How To Safely Use An Electronic Smoker?

If you are looking to eliminate the guesswork when smoking meats, then the electronic smoker would be the right match for your cooking needs. It’s a no-brainer to use even for beginners. However, safety measures need to be in place so you avoid mishaps when you smoke your meats.

Smoking has always been the best option for those who are looking for a healthy and sumptuous feast. When you smoke meats, you get to cook it at low temperatures and slow cooking time which adds to the richness and smokiness of the flavor plus also preserves the quality and freshness of the meat.

What is the Best Type of Smoker for You?

We all have different needs and preferences with everything, even when it comes to cooking appliances like smokers. There is a right type of smoker for every individual.

According to Yahoo News, If you want to learn how to barbecue, the old style, then a traditional offset smoker would do the trick. This is the best way to learn the barbecue craft and smoke the classic and challenging route. 

 If you love that smoky aroma and taste plus the convenience factor then an electronic smoker would be the perfect fit.

There are digital and analog styles of electronic smokers to choose from. You can also decide whether you need an electric cabinet smoker type which is similar to a small refrigerator or a vertical electric smoker which is best used in warm weather.

The best type of electronic smoker would be one that gives you more control and power over smoking your favorite hotdogs and ribs so it comes out as mouth-watering and savory as you want it. Whether you are looking for one that gives more value for your money or the high-end features for an extra price then there is an electronic smoker that would surely fit your expectations.

Steps on How to Safely Use an Electronic Smoker

Just when you thought you did your homework and have covered the basics, there are things that could go out of control when you least expect it. Knowing the basics and the safety precautions of using an electric smoker can help you prepare delicious meals without falling into any smoking mishap.

Read and Understand the User Manual

You can’t just use any equipment or appliances without reading the manufacturer’s instruction or user manual first. There is a booklet included in your electronic smoker or you can check the official website directly for instructions and safety guidelines. Treat this as a bible in using your electric smoker.

Buy the Right Wood Chips

It takes around 4 cups of flavored wood chips to cook or smoke for 3 to 5 hours. You can purchase wood chips online, in grocery stores, or hardware specialty shops. There are different flavored wood chips to choose from like plum, alder, hickory, or cedar. However, there are smokers that work with a specific type of wood chips so you should check on this when you purchase an electronic smoker.

Check the Smoker Temperature

Most electronic smokers have built-in internal temperature control or gauge. It is important to set the temperature first and then wait until the desired temperature is achieved before you place the meat and start the smoking process.

Keep the Smoker in a Dry and Safe Place

Smokers are designed to be set up outdoors as the smoke can be nauseating if you set it up indoors. For condos or apartments though, you can opt to place smokers inside especially if your electronic smoker has a smoke control feature. Always set your smokers in a dry and safe place; preferably roofed places. Check for a solid and hard surface. Make sure that your smokers stay dry even if it’s stored away by using a protective cover. It can be hazardous when smokers get wet because this can cause damage and premature wear and tear of electric parts.

Fill Smoker Pans with Water and Wood Chips

If your smoker has a water pan, it is important to fill it with wood chips and water. The water stabilizes the temperature and the wood chips help accentuate the flavors and aroma of the meat. It is recommended to add more wood chips as you smoke to keep the texture and flavors consistent and up to your desired taste. Always check on the water content as it would need refilling every now and then.

Wait Until the Right Temperature is Achieved Before You Put the Meat In

This is one of the most common mistakes when handling smokers. To heat up the smoker, treat it as an oven, you have to set it to the desired temperature and then put the food inside once the smoker has reached its target temperature and not before it reaches that. Check when the wood chips are starting to burn and that would be your cue.

Put the Meat in as Quickly as Possible

With smoking meat, timing is really everything. Once the temperature is all set, you have to put the meat in quickly. You need to do this in a snap or you could lose more temperature and smoke when you leave the doors open for so long. The best way to do this is to plan ahead and test how much meat you can put into the smoking racks so you would know how to execute.

Stick to the Recipe

This is particularly true to those who are new with using electric smokers. You have to follow the recipe and then adjust your smoking temperature or hours after that. It is advisable to choose a smoker with a window so you can always check on how the meat is doing while smoking.

Use Heat-Resistant Gloves

When handling any hot food, you must always wear protective or heat-resistant gloves to avoid burns or scalds when taking out the food from the electronic smoker. Prevention is always better than cure so wearing protective clothing and gloves would surely help you avoid any dangers or accidents in food preparation.

Clean Your Smoker ASAP!

Getting your smoker cleaned up after using it is a great way to keep it in good shape and condition for many years. First off, you have to allow it to cool down and then that’s when you clean it up to decrease the chances of having accumulated dust and debris that can also spoil or affect the taste and quality of your food. Cleaning your smoker helps you keep healthy by serving delicious and clean meals for the family.

If you have no clue how to use an electronic smoker and what smoker to use, then here are CookoutPal Smoker Reviews – Check em out here!. We all start clueless at many points in our lives and yet survive it all with a few necessary glitches to teach some lessons. There are many trials and errors when using smokers but keeping the points easy to follow and simple to use will help you use the electronic smoker safely and accurately in every cookout. 

Healthier Snacks Your Kids Will Actually Want to Eat

Every parent can relate to the everlasting struggle of getting their little ones to keep up with a healthy diet. 

Let’s be honest, junk food is tasty and comforting and it is not easy to compete with a Big Mac, Cheetos, or Oreo. It is easy to succumb to cheap and available highly processed food, so it can be quite tricky to find a way to interest your kids in good ol’ fruit, nuts, and veggies. 

The Mayo Clinic offers a brief guideline for children’s healthy diet.

