Tag Archives: food tips

Refrigerator Rules: How Long Do Leftovers Last?

Remembering you have leftover chicken, pizza or turkey in the fridge can feel like a siren call to happiness. But depending on the type of food you’re dealing with, figuring out whether or not Wednesday’s dinner can safely be eaten as Friday’s lunch can feel like a guessing game. If you too are Googling “how long do leftovers stay good” and asking everyone you know the same question, here’s the complete run-down.

chicken-thighs-slow-cookerGet the recipe for Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs

Leftover Chicken

Storage conditions will cause the shelf life of cooked chicken to vary from kitchen to kitchen. If your fridge is exceptionally cold and the chicken is sealed properly, it can last for more than four days. However, a good rule of thumb for the average fridge is to toss cooked chicken after four days, which is when bacteria usually begins to grow. If you’re unsure whether or not the chicken is safe to eat, look for any signs of a sour smell or slightly slimy texture. If you find any of these traits, discard the chicken without tasting it first.

Related: Budget-Friendly Pantry Staples You Should Always Have on Hand

Leftover Stuffing and Gravy

While some might argue that half the fun of popular holiday dinners is the leftovers, both stuffing and gravy have a surprisingly short shelf life. Stuffing — which is often soaked through with meat drippings — shouldn’t be consumed after a maximum of two days in the fridge. The same two-day rule should be applied to the gravy, which should always be brought to a rolling boil to properly kill bacteria before serving again. The good news is that freezing excess stuffing and gravy will extend the shelf life for up to four months.

Leftover Pizza

Any food with meat and cheese that’s left unrefrigerated for more than two hours can cause foodborne illness. This includes the half-eaten pizza box you left out just in case “someone” wanted another slice. Place your pizza in the fridge within two hours of preparation and it will last for up to four days, three days being the recommended shelf life of the average slice. After that, bacteria can begin to grow and lead to food poisoning.

cauliflower-lasagnaGet the recipe for Roasted Cauliflower Lasagna

Leftover Lasagna

Cooked lasagna keeps in the refrigerator for up to five days if stored in a tightly sealed container to keep out excess moisture and other contaminants. The best way to determine whether or not lasagna has turned is to look for dried-out noodles or a sour smell emanating from the tomato sauce and cheese.

Related: 10 Surprising Foods That Boost the Immune System

Leftover Pad Thai and Takeout Noodles

Pad Thai and other popular takeout noodle dishes will generally last up to three days in the refrigerator. Due to heavy sauces that can contribute to a soggy texture, these dishes can sometimes taste bad before they actually go bad. To be safe, always reheat noodles with meat and animal products to a temperature of 165°F or higher in order to kill any outstanding bacteria before eating.

Leftover Beef 

Are you reaching for last week’s beef tenderloin leftovers or prime rib leftovers, but not sure if it’s still good to eat? If properly stored, the general rule of thumb for cooked beef is three to four days in the fridge or up to six months in the freezer. If it is giving off a bad smell or it looks slimy or sticky, it’s definitely time to toss that goodbye.

Looking for more info on food safety? Learn 4 Things You Don’t Know About Expiry Dates.

Published January 5, 2019. Updated April 2, 2020

Chef’s Secret to Making the Fluffiest Pancakes Ever

A weekend breakfast staple, pancakes — hotcakes, flapjacks or whatever you like to call them — just might be the ultimate morning comfort food. As simple as they can be, it’s always refreshing to get some ideas from an expert on how to make them even better.

Yellow Door Bistro is a chef-driven European restaurant located inside Calgary’s Hotel Arts. There they cook up delicious fare from morning to night, but the restaurant is most renowned for its imaginative brunch creations. The most famous are the gourmet pancakes that start with the same base recipe, but change each month to incorporate new flavours and garnishes.

souffle-pancakes-plain

The secret to their perfectly light and fluffy pancakes, you ask? Executive chef, Quinn Staple takes a very unique approach to the batter preparation that’s similar to how one would prepare a soufflé. Eggs are an integral part of a classic pancake recipe, but Staple’s version separates the yolks and the whites. The simple act of whipping the whites on their own before being folded into the batter, makes for lighter, fluffier pancakes. Genius!

