Cooking 101
 
Creating easy & nutritious meals in a hurry!
Cooking does not have to be complicated, nor does the recipe need to come from Martha Stewart.  The secret to whipping up a delicious meal is having a couple basic pieces of equipment, straightforward ingredients, uncomplicated recipes, and loads of originality. 
Read on to learn:
  • How to equip your kitchen:  What appliances and basic ingredients do you need, and how can you store food safely?
  • How to master Basic Cooking 101: What are common recipe conversions and substitutions, what do basic cooking terms mean and how do you perform them?
  • What are some simple recipes and meals to get you started!
Equipping Your Kitchen
The Refrigerator
What do I store inside?
Whether you live in an apartment, a house, or a rented room, cooking requires a refrigerator.  It does not have to be full size, a small one will do.  The refrigerator is where you store any of your food items that are perishable.  These items include:
  • Meat, poultry, and fish
  • Dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt, butter)
  • Tofu and eggs
  • Most fruits and vegetables
Other products such as sauces, condiments, salad dressings, and peanut butter typically need to be refrigerated after they are first opened.  If you are unsure, check the food label for storing instructions.  Get into the routine of checking labels on food products because they provide you with other helpful information such as the product’s nutrition facts, expiration date, and ingredients. 
 
Can you over-pack a refrigerator?
Yes, a refrigerator may be packed too full, which raises food safety concerns.  Space food items in your refrigerator and freezer so cold air can freely circulate.  In order to keep food in a safe temperature zone, your refrigerator should be kept between 35- 40˚F.  Extremely cold temperatures should also be avoided since food will often freeze and become offensive tasting.  Be careful to avoid storing food for long lengths of time in the refrigerator.  Refrigerating food does not prevent bacteria or mold from growing, it simply slows the process down.  With that in mind, maybe it’s time to clean out some of the food that could be considered an entry to a 7thgrade science fair. 
 
How can I keep food stored safely in the refrigerator?
After grocery shopping, refrigerate food as quickly as possible.  Do not run errands or meet a friend for lunch after shopping because you run the risk of leaving food in the danger temperature zone of 40-140˚ for too long leading to rapid bacteria growth.  Food cannot remain in this zone for more than four hours.  This includes shopping, unloading, thawing, and preparing food.  It is important to store raw meat, fish or poultry on the lowest shelf in the refrigerator.  Be sure to wrap or place them in separate plastic bags and then place them on a plate or tray to keep leaking juices from dripping on other foods. 
 
How long should foods be stored?

Eggs

Refrigerator (40˚F)
Freezer (0˚F)
Fresh, w/ shell
3 weeks
Don’t Freeze
Raw yolk, whites
2-4 days
1 year
Hardboiled
1 week
Don’t Freeze
Opened egg substitutes
3 days
Don’t Freeze
Unopened egg substitutes
10 days
1 year
 
 
 
Milk & Cheese
Refrigerator (40˚F)
Freezer (0˚F)
Fluid milk
5 days after date on container
Don’t Freeze
Hard cheese (cheddar, parmesan, romano, etc.)
1 month
Don’t Freeze
Soft cheese
1 week
Don’t Freeze
 
 
 
Fresh Meats (uncooked)
Refrigerator (40˚F)
Freezer (0˚F)
Ground meat (hamburger)
1-2 days
3-4 months
Stew meats
1-2 days
3-4 months
Steaks, beef
3-5 days
6-12 months
Chops, pork
3-5 days
4-6 months
Chops, lamb
3-5 days
6-9 months
Roasts, beef
3-5 days
6-12 months
Roasts, lamb
3-5 days
6-9 months
Roasts, pork
3-5 days
4-6 months
 
 
 
Fresh Poultry (uncooked)
Refrigerator (40˚F)
Freezer (0˚F)
Ground turkey
1-2 days
3-4 months
Chicken or turkey, whole
1-2 days
1 year
Chicken or turkey, pieces
1-2 days
9 months
Giblets
1-2 days
3-4 months
 
 
 
Cooked Meat and Poultry (leftovers)
Refrigerator (40˚F)
Freezer (0˚F)
Cooked meats or meat dishes
3-4 days
2-3 months
Gravy and meat broth
1-2 days
2-3 months
Fried chicken
3-4 days
4 months
Cooked poultry or poultry dishes
3-4 days
4-6 months
Chicken nuggets
1-2 days
1-3 months
 
