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Tricks you figured out in the kitchen and thought 'good one'!!!

Years ago I was making french toast and had the vanilla and cinnamon from the pantry and put them in the dish. Came back from the fridge with the eggs and added.them and the cinnamon did something it had never done before... it stayed mixed in and not all clumped on top. Now I always mix it in the extract first. Side note I have a friend who hates vanilla anything so I used vodka. Works with any alcohol. Not water though.

You can peel ginger with a spoon and save alot of the tasty flesh. Also, it grates better frozen
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I put two slices of white bread in the bottom of my meatloaf pan to prevent it from stewing in its own juice.

Bread ends are great sponges in the pan to sop up fat after browning ground meat. Tilt the pan and push the meat to the side. Use tongs and sponge the fat away with the bread.

Tea balls are great in a pinch for a bouquet garni when you are out of cheese cloth.

If you wet your cookie sheet before you line it with foil you get a perfect seal to keep it clean when roasting. How many times have you had to scrub that pan because the chicken juices got past that foil? Ugh!

Hit me with some light bulb over your head moments. We all can use the help no matter how much knowledge we think we have. I am looking forward to hearing the tah day moments!

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  1. Just thought of another one. When roasting foul of any kind ( chicken Cornish game hen capon) pour boiling hot water over the skin before seasoning and you will get shatteringly crisp skin. Roast according to your usual recipe

    1. There have been numerous threads along these lines but I will play along because I don't wish to discourage you and I think there is a significant number of people that don't read through old threads. It will still be new info for them.

      Instead of bread to sop grease from ground beef, I use paper towels.
      If you wrap foil all the around a drip rack and close up so that is entirely enclosed, then punch holes in the top. Put the whole thing in a Jelly roll pan and form a free form meatloaf on the foil. The fat drains away and after everything is cool, you can unwrap the rack and throw the foil and the fat away.
      Put sliced mushrooms in a bowl with plastic wrap on top. Nuke in microwave for 4 minutes on high. Most of the moisture will have been cooked away. You can then saute the mushrooms and they will brown up, quickly.
      If you are knife challenged, you can slice mushrooms with an egg slicer.
      You can make a better cream of mushroom soup than Campbell's by throwing those sauteed mushrooms from above in a bechamel or white sauce.
      Brushing a meatloaf with a ketchup and worchestershire mixture makes a the meatloaf a beautiful color instead of that gray color.
      If I clarify a pound of butter (makes about 3/4 of a pound), the resulting butter has a much higher smoke point that is much harder to burn. You can even saute with it.
      Adding a little sugar (brown or white) to a highly acidic tomato based sauce takes that harsh acidic taste right out.
      Brining pork and chicken makes a huge difference.
      When cooking scrambled eggs, turning the flame off a minute before the eggs are done keeps the eggs from drying up.
      Only add a tablespoon of milk per egg to scrambled eggs. It makes a huge difference.
      Fresh ground pepper makes a huge difference. A good and unfortunately expensive pepper mill does too.
      Home made stock especially chicken makes a huge difference.
      A coffee filter tied with string or a cable tie makes a great bouquet garni.
      Old tea shirts work better than cheesecloth to filter stocks.

      12 Replies
      1. re: Hank Hanover

        Great response and thank you. I am a total ludite and my super sweet boyfriend got me a tablet as I suffer nerve damage and find home PC's difficult. I just found this site and feel a smidge sad that this is a tired site. I would love a few threads to give me a heads up on old tips and trick. Anyone want to chime in? Thanks bunch and I hope this post finds you happy, healthy and full.

        1. re: suzigirl

          I'm sorry. I had to look up a definition for ludite and I'm still not sure. You oppose technological change?

          Anyway.. Here is a link http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/838264 It is sort of a continuation of a thread for helpful tips. The 1st one got so big, they started a new one, but we put a synopsis of a lot of the tips from the first.

          I do apologize. I didn't mean to be mean. I'm just abrupt. Do you cook a lot or are you a newbie?

          1. re: Hank Hanover

            I think she was pointing out that she doesn't often use a computer, and isn't very familiar with this site, and so she didn't know she was repeating a topic.

            1. re: Hank Hanover

              Jvanderh is correct. It is a bastardized term meaning low tech. And that is me in a nutshell. Also correct that I am new to the site and enjoying it very much.

