Know Your Chiles

March 5, 2013

Know Your Chiles

To keep your Mexican dishes authentically delicious, here are some pointers about chiles.  If you were asked to identify one characteristic that would singularly describe Mexican dishes, the “chile” would be the answer, namely chile peppers.  Whether ground, whole, sliced, diced, pickled, fresh, canned or dried, chile peppers are an inherent part of Mexican dishes. 

There are many varieties of chiles, ranging from mild to very hot!  Chefs use whatever chiles are available to them.  Some varieties are available canned when they aren’t available fresh.  Here is a list of some common peppers. 

Green Peppers:  Also called bell peppers.  They are very mild peppers and are used in salads as a garnish and they are used to flavor & color dishes.

Anaheim:  Also called California peppers.  They are mild, long green chiles.  They can be eaten raw and are used in salads. 

Jalapenos: They are smaller sized and dark green chiles.  They are typically very hot. 

Serranos:  They are smaller and slimmer than jalapenos, but be warned they are hotter too!

Ancho:  These chiles are plump and dark green chiles that range from mild to medium.  Ancho means “wide,” that’s why these are usually the best choice for chile rellanos. 

Yellow Hots:  They are longer than jalapenos and moderately hot.  These chiles are used in hot mixes, along with other chiles and are used in salsas.  They are also used as a garnish to color dishes. 

Wax Chiles:  These chiles are small, slender, yellow chiles and are used in pickled mixes, in salsas and as a garnish. 

Chilitepins:  These chiles are tiny and seedy red peppers.  They are used for seasoning in salsas in combination with other chiles.  They are also used in pickling.  Warning…they are VERY hot!

You can roast chiles over the top burner of your stove.  Make sure to turn frequently to keep the chiles from burning.  You can cook three to four chiles at a time.  When the skins turn dark brown and look blistered then remove them from the heat.  Wrap the chiles in a damp kitchen towel or paper towel to make the skins easier to remove. 

Chiles can be roasted in an oven as well.  Place the chiles onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Bake at 350º F.  until the skins are brown and blistered.  After roasting, wrap the chiles in a damp kitchen towel for a few minutes.  Then remove the skins. 

You can also dry chiles.  To dry chiles, make a chile “garland.”  Sting chiles up by their stems to make a cluster.  Let them hang to dry by placing them in a very dry place until they become dry.  Fresh green chiles turn from green to red when left to dry out.  Dried chiles are ready to use when they are crackly-dry. 

Chile garlands can also be used for decorations in your kitchen, living room or patio.  These sartas or ristras are a characteristic sight in the Southwest. 

To use dried chiles, just soak them in a hot water bath until they are softened.  Open the chiles up and remove the stem and seeds.  Puree them in a food processor or blender.  Add small amounts of water to process.  If the chiles are hot then add a water and vinegar mixture to help tame the chiles.  When a chili paste is made then make sure to pass through a sieve to make a smooth paste.  Season the paste as you desire to make salsas or for cooking. 




Valentine’s Day Dinner Menu Ideas

February 14, 2013

Valentine’s Day Dinner

Talk about date night pressure! Avoid the restaurant hassle, stay in and make a delicious Valentine’s Day Dinner for your sweetheart.  As an added bonus you get the table the entire night as well as save some money.  After dinner snuggle up on the sofa and watch a romantic movie. Here are a few Valentine’s Day Dinner menu ideas. 

Baked Ziti

Dry Aged Steak With Potato Gratin

Pork Rib Roast With Winter Vegetables

Seafood Chowder

Farfalle With Vodka Sauce


Swedish Meatballs

Roasted Pumpkin Soup

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Lemon Meringue Pie

Chocolate Truffles

Carrot Cake

Why Buy Organic?

February 11, 2013

“Food, one assumes, provides nourishment; but Americans eat it fully aware that small amounts of poison have been added to improve its appearance and delay its putrefaction.” – John Cage

There has been quite a bit of controversy these days about eating organic.  Recent studies state that it really doesn’t matter if you eat organic foods or not.  When something is labeled organic, it usually means that a farm has not used pesticides and has taken considerable care to avoid any cross-contamination.  Producing organic food undoubtedly costs more money which is passed on to the consumer.  Buying organic tends to be quite a bit more expensive than buying non-organic. 

