Zappynet https://zappynet.com Thu, 09 Sep 2021 12:11:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.18 The Ultimate Guide to Abstract Photography https://zappynet.com/the-ultimate-guide-to-abstract-photography/ Tue, 18 May 2021 09:11:51 +0000 https://zappynet.com/?p=721 Abstract photography is challenging to define. It is taking a subject and forcing the viewer to look at it in a different way. This may cause the subject to lose its original meaning or purpose.

The subject could lose all literal meaning and be reduced to only shape, light, texture or color.

Photographed items could be objects we use in our daily life. They could also be created entirely for the purpose of art.

We’ve created a complete guide to learn the tricks and insights of abstract images.

What Is Abstract Photography?

Abstract photography is a very wide field of image capturing. Any subject can become abstract depending on the way it’s photographed.

Abstraction not only an undefined artwork. It a visual language relying on the composition of shapes, colors, forms and lines with an independent attitude from any previous visual reference.

It takes creative imagination and concept to be able to capture subjects in an abstract way. You are only limited by your vision and ideas.

Changing your usual perspective of the subject helps to create abstract images.

Shooting from up-down could allow you to focus on its shape and form. This changes the subjects’ meaning and purpose.

You could even create something from scratch.  Photographing an item relying on your off-camera creativity.

Other images, such as multiple exposures and ICM (Intentional Camera Movement) need the cameras’ help.

The best part of this area of photography is the lack of guidelines. There are no rules about composition or framing.

It all comes down to you, your view and what you find interesting or beautiful.

What you will discover from practicing this field is the philosophy of subtraction. More often than not, what you leave out of the image is as important as what you put in.

Mastering the freedom of composition is the key to any abstraction.

Three photographers utilized and developed this field of photography. Man Ray and László Moholy-Nagy started the trend, but Alfred Stieglitz made it popular.

Having a huge world in front of you with infinite possibilities can be as restricting as having none. Where do you start?

This all depends on what style you are interested in.

Abstract photography comes from looking at the details of subjects, not the whole. Get close to your subjects to see that it looks like close up.

Textures and patterns are reoccurring themes in this area of photography. So, see what the subject/object can offer.

From research, you will see that a suggestion of an object is much more powerful than seeing all it. It helps to create interest and excitement.

Abstract is in the eye of the beholder. As a photographer, you only have to capture what you see. Even if others can’t see it.

What you photograph is up to you. Abstraction means relieving the scene of representational qualities.

You can do this with any subject, as long as you look past the usual shapes and forms.

If it has a camera, you can photograph with it. At least when it comes to abstract photography.

You might find that lower-priced options for cameras and mobile phones can help to add an abstract quality to your images.

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Exciting Winter Photography Tips and Ideas https://zappynet.com/exciting-winter-photography-tips-and-ideas/ Tue, 18 May 2021 08:13:00 +0000 https://zappynet.com/?p=718 Winter may not seem like the best time of year to have exciting photoshoots and take gorgeous photos.

In reality, it’s the best season for creating surreal, and dreamy images.

To make the most out of winter photography, take a look at our tips and creative ideas.

How to Prepare Yourself and Your Camera for the Cold Weather

You’re probably already aware that winter can be cold! You have to prepare for that if you are interested in winter photography.

Your camera can work slower in cold weather conditions. Spare batteries for being able to shoot everything you planned, as they rapidly run out.

Also, take a hot beverage with yourself in a thermos. And of course, dress properly, wear the warmest clothes you can. Especially if you are planning to stay put in one place, rather than hiking!

Fingerless gloves can make your task easier because you will be able to adjust your camera settings more easily.

After shooting outdoors, make sure to let your camera to try out. Moist can find it’s way into your lens and the camera body.

Although it doesn’t feel the same as rain, snow can soak your gear as well. Even if it’s not snowing, when you go into a warm place, you can immediately see the moist on your glass.

Don’t pack it immediately, let it dry in a warm (but not too hot) place. This way you can avoid getting camera lens fungus.

These are the base of every other winter photography tips for outdoor ideas.

Use Your Camera Settings for Enhancing Soft Lights

Shooting in snow is a great challenge as a great part of your images is going to be bright and white.

You can overexpose your photos in wintertime. It means that you can let more light into your camera. Open the aperture wider, or use a slow shutter speed.

This way you can reach a soft effect. The soft ambient light works well with overexposing. Also, it looks good in a landscape, when everything is covered in snow.

A fast shutter speed or a small aperture can make your images dark and lose their sparkly atmosphere.

You can also experiment with the white balance settings of your camera. Snowy scenes can turn out magical by modifying the color temperature a little bit.

Have a Winter-Themed Portrait Photoshoot

Winter photography goes hand in hand with warm outfits. Faux fur animal hats are perfect for outdoor photoshoots.

