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Resolution Recipe 3: Plum Poppy Seed Muffins



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Plum Poppy Seed Muffins

Okay, we’re back in business! Happy to be blogging once again. Thanks for your patience loyal readers. I hope this is worth it!

I actually just made these muffins yesterday because even though this recipe was next in the book (back in January),  it wasn’t plum season. I figured I would postpone this recipe and come back to it in the summer…well…summer is here. What a coincidence! Small advantages for not having time to blog!

These muffins were pretty easy and delicious. They yield about 12 muffins according to the recipe, but in honor of making things more Weight Watchers friendly, I decided to make mini muffins instead. Using a Tablespoon I was able to make 37 muffins.

 

TIPS: 20140613_1902241. CHOOSING PLUMS: I would make sure to use plums that are not tart or sour. She says you can use any kind of plum ( I guess I didn’t realize there were other kinds then the reddish ones I see in the store, but there are….even Italian plums! Wanna see some pictures?? Click here) I mistakenly used the first ones I bought at Wal-mart and didn’t really make sure to buy those which were sweeter and riper. How does one do that you ask…well let me tell you. According to the helpful blog entitled “Just Plums” you do not look for plums with your eyes, but with your nose. They indicate that plums that are ripe and un-ripe are the same color. They say that a ripe plum will smell sweet and fruity where an unripened plum is not going to have a smell to it at all. Other sites mention that the plum will have a give to it if you press on it and the opposite is true for an unripened plum. If you have unripened plums that you want to use for this recipe, refer to the post from WikiHow about “How to Ripen a Plum.” I found this very helpful….AFTER doing this recipe. Yes, I’m proving very much to be the novice I claim to be when I do stuff like research the ingredients after I work with them.

2. MINI MUFFINS: Yes, mini muffins are just mini versions of muffins. 20140613_195557It’s not magic at all. However, if you are wanting to watch your waistline or you’re a WW point counter, then mini muffins are the way to go. This recipe went from 5 points a muffin to about 2 points a muffin if you yield 37 muffins when you only use a tablespoon of batter. I highly recommend this as an alternative because as WW people know, 2 point snacks are the best things to have on hand. You can still use the same recipe and enjoy, but in moderation that works for you.20140613_193049

3. MAKING BROWN BUTTER: I love that Deb Perelman simplifies what sounds like a potentially scary process of browning…not burning…butter. In her cookbook she takes you to a dessert recipe to learn how to make the brown butter. Her suggestions are as follows on page 202 of her cookbook:

  1. Using a pot, heat the pan to medium low heat
  2. Drop in your butter
  3. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden, and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty.
  4. Stir frequently, scrapping up any bits from the bottom as you do.
  5. Don’t take your eyes off the pot. You may be impatient for it to start browning, but the period between the time the butter begins to take on color and the point where it burns is often less than a min.

She has a lot of other tips and tricks but I have to leave something for you to read when you buy her cookbook!

REVIEW: I think you’ll love this recipe any time of the year. I love how it’s summer but with the smell of cinnamon and nutmeg I felt transported to fall with one waft of amazing from the oven. I would love to see how these turn out with other kinds of fruit. I happen to find the most sour/tart plums on the earth that were most definitely under ripe…now that I know what to be looking for…ugh. The great thing about this recipe is that the sweetness of the muffin batter helps balance out the sourness of the plums so be encouraged if you too end up making these with a few bad plums. You might actually like the way they turn out! Hope you give these a try this summer. You won’t be disappointed and they are fun change to the muffins we all know and love.

Happy baking, friends!

 

PLUM POPPY SEED MUFFIN RECIPE

Ingredients

YIELDS 12 MUFFINS (5 WW Points) , 37 MINI MUFFINS ( 2 WW Points)

6 T. unsalted butter, melted and browned and cooled, plus butter for muffins cups

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1/4 c. granulated sugar

1/4 c packed dark or light brown sugar

1/4 c. sour cream or a rich, full-fat plan yogurt (WW: use light/low fat sour cream to keep muffins low points)

1/2 c. whole-wheat flour

1 c. all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp table salt

Pinch of ground cinnamon

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

2 T. poppy seeds

2 cups pitted and diced plums from about 3/4 pound of Italian prune plums (though any plum variety will do). (NOTE: If doing mini muffins, consider doing 1 1/2 cups instead).

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Butter muffin tins
  3. Whisk egg and sugars in bowl
  4. Stir in brown butter than sour cream
  5. In separate bowl, mix flours, bp, bs, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and poppy seeds
  6. Stir dry  mixture gradually into wet mixture “until it is just combined and still a bit lumpy.”
  7. Fold in plums
  8. Divide batter into cups.
  9. Bake for 10 -12 min (mini muffins) 15-18 (regular size muffins)
  10. Allow to cool in pan for a few min before removing to cool on rack

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How To Properly Store Produce


Hey friends…so I found this on Pinterest and thought I would share. I am going to be printing this off and putting it near my fridge since I get a Farm Fresh to You box every other week. Sometimes it goes bad so quickly and this was an awesome help in understand what to do better. This was orginally posted on The V Spot blog...it’s her comments that are below. There is also a free printable that will help you remember these tips that you can grab from her original site. Enjoy!

How to Store fresh Produce (view printable on original site) 
What’s the best way to store fresh produce?
Do you ever buy fresh fruits and vegetables, toss them into the produce drawer and forget about them?  Then a few days later you open the drawer only to discover that  it’s all spoiled?  (‘Fess up, because I know I’m not the only one….)

There’s a proper way to store fresh produce, and as I am about to launch into a new work-out routine and a healthier diet, I thought I would finally determine the proper ways to store it all.  I read up on it… I googled all over the place, and this is what I found.
Updated: In addition to researching this post, I tried many of these techniques myself and they worked great.

It kind of comes down to which fruits and vegetables give off the natural gas, ethelyne. 
Ethelyne can affect the other fruits and veggies that they are stored next to.  (That’s the premise of the Debbie Meyer Green Bags.)  You don’t need to buy special bags, but you do need to know which produce doesn’t play nicely with others.

Apples – Do not wash until just before eating, keep them sealed in the plastic produce bag, in the refrigerator. They give off a lot of ethelyne gas, so don’t store them next to anything else.
Avocados – Keep them at room temperature.  If you need one to ripen quickly, put it in a brown paper bag along with a banana.  If it is ripe and you need to slow the ripening process, put it in the fridge.

