Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Allrecipes Measuring Cup Trend Report - 15th Anniversary - July 2012

Fifteen years ago, a group of five cookie-loving anthropology graduate students launched CookieRecipe.com—one of the web’s first social media sites, with all of its contents created by its community. A few years and a few dozen websites (CakeRecipe.com, BreadRecipe.com, ChickenRecipe.com, etc.) later, the sites were rolled up into one—Allrecipes.com. As use of the Internet grew among busy, family-focused women, Allrecipes grew as well. Today, the site that started with a single cookie recipe has grown to become the world’s largest digital food brand, with 17 sites and 9 apps serving 25 million cooks in 22 countries.

Much has changed in the world since Allrecipes first launched in 1997. In honor of its 15th anniversary, Allrecipes reran its first on-site survey from 1999 to capture a snapshot of these changes. Measuring attitudes and behaviors related to online recipe websites, Allrecipes discovered the impact digital food resources have had on the shopping and cooking behaviors of home cooks over the past 15 years.

Insight 1: Smartphones are the Main Ingredient
Mobile phones as a kitchen companion are one of the most significant changes of the past 15 years. In 1997, the typical cell phone weighed 10 ounces and was used primarily for making phone calls. Today, half of women with mobile phones are carrying smartphones, pocket-sized computers ready to assist with an astounding range of tasks. In 2012, more than one-third of online cooks use smartphones to look up recipes, while others use them to create digital shopping lists (18%), redeem digital coupons (16%), and watch videos to improve
their cooking skills (15%).

Insight 2: Video is Vital
 It’s no surprise food videos represent a growing trend. In the past 15 years, food video has moved from basic cooking shows, to mega celebrity chefs, to sensational reality series. What might not be evident is that cooks are rapidly switching their viewing behaviors from the big screen (TVs) to small screens (laptops and mobile devices). Today, three-quarters of women watch cooking videos online. Furthermore, the percentage of women who consider how-to videos a must-have for recipe websites has nearly doubled in the past 13 years (from 45% in 1999 to 74% in 2012), and this trend is expected to grow. Nearly half of cooks (43%) believe that in 15 years, more people will learn how to cook
from videos than from their parents.

Insight 3: Food and Tech Appetites Go Global
The ease and appeal of finding recipes online is not just a U.S. phenomenon. Digital food and recipe resources can now be found around the globe. While tastes and food customs vary by country, cooks are more alike than they are different when it comes to finding recipes online. The top digital resource for recipes globally is search engines (43% of online cooks) followed very closely by recipe sites (42%). And the #1 search term worldwide? Chicken, of course.

Insight 4: Interactive Advertising Soars
According to eMarketer, in 2000, CPG brands spent $134 million in online ad spending. Twelve years later, their investment in online advertising has grown exponentially, projected to reach 3.16 billion in 2012. Digital media has the unique ability to speak to a wide audience on platforms available at all points of need – desktop, tablet and mobile – through a diverse portfolio of interactive executions. As more consumers move online, and dollars follow, ad products will continue to evolve from static displays (the standard ad unit in 1997) to solutions and entertainment for the consumer – offering coupons, video, relevant content and more, targeted to the right person in the right place at the right time.

Insight 5: Sharing Food Has a New Meaning 
Fifteen years ago, the social channels we know and trust today didn’t exist. In 2012, the social web is a mainstay with sites such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, and Allrecipes all ranking among the top 50 most-visited websites. Their impact on shared food experiences is significant: one-third of female cooks consider it important for food websites to provide opportunities to share recipes on social sites (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest). Top motivations for sharing recipes include: attractive photos (79%), the cook plans to make
the recipe (78%), and the recipe has positive peer ratings/reviews (75%).

Insight 6: Fast Features at Your Fingertips
When asked to choose only one cooking resource to use for the rest of their lives, half of home cooks selected cooking websites (44%), followed by cookbooks (19%), and parents (9%). Use of cooking websites has surged 207% in 15 years.

In Allrecipes’ “Then and Now” survey, many of the features cooks expect to find on food websites showed strong growth. The fastest movers included “dish recommendations,” up 1,210% in 2012 compared to 1999, community ratings up 558%, while digital shopping list, menu planner and the ability to scale serving amounts all increased more than 300%.

