College Cookware 101: Kitchen Essentials for Every Student

College Cookware 101: Kitchen Essentials for Every Student

Leaving your parents’ home for college often means that you’ll be preparing all of your own meals for the first time. Not only will you have to go food shopping, but you’ll have to equip your kitchen with cookware and appliances. Do you find yourself wandering through the aisles of Target and Wal-mart, feeling completely overwhelmed by the sheer variety of cookware pieces available?

From student chefs getting recipe ideas by watching online cooking videos and the Food channel, to college students just wanting to make a decent dinner, these cookware items are essential to maximize your college eating experience. Don’t forget to bring our list with you on your first big kitchen shopping trip!

Mainstays 3-Piece Sauté Set,  approx. $22

This set comes with pans of three different sizes. The smallest pan can be used to make a quick grilled cheese sandwich. To stir fry veggies, the medium-sized pan is perfect. If you ever wanted to host a potluck dinner with your classmates, the largest pan will do the trick. Each pan comes with a non-stick coating, and you can throw them in the dishwasher when you’re done cooking.

Black & Decker 3-in-1 Can Opener, approx. $18

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wrestled with a can of beans or corn trying to force it open with a manual can opener. Their electric counterparts make life easier, and are inexpensive too. I chose this three-in-one by Black & Decker because it’s extra tall, so big cans will fit, and it also comes with a bottle opener and knife sharpener.

Proctor Silex Nonstick 7 Piece Cookware Set, approx. $40

When I was in college, I made a lot of pasta. It’s easy to make, quick, and cheap. However, you do need two pots to do it; one for the sauce and another for the pasta. I recommend this cookware set because it comes with the three major sizes that you will need as a college student: one quart, two quart, and five quart. A bonus frying pan is thrown in, making a great backup to the Mainstays sauté set.

Farberware 14-Piece Professional Tool and Gadget Set, approx.$20

This basic tool kit has exactly what you need to make almost any type of meal. It’s got a whisk for scrambled eggs on Sunday mornings, measuring cups and spoons for a cake recipe, and a peeler for potato skins. It also comes with a slotted spoon, a slotted spatula, and a basted spoon, plus a backup manual can opener.

Vasconia 4-Quart Aluminum Pressure Cooker, $20

Even though beans from a can can be tasty, nothing beats the flavor of pressure-cooked beans made from scratch. Not only are they delicious, but your food expenses will drop when you incorporate beans into your diet. This pressure cooker by Vasconia is an inexpensive option to pressure cook your black beans, lentils, and whatever other type shows up in your recipe book.

Aroma 6-Cup Rice Cooker & Food Steamer , $15

Like beans, rice is another economical staple in meals around the world. Whether you’re preparing a Chinese stir fry or a Mexican dish, a rice cooker eliminates undercooked, crunchy rice and the overcooked soupy variety. This amazing design by Aroma also includes a vegetable steamer, so you can prepare a broccoli and carrot side – at the same time, with the same pot!

Jasmine Stephenson is a guest blogger for An Apple a Day and a writer on ultrasound technician schools for the Guide to Health Education.

Swiss Diamond Frypan Review

We love cookware as you can probably tell (since we own this website) and we love to review products to see how they measure up to the manufacturers claims. Recently we were asked to review  the Swiss Diamond 11” (28cm) fry pan.

Swiss Diamond makes an extensive range of cookware but they are perhaps best known for their unique diamond reinforced non-stick coating. Yes, you heard correctly – their cookware actually contains diamonds!

But what does that mean to you and me. Well for one thing, the diamond crystals give you a virtually indestructible surface which is more durable than most non-stick surfaces available on the market today. Diamonds are after all one of the hardest materials on earth.

The pan arrived in excellent condition as it was well packaged.  We scrutinized the frypan to ensure that there were no faults visible and checked that the handle was firmly secured before heading off to the kitchen to put the pan through its paces.

I have to say that I do like the balance of the pan, it is easy to hold and the stay-cool ergonomic handle has a comfortable grip.

