Monday, August 22, 2016

Cooking Class Part 2

I went to the second part of my cooking class. We made three dishes. The first dish was pea, prosciutto, and Parmesan risotto. The second dish was blanched green beans with Dijon vinaigrette. The third dish was pan seared scallops with a citrus-thyme gastric. And, the final dish was blackberry croustade with flaky pie dough and homemade whipped cream. Spoiler alert; everything was yummy. Let's start at the beginning.

The first dish we made was risotto. It was super simple especially because all the ingredients were prepped and ready. Many chefs use this technique called mis en place. This is a French term that translates to "put in place."  After prepping and measuring all the ingredients for the recipe.  Warm 6-8 cups of low-sodium chicken broth. We coated a large saucepan with oil. When the oil shimmers, add shallots. Cook shallots until translucent. Add wine. Then, it's time to start the rice.

We used Arborio rice, and toasted the rice in the oil. Then, gradually add chicken broth broth 1/2 - 1 cup at a time. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the broth is absorbed. The broth and rice should be simmering. Repeat adding the rice while stirring. One of my fellow students had made risotto before. She shared a helpful tip; if the pan is sizzling, it's time to add more liquid. Taste the risotto. When the risotto is creamy but still has bite, you're done adding liquid . . . and almost done stirring. Turn of the heat. Then, we add the finishing touches: prosciutto, peas, and Parmesan. Taste and see if it needs anything else. We added salt, pepper, and lemon juice.

This is the risotto after adding stock twice. It's not really creamy. The chef encouraged us to taste at this point. I would not recommend it. The rice was crunchy and stuck to our teeth. It was definitely not done.

This picture shows the risotto after we added the last of our chicken stock. We were finishing simmering until the liquid evaporated. At this stage, the risotto was al dente and creamy. It's almost done!

Add your flavorings. We add peas, prosciutto, Parmesan cheese, and butter to flavor our risotto. It was creamy and tender. The peas added a fresh pop. The Parmesan and prosciutto added a salty bite. So, good! 

The second dish was blanched green beans with Dijon vinaigrette. I've used the blanching technique before with broccoli and green beans. Blanching is submerging a food, like green beans, in boiling water for a few minutes. Then, you shock the food by submerging it in ice cold water. This stops the cooking and locks in the bright green color. 

Adding a vinaigrette was a new way to prepare green beans. I loved the acidity of the lemon, Dijon vinaigrette. The herbs in the vinaigrette were fresh and brightened the flavor. The green beans were crisp, and the roasted hazelnuts were rich and crunchy. So good! 

The third dish was pan seared scallops with a citrus-thyme gastric. As a Louisiana girl, I love seafood. Scallops are sweet, tender, and a little sweet. Scallops cook quickly, so it's a great, quick protein to make. Look for dry-packed scallops and make sure you remove the adductor muscle. We seasoned the scales with salt and pepper, and seared the scallops in canola oil for about 2-3 minutes per side.

We made a citrus-thyme gastrique. Gastrique sounds like a fancy, complex term. But, it is a simple a vinegar-based sauce with caramelized sugar. I tasted the scallop without the sauce, and it was good. Then, I added the gastrique, and it was phenomenal! The gastric add a punchy, bright citrus element from the orange and the sweetness of the sugar complemented the slight sweet scallops.

The final dish was blackberry croustade with flaky pie dough and homemade whipped cream. We made the dough in a food processor. It was super easy and flaky!

We prepped the filling with blackberries, lemon zest, sugar, cornstarch, almond extract, and lemon juice. The almond extract was a delicious addition!

Then you poor the filling into the dough on a baking sheet lines with parchment.

Tip, use the parchment to fold the dough over.

We topped the croustade with whipped cream.

I encourage you to try something new. Invite a friend. Learn something new. Don't be afraid to try a new recipe, and taste something new! That's it for cooking with class part two.

