10 Apps No Cook Can Live Without

I know this is a dramatic title. Maybe I’ve been reading too much Huff Post lately! But seriously, these are the apps I rely heavily on while in my kitchen. And as always, feel free to chime in and share what apps you find indispensable to cooking.

ios-camera-icon-150x150
iPhone camera
What would I do without my smartphone camera? I use it to take pictures while I’m cooking which is handy. But more importantly, I take photos of recipes in magazines whenever I am in a waiting room! Remember the days when you were in the doctor’s office and found a recipe you wanted to try, so you had to either write it down on a scrap of paper or secretly tear it out of the magazine? (OK, I never did that!) Now I snap a photo and refer back to it when shopping or ready to cook.

image-epicurious-app-icon
Epicurious
This was the first cooking app I ever used and it continues to be a mainstay. I’ve compiled many of my favorites in the recipe box feature. I like the categories such as “picnic ideas,” “main course salads,” or “Mexican tonight.” Photos, reviews, ratings, and step by step instructions make this a user-friendly resource that is loaded with recipes. Epicurious features a suite of mobile applications, including one for your smart Samsung fridge!

icon175x175
Grocery Store
I’m not going to recommend any specific grocery store since I have no idea what’s available in your area. I will tell you however, that if your favorite store has a useful app, download it! I really like the Wegmen’s app. I can add all my ingredients to the list and it will organize them by aisle for faster shopping. It gives me a total of what I’m about to spend. Other cool features include tons of recipes and even a prescription refill option.

coupons
Coupons
You might already have a favorite coupon app since there are a few out there. This one from coupons.com allows you to register your loyalty card, add applicable coupons to your account, and redeem them right at checkout. It takes some time to scroll through the available coupons whenever you go shopping, but saves you the trouble of clipping and storing paper coupons. Since I love to cook, it helps keep costs down on my grocery bills.

icon175x175
Grill
If you like grilling, then the Weber’s Grill app is one to consider. Besides a slew of grilling recipes, it serves up grilling techniques and a handy timer. It has a grocery list feature, but since I use my grocery store app, I haven’t really taken advantage of that section.

igrill20family-cutout
Thermometer
This is more of a product than an app, but it’s the app that makes it so cool. Weber’s iGrill products mean you are no longer tethered to the grill or oven when cooking. The app on your phone keeps you updated on internal temps. If like me you start talking to your guests in the kitchen while your meat is cooking out on the grill, then this is a lifesaver.

icon175x1751
Converter/Calculator
If you’re a baker, this app is for you. Scale recipes up or down like a pro. Convert between metric and non metric measurement.

icon175x1752
Substitutions
Have you ever been up to your elbows in a recipe only to find you are missing a critical ingredient? I sure have! Substitutions is a handy app to have when you need to find a way to make a recipe work when running to the grocery store that minute is not an option. Even better, the app helps you find substitutions for ingredients that cause allergic reactions. Brilliant!

icon175x1753icon
Pairing
If you are an average Joe (or in my case, Brad) like me, your knowledge of beer, wine, and cheese is limited to what you like. But that’s not always helpful when it comes to entertaining. That’s why it’s important to have a couple of useful apps for wine, beer, and cheese pairing suggestions. Unfortunately, I have not come across one app that does it all, but I have a couple that I rely upon. Here they are:

Pocket Wine Pairing
PairWise

icon350x350
Plus one bonus!
Cheese & Wine

What’s on your smartphone that makes home cooking easier? I’d love to know!

Advertisements

Brad’s Stromboli, That’s Amori

Brad’s Stromboli, That’s Amori

If you are a Stromboli aficionado, please don’t be offended. I know I broke a few rules, but honestly, this recipe I whipped up is delicious. Like it’s relative, the pizza, you can use whatever ingredients you’ve got on hand. I highly recommend you get a bit adventurous and try a few new combinations.

IMG_3440

This is where the purists will pitch a fit…

I used my French bread recipe as the base. Most recipes call for a pizza dough, but I like the sweet, chewy texture of the French bread I make, so I took culinary license!

Follow the recipe linked to below, but STOP when you get to the directions for punching down the risen dough and separating it into two halves.

French Bread Recipe explained in excruciating detail with photos!

Ingredients for Filling
2 packages or 1 pound sliced Black Forest ham
1 package sliced pepperoni
1 package or 1/2 pound sliced mozzarella cheese
1 package or 1/2 pound sliced provolone cheese
1 bell pepper, sliced
1 egg, beaten

Directions
While your dough is rising, prepare your filling ingredients. I sliced and sautéed a green pepper in some olive oil. If you wanted to use spicy sausage, you would cook, drain, and cool it. You could slice and fry up an onion.

