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Why People Are at a Loss About What Goes Good With Scallops

As a chef, I have spent nearly half of my entire life in a professional kitchen, and once a month someone will ask, "What goes good with scallops if I decide to make them my main course?" There is a reason so many people ask this question. Red Lobster has corrupted the way you, as home cooks, think of scallops.

They send out tiny black platters of them on top of huge platters adorned with other meat commonly used as main courses. I do not believe scallops are meant to be a side dish. In fact I know they are not a side dish. What should you serve as sides with scallops as your main course? It is simple, and there are so many options.

I am going to teach you to make them your main course by serving them with the appropriate side dishes, which will answer many people's questions about what to serve with scallops.

This Is Why You Must Plan a Meal Around Scallops

Scallops are what is referred to as a protein. You have to remember what this means from now on when preparing your meals for yourself, family or guests. The protein of the of the main course is the center piece of your meal. Even if your main course is a pasta such as Tutto Mare or Ciopinno which both include scallops, the seafood in those dishes are the main flavor enhancers and the main ingredients. Everything you prepare your scallop meal should compliment it. A complete scallops main course will include an appropriate vegetable, starch and a sauce for the scallops.

Adding the Right Vegetable to Your Scallop Entrée

Discussing what vegetable side goes good with scallops is going to get the hard part out of the way first. There are a myriad of vegetables for each season and a variety of ways to cook them. You will be able to find a comprehensive list in the sources. I find only a few worthy of scallops, and it is critical to match the cooking method for the vegetables with the buttery flavor of scallops. Let's get started.

The Best Vegetables and Their Preparations for Scallops

In my opinion, here are the best vegetable dishes for winter linked to a quick, easy and tasty recipe:

Next, these are my choices for spring vegetables:

Here are three great choices for summer vegetable sides to accompany scallops:

  • Green beans with lemon and garlic
  • Green beans and tomato sauté
  • Green beans tossed with basil, balsamic and Parmesan

Finally, here are my favorite vegetable sides for scallops during fall:

  • Roasted brussel sprouts
  • Sauteed carrots
  • Sauteed kale and apples

List Scallops That You Can Choose

1. Sea Best 20/30 Jumbo Scallops, 16 Ounce


Scallops are some of the best-tasting and healthiest seafood around. Sea Best Jumbo Scallops are tender, juicy, sweet, and mild. They have a wonderful, medium texture and are ready to cook right out of the bag. Sea Best scallops are farm-raised and come in a resealable bag. They are naturally low in bad fats and high in omega-3 fat (the good fat). They are very high in protein and also have other beneficial vitamins and minerals. They are individually quick frozen so it is easy to take out a few for a single meal without needing to unthaw the entire bag.


2. Sur La Table Pro Ceramic Shrimp and Scallop Pan CC7688


Shrimp and scallops are only as good as the cook, so when grilling them, using the right pan can make sure they are grilled to perfection. The Sur La Table Pro Ceramic Shrimp and Scallop pan is perfect for grilling. It is a high-heat pan that can withstand temperatures of up to 700 degrees. The 12 shallow wells cooks shrimp and scallops individually and uniformly. It is non-stick, light-weight, and stain resistant. The pan measures 13.5" x 9" x .75" (34.3cm x 22.9cm x 1.9cm) so it is small enough to be put on the grill while still leaving space for other foods.


3. Sea Best 8/12 Colossal Scallops, 16 Ounce


If you are looking for some big, juicy, tender scallops then Sea Best Colossal Scallops may be a great choice for you. These scallops are fresh, individually frozen, and the satisfaction is guaranteed. Scallops are great when cooked in a number of different ways including baking, grilling, or pan-searing, and the mild and subtle sweet flavor with have your mouth watering. Sea Best scallops have a nice texture and flavor. The scallops are farm-raised in the United States, high in Omega-3 fatty acids, low in bad fats, and a great source of protein. Sea Best scallops are tasty as well as healthy.


4. Large Japanese Dried Scallops Dry Seafood


Dried scallops are a popular Asian cuisine. Dried scallops make a great snack or can be used as an appetizer or a main entree in a full meal. They could also be used to make a delicious and filling soup. Dried scallops have many of the same health qualities as frozen scallops such as being high in omega-3 fat and low in calories. These scallops are jumbo scallops and are originally from Japan Hokkaido. The texture is impressive and the flavor is delightful. With guaranteed quality and freshness, these are some of the best dried scallops you may ever have.


5. [E-Book]-Scallops: A New England Coastal Cookbook


Scallops: A New England Coastal Cookbook is more than just a compilation of great scallop recipes from the New England area of the United States. Authors Elaine and Karin A. Tammi, a mother and daughter team of scallop lovers and experts, presents a complete scallop "guide", with interviews of industry professionals and full-color, high-quality photographs. It also contains a lot of other information about scallops from the history of the popular ocean dwellers to common questions and concerns. This book is a must-have for any scallop and/or seafood lover.


6. [E-Book]-Scallops (Simply) Kindle Edition


No matter how you like your scallops, you will find a recipe in this book that will suit your tastes and discover others that will peak your interest. In Simply Scallops you will find 20 delightful scallop recipes that are simple and easy to make. This 50 page book is complete with beautiful and tempting color photographs and easy-to-follow instructions. In no time, you will have some of the best scallop dishes for any event from simple snack time to a a dinner party. Available on Kindle with text-to-speech enabled, you can brush up on scallop recipes anytime, anywhere!