 
 
Fish
Refrigerator (40˚F)
Freezer (0˚F)
Fresh
1-2 days
2-3 months
Smoked
1-2 days
3-6 months
Oysters, scallops, shrimp
1 day
3 months
 
 
 
Lunch Meats, Hot Dogs, Sausage and Ham
Refrigerator (40˚F)
Freezer (0˚F)
Lunch meats, unopened package
2 weeks
In freezer wrap, 1-2 months
Lunch meats, opened package
3-5 days
In freezer wrap, 1-2 months
Hotdogs, unopened package
2 weeks
In freezer wrap, 1-2 months
Hotdogs, opened package
1 week
In freezer wrap, 1-2 months
Sausage, raw
1-2 days
1-2 months
Smoked breakfast links, patties
7 days
1-2 months
Ham, cooked whole
7 days
1-2 months
Ham, cooked slices
3-4 days
1-2 months
 
 
 
Miscellaneous
Refrigerator (40˚F)
Freezer (0˚F)
Store-cooked convenience meals
1-2 days
Don’t Freeze
Store-prepared (or homemade) salads
3-5 days
Don’t Freeze
Pre-stuffed meats
1 day
Don’t Freeze
Commercial brand vacuum-packed dinners w/ USDA seal
2 weeks, unopened
Don’t Freeze
Jelly, peanut butter, ketchup
6 months
Don’t Freeze
Mayonnaise
Opened, 2 months
Don’t Freeze
Mustard, soy sauce, Worchester sauce
Opened, 1 year
Don’t Freeze
Salad dressing
Opened, 3 months
Don’t Freeze
Salsa
Opened, 1 month
Don’t Freeze
 
Many people do keep their food longer than the above guidelines. If you keep your food longer, make sure you check it each time to see that it has not turned moldy, slimy, stinky, rancid or otherwise rotten. Always check the food BEFORE you taste it.  And remember, “when in doubt, throw it out!” 
 
Where should you store fresh produce and how long will it last?
Most raw fruits and vegetables can be stored in the refrigerator.  However, foods like avocados, bananas, and pears ripen best at room temperature.  And, oranges, pineapples, cantaloupe, honeydew, potatoes, sweet potatoes, eggplant, rutabagas, and hard-rind squash are kept best in a cool, dry cupboard or pantry away from kitchen chemicals and direct sunlight.  Produce should not be washed before storing because the moisture may promote growth of mold.  Instead, wash produce with water right before cutting, preparing and serving. 
Fresh Food Storage
Food
Refrigerator
Freezer
FRUITS:
Apples
Apricots
Avocados
Bananas
Berries
Cherries
Grapes
Grapefruit
Guavas
Kiwis (Chinese Gooseberry)
Lemons/limes
Mangoes
Melons
Nectarines
Oranges
Papayas
Peaches
Pears
Pineapples
Plantains
Plums
Rhubarb
 
1 month
3-5 days
3-5 days
  *
2-3 days
2-3 days
3-5 days
2 weeks
1-2 days
3-5 days
2 weeks
  *
1 week
3-5 days
2 weeks
1-2 days
3-5 days
3-5 days
2-3 Days
  *
3-5 days
3-5 days
 
8-12 months
8-12 months
8-12 months
8-12 months
8-12 months
8-12 months
8-12 months
4-6 months
8-12 months
4-6 months
4-6 months
8-12 months
8-12 months
8-12 months
4-6 months
8-12 months
8-12 months
8-12 months
4-6 months
8-12 months
8-12 months
8-12 months
FRUIT JUICES:
Concentrate
Fresh or Reconstituted
 
*
5-7 days
 
2 years
8-12 months
VEGETABLES:
Artichokes
Asparagus
Beets
Bok Choy
Broccoli
Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage
Carrots
Cauliflower
Celery
Chilies
Cilantro
Corn
Green Beans
Greens
(spinach, collards, swiss chard, kale, mustard, etc.)
Jicama
Kohlrabi (leaves)
Kohlrabi (stems)
Lettuce
Lima Beans
Mushrooms
Onions, green
Okra
Parsley
Peas
Peppers
Radishes
Squash, hard
Squash, summer
Tomatillos
Tomatoes
Yuca (Cassava)
Zucchini
 
