Search around for buttons, ties, scarves or any other similar items that you know your friend or family member loves. Maybe if you're lucky, you'll find the last gnome for her collection - the one she's been looking for for years.

Personalize your present the way only you can. Write a letter expressing thanks for friendship, love or assistance. Make a note of special occasions between the two of you and emphasize how much you enjoy having him or her in your life.

If you have a special skill, you can give an act instead of a physical gift. Organize your sister's closet or redo your mother's bathroom. Sign your brother up for a marathon and then present him with a schedule of days when you'll spend time training together. Give your skills and time to someone who needs them.

Make them a book of memories or a short story of a friend accomplishing her greatest goal. Illustrate it yourself, or use photographs of the two of you.

Something homemade always is cherished longer than a store bought gift. Knit him a scarf that matches his favorite coat or embroider her initials on a handkerchief.

Turn old items into something new. Wrap old vases with fabric and ribbon or decorate an old pot and present someone with a new plant. Put together bath salts in funky jars or make candles in those old cups you found at Deseret Industries but don't use anymore.

Make your friends and family something they can use all year, like a calendar or monthly planner. The most important factor is that this is a present personally from you and that it represents how much you care.

Pumpkin Usage

by Natalie Mitts and Ellen Wilson

Since it's fall once again, pumpkins are dotting the streets and shops around town. Here are some fresh ideas on what you can do with a pumpkin.

Ways to use a pumpkin:

Cooking: Although you can make your own pumpkin puree at home, most people prefer the store-bought pumpkin that comes in a can. Common ways to use pumpkin in cooking include: pumpkin pie, cake, bread, rolls, cookies, seeds, soup and ravioli.

Serving: Use a pumpkin as a serving dish after hollowing out the insides. Use the lids to keep food warm while waiting. This would work well with vegetables or stuffing.

Floral design: Hollow out a pumpkin and use it as a vase for a bouquet. Make sure you use autumn colors with your flowers and accessories to match.

Carving or painting: Make your jack-o-lantern unique by carving or painting faces of famous people, animals or your roommate. Use several pumpkins to make a larger design, like a caterpillar.

Candle holder: After hollowing out the pumpkin, fill it with tall candles. Use a knife to make a decorative scalloped rim around the opening.

Dating: Write a message on a pumpkin and leave it for your prospective date to find.

Pumpkin facts:
  • The majority of the British population has never eaten pumpkin.
  • The world record pumpkin in 2008 was 1,878 pounds and 16 feet around.
  • Pumpkins are believed to have originated in the Americas.
  • Instead of using the pumpkin for a filling in pies, colonial bakers used it in the crust.
  • Almost all of the pumpkins in the United States are grown in Illinois, specifically near Peoria.
  • During October, 80 percent of the United States' pumpkin supply is available.
  • Pumpkins are rich in potassium, fiber and Vitamin C.

Great Caesar Wrap

Where: L & T Produce in the Cougareat

What: Great Caesar Wrap

Price: $4.39

Tortilla (spice, spinach or tomato), romaine lettuce, chicken, tomatoes, croutons, Parmesan cheese, shredded cheese, Caesar dressing and a roll (white or wheat)
This delicious wrap is a college student staple. It comes packed with healthy and filling ingredients. For the calorie-conscious, you can ask for one scoop of Caesar dressing instead of two. Expertly wrapped, this meal stays together to the very end. The croutons provide a nice crunch and the chicken is always cooked to perfection. Find out why L & T is always packed by trying the Great Caesar Wrap today.

Spicing Up Spaghetti

By Natalie Mitts
If you're like most college students, spaghetti is a weekly staple on your menu. Instead of making it the same way every week, try mixing it up a bit.

Sauce: The easiest way to make your spaghetti more interesting is to change up your sauce. Start out by buying a different variety of sauce each week, such as garden variety, roasted red pepper, mushroom and basil or three cheese. If you're adventurous, try making your own sauce. Look online for recipes. Use fresh vegetables and add plenty of spices, such as oregano, basil, parsley or crushed red pepper. Don't forget the fresh garlic. Or, instead of using spaghetti sauce, have noodles with pesto or Alfredo sauce. Both are easy to make, or you can buy bottled versions at the grocery store.

Meat: Add some Italian sausage for a chunky sauce with lots of flavor. You could also add ground beef or meatballs.

Noodles: Buy whole-wheat pasta for a heartier meal. If you just want a different look, try using penne, bow tie or ziti pasta. Even try colored varieties of noodles.

Cheese: Top off your pasta with Parmesan cheese or shredded mozzarella. Or if you're feeling simple, just have the noodles with shredded cheese. It's a lighter dish that still tastes great.

Bread: For a simple side, make some garlic bread. Drizzle leftover hot dog buns with butter and garlic powder, then toast for a few minutes. If you're feeding a large group, buy a loaf of French bread. Slice it most of the way, leaving the bottoms connected. Brush the same butter and garlic powder mixture between each slice. Wrap the loaf in foil and bake it in the oven or toaster oven until the crust is toasted (for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees).

What to do with leftovers:  Put leftover pasta and sauce in a casserole dish. Top it with cheese and bake it in the oven or toaster oven until crisp (about 30 minutes at 35o degrees). This tastes much better than it does after reheating in the microwave.

BLT Salad

BLT Salad
6 Servings

1 head of Iceberg lettuce, firm
8 slices of bacon
4 tomatoes, large, ripe, cored, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 slices white bread
Kosher Salt

Freshly ground black pepper
10 oz BYU Ranch dressing

Cut head of lettuce in half and remove core. Put halves in a bowl of ice water to wash and chill. Drain well, and tear into 1-inch pieces. Roll lettuce pieces in paper toweling or spin gently in a salad spinner to remove all water. Reserve, refrigerated, until ready to use; lettuce should be very cold and crisp before assembling salad. Cook bacon in a skillet or oven until crisp. Put torn lettuce in a large bowl with diced tomato. Crumble warm bacon and add to bowl. Toast bread and brush lightly with melted butter. Cut toast into 1-inch squares and add to bowl. Toss salad and season liberally with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add enough Ranch to dress salad generously. Toss, taste carefully for seasoning, and serve immediately.

Mushroom, Tomato and Gruyere Cheese Breakfast Strata

Mushroom, Tomato and Gruyère Cheese Breakfast Strata
8 Servings

4 whole wheat English muffins, split
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 pound button or crimini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
8 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onio
n powder
2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced
1 cup grated Gruyère cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Arrange English muffin halves in the bottom of an oiled baking dish, cutting them to fit if necessary. Set dish aside. Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add tomatoes, mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and liquid has reduced, 8 to 10 minutes. Spoon tomato mixture over the top of the English muffins, distributing it evenly; set aside to let cool. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Pour evenly over tomato mixture, and then sprinkle with basil. Cover and chill overnight.  Set dish aside at room temperature for 1 hour and preheat oven to 350°F. Sprinkle casserole with cheese and bake, uncovered, until puffed, cooked through and cheese is golden brown, 45 to 50 minutes. Serve immediately.