Asking your model to stand in the snow might seem like a bad idea. But if you use the right outfits and props, there is nothing wrong with it. Snow makes your images more fabulous like you were illustrating a storybook.

Portrait photography doesn’t always have to feature fancy dresses and accessories. A cozy outfit can actually make your photos look more heartwarming than a summer portrait.

There are typical accessories you can use. Scarves, hats, hooded coats, gloves, or boots all can be stylish elements of your images.

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Tips for Processing Landscape Photos https://zappynet.com/tips-for-processing-landscape-photos/ Tue, 18 May 2021 08:10:54 +0000 https://zappynet.com/?p=715 As we learn how to edit landscape photos, we see just how much we can improve the final results by how we capture the image file and how much we use post-processing tips. We have several articles explaining tips and techniques for shooting; here we will consider some important tips for processing landscape photos.

Non-Destructive Editing

Processing landscape photos can involve several edits for different aspects of how to process landscape photos. Using a post-processing program that is not designed for non-destructive editing will either change our file in a way that we may not be able to go back to or require us to save several TIFFs after each edit.

I mention TIFF files since you can save lossless uncompressed versions as opposed to a JPEG which is compressed regardless of how large you save it. If you are shooting your landscape photographs in RAW, you generally don’t want to convert into a JPEG until the last step in order to preserve all of your processing options.

Adjust Exposure

Among the first tips for processing landscape photos, or taking them in the first place, we usually suggest capturing RAW files primarily for having uncompressed information about exposure values, color space, and image content. With all of that uncompressed content, we have a lot of exposure information to work with.

In most of the programs we would use for processing landscape photos, we can either adjust the overall exposure value or adjust highlights, midtones, and shadows separately. One of my favorite tips for processing landscape photos is to adjust a small amount of overall exposure first, if at all, before going into the individual shadow, midtone, and highlight controls.

A general rule of thumb is that overexposed or blown out highlights simply won’t have a lot of detail in them to work with, while in pulling out shadow details we do, although we can start to have digital noise issues if we are adjusting the shadows by a large amount. Bonus tip: use the slider controls.

Assign a White Balance

Since we’re shooting mostly in RAW, that means we can assign a white balance to the image file during post-processing without losing or compromising any important color information. While it may seem as though a daylight color white balance is a normal choice, you can subtly change the feel of a landscape photo by changing it.

Also, you may be shooting during Blue Hour, Golden Hour, or under overcast skies, all of which are a distinctively different white balance than 5600K daylight. As you might suspect, the white balance will show clearly in white objects such as clouds, but it also affects all other colors within the scene.

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Take Better Photos With These Quick Tips https://zappynet.com/take-better-photos-with-these-quick-tips/ Tue, 18 May 2021 08:08:06 +0000 https://zappynet.com/?p=712 I’ve been writing a lot of articles about different photography exercises you can do from home during stay at home orders, and the one thing all of these photography techniques have in common is that they’re going to help you take better photos.

So, instead of focusing on these large goals, I’m focusing on one. I want to take better photos, and I’m inviting you to improve your photography with me.

Ask for Criticism

As a people pleaser, I’m always asking for criticism from the people who are closest to me, like my wife. But, as a photographer, I need other photographers to help me critique my work.

It’s one of the reasons why I joined a local Facebook group for photographers. It’s also one of the reasons why I’ve taken a number of community college courses in photography over the years.

There’s really no need to reinvent the wheel if you want to take better photos. You simply need to ask other people for help.

While you don’t have to take all of the advice other photographers give you, having an unbiased set of eyes look at your work and give you some photography tips may help you see something you never would have seen on your own.

Plus, if you’re willing to do the same thing for other photographers, you should have no problem finding willing volunteers. I’ve even created some lifetime friends using this technique to learn how to take better photos.

Adopt a New Perspective

This is one of my favorite beginner photography tips because it forces you to get out of your comfort zone. In order to take better photos, you need to change your perspective.

This means you need to be comfortable crawling around on the ground or climbing a tree. Simply by photographing something you would normally photograph at eye height from a different vantage point, you can learn all sorts of things about composition, color, and contrast.

Since adopting a new perspective can be pretty easy to do for kids, I actually take my son on “adventures” where I challenge him to find me something interesting to photograph. As a father, sometimes you need to get creative about working in your hobby to childcare time. He loves it and it’s led to me being able to take better photos.

Be Intentional

The first step to learning how to take better photos is learning how to plan a photoshoot and being intentional with it.

You need to sit down and figure out what you want to accomplish from every photoshoot you do.

Some of my favorite photo projects, like The Struggle to Right Oneself by Kerry Skarbakka, span decades and yet every photo in the project sticks to one theme.