Insight 7: Show Me the Recipe
The widespread availability of free cooking resources on computers and mobile devices has increased cooks’ appetites for using recipes. According to a 2012 survey, 16% of home cooks are now using recipes all the time when cooking, up from just 9% (80% growth) 13 years ago. Surprisingly, even though it’s easier to find recipes today, recipes haven’t simplified cooking as much as one would expect. Only 35% of cooks responded positively when asked whether recipes make cooking easier, compared with 73% of cooks who responded positively to this same question in 1999.

Insight 8: Organic Goes Mainstream
Today, the majority of home cooks (58%) report picking recipes where they can use organic and natural ingredients, an increase of 66% since 1999. This represents a rise in the collective consciousness of home cooks who are looking closely at food labels (59%), and shopping for locally-sourced ingredients (62%). Interestingly, only 44% report being very health conscious and always eating healthfully. Perhaps home cooks are using organic shredded cheese and veggies from their local farmers’ market to make a cheesy lasagna, followed by prepackaged but all-natural cookies?

Insight 9: Changing Challenges for Dinnertime
 Families with kids say finding time is one of the hardest parts of getting dinner on the table: 22% for households with kids, vs. 16% for those without. To mitigate this, home cooks with children at home are much more tech-savvy than their childless counterparts, leveraging digital devices and tools to get things done quicker and easier. Home cooks with children are 76% more likely to have created a shopping list on their mobile device, 56% more likely to look at a digital shopping list in store and 73% more likely to have redeemed a digital coupon on a mobile device than families without children.

Insight 10:  
Where Fridge and 
Wallet Intersect 
In 1999, the U.S. economy was happily in the black, the average median household income was up 10%, and only 3% of home cooks reported cost as the hardest part of getting dinner on the table. Today, cost has increased 243% as the hardest part of getting dinner on the table. The solutions? Sixty-seven percent say they cook at home because it’s cheaper than eating out (up 9%) and 68% believe it’s important that recipe websites offer coupons (up 133%).

Insight 11: Internet 
Dining Delivers
Recipe sites are now the most frequently used recipe resource for home cooks (86%), surging 207% from 1999, eclipsing cookbooks (66%), magazines (53%), and even friends (43%). Over the past 15 years, the use of recipe websites has evolved from an occasional diversion, catering primarily to hardcore foodies, to a must-have everyday resource for the majority of American home cooks. Cooks today visit websites and food blogs (now estimated to number more than 164 million worldwide) covering all types of cooking styles, dietary needs, regional cuisines and food passions.

Insight 12: Generational Joys of Cooking
Whether or not you like to cook may have more to do with your age than culinary preferences. As cooks move through life stages, motivations for cooking change. To illustrate, today’s Millennials see cooking as optional, fun, and exploratory; for mid-life, family-focused Gen Xers, it’s a must; while for today’s Baby Boomers in more diet-restricted stages of life, cooking is less frequent with less freedom.

 Insight 13: More Tools Mean More Time
Digital tools continue to make meal planning easier. When asked in 1999 what was the most difficult thing about getting dinner on the table, 29% said “finding time to plan and cook.” Today this number has dropped 39% as home cooks use websites and mobile phones to find recipes and menus quickly and easily, make organized shopping lists on the fly, and download coupons with the click of a button. Home cooks also report a 212% increase since 1999 in the importance of recipe websites offering menus and meal planning solutions.

Insight 14: Super Fast, Super Local and Superstores
Supermarkets look nothing like they did 15 years ago. Large chains are devoting more and more space to hot, ready-to-eat food, local farmers’ markets are a part of every city’s weekend landscape, and superstores that sell everything from electronics to produce are sprouting up around every corner. Yet with all these options, when comparing 2012 with 1999, 24% more consumers say shopping for ingredients is the hardest part about getting dinner on the table.

Insight 15: There’s an App for That
One word describes the future of meal planning: digital. The grocery shopping experience is being revolutionized as consumers turn to devices to help them plan meals, create lists and shop. In the last decade, retailers have introduced savings and loyalty cards, eliminating the need to clip coupons from the weekly flyer. When polled, 90% of consumers believe 15 years from now printed coupons will be extinct. Eighty-two percent of respondents also believe they will be paying with their mobile device, and 64% of consumers believe groceries will be delivered direct to their doorstep which, ironically, means the future might hold a return of the milkman.