1 week
2-3 days
2 weeks
2-3 days
3-5 days
3-5 days
1-2 weeks
2 weeks
1 week
1 week
1 week
2-3 days
use immediately
for best flavor
1 week
3-5 days

2-3 weeks
2-3 days
1 week
1 week
3-5 days
1-2 days
3-5 days
1-2 days
2-3 days
3-5 days
1 week
2 weeks
  *
3-5 days
1 week
1 week
1-2 days
3-5 days
 
*
8-12 months
8-12 months
8-12 months
8-12 months
8-12 months
8-12 months
8-12 months
8-12 months
8-12 months
8-12 months
  *
8-12 months
8-12 months
8-12 months

8-12 months
8-12 months
8-12 months
  *
8-12 months
8-12 months
  *
8-12 months
  *
8-12 months
8-12 months
  *
8-12 months
8-12 months
8-12 months
8-12 months
8-12 months
8-12 months
* Storage here not recommended due to safety or quality issues.
The Freezer 
What do I store inside?
The freezer is typically the cold department located on top of the refrigerator.  This is where you store:
  • Frozen pizza
  • Frozen vegetables
  • Ice Cream
  • Microwave Meals
  • Popsicles
  • Fresh meats (that you don’t plan on eating within a couple of days)
The temperature should be kept below 0˚ to prevent food from spoiling.  A good way to verify the freezer is maintaining the correct temperature is with a thermometer (often there is one located inside).  Another quick method is checking the food for signs of thawing or looking to see if the ice trays are not freezing.  
 
Helpful storing suggestions
The freezer is a great place to store meat, chicken, or fish that you don’t plan on eating within the first couple of days of purchase.  To save time with future preparation, separate meat into single portion sizes after grocery shopping. (i.e. one chicken breast or ¼ lb. ground meat).  Then wrap each individual portion in aluminum foil or freezer paper or place in airtight freezer bags.  This way, you will only have to defrost the amount of food you plan to eat at one time.
 
How do I thaw meats safely?
Caution! Meat should never be thawed on the counter top in the danger temperature zone of 40-140º.  Why?  Remember, this is the ideal temperature zone for bacteria and other pathogens to grow and spoil food, which may result in food borne illnesses.  Instead, use one of these methods to thaw meats safely:
  • Thaw food in the refrigerator at 40˚ or less.
  • Submerge food in running potable water at a temperature of 70˚ or less.
  • Meat may be thawed using the microwave only if it will be cooked immediately after.
  • Food may be thawed as part of the cooking process as long as food reaches minimum cooking temperature.
Once thawed, frozen meat should be cooked and eaten within two days.  Don’t try to re-freeze an item once it’s been defrosted.
 
The Stove
A stove is divided into two parts: the range (the top unit) and the oven (the bottom unit).  The range holds burners, which cook food by generating heat through gas or electricity.
  • Range: use to poach, steam, sauté, boil, and simmer
  • Oven: use for baking, roasting, broiling, grilling (top shelf)
  • Broiler:  use to broil or grill
 
The Microwave Oven
Used for cooking fresh or frozen foods and reheating cooked food.  Only use containers that are safe to use in the microwave.  Do not use plastic containers, pottery, aluminum foil, or metal in the microwave as chemicals may leach out into your food.  After cooking, stir the food to make sure the heat is evenly distributed, as food can be extremely hot in certain areas.
 
Essential Kitchen Supplies
Whether you will be cooking in a rented room, an apartment, or a house, you need basic kitchen supplies.  It is recommended that you invest in higher quality pots, pans, and knives for improved safety, easier use, and more even cooking.  This does not mean you need to head to Williams Sonoma for kitchen equipment.  You can easily find a variety of better supplies for reasonable prices in stores like Target or Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  Quality is not as important in other supplies like glassware or measuring tools.  You can easily pinch pennies by shopping at garage sales, flea markets, or on the internet.
 