The Best Starch to Serve With Scallops

This is not going to be as complicated as picking vegetables. You just want to stick with selecting a starch to pair with the buttery flavored scallops. Starch encompasses a lot of things, but the options are limited. I have chosen the best starches for each in my experience.

The Right Potato Side for Scallops

There are only a couple I like. They should not be overly seasoned, and I recommend serving size be a bit smaller. Here is what you should go with:

  • Roasted red potatoes
  • Herbed potato gratin with roasted garlic and manchego
  • Miniature baked potatoes

The Only Side of Pasta Worth Mentioning

Orzo pasta looks like rice to the untrained eye. As far as scallops go, many cooks prepare it as a meal with the scallops placed on a bed of orzo. I prefer a side of orzo featuring a light flavor with my scallops. The perfect side is a lemon and parsley orzo.

Does Rice Have a Place With Scallops?

You could hunt up some rice recipes for a side if you wanted to. I believe there is only one thing worth putting your time into, and my selection is a scallop risotto recipe.

The Final Decision on What Goes Good With Scallops

Deciding which sides go best with scallops depends on you and if you are serving other people. Your taste buds will go a long way in the decision-making process too. In my opinion and experience, the vegetable sides, potato sides and pasta listed above are winners. You can consult different recipe sites to see what is recommended too, but I think going by the season when selecting a vegetable is always classy and shows off skill. Checking forums like this one for ideas is a great way to get inspiration. I also recommend learning more about side dishes with the following books:

Scallop Greats: Delicious Scallop Recipes, The Top 100 Scallop Recipes

The Big Book of Sides: More than 450 Recipes for the Best Vegetables, Grains, Salads, Bread, Sauces, and More

Source:

http://www.chowhound.com/post/side-dish-scallops-366591

​http://www.foodrepublic.com/2014/01/07/25-winter-vegetable-recipes-to-make-for-dinner-tonight/

http://www.thekitchn.com/12-fall-vegetables-you-should-know-how-to-cook-211234

http://cooking.nytimes.com/topics/summer-produce​

What Are the Best Dishes to Make with Cornbread?

We recently stumbled upon this cornbread recipe, and it started the usual debate about which is the best type of cornbread. Southern-style cornbread is usually savory, whereas northern-style recipes often include sugar or some type of sweetener.

Cornbread enthusiasts feel strongly about which is the “right” type of cornbread, as well as what you’re supposed to eat it with. Surprisingly, just about everyone agreed that chili is a good accompaniment to cornbread.

This got us wondering: besides chili, what goes well with cornbread?Our curiosity piqued, we hit the web to discover what people think are the best dishes to make (and eat) with cornbread.

Soups, Stews, and Beans

Like chili, soups, stews, and beans all have hot, rich sauces in which you can dip your cornbread. During cold winter months, these hearty dishes (and a hearty cornbread) are great. Food Network’s The Pioneer Womanis on board with the cornbread and beans combo.

The Happy Housewife also thinks beans and cornbread go well together, and reminds us that the two make for an inexpensive meal. Since most of the ingredients for beans, soups and cornbread are shelf-stable, you can easily whip up a meal without hitting the supermarket.

While most recipes brag about making moist cornbread, drier cornbreads are great for crumbling into a soup or stews. Popular cornbread/soup pairings include Mexican tortilla soup and creamy soups like cream of chicken.

If you want instant gratification without the hard work of making a big pot of soup, these soup and chili packs are great. All that’s left to do is making the cornbread!

Southern Barbeque (BBQ)

If you’re ordering a meal of southern BBQ, you’re sure to get a nice hunk of cornbread with it. The Southern Food Alliance takes cornbread so seriously, it named it one of its 12 Southern Food Groups.

There’s just something about the savory taste of cornbread that goes with the smoky flavors of southern barbeque. A “true Southerner” will tell you that cornbread has to be made in a cast iron skillet to develop a slightly crispy crust.

Not to be confused with actual barbeque (where meats are smoked low and slow), a popular recipe online is for BBQ cornbread casserole, which is usually made with ground beef, but there is variations using chicken. It seems more Tex-Mex than southern, but it sounds delicious!

Roast Chicken or Pork

If you’re not a barbequea ficionado (or you just can’t get good barbeque where you live), you can still enjoy cornbread with good old-fashioned roasted meats. A popular northern-style dish is roasted chicken with cornbread stuffing (or dressing).

And let’s not forget cornbread crusted pork loins. Traditional? Maybe not, but we’re not very picky about the form the cornbread is in, as long as it tastes good!

Black-eyed Peas&Greens (Southern Style)

When PinchMySalt.com asked its readers to respond to the question, “What do you eat with cornbread?”, they received quite a few responses that included southern style greens. Typical southern “greens” dishes include collards, Swiss chard, and spinach.

If you’re like me and you don’t know much about southern cooking, grab this book. Or you can learn how to cook black-eyed peas and cornbread from this video (the chef makes his own lard, so you know it’s authentic southern cuisine!)

Butter and Fig Jam

The responses to PinchMySalt also included a lot of people who prefer the classic route of spreading some butter on their cornbread. Quite a few people mentioned jam, and our research turned up a lot of recipes for cornbread and fig jam.

Don’t get the wrong idea here; the fig jam isn’t being spread onto the cornbread, but baked into it. Some recipes don’t even call for jam, just figs, like this one (seems strange, but you can’t deny how pretty this looks!)

At our house, we like to use a flavored butter on cornbread, like honey butter or chive butter. If you’ve never made a flavored butter before, check out these easy recipes. Once you’ve tried one of these “gourmet” butter, you’ll want to experiment with different flavors all the time!

