Cooking 101: Fail-Proof Recipes for Pasta Sauce

Making your own pasta sauce may seem like something reserved for only the most skilled chefs, but you’d be surprised to know how simple it really is. Forgoing the store-bought sauces in favor of making your own is also beneficial to your health, as it eliminates the added sugars and preservatives that are often found in jarred pasta sauces. If you want to try your hand at preparing a zesty, flavorful sauce at home, here are three fail-proof recipes.

World’s Best Pasta Sauce!
This traditional pasta sauce is a versatile option that you can use for years to come. It includes the staple ingredients like tomato paste and a variety of Italian meats, plus flavorful spices ranging from dried basil to fennel seed. Once the ingredients are blended together, everything gets cooked slowly in a large Dutch oven.

Great Grandma’s Pasta Sauce
If your own grandmother wasn’t much of a sauce maker, feel free to adopt this tasty recipe as your own. It uses simple ground beef, tomatoes, and Italian spices to give it a hearty texture that tastes straight out of the old country.

Roasted Garlic Pasta Sauce
If you want to create a sauce that tastes like gourmet without the gourmet cooking skills, this recipe is the one to use. Celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse shares his unique recipe that includes unexpected ingredients like hot sauce, balsamic vinegar, and an impressive amount of garlic.

Three Tart and Sweet Lemonade Recipes

The combination of tart and sweet is what gives lemonade its beloved flavor, and this classic beverage is a cool, refreshing staple all summer long. If you want to make your lemonade taste great from June to August, it’s best to incorporate some other unexpected flavors as well. Here are three great lemonade recipes to try on the next hot day.

Raspberry Lemonade [Martha Stewart]
This recipe takes the plumpest, juiciest raspberries you can find and blends them with traditional lemonade to give the beverage a lovely pink color and a bright, fruity flavor. Garnishing with mint is a wonderful addition, as is a splash of tequila if you’re feeling extra bold!

Roasted Peach Lemonade [The Naptime Chef]
This down-home lemonade is best sipped on a big front porch, but since that’s not in the cards for most people, near a breezy window will also do. Roasted peaches give this drink a sweet Southern flair, and they take just 25 minutes in the oven and a reliable blender to make.

Refreshing Watermelon Lemonade [Babble]
To round out the fruity lemonade trifecta, this watermelon option is one that even the little ones are sure to love. Simply puree a seedless watermelon with some fresh lemon juice, sugar, and water and pour it all over ice for an cold treat at the end of a long day.

First Day of Summer!

It may feel like summer started last week, but today is officially the first day of summer! There's a ton to do in the DC metro area, so make sure to take advantage of some of the free activities this summer. Washington.org has a great list of activities in their article "100 Free (& Almost Free) Things to Do in DC" (click here ) including visiting the Rock Creek Park Planetarium, the National Arboretum, or the Mexican Cultural Institute. Do something new this summer, and explore all there is to do right outside our door step!

Here’s How to Segment Citrus Fruit Like a Pro Chef

If you’ve ever gotten squirted in the eye while trying to eat an orange, you know how frustrating it is to peel and eat citrus fruits. These impressive tips will show you how to segment lemons, oranges, grapefruits, and other citrus fruits in just a few simple steps.

  1. Cut off the top and bottom parts of the fruit. Cut just about low enough to hit the end of the peel, so that the fruit stands on its own when you stand it on the counter.
  2. Peel the fruit. Start from the top and cut down toward the bottom, in sections. It should take you a few cuts to get the peel off all the way around the fruit.
  3. Trim off the white parts. Unless you’re a perfect cutter, you’ll likely have some white pith left over from the peel. Trim these pieces off by gently scraping the knife across the surface.
  4. Cut along the edges. All citrus fruits have naturally sectioned pieces, so you want to extract those from the fruit. Examine the surface and place your knife along the first edge you find, cutting just until you hit the center of the fruit. Then cut into the other side and the piece should fall out on its own.
  5. Repeat all over. Repeat this process all over the fruit, being careful not to cut into the membrane, until you’ve segmented the entire thing. You’ll be left with smooth, perfectly rounded pieces that are ideal for fruit salads.

How to Segment an Orange (Or Any Citrus Fruit) [The Kitchn]
How to Segment an Orange [Waitrose]
{How To} Segment an Orange [Plum Pie]

2 Awesome Websites for Mountain Bikers

Mountain biking offers adrenaline junkies the fast-paced feeling of flying down rough terrain and splashing through shallow creeks, and it also enables nature lovers to see the outdoors in a new and exciting way. If mountain biking is one of your favorite hobbies, these online websites and communities will offer tips and tricks for your next day out on the trail.

MountainBike.com
MountainBike.com is an all-encompassing site dedicated to everything related to mountain biking. The front page features the latest biking news and blog posts, including particularly interesting rides and the latest innovations in mountain bike technology. The website also offers training and nutrition tips, product reviews, and ride maps for locations all around the world.

Mountain Bike Action
If you’re a self-proclaimed gear head who’s interested in the latest mountain biking gadgets, Mountain Bike Action is the site for you. The website is packed full of detailed reviews in the Product Spotlight section, offering insight into the most innovative bicycles and bicycle accessories. There’s also mountain biking news, competition coverage and photos submitted by riders just like you.