Sep 1, 2008

Citrus Peeler

By Natalie Mitts

There is now a tool to make peeling oranges easier, which means no more peel under the fingertips. This Citrus Peeler, available from The Pampered Chef, makes opening the peel and detaching it from the fruit a breeze. The sharp end easily slices the peel and the curved end separates the peel from the fruit without spraying juice all over. At only $0.75 each, pick up a few of these for yourself, friends and family.

Aug 1, 2008

Duck Feeding

For this back-to-school date idea, feed ducks at the pond on 400 East and 800 North. Bring a camera and record the experience with pictures and video. Try getting the ducks to catch the bread as you toss it up.
Next, it's time for dinner. Since September is ethnic foods month, try your hand at some homemade Thai or Indian food. Don't forget the naan (pictured here).
September is also national coupon month. To end the date, cut coupons, mix them up and put them into envelopes of 20 coupons each. Give each couple an envelope and a camera and send them to the grocery store. It's a twist on a picture scavenger hunt; each couple must take a photo of the product next to the corresponding coupon. The couple to take the most photos after 30 minutes is the winner.

Edible Flowers

By Natalie Mitts
Brighten up your salad with some flowers from the garden. There are many flowers that are safe to eat, but there are even more that are harmful to ingest. Be extremely careful, especially if you have food allergies. Remember not to eat any flower that has been treated with pesticides or any other chemical. Only use flowers you grew yourself or that you bought from a grocer or farmer. Wildflowers and flowers from floral shops should not be eaten. Wash all flowers before using in food. You can always use flowers just as garnishes in salads or other foods; don't feel like you or your guests have to eat them. Never put non-edible flowers on a plate because someone may accidentally eat them. The tasty part of the flower is the petal - remove everything else. Flowers taste best before they wilt. Before consuming any of these suggestions, purchase a book on edible flowers with photos. Here are a few kinds that are typically safe to eat.

Bee Balm - These flowers taste a bit like mint or oregano, with a hint of citrus. Look for the red petals of Bee Balm to add color to drinks, fruit salads or green salads.

Borage - Borage tastes like cucumber. It works well with cheese, chilled soups, dips, drinks, salads and sandwiches. The flowers are typically bluish purple.

Calendula - Spicy and tangy, calendula works great with cheese, eggs and salads. The yellow petals look great on cakes. They are often used as garnishes with desserts, but their saffron-like taste is great in richer dishes. Be sure to avoid eating the pollen from these flowers, because many people are allergic to it.

Lavender - Purple in color, lavender adds a lemony floral taste to foods. The flavor is very strong, so use these flowers sparingly. Lavender works well with bitter green salads, desserts, fish, fruit, meat, pasta and sauces.

Nasturtium - These colorful flowers have a peppery taste. Their blossoms are typically red, orange or yellow. Nasturtiums add flavor to cheese, green salads, potatoes, rice, sandwiches and seafood.

Pansy - A common variety of violets, pansies have a very mild flavor. They are slightly sweet and taste a bit like grass. Therefore, they go well in desserts, fruit salads and green salads. Pansies come in a range of colors from yellow to pink to purple.

Rose - Roses are very sweet. The stronger the scent, the strong the taste becomes. Darker flowers typically have a stronger flavor as well. Roses are great with desserts, drinks, jams, salads and spreads. Some taste like apples while others have a more citrus-like flavor. Remember to remove the white portion of the petals; it is very bitter.

Runner Bean - There are two edible varieties of runner beans: scarlet runner beans and the painted lady. The scarlet variety is bright red and tastes like the beans it grows with. Painted ladies grow coral petals and also carry long green beans. The flower adds taste and color to green salads and sandwiches.

** MIX!, Dining Services and BYU are not responsible for any illness that may result from consuming flowers. Always use caution with unfamiliar varieties and only eat in small quantities. **

Jul 1, 2008

The Commons at the Cannon Center

by Natalie Mitts

The Commons at the Cannon Center provides a culinary experience with international flair. Though the building is located just a few feet away from its predecessor, the new facility is completely original. It's aesthetically pleasing inside and out with bright colors and an open atmosphere. The staff is professional and you feel more like you're eating in a high-end restaurant than on a university campus.

Now the food - that's where it gets really interesting. There are six unique stations inside the restaurant. The fusion area provides Mexican favorites and hot food like pizzas and casseroles. The exhibition station is where you'll find Italian pastas and delicious meat dishes. At the Euro kitchen, Eastern and Western cultures mix to provide filling entrees from the tandoori oven, wok or rotisserie. Stop by the salad and wraps station for a Thai noodle salad or bowl of couscous and vegetables. Be sure to check out the burgers and sandwiches hot off the grill. Don't forget to pass by the grainery for homemade breads and sweet desserts. You'll find a variety of cookies, cheesecakes, muffins, puddings, cakes and other mouth-watering treats. You'll eat better food for the price than any other buffet in town. Those freshmen living in Helaman Halls this fall will be sure be lucky to eat here every day.

Review of 'Simple and Delicious Recipes' From the Taste of Home

by Natalie Mitts

I picked this cookbook because I've always heard good things about recipes from the Taste of Home. The title also intrigued me - can recipes really be simple and delicious? I have the hardest time finding enough time to cook, but this book promised to provide great recipes that don't take hours to make. So I tried it out.

This book contains 242 recipes. It has planned dinners five nights a week for 12 weeks, including a photo for each entree. With that setup, you could eat 60 new recipes in three months. There are also breakfast items, burgers, desserts, salads, sandwiches and soups. Search the index by category, cooking time or alphabetical listing. All meals come with a time estimate, so you know what you're getting yourself into.

The first recipe I tried was the Caramel Chocolate Cake. It's basically the reason why I tested out this cookbook, as you can see from the photo (shown here). This recipe takes a simple box cake mix and adds pudding and pecans for flavor. It was delicious and looked beautiful. I would definitely make this again, although next time I would wait longer to add the icing and pecan topping because both were very runny.

I was also a big fan of the Chicken Wellington. It was surprisingly filling and I found myself wishing I had made more. The gravy was simple and worked really well with the pastry.

There are also some no-fail recipes like the Barbecue Jack Chicken, Tomato Mac ‘n' Cheese or Swiss Cobb Salad. These taste great no matter how many substitutions you make or steps you do out of order. Even an amateur cook like myself could turn those recipes into delicious meals.

One thing I didn't like about this cookbook was the presence of so many fish recipes. There is one fish entree per week, which decreases your options significantly when your family doesn't eat seafood. However, it's nice that the book provides such a good variety of meat dishes including pork chops, sausage, rib eye steak, turkey, beef and of course, chicken.

Most of these recipes can also be found online at Overall, I thought this book was a great find as it provided some new options for meals in my home. I am excited to try out more of the recipes, like the Taco Puffs or Chicken Pizza (complete with pesto).

Tips for Going Green

by Natalie Mitts

Although you're only living in an apartment and have no control over its preexisting appliances, you can still find ways to go green. Here are some tips for saving energy - and money!

