Have Plate Will Travel : 2015

Friday, November 6, 2015

Holiday travel is less stressful with careful preparation



Starting with the Thanksgiving holiday, families start traveling near and far. From a quick trip to family for Thanksgiving dinner to a longer, relaxing journey over the Christmas holidays, these trips can be stressful for everyone. The key to keeping everyone happy on any trip is preparation. Whether the trip is an hour or a full day, a bag full of the right travel accessories can make any trip a happy one.

These six must have travel accessories can make your family’s holiday travel more successful.
Energy water: Perfect for keeping energy up during a long road trip, HYDRIVE Energy Water is a lighter and more refreshing way to get a caffeine kick. At only 30 calories per bottle, HYDRIVE Energy Water comes in a variety of nutrient-enhanced flavors to help travelers stay alert and energized for the entire trip.

Noise cancelling headphones: Enjoy music in comfort with Bose QuietComfort 25 headphones. Music sounds deep, powerful and balanced while outside sounds are blocked out. With their sleek design and lightweight around-ear fit, they can be worn all day long and are easy to fit in a carry-on.

Therapeutic eye mask: Stay relaxed during holiday travel using Earth Therapeutics eye mask to sleep peacefully. The form fitting REM sleep mask contours to eyes for pressure free relaxation by molding away from eyes and lashes instead of pressing up against them. The mask allows relaxed eye movement and visual stimuli while blocking out distracting light, allowing for an easy sleep in a car or plane.

Portable power bank external charger: Don’t let the stress of a dying cell phone or laptop ruin a long trip. Charge electronics in a car, train or plane with the AViiQ Portable Power Bank. The power bank is packed with a large 4600 mAh battery bank and high output charging which can simultaneously charge two devices at the same time.

Packing cubes: Pack smarter this year with Eagle Creek’s Pack-It Specter Cube Set. Keep clothes organized without having to worry about the weight – three ultra-lightweight silnylon cubes weigh less than 2.2 oz., come in a variety of fun colors and are stain and water-resistant.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Snap Kitchen Chicago healthy choices conveniently packaged



Whether you are a young professional or a busy family, time is a precious commodity. The limited time to shop, cook and eat a nutritious meal is a concern. Even though you want to eat better, more fruits, vegetables and even calorie conscious, the fast food drive through options become very tempting. Snap Kitchen offers healthy eating choices in conveniently packaged options.



Snap Kitchen brands itself as fresh, healthy take away.  The entire menu showcases chef driven creations that are nutritious and delicious.  Each dish is made fresh daily, portioned controlled and nutritionally balanced. Whether you are vegan, gluten free, calorie restricted or juicing, Snap Kitchen has a plethora of options for your lifestyle  

Located throughout Chicago and the Chicago suburbs, Snap Kitchen offers a selection of breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and cold-press juices. Whether you are looking for a quick grab and go option at lunch or a convenient dinner after work, Snap Kitchen has a variety of seasonally inspired options. Each dish is fresh, never frozen. With just a few minutes in the microwave or in the oven, a balanced, flavorful meal is ready to eat. 

The Snap Kitchen dishes vary based on the portion size. Each dish’s container is color coded to signify the size of the meal. From smaller snack/breakfast sizes to large, protein rich dinner options, the selection process is simplified.  Dishes are coded to denote vegan, gluten free, sodium restricted and other designations. Whether you are looking to follow a specific diet regime or just craving a particular ingredient, Snap Kitchen has a dish that will satisfy. 

Snap Kitchen has several locations in the Chicago area. The prepared meals vary in price depending on size and ingredients. While some dishes are year-round staples, seasonal dishes vary throughout the year. 

Convenience doesn’t have to come with a compromise. Snap Kitchen offers healthy, quick service food choices for the busy lifestyle.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Apples, fall’s bountiful fruit, transformed into a delicious, ingenuous dessert

As the leaves begin to change and the air becomes crisp, apples overflow from the kitchen fruit bowls. Whether a family has picked their own from a local orchard or purchased from your favorite store, apples in every variety are delicious. With so many apples available, families can become bored with a plain, simple apple. What can a family do to keep those apples from going to waste?

Creating an apple dessert can be an easy task. While the Instagram worth apple tarts with the home-made pastry dough are mouth-watering, these dishes may be beyond the comfort level for the home chef. A few modifications can have any home chef creating Instagram worthy dishes without a flour-filled mess covering the pristine kitchen.

An apple dumpling is a scrumptious dessert that even the most novice baker can master. Recently, Chef Reed of the Intercontinental Chicago Magnificent Mile shared his apple dumpling dessert recipe.

Apple Dumplings
Chef Reed shared a pie dough recipe. Store bought dough may be substituted too.