Top 15 Recipes of All Time
(Photo by Heather)
1. World’s Best Lasagna (14M page views)
2. Banana Banana Bread (13.5M page views)
3. Good Old-Fashioned Pancakes (13M page views)
4. Easy Sugar Cookies (11M page views)
5. Awesome Slow Cooker Pot Roast (10M page views)
6. The Best Rolled Sugar Cookies (9.5M page views)
7. Basic Crêpes (8.5M page views)
8. Best Chocolate Chip Cookies (8M page views)
9. Chicken Pot Pie IX (7.5M page views)
10. Buffalo Chicken Dip (7M page views)
11. Easy Meatloaf (7M page views)
12. Carrot Cake III (6.5M page views)
13. Cream Cheese Frosting II (6M page views)
14. Best Big Fat Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie
(6M page views)
15. Alfredo Sauce (5.5M page views)

Data provided is from an online survey of 1,020 U.S-based panel participants and 1,208 Allrecipes community members in July 2012. No incentives were used to reward or incent participation. The survey questions were based on questions from Allrecipes’ 1999 Motivations survey, to provide food and technology trend data for the past 13 years. For more information on survey methodology such as response counts for each question or details on question order or format, please feel free to contact us.

About Allrecipes.com
Allrecipes, the world’s largest digital food brand, receives 750 million annual visits from home cooks around the world who discover and share food experiences through recipes, reviews, photos, profiles, and blog posts. For 15 years, the Seattle-based site has served as a dynamic, indispensable resource for cooks of all skill levels seeking trusted recipes, entertaining ideas, everyday and holiday meal solutions and practical cooking tips. Allrecipes’ global, multi-platform brand provides insights into the kitchens and cooking passions of home cooks everywhere with 17 websites, 9 mobile apps, and 14 eBooks serving cooks in 23 countries and 11 languages. Allrecipes is part of Meredith Corporation, the leading media and marketing company serving American women.
 For additional information regarding Meredith, please visit meredith.com. For additional information about Allrecipes, please visit allrecipes.com.

Please Contact:
Stephanie Robinett
Communications Director
(206) 708-9271

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Happy 15th Anniversary Allrecipes - Let's Eat Cake!

Fifteen years ago today, the site that would become Allrecipes.com launched and the world became a tastier place. A very heartfelt Thank You to our community, who made the past 15 years of Allrecipes possible by sharing your recipes and lives with each other.

We are celebrating with cake (15 of our top cakes actually). Check out the video below to see Allrecipes' team create a cake tower of epic proportions.

The 15 cakes featured in the video in order from bottom to top:
  1.  Rainbow Clown Cake
  2. Chocolate Ganache
  3. Red Velvet Cake I
  4. White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake
  5. Royal Icing + White cake
  6. Irish Cream Bundt Cake
  7. German Chocolate Cake III
  8. Marshmallow Fondant + White Cake
  9. Too Much Chocolate Cake
  10. Banana Cake VI
  11. Sam's Famous Carrot Cake
  12. Golden Rum Cake
  13. Pineapple Upside-Down Cake VII
  14. Pineapple Angel Food Cake I
  15. Lemon Chiffon Cake 
It was a very tasty (and messy) day at Allrecipes! Enjoy!

-Allrecipes Brand Team

Friday, July 27, 2012

Weekly Kitchen Insights – Recipes and Trends from Allrecipes.com

Looks like a lot of Allrecipes home cooks are visiting farmers’ markets or have backyard gardens—or just enjoy cooking with summer produce! They were certainly in tune with the season this week, making all sorts of things with midsummer’s bounty of zucchini, cucumbers, jalapeño peppers, and strawberries. Each made a strong showing in recipe and search term trends. Here are our community’s recipe choices this week:

Topping the list of last week’s brand-new recipes was Baked Italian Lemon Chicken. (Calling all cooks! This recipe needs a photo or three.)

Other popular new recipes included Creamy Cheddar Beef Enchiladas, Smothered Chicken Breasts, Cream of Chicken and Biscuits, and Cool Cucumber Salad

Creamy Cheddar Beef Enchiladas (photo by Jix)
Reviewed by one home cook as “delicious and forgiving,” the yummy dessert, Strawberry Trifle, made a big splash with the most page views—as well as earned the top spot for the most prints and recipe box saves

Summer fruits star in this Strawberry Trifle (photo by PARKER71)
Chef John's Macaroni and Cheese recipe was a hit with mac and cheese lovers (Who isn’t one of those?!), and also saw the week’s largest increase in prints week-over-week.