In the kitchen

Buy locally-grown produce. This not only supports farmers in the community, but it also minimizes the need for trucks to transport food.

Have one night a week where you don't cook; instead, have salad, wraps, sandwiches or something else that doesn't require turning on your oven or stove.

Rather than always heating up the oven, see what you can fit in your toaster oven. You might be surprised to see that your casserole dish fits or the tray is the perfect size for cinnamon rolls.

If you have a garden, develop compost from kitchen waste. Save peelings from fruits and vegetables to use as mulch. You can even add eggshells safely, but avoid putting in meat or dairy products (they attract animals).

As much as possible, use dishtowels and rags to dry dishes and clean up in the kitchen. However, make sure to wash towels regularly so you aren't constantly spreading germs around. When you do have to use paper towels, buy ones made of recycled paper.

Use eco-friendly cleaning products in the kitchen. SC Johnson has a great line of products that are safe for families and the environment.

Keep a pitcher of cold water in the fridge so you don't waste water while waiting for the tap to cool when you want a drink.

When using water to boil pasta, use the recommended amount so you don't waste extra water.
Use the fridge or microwave to defrost vegetables, rather than running water.

Wait until the dishwasher is full to run the batch.

Other ways to save

Instead of driving, walk or bike short distances. You will save money on gas, cause less air pollution and get some good exercise.

When you go to fast food restaurants, exercise portion control. Every piece of food that you don't eat is a waste of your money and accumulates in landfills. Take home leftovers and remember to order smaller portions if you're not starving. Save extra napkins and plastic cutlery for future use.

Bring canvas bags to the grocery store. They are sturdier and you may even get a discount because you're not using up the store's supply of paper or plastic bags.

Use the plastic bags you already have as trash can liners or packing material. Also look for plastic bag recycling drop-offs if your supply is piling up.

When washing clothes, try to fill up the washer or adjust the water level if running a small batch. Always wash clothes in cold water.

When it's finally time to buy your own appliances, check out front-loading washers and dryers. They use much less water and don't waste as much energy. Look for the Energy Star rating.

According to Kohler, cutting one minute off a shower every day saves 2.5 gallons of water daily and 912 gallons yearly.

Start switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs. They are just as bright and last much longer. Plus, the curvy design is pretty cool. The up-front cost is a little higher, but it will pay off in the end. Also remember to turn out lights when you leave a room to save extra energy.

Turn the thermostat down a few degrees in winter and up a few degrees in summer. These small changes require less work from your heater or air conditioner and lower your utility bills.

Unless you live on campus, there probably aren't bins for cans, cardboard, newspaper and plastics where you live. Visit for a list of locations near you. Many groceries stores and schools have drop-off areas, or you can also bring recyclables to the BYU campus. Check out how much cardboard BYU recycles in just one day (pictured below).
BYU also offers recycling services for books, batteries, computers, fluorescent lights and toner cartridges.

Drop off expired or unused phone books to local McDonald's restaurants.

Unfortunately, there are not any locations that will recycle glass in Provo. Save up glass bottles and drop them off at one of many locations in Salt Lake City. Visit for more details.

Donate used furniture and clothing to Deseret Industries or other thrift stores.

Buy used products; they are cheaper and don't require additional manufacturing.

Refill ink cartridges or send used ones back to the company. You can find a refill station inside Cougar Computer on the third floor of the Wilkinson Student Center.

Recycle old cell phones, PDAs and pagers. Sell back used phones at the cell phone kiosk inside the BYU Bookstore. If you would rather donate your phone, visit to get a mailing label with postage paid or drop off your phone at a local Staples store.

Apple offers a take back program for iPods and cell phones, no matter the manufacturer. The company also takes back your old computer with the purchase of a new Mac. Visit for more information.

Dell also offers a recycling program for old computers, regardless of the model. Visit for more information. They even provide home pick up free of charge.

Buy rechargeable batteries so you won't have to keep replacing your camera batteries (we all know they last about an hour). In the long run you'll save a lot of cash and won't have to keep throwing old batteries out.

Although it is safe to throw out disposable batteries, recycle them instead. Go to to get a prepaid mailing label. The company separates the metals from the plastics and then makes more batteries.

During the day, set computers to go on standby automatically. Unplug electronics when not in use so they aren't continually draining from the plug. Shut down computers at night and turn off power strips.

Instead of constantly buying new, borrow books and movies from the library to save on your personal costs, as well as printing. Think about donating the money saved to your local library or school.
Consider buying digital versions of music and movies. This will save on space as well as printing and producing costs.

Unsubscribe from unnecessary magazines and catalogs. Most coupons and other materials can now be found online.

Switch to online statements for banks and pay bills online. Both programs are free at many different banks in the area.

Save old school assignments and use the back side to print faxes and rough drafts.

Food Journals

by Natalie Mitts

I've always been skeptical about keeping a food journal. I thought it would be tedious and annoying, which it was, at times. It became especially burdensome when I put off doing it for a few days and had to wrack my brain to remember every single thing I put in my mouth.

So when I first decided to start one, it was because of a simple suggestion from my mother. She's the queen of watching what you eat - limiting visits to fast food restaurants, only eating desserts on weekends, etc. I decided to see where my self-control could take me since I've gained a few pounds since I got married last year. I wanted to lose a little weight (don't we all?), but mostly, I just wanted to eat healthier. Plus, I had an empty moleskin notebook that was begging to be used.

I began writing down every thing I ate - even the five M and M's (actually, I mean 15) I snagged from a bowl on the table at work. I started off pretty good. I packed healthy snacks to eat during the day. I counted how many Wheat Thins I ate so I wouldn't just blindly devour them. I thought twice about eating ice cream because I knew I had to write about it later. I even measured out my cereal and milk one morning.

It wasn't until later that I read an article about writing how you feel next to the food. If I had kept track of that, it probably would have prevented me from overdoing it on sweets (my downfall). You could even write why you indulged in certain foods (celebrations, a good test score, a bad test score, etc.) Then you could learn to recognize triggers and adapt as needed. Write down not just the date, but also the time. Notice patterns in your eating habits. Are you more likely to eat healthy in the afternoon? Do you enjoy late-night snacks?

Keeping track of culinary experiences could also be very helpful in eating out. If you really like what you ordered at a new restaurant, and wrote about it in your food journal, it would be easy to recall the next time. Likewise, if you really didn't like something and wrote down the name of the dish, you wouldn't be tempted to order that again.

Remember to not just include emotions, but also physical feelings. It's important to note foods that satisfy you, or ones that make you feel sick. Notice glycemic reactions - that sugar high followed by a sugar low. Try new foods to test out your reactions. Fish is natural anti-depressant. You may be surprised that those unfamiliar foods make you feel pretty good. A salad for lunch may actually fill you up more than your usual sandwich.

I think keeping this food journal has just made me more conscious of my eating habits. Whatever weight I may have lost was probably offset by the week of vacation I spent indulging in fast food and avoiding my journal. I only tried it for about a month, but I learned a lot about my habits. There were good days and bad that I could probably line up pretty well with my planner. I tend to eat more when I am busy and exhausted. But when I'm alert and organized, I am careful about what I eat and usually feel better.