Pie Dough:
Ingredients:
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 ½ cups cake flour
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 2 yolks
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
Method:
Sift cake flour into bowl of stand mixer. Add salt. Cut butter into cubes and add to flour. Chill bowl and paddle attachment in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Once chilled, mix flour and butter in mixer until butter is broken into pea-sized balls. (if a stand mixer is available, cut flour into butter manually with a pastry blender or fork). Add milk and yolks and pulse to combine. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate a minimum of 2 hours or overnight. Roll pie dough to ¼ inch think. Cut into six (6) 4” x 4” and chill.
Dumplings: 
Ingredients
  • 3 large baking apples (Granny Smith, Breaburn, Gala, or personal favorite apple.)
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 egg, whisked
Method:
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Peel, core, and slice apples in half. Mix brown sugar and spices. Rub apples with sugar mixture. Fill cores with a knob of butter. Brush pie dough squares with whisked egg. Top with apple, core side down. Bring 2 opposite corners of dough up over apple and press corners together. Fold in sides of remaining corners, bring corners up over the apple and press together. Place dumplings on a parchment lined sheet tray. Brush entire pastry with egg. Bake at 300 degrees for 25 minutes. Raise over to 350 degrees and bake an additional 10 minutes until golden brown. Recipes makes 6 dumplings.

To finish the Apple Dumplings, a variety of toppings can be used. A simple scoop of vanilla ice cream offers a delightful result. For more impressive desserts, top the apple dumpling with homemade caramel, a scoop of crumble or candied nuts. Personal preference should guide how the dessert is finished.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Spring asparagus soup made easy with Blendtec



When spring begins to flourish, spring vegetables become bountiful. From local farmer’s markets or popular grocery stores, in season vegetables can become the focus of any meal. Asparagus is a wonderful choice for spring. 

Sometimes during warmer temperatures, dishes move towards lighter fare. Soups move away from the heavier cream options. Asparagus soup is a lovely way to add variety to the spring vegetable. A simple soup can be light yet flavorful with a little twist from the barbeque. 

As fans of the Big Green Egg, the smokey notes from cooking on a ceramic smoker adds layers of flavors to asparagus. Instead of using traditional, blanched asparagus in a soup, this recipe incorporates lightly smoked asparagus into the recipe.

Smoked asparagus soup with smoked kielbasa
Ingredients:
·         2 pounds of asparagus
·         1 link kielbasa
·         1 cup chicken stock
·         Salt
·         Olive oil
·         Cracked black pepper

Instructions:
·         Drizzle asparagus with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. When Big Green Egg is at optimum temperature (around 200 degrees), place asparagus on a metal platter, grilling wok or other vegetable tray. Smoke asparagus for approximately 15 minutes. Asparagus should still be crisp, not completely soft. If space is available, place the kielbasa link on the smoker at the same time as the asparagus. If room is not available, place kielbasa on the smoker when asparagus is done cooking.
·         Remove asparagus. Reserve 12 asparagus tips to garnish soup. 
·         Cut asparagus into pieces. Place asparagus and chicken stock into a Blendtec blender. Using the soup setting, turn on blender. The Blendtec blender soup setting will blend and heat the ingredients into a creamy soup.
·         Since asparagus was seasoned prior to smoking, additional seasoning may not be needed. Season soup according to personal tastes.
·         Divide soup into four bowls. Garnish with pieces of the smoked kielbasa and reserved asparagus tips.
The smokey notes from cooking on a smoker make this soup filled with a depth of flavor. It is a different way to enjoy the spring asparagus. If you prefer a vegetarian option, substitute vegetable broth for chicken broth and remove the kielbasa garnish. 

The soup is extremely easy to make with a Blendtec blender. The newest Blendtec blender, the Blendtec 725, offers a soup setting. Simply add all the ingredients to the Blendtec and choose the soup option. This setting blends and heats the ingredients to make a ready to serve soup. The resulting soup is deliciously smooth. Since the soup is heated during the blending process, the soup can go directly from blender to the bowl to table. 

Additionally, the Blendtec blender is extremely easy to clean. By filling the blender with 2 cups of water and a drop of dish soap, the blender self-cleans on the pre-programmed clean setting. After the cleaning setting, empty and dry the unit. The Blendtec blender is ready for the next task. 

Blendec offers a variety of blenders. Units vary depending on options and settings. Prices are depend on the options of each blender. For more information on Blendtec and its blenders, please visit www.blendtec.com

Enjoy the bountiful spring vegetables in a variety of ways. From cooked to raw and side dish to entrée, variety of flavors and dishes will keep these vegetables appetizing all season long.