Simple Minestrone Soup

Minestrone SoupMany kids had chicken noodle soups served to them when they were feeling ill but minestrone soup was the only cure I needed. This recipe is both simple and enjoyable and the flavors are subtle. It encompasses a variety of vegetables and is also a flexible recipe. You can add as many more vegetables or spices even as you’d like to better suit your preferences.

Simple Minestrone Soup


  • 230g beef
  •  2 large carrots
  • 2 potatoes
  • Celery
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 cabbage
  • 2 tbsp Tomato Paste
  • White pepper
  • 1 tbsp garlic
  • Ginger
  • Salt


  1. Over medium heat, boil the meat for approximately 4 minutes. Drain it.
  2. Chop the meat into smaller pieces
  3. Using the ginger, sauté the beef to create flavors
  4. Boil the beef in boiling water for an hour and add white pepper
  5. Chop the remaining vegetables.
  6. Using the tomato paste and garlic, fry the vegetables. Then add it to the boiling pot.
  7. Boil for 45 minutes. Add salt.
  8. Serve in a bowl.
Tips, Tricks, and Advice

Turning up the Heat on an American Pastime

content_marketing_opi_photo449312-20-2012When recalling the fond imagery of our American pastimes, many think of baseball, July 4 fireworks and muscle cars. There is one primary essential linked to these cultural passions of ours: grilling. But outdoor grilling isn’t just reserved for the Fourth of July and Father’s Day. Sports fans are tailgating with their grills, car shows are now synonymous with grilling, and with the advent of television cooking networks and iconic grill chefs like Bobby Flay, grilling has become a household standard in preparing fine cuisine that extends beyond the traditional burgers and hot dogs that manifested the grilling realm of our parent’s generation.  Selecting a fine, quality multifunctional grill is as detrimental to a family’s home life as it is selecting those new kitchen appliances. Investing in a good grill, such as the ones offered by American Outdoor Grills, will preserve your family’s advancement and preservation of this coveted pastime, while bringing the family unit together in a fun, outdoor activity.

Choosing the Right Grill for You

There are many things to consider when selecting the right grill for you and your family. According to Consumer Reports, grills are usually priced according to four factors: quality, size, convenience and features. As the grill is a vital source to good eating and family fun, quality should never be downgraded to save a few dollars. Nor should the convenience or features. Size however is something that should always be carefully considered when buying a grill, as choosing the right size will not only make grilling for efficient, but it will save you money so you can invest in a better quality product. Also, convenience factors can be additional considerations to help the consumer save money. For example, if your family members don’t tailgate at the stadium or transport the grill on camping trips, a good purchase choice would be an in-ground grill designed to stay on your family’s property. These grills are lower in cost than their portable cousins, and if you never travel with your grill, why spend money on a convenience factor that is a mute point? Also, big doesn’t necessarily mean better. If you often host social events or have lots of parties, than choosing a large 36-inch grill would be ideal, as it would provide ultimate efficiency in food preparation, as well as guest accommodation. However, if the grill is intended for a lifetime of enjoyment by your small, immediate family (and the occasional odd guest) selecting a 24-inch grill will save on your wallet by providing you with a product that won’t be a waste of space.

Grilling with the Kids

Engaging your children in grilling is a great way to not only spend time with them, but it enables the child to learn about cuisine, it builds confidence, and allows them to take pride in eating something they prepared themselves. In an article by Detroit’s Examiner, the author discusses how introducing the art of grilling to your child is beneficial. It puts your kids to work and helps enable their ability to follow instruction. Also, by mixing, basting and skewering their own dinner, your kids will be more apt to eat what they make, thus deviating their diets from the “three P’s” of peanut butter, pizza and pasta. With careful supervision, having your child step up to “man the grill” will make them feel accomplished and have a developed sense of achievement that will inspire them to excel in other areas of their development. As children (especially boys) don’t view the kitchen environment too favorably, getting them outdoors and in front of the grill can lead to instilling a passion for food preparation that may too initiate interest inside the kitchen. Get your child a matching apron like the one dad has, or better yet, pick up a cute little chef’s hat to make your child feel like he/she is more connected to the art of grilling.

