Cooking & Entertaining Ideas, Uncategorized

Cooking Healthfully… Starts with Your Cookware

Many people start the New Year out with a resolution to eat healthier.  You may start by cleaning out your pantry and replacing unhealthy oils and staples with smarter, healthier options. Definitely a great place to begin.

While you are building your healthy kitchen, don’t forget to look at your cookware.  What you are using to cook your food with can be as important as what goes in the pan.  Nonstick cookware seems like a healthy option, but if it is older and showing signs of wear – scratches, chips in the nonstick finish, etc. – it is time to toss it out.  The last thing you want to add to your healthy recipe are toxins from your cookware.

Kickoff the New Year by replacing old, overused pans and cookware with healthier options.  I know that a nonstick pan is a joy to work and a breeze to clean, but there are several nonstick, easy-to-clean options that won’t add chemicals/toxins to your food:

Chasseur’s line of high quality enameled cookware, an amazing cookware line from France, has stood the test of time.  The special enamel coating creates a strong seal and prevents corrosion.  This cast-iron line is the perfect choice for slow braising and simmering due to its ability to retain and distribute heat evenly.

Chasseur cookware is suitable for all types of heat sources, including induction.   It’s easy to clean with some hot soapy water and a gentle soak to release baked on food.  Do not use abrasive scrubs on this fine cookware.   You’ll find a selection beautifully enameled black and white Chasseur Cookware at `a la Maison in Baldwinsville.

Chasseur Black Dutch Oven

The Chasseur Dutch Oven is not only beautiful; but a powerhouse in the kitchen.  You can depend upon it for superior slow braising and simmering.  A perfect choice for soups; sauces; and braised meats.

grill pan image

A Cast-Iron Grill Pan is ideal for indoor grilling (a must if you live in Central New York!)  The heavy, grooved surface retains heat and guarantees beautiful results.  It is important to season your grill before using.  After a few uses, your nicely seasoned pan will become your best friend!

Cast Iron fry pan

Grandma knew best… I remember my Grandmother always reaching for her old Cast-Iron skillet for everything from frying chicken to cooking eggs and sausage to making cornbread.  The Cast-Iron skillet was a work horse in the kitchen of yesteryears, and it’s time to bring it back!   Truly the original non-stick cookware, the Cast-Iron skillet is great for even heating… and no toxic coating… Yeah!

I got my first pre-seasoned Cast-Iron skillet a few years ago, and quite frankly, the first time I used it – I was not totally impressed.  Just because it says pre-seasoned doesn’t mean it’s totally non-stick to start.  I found that the more I used it; the better the seasoning got – it actually builds up over time.  Now I love it – It’s super easy to clean, just scrub with hot water.  Please don’t use soaps or cleansers on these beauties!  (Think of it like your pizza stone… no soap… just gently scrape and wipe clean with hot water… dry immediately.  Before you know it, you’ll have your favorite non-stick frying pan – again, free of toxic coatings.

Paderno ceramic coated frying pan

Ceramic Coating Commercial Grade Aluminum Cookware

Another fantastic cookware option is Ceramic Coated cookware.  Ceramic Coated cookware is non-toxic and non-reactive, which eliminates the release of chemicals, toxins and gases into both your food and the atmosphere.  Ceramic is energy efficient, as it retains heat well so you can cook on a lower temperature.  It’s economical as the ceramic coating will never wear off when used properly.

Investing in good quality cookware is an investment in the health of you and your family.  When properly care for, these pans can last a lifetime. Actually, longer than a lifetime, as you will probably be able to hand that cast-iron skillet down to your children!

Find all these great cookware options at `a la Maison in Baldwinsville.  For more information call 315-440-6637.

Cheers to healthy cooking!!!

Cooking & Entertaining Ideas

`a la Maison at the Junior League Holiday Shoppes… Today’s Tastings

`a la Maison has moved our Downtown store to the New York State Fairgrounds for the annual Junior League Holiday Shoppes… along with an array home decor and gifts… we’ve brought a great selection of gourmet and specialty foods.

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Today shoppers can looks forward to sampling:

– Forever Herbs Blackberry and Blueberry Jalapeno Compote

– Hot Pepper Bacon Jam

– Lillie’s Q Bloody Mary Mix

– Delicious pulled chicken recipe along with Lillie’s Q barbecue and Caroline Dirt… my favorite rub!

Food - Pulled BBQ Chicken Sliders

The great thing about this recipe is that it is not only delicious but a little healthier for you than many of the pulled pork recipes you get out… plus it’s super quick and easy!

BBQ Pulled Chicken Sliders

Ingredients

3 lbs. boneless/skinl chicken breasts (or mix of boneless/skinless breast & thighs)

Sea salt & pepper

2 tsp. olive oil or grapeseed oil (for browning)

1 medium vadalia or sweet onion, sliced thin

1 cup Lillie Q Carolina BBQ Sauce*

Directions

Season chicken with sea salt and pepper, then brown chicken in 2 tsp. of olive oil or grapeseed oil (4 mins on each side). While chicken browns, place sliced onions in the bottom of a slow cooker.

Cut chicken breasts in half and place in slow cooker on top of onions. Pour Lillie Q Carolina BBQ sauce over the top. Cover slow cooker and cook on low for 5-6 hours, or high for 3-4 hours.

Shred chicken with two forks. Serve with a buffet of toppings including:

– Lillie Q Smoky BBQ*
– Lillie Q White BBQ Sauce* (If you have not had white BBQ sauce… Wow! Delish!)
– Creamy Coleslaw (if you’re short on time, grab it from your favorite deli)
– Diced dill pickle

Enjoy!