              1. re: Hank Hanover

                Oops. Forgot to answer that I am a 'seasoned home cook. I have been cooking since I was ten as my mother was scary in the kitchen and I taught myself out of self defense. Her Friday night meal was to take all the leftovers from the week and add them to a pot with water and boil. And as scary as your mt(ind can imagine the reality was worse. Beans and franks, pork chop, broccoli, scalloped potatoes from a box mixed with canned tuna(that was her signature creation),everyone in the pot. I later deemed Friday nights 'international heartburn night. Hey, I lived.

                1. re: suzigirl

                  oh dear. I'll never make fun of my Mom's cooking again! Did her
                  'cooking' ever improve? I've decided that instead of Mom being a rather bad cook, she just didn't enjoy it, so did the minimum necessary to keep us from starving.

                  1. re: pine time

                    My mom never learned to cook as a child and had no desire as an adult. My dad was a great cook and tried to teach her. What I never understood was why he didn't step in more. Instead of cartoons I watched Julia Child, Justin Wilson Graham Kerr and Jeff Smith. A girl has to eat! I could make you go pale if I told you some of the things she made. My dad got a pork tenderloin from the butcher and she boiled it. I was young so I didn't know what a food crime that was at the time. Yikes!! She is still a disaster in the kitchen. Thank god for pre made holiday dinners from Publix.

                    1. re: suzigirl

                      I used to wonder the same thing. Dad could make perfectly edible scrambled eggs and pancakes, and cream chipped beef, and macaroni and cheese! :-)

                      1. re: jvanderh

                        I remembered something funny. Funny strange and funny haha. If my dad made a comment that something tasted good you got it in everything for at least a week. Told her the french onion burgers were good one night and she put it in spaghetti sauce that week, pork chops and potatoes. That wasn't so bad but the dried oregano in srambled eggs was a tough one. Same with the french onion soup canned green beans

                  2. re: suzigirl

                    my husband's mom was the same. She would throw a leftover pork chop, 3 leftover grren beans, a raw, unpeeled potato and a can of cream of mushroom soup in the oven and call it a casserole.

                    1. re: dianne0712

                      Oh lord. I can relate. He and I could spend the afternoon one-upping each other on the ick factor at the dinner table. Lol. My mom was adopted. I wonder....... kidding

                  3. re: Hank Hanover

                    I too HH had to look it up and couldn't under that spelling.
                    think you're right about technological thing.

                    love bench scrapers for all kinds of things in the kitchen.
                    seems when I need a tool it has many functions. that isn't anything new to those who use them. and like you HH, I also had added [if not mistaken] to the other thread that is about hints or good tips in the kitchen, but I could always use more. also started a thread where one was already going but couldn't find in search bar.

              2. A thick stone countertop will thaw food faster than on a plate. It is a greater heat sink.

                First heat the pan, then add the oil.

                Never walk away while cooking garlic or making roux. They burn and turn bitter in a few seconds.

                Spend real money on your knives and learn how to keep them sharp.

                Go to Youtube.com and learn how to cut up a whole chicken. Your budget will expand greatly.

                Pick a memorable day and always renew your herbs and spices on that day. If they smell like tea, they are past dead.

                If using recipes prior to about 1965, milk means whole milk, cream means whipping cream, and butter is unsalted. Cooking times for meats are based on them starting at room temperture.

                When buying shellfish, have the monger tap on each one to ensure they are alive. Once had over 6 people patiently waiting behind as he tested 6 lbs.of mussels, and discarded about one in ten. Everybody was expecting the same level of service.

                Most fish has been frozen at some time in it's travels. Everything else has been iced down on the way back to the dock. Learn how to identify fish worth the price by the eyes and gills.

                The wealth of Angus branded meat and the resulting increase in price is due to superior marketing rather than superior flavor.

                Learn how to identify prime meat sold as choice. Learn to read the marbling of fat.

                Fat equals flavor. Which is why veal schnitzel is cooked in butter. Try a taste test of 97% beef hamburger versus the average 80% beef, 20% fat. Then stick with the one you prefer.

                The first time, follow the recipe exactly. The next time you can revise it to your personal taste.

                "Life is to short for cheap wine." Many claims.

                Dried herbs affect a dish differently from fresh herbs. Fresh ground pepper is vastly different from ground pepper in a can.

                Kosher salt, sea salt, pickling salt, and iodised salt are all different. Learn the strengths of each. And use appropriately.