For the rented room:
2 microwave-safe mixing bowls (1 small and 1 large)
9” x 9” baking dish
2 sharp knives (1 paring and 1 butcher)
Liquid and dry measuring cups
Measuring spoons
Small cutting board
Wooden spoon
Rubber spatula
Can opener
Small hand grater or electric chopper
Aluminum foil
Plastic wrap
Ziplock bags
Dish washing brush
Dish washing soap (Anti-bacterial)
Paper products (towels, plates, utensils, napkins)
Potholder
 
For the full-size kitchen:
Everything listed above PLUS…
10” non-stick fry pan
2 or 3 quart saucepan
Colander
Vegetable steamer
Toaster oven
Blender
George Foreman’s Grill
Garlic press
Muffin tins, cake pans, and/or loaf pans
Dishes
Glasses
Silverware
 
Food Safety

How do you know when food is cooked completely?
Cooking food to the proper temperature is not only key to serving delicious meals, but it is also essential to serving safe meals.  Most people like their food prepared a certain way and have their own idea of “doneness”.  This way of cooking is dangerous when working with meats, poultry and fish.  A more reliable way to determine correct food temperatures is using a digital cooking thermometer.  This wise investment will help prevent undercooking and potential food borne illnesses.  Use the guidelines below to determine when food is really done:
Fish:
Internal temperature of fish is 145˚.
The fish should turn from a translucent to milky white color when done.
Fish should be flaky.
In general, cook fish ten minutes per inch of thickness.
 
Beef Steaks:
Internal temperature of meat is 145˚.
Cut the thickest part of meat; if slightly pink inside, it is ready to serve..
Ground Beef:
Internal temperature of meat is 160˚.
Make sure it is cooked completely with no redness..
Pork:
Internal temperature of meat is 160˚.
Eggs:
Cook until 160˚.
The egg white is set and the yolk thickens with no visible liquid..
Casseroles:
Internal temperature is 165˚.
Poultry:
Internal temperature of poultry breast is 170˚.  The juice running out of the thickest part of the breast should be clear, not pink.
For ground poultry, internal temperature is 165˚..
For whole poultry, internal temperature is 180˚./p>
Pasta:
Taste, it should be soft.

Rice:
When the cooking liquid is completely absorbed.

Vegetables:
Potatoes should be easily stabbed with a fork.
The outer leaves from artichokes and brussel sprouts should easily tear off.
Taste all other vegetables for doneness.

How do I Store Leftovers?
Be sure to refrigerate all leftovers soon after meals.  Leaving foods out at room temperature for two hours or more increases the risk of food poisoning.
  • Store foods in smaller, or more shallow, containers to allow for faster cooling.
  • Use glass or plastic storage containers.
  • Store cooked meat, poultry, and fish separately from other cooked and ready-to-eat foods.
  • Consume leftovers within a few days of refrigeration (refer back to “How long should foods be stored”).  If you have any doubt about the safety of the food, throw it out.  Never taste test food!
Common Recipe Conversions & Substitutions
Weight
1 ounce            = 28.5 grams                = ¼ cup
4 ounces           = ¼ pound
8 ounces           = ½ pound
16 ounces         = 1 pound
 
Volume
1 tablespoon     = 3 teaspoons
¼ cup               = 4 tablespoons
1/3 cup             = 5 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon
½ cup               = 8 tablespoons
1 cup                = 8 fluid ounces            = 16 tablespoons
2 cups              = 1 pint                        = 16 fluid ounces
4 cups              = 2 pints                       = 1 quart                      = 32 fluid ounces
16 cups            = 4 quarts                     = 1 gallon

 

If a Recipe Says...

It Means...
1 pound of bananas or apples 3 medium bananas or apples
2 tablespoons butter ¼ stick of butter
½ pound cheese 2 cups pre-shredded cheese
1 medium lemon 3 tablespoons of lemon juice
2 ounces nuts 1/3 cup chopped nuts
½ pound or 2 cups uncooked pasta 4 cups cooked pasta
 
Easy Substitutions to Cut Fat and/or Cholesterol
Instead of:                                                      
  • Sour cream:  try low-fat yogurt or ½ cup low fat cottage cheese blended w/ 1 ½ tsp. lemon juice, or try a light/fat free version of sour cream
  • Cream:  try evaporated skim milk
  • Full-fat cheese:  try low-fat, fat free, skim-milk cheese, or cheese with less than 5g of fat/oz.
  • Ricotta cheese:  try low-fat/fat free cottage cheese or nonfat/low-fat ricotta cheese
  • Ice cream:  try low-fat/non-fat ice cream, frozen low-fat/non-fat yogurt, low-fat soy ice cream, frozen fruit juice products or sorbet
  • Ground beef:  try extra lean ground beef, chicken, turkey, or soy protein
  • 1 Whole Egg:  try two egg whites or ¼ cup egg substitute
  • 1 ounce baking chocolate: 3 tablespoons cocoa powder and 1 tablespoon oil
  • Mayonnaise: low-fat/fat free mayonnaise or whipped salad dressings, plain low-fat yogurt combined with low-fat cottage cheese, or low-fat soy based mayonnaise
  • Butter, lard, and other saturated fats:  soft tub margarine (trans fat free), olive oil, canola oil, or cooking sprays (e.g. PAM).
 