So, instead of grabbing packaged snacks which are usually full of added sugars, refined flour, salt, and artificial ingredients, how can you sneak healthy nutrients into recipes for a youngster?

Here is a list of easy, time-saving recipes.

Almond & Banana Oatmeal

This quick and nourishing healthy snack is best to let sit for a while. If it’s summertime, refrigerate it for an hour or so, as it’s quite refreshing when prepared like that. The ingredients include 120ml of water, 2 bananas, 4 tablespoons of oats, 1 tablespoon of ground almonds, 1 teaspoon of honey, and ½ teaspoon of cinnamon.

Veggie Wraps

Wraps are a great way to smuggle quality ingredients into your kid’s diet. As a spread you can use hummus, sour cream, or cream cheese. Add some raw or grilled veggies such as zucchini, cucumber, corn, tomatoes, peppers or eggplant in the tortillas. Legumes are a superb choice, too. Sprinkle the veggies with a bit of olive oil and spices and your healthy snack is ready. The sky’s the limit when it comes to playing with different ingredients and enriching the original recipe.

Home-Made Granola

Gather around some oats, nuts (such as almonds, hazelnuts, and sunflower seeds), chia seeds, oil, honey or maple syrup, cinnamon, salt and vanilla extract. Mix together dry ingredients and then add the wet ingredients. Evenly blend them together. Spread this mixture on a baking sheet evenly and bake at 180°C for 20 minutes. After granola cools down, you can mix in dried fruit for some extra flavor and serve it.

Power-Packed Veggie Muffins

Muffins are a great choice when looking for healthy snack recipes for kids. Moreover, this option is a lifesaver when you plan a camping trip and when you need tasty, shelf-stable food that can be easily packed. The prep process takes just a few steps: beat 6 eggs with a whisk, sauté the veggies (onion, bell peppers, spinach, mushrooms) in an olive-oiled skillet until onions are translucent and the veggies are soft. Blend with the eggs and stir carefully. Add a pinch of salt. Pour the mixture into greased muffin cups and bake for 25 minutes at 180°C. This is an awesome way to incorporate more veggies into your kids’ diet.

Fruitilicious Ice Cream

This is the easiest and quickest way to make ice cream. All you need are three ingredients: a banana, some raspberries, and some honey which is optional. The fruits have to be frozen. After you let them sit a bit at room temperature to soften up, put them in a food processor and blend. And that’s about it. Add some honey – or don’t, it is sweet enough as it is. It is possible to have a healthy and guilt-free dessert that your kids will enjoy. 

Pinwheel Veggies

Pinwheels travel well and can be made in advance, which is definitely a plus. The creamy base to spread over tortillas is made with sour cream and cream cheese. They act as a glue for the veggies. Here are some veggie ideas:  bell peppers, sliced zucchini, cucumber and carrot strips, and broccoli. You can also add some legumes, chicken, mushroom or ham, as a recommended protein sources. These nibbles are full-flavored and yummy. Refrigerate the pinwheels for at least two hours and make sure to use enough filling, wrap them up tightly, and they are good to go. 

Fruit Salad

This one never gets old. Just slice and dice some of your children’s favorite fruits and you’re done. Bananas are often a must because it adds sweetness most kids prefer. You can add a bit of a twist with some tropical treats such as chunks of pineapple or mango. 

Eggplant Pizza

Eggplant is an underrated veggie. It is high in fiber and packed with a lot of vitamins and minerals. Use a sliced eggplant instead of regular pizza dough, and top it with (almost) anything! Sprinkle eggplant slices with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper and place it in an oven for 10 minutes. When they are done, use spiced tomato sauce as a base and add some fresh tomatoes, ground meat, chicken breast, or mushrooms. Garnish with shredded mozzarella on top. Bake in a preheated oven at 200°C for about 5-10 minutes.

The Old Fashioned Way – Sandwiches

A sandwich is a great way to provide your children with energy and nutrients between meals. What you put in it is what counts. Cottage cheese or hummus, fresh salad, ham or hard-boiled eggs with pickles are a great, nutrient-dense choice. Whole grain bread is what you should opt for.

Make sure to choose as many whole foods as you can and try not to process them much so that all the good stuff is kept inside. A great tip to all parents trying to introduce a more balanced diet to their offspring is to experiment and find healthier versions of your kid’s favorite snacks.

Grilling Mistakes you’re Probably Making

The ultimate form for a perfect summer afternoon is grilling. Unfortunately, grilling is intimidating, especially if you keep making mistakes, and the meat turns out awful. Whether you are new to the whole grilling game or can’t get your act right, there is a chance that you are making these errors. Here is to fantastic steak!

Mistake #1 – Preparing the meat right before searing

What to do instead: Prep meat ahead of time

Any meat expert will tell you the worst you can do to your meat is putting it over the grill immediately after removing it from the fridge. Allow meat to sit for at least 20 minutes after removing from the refrigerator before throwing it over the fire. That way, your steak won’t be warm on the outside and cold in the inside. However, don’t allow it to stay for more than 30 minutes from the fridge because bacteria thrive in raw meat. After the meat gets to room temperature, pat it using a paper towel.

Mistake #2 – Marinating your steak

What to do instead: Use brine

There is no way you can grill without using a marinade, right?. Well, it’s time to debunk the myth because marinades don’t perform as well as we think they do. Although they taste great, they don’t get into the meat fiber and thus don’t release their flavor. What’s the need of having a strong flavor at the surface and nothing on the inside?  On the other hand, brines get inside the meat. They also change the protein structure to help in holding onto the moisture.

Mistake #3 – Not preparing the grill

What to do instead: Clean the grill and gates

Give your grill a considerable amount of care and attention, probably as much as you give to the meat. While at it, create different zones for indirect and direct heat. When using a charcoal grill, make sure you don’t cover the entire surface using charcoal briquettes. Instead, have a hot zone area in one section of the grill and leave the other for indirect heat cooking.