Time to Make the Cornbread

Now that all of our stomachs are growling, I’m going to get the cast iron skillet warmed up and make some cornbread! To make your own cornbread, follow these simple steps:

  • Purchase a good-quality cornmeal; you can choose yellow or white, it’s a personal preference
  • Find a recipe with good reviews and watch a how-to video for making cornbread
  • Don’t forget to pick a tasty main dish to go with your cornbread

Were you surprised by any of these recipe pairings for cornbread? Leave us a comment below, or tell us what you think goes well with cornbread.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

http://www.bar-b-q-queen.com/menu.htmlhttps://www.southernfoodways.org/the-cornbread-question/

https://www.southernfoodways.org/

http://www.abreadaday.com/northern-style-cornbread/

https://delishably.com/baked-goods/perfect-cornbread

How to Cook Black Rice in a Rice Cooker

Black rice has recently become the new trend in rice, making its way around the food blogs (like in this recipe from Ambitious Kitchen) and nutrition sites. I’ve learned that black rice is extremely versatile; you can use it in both sweet and savory dishes, which means a big batch of it has a lot of uses.

Black rice is also reported to have numerous health benefits (thanks to PositiveHealthandWellness.com for this great nutrition infographic), so I had to try it out for myself and share it with you all.

You can cook black rice on the stovetop (this video will show you how), but after years of getting inconsistent results on the stovetop, I purchased a rice cooker, and it is by-far the best way to cook any type of rice.

Ready to try your hand at making black rice? Follow my easy, step-by tutorial on how to cook black rice in a rice cooker and you’ll get tasty results every time.

See full recipe here.

What You’ll Need

  • A rice cooker (see note below)
  • 1 cup uncooked black rice (will result in approximately 1 ½-2 cups of cooked rice)
  • A fine mesh strainer or colander with small holes
  • 2 ¼ cups water
  • Salt and pepper (optional, omit if planning to make a sweet dish with the rice)

A note about rice cookers:

Rice cookers come in various sizes, or capacities. A 3-cup rice cooker is designed to properly cook small batches of rice, while a 10-cup rice cooker will cook large batches of rice perfectly (all very logical). If you have a large capacity rice cooker, you’ll want to double or triple this recipe, since your rice cooker isn’t designed to cook such a small amount of rice.

Step by Step Instructions

Step 1.

Rinse and Drain the Rice to Remove Excess Starch

Place 1 cup of black rice (I like this one) into a fine mesh strainer or colander with small holes.

Place the strainer (with rice in it) under cold running water. Stir the rice up with your fingers a little, to ensure that all of the rice gets rinsed. You will see purplish/black water coming off of the rice; continue to rinse the rice until the water has less color or is clear.

Turn the water off and shake the strainer to remove excess water. You can also stir the rice up with your fingers a little to let any extra water out.

Pro Tip: 

Don’t skip this step. Black rice is very starchy, so you must remove some of the starch before putting it in the rice cooker. Otherwise, you’ll end up with very gummy rice.

If you don’t have a fine mesh strainer, put your colander over a large bowl while rinsing your rice. That way, any rice that slips through the holes of your colander won’t go down the drain.

Need to purchase a mesh strainer? Get this three-piece set from LiveFresh for less than $.

Step 2. Add the Rice to Your Rice Cooker

Take the strainer over to your rice cooker and simply dump the rice from the strainer right into the cooking pot of your rice cooker. If you see a lot of extra water from the rinsing step, try to soak it up with a paper towel. A little extra water is okay, but you want to avoid too much excess starchy water.

I keep the cooking pot of my rice cooker inserted into the exterior pot while I do this. There’s no need to remove the inner pot during prep.

Step 4. Add Water to the Rice Cooker

Measure out your water and pour it into the rice cooker, right over the rice.

Pro Tip:

If you are working off of a different recipe that is for cooking a large amount of black rice, be sure to add about ¼ cup of extra water to the rice cooker. Black rice still has its hull (as opposed to white rice), so it requires more water to cook it to the right texture.

Step 5. Add Seasoning to the Rice/Water Mixture

If you’re planning to make a savory dish with your cooked black rice, now is the time to add salt and pepper. There is no right or wrong amount to add; season to taste as you would white, brown, or wild rice.

Step 6. Plug in Your Rice Cooker and Set to Cook for 30 Minutes

Put the lid on your rice cooker, plug it in, and set the time for 30 minutes. Alternately, if your rice cooker has a Brown Rice setting, you can use that, since both brown rice and black rice have intact hulls and require similar cooking times.

Pro Tip:

If you’re new to rice cookers, watch this quick video from WebstaurantStoreto learn about rice cooker measurements, settings and, and best practices.

Step 7. Let the Rice Sit After Cooking

I like to let the rice sit in the rice cooker, covered, for 5-10 minutes after it has finished cooking. This is pretty standard for cooking rice on the stovetop, too. It allows the rice to absorb the extra moisture that has built up inside of the cooking pot.

Rice cookers are great about adjusting the temperature so that your rice doesn’t overcook, so don’t worry about this extra 5-10 minutes making your rice mushy.

Step 8. Stir, Serve, and Enjoy!

After the rice has sat for a bit, remove the lid from the rice cooker, let the steam escape, and stir the rice. Now you are ready to serve your rice! Here’s a beautiful photo of some fully cooked black rice, courtesy of The350DegreeOven.com.

Black Rice: As Easy as Any other Rice!

I love that black rice is both tasty (it has a nutty taste) as well as a powerhouse of nutrition. At first, I was worried that it would be harder to cook than standard white or brown rice, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how easy it is.I’ll definitely be cooking more of it.