The frypan is made from thick pressure cast aluminum and it has a nice flat bottom which allows for even heat distribution.   

The first thing is to give the pan a wash in hot soapy water,  dry, and season by wiping it over with some oil on a paper towel. This is something we do with all new products as it removes any manufacturing coatings if there are any. And it’s always nice to start with a clean surface.

Okay we are ready to start. I turn the gas to medium and place the pan onto the flame to heat up.  You only ever need to use low or medium heat because of the high thermal conductivity of  Swiss Diamond Cookware . Another excellent feature is that this cookware is designed for use on all ceramic, gas and electric cook tops. 

Souffle Omlette in Swiss Diamond Pan

So after pre-heating the pan for a couple of minutes 2-3 is about right, I sprinkle a few drops of water into the pan to see if it’s ready. This is a quick and easy way to test if the pan is ready, if the water sizzles or beads then the surface is hot enough to cook on.  If the water evaporates immediately then the pan is way too hot so remove it immediately from the heat and turn the heat down.  After a l you don’t want to damage the beautiful cooking surface which can happen if the cookware is overheated.

I find that scrambled eggs or omelettes are a good way to test just how non-stick a frypan really is. No worries here, the scrambled eggs release easily from the pan allowing me to turn the egg mixture without any problem at all.

After the eggs are cooked they slide easily from the pan to the plate and nothing sticks to the surface. 

The next test is the omelette. I have decided to make a soufflé omelette that will need to be placed into the oven to finish it off. So I heat the pan again on medium heat and add the egg mixture. The soufflé rises beautifully thanks to the even heat distribution.  Then it’s time to place the pan into the oven to brown the top of the soufflé.

Swiss Diamond frypans are oven safe up to 260°C (500°F) which makes it so handy for those dishes that you need to start cooking on the stove top but want to finish off in the oven.  NOTE: Always use an oven mitt when you are taking the frypan from the oven.

The diamond hard surface of the Swiss Diamond frypan means you can use metal utensils; however, I don’t possess any as I like the feel and performance of silicone utensils.  So I can’t comment on that aspect.

As always there are a few sensible things that you need to practice so DO NOT:

  • Cut or chop food in the frypan. (This is not as silly as it may sound; I have a rather expensive Jamie Oliver frypan that my husband cut up his steak in, thereby ruining the non-stick surface.)
  • Do not use an electric beater to mix things in the frypan.

So now to the clean up part of the process, Swiss Diamond frypans are dishwasher safe, but I found that the pan cleaned up quickly and easily in hot soapy water. No fuss, no bother, I don’t see the point in subjecting the surface to those harsh dishwasher chemicals which may end up diminishing the performance of the non-stick surface over time, when it is so easy to wash up by hand.

As you can see from the photo there is very little residue left behind on the pan once the omlette has been turn out, and this washed off very easily, no scrubbing or elbow grease required, a simple wipe over and it was spotlessly clean.

Swiss Diamond frypans are not an inexpensive item but if you want a quality product that will last you for many years then this will be money well spent.

So what is my verdict – I love it.

So to summarize:

Everything you need to know about Swiss Diamond Cookware:

This cookware is produced with a keen eye for technology. The company is always working hard to create the newest, most effective features and manufacturing methods to enhance and improve their cookware offerings. This has lead to a number of advancements in the Swiss Diamond line, including the addition of Nano-composite coating, which utilizes diamond crystals and non-stick Nano-components.

What Makes Swiss Diamond Cookware Unique?

Swiss Diamond is not just another cookware manufacturer. The company is innovative in its approach to household items. Their cookware stands out because of its patented diamond reinforced non-stick coating. This allows consumers to prepare their favorite recipes on a durable heating surface. The non-stick element also makes cleaning Swiss Diamond cookware much easier. The unique material used in Swiss Diamond cookware’s non-stick coating strengthens the piece as a whole. The surface will not peel or crack.

To compliment their functional non-stick surface, the company has also designed its cookware to be thicker using pressure cast aluminum.  The added thickness allows the pot or pan to heat up evenly, which translates into a better distribution of heat and thorough cooking.