                Making your own salad dressing wows the masses. Learn a couple that you enjoy and stick with them.

                Iceburg lettuce is not from the Dark Side. Try cooking with it as well as in salads.

                2 Replies
                  1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                    You heat the pan and add the oil if you are sauteing, but you add the oil to a cold pan and heat it gently if you are sweating.

                  2. These are all great.

                    Can't think of much to add except that I LOVE my rasp for grating garlic. Haven't touched a garlic press since I got the rasp.

                    Don't underestimate the power of dry rub marinating. Most lean to liquid marinades but the salt in a dry rub draws the moisture of, say, a piece fo chicken out naturally, creates a brine flavored with the seasonings in the dry rub and flavours the meat right down to the bone.

                    When making a stock, roast the veg and bones first for more flavour.

                    Grate onions on a cheese grater when you want the flavour but not necessarily the texture depending on what youre cooking.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Jjjr

                      Do you mind me asking what a rasp is? I'm intrigued.

                      1. re: ludmilasdaughter

                        A rasp is a file made for scraping wood or metal particles off a bigger piece. Metal and wood workers use them for rounding corners, removing rough spots or burrs. The link below shows images of some:

                        http://www.google.com/search?q=wood+r...

                        Rasps were the inspiration for microplanes. Images of them can be found at the link below:

                        http://www.google.com/search?q=microp...

                        1. re: ludmilasdaughter

                          It is a very fine grater you can ues fie things you want grated fine such as garlic,ginger, cinnamon,nutmeg,citrus peel,parm etc.... hope that helps

                      2. When frying on our induction cook top, I spread news papers on the top and cook through it. When done, pitch the papers and have a grease free cook top.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: subal

                          That's interesting. I guess it doesn't catch fire.

                          Oh a tip that goes with frying bacon. Don't do it with your shirt off. :-)

                          1. re: Hank Hanover

                            Okay, I never, ever laugh out loud when reading Chowhound, but today I did!

                            1. re: Hank Hanover

                              I am a nurse. People do fry topless.....more often than you think. I have seen repeatedly...frightening but very hard not to laugh despited horrific consequences.

                              1. re: crispy1

                                Well, I bet a lot of robes come open with terrible timing.

                                1. re: crispy1

                                  As Benjamin Franklin said: "Experience keeps a dear school, yet fools will learn in no other."

                              2. re: subal

                                i have never used induction but that sounds like a good trick except for the fire danger. remember farenheit 451 by ray bradbury. maybe you could spray paper with water first? i hate to deep fry inside because of mess and odor. a splatter screen helps.

                              3. There are many ways to boil rice, boil eggs, make toast, fry an egg. My way isn't necessarily the best. Try new stuff.

                                With a new stove or cooktop, it is a good idea to get a pot of water and see how long it takes to come to a boil, and what setting produces a good simmer. In other words, take it for a trial run to find out how it performs tasks.

                                Keep the manuals for the large kitchen appliances you buy, as well as for the small electrics.

                                Buy good knives. If you can afford it, buy very good knives. If you can afford it later, trade up. If you can't afford it, buy the best you can afford, and just keep cooking.

                                Let pancake batter rest before pouring it onto the hot griddle.

                                You can use a teaspoon to seed cucumber and hot pepper halves.

                                Smash garlic cloves lightly, and easily pull off the papery skins.

                                Wash mushrooms, and use a dry paper towel to wipe off the dirt.

                                Layer celery stems in a long plastic oblong container (such as a salad greens container from Costco or similar) with a folded paper towel on the bottom and another folded paper towel on top. Add greens on the top with another layer of paper towel at top. Lid and refrigerate.

                                Heat your skillet at medium heat, or possibly at med high, depending on your stove. Never heat a skillet at high heat unless you are planning a demon meat sear.

                                It is bad form to leave a messy kitchen for the cleanup crew. If the cook is the cleanup crew, it is even worse. Clean and put away, as you move along the cooking steps.

                                16 Replies
                                1. re: sueatmo

                                  "Keep the manuals for the large kitchen appliances you buy, as well as for the small electrics."
                                  I place them in a shopping bag and stick the shopping bag in the cabinet over the fridge. It's a perfect place for things you don't need to access very often, but you know they will be there when you need them.

                                  1. re: Antilope

                                    And on the front of the manual, write the date of purchase and/or staple on the receipt. That's helped me more than once when an appliance konked out from an early death.