Keeping a food journal is only a starting point. You've got to plan snacks and meals ahead of time and buy food with a purpose. Be honest with yourself. If you're not going to start eating carrots daily, don't buy them. But if you really need that candy bar to get through the rest of the week, it's OK. Everything you eat doesn't have to grow on a tree.

Working out is another vital step to losing weight and improving your health. It's not a substitute for eating well. Somehow we all get the idea that running two miles gives us the right to eat pizza for dinner, while we should be trying to maintain that healthy balance with lean chicken, grains and vegetables.

There's no magic answer to losing weight and living healthier lives. It takes dedication and planning to do it right. I'm still working on trimming off a few pounds and improving my health. Maybe I'll just start over again with a new journal and actually start planning out those weekly dinner menus and exercise routines.

Patriotic Parties

by Natalie Mitts

 It's that time of year again with summer barbecues galore. Whether it's the Fourth of July or a random Tuesday in August, a patriotic theme is always in style.

Use bandanas as napkins, placemats, tablecloths, table runners or aprons (check out our version under Kitchen Crafts). Use bright red and blue bandanas to carry out the theme.

For a great table decoration, fill a jar with water. In a small bowl, mix a few drops (no more than four) of food coloring with a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Mix until the food coloring is separated into tiny dots. The two are insoluble and will not blend together. Then add the mixture to the jar of water. Watch as the colors swirl around to combine with water. This looks the best in the first few minutes, so be sure to time it for when guests arrive.

Use clear glasses of varying size as centerpieces by filling them with colored sand. Layer red, white and blue sand to create stripes of vibrant color.

For daytime parties, make a star template and trace it onto colored cardboard. Cut out the stars and hang on the walls or dangle over a patio on a string. For nighttime events, buy glow-in-the-dark stars to tack to the underside of a canopy.

Grill up some of Chef John's Stuffed Burgers, featured as the July Recipe of the Month. Toast the buns on the grill and add tomatoes. Serve chips, fruit salad and raw veggies on the side.
Store bottled drinks in a vintage metal bucket layered with ice and salt. Impress your guests with Chef John's recipe for Watermelon Agua Fresca.

Watermelon Agua Fresca
1 Serving
1 cup watermelon, diced, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks
1 cup cold water
1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 teaspoon honey, more or less to taste
1/2 orange, squeezed
Lime wedge and mint leaves for garnish
In a blender, combine watermelon and water and blend until smooth. Pour through a strainer into an ice-filled glass. You should end up with about 1 cup of liquid. Stir in lime juice, orange juice and honey. Garnish with lime and mint and serve. Use other fresh fruits for unique flavors.

Gruyere and Apple Grilled Cheese

Gruyere And Apple Grilled Cheese
1 Serving
Serving Size = 2 sandwiches

4 slices thick cut bacon
1/4 cup sliced Crimini mushrooms
2 tablespoons sliced onions
3 ounces sliced Gruyere cheese
1 small Granny Smith apple, sliced into 16 wedges
Roasted garlic paste
4 slices good white bread
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

In a hot frying pan, cook the bacon until desired crispness is reached. While bacon is cooking, slice the mushrooms, onions and apples. Once bacon is complete, transfer to paper towels, drain fat from pan, return the pan to the stovetop and on medium-high heat, sauté mu
shrooms and onions. While mushrooms and onions cook, prepare the bread. On 2 slices of bread, spread roasted garlic paste. Cover bread with a layer of Gruyere, a layer of sliced apples and 1 to 2 slices of bacon. Set aside. Once mushrooms are browned and onions are translucent, transfer to a bowl and wipe pan dry. Turn heat to medium, melt 1/2 tablespoon of butter in the pan. Transfer prepared bread halves (with cheese, apples and bacon) onto the pan, top with mushroom-onion mixture, place second slice of bread over top and allow bread to brown and cheese to melt for about 4 minutes. Flip carefully, add 1/2 tablespoon of butter to pan and move sandwiches around to pick up butter (allowing the butter to brown, not the bread to burn). Let sit about 3 minutes.

Savory Bread Pudding of Sweet Potatoes, Apple Walnuts and Blue Cheese

Savory Bread Pudding of Sweet Potatoes, Apple, Walnuts and Blue Cheese
16 Servings 

2 pounds sweet potatoes, cooked and large diced
4 ounces raisins, plumped and drained
2 Granny Smith apples, unpeeled, cubed
14 ounces toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
4 ounces blu
e cheese crumbles
4 pounds French rolls, crusts trimmed, cubed
21 eggs, slightly beaten
56 ounces half-and-half
1 cup fresh thyme, leaves only
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

Mix together potatoes, raisins, apples, walnuts, cheese and bread cubes in a large bowl. Reserve. Mix together eggs, half-and-half, thyme, salt and pepper in another bowl. Pour egg mixture over reserved bread mixture. Gently mix together. Spoon into 8-ounce ovenproof containers. Line pans with foil. Bake at 350° F for about 30 minutes.

Jun 1, 2008

Double-ended Spatula

By Natalie Mitts

Growing up, we all loved those pencils or markers with two ends. Who didn't enjoy the freedom to choose? Now that freedom is available in the kitchen. Enter the double-ended spatula. This nifty gadget offers alternatives for thick or thin ends. Want a spoon on one end and a spatula on the other? You got it. Need two pastry brushes? There's a tool for that as well. They are all heat- and stain-resistant. Available from Chef'n in eight different colors, there is one for every kitchen.

Summer Sizzle Chicken Burger

Where: 9th Street Grill - Creamery on Ninth East

What: Summer Sizzle Chicken Burger

Price: $2.49

Breaded chicken, chopped red onion, Del Monte ® chili sauce, lettuce, tomato and nacho cheese
This delicious monthly special is only available in June at the 9th Street Grill. Mix up your regular burger with the Summer Sizzle Chicken Burger. It's full of flavor and a little bit of spiciness. Packed with veggies and some Del Monte ® chili sauce, it's sure to satisfy. Watch as your order is made right before your eyes. For $2.49, it's a sweet deal you don't want to miss. Enjoy some BYU Creamery ice cream or an old fashioned ice cream soda while you're there.

Raspberry Soup

Where: Museum Café

What: Raspberry Soup

Price: $2.60

A delightful spring treat, the Raspberry Soup is back at the Museum Café! Made with raspberry yogurt, fruit juices and other sweet ingredients, it's a refreshing warm weather lunch. The raspberry sauce drizzled on top adds some extra flavor. Pair it with a small salad for the perfect combination. If you haven't tried the Raspberry Soup yet, don't miss out because this is a seasonal item, only available during spring and summer terms.

Alcohol Substitutes

by: Natalie Mitts
If you are ever stuck on what to use instead of white wine or vodka in cooking, find the answers with this list of common alcohol substitutes. As alcohol is used in cooking to either add flavor or help marinade, many of these substitutions will yield similar results.