Mac and Cheese from Chef John (photo by linda2d_
Runners-up in this category included Mom's Zucchini Bread, Strawberry Trifle, Country Apple Dumplings, and Best Big, Fat, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie (and yes, this cookie recipe does make more than one cookie!). Are you hungry yet?

Grab this Best Big, Fat, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie! (photo by Fat)
We’re in prime time this week for zucchini! How do I know? The fastest growing week-over-week search term driving traffic to the site was zucchini bread recipe. Other fast-growing search terms driving traffic to the site included cole slaw recipe, chocolate ganache, and stuffed zucchini recipes.

For cooks already on Allrecipes.com, the fastest growing internal search terms in the past week included fruit tart, stuffed jalapeño firecrackers, jalapeño peppers, and jalapeño.

What captured eyeballs on small screens this past week? The top new video was Chinese Pork Dumplings, based on the most average plays per day during the week after release.

Other top performing videos included:

Chef John’s video for Simple Garlic Shrimp--always a favorite!--stars as this week’s top performer in overall video page views

How to Fry An Egg , again a top performer in page views, excluding all featured videos
How to Make Pancakes, top performer in page views referred directly from a search engine

Enjoy all your summer feasts this week!

Posted by Renny Sabina, Business Analyst

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Evening Barbecue

Second in Allrecipes’ series of guest bloggers writing about their personal Recipes for Happiness, Michele King is president and the creative force behind the Gaga Goody Company, an online gourmet treat business. Her romance with food inspired her to launch her own blog, Blog.gagagoody.com, to share her insights into the world of food and entertaining. Allrecipes met her in June 2012 at the BlogHer Food conference in Seattle. In her own words, she says: “I love to cook and enjoy experimenting with new recipes all the time. My original recipes are grounded in the traditional American cuisine I grew up with in Chicago’s western suburbs, meshed with deep Southern influences from Mississippi and Louisiana based on my parents’ background. After becoming an adult, living in three states, and interacting with a multitude of different cultures, these experiences helped shape the cook I am today. I love entertaining, and what better way to do it than with food, drink, and amazing company?”

(Spread more happiness, and help Allrecipes.com celebrate its 15th anniversary! Share a special moment in your life by posting a photo here of your special #RecipeForHappiness!) 

For me, summertime means backyard barbeques and friends conversing over a glass of wine. In a fast-paced world of texting and instant messaging, it feels good to put technology to rest in exchange for an evening of good old-fashioned face time. I still have ample respect for formal invitations and stationary, but in a universe where everyone spreads themselves so thin, making time to nourish your friendships is vital.

So, on this day, I prepared a menu that included something for everyone. I have friends whom do not eat beef or pork, so I decided to go with chicken as my safety. My one friend Tiffany loves turkey sausage and she pretty much twisted my arm to make sure I grill some. Luckily for her, it was on sale and I wanted to see how it would cook up on the grill, so everyone wins. With it being over ninety degrees the last few days, there was no way in the world I was going to bake anything. Plus, more of my friends are trying to do better with their eating habits, so having barbeque and a heavy dessert was not an option. Although I am decidedly team carnivore, I do enjoy fresh salads loaded with vegetables and wanted to make sure I had some offerings that were meatless so that all my guests could enjoy the evening and leave with a full belly.

Barbequed Chicken
Italian Turkey Sausage
Grilled Corn-on the Cob
Garden Salad
Pasta Salad
White Wine

Turkey sausage in buns ready for guests (Photo by Michele King)

Arrange a festive table to make your evening barbecue even more inviting (Photo by Michele King)
We feasted on delicious fruits such as peaches, cherries, and green grapes in the summer heat. What’s not to love about sweet and juicy peaches? Just rinse and serve for a great way to begin or end your meal. I added a nice leafy salad filled to the rim with vegetables and a homemade poppy seed dressing I found on one of my favorite websites, Allrecipes.com.

For my pasta salad, I kept it simple, using two cups of tri-colored rotini pasta, prepared as instructed by packaging. I then cut broccoli, two celery stalks, and two cups cherry tomatoes into bite-size portions. The broccoli and celery I cooked in water until tender, drained, and then mixed with the cherry tomatoes and pasta. Finally, I added a cup of Italian salad dressing and mixed it in well with a big spoon.