Cooking Skills to Master 
1.  Measuring Ingredients 
Equipment Needed:
glass or plastic measuring cup with a spout, set of plastic or metal measuring cups (1 cup, ½ cup, ⅓ cup, and ¼ cup), a set of spoons (1 tablespoon, 1 teaspoon, ½ teaspoon, and ¼ teaspoon)
Methods:
Dry ingredients
 (flour, sugar, rice, baking powder):  Always work over a plate or wax paper to catch ingredient overflow.  Start by dipping measuring cup into the ingredient.  Fill the measuring cup beyond the rim so there is a heaping mound on top.  With the flat side of the knife, level off the ingredient so it is level with top of the measuring cup.  Excess ingredients that are not contaminated can be returned to original container for later use.  Be sure to check for lumps or air pockets with ingredients such as brown sugar.  It is a smart idea to pack the ingredients down with the back of a spoon cup.  This technique will help you to make a more accurate measurement.
*Note:  Margarines and butter can be measured using this method.  It helps to let them sit out at room temperature for ~20-30 minutes before to soften.  You may also use the pre-printed measuring markers located on the margarine wrapper.  They are easy and simple to use.  Just simply cut off the amount of butter needed by using the guidelines.
Wet ingredients (liquids, water, milk, juice):  Place the measuring cup on a level surface such as the counter.  Pour the liquid ingredient into measuring cup.  Check to make sure the bottom lip of the liquid is equal to the desired measurement marking.  Do not hold at eye level because the measurement will not be as accurate.
2. Steaming Vegetables
Equipment Needed:
Steamer basket or a stainless-steel colander that will fit inside a pot
Method:
First wash and chop vegetables.  Place the vegetables in a colander or steamer basket inside a pot.  Fill the pot with about an inch to two inches of water (so that the water is touching but not covering the vegetables).  Cover the pot, and bring the water to a boil.  Reduce the heat and allow them to simmer until the vegetables are tender.  Be sure to check the vegetables frequently since they all cook at different rates.  For example, spinach will take about a minute whereas string beans will take about five minutes.
3.  Greasing A Pan
Equipment Needed:
oil, margarine, or butter, paper towel, and pan
Method:
Put a small amount of fat onto paper towel and spread evenly on the bottom and sides of pan.  Note:  Cooking sprays can be substituted
4.  Chopping an Onion
Equipment Needed:
clean cutting board, towel, and sharp knife
Method:
Place towel underneath cutting board to prevent it from slipping around on the counter.  Cut off stem ends of onion and peel off outer layer of skin.  Next cut the onion in half lengthwise.  Place the two halves face down on board and cut into strips lengthwise.  Finally, cut across the strips into small pieces.
5.  Preheating
Equipment Needed:  oven
Method:
Preheating is simply allowing the oven to heat up to a certain temperature before you place any food items inside to be cooked.  It is important since it can affect the quality of the food you are preparing.  Always check recipe prior to preparing any breads, baked goods, cookies, or when roasting meat and poultry for preheating instructions.
6.  Seasoning
Equipment Needed:
Spices and herbs (dried or fresh) and your taste buds!
Method:
Seasoning requires you to taste the flavor of the food as you are cooking.  Start by adding a little at a time since it is easy to add more (but impossible to take away).  Once you’ve made a specific recipe once or twice, you will become more comfortable with eye-balling the amounts.
 
