Cheap Meat Cuts You Can Turn Into Delicious Dishes

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The prices of meats are rising and settling at all times; though, while the prices of expensive cuts of meats always remain high-yet-competitive, the prices of cheaper cuts of meats remain low-yet-competitive. This means that you can pick up some cheaper cuts of meat and still create a delicious and decadent meal — as long as you know how to use the cuts of meat. Here are some cheaper cuts of meat and ideas of how to use them:

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Flat Iron Steak

Also known as ‘top blade’ the flat iron cut is nontraditional yet versatile and comes from the shoulders of cows. Although fillet and sirloin are tenderer, flat iron steak is both affordable and delicious. It can be prepared in various ways like pan frying, grilling, marinating and braising among others. Caution should however be observed to avoid overcooking.

Get A Delicious Flat Iron Steak Recipe HERE >>

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Beef Chuck

This is another cheap cut which comes from steers’ shoulders. It can be chopped up for stew or braised whole. Beef chuck has connective tissues which tenderize it and adds flavor. The secret with this cut is to cook it slowly. Beef chuck pot roast is a traditional one-pot meal which works well for both family dinners and parties.

Get Our Best Beef Chuck Pot Roast Recipe HERE >>

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Pork Shoulder

This is one of the most affordable meat options out there. An average bone-in shoulder could feed a family of four, and typically costs less than $10  for 3 pounds. It responds very well to shredding and slow cooking, which means one can set and leave it to attend to other chores.

Get Our Favorite Pork Shoulder Recipe HERE >>

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Chicken Thighs and Legs

Chicken is generally affordable. However, the enormous demand for boneless, skinless and breasts tends to drive up the price, especially in urban areas. Still, wings, thighs and legs are usually more affordable yet flavorful. Unlike breasts, they’re also easier to cook properly.

Get Our Favorite Chicken Thigh and Leg Recipe HERE >>

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Sirloin

The sirloin refers to a large-area cut from a cow’s rear back section. Top sirloin tends to be tenderer thus more preferred. If one is looking for something cheaper, the tip sirloin is a leaner cut that goes well for stew, kebabs and stir-fry. To keep it from becoming dry and chewy, it needs to be marinated for several hours before broiling, grilling or pan-searing.

Get Our Favorite Sirloin Steak Kebab Recipe HERE >>

As you can see, just because some cuts of meat are cheaper, doesn’t mean you can’t make them into great dishes. Thanks to cell phones and mobile devices, finding easy recipes for cheap meats has never been easier. All you have to do is go to your local butcher or grocery meat counter and ask for deals and cheaper cuts that are available that day, and search for recipes for that select cut of meat or ingredient. With the wealth of recipes available online today, you can search through hundreds of recipes and get ideas for your own recipes using these affordable — yet delicious — cuts of meat.

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All About Leaveners For Baking

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Amateur and accomplished cooks alike will be familiar with leavening agents.  A leavening agent is also known as a raising agent. The baking product is used to create air pockets to ensure baked products rise. The Italian Home Kitchen blog team are passionate about food. However, today, we would like to tell you about the different types of raising agents available. Our team of professional cooks have tested various leavening agents and have come up with an efficient list of raising agents for you to trial.

Alternative Baking Leaveners

  • Ammonium Carbonate or Bakers Ammonia
  • Original Bakewell Cream
  • Instant Clearjel
  • Signature Secrets
  • Cream of Tartar
  • Xanthan Gum
  • Bakewell Cream Baking Powder
  • Whipped Cream Stabilizer

These eight thickening agents and baking leaveners are supreme food thickeners for home baking. All eight effective culinary leavening and thickening agents are used by professional bakers. While many of these types of leaveners may sound exotic, they are commonly used in baking to achieve different textures, tastes and consistencies in doughs, cakes and other baked goods.

