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A lady with groceries for cooking - CookinGenie blog for personal chef

20 Oct 2021

In our hectic, fast-paced world, we all need a little help getting through our daily lives. As the work, chores, and tasks pile up, it can be helpful to hire someone to take something off your plate for you.

For many, this can include hiring a personal chef to handle their cooking for them. But what is a personal chef? How does a personal chef differ from a private chef? And what are the things you need to know before hiring a chef for a great dining experience? Where can you hire a personal chef, anyways? Find out all that and more in our complete guide to hiring a personal chef.

What is a Personal Chef?

A personal chef is hired by a family, household, or company and is always on the go to prepare meals according to their clients’ dietary needs or preferences. They work on a freelance type of basis and travel around to cook for different customers. This arrangement proves to be valuable for clients who want to save their time and energy, especially during extremely busy days. For many people, hiring a personal chef on a semi-regular basis is an affordable way to help prepare food.

What Does a Personal Chef Do?

Planning for a meal, shopping for ingredients, adapting to client’s dietary needs or preferences, cooking delicious meals, and keeping a clean, organized kitchen are the basic responsibilities of a personal chef. Typically, a personal chef will service multiple clients and they may have an arrangement where they cook once a week at a given clients house and may cook for other clients throughout the rest of the week. Oftentimes, a personal chef will be hired for a one-off event such as a dinner party or holiday get together.

For larger events, a personal chef may also play the role of a caterer as they manage a team of cooks and/or servers, particularly during a special occasion or dinner party. These events can be anything from a formal sit-down dinner with multiple courses to a casual backyard barbecue or buffet.

To serve their clients better, personal chefs have to collaborate closely with their clients to tailor a menus that works for them, both in terms of taste and dietary needs. A personal chef needs to have a solid understanding of nutrition and how to cook delicious foods while also adhering to the dietary guidelines set forward by their clients. Some clients may follow very specific diets or have particular allergies that a chef must navigate. Because of this, there are many personal chefs that specialize in specific diets such as vegetarian or raw food diets.

Personal & Private Chefs – Key Differences

Duties- 

While they are similar, there are some key differences between a personal and private chef. Both a personal chef and a private chef are highly talented professionals that can cook delicious, dietary-tailored meals in a client’s home or business.

But unlike a personal chef, a private chef has full-time employment for one client or family in a private residence, hotel, or yacht. A private chef is much more exclusive, and often reserved wealthier clients who can afford to pay someone full-time to cook for them. Corporate titans, professional athletes, and high-ranking government officials are some of the people who typically employ full-time private chefs.

Private chefs are required to be on call, which is why the common setup is that they live in the residence of their employers or even travel with them on holidays or business trips. This arrangement makes private chefs almost part of the family, and as such, they have to hold confidentiality, win trust, and be able to respond to all food requests of the family.

Private chefs that cook exclusively for one client are fully responsible for almost everything their client eats and are required to manage the kitchen at all times, including doing all the shopping for the week and monitoring the inventory of the fridge and pantry. Live-in private chefs may be tasked with packing school lunches for the family’s children, manning the grill at a backyard cookout, or cooking a chic multi-course meal for a fancy dinner party.

In most cases, a private chef has to collaborate with other professionals like butlers and maids employed in large homes. This environment requires a private chef to have specific skills to function well with other professional support staff.

Is Hiring a Personal Chef Worth it? 

For most ordinary people, employing a full-time private chef may not be affordable or practical. However, hiring a personal chef to help you with meal prep or just to cook for you for special occasions can be a great way to take away some of the stress and time commitment of cooking. A personal chef can save you time, help you eat healthier, and even teach you tips and tricks to improve your own cooking. The cost of hiring a personal chef can vary in different cities and even vary between different chefs, but many are reasonable enough for most middle to upper middle-class families to afford on a regular or semi-regular basis.

How do I Hire a Personal Chef? CookinGenie is How.

When looking for a personal chef, you may know a friend who’s had a particular chef cook for them or you can browse the internet for chefs in your area. Some personal chefs work through agencies, and others are solo operations, often with their own website and business cards. But if you don’t know of any chefs by word of mouth, it can be hard to know where to look. In short, hiring a personal chef can be a pain.

But with CookinGenie, the whole process is a breeze. CookinGenie is a digital platform that displays a network of pre-vetted personal chefs available for you to hire. There is a wide variety of different foods that cater to different diets and tastebuds. After hiring, a genie will arrive at your home with everything they need to cook you a delicious meal and clean your kitchen afterward.

Their services can be used for everything from meal prep to dinner parties. The healthy, from scratch food, can be great for leftovers and can allow you to explore exciting international cuisines, even in this age of travel restrictions. The best part? It all happens in your kitchen. There’s no driving, no shopping, no cooking, and no cleaning. All that adds up to more you time, and these days, we could all use that.

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How to Elevate Dining Experience

01 Oct 2021

Have a hankering for French food?  How about Italian, Mexican, or maybe Korean? Have adventurous taste buds? You might like to try something new, perhaps Peruvian, or Greek? Luckily, there’s CookinGenie, an amazing online service that can bring all those amazing flavors, and more, right to your very own kitchen.  

CookinGenie has chefs that can prepare foods from around the world, plus your all-American favorites. There are many amazingly tasty meals to choose from, and they’re all cooked from scratch in your own kitchen!  You can choose from a wide variety of appetizers, entrees, soups, salads, and desserts. 

Pandemic travel restrictions may prevent you from traveling the world, but world cuisine can still come to you. Simply pick a day and time and your own personal chef (AKA Genie) will come to your home. 

To hire your own personal chef, just go to www.cookingenie.com. The site has a biography and photo for each Genie, which includes their education and background. A complete menu from every genie is available online for you to choose from. 

The online booking system shows you exactly when a chef is available and where they will travel to. All it takes is a few clicks and your unique culinary experience will be booked. 

When CookinGenie comes to you, there is no wait to be seated. You stay in the comfort of your own home while the Genie does all the cooking. You have complete control over who you invite as guests. Plus, your home is certainly much quieter than a busy restaurant. You can also choose your own background music or just enjoy a peaceful conversation. 

If someone in your family does not feel well on the day the personal chef is scheduled, they will gladly reschedule. Safety during these uncertain times is a top priority. 

Still, thinking why you should hire a personal chef for your next meal? Here are the benefits and features of hiring a personal chef with CookinGenie –   

Shopping & packing      

There is no need to worry about not having the right ingredients on hand. Your personal chef will do all the shopping and packing, leaving you free to entertain your guests. 

The chef will arrive with all the ingredients they need to prepare the meal you have chosen. They will use your pots and pans. If there is a special type of dish or utensil the chef needs, but you don’t have, you can arrange for the chef to bring it. Otherwise, the Genies are quite adaptable. 

When you have a special occasion to plan, hiring a personal chef from Cookingenie leaves you with more time to focus on the other important details. When you have happy occasions to celebrate, you want to enjoy them as much as your guests, not spend all your time hunched over the stove or washing dishes.  

Your Genie will do all of the shopping and upfront cooking that provides more value $ than a restaurant! 

Having a CookinGenie come to your home has many advantages over going to a restaurant. Because the food is cooked at your home, from scratch, it’s fresher and tastier than takeout. Plus, there are no boxes or bags to contend with, nor trying to figure out which dish goes to which person. 

The prices per person are comparable or even lower than what you would pay for high-end in-person dining. CookinGenie is affordable luxury combined with convenience. 

The meals will serve four to eight people. Most likely there will also be leftovers. You won’t have to ask for one of those awkward Styrofoam boxes! You can use your own containers, or just leave the food in the dishes it was cooked in and pop it in the refrigerator. 

With your leftovers, you can extend your dining experience through the next day or divvy up the leftovers into single portion sizes and put them in the freezer for weeks or months into the future. It’s totally up to you!  

You can learn new culinary techniques and novelties from the chef 

Unlike being in a restaurant, with a CookinGenie chef you can actually watch him or her at work. You can talk to him or her and ask questions. You may learn some new techniques and tricks and improve your own home cooking. When it’s time to compliment your chef, you won’t have to flag a waiter down to send a message. You can thank him or her in person. 

Highly convenient 

Even when there’s no pandemic complicating things, trying to get a large group of people organized to go out to a restaurant can be a hassle. When the restaurant is your home, there is never any worry that your table will be given away because you got stuck in traffic or were late for other reasons. 

Having the chef come to you means you won’t have to sit in a crowded lobby while you wait for your table to be ready.  

Safety is very important. All CookinGenie chefs have had background checks and undergo an extensive interview process, so you can be confident letting them into your home. They will also wear masks, wash their hands, and follow all CDC guidelines to keep you and your guests safe. 

Time-saving & customized menu 

You can search the menu by country or cuisine type, including entrees, appetizers, and desserts. The site will then show you the Genies that will prepare that type of food and when they are available. 

You can also click on a Genie’s profile photo to see what their specialties are. From there, you can book a time right online. 

There are mouth-watering photos of each item shown on the menu. Click on the photo of the dish and it will take you to the list of ingredients. Knowing what is in the food you will serve is important if any guests have food allergies or are just plain picky. If you have dietary preferences or restrictions, the genies are very adaptable, and the platform’s support staff will be happy to work with you to come up with the perfect menu!  

No need to find a babysitter! 

If you are the parents of young children, you may think you’ll have to wait years before you can enjoy fine dining again. Think again! Thanks to CookinGenie the children can stay at home with you while your own kitchen is transformed into a fine dining restaurant. 

The menu even includes kid-friendly dishes like grilled cheese. 

The children will have their own toys to keep them entertained. There will be no worries about keeping squirmy toddlers in their seats in an unfamiliar location. If one of the kids gets cranky, they can be sent to take a nap in their own, familiar bed.  

The best of all, no dishes or clean up to do, the chef takes care of everything! 

When the meal is finished, you won’t have to be worried about the cleanup. Your personal chef will put everything away and leave your kitchen in the same order as when they arrived. The chef will even do the dishes. 

At the end of the day, your belly will be full, your guests will be happy, and your children won’t have to leave the comfort of their own home. The kitchen will be left in order, and you will likely have leftovers to enjoy later. It’s a home-run of a dining experience, all the way around.  

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Foods to know the Difference Between Food Allergies, Intolerances &Sensitivities

01 Oct 2021

We’re all familiar with food allergies, but nowadays you constantly hear terms like “sensitivity” and “intolerance” to different foods. These three terms often get lumped together, but they’re unique conditions that elicit different responses from the body and have varying levels of seriousness. So, what do all these terms mean? And how should they affect your cooking?

Food allergies

Of the three, food allergies are the most serious. A food allergy is an immune response in your body, usually diagnosed by an allergist with a formal test. The cause of food allergies is still unknown, but the body perceives a harmless food as a threat and in response releases an immune hormone called histamines to “attack” that food it sees as harmful. The release of these histamines causes various symptoms such as hives, nausea, dizziness, and vomiting. The onset of symptoms from an allergic reaction is usually immediate.

In cases of extreme allergic reactions, the victim can go into anaphylaxis, a rare allergic condition which can cause fainting and restricting airways. Anaphylaxis requires emergency medical attention and can be life-threatening.

People can be allergic to almost anything, but the most common severe food allergies are milk, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, wheat, and shellfish.

Allergic reactions from food can range from a slight itch in the ears to a fatal case of anaphylaxis, and just a trace amount of the allergen can be enough to cause a dangerous reaction. Even those who believe they have a “mild” allergy may have a severe reaction any time they consume that allergen, so it’s best to avoid it altogether. Cooking for someone with a food allergy must be done with great caution.

Food intolerances

While food intolerances are not as serious as allergies, they can cause significant illness and discomfort. An intolerance is not an immune response like an allergy, but instead is marked by the body’s inability to digest certain foods. Most food intolerances cause uncomfortable symptoms including stomach pain and diarrhea, but they are never life-threatening. Food intolerances are usually diagnosed by a doctor and symptoms often take several hours after eating to occur. Some common food intolerances are to lactose, a sugar found in cow’s milk, and wheat.

Unlike with allergies, those with food intolerances can usually have small amounts of the food they’re intolerant to. For example, those with a lactose intolerance may be able to have a little bit of grated parmesan cheese on a pizza or a touch of heavy cream cooked into a soup, but a spoonful of yogurt may make them sick. Similarly, someone with a mild intolerance to gluten may be able to have a dash of soy sauce over rice, but not a bowl of pasta.

There are, however, some more severe intolerances. Celiac disease is a rare intolerance to gluten, a protein found in wheat, that can cause severe stomach pain, diarrhea, and violent vomiting. People with Celiac disease cannot have any traces of gluten.

Food sensitivities

Compared to food allergies and intolerances, food sensitivities have the mildest of reactions. Similar to an allergy, food sensitivity is an immune response so it can affect multiple organs with a wide range of symptoms including headaches, fatigue, rashes, and nausea.

The reaction from a food sensitivity can begin hours, or even days, after eating. Because of the delayed onset, food sensitivities can be hard to pinpoint and many of them go undiagnosed. Food sensitivity to gluten, for example, can be as simple as generally feeling tired a couple of days after eating bread. A good way to figure out if you have food sensitivity is to systematically eliminate certain foods from your diet for a week or two at a time to see if there’s a change in how you feel. You can also get tests for certain food sensitivities.

For many people with food insensitivities, a moderate amount of the ingredient will not lead to symptoms. However, as with allergies and intolerances, the level of sensitivity varies from person to person.

The bottom line

Food allergies, intolerances, and sensitivities are all challenging conditions that should be taken seriously when cooking. When cooking for others with any of these conditions, be sure to talk to them beforehand and fully understand the nature and severity of their condition. If it’s just a mild sensitivity or intolerance, you may be able to use a little bit of the ingredient to make the tastiest dish possible. But, if your guest has a severe food allergy, you should steer clear of that ingredient.

At CookinGenie, all allergies, intolerances, and sensitivities are taken very seriously. CookinGenie chefs undergo a rigorous interview process, and they are adaptable to different dietary restrictions. The CookinGenie support staff will also work with you closely to ensure your meal meets your requirements so that you can sit back, relax, and enjoy a delicious homecooked meal.

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Guests with Food - CookinGenie

28 Sep 2021

Cooking for someone with a severe food allergy can be intimidating. And with food allergies on the rise, it’s becoming more common than ever. You want people to enjoy your food. But you would never want to be responsible for giving someone a severe allergic reaction.

Thankfully, with the right knowledge and planning, cooking for guests with severe food allergies doesn’t have to be daunting. It will take some extra steps, but it’s always better safe than sorry. Here are some things to remember before cooking for guests with food allergies.

Know your allergens and their severity

People can have food allergies to just about anything. But food allergies, which are not the same as food sensitivities and intolerances, are not all created equal. Some people have allergies with mild symptoms like hives and a stomachache. Others may have allergies that could cause life-threatening anaphylactic shock, which may include dangerous symptoms like a swelling throat, fainting, wheezing, and trouble breathing.

While all allergies have the potential to be severe, certain ingredients are far more likely to cause extreme reactions. The 8 most common severe allergens are milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, and wheat.

It’s important to understand the complexities of these allergies. Someone who’s allergic to milk can’t eat other milk-derived products such as cheese, yogurt, or ice cream. And while some of these allergies sound very similar, they can be different. For example, someone may be allergic to almonds, but not peanuts. Or they may be allergic to shrimp and scallops, but salmon is fine. Whatever the case may be, make sure you talk to your guests and understand exactly what it is they’re allergic to.

Avoid allergens entirely in the meal

Some people tend to think that if a guest has an allergy, they can just leave out that ingredient for that guest and it’ll be fine. While this may be true for some, in cases of severe allergies, the allergic person may not even need to directly consume the allergen to have a dangerous reaction. For example, an invisible trace of peanuts that can be spread through the air onto a dish may be enough to trigger an anaphylactic reaction to peanuts. So, if possible, it’s best to leave the allergen out of the entire meal, even for those who aren’t allergic to it.

Check labels

Reading labels can be a pain, but it’s an important safeguard against allergic reactions. Sometimes ingredients can have unexpected allergens. For example, Worcester sauce, which is a popular condiment for steak and burgers, often contains anchovy paste, making it unsuitable for people with seafood allergies. But, by the name, look, and flavor it, you would never know, making reading the labels all the more important. By law, common allergens are bolded on the bottom of the label, making it easier to identify them.

Additionally, because just a trace amount of an allergen can cause a reaction, you need to watch out for any possible exposure. Some foods, like prepackaged cookies, may not actively contain nuts but may be processed in the same facility as almonds. In this case, those cookies would not be safe to serve to someone with a severe nut allergy.

Clean and sanitize the kitchen

Before beginning to cook for someone with a severe food allergy, be sure to thoroughly clean and sanitize the kitchen, including surfaces and utensils you will use. There’s no telling if there may be trace amounts of the allergen floating around the kitchen. So, to be safe, give everything a good cleaning beforehand.

Be prepared for the worst-case scenario

If you take all the proper steps to protect against food allergies, you should have nothing to worry about. But just in case, you should be prepared to handle a severe allergic reaction. Make sure any guests with food allergies are carrying their EpiPen on them. Also ensure that someone in your party knows how to properly inject an EpiPen as the person having the reaction may not be capable of injecting it themselves.

The EpiPen will help immediately ease the symptoms of the reaction. While one person is injecting the victim with the EpiPen, someone else should call 911 to get the victim professional medical aid. While waiting for the ambulance to arrive, try to keep the victim calm while lying on their back.

Anaphylactic reactions are scary, but if handled properly, everything should turn out fine. Less than 1% of anaphylactic reactions from food are fatal, according to the national institute of health.