Bananas – They produce more ethelyne gas than any other fruit.  Keep them away from other produce,   on the counter-top, away from other produce.  Once they are ripe you can stop the ripening process by putting them in the fridge, just be sure to put them in a sealed bag.  The skin will turn black, but the fruit will be fine.
Beans (snap, string or wax) – Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.  Do not wash until just before use.
Berries – You know when you buy berries and they look like they have a dusty layer one them…? That is called bloom, and it serves as a natural preservative.  Never wash berries until just before use.  Pick through them and throw away any berries that are bruised or molding.  Store loosely in shallow containers, cover with plastic and keep them in the refrigerator.
Broccoli & Cauliflower – These need to be kept in their wrapping/packaging and kept in the fridge.  Do not wash until just before using.

Cabbage – Keep in the fridge, in a plastic bag. Do not wash until just before using
Carrots – Whole carrots?  Wash them thoroughly.  If they have green tops, cut off all but an inch.  Wrap them in a damp paper towel, seal in a plastic bag and store in the crisper drawer.
“Baby” carrots? I just discovered that I should stop buying them… but if you still do, you can put them in a plastic container, covered in water.  Be sure to change the water every few days.  (Note: this may reduce the flavor of the “baby” carrot.)
Celery – Give it a rinse, loosely wrap it in a paper towel, then tightly wrap the entire stalk in aluminum foil and keep in the crisper.  It will keep fresh and crisp for weeks.  (I actually have had celery that I bought to make stuffing at Thanksgiving still be fresh and crunchy for Bloody Marys on New Year’s Day! Amazing!)

Cherries – Store in the fridge in a plastic bag.  Do not wash until just before eating.
Citrus – Since citrus fruits have thicker skin, they are easier to store.  They’ll stay fresh for about 2 weeks in the fridge, about a week on the counter.  It doesn’t matter if they are near other produce.

Corn – Husks on? Store loose and uncovered in the fridge.  Husks off?  Wrap in foil and store in the crisper drawer. It will keep for 1 to 2 days.
Cucumber – Store in plastic bag in the refrigerator. Do not wash until just before use.
Eggplant – Wrap in plastic and refrigerate.
Garlic – Store at room temperature. Whole heads will last 3 to 5 weeks, but once cloves are separated, they will last about 10 days.

Grapes – Do not wash until just before eating, as they also have a bloom.  Store them in the fridge, in the plastic bags they come in, or poke holes in a plastic bag to allow for air circulation.  They say they should last up to 2 weeks.  (I have never seen them last longer than a week before getting shriveled up and gross…)
Jalapeno Peppers – Store in plastic bag, in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.
Kiwi Fruit – store at room temperature until ripe, then cover with plastic and refrigerate.  Will keep for about a week.
Lettuces, Leafy Greens & Spinach – Wash, wrap loosely in paper-towels, then bag it… paper towel and all.
Melons – Store at room temperature until ripe, then refrigerate. They will keep for about a week.
Mushrooms – Do not wash until just before using.  Pre-sliced? Store in the refrigerator in their original packaging. They will last for about a week. Whole?  Store loosely in a brown paper bag in the refrigerator
Onions – Store in a cool, dry place that has good air circulation.  (Store in the fridge if you don’t have such a place.) They will keep for 2 to 3 months.  DO NOT STORE WITH POTATOES.  (If next to each other they spoil faster.  Who knew?)

Pears – If they aren’t ripe, store them at room temperature.  Once they ripen, place them in a plastic bag and store them in the fridge.  They will keep for about a week.
Peaches, Plums, Nectarines & Apricots – Store at room temperature until ripe, then store in plastic bags in the refrigerator until ready to eat.  They will keep from 3 to 5 days.  Do not wash until ready to eat.
Pineapple – Store at room temperature until ripe, then store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Potatoes – Store in a cool, dry, dark place that has good air circulation. They will keep for 2 to 3 months.  DO NOT STORE WITH ONIONS.  (If next to each other they spoil faster.  Who knew?)  Sweet Potatoes keep at room temperature for a week or in a cool dark place for about a month.

Tomatoes – Store them in a cool, dry place.  Don’t store them in plastic bags as the trapped ethylene will make them ripen more quickly. Once ripe, you can put them in the fridge to slow the ripening process, but let them come to room temperature before using them.

Zucchini – Refrigerate in a plastic bag.  Do not wash until just before using.

Be sure to check out my posts on keeping herbs fresh  and on how to chop and freeze fresh herbs for later use.

Here’s printable to tape inside your pantry or put of your fridge:
How to Store Producehttp://www.scribd.com/embeds/79282813/content?start_page=1&view_mode=list&access_key=key-u0ogemx1pysmhdtuxjs

Did I miss anything?  Do you have any great tips to share?  Leave them in the comments and let me know.
Happy eating!

****UPDATED 2/9/12  This comment from a reader, regarding Asparagus:
Asparagus is actually something that can last for a couple weeks if stored properly (thanks Alton Brown and Good Eats). When you get them home, cut off about half an inch on the ends. Put enough water in the bottom of a jar or wide drinking glass to cover the bottoms about 3/4″ to 1″ (you don’t want half the stalk to sit in water). Put a ziploc baggie loosely down over the top of the stalks to keep some of the moisture around them. Store in the fridge! It’s that easy. When I learned this, I no longer hesitated in picking up asparagus whenever I was at the grocery store. I have some now in my fridge that has lasted about two weeks already.

Check the bottom of the blog to see where I link this project. Also linking here:

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New tips for the new year…


Happy New Year everyone. Hope you enjoyed your holiday seasons and all the fun eating and cookie exchanging that happened. I had two cookie exchanges this year which overloaded me with cookies I was not able to eat. I had a bad recipe experience I’ll have to share in a later post…

Just wanted to pass these tips and tricks along to you as found the Cooking Light website. I saw this on Pinterest and quickly thought it a helpful thing to add to the blog since it had everything to do with mistakes in the kitchen! I had to laugh at some of these and sigh in relief knowing I’m not the ONLY one that has made this ooopsie in the kitchen. Tell me about a few of your kitchen disasters and pass on unintentional wisdom you’ve gleened :)

The Most Common Cooking Mistakes

Learn how to avoid these common mistakes for success every time.

Common Cooking Mistakes

Photo: Oxmoor House Story by Ann Taylor Pittman and Tim Cebula

Our Most Common Cooking Mistakes

Every cook, being human, errs, bungles, botches, and screws up in the kitchen once in a while. If you have not “caramelized” fruit in salt rather than sugar, you have not suffered the most embarrassing mistake made by one of our editors. We did not have to look much farther than our staff―and their encounters with readers, friends, and relatives―to compile a list of 25 common, avoidable culinary boo-boos.

The creative cook can often cook her way out of a kitchen error, but the smart cook aims to prevent such creativity from being necessary. Here are 25 ways to be smarter every time.

Taste Test While Cooking

Story by Ann Taylor Pittman and Tim Cebula

1. You don’t taste as you go.

Result: The flavors or textures of an otherwise excellent dish are out of balance or unappealing.

