Fruit

Strawberries

May 13, 2021

Though they are available year-round in grocery stores the best strawberries are to be found in farmer’s markets in spring and early summer.

Look for smaller berries, preferably organic ones, with a rich, glossy red color and shiny green leaves. Avoid berries with white or green shoulders and brown or limp leaves. Never buy them if they are moist, overly soft or show signs of mold. Do not buy berries if their cartons are leaking and wet, a sure sign that unseen fruits will be moldy.

Although fresh strawberries should be rinsed, do not soak them for any length of time since they will absorb the water and turns mushy. For eating on their own, strawberries, even very large ones, should be left whole. Hull strawberries before freezing them or using them for most preparations. Use a small paring knife or a strawberry huller to carve out the white center core from the stem end of each berry. To improve the flavor of lackluster strawberries, hull and slice them, place in a bowl and sprinkle with a tablespoon or two of sugar for every pint. Let stand at room temperature for at least 15 minutes. The sugar draws moisture from the berries to make a sweet natural syrup.

Fresh strawberries are fragile so handle them with care. Don’t wash the berries until just before you are ready to eat them, as the moisture will encourage mold. To store strawberries, line a glass or plastic container with paper towels, carefully arrange the berries inside and cover with the lid. They will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2021 All Rights Reserved

Jicama

April 22, 2021

Crunchy, juicy, nutrient packed jicama is an unsung hero of the produce aisle. Technically a cousin to green beans, jicama is a root vegetable from Mexico available year-round that is delicious cooked or raw. With a mild, earthy, slightly sweet flavor and an apple like consistency. It’s a great addition to salads, salsas, slaws, and grazing boards. Jicama also works as lighter swap for potatoes in baked and air fried recipes, and it’s delicious sautéed or boiled, too.

If you’ve never tried jicama, don’t be intimidated. Start by choosing one with a smooth, unblemished surface and thin brown skin. The skin should be thin enough to scrape with your thumbnail to reveal the white flesh inside. Avoid thick skinned, bruised, or shriveled jicama, which are signs of aging.

Once you’re ready to prep, start by trimming off the ends of the jicama and slice in half. Then, use a knife to gently peel away the skin.

For Jicama Sticks:
Step 1: Carefully slice off the rounded parts of the jicama, creating a flat surface.
Step 2: Cut each half into 1/4-inch slices.
Step 3: Stack slices and cut evenly into sticks.

Fresh, raw jicama sticks are a great addition to lunchboxes or served on a vegetable platter with your favorite dip. They can also add unexpected, satisfying crunch to cooked dishes, like a noodle salad with jicama and a miso vinaigrette.

Jicama sticks are delicious roasted, too. Their firm texture can withstand the heat, while the edges get golden brown and tender. Toss together with sweet peppers and spices for a simple, satisfying sheet pan side that pairs well with all kinds of meat and fish.

For Diced Jicama:
Step 1: Follow the steps above to create jicama sticks
Step 2: Line up sticks or stack into a pile, then evenly cut into cubes.

Diced jicama is a vitamin and fiber-rich way to add bulk to all kinds of green, grain, and protein-based salads. I love the combination of crunchy jicama with creamy avocado served with grilled chicken.

Moist and mild flavored jicama also plays well with fruit, especially melon. A refreshing combination of watermelon, jicama, and fresh mint falls somewhere between salad and salsa, delicious scooped onto tortilla chips or just spooned straight from the bowl.

Next time you’re at your local grocery store or market pick up jicama and experiment with ways to incorporate it into your recipes.

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2021 All Rights Reserved

Just Start Where You Are

January 3, 2021

Keeping Resolutions To Get Healthier

People often set their goals too high or don’t take the time to plan out how they’re going to accomplish their resolution. The hardest part of starting anything, especially a healthy living plan, is making that goal a top priority. Create an achievable and specific goal that’s grounded in micro-actions that you can start right now. These simple baby steps can keep you motivated. Here are some ways to begin your path to getting healthier. Just start where you are!

Get More Physically Active
Make it happen by entering it into your schedule. Increase your exercise routing from three to four days per week by adding a 20-minute strength training session on Fridays this month.

Go To Bed Earlier
If your goal is to get to sleep earlier, start by determining how much earlier and how often you will practice this routing. Start with 5 to 10 minutes. The alarm on your phone can help you by setting cues. Build up from there.

Get Up Earlier
Begin with a manageable goal, like waking up ten minutes earlier, which is easier than waking up an hour earlier. Then every other month reset your alarm another 10 minutes earlier.