Mistake #4 – Overcrowding the grill

What to do instead: Leave some space between the meat pieces

If you are having a family BBQ or if you live in a condo and want to cook meat quickly, you might be tempted to throw everything in there. Unfortunately, the grill can only give the best results when it is used to its best capacity. Anything more than that means that your meat will have fewer flavors and won’t be done like you would have wanted it to.

Mistake #5 – Cooking the meat in a cold grill

What to do instead: Preheat the grill

Ensure that you preheat your grill before you start preparing your meat. A rule of the thumb is that you should allow between 15 and 25 minutes of pre-heating before you throw in the steak. The practice not only helps in killing the bacteria, but it also gives the steak a good start. It is particularly vital for gas stoves.

Mistake #6 – Turning meat to get the perfect cross-hatch grill marks

What to do instead: Don’t turn your steaks frequently to allow even cooking

Grill packaging and advertising pictures depict cooked steaks with cross-hatch grill marks. That is why many people are usually looking to get the markings. Unfortunately, they do that at the expense of evenly cooked meat. The lighter marks between the steaks are of unfulfilled potential. When you turn the chicken every often, you will achieve the aesthetically appealing markings, but some of the parts of your steak will be uncooked.

Mistake #7 – Adding sauce to the meat at the wrong time

What to do instead: Add sauce when the meat is cooking

When you cover proteins in sugar before putting them inside the grill, the result is likely to be charred and burned meat. The reason is that when sugar is exposed to high heat, it melts and caramelizes. Common culprits for this are fruit glazes, barbecue sauce as well as teriyaki-based sauces. To avoid this error, apply sauces and glazes during the last few minutes of grilling. Besides, you won’t achieve any added flavor when you add the seasonings before cooking.

Mistake #8 – Cooking many things at once

What to do instead: Put one item at a time

Backyard BBQs are a great way of chilling on a warm afternoon, but you shouldn’t overwork the grill. When you throw in steak, chicken, hotdogs, and anything else at once, you compromise on the quality of your final product. Cook one food item at a go. That way, you can set the right temperature for the meat. It also helps you to concentrate on one piece and avoid cross-contamination. Remember that flavors are essential when it comes to all matters grilling.

Smoking Times and Temperatures Chart

Inforgraphic from Smoke Gears.

Smoking Times and Temperatures Infographic

How to Grill Tuna Steaks

Time for some lean and juicy beef tenderloin of the sea!  Well you got the hint. Tuna fish has earned the title of being juicy enough to replace beef tenderloin and that is perhaps why it is now known to be the fleshiest fish found in the deep waters.

Trust us on this one! When cooked right, tuna fish can easily replace the juiciest roast beef or lamb! The secret lies in the technique used in cooking up a tender tuna steak.

While tuna sandwiches have long earned all the fame, it is about time this delicacy gets the TLC it needs in order to tantalize the taste buds to the max. There is a whole cuisine dedicated entirely to grilling and smoking fish and we are here to let you in on those secrets. If you are in for some juicy grilled fish, get your utensils out and read on for more!

“How to Grill Tuna Steaks The Right Way!”

While the marinade and the quality of the fish are key here, it all boils down to the searing technique you apply to your fish. If you are really looking for restaurant quality gourmet cooking, we would highly recommend investing in a quality smoke oven.

Once you have your smoker set in place, you have a whole aisle of recipes to explore. There are tonnes of techniques involved in cooking up some top notch tuna steak but what tops it the most is the smokey flavor of slow cooked tuna that you can only get when you let it simmer in a smoke oven.

Let the savory goodness of a smoke oven take you right back to the heart of Seattle with the tiniest bit of effort and perfect results each time. An offset smoker is truly worth an investment when it comes to delicious long and slow easy cooking. Camp Chef’s SmokePro DLX Pellet Grill is quite the choice.

Want to explore more on pellet Grills? Probarbeque has it for you right here!

If offset smokers are not the thing for you than you can surely try out the Traeger grills. Sturdy and fully automated, Traeger grills give you an option to control your cooking session through even your phone!

Yes, Wi-Fire technology is what they call it and it does work like a charm each time! The best model that gets a 5 star rating on Amazon is their Traeger PRO 575. This one is definitely a steal.

Once you have your brine set, make sure you leave your tuna steaks marinating in there for a good four hours.

Preheat your smoker oven to 250 F and add the apple flavored wood to it. Cherry wood goes well too with tuna. Brush the fillets with some low sodium soy and place them on a clean grill that has been moistened with a little oil.

All you have to do now is wait for the deliciousness to cook for just 1 hour now and it’s good to go. Don’t forget to flip the steak once in between the session.

Best sauce for tuna steak

Now what’s a steak without some good old ginger sauce? We thought we should turn up the basic ginger sauce recipe up a notch and add a tangy orange kick to it. All it takes is some oil heated up in a pan but be careful not to burn the oil. Put the heat on a low setting before you add a knob of butter to it. The oil in the pan will prevent the butter from burning.

Add the key ingredients to the pan now; ginger and the chile flakes and cook it till the ginger gets rid of its raw crunch. Now it’s time to increase the heat a little with the added splash of some freshly squeezed orange juice. Once it comes to a boil, add your brown sugar to it along with a dash of soy sauce and lime juice but remember the rule of thumb though, a little goes a long way.

Let the broth simmer till it reduces to one-quarter of what it was. This will take about 8 to 10 minutes on medium heat and that’s all there is to it.  This is hands down the best sort of tangy sauce that compliments all sorts of fish, especially tuna.

