What Are Your Favorite Spring Recipes? Here Are a Few to Try This Season!

As the days get longer and springtime (finally!) rolls around, you likely start to crave lighter meals made with bright, fresh ingredients. Retire your usual favorite spring recipes in favor of something new and exciting with these delicious dishes from around the web.

Grilled Artichokes [oprah.com]
Create a tasty side dish for chicken, steak, or fish with Oprah’s recipe for flavorful grilled artichokes. Grilling these layered veggies on a stovetop grill gives them a bit of a blackened taste, and the homemade dipping sauce that goes with them adds even more flavor.

Sautéed Fiddlehead Ferns [localfoods.about.com]
Fiddlehead ferns come into season during the spring, which makes this dish very fresh and delicious. This recipe also takes just 10 minutes to prepare and 10 minutes to cook, so it makes quite a quick last-minute side dish on busy weeknights.

Risotto With Prosciutto and Peas [realsimple.com]
If you’re looking for something heartier and more filling, this rich, creamy risotto recipe is the perfect choice come spring. Thin prosciutto adds a salty taste, while the sweet spring peas make it perfect for warmer weather. Cook the risotto in white wine and chicken broth to add a deep, complex flavor throughout, then serve it with your favorite grilled meats or as an entree with a fresh salad.

Make Mouthwatering Meatloaf 4 Different Ways

Ever since you were a child, meatloaf has always been a dinner staple that united the whole family. There are a variety of new and improved ways to prepare this classic dish, but they still maintain the same hearty taste that you’ve always loved. Here are some of the best meatloaf recipes, just in time for dinner tonight.

Easy Meatloaf [Allrecipes]
When you don’t have much time between your daily tasks and your family’s dinner, this easy meatloaf recipe is a great option. With just nine common ingredients, you can create a nutritious meal with a rich tomato flavor.

My Favorite Meatloaf [Pioneer Woman]
The Pioneer Woman’s favorite meatloaf recipe is wrapped in crispy bacon, adding a smoky, salty flavor that meat-lovers will adore.

Home-Sweet-Home Meatloaf [Hunts]
If you want the traditional taste of meatloaf with a bit of added flavor, this delicious recipe is infused with brown sugar and sweet onion that perfectly complements to heartiness of the ground sirloin beef.

Layered Creamed-Spinach Meatloaf [Delish]
This recipe offers a gourmet twist on meatloaf, perfect for a holiday or other special occasion. Chopped spinach, zesty spices, and Romano cheese form a decadent layer in between the meat, giving the simple dish a bit of complexity.

Cooking 101: How to Sharpen a Kitchen Knife

It may seem strange, but sharpening your kitchen knives is actually one of the best ways to avoid cutting yourself while cooking. A sharp knife means an easier cut with less effort from you, which gives you more control and requires less force. Here are a few tips for sharpening kitchen knives at home.

  1. Place a whetstone, or a rough-surfaced stone made for sharpening knives, on top of a cutting board to offer more stability.
  2. Holding your knife by the handle, place it on a very slight angle against the whetstone (blade facing away, of course).
  3. With moderate pressure, glide the knife forward across the whetstone 10 times. Flip it over and repeat on the other side.
  4. The whetstone has two different types of grit, so flip the whole thing over to the finer side. Repeat the last step to smooth the knife's rough edges.
  5. Finally, hone the blade with a sharpening steel. Place the long, steel rod point-down onto the cutting board, just as you would a nail. Touch the part of the knife closest to the handle against the steel, then pull the blade toward you and slightly downward with a bit of pressure. Repeat this 10 times on each side of the knife, and again any time the knife needs a touch-up.

How to Sharpen a Knife [About Food]
Knife Skills: How to Sharpen a Knife [Serious Eats]
How to Properly Sharpen a Kitchen Knife [Le Cordon Bleu]

How to Prevent Cross-Contamination in the Kitchen

Cross-contamination in the kitchen occurs when you use the same tools and cutting boards to prepare things like raw meat or eggs that you use to prepare fresh produce or cooked foods, contaminating the food you eat with the bacteria from these raw items. To avoid cross-contamination, follow these safety tips.