Eat More Vegetables
More vegetables more often can be your mantra for 2021. Try adding one new vegetable to dinner meals that you make at home this month.

Spend More Time Outdoors
Take a break to for a 15-minute walk outdoors. The fresh air is good for you. Make a daily habit of it.

Pack Your Lunch
Packing your lunch is a good place to start when you’re trying to eat healthier. You can ease the burden by doubling up on the vegetables that you prep at dinnertime two or three times per week, then bring the leftovers to work.

Eat Regular Meals And Snacks
Stashing a piece of produce in your purse can go a long way when you’re stuck waiting in traffic on your way home from work. A healthy snack can keep you from feeling ravenous, and potentially overeating, at your next meal. Make it your goal to pack at least one apple, pear, or bag of carrots in your bag every day so you can snack when you’re in transit.

Drink More Water
Drinking water has a myriad of benefits, but one of the unsung ones is that it forces you to get up and move periodically throughout the day. Hydrate every hour to get every hour.

Limit Alcoholic Beverages
If grabbing drinks after work with coworkers for the purpose of networking interferes with your desire to drink less, consider multi-tasking. Scheduling a walk or exercise class with a colleague can help you clock extra activity and leave you feeling revived rather than depleted. Plan ahead to make sure these new networking events make it to your calendar as often as work drinks used to surface.

Write Down Your Goals and include the steps you will take to keep it. Having a clearly articulated goal and a plan of action is vital for success.

Keep things simple. Break a big goal into a series of smaller goals. Want to lose 50 pounds? Shoot for losing 5 percent of your body weight first, or set five 10-pound incremental weight loss goals.

Mark your achievements. Each time you make a small lifestyle change aimed at reaching your goal (adding five minutes to your daily walk for instance) put a star on your calendar so you can see your progress.

Start with small changes. If weight loss or a healthier lifestyle is your goal, begin with a simple step like swapping one snack per day for a piece of fruit. The benefits will add up without majorly impacting your lifestyle.

Tap the power of a streak. Let’s say you keep your resolution for a week, or two weeks, or a month. That’s a fabulous streak and you can let it drive you. And if something happens to force you to break it then start a new streak!

And Remember….Just Start Where You Are!

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2021 All Rights Reserved

Build An Affordable Cheese Board

December 3, 2020

Cheese Boards are a no-cook, sure-to-please option for any holiday celebration. Build a cheeseboard that’s affordable yet special. Then toast the season with festive cocktails.

A few inexpensive ingredients and simple homemade touches are all you need for a spectacular, special occasion-worthy spread. Here are some smart tips to deck your board with festivity and flavor without breaking the bank.

For a classic, colorful centerpiece, make your own cranberry and herb cheeseball. Start with a container of spreadable cheese and form into a ball. Use a sheet of plastic wrap to avoid messy hands. Roll the ball in a combination of finely chopped dried cranberries, parsley, and chives until thoroughly coated. Let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.

No need to buy expensive cheeses. Inexpensive cheddar is always a crowd pleaser. Skip the pre-cut cubes and cut the block yourself. Orange or white, mild or extra sharp. Cheddar is always a favorite.

Upgrade affordable goat cheese by rolling the log in herbs and spices, like dried thyme, dried oregano, or crushed rainbow peppercorns for a beautiful, flavorful crust. You could also keep it plain and top with jarred pepper jelly or mango chutney.

Instead of mixed nuts, opt for crunchy snack mixes, which are often less expensive and just as delicious. For the board, look for one with little or no seasoning.

Give a budget-friendly feta or mini mozzarella balls a flavor boost by marinating cubes in olive oil with herbs like parsley, oregano, or rosemary, and other seasonings like sliced chilis, crushed garlic, or lemon zest. Refrigerate overnight or up to 3 days.

Round out your cheese board with other delicious items like fresh or dried fruit (dried apricots, figs, grapes, and sliced pears), pitted olives, and plain crackers.

Pair your cheese board with a festive holiday beverage and enjoy!

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2020 All Rights Reserved

Preserving Using Hot Water Bath Method

September 7, 2020

Many of us are preserving summer’s bounty to enjoy during colder months.
Here are tips on how to preserve using the hot water bath method. It’s really not difficult if you follow these easy steps.

High acid foods like tomatoes, pickles, salsa, jelly, pie filling, jam, fruit, and chutney are great for canning using the hot water bath method.