Tips to keep in mind when cooking tuna

As delicate tuna flesh is, attention to detail is necessary here. The right temperature is crucial with fish. Ideally, the temperature should range between 190-200 degrees Fahrenheit for a tuna steak so you may want to keep an eye on that thermometer. A cast iron skillet is quite a safe option to use but when you are smoking tuna fish, we would rather recommend you don’t use a skillet at all. Placing the steaks right onto the grill of a quality smoker is what will give it the optimal flavor of the smokey goodness.

Another handy tip to get the most out of your fish is to keep it on the top shelf of the smoker which is presumably the farthest away from the fire box. Any sort of meat when being smoked should in fact be placed on the top shelf of the smoker. Anywhere closer to direct heat will give the meat a tougher texture. A water pan right above the firebox with some stems will work like a charm. It will add the earth flavor and aid in retaining the tenderness of the steak.

Four Healthiest Types of Cooking Oils

Are you on a quest to start cooking healthier dishes and be more mindful of what you are putting into your body ingredient-wise? If so, there is no doubt you’ve been busy scouring recipe books and websites in search of tasty yet healthy dishes that you can try out. Besides just the dish itself, you will also want to consider the cooking oils that you use, as this is another area you can put your health first and choose varieties that offer benefits to you.

Here we’ll take a look at the top four healthiest types of cooking oils and how you can use them properly in all your tasty creations.

Think Twice Before You Reach for Vegetable Oil

If you’ve been in the habit of using vegetable oil for all your recipes, it’s time to think twice. The name “vegetable” oil gives the impression that this is a naturally occurring oil and, therefore, it’s healthy, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Not all vegetable oils are the same but they do share a few things in common – they are bad for your health and the environment at large.

Vegetable oil is simply an oil that has been extracted from different types of seeds. These seeds include such varieties as peanut, safflower, soybean, rapeseed (canola oil), sunflower, and corn. The problem is that in order to extract the oil, an unnatural process has to occur. Typically the seeds the oil is being extracted from have been genetically modified and then the process itself includes the addition of chemicals and solvents. This doesn’t exactly make it a naturally occurring oil by the time you get the finished product.


So what about the good fats that you can use for cooking? Well, good old-fashioned butter is actually one of the best options out there. Butter uses a very simple process, there are no chemicals or solvents added, and the end result is pure. Of course, with that said, you want to go easy on how much butter you use, but at least you know it’s a healthy cooking oil/fat. Butter is excellent for baked dishes, but also for browning and adding flavor. Keep in mind that its low smoke point can make it a bit tricky to fry with. You will want to use low heat and watch it carefully, or it will soon burn in the ban – burnt butter smells bad and will taint the rest of your dish with an unpleasant flavor.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil seems to be getting a lot more attention over the past few years as people start to realize just how healthy and tasty it is. Just like butter, it is in a solid form that you want to keep at room temperature. Where this one really shines is if you’re baking since it is creamy in texture. Keep in mind it tends to have a low smoking point, rather like butter, which means it’s not ideal for frying.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Even though this one isn’t meant to cook with, it’s still a great oil for recipes. Any time your non-heat recipe calls for an oil opt for this one. For example, extra virgin olive oil works great in salad dressings, homemade mayonnaise, and humus. What makes extra-virgin olive oil such a great choice is that it is the heart-healthy monounsaturated fat that offers a number of great benefits.

Avocado Oil

Avocadoes are the hottest thing on food blogs right now. Instagrammer lifestyle influences love nothing more than to post photos of avocadoes artfully arranged. If it’s frying that you want to be able to do, then avocado oil could be ideal. It has a high smoke point so it can handle the heat, but this one is pretty pricey, so it’s not always great for your wallet. However, it is known to be low in saturated fat but high in monounsaturated fats, making it heart-healthy. This makes it a great choice if you are trying to reduce your cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease.

Other healthy oils worth considering include safflower oil and peanut oil (unless you have a peanut allergy, of course).

Now that you’ve familiarised yourself with some of the more healthy options, you can start searching for the ideal recipes to make use of these oils and fats.

10 Amazing Honey Recipes

Life is sweeter with honey, that’s a fact. Packed with plenty of nutrients and sweetness, honey mixes well with every crowd.

As a common pantry staple, honey’s complex taste and versatility make adding a little of this sweet nectar to some of your recipes a no-brainer. But aside from its obvious flavor-enhancing powers, honey is also full of health-boosting properties.

If you’re someone who loves discovering and exploring new restaurants and you often wonder if you can make the same amazing dishes yourself, don’t worry! We have compiled a list of 10 recipes using honey that you can try at home!

1. Traditional Jewish Honey Cake

Considered a staple in Jewish culture, this honey cake is alive with flavor. If you want to bake this cake in celebration of Rosh Hashanah, you can opt for a kosher honey like the ones you can find in these honey gift sets. 

Honey is the signature ingredient, giving the cake its moist texture and delicious. But this recipe is also packed with other ingredients like tea, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom to give the cake a delightful spice and scent.  This sweet treat is the perfect mixture of sweet, spice and comfort.

2. Honey-roasted Carrots

Liven up your vegetable dish with a delightful honey glaze. Combine two tablespoons of honey and 2 tablespoons of bourbon or fruit juice to take your roasted carrots to the next level. This glaze paired with some cut up shallots, garlic, and salt will work to balance the sweet and rich flavors in your vegetable roast.

3. Honey and Avocado Facial Cream

Honey isn’t only great for eating, it’s also very beneficial for your skin. This a powerful addition to any skincare routine, is packed with antioxidants and natural anti-bacterial agents. This means that honey is perfect for purifying and revitalizing your skin.