Cooking Terms
Al Dente:   “To the tooth,” in Italian.  The pasta in cooked just enough to maintain a firm, chewy texture.
Bake:  To cook in the oven covered or uncovered.  Food is cooked slowly with gentle heat, causing the natural moisture to evaporate slowly, concentrating the flavor.
BBQ:  To cook on a gas or charcoal grill.
Baste:  To brush liquid fat or juices over meat during roasting to add flavor and to prevent it from drying out.
Batter:  A mixture of flour, fat, and liquid that is thin enough in consistency to be dropped from a spoon or poured.  It is used for cakes and cookies.
Beat:  To stir or mix briskly with a spoon, fork, whisk, or electric beater to add air to make the mixture light and smooth.
Blanch:  To boil vegetables or fruit for a short time to remove or loosen their skins.
Blend:  To mix two or more ingredients together to obtain equal distribution throughout the mixture.
Boil:  To bring liquid to 212˚, allowing large bubbles to rise and break the surface.
Braise:  A cooking technique that is used to tenderize meat and chicken.  It requires browning meat in oil or other fat and then cooking slowly in liquid.
Bread:  To coat the food with crumbs (bread crumbs or cracker crumbs) to seal in moisture in preparation for frying or baking.  The food is first dipped in a beaten egg, milk or liquid to allow the crumbs to stick to the food.
Broil
:  To cook the food directly under the heat source, either in a broiler or toaster oven.
Brown:  A quick way to cook the outside of food over high heat on top of the stove to enhance flavor.
Chop:  To cut food into small, irregular pieces.
Core:   To remove the center of fruit or vegetables.
Cube:  To cut food into cube-shaped pieces that are the same size.
Cut In:  To work vegetable shortening, margarine, or butter into dry ingredients.
Dash:  A small amount of an ingredient (~1/16th of a teaspoon).
Debone:  To remove the bones from fish, poultry, or beef.
Deep-fry:  To completely submerge the food in hot oil
Dice:  To cut food into very small pieces of the same size and shape.
Drain:  To remove the liquid from a food by pouring the food into a colander allowing the liquid to drain through the holes.
Dredge:  To coat the outside of food with a dry ingredient, like flour, crackers, or breadcrumbs.
Fillet:  To remove the bones from a piece of fish or meat.
Fold:  To combine a lighter mixture, such as beaten egg whites with a heavier mixture, such as egg yolks and sugar using a gentle over-and-under motion.
Fry
:  To cook food in hot cooking oil in an open skillet or frying pan until a crisp brown crust forms.
Grate:   To shred or cut down a food into fine pieces by rubbing it against a rough surface.
Gratin:  To bind together or combine food with a liquid such as cream, milk, béchamel sauce, or tomato sauce, in a shallow dish. The mixture is then baked until cooked and set.
Grease:  To coat a pan or skillet with a thin layer of oil, butter, or margarine to prevent food from sticking.
Grill: To cook over the heat source (traditionally over wood coals) in the open air.
Grind: To mechanically (food processor) cut a food into small pieces.
Julienne:  To cut food into matchstick-size strips.
Knead: To work dough with the heels of your hands in a pressing and folding motion until it becomes smooth and elastic.
Marinate:  To soak foods in a seasonal liquid for several hours or overnight in the refrigerator to make it more tender and flavorful.
Meringue:  Egg whites beaten until they are stiff, then sweetened. It can be used as the topping for pies, or baked as cookies.
Mince: To chop food into tiny, irregular pieces.
Mix: To beat or stir two or more foods together until they are thoroughly combined
Parboil:  To cook food in boiling water for a very short time.
Pare:  To remove the skin or peel from fruits and vegetables.
Poach: To cook foods in barely boiling water.  This is cooking method is commonly used for fish or eggs.
Pound:  To flatten foods, such as chicken breasts, with a mallet to an even thickness.
Preheat:  To heat the oven to the desired temperature before beginning to cook.
Puree:  To mash or blend to a smooth consistency.
Roast:  To cook in hot, dry heat of an oven.  Meat and chicken are often cooked this way.
Reduce:  To cook liquids down so that some of the water evaporates.
Roux:  A cooked paste usually made from flour and butter used to thicken sauces.
Sauté:  To cook food quickly over high heat in a small amount of butter, oil, or fat.
Sear:  To brown meat quickly by cooking over high heat, in the broiler, or in a very hot oven to seal in flavor or moisture.
Season:  To flavor foods using salt, pepper, herbs, and spices.
Shred:  To cut food into thin, irregular strips usually using a grater or food processor.
Sift:  To remove large lumps from a dry ingredient such as flour or confectioners' sugar by passing it through a fine mesh. This process also incorporates air into the ingredients, making them lighter.
Simmer:  To cook food in liquid just below the boiling point.
Steam:  To cook food using the water vapor from boiling water in a covered pot or a metal basket that fits into a pot.  Vegetables and fish can be steamed.
Stew:  To cook food by slowly simmering in a small amount of liquid in a covered pot.
Stir:  To mix ingredients without beating using a spoon.
Stir-fry:  To cook cut-up food quickly in a small amount of oil or liquid by stirring constantly over high heat.  Stir-frying can be done in a frying pan or wok.
Stock:  The liquid left over from cooking meat, fish, poultry, or vegetables, often used as a base for soups and sauces.
Strain:  To separate solid ingredients from the liquid they have been cooked in by pouring them through a colander or sieve.
Toss:   To mix ingredients gently by lifting and turning with two spoons, forks, or your hands.  Salad and pasta are often tossed.
Whip:   To beat air into ingredients using a whisk or mixer, making them light and fluffy.
Whisk:  To mix or fluff by beating; also refers to the utensil used for this action.
 