Honestly, I don’t care what the studies are saying about eating organic versus eating non-organic.  I would rather not put pesticides into my body as well as wanting to support farmers and food companies that are not using pesticides. I love going to farmers’ markets during the spring, summer and fall and when I am shopping in the grocery store I am willing to pay a bit more for organic food.

If you have decided not to buy organic here is a list of foods that have found to be the most and least contaminated.

Most Contaminated


Bell Peppers












Least Contaminated













Things To Do With Granola

January 8, 2013

Things To Do With Granola


Granola isn’t just for breakfast.  There are so many things you can do with granola. 


Mix granola into chocolate chip cookie dough.


Use granola as an ice cream or yogurt topping.


Make your own granola bars by mixing granola with melted peanut butter, honey, syrup or chocolate chips.


Add granola to banana bread mix.


Make a granola pie crust by mixing granola with melted butter and pressing down into a pie pan. 


Mix granola into waffle or pancake batter.


Use granola as a fruit salad topper


Sprinkle granola on top of a baked apple.


Healthy & Whole Foods

January 6, 2013

Healthy & Whole Foods

Many Americans have been struggling with weight issues for years.  People may lose a few pounds by trying various diets, but only to gain a few extra pounds when resuming old eating patterns.  As we get older we find that losing weight becomes much more difficult with our metabolisms slowing substantially.  Being overweight brings on serious health risks such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease.  It is important for us to make a real connection between what we eat and our overall health.  Here are some eating tips that typically make a difference in weight loss and, of course, incorporating exercise into your daily routine helps significantly. 



Eat a healthy breakfast every day.  A healthy breakfast is one that consists of

Protein, fruit and whole grains.  Avoid processed foods.  Eating breakfast helps

prevent overeating later in the day.  Try eating an egg sandwich with a piece of fruit or whole grain cereal with low fat or skim milk and a banana. 



Drink more water.  Most of us don’t drink enough water.  Substitute water for sodas, juices, alcoholic drinks and even diet sodas.  Substitute water for those high calorie drinks and you will begin to see the pounds melt away.  I like to drink sparkling water when I crave a soda.



Fish is great for giving you those good omega-3 fatty acids that we all need and

is lower in calories.  Stay away from eating processed meats like hot dogs and sausages.  Eat fish two to three times per week and eat red meat once a week at most.


Whole Grains

Whole grains are chock full of vitamins, minerals and high in fiber.  Eat whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta and brown rice.  Stay away from refined grains such as white bread and white pasta.


Fruits & Vegetables

We need our fruits and vegetables.  They are antioxidant rich foods that help in weight loss.  Fresh produce contains water so we feel full and satisfied longer.  Berries are great antioxidants. 



Including low-fat dairy food into our diets is important.  These foods are rich in calcium and vitamin D.  Many of us are deficient in obtaining these bone building vitamins. 


“Diet” Foods

Just because the label says “diet” or “low-fat” or “fat-free” doesn’t mean that they are healthy for us or will promote weight loss.  These foods are typically loaded with sugar and are highly processed which means empty calories.  It would be better to eat a hand-full of nuts than to turn to these impostors. 


Home Cooking

As you know I am big on cooking at home.  I rarely use processed foods and would rather cook my own meals.  It takes time, money and energy, but in the end it’s worth it.  When we eat out in restaurants we truly don’t know how our food is cooked.  Chefs tend to put butter on “everything” and that’s why the meals taste good.  Also, we tend to eat much larger portions when we go out for dinner.  For certain stay away from fast food restaurants. 


Portion Sizes

I am a visual person.  It sounds ridiculous but the serving size for fruits and vegetables should be fist size.  Look at your fist and get a visual of what a fruit/veggie serving size should be.  A serving size of meat should be the size of a deck of cards and a serving size of fish should be the size of a checkbook. Eat smaller meals!


Slow Down

Eat slower.  We should spend 30 minutes eating a meal.  Eat at the table sitting down. 


Food Labels

Read those food labels for calories and other nutrients.  Scan the food labels for how many grams of sugar an item has.  Just because a food item my say it is low in fat it just may have a high amount of sugar. 



Snacking twice a day on healthy snacks helps from overeating later in the day.  Healthy snacks are items such as fruit, carrots or a handful of nuts (not sugar coated candy type nuts).  Don’t forget that water! 



Believe it or not chewing gum can help keep that weight off.  I like to nibble so when I get the urge to nibble I will pop a couple pieces of gum in my mouth. 



Sleep at least 7 hours per night.