When it comes to making your own DIY face mask, honey makes for the perfect secret weapon. To moisturize your skin, all you need is 1-2 tablespoons of raw honey and ½ a ripe avocado. Combine ingredients and let the mask sit on your face for 15-20 minutes.  Otherwise, if you want to keep it plain and simple, you can leave out the avocado and just stick with the honey.

Without a doubt, applying a DIY honey face mask to your face would have your skin feeling fresh and clear in no time.

4. Honey and Soy-Lacquered Ribs

You can’t go wrong with this sweet and salty combo. This sticky mix of honey and soy will both enhance and enrich the flavor of your meat as well as providing you with a tender texture. Try out this flavor-rich recipe to enjoy these ribs for yourself.

5. Honey Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

How can you improve a classic? Only with honey, of course. Adding some honey to this Southern classic will not only ensure your sponge is super moist but also enhance the cake’s sweetness. Going hand in hand with this classic recipe, this incredible honey glaze is simply irresistible.

6.      Honey- mustard Vinaigrette

A good condiment can enhance any dish. There’s really no surprise that honey-mustard dressing is a popular go-to for so many people. The mix of the sweetness from the honey with the sharpness of the mustard works well to add flavor dimension to your deal. This all-purpose dressing is not only undeniably delicious but also low in cholesterol and saturated fats.

7. Honey Yeast Rolls

A tender warm roll is the perfect partner to any meal. This sweet twist on a dinnertime classic is sure to please the whole family. We’re sure this recipe will become a staple in your household.

8. Chewy Honey Granola Bars

Honey is the glue that brings granola together. This recipe has a fantastic mix of flavor and texture. With the sweetness of the honey, chewiness of the raisins and crunch of the oats, these granola bars make for the perfect snack.

9. Honey and Lemon Chicken

Sticky and saucy are the two perfect words to describe this dish. With either chicken breast or thigh, this simple dish is both light and packed with flavor.

10.  Greek Melomakarona

Melomakarona is a traditional Greek egg-shaped dessert. The core ingredients for this cookie are flour, egg and olive oil. A syrup, made from honey is then poured over the cookies as they bake to create a delightfully sweet flavor. Try this super simple recipe, but be warned, they are highly addictive.

Well there you have it, this mix of honey-full recipes will have you buzzing for more of the sweeter side of life! 

Easy Food Ideas for Parties

Planning a party? Hosting a get together at your house can be fun, but planning can also be stressful and expensive. 

Whether you’re throwing a large party or a more intimate gathering, it’s always a good idea and proper etiquette to provide food for guests. You don’t have to break the bank on catering, however – a few simple, homemade dishes or easily purchased options can go a long way! 

Before you start planning or purchasing food for your party, make sure you know how many people are coming! This will affect how much food you should buy.

Depending on your crowd and the type of party you’re throwing, you can then plan what types of food will go over well, and account for dietary restrictions or picky eaters. 

It can be hard to provide something for everyone, but with a few solid dishes, your party is sure to be a hit! If you’re looking for simple, easy to prepare foods, you’ve come to the right place. 

Try these easy party foods, from classics like pizza to more unusual options to surprise your guests!

Easy Party Foods:

  1. Pizza 
  2. Potato skins
  3. Skewers
  4. Antipasto
  5. Chips and Dip


Pizza is a pretty reliable choice – most people like pizza, and this is usually the most obvious option for feeding large groups. If you’re trying to save yourself some preparation time, ordering from your favorite local pizza shop is an easy way to check one meal off the list with little effort.

If you aren’t a big fan of delivery pizza, it is easy and cost effective to make pizza at home as well! You can buy pre-made pizza dough or even already baked crust to save time, or make the dough yourself if you’re so inclined. Either way, homemade pizzas are simple and can be just as good or even better than delivery! 

For a fun activity, you could even have a pizza making station with different toppings, so your guests can create their own personal pizzas. This is not only a form of entertainment, but also takes some of the responsibility of cooking off of your shoulders.

Mix it up and try specialty pies or unusual toppings, or serve a classic cheese pizza. You can’t go wrong with this classic party food. 

Potato Skins

Potatoes are cheap and filling, but rather than just buying or making French fries, try potato skins for an alternative! Much like pizza, potato skins can incorporate different toppings and flavors to fit any crowd, or you can set up a toppings bar for guests to add what they like best. 

A little research can help you find a variety of unique potato skin recipes, ideas, and toppings. Making the potatoes is easy enough – simply bake them and remove some of the inside potato to make room for other toppings. 

Many recipes will have you empty the potato skins and mash up some of the inner potato with butter for added moisture and flavor. After that, throw in cheese, bacon, scallions, avocado or whatever you plan to add and throw them back in the oven if you want to melt the cheese! 

Potato skins can be super inexpensive depending on your add-ons, and they can be amenable to many dietary restrictions since they are meat and gluten free.


Skewers, shish kabobs – whatever you call them, these are an easy and fun party food! These are popularly made on a grill, but if you don’t have one a stove top or oven will work as well depending on what you’re adding. 

Like our other options, skewers can be whatever you want them to be – you can make them with only vegetables, meat, different flavors – you could even do fruit skewers for a more exciting presentation than the standard fruit tray. 

Depending on what ingredients you choose to include, skewers can be inexpensive. As far as preparation, simply cut up your meats or larger vegetables, add seasoning if you want, and throw them on the grill! Skewers make an easy finger food for party guests.


For a classy dish that will take your party up a notch, prepare an antipasto plate or tray! Antipasto makes for a delicious and elegant finger food. 

You don’t have to break the bank, although some finer meats and cheeses may be on the pricier side. Choose what price level and ingredients you prefer, however, and this is sure to be a hit. 

Some classic antipasto options to include are Italian meats like prosciutto, salami, and other cured meats. Add your favorite cheese or multiple types of cheese, like a sharp provolone, aged cheddar, or whatever matches the other flavors. 