CookinGenie takes allergies seriously

At CookinGenie, the chefs know that protecting customers from allergies is of the utmost importance and they’re experienced in cooking for people with serious allergies. Genies can modify orders to fit around allergies and the support team will work with every customer to craft the best meal.

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How to Cook Meat Safely - CookinGenie blog

28 Sep 2021

There are many foods that can cause illness when handled incorrectly, but one of the most common instances of serious foodborne illness comes from the undercooking or mishandling of meat. Raw meat is often full of fecal matter from the animal, which can contain a host of bacteria, parasites, and other pathogens. Because of this, it is crucial to handle raw meat carefully and cook it to a safe temperature to kill as many pathogens as possible. If not, an undercooked piece of meat can easily get someone sick.

While this may sound simple, there are some intricacies to cooking meat safely, and not all meats are safe to eat at the same temperature. Here are some of the key things to remember when cooking meat and how some of the most popular meats need to be cooked in order to be safe to serve.

Keep raw meats separate from other foods—including other meats

It’s common sense that the juices from raw meat should stay away from fresh produce but it’s also good practice to keep raw meat away from other raw meat. As you’ll see with the minimum required internal temperatures, not all meats are safe at the same time. Chicken, for example, needs to be cooked more than steak. So, if you get the juices from raw chicken over your steak, the steak may be cooked all the way through, but the residual juice from the chicken may not be.

Also be sure to use separate cutting boards and utensils for different kinds of meat, wash your hands after handling raw meat, and disinfect any surfaces the meat may have come into contact with.

Minimum required internal temperatures

Poultry, like chicken and turkey requires the most cooking, while pork, beef, lamb, and seafood requires less. Note that ground meat of any kind requires more cooking than a whole piece of the same meat. This is because ground meat, with an increased surface area and the potential to come from more than one individual animal, has more exposure to bacteria. To take the temperature of a protein, insert a clean, sanitized thermometer into the thickest part of the meat and wait for the thermometer to read a temperature. For many meats, the meat needs to hold that temperature for a given period of time before it’s considered safe.

Also note that after you remove your meat from the heat, it will continue to cook for several more minutes in a process known as carry-over cooking, which will raise the internal temperature 5-10⁰F, so if your meat is a couple degrees under the minimum required internal temperature when you measure it, it’ll be safe to serve by the time you eat it.

The following are the minimum required internal temperatures for different proteins.

Poultry—Including whole or ground chicken, turkey, or duck: 165⁰F for at least 15 seconds

This also includes any stuffing inside of a bird (think thanksgiving) as well as any casseroles, stuffed pastas, or stuffed chicken breasts. When temping whole birds, make sure to insert the thermometer underneath the thigh, which is the thickest part of the bird.

Ground meat—Including beef, pork, lamb, veal, and ground seafood: 155⁰F for 15 seconds

Note that a medium burger is 140-145⁰F, and a well-done burger is 160⁰F.Eating a burger less than well-done could increase your chances of getting sick, which is why restaurants have the note at the bottom of their menus denoting the increased risk of foodborne illness from consuming undercooked meat.

Injected meat/brined meat—Including brined hams and roasts injected with flavor: 155⁰F for 15 seconds

Eggs that are meant to be held hot: 155⁰F for 15 seconds
Eggs that are to be served immediately: 145⁰F for 15 seconds

Chops/steaks of red meat—Including beef, lamb, veal, and pork: 145⁰F for 15 seconds

All of these meats will be a little pink at this temperature, but they’re safe to eat. A medium-rare steak is between 130-135⁰F, so there is a higher risk associated with eating steak under medium.

Whole roasts of pork, beef, veal, or lamb: 155⁰ for 4 minutes

Make sure to insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the roast. Because roasts are much bigger, the temperature needs to hold much longer to ensure it’s cooked through.

Whole seafood—Including whitefish, shellfish, and crustaceans: 145⁰F for 15 seconds

This applies to whole pieces of fish and shellfish/crustaceans such as shrimp, crab, and lobster. With bivalves such as mussels or clams, there is no need to measure temperature, they are safe when the shells open.

The bottom line

Overall, cooking meat to safe temperatures is a very simple, but very important task in the kitchen. Having a digital thermometer makes everything easier. If you’re unsure of how the meat needs to be cooked, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and slightly overcook a piece of meat than to get someone sick. When you book a chef from CookinGenie, you can trust that they’ll cook your meat so that it’s not only safe to eat, but also delicious.

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Ways to store food safely - cookinGenie blog

24 Sep 2021

When we think of food safety, we usually think about cooking foods properly to prevent getting anyone sick. However, storing foods properly is just as important to prevent foodborne illness. Just like the actual preparation of food, all it takes is a little common sense to make sure you’re storing food safely.

Keep foods cold

This may sound obvious, but there are some extra steps you can take to make sure your fridge is keeping food cold enough. Make sure you check the temperature gauge in the fridge regularly, about once a week. If it is consistently higher than 40⁰F, you should turn the temperature down or get your refrigerator serviced.

Also be sure to keep the fridge closed as often as possible. Leaving the door open for extended periods of time as you rummage through the shelves can expose the food inside to warm air, causing it to spoil quicker. Try not to keep the fridge too jam-packed with food. If there’s not enough space in between food, the cool air will have a harder time circulating and keeping everything cold.

Where you store matters

Certain foods, like eggs, dairy, and raw meat are more sensitive to temperatures than others. To protect those foods, store them further back in the fridge to keep them colder. The shelf in the door is the warmest part of the fridge, so you want to keep condiments, drinks, and other ingredients that are less sensitive to temperatures there.

It’s also important to keep different ingredients separated from one another in the fridge. Dairy and eggs should be stored away from raw fruits and vegetables so that bacteria from the eggs don’t contaminate the produce.

Another good rule to remember is always store raw meat in the bottom of the fridge and produce in the top. If you have raw chicken breasts stored over fresh lettuce, there’s a chance those chicken breasts drip into the lettuce and contaminate it. To be safe, always store meat on the bottom. And if you have multiple kinds of meat in your fridge, chicken should always be below beef, pork, fish, or other meats as chicken requires the most cooking to be safe.

Keep food away from chemicals

Not all foodborne illnesses come from biological hazards like bacteria or parasites. Some come from chemical contaminants. When storing dry goods in the pantry, they should always be kept far away from bleaches, detergents, cleaning supplies, or any other potentially harmful chemicals. Even storing food in the same cabinet as chemicals could lead to an accidental spill that contaminates the food, which can cause serious illness.

Don’t put steaming hot food in the fridge

It’s very common for people to throw a whole pot of something in the fridge if they don’t feel like putting it into containers. That’s fine as long as the food has cooled down first. If you take a steaming hot pot of soup and place it into the fridge to “cool down”, all you’re really doing is warming up the fridge. The heat and steam from the soup will circulate around the fridge and warm up all of the food inside, likely above the safe 40⁰F. Additionally, the soup itself probably won’t cool down very quickly either, leaving it at an unsafe temperature for an extended period of time.

Instead of putting the hot food directly in the fridge, let it cool down at room temperature first. If you pour hot foods into a long container with more surface area, they’ll cool down quicker. You can also try putting hot foods on an ice bath. To make an ice bath, fill your sink with ice and cold water. Then take the container of hot food and put it in the sink so that the water comes about three-quarters of the way up the container. Give the food a few stirs and after about 30 minutes or so, it should be cool enough to store in the fridge safely.

At CookinGenie, the chefs are experts in food safety and know how to ensure food is being handled safely all the way from shopping for the ingredients, storing them properly, and cooking them in the safest way possible.

Author – Jared Kent

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National Food Safety Month— Keys for Cooking and Serving Food Safely

24 Sep 2021

Cooking for friends and family is one of the great joys in life. But without practicing proper food safety, cooking can make your loved ones sick, or in extreme cases, even kill them. Luckily, all it takes to prepare and serve food safely is following a few simple rules and using common sense. In honor of food safety month, here are some of the most important things to remember when cooking.

Wash your hands

One of the most important things you can do to keep food safe is constant handwashing. The first thing you should do when you walk into the kitchen is washing your hands. And wash them again after every completed task or when you start handling different ingredients, especially after touching raw meat.

One of the most common ways foodborne illnesses are spread is by bacteria jumping from dirty hands to the food. So, you cannot wash your hands too often. When washing your hands, make sure you run them under warm running water for at least 20 seconds, using antibacterial soap. Scrub between your fingers and under your fingernails every time and dry off with a clean cloth or paper towel. For extra protection, turn off the knob on the sink with that paper towel instead of your bare hands.

When in doubt, throw it out

Nobody likes to waste food. But holding on to old food after it’s gone bad is a good way to get your guests sick.  If anything in your fridge or pantry is moldy, slimy, smells rotten, or is well past its expiration date, just throw it out.

When cooking with canned ingredients, beware of cans that are rusted, dented, or swollen. Swollen cans are a sign of botulism, a dangerous spore that can be fatal. If there are any physical deformities on the can, put it right into the trash. There is a chance that every now and again you may throw out some food that’s still safe to use, but it’s always better safe than sorry.

Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold

As a general rule of thumb, you should try and avoid keeping foods out at room temperature as much as possible, especially more sensitive items like meat, dairy, and eggs. When cooking and storing food, be mindful of the “temperature danger zone”, a temperature range between 41⁰F and 135⁰F. This is the range in which bacteria grows and multiplies most quickly.

Temperatures above or below this range are usually too extreme for most bacteria to survive. So, if a dish is meant to be served hot, you should keep it on the stove or in the oven at 135⁰F or higher for as long as possible, and if it is meant to be served cold, you should keep it in refrigeration at 41⁰F or lower until it’s ready to serve.

It may be helpful to have a digital thermometer on hand to help ensure you’re keeping foods at the proper temperatures. If any highly sensitive foods like meat or dairy are left out in the temperature danger zone for more than four hours, they may be unsafe to eat. Any cooked food that is being reheated should be heated to 165⁰F for at least 15 seconds before serving.

Beware of Cross Contamination

Cross contamination occurs when bacteria or other contaminants are passed to food from shared surfaces or through the air. For example, if you cut raw chicken on a cutting board then later use that same cutting board for fresh vegetables, the vegetables may be contaminated with bacteria from the chicken. To avoid cross contamination, use different utensils for raw meats and vegetables. Also be sure to wash and disinfect counters and other kitchen surfaces frequently.

Consider food allergies

One of the scariest parts of cooking for others can be dealing with food allergies. Allergic reactions to food can range anywhere from a mildly upset stomach to life-threatening anaphylactic shock, where the victim’s throat can begin to shut.

Before your event, ask all your guests if they have any food allergies. If anyone in your party has a severe allergy, consider serving something without that ingredient at all. For people with severe allergies like nuts or shellfish, they may not even need to actively consume the allergen to have a dangerous reaction, just an invisible trace amount may be enough to cause serious symptoms. So, just making a portion without that ingredient may not be enough to keep them safe. When it comes to cooking for people with food allergies, you cannot be too careful.

Cook proteins properly

A common cause of foodborne illness is undercooked meats, especially chicken. Meats need to be cooked to proper internal temperatures to kill the majority of bacteria and parasites that can make you sick. When cooking meats, use a digital thermometer to measure the internal temperature and don’t serve it until the meat comes up to a safe level.

For example, chicken and other poultry need to reach an internal temperature of at least 165⁰F for 15 seconds before they’re safe to eat. For more specifics, check out our complete guide to safely cooking meat.

Wash raw ingredients well

Before cooking with fruits, herbs, or vegetables, rinse them off under cold running water to remove any debris, bacteria, or chemical coating. This is especially important with cantaloupe and honeydew, which always should be washed before cutting. It’s also good practice to rinse off your eggs before cooking with them.

Be extra cautious with the most vulnerable members of your family

When cooking for older or immunocompromised people, you have to be extra careful and attentive. For someone who’s young and healthy, a case of salmonella from an undercooked chicken breast could cause a few days of illness. But for an older person or someone suffering from an autoimmune disease, that salmonella could be fatal.

CookinGenie takes food safety seriously

When you book a chef through CookinGenie, you can be sure that food safety will be the top priority. Many of the genies are professionals with formal food safety training, and others are experienced home cooks with a proven track record of keeping people safe. Food safety is stressed, and every genie knows that’s the most important thing when cooking for you.

Better yet, when you allow a CookinGenie chef into your home, you can watch them cook to be sure the food is being handled properly. Unlike a restaurant, this in-home set-up allows much more transparency and peace of mind than dining out or ordering takeout.

Author – Jared Kent

 

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Prepared Salmon - CookinGenie

16 Sep 2021

These days, lots of us are looking for a better way to get more healthy protein in our diets. We love eating pork, beef, chicken, and other meats, but let’s face it, they’re not always the healthiest. Luckily, there’s one source of protein you already know that’s tasty, widely available, and incredibly healthy. That protein, of course, is salmon. That’s right, flaky, delicious, and beloved by many, salmon is also a true powerhouse health food. And if you’re looking for a healthy protein to include into your diet more regularly, look no further than salmon.

Health Benefits of Salmon

Salmon is full of all sorts of healthy nutrients. It’s one of the best sources of omega 3 fatty acids, which are considered essential fat to include in a healthy diet. Omega 3 fatty acids can help promote heart health, lower blood pressure, and even reduce your risk of cancer. Salmon is also high in other important vitamins such as B vitamins and potassium. Plus, a single 4-ounce serving of salmon may have as much as 25 grams of protein. All told, consuming salmon 2-3 times a week can have health benefits ranging from weight loss, reduced inflammation, improved brain health, and more.

(Also ReadHealthy ingredients – Tahini)

All of these health benefits of salmon come with a relatively low-calorie count and mostly unsaturated fats, making it a healthier choice than many other meats. Plus, salmon is delicious and versatile, as it can be prepared many different ways and still have great taste.

Salmon Prepared the CookinGenie Way

If you’re looking to incorporate more salmon into your diet, look no further than CookinGenie. If you’re not used to cooking with salmon, you may not be sure what to do with it, or if you cook with salmon often, you may just be out of ideas. That’s where CookinGenie comes in. Our talented genies currently offer more than 15 different dishes using the superfood salmon! And these dishes are as unique as the genies themselves, showcasing its delicious versatility with a wide variety of preparations.

Genie Rashidah Shabazz serves salmon 3 different ways on her menu, including a citrus-ginger salmon and  lemon-balsamic salmon, so you could take your salmon to the far east or to Italy.

Our genie Lashondre’a Lenor offers a creative twist, quite literally, on salmon by serving a stunning entrée of braided salmon, which a whole side of salmon, expertly braided and roasted just like a loaf of challah bread. But if you’re in the mood for something more classic, like a simple, wholesome entrée of seared salmon with rice pilaf and green beans, she has you covered there too.

But it’s not all whole salmon either, genie Vanessa Calhoun serves a delicious Salmon Croquette, which is tender shreds of roasted salmon, rolled up into balls, breaded, and fried into a crispy, addicting snack.

Finally, if you’d like salmon on a salad, look no further than genie Courtney White, who serves a flaky filet of salmon on top of a classic Caesar salad with homemade dressing and croutons.

These are just a few of the delectable salmon dishes CookinGenie has to offer. They’re just as healthy as they are delicious, to see all of the amazing ways you can enjoy salmon with CookinGenie, check out our menu and book a genie today!

Source: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-benefits-of-salmon#TOC_TITLE_HDR_2

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Why do we Love Spicy Food -CookinGenie blog

09 Sep 2021

We all know at least one person who loves their food insanely hot. They insist that their hot wings “aren’t spicy enough unless I’m dripping with sweat.”  On it’s face, that doesn’t make sense. Spicy foods cause physical pain, not just in the mouth, but sometime through the entire body. Why would we deliberately eat, and enjoy, something that causes pain? Well, it turns out, there are actually some pretty compelling reasons why so many people around the world love the way it hurts.

Spicy Foods Can Cause a “High”

Spice is not a “flavor” but rather a sensation. The sensation of spice comes from the chemical compound capsaicin, which is the substance that makes hot peppers hot. Capsaicin causes pain and triggers the body to think it’s in danger. In response, the body releases endorphins, which are pleasure causing hormones, this is the body’s way of trying to eliminate the “threat” it feels when you eat spicy food. This chemical release causes some people to associate eating hot foods with happiness, creating a “high”, similar to that of the good feeling you get after exercising.

When the body feels it’s in danger, it will also release the survival hormone adrenaline, which can give someone eating a fiery hot bowl of noodles a sense of heart-pounding excitement, just like if they were riding a roller coaster or bungee jumping. In short, for many, eating hot foods is a kind of thrill seeking.

Hot Peppers are Full of Antimicrobial Properties

It stands to reason that since the chemicals in hot peppers cause us pain, they can also be harmful to bacteria, viruses, and other microbes. Before refrigeration, hot peppers were often used to help preserve food and ward off bacteria in hotter parts of the world. This was integral to food safety; hot peppers were literally life savers.

That’s why hotter countries like India and Mexico have developed very spicy traditional cuisines while more temperate climates like England and Scandinavia produce much more mild food. So, because of these antimicrobial properties found in hot peppers, many cultures created spicy traditional dishes and over generations, billions of people have come to love them.

Hot Food’s Health Benefits

One reason we may love spicy food is because it’s so good for us. Extensive amounts of scientific research point to all kinds of health benefits from eating spicy foods. Capsaicin, the chemical compound found in chili peppers, is loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. Capsaicin has also been linked to improved digestion, an increased metabolism, better heart health, reduction in cancer risk, and a strengthened immune system. Turns out, hot peppers are one of nature’s true superfoods.