Why Choose Swiss Diamond Cookware?

One of the biggest problems consumers have with non-stick cookware is its restrictive nature. No metal utensils can be used or the surface may be damaged.  Abrasive cleaners and scouring pads cannot be used either for the same reason. Swiss Diamond cookware doesn’t have these restrictions, this cookware can stand up to metal utensils without damaging the non-stick coating. It is  also dishwasher safe for fast and easy to clean.

Safety is very important in the kitchen. Swiss Diamond cookware’s durable non-stick construction can protect you from ingesting harmful substances that can sometimes find their way into food due to a damaged heating surface.  Swiss Diamond’s products also include stay cool handles that will remain unheated up to 260 degrees Celsius for easy, comfortable handling.

Swiss Diamond Cookware  comes in many sizes and designs. Consumers can choose from grill pans, roasters, frying pans, stew pots, casserole dishes, sauté pans, sauce pans, woks, and stock pots. Specialized items are also available, such as double burner griddles, breakfast pans and oval frying pans. Each produce is designed with Swiss Diamond’s unique technology. The reinforced construction helps make each pot and pan very durable meaning  you will get many years of use out of your Swiss Diamond cookware.

How to make deep fried ice cream

Deep Fried Ice Cream (picture from herdaily.com)

I remember it very well. About 5 years ago I was invited for dinner at a friend’s house and she surprised everyone with the dessert. She said she would make deep fried ice cream. All guests were stunned… Deep fried ice cream?! That’s like burning water!

Fifteen minutes later she presented a delicious dessert which I will never forget for the rest of my life. The crunchy crust combined with the smooth and melting ice cream is a heavenly combination.

 In this article we’ll explain you how to make deep fried ice cream so you can surprise your family and friends.

Preparation time: 3 – 5 hours

Actual cooking time: 5 minutes

 Ingredients

  • (Vanilla) ice cream
  • Breadcrumbs

 Optional ingredients

  • Eggs
  • Well crushed cereal
  • Chocolate topping, caramel strawberry topping or whipped cream

 Method

Step 1.
Place a metal tray in the freezer. This should be done about one hour before you’re heading to step 2.

 Step 2.
Scoop out ice cream into a ball. It’s also great to make a cubic shape. It’s most common to use vanilla ice cream but you are free to experiment.

 Step 3.
We are now applying the crust by rolling the ball or cubic in plain breadcrumbs or in well-crushed cereal flakes. Make sure the ice cream is completely covered!

 Step 4.
Place the well covered ice cream on the metal tray in the freezer. It should stay there for at least two hours.

(optional step 4b.)

Step 4b.
After two hours you can take out the balls and you can roll them in beaten eggs and back in the breadcrumbs again. This will create a more firm crust. You don’t want the crust to be too thick, because it will dominate the dessert too much. You’ll learn this by experience. Place the balls back on the metal tray and in the freezer again for 2 more hours.

 Step 5.
Heat up the frying pan. It should be nice and hot. Place the balls very gently in the frying pan. Watch out for hot splatters during this step. Remove the ice cream from the deep fryer when the coating is golden brown. This usually only takes 10 to 15 seconds. That’s why I suggest you don’t place two balls in the fryer at the same time.

 To finish it you can add chocolate topping, caramel strawberry topping or whipped cream.

 Author Bio:

Jane Hunt loves everything that has to do with fashion and cooking. She likes to experiment with all kind of extraordinary food combinations. She likes to present dinner as a banquet with products from her favorite brands bought at discount stores like Le Creuset outlet, Pfaltzgraff outlet, Corningware outlet.


Pick Your Poison on Halloween with Hauntingly Good Drinks

In addition to your normal party drinks of beer and wine, Halloween is a great time to branch out with some fun, themed cocktails. Take advantage of standard fare like orange juice, cranberry juice and lime green sweet and sour mix and add in a few unusual ingredients, and your guests will have a wild and wooly time mixing up their bone chilling drinks.

