Tagged: Cooking videos

Jan 23

How to Make Tamales

Learn how to make delicious tamales (courtesy of AllRecipes.com)

Tamales are as beautiful as they are delicious! Wrapped and steamed in leaves, this authentic, Latin-American treat can be made in so many variations – just like the American sandwich! Served as a special occasion food, in part because they take time to make, tamales are steamed, cornmeal dumplings filled with moist, flavorful filling, all wrapped up like a gift, in a corn husk! First, let’s take a look at what goes inside a tamale, from the inside out.

Filling. This is traditionally meat – braised beef or pork – but, you can pack tamales with chicken, roasted veggies, cheese or seafood.

Masa dough. The dumpling or breading of the tamale, is made from ground corn flour, lard and salt. This doughy mixture is cooked into firmness through steaming.

The wrapper. Tamales are wrapped and cooked in a plant leaf – dried corn husks, fresh corn husks or banana leaves are common wrappings. This non-edible layer holds the tamale together as it cooks, and it gives the tamale its distinctive, authentic look. Before you get started, be aware that tamales take a fair amount of time to make. Some tamale makers suggest you may need as much as 2 days.

Day 1 – You cook the meat.

Day 2 – You assemble the tamales.

Others suggest that you make the tamales all in one day, and make a party out of it! Invite over your friends and family to form a tamale making assembly line. Either way, here are the tools to make tamales:

A dutch oven to cook the meat
Large capacity, 16 to 20 quart steamer to steam the tamales
Knife, spoon or spreading utensil of your choice

Step 1 – Prepare the filling. Most tamales are filled with braised pork or beef, in a sauce of spices and dried and crushed chilies, but you can use chicken, roasted vegetables, cheese, beans or seafood. Even make dessert tamales, filled with a sweet mix of fruit and nuts!

Traditionally, you simmer a large, 3-4 pound piece of pork or beef roast in a dutch oven with onion, garlic and enough water to cover the meat. Cook the meat on low heat until it’s tender and cooked through, for at least 2 hours. Ideally, you want to be able to pull it apart with a fork.

Once you’ve cooked the meat, you can ad spices and seasonings. Typical choices are chilies,
chili powder, garlic powder, ground cumin, black pepper and salt. Well, here’s how you season the cooked meat. Heat a splash of corn oil in a large pan. Heat on medium-high and add seasonings of your choice. Add the pulled, cooked meat and mix with the oil and seasonings.

Step 2 – Prepare the husks. Soak the dried corn husks in water for about an hour, to make them pliable.

Step 3 – Make the masa. Traditional tamale dough is a mixture of masa, lard and salt. Fresh masa is dried corn that has been cooked in lime water, soaked overnight and ground up while still wet. You can buy fresh masa. It makes the lightest, fluffiest tamales! Or, you can make your own masa, using Masa Harena – flour from dried out masa. If you use Masa Harena, you add liquid – either water or meat broth, to moisten it.

For light and fluffy tamale dough, whip the lard and salt with an electric mixer for a few minutes. If you don’t want to use lard, you can use the same amount of vegetable shortening. Add masa and continue to whip, adding water or broth, until the mixture is the consistency of soft cookie dough. How do you tell if your masa mixture is moist enough? Here’s a test. Drop a small ball of dough into a glass of water. If the dough sinks, it needs more liquid whipped into it. If it floats, it’s ready to use!

Step 4 – Wrap it up! Open up a corn husk or leaf and lay it on a cutting board. Spread a layer of masa dough, about a ¼ to a ½ inch thick. Then, spread a tablespoon of filling down the middle of the masa dough. Carefully roll up the husks so that the masa dough completely covers up the filling, and the parcel stays in tact. Use a strip of husk to tie the package closed. Pretty, isn’t it?

Step 5 – Steam the tamales. Stand the tamales upright in a steamer basket. Turn the water to high and steam over boiling water for 45 minutes. Remove the tamales from the steamer with tongs, taking care not to burn yourself. Arrange the tamales on a platter, and Dig In! Remind tamale newbies to remove the corn husk before eating!

Make a lot of tamales and freeze the excess. Tamales can be frozen for up to 6 months. Wrap them in a heavy, resealable plastic bag. To re-heat, thaw tamales in the refrigerator, and steam or microwave them until they are heated through.

If you’re craving tamales, set aside some time, invite over friends and family, and get rolling! Tamales are easy to make, when there are lots of hands to help!