For most cooks, tasting is automatic, but when it’s not, the price can be high. Recipes don’t always call for the “right” amount of seasoning, cooking times are estimates, and results vary depending on your ingredients, your stove, altitude…and a million other factors. Your palate is the control factor.

Think that experienced cooks don’t forget this most basic rule? Cooking Light Associate Food Editor Tim Cebula was sous chef in a notable restaurant when he served up “caramelized” pineapple that somehow refused to brown. Turns out Tim had coated the fruit in salt, not sugar. “That’s why it wouldn’t caramelize.”

Read Recipe Before Cooking

Story by Ann Taylor Pittman and Tim Cebula

2. You don’t read the entire recipe before you start cooking.

Result: Flavors are dull, entire steps or ingredients get left out.

Even the best-written recipes may not include all the headline information at the top. A wise cook approaches each recipe with a critical eye and reads the recipe well before it’s time to cook. Follow the pros’ habit of gathering your mise en place―that is, having all the ingredients gathered, prepped, and ready to go before you turn on the heat.

“Trust me,” says former Cooking Light Test Kitchen tester Mary Drennen Ankar, “you don’t want to be an hour away from dinner guests arriving when you get to the part of the recipe that says to marinate the brisket overnight or simmer for two hours.”

Healthy Baking Substitutions

Photo: Romulo Yanes & Randy Mayor Story by Ann Taylor Pittman and Tim Cebula

3. You make unwise substitutions in baking.

Result: You wreck the underlying chemistry of the dish.

Substitutions are a particular temptation, and challenge, with healthy cooking. At Cooking Lightit’s our job to substitute lower-fat ingredients―to change the cooking chemistry a bit while capturing the soul of a dish. When it comes to baking, this is as much science as art.

“I’ll get calls from readers about cakes turning out too dense or too gummy,” says Test Kitchen Director Vanessa Pruett. “After a little interrogation, I’ll get to the truth―that the reader used ALL applesauce instead of a mix of applesauce and oil or butter or went with sugar substitute in place of sugar.” Best practice: Follow the recipe, period.

Boiling Water

Story by Ann Taylor Pittman and Tim Cebula

4. You boil when you should simmer.

Result: A hurried-up dish that’s cloudy, tough, or dry.

This is one of the most common kitchen errors. First, let’s clarify what we mean by simmering: A bubble breaks the surface of the liquid every second or two. More vigorous bubbling than that means you’ve got a boil going. And the difference between the two can ruin a dish.

“I had a friend serve me a beef stew once that gave me a real jaw workout,” says Nutrition Editor Kathy Kitchens Downie. “She boiled the meat for 45 minutes instead of simmering it for a couple of hours. She says she just wanted it to get done more quickly. Well, it was ‘done,’ but meat cooked too quickly in liquid ironically turns out very dry. And tough, really tough.”

How to melt chocolate

Photo: Romulo Yanes & Randy Mayor Story by Ann Taylor Pittman and Tim Cebula

5. You overheat chocolate.

Result: Instead of having a smooth, creamy, luxurious consistency, your chocolate is grainy, separated, or scorched.

The best way to melt chocolate is to go slowly, heat gently, remove from the heat before it’s fully melted, and stir until smooth. If using the microwave, proceed cautiously, stopping every 20 to 30 seconds to stir. If using a double boiler, make sure the water is simmering, not boiling. It’s very easy to ruin chocolate, and there is no road back.

Associate Food Editor Julianna Grimes recently made a cake but didn’t pay close enough attention while microwaving the chocolate. It curdled. “It was all the chocolate I had on hand, so I had to dump it and change my plans.”

How to soften butter

Story by Ann Taylor Pittman and Tim Cebula

6. You over-soften butter.

Result: Cookies spread too much or cakes are too dense.

We’ve done it: forgotten to soften the butter and zapped it in the microwave to do the job quickly. Better to let it stand at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes to get the right consistency. You can speed the process significantly by cutting butter into tablespoon-sized portions and letting it stand at room temperature.

Properly softened butter should yield slightly to gentle pressure. Too-soft butter means your cookie dough will be more like batter, and it will spread too much as it bakes and lose shape. Butter that’s too soft also won’t cream properly with sugar, and creaming is essential to creating fluffy, tender cakes with a delicate crumb.

How to heat low-fat mlk products

Story by Ann Taylor Pittman and Tim Cebula

7. You overheat low-fat milk products.

Result: The milk curdles or “breaks,” yielding grainy mac and cheese, ice cream, or pudding.

If you’re new to lighter cooking, you may not know that even though you can boil cream just fine, the same is not true for other milk products, which will curdle. The solution is to cook lower-fat dairy products to a temperature of only 180° or less.

Use a clip-on thermometer, hover over the pan, and heat over medium-low or low heat to prevent curdling. And if it curdles, toss and start again. One alternative: Stabilize milk with starch, like cornstarch or flour, if you want to bring it to a boil; the starch will prevent curdling (and it’ll thicken the milk, too).

How to test your oven

Photo: Romulo Yanes & Randy Mayor Story by Ann Taylor Pittman and Tim Cebula

8. You don’t know your oven’s quirks and idiosyncrasies.

Result: Food cooks too fast, too slow, or unevenly.

Ideally, every oven set to 350° would heat to 350°. But many ovens don’t, including expensive ones, and some change their behavior as they age. Always use an oven thermometer. Next, be aware of hot spots. If you’ve produced cake layers with wavy rather than flat tops, hot spots are the problem.

SaBrina Bone, who tests in our kitchen, advises the “bread test:” Arrange bread slices to cover the middle oven rack. Bake at 350° for a few minutes, and see which slices get singed―their location marks your oven’s hot spot(s). If you know you have a hot spot in, say, the back left corner, avoid putting pans in that location, or rotate accordingly.

How to measure dry ingredients

Photo: Romulo Yanes & Randy Mayor Story by Ann Taylor Pittman and Tim Cebula

9. You’re too casual about measuring ingredients.

Result: Dry, tough cakes, rubbery brownies, and a host of other textural mishaps.

In lighter baking, you’re using less of the butter and oil that can hide a host of measurement sins. One cook’s “cup of flour” may be another cook’s 1¼ cups. Why the discrepancy? Some people scoop their flour out of the canister, essentially packing it down into the measuring cup, or tap the cup on the counter and then top off with more flour. Both practices yield too much flour.

“Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, then level with a knife,” advises Test Kitchen Director Vanessa Pruett. A dry measuring cup is one without a spout―a spout makes it difficult to level off the excess flour with the flat side of a knife. “Lightly spoon” means don’t pack it in.

