Best Kept Kitchen Secrets

Even the world’s most famous chefs cut corners in the kitchen. Today, we’re going to share some of the tricks that top chefs hide under their toques in order to save time and trouble in the kitchen without sacrificing flavor or quality. These six top chef shortcuts can help you go from an amateur to an at-home chef and entertainer extraordinaire.

 

  • Breadcrumbs make a great substitute for flour when you need to thicken a sauce. Allow them to simmer for several minutes to release their starch, and remember to strain the sauce before serving. Your sauce will be thick and flavorful with no floury taste.
  • Use a pair of kitchen shears to cut meat swiftly with no mess. They make it easier to get the exact sized pieces you want while keeping your hands clean. Kitchen shears are also a quick and easy way to mince garden herbs for your favorite recipes.
  • Instead of starting from scratch, use a ready-made sauce or condiment to quickly add a zip to sauces, marinades and dishes to cut down on prep time.
  • Fresh cheese is a must for authentic Italian and other dishes, but soft cheeses can be difficult to grate quickly and easily. One trick is to freeze the cheese for 20 minutes to make grating a breeze.
  • Waiting for butter to soften adds precious minutes to a busy cook’s tight schedule. Hasten the process by grating the butter in a bowl. The small pieces soften much faster.
  • Homemade stock is the lifeblood of many great recipes, but is time consuming to prepare. Having pre-measured amounts on hand can save tons of time and energy. The next time you make a pot of stock, fill a muffin tin with the liquid after it cools and throw it in the freezer. Once frozen, pop the individual helpings out and store them in labeled and dated freezer bags.
hickory farms

Source: Marin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s no secret that Hickory Farms is a great gourmet shortcut with fresh fruits and nuts, award-winning sausage and cheese, and pantry essentials like Chipotle Ranch Sauce, Horseradish Sauce and Sweet Hot Mustard. Visit our website to place your order and stock your kitchen like a top chef!

Celebrate Friendship Near & Far

The bond of friendship is truly transformative. Friendship fosters love, compassion, understanding and generosity. These are the values that have the power to make the world a better place.

July 30th was International Day of Friendship, when we are encouraged to celebrate the friendships that unite individuals, countries and cultures across the world. As the United Nations reminds us, friendships that span international borders bring individuals and cultures together inspiring peace efforts and promoting international understanding and respect for diversity.

The idea of designating a day to celebrate friendship was actually first promoted in 1919 by the founder of Hallmark Cards, Joyce Hall. But what started as a company campaign, ended up turning into something much more poignant. When the card industry eventually lost steam, the UN encouraged this annual celebration of friendship by naming Winnie the Pooh as the world’s Ambassador of Friendship in 1998. Finally, in 2011, the 65th Session of the UN General Assembly officially declared July 30 as International Day of Friendship.

We love the idea of encouraging kids to celebrate friendship. TLC has some great ideas for parents to help kids celebrate friendship with games like toss and catch and crafts like special seed bracelets. You can also help kids to make international friends by helping them find pen pals through organizations like Students of the World. While kids are making bracelets or writing their first pen pal letter, parents can stack together some Winnie the Pooh themed meat and cheese crackers. Kids are sure to love these friendly and smiley snacks!

hickory farms

Source: Disney Baby

Hickory Farms is happy to help adults celebrate the special bonds of friendship, too, with thoughtful gift baskets that can be shipped anywhere in the country and to international neighbors in Canada. From our Award Winning Sausage & Cheese and our famous HoneyGold® Ham to our Fruitful Gift Box and special seasonal offerings like our Italian Ice Cream Truffles, there are so many ways to show friends you care with a special package from Hickory Farms.

hickory farms gift baskets

Fruitful Gift Box from Hickory Farms

What are some of your favorite ways to celebrate friendship and show appreciation for a friend?

Unique Twists on Traditional 4th of July Fare

The 4th of July is almost here, and we can hardly wait for a day filled with family, friends, food, and fun! But instead of the traditional Independence Day fare, why not shake things up just a bit by putting a unique twist on your favorite American dishes? Here are a few ideas to get the creative juices flowing for your 4th of July menu.

If you’re grilling out for the Fourth of July, try this Grilled Potato Salad. Grill seasoned potato slices to perfection and then combine them with oranges, red onions and arugula. Dress them in red wine vinegar and olive oil, and you’ll have a side dish packed with surprising flavor and texture.

 

4th of july entertaining

Source: Food Network

 

Pasta salad is another tried-and-true cookout staple. But this year, consider getting a bit more creative by mixing up your own pasta salad. Food Network has an easy outline you can use to get your own pasta salad started. In addition to its suggested protein options, you can try gourmet sausage from Hickory Farms in your recipe for an interesting twist.

4th of july recipes

Source: Food Network

 

Most casual parties aren’t complete without some crispy potato chips. We like the patriotic spin Epicurious food writer Kelly Senyei suggests with Red, White, and Blue Potato and Beet Chips. You’ve got the same crispy crunch as standard potato chips, but also a hint of sweetness thanks to the beets.

patriotic party themes

Source: Epicurious

 

If you’re serving burgers and hot dogs as the main dish, try out a new marinade for your meat or new toppings or condiments such as our Sweet Hot Mustard. Another great idea is to add oregano, basil, and parmesan to your ground beef before you throw it on the grill for burgers that are chock full of flavor while still low in calories. Try putting out some unique burger toppings. Sliced apples, for example, can add a touch of tartness and a nice crunch.

4th of july party ideas

Source: Better Homes & Gardens

 

For a fresh spin on grilled chicken, try whipping up a marinade of lemon juice, soy sauce, fresh ginger, lemon pepper, and garlic. Serve it with a sweet fruit salsa.

4th of july entertaining ideas

Source: Health magazine

How are you planning to put a unique twist on your 4th of July menu? Leave a comment to share with us!

Visit the Hickory Farms website to purchase gourmet food baskets containing fresh Summer Sausage, fruit, nuts, condiments, and more.