General Information about the Eight Baking Leaveners and Thickening Agents

  • Bakers Ammonia (Ammonium Carbonate) was once referred to as Hartshorn.  The chemical cooking leavener was widely used before you could buy baking soda and baking powder. We find this old-fashioned raising agent makes the crispiest crackers and cookies
  • We found Original Bakewell Cream acts in the same way as Cream of Tartar. The gluten-free raising agent is ideal for cookie baking
  • Instant Clearjel is a highly-concentrated thickener.  We discovered the Kosher thickening agent was perfect for making thick fruit pie juices
  • Signature Secrets is a good all-round thickening agent. We whisked the Kosher thickener into cakes, sauces, custards and pies. Our custard pies were unusually creamy and light
  • Cream of Tartar is yet another old-fashioned baking leavener. We used the raising agent in old-fashioned biscuit recipes. Our cooks also used it to make creamy icing and tasty candy. Use cream of tartar to make the perfect meringue, you won’t be disappointed
  • In our opinion, Xanthan Gum is a great emulsifier, stabilizer and baking leavener. The kosher thickening agent is also gluten-free.  We acknowledge some gluten-free treats lack texture and body, however, we discovered Xanthan Gum improves gluten-free recipes
  • The Original Bakewell Cream Baking Powder is an amazing raising agent. The fast-acting, non-aluminium, kosher leavener is ideal for baking muffins, cakes, biscuits and cookies
  • Add a little Kosher whipped cream stabilizer before whipping to prevent the cream from separating. We found the cream stabilizer also helped the dairy product to maintain body and freshness

With the abundance of modern leaveners such as baking powder and instant yeast widely available in grocery stores these days, many of these alternative leaveners are not commonly used anymore; however, if you are using traditional recipes, you may find that they call for these types of leaveners. Some more adventurous bakers may want to try using some of these leaveners, as they offer different textures, and can lead to softer cakes, stretchier doughs, and interesting tastes to all of your baking projects.

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How To Make A Tapenade

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How to Make a Tapenade

Anyone who enjoys eating olives knows that it is fairly easy to incorporate them into your daily life. This includes foods such as anchovy-stuffed olives, Sicilian green olive salad, and a handful of the  Castelvetrano variety brought to work in a container. However, it can be tiresome only to have whole olives all of the time. If this is the case, you may want to try making a tapenade for a party or to have as a snack whenever you wish.

It’s possible to make a tapenade without going by a recipe. You can create a delicious tapenade at home within 30 minutes. Follow these instructions, and you’ll have a gorgeous tapenade in no time. You will love how easy it is to create this spread.

Gather Up Ingredients

The two ingredients that you need are olives and capers. This is the most basic version of tapenade, though you will want to add some other things such as salt, pepper, garlic, olive oil and even anchovies for a stronger flavor.

What type of olives you end up choosing for this depend on your own preference. Choose them carefully, and make sure that you have 2 cups of pitted olives. You may go with Kalamata or green, or you can mix these together. Herbs are a great addition, including thyme, rosemary, basil and oregano among others.  They are best when you get them fresh.

Blend the Ingredients

Use a food processor to create a thick paste from all of the ingredients, besides the olive oil.

Add In Olive Oil

While the food processor is still going, put olive oil in slowly. The tapenade will become slightly more chunky. This should take about a minute or two. Consider if there is oil included in with the olives already to determine how much you will need, but it typically will be from 2 tablespoons to a half cup of oil. Season this mixture with pepper and salt.

Enjoy

Put the tapenade on some crackers, or if you’d prefer, on bread. It is the perfect addition to a sandwich, and it also makes an excellent gift for fellow olive lovers.

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Cook Perfectly Crispy Bacon In The Oven

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Everyone loves bacon that is cooked to perfection; but, there’s no doubt, it can be a bit messy to cook and it certainly requires patience as you stand over the stove diligently turning and monitoring the progress of your bacon. Fortunately, there is an easy alternative to stove top cooking. You can cook perfectly crispy bacon right in your oven.

Simply preheat your oven to 400° F and place a rack in the lower section of the oven. Next, place bacon on a baking sheet. The bacon can be placed close together, but be sure that it doesn’t overlap. For easier cleanup, line the baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the bacon. Start checking after about 12 minutes. When the bacon is crispy and a nice golden brown, carefully remove from oven. If you notice bacon grease building up in the pan during the baking process, carefully pour the grease off. The bacon should not be submerged.

This method will produce a nice crispy bacon with a somewhat tender or chewy middle; however, if you want your bacon crisp all the way through, you can place a cooling rack inside your baking sheet and lie the bacon directly on the rack to bake. This method will allow the bacon to cook on all sides and will result in a crispier finished product.