                                    1. re: pine time

                                      Yes! So helpful if you need to return. Or if you need to check if the item is still under warrantee. Also there is often a place to record serial numbers and/or model numbers on the manual. My advice--do that.

                                      1. re: sueatmo

                                        Many appliances have so many features you rarely use. Six months down the line you may want to use that feature and have to refer to the manual. I had to refer to my fridge manual recently to find out how to get access to change the light. It took the manual to find out how to remove the plastic cover without breaking it.

                                        1. re: Antilope

                                          turns out a lot of manuals are online these days. Some times I find them and save an electronic copy for storage and chuck the paper one. (though I always seem to find them fresh when I need them, even when I've got the paper one in the drawer)

                                    2. re: Antilope

                                      I have one of those large 3-ring binders with clear plastic pocket pages. I put all my manuals in these. I have one out in the garage for outdoor stuff (lawn more, etc.). The biggest thing to remember is to toss the manual if you get rid of the appliance.

                                      For a tip, use your pastery blender to break up hamburger when cooking for sauces, etc.

                                      1. re: boyzoma

                                        When I donate an appliance to Salvation Army, I tape the manual to it. Figure the next owner may need it, and reduces my paperstuff.

                                        1. re: pine time

                                          I'm impressed!

                                          You are one in 100 million.

                                          1. re: walker

                                            Me? I rummage through the whole house trying to find the stupid manual so I CAN donate along with the item I no longer use, only to give up, assume I pitched it long ago, and take the appliance to be donated.

                                            The stupid manual, which has been in cahoots with my car keys and sunglasses, is usually innocently laying on the dining room table when I return....

                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                              I have a file folder in my cabinet that is just manuals. That way I never lose them.

                                              1. re: dianne0712

                                                I'll bet your car keys and sunglasses miss them.

                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                  I am delighted to now find most appliance manuals online; that has helped me more than once.

                                    3. re: sueatmo

                                      Oh, oh, oh! Regardless of what kind of knives you have, learn how to sharpen them. Dear Sis was a prep chef (I don't know the proper word for that position) and she taught me that sharp knives do not cut people, dull ones do.

                                      1. re: JerryMe

                                        I have a recurring task pop up each week for basic things like "sharpen knives". Takes less than 5 minutes but I'd never do it without the reminder.

                                        1. re: lergnom

                                          I have a recurring task pop up for running CLR in the dishwasher!!

                                        2. re: JerryMe

                                          Sharp knives cut people too. They just make much cleaner cuts.

                                          Trust me on this.

                                          *looks sadly at the latest double-bandaid gusher, soon to be a new scar*

                                      2. I use coffee filters when cheese cloth is called for in some cooking. They are really inexpensive when you think of it. If I want to do a bouquet garni that has loose items like peppercorns, I wrap it up in a coffee filter, and I also use them to finely strain liquids out of a stock, or drain my yogurt or riccotta.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Terrie H.

                                          i like that bouquet garni tip.

                                          thanks terri h.

                                        2. It's a WHOLE lot easier to make bread cubes for stuffing or croutons if you freeze the bread first and then slice with a serrated knife.

                                          1. Absent a chain-saw, acorn squash is hard to cut in half if you are going to bake it on the half-shell. Stick the point of a paring knife into it so it won't explode and microwave the whole squash for 3 minutes. You can then easily cut it in half, remove the seeds, fill the halves with butter and salt and pepper or butter and brown sugar, and bake it at 400* until the edges caramelize and it's tender to a fork.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: Querencia

                                              I do this too. It works for butternut or that turban squash which name I can't think of right now.

                                              1. re: Querencia

                                                "Stick the point of a paring knife into it so it won't explode and microwave the whole squash for 3 minutes. "

                                                But be sure to REMOVE the paring knife before putting the squash into the microwave! =)

                                                1. re: aching

                                                  LOL! That was the first thing I thought of too!

                                                  1. re: aching

                                                    "be sure to REMOVE the paring knife before putting the squash into the microwave"
                                                    hahahhah, oh how funny, yep, true enough.

                                                2. Use the paddle mixing blade on a Kitchenaid Mixer to pull pork. Place chunks of cooked pork shoulder (about 2 or 3 inch chunks) in mixing bowl and turn mixer on low to medium speed. Makes perfect shredded pork for sandwiches.