Print Your Best Photos

After you’ve learned how to take better photos, you’ll want to proudly display those photos on your wall.

I don’t know what it is about printing photos, but it’s always helped me understand what I love about my photography and what I still want to change about it. Plus, it’s nice to get a little love for my photos when friends or family come over.

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Photography Tips That Will Make You a Better Photographer https://zappynet.com/photography-tips-that-will-make-you-a-better-photographer/ Tue, 18 May 2021 08:06:17 +0000 https://zappynet.com/?p=709 The road to mastering photography is a long one. In fact, it’s a journey that never ends! There is always something new to learn and existing skills that can be improved.

If you ask me, the most difficult part of learning photography isn’t getting started, but transitioning from being a beginner to a more advanced photographer.

The tips I’ve outlined below address this very period in your development and will help you get over the hump to become more skilled.

Get Out of Full Auto

I’ve said before that using full auto mode when you’re a beginner can actually be a good thing. After all, without having to worry about exposure settings, you can concentrate more fully on things like composition and framing.

But now that you’re ready to become more of an enthusiast photographer, it’s time to leave full auto behind.

I think everyone should learn manual mode, but you don’t have to jump right to the big, scary M on your camera’s dial just yet.

A great way to exert more control over the camera settings is to shoot in aperture priority, shutter priority, or program mode:

  • Aperture priority mode (A or Av on the camera dial) gives you control over the aperture and ISO while the camera controls shutter speed. This is a great mode to shoot in for things like portraiture or other scenes in which you want to control the depth of field.
  • Shutter priority mode (S or Tv on the camera dial) gives you control over the shutter speed and ISO while the camera controls the aperture. Use this setting if you want to control how motion appears in the shot.
  • Program mode (P on the camera dial) allows you to set the ISO and the camera sets the aperture and shutter speed for you. This is advantageous in challenging light conditions in which you want a high ISO (in low light) or a low ISO (in bright light).

Getting familiar with these semi-automatic modes is a great way to take baby steps away from full auto without being overwhelmed by having to control all the exposure settings yourself.

When I was a beginner photographer, I relied on the camera’s LCD to determine if the shot I just took was well-exposed.

The problem with doing that is that the LCD is not at all an accurate representation of the lightness or darkness of the photos you take.

Instead, if you want to become a better photographer with images that are better-exposed, you need to learn how to use the camera’s.

Looking at the graph above, you can see why is so beneficial – it gives you a graphical representation of how many pixels are shadows, midtones, and highlights.

If the histogram is skewed to the left, you know that the image is too dark and that you need to brighten it up. If it’s skewed to the right, the opposite problem is at hand – the image is too bright and it needs to be darkened.

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Seriously Amazing: 19 Awesome Baking Hacks You Must Know! https://zappynet.com/seriously-amazing-19-awesome-baking-hacks-you-must-know/ Fri, 29 Jun 2018 08:55:54 +0000 https://zappynet.com/?p=463 Baking is not always easy work. From prepping food to mixing to cutting and serving, everyone could use a little help in the kitchen from time to time. These baking hacks are intended to make your life easier by streamlining the baking process.

From slicing cheesecake with an unexpected household item to quickly ripening bananas on command and even making DIY buttermilk to order, these tips will help assist you in creating recipes in sometimes unexpected, but always delightful ways.

1. CUT CHEESECAKE WITH DENTAL FLOSS.

For perfect cheesecake slices, every time, just reach into your…medicine cabinet? Yep! Unflavored dental floss, held tautly and drawn back and forth in a gentle sawing motion, will yield clean cheesecake slices and doubles as a droll conversation starter.

2. TURN GRANULATED SUGAR INTO CONFECTIONERS’ SUGAR.

If you’ve run out of confectioner’s sugar, you can make more easily by putting granulated sugar in a blender, blending until it has reached a powdery consistency, and then use as specified in your recipe.

3. SOFTEN BROWN SUGAR WITH AN APPLE SLICE.

If your brown sugar has turned hard as a rock, there’s still hope. Place a slice of apple with the brown sugar for several hours in an airtight container, and it will soften the sugar. For more methods, of softening brown sugar, check out this post on how to soften brown sugar.

4. HEAT CITRUS TO RELEASE THE MOST JUICE.

Warm citrus releases more juice than its chilly counterparts. Heat citrus fruits for 5-10 seconds in the microwave before juicing for best results.

5. USE NON-STICK SPRAY TO RELEASE HARD-TO-MEASURE INGREDIENTS.

When measuring sticky ingredients such as honey or molasses, make sure you get all of the ingredient out of the measuring cup by spraying it with non-stick spray before measuring. You’ll release every bit of the sticky stuff, making for a happy recipe and less cleanup.