I hope that you have found this tutorial helpful. Give it a try, and have fun experimenting with new flavors and dishes that go well with black rice, like this Thai Black Sticky Rice Dessert from TheWoksOfLife.com.

If you have questions or want to add your tips for how to cook black rice in a rice cooker, leave me a comment. You can also recommend your favorite black rice or rice cooker.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

https://draxe.com/forbidden-rice/

http://cleancuisineandmore.com/the-healthiest-rice-in-the-world-makes-the-easiest-side-dish/

http://www.gourmetsleuth.com/articles/detail/how-to-select-a-rice-cooker

http://www.veryasia.com/how-to-choose-rice-cooker/

The Easiest and Best Spaghetti Sauce You Will Ever Make

There is a preconceived notion many cooks have regarding spaghetti sauce made using a can or jar. A lot of cooks will find it acceptable, but they believe it will undoubtedly be inferior to a sauce made using homemade tomato sauce as the base. Many cooks, especially traditionalists, find the notion appalling, and they will refer to the idea as blasphemy.

I have to agree with them when it comes down to sauces in jars or cans already stacked with flavors like "Prego: Roasted Garlic and Onion", which is just an example because there are a myriad of concoctions being pushed in the grocery aisles. I believe it is possible to make a better spaghetti sauce using a canned or jarred product instead of spending several hours making the tomato mother sauce as a base.

In this blog you will learn how to make spaghetti with jarred pasta sauce or canned sauce. I will explain how to infuse it with flavor and explain cook time to produce a fantastic pasta sauce using a quick, unorthodox and cheap recipe.

See full recipe here.

Ingredients to Serve About Four People With Leftovers

Anywhere between a third and half of a package of bacon depending on how much you like bacon.

  • One whole medium or large white or yellow onion depending your preference of flavor.
  • 3 or 4 tablespoons of finely chopped garlic, and you can add more or less depending on flavor preference.
  • Assemble a dried Italian herb blend of 1.5 tablespoons of parsley, 1.5 tablespoons of basil and 1 tablespoon of oregano.
  • A bottle of any kind of cheap red wine for cooking and deglazing the pan.
  • A box of dried spaghetti noodles with enough pasta for a serving size of four to six people.
  • Find two 24 ounce cans or jars of plain tomato sauce, but plain or traditional flavored pasta sauce will suffice.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Step 1: Dicing the Bacon

For many, this will be the first time you make a sauce like this, so it is important to do what the French call "Mise en Place". Mise en Place basically means you want to put everything in place.

This will apply mostly to anything you need to use your knife on, and it will only be for the main recipe. Mise en Place and the videos will prevent any anxiety during the cooking process. I will hyperlink any important demonstrations of processes to cut down on confusion.

Bacon is the main flavor enhancer of the sauce, and it is technically what is known in the culinary world as the main ingredient of the entire dish. It is extremely easy to dice bacon while it is still mostly frozen with a sharp sturdy knife.

Thawed bacon would take forever, and it is a safety risk to try and do a medium dice on thawed bacon. In fact, it is a great way to get cut badly.

Step 2: Dicing the Onion

The onion requires a medium dice, and here is a clip on how to safely medium dice an onion.

Everything is now fully prepped to begin the sauce. In the next 20 or 30 minutes, you will have your first bowl of bacon-infused spaghetti sauce, and your friends will tell everyone you made them the best bowl of spaghetti ever.

Completing This Unique and Incredible Spaghetti With the Final Recipe

Step 1: Render the Fat From the Bacon

Place all of the bacon you diced from your Mise en Place in the bottom of a metal sauce pan, and make sure it is spread evenly. Next, turn the burner under the sauce pan on medium. You are doing what is called rendering fat.

Step 2: Begin Preparing the Pasta

Fill a large stock pot up with hot tap water. You want enough water in the pot to allow the pasta to flow around freely. It will help prevent noodles from sticking to each other, the side and the bottom. A liberal dose of salt should be added as soon as the pot is put on the burner, and turn the burner on high.

The salt is essential for the flavor of your noodles. There is no reason to add oil to the water because it does nothing. Finally, remember to stir several times in the beginning to release the starch and periodically throughout the cooking process. When the pasta is done cooking, your spaghetti should be finished.

Step 3: Cook the Bacon and Start Assembling the Sauce in the Correct Order

Before the canned sauce is added, there is a lot of work to be done in your sauce pan. It will be fast though. Turn the burner up three quarters of the way. Using a wooden spatula or spoon, start moving your bacon around, so it heats evenly and cooks faster.

You should notice quite a bit of bacon grease. It is from the fat rendering out of the bacon. Do not panic. This is the fat you are going to use to sauté your onions in and any other of the elective ingredients like mushrooms.

Step 4: Sauté the Onions Correctly

Once the bacon looks like it is going to start getting crispy, add all of the prepared diced onions. Stir them around in the pot well, so they get coated in the bacon fat. Let them cook for a little while until they start to become translucent. White onions are sweeter, but they taste even better when cooked translucent and coated in bacon. At this point, the smell should be causing your mouth to water.

Step 5: Add the Garlic and Herbs

First, increase the heat quite a bit to burn off some of the excess fat. Some dark spots will naturally form on the bottom of the pan, but there is nothing to worry about. Toss all the garlic you requisitioned during your prep, do the same with the herbs and stir. Stir fast and fold everything in.