On the grill, I prepared corn-on-the-cob. I drizzled the corn with olive oil and melted butter, and then seasoned it with Northern Italian seasoning and kosher salt. Finally, I wrapped the corn in aluminum foil and grilled it.

For the chicken, I used kosher salt, pepper, lemon pepper, paprika, and Italian seasoning. As you can see by now, I love Italian seasoning for its versatility. It is a kitchen must! I also found a great sauce for my barbeque on Allrecipes.com. It is just such a good resource and you can always mix things up to make them your own.

Barbecued chicken glazed with my favorite sauce! (Photo by Michele King)
Great food, good wine, and the heat is beginning to ease up. What more can you ask for on a sunny day? My advice to any hostess would be to do your grilling and prep work the day before so you can enjoy the evening and really participate in the conversation. Relax and enjoy your food and your guests!

-- Posted by Michele King, Gaga Goody Company

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Weekly Kitchen Insights – Recipes and Trends from Allrecipes.com

“Best” was the operating word last week to describe the top recipes. How do you argue with Best Steak Marinade or Best Brownies? No contest, right? Other top recipes are right on track for summertime meals: a lightly dressed pasta salad made with spaghetti, gazpacho, coleslaw, zucchini cake and pancakes. Delish! Cooks are revving up their grills too, to prepare grilled salmon and steaks with a dynamite marinade.

Of course, we know slow cookers are plugged in year-round. That totally explains the popularity of slow-cooked versions of chicken and dumplings and cassoulet. And cocktails? If you’ve ever wondered how to make the best B-52 cocktail ever, take a look at this week’s top video. Here’s the complete recipe rundown to inspire your cooking:
  • Last week’s #1 new recipe was Light Spaghetti Salad, which earned its rank by having the most page views, the most prints, and the most recipe box saves. What a super idea for an easy dinner!
Lucky's Gazpacho (photo by*Sherri*)
Best Brownies look as good as they taste (photo by Dianne)
Grilled Salmon I (photo by hungryallweighs)

 Looking at search terms, the fastest growing week-over-week search term driving traffic to the site last week was Alfredo sauce recipe. Other fast-growing, traffic-driving search terms included refrigerator pickles, tomato pie, and peanut butter cookie recipe.

For internal searches by cooks on the site, last week’s fastest growing week-over-week search terms included pesto sauce, country apple dumplings, roast chicken, and funnel cake. On the video landscape, the top new video was B-52 Cocktail, based on the most average plays per day during the week after release. Here are the rest of the week’s winning videos to check out:
Enjoy another week of delicious eating!

Posted by Renny Sabina, Business Analyst

Monday, July 23, 2012

Allrecipes Celebrates an Amazing Community and Its 15th Anniversary!

Today kicks off a week-long celebration at Allrecipes to commemorate our 15th Anniversary! Allrecipes is honored and humbled by the support we've had from our community, YOU, over the past 15 years. Ninety-nine percent of the content on on our site comes from our community...1 million recipes, more than 7 million ratings and reviews, nearly 1 million photos, and thousands of blog posts from 25 million home cooks globally who visit us each month.

Food brings people together and shared recipes create an opportunity for one person’s recipe to contribute to another person’s happy moment. To commemorate the billions of amazing moments made possible by our community sharing recipes with others, we've launched a campaign called #RecipeForHappiness on our Facebook page. Anyone can contribute by tagging photos on Instagram with #RecipeForHappiness or visiting Allrecipes’ Facebook app to create a customized #RecipeForHappiness Recipe Card.

For our fans with iPhones, we're also offering our top-rated Dinner Spinner Pro iPhone app at a discounted price for 15 days. Starting today and through August 5, the app is available for only 99 cents in the Apple App Store.

Also, here’s a little video love letter to say Thank You for sharing your recipes and your lives! It’s a brief glimpse of our community, doing what they do best: enjoying food, friends, and family. 

How big is Allrecipes these days? Well, much has changed in the food landscape since 1997, when five anthropology graduate students launched CookieRecipe.com, one of the first social sites online. The students launched dozens of sister sites (BreadRecipe.com, ChickenRecipe.com, etc.), experienced rapid growth, and eventually merged all the sites into one, Allrecipes.com. Use of recipe websites as the #1 resource for cooking has surged 207 percent since 1999,* spurring Allrecipes.com to become the #1 site for women and a top 10 social site today. Allrecipes has been the world’s #1 recipe site consecutively for the past three years and continues to see double-digit YoY growth with 17 global sites, 17 new mobile sites and 9 top-ranking mobile apps.