CookinGenie Brings the Heat

At CookinGenie, we offer a range of fiery, delicious dishes that appeal to even the most avid of heat seekers. Try genie Jared’s Red Thai Curry, which uses bird’s eye chili peppers along with a blend of aromatic Thai ingredients to make a vibrant, spicy curry sauce filled with stir-fried vegetables. Perhaps order genie Dylan’s Jerk Chicken, which takes juicy chicken legs and slathers them in a tangy, sweet & spicy Jamaican sauce made from habaneros, ginger, cinnamon, and more.

Whatever, your spice preference may be, CookinGenie can accommodate you. You can always request that a dish be more (or less) spicy, and our genies can even make separate plates so that some portions are really spicy for the heat lover in your family, and the rest are milder. To bring the delicious, healthy heat to your kitchen, book a genie today.

Written by:  Jared Kent

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CookinGenie blog image for "Air-frying a better way to enjoy fried foods"

02 Sep 2021

In America, we love our fried foods. From chicken wings and French fries all the way to corndogs and mozzarella sticks, we’ll eat just about anything that came from a deep fryer. But as much as we love these foods, it doesn’t take an advanced nutrition degree to tell that something submerged in a vat of hot fat probably isn’t good for you.

Why Are Fried Foods Bad for You?

Deep frying foods cause the calorie count to go way up, it adds more saturated fat, and tacks on cholesterol. It’s been well-documented that regularly eating fried foods can promote weight gain, increase your chance of heart disease and diabetes, and just generally degrade your overall health.

Why Do We Eat So Much Fried Food?

Given all the adverse health effects of deep-fried food, it seems fairly obvious that giving them up would be a great lifestyle choice. But still, we love our fried foods, with 1 in 3 Americans eating fast food every day. The trouble is the hot, crispy food that comes out of the deep fryer can be very tasty, and rather addicting. Plus, many of us grew up with fried foods like chicken tenders and onion rings, and as adults, it can be very hard to put them down.

Air Frying: A Healthier Way to Fry

With more people becoming increasingly health-conscious about their diet, a new phenomenon has come into the fold over the past few years, air frying. An air fryer is a countertop machine with a perforated basket to “fry” foods without submerging them in oil. You simply toss the food with just a little bit of oil, put it in the basket, and the air fryer cooks it by blasting hot air in a rapid convective motion around the food. So technically, the air fryer doesn’t “fry” the food, it’s more of a quick convection bake, but the result of ultra-crispy food is still the same.

Without all that oil, air-fried foods have fewer calories than deep-fried foods and have much lower fat and cholesterol content. Of course, things like chicken wings and fries are still not exactly healthy foods even when air-fried, but this new age device can certainly help curb some of the worst consequences, so you can feel much better indulging.

Air Frying with CookinGenie

At CookinGenie, one genie has mastered the art of air-frying and is ready to share his air fryer with the world. Genie Dylan Tompkins offers several air-fried dishes, such as his extra crispy air-fried wings with a delicious choice of sauces such as barbecue, buffalo, Cajun, and garlic-parmesan. He also has crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside air-fried sides such as the delicious marble potatoes served with bacon smash burger, or the golden-brown French fries that come with the chicken gyro. These delicious foods have all the same crispy fried goodness you love but without all the bad health baggage. With the magic of the air fryer and the magic of CookinGenie, you can have your fried foods, and eat them too.

 

Written by:  Jared Kent

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Personal Chef -a Safer Way for dinner party - cookinGenie

25 Aug 2021

One of the hardest things about the pandemic is that we haven’t been able to celebrate the significant events in our lives the same way. Gathering for birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays has become much riskier and with restrictions in place, much harder too.

With all of those events, one of the best ways to celebrate has always been going out to eat. For a special occasion, there’s nothing better than having someone else cook delicious food for you, while you sit back and relax. But in the era of Covid, celebrating with a dinner out may not be something you, or your family, would be totally comfortable with, especially with an infectious new variant swirling around.

But what about that birthday party? Wouldn’t it be nice to still have someone take care of all the cooking and cleaning for you, even if you don’t want to go out? Well, you could do takeout, but by now, we’re all pretty well sick of opening up Styrofoam boxes. Instead, why not book a personal chef with CookinGenie?

A CookinGenie chef will do all the shopping, arrive at your home, and cook a delicious restaurant quality meal for you and your guests. CookinGenie has a wide variety of delicious chef-inspired dishes to choose from, representing a multitude of different cuisines.

Many of the dishes we offer are great for sharing, making them excellent for a casual or formal gathering. Get a bowl of genie Christian’s Guacamole and Chips to pass around, or perhaps dazzle your guests with genie Dylan’s artisanal charcuterie board.  For the bacon lovers in your group, genie Jared offers delectable appetizers of bacon-wrapped dates and water chestnuts. Whatever your party needs, our chefs are very adaptable and can tailor the amount of food to fit your number of guests.

When you choose to hold your gathering at home, you have much more control over everything. At a crowded public restaurant, you may be seated indoors, you’ll be unsure of the vaccination status of the people around you, and there may or may not be mask wearing. At home, you can choose to eat outside, choose to enforce masking, and you can reduce the risk of your gathering by keeping it just between close friends and family. At home, whatever you’re comfortable with, you can do.

But the best part is that even with all those added health measures, there’s no comprising the quality of the food! CookinGenie will still deliver a restaurant quality meal from your kitchen and there’s no cooking or cleanup that you have to do. You can feel comfortable having a CookinGenie chef come cook for you. Each of our genies undergoes a health questionnaire the morning of the cooking appointment and are required to wear masks the entire time they’re in your home. You will also see our genies practice frequent handwashing and other good hygiene and food safety measures.

In these crazy times, we all just want a little bit of normalcy. So, for your next celebration, book a genie and experience a safer way to celebrate.

 

Written by:  Jared Kent

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Meal Kits vs. Personal Chef – Which is right for you-CookinGenie

12 Aug 2021

In this day and age, there are seemingly endless options to feed ourselves. One popular method is the do-it-yourself meal kits. There are hundreds of companies offering this service; therefore, a variety of options.

Another option, personal chef services, are gaining traction and becoming a trend for their unique and incredible dining experiences.

Today we compare and contrast the two most amazing services here.

Meal Kits:

 We talked to one of our friends about her experience with certain popular meal delivery services.

We asked her if the experience of using a meal kit was easier, tastier, healthier, and cheaper than the companies advertise?

Overall, she said she had a positive experience with the service. There’s a great collection of healthy, fresh dishes. The boxes came with conveniently sized, pre-portioned ingredients and straightforward, easy-to-follow recipes that came together in 45 minutes or less. It was much quicker and easier than meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking for yourself.

She could customize her orders to have more or fewer meals per box. As soon as the next day, the boxed food would arrive at her door. The service accommodates those with allergies and dietary restrictions, with plenty of vegetarian, vegan, keto, gluten-free, and paleo options.

When the boxes arrive, the ingredients are of good quality and taste, but it depends on the expertise of the person cooking. She spends about sixty dollars a week to get six meals. Some premium items cost a little more, but generally, you can expect to pay about 10 dollars per meal. It is a bit more cost-effective than eating out.

She also mentioned that the ingredients come with excess packaging, leaving boxes, plastic sleeves, and disposable containers. Occasionally boxes come with missing ingredients or items that are wilted, moldy, or otherwise spoiled.

For her and her family, the portion sizes are mostly sufficient. There are no leftovers.

Finally, while the dishes are simple and easy to make, she has to cook herself. She spends about 45 minutes cooking a typical dish from the box and about another half hour or so cleaning up afterward.

Personal Chef Service:

Personal chefs have been around for a long time. Traditionally used by the rich and famous, now there are more options for affordable personal chef services. Personal chefs provide many helpful services. Some chefs specialize in meal prep for busy families, while some create special occasion multi-course meals for an in-home dining experience for you and your guests. The costs vary depending on the special occasion and the amount of food needed. Meal prepping is comparable to Meal kits, whereas the multi-course meals will depend on the number of guests and the number of courses on the menu.

Personal chefs shop groceries for you, come to your house, and cook for you right in your kitchen. After cooking, they clean up after themselves. With a personal chef, you can customize your meals based on your dietary needs. They can take care of meal prep for the family and create a custom menu for your dinner party as well. They hand-select the ingredients and cook them in front of you. Quality and fresh food are always a priority. With a personal chef, you don’t spend time cooking or cleaning up. Time-saving is a huge bonus.

Personal chefs are gaining traction as more and more people are working longer hours and have demanding lives. People are focused on health and also looking for enriching experiences. The focus is not only fresh, wholesome food, but a personal chef strives to provide a unique dining experience for you, your family, and your friends.

Conclusion:

In the above, we discussed both meal kit service and personal chef service. Let us know in the comment section, which services are your favorite and why.

If you are​ planning to host a dinner party or looking for an unique dining experience with a personal chef, please​ try CookinGenie.

Personal chef service by CookinGenie:

CookinGenie offers a wide variety of delicious foods from different cuisines, in family-friendly sizes. Like these services, they are very accommodating of allergies and dietary restrictions. They tailor a meal to fit your exact needs. You can use the website to book a chef, pick out the menu, schedule a time, and pay in just a few clicks. The chefs (‘genies’) are friendly, professional, and lend a personal touch to your dining experience. With a varied lineup of talented home cooks and trained professional chefs on the platform, CookinGenie strives to provide a delicious wow factor. When you order from CookinGenie, you are supporting a local family-run business and local chefs. If you’re looking for an easy, affordable way to have fresh, healthy meals while saving time, personal chefs provided by CookinGenie are worth a try! Book your chef here.

 

Written by:  Jared Kent

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Understanding USDA Beef Grades_CookinGenie_blog

29 Jul 2021

When you walk through the meat section at the grocery store, you will often find steaks labeled with a small shield in the right-hand corner, denoting a USDA grade and claiming the steak as prime, choice, or select. But what do these grades really mean? And how should they impact your decisions on what steak to buy, or not to buy?

The first thing to understand is that the USDA has two main objectives when looking at beef: inspection and grading. Inspection is required of all meats that are shipped across state lines, as mandated by the Meat Inspection Act of 1906. Inspection is a safety measure; it does not guarantee quality but simply ensures that the meat is safe for human consumption.

Grading, however, is different. A grade is an assurance of quality you can trust. Within 24 hours of the animal being slaughtered, expert USDA graders examine the meat and assign a grade on the basis of age, color, texture, firmness, and marbling.

Of these grading criteria, marbling, which is the intramuscular fat inside a piece of meat, is the easiest to identify—it’s the white lines that run through a piece of raw steak. Marbling equals tenderness and juiciness. As the steak cooks, the fat melts and makes the steak moist and tender. The more marbling, the higher quality the steak.

With all these criteria in mind, the USDA has eight grades it applies to beef: Prime, choice, select, standard, commercial, utility, cutter, and canner. The higher the grade, the more expensive the steak.

(Also ReadWhat Makes Bibimbap The Ultimate Korean Feast?)

Prime is the highest grade, this meat comes from younger animals, is rich in marbling, juicy, tender, and flavorful. But it is also expensive and can be hard to find.

Choice meat is of excellent quality, with solid marbling and flavor, it offers great value and is readily available. Choice steaks are good candidates for grilling, roasting, or searing.

Select meat is of solid quality and is very economical. Since select meats are a little tougher and drier, they are well suited for moist cooking techniques like stewing and braising.

Standard meat is cheap, tough, and of low quality. Sometimes you will see it as an ungraded store brand meat but typically it’s sold as ground meat or other processed products.

Utility, cutter, and canner meats are rarely ever used in foodservice and are typically used to make pet food and other canned products.

It’s also important to note that grading, unlike inspection, is voluntary and not required by law. So, if you go to a local butcher or farmer, their steak may not be graded, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s low quality. When shopping for these steaks, the easiest way to determine quality is to look for marbling.

Here at CookinGenie, we offer a wide range of delicious, creative steak dishes and strive to use butcher-fresh meat graded choice or better. Beneath every dish on the website, you will find a transparent list of ingredients so that you know it is quality you can trust. Browse the menu today to see what amazing steak-night dishes can be prepared in your own kitchen.

Sources: https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2013/01/28/whats-your-beef-prime-choice-or-select?page=1

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Healthy Ingredients_Tahini

14 Jul 2021

If you’ve ever dipped a carrot or pita chip into a bowl of hummus, you’ve likely been the lucky beneficiary of tahini — an extremely common, yet not commonly known ingredient that serves an integral role in middle eastern and Mediterranean cuisines. This incredible ingredient is a tasty, healthy, and versatile food that you’ll want to get to know.

A smooth paste made from grinding hulled sesame seeds, tahini is essentially sesame butter. With a delightful nutty flavor and a rich, creamy texture, tahini is almost the middle eastern equivalent of peanut butter, although tahini is a little bit looser, with an earthier, slightly more bitter flavor.

The appealing taste and texture of tahini lends itself to many tasty iterations in middle eastern cooking. Tahini is most well-known for being the glue that holds together quintessential middle eastern dips like hummus and baba ghanoush, (smoked eggplant dip) but it’s also be used in numerous other applications. It can be served as a stand-alone dip for crackers and vegetables, mixed with olive oil and lemon to make a full-bodied salad dressing, spread on toasted bread or pita, used as a marinade for grilled meats, slathered over roasted vegetables, blended into healthy fruit smoothies, or even used in desserts such as cakes and cookies.

Aside from its delicious taste and endless culinary utility, tahini is loaded with health benefits. It boasts high levels of healthy fatty acids and it’s a good source of protein, iron, calcium, antioxidants, dietary fibers, and a host of other important vitamins and minerals. This varied and impressive nutritional profile renders tahini a bona fide superfood and its rich levels of iron and protein make it an excellent ingredient for vegan and vegetarian cooking.

Among many other benefits, tahini can reduce inflammation, is good for weight loss, can strengthen the immune system, and may even help protect against heart disease and some cancers.

(Also ReadHealthy ingredients – turmeric)

You should be able to find tahini at your local grocery store in the international section, although it may sometimes require a trip to a specialty market or health foods store.

With all of its wonderful culinary variations and incredible health benefits, tahini is a great ingredient to start incorporating into your life. But with all new ingredients, sometimes it can be difficult to know where to begin.

That’s where CookinGenie comes in. Whether it’s folded into a creamy homemade hummus, drizzled over crispy hand-rolled falafel, or topping a hearty chickpea shawarma salad, our genies offer an array of healthy, delicious, family-friendly dishes that will help you seamlessly blend tahini into your diet. Book one of our talented genies today to taste and experience this magical ingredient from the comfort of your own home.

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Delicious Gluten Free Meals with CookinGenie

06 Jul 2021

The Challenge of Eating Gluten Free

For many Americans, trying to find good gluten free meals is a never-ending struggle. It’s estimated that about 30% of Americans follow a gluten free diet. A small number of these people have celiac disease, a rare disorder that causes violent illness after consuming products with gluten, but many others avoid gluten due to more minor sensitivities or to improve overall health.

Whatever your reason for seeking out gluten free meals, there’s no doubt it can be challenging. Today, as the popularity of gluten free diets have risen, it is easier to find gluten free foods, but there can still be many obstacles.

Many restaurants still don’t offer very many gluten free options on their menus, or menus don’t have specific dietary labels, which can make it hard for diners to distinguish which items are safe to order. Even in the grocery store, unless an item is clearly marked as gluten free, it can be hard to read labels and determine what is actually gluten free or not.

CookinGeine Has Plenty of Delicious Gluten Free Menu Items

This dynamic can make trying to cook gluten free meals at home difficult. Luckily, CookinGenie can service all your gluten free meal needs and then some! Scroll through the menus of our many talented genies, and you’ll find plenty of healthy, delicious gluten free meals available.

Treat yourself to a heart-healthy, gluten free meal of Pan-Seared Salmon over Creamed Spinach, courtesy of genie Lashondre’a Lenor. Or if you’re looking for an elegant gluten free chicken dinner, look no further than the delightful Lemon-Rosemary Cornish Hens found on genie Dylan Tompkin’s menu.

And if you also follow a vegan diet, (we have plenty of vegan food too) there are still plenty of delicious gluten free meals to be found on CookinGenie, such as genie Vanessa Cahoun’s amazing Jamaican Vegetable Curry or genie Ozelm Saritoprak’s authentic Turkish Stuffed Grape Leaves.

Our Genies go the Extra Mile to Create Gluten Free Dishes

Our genies take care to carefully select their ingredients to be accommodating to many different dietary restrictions. Take, for example, genie Jared Kent’s vibrant Pad Thai, which uses gluten free soy sauce, opening up dishes to gluten free eaters that might not normally be available.

Amazingly, that even goes for dessert! It’s notoriously hard to find good gluten free desserts, but CookinGenie has you covered. You can get your fix for a gluten free chocolate craving with genie Lamont Denny’s addicting Chocolate Caramel Turtles or genie Christian Farah’s decadent Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Bars.

Each dish is marked with tags that explicitly note if that item is gluten free, so there’s no guesswork involved. But even if you see a dish that’s not marked as gluten free, there’s a good chance if you give us a call, we can work with your genie to adjust it to your preferences. Often times all it takes is swapping out flour or pasta for a gluten free alternative. Our genies are skilled adapters and are happy to go above and beyond to satisfy their customers.

Eating gluten free can be tough; let CookinGenie make it a little easier, and a little more delicious.

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What Dad Really Wants_CookinGenie

06 Jul 2021

Let’s face it, Dads are hard to shop for. If your dad is anything like mine, when you ask him what he wants for Father’s Day, he insists he doesn’t want anything, citing the fact that “he already has everything he needs.”