For more recipes, encouragement, and tips for healthy eating, follow me on PinterestInstagram, and Twitter

Friday, August 19, 2016

RDtipoftheday Favorites: August Edition

Welcome to RDtipoftheday's favorites August edition. This is my blog series that highlights some of the best things I've been watching, reading, listening to, cooking, and eating. These are a few of my favorite things this month.

Eating & Cooking

I love something about Summer and fantastic produce. I especially love watermelon. Watermelon day is August 3rd, so celebrate. I bought a watermelon shirt last year; I thought it was very dietitian appropriate. I also found this watermelon cake! So fun!

image via Google

Cooking in Julia Child's kitchen. What a cool experience! I might need to add this to my bucket list. You can rent it for $639 Child's birthday is August 15.

In a world with a lot of excess, it's nice to simplify. Here are some tips for building a minimalist pantry.

Well, you can't exactly eat these, by they look delicious!  

What's the Difference? Learn the Truth About These 21 Common Ingredients via TheKitchn


With school starting soon, my attention is focused on feeding children well and Kids Eat Right Month. Here are some answers to your questions about the new Dietary Guidelines


I was recently on the news promoting Kids Eat Right Month and healthy nutrition for children. Here is the video if you want to know more. Have a great, healthy semester!

Some people love physical activity. Others find it difficult to include physical activity into their schedule. We know the benefits of physical activity. So, here are 7 workouts you can do in 20 minutes

I've recently started bullet journaling to keep myself organized. Do you bullet journal? How do you keep yourself organized? I'd love to hear your tips. Feel free to leave a comment below.

For all the bloggers, it can sometimes feel like you are writing to yourself. Here are some tips for how to write on the Internet and not lose your mind

Here are some tips for using Google Keyword Planner for SEO.

I hope you enjoyed these tips, recipes, and all of my favorites from this month. Let me know if this is a feature that you would like me to continue by commenting below. And, let me know if you have something you want to be featured. Thanks! Have a great weekend!

For more recipes, encouragement, and tips for healthy eating, follow me on PinterestInstagram, and Twitter

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Monday, August 15, 2016

7 Tips for Healthy Eating on a Budget

Eating healthy is a priority. Sticking to your budget is a necessity. So, how do you balance the two? You get healthy eating tips from a Registered Dietitian (RD) that allow you to stay on a budget. Here are my RD tips for eating healthy on a budget.

Set a budget.
It's important to have a goal budget to meet or stay under. Figure out how much you want to spend on eating and how that works into your overall budget.

Make a meal plan.
Decide what you will be eating for the week. Make a grocery list for your breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks for the week. Have a list and stick to it. Then, you will be more likely to stick to your budget. Extra items add cost to your budget.

Buy seasonally.
A great way to eat healthy and stay on budget is to eat seasonally. When you choose to eat fresh fruits and vegetable that are in season, they are cheaper. 

Buy shelf-stable and frozen items in bulk.
Examples - grains, canned veggies or fruit, and frozen vegetables and fruit.  Choose no added salt canned vegetables to limit added salt. Choose fruit packed in its own juice to limit added sugar. When comparing prices, look at the unit price. 
image via Amazon

The unit price compares price per ounce or unit. This gives you a better idea if the larger size or the smaller size is a better deals

Try store brands.
Many stores have their own store brand. Wal-mart has "Great Value" brand. Kroger has their "Private Selections" brand. Target has "Archer Farms"  and "Market Pantry" brands. Many times the stores make a comparable product with a lower price. Compare the unit price of the store brand and brand name product. Try them; you may like them and save some money.

Freeze leftovers.

This tip saves time and money. Buy food in bulk; buy enough for 2 meals. Cook once. Eat one meal. Freeze the other meal. And you have two delicious, healthy meals that took about half the time to prepare! 

Shop the sale.
Look for your favorite foods on sale. Avoid buying things just because they are on sale. But if you see one of you or your family's favorite foods on sale, buy a little extra at the cheaper price.

Healthy eating is an investment in your health. Healthy eating is an investment in your future. It is also an investment in your child's health and your family's health. We know that healthy eating affects brain development, school performance, and can decrease the risk of developing diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, and stroke. For more on the consequences of obesity, check out the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

How can you afford not to eat healthy?

