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Our Food Predictions for 2015

Food Network Kitchen have a pretty good handle on the trends that will shape what you order, eat, watch and read in the new year. Here are their predictions:

1. More Love-Child Snacks: 2014 saw the unholy couplings of brands that spawned Dewitos (Doritos-flavored Mountain Dew), cappuccino-flavored Lay’s, pumpkin pie-flavored Pringles and more — and that was just for chips.   In 2015 expect more collisions of sweet and salty, bitter and befuddling, like candy bar-flavored sodas and other flavors that you can’t find in nature

2. Easy Meal Customization:  Forget fussy fixed menus.  In 2015 expect more curated mix-and-match fast-casual joints, smaller menus at mid-range restaurants and family-style feasts at high-end places.

3. More Drinking, Less Chewing: 2015’s must-have utensil is a cup. Whether they’re filled with green juice, fruit smoothies or full-on sippable meal replacements, people want their protein, vitamins and minerals on the go and on the double.

Look out for even more squeezable kids’ fruit pouches, high-end blenders making juicing mass, bone broth becoming the new kale smoothie, butter coffee and DIY Soylent.

4.  Don’t Be Anti Bacteria:  Our culture is really into cultures — fermented and probiotic foods like kombucha, kefir, kimchi and miso — that support healthy gut bacteria.

In 2015 watch for a bounty of fermented pickles and pickle juice; sauerkraut; savory yogurt; cultured butter and buttermilk; kefir grains and kombucha; fermented sausages (salami, Thai sour sausages); and kvass.

Get the rest of our 2015 food trends and predictions.

25 Ways to Use Lentils

A pantry staple, dried lentils are often overlooked for convenient canned beans. These little legumes are packed with nutrition and are an easy way to add extra protein without meat to every meal.

Lentils were one of the first plants to be domesticated, and these nutritional powerhouses are used in cuisines all around the globe. Red, orange, yellow, brown or green, lentils are a good non-meat source of potassium, iron and protein. Unlike other beans and legumes, lentils don’t need to be soaked before cooking; use a 2-to-1 ratio of water to lentils and you’ll be good to go in about 25 minutes (or more if you want to mash them).

Not only do you get a great bang for your buck, but lentils are a “meaty” legume, meaning they have the ability to turn sometimes-wimpy vegetarian dishes into hearty meals.

If you’re looking to decrease the amount of meat in your diet, use mashed lentils to replace part (or all) of the ground meat in dishes like meatballs, meatloaf and stuffed dumplings. But if meat is still on the table for you, pair lentils with fats like duck and pork (think bacon) to add a bit of richness to this mild-flavored legume.

Whether you’re trying a meatless meal or making a hearty stew, lentils are a go-to pantry staple that deserve to come out of the pantry to shine this winter.

  1. Alton Brown’s classic Lentil Soup (pictured above) will be sure to warm you up during the next cold spell. The trick to good lentil soup is to make sure all of the vegetables are finely chopped, about the size of a cooked lentil.
  2. Instead of going out to eat, try making your own Ethiopian spread at home. Serve Red Lentils with chicken stew (doro wat), braised cabbage, braised beef and injera flat bread.
  3. Bal’s Lentil Cookies, made with lentils, whole-wheat flour and rolled oats, are healthier than the average cookie, but brown sugar and chocolate chips still hit the sweet spot.
  4. Rachael Ray turns lentil soup into a full meal with her Sausage, Kale and Lentil Soup.
  5. Salads aren’t just for summer; warm French Lentils with Walnuts and Goat Cheese is a protein-packed vegetarian lunch option.

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Fall Fest: 5 Must-Bake Holiday Cookies

Spritz Cookies

Is there a holiday tradition more highly anticipated than baking cookies? Whether you like yours festively frosted or decked out in dark chocolate, cookies are pretty much guaranteed to spread the holiday cheer. We’re celebrating 31 Days of Cookies here on the blog, but if you’re not sure where to start, try these five favorite recipes.

1) We nominate Spritz Cookies (pictured above) as the most giftworthy holiday cookie. Rich, yet delicate in flavor, these winners hold up well days after baking, and have an elegant, classic look.

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Dinner Rush! Crispy Oven-Fried Chicken with Chard-Kale Salad

It’s not hard to spend the holiday season feeling overstuffed. Fruit pies, cider doughnuts and slow-cooker stews are regular party-circuit fare. Get yourself ready for the onslaught by recharging your system with some fried chicken.