Amaretto - almond extract, marzipan or orgeat flavor Italian soda syrup

Beer/Ale - beef broth, chicken broth, ginger ale, mushroom broth, nonalcoholic beer or white grape juice

Bourbon - vanilla extract, sparkling apple cider, sparkling cranberry juice or sparkling grape juice

Brandy - apple cider, apple juice, apricot juice, brandy extract, peach juice, pear juice, raspberry extract, water or white grape juice

Champagne - champagne extract + soda water, ginger ale, sparkling apple cider, sparkling cranberry juice, sparkling grape juice or sparkling white grape juice

Orange liqueur - marmalade, orange juice, orange juice concentrate or orange zest

Red Wine - apple cider, balsamic vinegar, beef stock, chicken stock, clam juice, Concord grape jelly, cranberry juice, grape juice, mushroom stock, nonalcoholic wine, pomegranate juice, red wine vinegar, rice vinegar, tomato juice, vegetable stock or water

Rum - almond extract, apple cider, apple juice, molasses, pineapple juice, rum extract, vanilla extract, water or white grape juice

Sherry - apple cider, orange juice, peach juice, pineapple juice or vanilla extract

Tequila - cactus juice or cactus nectar

Vermouth - apple cider, apple juice + lemon juice + water, balsamic vinegar, grape juice, nonalcoholic white wine, white grape juice or white wine vinegar

Vodka - apple cider + lime juice, lime juice + white grape juice or water

Whiskey - the ingredient can be eliminated if the recipe only asks for a small amount

White Wine - apple cider, apple cider vinegar, apple juice, carrot juice, chicken stock, clam juice, ginger ale, mushroom stock, nonalcoholic wine, rice vinegar, vegetable stock, water, white grape juice or white wine vinegar
In general, when substituting extract or vinegar for an alcoholic beverage, use about half the amount because these liquids are more concentrated. Use water for the remaining amount when substituting with vinegar. Also add a tablespoon of sugar to decrease the bitterness of the vinegar. Extract is fine by itself in half the amount. When using nonalcoholic wine, add a tablespoon of vinegar to decrease the sweetness. If syrups are too sweet, dilute with water. For all others (juice, stock, water, etc.) substitute an equal amount of liquid. Small amounts of alcohol can always be omitted, but the dish may lack some flavor.

May 1, 2008


By Natalie Mitts

Summer is the perfect time for picnicking. Grab a date and get going! Head to the Provo temple, Rock Canyon Park or Kiwanis Park. Bring a book of short stories or a children's book and take turns reading to your date. Lay down a tarp and then put a blanket on top of that to keep from getting damp. Most of all, enjoy the food. Here are some picnic essentials: French bread, meat, sliced cheese, crackers, potato salad, washed grapes, cubed watermelon, cookies, lemonade, water, cups, plates, forks, napkins and a trash bag.

Freeze water bottles the night before so they stay cool throughout the afternoon. Pack food in a cooler for insulation, or if you plan on eating right away, find a cute picnic basket. Cool down with Chef John's Strawberry Lemonade. After eating, take a short nap, find images in the clouds or play Frisbee.

Strawberry Lemonade
6 servings

1 quart fresh strawberries
3 cups cold water
1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 cup sugar
2 cups club soda Blend the top four ingredients in blender. Add club soda and pour into glasses and garnish with fresh mint.

Apr 1, 2008

Spring Dating

It's springtime in Provo! Take advantage of the (sometimes) warm weather by hiking the Y with a date or group of people. Start off by a trip to the library. Check the Special Collections section for old photos of Y Mountain and learn about the history of painting the Y. Then walk through the Hinckley Building to see photos of freshmen whitewashing the Y as they did each year.

Next, make your own trail mix. Hit up the Creamery on Ninth East and the BYU Bookstore for all your needs. Try out this blend of sweet and salty snacks:

MIX! Trail Mix
Candy-coated chocolates
Pretzel sticks
Yogurt-covered raisins
Dried cranberries
Butterscotch chips

Mix the ingredients and put them in plastic bags for each person. Fill up water bottles and hit the trails. If you're hiking at night (or heading up at dusk to watch the sunset), remember to bring a flashlight. During daytime hikes, wear sunscreen, sunglasses and hats. Head on up and enjoy the view overlooking the Provo/Orem area. Take photos and then head back down. Relax sore muscles with a trip to the hot tub after the hike.

Mar 3, 2008

How to Host a Cinco de Mayo Party

by Natalie Mitts

Cinco de Mayo was named such because of the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. The Mexicans were able to hold off the French from taking over. Now Cinco de Mayo is a popular holiday in the United States to honor Mexican culture.

This year, celebrate Cinco de Mayo with friends or a Family Home Evening group (it's on a Monday). Make festive invitations and encourage everyone to dress Mexican-style (sombreros permitted).

Make some easy guacamole: combine 1 can of salsa (12 ounces), 4-5 medium avocados (mashed), 1 tablespoon lemon juice and a pinch of salt.

For queso, heat 1 block (16 ounces) pasteurized cheese and 1 can (10 ounces) diced tomatoes and chiles over low-medium heat. This can be heated in a microwave, slow cooker or on the stove. Stir frequently to prevent the cheese from sticking to the bottom. Add 1 pound ground beef (cooked) if desired.

Try out Chef John's Chiles Rellenos with Grilled Chicken and Cheese, found under Recipe of the Month on the contents page. Other menu ideas include chicken with mole sauce, enchiladas, nachos, quesadillas, rice, tacos, tamales or tostadas. Drink some horchata and finish off with a piece of Tres Leche Cake.

As for decorations, any kind of bright colors will work. To play up the Mexican theme, buy miniature Mexican flags at the BYU bookstore for $1.95 each. Use the flag colors of red, white and green throughout the room with crepe paper, cups, plates or even the food.

Mexican music is a must. Buy a Mexican CD, check out a local Spanish-speaking radio station or even go all out with a live mariachi band. Impress friends by watching instructional dancing videos beforehand and having fun imitating the Mexican dancing style.

End the night with a piñata. Find one at a grocery store or Mexican food store and fill with candy. Each person takes a swing at the piñata and all get to bring home candy.

Warning: Making a piñata bearing the face of a fellow student may necessitate a visit to the principal's office, as Pedro learned in "Napoleon Dynamite."

Breakfast Best Bets

by Natalie Mitts

We all know the best start to any healthy day is a good breakfast. Yet so many people go without. People often skip meals during the day and end up making up the calories in the evening. A recent study printed in "Metabolism" intended to find out what can happen as a result of skipping meals. The subjects, healthy 40-something men and women, ate three meals a day for two months. For the next two months they ate one meal a day. During the one-meal-a-day period, the subjects showed symptoms that could eventually lead to diabetes. So instead of risking long-term metabolic problems, make time for breakfast.

Here are some great locations that offer breakfast for BYU students on the go, no matter the size of the appetite.