Additional Allrecipes All-Time Stats
  • 15 billion recipes viewed
  • 2.5 billion visits
  • 820 million pages viewed from mobile devices
  • 200 million pieces of social content uploaded, saved or shared
  • 180 million recipes saved to Allrecipes’ Recipe Boxes
  • 25 million home cooks monthly
  • 14 million app download
  • 7.5 million registered cooks
  • 7 million recipe ratings and reviews
  • 1,000 original videos created
Allrecipes’ Top 15 Recipes of All-Time
  1. World’s Best Lasagna (14M views)
  2. Banana Banana Bread (13.5M views)
  3. Good Old-Fashioned Pancakes (13M views)
  4. Easy Sugar Cookies (11M views)
  5. Awesome Slow Cooker Pot Roast (10M views)
  6. The Best Rolled Sugar Cookies (9.5M views)
  7. Basic Crepes (8.5M views)
  8. Best Chocolate Chip Cookies (8M views)
  9. Chicken Pot Pie IX (7.5M views)
  10. Buffalo Chicken Dip (7M views)
  11. Easy Meatloaf (7M views)
  12. Carrot Cake III (6.5M views)
  13. Cream Cheese Frosting II (6M views)
  14. Best Big Fat Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie (6M views)
  15. Alfredo Sauce (5.5M views)
We'd hoped to get this post up sooner, but between the coffee cart, doughnuts, executive catered omelet bar, massages, mani/pedi's, fortune tellers, gourmet burger lunch, henna tattoos and ice-cream cart, we've been a little busy today! Allrecipes is not only a great place to find recipes, it's a fun place to work!
Stay tuned for more to come this week on Allrecipes' 15th Anniversary...including photos of the celebrations and contributions from guest bloggers on their #RecipeForHappiness!

Cheers to 15 delicious years and hopefully 15 more!

-Allrecipes' Brand Team

Cardamom in the Kitchen: One Cook's Spice for Happiness

As part of Allrecipes' 15th Anniversary celebration (official date: July 28, 2012), we've invited some of our favorite bloggers to share their personal Recipes for Happiness--the theme for our anniversary celebration--because recipes and cooking are about so much more in our lives. In this guest post, Susan Pachikara, author of the blog Cardamom Kitchen, and a new iPad app of the same name, describes how she developed her passion for flavorful food as a child. Under her mother's wing, she learned to prepare everyday Kerala dishes. (Kerala is an Indian state tucked along the southwest tip of the peninsula.) In 2005, her love for culinary arts led her to Kendall College where she trained as a chef. After a brief foray in the food industry, she started Cardamom Kitchen with the mission of promoting home cooking and culinary nutrition. Susan has also led cooking classes at Whole Foods Market, Gilda's Club, the City of Chicago's World Kitchen, Common Threads, farmers' markets, as well as classes for children and adults in Chicago. She shares one of her favorite family recipes here. Try it out and look for more authentic recipes to complement its flavors by visiting Allrecipes' Indian recipe collection

(Spread more happiness, and help Allrecipes.com celebrate its 15th anniversary! Share a special moment in your life by posting a photo here of your special #RecipeForHappiness!) 

I grew up in a kitchen that stocked more cardamom than ketchup. That may sound unremarkable, except that I was raised in the American Bible Belt in the 80s. Feathered hair, deer hunting, and tuna fish casserole topped with smashed potato chips were the rage. The standard bottle of cardamom sold in supermarkets emptied out quickly, so my mom bought the three-sided pods in bulk. She kept several palms full in a re-purposed jam jar within reach of the stove. The rest sat on a turntable in the pantry along with quills of cinnamon, black peppercorns, turmeric, and other surplus spices she stored away.

When my parents immigrated to the States from Kerala--a tropical state on India’s southwest coast National Geographic Traveler Magazine calls “Paradise found”--they brought along their love of its native spice, cardamom. My father shared stories of family-owned estates where leafy cardamom shoots flourished. He taught us how it was harvested by hand and dried in the hot sun and kept us glued to the table with tales of merchants who coveted the alluring spice.