To get that soufflé-like height for your pancakes at home, Staple recommends using metal ring molds and brushing the inside with butter or oil. This will help the pancakes rise high. This step may take a few extra minutes, but trust the chef; it’s well worth it in the long run. Try it out for yourselves this weekend!

souffle-pancakes-ingredients

Soufflé Coconut Pancakes with Pineapple and Caramel Sauce

Ingredients:

Pancake Batter:
1/2 cup egg yolks
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup egg whites

Caramel Sauce:
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 lb. butter, cubed
1/4 cup 35 % cream

Directions:

Pancake Batter:
1. Mix egg yolk, butter and coconut milk together. In a separate bowl mix sugar, flour, baking powder and salt together. Mix wet ingredients into dry.

souffle-pancakes-steps2

2. Use a whisk to whip egg whites until they turn white and form soft peaks (you can use a stand mixer for this stage as well).
3. Once the egg whites are incorporated, gently fold into batter.

souffle-pancakes-steps3

Note: Batter will keep in the fridge overnight, but for best results (i.e. for the fluffiest pancakes) use right away.

To Cook:
1. Grease ring molds and large pan with canola oil. Heat pan on medium-high heat.

souffle-pancakes-steps5

2. Place molds into pan, add two healthy spoonfuls of batter into each and allow to cook until batter has risen noticeably and bubbles have formed around its edges, approximately 3-4 minutes.

souffle-pancakes-steps6

3. Carefully remove the mold using tongs and gently flip pancakes over, reduce to medium heat and allow to cook for another 4 minutes.
Note: If not using ring molds, just portion batter into pan and once bubbles appear on the edges of the pancakes flip them and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Caramel Sauce:
1. Melt brown sugar and cream together and simmer for 5 minutes.
2. Remove from the heat and carefully and slowly whisk in the diced butter until emulsified.
3. Allow to cool before serving.

To Serve:
Once the pancakes are cooked stack as many pancakes are desired on a plate, top with caramel sauce, chopped pineapple, whipped cream and toasted coconut. Enjoy!

pancakes-pineapple-coconut-final

Optional Garnishes:

Coconut Chantilly:
2 cups 35% cream
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup icing sugar

1. Whisk all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer until soft peaks are formed.

Semi Dried Vanilla Pineapple:
1/4 pineapple cut into small wedges
1/2 scraped vanilla bean

1. Toss pineapple wedges with vanilla seeds and spread evenly on a parchment lined tray. Dry overnight in an oven with no heat. Next day reserve in an airtight container.

Watch this video to learn all about the delicious history of pancakes

Celery Soup

7 Ways to Make Your Soups Creamy Without Dairy

During winter’s bitter, blustery days, a warming pot of soup is top of mind. If you’re craving a rich and comforting soup without adding the heaviness of cream, you’ve got plenty of options in your crisper or pantry. It’s time to think outside the box (or carton) with these seven easy, dairy-free thickeners.

Vegan Cream of Celery Soup

Creamy soups, like this vegan cream of celery soup, don’t have to be loaded with fat or heavy cream.

1. In A Slurry
When it comes down to it, some creamy soups are just white sauces with more liquid added. Building a roux from flour and butter (or margarine), cooking for a few minutes to remove the raw flour flavour, and adding chicken or vegetable stock will give you a sturdy soup without a whisper of cream. Cornstarch, on the other hand, is mixed with a few tablespoons of liquid and then stirred into the soup after it has come to a boil. Either way, the tricks you use to thicken a gravy — flour pastes, cornstarch slurries or even add-ins such as arrowroot or tapioca — can give your soup a thicker mouth feel.

2. Koo Koo For Coconuts 
For creaminess without cream, full-fat coconut milk will add a luscious sheen and body to your broth (you can use low-fat if you must, but it won’t give you as much richness). In Thai cuisine, coconut milk is added to flavourful curry pastes to produce creamy soups that pack a punch, such as this Thai Coconut Curry Corn Soup. If coconuts aren’t your thing, try subbing in soy or nut milk instead, although your soup will be a little thinner in consistency.