Cannon Center: For an all-you-can-eat breakfast, the Cannon Center is the place. Load up on a variety of cereal or try a hot breakfast. The menu changes daily, but some common items include biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, oatmeal, scones, hash browns, French toast or even breakfast burritos. Additional sides include muffins, doughnuts, bacon and fresh fruit. There are also machines available to make Belgian waffles.
            Fall-Winter Breakfast Hours: 6:30 to10 a.m. Mon-Fri, 7 to 10 a.m. Sat
            Spring/Summer Breakfast Hours:  6 to 9 a.m. Mon-Fri, Sat

Cosmo's Connection: This mini grocery store inside the Cannon Center has some great bagel sandwiches. It's also a quick stop for boxed cereal, granola bars, milk, yogurt, fruit, juice and bagels to go.
            Fall-Winter Breakfast Hours: 7 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Mon-Fri, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sat
           Spring/Summer Breakfast Hours: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mon-Thu, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fri, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sat

Cougar Express: This store, located in the Cougareat, is a great stop after class in the Wilkinson Student Center. Available items include juice, fresh fruit, yogurt, bagels and bagel sandwiches.
            Fall-Winter Breakfast Hours: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mon-Sat
            Spring/Summer Breakfast Hours: 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Mon-Fri, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sat

Creamery on Ninth East: For those living in Heritage Halls, or the East side of campus, the Creamery is a great stop. It's a full-service grocery store with almost every kind of breakfast item imaginable. Pick up some fruit, cereal, juice, milk, bagels, granola bars, yogurt or frozen waffles for later.
            Fall-Winter Breakfast Hours: 7 a.m. to midnight. Mon-Sat
            Spring/Summer Breakfast Hours: 7 a.m. to midnight. Mon-Sat

Jamba Juice: Visit the original BYU location in the WSC or check out the new location in the Student Athlete Building, near Legends Grille. The smoothies are delicious and they are now offering breakfast smoothies topped with granola. Add a boost for extra energy throughout the day. Jamba also offers some energy-packed breads.
            Fall-Winter Breakfast Hours: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mon-Fri, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sat
            Spring/Summer Breakfast Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mon-Fri, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sat

L & T: Everyone's favorite soup and salad place is now offering breakfast sandwiches, breakfast pockets, breakfast wraps and hot cereal.
            Fall-Winter Breakfast Hours: 8 to 10:30 a.m. Mon-Fri

Legends Grille: For the more serious breakfast eater, Legends Grille has filling food to start the day. Enjoy an omelet (pictured here) or breakfast pizza. For sides, try out some hash browns, bacon, sausage, eggs or fruit.
            Fall-Winter Breakfast Hours: 7 to 10:45 a.m. Mon-Fri
            Spring/Summer Breakfast Hours: 8 to 10:45 a.m. Mon-Fri

Scoreboard Grill: Stop by the Cougareat for some hot breakfast from Scoreboard Grill, featuring pancakes, waffles, French toast, English muffins, eggs, bacon and toast.
            Fall-Winter Breakfast Hours: 7 to 10:30 a.m. Mon-Fri
            Spring/Summer Breakfast Hours: 8 to 10:30 a.m. Mon-Fri

Sugar and Spice: This bakery, located in the Cougareat, sells freshly baked bread, cinnamon rolls, doughnuts, hot chocolate and assorted pastries.
            Fall-Winter Breakfast Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mon-Fri, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday
            Spring/Summer Breakfast Hours: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mon-Fri

Taco Bell Express: This Mexican original has some great twists on traditional breakfast. Try out the breakfast quesadilla with egg, cheese and sauce or the egg and cheese burrito with steak and green sauce. They even have a breakfast chalupa with eggs, potatoes, sour cream and cheese.
           Fall/Winter Breakfast Hours: 8 to 10 a.m. Mon-Fri

Tomassito's: Try out some breakfast calzones, biscuits and gravy, breakfast burritos, muffins, breakfast sandwiches, eggs or hash browns at this stop in the Cougareat.
            Fall-Winter Breakfast Hours: 8 to 10:30 a.m. Mon-Fri

Twilight Zone: Located inside the BYU Bookstore, the Twilight Zone is right on the path to class for many students. Pick up a hot bagel sandwich with eggs and grab some juice or milk from the cooler. There are a variety of other quick snacks available, including bagels.
            Fall-Winter Breakfast Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mon & Fri, 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tue-Thu, 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sat
            Spring/Summer Breakfast Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mon & Fri, 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tue-Thu, 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sat           
Vending: With locations all over campus, BYU Vending provides a great selection of breakfast options - bagels with cream cheese, muffins, pastries, yogurt (spoon included), fresh fruit (apples, bananas, oranges), milk, juice and fruit cups. Visit the Testing Center, Carl F. Eyring Science Center, John A. Widtsoe Building or Spencer W. Kimball Tower for some of the largest collections of vending machines.
            Fall-Winter Breakfast Hours: Whenever buildings are open
            Spring/Summer Breakfast Hours: Whenever buildings are open

Orville & Wilbur's

by Natalie Mitts

One of BYU's lesser-known restaurants is Orville and Wilbur's. Located in the basement of the Wilkinson Student Center, inside the Games Center, Orville and Wilbur's offers buffalo wings, chicken sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs, nachos and fries, although items are not listed under those names.

Students can fill up on Landing Strips (chicken tenders) and Kitty Hawk Sandwiches with a tall glass of Fuel (fountain drink).

The restaurant is named after flying inventors Orville and Wilbur Wright who lived in Kitty Hawk, N.C.

While you're there, bowl a few games or enjoy the arcade. There are the traditional games like pinball and Skeeball or modern games like Pump It Up dance and Virtua Tennis.

Orville and Wilbur's is open Monday - Friday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from noon to 11:30 p.m. The restaurant is closed on Sundays. Orville and Wilbur's accepts Dining Plus, cash, credit cards or signature card. Visit for more information.

Mar 1, 2008

Utensil Pot Clip

It's about time that someone came up with an invention to solve a common cooking dilemma: what to do with a sticky spoon? If you leave it in the pot, it may melt or interfere with cooking. If you place it on a plate or countertop, you've got to clean up that spot later on. And if you rest the spoon on a pasta box, the cardboard gets soggy and may stick to the spoon. The answer is simple: buy a utensil pot clip made by Trudeau™. These nifty gadgets clip on the side of a pot. Insert a spoon through the hole and it will hang above the pot, free from melting or dirtying an area. The silicone feet and handles on these clips prevent melting or overheating. Any excess liquid drips right back in to the pot. Best of all, you never forget where you put that spoon. These helpful tools can be found in a variety of colors: pink, red, yellow, blue, green or black. Check them out at Sur La Table at the Gateway in Salt Lake City, or look online. They run for about $7, but will definitely be worth it in the long run.

Honey Barbecued Chicken

Honey Barbecued Chicken
4 Servings

8 chicken drumsticks
1 onion, minced
8 tablespoons tomato ketchup
4 tablespoons clear honey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 garlic clo
ve, crushed         

Combine onion, ketchup, honey, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and garlic clove together and reserve for basting chicken while cooking. Heat your grill up to a medium-low heat and begin by grilling chicken and basting the chicken periodically with the honey barbeque sauce.  When juices run clear, baste with sauce and remove from grill for service.