Include grapes, olives, crackers, bread slices, peppers, or any other typical or even unusual antipasto ingredient. All you have to do is arrange your choices on a tray, and your guests are sure to be impressed.

Chips and Dip

Another party classic, chips and dip are a go-to party food. Whether you make the dip yourself or choose a store-bought option, most dips are relatively inexpensive and easy to prepare.

Make a bowl of your favorite dip, put out chips, and let your guests enjoy! You could even do a variety of dips to include different flavors and appeal to different guests.

Some classic dips include salsa, guacamole, buffalo chicken dip, French onion dip, taco dip, and so on. Some dips, like hummus, could be served with veggies as well for a healthier alternative or for vegetarian or vegan guests.

Try These Easy Foods to Serve at Parties

Try out any or all of these easy and popular party foods and your next gathering is sure to be a success! These foods are great options for groups, as you can amend them to your or your guests tastes and dietary needs. Serve up these dishes and enjoy your party!

Healthy, Organized, and Cost-Effective: 4 Tips for Smart Grocery Shopping

Even if you are not feeling the financial pinch, you should still be shopping smart. Saving money on groceries is easy and can free up much needed cash for other utilities, or even better, into a savings account.

There are a few ways you can save money when grocery shopping, let us look at the top four easiest ways to do so!

Coupons and Vouchers

The number one way to save when grocery shopping, is to make use of coupons or vouchers. Check in your local papers and online for food coupons for some of the most popular retailers to start off with. If you have signed up at any of your stores for promotional material, don’t forget to check your junk folder on email for promotions or coupons they might send.

If you have not signed up for marketing materials from your favorite retailer yet, now is the time to do so. Bundling your coupons together often provides a bigger saving when grocery shopping. You do not have to be an extreme coupon-shopper, but cashing in on coupons or store vouchers when possible is a great way to save. Every dollar counts!

Create a systematic way of finding, storing and using coupons. A pouch in your handbag or laptop-bag to keep the coupons in ensures that when you pop into the shops, you have your coupons on your person or in your vehicle. Once you get into the habit of doing this, you can begin bargain browsing, cashing in coupons, and save. It pays to be organized!

Do Not Shop on an Empty Stomach

One of the costliest mistakes you can make is to do grocery shopping when you have not eaten in a few hours! The hunger pangs encourage you to make unhealthy and unnecessary choices that you wouldn’t normally make on a full stomach. It’s science!

Eat a healthy and balanced meal before you do the grocery shopping to avoid adding grocery items you do not need at home to your basket. Shopping after a meal is also a great way to get a physical activity in to avoid feeling sluggish afterwards. Win-win!

Make a List of Items You Need

Before grocery shopping, you should have a list of items you need. Not only does a list force you to stick to buying only the necessities, but it ensures you don’t forget items, which would cost fuel to return to the store to purchase the single item.

If you are on a budget, only buy what is deemed necessary in your fridge and pantry. Do you really need cereal, when eggs and toast will do for breakfast? Buying an indulgent grocery item here and there starts to add up quickly.

Plan your grocery trips properly to save money. Eat a good meal beforehand, make a list, check your fridge and pantry for what you need, and plan your route to include as many stores as possible. One grocery trip saves on fuel too!

Organize Your Pantry and Stay Healthy

Saving is easy with ‘everything in its place, and a place for everything’. If your pantry and fridge is unorganized, you may miss items you currently have and buy more of the same item. This is a cost that you do not need as you will have double of the same product which takes up space and is a financial mistake.

Having a clean and organized fridge is a saving too. Refrigerated foods spoil easily and if they are stored at the very back of a fridge behind various items which are never used, they get thrown in the trash! What a waste!

Organize your pantry and fridge and use this activity to make healthier food choices for you and your family. Do you really need ranch-dressing, or will olive oil and lemon juice do? Healthy, readily available in your home, and delicious.

Think of purchasing cheaper cuts of meat in bulk, frozen vegetable that stay fresh for longer and eggs as an affordable option for protein. Add some healthy fats such as butter and olive oil to your meals to keep you full for longer, provide you with omega fatty acids and cut out snacks that add to your waistline and diminish your bank balance.

Mistakes to Avoid When Using an Electric Pressure Cooker

Electric pressure cookers are some of the most convenient and valuable kitchen appliances on the market. With a wide variety of uses and a speedy cook time, this appliance makes cooking a breeze. 

However, even though this is quite possibly one of the absolute best items to have in your kitchen, there are some important things to keep in mind when using the cooker. Here are some of the most common mistakes to avoid when using an electric pressure cooker. 

1. Adding thickeners to ingredients in a pressure cooker

Always remember that an electric pressure cooker is NOT a stovetop pot. Adding thickeners like flour or starches (like cornstarch) to a combination of ingredients in a pressure cooker isn’t going to instantly make a perfect dish. In fact, you may end up with quite a mess. 

When you add thickeners to a mix of ingredients that are cooking in an electric pressure cooker, it reduces the amount of steam that’s available to cook the food. Pressure cookers require steam to cook food quickly, so reducing the steam will only create poorly cooked food.

But, besides causing a bad food situation, you could also end up with a serious mess of food. If the food isn’t fully cooked but the pressure cooker runs out of liquid, there’s a high potential for burnt food and sticky situations. So, in short, don’t ever put any thickeners in a pressure cooker. 

2. Putting in too much liquid

Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to put in just a little bit more water than you think you need to add when using a pressure cooker. But, putting in way too much liquid can cause disastrous and potentially dangerous results. 

When you add far too much water to a pressure cooker, the cooker could explode. This is because there has to be room for the steam, and pressure cookers don’t allow a lot of evaporation. However, this is only a real problem when you fill the pressure cooker to its limit.