  1. It starts at the grocery store. Although cross-contamination is usually thought of in the kitchen, it can also happen before you even get your foods home. When shopping at the grocery store, be sure to package raw meats tightly in plastic and put them in a separate bag from other groceries. Also make sure that your carton of eggs doesn’t contain any broken eggs that could leak on other foods.
  2. Use separate cutting boards. One of the most important ways to prevent food poisoning from cross-contamination is by using different cutting boards for meat and other items. Properly label each board, and never cut fresh vegetables, fruits, or breads on the cutting board that you use for meat or eggs. Also, clean your meat cutting board thoroughly and replace it often.
  3. Cook safely. When cooking, never use the same tools to flip raw chicken that you use to stir-fry vegetables, as this can spread bacteria from the raw meat. Throw away any marinades that meat was once soaking in, and always serve cooked foods on a clean, new plate.

Safe Food Handling: What You Need to Know [FDA]
Separate To Keep Food Safe [Home Food Safety]
Cutting Board Safety [Home Food Safety]

What’s In Season? Your Guide to Spring Produce

Spring is a bountiful time of the year when it comes to fresh produce, but it always helps to know exactly what’s in season. If you want to purchase only the freshest, most flavorful fruits and veggies and ensure that they last as long as possible in your fridge, use these helpful tips for understanding spring produce.

  1. Artichokes. Whether you use them on pizzas or add them to your salads, artichokes are a great way to add flavor and nutrients to your meals. Their main harvest takes place during the springtime, so look for artichokes with close, compact leaves and clean-cut stems.
  2. Asparagus. This popular veggie is found in a number of high-end restaurants, but you can easily prepare it at home if you purchase it fresh in the springtime. The thickness doesn’t necessarily indicate tenderness, so don’t overlook thinner or thicker spears at your grocery store.
  3. Carrots. While carrots are commonly found in grocery stores year-round, they taste best during the spring season. Only purchase bundles that are firm to the touch for maximum freshness.
  4. Leafy greens. Nutrient-rich veggies like chard, kale, and other cooking greens tend to turn bitter during hot summer months, so purchase them in the spring for the best taste.
  5. Fennel. If you’ve never cooked with fennel, experiment with this green (a relative of celery) when it comes into season during the warmer springtime.
  6. Grapefruit. Create a nutritious breakfast by adding grapefruit, which starts to become plump and juicy in January.

Spring Produce: Your Guide to Picking the Best [Greatist]
What’s in Season? Spring [Fruits and Veggies More Matters]
Fresh Spring Fruits and Vegetables [About Food]

What Are Your Tips for Cooking the Perfect Omelet?

Omelets are seemingly simple breakfast foods that are deceptively difficult to make. If you’re all too accustomed to overcooked, broken omelets, these seven expert tips will help show you how to flip one like a pro. And if you have your own omelet cooking tips, be sure to share them!

  1. Use the proper tools. For best results, use a skillet that’s 8 or 9 inches in diameter, plus a heatproof spatula and an egg whisk.
  2. Assemble the ingredients. A standard omelet uses two or three eggs per person, as well as whichever veggies, meats, or cheeses that you prefer. Be sure to chop and prepare your toppings in advance!
  3. Add a splash of water to your eggs. Before adding the other ingredients, whisk a splash of water into the eggs. This will help ensure a light, fluffy omelet.
  4. Heat the skillet. Heat your skillet to medium-high heat and coat the bottom with unsalted butter.
  5. Add the eggs. Add just the eggs to the pan first and let the edges set for about 10 seconds. Pull the now-set edges in toward the center and rotate the pan to disperse the raw egg.
  6. Add toppings. Gently sprinkle the toppings on the surface of the eggs.
  7. Fold. Fold only one side of the omelet in toward the center. Once it’s done cooking, fold the other side by tilting the skillet. Flip the whole thing face down onto your plate to complete the perfect omelet.

How to Make the Perfect Omelet [Food Network]
How to Make the 'Perfect' French Omelet [Instructables]
How to Make an Omelet [Organic Valley]

How to Eat Healthy When Dining Out

You really never know how a meal is prepared when you’re eating out, and even the healthiest seeming salad can be packed with fattening cheeses, heavy oils, and excessive amounts of sodium. Instead of boycotting restaurants, use these smart tips for eating healthy while eating out.

  1. Know the lingo. When navigating the menu, recognize that words like “crispy,” “au gratin,” “creamed,” or “battered” are just as bad as “deep-fried.” Instead, look for dishes that are “grilled,” “poached,” or “roasted.”
  2. Choose restaurants with healthy or light menus. If you want to make navigating the menu even easier, research which restaurant chains offer separate menus of healthier dishes.
  3. Avoid appetizers. Instead of ordering extra food before your meal even arrives, eat your healthy entree and then reevaluate to see if you’re still hungry.
  4. Ask for sauces on the side. If you order a salad with dressing or a sandwich with a creamy sauce, ask for it on the side and only use as much as you need.
  5. Ask for a to-go box with your order. If your biggest challenge is overindulging, there’s no shame in packaging a portion of your meal up before you begin eating. This will ensure that you don’t go overboard.
  6. Don’t skip dessert. No, you don’t have to pass on dessert; just opt for healthier treats like fresh fruit, sherbet, or flourless cakes.