Step 6: Add Red Wine for Flavor and Function

Before adding the red wine to the increasingly hot mixture, turn the burner on absolute high. There is no magic, precise measurement for this step either. Add a little around the edge and pour it on places where food is becoming stuck, and in the end, there should be a very shallow coating on the bottom. Keep the burner on high because the red wine will burn off and keep stirring the bottom hard and fast. Now, it's time to finish up.

Step 7: Adding the Canned Sauce and Completing the Dish

Add the cans of sauce, and incorporate the bland tomato sauce with the natural flavor enhancers you have prepared and cooked for the last 45 minutes. Turn the burner down to medium, add salt and pepper to taste.

Remember the foundation of the entire dish is bacon, which is salty.

Finally, add any of the Italian herbs to taste. Once you are satisfied, turn the burner down to low heat and cover it. Drain your pasta, and rinse it with cold water. Add the spaghetti noodles to whatever you are going to serve them out of, and toss the noodles while lightly drizzling extra virgin olive oil. Your meal is completed, and you can assemble it for serving however you want.

Final Thoughts on the Spaghetti From the Chef

I really hope you enjoyed the article and the spaghetti. This has always been a favorite sauce of mine. It is not a complicated sauce, but my first Italian chef mentor showed me this as an alternative for red pasta sauces.

Despite knowing hundreds of dishes, this spaghetti was the first thing I ever cooked for my wife (she like Spaghetti and Hot dogs), and I think it might be why she loves me. I am interested in what you, the reader, thinks though.

Leave comments below, and let us know your thoughts on the dish. Did you love it, hate it or have any trouble spots during preparation? If you did enjoy it, then share the link with someone else.

How to Make Slow Cooker Hot Dogs (with Tasty Results)

How to Make Slow Cooker Hot Dogs? I’ve recently become a big fan of using my slow cooker, and it’s not even chili season! I’ve discovered that I have a lot more time to spend with my family during the weekdays when the slow cooker is doing the active work of cooking dinner. Prep time is about the same, but boy, do I gain a lot of extra time when I’m not slaving over the stove.

On hot days, I would always choose the grill over the stove or oven, to keep from heating up the kitchen. Lately though, I’ve been using my slow cooker and I’m able to stay even cooler! This is when I discovered that I can make hot dogs–a backyard party staple–without ever having to start the grill.

Never heard of slow cooker hot dogs? I hadn’t either, but a quick Pinterest search taught me that I’m not the first to discover this awesome cooking method. It has saved me so much time that I just had to share it with you.

What You’ll Need

  • Hot dogs (up to 60 if you’re using a 6-quart slow cooker)
  • Slow cooker (see below regarding size)

Slow Cooker Size

You can use this cooking method no matter what size slow cooker you have on hand. When trying to determine how many hot dogs you can fit into your slow cooker, remember that a 6-quart cooker can fit up to 60 dogs. By that math, a 3-quart slow cooker can accommodate 30 hot dogs.

If you are in the market to purchase a new slow cooker, I recommend selecting a large model, even if you don’t have a large family. You can cook bigger meals to have leftovers for the next few days, or easily cook for a group of friends.

I’m a big fan of this colorful, 7-quart Black + Decker cooker, which has a simple dial (or knob) for controlling the settings. If you want less flash and more features, this Frigidaire Professional Stainless 7-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker is a good choice.

Step by Step Instructions

Step 1. Arrange the Hot Dogs in Your Slow Cooker

Pay close attention to this first step if you’re trying to get the maximum amount of hot dogs into your slow cooker! Although this cooking method is super easy, I’m not telling you to just throw the hot dogs into the slow cooker. You need to arrange them.

Remove the hot dogs from their packaging and place them in the slow cooker vertically. As in, standing on their ends. Place one or two hot dogs on their end, pressed right up to the side of the slow cooker. Hold the hot dogs in place while you grab a few more with your other hand.

Continue to stand a few hot dogs at a time while holding them in place with one hand. This arrangement will allow you to pack your slow cooker full of hot dogs. They should look like this image from 365ishpins.com.

Here’s another image from AYearOfSlowCooking.com; just look at how many hot dogs she can neatly fit into her cooker! (Side note: I’m totally buying her cookbook, 365 Slow cooker Suppers).

If you’re not filling your slow cooker to the brim with hot dogs, you can simply lay the hot dogs down like the folks over at RecipesThatCrock.com.

Pro Tip: If you’re cooking hot dogs for a kids’ party (or even for your own children), you can chop the hot dogs up into bite-size pieces before putting them in the slow cooker. Thanks to DamnDelicious.net for the photo that inspired this idea.

Step 2. Cover Your Slow Cooker

Since you’re not adding any water to your slow cooker and dogs, you need to put the cover on your cooker securely, and leave it on. This Slow Cooker Tips for Dummies video says it takes up to 20 minutes to recover the heat lost every time you take the cover off your slow cooker.

As the slow cooker heats up and the hot dogs begin to cook, the dogs will release juices (just like they do on the grill). This moisture will condensate on the inside of the slow cooker cover, and drip down on the dogs, creating a steam effect. The result is juicy hot dogs, so keep the lid on your slow cooker until it’s time to eat.

Step 3. Set the Temperature & Timer – and Walk Away

You can start your slow cooker hot dogs anywhere from 2 to 6 hours ahead of when you plan to eat. You will adjust the temperature based on the amount of time you have.

If you have 4 to 6 hours before you plan to eat, set your slow cooker to Low heat mode and set a timer for 4 hours. When your timer goes off, set your slow cooker to Warm mode, to keep the hot dogs warm while everyone has time to eat.