Do not overcrowd the pan when cooking

Story by Ann Taylor Pittman and Tim Cebula

10. You overcrowd the pan.

Result: Soggy food that doesn’t brown.

Food releases moisture as it’s cooked, so leave room for the steam to escape. It’s easy to overcrowd a pan when you’re in a hurry, particularly if you have to brown a large amount of meat for a beef stew. But the brown, crusty bits are critical for flavor, particularly with lower-fat cooking.

A soggy batch of beef going into a Dutch oven will not be a beautiful, rich, deeply flavored stew when it comes out, even if it does get properly tender. This browning principle applies equally to quick-cook foods like crab cakes and chicken breasts. Leave breathing room in the pan, and you’ll get much better results. If you need to speed things up, use two pans at once.

How to separate egg whites

Story by Ann Taylor Pittman and Tim Cebula

11. You mishandle egg whites.

Result: The whites won’t whip up. Or, overbeaten or roughly handled, they produce flat cake layers or soufflés with no lift.

Properly beaten egg whites are voluminous, creamy, and glossy, but they require care. First, separate whites from yolks carefully, by letting the whites slip through your fingers. A speck of yolk can prevent the whites from whipping up fully.

Let the whites stand for a few minutes―at room temperature they whip up better than when cold. Whip with clean, dry beaters at high speed just until stiff peaks form―that is, until the peak created when you lift the beater out of the bowl stands upright. If you overbeat, the whites will turn grainy, dry, or may separate.

Turning food in the pan

Story by Ann Taylor Pittman and Tim Cebula

12. You turn the food too often.

Result: You interfere with the sear, food sticks, or you lose the breading.

Learning to leave food alone is one of the hardest lessons in cooking; it’s so tempting to turn, poke, flip. But your breaded chicken or steak won’t develop a nice crust unless you allow it to cook, undisturbed, for the specified time.

One sign that it’s too early to turn: You can’t slide a spatula cleanly under the crust. “It’ll release from the pan when it’s ready,” says Assistant Test Kitchen Director Tiffany Vickers Davis. “Don’t try to pry it up―the crust will stick to the pan, not the chicken.”

Heating pan before cooking

Story by Ann Taylor Pittman and Tim Cebula

13. You don’t get the pan hot enough before you add the food.

Result: Food that sticks, scallops with no sear, pale meats.

The inexperienced or hurried cook will barely heat the pan before adding oil and tossing in onions for a sauté. Next comes…nothing. No sizzle. A hot pan is essential for sautéing veggies or creating a great crust on meat, fish, and poultry. It also helps prevent food from sticking.

Associate Food Editor Tim Cebula was once advised: “If you think your pan is hot enough, step back and heat it a couple more minutes. When you’re about ready to call the fire department, then add oil and proceed to cook the food.”

How to slice meat

Story by Ann Taylor Pittman and Tim Cebula

14. You slice meat with―instead of against―the grain.

Result: Chewy meat that could have been tender.

For tender slices, look at the meat to determine the direction of the grain (the muscle fibers), and cut across the grain, not with it. This is particularly important with tougher cuts such as flank steak or skirt steak, in which the grain is also quite obvious. But it’s also a good practice with more tender cuts like standing rib roast, or even poultry.

Underbaking breads and cakes

Photo: Romulo Yanes & Randy Mayor Story by Ann Taylor Pittman and Tim Cebula

15. You underbake cakes and breads.

Result: Cakes, brownies, and breads turn out pallid and gummy.

Overcooked baked goods disappoint, but we’ve found that less experienced bakers are more likely to undercook them. “You won’t get that irresistible browning unless you have the confidence to fully cook the food,” says Associate Food Editor Julianna Grimes.

“Really look at the food. Even if the wooden pick comes out clean, if the cake is pale, it’s not finished. Let it go another couple of minutes until it has an even, golden brownness.” It’s better to err on the side of slightly overcooking than producing gummy, wet, unappealing food. Once you’ve done this a few times and know exactly what you’re looking for, it’ll become second nature.

Meat Thermometer

Story by Ann Taylor Pittman and Tim Cebula

16. You don’t use a meat thermometer.

Result: Your roast chicken, leg of lamb, or beef tenderloin turns out over- or undercooked.

Small and inexpensive, the meat thermometer is one of the most valuable kitchen tools you can own. Using one is the surefire way to achieve a perfect roast chicken or beautiful medium-rare lamb roast, because temperatures don’t lie and appearances can deceive.

We love digital probe thermometers, which allow you to set the device to the desired temperature. A heat-proof wire leads to an external digital unit that sits outside the oven and beeps when the meat is ready. This eliminates the frequent opening and closing of the oven door to check the temp―during which you lose valuable heat―and that speeds the cooking.

Let meat rest after cooking

Story by Ann Taylor Pittman and Tim Cebula

17. Meat gets no chance to rest after cooking.

Result: Delicious juices vacate the meat and run all over the cutting board, leaving steak or roast dry.

Plan your meals so that meat you roast, grill, sear, or sauté has time to rest at room temperature after it’s pulled from the heat. That cooling-off time helps the juices, which migrate to the center of the meat, to be distributed more evenly throughout.

The resting rule applies equally to an inexpensive skirt steak or a premium dry-aged, grass-fed steak, as well as poultry. With small cuts like a steak or boneless, skinless chicken breast, five minutes is adequate. A whole bird or standing rib roast requires 20 to 30 minutes. Tent the meat loosely with foil to keep it warm.

Caramelized Onions

Story by Ann Taylor Pittman and Tim Cebula

18. You try to rush the cooking of caramelized onions.

Result: You end up with sautéed onions, which are nice but a far cry from the melt-in-your-mouth caramelized ideal.

If you want real, true, sweet, creamy caramelized onions to top your burger or pizza, cook them over medium-low to low heat for a long time, maybe up to an hour. If you crank the heat and try to speed up the process, you’ll get a different product―onions that may be crisp-tender and nicely browned but lacking that characteristic translucence and meltingly tender quality you want.

Bottom line: Know that caramelized onions take time, and plan to cook them when you can give them the time they need.

Kneading low fat dough

Story by Ann Taylor Pittman and Tim Cebula

19. You overwork lower-fat dough.

Result: Cookies, scones, piecrusts, and biscuits turn out tough.

Recipes with lots of butter are more likely to stay moist and tender because of the fat, even if the dough is overkneaded. But without all that fat, you absolutely must use a light hand. That’s why many of our biscuit and scone recipes instruct the cook to knead the dough gently or pat it out (instead of rolling), and our cookie or piecrust recipes say to mix just until flour is incorporated.

“Whenever I make any of our cookies, I stop the mixer before the flour is completely incorporated,” says the Test Kitchen’s Deb Wise. “I do that last bit of mixing by hand, and it makes a difference.”