Choose Wisely

The grill is the heart of your family. Whether you use it strictly at home, or carry it to the stadium or to the campsite, it is the center of your family’s bonding in the great outdoors. It can even be a vital part of raising your child to value and respect the art of grilling. Never skimp on quality, as you always get what you pay for. Choosing quality, while not over-spending on features you don’t need, will ensure a smart buy. Happy grilling!

Blog Food News

Oktoberfest gets started at Eastern Standard

This October, Eastern Standard Kitchen & Drinks will celebrate Oktoberfest with an entire month of German food and drink. ES will bring a taste of the biergarten to the brasserie with an authentic selection of house made sausage, liters of beer and Rhine wines. The selections will be available during dinner service nightly.

Several direct from the Deutschland dishes will highlight classic charcuterie and cheese for a true Oktoberfest feast:


Sausage Platter: Three piping hot, whole sausages with German potato salad & sauerkraut.

E.S. German Charcuterie: Three pieces of house made German sausage with baguette, mustard and traditional accompaniments.

Barman’s Bratwurst: A house made German bratwurst served on a pretzel roll with braised cabbage and mustard.

Anton’s Liebe Rot: A washed rind organic cow’s milk cheese served with stone fruit mostarda & toasted baguette.

Six German brews will be offered by the liter, including:

Schneider Weisse Hopfen Weisse: A classic Oktoberfest brew from Bavaria’s oldest wheat beer brewery.

Mahr’s Saphir Weiss: Made with saucy Saphir hops, this amber hefeweizen has a sandy color and refreshing wheat structure.

Mönchshof Schwarzbier: A dark lager in true German style, with rich chocolate and dark coffee notes.

For a different take on Oktoberfest tipple, sip from a selection of German wines:

2010 Schloss Mühlenhof Dornfelder Trocken, Rheinhessen

2008 Weinhof Scheu Grauer Burgunder, Pfalz

Blog Food News

Ergonomically designed FLOW cutting board solves common problems

Simpleware’s first product, FLOW, promises to revolutionize the cutting board industry by reinventing the way you cut juicy meats and wet vegetables.

The FLOW is an innovative, re-imagination of the often used but underappreciated cutting board. Their patented design allows the juices from meat, vegetables or fruit to flow through the cutting surface into a tray, forever solving the messy countertop problems caused by juicy meats and wet vegetables, while helping you collect drippings for sauces and gravies. The FLOW perforated cutting board also reduces the health risks of slicing raw meat by trapping juices in the tray that would otherwise spill on the counter.

“I was grilling one day and dreaded putting the juicy steak on a traditional cutting board because I knew it would drip all over the counter.” said Simpleware Co-founder Peter Hauser. “That’s when I came upon the idea of a perforated cutting board that would allow the drippings to pass right through into a tray and immediately got to work perfecting the product.”

The cutting surface is designed to snap into the tray creating a strong, stable cutting surface, while the non-skid rubber feet keep it from sliding on your countertop. FLOW has a streamlined, low-profile design that allows for easy cleanup and storage. The use of high-quality FDA approved cutting board material prevents the growth of bacteria and ensures durability, ease-of-use and dishwasher safe cleaning. Its modern styling is right at home in any kitchen and is sure to be a conversation piece.

Because of his commitments delivering other high-technology products, Mr. Hauser has partnered with a long-term business associate and friend Ola Ahlmen to bring this product to market.

“I have a successful track record of bringing popular products to market,” said Co-founder Ola Ahlmen. “When Peter told me about his idea, I jumped all over it; you don’t have to be a chef to appreciate FLOW.”

Simpleware has partnered with Internet marketing firm Command Partners to assist with all of their online initiatives.

“I am always eager to work with innovative products and passionate entrepreneurs,” said Command Partners’ Managing Partner Amish Shah. “This has the type of mass appeal that it takes to get a product to a large market.”

Tips, Tricks, and Advice

Wine pairing basics

(ARA) — You’ve been picking up a bottle of wine along with all the rest of your groceries for years. But have you been doing it right? Ever wondered why certain wines taste so good with certain foods? You’re not alone. The answers are as simple and complex as the varietals you choose with your meal.