The other less dangerous (but still disastrous) consequence of filling a pressure cooker to its limit is the final food result. Too much water in a pressure cooker may cause the cooked food to be flavorless or over-cooked, meaning that you’d have an upsetting situation to deal with.

3. Combining ingredients in a pressure cooker

It may seem intuitive to combine all the ingredients for one meal into one pressure cooker sequence, but this isn’t actually the best option. Unless you’re following a recipe that specifically says to combine certain ingredients, this is something to be avoided. 

Different foods have different cook times and will probably require different heat and steam settings. When you lump a bunch of foods together, some of them will be over-cooked, some under-cooked, and (possibly), some will be cooked just right. 

Besides being a poor cooking choice, combining ingredients in a pressure cooker can also make it so you accidentally put too much in the cooker. Whenever you overfill a pressure cooker, there’s a potential for danger. Always follow recipes if you plan to combine ingredients. 

4. Choosing inappropriate ingredients

Some ingredients cook well in an electric pressure cooker while others don’t do so hot. Choosing appropriate ingredients to cook in a pressure cooker is key to ensuring that the appliance works at optimal performance. 

There are certain ingredients that fair extremely well when cooked in a pressure cooker. Namely, dried beans and lentils, dried grains, stock ingredients, some vegetables, seafood, and some soups can be made easily in a pressure cooker if you’re following the right recipe. 

Some ingredients should be avoided. There are a few recipes that suggest cooking pasta dishes in a pressure cooker, but this isn’t advisable. Additionally, cooking meats and most vegetables should usually be reserved for the stovetop to ensure that they’re properly cooked. 

5. Purchasing a low quality or oddly sized pressure cooker

Low quality pressure cookers will last for a shorter period of time, but besides that, they may also be prone to glitches and breaks during the cooking process. It’s generally a good idea to invest in a higher quality cooker to ensure that safety functions and insulation are well-made.

Most high-quality pressure cookers are 6-8 liters in size. Other lower quality cookers may come in different sizes, which can severely compromise food quality. Most cook times for different foods are calibrated for pressure cookers of 6-8 liters, so find a cooker that falls in this range.

Plus, oddly sized pressure cookers may come with other flaws. Lower quality cookers are likely to not follow generally accepted specifications for pressure cookers, meaning that the quality of your food may be compromised as well as your safety and pocketbook. 

6. Filling the pressure cooker to the optimal fill line

Do not fill the pressure cooker to the optimal fill line. Ever. Besides compromising the quality of your food, this can cause explosions and serious damage to your pressure cooker. Many pressure cookers have indicator lines on the inside, but if yours doesn’t here’s a trick.

Start by filling the cooker with water (or to a point just below the edge, to be safe). Use three containers of the same size to scoop all the water out of the pressure cooker. Then, pour the contents of 2 of the containers back into the cooker. This is the ⅔ line, which you can then mark. 

Different ingredients must be considered differently. For example, beans cause a lot of froth when they cook, so only filling the pressure cooker about halfway may be the best choice. But, for other foods like vegetables or grains, filling the cooker to only two-thirds capacity is fine. 

7. Overcooking food

Pressure cookers work fast, so it’s easy for amateur cooks to accidentally overcook (or burn) food when using this appliance. No one wants a final result of mushy, flavorless food. Following recipes and instructions are advised to avoid this mistake, especially for beginners. 

Timing is one of the most vital aspects of cooking with a pressure cooker. At first, pressure cooking methods may seem simple, but the truth is that they require thought and a great deal of care in order to be executed properly.

If you’re cooking only one ingredient, experimenting a bit with cook times may be acceptable. But if you’re cooking more than one ingredient or even an entire meal in the pressure cooker, make sure you’re following a well-tested recipes to ensure that you get the best results. 

8. Using the wrong settings

Using an electric pressure cooker requires some finesse since cooks must follow instructions and pay attention to the settings on their cooker. Using the wrong settings can put you in a bad situation, whether it be poorly cooked food or a pressure cooker explosion. 

Setting the appropriate pressure release option is crucial for safely well-cooked food. Plenty of beginners make mistakes with this. With an electric pressure cooker, the pressure release settings are pre-set so some of the guess-work is taken out, but you still have to think carefully.

Additionally, it’s necessary to focus on the heat settings on your electric pressure cooker. Setting the heat setting appropriately is what will ensure well cooked food. Stovetop pressure cookers don’t have the same degree of control over the heat settings, so this is a special bonus. 

9. Cleaning and drying your pressure cooker hastily

Pressure cookers are not like stovetop pots. They require some extra TLC to be able to function properly, and this even extends to the way that they’re cleaned and dried. Some cooks may be surprised by this, but this is by no means something to be overlooked. 

To properly clean a pressure cooker, you need to clean all the parts and pieces of the cooker. Inside and out. The instructions that come with your pressure cooker are likely to include specific instructions on how to clean the appliance effectively and fully. 

Drying the pressure cooker should be acknowledged as a necessary part of maintaining this appliance. Not drying the pressure cooker can cause it to rust, which can result in bad tasting dishes and possible health consequences. Dry the cooker with a microfiber cloth after washing. 

10. Not using enough liquid (or no liquid at all)

This rule goes hand in hand with the aforementioned rule against using too much water in a pressure cooker. Pressure cookers require a fairly generous amount of water, so using too little liquid (or none at all) can cause some seriously yucky situations. 

Pressure cookers use trapped steam to cook food quickly and effectively. Without enough water, the cooker can’t do its job! Make sure you’re following a recipe or a set of guidelines to ensure that you’re putting in enough water (and also to ensure you’re not using too much). 