How to toast nuts

Story by Ann Taylor Pittman and Tim Cebula

20. You neglect the nuts you’re toasting.

Result: Burned nuts, with a sharp, bitter flavor.

Toasting intensifies the flavor of nuts. But the nut is a mighty delicate thing―in an oven it can go from perfectly toasty to charred in seconds. This has happened to every one of our Test Kitchen cooks.

Arrange nuts in a single layer on a heavy baking sheet, and bake at 350° for as little as two minutes for flaked coconut to five or more minutes (for dense nuts like almonds); shake the pan or stir frequently so the nuts toast evenly―they tend to brown on the bottom more quickly. They’re done when they’ve darkened slightly (or turned golden brown for pale nuts like pine nuts or slivered almonds) and smell fragrant and toasty.

Preventing mushy vegetables

Photo: Romulo Yanes & Randy Mayor Story by Ann Taylor Pittman and Tim Cebula

21. You don’t shock vegetables when they’ve reached the desired texture.

Result: Mush.

Toss green beans, broccoli, or asparagus into boiling water for three to seven minutes, and they’ll turn vibrant green with a crisp-tender texture. But if you don’t “shock” those vegetables at that point by spooning them out of the boiling water and plunging them into ice water (or at least rinsing under cold running water) to stop the cooking process, the carryover heat will continue to cook them to the point that they turn army-green and flabby. This is not a concern if you intend to serve the vegetables immediately.

Seasoning meats

Story by Ann Taylor Pittman and Tim Cebula

22. You put all the salt in the marinade or breading.

Result: Fish, poultry, or meat that’s underseasoned.

Healthy cooks try to keep sodium levels in check and only allocate a small amount of salt to a recipe―so they need to maximize the salt’s impact. For example, chicken marinating in citrus juice and salt will only absorb a tiny amount of the marinade. When you toss out the marinade, you also toss out most of the salt and its seasoning effect.

It’s better to use a little salt in the marinade, then directly sprinkle the majority of the salt on the chicken after it comes out of the marinade. The same goes for breaded items. Sprinkle salt directly on the food and then coat it with the breading.

How to cook meats evenly

Photo: Romulo Yanes & Randy Mayor Story by Ann Taylor Pittman and Tim Cebula

23. You pop meat straight from the fridge into the oven or onto the grill.

Result: Food cooks unevenly: The outside is overdone, the inside rare or raw.

Meats will cook much more evenly if you allow them to stand at room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes (depending on the size of the cut) to take the chill off.

A roast that goes into the oven refrigerator-cold will likely yield a piece of meat that is overcooked on the outside and undercooked at the center. As you slice the roast, you’ll see a bull’s-eye effect: The middle is rare (or even raw) while the outside is well done. This is less of a problem with smaller cuts like chicken breasts―though even those benefit from resting at room temperature for five or 10 minutes before cooking.

Burned food

Photo: Romulo Yanes & Randy Mayor Story by Ann Taylor Pittman and Tim Cebula

24. You don’t know when to abandon ship and start over.

Result: You serve a disappointing meal. And you know it’s disappointing!

There’s no shame in making a mistake; we all do. And while it may feel a bit wasteful to throw food in the trash, tossing out burned garlic, charred nuts, or smoking oil is the right thing to do. Start again fresh (if you have extras of the ingredients). Of course, there is a no-turning-back point, too. If you’ve overcooked a chicken because you didn’t use a meat thermometer, you’re bound to serve an overcooked chicken. At that point, the best practice is to ‘fess up, apologize, pass the wine, and move on.

High quality ingredients for cooking

Story by Ann Taylor Pittman and Tim Cebula

25. You use inferior ingredients.

Result: Sigh.

This is an important point because it’s the linchpin of great cooking: Good food begins and ends with the ingredients. The dishes you cook will only be as mediocre, good, or superb as the ingredients you put in them. As a rule, we recommend using high-quality ingredients whenever available and affordable.

Always shop for the best ingredients. They’re the foundation of good cooking and why we strive not to make the mistakes described here. Choose top-notch produce, meats, and cheeses, and protect them as you would anything else precious―handle with love, respect, and care so you can be a steward of the joys of great food. Your cooking will invariably turn out better.

Poaching Eggs

Photo: Randy Mayor Story by Ann Taylor Pittman and Tim Cebula

26. Your poached eggs aren’t pretty

Result: The typical botched poached egg is tentacled, scary, tough, overcooked.

First, fill a wide saucepan or sauté pan with water to about two inches. Bring it to a gentle simmer—not a rolling boil, which toughens and twists the whites. Add a few teaspoons of vinegar, which does help eggs keep their shape. Crack eggs (fresher ones won’t spread as much) into small ramekins or custard cups. The cups let you gently pour the eggs into the pan so the whites stay in a tight circle, and ensure that you won’t crack a broken-yolk dud into the water. Cook three minutes (the whites should be set and the yolks still creamy), then remove carefully with a slotted spoon. Drain them for a few seconds, or blot with a paper towel. Voilà: no more poor poaching. You can now perch your perfectly poached gems atop a dish like Two Potato and Beet Hash with Poached Eggs.

Lumpy Gravy

Photo: John Autry Story by Ann Taylor Pittman and Tim Cebula

27. Your gravy is lumpy

Result: Lumpy gravy. Next time, whisk wisely. Meanwhile, here’s a fix.

One cause is the direct dumping of dry flour, cornstarch, or other thickener into the hot stock or broth. Another: adding broth too quickly into a roux—the flour-fat mixture that some gravy recipes start with—which can cause clumping or a gluey layer on the bottom of the pan. Hot spots in a large pan can complicate things, as well. In any starch-based sauce, the thickener needs to be gradually introduced to the hot liquid it’s supposed to thicken. The easiest way, as with our recipe for theMushroom Gravy, involves whisking a flour slurry into the broth mixture, then stirring until the gravy comes together.

If lumps happen, pass gravy through a sieve or strainer, or puree it (with an immersion blender or, very carefully, in a regular blender). If the gravy originally contained sautéed mushroom slices, well, the guests needn’t know that, and it will still be delicious.

Gluey Mashed Potatoes

Photo: John Autry Story by Ann Taylor Pittman and Tim Cebula

28. Your mashed potatoes are gluey

Result: Gluey mashed potatoes. Next time, watch the cooking time and drain well.

Gluey mashed potatoes are more than just unfortunate—they’re usually a lost cause. Overcooked or insufficiently drained potatoes can become sticky, as can the wrong kind of potato. But the main problem is overworked spuds. The science is simple: Boiled potatoes develop swollen starch cells. When ruptured during mashing, the cells release starch. The more cells are ruptured, the gummier the mashed potatoes. So if you use an electric mixer or food processor to mash your potatoes, you’ll probably beat them mercilessly and end up with wallpaper paste. Instead, use a potato masher, or even better, pass the potatoes through a ricer or food mill before mixing them with butter and hot milk—these devices are gentler on the starch cells, and they’ll also prevent lumps.