Let’s get right down to the meat. No, really, should we be drinking reds with our thick steak and why? It’s all about the tannins – a wine’s pucker power so to speak, which is derived from the grapes’ skins, stems and seeds. Tannins in red wine are powerful, and frankly overpowering for something as light and flaky as a white fish, says Chef Lucia Miltenberger, culinary instructor at The Art Institute of Colorado. “Tannins love a nice marbled ribeye,” she says.

Just when things are getting juicy, it’s time for a chemistry lesson. “Food changes wines in very predictable, scientifically proven ways, and that can be for better or for worse,” says Chef Jane Nickles, culinary academic director at The Art Institute of Austin, a branch of The Art Institute of Houston.

Take acidic foods like salad dressing, ceviche or anything vinegary. If you pair them with an acidic wine like a sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio or a riesling, it will make the wine less acidic – and that’s a good thing. If you’re serving sweeter foods, don’t serve a dry wine like a cabernet sauvignon, merlot or chardonnay, since the sweeter food will make your wine taste less sweet.

Chef Larry Canepa, culinary instructor at The Art Institute of Phoenix, says it’s really all about the sauce. “If you’re serving a heavy white sauce like an alfredo, choose a crisp white wine with some acidity to balance out the richness and fat of the dairy-based sauce,” he says. Conversely, if you’re serving an acidic tomato sauce, balance it out with a tannic red wine.

Another rule of thumb Canepa uses is to pair the dish with a wine from the same region. “If you’re cooking up northern Italian fare, pick out a wine from that region in Italy,” he says.

And if you’re just starting to delve into wines, Miltenberger recommends some balanced whites and reds that both newcomers and wine connoisseurs can enjoy. “If you haven’t had a lot of wine, you could be turned off by the dryness, so a nice balanced riesling or a Vouvray from the Loire Valley in France are a good start. For reds, try an Oregon Pinot Noir or a Beaujolais or Rose d’Anjou from France.” Not only will your palate be happy, but so will your pocketbook. Miltenberger says most of these wines retail for $10 to $15.

With that kind of price point, Canepa’s philosophy is on target, “Wine is not a luxury or an indulgence, it’s an ingredient.” And Nickles sums it up, “The bottom line is simple, food and wine go well together. You can serve any food with any wine and have a better meal.”

Food News

Vermont Cheesemakers’ Festival a must for foodies, localvores

Imagine over 200 Vermont cheeses—ranging from hard to find cheeses such as the Sage Sheep Farm “Sterling,” to well-loved favorites like Cabot’s clothbound cheddar—under the same tent with freshly baked artisan bread, locally-made chocolates, and a crisp glass of chardonnay from one of Vermont’s up and coming vineyards. The annual Vermont Cheesemakers’ Festival is coming up on July 22 and it’s one summer event foodies and localvores will not want to miss.

In addition to endless rows of glorious cheese, there is a cheesemaking demonstration and a live cooking show that are free with admission. The two seminars—“Vermont Wine and Cheese Pairing” and “How Cheese Works”—require a separate $45 ticket, and are well worth the price of admission.

The Festival was started by Allison Hooper of Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery as a way to celebrate Vermont’s diverse group of cheesemakers. Held on the picturesque shores of Lake Champlain at Shelburne Farms, the sell-out event attracts cheese fans from around the country. Tickets are available at while they last!

Blast is proud to be a sponsor of the Vermont Cheesemakers’ Festival.

Mexican Seafood

Mexican food pairings inspired by today’s hot flavor trends

(ARA) — The summer party season has officially begun, meaning it’s time to plan fun get-togethers with family and friends. Food is central to any great celebration, but you don’t need to spend hours in the kitchen to create a unique and tasty menu. You simply need some great tips and easy tricks for pairing tasty food with refreshing drinks and party success will come naturally.

You can use today’s most popular food trends from skinny indulgence to dude food to create taco and margarita pairings that will leave all your guests wanting more. The secret is to create dishes that are flavorful and forward-thinking, but use familiar products, like Old El Paso salsa, that you can find at your local grocery store.