Savory Turkey Sandwich

Where: Marketplace Café

What: Savory Turkey Sandwich

Price: $3.99

Smoked turkey, onion chive cream cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes and alfalfa sprouts on a bagel of your choice

This tasty sandwich comes on a bagel of your choice (we suggest the Asiago cheese variety). The turkey and cream cheese are smooth while the sprouts and cucumbers provide just the right amount of crunch. It's packed with vegetables so you won't feel guilty for indulging, but it's still filling and delicious. With such a low price, take advantage of this awesome deal.

Storing Leftovers

It's important to store leftovers in the proper manner. First of all, make sure you have sturdy airtight containers and do not leave anything in an opened tin can, even with foil or plastic wrap on top. Bacteria can still enter cans because they are not completely sealed. Using airtight containers will keep you from unnecessary spills in the fridge and will help food to taste good days later. Next, the USDA and FDA recommend storing food within two hours. There is no need to wait until hot food cools since that can allow bacteria to grow. The "Danger Zone" for bacteria growth is between 40°F and 140°F. However, is a good idea to separate large amounts of food into smaller, shallow containers to help food cool more rapidly in the fridge. If you have the space, avoid stacking containers or placing them too close together because this can also slow down the cooling process. Make sure that the thermometer in your fridge is set at 40°F and the freezer is at 0°F. Use an additional thermometer if you are not sure the one inside the fridge or freezer is accurate. Date all leftovers and do not use them after four days. Liquids should not be used after two days. If food smells funny or is discolored, throw it out. When reheating, cook food to an internal temperature of 165°F, or at least two minutes in the microwave. Never let food thaw at room temperature; always use the fridge, microwave or cold water to cool down food.

Braised Beef Short Ribs

Braised Beef Short Ribs
6 Servings
5 pounds beef short ribs, cut into 1-rib pieces if necessary
1 cup all-purpose flour seasoned with salt and pepper for dredging
1/4 cup rendered bacon fat
4 garlic cloves, chopped
6 small onions (about 1 pound total), unpeeled but chopped
6 carrots, sliced
1 sprig fresh rosemary
3 cans beef broth           
Preheat o
ven to 350° F. Dredge ribs in flour, knocking off excess. Heat bacon fat in a 6-quart heavy ovenproof pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and brown short ribs in batches (in a single layer without crowding). Transfer short ribs as browned with tongs to a large plate. Pour off all but about 2 tablespoons bacon fat remaining in kettle and in it cook garlic, onions, carrots and rosemary with salt and pepper to taste over moderate heat, stirring, until browned lightly. Add broth to vegetable mixture and bring to a boil, stirring. Return ribs to kettle, squeezing them to fit in a single layer, if possible, and cover pan with a lid. Braise ribs in oven until tender, about 2 hours. Transfer ribs with tongs to a platter and keep warm. Pour cooking liquid through a fine China Cap set (mesh strainer) over a saucepan, discarding solids, and skim fat. If necessary, boil liquid to thicken it slightly, and spoon sauce over ribs.

Feb 7, 2008

Chiles Rellenos with Grilled Chicken and Cheese

Chiles Rellenos with Grilled Chicken and Cheese
10 Servings
20 each medium Anaheim peppers
1/2 cup olive oil

3 whole eggs
24 ounces (6 cups) ricotta cheese
20 ounces (about 5-3/4 cups) mozzarella cheese, grated
8 ounces (2 cups) pepper jack cheese, grated
8 ounces (1 cup) Asiago cheese, finely grated
1 cup cilantro, chopped
6 cups grilled chicken, julienne
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
Tabasco™ sauce to taste

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of baking powder
1 tablespoon salt
4 egg yolks
24 ounces lime soda
4 egg whites
Tomatillo Sauce
8 raw tomatillos, skin husks removed and roughly chopped
1 raw poblano chili pepper, roughly chopped
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons lime juice
10 spinach leaves
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Final Preparation
Oil for deep frying
12 sprigs cilantro
4 ounces (1 cup) Asiago cheese, grated

Toss Anaheim peppers in oil. Broil, turning occasionally, until blistered. Place in stainless steel bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and cool until cool enough to handle. Peel the peppers. Cut a slit down the length of the peppers. Carefully remove the seeds and vein. Set aside.
Whisk eggs until foamy. Add ricotta cheese and mix thoroughly. With a rubber spatula, fold in the remaining filling ingredients, mixing thoroughly. Chill until very cold.
Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl. In another bowl, combine egg yolks and soda. Add to dry ingredients and stir gently to combine. Whip egg whites to medium peak. Fold in to batter mixture. Let rest one hour.

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Set aside.
Final Preparation
Fill each pepper with cheese filling. Pour batter into flat container. Heat oil in a deep fryer to 350º F. Dip each pepper in the batter, turning to coat completely. Drop peppers a few at a time into hot oil and deep fry for 4 to 6 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Pour 2 ounces sauce on each of 10 serving plates. Place 2 peppers on sauce. Garnish with cilantro sprigs and Asiago cheese. Serve immediately.

Feb 1, 2008

Grocery Shopping Tips

by Natalie Mitts

It's a new year and like everyone else, you've made a resolution to eat healthy and spend less money. By shopping smart for groceries you can meet both your goals. Here are some tips on how to spend less money on groceries, eat food you enjoy and lose weight.

  1. Make a calendar of meals: Decide what you are going to eat for at least a week in advance. Plan a main course and don't forget to include vegetables on the side. This way you won't waste time looking in the fridge and cupboards. You will be less likely to go out to eat every night since you already have something planned. You can also avoid eating junk food since you have a structured meal in place. Don't get tied down to your calendar, though. There is always room for switching meals if you decide to go to the basketball game or want to grab a bite with friends. When you're shopping for food, you also will avoid some of those impulse buys because you already have a plan. Whether you only plan out dinner or decide on a calendar for breakfast and lunch as well, you've got something to stick to.

  2. Make a list: Write down the items you need to buy at the store according to your menu. Remember to put some healthy snacks on the list i.e. carrots, pretzels, wheat crackers or apples. These will keep you from wandering to the vending machines when you are stuck on campus all day.

  3. Check out advertisements: Compare the advertisements from local grocery stores. Decide which one has the best deals according to what you were already planning on buying. Alter your menu if there are some sales that don't come along every day. It's important to be flexible so you can save money and still enjoy your food.

  4. Eat before you go: It's not a myth that shopping hungry causes you to impulse buy. When you eat a meal before hitting the store, you aren't as tempted by foods not on your list.

  5. Budget: Set a monthly budget for yourself when it comes to buying food. This can change if your goal ends up being completely unrealistic, but it's good to notice how much you are spending. As you shop, try to keep in mind how much each item is costing as you put it into your basket. This way you won't be completely surprised at the check out. Keep your receipts and if you are extra curious, evaluate what kind of food is costing you too much.
Now you've got a menu, a list and a price range. You're ready to shop for groceries and won't be fazed by any item not on the list.