If you have only a couple of hours before you plan to eat, set your slow cooker to High heat mode and set a timer for two hours. After the two hours, set the slow cooker to Warm mode.

The key to this step is to “set it and forget it”. Walk away. Go to the store. Help your kids with their homework. This cooking method is all about letting the slow cooker do the work while you have time to do something else.

Pro Tip: If you’re having a bunch of people over, or are making slow cooker hot dogs at an event, put the slow cooker in a convenient, out-of-the-way spot. Four to six hours is a long time to have kids or partygoers steer clear of the hot slow cooker.

Step 4. Rotate the Hot Dogs (If Necessary)

Slow cookers are made to cook large batches of food all the way through, but you should always check the temperature of your food before serving it to others. Pull out a few hot dogs from the center of the slow cooker and see if they are hot enough to serve.

If any hot dogs are not hot enough, rotate them with a few hot dogs that are on the edges of the slow cooker. Placing hot dogs against the side surface of the slow cooker, like this (thanks to Spaghettiandgravy.blogspot.com for the photo), will allow them to get more heat, even if the slow cooker is in Warm mode.

Step 5. Serve (Right Out of the Slow Cooker)

You can keep your hot dogs in the slow cooker and serve right out of it. Keep the slow cooker on Warm mode and cover it after everyone has been served. This keeps the dogs warm during the meal (for anyone who wants seconds or thirds), or for anyone who arrives late.

Pro Tip: You can store leftovers right in your slow cooker’s ceramic pot. Allow the slow cooker to cool down, cover and remove the ceramic pot, and put the entire thing in the refrigerator.

(Credit for photo of hot dogs in buns goes to Jeff Kaufman and Connecticumag.com)

Save Some Time with Your Slow Cooker

This hands-off approach to making hot dogs is so simple, and can save you so much time doing it. There is practically no prep (unless you cut the hot dogs into smaller pieces), and you can even crank up the heat if your guests will be arriving soon.

If you make slow cooker hot dogs, leave a comment about how they turned out (and how impressed your friends and family were). And let me know what you think about that cool Black + Decker slow cooker; do you think that it’s too “flashy” for your kitchen?

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

http://www.bestproducts.com/appliances/small/g382/best-programmable-slow-cookers/

http://www.thekitchn.com/back-to-basics-how-to-use-a-sl-114636

https://www.reddit.com/r/slowcooking/comments/33e5az/hot_dog_question/

The Easiest Hot Dogs You’ll Ever Make (in a Crock Pot!)

My mom loves to host a gathering. She’s more than happy to cook a huge meal at every major holiday, even if there’s only a small group of us on-hand. My mom has a lot of tips and tricks up her sleeve for how to have many different dishes ready at the same time.

As for me, I’ve never quite had my mom’s knack for timing when it comes to feeding a crowd. I’ve even screwed up a casual backyard cookout before! That’s why I’m thrilled to share this new trick today.

I just learned that you can cook hot dogs in a crock pot. For me, this is a big deal. You might be wondering why I’d opt for cooking hot dogs in a crock pot over grilling them like a normal person. Let me count the ways:

  • 1. You can make them ahead of time for totally hands-off cooking
  • 2. It’s easier than chasing hot dogs around a hot grill when you’re trying to serve 20 or more people
  • 3. You can achieve the same great taste that you get from a steamed hot dog (like the ones you get at the ball park)
  • 4. Kids (and some adults) tend to be finicky about too much char on their grilled hot dogs

Have I sold you on this yet? Are you ready to learn how to make the easiest hot dogs ever? Great! Just follow this simple step-by-step tutorial.

See full recipe here.

What You’ll Need

  • Up to 60 hot dogs
  • A crock pot (6-quart size if you plan to cook 60 dogs)
  • 2-4 hours

That’s it! Of course, you need hot dog buns and condiments if you’re planning to serve them traditional-style. You could also serve the hot dogs with macaroni and cheese (for a child’s birthday party) or as chili cheese dogs.

You do not need water or any type of seasoning for this “recipe”, although Adrian Bustamante from the YouTube channel CookingGuide says putting the dogs in some water can keep them from burning.

My experience has been that the hot dogs release some of their own juices as they cook in the crock pot. This happens when you grill them or pan fry them, too, so I choose to skip the water.

About Your Crock Pot

You can use just about any crock pot for this recipe. I have two older model crock pots that each have just one knob to set the temperature. I also have this model (thanks to Heavy.com for the great picture) which has push buttons and a digital screen and a timer (which I recommend using in my step-by-step instructions, below).

The newest models made by Crock Pot have digital touch screens and a lot of different features and functions, like this 5-in-1 Multi-Cooker. All that said, we’re really just heating hot dogs, so you don’t need the fanciest model crock pot. Use what you’ve got, and adjust the amount of hot dogs for the size of the pot.

Step by Step Instructions

1. Place The Hot Dogs In the Crock Pot

Remove the hot dogs from their packaging and place them in the ceramic dish of the crock pot. How you arrange the hot dogs depends on how many dogs you are cooking.

If you are using a large crock pot (like a 6-quart pot) and only have 20-30 hot dogs, you can just toss them into the pot. The folks over at RecipesThatCrock.com used this method; they simply piled the hot dogs up in the crockpot.

If you’re trying to cook 60 hot dogs at once in a large crock pot, I recommend doing what Stephanie O’Dea from AYearOfSlowCooking.com did, which is to stand the hot dogs up on their ends and pack them in tightly. This method takes a few more minutes, but it’s the only way you’ll be able to fit all the hot dogs into the crock pot.