If you love the zest of Mexican cuisine and want to serve party fare everyone will remember, try these five new taco and margarita pairing ideas from the culinary experts at the Betty Crocker Kitchens inspired by some of today’s hottest food trends:

Food trend 1: Skinny indulgence

The idea behind the skinny indulgence food trend is being able to enjoy fresh foods that are packed with flavor but not with calories. To incorporate this trend into your next party menu, try serving skinny citrus shrimp tacos. Fill tacos with warm citrus-flavored shrimp, fresh cucumber salsa and Greek yogurt crema for a smart and delicious indulgence. Pair with a light cocktail like a cucumber lime ‘spa’garita – a traditional margarita enhanced with fresh cucumber and orange.

Food trend 2: Dude food

Dude food is a trend that takes traditional foods that guys love to the next level, so that any foodie, man or woman, can enjoy the rich flavors. For this trend, try pairing spicy ‘beer’bacoa tacos with a ‘man’garita. Simply stuff tacos with beer-braised beef barbacoa, spicy chipotle salsa and queso fresco. Wash down with a ‘man’garita – a shot of aged tequila served with an ice cold bottle of Mexican beer.

Food trend 3: Global flavors

Blending authentic flavors in new and exciting ways is a huge food trend right now. It’s fun to think outside the box and see where this crossover flavor adventure takes you. For example, try faux pho chicken tacos for your main dish. This fresh and flavorful chicken taco is inspired by pho – a popular Vietnamese soup. The ‘faux pho’ toppings – Thai basil, fresh chilies and crunchy ramen noodles – are the key to these unique tacos. Pair with a Thai basil ‘mojit’arita that infuses the flavor of basil and agave nectar into a traditional margarita.

Food trend 4: Street food

When you travel, some of the best foods you encounter are made by street vendors. Additionally, food trucks have recently boomed in popularity in the United States, serving delicious food conveniently to patrons. You can bring this food trend to your next party by serving beef bulgogi Korean tacos. Simply load up a soft tortilla with Korean barbecue beef, cilantro-lettuce slaw and fiery Sriracha salsa. Pair with a Fizzy Lime ‘soda’rita by mixing a traditional Mexican lime soda with blanco tequila and orange-flavored liqueur.

Food trend 5: Veggie love

Eating your vegetables is always healthy, but now it’s trendy too. This food movement goes beyond carrot and celery sticks to create dishes that utilize fresh flavors in modern ways. Take cauliflower power tacos for example. Veggie lovers will devour this new take on a vegetarian taco filled with roasted cauliflower, crispy chickpeas and flavorful cilantro pesto. As a bonus it is gluten-free. Pair with frozen mango ‘coco’ritas made with fresh mango and coconut water.

All complete taco and margarita pairing recipes can be found at

Skinny Citrus Shrimp Tacos


  • Shrimp and marinade
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped jalapeno chiles
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled, deveined
  • 8 Old El Paso flour tortillas for soft tacos and fajitas (6 inch), heated as directed on package

Cucumber Salsa Fresca Ingredients

  • 2 plum (Roma) tomatoes, seeded, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped jalapeno chiles
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 English (seedless) cucumber, cut in half lengthwise, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Yogurt Crema Ingredients

  • 1 container (6 oz) Greek Fat Free plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice


  1. In a 1-gallon resealable food-storage plastic bag, mix shrimp and marinade ingredients. Seal bag. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in medium bowl, mix cucumber salsa fresca ingredients. In small bowl, mix yogurt crema ingredients.
  3. Drain shrimp; discard marinade. Heat 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp; cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until pink. Drain, if needed. Spoon shrimp on tortillas; top with cucumber salsa fresca, and drizzle with yogurt crema. Makes eight servings.

Skinny Cucumber Lime ‘Spa’garita

Add 3 slices English (seedless) cucumber and half an orange slice to cocktail shaker; break up with muddler or spoon. Add 1 ounce blanco tequila, 3/4 ounce clear orange-flavored liqueur and 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice. Fill shaker with ice; cover and shake vigorously. Strain into cocktail glass. Top with 1/2 ounce chilled club soda. Garnish with lime slices and additional orange and cucumber slices. Makes one drink.

