We Love Potlucks!

Written by Chris -

Potlucks

I absolutely love potlucks! There is nothing better than getting together to share favorite recipes and celebrate good family, friends and food. It seems like every month there is a work function, school activity or gathering of friends that revolves around a buffet style meal, and I love it!

Here are some tips and ideas to help with your next potluck:

Feeding a Crowd
One of the biggest questions when cooking for a potluck is, “How much do I make?” Try to take an estimated headcount and plan accordingly, but you don’t need to make full portions for each person. Remember, there are always many options and dishes at potlucks! Typically, count on having enough food for 8-15 small servings, depending on the dish.

Making the Perfect Dish
When choosing a main dish to share, think simplicity and portability. Focus on recipes that combine common ingredients into one dish or pot so that it’s recognizable, easy to serve and will please even the picky eaters. Casserole and crock pot recipes are great ways to combine flavorful ingredients into one transportable meal – just make sure the dish is cooked prior to transporting.

Keep Cool with Appetizers
One concern with potlucks is keeping food warm. You can avoid the hassle by bringing a dish that can sit at room temperature. Salads, vegetable and fruit dishes, and dips are great contributions to the buffet line!

Don’t Forget Dessert
Potlucks are a great time to try out a new cookie, brownie or other decadent recipe. Dessert recipes are often easy to multiply or divide to accommodate any amount of guests, and are an added bonus to the end of the meal.

Find Your Go-To Dish
There is nothing wrong with bringing the same crowd-pleasing dish to multiple potlucks. Find a couple fool-proof dishes that you can rotate throughout the year. Having your go-to meals will reduce the amount of time and planning spent on your end.

Tips and Etiquette
Serving: Be sure to bring the appropriate serving ware for your dish so people can easily fill their plate and move on to the next yummy treat.

Portions: Everything on the table looks amazing! Don’t let your eyes fill up your plate! Be sure to take small portions of the dishes you like, and pass on others.

Thank the host: Always thank the host or coordinator of the evening before leaving. For an added touch, bring a small gift as a special way to show your appreciation.

Recipe Ideas
Looking for a new recipe to wow the crowd? Check out some of our favorite potluck dishes!
Baked Potato Casserole
Cheesy Macaroni and Cheese
Creamy Chicken and Rice Bake
Spinach and Fresh Fruit Salad
Slow Cooker Spinach Artichoke Dip
Italian Antipasta Cold Salad
Original Nestlé Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

What’s in Your Drawer? Top 10 Kitchen Tools & Gadgets

Written by Chris

Kitchen Gadgets

Whether you are setting up your very first kitchen or have mastered the art of cooking, certain tools and gadgets are essential.

  1. You don’t necessarily need a big block of knives.  But I’d recommend having a good sharp Chef’s and a bread knife at minimum.
  2. Every kitchen needs a cutting board whether it be wood (I like Boos brand) or plastic.
  3. A digital instant-read thermometer that can be used for checking doneness of meat and poultry, as well as for use with deep frying and candy making, is essential.
  4. I love my microplane zester, this is another must.  You can add instant flavor with a little grated citrus or even spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.).
  5. To measure the correct amount of flour or cheese or to make sure that pieces of meat, poultry, and fish are the specified size, use a food scale.
  6. Kitchen shears are perfect for cutting small amounts of herbs, chopping canned tomatoes directly in the can and trimming fat from meat and skin from poultry. When pinched for time, I even cut my kids cooked meat with kitchen shears. It’s much faster than using a knife.
  7. Stainless steel measuring cups are used for measuring ingredients like flour, sugar, grains and cereals.  Liquid glass measuring cups, sized from 1 cup to 4 cups, used for measuring wet ingredients. Both are must haves. As are measuring spoons. These items ensure that your recipes come out just right. Use them for your baking recipes, at minimum.
  8. Whisks in assorted sizes are ideal for beating eggs and egg whites, blending salad dressings, and dissolving solids in liquids. They are available both in stainless steel and nylon; the nylon ones won’t harm nonstick surfaces. I’d recommend having both.
  9. A peeler removes the skin from both vegetables and fruits. It’s also handy for making chocolate curls!
  10. A cookie scoop makes the most uniform cookies every single time. You can also use it to make melon balls.

What kitchen tool or gadget are you most passionate about?

How to Make Eggs 4 Ways

Written by Chris -

Eggs are my favorite breakfast food! Not only are they a natural source for protein and other nutrients, they are so versatile. You could make eggs every morning and never have the same thing twice. I love my eggs poached, fried, hard-cooked, scrambled or in an omelet! How do you like your eggs?