Dec 09

Learn How To Make Christmas Cookie Bouquets

Learn How To make Christmas Cookie Bouquets (courtesy of Howcast.com)

Follow this recipe to make a festive, edible decoration that everyone will enjoy! You will need:

Roll of cookie dough
1/3 c. pasteurized egg whites
4 1/2 c. confectioner’s sugar
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
Cookie and cake decorations
Peppermint candies
Christmas cookie cutters
Wooden skewers
Electric mixer with paddle attachment
Colorful ribbon
Holiday-themed bowl
Florist foam
Red and green food coloring (optional)

Step 1: Roll out the cookie dough to double the thickness of your skewers. Then use your cookie cutters to cut out cookies. Poke the skewers into the sides of the cookies to make cookie lollipops.

Step 2: Bake the cookie lollipops according to package directions, adding one to two minutes to account for the added thickness. Allow the cookies to cool completely.

Step 3: Make the icing by beating the egg whites in the mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form.

Step 4: Change the mixer speed to medium-low and slowly add the confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, scraping the bowl between additions. Use more sugar for stiff icing to decorate designs and less sugar for loose icing to fill in the designs.

Step 5: Add the lemon juice, increasing the speed to medium-high until stiff peaks form and the icing is no longer shiny — six to eight minutes. Then ice the cookies. Divide the icing and add red and green food coloring.
Step 6: Use festive cookie and cake decorations to embellish the cookie lollipops. Tie a piece of colorful ribbon around each stick.

Step 7: Stick the lollipops into the florists’ foam in the bowl and hide the foam with peppermint candies. Use your bouquet as a festive centerpiece — if you can stand not eating it first!

Did you know? In 1979, in honor of the American hostages in Iran, only the top ornament of the National Christmas Tree was lit.


Nov 23

Learn How To Have A Skinnier Thanksgiving

How To Have A Skinnier Thanksgiving (courtesy of Howcast.com)

You can save calories without sacrificing flavor, just by tweaking your Thanksgiving dishes! You will need:

Low-fat, low-sodium chicken broth
98% fat-free cream of mushroom soup
Fresh cranberries
Sugar or sugar substitute
A little restraint
A fat separator

Step 1: Favor the white meat over dark to cut four calories and one fat gram per ounce. Don’t ban dark meat altogether – it’s actually more nutritious, containing more iron, zinc, riboflavin, thiamine, and vitamins B6 and B12
Step 2: Cook your stuffing outside the bird; it’s lower in fat that way.

Step 3: Remove the fat from the pan drippings before you make the gravy, either by using a fat separator or chilling them in the fridge and then skimming off the fat. You’ll save a whopping 56 grams of fat per cup of gravy! For a really low-cal gravy, skip the drippings and make it out of low-fat, low-sodium chicken broth mixed with a little flour dissolved in water.

Step 4: Use chicken broth instead of cream and butter to make mashed potatoes. Consider making smashed potatoes by leaving on the nutrient-rich skin.

Step 5: Make the traditional green bean casserole with 98% fat-free cream of mushroom soup and cut the calories by more than half, plus eliminate 14 grams of fat. Shave off another 250 calories by using only half the can of French-fried onions.

Step 6: Make your own cranberry sauce. Wash a bag of fresh cranberries, put them in a pot with a cup of water, let them cook until the desired texture, and then stir in sugar or sugar substitute sparingly, to taste.

Step 7: Slim down the candied yams by cutting back on the added sugar or maple syrup — you probably won’t even miss it — and nixing the mini marshmallows.

Step 8: Stick to pumpkin pie. At around 240 calories a slice, it beats apple, mince, and pecan. Don’t eat the crust and you’ll save another 100 calories.

Did you know? On average, Americans take in 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat on Thanksgiving Day!


Nov 22

Learn How To Host Your First Thanksgiving

How To Host Your First Thanksgiving (courtesy of Howcast.com)

Stop stressing! These tips and tricks will help you pull together a fabulous celebration with minimal angst. You will need:

Adequate seating and tableware
Traditional favorite foods
Mini-pumpkins and gourds
Votive candles
A cleaning service (optional)
Two small turkeys (optional)

Step 1: Figure out if you have enough chairs, seating space, and tableware. Borrow from friends and neighbors to fill any holes. Or check out a thrift store; if you don’t need or want it afterward, donate it back. Throw some cushions on the floor around your coffee table and let little guests eat there.

Step 2: Call your guests so you’ll have a handle on how many people are coming – and an excuse to fish for contributions. People often want to contribute, especially if it ensures that their holiday favorite will be on the table.

Step 3: Don’t be shy about asking for assistance before, during, and after. You’ll need all the help you can preparing the food, getting your home ready, serving, and cleaning up afterward. If your budget allows, hire a cleaning service a day or two before.