Of course, you need a Halloween-themed cocktail shaker while making these drinks! Check out this one, marked Poison”. Half the fun is the presentation

Jack O Lantern Screwdriver – Pour 4 ounces of orange juice over ice and drizzle 2 ounces of black vodka on top. Serve before stirring. (This method can be used for a Creepy Cape Cod by substituting chilled cranberry juice for the orange juice).

Midnight Margaritas - Blend 3 ounces of Sweet and Sour Mix and 2 ounces of tequila with ice. Rim your glass with a mix of salt and cayenne pepper for a spicy, spooky finish.

Bloodtini – Mix a tablespoon of raspberry puree or grenadine and 2 1/2 ounces of vodka or gin for a blood red martini.

Vampire’s Kiss – Pour one ounce of grenadine into the bottom of a tall glass. In a separate container mix cherry coke and 2 ounces of rum and pour slowly into the glass. The grenadine will remain at the bottom of the glass, blood red under the black cola. (This also makes a great non-alcoholic Halloween drink).

Other mixers and liquors to play with

  • Melon flavored liquor (green)
  • Creme de Menthe (green)
  • Strawberry Daiquiri mix (bright red)
  • Black Sambuca (black)
  • Cherry Schnapps (red)
  • Blood Orange Juice (red)

Food coloring, especially gel coloring, can be added to any drink in small amounts to change the color without changing the flavor. Dip the tip of a toothpick into the gel and swirl into your favorite drink for instant Halloween fun.

Contributed by Chris Molnar, editor of Halloweenalliance.com. Chris specializes in Halloween decorations and parties, and has great fun trying out new concoctions, cocktails and Halloween recipes for his unsuspecting (and very suspecting) guests!

5 Basic Cooking Techniques for Students

Students don’t have to live on cold pizza and peanut butter sandwiches. Learn a few basic cooking techniques to cook for yourself while in school.

1. Roast

Roasting is a simple technique of cooking foods uncovered in the oven at a high temperature. This can make meats tender and vegetables soft and caramelized. Roasting works best with firm vegetables such as squash or sweet potatoes, as well as larger cuts of meat like whole chickens or a roast. To roast, preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place vegetables in a large roasting pan and put meat on top. Season with salt and pepper and bake approximately 45 minutes.

2. Boil

Boiling is bringing water up to a high temperature, thus its boiling point. Most often, pasta is boiled. To boil pasta, fill a pot about two-thirds full of water and add about 1-2 tablespoons of salt. Bring to a boil on high heat, then add the desired pasta and cook for about 8-10 minutes.

3. Grill

Grilling is a popular technique used to cook just about anything. While traditionalists require a charcoal grill, a gas grill or even a cast iron grill pan for the stove top can do the job. The grilling surface should be cleaned, then preheated before placing food items on it. Be sure to coat the grill or the food with oil prior to placing on the hot grill to keep it from sticking. For a comprehensive look at how to grill different foods, check out How to Grill Almost Anything.

4. Saute

Sauteeing is a way to cook something in a small amount of liquid, most commonly boneless chicken breasts or thin-cut pork chops. To saute, heat a small amount of oil in a saute pan or skillet on medium heat. Next, add meat and allow to cook for a few minutes on each side until golden brown. (Note: a good indication of when the meat is ready to be turned is when it no longer sticks to the pan.)

5. Fry

Frying is a technique of cooking items quickly in hot oil. To fry, begin with a large skillet or pan. Add enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the pan by about half an inch. Heat oil to medium heat and coat the items you plan to fry with flour. To test if the oil is hot enough, toss in a pinch of flour; if it sizzles, the oil is ready. Slowly and carefully drop in the items to be cooked, ensuring that there is enough room for them to float in a single layer. When they begin to brown, turn them to cook evenly. When finished, remove the pieces and allow to cool for a few minutes on a paper towel before serving.

Louise Baker is a freelance blogger who usually writes about online degrees for Zen College Life. Her most recent article ranked the best online schools.