To celebrate birthdays and other special occasions, my mom ground cardamom to flavor pudding (payasm) and carrot fudge (halva). She also dunked cardamom pods in simple syrup to flavor donuts (gulab juman). For Christmas, she layered it in chicken biriyani. But on most days, she used cardamom to recreate the Syrian Christian meat dishes of her childhood. She plopped the greenish pods on top of cubes of beef that she boiled and then sautéed, and used the fragrant spice to flavor chicken stewed in coconut milk or thickened with coriander. She tossed cardamom in dry curries, she tossed it in wet curries. She cracked it, pounded it, soaked it, and fried it.

As a first generation South Indian-American, I consider cardamom both exotic and commonplace. When I think about my recipe for happiness, it includes this alluring, floral spice, which like my family traces its roots to Kerala. I love to fold it into whipped eggs whites for crunchy meringues just like these Cardamom Rose Meringues, and dust it into dry ingredients for melt-in-your-mouth tea cookies like these Cardamom Cookies. I love to whisk it with milk to indulge in a bowl of Mango-Cardamom Bread Pudding.

Mango-Cardamom Bread Pudding (photo by Meatball Saves the Day)
My mom’s recipe for chicken stew included in the Cardamom Kitchen iPad app calls for my favorite spice trio--cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon. When cooked together, they fill the kitchen with a warm, slightly sweet irresistible flavor. The stew is traditionally served with a spongy coconut pancake called appam, but it also pairs beautifully with steamed basmati rice or an Indian flatbread called chapathi. Explore Allrecipes' collection of authentic Indian rice dishes or even explore Allrecipes.co.in for more ideas to complement this flavorful stew. I hope the recipe will also become one of your family favorites.

Chicken Stew (photo by Cardamom Kitchen)
Recipe Copyright by Cardamom Kitchen

3 tablespoons canola oil
5 black peppercorns
2 (1-inch) cinnamon sticks
8 cloves
8 cardamom pods
2 cups roughly chopped onions
1 jalapeño pepper, cut in half lengthwise and seeded
1-1/2 tablespoons minced ginger
1 cup roughly chopped tomatoes
10 to 15 fresh curry leaves (or 5 sprigs of cilantro)
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, rinsed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 cup roughly chopped potatoes
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon vinegar

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the black peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and cardamom pods. Stir and cook for 2 minutes.

2. Add the onions, jalapeño pepper, and ginger. Cook, stirring frequently until the onions become translucent, about 7 minutes. Add the tomatoes and curry leaves, if using them, and stir.

3. When the tomatoes start to soften, stir in the chicken, potatoes, water, and salt. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and cover. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the chicken flakes when pulled with a fork.

4. Add the coconut milk, vinegar, and cilantro (if using in place of the curry leaves). Stir gently and cook for another minute.

5. Remove the jalapeño pepper, cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon before serving.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Make Your Favorite Recipes More Affordable by Using Coupons!

Allrecipes met Nicole Fisher in June 2012 at the BlogHer Food conference in Seattle. She started Nicole's Nickels in February 2009, to share the great deals she was finding with her friends and family—and then things took off! While working full-time during the day as an attorney for a non-profit organization, she blogged in the evenings and on weekends. In her own words: “I live in south/central Florida and have two cute dogs, plus an amazing husband who has a spunky six-year-old we spend a lot of time with. I help Nicole's Nickels readers find the best deals for their family. I love telling my readers about great deals, and also about the cool products I get to try. Most of all, I love giving stuff away to my readers! I hope you'll subscribe to receive my daily email updates and stay in touch!”

I have been an Allrecipes.com user for a long time now and frequently go to the site as I plan my weekly menus. Menu planning is critical for saving money! If you menu plan one to two weeks in advance you’ll find yourself at the store less and spending less money! My newspaper’s weekly grocery ad circulars come out on Wednesday and Sundays, so on Wednesday evenings I sit down and plan the week’s menus out according to what is on sale.

Tip: Look for SmartSource, a flyer that's in Sunday newspapers nationwide. And save those weekly newspaper circulars! You can grab them later to find more good savings. I also often check out sites like coupons.com, redplum.com, and many manufacturers' websites.

I’ll also look at what is in my pantry and freezer and plan from there. I make a master list and date or cross off items to keep track of what’s on hand. Grocery store sales are cyclical and rotate approximately every 12 weeks. If you have space, you can buy an item when it’s on sale and buy enough to have a 12-week supply so it lasts until the next sale on the item.