Step 4: Honor traditions; even if you personally think that green bean casserole is disgusting and cranberry jelly out of a can a disgrace. If it’s important to someone, serve it – and let them take the leftovers home.

Step 5: Consider cooking two small turkeys instead of one big one. They’re easier to handle, cook faster and more uniformly, and are more tender and juicy than a large, older bird. Plus, they provide twice as many drumsticks!

Step 6: Finalize your menu and go shopping. Figure out what you can make a day or two ahead so that the big day is not such a rush. And remember: Now is not the time to attempt a dish you’ve never tried. Plan on these per-person servings: 1¼ lbs. turkey, 1/3 c. gravy, ½ c. mashed potatoes, ½ c. of each vegetable side dish, ¼ c. cranberry dressing, ½ c. stuffing; two dinner rolls; and 1/8 pie.

Step 7: Make a simple table centerpiece out of a bowl of small gourds and mini-pumpkins and line the table with votive candles. You’re all set!

Did you know? The pilgrims carried a supply of beer on the Mayflower, in part because it was safer to drink than water!


Oct 03

Learn How To Make Hummus

How To Make Hummus (courtesy of Howcast.com)

Make this delicious and healthy chickpea puree in a matter of minutes. You will need:

A 15-ounce can of chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans

One clove chopped garlic

One lemon


Two tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste)

Two tablespoons of olive oil

Pita bread, pita chips, crackers or vegetables


A colander

Food processor, blender or a potato masher



Olives, red peppers or chili peppers

Garnish of parsley, pine nuts or diced garlic

Step 1 – Open and drain the can of chickpeas. Rinse them off in a colander and put them in a food processor or blender. Or, place them in a large bowl to mash by hand. Save a few good chickpeas to garnish the finished plate.

Step 2 – Add the tahini paste and the garlic.

Step 3 – Squeeze the lemons and add the juice to the mix. Make sure no seeds get in. Make your own variations by mixing in olives, red peppers or chili peppers.

Step 4 – Add about ¼ teaspoon of salt and one teaspoon of olive oil.

Step 5 – Blend the mixture or add by hand for about a minute, or, until it’s as smooth or chunky as you want it. If the hummus is too thick or chunky, add extra olive oil to thin it out.

Step 6 – Pour the hummus onto a plate, and smooth it out in big circles with the bottom of a spoon. Garnish with the leftover chickpeas and parsley, pine nuts, or more chopped garlic. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil.

Step 7 – Enjoy your hummus as a dip with pita bread, crackers or veggies, or use it as a sandwich spread.

Did you know? Besides providing a healthy serving of vegetables and legumes, hummus is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.


Sep 22

Learn How To Clarify Butter

How To Clarify Butter (courtesy of GialloZafferano.it)

Butter is a type of fat not very suitable for cooking, since it burns at a very low temperature. Clarified butter allows you to cook at high temperatures, to get, for example, crispy-fried food. Let’s see how to do it.

Put the butter in the or in a heavy saucepan and turn on the heat. The butter will melt, letting a white foam come to the surface.

As the foam rises to the top, skim it off with a ladle.

Let the butter simmer slowly until transparent, so that the casing settles on the bottom.

Now, strain the butter through a cheesecloth, and discard the casing settled on the bottom.

If you’re not going to use the clarified butter immediately, pour into sealed jars and keep in the fridge.

Here is your clarified butter, ready to use!


Sep 13

Learn How To Cook Asparagus

How To Cook Asparagus (courtesy of RedbookMag.com)

Fresh asparagus is one of the simplest pleasures of the spring garden. Its unique and delicate flavor is best revealed when prepared simply. Young asparagus will have a tender stalk and cook quickly. Mature asparagus should be trimmed of their woodier stalks and cooked until they’re tender.

To steam asparagus, fit a saucepan with a steaming basket, and bring about a half an inch of water to boiling over medium high heat. Add one pound trimmed asparagus. Cover, and steam them ’til they’re tender crisp, which takes about 8 to 10 minutes.

To boil asparagus, in a medium skillet, bring about 1 inch of salted water to a boil. Add a pound of trimmed asparagus, and return the water to boiling. Reduce the heat to medium high and cook, uncovered, until they are tender crisp – about 5 to 10 minutes.

Strain them in a colander, and then soak them in an ice bath, to retain their bright green color, if not serving immediately. And, asparagus is a great, crispy addition to any crudite basket!


Oct 27

Learn How To Make Halloween Cookies

How To Make Halloween Cookies (courtesy of Howdini.com)

Hey there! I’m Laurie Gelman for Howdini.com. Looking for some Halloween treats that aren’t tricky to make? We’ve got some great, new ideas for you! And, by we, I mean, me, of course, and the always inspiring Liv Hansen, for Betty Crocker Kitchens. Great to see you!