Pro Tip: You can also cook the mini hot dogs (also known as “cocktail wieners” or “little smokies”) using this same method. You can probably fit three to four packages of those little guys into a 6-quart crock pot, but I wouldn’t recommend trying to stand them on their ends!

A lot of recipes for mini hot dogs call for making a sauce, like this one for Honey Garlic Crockpot Little Smokes from FamilyFreshMeals.com, which sounds delicious!

2. Cover the Crock Pot

If you’re new to crock pot cooking, you should know that keeping the cover on the pot–and not lifting it too often–helps to keep all the heat and cooking magic in the pot. If you’re wondering if the crock pot is heating up, you can gently touch the sides to check the temperature.

Need to learn more about using your crock pot? This video provides a great introduction.

3. Cook for 2-4 Hours

One of the great things about this cooking method for hot dogs is that you can speed it up if you’re short on time, or plan way ahead on the morning of your party.

If you’re short on time, set your crock pot to the High setting and cook for two hours. If your crock pot has features like a timer and warmer, you should set the timer for two hours, and then have the crock pot switch to Warm setting.

If you have plenty of time before you need the hot dogs to be ready, set your crockpot on Low for four hours. (Follow the same timer/warming steps above).

Pro Tip: If you’re in the market for a new Crock Pot (you can never have enough; I have four), check out this Wifi-enabled model that lets you change heat and timer settings using an app on your phone!

4. Check the Temperature of the Hot Dogs in The Center of The Crock Pot

Crock pots are great because they conduct and hold a lot of heat. The hot dogs in the middle of the pot should be hot enough by the end of two or four hours, but always check them before serving.

Even if the hot dogs in the center of the pot aren’t piping hot, hot dogs are packaged fully cooked, so they should be safe to eat.

5. Serve and Enjoy

I like to serve the hot dogs right out of the crock pot. That way they stay warm and I don’t have to fish them all out of the pot after spending time to get them all in there!

I also like to keep the crock pot on Warm mode for the rest of the party or cookout. This keeps them ready for friends who arrive late, or anyone who wants to snack hours after we’ve eaten the main meal.

“Cooking” Made Easy

I really can’t believe that it never occurred to me to cook hot dogs in a crock pot before. There have been so many times when I’ve had a house full of people, only to be sweating bullets over my jam-packed outdoor grill, trying to keep everything from burning.

Now I just need to figure out how to make 30 hamburgers in the crock pot!

Don’t forget to check out that new Wifi Crock Pot. Technology may be taking over our lives, but if I’m going to arrive home two hours later than planned, I’d love to have the option to check on dinner from my phone.

Are you as excited as I am about this new trick to cooking for a crowd? Leave a comment or share your crock pot tricks!

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/6862410d-e659-41ee-82c7-6eae60708c11/Hot_Dogs_and_Food_Safety.pdf?MOD=AJPERES

Stainless Steel vs. Non-Stick: How To Choose?

Are you in the market for new cookware or bakeware and are trying to decide which one is best for you? Besides choosing between the many brands, price points, and metal options, another question you need to consider is whether to choose stainless steel or non-stick.

Stainless steel vs. non-stick is a tricky question because there are a number of different factors to consider, including what type of cooking you do, durability of the product, and the safety of chemically treated cookware. (cooper cookware is non-stick)


Differences Between Stainless Steel and Non-Stick

1. Coating

Via: brittandjules.com

  • Most non-stick cookware and bakeware is coated with Teflon, a chemical coating that prevents foods from sticking to the surface of the pot or pan.
  • The Teflon coating on non-stick pans makes them better for low-fat cooking, since you don’t have to add any butter or oil as a preventative measure against sticking. Non-stick pans are also ideal for cooking delicate foods like eggs or pancakes, which fall apart if they stick to the pan. 
  • Stainless steel cookware does not have a coating on it, which means that food does sometimes stick to it, especially if you don’t coat the pan with butter, oil, or another type of fat.

2. Browning

Via: www.overstock.com

  • Non-stick cookware prevents food from browning, which can result in a less flavorful dish. Many recipes for meat call for browning or searing, as well as using the brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan for gravies and sauces. Non-stick pans are not ideal for this type of recipe.
  • On the flip side, non-stick bakeware is often preferred by bakers because breads, muffins, and pastries retain their lighter, more appetizing, color and taste.
  • Stainless steel pots and pans allow foods to brown, or caramelize.
  • Caramelization occurs when sugars in a food turn brown when exposed to high heat.
  • For many cooks, the best part of cooking meats or vegetables is the caramelization, because the browned sugars create additional flavor.

3. Durability

Via: amazon.com

  • The Teflon coating on a non-stick pan is not as durable as a stainless steel pan. High-quality non-stick cookware can last a long time, but only if you take the right precautions.
  • You must be careful not to use sharp utensils when cooking with non-stick pans, or you risk scraping away the Teflon coating. Washing non-stick pans also requires the use of soft cleaning products.
  • Stainless steel is so durable that it is used in the production of many household items, like appliances, faucets, and silverware.
  • Since stainless steel cooking surfaces do not have a delicate coating on them, you can use any type of utensil when cooking, or when cleaning them.
  • If you hate kitchen clean-up after dinner, stainless steel pots and pans are your friends; they are dishwasher safe. Not all non-stick cookware can go in the dishwasher, though, so read up on the specifics of each non-stick product before purchasing.