While that’s a sweet sentiment, it can put kids trying to do something nice for Father’s Day in a bind. If you’re in this boat, don’t overthink it. The holiday is about showing dad how much you appreciate him, and you don’t need to shell out for a designer watch to do that.

A 2019 survey conducted by Omaha Steaks found that 3 of 4 dads prefer an experience over a physical gift for Father’s Day. That could be going to a ball game, catching a concert, or seeing a movie, but the survey found that the experience dads want the most for their big day is a home-cooked meal. (Another survey found most dads don’t want to go out to eat for Father’s Day.)

Of the 2,000 dads surveyed, 41% of them said their ideal Father’s Day would be spent enjoying a big, juicy steak with their family, and 79% of respondents said they love to bond with their children over food.

So, there you have it. The best gift for dad this year is the simplest, a delicious home cooked meal. But that raises other concerns. What if you don’t feel like handling all the shopping, cooking, and cleaning required? Or maybe, since Dad is usually the one manning the grill, your steak cooking skills are a little rusty?

Well, luckily, CookinGenie is here to help. With CookinGenie, you can book a talented chef to come to your home with everything they need to cook Dad a meal fit for a king. While the genie takes care of the shopping, cooking, and cleaning, you can kick back and spend some quality time with the man who made you who you are.

If your father is like those surveyed and is hankering a juicy steak this year, CookinGenie’s got you covered. Try genie Lamont’s elegant Pan-Seared Filet with Grilled Shrimp and Fennel Slaw. Or perhaps dad would prefer something a little more classic like genie Quentin’s Honey-Bourbon Sirloin with a Loaded Potato. For an adventurous twist on steak dinner, treat dad to genie Tateayona’s Latin-inspired Flank Stank with Chimichurri.

But if your dad’s not a steak guy, no problem. CookinGenie offers a delicious variety of pastas, salads, vegetarian dishes, desserts, seafood dishes, and more to satisfy any father. If dad is a bit of a foodie, there’s a wide selection of authentic Thai, Indian, Latin, Italian, Korean, and Middle eastern dishes to choose from. Plus, there’s plenty of tasty kid-friendly meals available to keep the whole family at peace. Whatever your dad prefers, CookinGenie can whip up the stunning feast he deserves.

This Father’s Day, keep it simple. Instead of dress socks or a novelty coffee mug, try CookingGenie and give dad what he really wants.

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How Chefs Manage Their Own Business

09 Jun 2021

If you’re a talented chef, you probably know the rewarding feeling of cooking for friends and family and being met with rave reviews. They might ask you when your restaurant is opening, half-seriously urge you to start a catering business, and proudly proclaim that they would pay good money to eat your food. But even as a chef, the idea of opening a restaurant or catering company is daunting. It certainly is fulfilling to share your cooking with people, but you may not want the risk or commitment of trying to launch your own business.

What if there was an easier way, a way to earn money cooking the food you love, but in a casual setting, without the all-consuming obligation of running your own business? Well, for professional chefs and skilled home cooks alike, CookinGenie is just that.

(Also ReadWhat is CookinGenie)

With CookinGenie, chefs have a platform to essentially manage their own business but in a flexible manner. CookinGenie allows chefs (genies) to create their own menus, set their own prices, and make their own schedules to fit around their busy lives. They can do all this while building their personal brand and establishing a base of regular clients. At CookinGenie, the genies have total creative control of the food. They can change menu items seasonally and can source ingredients from the local stores they love. To fulfill an order, they arrive at the client’s home, cook a meal, clean up, and earn money sharing their talents with satisfied customers.

This setup is dramatically different from most traditional chef jobs. Typically, the life of a restaurant chef entails working long hours in a hot, sweaty commercial kitchen, all while under the pressure of trying to satisfy a packed dining room. It’s hectic, stressful, exhausting, and often doesn’t pay well. Plus, most chefs in a restaurant are preparing someone else’s menu, either the head chef’s or the owner’s, so it’s hard to let creativity and passion flourish. Although the hours may be a little more normal, working in a catering company offers many of the same challenges.

CookinGenie, on the other hand, provides all the joy and excitement of cooking for others without the serious drawbacks of other chef jobs. The genie decides what’s on the menu and when they want to be available to cook. All of the cooking is done in a relaxed setting in the client’s home; there’s no pressure to keep up with the pace of service. The genie gets the personal satisfaction of interacting directly with the people enjoying the fruits of their hard work, instead of the food being sent out into the void of a dining room. CookinGenie chefs are compensated competitively and even have the opportunity to collect tips from happy customers.

(Also ReadFresh Home Cooked food: A CookinGenie Perspective by Michael Booth)

All told, CookinGenie is a fantastic way to make money and manage your own business as a chef. The flexibility allows chefs to continue other pursuits while also earning extra income as a genie and building a following. From a work perspective, there is simply no beating the creative liberties and stress-free atmosphere CookinGenie provides. In the crazy world of cooking, CookinGenie proves that there really is a better way to be a chef.

If you’re a talented local chef or home cook and CookinGenie sounds great to you, then we’d love to hear from you! Send us an email at: careers@cookingenie.com

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Vegan & Vegetarian - CookinGenie

02 Jun 2021

One of the most dominant food trends over the past several years has been the rise of veganism. Back in 2004, there were only about 300,000 vegans living in the U.S. But in 2019, that number was over 9 million, representing a 300% increase over 15 years. Plus, reporting using google search trends shows that worldwide interest in veganism hit an all-time high in 2020.

It’s easy to understand why this rise is happening. Extensive medical research has shown that a vegan, or plant-based, diet can have health benefits ranging from weight loss, diabetes prevention, decreased risk of cancer, improved heart health, and more.

Another great reason for a vegan diet is the environment. As the planet continues to warm, people are looking for ways to live more environmentally-friendly, and eating plant-based is one of the most effective ways to reduce your carbon footprint.

But it’s not just hard-core animal lovers and health nuts that are driving the push towards veganism. Several high-profile celebrities such as singers Ariana Grande and Beyonce, actors Zac Efron and Liam Hemsworth, and even former president Bill Clinton, eat a plant-based diet.

Athletes are in on the trend too. There are dozens of world-class vegan athletes, including U.S. women’s soccer star Alex Morgan, NBA point guards Chris Paul and Kyrie Irving, and the world’s top-ranked male tennis player, Novak Djokovic. All of these elite athletes say that their performance improved after switching to a vegan diet.

However, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. A recent survey from Packaged Facts show that eating a flexitarian diet, which is largely plant-based, with some meat and dairy, is also ticking upwards, with about 36% of U.S. consumers identifying as such.

Despite all these trends, it can still be very challenging to find healthy, wholesome, delicious vegan and vegetarian food. Many restaurant menus still offer very little meat-free options. Lots of us grew up in meat-centric households and have friends and family who still sneer at the idea of veganism. Plus, if you’re not used to cooking vegan food, it can be hard to make filling, satisfying entrees with vegetables.

That’s where CookinGenie comes in. Whether you’re a committed vegan, vegetarian, or just trying to eat more veggies, CookinGenie can help you eat more delicious plant-based meals. Genie Christian Farah even offers a 100% vegan menu. But don’t worry, his entirely plant-based menu still has delicious favorites like an impossible cheeseburger and dairy-free mac n’ cheese, so you don’t have to compromise on taste. He also has other incredible whole food vegan options like a vibrant homemade falafel platter, inspired by his Lebanese heritage.

Other genies’ menus have more tasty plant-based offerings. You’ll find hearty vegan and vegetarian items like roasted cauliflower steaks with couscous, creamy mushroom risotto, and exciting international dishes like Indian lentil stew. Many of these dishes are also packed with healthy proteins.

Wherever, you may fall on the eating spectrum, if you’re looking for an affordable, easy, healthy, and delicious way to incorporate more plant-based meals in your diet, look no further than CookinGenie.

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travel around the culinary world with CookinGenie

19 May 2021

In my time as a chef, I’ve been lucky enough to travel around the world and immerse myself in different cultures and cuisines. I’ve learned from amazing local chefs how to prepare traditional dishes and have been awestruck by the sensational flavors that can be found across the globe. Now, with CookinGenie, I can bring those experiences into your home, so that you can feel some of the same wonder I did.

While living on the small island of Bermuda, I learned from my Jamaican co-workers the secrets behind making Jerk sauce, the nuanced, spicy-tangy condiment that they slather over grilled chicken, pork, shrimp, and other meats and vegetables. I fell in love with the sauce and its big, bold flavors, and now offer a jerk chicken on my menu, complete with a sweet plantain puree and fluffy coconut rice.

On a trip to South America, I met a local chef in a sleepy beachside town in Peru. After a brief conversation, she took me down to the local fish market where we picked out a gorgeous seabass that was caught that morning. We went back to her kitchen and she showed me how to make ceviche, carefully dicing the fish and marinating it with lime, cilantro, and onion, allowing the acid from the lime to gently cook the fish. The dish was so bright and crisp and refreshing; it was unlike anything I’ve ever had before. It stuck in my memory so much that it’s now the inspiration behind the ceviche found on my menu; red snapper tossed with lime, fire-roasted pineapple, habanero, and coconut milk.

When I was studying abroad in Singapore, I was blessed to partake in an immersive month-long course on Southeast Asian cuisine. I was taught by distinguished Chinese, Indian, and Malaysian chefs how to use spices to build layers of flavor, how to cook in a wok, and how to prepare a dizzying array of noodle dishes. Today, that knowledge is reflected on my menu by a rich Indian butter chicken and a simple yet delicious Chinese-inspired dish of stir-fried veggies in a sweet chili sauce.

A few weeks later, I spent ten days learning from a Thai chef who had mastered the cuisine. She showed me how to grind aromatic herbs and spices into vibrant, colorful curry pastes. I learned to make classic Thai street foods like chicken satay, pineapple fried rice, and of course, the beloved noodle dish, Pad Thai. With CookingGenie, all of these favorites can be made in your own kitchen.

After Thailand, I traveled to Vietnam and walked the streets of Saigon, sampling various delicacies from busy roadside vendors. The bun cha, sweet-savory pork patties cooked on charcoal grills and served with a tangy dipping sauce, were a revelation for me, and I hope they will be for you too.

As a genie, I get the joy of reliving those experiences with each dish I cook. I apply the knowledge I’ve learned and deliver every plate with love and passion. I hope to honor those around the world who so graciously opened their hearts and kitchens to me, by sharing what they taught me, with you.

So, if you’re curious and if you want to take a trip around the culinary world without leaving your own home, give CookinGenie a try, and taste the possibilities.

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Teacher Appreciation Week - CookinGenie

04 May 2021

Can we all just agree that teachers are the unsung heroes of the pandemic?  

This spring—as the world as we knew it turned upside down—they quickly pivoted to teaching virtually, creating new lessons and mastering new technology with just a few days’ notice, and saying goodbye to their students at the end of the year via Zoom.  

And then this fall, when the promise of a vaccine seemed like a distant pipe dream, some welcomed students to a virtual classroom while others headed back to school and toggled between in-person and hybrid schedules. And they mastered this all on top of teaching daily lessons, providing emotional support (to kids and their hyper-stressed parents), fostering kids’ social development, and all the other invaluable services teachers provide their studentsand then they headed home to care for their own kids and families.    

 For all these reasons—and so many more! —teachers deserve a little extra appreciation this year during Teacher Appreciation Week. 

 While many gift ideas exist, CookinGenie can be perfect for teachers. At the click of a button, they can have us shop cook, and clean for them. Whether it is for a small dinner party they are hosting, or it is for them to take time off from cooking for the workweek CookinGenie gift card is a great way to give the gift of fresh home cooking to your favorite teachers and make them feel extra special as the school year winds down.  

 

Ordering is as easy as 1-2-3. 

Click here to order a gift card. 

  1. Choose from a variety of teacher-themed designs. 
  2. Select the gift amount. 
  3. Send the gift card electronically or print and hand deliver for a personal touch 

 However you choose to appreciate the teachers in your community, this Teacher Appreciation Week, we at CookinGenie, thank this wonderful group of people who have ensured our children’s growth, development, and well-being as we look back at an unprecedented year through the pandemic.

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26 Apr 2021

“All that I am, or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” 

—Abraham Lincoln 

The second Monday of every May is dedicated to the women (Mother’s day) who take care of us the other 364 days of the year: Moms.  

 And don’t they deserve a day just for them? In many homes, moms are the ones who get it all done: making home cooked meals, buying groceries, packing lunches, folding laundry, organizing schedules, running the carpool, and so much more. Even in today’s more enlightened times, with a generation of dads who take on more than any group before them, a Gallup poll showed that women still shoulder the primary responsibility for doing the laundry, cleaning the house, and making meals.1  

 So this Mother’s Day, how can you show that special mom—your own mother, the mother of your children, a mom-to-be, or a special mom in your life—that you care? Sure, flowers and handmade cards are great. But this Mother’s Daywe’ve got a better idea: get her a Genie, and leave the meal shopping, prepping, cooking, and cleaning up to us.  

Whether you want to treat her to brunch, lunch, dinner, or a week’s worth of meals prepped and ready to go for the days ahead, CookinGenie can arrange for a chef to show up at the door with all the ingredients needed to make a fresh, home-cooked meal from scratch. Our Genie will prepare and plate the food and leave the kitchen as clean (or maybe even cleaner!) as it was before they arrived. 

 Not sure what to order? Check out this sample Mother’s Day menu 

How about starting your meal with Genie Michael Booth’s decadent Baked Brie, a show-stopping starter of creamy brie wrapped in crisp, flaky puff pastry and topped with a nutty bourbon glaze.  

 

Or maybe begin with a springy Arugula Salad studded with marinated red onions, shaved Parmesan and toasted walnuts, and tossed with a refreshing lemon vinaigrette. 

 

For the main course, try a light and refreshing Cioppinoa delicate seafood stew in an aromatic tomato-fennel broth— 

 

or, if you want something more hearty, Filet Mignon with Fingerlings, Broccolini and Chimichurri. 

 

And end on a sweet note with a Fruit Crostata topped with a dollop of homemade whipped cream.  

Don’t see mom’s favorites on our menu – message us and we are going to put a custom home cooked meal together for the special mom.  

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Charcuterie - CookinGenie blog

26 Apr 2021

Whether it be displayed out at your dinner party, the beginning of date night, or accompanying your favorite bottle of wine, a charcuterie board is a perfect accouterment. Charcuterie (pronounced “shahrkyut-uh-ree) is the French word for the art of cookery dedicated to the preparation of preserved meats, typically pork. The name charcuterie dates back to 15th-century shops which sold many different styles of pork, from terrines and pâtés to hams and sausages. They also specialized in confit, another preservation style involving slowly cooking protein in its rendered fat, for other delicacies like foie gras, a preparation of fatty duck or goose liver. The chef that runs the establishment is referred to as a Charcutier. In a more modern French kitchen, charcuterie is typically handled by a Garde Manger, a chef who is in charge of cold items like salads, cold soups, fruit, and charcuterie.  

Before they got to dinner parties: the origins of Charcuterie 

Charcuterie started as a way of life for people who were looking to preserve what they had excess of. Someone could take and eat what they could fresh from their kill and smoke or cure what they couldn’t currently use or didn’t want to go bad. Early examples of American cookbooks have recipes for a preserved culinary survival food called Pemmican, which is a loaf of dried beef, berries, and tallow to form a high-energy, simple food source. This was introduced by Native Americans and then eventually adopted by European fur traders and then found its way to the arctic as it was easy to prepare and would last for a long time before going bad.  

In modern kitchens, when you see a charcuterie board on a dinner party menu, it refers to an artisan-level crafted assortment of meats and sometimes cheeses that seek to work as something to nibble on before the main course. It is often selected with the flavor profile of the wine, menu, or season in mind. In the summer, a cool and crisp Moscato will cut through a razor-thin slice of a rich prosciutto or serrano ham. Likewise, spicy dried chorizo or soppressata will help finish that bottle of bold, tannin-rich Cabernet Sauvignon on a cold winter night.  

In general, charcuterie typically has three main branches: whole-muscle, pâtés, and cured sausages. Whole muscle typically refers to a whole loin of muscle, cured in salt and sometimes spices. It can include anything from American Bacon, Prosciutto, Speck, Jamon Serrano, Country Ham, Pancetta, Bresaola, Cappocollo, Guanciale, and Lardo. Pâtés can be any type of culinary preparation of forcemeat, herbs, fats, and spices. The most famous one people would know by name is probably pâté de foie gras, made from the livers of fattened geese, but most cultures around the world have their own takes on meat-pastes. Cured sausages cover anything from the pepperonis and salamis that you find in your local deli to finely crafted dry-aged Spanish Chorizo or French Saucisson.  

Nowadays most specialty grocers, Mediterranean wine bars, and some high-end pubs will carry a varying assortment of curated meats and cheeses. In Cleveland, we even have access to locally made craft cheese and charcuterie. Places like The Brooklyn Cheese Shop and Astoria Cafe & Market, produce many varieties of their old-world preparations and recipes. If you are looking to assemble a charcuterie spread for your dinner party guests, CookinGenie can help. There are many Genies who can create this incredibly classy looking starter for your guests.  

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Meal prepping for dinner - CookinGenie

21 Apr 2021

Today, the age-old question of how to meal prep for dinner is more complicated than ever. With a range of different meal delivery services, prepared and frozen foods delivered to your doorand a wide market for takeout, the choices are seemingly endless. Now, entering the fray is a new service, CookinGenie, which rethinks the idea of dining at home by bringing a culinary expert into your home to prepare a delicious, home-cooked meal in your very own kitchen. So, with all these choices available, let’s look at the process, price, positivesand negatives of each to find out the option that might work best for you 

 

Meal Delivery Kits for Meal Prepping 

Price: 

$-$$ With so many different meal delivery kits available, the prices can run anywhere from $5/meal to $18/meal. But for most mainstream services like Blue Apron or Hello Fresh, $10-12 per meal is standard.  