Find Hiking Trails Near You With These Online Resources

You usually don’t associate browsing the web with hiking outdoors, but these handy websites aim to change that. There are a number of online resources that can help outdoor adventure-seekers to find hiking trails in any city, and they provide a variety of other hiking tips as well. Here are two of the best websites for finding the closest hiking trails in your area.

Trails.com
Trails.com offers a full list of hikes that corresponds with an interactive map of the United States. Simply click on your state (or a state you’re visiting) on the map and the website will bring up a list of trails for hikers of all skill levels. The list is sorted by the most popular trails in the state, trails with recent reviews, and even trails with other outdoor activities such as biking, fishing, waterfalls, or skiing.

Trail Link
Trail Link is a bit savvier than your usual hiking website, with a simple search feature that allows avid hikers to locate trails by zip code, trail name, state, or keyword. Once you enter the search terms, a full, interactive map appears with markers for each trail in the area, as well as high-quality photos submitted by real users. You’ll even find detailed information about each trail, including the terrain, length and difficulty level to make your decision easier.

Public Domain/Public Domain

Spice Up Your Vacation With These Unique Travel Ideas

You’ve done the summer beach getaway, spent time at the mountain cabin, or embarked on the all-American cross-country road trip. If you’re an avid traveler who is tired of the usual travel destinations, these unique ideas will help you find the perfect trip for your adventurous spirit.

  1. Nyungwe Forest National Park. After years of genocide, the revitalized nation of Rwanda is now a safe but ultimately unexplored destination. The country is full of mountain rain forests like the Nyungwe, and the money earned from tourism all goes toward helping to rebuild this once struggling nation.
  2. New Orleans, Louisiana. You likely know all about Mardi Gras, but the vibrant and eclectic city of New Orleans offers much more than just that one wild celebration. Full of French flair, jazz music, and the smell of spicy Creole cooking, this charming American city is exciting to all the senses.
  3. Chile’s Marble Caves. Created by six thousand years of erosion, Chile’s incredible marble caves reflect the blue-green waters of Carrera Lake and create a natural art exhibit that you truly have to see to believe.
  4. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Unless you live in Hawaii, it’s not every day that you see a volcano up close and personal. This national park, located on the Big Island of Hawaii, also boasts that 90% of its wildlife is found nowhere else on earth.

Vacation Ideas [Travel + Leisure]
Trip Ideas [National Geographic]

5 Facts About Dreams You Probably Don’t Already Know

While people over the age of ten have four to six dreams per night, it's said that we forget 90% of our dreams within 10 minutes of waking up. (The average person can have up to 2,190 dreams a year!) Here are five more facts about dreaming that might just surprise you.

1. We dream during periods of REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep that last anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes. During this time, our bodies are essentially paralyzed to keep us from acting out our dreams. (In rare cases, a person is able to lash out during their dreams.)

2. Only the faces of people we've seen in real life enter our dreams. Our brain's can't "invent" faces, so every face you encounter in a dream is one you've seen before, either intimately or in passing.

3. Most people are unable to read or tell time while dreaming.

4. Some people can control their dreams through a practice called lucid dreaming.

5. According to a study, 12% of people dream in black and white. Most of these dreamers are over 55 years old, so it's said that their relationship with black and white televisions influences their dreams.

11 Shocking Facts about Dreams that will Rock Your World! [OMG Facts]
20 Amazing Facts About Dreams that You Might Not Know About [Lifehack]
7 Mind-Bending Facts About Dreams [Lifescience]

How to Find Biking Trails in Your Area

Whether you’re looking for a new hobby or a fun pastime for the whole family, biking is an enjoyable activity for everyone. It can be difficult for beginning bikers to locate the best trails, however, and even if you’re a more experienced cyclist you’re likely always looking for new places to ride. These two websites can help.

Map My Ride
Map My Ride offers a straightforward interface and a huge database of trails to help you find the best bike routes and paths in your area. Simply enter the route name or your state and the number of miles you’d like to bike and you’ll instantly be met with a variety of trails, ranked by how well they suit your criteria. Each trail is submitted by a Map My Ride user just like you, and they include informative descriptions about the difficulty level and other important details.

Single Tracks
Single Tracks operates in a similar way, but it’s tailored specifically to mountain biking. The website searches thousands of trails around the world to find the best one for you, whether you’re in your home town or you’re on vacation in another country. Single Tracks also offers detailed descriptions, directions and high-quality photos of each trail on the site.

Safety First! Read These Online Guides for New Bicyclists

So you bought a bike, and now you want to start riding it to work, out to dinner, and other places around your city. What you might not know is that there are a number of specific guidelines for cycling in the city or the suburbs, and they could help keep you safe in the case of an accident—or prevent one altogether! Before you hop on your new bicycle, take a look at these online guides.

Bicycling
Bicycling magazine developed a "Bicycling Beginner’s Guide" to help keep new cyclists safe. It helps you choose the right bike for your size and lifestyle, learn which foods to eat before cycling, and describes the important fitness skills you’ll need to establish in order to safely maneuver your bike.

Active
Active.com’s "Beginning Guide to Bike Gear" is a helpful resource for newbie bikers looking to purchase high-quality, protective gear and a reliable bicycle to match. It will help you pick out the perfect bike online or at your local shop, right down to the material of the frame. It also includes gear that you might not have considered, including sunglasses, bike shorts, and chamois cream (you’ll have to read the guide to find out about that one!)