Because Allrecipes makes searching by ingredient so simple, in just minutes you can grab recipes that correspond to the weekly sales items! Simply use the Advanced Search feature on the site and type in the ingredients you want or don't want.

Here is a popular, easy Allrecipes recipe for homemade baked beans using three varieties of beansand made even more affordable by using coupons!

Old Settlers’ Baked Beans

By: Kathy Schulz 
"My husband likes spicy dishes, and this is one of his favorites. He usually takes what's left to work for lunch the next day. We have a 4-year-old son, and this is the only way we can get him to even touch beans!"
A bowl of Old Settlers' Baked Beans waiting for a spoon
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound bacon, diced (06/17/2012 SmartSource coupon: $0.55/1 package Oscar Mayer Bacon, butcher thick cut; expires 08/12/2012)
1 onion, chopped
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup barbecue sauce (06/24/2012 SmartSource coupon: $0.75/2 KC Masterpiece BBQ Sauce, 28 oz. or Marinade, 16 oz.; expires 08/26/2012)
1 tablespoon prepared mustard (find a printable coupon here)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 (16 ounce) can pork and beans, undrained (find a printable coupon here)
1 (16 ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained (find a printable coupon here)
1 (16 ounce) can Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained (find a printable coupon here)

1. In a large skillet, cook beef, bacon and onion until meat is done and onion is tender. Drain any fat. Combine all remaining ingredients except beans. Add to meat mixture; mix well, and then stir in beans. Place in a greased 2-1/2-quart casserole. Cover and bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour or until heated through.

As you can see in this recipe, you can buy beans, mustard and BBQ sauce—all by using coupons! If you make this recipe on a week when these items are already on sale and pair the sale with the coupons, you've scored a terrific deal! Produce such as onions is also frequently on sale, so it could be very easy to make this fun summer side dish at a super reduced cost!

-- Nicole Fisher writes the Nicole’sNickels blog about ways to save money easily so you can splurge elsewhere!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Weekly Kitchen Insights – Recipes and Trends from Allrecipes.com

What is it about cheese? Doesn’t matter what the season is, cheese in all its delicious variations is a year-round favorite, especially for Allrecipes’ home cooks. It’s certainly a runaway favorite as this week’s top new recipe: Home-Fried Cheese Sticks, which made a splash in page views, prints, and recipe box saves. I really like the cook’s recommendation to make two batches. One for now, one for later. Yum!

I bet you could serve Cheese Sticks with summer soups, too. A seasonal fave—gazpacho—hit the top of the charts this week as well. Then came cookies by the batch: peanut butter, triple chocolate, plus homemade vanilla ice cream. That’s the cook I want to live next door to!

In case you think cheese sticks and desserts were the only thing on the charts, home cooks were also preparing kale salads (Yes! Kale is still hot!), green bean casseroles, and garlicky shrimp.

Here’s the line-up for this week’s top recipes.
Crispy, crunchy Home-Fried Cheese Sticks (photo by SHORECOOK)
Grandma's Green Bean Casserole ready for a fork (photo by Sean Lemecha)
Colorful and healthy! Roasted Yam and Kale Salad (photo by Phynn)
Calling all Cookie Monsters! Chef John's Peanut Butter Cookies are delish! (photo by 2Cyclops)
Always a summer favorite, Chef John's Gazpacho ((photo by jrbaker)
Grab your spoon for Easy Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream (photo by What A Dish!)
Easy does it for the week’s top search terms. Just right for summer, I say. The fastest growing week-over-week search terms driving traffic to Allrecipes were marshmallow fondant, easy meatloaf recipe, and easy chicken recipe. For home cooks on Allrecipes, the fastest growing search terms were taco soup, tortilla soup, zucchini recipe, and chicken tortilla soup. (You know it’s seriously summer when you see zucchini searches.)

Summer faves rule the video list too, along with a brand new one showing how to make Vietnamese Fresh Rolls. I’m positively watching that one. I can’t get enough of those, and this video shows the authentic way to prepare these.

Beautiful Vietnamese Fresh Rolls (photo by duongvu)
You’ll want to watch these videos too, to see tips on making creamy smooth ice cream or Chef John’s fast and easy zucchini recipe that’s a terrific side with grilled steaks or burgers.
Have a delicious weekend!

Posted by Renny Sabina, Business Analyst