Don’t worry; it’s not the traditional greasy stuff. This one hits the oven (not the frying pan) with a coating of crispy panko breadcrumbs for all the comfort of the original and just a fraction of the calories. I know there are lots of oven-fried-chicken recipes out there, but this one is different. Here’s why:

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31 Days of Cookies: White Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Why stop at just a few days of cookies when we can celebrate the season with an entire month of nonstop sugar? To kick things off, we’re diving into the ice-chilled winter spirit with G. Garvin’s White Chocolate Peppermint Cookies. They’re perfect for the first day of cookies.

Click here for the White Chocolate Peppermint Cookies recipe.

More cookies:
Cooking Channel’s All-Star Cookie Swap
50 All-Star Holiday Cookies
Unique Cookie Recipes
Food Network’s 12 Days of Cookies

25 Ways to Use Brussels Sprouts

Although you may remember them as the bane of your childhood existence, Brussels sprouts are the slightly smaller, but equally delicious, cousin of cabbage. Forget whatever you may have thought about Brussels sprouts in your youth and give them another try. When in doubt, pair sprouts with pork; whether it’s bacon, pancetta or even chorizo, no one will be able to resist your bacon-y Brussels sprouts.

On their own, Brussels sprouts are quite the superfood: They’re low in calories, yet packed with vitamin C, fiber and even protein.

Brussels sprouts grow on a long branch, and although it’s a shock at first glance, a stalk of Brussels sprouts is easy to manage; carefully cut off the individual sprouts and peel off the first layer of leaves before rinsing and cooking. Alternatively, purchase trimmed Brussels sprouts for a jump-start in the kitchen.

Thanksgiving is the perfect occasion to showcase your newfound love for sprouts. If you’re still curious about sprouts, check out this Brussels sprouts tutorial, then get cooking. Your mother would be so proud.

  1. If you’ve never made Brussels sprouts (or have never truly enjoyed them), start out with simple Roasted Brussels Sprouts.
  2. Deep-fried Brussels Sprouts are tossed with a miso-sake sauce and crispy bacon for an Asian take on classic flavors.
  3. Brussels sprouts are often roasted, but they can also be cooked on the stovetop. Get them nice and brown, then add water, stock or white wine to cook them the rest of the way. Try the method out with Tiffani Thiessen’s Balsamic-Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta (pictured above).
  4. Bal Arneson’s Indian Brussels Sprouts are tossed with garlic, ginger, coriander seeds, smoked paprika and fenugreek leaves for a fully flavored side dish.
  5. Anne Burrell’s simple Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon are finished with toasted pine nuts and a bit of shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano.

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Make Your Own Spice Blends

Everything Bagel Spice

Whether you want to make a truly homemade pumpkin pie or gussy up morning toast, spice blends can fill a lot of needs in the kitchen with just a few shakes. A lot of these are great add-ins to light sour cream or plain Greek yogurt to make a flavorful dip for veggies. They’re also an excellent, portable gift idea.

Pumpkin Pie: With Thanksgiving around the corner, this is the perfect spice blend to whip up now. Use it not just in pie, but in muffins, oatmeal and pancakes.

Apple Streusel: Crushed dried apples infuse this blend with a strong apple flavor. Try it sprinkled on popcorn; stirred into sour cream or yogurt as a sweet dip for fruit; or sprinkle it on oatmeal, ice cream, pancakes or toast.

Everything Bagel: Addicted to the salty, savory flavor of everything bagels? Make this spice blend (pictured above) and use it to add flavor to a baked potato or pasta dish, coat a chicken breast, top a salad, or sprinkle over potato pancakes. It’s even great on pretzels.

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Dinner Rush! Chicken Legs with Roasted Grapes and White Cheddar Grits

 

What is the holiday season for if not to step back, reflect on the past year and reconnect with those you love. Since at this time of year calendars seem to magically swell with parties, dinners and casual get-togethers, make your gathering as fabulously effortless as possible with a meal that feeds a small group and a full house alike.

The trick to entertaining with style is to prepare a dish for your guests that is delicious, showstopping and requires as little cleanup as possible. This dish, my friends, is the total package.

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Healthier Take-Out Ideas

Burritos

When it’s dinner and you need to put food on the table, it can be tempting to just phone in an order from a favorite nearby restaurant. But lots of take-out food is rife with too much salt, sugar and oil — and not enough vegetables! The truth is, many of your favorite take-out meals can be made healthfully and just as quickly (most in under 30 minutes, which is faster than it takes to get delivery!)

Here are 17 recipes to try, no matter what you’re craving:

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Dinner Rush! Jumbo Stuffed Meatballs with Spicy Tomato Sauce

Meatballs are one of those dishes that seem to make everyone smile (sorry, vegetarians). They’re easy to prepare and fun to eat — what more could you ask for? A bigger meatball, you say? A jumbo meatball?! Good call.

Continue Reading Dinner Rush! Jumbo Stuffed Meatballs with Spicy Tomato Sauce

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