6. COMBINE VINEGAR AND MILK FOR INSTANT BUTTERMILK.

Who has buttermilk around when you need it? A trip to the store is not necessary–all you have to do is combine milk with a little vinegar. This method and more can be found in our guide on on how to make DIY pantry staples.

7. STORE YOUR CAKE IN THE MICROWAVE.

Looking for a spot to stow your cake at room temperature? Use the microwave. It’s sealed, it’s free of dust, and it will keep your cake fresher longer. It’s an easy way to store your cake for optimal freshness.

8. REMOVE EGGSHELL EASILY

Got a bit of excess eggshell in the bowl when you cracked an egg? Simply wet your finger and reach it in, and the eggshell bit will magnetically be attracted. Seriously amazing!

9. MAKE YOUR OWN BROWN SUGAR

All you need to make DIY brown sugar is granulated sugar and a little molasses. Here’s our simple recipe.

10. EASILY REMOVE THE SKINS FROM HAZELNUTS

Once heated in the oven, roll the hazelnuts between a folded over kitchen towel. You’ll effectively remove the majority of the skins. A little bit of skin may still hang on, but rest assured, this is the grunt work. This is a perfect way to prep your nuts for homemade Nutella.

11. SHAVE OFF THE BURNT PORTION OF CAKES OR MUFFINS

Using a vegetable peeler, shave off the burnt part of cakes or muffins that baked a little too long. This way you can shave away only the burnt bits but preserve as much cake as you can! This method works for toast, too.

12. STABILIZE WHIPPED CREAM WITH MARSHMALLOW FLUFF

Make your whipped cream last and hold its shape longer by adding a little fluff to the mix. It will give your whipped cream the structure it needs to avoid wilting. This and other helpful methods of stabilizing whipped cream are detailed in this post on stabilizing whipped cream.

13. MAKE A PAPER PLATE A DIY SPATTER GUARD ON YOUR STAND MIXER

Here’s a nifty tip: Remove the blade or beaters from your mixture, and perforate a paper plate on the top portion of the beater. Secure it back in place, and you’ve got yourself an instant spatter guard for your next recipe.

14. WARM EGGS IN WATER TO MAKE THEM BAKING-READY

Do you have a recipe which calls for room temperature eggs? Place eggs from the fridge in warm water for a few minutes to bring them to room temperature, and fast.

15. USE COOKIE CUTTERS AS A SPRINKLE STENCIL

Use a cookie cutter as an impromptu stencil: gently pour sprinkles inside of its lines directly on top of a cake. Lift the cutter and you’ll have a clear outline. This works best with recognizable shapes, such as hearts or stars, and numbers or letters.

16. RIPEN YOUR BANANAS, FAST

Want to make banana bread but only have green bananas? Make ’em soft by roasting the whole bananas in a 300 F oven until soft and dark brown. It’s as if you’ve got old bananas!  Perfect for cakes and breads.

17. SAVE STALE CAKE BY PUTTING IT IN A STEAM BATH

Got stale cake? Bring it back to life with a steam bath. Placing a slice or entire cake over simmering water will reduce dryness directly before serving, ensuring a moist cake eating experience.

18. USE LEFTOVER YOGURT…TO MAKE MORE YOGURT

Using the dregs of your yogurt container, you can create a starter to make your own homemade yogurt, which is cheaper and far tastier than store bought varieties. Here’s an easy 4 step method for making yogurt at home.

19. USE BUBBLE WRAP FOR AN INSTANT CHOCOLATE GARNISH

Here’s an easy idea for an impressive chocolate garnish: spread melted chocolate on top of impeccably clean bubble wrap. Let it set, peel off the bubble wrap, and you have a very cool-looking piece of chocolate, ideal for decorating the top of a cake.

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How to Cook Sweet Potatoes: 11 Tried and True Methods https://zappynet.com/how-to-cook-sweet-potatoes-11-tried-and-true-methods/ Fri, 29 Jun 2018 08:49:07 +0000 https://zappynet.com/?p=451 With their earthy, naturally sweet flavor and beautiful orange hue, sweet potatoes make healthy eating a pleasure. If you’re not sure how to cook sweet potatoes, or perhaps are just looking for some new ideas to add to your repertoire, you’re in the right place.

Here, we’ll detail 11 different ways to cook sweet potatoes, from no-cook options to traditional techniques in the oven and stovetop and even some unusual methods in the microwave and yes, even the toaster!

RAW SWEET POTATOES

Yup: sweet potatoes can be consumed raw (sweet potatoes don’t contain solanine, an enzyme that can be harmful when consumed in regular raw potatoes). Here are a few ways to try them uncooked!

