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Tricks of the Trade
Learn timesaving tips from personal chefs

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Super Chocolate & Peanut Bar Brownies
Oven-Roasted Plum Tomatoes
Rosemary-Garlic Chicken Cutlets

(Family Features) - Gwyneth has two of them (one for savory, one for sweets). Oprah's has written his own cookbooks. The neighbors down the street may have one visit their kitchen once a month.

It's easy to see why personal chefs are in hot demand," says Dave Lieberman, personal chef, author of Young and Hungry and host of the Food Network's Good Deal with Dave Lieberman. "People are busier than ever and looking for ways to eat well within their lifestyles."

"What many types of personal chefs do isn't necessarily that hard," explains Lieberman. "It's primarily about cooking smarter, and all that it requires is a little planning." Lieberman offers tips for incorporating personal chef know-how into your everyday kitchen routines:

  • Prep your most-used ingredients ahead of time - then store them in "quick grab" packets made from a sealing wrap like Glad Press'n Seal wrap that seals air out to help keep food fresh. Chopped onion, grated cheese, pie crusts and bread dough are great items to have on hand in your fridge or freezer. Lieberman also suggests freezing stocks in ice cube trays. "This is great for leftover wine, too."

  • Pre-prepping flavorful meal starters is also a great way to jump-start weekday meals, still leaving room for last minute creativity. For example, boneless, skinless chicken breasts can be individually wrapped and frozen in a favorite marinade. By the time they thaw, they're packed with flavor and ready for a variety of recipes - from salads to fajitas.

  • High-impact ingredients can transform even the most basic foods. "Adding a handful of fresh herbs to a pre-made dish - even if it's just yesterday's leftovers - is a great way to bring it to life," stresses Lieberman. One of his favorite flavor-boosters is to freeze small quantities of butter blended with herbs, spices and other seasonings, to top steaks, fish, grilled or steamed vegetables and baked potatoes.

  • Whenever Lieberman cooks basics like potatoes or rice, he always ups the quantity, to keep some handy for later in the week. "That way you've always got the makings for a fast and easy side dish - simple sautéed potatoes, impromptu fried rice - you name it." With simple ingredients and a little planning, family and friends might think you have a personal chef in your pantry.

Portion Power 

Pre-portioning is a great way to enjoy chef-worthy food in moderation. Portioning out meals also allows for easy transportation, from lunch boxes to dinner at Grandma's. Prep/cook once, then enjoy over and over.

  • Grab the Good Deal: From a jumbo pack of pork chops to a whole beef tenderloin or side of salmon, "nice priced" main ingredients are the perfect place to start when looking for cooking inspiration. Even if you're not going to cook up all that meat or fish now, in just a few minutes you can create individual filets for the fridge or freezer.

  • Divide and Conquer: Whip up super-size batches of favorite recipes, then package in smaller size portions. That way, whether you're setting a table for one or cooking for company, it's easy to thaw just the right amount. Glad Press'n Seal Freezer wrap is indispensable in packaging custom-sized items for the freezer.

For more great ideas and time-saving techniques, visit www.glad.com.

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Super Chocolate & Peanut Bar Brownies

Adapted from Young and Hungry, courtesy of Hyperion.
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  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted, plus a little more for greasing pan
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 8 fun-size chocolate, caramel, nougat and peanut candy bars, refrigerated
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    1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 9- x 13-inch cake pan (aluminum is fine) with butter.
    2. Beat butter and sugar together in large bowl until blended. Beat in eggs, one at a time; stir in water and vanilla. Sprinkle salt and baking powder over mix, then beat in. Do same with cocoa. Stir in flour just until blended.
    3. Put candy bars in blender or food processor and pulse on low speed until all have been reduced to coarse crumble. Fold candy bar crumble into batter thoroughly. Scrape batter into prepared pan. Bake about 30 minutes, until center is set but still somewhat soft, and top starts to crack a little. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Makes about 15, depending on how cut

Oven-Roasted Plum Tomatoes

  • 4 ripe plum tomatoes (about 1 pound)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Handful fresh thyme sprigs
  • 4 pinches salt
  • 10 grinds black pepper
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    1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil.
    2. Cut off tomato tips and top cores. Halve tomatoes lengthwise. Toss halves together in bowl with oil, thyme, salt and pepper. Lay tomatoes on baking sheet, cut side up, and pour over them any seasoned oil left in bottom of bowl.
    3. Roast until skins are shriveled and tops are lightly browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool to room temperature, and then gently pinch off shriveled skins. Serve at room temperature.

Makes 4 servings
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Notes, Tips & Suggestions
Note: These tomatoes freeze well by wrapping small quantities in Glad Press'n Seal Freezer wrap to keep freshness in and air out.

All recipes adapted from Young and Hungry, courtesy of Hyperion.
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Rosemary-Garlic Chicken Cutlets

  • 12 (6- to 7-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh rosemary
  • 5 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 3 pinches salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
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    1. Tear off two lengths of Glad Press'n Seal wrap, about 15 inches long each. Put 1 chicken breast in center on one sheet of wrap; cover with second sheet. Using either meat mallet or small, heavy pot, pound thick part of cutlet so that whole breast is about 1/2 inch thick. Repeat with remaining breasts.
    2. Mix oil, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper in bowl, add chicken and evenly coat with spice mixture. Can be prepared to this point up to a day before cooking chicken; just cover and refrigerate. To prep more than a day in advance, wrap individual cutlets in Glad Press'n Seal Freezer wrap before freezing. Then thaw a few hours before cooking.
    3. Set up grill or stovetop grill pan. Grill chicken, turning only once, until browned and cooked through, about 6 minutes.
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Makes 12 servings
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Notes, Tips & Suggestions
All recipes adapted from Young and Hungry, courtesy of Hyperion.

SOURCE: Glad Press'N Seal

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