Holiday Dating

With three festive holidays looming closer, here are some date ideas for those in the mood to celebrate.

Valentine's Day
Start off the date by writing cheesy love poems to each other. It doesn't matter if you're just friends; these are fun for everyone. Make up the details if necessary.

Buy some almond bark, heat it up and then dip sandwich cookies or wafers in it. You've got white chocolate-covered cookies at half the price of pre-made ones. Plus, they are a lot more fun to make and eat.

Finish the night with a romantic movie. We suggest watching Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in "Sleepless in Seattle." It's one that never gets old.

St. Patrick's Day
Wear green from head to toe. Girls, wear bright green eye shadow. Guys, paint your face green if you're feeling brave.

Read the Dr. Seuss classic "Green Eggs and Ham" while eating some tasty green eggs and ham or anything else you feel like coloring green. Don't worry; green food dye is not harmful to eat once a year.

Paint pictures of rainbows and leprechauns. Hang your date's picture on your fridge after it dries.

Since most Easter egg hunts are for children under 12, volunteer to help out with a local Easter egg hunt. If you have nieces or nephews in town, take them along.

Next, take a trip to the store to fill an Easter basket for your date. Split up and set a time limit and budget. The most creative person wins, but both get to enjoy their candy.

Lastly, it's a must to dye Easter eggs and eat them. Find a dye pack and make eggs interesting with stripes and polka dots. Remember to name your eggs and give them faces.

Stuffed Burgers

Stuffed Burgers with Gorgonzola Cheese and Bacon
4 Servings
1 pound ground beef
4 ounces bacon
4 tablespoons Gorgonzola cheese
Sea salt
Ground black pepper

Dice bacon and fry until crisp. Drain. Crumble Gorgonzola cheese and set aside. Divide ground beef int
o eight thin patties. Top four of the patties with the bacon and Gorgonzola, dividing it evenly. Top with the four remaining patties, close and seal the burgers. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook over a hot fire for 2-3 minutes per side.   Serve on fresh baked hamburger rolls with thick sliced tomatoes and red onions.

Tuscan Style Steak

Tuscan Style Steak
4 Servings
1/4 cup tightly packed fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 large or 2 small cloves garlic, crushed
Sea salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
2 boneless rib eye steaks, about 3/4 pound each

In a blender, pulverize the rosemary, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Pour half the marinade on top of the steaks, turn and coat the other side with remaining marinade. Allow the steaks to rest for anywhere from 2 hours to overnight. When ready to cook, prepare the grill. Allow some of the excess marinade to drip off the steaks. Grill about 6 to 9 minutes per side, or until steaks are cooked to your liking.

Hearth Baked Pizza

Where: Legends Grille

What: Hearth Baked Pizza

Price: $5.45

Protein of your choice (chicken, ham, pepperoni, salmon, sausage, shrimp or steak), sauce of your choice (Alfredo, barbecue or traditional red) and unlimited toppings (variety of fresh garden vegetables)

Legends Grille is known for its delicious hearth baked pizzas, personalized to suit your taste. The cooks bake up whatever you choose for meat, sauce and toppings. We recommend the Hawaiian (pictured here) with traditional red sauce, ham, pineapple and plenty of cheese. Other favorites include chicken with barbecue sauce, pepperoni with mushrooms, Alfredo chicken or steak with peppers. Additional proteins cost $1.25 more. The pizzas are eight inches wide, so there's plenty to bring home for dinner. If you somehow saved room for more, there's even an apple dessert pizza to try.

Jan 1, 2008

Mexican Hot Chocolate

Delicious Dating
By Natalie Mitts
If the winter weather is wearing down your spirits, find a date and make the most of it! To start, go shopping for winter clothes - gloves, mittens, scarves and hats. You can never have enough.

If you're brave, hit up a local thrift store to see what outrageous items you can find for little cost. Don't be afraid to pair an orange scarf with some bright pink gloves.

Next, wear your new winter accessories out in the cold. Make some snow angels or go sledding at Rock Canyon Park. Even take your snowboard out for a try if you don't feel like hitting the slopes quite yet.

After being out in the cold, go inside to warm up with some homemade hot cocoa. Try out Chef John's Mexican Hot Chocolate recipe!

Mexican Hot Chocolate


  • 3 tablespoons instant hot chocolate mix
  • 1 tablespoon chocolate syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch chili powder
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup boiling water


  1. In a large mug, mix the hot chocolate mix, chocolate syrup, cinnamon, and chili powder. Pour in the milk. Add the boiling water and stir.

Sit back, sip your cocoa and relax with a holiday movie. We recommend Jimmy Stewart's "The Shop Around the Corner." It's the 1940 version of "You've Got Mail." Stewart and his co-worker fight constantly on the job, but he soon realizes they're secret pen pals.
With new clothes, a full stomach and snow falling outside, now you're really in the holiday spirit.

Microplane Grater

The new gadget to get your hands on is the Microplane® grater. The company uses chemicals to make its tools much sharper than the average grater. The graters come in a variety of different sizes - from small to large, thin to wide, there is a grater for every kind of food. There are fine, medium, coarse and extra coarse blades. Don't fret about the price because items cost from $9 to $16 and will last much longer than a cheap grater from the grocery store. Three-piece sets are also available at $35 and up. These graters are perfect for slicing cheese, chocolate or even potatoes. Special zesters make cooking with nutmeg much easier. If you're not completely convinced yet, check out the "try-me" zester for only $1.99. Available at kitchen specialty stores or online at, these items are definitely worth looking at.

Deep Fryin'

Helpful HintsHint #1: Use caution and common sense when frying! Cooking with hot oil can result in serious fires. If you are cooking with oil, and it begins emitting smoke, turn off the heat immediately and let it cool down - your oil is too hot and could cause a fire. You may have to adjust the heat of your burner occasionally to keep your food cooking but not burning. A medium heat is usually sufficient for most things. Adding a little salt to your oil can help prevent the oil from "spitting". Consult a professional before attempting to cook with oil. There are also a lot of good safety guides available on the internet. By taking precautions, you could be preventing serious injuries and even deaths.

Hint #2: To keep your food crispy after it is fried, cool it on a baker's cooling rack. You can place a cooling rack on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels to catch the excess oil.

Hint #3: For battered fish, try layering your batter mixture in a dry-wet-dry procedure. First pat your fish dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture. Then roll the fish in your dry mixture. Then dip it in the wet mixture. Then roll it in the dry mixture again. This will make your fish crispier in general.

Hint #4: Use a blend of oils to give your food a better flavor. If you need a lighter flavor, you can use more canola oil. For heavier flavors, peanut and olive oils are useful. Small amounts of coconut oil or a few drops of sesame oil can add an additional layer of flavor.

Hint#5: Use only fresh oil. Don't reuse oil that has been used to cook meals previously. Your food will taste fresher, and your oil will not begin smoking as fast.