When the bacon is done, carefully remove it from the baking sheet with tongs and drain on paper towels. Baking is a great way to make a large amount of bacon without having to cook several batches on the stove top. You can use the bacon immediately or cool it and use it for dishes throughout the week. Cooked bacon also freezes well and will take only a moment to warm up in the microwave.

Baking bacon is convenient and cleanup is easy. Just let the grease sit in the foil lined baking sheet until it cools and solidifies, then, gather the foil with the grease and throw it in the trash.

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How You Can Make Fresh Berries Last Longer

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Berries are tasty garden fruits that have unique nutritional values. However, berries must be selected and stored with tender care to maximize their benefits. If you intend to supercharge your diet or enhance your overall health, eating berries is one of the best nutritional bargains around. Before buying them, you should carefully check for mold and broken berries since they usually spoil quickly if they are broken or kept in damp conditions. Good berries that are sold in a supermarket or farmer’s market should not be moist, soft, or pale colored. They should also be kept in clean and dry cartons which indicate that the fruits inside are not moldy. Below are various strategies to make fresh berries last longer:

Do not wash your berries unless you are ready to consume them because the moisture from the water will surely encourage mold. To store them, simply wash these fruits with a water and vinegar solution. By following this washing method, your berries will stay fresh for days and sometimes even weeks. Prepare a diluted vinegar bath in a large bowl with one cup of vinegar and three cups of water. Washing your berries in this solution destroys bacteria and pesky mold.

To get rid of the vinegar taste, remove the moisture from the berries by letting it flow out in a colander and wash them with running water afterwards. In order to make sure that there will be no traces of moisture left on your berries, you can use a salad spinner for thorough drying. Line the salad spinner with three layers of paper towels before placing your berries inside. Let them spin for 15 seconds or until you cannot see any moisture remaining.

Another option to make fresh berries last longer is by dunking them in hot water. Keep them for under water for approximately 30 seconds with a temperature between 120-140°F. Do not let your berries spoil by allowing them to get moldy overnight. Follow these simple steps to keep your berries fresh and enjoy these fruity pleasures.

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How To Make Cold Brewed Coffee

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There’s nothing like a refreshing drink on a hot summer day. For many, that means something with caffeine, making cold coffee drinks all the rage. While some  may think that iced coffee and cold brewed coffee are the same, they are not. Ice coffee is brewed traditionally at high temperatures then cooled and poured over ice. Cold brewed coffee, on the other hand, is just what it sounds, producing a different taste that aficionados prefer.

Cold brewed coffee has several advantages over its iced cousin, beginning with lower acidity levels. Because the grounds aren’t subject to intense heat, the brew’s chemical profile is different. You’ll enjoy a smoother, more mellow cup that tastes naturally sweeter. Neither will you deal with a watery brew. Iced coffee is essentially diluted because it mixes with melting ice. If you like your beverages with high amounts of caffeine, cold brew is for you. Cold brews have a higher bean-to-water ratio and a longer brew time, making it more caffeine intensive.

Cold brew is an expensive drink in boutique coffee shops. Fortunately, you can make it easily at home in three steps.  Almost any type of large container works, including a Mason jar or if you are going the more traditional route, a French press. Cold brew is also one of the easiest coffee methods available.

Start by grinding 3/4 cup of beans for 4 cups of cold water. Taste is subjective, however, so adjust accordingly. This amount can be doubled or tripled depending on how the size of the container. Make sure the grind is coarse as finer grinds will result in cloudy coffee.

Put the coffee in a container that is deep enough to hold the coffee and water and light enough to be picked up for straining. If using a French press, pour the coffee into the bottom of the canister. For both, gradually add water and stir gently, making sure all the coffee grounds are moistened. Let stand at room temperature for at least 12 hours for proper extraction.

Once steeping has finished, take cheese cloth and line a fine mesh sieve set over a large pitcher or bowl. Pour the coffee through the sieve and wait until the coffee filters out before discarding the cheesecloth. If using a French press simply press down to move grounds to the bottom and pour.

