Nola Knows Best

Kitchen hacking: How To Show A Hard To Open Jar Who’s The Boss

We all love life hacking; simple tips that make everyday tasks a bit more bearable. Since I’m in the kitchen most days of my life many of the tips that I employ happen well…in the kitchen! Because these particular tips are specific to a culinary setting, I have coined the term “kitchen hacking”.

I have several kitchen hacks that I use often but below are two of my favorite kitchen hacks that I have learned recently and just had to share with my Sumptuous Bites followers: While jars are fantastic for food storage, sometimes they do their job a little too well. Who hasn’t had trouble opening a jar of just about anything? Here’s an easy solution to those stubborn jars that won’t require muscle but instead a simple household item: a rubber band.

Don’t believe me? Give it a try!

Just wrap the lid of the jar with a rubber band (use one with a thick width) and twist the lid open. It’s that simple! The rubber band adheres to the jar lid and provides enough traction to allow you to grip and open the lid with amazing ease.

#makefoodnotwar #kitchenhacking

Nola Knows Best: How Can I Beat The Heat

Dear Nola,

I really enjoy spicy foods, but as I get older my body doesn’t like the food as much as my taste buds do. I have tried to cut down on the pepper but food just doesn’t taste the same without it. Do you have any advice on how I can I still take in the spicy food without the consequences? -Beat The Heat

Dear Beat The Heat,

Being an island woman myself, I have a palate that craves a little spice in my sumptuous meals. Pepper has plenty of health benefits from arthritis relief to serving as an aid to weight loss. However, in large doses pepper can wield unfortunate consequences to its consumption. Some common issues from high doses of capscium (another word for pepper) are heartburn and indigestion to name a few. If you are experiences these symptoms or others, you may need to dial down your capscium intake. Peppers vary in their degree of heat and are ranked by a scale called Scoville units. Caribbean foods typically use scotch bonnet pepper which 100,000-350,000 Scoville Units. Jalapeno’s, popular in comparison, most jalapeño peppers which are often found in Mexican dishes have a heat rating of 2,500 to 8,000 on the Scoville scale.

Your solution:

Make A Swap: Swap out your scotch bonnet pepper for the less spicy jalapeno pepper

Cool Things Down: Offset your spice with ingredients like mango or coconut milk. They temper the heat while complimenting it.

Monitor Your Pepper Intake: Try eating two spicy dinner dishes per week as a treat and take a mild flavored approach for the rest of the week.

If you use those three tips you will be able to enjoy fantastic food without forfeiting the spice, well at least not too much! Hope it helps!


#MakeFoodNotWar #SumptuousBitesBlog

Catering on a Dime: 8 Quick Tips on How To Hire A Rockstar Caterer On A Modest Budget

Dear Nola,

My best friend is getting married next year and as her maid of honor I've been enlisted in helping her find a food caterer. Can you please offer a few tips on how to hire a rockstar caterer on a modest budget?

Helpless in New Jersey

Hi Helpless in New Jersey,

Thanks for your question and congrats to your best friend!
When hosting an event, food is an important as the guests attending.

Here are some tips on how to hire a caterer on even the most modest budget:

1. Choose A Caterer With A Customized Approach - Always choose people who are personable and flexible. Tell your caterer how you envision your event, along with your budget and preferences. It's important for a caterer to understanding of a client's personal needs and be able adjust compassionately and accordingly.

2. Availability - A caterer should be accessible. There's nothing more frustrating than working with someone you can never find to discuss important event/food matters. Be sure to ask your caterer of their hours and availability prior to hiring them. Propose some worst case scenarios and ask for solutions to potential problems. Make sure your caterer is prepared to assist you in creating a successful event.

3. Passion is the mother of great work - Work with caterers who love what they do. A reluctant caterer will most likely not go above and beyond to satisfy the needs of their clients. Ask who else they have worked with, visit their website, and check for reviews. The best way to gain a sense of what to expect is to read about the experiences of others.

4. Experience is the best teacher - Find out what kind of exposure your caterer has had with food. Ask what types of foods they are familiar with preparing, and request a tasting. Similar to restaurants, most caterers have a signature dish. Find out what your caterer does best and consider adding that to your menu.

5. Referrals - Check within your circle to find caterers your friends have used. They may be able to refer you to not only a company you can afford, but one you can trust to do a great job at making your event a success.

6. Find Caterers Who Have Partnership - Some caterers work directly with venues which can offset the cost of hosting your event. Ask your caterer if they have partnerships with venues and find out how much you can save by using partner venues.

7. Learn The Language - Most caterers will offer the option for “buffet” or “sit down” style serving. Buffest style allows guests to approach a food display to fill their plates whereas sit down style allows the caterer to place portions on a plate which is placed before each guest at the dinner table. Some catering companies offer waiters to server food at the buffet; however, you may also order the food and allow guests to serve portions as they wish. Determine which option is best for you and ask your caterer if they are capable of accommodating your needs.

8. Book Events In Bulk - If you’re planning to host several events within a specific time frame, it may be a good idea to let your caterer know in advance. Ask your caterer if you can sign a contract securing their services over a determined span of time for a discounted rate. You may save more if you book ahead.

Hosting an event doesn’t have to be hard. Hiring a great catering company is the first step in hosting an event that will keep attendees raving of its success. Have more questions? Interested in booking a caterer? Contact me. I’m happy to help!



Nola Knows Best : Advice for the True Foodie at Heart


"Dear Nola,

I’m a Southern belle reigning from Texas and I have a wonderful fiancé who is Jamaican. He has been in the states for some years now and sometimes complains of being unable to find authentic Caribbean food in our area. I feel badly about this because he uprooted his life to move here to be with me. I’m not the best cook, but as a token of my appreciation for all he does, I wanted to prepare him a Jamaican meal. Can you help me?" - Culture Clash

Hi Culture Clash,

Fear not! Variety and in this case cultural diversity is indeed the spice of life. My suggestion would be to keep it simple and find a way to give your dish a tropical twist by adding a seasoning with a mix of Caribbean flavors such as jerk seasoning. This dish is packed with loads of flavor. After your guy gets a taste of this dish, it will remind him of the dishes he used to enjoy back home.

Good luck!

Jerked Shrimp

Here's What You'll Need:
* 15 jumbo or Black tiger shrimp, butterflied
* 3 tablespoon olive oil
* 1 tablespoon jerk sauce
* ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 3 lemon wedges

How To Prepare It:
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Arrange shrimp on a greased baking sheet.
3. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, jerk sauce, and the juice from one of the wedges of lemon.
4. Brush shrimp with mixture then sprinkle lightly with cayenne pepper.
5. Broil for 7 to 10 minutes.
6. Serve hot, garnished with remaining lemon wedges.

Serves: 4 - 6