Start your year off with a few new ideas

Published 12:02 am Sunday, January 8, 2012

Every food magazine that I subscribe to has some similarities.

In the Spring there is always a fresh vegetable issue, followed by a barbecue issue in the summer and of course Thanksgiving and Christmas meals grace the covers for winter months.

Usually in December or January you can count on a list of hot new dishes, restaurants and ingredients for the new year. So this year I’m going to start off with my own list for you to try out.

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Must have go-to magazine: Hands down winner in this category for me is the Food Network Magazine. I have yet to have a month go by that I did not only read the magazine from cover to cover but cook several things out of it. While some of my foodie magazines have a dry month where I only fold down the page corners this one delivers month after month. Certain sections in the publication I really look forward to each month. There is a restaurant review that takes favorite recipes from different restaurants and comes up with a copy-cat recipe, and believe me they’ve been dead-on the times. I’ve made them.

Knorr or Swanson concentrated stock: This one is going to get me in trouble with foodie purists, but the fact remains I just don’t have the time to make my own stock on a regular basis. I’ve used both brands and I like them both, for beef and chicken I prefer the Knorr and for vegetable I prefer the Swanson. Last week I made a large pot of gumbo and even though I felt I had the thickness correct it needed a little something more. I dropped in one of the concentrated beef stocks and in 20 minutes I could tell a difference and it didn’t dilute the thickness of my gumbo by adding a lot of liquid. The only thing I must caution you about is the sodium content of these items, I have not found that they alter the salt taste of my food but I have had others say they have to adjust seasonings when they use them.

Water flavorings: I’m determined this year to drink more water, but I am one of those people who just does not like the taste of plain water. I started off adding the powdered packs of flavoring to my water, but I’m also trying to cut down on drinking from plastic water bottles. And for me being able to shake it so that the powder is dissolved soon became a problem. A friend of mine shared his favorite thing, liquid water flavorings. I keep them in my desk and as soon as I fill my glass up with water I add a drop or two. They have been a lifesaver for me.

Website: Well, I guess since I’m bringing this site up again you can tell that I wasn’t serious about stopping my Pinterest habit. I can’t say enough about how much I like this website. When it comes to recipes you are guaranteed to find something you want to make. My daughter Holly found one on there for buffalo chicken balls and I’ve made them several times also. They are quick and easy and super delicious. Best part, there is photograph for every single recipe and you can see how yours should look. Holly and Lizzie have a new healthy smoothie recipe they swear by. There’s casseroles, soups, party food, healthy food and on and on. There are more ideas on there than you are ever going to cook but it’s always fun to look.


Christina Hall writes a weekly lifestyle column. She can be reached at