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Easy Gazpacho Salad Recipe

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Delicious marinated vegetables are the star in our easy gazpacho salad recipe; comprised of fresh cucumbers, tomatoes and red onions. This is just about the easiest recipe in our collection and can be made quickly. Just like our Cannellini Relish recipe, the trick to this recipe is just to let the vegetables marinated for 8-12 hours to let the vegetables soak up all that delicious vinaigrette. This recipe is so quick and simple that we used to make it in a fix at the restaurant, or substitute this salad for others if we ran out of ingredients.

How to Make Gazpacho Salad

Ingredients:

  • 3 Medium Roma Tomatoes
  • 1 Medium to Large Red Onion
  • 1 Cucumber
  • 1/2 Cup of Olive Oil
  • 1/3 Cup of Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon of Chopped Garlic
  • 2 Teaspoons of Worcestershire Sauce
  • Salt and Pepper To Taste

Preparing Your Vegetables

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Wedge Tomatoes

Preparing the tomatoes is easy, even if your knife skills are a bit lacking. Create tomato wedges by simply cutting the top of the tomato with the stem off, then splitting the tomato down the middle, lengthwise. Next, lay the tomato halves flat with the cut side down. Cut each half in-half again lengthwise. Now take each quarter and split in half again — leaving 8 perfect tomato wedges.

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Sliced Cucumbers

Now, slice your cucumbers by removing both tip ends. Then, simply slice the cucumber into thin, round medallions. Try to get the slices as thin as possible, otherwise the cucumber flavor tends to be a bit too strong in each bite and can actually overpower the tomatoes, onions and vinaigrette. For perfectly thin medallions every time, feel free to use a mandolin slicer.

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Sliced Red Onions

When it comes to slicing your red onions, you have two choices. you can slice the onions into rings, or you can slice into strands. For rounds, simply cut the top and bottoms off of the red onion and slice width-wise into thing rounds or rings. For strands, cut the top and bottom off the red onion, then cut in half lengthwise then slice into thin strands — leaving half-rings. The reason for the options is that some people do not like the rings, and feel that that is just too much onion in every bite. Red onions are stronger and have more bite than yellow onions, so cutting in half and then into strands will make the onion flavor a bit milder in every bite. Again, feel free to use your mandolin for the onions as well.

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Combine Vegetables

In a large mixing bowl, combine all of your vegetables together and add salt and pepper to taste. We tend to go a little heavy on the pepper, sprinkling all over the top of the vegetables, and just a hefty pinch of salt. You can use any type of salt you like, but we prefer kosher salt as the best. Once seasoned, give the vegetables a toss and stir, ensuring that all the veggies come into contact with the spices.

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Prepare Your Vinaigrette

We use a “quick vinaigrette” for this marinade; this is a bit different than a emulsified vinaigrette, but gives a much better quality salad. As opposed to a traditional vinaigrette, you combine all the ingredients at once, instead of slowly drizzling in the oil. The reason we do this is that an emulsified vinaigrette will thicken too much and turn into a fatty thick dressing during the marinating. With the quick vinaigrette, the mixture remains thinner and better coats and marinates the vegetables.

To make the quick vinaigrette, combine Olive Oil, Red Wine Vinegar, Chopped Garlic, and Worcestershire Sauce in a separate small bowl. Once combined, use a wire whisk or a fork to whip the mixture together (for about a minute). Vinaigrette should come together and thicken a bit, but remain a fairly loose mixture. And that’s it!

HINT: Use a quick vinaigrette on other veggies, chicken, shrimp, fish and beef as a marinade as well

Your Gazpacho salad is almost done. Now just drizzle the vinaigrette over all of the vegetables in the large mixing bowl and use a spatula to toss everything together — ensuring that all of the vegetables get a taste of the vinaigrette.

Let Your Salad Marinate

Like we said in the introduction, giving the salad time to marinate, soak up the vinaigrette, and let the flavors meld is the real key to this recipe. We use the 8 hour rule to get the perfect flavor and let the vegetables break down a tiny bit. It can be served immediately — as we often did in the restaurant — but at least 4 hours is needed for the vegetables to really soak up some flavor.

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Your Gazpacho salad is ready to enjoy! We don’t usually garnish our salad, but feel free to garnish yours with chopped cilantro or a chopped mint leaves. For extra flavor, we often dress each individual salad serving with blue cheese crumbles and serve alongside fresh baked bread (focaccia goes well with this salad).

Now Enjoy!

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