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: Antilope

                                                    That is awesome. I must try it. I love to make bbq beef sandwiches and french onion soup in the crockpot. I cook about three or four onions til caramelized and add a few garlic cloves toward the end. Put a two or three pound browned chuck roast to the crockpot sleeve along with the onions a couple of quart cartons of beef broth or homemade if you have it. Some bay leaves and a few peppercorns to be fished out later and some worcerstershire sauce to taste.salt to taste but not to heavy as you can always reseason later. 4 hours on high or 8 on low. Here is where you can save me a ton of time. Thank you Antilope. From now on instead of throwing the meat in the freezer to cool it enough to pull I can chunk it up , throw it in the Kitchenaid an go. P.S. use the broth for the soup and add croutons and Swiss or greyere. I wonder if I can add the BBQ sauce in the beef in the kitchenaid or add it later. I must try both and post the outcome

                                                    1. re: suzigirl

                                                      Sometimes, if the meat seems a little dry, I add a little of the cooking broth and/or some BBQ sauce to the mixer as it knocks the chunks of meat apart.

                                                      The Kitchenaid mixer also makes delicious mashed potatoes (using the mixing paddle).

                                                      1. re: Antilope

                                                        I have done it with mashed before. Just never thought to do it with meat. Pure genius.

                                                    2. re: Antilope

                                                      I recently saw someone do that to pull chicken breast, too.

                                                      1. re: Antilope

                                                        this is genius. [files mental note for future use.]

                                                      2. Keep a pantry.

                                                        Stock your pantry with things you USE. Not with what you THINK you might use. Or, painful though it is, things that well-meaning friends and relations give you that you know you wont use. Those treats, if store bought rather than home made, can go elsewhere to live. Neighbourhood food pantry?

                                                        Unless you shop for a family of 8, no, that gallon jug of Hellman's is NOT a good use of your refrigerator real estate. Share it out with your friends or buy smaller.

                                                        Go through your pantry with a garbage bag, checking for expiry dates, regularly. Once a year. Be ruthless.

                                                        Keep a list of what's currently in the freezer, to minimize freezer-burn-means-I-have-to-toss-it evenings.

                                                        Label anything you put into the freezer. Unless you want to freeze it preliminary to wondering what it once was and having to toss.

                                                        When you buy a jar of spice, write the date on the label. So you don't have to wonder if it really should be replaced. (gosh... I can't smell anything any more AND I dated it June 2002? Might be time to replace it...)

                                                        PS: can anyone guess what I've been doing today? Instead of cooking? :-(

                                                        1. Not a trick per se but a timesaver for easier cleanup - you know those store circulars that are delivered in the mail each week? I use the large flyers on my kitchen counter whenever I am doing fruit or vegetable prep. I peel and slice directly on to the flyer and then just dump the whole lot when done.

                                                          13 Replies
                                                          1. re: EM23

                                                            Then you don't have to wash a bowl like Rachael Ray or Anne Burrell

                                                            1. re: suzigirl

                                                              I'm the dishwasher here so anyway to avoid extra dishes, I'm on it. Besides, my big bowl is now in constant use since Janiecooks posted this great salad-keeping tip on Gen. Chow. board the other day http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8420... :-)

                                                              1. re: suzigirl

                                                                but then you are not composting, which is the best thing for the earth and your garden. Taking your vegetable scraps to growing vegetables is a wonderful way to complete the circle of great food.

                                                                1. re: docfood

                                                                  How so? Vegetables on a piece of newspaper sounds like compost to me -- nobody said that they "dumped the whole lot" into the trash.

                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                    i assumed they dumped the whole lot in the trash, which is what i do because i don't compost.

                                                                    1. re: alkapal

                                                                      and I compost, so I assumed they dumped the whole lot in the bin!

                                                                      :D

                                                                    2. re: sunshine842

                                                                      Is the print in newspaper okay for composting?

                                                                      1. re: melly

                                                                        Most inks are now soy-based -- so yes, no problems.

                                                                        A lot of gardening sites even recommend you add ripped-up/shredded newspaper when you don't have enough browns, and Lasagna Gardening specifically calls for a layer of newspaper.

                                                                2. re: EM23

                                                                  We use a clean plastic coffee container for those veggie throwaways, & coffee grounds which go out to the compost, or get thrown into the fenced garden and then rototilled in later. I just hate not using them to amend the soil. Guess there is some of my Agronomist father in me re soil.