Process: 

Visit the website of one of the many meal delivery services, create a profileand begin choosing your dishesWith a few clicks, you can have boxes of fresh ingredients and recipes arriving as soon as the next day. Then, unpack the box, follow the recipe, and cook yourself a meal 

Pros:

  • The recipes are quick and easy to make.  
  • Feeling of accomplishment from cooking your own food 
  • You can customize the number of meals you want. 
  • Kits are accommodating to dietary restrictions and allergies.  
  • Precise portioning cuts down on food waste. 
  • The platform is easy to use, offers plenty of fresh, healthy choices. 

Cons: 

  • Kits come with excess packaging to get rid of.  
  • Subscription required. 
  • For hungrier eaters, portion sizes may leave a little bit to be desired.  
  • On occasion, ingredients may arrive spoiled.  
  • Dishes are not quite chef or restaurant quality.  
  • You still need to put the time and effort into cooking and cleaning up afterward.  
  • Usually supporting a large, multinational corporation.  
The bottom line:

Easier than shopping and cooking for yourself and cheaper than eating out, meal prepping kits are a good mix of affordability and convenience. But if you’re looking for a more memorable experience that you don’t have to cook yourself, there are better options out there. 

 

Ready to Eat/Frozen Meal Delivery Service 

Price:

$$ There are many different services that ship frozen meals to your door, and they can all fluctuate on price, with some high-end options out there. However, you can normally expect to pay about $11-15 per meal, plus shipping fees 

Process: 

Create a profile on a frozen meal delivery site such as Home Bistro, choose your meal(s) or meal plan(s)wait for delivery, and pop the box in the microwave to heat up. 

Pros:

  • Good variety of chef-inspired meals that come with protein, starch, vegetable, and sauce.
  • Many of the meals are highly tailored to specific diets such as weight loss, keto, and paleo. 
  • Most of the meals are ready to eat after just a few minutes in the microwave or oven 
  • Frozen meals can keep in the freezer indefinitely.  
  • No cleanup required.  

Cons:    

  • Many services don’t begin to offer free shipping unless you order a certain amount.  
  • Reheating frozen food can feel boring and impersonal; food may be bland 
  • Boxes may take a while to arrive. 
  • Sometimes food may come partially defrosted or not reheat evenly.  
The bottom line:

There’s no denying the convenience of being able to pop something in the microwave and have a hot meal in a few minutes. But while frozen meals have certainly improved from the days of supermarket TV dinnersthey’re more of an occasional fare than something you’d want to eat regularly.  

 

Takeout/Delivery

Price:

$-$$ Depending on where you’re getting takeout from, the price can fluctuate greatly. 

The Process:

Call up a restaurant, go online to order, or use one of the many apps like DoorDash or Uber Eats to set up a pickup or delivery.  

Pros:

  • During the pandemic, it’s easier than ever to get takeout 
  • There’s a great variety of places to get fresh, healthy, delicious takeout from. 
  • Usually only takes about 30 minutes to get food.  
  • Supporting local businesses.  

Cons 

  • You have to drive to the restaurant or pay extra delivery fees. 
  • Generally, one can only get one type of cuisine at once and may not have leftovers to enjoy all week.   
  • If you have dietary restrictions or allergies, it could be tricky to ensure the meal fits your needs. 
  • Food apps layer on their service charges and those can add up. 
The bottom line:

Generally speaking, takeout is a relatively affordable, convenient way to have dinner once or twice a week.  

 

CookinGenie for Meal Prepping

Price:

$$ Prices will differ by Genie and by dish, but most are between $10-$15 per portion. 

The Process:

Visit CookinGenie.com, type in your location, and you can browse through our many talented genies. You can look through each genie’s menu and profile individually, or search by dish or type of cuisine. Then, select the dishes you want to order and pick a time and date for a genie to come to your home and cook for you. They will arrive with everything they need, cook you a delicious meal, and restore your kitchen to the state they found it in.  

Pros: 

  • CookinGenie food is fresh, wholesomeand delicious.  
  • A skilled cook preparing restaurant-quality food for you adds a unique personal touch 
  • A wide variety of different cuisines and dishes are available at once. 
  • Service is accommodating to dietary restrictions and allergies.  
  • Generous, family-friendly sizes of 4 or 8 portions.  
  • Flexibility; date night, dinner parties, special occasionsweeknight family meals, and meal prepping can all be taken care of by CookinGenie
  • You don’t have to leave home, cook, or clean. 
  • Supporting a local business and local chefs.  

Cons: 

  • CookinGenie does require some planning ahead.  
  • May take a couple of hours after the Genie arrives for food to be ready.  
The bottom line:

In terms of affordability, CookinGenie is on par with takeout, cheaper than frozen meal delivery, and just a hair more than most meal kits. But that small difference is well worth it when you consider the superior food and convenience of not having to cook yourself. With so many options out there, it can be hard to decide what the dinner plan should be. But all things considered, in terms of taste and overall value for your hard-earned dollars, CookinGenie stands head and shoulders above the rest.

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Bibimbap-CookinGenie

07 Apr 2021

CookinGenie lets you travel with food all around the world. Next stop: Korea. 

Sometimes, the humblest foods are the best foods. That’s certainly the case with bibimbapKorea’s answer to fried rice, and—if you ask us—one of the top must-try foods around the world. 

The word “bibimbap” means “mixed rice with meat and vegetables,” and variations of the dish abound. It’s a dish that is endlessly customizable based on whatever the cook has on hand: some versions are made with raw beef and eggs, while others incorporate cooked seafood or pork and fried egg. What all these versions have in common is a base of rice topped with ingredients that are individually prepared and carefully seasoned, then stirred together just before serving. The result is a colorful dish with flavors and textures that are hearty, bold and harmonize beautifully with one another.   

In its article about bibimbap, the Korean Culture Blog cites different origin stories for this famed food, which is centuries old. “One story is that ancestral rituals were performed in the countryside away from home and after the rituals, instead of bringing all the foods back home which was cumbersome, the people mixed together all the foods in one big bowl and ate them all. Another story is that bibimbap came from the ancient custom of mixing leftover cooked rice with all the remaining side dishes and eating it as a midnight snack on the eve of Lunar New Year.  Another story is that while working out in the fields, the farmers mixed together all the nutritious ingredients in one big bowl to have a quick and healthy meal.”1  

Over time, regional variations developed with the most famous version coming from Jeonju, a small city in South Korea. Jeonju bibimbap is made with bean sprouts, gingko nut, pine nut, chestnut, spinach, lettuce, bracken, mushroom, turnip, carrot, seaweed, and beef. It beautifully represents the philosophy of Hansik (traditional Korean food), by combining the five colors that represent the elements that make up the universe—green/water, red/fire, yellow/wood, white/metal and black/earth—and the five flavors: sweet, hot, sour, salty and bitter.2 

There are also variations based on the type of dish bibimbap is made and served in. Traditional yangpun bibimbap is served in a yangpun, a large brass bowl, although these days many Korean cooks reach for a stainless steel bowl to make yangpun bibimbap instead3. One of the most beloved varieties is dolsot bibimbap, which is made in a dolsot—a heavy stone or earthenware bowl that’s heated to a high temperature before ingredients are added. The rice goes in first so it cooks in the hot bowl and forms a crispy, crackling bottom crust that adds a satisfying crunch when everything is stirred together.  

Bibimbap took flight outside Korea—literally—and gained notice as one of the best foods in the world in the late twentieth century when South Korean Airlines began serving it for inflight meals. Its popularity quickly spread: Wikipedia calls the dish a global symbol that symbolizes the harmony and balance in Korean culture4 and CNN Travel listed it at number 40 on its 2011 list of the World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods.5  

CookinGenie’s Jared Kent makes his bibimbap by topping seasoned white rice with spicy ground pork and garlicky carrots, soy-glazed spinach, quick-pickled cucumbers, green onions and kimchiand crowning it all with a crispy fried egg. (He makes a just-veggies version for you vegetarians out there too). Just before serving, he drizzles the bowl with a sweet-and-spicy gochujang-soy sauce that ties it all together.  

And just a quick note: we added bibimbap to our menu at the request of one of our customers. Are you craving a dish and don’t see it on our menu? Just ask! Our team of Genies are inventive cooks with a deep repertoire of recipes—so chances are one of our chefs can help you satisfy your cravings for famous food from around the world. Send us an email with your special request to support@cookingenie.com 

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Fresh home cooked food by Michael Booth

25 Mar 2021

I believe Cleveland’s own Michael Symon says it best: “Cooking and feeding people always makes me feel better and, I think, it will also make everyone else feel a little more normal and better, too.” 2020 has, to nobody’s surprise, devastated the culinary industry around the world. It has left many cooks, chefs, dishwashers, and servers without a reliable source of income and taken away a major part of their daily drive. But as times change and industries evolve, people find new outlets for work, creativity, and passion to satisfy their craving for fresh food. 

Right as the pandemic took hold and many places were forced to close their doors, I found myself without a kitchen to run and a lot of time on my hands. It allowed me time to pursue other culinary outlets and has given me the chance to explore the world of cuisine from outside the confines of a hot bustling commercial kitchen. With CookinGenie, I am able to keep pursuing that daily drive and practicing my art, even in times of turmoil. At first, as with any new industry, I had my doubts about reversing the typical restaurant status quo and traveling with my expertise. But as I would go on to learn, culinary passion is the same whether it was in a busy kitchen or in someone’s home.  

One of the best feelings of working in a restaurant is going out to the dining room at the end of a busy night and seeing a packed house of customers all having the night of their lives. From couples having a romantic night out, to families celebrating a birthday, it brought a sense of accomplishment and pride to see plates of food that took so much time and effort to make come back practically licked clean. With CookinGenie, I am able to work directly with the client and give them that same sense of satisfaction, while being able to give them and their food one hundred percent more focus and attention. My first client was a family celebrating getting their vaccine and being able to see extended family from out of state for the first time. I was able to connect and bring these people a stress-free, decadent first meal in a long time. It allowed them a chance to reconnect, drink and share all while not having to worry about shopping for fresh ingredients, clean-up, sanitization, or any other worry that could come with traditional restaurants. 

CookinGenie brings a sense of appreciation that is sometimes hard to feel in the back of the house (BoH is anyone that works unseen in the back. Cooks, food runners, dishwashers, etc). Instead of the train of tickets on the line, with orders from 15 different families, CookinGenie allows for a much more personal, romantic experience. When preparing food for a client in their own kitchen, it allows the individuals cooking the meal the chance to really let their culinary talents shine. Most cooks have to follow a menu set by either their chef or the restaurant owner and never have a chance to let their personal talent and skillset succeed. With CookinGenie, the menu, the schedule, the sourcing is all mine. It also allows for menus to be changed seasonally so that you can always guarantee fresh delicious home cooked food

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Apple Pie_CookinGenie

12 Mar 2021

There are certain things that just evoke America 

 – Baseball. 

– Uncle Sam.  

– Corn fields.  

– Apple pie.  

 

But what if we told you one of these iconic symbols doesn’t really belong on the list? 

 Turns out there’s nothing all that American about apple pie. In fact, neither apples or pie originated in North America: the ancient Egyptians get the credit for creating pie, and modern apples originated in the mountains of Kazakhstan, then spread along the Silk Roads from Central Asia to Europe 

While early pies were made with meatEmily Upton, writing for Today I Found Out, reports that the first recorded apple pie recipe was from England way back in 1381. These early recipes bear little resemblance to the apple pies we know today—they rarely called for sugar (which was an expensive, luxury ingredient at that time) and came served in a pastry that went by the rather unappetizing name of “coffin.” This “coffin” was not meant to be eaten; it was really just a container to hold the filling, sort of the Middle Ages version of a paper plate. The first apple pie recipe that resembles the pie we know and loves today, with a sweetened filling and a lattice top, appeared in a 1514 Dutch cookbook. 

So how did apple pie—which is so deeply rooted in Europe—become synonymous with America? European-style apple trees arrived on American shores with the Jamestown colonists, who brought seeds and cuttings to plant in the New World. (And here’s a fun fact from What’s Cooking America: In Colonial times, apples were sometimes called winter bananas.) As colonists pushed westward, they brought apples with them. Upton credits Johnny Appleseed with cementing the apple as part of American folklore, as he roamed the frontier planting acres upon acres of apple orchards. By the 19th century, American farmers had planted and cross-pollinated trees to develop an astounding 14,000 different varieties of apples. And of course, many of those varieties were perfect for making pie. 

(Also ReadA Whirlwind Tour of US Barbecue)

Nearly as intriguing as the history of the apple in America is the history of the phrase “as American as apple pie. Upton cites a newspaper article in 1902 that said “no pie-eating people can be permanently vanquished” and a 1924 ad in the Gettysburg Times selling “New Lestz Suits that are as American as apple pie.” The phrase became such a part of the American fabric that by World War II, soldiers told journalists that they were fighting for “mom and apple pie.” 

Apple pie may have become a symbol of all that’s good about Americans, but there is a dessert that’s actually a better candidate for the title. While it might not have the same ring, a more apt phrase might be “As American as a blueberry cobbler.” Unlike the apple, blueberries—along with black cherries, strawberries, cranberries, and elderberries—are native to North America, and cobblers are a uniquely American creation. These fruit and pastry desserts, along with regional variations with such colorful names as Bettys, pandowdies, grunts, slumps, buckles, sonkers, crumbles, and crisps were created by early American settlers who turned to the simple ingredients they had on hand to create satisfying desserts. Nevertheless, it’s apple pie that became the apple of Americans’ eyes. 

At CookinGenie, we’ve recently added fresh homemade desserts to our menu and naturally, our choices include an all-American apple pie. Genie Brande Colson folds tart green apples and warm spices into a flaky, golden, homemade crust. She can even make a gluten-free variety. Cap off your next CookinGenie visit with a slice of this wholesome, rustic goodness—we can’t think of a better way to end a home-cooked meal. 

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A Whirlwind Tour of US Barbecue - CookinGenie

03 Mar 2021

“Southern barbecue is the closest thing we have in the US to Europe’s wines or cheeses; drive a hundred miles and the barbecue changes. 

 John Shelton Reed, sociologist, writer, and all-around expert on all things Southern.  

 At its most basic, barbecue is meat that’s cooked low and slow over a smoky fire. But barbecue aficionados will tell you that “authentic” American barbecue is so much more—and, just like the wines and cheeses of Europe, the answer to just what real barbecue is will vary state-to-state, even region-to-region, with each area insisting that their version is the one true style. 

 The variations by region can be dizzying. Some swear barbecue needs a vinegar-based sauce, others swear by a tomato-based sauce. Some sauce their meat with mustard, some with mayonnaise. Up your barbecue IQ by taking a quick tour of American BBQ with us and learn about just some of each region’s specialties.  

North Carolina

You’ll find not one but two distinct styles of barbecue in North Carolina. In the Eastern method—which John Shelton Reed calls the “original” American barbecue—whole hogs are smoked and then chopped and served with a vinegar-and-pepper-based sauce. Further west another style of barbecue, known as Lexington-style, emerged. Here, just the pork shoulder is smoked and it’s served on a sandwich with a bright red tomato-based sauce.  Confused yet? Hang on, we’re just getting started… 

South Carolina 

South Carolina is just one state to the south, but their take on barbecue is worlds away. Like its neighbor to the north, pork is largely the meat of choice but South Carolinians put their own spin on the sauce. A very specific condiment developed in the area stretching from Charleston to ColombiaAccording to the South Carolina Barbecue Association, German settlers brought a love for mustard with them to South Carolina, and were soon pouring golden, mustard-based, vinegary sauce they christened Carolina Gold on their pulled pork.1  

Texas 

Deep in the heart of Texas, barbecue is all about the beef—brisket specifically—smoked low and slow over oak, mesquite, pecan, or hickory wood for up to 20 hours until it’s so tender it falls off the bone. How it’s served depends on where you are: in East Texas, brisket is marinated in a sweet tomato-based sauce, while in South Texas, the sauce is molasses-based. Near the Rio Grande, Mexican-style barbacoa dominates, while in Central Texas they do without sauce altogether and settle for a simple rub of salt and pepper.2  

Kansas City 

In Kansas City, all kinds of meat are smoked—beef, pork, chicken, or sausage—but what makes it unique is the thick sweet molasses- and tomato-based sauce that the smoked meat is smothered in. The most famous specialty of KC barbecue is burnt ends, the crunchy, caramelized, intensely smoky ends of brisket. Once considered a throwaway piece of meat, these tasty nuggets have become a favorite of barbecue enthusiasts.  