Low-starch (or waxy) red potatoes hold their shape well after boiling, so they require more effort to mash. Hence, you’re likely to overwork them. Try mashing them just partway, as in our Herbed Smashed Potatoes. By contrast, high-starch (mealy or floury) baking potatoes, also called russets, break down more readily, yielding light and fluffy mashed potatoes (or, with a little more milk and butter, smooth and creamy).

Burned Brown Butter

Photo: John Autry Story by Ann Taylor Pittman and Tim Cebula

29. You Burn the Brown Butter

Result: Dark and bitter butter. Next time, pay attention to the visual cues.

Browning butter is a sure way to suffuse a dish with a great deal of nutty buttery flavor without using a lot of fat. Example: Sautéed Chicken with Sage Browned Butter. But the process is a little trickybecause once the butter begins to brown, it can race right into burnt. Then nutty becomes bitter.

Success depends on visual cues, so use a stainless steel pan—you can see the butter change color better. Us no more than medium heat so that the browing proceeds gradually. First the butter will foam in the pan: The milk solids are separating from the butterfat, and the water is evaporating. Then the foam subsides and the milk solids begin to brown. Now the butter gives off its characteristic nutty aroma (the French call brown butter beurre noisette, or hazelnut butter). Some recipes call for adding lemon jice at this point; the tartness complements the sweet butter, while the juice cools it and slows the browning. Either way, when the butter turns amber-brown, take the pan off the heat. If you’re not using it immediately (say, drizzling it over steamed vegetables), get it out of the hot pan and into a bowl so the residual heat doesn’t continue to push the butter from brown to burnt.

Burnt Bacon

Photo: John Autry Story by Ann Taylor Pittman and Tim Cebula

30. Your bacon is burnt and crinkly

Result: Burnt and crinkly bacon. Next time, bake your bacon.

Pan-frying is the standard way to cook bacon, but it has drawbacks. Only a few strips fit flat in most skillets—any more than that will slope up the sides, cooking unevenly. And bacon strips can shrink more than they need to in a hot pan. (Starting them in a cold pan helps, but you’ll still need to flip often.)

Take a cue from chefs—bake your bacon. Heat hits from all sides, cooking more evenly. The result: consistently flat strips.

Line a jelly-roll pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper to make cleanup easier. Set a wire rack on the pans so the bacon doesn’t sit in fat. Place bacon slices in a single layer on the rack, and bake at 400º for about 20 minutes (depending on bacon thickness and how crispy you like it).

Unless your oven has major hot spots, you don’t have to flip the bacon or turn the pans. You can even put the bacon in while the oven preheats—the gradual temperature increase will render the fat more slowly and won’t shrink the meat as much.

Avoid Brown Veggies

Photo: John Autry Story by Ann Taylor Pittman and Tim Cebula

31. Your Green Veggies Turn Brown

Result: Drab veggies. Next time, baby them and they will stay vibrant.

When vegetables take a sad turn from bright green to khaki drab, it conjures memories of grade-school cafeteria food and the ruined texture of canned asparagus. The most common culprits: overcooking and acidic dressings. A cook has to know how to care for the delicate source of the green: chlorophyll.

Vegetables such as green beans, broccoli, and asparagus lose their bright color—and crisp texture, for that matter—after six or seven minutes of cooking. If you know you’ll be eating them immediately, just remove, drain, and serve. But if you’ll be busy assembling other dishes, consider blanching and shocking. Cook for two minutes in salted boiling water, then remove vegetables immediately and plunge into ice water. The ice back halts the cooking process and helps set the color. Later, the chilled vegetables can be quickly reheated—by sautéing in a bit of olive oil, for instance—without losing their green.

But blanching won’t keep veggies vibrant if you dress them too soon with an acid such as vinegar or lemon juice. Wait until just before serving (as we do with our SuperFast asparagus sides).

Avoid Soggy Salad

Photo: John Autry Story by Ann Taylor Pittman and Tim Cebula

32. Your Salad Goes Limp

Result: Soggy salad. Next time, consider three important factors.

A soggy pile of wilted greens makes for a sorry salad indeed. Tender greens like Boston lettuce, mâche, and arugula are delicate little things that perish at the mere rumor of mistreatment (tearing or roughly handling lettuce bruises it), but even crisp, hearty lettuces like romaine need to be treated with care. To keep them at their best, you need to consider three factors: time, volume, and temperature.

Only dress your greens just before serving, particularly when using vinaigrette: Oil quickly permeates the waxy surface of leafy greens, turning them dark green and droopy. If you’ve washed your greens, use a salad spinner or blot them delicately with paper towels to dry them. Water clinging to leaves will repel oil-based vinaigrettes and thin out creamy dressings, leading to bland salad.

Put dry greens in a salad bowl. Add less dressing than you think you’ll need (to avoid overdressing), and pour it down the sides of the bowl, not onto the greens—you’ll dress them more evenly this way. Gently toss, adding dressing as needed, until the greens are lightly coated. If you do overdress them, a quick whirl in the salad spinner will shake off any excess.

Finally, follow the lead of professional chefs and serve your salad on chilled plates to help keep the greens crisp as you enjoy them.

Avoid Burnt Chicken

Photo: John Autry Story by Ann Taylor Pittman and Tim Cebula

33. You Incinerate Chicken on the Grill

Result: Charred skin and rare meat in the thickest part of the breast.

Grilling bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts feels like it should be simple enough. Even experienced grillers often try to cook them entirely over direct heat, figuring it’s just a matter of timing. At which point dripping fat causes flare-ups that engulf the breasts, charring the skin while the meat remains rare deep within. Yet perfectly grilled chicken—with crisp, browned skin and juicy, succulent meat—is relatively simple if you learn to manipulate the heat.

First, establish two temperature zones: Set one side of a gas grill to medium-high and the other to low, or build a fire on one side of a charcoal grill. (Make sure your grate is clean and oiled to prevent sticking.) Start the chicken skin-side up on the low- or no-heat side, and cover the grill. After a few minutes, when the chicken fat starts to render, flip the meat, skin-side down. Point the breasts’ thicker ends toward the hot side to help them cook evenly. Cover and grill for about 25 minutes. When the meat is done (165° at the thickest part of the breast), crisp the skin on the hot side for a minute or two, moving it as needed to avoid flare-ups. Wait until the last few minutes to brush on barbecue sauce: The sugars in the sauce will char quickly.