IMG_3436

Roll out dough on a floured surface into a large rectangle. Layer cheese, meat, and vegetables. For my two Strombolis, I used mozzarella, ham, and peppers on one and I used ham, pepperoni, mozzarella, and provolone on the other. Season with salt and pepper. Roll tightly. Please on cookie sheet and brush on egg wash.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Baking time will vary depending upon your oven. Let it sit for a few minutes before slicing. Serve with a small dish of pizza or red pasta sauce for dipping. Please note I did not spread sauce inside of the Stromboli before baking. I was worried it might get a little soggy after sitting. Since the recipe makes two, any leftovers are easily wrapped in tin foil and reheated later.

IMG_3439

How do you like your Stromboli? Please share your preferences!

“New” Cuisine is Not Always Better

I love retro foods, so when I stumbled across Mary’s delightful website Old Fashioned Recipes, chock full of oldies, but goodies, I hit the jackpot! She provides recipes for award-winning chocolate cake, creamy scalloped potatoes, chicken pot pie, and much more!

Mary was kind enough to include one of my favorite family recipes for my grandmother’s banana cake. It’s nice to know gram’s cake recipe found an audience among people who love simple, yet delicious home cooking.

If you’d like the recipe to Banana Cake with Penuche Frosting or to browse similar fare like your Gramma used to make, then be sure to visit her site!

5 Economical Ways to Feed Teen Boys

empty-fridge

Photo credit.

Locusts. It’s a word commonly associated with hungry teenagers as they work their way through the kitchen. Wonder where all the leftovers have gone? They were probably consumed during a late-night refrigerator raid. There is a physiological reason for the increased appetite of the average teen boy. Most young men hit a major growth spurt between the ages of 14 and 17, as their bodies add significant height and muscle mass.

Does the inside of your fridge look like this? If perpetual grazing is taking its toll on your pantry and food budget, here are 5 ways to feed those burgeoning appetites without breaking the bank.

1. Buy snacks, fruits, and vegetables at Aldi
Aldi got its start in Germany in 1961 and prides itself on great quality at a low price. It’s hard to find better prices on fresh fruits and vegetables unless you’re shopping at a local roadside stand. The store carries many of its own brands which cost far less than well known names. Download the app on your smartphone and follow the weekly specials to stock up on healthy snacks like Mountain trail mix, granola bars, nuts, and produce at the lowest prices in town.IMG_3308

2. Watch for “soon to expire” meat
Most food stores discount fresh meat one or two days before the recommended “use by” date. Buy these discounted meats and freeze them until ready to use. Great times to look for deals are after a holiday when stores typically overbuy turkeys, hams, corned beef, or other seasonal specialties. You can find hams dirt cheap a couple of weeks after Christmas and Easter then use it for dinner, sandwiches, and soup. Anytime you see a great sale or price cut on chicken legs, buy them, season well with BBQ rub, bake, and store in the fridge next to a bottle of hot sauce. A couple of chicken legs make a perfect “snack!”

Recipe using “soon-to-expire” lamb.

3. Bake with over-ripened bananas

IMG_2837

If fresh bananas never make it to the over-ripe stage in your household, many grocery stores sell brown bananas by the bag at a bargain price. For the low cost of brown bananas, eggs, and a few pantry items, bake banana bread, snack cake, muffins, or cupcakes. While not as wholesome as a piece of fruit, it’s still a better choice than a bag of potato chips!

4. Keep pasta salad on hand
The great thing about pasta salad, besides its low cost, is you can load it up with fresh veggies for a healthy anytime snack or side dish. Bags of tri-color spiral noodles, a bottle of low fat Italian salad dressing, and a combination of chopped raw vegetables (whatever you have on hand) combine for an easy pasta salad. Throw in leftover chicken, roasted vegetables, a can of chickpeas, cheese, or any other ingredients on hand to stretch the recipe out even more.

5. Teach your teen to make smoothies
If you own a high quality blender, smoothies are a low-cost and filling snack or breakfast. Keep the cost down by freezing fruits that are bruised or getting too soft to eat fresh. Bulk vanilla yogurt, protein powder, and skim milk make a tasty base for bananas, strawberries, avocado, peanut butter, or any combination your teen prefers. And it’s fun to experiment! One important tip is to remember the color wheel before mixing ingredients. Red and green combine to make brown. If a brown smoothie looks unappetizing, then strawberries and green grapes may not make the best visual combination! Here is a list of 50 smoothie recipes you can use for inspiration from the Food Network.

School breaks are the most challenging times to keep food in the house because the kids are hanging around. Summer vacation is prime grazing season for growing boys (and girls). If your cupboards are bare, use these ideas to satisfy growing appetites without breaking the bank.