American Steak/beef

Simple super steak secrets from Outback

(ARA) — Why is it that a steak from a restaurant just seems to taste better than what you make at home? Often, it’s because the chefs in the restaurant know the secrets of great grilling.

“Steak is a summer staple for many home cooks when the weather permits, but things can go awry if you’re not clued in to the secrets of how to prepare a great steak,” says John Li, senior vice president of research and development for Outback Steakhouse. “As veritable steak experts, and with summer grilling season upon us, we want to help people preparing to try their hands at grilling steak.

Li offers some advice for grilling successful steak meals this summer:

  • Start with the right steak. Build a relationship with your local butcher – either at your grocery store or, if you’re lucky enough to have one in your neighborhood, the area butcher shop. Learn where they source their meat, if it’s aged and for how long. Many cuts lend themselves to grilling, but sirloin, filet, strip and rib eye remain the most popular. Sirloin and strip steak are usually the best options if you’re feeding a large group, as they provide abundant flavor and are usually less expensive than other cuts.
  • Prep the grill properly. Once you’ve got the right meat, ensure your outback bbq is ready to cook it to perfection Start with a well-cleaned grill and preheat it. If you’re using a charcoal grill, wait until the coals are white. For gas grills, use a thermometer. Many newer models have built-in gauges on the lids that indicate when the grill is hot enough to use.
  • Add some seasoning. While the grill is preheating, prep the steak by patting it dry. Removing moisture allows for optimum surface contact with the grill and creates a wonderful seared flavor. Rub with the seasoning of your choice; there are many, but keep in mind simple salt and pepper works well if you’re starting with an already flavorful cut.
  • Get grilling. Once the grill and steak are ready, place the meat on the grill. You can achieve a fancy diamond-shaped grill pattern by rotating the meat 45 degrees when you turn it, but the meat will taste just as good without it. Cooking time will vary depending on the cut of meat and the grill itself. Generally, thinner steaks (about 1 inch thick) will need about four minutes per side to be rare, five for medium and seven for well done. Thicker steaks (2 inches or more) will need about six minutes per side for rare, eight to 10 for medium and 12 for well done.
  • Let it rest. Overcooking is a sure-fire way to dry out steak. As soon as the steak has reached your desired level of wellness, remove it from the grill and let it rest for about five minutes before you serve or cut it. This allows the juices to set well in the meat before you dig in.

Not sure where to start? Try this recipe from Outback Steakhouse:


  • 4 rib eye steaks, 12 to 14 ounces each
  • 4 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil


  • Evenly season each steak with a teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Coat each steak with a half tablespoon of vegetable oil. This may be done up to three hours prior to grilling, storing in the refrigerator. Remove from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before grilling.
  • Start the grill. Place seasoned steaks over the hottest portion of the grill and cook on the first side about four to five minutes, rotating 90 degrees after three minutes to achieve restaurant-style “cross marks.” Turn steaks over and cook for an additional three to four minutes to achieve a medium-rare doneness. Remove from grill and allow to rest for five minutes before topping and serving.
  • Of course, even in summer there are times when you just won’t feel like cooking your own steak. Whether it’s a special night out, a family celebration or you’re just in the mood to sink your teeth into something you didn’t have to cook and won’t have to clean up afterward, restaurant steaks are still a good option. At Outback Steakhouse, for example, guests can enjoy a variety of cuts and preparations that allow for a custom experience, without any of the hassle.
Tips, Tricks, and Advice

Ten secrets for Memorial Day grilling perfection

(ARA) – From the way the charcoal briquettes are arranged to finding that perfect set of tongs, every home grilling expert has his or her secrets. For many, grilling goes beyond just a practical warm-weather cooking method and it becomes more of an art form.

But to become a true grilling great, it’s important to compare your tips with other experts. Because she wants everyone to have the perfect grilling experience this summer, Elizabeth Karmel, author of “Taming the Flame” and executive chef at New York’s Hill Country Barbecue Market and Hill Country Chicken, is sharing some of her grilling secrets.