Safety Concerns with Non-Stick Cookware

The main chemical in the Teflon coating on non-stick cookware has a high melting point, so many people consider it safe to use for most cooking. Unfortunately, it begins to break down and release particles when heated to temperatures above 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

Studies have shown that when Teflon is heated to 680 degrees or more, six toxic gases are released, two of which are carcinogens. If inhaled in large amounts, these gases can be harmful to humans. If inhaled by birds (as in, your pet, if you have one), the fumes can be deadly.

Good Housekeeping did a test to determine how easy it would be to overheat a non-stick pan on a typical household burner. The testers were surprised to find how quickly both lightweight and medium weight non-stick pans could reach temperatures upwards of 500 degrees.

The lesson:

Cooking with Teflon-coated pans doesn’t mean that you’re at an automatic health risk. It does mean that you need to be extra careful when heating non-stick pans. Even the latest ceramic non-stick coating technology does not allow for maximum heat when cooking.

Making The Choice

Nobody wants to struggle with their pots and pans in the kitchen. We want to be able to cook with ease and have cleanup be simple. Before buying the prettiest set of cookware or bakeware (or the one with that is on sale today) ask yourself these questions:

  • Is adding oil or butter to my cooking going to be a problem for my diet?
  • Does caramelization on my meats and veggies matter to me?
  • ​How important is it that I be able to throw my pots and pans in the dishwasher?
  • ​Do I cook with high temperatures often?
  • These simple questions should put you on the right track to deciding between purchasing stainless steel or non-stick.

If you still have more questions about stainless steel vs. non-stick, feel free to leave a comment below and we’ll do our best to answer it for you.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

http://bestcookwarefinds.com/stainless-steel-vs-nonstick-cookware/

http://swac.web.unc.edu/thepipettepen/ask-a-toxicologist-is-it-safe-to-use-teflon-pans/

http://www.straightupfood.com/blog/2015/09/24/are-nonstick-pans-safe/

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What does Trout Taste Like?

For a lot of people, there is nothing like the peace and serenity of sipping an ice cold beverage as the sun sets while watching a bobber or working a crankbait through the lake. From perch and walleye to blue gill and crappie, there is something for everyone to enjoy for dinner after a productive day out on the water.

Among the options is trout, a freshwater delicacy that is closely related to salmon. Classified as an oily fish, trout are considered an excellent source of essential vitamins, including A and D. They also are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are an essential part of any health diet.

So what does a trout taste like? In my opinion, trout has a unique texture and offers a bit of a salty aftertaste. I’ve had it multiple times in various preparations, but just thinking about the simplest preparation of all (cooked whole on a cast iron skillet over an open flame and seasoned with butter, lemon, salt and pepper) makes my mouth water.

In the Opinion of Others

In an informal poll of some fellow culinary minds, I learned there are two relatively distinct responses that come to mind for most people when they think about what trout tastes like:

Trout is a Mild Flavored Fish

Many people describe trout as being relatively flavorless on its own, which means it lends itself well to a variety of cooking methods. When it comes to what most fishermen refer to as “good eaters,” trout do not fall as high on the proverbial food chain as the more popular crappie or walleye. Their bone structure makes them a bit more challenging to filet, which plays into why many choose to prepare them whole.

That doesn’t make them any less palatable, however, especially when they are freshly caught, properly handled and seasoned to perfection. For some, that means lemon, butter and herbs. For others that means all things deep fried. Most of the trout species have what is considered to be a relatively mild flavor that lends itself to a variety of cooking methods.

Trout has a Natural, Fishy Taste

Their location, whether they are spawning or have recently spawned and how fresh they are at time of cooking all are capable of having a profound impact on their overall flavor profile. Obviously, personal preference also plays into whether these tasty treats are deemed delicious or deniable.

That being said, there are some people who say trout is too oily, offering too earthy a taste on its own.

Considering the Cooking Options

The good news for trout lovers and haters alike is simple: the options for preparing trout are both boundless and promising.

Smoking Trout

Smoking trout is one of the most popular methods preferred by chefs and fishermen alike. Most recipes for smoked trout are relatively simple and easy to follow. The best part is you don’t necessarily even need a smoker to get the job done. Not only is smoked trout a delicious treat on its own, but it is an excellent addition to dips, spreads or salads.

Less is more when it comes to cooking trout. The same can be said for a lot of fish, but in the case of trout it is especially true. Keep it simple is the name of the game when it comes to debunking the myth that trout isn’t quite as delicious as its fishy relatives.

Fried Trout

Fried trout is delicious – as are most things fried – and grilled and pan seared trout are good too as long as you limit the ingredients to simple things. Think butter, lemon, salt and pepper and perhaps a handful of your favorite fresh herb.

Step by step guides are available to assist in the process of making sure that – if you opt not to keep the fish whole – you enjoy as much juicy meat as possible.

Anatomy of a Trout

While most species of trout are considered equal, they vary slightly based on their country of origin. Globally, trout comes in more than a dozen recognized variations, which includes a variety of sizes, coloring and spotting patterns.

Lake trout arguably has the worst reputation among the trout types, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t everything your stomach desires. In America, lake trout variations are known to result in some trout being more lean than others. As with most proteins, many chefs deem the most delicious lake trout to be slightly more fatty to help flavor the meat and distribute its juices evenly throughout the cooking process.

A recent trip to the Northwoods of Wisconsin led to me solidifying my personal opinion of what trout tastes like. My husband and I spent the day fishing with family and had quite a haul of trout as a result.

That day I learned that, despite also enjoying fried and smoke trout, there is honestly nothing like cooking the delicacy you just caught fresh in a cast iron skillet over an open flame with the simple treatment of some butter, lemon, salt and pepper.

With that I have my answer to the question of what trout tastes like: it tastes delicious!

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