1. SMOOTHIES

Put chunks of raw sweet potato in your smoothies to increase the fiber and overall satiety while you sip. The Mind Body Green blog has a great recipe for a raw sweet potato pie smoothie, which includes coconut water, flax seeds, dates and banana for a satisfying and naturally sweet drink.

2. SPIRALIZED SWEET POTATOES

Just as you can make “noodles” from spiralized zucchini, you can use the same method to create sweet potato “noodles.” It’s not necessary to cook the noodles before topping them with your favorite pasta fixings, though you can stir-fry them if you choose.

COOKING SWEET POTATOES IN THE MICROWAVE

Your microwave can be a miracle worker if you want to cook your sweet potatoes fast. Here are two easy ways to prepare them!

3. MICROWAVE “BAKED” SWEET POTATO

Follow these simple steps to make a “baked” sweet potato in your microwave.

STEP 1:

Wash your sweet potato, then pierce it all over with the tines of a fork. This is important, as the potato can explode and make a big mess if you don’t pierce it!

STEP 2:

Place a damp paper towel in the microwave. You can put it on top of a plate or right on the microwave’s tray.

STEP 3:

Place the potato on top of the damp towel. Microwave on high for about 4 minutes; pause and feel the firmness of your potato. Continue microwaving on high in 1-minute intervals until the potato is softened to your liking.

Note: Once you know how long it takes to microwave a sweet potato in your microwave, you can simply heat it for that long, omitting the 4-minute check-in.

4. MICROWAVE SWEET POTATO CHUNKS

Following a similar method, you can cook sweet potato chunks in the microwave. I like to use this method to par-cook sweet potato chunks before incorporating them into a stir-fry.

STEP 1:

Wash your sweet potato. Peel, then cut into chunks (they can be cubes or sticks; just make sure they are fairly uniform in size). Pierce each portion once or twice with the tines of a fork.

Note: Peeling is highly suggested if you’re cutting the sweet potato into chunks. This is because, in smaller portions, the peel can get gummy and unpleasantly chewy when microwaved.

STEP 2:

Place a damp paper towel in the microwave. You can put it on top of a plate or right on top of the microwave’s tray.

STEP 3:

Place the potato portions on top of the damp towel. Microwave on HIGH For about 2 minutes; pause, flip, and feel the firmness of your potato portions. Continue on HIGH at 1-minute intervals until the potato is softened to your desired level.

COOKING SWEET POTATOES IN THE OVEN

There’s so much that you can do with sweet potatoes in the oven. Here are some classic preparation methods.

5. BAKED WHOLE SWEET POTATO

There aren’t many foods cozier than a baked sweet potato. Here’s a foolproof method for making them perfect every time.

STEP 1:

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

STEP 2:

Wash your sweet potato, then pierce it all over with the tines of a fork. Sprinkle with salt.

STEP 3:

Wrap the sweet potato in aluminum foil. Place in the oven (you can put it right on the rack, or on a baking sheet). Bake about 40 to 60 minutes, until softened to your liking.

Want to kick things up a few notches? Try this recipe for sweet potato egg boats!

6. BAKED SWEET POTATO FRIES

The keys to making perfect sweet potato fries? Cut portions so that they are a uniform size, and use a higher temperature to ensure crispy edges.

STEP 1:

Preheat the oven to 450 F.

STEP 2:

Wash your sweet potato, then peel (if desired) and slice into uniformly sized chunks, strips or wedges.

STEP 3:

Scatter the portions on a parchment-lined baking sheet, drizzle with oil and season to taste with salt, pepper and/or other seasonings.

STEP 4:

Bake until tender to the touch but crispy on the edges, or to your desired level of doneness. Depending on the size of your portions, this will take 15 – 25 minutes. Flip after about 10 minutes for even browning.

Note: For extra crispy edges, use the broiler setting toward the end of the cooking time. Keep a close eye on those fries once you set the broiler — they can progress from crispy to burnt quickly, depending on how powerful your broiler is.

7. SHEET PAN ROASTED VEGETABLES WITH SWEET POTATOES

This is the ideal winter dinner: cozy, comforting and totally delicious.

STEP 1:

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

STEP 2:

Cut up a variety of your favorite veggies, as well as sweet potatoes. Need some ideas? Rutabaga, brussels sprouts, beets or parsnips are all good choices. Be sure to cut the pieces fairly uniformly in size.

STEP 3:

Toss the veggies with olive oil, and scatter them on a baking sheet. Salt, pepper and season to taste.

STEP 4:

Roast for about 20 minutes, then flip the veggies using a metal spatula. Roast for 20-30 more minutes, or until crisped to your desired level. Remove from the oven and serve!

COOKING SWEET POTATOES IN THE TOASTER

Wait, what? Yes indeed, you can cook slices of sweet potato in a toaster like toast.