Preheat Jars
Fill water bath canner (or large pot) to cover empty jars by at least 1 inch of water. Heat jars to simmer (180 degrees F) to prevent jar breakage.

Fill Jars
Following a canning recipe, fill a hot jar with prepared food leaving enough space between the food and the rim (headspace) as indicated in the recipe.

Tighten Lids And Bands
Wipe any food from the rim of the jar. Center new lid on the jar, then twist on band just until fingertip tight.

Process Jars
Place filled jars onto rack in simmering water. If you don’t have a rack designed for home preserving, use a cake cooking rack. Filled jars should be covered by 1 inch of water. Place lid on canner and heat to a steady boil. Boil jars for the time specified in recipe. Adjust for high altitudes.

Altitude Adjustment
1,001 to 3,000 ft increase processing time 5 minutes; 3,001 to 6,000 ft increase 10 minutes; 6,001 to 8,000 ft increase 15 minutes; 8,001 to 10,000 ft increase 20 minutes.

Cool Down
Turn off heat and remove canner lid. Let jars stand in water for 5 minutes. Remove from water and cool jars upright on cutting board, wire rack or towels on countertop for 12 to 24 hours.

Check The Seal
After cool down, press on center of lid. If jar is fully sealed, the lid will NOT flex up or down. Remove the bands and gently attempt to lift lids off with your fingertips. Properly sealed lids will remain attached. Wipe canning jars, lids, and bands clean. Store sealed jars in pantry for up to 18 months. Jars may be stored with or without bands. If a lid fails to seal within 24 hours, immediately refrigerate the food product.

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2020 All Rights Reserved

Summer Baking

July 29, 2020

I know that summer baking seems counter intuitive, but for some reason I feel compelled to keep baking in the warmer months of the year. Keeping your home cool can be though enough without the oven adding to the heat. Plus, adding in heat-sensitive ingredients and humidity and you can have less than perfect baking results. Summer does bring wonderful seasonal ingredients like berries and stone fruits that should be missed.

Use your oven in the morning or evening. We all know that your oven can heat up your kitchen quickly. This is why I like to bake early in the morning or in the evening when the outside temperature is lower.

Choose recipes with shorter baking times. In keeping with minimizing the heat from your oven, look for baking recipes that don’t require lots of oven time. A simple cake or a pan of mini cupcakes will bake more quickly than a Bundt cake or even a pan of brownies. If you’re a cookie baker try baking a pan at a time to avoid having the oven on for all the time it takes to bake dozens of cookies. You can refrigerate the dough between batches or even freeze the dough to bake when your cookie cravings strike.

Refrigerate cookie dough and pie crusts. Speaking of cookie dough, keep in mind that a warmer kitchen will also make your cookie doughs warmer. If the butter in the dough begins to melt, you could end up with flat, tough cookies. You can try scooping and baking your cookies quickly, but if you refrigerate the dough before baking and between batches you will avoid these issues. This applies to pie crusts as well. It’s not unusual on a warm day to end up with a too warm, too soft pie crust once it’s rolled out, placed in the pan and the edges fluted. When this happens, just put the pie pan in your refrigerator for a bit to let it cool and rest.

Keep an eye on softening butter. With a warmer kitchen butter will soften faster. The warmer it is the faster butter will soften. If you’re using a recipe that contains softened butter, remember to check for softness sooner than normal to ensure that the butter doesn’t get too soft and affect the texture of your baked goods.

Humid days can definitely affect your baking. If you are baking something with a lot of liquid in it, then it may take longer to bake than usual. Keep an eye on whatever you’re baking and follow the recipe’s directions and your best judgement to check for doneness.
Fresh berries and stone fruits are one of summer’s gifts and it is nice to bake with them. There are so many easy ways to bake with summer fruit. A simple fruit crisp or cobbler is always a welcome treat on a summer day. They are also wonderful garnishes for many desserts like cheesecake and pound cake.

Frosting and heat generally don’t mix well. If you’ve made a cake or cupcakes that are frosted you may want to keep them in the refrigerator until it’s time to serve them. Bring them to room temperature before serving. Refrigerating these types of desserts isn’t a bad idea year-round, especially if the dessert won’t be eaten within a day or two.

No bake desserts may be the way to go. Skipping the oven time can still yield amazing desserts that are perfect for the season with their cool, creamy flavors, and textures. From ice cream to cheesecakes to pies and a whole lot more, you can find plenty of ways to satisfy your sweet cravings.