Deciphering the Menu [American Heart Association]
Ordering Your Meal [American Heart Association]
Tips for Eating Healthy When Eating Out [USDA]
It's About Eating Right [Eat Right]

4 Tips for Serving a Safe Food Buffet

If you’re hosting a large party, you’re likely concerned with serving tasty foods, but your goal should also be to keep those foods safe for your guests. Here are a few helpful tips that will keep your food buffet just as healthy as it is delicious.

  1. Wash your hands. The first thing you should do when preparing a food buffet is wash your hands. This prevents you from spreading germs to your guests, but it also helps to keep you safe from food borne illnesses caused by raw meat, eggs, and other ingredients. Be sure to wash your hands each time you refill the buffet, as well.
  2. Cook foods completely. It’s safe to keep foods out on a buffet, provided that they’re cooked properly beforehand. Meats like beef and pork chops should be cooked to at least 145º F, while chicken and poultry should reach at least 165º F.
  3. Use the proper serving tools. If you’re serving hot foods, be sure to store them in a chafing dish, slow cooker, or warming tray to keep them from changing temperature. Cold dishes can be served in nesting bowls over bowls of ice, and they must stay at 40°F or lower in order to stop the growth of bacteria.
  4. Abide by the two-hour rule. Finally, never let foods sit on a buffet for more than two hours. Tossing food that’s been at room temperature for too long will ensure a safe and healthy party.

Serving Up Safe Buffets [FDA]
Serving Prepared Foods Safely [Whole Foods]
Holiday or Party Buffets [USDA]
Buffet Safety [NSF]

Deliciously Easy Meatloaf Recipes That Taste Anything But Basic

If your earliest memories of meatloaf are dry, bland, and boring, this post is for you. These three meatloaf recipes turn the old fashioned favorite upside down, but they’re still just as easy to make.

Paula Deen’s Old Fashioned Meatloaf [foodnetwork.com]
Don’t be fooled by the name; this perfectly moist, endlessly flavorful meatloaf recipe is a world away from the outdated dinner entree. Quick-cooking oats create a hearty base for the beef, while simple seasonings and some all-American condiments enable you to make a delicious sauce from things you already have in the fridge.

Simple Meatloaf Recipe [southernfood.about.com]
Because this recipe requires more oven time than prep time, it leaves you with extra time to do whatever you please. Just top it with a blend of ketchup, mustard, and maple syrup once it’s all done.

Turkey Meatloaf [realsimple.com]
Save a few calories and grams of fat while still getting a hearty dose of protein by using ground turkey instead of the usual beef. Plus, this meatloaf is filled with herbs and spices for a truly flavorful taste and a wonderful aroma while it bakes in the oven. Serve it with some classic mashed potatoes for a delicious dinner just like mom used to make.

Tips for Properly Cleaning Your Wooden Cutting Boards

If you’ve ever owned a wooden cutting board, you know just how finicky they can be. These kitchen essentials are ideal for chopping vegetables or serving a cheese platter, but they’re also very difficult to clean. Here are four smart tips to help you properly clean your cutting board.

  1. Use vinegar as a disinfectant. Using soap and water on your cutting board can cause it to weaken or crack. Instead, disinfect it with a full-strength white vinegar after each use to kill E coli, salmonella, and other dangerous bacteria.
  2. Remove odor with lemons. Rub your cutting board all over with the cut side of half a lemon in order to remove the odors left behind by onions, meat, or crushed garlic.
  3. Deep clean with baking soda. Every so often, deep clean your cutting board with baking soda to ensure that no bacteria is lurking beneath the surface. Scrub it with a paste made of one tablespoon each of baking soda, water, and salt.
  4. Remove stains with salt. If your cutting board is covered in oil stains, remove them by sprinkling each stain with coarse salt and scrubbing with a sponge dipped in hot water. Repeat as needed until the stain is completely gone.

How to Clean a Cutting Board: 7 Effective Treatments [Reader’s Digest]
5 Ways to Clean a Wooden Cutting Board [Food Network]
How to Clean a Wooden Cutting Board [Paula Deen]
Clean Wooden Cutting Boards Naturally with Lemon and Salt [The Kitchn]

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