8. SWEET POTATO TOAST

Meet your new best friend: sweet potato toast. It’s a naturally vegan and gluten-free alternative to wheat bread, and it tastes delicious. Of course, if you feel funny putting sweet potato slices in your toaster or simply don’t have a toaster, this can be done in the oven as well.

Check out this post on how to make sweet potato toast!

MAKING SWEET POTATOES ON THE STOVE

9. MASHED SWEET POTATOES

Mashed potatoes are a thing of beauty! You can simply substitute sweet potatoes for regular potatoes in your favorite recipe, or use this method:

STEP 1:

Wash and peel about 2½ pounds of sweet potatoes. Cut the potatoes into chunks.

STEP 2:

Bring 1 gallon of lightly salted water to a boil, and add the sweet potato chunks. Boil until fork-tender, about 15 minutes.

STEP 3:

Strain the potatoes, and using a masher, mash until smooth. Season them as you like — I like to add about ½ cup of milk, a few tablespoons of unsalted butter, and salt.

Note: Instead of merely mashing the sweet potatoes, you could also use them to make our healthy sweet potato casserole recipe!

10. FRIED SWEET POTATOES

Fried sweet potatoes are a snap! This quick and easy technique is perfect for making a breakfast side dish or making fries on the fly.

STEP 1:

Wash, peel (if desired) and cut the sweet potato into wedges, fries or coins. Make sure they’re uniform in size.

STEP 2:

Pour enough oil to fill a skillet about 1″ deep. Put the skillet over medium-high heat.

STEP 3:

Once the oil is hot, add the potatoes, leaving enough room in the pan so that they are not too crowded. Cook on the first side until crisped to your liking, then flip and repeat on the second side. Remove from the pan, and serve hot!

MAKING SWEET POTATOES IN A SLOW COOKER

When time is at a premium, it’s nice to let your slow cooker do the hard work for you. Sweet potatoes are well suited to slow cooker preparation!

11. SLOW COOKER MASHED SWEET POTATOES

Why deal with boiling water? Making mashed sweet potatoes in your slow cooker is a piece of cake. Follow the same method as detailed in this blog post, but substitute sweet potatoes for the regular potatoes.

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6 Ways to Never Get Bored of Brussels Sprouts https://zappynet.com/6-ways-to-never-get-bored-of-brussels-sprouts/ Fri, 29 Jun 2018 07:39:28 +0000 https://zappynet.com/?p=443
Brussels sprouts are a pretty divisive vegetable: You either love them or hate them. But developing a love of these cabbagelike little bundles really comes down to finding a preparation method that suits your tastes. Some eaters adore the nutty intensity of roasted whole Brussels sprouts. Others might prefer them deconstructed in a salad, or doctored up with nuts or bacon. Taking the time to find your favorite preparation method is well worth the effort, since Brussels sprouts can produce some of the easiest, most-affordable side dishes around. Here are a few renditions that you’ll definitely want to tuck away in your recipe book, especially with Thanksgiving right around the corner.

Add (a little) Bacon

Food Network Kitchen knows that salty, crispy bacon makes everything better. When served warm, their Brussels Sprouts with Bacon are welcome at any holiday meal. Since the recipe doesn’t go wild with added butter or oil (there’s enough fat in the bacon), it clocks in at a reasonable 252 calories per serving.

Shred & Saute

Just like cabbage, Brussels sprouts take on the appearance of slaw when shredded. Toss in some sliced shallots and this Sauteed Brussels Sprouts recipe is your next go-to fall side dish.

Simply Roast

Simple yet sensational, Food Network Magazine’s Roasted Brussels Sprouts recipe sticks to the basics. When roasted, the sprouts take on a nutty flavor that needs little else. Just cut the veggies in half, season well with salt and red pepper flakes, and let them caramelize in the oven.

Use a Balsamic Glaze

Ina Garten uses balsamic vinegar as a sweet, syrupy glaze in her Balsamic-Roasted Brussels Sprouts . Like bacon, the salty pancetta complements the nutty roasted sprouts and cuts out the need for an excessive amount of oil or butter.

Add Nuts & Seeds

Picky eaters may turn up their noses at the sight of an all-green side dish, but they just might warm up to Bobby Flay’s vibrant Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate and Hazelnuts . Orange zest, toasted hazelnuts and plump pomegranate seeds add visual appeal and some textural variety.