As another rule of thumb, avoid using milk or other thick liquids in a pressure cooker. For most pressure cooker recipes, water or stock are the best choices because they can produce plenty of steam with which to cook the food. 

11. Avoiding the use of recipes

Even if you’re an experienced cook, if you’ve never used a pressure cooker before you should always be using recipes. Don’t allow yourself to slip into a trap of believing that you know exactly what to do, pressure cookers follow different rules and there’s some learning involved.

But, thankfully, there are a lot of excellent recipes out there to follow! Using recipes can help you learn about your pressure cooker and can also assist you in developing new flavors and cooking methods along the way. Learn from the experts first and then make your own creations to share.

Make sure you find recipes with instructions specifically for electric pressure cooker users. Electric cookers work a bit differently than stovetop cookers, so the pressure cooker related instructions (which you need) may not be accurate for your situation if not otherwise specified. 


Pressure cookers are fabulous, efficient appliances, and electric pressure cookers are even more efficient still. They can be used for an extraordinary number of purposes to cook food cleanly and quickly for almost any meal. 

This appliance is spectacular, but it requires some caution and patience to learn its ways. But fear not. Take heed of these common mistakes and go forth into the kitchen to make some pressure cooker masterpieces!

5 Las Vegas VIP Lounges You Need to Try

VIP lounges come in all varieties, with different services and amenities for their patrons, but Las Vegas stands out for having some of the classiest, most exclusive VIP spots out there. Whether you’re just passing through or are a Vegas native, these VIP lounges will leave you feeling like royalty every time. Keep reading to learn more about these five Las Vegas VIP lounges you need to try.

1. The Foundation Room at Mandalay Bay

Located at the top of the Mandalay Bay building, The Foundation is a lounge you’ll want to experience. With excellent VIP services, you’ll feel like a king (or queen) as you’re treated to some of the best service that Vegas has to offer.

The Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino is already well-known for its high-class service and facilities, and The Foundation Room is no different. The standards of sophistication and elegance are well maintained and encouraged, giving you the chance to enjoy your night out in style.

Featuring bottle service, happy hours, the DEITY dancer experience, and the best in live entertainment, this VIP lounge makes the top of our list and should definitely be included on yours. Stop in tonight to see why this lounge continues to be one of the hottest spots in Vegas.

2. Clique Bar and Lounge

If there’s anything Clique does well, it’s style and comfort. The ultimate VIP experience awaits you at this sophisticated yet casual nightclub, complete with tableside mixology and excellent music. The Las Vegas lounge is home to a staff who are experts in all they do; from serving to mixing drinks to the talented performers who will make your night a memorable one.

Clique is located in The Cosmopolitan, on the Casino floor, so you’ll be able to enjoy both your stay in Vegas and your nightlife in comfort and class. The Cosmo is one of the best-rated hotels in the city, a perfect spot for this incredible lounge.

Open daily from 4 pm to 4 am, the party goes all night. Food is only served until 1 am, so if you want to get your hands on the lounge’s signature wings or deep-fried Oreos, you’ll want to get there a little early.

3. The Voodoo Lounge at Rio

The Voodoo is a rooftop nightclub located on the 50th and 51st floor of The Rio Hotel and Casino, and it’s easy to see what makes this nightclub so special. Sporting an impressive view of the city below, The Voodoo will stimulate all of your senses at once with incredible music, beverages, and a club experience you won’t soon forget.

With some pretty unique drinks, such as The Witch Doctor cocktail, complete with dry ice and rum, The Voodoo stands out as a classy yet laid-back nightclub with more than its share of amenities. Bottle service is available, and you can dine at the famous Voodoo Steakhouse before heading up to the rooftop to dance the night away.

The club opens at 8 pm nightly and has some amazing reviews from patrons and critics alike. What’s not to like about partying 51 floors above street level, the stars above your head, a one-of-a-kind drink in your hand, and a view of the surrounding lights?

4. Apex Social Club at The Palms Resort

Staying at Palms Resort for your visit to sunny Las Vegas? You’ll want to visit the Apex Social Club during your stay for a lesson in sophisticated nightlife and personalized VIP services. Yet another one of Vegas’ signature rooftop-style clubs, The Apex has something to offer party-goers and nightlife enthusiasts alike.

This 8,000 square foot rooftop club provides not only a stunning view of the sky and the surrounding desert, but the city below shines with glistening brilliance as you look down from atop one of the best resorts it has to offer.

With the club’s VIP services, you won’t need to wait in any lines, or even be a part of the rabble of the nightly crowd. With private rooms, bottle service, and friendly staff, you’ll be treated to a VIP experience you won’t soon forget!

Did we mention the incredible art pieces that decorate the floors of the club? A unique architectural scheme makes the inside of this rooftop club something to be seen. Take a tour on the website to learn exactly what we mean. Your curiosity won’t be able to remain unchallenged once you see this dazzling nightclub first hand.

5. Vista Cocktail Lounge at Caeser’s Palace

Caeser’s Palace is one of the most popular spots in Vegas. From the luxury hotel to the stunning Casino, the resort has made a name for itself in style, elegance, and creative architecture. The Vista is the ultimate VIP experience for patrons of Caeser’s and it’s easy to see why.

With stunning decor and a floor plan that is spacious and elegant, you’ll feel comfortable and safe within this laid-back cocktail lounge. Request VIP service for complimentary entry, as well as incredible service from the lounge’s well-trained and professional staff.

The lounge actually gets its name from the advanced LED display of dazzling skylines from all over the world, which are constantly rotating and changing to give you an amazing cinematic experience while you enjoy hand-crafted drinks and VIP service.

With a drinks list to quench your thirst, visually stunning effects, and an atmosphere like no other, The Vista is a must-see destination for nightlife-enthusiasts everywhere.