You too, Laurie!

This is such an event in my house, I don’t know about you.

Oh, Halloween is very big at our house! Big, big, big! I’m always looking for something different and special to do, as opposed to just the candy that they get when they go trick-or-treating.

It’s pretty easy, this one – you’ll be surprised.

So you say! Let’s start with the fantastic mummy cookies. Boy, are you gonna be popular if you can make these.

Oh, you’ll be able to make them! So, you start – we have a sugar cookie dough that we’ve added some cocoa powder to.

I was gonna say, because sugar cookie dough is usually white?

Yes – we wanted to make a little contrast with the linen wrappings! Basically, you’re just gonna take it out – sprinkle a little flour down so it doesn’t stick, and I’m just gonna knead it a little bit. Get all the little crumbs mixed in.

OK, now I’m gonna start rolling it out. Just put a little excess flour down. I like to flour my rolling pin, too, just to prevent any sticking. That’s a great tip. And, you want to roll this out to about ¼ inch thick. And, a nice tip is, if you’re working and the dough happens to stick a little bit, you can always roll the dough out between parchment paper, and it won’t stick. Ad, you can also pop that in the fridge for a little while and chill up the dough. It makes cutting it out really easy.

And, then we have our little gingerbread man cookie cutter but, of course, this is gonna be a mummy! A good double use of the gingerbread man cookie cutter! So, you place it down, and, my trick for cutting is, you press down and then give it a little shake. And that will separate it from the rest of the cookie. Then you can life up. Wanna try one?

So then, basically, it’s nicely floured, so you can just take a little spatula underneath and then transfer it to your cookie sheet. And, then what we’re gonna do is, we’re gonna animate them. I just wanna show you how we would do that. Basically, you’re just gonna move their arms around a little bit, make them look like they’re running…wanna try one while I get some more on there? Then, they’re ready to go in the oven – great!

We’ve got some ones that are already out of the oven. What do you bake them at?

About 375 for about 7 to 9 minutes. And then let them cool before we start decorating.

Oh, that’s my favorite part! Just don’t eat them!

OK, so, to start to make the linen wrappings, we’re gonna actually fill up freezer bags with, um, vanilla frosting. One nice tip is you can actually put a little piece of tape there, and it will reinforce the tip. I like to roll this over, just to keep it neat. And, you just start to fill it with vanilla frosting. And, I like to twist the edge there, and that will create a little pressure, so it’s easier to squeeze out. So, then we just cut a little piece off the end. There’s one for you.

I’ll have to watch you do it, first!

Sure. So, I’m gonna start down here at the feet. And, basically, you just go back and forth, sort of zig-zaggy, and I like to go the opposite direction on the arms. You can always, like, come back and do some more – fill it in with some ones that go different angles. Looks great!

I learned from the best, let me tell you! Not bad, right? Those look good!

Then, for the eyes, we cut jellybeans in half. Cool! You can use any color eye that you want. You can even do 2 different colored eyes…really whacky!

So, the last step is you just take a little black piping gel, and you squeeze a little pupil on to make them more googly eyes. Cute! Very cool! Those look so great. This is the tip of the iceberg – fantastic!

OK, these look like the yummiest spiders your kids are ever gonna eat!

They’re the only spiders they’re ever gonna eat!

Don’t bet on that! They’re pretty easy to make, right? Let’s do it!

Yes. So, you start with the basic peanut butter cookie dough. Roll it into balls – you can roll it in sugar if you want – gives it a little glisten. And then, when they’re right out of the oven after they’re baked, you put a chocolate covered caramel on top. It has to be really warm, though, so they mush right in there and melt in. And, then you let it sit for about 15 minutes, so that the caramel gets nice and soft. And then, you can start inserting little legs. You can use pull apart licorice, and just stick it right into the side. Because it’s warm, it’s easy to do. You can do 4 on each side.

My daughter told me a Halloween joke – you wanna hear it?


What kind of shoes do ghosts wear?

What do they wear?

BOOts! To a 3-year old, that’s hysterical!

OK, and, while the chocolate’s still hot, you just apply a little candy-coated chocolates for the eyes. Then, we’re gonna do the same that we did before on the mummys. Gonna apply a little googly eyes.

You know, I actually like these cookies together, because it’s kind of like the mummy cookie came back from the grave to eat the spider cookie for Halloween! Thanks so much, Liv!

Thanks, Laurie!

And, there are a lot more party ideas and recipes and hundreds of how-to videos on Howdini.com.


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