                                                                    1. re: Nanzi

                                                                      I used to use the Folgers plastic $9 size one under my kitchen sink but hubby hated it and said it stunk even though the lid was always on tight. So now, I do it daily using a plastic bag and any time it gets anything in it, I make the kid take it out to the composter. I think he hates when I call him into the kitchen because he knows it's not usually to help me cook :(

                                                                    2. re: EM23

                                                                      I do something similar -- I spread a couple of sheets of newspaper in the sink and peel carrots, potatoes, etc. right onto the paper. When I'm finished, I gather up the paper and toss it into the trash.

                                                                      For smaller messes -- I have a 3.5 quart round container I bought at a restaurant supply store. I line it with a plastic produce bag and toss scraps into it. At the end of food prep, the bag gets tossed into the trash. I store my extra bags right in the container. I like being able to repurpose those produce bags.

                                                                      1. re: CindyJ

                                                                        i like the paper in sink technique! thanks, cindy j!

                                                                    3. I accidentally stumbled on to something a few weeks ago. I happened to have a tupperware canister (about 3 quarts) on the counter. I was about to cook dinner and I unwrapped something out of one of those clear plastic bags you get at the grocery store. It fit perfectly into that plastic container with plenty of plastic overhanging. I threw my scraps (onion scraps, meat and fat scraps & bloody meat wrappers - the kind of thing that will smell) into the plastic bag. When I was through I picked up the plastic bag and tied it off and then threw it in the garbage. I have decided to leave that plastic container on my counter. It made a pretty good garbage bowl without having to wash a dish.

                                                                      I have also taken to having a sink full of soapy water when cooking. That has helped me clean as I go. I got that idea here but I like it.

                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                        Clear plastic bags? From the produce dept or do you get different bags @ your store?

                                                                        1. re: suzigirl

                                                                          The clear plastic ones from the produce area. The white ones they sack the groceries with often have holes so they would leak.

                                                                            1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                              I do the same thing with a bowl and a compostable bag. Makes clean up so much easier and we can put our compost in the green bin with our garden trimmings. It's amazing how quickly we fill it up, but I feel better knowing its getting made into compost and it's easy enough to walk it out to the driveway.
                                                                              I know garbage service/rules vary depending on where you are, so this may not work for everyone.

                                                                            2. re: suzigirl

                                                                              Yep - I do that too! The bag thing (after having a nasty case of fruit flies in the kitchen) and the clean as you go sink full of sudsy water.

                                                                          1. I don't boil the lasagne noodles before arranging them in the pan (and no - I don't buy the 'no boil' either). Just add a little more liquid to your sauce or it's not even necessary if doing a vegetarian lasagne with all of the liquid coming out of the vegetables. Seal tight with aluminum foil and bake away. Hot noodles are so difficult to work with - burned fingers anyone? and yet another pot to clean.

                                                                            7 Replies
                                                                            1. re: JerryMe

                                                                              Me too. Been doing that for years. I also don't cook either the meat nor the noodles for cannaloni. I mix a pound and a quarter lean meat with an eight ounce block of cream cheese and fresh chopped parsley, oregano, garlic and salt and pepper. Stuff the shells from both ends till full. Put a nice layer of marinara sauce in the pan. Line up the stuffed raw meat and pasta cannaloni. Cover w/ a bechamel and a line of marinara down the center across all the shells. Cover and bake for an hour. So much easier than stuffing wobbly cooked shells. Try it.

                                                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                                                  You can tweek it a bit. That is the bare bones recipe. I play with it adding Italian seasoning, sometimes mozzarella,parmesan basil. Depends on my mood.ground chix breast and turkey work great because the cream cheese keep it nice and moist. Hope you like it. It takes s bit of time but its delish.

                                                                                2. re: suzigirl

                                                                                  Easier than stuffing - and possibly cracking/breaking the pasta tubes: Soak Barilla no-bake lasagna noodles in a flat pan of hot water until they are bendable. Lay onto paper towels, spread the filling on one side, and roll up, then continue your procedure.

                                                                                3. re: JerryMe

                                                                                  Oops. I forgot to mention the reason for the cream cheese. If you just use meat it gets tough and dry. The CC keeps it nice.

                                                                                  1. re: JerryMe

                                                                                    My mom also does it this way. I do have to say for those who haven't tried it that the lasagna can be starchy when done this way, so you may prefer to offset the starch taste by increasing the seasonings.