Support your local bakery. If you are lucky enough to have a great local bakery, take advantage of it. A simple pound cake can be turned into something special with just some fresh fruit and sweetened whipped cream. Brownies can be dressed up in a big way with a scoop of ice cream, a drizzle of caramel sauce, and a sprinkling of nuts. Your grocery store can help, too, with shortcut ingredients like puff pastry.

“Work With What You Got!”

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2020 All Rights Reserved

Enjoying Summer’s Abundance

July 6, 2020

July has given us bright sunny days, low humidity and cool evening temperatures and a great way to capture summer’s splendor is with a picnic. Whether you find respite under the shade of a magnificent tree, spread a blanket on a sandy beach or enjoy your own patio or yard, dining “en plein air” is a delightful diversion to current world conditions.

Simplicity is key for a pleasant picnic. With farm markets opening, stock up on fresh fruits, berries, and vegetables for the picnic basket. Luscious, seasonal asparagus can be lightly grilled, steamed or roasted, then spritzed with fresh lemon juice and adorned with fresh parmesan cheese shavings for a light and lovely picnic lunch that packs easily. Freshly picked asparagus can also be served raw. Shave each stalk using a vegetable peeler, into long strips and dress with olive oil, rice vinegar, salt and pepper. Embellish at will with goat or feta cheese, pine nuts or almonds and plenty of minced herbs.

Fresh herbs perk up picnic recipes and eliminate the need for excess sodium. Chives will add a slightly sharp bite to potato, egg or pasta salads, as well as a nice little nip of flavor to deviled eggs. Poach a nice piece of salmon and dot it with creamy dill sauce for an elegant picnic entrée. Cilantro and Thai basil elevate rice noodle salads, and the snappy tang of fresh parsley is just the right addition to grain bowls. Fresh basil with ripe tomatoes is a classic combination. For something sweet, pack fresh berries, such as native strawberries, blueberries or raspberries, sprinkled with cinnamon and drizzled with honey.

If your picnic involves grilling use sturdy rosemary to imbue vegetables, meat, and fish with Mediterranean flavor and flair. Marinate chunks of lamb, beef or chicken with fresh rosemary, garlic, and olive oil. Let rest for several hours, then grill as desired.

Have picnic supplies at the ready to take advantage of gorgeous weather. Stash a small roll of garbage bags, hand sanitizer, salt and pepper packets, a small cutting board and knife, bug spray, sunscreen, and a blanket in your picnic basket. Keep small ice packs in the freezer. Gather your food and drink and enjoy the healthy benefits of picnicking all summer long.

“Work With What You Got!”

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2020 All Rights Reserved

More Ways To Make S’mores

June 27, 2020

Build A S’Mores Tray
Here’s a great way to take everything from your kitchen to the campfire. Get all your ingredients together on one tray. It also lets everyone pick and choose what they want and makes cleanup easy.

Add a flavor to the classic s’more or invent a new combination with these ingredients.

Choose A Base: Graham crackers, wafers, cookies, or plain crackers.

Add A Flavor: Jams, fresh fruit, nut butters, spreads, or a dash of cinnamon.

Add A Chocolate: White chocolate morsels, milk chocolate bars, peanut butter cups or caramel filled chocolate squares.

Top It Off: Finish with a toasted marshmallow and another cracker or cookie.

“Work With What You Got!”

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2020 All Rights Reserved

Waste Not, Want Not

June 6, 2020

One easy tip for making sure fresh fruit and vegetables don’t go to waste is to wash, dry and prep them immediately so they are ready for snacking and cooking right from the fridge.

“Work With What You Got!”

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2020 All Rights Reserved

Freezer Essentials

March 16, 2020

These freezer essentials will help you with your weekly meal prep as well as last minute meals that you need to get on the table fast.

Bagged frozen vegetables, like mixed peppers, broccoli, and spinach.
Bagged frozen fruit, like blueberries, mangos, bananas, and strawberries.
Bagged frozen pastas, like tortellini and ravioli.
Frozen waffles and pancakes.
Frozen potatoes, like tots, fries, and breakfast potatoes.
Rice and prepared side dishes.
Pre-made dough, pie crusts, and breads.

Frozen foods are not limited to frozen dinners. You can stock your freezer with healthier ingredients to make putting dinner together easy. There are endless possibilities with what you can make with frozen ingredients. As always, be creative and “work with what you got!”

“Work With What You Got!”

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2020 All Rights Reserved

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