Although they’re fun to make, eggs can be tricky to master. Here are some tips to help you make perfect eggs, no matter how you crack them!

Poached
Poaching can be the most intimidating method for making eggs, but have no fear! There is nothing wrong with grabbing a whole carton of eggs and practicing! My number one tip for poaching is to always use fresh eggs. Fresh eggs keep their shape, so it’s easier to form the perfect poach. I also like to add just a tablespoon of vinegar to the water – it acts as a catalyst, causing the egg whites to immediately start cooking which in turn speeds up the overall cooking time.

Fried
A non-stick pan is crucial for making any style of eggs, but most importantly when frying. Starting with a great non-stick surface will ensure your eggs come out perfectly, whether sunny-side up or over easy. Before cracking the egg, preheat a non-stick skillet with a little butter or oil over medium heat. Once hot, crack the egg gently into the pan and fry just until the outside edges turn white. Then cover the pan, lower the heat, and cook a few minutes longer until they’re cooked to your liking.

Hard-cooked
Hard-cooked (frequently referred to as hardboiled) eggs are great for a quick breakfast on the go or an addition to your salad at lunch.

My special tip is to start with the eggs in a pot before adding water and boiling. This allows you to add the perfect amount of cold water, just so it covers the tops of the eggs by about 1 inch. Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 12 to 14 minutes. Drain and then place eggs in ice water and allow them to cool completely. Once cool, you can peel and eat them right away, or you can refrigerate them for up to one week.

Omelets
My secret ingredient for fluffy, yummy omelets is evaporated milk. When mixing your eggs in a bowl before cooking, add one tablespoon of Carnation Evaporated Milk per egg. Mix well and then pour into your omelet pan. It’s an addition that really enhances the eggs’ texture and taste.

You can try out these tips on some “egg-cellent” recipes:

Eggs Benedict Recipe

Eggs Benedict Recipe

Creamy Deviled Eggs

Creamy Deviled Eggs Recipe

Spring Herb Omelets

Spring Herb Omelets

Perfect Pumpkin Platters

Written by Cynthia -

The warmth and joy of the holiday season is only made better by the food, people and memories we share them with. What I look forward to most this time of year is spending time with family and friends, while enjoying all of the great seasonal meals. One of my favorite of which is any dish that includes pumpkin!

In early fall, pumpkin becomes a staple in most households and a versatile super food that could be enjoyed both savory and sweet. Pumpkin also adds extra flavor, fiber and Vitamin A, while being low in fat and sodium.

At Nestlé Kitchens we have tons of delicious and even unique recipes using LIBBY’s® 100% Pure Pumpkin. Here’s a few of our favorites:

Pumpkin Chia Seed Pancakes

Pumpkin Chia Pancakes

These hearty pancakes feature whole wheat flour, chia seeds and pumpkin for a nutritious boost.

Pumpkin Curry Soup

Pumpkin Curry Soup

Curry and white pepper add zest and flavor to this creamy pumpkin soup that is sure to be a winter favorite at your table!

Pumpkin Spice Panna Cotta

Pumpkin Spice Panna Cotta

Oh!… how they will adore this easy yet completely delicious Pumpkin Spice Panna Cotta treat. Crushed gingersnaps add wonderful texture and flavor. For an elegant presentation, serve in ramekins topped with orange slices and crushed cookies.

Quick Pumpkin Pizza

Quick Pumpkin Pizza

Ready in less than 30 minutes, this Quick Pumpkin Pizza uses prepared pizza crusts. You’ll love the great flavor combinations of pumpkin, shredded Gouda or Fontina and parmesan cheeses, garlic and basil pesto. Toasted pine nuts add a flair. Perfect for entertaining when you’re sure to impress your guests with your flavor creativity.

Pumpkin Sage Pasta

Pumpkin Sage Pasta Recipe

Try this amazing Pumpkin Sage Pasta when you’d like to serve something elegant and distinctive. Works well with all types of pasta such as trottole, spirals, penne or bow tie. And it’s ready in 30 minutes! Garnish with fresh sage leaves for an extra flavor dimension and eye-catching appeal.

A New Favorite: Flourless Chocolate Fudge Crinkle Cookies

Written by Chris -

Flourless Chocolate Fudge Crinkle Cookies Recipe

Baking cookies is a wonderful holiday tradition. Each year my kids and I bake several recipes to give to family, friends and teachers to show our appreciation.  It’s a fun activity to do as a family and the recipients are always so appreciative. We’ve added a new cookie to our “Holiday Favorites” list this year!