If you have any tips for healthy eating on a budget, share them below in the comments.

August is Kids Eat Right Month™, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Academy Foundation's chance to highlight the fight for our children's healthy future. Find out how you can get involved!

Stay tuned all this month for more on healthy eating and Kids Eat Right Month. For more recipes, encouragement, and tips for healthy eating, follow me on Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter.

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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Cooking Class Series: Part 1

I took my third cooking class this weekend. It is a three-part series, so stay tune for the other two classes. Today, we made three dishes. The first dish was a Summer vegetable ratatouille. The second dish was a vanilla bean soufflé with strawberry sauce. The third dish was pan-roasted chicken with lemon and rosemary. All the dishes were scrumptious. Let's start at the beginning.

The first dish we made was Summer vegetable ratatouille. We practiced our knife skills and proper hold of the knife to prepare all the veggies in the dish. We learned to make things the are spherical flat first. Then, you make sticks. Then, cut the opposite direction to make cubes. This technique was super helpful to get all the vegetables about the same size. Having food cut to the same size helps everything cook at similar rates, so the vegetables are done at the same time. Our group divided and conquered dicing eggplant, onion, red bell pepper, zucchini, tomatoes. We mince garlic cloves and chiffonade the basil.

Start by heating your Dutch oven with oil until shimmery. Sauté all the vegetables, starting with the vegetable that takes the longest to cook. In our case, that is the eggplant. Sauté all veggies until browned. Let everything stew while you're preparing the rest of the meal.

Top with Parmesan cheese before serving and enjoy!

The second dish was la vanilla bean shuffle with strawberry sauce.  I was especially excited to try this dish because it seems a bit intimidating. Ours was delicious!

Start by getting all your ingredients measured and assembled. This is also know as mis en place. Then, separate your egg whites from egg yolks. We used the three-bowl technique for separating eggs. It's a little messy, but it's cheap and easy. 

You start with three empty containers. Crack the egg into bowl 1. Use your hand to grab the yolk. Let the white run through you fingers. Put the egg yolk in bowl 2. Pour the egg whites in bowl 3. Begin the process again until you've separated all the eggs.

Heat butter, flour and milk in a saucepan. It's like making a roux. You melt the butter, whisk in flour and slowly add milk. Then, flavor your soufflé base. We used sugar, vanilla, and salt.  Let the mixture you before whisking in yolks. Let mixture cool.

Next, whisk the egg whites in a stand mixer to get stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the soufflé base.  Start with 1/3 of the egg whites. Fold in the remainder of the egg whites in 2 batches. You're almost there!

Prepare ramekins for the batter by greasing with butter and dusting with granulated sugar. Pour a little sugar into the dish and rotated around until it is covered with sugar. Poor off the excess.

Scoop the batter into ramekins.  I like to use an ice cream scoop to help portion. It's neater and more precise than using a kitchen spoon. Then, level the soufflé with a spatula. Run your finger around the edge of the ramekin to chat a moat around the edge. This helps the soufflé rise. 

Place the soufflé in the oven until full risen and golden brown.

We prepared a strawberry sauce to top the soufflé. I preferred the soufflé on it's own; you can really taste the vanilla bean.

The third dish was pan-roasted chicken with lemon and rosemary.  We made the entree while the soufflé were cooking. Prepare your ingredients. Mince shallot, garlic clove, and rosemary. Zest a lemon and juice it. Set butter out. Measure whine and low sodium chicken broth.

Bring chicken to room temperature while still maintaining food safety. Dry the chicken. Start by heating your pan with oil until shimmery. This turns the pan into more of a nonstick pan.

Brown the on both sides. Then, finish the chicken in the oven on a sheet tray topped with an oven-safe baking rack. How do we know when the chicken is cooked?

Insert oven-safe thermometer. Set to 180*F.  When the thermometer reaches 180*F, the chicken is fully cooked. Tent the chicken with aluminum foil and let rest while you prepare the pan sauce. 