3. Against The Grains
Anyone who has ever made a Chinese congee knows the thickening power of rice — absorbing liquid and releasing starch to add a velvety texture when cooked. Add half a cup of rice at the beginning of the simmering period for your soup, and blend when the grains have plumped out. Pressed for time? Try using quick cooking rice instead to shorten the simmering time needed.

4. The Power Of Spuds
Don’t forget the humble potato — adding just one can add significant body and creaminess to your soup. Peel your spud if you desire, or leave it unpeeled and well scrubbed if you’re pureeing the soup afterwards. Just be warned that unless you’re using a full blender, you may end up with visible bits of potato skin sprinkled throughout. A smaller dice or thin slices will help the potato break down quicker in the boiling liquid. Sweet potato or yam can also be used, but keep in mind it will affect the colour of your finished product. You can also raid the fridge for yesterday’s mashed potatoes, leftover potato soup or baked sweet potatoes for a head start.

5. Back To Your Roots
Don’t stop at potatoes — chopped root vegetables, such as parsnips, turnips, rutabaga or carrots, all make economical and easy ways to add velvety texture. Beyond the basics, Jerusalem artichokes or sunchokes, taro or water chestnuts can also be cooked and puréed for body. Try  sneaking in some cauliflower or broccoli for some added vegetable goodness.

6. In A Nutshell
Soft nuts, such as cashews, add a creamy texture when soaked, such as in this vegan cream of celery soup. Nuts can be pre-soaked the night before, or cooked directly in simmering liquid to soften before blending.

7. Check Your Pulses
White beans, such as cannelloni, release a starchiness when cooked that will taste creamy on the palate without providing a dominant flavour. Soak and cook your own, or open a can for convenience, if you desire. Chickpeas or lentils, on the other hand, will impact the taste of your finished soup, but also provide a hearty helping, especially when paired with salty pancetta or bacon.

Looking for comforting soup recipes? Try one of these 21 Noodle Soups to Slurp Up This Winter.

10 Food Scraps You Should Never Throw Away

Many of us are stuck in the conventional ways of food prep  throwing out rinds, tossing away stems and peeling off skin. Without knowing it, we’re discarding the best parts of fruits and veggies. In fact, some of the least thought about pieces have the most nutrition and flavour. Next time you’re cooking, make use of these nutritious fruit and veggie scraps.

888_keep-fruit-veggies

1. Apple Skin
Apple skin is often the first to go when using this fruit for cooking or baking. However, the skin actually has slightly more nutrition than the flesh. Rich in insoluble fibre, soluble fibre and vitamin C, these nutrients work to clean out the digestive system, remove toxins and waste from the body. The skin is also rich in quercetin, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory that can reduce inflammation in the body. Most recipes call for removing the skin, but try leaving the skin intact — you may be surprised by the outcome!

2. Orange Peel
Most of the orange’s incredible nutrients actually lie in the peel and the pith, which is the white stringy part around the flesh. The pith contains a herperidin, which has been shown to lower cholesterol, reduce blood pressure and inflammation. The pith and peel also contain pectin, known as a fruit fibre, which helps to keep the body full while suppressing hunger. When peeling an orange to eat, remember to keep the pith layer on, and use leftover orange peel in baked goods, zested on chicken or fish and tossed into smoothies.

3. Fennel Fronds
Fennel is a delicious bulbous vegetable that tastes just like licorice. The fronds actually contain just as much nutrition as the bulb; however, they are often discarded along with the leaves and the core. The whole fennel plant is rich in vitamin C with potent anti-inflammatory compounds. The fronds, leaves and core should be kept to flavour soup stocks, baked goods and even fermented foods like sauerkraut.