These chocolate gluten-free cookies are rich and chewy and ridiculously easy to make, with only a handful of ingredients! The texture is similar to that of meringue cookies or French macarons, yet the centers are chewy and fudgy like brownies. Even better, they are quick to make and no mixer is required (perfect for kids to make)!

Flourless Chocolate Fudge Crinkle Cookies

Ingredients for 3 dozen cookies:

Flourless Chocolate Fudge Crinkle Cookies

PREHEAT oven to 325° F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

COMBINE powdered sugar, baking cocoa, coffee granules and salt in large bowl; stir in morsels. Add egg whites and vanilla extract; stir until combined. The mixture should look a little like brownie batter.

DROP by level tablespoon 2 inches apart onto prepared baking sheets. If you want fluffier cookies, after you scoop the dough, place the baking sheet in the refrigerator for 5 minutes (this is completely optional).

BAKE for 13 to 15 minutes or until tops are cracked and shiny and edges are firm. Place baking sheet on wire rack and allow cookies to cool completely. Gently peel cookies off of parchment paper with your hands (I find it’s easiest this way) or a spatula.

Flourless Chocolate Fudge Crinkle Cookies

DUST with additional powdered sugar before serving, if desired. Cookies hold well for 3 days if kept in an airtight container. They can also be frozen for up to 3 months.

Cook’s Tip: for Chocolate Fudge Coconut Crinkle Cookies, eliminate instant coffee and stir in 3/4 cup shredded sweetened coconut with the morsels.

If you are participating in a cookie exchange and looking for stress-free solutions, be sure to check out this article on Meals.com .

Happy Holidays from our kitchens to yours!

Related Recipes:

Choco-Coconut Cookies Flourless Chocolate Brownies
Choco-Coconut Cookies Flourless Chocolate Brownies

It’s In The Slice

Written by Chris -

Dulche de Leche Cheesecake Kit

At Nestlé, we receive and respond to questions all the time about simple ingredient substitutions, how to make the perfect chocolate chip cookie and where to find our products. Fortunately, we have an excellent Consumer Services team who responds to each and every question.

So what food or recipe question do I personally get asked all the time? Crazy enough, it’s about how to get the perfect slice (think cheesecakes, layered cakes and brownies). Even a beautifully frosted cake or a silky-smooth cheesecake can turn ugly after the first slice. We’ve all seen this happen, and most of us like to blame the recipe. Sadly, it’s typically not the recipe’s fault. Rather, we just haven’t mastered this simple technique:

Slicing Tips 101

In the video, I used our NESTLÉ LA LECHERA Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Baking Kit  (pictured above) for illustration purposes. It cuts beautifully especially when you clean your knife between each slice. Side note: If you are pinched for time yet want to make a grand entrance with a dessert, I highly recommend this Baking Kit! You can find it at Walmart, Safeway, and other retailers during the Holiday Season. And if you have any questions or want further cheesecake tips, like using jars to bake the cheesecakes in, using lighter cream cheese or even how to drizzle the dulce de leche, please leave a comment and I will get right back to you!

Additional tips for slicing success:

When making brownies, line your baking pan with heavy-duty foil and leave enough overhang so that you can easily lift the brownies out of the pan. I like to freeze the baked brownies for about 30 minutes so that they don’t bend as I’m lifting them from the pan. They cut a lot better when they are cold too! Once you cut the brownies (remember to clean the knife after each cut by dipping it into hot water, then drying it off between slices), gently remove the foil. If the brownies are super cold, you can peel away the foil before slicing if you’d like.

Latte Machiatto Cheesecake

When it comes to cheesecakes, I’ve found that the freezer is my friend. I like to freeze cheesecakes for 15-30 minutes before slicing. It helps to make an extra clean cut. In the cheesecake image above, I did just that.  And if you are making cheesecake bars, line your baking pan as described above. It is so much easier to cut a cheesecake when it’s outside of the pan or dish. In the photo at the very top (cheesecake bars), I lined the baking pan and froze the cheesecake before cutting. The dulce de leche was drizzled after cutting, but you can drizzle first then cut. It’s just as beautiful this way!
Do you have any tips you’d like to share?

Related Recipes:

Dark Chocolate Brownie Recipe Moist and Tender Chocolate Cake Recipe
Dark Chocolate Brownies Moist & Tender Chocolate
Cake Recipe
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