This is a hearty meal for a brisk fall evening. Once you’ve gathered the ingredients in your slow cooker, sit back and let the mouthwatering scent of cooked apples waft through the air.
Start to finish: 8 hours and 30 minutes (30 minutes active)
· 2 tablespoons butter
· 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
· 1 pork shoulder, about 2 pounds
· 1 onion, minced
· 2 Cortland apples, peeled, cored, and cut into wedges
· 1/2 cup white wine
· 1/2 cup chicken broth
· 2 tablespoons maple syrup
· 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
· 1 teaspoon dried thyme
· 1 bay leaf
· Salt and pepper, to taste
· 1/3 cup heavy cream
· 1 green onion, minced
1. In a large pan, melt the butter. Evenly coat the pork in flour and brown it in the pan on all sides.
2. Place the meat in the slow cooker and surround it with the onion and apples. Add the wine, chicken broth, maple syrup, mustard, thyme, and bay leaf. Salt and pepper generously. Set the slow cooker to low heat for 8 hours.
3. Remove the pork and place it in a large bowl. Pour the remaining contents of the slow cooker into a small pot and bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat and let it simmer until the sauce is reduced by half.
4. Add the cream to the sauce. Use a fork or hand blender to puree the apples until the sauce has the consistency of applesauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Use two forks to shred the pork into bite-size pieces. To serve, pour the sauce over the meat and garnish with green onions.
Teaching kids to cook leads to lifelong rewards
If you want to help your kids learn to eat well, teach them how to cook. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, cooking isn’t just a useful life skill — it also helps kids build their math, science, literacy, and fine motor skills with hands-on learning. And the key to helping build your child’s interest in cooking is to start young and be consistent.
Very young children might develop an interest in helping out in the kitchen around 18 months — clear away any hazards (such as sharp utensils, heavy or hot items, cleaning products, and trip hazards) and let them help with washing vegetables, stirring room-temperature ingredients, sprinkling flour, and decorations or spooning ingredients into bowls. Toddlers will also have a blast just watching you work, so consider setting up a safe place for them to watch you in action.
Between three and five, kids will develop greater dexterity and a desire for independence. Let them roll out dough with a rolling pin, cut soft ingredients (like soft fruits or vegetables) with a plastic knife, tear lettuce for salads, or snap stems from string beans.|
Five to seven-year-olds might be ready to take on basic knife skills, or they can use kid-sized scissors to snip herbs. Measuring is a great way to practice math skills, and they can also help set the table and clean up after meals.
Eight to 11-year-olds are ready for more complex tasks, like planning meals and following simple recipes that gradually build their cooking skills. They might also be ready to use a stove and smaller appliances like a stand mixer or food processor (with your supervision, of course).
Above all, learning to cook should be fun, not daunting or stressful — don’t worry about a few messes or dinners that don’t turn out quite as you’d hoped. Relax, include your children as much as you can, and enjoy watching them bloom into curious, independent chefs.
Miso: what is it and how to use it
Miso is a traditional Japanese paste. It’s made by fermenting soybeans with salt, koji culture, and sometimes other ingredients such as rice, buckwheat, barley, and oats.
Usually consumed as a condiment, miso is often added to soups, stews, sauces, marinades, dressings, and more. It’s also delicious with corn on the cob. Furthermore, some people use miso as a substitute for butter or salt in certain baking recipes.
The color and flavor of miso changes depending on a number of factors. For example, the longer miso is fermented, the more pungent it’ll taste. In addition, the type of soybean or grain that’s used can result in a lighter or darker colored miso. You may need to test out several types of miso to find ones that appeal to your taste buds and work best with your favorite dishes.
Lastly, miso is high in protein and contains bacteria that are good for your gut. However, if you want to enjoy all of the miso’s nutritional benefits, it’s best to purchase an organic variety.
Spooky good: Banana mummies and cookie spiders
Here are some Halloween-appropriate, kid-friendly treats that require just a few easy ingredients and give kids the chance to make a fun, tasty mess.
Kids can easily make these treats, although adults have to supervise melting chocolate and trimming banana skewers.