Drain the majority of oil from the pan that you seared the chicken in. Don't wash it out! We want to make use of the fond. Fond, what's that? Fond is the culinary term for the caramelized brown bits on the bottom of the pan. It's french for 'background, depth, or bottom." You can think of it as the basis for our pan sauce. 

To make the pan sauce, turn the heat to medium and add butter. Sauté garlic and butter until softened. Deglaze the pan with wine. Let the liquid concentrate by reducing by half. Add chicken broth and flavorings. We used rosemary and lemon zest. Use a wooden spoon to scrape the fond or caramelized bits off the bottom of the pan. Turn of the heat. Add remaining butter. This is called "mounting" a sauce. Mounting a sauce is adding chilled butter. Slowly add the butter and stir to emulsify the sauce. 

All the recipes were super simple to make because all the ingredients were prepped and ready. Many chefs use this technique called mis en place. This is a french term that translates to "put in place."  We measured all the ingredients for each dish and had them ready to go before we started the cooking process. Preparing your mis en place is something every cook can do to make cooking easier. Prepare you meal like the recipe reads. You measure and chop, dice, slice all the ingredients. Preheat ovens or pans. After the preparation is done, now it's time to cook. Try this technique at home to make cooking easier!

I highly recommend taking a cooking class if you want to learn a new skill or try a new recipe. My favorite aspects of this cooking class were:

1) Getting hands-on experience learning a new skill.

2) Recipe preparation and clean up was completed by the staff. No dishes! 

3) Tasting new recipes and trying new foods.

I encourage you to try something new. I don't know if I would have tried to make a soufflé by myself. But, it was simple and successful in class with the help of the chef and sous chefs. Don't be afraid to try a new recipe, and taste something new!

For more recipes, encouragement, and tips for healthy eating, follow me on PinterestInstagram, and Twitter

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Monday, August 1, 2016

Let's Celebrate August

Y'all I LOVE celebrations! I love birthdays, holidays, Tuesdays, and Fridays! I love celebrating achievements. Give me a reason, and I'll celebrate with you! So, this is a new feature that I thought would be fun! 

In this series, I'm going to provide an overview of the food celebrations and holidays in the month, so you can celebrate. For me, it's helpful for menu planning or throwing themed dinners. These food holidays are a great way to have a themed meal and invite people over to your home. 

I feel like inviting people into your home is a great way to build community. There's something about breaking bread, cooking, sharing recipes, and food that sparks conversation. I love talking and celebrating around a table. So, here are some food celebrations in August.

August has several celebrations throughout the month. August is:

  • National Catfish Month
  • National Peach Month
  • National Panini Month
  • National Sandwich Month
There are also many celebrations on days throughout August

  • August 2 is National Ice Cream Sandwich Day
  • August 3 is National Watermelon Day
  • August 4 is National Chocolate Chip Day
  • August 5 is National Mustard Day & National Waffle Day
  • August 10 is National S'mores Day
  • August 11 is National Panini Day
  • August 12 is National Julienne Fries Day
  • August 13 is National Fillet Mignon Day
image via Google Images
  • August 15 is National Lemon Meringue Pie Day & Happy Birthday to Julia Child!
  • August 19 is National Hot and Spicy Food Day
  • August 20 is National Chocolate Pecan Pie Day
  • August 22 is National Peach Day
    • Start your day off with peaches and homemade granola.
    • End your day with an easy peach bread pudding.
  • August 24 is National Peach Pie Day
  • August 25 is National Banana Split Day
  • August 27 is National Burger Day
  • August 30 is National Toasted Marshmallow Day
  • August 31 is National Trail Mix Day

    I thought this list would be inspiring for your meal plan for August  I hope it is inspiring. So, let's celebrate. If you participate in these monthly celebrations, tag me, @RDtipoftheday, and use the hashtag #RDTODcelebrate for a chance to be featured. 

    For more recipes, encouragement, and tips for healthy eating, follow me on PinterestInstagram, and Twitter