Join a gym and go at least 3 times a week.  If you can’t make it to a gym then walk.  Go for a walk after lunch or after dinner for 45 minutes to an hour.  Incorporate lifting some free weights into your routine. 


Foods To Avoid


Ice Cream



Instant Oatmeal

Fish Sticks

Sugary Cereal

White Pasta

Cereal Bars

Candy Bars

Fried Chicken

Regular Pretzels

Potato Chips

White Bread

White Potatoes

Prepared Salad Dressings

White Rice



Foods To Eat

Olive Oil

Greek Yogurt



Steel Cut Oats

Broiled Salmon

High Fiber Cereal

Whole Wheat Pasta


Piece of Dark Chocolate

Grilled/Roasted Chicken

Whole Wheat Pretzels

Unbuttered Popcorn

Whole Wheat Bread

Sweet Potatoes

Oil & Vinegar Salad Dressing

Brown Rice


Out Of Town Guests

December 14, 2012

Out Of Town Guests


Do you have out of town guests coming for the holidays?  If so here are a few tips to make their stay comfortable. 


If you must put a futon or roll-away in the den or office then try and hide the sleeping area with a nice screen of some kind. 


Designate closet space for your guests and make sure to have plenty of extra hangers. 


Try to accommodate your guests by thinking about what it is that you would like done for you. 


Place a portable TV or radio in the guest room or sleeping area.  Guests like to get away from everyone and watch the late night news. 


Place a nightstand, an alarm clock and a carafe (with glass) for water next to the guest bed.  Everyone needs a place to put keys, change, wallets and earrings. 


It is really nice to place a basket of food to snack on in the guest room.  Items like crackers, nuts, fruits, chocolates and muffins really help a guest feel welcome as well as staving off constant hunger. 


Place a reading light in the guest room.  Most people like to read in bed before dropping off to sleep. 


Make sure that you have plenty of fresh towels for your guests.  You may want to even have a guest bathrobe on hand.  It’s nice to place a small basket full of travel size toiletries for your guests.  Items such as mini bottles of shaving cream, razors, shampoos, toothpaste and mouthwash come in very handy as well as making your guests feel welcome. 


Most of all enjoy your guests and don’t sweat the small stuff.  This time of the year is time for family and friends.  They won’t be at your house forever (at least I hope not) and you can get back to your life soon.  


Happy Holidays!

Tiny New York Kitchen Household Hints Caring For Cast Iron Pans

October 3, 2012

Tiny New York Kitchen Household Hints Caring For Cast Iron Pans

Cast iron pans have become popular again.  It is important to clean them properly. To make your own cast iron skillet cleaner just sprinkle lemon juice and salt on the rusty iron skillet. Wipe out the rust and then season with a lot of oil.  Put the skillet into the oven (200° F) for one hour.  Remove from the oven and wash the skillet.  Dry thoroughly and apply with more oil.  Wipe off any excess oil. Never let cast iron air dry or it will rust. 

Tiny New York Kitchen Household Hints – Elastic Thread

September 30, 2012

Tiny New York Kitchen Household Hints – Elastic Thread

If you are tired of sewing your buttons back onto your shirts and pants constantly then I have the solution for you.  If you sew your buttons on with elastic thread then your shirts/blouses and pants won’t pull or bunch any longer.  Sewing buttons on with elastic thread is great for people who are larger in the chest or around the middle.  This is also a great solution for older people or small children who find it difficult to button their clothing. 


Tiny New York Kitchen Household Hints – Doors That Squeak & Stick

September 20, 2012

Tiny New York Kitchen Household Hints

If you have a door that squeaks then read on.

Doors That Squeak & Stick:

Stop door hinges from squeaking by giving them an application of Vaseline.  Rub the part of a door that sticks with yellow soap to make it move more easily. 

Tiny New York Kitchen Household Hints – Caring For Your Silver

September 19, 2012

Tiny New York Kitchen Household Hints

Caring For Your Silver

A simple way to clean your silver is to put it into an aluminum pan with sour milk and let it stand for a few hours.  Then rinse in hot water and polish.  If your silver is going to be stored for any length of time, then put a piece of camphor with it or rub the silver with Vaseline or sweet oil.  When possible to do so, stand the flat silver in large glass top fruit jars with a pad at the bottom.  Cover the top with cotton and place a piece of camphor in the jar.  Then screw the lid on the jar. This makes an airtight container and keeps the silver perfectly without tarnish. 

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