4. Kale Stalks
While people love the nutritious leafy green, most tend to discard the stalks and only make use of the leaves. The stalks are loaded in insoluble fibre, which acts like a bristled sponge cleaning out the walls of the digestive system. Eating various parts of plants — leaves, stalks or stems — also provides the body with a mixture of different phytonutrients. Use kale stalks in soups, juices, smoothies and chop them finely to put in salads or sautees.

5. Cilantro Stems
When using herbs, we tend to only use the leaves and throw away the stems or roots. Cilantro stems and roots carry nutrition while also providing bold flavor and texture. This tasty herb helps control blood sugar and free radical production. The stems and roots are best used blended into soups, stews, salsas, guacamole and can even be juiced.

6. Broccoli Leaves and Stalks
Broccoli leaves and stalks are usually the first to go but they make a versatile, delicious and nutritious ingredient. The stalks have a ton of fibre, which is important for keeping the body regular. The leaves contain beta carotene, vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, antioxidants and folate, which supports red blood cell production. It’s no wonder broccoli leaves are being touted as the next kale! Use them in salads, steam them, sauté them, juice them and toss them into smoothies.

7. Celery Leaves
When eating celery we rarely think about celery leaves. Celery leaves look like a lighter version of flat leaf parsley and most of the time they are tossed away. The leaves have vitamin C, potassium and calcium which all work to support the immunity, healthy skin, the kidneys and control blood pressure. Celery leaves are perfect in soup stocks and great for juicing.

8. Beet Greens
Most people throw away the leafy greens that come with bunches of beets. These beet greens are very similar to Swiss chard in colour, flavour and nutrition. These greens contain a phytonutrient that keeps eyesight strong and prevents degeneration and cataracts. They also boast an array of vitamins, minerals, fibre and protein. Beet greens can be used for soups, sautées, smoothies, juices and salads.

9. Watermelon Rind
Watermelon is always a go-to snack in the summer, but the rind is usually left in the compost bin, with the white flesh intact. Citrulline, the nutrient in the white flesh is super powerful at fighting free radicals, preventing cancer and improving blood circulation. Some people even believe it to be a natural Viagra! Next time watermelon is on the table, remember to eat the white part too, or blend it up with some lime and mint for a refreshing beverage.

10 Cucumber Skin
The dark skin of cucumbers is often peeled off and tossed out, but the it contains more nutrition than the flesh. Cucumber skin contains vitamin K, which supports proper bone health and healthy blood clotting. If using the skin, wash the cucumber really well since it is often coated in a wax to prevent bruising during travel. Add to your smoothies, salads or make it into a cool soup.

susur-noodle-soup-tips

How Susur Lee Pimps His Noodle Soup

Want to take your noodle soup to the next level? We spoke to Chopped Canada judge and world-renowned chef Susur Lee for his tips on turning simple soups gourmet. Whether you’re upgrading a homemade recipe or adding flair to a packaged version, soup it up with Susur Lee!

Ramen

Food Network Canada/Food Factory

Ramen

Pimp it with: Chinese BBQ duck breast and plum sauce.

“The idea of ramen noodles, it’s really about convenience, right?” says Susur. He suggests an easy upgrade by combining ramen with another delicious convenience food: BBQ Chinese duck breast. “I like making Japanese-style ramen, and getting Chinese BBQ duck breast in Chinatown, and just putting it in,” says Susur. “I think it’s perfect. And with a little bit of plum sauce on top, it’s the best, the most convenient, and you can really pimp it up! I would eat that any day.”

Hong Kong Macaroni Soup

Karon Liu

Hong Kong Macaroni Soup

Pimp it with: sake, marinated pork tenderloin, Vietnamese cilantro and lemon balm.

“If you’re making macaroni soup, your pasta has to be quite overcooked; it cannot be too al dente,” advises Susur. “If I eat that soup, it’s very soft.” Broth is also important, so make or select a good quality base and add a touch of sake for depth. Then, instead of the usual cold cut ham, Susur recommends marinating thinly sliced pork tenderloin with soy sauce, egg white, green onion, ginger and “quite a bit of black pepper.” Lightly poach the marinated pork in the hot broth just before serving, and top the soup with chopped lemon balm and Vietnamese style cilantro — “Not the Chinese, not the Spanish, the Vietnamese long one,” explains Susur. Since this dish will be eaten with a spoon, be sure to cut all your ingredients to bite size.