Use a Wok

Ditch your roasting pan for these crispy Brussels Sprouts with Mushrooms and Ginger . A wok gives you the charred flavor you would get from roasting or grilling and the tenderness you would get from braising — but in half of the time. Although the intensity of the wok would overpower delicate seeds or nuts, the meaty, umami-rich mushrooms can certainly handle it.
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Holy Cannoli! A Traditional Homemade Cannoli Recipe https://zappynet.com/holy-cannoli-a-traditional-homemade-cannoli-recipe/ Fri, 29 Jun 2018 07:28:52 +0000 https://zappynet.com/?p=431 Here’s a fun fact: did you know that cannoli is plural, and canolo is the singular term? Most people know these delicious ricotta cream-filled fried pastry shells simply as cannoli, perhaps because it’s so hard to limit yourself to just one!

WHAT MAKES A GOOD CANNOLI?

Cannoli are popular in Italian bakeries all over the world. In general, you can tell if a bakery is worthwhile if it only displays the shells. Cannoli should be “filled to order” so that the shells don’t get soggy before it’s time to snack.

Making cannoli at home can seem daunting, mostly because of the fried shells. But armed with the right equipment and a little time, making cannoli isn’t difficult at all. This recipe breaks it down into easy steps.

HOW TO MAKE CANNOLI

Makes 10 approximately 5″ long cannoli

FOR THE SHELLS:

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons Marsala (or white vinegar)
  • 2-3 tablespoons cold water
  • Enough oil to fill a large skillet 2″ deep, for frying

FOR THE FILLING

  • 15 ounces (1 container) whole milk ricotta cheese, chilled
  • 1½ cups powdered sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ cup chopped chocolate or mini chocolate chips
  • Optional: crushed pistachios, additional chocolate chips or candied citrus, for garnish
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting the finished cannoli

STEP 1:

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, salt, olive oil, egg and  vinegar. Mix briefly, then add the cold water, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough is cohesive (you may not use all the water).

Mix for 3-5 minutes, or until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and has become smooth and elastic.

STEP 2:

Form the dough into a disc and cover it with plastic wrap. Put it in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, or overnight. This resting period will help the dough roll out more easily later on.

STEP 3:

Remove the dough from the refrigerator, and turn it onto a lightly floured work surface. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough to an approximately 1/8″ thickness. The round of dough will be a bit bigger than a rolled-out pie crust.

Using a 4″ round cutter (or the rim of a drinking glass or ramekin), cut out circles from the dough. Gather and re-roll the scraps to get a few more cutouts. You should be able to get about ten 4″ cutouts.

STEP 4:

One at a time, form each circle of dough into an oval shape. Either stretching by hand or using your rolling pin for help, stretch the dough slightly up and down so that it becomes a 5″ long oval.

STEP 5:

Pour the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, so that it is at least 2″ deep. Heat the oil until it registers between 350-375 F on an instant-read thermometer; adjust the heat as needed to keep it within these temperature zones as you fry.

STEP 6:

Wrap the dough portions around cannoli forms or short wooden dowels. Really press the edges together, forming a seal. You can use an egg wash if the dough seems to have trouble sticking together.

STEP 7:

Place the dough portions, seam side down, into the hot oil. If it’s your first time doing this, you might want to fry the first few units one at a time. Once you get used to the process, you can fry a few shells at a time.

STEP 8:

Fry until golden on the seam side, then flip using tongs and fry the second side to match. This won’t take more than a few minutes, but rather than timing it, keep an eye on the oil temperature and the visual of the shells.

STEP 9:

Gently remove from the hot oil, let the excess oil drip off, and then transfer to a wire rack. Let cool slightly before removing the forms. Continue frying all of the shells until done. Let cool to room temperature.

STEP 10:

Make the cream filling. Strain excess liquid from the ricotta. Place the ricotta, powdered sugar and a pinch of salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

Beat on low speed until completely combined. Then stir in the mini chocolate chips and mix briefly, until evenly dispersed. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag fitted with a round tip large enough for the chocolate chips to fit through, or load it into a plastic freezer bag and cut off the tip of the bag for piping.

STEP 11:

To fill the cannoli, insert the piping tip halfway into each shell, and pipe in filling and pull the tip outward as you pipe, so that the entire half is filled. Repeat on the second side (this ensures that you won’t have an empty spot in the middle — sacrilege!).

If desired, dip the ends in mini chocolate chips, crushed pistachios or candied citrus (not necessary, but pretty). Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

RECIPE NOTES + SOME TROUBLESHOOTING TIPS

CANNOLI FORMS

The key to cannoli-making success is investing in cannoli forms, which are heavy duty metal tubes that you can use to mold the dough and help it hold its shape during frying. They’re easy to find online.

If you don’t have a cannoli-specific form, you can use short wooden dowels with a diameter of ¾” – 1″. Just make sure they’re not too long, or you may have trouble fitting them in your pan!