How to Avoid Ruining Hard-Cooked Eggs

Photo: John Autry Story by Ann Taylor Pittman and Tim Cebula

34. Your Hard-Cooked Eggs Are Icky

Result: A rubbery, chalky, green-gray hot mess! Next time, heat slowly and cool quickly.

We’ve all puzzled, after following someone’s can’t-fail advice, over less-than-perfect hard-cooked eggs—the eggs with rubbery whites, chalky yolks, and that tell-tale green-gray film between yolk and white. The cause? Temperature differential: The white of an egg dropped into boiling water cooks much faster than the yolk at the center, and that’s trouble. By the time the yolk sets, the white is tough. And if the egg stays over high heat too long, or isn’t cooled quickly after cooking, sulfur in the white will react with iron in the yolk, creating that nasty off-colored ring.

Here’s the fix: To keep the temperature of the egg white and yolk close, heat the eggs gradually. Place them in a saucepan, cover them by an inch or two with cold water, and set the pan over high heat. When the water reaches a full boil, remove from heat, cover the pan, and let the eggs stand for 10 minutes. This cooks them gently and keeps the whites from toughening. Peel the eggs immediately under cold running water; or, if you’re not using them right away, set them in an ice water bath. This lowers the eggs’ temperature and minimizes the pressure that causes sulfur rings to form.

How to Avoid Dry Turkey Burgers

Photo: John Autry Story by Ann Taylor Pittman and Tim Cebula

35. Your Turkey Burgers Are Parched Pucks

Result: A dried out burger that sticks to the grill. Next time, add a little heart-healthy fat to help the meat stay moist and juicy.

A well-made turkey burger is a delicious, lower-fat backyard grill treat, but if you don’t compensate for the leanness of the meat, you could be eating turkey-flavored particleboard. Mostly it’s a matter of getting the patty off the grill before it dries out (or sticks and falls apart)—a job made trickier by the need to cook poultry to 165°. So, to avoid sawdust syndrome, add a little fat to the meat. Yes, add fat. This might seem counterproductive, but it’s not if you use a fat that’s heart-healthy.

The fat in question? Olive oil. Stirring in two tablespoons olive oil per pound of ground turkey keeps the burgers moist and juicy and also helps them form a nicely browned crust on the outside that won’t stick to the grill.

Even better: Sauté 1 cup diced onion in 2 tablespoons olive oil until nice and tender, let cool slightly, and then mix the onion and oil from the pan into a pound of ground turkey to form four patties. The oil-coated onions do a marvelous job of adding both moisture and flavor to lean poultry burgers, and you get a hit of that nice, oniony sweetness, too.

How to Avoid Gummy Rice

Photo: Mary Britton Senseney Story by Ann Taylor Pittman and Tim Cebula

36. Your Rice Gets Gummy

Result: Sticky, gummy goo. Next time, use more water.

Rice is the great staple grain of much of the world, but it can strike fear in the hearts of some American cooks who have learned that the famous 2:1 water-to-rice ratio is not reliable in many cases or for many varieties. And stovetop prep can be tricky (rice cookers are reliable, so if you love rice, consider buying one). Slightly undercooked rice can sometimes be fixed with more water and time, but the dreaded gummy rice is a dead loss.

When rice is cooked in the traditional way—simmering in a lidded pot—the close-packed grains rub together and release starch, often leading to stickiness. The solution is blessedly ratio-free, though it may seem counterintuitive: Use more water. Lots more, so you cook the rice like pasta until it reaches the proper consistency, then drain. The pasta method keeps rice from rubbing together too much as it cooks; draining ensures it won’t suck up more water than it needs.

Check brown rice for doneness at around 25 minutes. You can also sauté brown rice in olive oil after it’s drained, to evaporate excess moisture. For white rice, which absorbs water more readily, try sautéing the grains before boiling, for about two minutes in a tablespoon of oil. Then add roughly four times as much cold water as rice to the pan, and boil. Check for doneness at around 15 minutes (timing starts when water boils). The oil forms a protective layer around the white grains during boiling—and sautéing lends the rice deliciously toasty flavor.

How to Avoid Burnt Caramel

Photo: Mary Britton Senseney Story by Ann Taylor Pittman and Tim Cebula

37. Your Caramel Meets a Burnt, Bitter End

Result: Burnt, bitter caramel. Next time, a little water—and patience—goes a long way.

Caramel is a one-ingredient recipe for experts, two for more cautious cooks who add water to the sugar—but either way it can quickly turn into a chemistry experiment gone wrong. The problem is a rapid acceleration of browning, which can quickly move your sugar sauce into bitter, burnt territory.

Sugar behaves differently from other foods when it’s cooked. While most ingredients absorb heat from the pan, sugar actually generates its own heat as it breaks down. This causes the temperature to rise fast—about one degree per second. When you remove the pan from the heat as the caramel reaches the perfect light-amber hue, it can still burn because residual heat from the pan keeps the action going.

The key is watchful, hands-off cooking, as slow and even as possible. Adding ¼ cup of water per cup of sugar dissolves the sugar uniformly and slows boiling, providing more control as you look for that honey-gold color. Use a light-colored stainless steel or enamel saucepan and a candy thermometer.

To make the caramel, cook the sugar and water, without stirring (or absolutely minimal stirring, if you must), over medium-low heat until golden and fragrant, about 335°. With experience, you’ll learn to trust color more than temperature.

The hands-off approach works best because stirring can cause hot caramel to crystallize when it hits the cool sides of the pan, and that can set off a chain reaction that ruins the sauce.

Set the pan in an ice bath for two to three seconds to stop the cooking (any longer and the caramel will seize), then use immediately.

How to Avoid a Sloppy Turkey Carving

Photo: John Autry Story by Ann Taylor Pittman and Tim Cebula

38. The Turkey Hack Job

Result: Your turkey platter resembles a crime scene.

On turkey day, it’s your well-earned right to parade that magnificent roasted bird around the dining room. But carving is best done where there’s elbow room and a large, stable cutting surface. You’ll need a well-honed knife; have it professionally sharpened before the big day.

Now, as the pros say, “break” the bird down in the right order (this is where many cooks go wrong—trying to slice meat directly off a big, hot bird). Leg quarters come off first, then breast meat, with the tucked-under wings serving to stabilize as you cut. Set the big pieces onto a cutting board where you can deal with them properly.

Take the breast meat off the bone in one piece, then slice crosswise, which ensures uniformity and allows for slightly thicker slices that are juicier and less fibrous than thin portions. Cut the thigh meat into large chunks. Reserve room on the platter for legs if you have a Henry VIII in the family.

Oh, and remember—in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, you can always practice your technique on a nice roasted chicken: same configuration of bird parts, no game-day pressure.

