Love to cook? Read on for professional tips on building flavor without all the calories!

Archive for February, 2013

How to cook anything!

Best Leg of   Lamb PlatterDid you realize that there are really only five categories of cooking techniques? Once you learn them, you can apply them to various foods. Master these and you can cook anything! The difference within the categories has to do with different types of levels of heat and/or different amounts or types of liquids.

Shorter cooking times are for tender cuts of meats. Longer cooking times are for tougher cuts of meat that need more time to break down fibers and tenderize. That’s all there is to it!


-Sauté: Use a small amount of oil in a hot frying pan. Cook quickly over high heat.

-Stir Fry: Use a small amount of oil in a high sided frying pan. Stir and cook small pieces quickly over high heat.

-Deep Fry: Immerse relatively small pieces of (normally) breaded items in hot oil.


-Grilling: Brush with oil and cook over direct heat on the lower side of a horizontal grill.

-Broiling: Brush with oil and cook using direct heat on the upper side of an oven or broiler.


-Shallow Poaching: Cooking in a small amount of liquid between 140 and 185 degrees F.

-Deep Poaching: Cooking in a lot of liquid between 140 and 185 degrees F.

-Boiling: cooking in lots of boiling liquid at 212 degrees F and above.

-Steaming: Cooking in a covered basket, over liquid that creates moist steam.


-Long, slow cooking in a moderate amount of  liquid, generally between 190 and 205 degrees F.


-Roasting: Cooking in a pan with a small amount of oil or liquid in indirect heat (e.g. an oven).

-Baking: Put product inside a hot oven. Indirect heat , without added liquid.

-Poêlé: Roast the product in a hot oven.  Indirect heat, with product half immersed in butter.

-BBQ: Place the product in a grill and close it. Roast it with indirect heat (because heat is off to the sides.)

-Smoking: Roasting in a smoker or stove top covered pan, using indirect heat and smoke generated from wood chips. (Can also be in a closed oven or grill.) Cold smoking is under 200 degrees F and hot smoking is about 200 degrees F.

Now that you’ve got your terms down, get out in the kitchen and start cooking! 🙂 You can do it!

How to make a Taco Stadium!

So many people have asked how I made the Taco Stadium to celebrate the Super Bowl, so it’s only fitting that we have a blog post that covers that topic. Here’s how it was put together. Have fun making your own next year!

Taco Stadium

MexAmerica’s Taco Stadium

1. Start with a container that resembles the shape of a stadium. The one pictured was a gift tin originally filled with wine and food – rather large. It wasn’t sloped like a stadium, but we fixed that issue by sloping it with cardboard on the inside like this: Draw around the bottom of the container on a piece of heavy cardboard and cut it out. Cut down the center of the cardboard lengthwise and fold it back to form the seats (front and top in the shape of an L). Tape the pieces down on the backs and on the bottoms. You will have to trim it a bit and make some end pieces too. It doesn’t matter if they don’t fit exactly because you will cover them and they will be hidden.

2. Cover the seats with pieces of graham crackers, using powdered sugar mixed with water to form a “glue” for the backs to hold them on. Fill the corner holes with sliced pepper rings.

3. Cut fig newton cookies into thirds and place them along the sides of the field. Use flat marshmallows (made for s’mores) in the end zone.

4. Cut the goal post pieces from cucumbers and stick toothpicks in them. Leave a little toothpick protruding so you can stick them into the marshmallows and they will stand up.

5. Thaw some frozen spinach and squeeze out the water. Lay that in the bottom for the grass. Lay pieces of 1/8″ white ribbon across the spinach to indicate the yardage lines. The players are two colors of olives opposing each other. Cut a small flat spot on the bottom of each one so they will stand up.

6. Sprinkle the chopped onion “crowd” across the graham cracker “bleacher seats”.

7. The “sky boxes” (filled with the tacos) are Taco Tender individual taco holders ( We taped those on using heavy packing tape – right through the middle of the holder, then added the finished tacos. It was a little tricky to get them to stay there, but twisting the tape before attaching it to the container did the job.

8. The “pillars” on the outside are filled with Nance’s corn relish – great on chips – and the chips are On the Border tortilla chips. Or… you can make your own. It’s easy and they will never be fresher! Just cut each of your tortillas into four pieces and bake for 10 – 12 minutes in a 350º F oven – or fry them in corn oil heated to 325º F for about 3 minutes and drain on paper toweling. If you fry them, immediately sprinkle them lightly with salt. You can make the chips ahead, but will need to make the stadium at the last minute. Enjoy!

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