Simple Recipe & Meal Ideas
Be sure to check out the cookbooks listed under Recommended Books, or try some of the quick, healthy, and tasty recipe and meal ideas below:
Breakfast
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Scrambled Eggs
Serves 2
Ingredients:
3 eggs
1 teaspoon margarine
1 tablespoon skim milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Crack eggs into a medium bowl.
Add milk and whisk together.
Melt margarine in a skillet over low heat.
Pour egg mixture in skillet with salt & pepper. Let it sit for ~15 seconds.
Stir gently for ~4-6 minutes to break up the egg in smaller pieces. 
When finished, the eggs should be soft and have no liquid remaining.
More Cooking Ideas:  Add some diced tomato, green pepper, mushroom, and onion for flavor, color, and an extra serving of vegetables.
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Apple Oatmeal
Serves 2
Ingredients:
½ cup rolled oats (not instant)                                                ½ Tablespoon brown sugar
½ cup skim milk                                                                      ½ apple, chopped 
½ cup water                                                                            A pinch of salt
2 Tablespoons raisins                                                              Cinnamon for sprinkling
Mix together the oats, milk, water, raisins, brown sugar, apple and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and let simmer for 10 minutes while stirring frequently. Remove from heat when mixture is thick and mushy. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve.
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Traditional Pancakes
Makes 9 pancakes
Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour                                                            1 egg
½ teaspoon baking powder                                                     1 cup skim milk
2 Tablesppons sugar                                                               1 Tablespoon Vegetable oil
A pinch of salt                                                                         1 teaspoon vanilla
Cooking spray
In a medium bowl combine: flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. In another bowl mix together: egg, milk, oil, and vanilla. Heat nonstick skillet over medium heat until a drop of water dances on the surface.  Coat lightly with cooking spray. (If you don’t have a nonstick skillet, you’ll need to melt a little butter in the pan first to keep the pancakes from sticking.) Pour batter in small puddles for each pancake. Cook until bubbles begin to appear and pop on the uncooked side.  Then flip and cook other side. Remove from pan when both sides are golden. Tip:  Save any leftover by wrapping in plastic wrap.
More Cooking Ideas:  Try mixing in blueberries, apples, or peaches into the batter for added taste and nutrients
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Lunch 
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Hummus
Makes 10 servings
Ingredients:
1 15-ounce can chickpeas AKA “garganzo beans”
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
¼ cup sesame tahini
⅓ cup lemon juice
¼ teaspoon cayenne
Drain chickpeas, but save juice.  After washing the beans, dump them into a food processor or bowl to blend with a rotary beater. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until mixture is smooth.  If mixture is too thick add some of the saved bean juice and blend again until it reaches desired consistency.
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Quesadillas
Makes 4 servings
Ingredients:
¾ cup shredded low-fat cheddar cheese                                 2 medium mushrooms, diced
½ tomato, diced                                                                      ¼ onion, diced
4 flour tortillas (corn or whole wheat are also okay)
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a small bowl combine cheese, tomato, mushroom, and onion. Place tortillas on cookie sheet and spread ¼ of the cheese mixture on half of each tortillas. Bake for ~7 minutes or until cheese is bubbling.  Remove from oven and fold the bare half of the tortillas over the top of the filled half. NOTE:  Try any of these fillings for a quick and tasty change.
Refried beans, tomato, and cheese Black beans, corn, and cinnamon
Grilled or sautéed vegetables with low-fat sour cream-onions, peppers, zucchini, eggplant or whatever else is in the refrigerator
Cottage cheese and salsa
Tomato, avocado, and lemon or lime juice
Leftover chicken, turkey, or beef, salsa, and low-fat sour cream
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Tuna Salad
Makes 2 servings
Ingredients:
1 6oz. can white tuna packed in water, drained                     ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons nonfat plain yogurt                                          ¼ of a medium carrot, grated