Michele

*You can find Lillie Q BBQ Sauces and rubs in both our Baldwinsville, Fayetteville and Downtown Syacuse stores.

Cooking & Entertaining Ideas

Entertaining Simply `a la Maison… Super Bowl Party Hit – Slow Cooked Pulled BBQ Chicken Sliders

One of the best parts of the Super Bowl for me is the Super Bowl Party.  It’s a great opportunity to entertainment friends and family… and of course, eat some great food.

This year, we have been invited over to our friend’s house for the Super Bowl.  With my crazy schedule, I wanted to pick a recipe that wouldn’t keep me in the kitchen all day, so I will be bringing my Slow Cooked Pulled BBQ Chicken Sliders.  I find sliders work best at a party because there are usually so many other great things to eat that you hate to fill up on one particular sandwich. Food - Pulled BBQ Chicken Sliders

The great thing about this recipe is that it is not only delicious but a little healthier for you than many of the pulled pork recipes you get out… plus it’s super quick and easy!

BBQ Pulled Chicken Sliders

Ingredients

3 lbs. boneless/skinless chicken breasts (or mix of boneless/skinless breast & thighs)

Sea salt & pepper

2 tsp. olive oil or grapeseed oil (for browning)

1 medium vadalia or sweet onion, sliced thin

1 cup Lillie Q Carolina BBQ Sauce*

Directions

Season chicken with sea salt and pepper, then brown chicken in 2 tsp. of olive oil or grapeseed oil (4 mins on each side).  While chicken browns, place sliced onions in the bottom of a slow cooker.

Cut chicken breasts in half and place in slow cooker on top of onions.  Pour Lillie Q Carolina BBQ sauce over the top.  Cover slow cooker and cook on low for 5-6 hours, or high for 3-4 hours.

Shred chicken with two forks. Serve with a buffet of toppings including:

  • Lillie Q Smoky BBQ*
  • Lillie Q White BBQ Sauce* (If you have not had white BBQ sauce… Wow!  Delish!)
  • Creamy Coleslaw (if you’re short on time, grab it from your favorite deli)
  • Diced dill pickle

Enjoy!

Michele

*You can find Lillie Q BBQ Sauces and rubs in both our Downtown and Baldwinsville stores.

Cooking & Entertaining Ideas

Entertaining Simply – Recipe of the Week… Lemon Raspberry Champagne Vinaigrette & Mixed Greens Salad

I can eat a salad every day and always serve one when I’m entertaining.  Here’s one of my healthy mixed greens salad:

mixed greens with my lemon raspberry champagne vinaigrette

My Lemon Raspberry Champagne Vinaigrette Mixed Greens Salad

Dressing

    3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • 2 Tablespoons Raspberry Champagne vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 Teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 Teaspoon honey
  • ½ Teaspoon Borsari Citrus Seasoned Salt
  • Black pepper to taste

Salad

  • 6-8 cups mixed field greens
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries (when in season)
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup pepitas
  • 1/3 raw pecan halves, toasted (optional)

Directions:

Whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, lemon zest, honey, and Borsari citrus salt. Drizzle and whisk in the olive oil.  Add black pepper to taste if needed.

Pick a beautiful bowl and fill with mixed greens. Gently toss in cranberries, pepitas and pecans. SUPER gently toss in the raspberries and vinaigrette. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if needed.

Make it a meal:  Add in crumbled goat cheese and/or grilled chicken to serve as a light lunch or dinner.

You can also stop into our downtown store today for a taste.

Enjoy!

Michele

Cooking & Entertaining Ideas

Cooking Healthfully… Delicious Uses for White Wine and Champagne Vinegar

Vinegar is used in cooking and baking; creating sauces, dressings and marinades: even to transform milk into a buttermilk. There are many types of vinegars including apple cider, red wine, balsamic and Champagne.

Much like Champagne, Champagne vinegar is light-colored and delicately flavored.  Chardonnay grapes are typically used to make Champagne vinegar

I love Champagne and chardonnay vinegar and reach for them often.  They have a delicate flavor is makes it pair well with fruits and is especially good in vinaigrettes.  Seafood is a big hit in my house and these vinegars also makes a great marinade for shrimp and fish.

 BR Cohn Vinegars

BR Cohn Raspberry Champagne Vinegar and Pear Chardonnay Vinegar are two delicious options that we carry in both our Downtown and Baldwinsville stores.

Raspberry Champagne Vinegar has a wonderful balance of fresh berries and the crisp, clean flavor of champagne.  It is aged in oak barrels for 24 months using a 500 year old traditional Orleans method – then blended with 100% natural raspberry juice.

Pear Chardonnay Vinegar is also aged using the 500 year old traditional Orleans method, and then is combined with delicious, natural pear juice.  The flavor is so delicate that I sometimes sprinkle it right over salad greens without any oil…making it a super healthy way to dress your salad.

Consider reaching for Raspberry Champagne Vinegar to:

  • Sprinkle over melon, fresh berries or freshly steamed vegetables
  • Bring out the flavor in asparagus, artichokes or avocados
  • Enjoy as a marinade for fish, poultry or pork
  • Mix with extra virgin olive oil or grape seed oil to make an outstanding dipping oil or vinaigrette

Pear Chardonnay Vinegar is best to:

  • Sprinkle over flavorful greens such as arugula, spinach or baby swiss chard
  • Use in salad containing fresh fruits or creamy cheese such as goat cheese
  • Enjoy as a marinade for fish, poultry or pork
  • Mix with extra virgin olive oil or grape seed oil to make an outstanding dipping oil or vinaigrette