Memphis 

Hold the sauce in Memphis! Here, another style of barbecue developed: slabs of pork ribs are flavored with a dry rub of garlic, paprika, chili pepper, cumin, and other spices and cooked over a hickory fire. And in Memphis, they like to think outside the box: barbecued meat is added to nachos, pizza, and even spaghetti.3  

Alabama 

Last but not least is Alabama, famous for its unconventional white barbecue sauce. This combo of mayonnaise, vinegar, apple juice, and cayenne pepper has been served with smoked chicken since the 1920s and has gradually gained national attention. In fact, Texas Monthly declared 2015 “the year of Alabama barbecue.”4    

 Our virtual road trip through American barbecue just scratches the surfaceSt. Louis, Kentucky, Georgia, and more.. they’ve all developed their own local barbecue traditions and have their own share of passionate fanatics who swear their regions are the best 

 Our newest Genie, Ryan Pascoe, brings his passion for BBQ to your home. Choose one of Ryan’s falling-off-the-bone, slow-smoked specialties and he’ll arrive at your house in the morning to set up his smoker in your backyard, driveway, or garage and get your meat going, then come back later that day to finish it off. He offers everything from traditional finger-lickin’ favorites like Saint Louis Ribs smothered in a homemade barbecue sauce, to a tender, Coffee-rubbed Brisket, to a decadent Smoked Prime Rib with Blue Cheese Mashed Potatoes. Let us know when you like the food done and we will work the right start time with you. Ryan brings the smoker with him. And takes it away – no cleanup for you. All you need to do is to find a dry spot for the smoker and a regular power outlet. Fresh meat from the nearby butcher shop, slow-cooked to perfectionIit’s not raining, even a chilly February day will not hamper an outdoor smoking event from CookinGenie 

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Celebrate Valentine's Day with CookinGenie

09 Feb 2021

Valentine’s Day has been celebrated since ancient Roman times—it began as a pagan fertility festival to celebrate Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, where goats were sacrificed, and women were paired off with men by lottery. The celebration was “Christianized” by Pope Gelasius I as the feast of St. Valentine in the 5th century, but it took centuries for the day to be associated with love. Written valentines first appeared in the 1400s, but it was the Victorians who transformed Valentine’s Day into the romantic celebration of cards and flowers that we now know.

Typically, in a normal world, Valentine’s Day meant scoring a reservation at an ultra-cozy restaurant for a leisurely feast in a romantic, dimly lit dining room. We can hope for those days to be a reality soon again. But if you are looking to celebrate and don’t want to miss out on a fine dining evening with your special someone, CookinGenie can make it happen. Turns out you CAN make the day extra special —and we’re here to help.

CookinGenie brings the restaurant experience to your home so you can enjoy a sumptuous Valentine’s Day meal prepared by a local culinary expert in the safety of your very own dining room. All at below restaurant prices. Our Genies offer a wide variety of special occasion appetizers, entrees, and desserts for your celebration. We’re talking a silky Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto, or decadent New York Strip Steak with Potatoes, Asparagus and Hollandaise Sauce, or perfectly prepared Fettuccini Mare, bursting with cherry tomatoes and plump, tender shrimp. They’ll show up at your door with everything they need to make your meal, and when they’re done, our Genies clean up and leave your kitchen as clean as (or maybe even cleaner!) than it was when they arrived. All you need to do is dim the lights, pop open the champagne, and light some candles for a romantic dinner for two (and there may be leftovers to pack a lunch the next day).

Book your Genie this Valentine’s Day weekend and see just how romantic “let’s stay in” can be.

PS Don’t see your favorites on our menu? Send us an email and we’ll work to customize a meal just for you.

(Also ReadTracing Tacos – A Journey Through Time)

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ChickenPadThai -CookinGenie

23 Dec 2020

For many people, pad Thai—the delectable sweet, sour, and spicy stir fry of rice noodles, tofu, eggs, veggies, bean sprouts, crushed peanuts, and an umami-rich sauce that can be found on the menu of virtually every Thai restaurant in the US—is their first taste of Thai cooking.  

So, it’s interesting to learn that the dish that most Americans think of as the quintessential Thai food didn’t even exist until the mid-20th century 

In her book Materializing Thailandnutritional anthropologist Penny Van Esterik says that the dish was born out of prime minister Plaek Phibunsongkhram’s campaign throughout the 1930s and 40s to build a national identity for Thailand. Hoping to create a sense of pride in “Thai-ness” by uniting his country through culture, he changed the nation’s name from Siam to Thailand,  commissioned a new national anthem, banned local languages and dialects from schools, and set out to create a national dish.

(Also ReadTracing Tacos – A Journey Through Time)

Curiously, the main ingredient in the dish that Phibunsongkhramwho was known as Phibunpromoted isn’t even native to Thailand. Stir-fried rice noodles originated in China and were introduced to the kingdom of Siam by Chinese traders in the 1700s. But promoting a stir-fried noodle dish helped solve a serious problem that Phibun’s nation was facing: flooding and war had caused severe rice shortage, and encouraging people to eat noodles helped preserve the country’s precious rice supply.2 Phibun’s administration took the basic recipe for stir fried rice noodles and loaded it up with nutritious bean sprouts, onions, peanuts, eggs, meats, and a tamarind-based sauce, then encouraged vendors to sell the dish from street carts all over the country. It was, Phibun’s son later pointed out, the first fast food in Thailand.3   

Phibun’s efforts to make pad Thai part of his country’s heritage succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. Today, it is a staple of the Thai dietBeyond Thailand, it has become a beloved dish worldwide: In 2011, pad Thai ranked number 5 in CNN Go’s reader poll of the “World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods.”4 Wondering how this simple noodle dish became an international culinary superstarMark Padoongpatta professor of Asian and Asian American studies at the University of Nevada Las Vegas and the author of a history of Thai food, says this, too, was driven by the Thai government as an act of culinary diplomacy: in an effort to stimulate exports and encourage tourism, it established the Global Thai Restaurant Company, Ltd. to train chefs and send them around the world to open Thai restaurants5.     

And now, CookinGenie brings this beloved classic noodle dish tyour house. We offer three varieties of classic pad Thai—Chicken, Shrimp, and Vegetarian—cooked from scratch with wholesome, authentic ingredients like rice noodles, sweet-and-sour tamarind paste, spicy chile-garlic paste, and Thai preserved radish. Book your Genie to bring a true taste of Thailand to your very own kitchen. 

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Chicken Tacos

25 Nov 2020

When thinking about famous foods from around the world, some key dishes come to mind. We’re willing to bet Mexican cuisine ranks high on many people’s lists, with tacos at the top. But, have you ever stopped to wonder how the tasty taco came to be?  

It turns out, the history of the taco is as colorful and varied as the taco fillings themselves.  

Tacos as we know them today were believed to have started in the 1800s as the humble lunch of Mexican silver miners. The word “taco” translates to “plug” or “wad” – reflecting the small sticks of dynamite used in the mines.  

There is evidence, however, that the taco’s origins began much earlier.  

It is believed that the Aztecs invented tortillas using masa cooked on hot stones. The Aztec emperor, Montezuma, used the tortillas like a spoon to scoop or hold food such as cochineal, beans, and chiles. The word “taco” stems from the Nahuatl word “tlahco,” meaning “half” or “in the middle” in reference to how it is formed. 

(Also ReadMade to Cook: The Cooking Hypothesis)

Early taco fillings were simple and reflected what was available, such as fishcooked organs, small insects, ants, locusts, and snails. It wasn’t until the 1500s, when Spanish soldiers arrived in Mexico with pigs from Cuba, that pork was introduced as a filling and served at large banquets (the first “taco parties” as documented in 1520 by Bernal Diaz del Castillo, a Spanish soldier sailing with Hernan Cortes). From here, the taco spread across the “New World” as a staple food 

Whether crediting the Aztecs or silver miners, the taco is a dish woven through the fabric of Mexican cuisine. 

Into America & Beyond 

Portable and easy to eat, tacos became a primary meal of the working class. In time, street food vendors filled soft corn tortillas with a simple, spicy filling to offer workers on their breaks. Around 1905, this delicious and practical meal crossed the border into the United States when Mexican laborers moved north to work on the railroads.  

It wasn’t until the 1920s that the traditional filling of organs was replaced by beef and chicken. In addition, lettuce, tomato, and cheddar cheese became standard fillings in America  this fusion brought forth by the availability of American ingredients and a more subtle palate.   

While some may prefer more traditional preparation, today, tacos in America include a vibrant blend of traditional Mexican flavors combined with new ingredients and influences from around the globe – a fusion of flavors to satiate a wide variety of tastes.  

Need further evidence of the taco’s cult-like following? In 2019, Netflix released the first season of Taco Chronicles, a docuseries that explores the rich histories of popular taco styles. From barbacoa to carnitas, cochinita to birria, and many others, watch this mouth-watering series on your next taco night.  

Whatever fillings you like, tacos are arguably one of the most-loved foods in the world. Whether you prefer vegetarian sweet potato and black bean, or chicken, pork or beef, CookinGenie offers fresh, authentic home-cooked Mexican-styled tacos to make every night taco night. We cook from scratch with wholesome ingredients, right in your kitchen. Whether meal prepping or organizing a small dinner party, our Genies can help create a taco bar like no other, connecting you back to hundreds of years of tradition and fusion of cultures through food.  

 

Sources 

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Who decides what we eat - CookinGenie

04 Nov 2020

A few years ago, an infographic went viral that showed how most of the world’s food brands are owned by just a handful of corporations. 

Image Source: visualcapitalist

Around the same time that this infographic started circulating, a study found that nearly 60% of the calories in the modern American diet come from processed foods.  

 How did we get here with our food 

 In the early years of our countryhome cooked meals & fresh cooked meals were the ways to eatWe plucked our own chickens, grew our own vegetables, made our own bread. We ate whole foods made from scratch. There were innovations—a company called Van Camp sold canned beans to the Union Army during the Civil War, Clarence Birdseye introduced frozen foods in the 1920s—but for the most part, we knew where your food came from or at least knew the local farmer or butcher who provided our ingredients. 

 It was post World War II that our food supply really started to change. Food manufacturers who had secured government contracts during the war saw their profits plummet. To make up for lost wartime revenue, they started introducing new food innovations designed to appeal to housewives’ demand for convenience, like Minute Maid concentrated orange juice, Duncan Hines cake mixes, and Minute Rice.1 

(Also ReadMade to Cook: The Cooking Hypothesis)

The way Americans shopped for food was changing, tooTurn-of-the-century housewives bought their food from the freestanding grocer, butcher, and dry goods stores. They’d hand their shopping list to the store clerk, and the clerk would pick all the items for them. The first self-service grocery store, Piggly Wiggly, opened in Memphis in 1916, and this new store model—where consumers roamed through the store picking out their own items from the shelf—quickly caught on. According to the National Women’s History Museumbetween 1948 and 1958, the number of supermarkets in the United States doubled to over 2,500 and for the first time, it was cheaper to buy processed food than fresh.   

 Suddenly there were lots of money to be made in packaged convenience foods and the mergers and acquisitions began. Large companies started gobbling up smaller brands, and the steady consolidation of the industry continues to grow. In the last 20 years, there have been 9,007 mergers and acquisitions in the food, beverage, and grocery space, according to The Food Institute.  

 Industry watchdog Food & Water Watch says that all this consolidation means that these companies have an outsized influence on the food choices, diets, and working conditions of people around the world — not to mention the impact they have on the environment. Reduced competition gives these corporations control of the market price that farmers get for their crops and livestock. It’s led to the decrease of family farms and the growth of factory farms, ecologically damaging farming practices, and more and more unhealthy processed foods on grocery store shelves.  

(Also ReadAvoid wasting food: save $1600 per year)

Amidst all this, what can we do to eat healthy? We love eating out and that will always remain an enjoyable experience. But the sure shot way to eat healthily is to have more home cooked meals. Meal prepping can also be an effective strategy. But if modern life gets in the way of fresh cooked meals or meal prepping, consider businesses like CookinGenie. CookinGenie can send a Genie (culinary experts ranging from classically trained chefs to specialized home cooks) to your house to make home-cooked meals for you and your family. Click here to view our menus and book your Genie today & enjoy fresh cooking from wholesome ingredients.  

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Made to Cook: The Cooking Hypothesis

22 Oct 2020

What makes us human? Some would argue that it’s the act of cooking — whether it’s boiling, broiling, roasting, baking, or barbecuing — that separates us from every other species on Earth. 

 In 1999, Harvard professor of biological anthropology Richard Wrangham published an article in the Current Anthropology journal called “The Raw and the Stolen: Cooking and the Ecology of Human Origins. Known as “the cooking hypothesis,” Wrangham’s groundbreaking new theory of human evolution proposed that taming fire to cook food changed the course of human evolution. 

 In his article and his 2009 book Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human, Wrangham argued that cooking allowed our human ancestors to process food more efficiently — and this change had a profound impact on evolution. While all other animals eat raw foods, Wrangham theorized that our ancestors began cooking their food some 1.8 million years ago, a change that gave early man the ability to process food more efficiently. It takes a long time, and a very large jaw and teeth, to grind down raw meat and plant matter. Before our ancestors learned how to cook, Wrangham estimated that half of their waking hours were spent simply chewing enough food to subsist, leaving little time for anything else. Cooking alters the chemical structure of food, breaking down the connective tissues in meat, and softening the cells of plants to release their starches and fats. This makes cooked food easier to chew and digest. This also helpthe body to use less energy to convert food into calories. Once the cooking was introduced, he estimated that our ancestors had an extra four hours in their day — time that could be spent huntingforaging, and slowly beginning to organizinto societiesWrangham explained, “The extra energy gave the first cooks biological advantages. They survived and reproduced better than before. Their genes spread. Their bodies responded by biologically adapting to cooked food, shaped by natural selection to take maximum advantage of the new diet. There were changes in anatomy, physiology, ecology, life history, psychology, and society.”  

This higher calorie, higher-quality diet lead to the evolution of bigger brains and bodies, and smaller jaws and teeth—a transformation that gradually resulted in modern man. From the control of fire and the growth in brain size, it’s not such a large leap to the development of dedicated hearths, the introduction of pottery and other tools for cooking, and the domestication of plants and animals.  

(Also ReadWhat eating healthy looks like)

 Wrangham’s theory is, of course, just that: a theory. Archaeological history to support control of fire 1.8 million years ago has not yet been found, but the recent discovery of ash in a South African cave suggests that our ancestors were controlling fire at least 1 million years ago — far earlier than previous evidence suggested. It may be just a matter of time before definitive evidence that proves Wrangham’s theory is found.  

 And If Wrangham’s theory is correct, we truly are what we eat.  

 If cooking is so fundamental to our evolution as people, it is a wonder that we don’t have time to make home-cooked meals with wholesome ingredients. Modern life has created many barriers to our ability to prepare home-cooked meals. What do we do if we don’t have time for home cookingBusinesses like CookinGenie can help you bring cooking where it belongs—in your own kitchen—even when you don’t have time to cook yourself. Check out our menus, and book your Genie today for building healthy eating habits in the family.  

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28 Jul 2020

CookinGenie makes enjoying fresh food simple – our Genies shop, cook, and clean, and you get to enjoy! But in the world of COVID-19, what is the risk of having someone else prepare your food, in your home?

Ensuring Your Safety

CookinGenie takes health and cleanliness seriously. In addition to following CDC and FDA guidelines, our Genies follow food safety practices, and we have several procedures in place to ensure the safety of you and our Genies through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

To begin, we look to the CDC, which states: “Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that handling food or consuming food is associated with COVID-19,” and “there is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 spreads to people through food.”

The FDA provides additional guidance around food preparation safety. With COVID-19, we understand the concern related to high-touch surfaces, especially those in the kitchen. Our Genies take special care with handwashing and clean your kitchen when they are done preparing your food.

Image Source: FDA

In addition:

  • We will reschedule appointments if anyone – you or our Genies – are not feeling well
  • All our Genies wear masks at all times while in your home, regardless of local mandates
  • All our Genies are mindful of social distancing while in your home

So, what’s the risk?

Compared to other activities, CookinGenie provides a lower-risk option to enjoy fresh, quality meals in the comfort of your own home without a trip to the grocery store. To better understand the risk level, we compare the CookinGenie experience to the risk level of some common activities below, using the Texas Medical Association Risk Chart as a guide.

Image Source: Texas Medical Association
  • Getting restaurant takeout – Low Risk (2/10)
    • Getting restaurant takeout is low-risk due to little contact with others and the safety measures now in place.
    • With CookinGenie, there is also little contact between you and the Genie. In addition to the cleanliness and safety measures we practice, online pre-payment means there is no payment exchanged during the Genie’s visit.
  • Eating at a restaurant (outside) – Low-Moderate Risk (4/10)
    • Outdoor dining allows for free airflow, which lowers the concentration of the virus and keeps risk levels low, especially when more people are present.
    • Unless using an outdoor kitchen, CookinGenie is inside your home, but with only one Genie entering your home with a mask, the risk level remains low.
  • Eating in a restaurant (inside) – Moderate-High Risk (7/10)
    • Inside dining increases risk due to recirculated air, more people, and people not wearing masks.

Following our safety protocols, CookinGenie offers a lower-risk alternative to getting restaurant-quality food.

While there are few activities these days that are completely risk-free, CookinGenie is committed to doing all we can to offer delicious, fresh meals cooked right in your kitchen, in the safest way possible.

References

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/food-and-COVID-19.html

https://www.fda.gov/food/food-safety-during-emergencies/best-practices-retail-food-stores-restaurants-and-food-pick-updelivery-services-during-covid-19

https://www.texmed.org/TexasMedicineDetail.aspx?Pageid=46106&id=53977

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15 Jul 2020

What is CookinGenie? CookinGenie is a service where delicious and healthy home-cooked meals come with only a couple of taps on your smartphone. The twist is that the food is cooked right in your kitchen.

It’s not catering. It’s not meal kits. It’s not food delivery. It’s not frozen 500 miles away.

It’s made fresh with ingredients from your neighborhood grocery. Enjoy it fresh for lunch or dinner, or as leftovers after. CookinGenie is ideal for you, your family & small parties of less than ten people.

How does it work? Go online to CookinGenie.com and select your dish and a time for our Genies to come to your very own house and cook JUST for you, your family & perhaps a few friends. Then all you have to do is sit back & relax.

Wait, who are our Genies you ask? They are experienced cooks who make delicious foods. Some of them have worked in restaurants before. How do we know about their cooking? Simple, we taste their foods before they cook for you.