1 bunch bananas or as many as desired (firm bananas work best)
White chocolate wafers for melting (candy coating is also fine)
Chocolate icing or chocolate wafers for melting
Peel bananas and slice in half. Carefully slide skewer into banana halves lengthwise, then set on a tray and place in freezer for at least an hour to harden — note that long skewers may need to be trimmed. When bananas are frozen, melt white chocolate wafers or candy coating according to package directions, then carefully dip bananas in coating until covered. Place coated bananas in the refrigerator until coating is set, then decorate with melted semi-sweet chocolate or chocolate icing to create bandages and glue on candy eyes. Freeze until set, then serve.
1 package sandwich cookies (we used Halloween Oreos, but Double Stuf Oreos will also work well)
White chocolate wafers or icing — any color or flavor is fine, but we used leftover melted white chocolate from the Banana Mummies
Mini pretzel rods
Carefully twist cookies apart. Count out eight pretzel rods for each cookie — these are the legs. Dip just the tip of each pretzel rod in the melted white chocolate or icing, then press into the frosting side of the sandwich cookie. Be careful not to press too hard, or the cookie itself might break. Repeat for each of the eight legs. Replace the top of the sandwich cookie before the white chocolate or frosting sets. Use white chocolate or frosting to glue on the candy eyes. Spiders are ready to eat almost immediately.
Chickpeas: a versatile ingredient
Chickpeas are affordable, nutritious and can be used in a variety of sweet and savory recipes. They can add flavor, texture, and nutrients to salads, pasta, stews, curries, tagines, wraps, and other dishes.
Roasted and seasoned chickpeas make an excellent protein-packed snack. In addition, pureed chickpeas can be used to make delicious homemade soups, nutritious cookies, and flavorful hummus dips.
Lightly mashed chickpeas are a great meat substitute in vegetarian dishes and are featured in several Middle Eastern staples, including falafel. Furthermore, chickpea flour can be used to make gluten-free tortillas and pizza dough.
To find dried or canned chickpeas, visit your local grocery store.
Aquafaba is the liquid leftover when chickpeas are cooked. It can be used to replace egg whites in a variety of recipes because of its mild flavor. When whipped, aquafaba has the same texture as stiff egg whites. Consequently, it can be used to make vegan meringues, mousses, custards, and more.
5 things to consider when buying a bread maker
A bread maker is a small appliance that allows you to easily prepare homemade loaves. If you’re considering purchasing one for your kitchen, here are five criteria to consider.
1. Space. Bread makers can be fairly bulky countertop appliances. Before making your purchase, you should decide where you want to keep the bread maker to ensure you have enough space.
2. Features. Bread makers come with a variety of different features. Depending on the model, you can adjust how thick you want the crust to be or make recipes with different types of flour, such as whole wheat or spelt. Some bread makers can even make meatloaf and jam.
3. Loaf size. Each bread maker will make a different size loaf. If you have a large family, you may want to look for a bread maker that makes big loaves.
4. Noise. Unfortunately, most bread makers are quite noisy, especially during the kneading process. In addition, they normally make loud beeping sounds between each step. If these sounds are a problem, look for a model that comes with adjustable volume control.
5. Cost. Like any other kitchen appliance, bread makers are available at a variety of price points. On average, you can expect to pay around $80 to $165.
One thing is certain, the smell of baking bread and biting into a fresh loaf is among life’s little pleasures.
Bread makers usually have a stainless steel or plastic exterior with a removable, non-stick metal bowl fitted with one or two kneading blades. Most models also have a digital display and a window, so you can watch the bread bake.
Meal kits: an easy way to change up your routine
Do you love to cook but sometimes lack inspiration? If so, signing up for a meal kit delivery service may be just what you need. Here’s what you should know.
How it works
The exact terms and conditions may vary depending on the company. However, most meal kit delivery services include the following features:
• You select how many times a week you want to receive a meal kit
• You choose the recipes that interest you
• You select the number of servings you want
• You place your order online
• Your meal kit is delivered to your doorstep
The meal kit contains all the ingredients you need to make the recipe, as well as preparation instructions. Most meals are designed to be ready in around 30 to 45 minutes.
People who love meal kits will tell you their main advantages are that:
• The ingredients are pre-portioned, so there’s no waste
• The products are always fresh
• The recipes are diverse, so you can discover new dishes
• The cost per portion is less expensive than eating out at a restaurant
Lastly, some companies offer gluten-free, vegetarian, and organic options. A quick online search should direct you to a meal kit delivery service available in your area.