How to Avoid a Spreading Cookies

Photo: Johnny Autry Story by Ann Taylor Pittman and Tim Cebula

39. Your Cookies Gain Unwanted Holiday Width

Result: Sad gingerbread men.

Baking holiday cookies can go from a labor of love to an exercise in frustration when your gingerbread men come out more bloated than a Macy’s parade float. The problem is too much heat—but not at the baking stage, at the mixing stage: Your butter is too warm.

The solution: Keep your butter cool, right until baking. Butter starts to melt at 68°, and once that happens, its water-fat emulsion breaks and there’s no getting it back. Cold, emulsified butter helps give baked goods structure by taking in air when mixed with sugar. For cookies, you want butter well below room temperature; between 50° and 65° is optimal. Cut the butter into chunks, and let it stand at room temperature to soften (nix the microwave idea entirely).

If the butter is still cold to the touch but spreadable, you can start creaming. Butter and sugar need only be mixed (or “creamed”) for about 30 seconds—much longer and the butter warms up. Chill the dough for 20 to 30 minutes before you bake. Lastly, don’t put the cookies on a hot pan. If you’re working in batches, cool the used pan for a few minutes, then run it under cool water before reloading (don’t do this while it’s hot, though, or you’ll risk warping the pan).

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Did you know…


So I just found this amazing blog via Pinterest…yes, I’m addicted too :0) If you’re not on there yet, just let me know and I’ll invite you. You’ll be more inspired then you have been in a long time. There are so many great recipes, pictures, crafty ideas and more to keep you entertained and busy for hours. I know…like you need one more site to get addicted to. But after you read these fun tips and trick below you may change your mind.

The blog is written by Julie Hammond and called DIY Home Sweet Home. In this particular post she writes about bouncing around from sites finding these little gems of information. I want to make sure to give credit since she did all the work and I just stumbled upon them. I want to post them here to share, but as much so I can remember them too! Her original post can be found here. I’ve just narrowed down the list to those dealing with food items but she offers a bunch more for household things. Below the pictures are her little messages and thoughts and then the list at the end are her additional finds…Enjoy!

You can flip a toaster on its side and grill cheese in it. – Source
Reynolds Wrap has lock in taps to hold the roll in place – Source
The color on the bread tab indicates how fresh the bread is – Source
You can divide and store ground meat in a zip loc bag. Just break off how much you need and keep the rest in the freezer for later. So much easier than dividing and  individually wrapping each pound or half pound. –Source
Marshmallows can cure a soar throat. Perfect for kids who wont take their medicine. – Source
You can freeze cupcake batter for later use. – Source
Mozzarella is super easy to make. – Source
You can make your own laundry soap. – Source
Save money and make your own vanilla extract. – Source
If you break your blender jar you can replace it with a mason jar. – Source
You can cook pumpkin in a crock pot and then freeze it for later use. – Source
Cereal canisters make the perfect trashcan for your car. – Source
Have you had enough?
No?
Well here are a few more.
  1. Take your bananas apart when you get home from the store. If you leave them connected at the stem, they ripen faster.. I didn’t know that!
  2. Store your opened chunks of cheese in aluminum foil. It will stay fresh much longer and not mold!
  3. Peppers with 3 bumps on the bottom are sweeter and better for eating. Peppers with 4 bumps on the bottom are firmer and better for cooking.
  4. Add a teaspoon of water when frying ground beef. It will help pull the grease away from the meat while cooking.
  5. To make scrambled eggs or omelets rich add a couple of spoonfuls of sour cream, cream cheese, or heavy cream in and then beat them up.
  6. Add garlic immediately to a recipe if you want a light taste of garlic,  and at the end of the recipe if you want a stronger taste of garlic.
  7. Reheat Pizza Heat up leftover pizza in a nonstick skillet on top of the stove, set heat to med-low and heat till warm. This keeps the crust crispy. No soggy micro pizza. I saw this on the cooking channel and it really works.
  8. Easy Deviled Eggs: Put cooked egg yolks in a zip lock bag. Seal, mash till they are all broken up.  Add remainder of ingredients, reseal, keep mashing it up mixing thoroughly, cut the tip of the baggy, squeeze mixture into egg.  Just throw bag away when done easy clean up.
  9. Expanding Frosting: When you buy a container of cake frosting from the store, whip it with your mixer for a few minutes. You can double it in size.  You get to frost more cake/cupcakes with the same amount. You also eat less sugar and calories per serving.
  10. Reheating refrigerated bread: To warm biscuits, pancakes, or muffins that were refrigerated, place them in a microwave with a cup of water. The increased moisture will keep the food moist and help it reheat faster.
  11. To keep squirrels from eating your plants, sprinkle your plants with cayenne pepper. The cayenne pepper doesn’t hurt the plant and the squirrels won’t come near it.
  12. Before you pour sticky substances into a measuring cup, fill with hot water. Dump out the hot water, but don’t dry cup. Next, add your ingredient, such as peanut butter, and watch how easily it comes right out.
  13. Goodbye Fruit Flies: To get rid of pesky fruit flies, take a small glass, fill it 1/2′ with Apple Cider Vinegar and 2 drops of dish washing liquid; mix well. You will find those flies drawn to the cup an d gone forever!
  14. Need to cut some corn off the cob. Use your bundt pan. Place the ear on the opening in the center of the pan, and as you slide the knife down the ear, all the kernels will collect in the main part of the pan.
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Alternate Uses for Food Items from…Real Simple Magazine


I love Real Simple Magazine and figured I would make a point to share some of these fun tips that they send out in their newsletter. I always forget them so if I post them here, I have no reason to :) If you would like to subscribe to their newsletter you can click here. Enjoy!

Spaghetti as Candle-Lighter

If you don’t have extra-long matches, use an uncooked piece of spaghetti to light multiple or hard to reach candles.

Lighting candle

LifeSavers as Birthday-Candle Holders

These sweet treats are perfect for holding birthday candles. Make sure you buy the original rolls of candy for a snug fit. (The LifeSavers sold in big bags are slightly larger and don’t work as well.) Secure the candles inside the candies, then place on top of the frosting, all without making holes in the cake.

Cupcake with a candle held by a LifeSaver

Toothpick as Tape Saver

Mark the end of a roll of clear packing tape by sticking a toothpick under the flap. No more wasting half the roll just to seal one box.

Cellophane tape

Baking Soda as Silver Polish

To polish silver: Wash items, then place on aluminum foil in the bottom of a pot. Add a baking-soda solution (¼ cup soda, a few teaspoons salt, 1 quart boiling water) and cover for a few seconds. The result? A chemical reaction that gets the black off the gravy boat.

Baking soda and silver bowls