Alton Brown's Chicken Noodle Soup

Food Network Canada/Good Eats

Chicken Noodle Soup

Pimp it with: semolina dumplings, poached chicken slices and marjoram.

Turn your chicken noodle soup into a delicious meal experience with thin slices of poached chicken breast (follow the same method as the pork tenderloin above) and semolina dumplings. “It’s basically semolina, an egg, butter and Parmesan cheese,” says Susur. “You whip it together and turn it into a dumpling, and you just float it, almost like a matzo ball. It expands in the chicken noodle soup, and it tastes so good. And also chopped marjoram — that would make the soup taste really good… And that’s my pimped up noodles!”

PhoPho

Pimp it with: Don’t even…

“I think I wouldn’t ruin the pho,” says Susur. “I think pho is so perfect.”

Sticky Rice

Easy Fixes for Sticky Pasta and Rice

Cooking pasta should be as easy as, well, boiling water. But alas, it’s more complicated than that. The quantity of cooking water, timing and amount of stirring all play important roles in how things turn out. So what do you do when you get yourself into a sticky situation? Here’s how to unglue sticky pasta and rice, without becoming unglued yourself.

How to Stop Sticky Rice

For Pasta

If your noodles are clumping, your best bet is to dump them into a colander and run cold water over top. They’ll loosen up and then you can rewarm them gently in the sauce. Your other choice is to toss or sauté the pasta with a bit of oil or fat to coat it — slippery noodles will slide apart from one another.

For Rice

If a pot of basmati rice is a sticky mess, it’s usually because, like pasta, it was cooked with too little water. To unstick it, dump the rice into a larger saucepan, add about a 1/2 of water and heat on low. Gently break up the clumps with a fork. Simmer, covered, for a few minutes and the clumps should start to relax. At this point, remove the saucepan from heat and let it stand with the lid on for at least 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork. Drain, if any water remains in the bottom.

If this doesn’t work, the rice might have either been too far gone, or sticky for a different reason — either because it over-stirred or overcooked. At this point, you can rinse it in cold water, like with pasta, to remove as much excess starch as possible and break up the clumps, but it won’t be perfect. To rewarm, gently sauté in a bit of oil. Better yet, repurpose it into creamy Cinnamon Raisin Rice Pudding.

Looking for recipes? Try these 14 Delicious Pasta Dishes from Giada De Laurentiis.

Mangoes

Is This Fruit Ripe? Tricks to Buying the Sweetest Produce

Although it’s easy to spot which fruit is perfectly ripe at a roadside stand in the peak of summer (hello, juicy peaches and oh-so fragrant strawberries!), during the remaining months it can be challenging to figure out if the fruit you’re purchasing is truly at its peak.

While we have seemingly endless options available at the grocery store year-round, it’s not as simple to tell when some fruits are ripe. Here are some easy tips to make sure you are never disappointed when you crack into a beautiful piece of fruit.

orange

Citrus
Since citrus grows in a separate climate from ours, it’s easy to forget that there actually is a season when they’re at their best. Lucky for us, prime citrus season is in the dead of winter, just as we’re so desperately looking for those bright and sunny flavours.
Indulge in blood oranges, pomelos, grapefruit and Meyer lemons from December to March while they’re super sweet and juicy. Look for citrus with tight skin that doesn’t have a lot of give when pressed. If they’re too soft, they could be passed their prime. Always make sure to give them a good sniff. The ripest citrus will be bursting with the scent of their essential oils.

Pineapple

Pineapple
Choosing a ripe pineapple can seem a bit tricky, but they’re actually one of the easiest fruits to tell if they’re ripe — as long as you know what to look for. Counter intuitively, a pineapple can have some green throughout its body and still be perfectly ripe. So take a step back and look at its overall appearance. Its top leaves should be deeply green and not too wilted or browned. and its skin should be tight and only gives slightly when pressed. Most importantly, a fully ripe pineapple will always have super sweet scent, so pick it up by the top and smell the base. Its aroma should be fruity and delicious.