A restaurant inside your home. The world on your taste buds (yes we have cooks from diverse backgrounds). More YOU time, while dinner is taken care of.

Check us out today. Book a time with one of our Genies – then sit back & watch us conjure up your dinner. Sounds too good to be true? Yes…. it’s magical. Visit Now: cookingenie.com

 

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28 Mar 2020

The other day, I picked up some ham from an online retailer. It was a premium 8-pound spiral-sliced ham, slow-cooked and smoked for 24 hours featuring a delicious torch-glazed brown sugar crust. Tempted? I certainly was. However, I happened to glance at the nutritional facts & noticed a detail – 41% (990 mg) sodium per serving. Is that good? Or bad? Should I care about this number? Or, just enjoy the ham?

Let us dig deeper.

The terms “Sodium” and “Salt” are sometimes used interchangeably. Salt is made of sodium and chlorine & occurs naturally in some foods, & is added in canned, processed or cooked foods. In the right amounts, in our bodies, sodium is vital. It supports our nervous system, muscles & fluid balance. Take too much though, and you start to see high blood pressure. Additionally, heart & kidney diseases are common effects of having extra sodium in the body.

But, what about my ham? Is it safe to eat? American Heart Association (AHA) suggests having around 1500 mg of Sodium per day. You may be permitted a bit more if you lose body fluids due to sporting activities. This boils down to a teaspoon of salt every day. But, on average 9 out of 10 Americans consume almost double the recommended sodium. Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that of our daily sodium intake, 65% comes from food bought in stores, 25% comes from restaurants and 10% comes from home cooked foods. Eating fresh homemade meals can go a long way in keeping us within the bounds of recommended amounts of Sodium. This is exactly what CookinGenie helps our customers with. All you do is pick your favorite foods from www.cookingenie.com & we will show up with the groceries at your kitchen & cook the food right there. 100% control over what goes in your food.

As for my ham, I did eat it – but now with the awareness that just one serving of the ham gave me almost half the daily sodium I needed for my body for the entire day.

References:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/potassium_and_sodium_out_of_balance

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/salt-and-sodium/

https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sodium/9-out-of-10-americans-eat-too-much-sodium-infographic

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15 Mar 2020

Most of us feel pretty confident in our ability to read labels and know what we’re putting into our bodies. But sometimes, understanding food labels can be daunting. We feel like we need PHDs in food science. Did you know, for example, that there are 61 ways in which sugar can be described on food labels? Surprised? We thought as much.

The FDA requires that ingredients be listed by weight in all packaged foods. Most of us are savvy enough to realize that the ingredients are listed from greatest to least, but there may be more than one form of sugar in the packaging. Bottomline, when you read food labels, be sure to understand everything that is listed. If you recognized all the ways in which sweeteners are put in packaged foods, you can make an informed choice about what you are buying.

In a recent article published by UCSF it was revealed that manufacturers add sugar to 74% of packaged foods. Consumers expect sugar to be added to dessert type items like cookies and cakes, but many are shocked to find out that otherwise “healthy” foods such as yogurt, breakfast bars, and juice often contain sugar. In some packaged foods, multiple sweeteners are used with different names.

So how can you be sure what you’re eating is healthy? Well the FDA is considering revising the guidelines for how food labels are created to help people better understand what they are putting in their bodies. But industry wide changes take time.

We, at CookinGenie, started our business with the core value that cooking from scratch is the healthiest way to eat. However, not all of us have the time to cook from scratch. If you fall in that bucket, consider CookinGenie. Our Genies are here to cook from scratch in your own kitchens. We choose only the freshest ingredients from your neighborhood groceries and prepare your food right in front of you in the comfort of your own kitchen.

Enough suspense on the 61 names for sugar though. Here they are:

1. Agave nectar,
2. Barbados sugar,
3. Barley malt,
4. Barley malt syrup,
5. Beet sugar,
6. Brown sugar,
7. Buttered syrup,
8. Cane juice,
9. Cane juice crystals,
10. Cane sugar,
11. Caramel,
12. Carob syrup,
13. Castor sugar,
14. Coconut palm sugar,
15. Coconut sugar,
16. Confectioner’s sugar,
17. Corn sweetener,
18. Corn syrup,
19. Corn syrup solids,
20. Date sugar,
21. Dehydrated cane juice,
22. Demerara sugar,
23. Dextrin,
24. Dextrose,
25. Evaporated cane juice,
26. Free-flowing brown sugars,
27. Fructose,
28. Fruit juice,
29. Fruit juice concentrate,
30. Glucose,
31. Glucose solids,
32. Golden sugar,
33. Golden syrup,
34. Grape sugar,
35. HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup),
36. Honey,
37. Icing sugar,
38. Invert sugar,
39. Malt syrup,
40. Maltodextrin,
41. Maltol,
42. Maltose,
43. Mannose,
44. Maple syrup,
45. Molasses,
46. Muscovado,
47. Palm sugar,
48. Panocha,
49. Powdered sugar,
50. Raw sugar,
51. Refiner’s syrup,
52. Rice syrup,
53. Saccharose,
54. Sorghum syrup,
55. Sucrose,
56. Sugar (granulated),
57. Sweet sorghum,
58. Syrup,
59. Treacle,
60. Turbinado sugar,
61. Yellow sugar

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02 Nov 2019

Turmeric Demystified..

One of the reasons we are hesitant about trying new foods is lack of familiarity with the ingredients. Today, we would like to demystify turmeric – a key ingredient of most Indian dishes & curries. Turmeric is an ingredient that is derived from the turmeric plant.

Wondering what it tastes like? Turmeric has a warm slightly bitter taste and is commonly used to add both flavor and color to curries, mustard, butters and cheeses. Because of it’s powerful yellow orange hue it is often used as dye products and cosmetics.

Outside of its popular flavor profile it also has a history of being used medicinally. In fact, turmeric is commonly used to treat conditions involving pain or inflammation. Historically it has been used in treatments for hay fever, high cholesterol, and even liver disease. Some people even take it in capsule form to treat issues like heartburn, inflammatory bowel disease, stress, and other conditions.

Turmeric carries importance in the Indian culture and goes far beyond medicine. The Hindu religion views the spice as sacred and auspicious. Turmeric is an integral part of many wedding rituals in India. In parts of southern India turmeric rhizome is often worn as a good luck charm or an amulet for protection against evil spirits.

Probably most well-known for its use in curry, this spice is having a moment in pop culture. It is sometimes referred to as Indian Saffron, at times when saffron is unavailable it can be used to obtain that signature golden color. If you’re wanting to experiment with this spice for flavor or medicinally it can be found in most grocery stores. Remember to use it sparingly although the touted benefits are impressive remember that this spice is pungent, and it takes only a small amount to flavor an entire dish.

If you’re wanting to incorporate this spice into your life but feel uncertain where to start contact us today to hire a Genie. Let us demonstrate to you how this ingredient can be a part of your diet. you on different dishes it can be added too. Fresh food, with some flavor, color & health benefits. We urge you to get to know turmeric – the reasons are endless.

References:
https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-662/turmeric

What is the History of Turmeric?

https://www.vedicaorganics.com/blogs/news/25739841-using-turmeric-in-indian-cooking

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30 Oct 2019

So, you’ve been thinking of exploring your options as a home cook, but aren’t quite sure what you need to have on hand. Before you go packing your entire kitchen including the sink into the trunk of your car; let’s explore what is actually needed and expected of you to bring as a home cook. it’s best to have open communication with the clients you’ll be working with. You’ll want to discuss menu preferences, number of people you’ll be feeding, and food allergies or preferences. Of course, it all starts with food, so once you have a menu set the first thing you’ll be transporting is groceries. Having a way to transport groceries is a must. Usually this can be done with a cooler, and a few grocery bags. (Remember to follow all food safety guidelines and maintain freshness of ingredients.)

The second thing you need to be aware of is the environment you’ll be cooking in. Take a moment to discuss with your clients what tools they have in their kitchen and what appliances you’ll be needing to use. Some cook’s even have clients text photos of their kitchen appliances to make sure they are suitable for completing the tasks needed. Discuss with your clients how much space you will be needing in the refrigerator. How long you’ll be in the kitchen prepping food and how much space you will need to prep. Don’t be afraid to ask specific questions.

Once you have an idea of your menu, your groceries, and your work space, it’s time to think about tools. Most cooks bring a few personal tools along with them, such as a set of knives and a food processor. Others prefer a pressure cooker. Think carefully about the meal you’re going to prepare, and as you mentally walk through the steps make a list of every tool you might be needing. If there is a tool you need that you can’t complete the meal without it’s best to bring it.

Last but not least, be flexible. Inevitably things are going to go wrong. Ovens will cook slower or faster than expected, your clients may only own serrated knives. Their corkscrew might break before you get the wine opened. Things go wrong in every job, at every business on the planet. It’s your job to keep it from ruining the meal. Be flexible, have a backup plan, and continue to communicate openly with your clients about any challenges that come up.

CookinGenie can help you connect with clients who are in need of fresh home cooked food. Sign up to cook with us today & find out more about us.

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30 Oct 2019

Gig economy is changing the worker employee relationship. By allowing people to specialize in a specific area of their expertise, it allows many workers to do the thing they are best at. Which can drive prices down and provide an excellent income for many professionals.

But how does the Gig Economy work for an experienced cook? In the traditional path you would be trained in a culinary school. Then you would begin working your way up the ranks in a local restaurant, taking on more and more responsibility as your skill set improves. From there you would work your way up the culinary ladder by then working at larger more prestigious restaurants. Once they’ve built a skill set and a name for themselves some cooks choose to strike out on their own. From this point they can either move into event cooking, and catering or they can move toward opening their own restaurant. Both of which require the use of a commercial kitchen, and a staff. This is not a small investment and not easy to get off the ground even if you are talented in the kitchen.

Some Cooks are exploring the gig community as a way to step out of the hustle and bustle and pressure of working in a restaurant. They work gigs such as event cooking, weddings, corporate gigs, even food trucks are an extension of the gig economy. Of course, in this line of work it’s a tough survival, the competition is steep and it’s hard to accomplish a steady income.

There are more opportunities than ever for cooks who are wanting to expand their audience and built their reputation. There are apps that have been developed like DishDivvy and Appetivo. Which allow cooks to prepare meals for their own kitchen for pickups. The downside is a lack of reliable income, never knowing how many orders will or won’t come in, and working on a schedule set by customers. All of this can make it hard to make plans.

Then there are new experience-based opportunities like Feastly. That offers services like pop ups, cooking classes and dinner parties hosted by expert cooks. This would be a fun way to expand your clientele and network with other cooks, but the events are only available in a handful of cities and the competition is fierce. Again, this isn’t steady work so even if you make your way into this elite group you can’t count on it for a reliable wage.

This is where becoming a home cook really begins to shine as a perfect option. You collect a handful of clients who you get to know. You prepare the food you love to cook. You set your hours and your availability. You can enjoy the security of a regular wage without the pressure and non-stop grind of restaurant or catering life. If you’re a cook looking for a better path and searching the gig economy. Maybe it’s time to consider being a home cook yourself, you might just be pleasantly surprised at what you find. To learn more about this please go to  www.cookingenie.com

References:

https://www.pymnts.com/news/retail/2018/home-cooks-gig-economy-food-app-dishdivvy/

https://smallbiztrends.com/2017/02/gig-websites.html

https://experiences.cooksfeed.com/browse/?market=all-cities

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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30 Oct 2019

A friend of mine recently ordered delivery of groceries to her home. The person delivering presented her a business card and offered his services as a home cook. Not only was he willing to purchase her groceries, but he was also willing to prepare her food. Talk about full service! We wanted to applaud this gentleman for combining his talents with a secondary service that his customer base would benefit from. Not only can he expand the services he offers, but he can also reach a wider base of people who could benefit from his services.

The gig economy is growing with no signs of slowing down. We think we’re going to see more and more of this kind of crossover opportunity. It makes sense to diversify. By offering more than one service you become more valuable to your customers, and your service becomes even more individualized and personal based on your knowledge of their preferences. It also opens the door to additional profits. It allows you to offer a secondary service to the families that you cook for already and creates an endless stream of new individuals who might be looking for a home cook but never considered one before.

Maybe you’re working as an Uber Driver or a Task Rabbit already and you have a dream of becoming a cook. But the enormous amount of training or investment to open your own business is daunting. Alternatively, starting from the ground up with an entry level job at a restaurant usually means years of hard work & inflexible hours just to gain a base level of knowledge. But becoming a home cook is a new emerging opportunity that is gaining in popularity each year. Just as people are willing to outsource their cleaning, or their grocery shopping many busy families and professionals don’t have the time or expertise to cook quality meals each day.

Many home cooks start small, by apprenticing with an experienced cook. Going with them to jobs teaches them how to speak to clients, plan menus, and execute dishes in a time efficient manner. It can also teach them how to overcome some of the common quirks that come with cooking in someone else’s kitchen. Some start by portion sharing with friends and family. Meaning just preparing a double batch of whatever you cook for your own family and selling the bonus portion to friends and family. Some start by delivering meals or offering pick up services with a set menu and build a clientele with a Facebook group.

Then there are businesses like ours. We take experienced cooks and home cooks alike and introduce them to the world of being a home cook. We can help you with advertising, building a clientele, and growing your business. We can help you build your own reputation, while earning a decent wage.. The possibilities are endless in a gig economy, but everyone has to start somewhere. If you want to cook fresh meals to help out busy folks who want to eat food made in their own kitchens, send us a note. We are here to help!

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30 Oct 2019

Gig economy is a term that has been gaining in popularity for the past few years. Also sometimes referred to as the freelance economy. It’s describing a new financial path where workers support themselves with a variety of short-term projects or jobs that do not provide traditional benefits such as healthcare or retirement. This phrase gained traction around the financial collapse in 2009 when many unemployed workers made their way by “gigging” or working as many small jobs as they could to string together an income.

By 2015 the gig economy had shifted again. With the rise of technology and the emergence of companies such as Uber & Lyft. Public opinion on this type of work changed. Now it’s drawing a larger pool of people by offering things like flexible hours. It tends to attract professionals who want location freedom and the ability to set their own schedule. Then there are people who only occasionally gig to earn a few extra dollars. This has been a lucrative avenue for those who have a regular income but don’t mind taking on an extra task to make a little extra green. This has become common for retirees who might rent out a spare room with AirBnB every now and then, or a commuter who can pick up an extra passenger using one of the many ride hailing apps.

Factors of a gig economy

A gig economy can benefit both individuals and businesses by making work more adaptable to the needs of the consumers. It allows people to both specialize in something and move between industries along with their interests. The benefits of a gig economy include cheaper and more readily available services.

Gig economies tend to thrive in urban environments and America is one of the leading countries with a growing freelancer economy. Some estimates say as much of ⅓ of the workforce is working in a gig capacity already. With the spread of high-speed internet this is allowing more and more people to work remotely with an independent contract. It’s attractive for businesses too as they can hire someone more specialized for the work they need to get done. By not having to only hire from a local pool of professionals they have many more choices of who they’d like to work with.

Challenges with the gig economy.

As many positives as there are associated with this growing trend, there are also challenges. For some workers it can be feast or famine as your next job or contract is dependent on you finding your next client or project. Of course, all industries go through cycles of growth and decline, this can be particularly difficult for those who gig. Some workers complain that there is a lack of work life balance. Then of course there is a lack of benefits, and retirement.

There is certainly a lot to consider when entering this new market. While for some professionals it can offer lucrative earnings and freedom, with others it can lead to challenges and insecurity. What do you think about cooks entering the gig economy?

References:
https://www.investopedia.com/terms/g/gig-economy.asp

https://www.ft.com/content/b5a2b122-a41b-11e5-8218-6b8ff73aae15

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30 Oct 2019

We have spoken about the idea of having someone come to your home to cook for you. How do you ensure that this is safe for you & your family? The idea of allowing someone you do not know into your home and preparing food for you and your family feels intrusive. So today we are going to discuss why those fears exist, how other industries have overcome it. As well as some practical advice for you so you can feel safe while you make good choices for your family. Overall though, if you do your homework and follow some basic safety precautions there is no reason you should feel hesitant to enjoy services like in home cooking.

So, what are the safety concerns of bringing a CookinGenie into your home? Common concerns are theft, personal safety, and food safety. Let’s explore a few other emerging industries that pushed our comfort boundaries when they first entered the scene and examine how they put our fears at ease.

Getting in a stranger’s car. Isn’t this the EXACT thing that mothers in the 80’s warned their children about? Then Uber and Lyft hit the scene and the world transformed. What makes them safe? Geolocation, background checks, driver reviews, and customer reviews. In today’s digital age this dual rating system protects the buyer and the seller by giving each a chance to rate each other. Encouraging everyone to keep things on the up and up.

Allowing Strangers in our home. Another one our mothers warned us against. It’s not a bad principle, unless your refrigerator breaks, or your washing machine, or you need cable installed, or you have a clogged pipe. When something goes wrong, we shift our fears and let a stranger in. Why? Because we trust people who are vetted by reputable firms or reviewed by our trusted circle. Online ratings help.

Staying in a stranger’s home. This is how campfire stories start. You should never ever stay in someone’s home. Especially if the owner is not there. Unless it’s and AirBnB. Suddenly the world shifted again when AirBnB started allowing property owners to rent out their residences to weary travelers. Especially for families, having a cost-effective alternative to a hotel with all the comforts of home solved a problem for traveling families. So what do they provide to make this once taboo idea feel safe and even luxurious? Boundaries. In every AirBnB booking there are house rules. Clear written boundaries for both parties to agree- encouraging open communication and enforced with a dual rating system.