MAKE-AHEAD

The unfilled cannoli shells will keep for up to two weeks when covered and stored with slight ventilation at room temperature. The cream filling is best the same day made, but it can be made up to two days in advance. If any separation occurs (i.e, liquid forms), strain the cream filling before using.

FILL YOUR CANNOLI TO ORDER

For best results, fill your cannoli directly before serving so that the shells remain crispy.

HELP! MY SHELLS AREN’T CRISPY ENOUGH

If your cannoli shells are not as crispy as you’d like, here’s a personal trick of mine. Place the shells back on the cannoli forms and heat in a 400 F oven for up to 10 minutes, then let cool to room temperature. Note, though, that you’ll need to use the shells immediately after they’ve cooled because they will become hard after this “toasting” step.

HELP! MY CANNOLI CREAM FILLING WENT FLAT

If you made your cannoli filling too far in advance, or if you overmix it, it can go flat. Don’t despair! Here’s another trick I’ve used: fold in ½ – 1 cup of unsweetened whipped cream into the cannoli cream, and it will usually revive it!

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How to make perfect pesto https://zappynet.com/how-to-make-perfect-pesto/ Fri, 29 Jun 2018 07:18:29 +0000 https://zappynet.com/?p=424 Traditional basil pesto is about to become a thing of the past with this fun recipe that puts the spotlight on kale! Yes, pesto made with kale! What can kale not do? Seriously. Read on to learn how to make kale pesto from scratch in 30 minutes or less.

YOU ARE ABOUT TO LEARN HOW TO MAKE KALE PESTO RIGHT AT HOME!

With the cost of pine nuts at $20 per pound, I’m switching things up and using walnuts in this recipe instead.

Walnuts are a great substitution because they have many of the same qualities as pine nuts. They’re both a softer nut with a rich, nutty flavor and buttery texture after a light toasting.

SO HOW EXACTLY CAN YOU MAKE PESTO FROM KALE?

Well, first you’ll dip your fresh greens into a bath of boiling water and then promptly place them in an ice bath to stop the cooking. After that, it’s pretty much the same process as making any pesto. A few spins in the food processor and you’re all done! I promise it’s really simple.

This pesto is brightened with lemon and a small handful of basil leaves and has a robust kick of garlic. It explodes with flavor and freshness and is a great topping for so many things!

Of course, there’s the obvious choice of pairing this deliciousness with pasta but there are many other ways you can get creative in using your pesto!

  • Spread on toast
  • Dolloped on scrambled eggs
  • Spread inside an omelet
  • On top of roasted potatoes
  • Sandwich topping
  • Used as a pizza sauce
  • Tossed with grilled or roasted vegetables
  • Slathered on corn on the cob

I think my favorite use is on grilled vegetables and on pizza.

If you’re a fan of making your own sauces and dressings at home then you’re going to love this recipe for kale pesto. And if you’re new to from-scratch cooking, this is a great place to start. The ingredient list is short and the process is very basic. You’ll be a pesto-making pro in no time at all!

HOMEMADE KALE PESTO RECIPE

Yields: approximately 8 ounces of kale pesto

INGREDIENTS:

  • ¼ cup raw walnuts
  • Leaves from 2½ large kale stems (or 5 small stems)
  • 1 medium garlic clove
  • ¼ cup loosely packed fresh basil
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Zest from half a lemon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper
  • ¼ – 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

STEP 1:

Preheat your oven to 300 Fahrenheit. Place walnuts on a baking sheet and toast for 8-12 minutes, stirring once, until fragrant and light golden brown. Let cool.

STEP 2:

While the walnuts are toasting, place about 5″ of water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl.

STEP 3:

While waiting to boil, de-stem kale leaves and tear into a few pieces.

STEP 4:

Stir kale leaves into the boiling water for 30-60 seconds. Remove kale with a strainer and place directly into the ice bath (this stops the cooking). Drain water and pat kale dry.

STEP 5:

Place garlic in a large food processor (7-11 cup capacity works well) and turn on until minced. Scrape the sides and add the cooled walnuts, kale, basil, Parmesan, lemon juice, lemon zest, and salt and pepper. Turn the processor on until until kale is well chopped and all ingredients are incorporated.

STEP 6:

Slowly stream in the olive oil while pulsing the food processor until the pesto reaches your desired consistency. (I used ¼ cup but for a thinner pesto use more.) Taste and stir in more salt and/or pepper if needed.

STEP 7:

Scrape contents from the processor into an airtight container and keep refrigerated for 4-5 days.

Usage tip: When adding the pesto to pasta: Retain about 1/2 cup of the cooking water when you drain the pasta and add in one tablespoon at a time along with the pesto to help thin out.

Not only is this pesto supercharged with all of the good-for-you nutrients from kale but it tastes pretty outstanding, too!

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