Melons
Unlike oranges and pineapples, not every variety of melon will give off a scent to gauge its ripeness, but luckily there are other simple ways to find out. Look for melons that have consistently even skin, free of any soft spots, bruising or cracks. Smooth melons, such as watermelon, should have a matte finish and lacy melons, such as cantaloupe, should be vibrant in colour underneath their rough, top layer. Regardless of the melon you’re buying, pick it up. It should feel heavy , then give it a gentle knock; a ripe melon will always sound hollow inside.

Mangoes

Mangoes
The best rule of thumb when it comes to purchasing a mango is pretty simple: a soft mango will always be a ripe one. Once you know this rule, it’s easier to look for indicators to make sure the mango isn’t overripe. The skin should be tight and plump, without any shrivelling or discolouration. Take the time to pick it up and smell it by the stem; it should smell sweet and fresh, not alcoholic or sour.

Avocado

Avocados
If you’re shopping on a Sunday and want to have an avocado towards the end of the week, it’s best to buy ones that are under-ripe so it has a few days to reach perfection. If you want to make a bowl of guacamole tonight, look for avocadoes that are so deeply green, they’re almost black and have a slight give when pressed. Be careful if doesn’t feel too soft, an overripe avocado will have a lot of give and feel squishy inside.

Top 5 Foods That Prevent Bloating

Summer is the time to indulge; steak, ice cream, cookies, burgers, pizza — the list goes on! Not only is it everyone’s favorite eating season, but it’s also the time when our tummies start to ache and the unwanted bloated belly busts out of our tightly secured jean shorts. The summer belly bloat is often inevitable, but luckily there are some foods to help with bloating and prevent that post-meal slump.

bloating post

1. Ginger
Ginger is your belly’s new best friend. Slice it up and throw it in some hot water, toss it into an iced beverage or simply chew on a piece. Ginger is a potent anti-inflammatory and has been used for centuries as a digestive aid helping to alleviate gas, bloating, nausea and indigestion. Next time you start to feel the bloat coming on, grab some ginger and melt that digestion tension away.

2. Mint
Mint is a classic summer herb. Although it is often used to make summer-time mojitos, this fresh garden herb has medicinal properties. Mint actually has muscle-relaxing abilities and can reduce indigestion and belly spasms. The best use of mint to prevent bloating is to steep it in tea. Unfortunately, drinking it with alcohol may actually exacerbate your stomach pain, so try to decrease your intake those delicious minty drinks.

3. Fennel Seed
Similar to ginger, fennel or anise seed has been used for many, many years to prevent digestive issues like bloating. In India, many people actually chew on fennel seeds after a rich meal to aid digestion. Fennel seed will also freshen up your breath, while eliminating stomach cramping, gas and bloating.

4. Lemon
When your tummy needs aid, make lemonade! Adding ginger, mint or even lavender to lemonade will help to enhance your digestive ability and prevent bloating and pain. Lemons actually stimulate digestive juices in your body, enhancing your body’s ability to digest nutrients. Don’t feel like making this sweet summer drink? Squeeze one quarter of a lemon in a glass of water and drink up!

5. Parsley
Parsley is the most commonly used herb in cooking. It is also a diuretic (helps to increase the loss of water and salt from the body) and excellent for helping to prevent and overcome gas and bloating. Steeping parsley with your tea is the best way to eliminate bloating and reduce excess water weight. For an added bonus, it will also freshen up your breath.

Don’t let the fear of bloating, indigestion or gas stop you from living it up this summer. Equip yourself with these foods in your own, personal ‘digestive-first-aid-kit’ and don’t forget to share with your friends — they will certainly thank you!

tamara-green-living-kitchen Tamara Green is co-founder of The Living Kitchen, and a Holistic Nutritionist and Natural Cook. She combines her knowledge of nutrition and passion for cooking good food to work with clients to create lasting changes in their lives.