In partnership with Weber Sauces & Seasonings, Karmel shares 10 of her secrets for grilling success:

1. Oil the food, not the grates. If you wipe oil on your grates, you are essentially gluing your food to them. The oil burns quickly on the hot cooking grates and becomes sticky, “gluing” uncoated food to the grates. When you oil the food, it keeps the juices inside the food, promotes caramelization and prevents sticking.

2. “Stop-and-go” tongs. Prevent cross contamination (raw meat with cooked meat) by using red duct tape on raw food tongs and green duct tape on the cooked food tongs.

3. Swollen Belly Syndrome. Avoid a burger that looks like a hockey puck with a swollen belly by making a small depression in the middle of the uncooked burger before you grill. This indentation will prevent the burgers from swelling up and rounding out while cooking.

4. The juicy details. Using juice as a marinade can add a blast of fresh and juicy flavor. Weber Just Add Juice is the first and only marinade mix formulated to blend spices with a variety of juices.

5. Steakhouse look. Crosshatch marks on steak are easier to achieve than they look. Just before turning the steak, rotate it a quarter turn to the right and grill for about two minutes. Rotate another quarter turn for two more minutes.

6. Patience prevents stickage. Raw meat naturally sticks to the grate when you first put it on. Be patient and walk away for a few minutes. It naturally releases itself.

7. Plastic bag trick. Combine juice with your favorite Weber Just Add Juice marinade mix and place it in a resealable plastic bag. Add food, close the bag and massage it through the bag. It locks the flavor in and makes it much easier to store in your refrigerator.

8. Tongs as a juicer. If you want to get all the juice out of citrus quickly and easily, try this: Cut a piece of citrus in half and place it on the back half of chef’s tongs. Hold on to both the front and back of the tongs, and squeeze into a bowl. The leverage and strength of the steel turns tongs into a great juicer.

9. Visual clues for checking doneness. It’s not always possible to use a meat thermometer. Look for visual clues to check doneness. For example: Ribs are done when the meat has shrunk back from the bones and the bones are dry. If the chicken juice is clear, then you know it’s done. Salmon is done when the translucent strips in the fish turn opaque. Shrimp is done when it turns pink and curls up.

10. Finish it steakhouse style. Bring your food up a notch by using a finishing element such as extra virgin olive oil, a compound butter, the new Weber all-natural BBQ Sauce made with real molasses, fresh herbs or flavored vinaigrette.

Karmel and the Weber Sauces and Seasonings brand hope that by revealing their grilling secrets, Americans will be inspired to share their flavor findings in a new nationwide “Grilling Secrets” Facebook contest. To share your secrets and learn from others, visit

Food News

Day-boat fish available at Boston farmers’ markets

In a nostalgic twist on the outdoor market, Boston’s farmers’ markets will now feature fresh, local, day-boat fish for sale.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s Office of Food Initiatives announced the venture Wednesday, as the program began on the City Hall Plaza market and will expand from there. The City Hall market is steps from historic Faneuil Hall, where this type of person-to-person exchange took place in yesteryear.

“For the first time since the original Faneuil Hall Market Place closed its doors in the mid-1900s, Boston residents, workers, and visitors will be able to purchase fresh, healthy day-boat fish in a vibrant urban market setting,” Mayor Menino said. “This is truly an exciting program that expands access to healthy foods and represents a culinary option that is unique to Boston.”

Massachusetts is known for its seafood industry, but consumer-level access to day-boat fish is hard to come by, making the city’s fish pilot program pretty exciting if you’re a foodie.

This pilot program is a partnership between the Mayor’s Office of Food Initiatives, the City’s Inspectional Services Department, the Boston Collaborative for Food & Fitness, Red’s Best Seafood and Cape Cod Fish Share, which will be vending at the various Farmers Market sites.

“Red’s Best is excited about the opportunity to facilitate the connection between local fishermen and the general public through Boston’s Farmers’ Markets. The Mayor and his office have done a wonderful job putting this together and the entire city will benefit,” said Jared Auerbach, Chief Executive Officer of Red’s Best Seafood. “The Boston Farmers’ Markets will allow us to showcase the amazing local seafood that is thriving in our backyard.”

Click here for a list of Farmers’ Market locations that will feature the fish.