So how do you decide if you want someone to come to your home & cook for you? Common questions may be – is this person insured? Is he or she background checked? Is this person rated highly? Is this person local?

Do your due diligence & you will start feeling comfortable soon. Our Genies are background checked, know about cooking & are from your locality. You feel comfortable with your favorite babysitter? This is no different.

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30 Oct 2019

Workarounds to cooking are ubiqitous. From food delivery apps to meal kits. Quietly, unobserved by mainstream food industry, private individuals are selling meals right from their own kitchens. Allowing neighbors to pick up from their homes or offering delivery or meet up options. These individuals can make a decent side hustle providing regular menus and meals for a small group of customers. Things like Facebook groups make this easy to expand and reach a wider customer base.

But how do you know the condition of the kitchens in which this food is getting cooked? Cleanliness? Safety? Commercial kitchens have to be mindful about environmental cleanliness. There, your food is prepared in a safe and sanitary environment. You can expect safe handwashing practices. Safe food handling. Attention is paid to proper food storage and safe cooking temperatures to avoid illness. Professional restaurants even have to think about food safety during delivery. Such as keeping hot and cold items packaged separately and insulated properly to maintain proper temperatures. For your average neighborhood cooks, you have to take for granted that their homes are safe places to cook in. The Board of Health is not inspecting these home kitchens. If they did a surprise inspection on one of these home chef kitchens what would they find? In each of our homes we have different levels of cleanliness that we deem acceptable. What is acceptable to you might not work for me. Let’s explore some of those grey areas. Does the home have pets? Is the owner’s precious kitty walking on the same counter your chopped salad will be prepped on? Perhaps after she’s been digging in kitty litter? Is there smoking in the home? Even if not while the cooking is being done, are those chemicals in the air? What about common kitchen pests? Are their kids in the home? Are they helping to prepare the food? That’s a lovely thought unless we consider all the things little hands touch, and the lack of thoroughness in their hand washing.

We all love the idea of eating home cooked meals. We enjoy eating freshly prepared food that is lovingly prepared. We aren’t saying that all these kitchens are biohazards. But we do encourage you to find out for yourself. The provider of such foods should not be offended by questions regarding food prep and safety. When in doubt ask the provider in question what levels of food safety are being practiced keeping your food safe before you eat it. If you’ve ever been affected by food poisoning, you’ll understand the threat skimping in any of these areas can cause.

Alternately, if you put your faith on us, we will simply use your kitchen to cook your meals. Now, that is a surest way to ensure that your food is being prepared fresh in an environment you trust.

Reference: https://www.restaurantbusinessonline.com/operations/food-safety-strategies-safer-delivery-takeout

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29 Oct 2019

A recent article released by NPR revealed a startling statistic. It published the results from a Survey by US Foods. That survey interviewed 500 food delivery drivers and 1500 food delivery customers. The results were disappointing to say the least. First revealing that 54% of those drivers found themselves tempted by the smell of a customer’s food. Additionally, nearly half of that 54% admitted to sampling the very food they were tasked with delivering. Not only is this a huge breach of trust, but it also raises issue of sanitization. The hands touching your food have been exchanging money with other patrons, getting in and out of their car, possibly even smoking. Those are the hands now rifling through the French fries you bought and paid for.

Even more unfortunately, this is a best-case scenario. We won’t even reference the many articles of vindictive drivers who tampered with food in retaliation of poor tips. You will not have to search hard to find plenty of stories of body parts and bodily fluids mixed together and even live streamed on Facebook before the food was delivered. Hardly appetizing you say? We agree.

Last year TheTakeout.com ran an article about a loophole in the Uber Eats Delivery Service policy. Basically, it stated that if the driver makes an attempt to contact the person who ordered the food but isn’t able to reach them, they can keep the food. According to a few posts from people claiming to be Uber drivers this was an easy way to score a free meal.

Uber is stuck between a rock and a hard place on this one. Obvious acts of fraud or theft will result in termination from the company. But in the technical age of dropped calls and dead cell phone batteries it’s not hard to imagine a real failure to connect. As much as we’d all like to believe the best about everyone, the evidence clearly points to the faults of this system.

Food safety issues will always be a problem if the food you are eating wasn’t prepared in your own kitchen. The more steps we place between where our food was cooked and when we eat it, the more chances there are for human failure, contamination or theft. For the safest dining experience, eat food that’s been prepared in your own kitchen by someone you trust. CookinGenie does exactly that. We send our Genies to cook in your own kitchen.

References:
https://www.npr.org/2019/07/30/746600105/1-in-4-food-delivery-drivers-admit-to-eating-your-food
https://thetakeout.com/ubereats-drivers-loophole-steal-eat-food-1830879242

https://www.ibtimes.com/food-delivery-driver-dipped-his-testicles-customers-salsa-2769495

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29 Oct 2019

Do It Yourself meal kits have been around since the early 2000’s and rose quickly in popularity. Globally the business size is well over $2B. So why has this service become so popular?

Most of these companies win customers with a free meal or a discount on their first order. With pre measured ingredients and easy to follow instructions they offer a solution to busy people who wanted to prepare fresh meals for. Some companies even offer specific menu’s catering to special diets such as Paleo, Vegetarian or Keto. As a concept it seems like a great solution to a common problem.

But all good things come with a downside. They offer fixed menus in rotation and limited options for variety. The portions don’t generally allow for left overs and the packaging creates a bulky excess amount of trash or recycling to deal with. Not to mention the work of actually preparing the food. Although they advertise saving time, by allowing you to skip a trip to the grocery store. They usually don’t provide more than a few meals a week, so you still end up at the store to buy staples. You also still have all the work of chopping, cooking and cleaning up after the meal. A task that is less time consuming for singles then for families.

Although this industry quickly blossomed, the bloom might be fading from the rose a bit. Blue Apron is the largest and most widely used meal kit delivery service (Followed by Hello Fresh and Plated.) Although they seem to be able to easily lure in customers with free meals and trial packs, they have trouble maintaining a customer base long term. In fact Blue Apron’s stock has dropped precipitously since its IPO in 2017. Per meal costs or around $10 without leftovers is an issue.

In conclusion these services fill a need for some consumers. Or are at the very least a good short-term solution for people who need a few quick easy meals in a busy season. But in the long-term families are still looking for something better. Something that actually saves time, produces less waste, and offers variety, and healthy food prepared from fresh ingredients. All at an affordable cost.

Allowing our Genies to cook you a fresh healthy meal in your own kitchen may go towards solving the problem that some of the DIY meal kit companies could not solve.

Refernces:

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/global-meal-kit-delivery-service-market-worth-usd-8-94-billion-by-2025-hexa-research-300811555.html

https://slate.com/business/2017/06/blue-apron-customer-retention-low.html

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29 Oct 2019

Food waste is a growing problem in America. According to a recent study, the average American family of four discards nearly $1600 in discarded produce alone annually. That’s right this post is ode to all those banana’s who never became banana bread. That number is not including dairy, meat or grain waste which are also high on the list. What would it mean for your family to have $133 more in your bank account every month? Factor in dairy, meat, and grain waste and that number climbs much higher.

The waste is also an environmental problem. It contributes to the releasing of dangerous gases as it decomposes in landfills. It’s estimated that one third of all food grown is lost or wasted. In fact, some food is left to rot in fields, shipped to feed livestock, or sadly shipped directly to landfills because it’s not cosmetically pleasing to average Americans. That’s right, we only buy pretty tomatoes. If a fruit or vegetable looks strange, grows oddly or has a blemish, consumers won’t purchase it – even when it’s perfectly fine to eat.

Additionally, families are purchasing food with every intent to use it, but life gets in the way. We’ve all done it. Making dinner was too much work so we grabbed dinner on the way home. Fast forward to the weekend and you’re dumping soggy lettuce out of your crisper drawer before you head to the grocery store to stock up for a new week.

There are lots of creative solutions out there. Some families have taken to composting, or meal prepping to try to cut down on food waste. There is one more solution on the table that more and more families are considering. That is hiring a CookinGenie – someone who shops & cooks your favorite foods – right in your own kitchen.

So how does that address the issue of food waste? Our Genies approach food purchasing, prep, and waste differently. They can use leftovers to cook for the next family on their schedule.

Many times, food waste is a result of not knowing how to create a meal around unused portions. Half an onion and some chicken bones? A family would dispose of that. An experienced cook would make chicken stock for a later meal. Hire our genies allow him or her to shop for highly consumable food items in bulk, he or she will only serve you the food you and your family will want to eat. This is the best use of all the food purchased, effectively reducing food waste immensely. Not to mention cost effective, even with the cost of hiring a person you will most likely end up saving money instead of throwing it away in the form of food that has gone bad and eating meals out. Remember if you are spending less than $1600 a year on this service, you’ll be saving money. Just something to chew on. We look forward to cooking for you & your family once our lives return to normal from the current COVID-19 crisis.

References:
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/americans-waste-nearly-a-pound-of-food-each-per-day-study-finds/

Households Lose Up to $1,600 a Year in Food Waste, U of G Study Reveals

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28 Oct 2019

In our previous posts, we talked about how challenging it is to manage all our daily priorities (life, work, kids….) & still cook healthy meals from scratch.

Healthy eating can be a controversial topic. There are so many options today between organic, vegan, paleo and keto, all claiming to be healthy and offering a totally different perspective on health. It’s easy to get overwhelmed looking for guidelines. Most of us can agree that heavily processed foods, starch, carbs, and lots of fried options, is a far cry from a healthy diet. Let’s break it down and look at what the experts say.

What did Mom and Dad say?

Things like “clean your plate” and “Eat your veggies”. It’s true that eating healthy sustaining foods helps to balance your blood sugar; and therefore, helps to stabilize your mood. But portion sizes in America have gone off the deep end. No one needs to clean their plate if their plate is a platter. In general, most experts agree that a serving size is roughly equivalent to the palm of your hand. Now as for the veggies, that’s a message we can all agree on. No one is going to argue you’ll gain weight or decline in health by piling on the greens. Way to go Mom and Dad.

What does the Government say?

Well that depends on when you ask. In the 40’s there were 7 food groups recommended. In the 70’s they reduced it to 4. Then turned it into a pyramid in the 90’s and now we have the “my plate” icon. The new icon suggests that we should eat a balance of fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins and milk. The government guidelines have changed over the years as science has evolved and our understanding of nutrition has changed. Of course, they are also influenced by industry and culture trends. But balance has always been the resounding message, eat a variety of foods, and eat in moderation.

What does your Doctor say?

This might be a great source for a more personalized direction. As he or she can assess your personal medical history and challenges. They can consider your blood work, your family’s history of heart disease or diabetes, any food allergies you may have or possible interactions with medications you may be on. But overall the general recommendation from the medical field is fewer processed foods, more fruits, whole grains (whole wheat) veggies, and proteins, keeping sugar, starch (e.g. flour, potato) and fat in moderation.

So what DOES healthy eating really look like?

We’ve looked at a variety of “experts” and we’ve received a bunch of different answers. How can we move forward? It’s not as overwhelming as it might seem. The best advice is to look for the common threads. Although the focus and motivations of these people are different, there are a few things they are saying that are the same. Eat a variety of nutrient rich foods. Avoid excess sugar and overly processed ingredients. Of course the best way to know what’s on your plate, is to prepare your own food from scratch. Nutrient rich meals are made with simple ingredients and if you are what you eat, what’s on your plate matters. The next best way is to get someone to prepare it for you under your direction. This is where CookinGenie can come to your home & create home cooked meals for you to enjoy. We shop, we cook & we clean. Try us out.

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26 Oct 2019

So many people fight the traffic and come home from work tired and hungry. You want to feed your family well but the idea of chopping and prepping a real meal for your family is daunting. Add hungry kids to the formula and it’s a bigger challenge. Decision time. Few, if any, good options.

Restaurants on a weeknight? Pack the family in the minivan, wait for your table with hungry tired kids. Then you’re presented with a menu & it’s hard to stick to healthy options. You leave after eating foods you’d be better off avoiding, and likely paid more than you planned on spending. The evening is done & that homework still needs done. Or else, a green slip is headed your way from the teacher.

You could opt for home delivery like pizza, which is always a crowd pleaser. But you can’t feed your family pizza 4 times a week. Now there are options like Uber Eats, Doordash or GrubHub to help. Those help fill a gap on a busy night but it’s far from a long term solution. You’re going to blow your budget on delivery fees and once again your feeding your family less than healthy options.

Prepared meals are the go-to for a lot of busy folks. Many grocery stores offer meal kits or premade options. Although they are slightly healthier than pizza, you’re likely to get burnt out quickly on the limited menu options week after week. Most stores offer 3-5 options for this, and even if they are healthy and budget friendly and easy to cook, you’re going to find yourself dying for a little variety on your plate.

Of course, there are meal kit delivery choices. This eliminates some work, with less grocery shopping and expanded menu choices. But they tend to be light on the leftovers and they don’t really free up your time. The menu might be decided, but you’re still the one chopping and cooking after a long day of work. Not to mention the pile of dishes waiting for you after dinner. They also don’t eliminate grocery shopping all together. You’re still going to be heading to the store every few days for staples like milk and fruit. And those subscriptions don’t manage themselves make sure to set an alarm on your phone to set your menu every week, and don’t forget about when the auto withdraw comes out of your bank account.

Cooked & frozen meal delivery services are an option. But even though you might be ordering your food based on beautifully plated pictures on a website, what you receive is going to look more like something from a cafeteria. Of course, it’s still chef prepared and that alone might be a big step up if you aren’t yourself a culinary master. Just don’t forget to budget for delivery fees here too. And the meals are shipped from afar in bulky boxes. Who knows when they were cooked?

Grocery delivery services like insta cart are good way to keep your fridge stocked with all the healthy options you want to have on hand. But they can’t give you the motivation to cook at the end of a long day.

Give our Genies a try. Schedule an in home cooking session with them. They will shop, cook & clean up after themselves. You are left to enjoy fresh home cooked meals – except you don’t have to do the cooking.

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26 Oct 2019

Lentils are one of the staple ingredients of Indian (& middle eastern) cuisine and with good reason.

Lentils, often referred to as Dal are really any type of split pulses (or legumes) A pulse refers to the dry edible seeds of the pod. (such as lentils, beans or peas) They are typically offered in a few ways, whole, split, some with skin some without.

The benefits of these are endless. Not only are they tasty but they add a nutrient dense component to any meal. To take a quick look at their nutritional profile they are high in protein and low in fat, high in fiber, as well as complex carbohydrates, and they are generally gluten-free (depending on farming techniques). Not to mention they are high in vitamins and minerals and they are even considered heart healthy. It’s such a powerful component to add to a meal.

Furthermore, lentils contain phytochemicals. Many of which protect against chronic diseases such as Heart Disease or Type 2 Diabetes. They also contain Polyphenols which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Studies have shown a link between eating lentils and lowered blood sugar.

They are also extremely popular if you are a vegan or vegetarian. Lentils pack an impressive number of vitamins and minerals. Also, when paired with rice, they are considered a complete protein. Meaning it can be a guilt free staple to your diet. Traditionally this is a dish that is often served to babies when they first start eating solid foods because it is soft, easily digested and nutrient dense.

Red Lentils are probably one of the most common types in Indian Cuisine and can easily be found in most grocery stores. They can be sprouted and used in curries and soups and rice dishes. They are popular because of their versatility. Probably equally important to Indian cuisine are yellow lentils. They are an incredible source of B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. Often used in curry, sautéed with onions and garlic. These heart healthy foods can add extra nutrients to so many dishes.

Are you wondering where this superfood has been all your life? Believe it or not it’s probably sitting on the shelf of your local grocery store right now. You may feel intimidated about soaking, sprouting, and slow cooking these. Or maybe you are hung up on all the many varieties and benefits without being sure of which flavors will pair best. Our Genies can be an answer. Let us demonstrate how to incorporate this new ingredient into your diet. Ask all the questions you want and learn by watching us cook this fresh right in your kitchen. You might have just discovered a new favorite food, and your health will benefit too! You can’t go wrong. Call us today!

References:

https://ministryofcurry.com/indian-pulses/

Basics of Indian Cooking: Dal (Beans and Lentils)

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/lentils

 

 

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16 Sep 2019

You already have a lot on your plate – juggling kids sports, school events, professional schedules, groceries, shopping, and kids’ homework.Exhausting? We think so. Add an early morning or a late evening meeting (OK, make that a corporate firefight) at work & all of a sudden, putting breakfast or dinner on the family table can become a daunting challenge. Both your work and family require your attention and time. It can be very hard to make great choices towards eating fresh & healthy. Busy parents can hardly take out time to cook fresh and healthy food. To make matters worse, with all your kids’ activities, you might not have any free time over the weekend as well – travel soccer, or baseball leagues? A trip to the pool? A birthday party? Play dates? You navigate those successfully. You remember to grab the birthday present sitting on your kitchen countertop. You find the right soccer jerseys (unlike me). And then, its dinner time & cooking is the last thing on your mind. No wonder, you struggle with finding fresh, healthy food.

According to a recent report from the National Center for Health Statistics, one in three American children eats unhealthy food daily. This reason is why many American children suffer from diseases associated with malnutrition and obesity. Unhealthy eating or fast food has become a new diet trend. Moreover, wrong food choices bring with them additives, dyes, saturated fats, and preservatives. Those bring more health issues in the long term.

So, how can you overcome this hurdle? Surely, you don’t have the time to

  • grab fresh ingredients from groceries
  • prepare the ingredients, marination etc
  • cook & clean up

And all you have to do is enjoy your food freshly cooked in your kitchen. What if there was someone who could do all that for you? I must be dreaming you say? But what if……….

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