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients into a bowl, stir, and refrigerate.
Serve immediately over salad greens or in a sandwich.
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Quick Pasta Salad
Makes 10 servings
Ingredients:
1 16oz. box tricolor fusilli pasta                                 1 onion, sliced thin
1 cup chopped broccoli                                               1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped                                    1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
¾ cup low-fat or fat free Italian Dressing
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add pasta and cook for about 8 minutes or until tender.  Drain. While pasta cooks, wash vegetables.  Place broccoli, carrots, onion, and red pepper in microwave-safe bowl.  Cook on high for 3 minutes (you can also blanch vegetables in a boiling pot of water if you do not have a microwave). Combine all of the cooked vegetables with the cucumber and pasta.  Cover and chill in the refrigerator. Pour dressing over salad when ready to serve.  Toss salad to evenly coat and mix.
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Dinner
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Chicken Kabobs
Makes 4 servings
Ingredients:
4 boneless, skinless chicken half-breasts,                   1 yellow onion, cut into large wedges
cut into bite-size pieces                                               1 green pepper, cut into large chunks
¾ cup teriyaki marinade                                             8 cherry tomatoes
8 mushrooms
Marinate chicken in the teriyaki sauce for ~30 minutes in the refrigerator. Thread chicken and the vegetables onto a skewer, alternating ingredients. Cook the kabobs for 10-15 minutes over a grill or under the broiler.  Make sure the chicken is completely cooked through (remember, no pink in the middle). Once cooked, serve on skewer or over a bed of rice.
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Tacos
Makes 4 servings
Ingredients:
1 pound lean ground beef (or ground turkey)                                    ½ cup chopped lettuce
8 taco shells                                                                            Salsa to taste
1 tomato, diced                                                                       Hot sauce to taste
In a non-stick skillet, cook the ground beef over medium-high heat until browned. Transfer beef to plate and serve buffet style with the rest of the ingredients. Note:  This recipe is very basic so try adding vegetables such as green peppers, onions, mushrooms, and zucchini to give it more variety and to increase nutrients!
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Honey Mustard and Garlic Chicken
Makes 4 servings
Ingredients:
¼ cup honey                                                    4 boneless, skinless chicken half-breasts
½ cup Dijon Mustard                                      1 clove garlic cut into slivers
Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine honey and mustard in small bowl. Make four small cuts in the center of chicken breast, then arrange them in a baking dish.  Insert garlic in each cut.  Spread honey-mustard mixture over each breast. Bake for 30 minutes, basting the chicken once or twice with the sauce from the pan.  Then transfer to the preheated broiler (or turn the oven up to broil) and cook for 5 minutes, until the tips are crisp, but not burned!
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Steamed or Stir-Fried Veggies
Makes 4 servings
Ingredients:
2 large onions, sliced
10 mushrooms, sliced 
Nonstick cooking spray or 1-2 Tbsp. Olive oil
¼ cup soy sauce mixed w/ ¼ cup water or small can vegetable or chicken broth
1 10 oz. box of frozen broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, or combination
Crumbled tofu if desired
Sauté in large frying pan onions and mushrooms. Add frozen vegetables, and sauté until they are soft. Add liquid and heat through.
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Personal Pizza
Ingredients:
1 Whole wheat English muffin (pita bread also works)
2 Tbsp. Tomato or spaghetti sauce
2 Tbsp. Shredded mozzarella cheese or low-fat cheese
Suggested Toppings: favorite veggies, pineapple, lean Canadian bacon, soy pepperoni or ground extra lean turkey (pre-cooked)
Split English muffin into two halves.  If using a pita, leave it whole. Spread sauce evenly on both halves. Sprinkle cheese evenly on both sides. Add toppings if desired. Broil in toaster oven or bake in oven at 350° for a couple of minutes or until cheese melts.
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Special thanks to Paige Iversen who developed the content for this page during her dietetic internship at the Greater Los Angeles VA Medical Center.
 
Sheri Barke, MPH, RD
COC, Student Health & Wellness Center
Rev. 2005