                                                                                    1. re: JerryMe

                                                                                      a lot of liquid does come off veggies. i tossed a bunch of spinach i had into a lasgna and it tuned out too watery. that you have to blanch and squeeze to remove excess water.
                                                                                      i have never needed extra liquid for uncooked regular lasagna noodles.

                                                                                    2. Instead of frying bacon on the cooktop, bake it. 400 degrees F on a sheet pan for about 20 minutes. It comes out perfectly straight and flat and the best part of all: no grease burns or mess to clean up afterwards. Also, you can crank out large amounts in no time.

                                                                                      16 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: 1POINT21GW

                                                                                        Excellent tip. It sure beats my "nuke and swear" method, in which I lay out 5-6 pieces of bacon on a paper towel covered plate, cover with more paper towels, microwave until done, then realize I have to clean the grease off of every surface in the microwave because those paper towels are just not perfect!

                                                                                        1. re: 1POINT21GW

                                                                                          AND you can turn your attention to other things in the kitchen !

                                                                                          I put mine on a nonstick rack on a sheet pan lined with foil -- bacon that's crisp and not greasy, a pan that's not greasy, and a kitchen that's not greasy. What's not to like!

                                                                                          1. re: 1POINT21GW

                                                                                            You can even put another sheet pan on top as a lid. Then it doesn't get bacon greese in the oven.

                                                                                            1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                              Hank, doesn't it steam and get soggy?

                                                                                              Crisp is a requirement chez Sunshine.

                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                I hadn't noticed it getting soggy. It takes a little longer to cook. I've done it a few times. Sometimes, I'm lazy and don't do it.

                                                                                                It seems to me that if frying bacon gets grease on your glasses then it will deposit on the oven, too.

                                                                                                1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                  If it is, the heat of the oven walls, floor, and ceiling is burning it off as soon as it hits it. I have not noticed any grease leftover at all from baking bacon. Even the oven door window stays clean.

                                                                                                2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                  You'll get crisper, more evenly rendered, and flatter without the rack. Just lay the rashers directly onto the sheet pan. Less spatter and only the pan to wash.

                                                                                                  1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                    No spatter at all under my system, and no curl at all -- and I line the bking sheet with foil, so no washing that, unless I manage to tear the foil.

                                                                                                    1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                      This is the way it's done in hotels and restaurants. 400 degrees about 18-20 minutes. Perfect bacon.

                                                                                                  2. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                    Great thought, but I've never had any problems with grease splattering out of the pan.

                                                                                                  3. re: 1POINT21GW

                                                                                                    I bake it on a foil-lined sheet - 425 for thin, 375 for thick. Love having time/cooktop space for other dishes.

                                                                                                    1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                      by the way i just got a big roll of parchment paper from costco, didnt know they carried it. havent tried this brand yet. i think it was kirkland store brand. cant remember what it cost but i thought the cost was very reasonable.

                                                                                                      1. re: divadmas

                                                                                                        Oooh! I'm a Sam's member.....keep thinking I should switch to Costco......but I will check for it at Sam's in the meantime.

                                                                                                        1. re: divadmas

                                                                                                          i just made a big batch of cookies and opened the kirkland parchment paper. 205 sq ft roll, i think it was somewhere over $5. it is noticeably lighter weight than i think renolds brand i was using. also did not seem to have that coating feeling. but it worked great, no stick and i was able to reuse sheets about 6 times until i used up dough and the sheets still seemed fine. sheets were strong enough to just slide batch of cookies onto cooling rack, i could even carry batch of 12 using only paper, no problem. no curling problem but that might only appear at end of roll.

                                                                                                          1. re: divadmas

                                                                                                            I love costo paper. I've used it for years and it is wonderful for all types of baking. Especially with sticky things like almond macaroons.

                                                                                                            1. re: divadmas

                                                                                                              definately lighter wewight. it gets brown and brittle at edges at high temp around 400* but ok for one use. for the price its worth it.

                                                                                                      2. How to get bread to rise when the house is cool?

                                                                                                        Answer:
                                                                                                        I place the dough in an OFF oven with the oven light ON. My gas oven has an electronic lighting system, so the pilot doesn't run all the time like older ovens.

                                                                                                        When the oven is in use:
                                                                                                        Another method is to place the dough above a slow cooker. Place a couple of inches of water in the slow cooker. Set to HIGH. Place the lid on the slow cooker INVERTED. Place a folded kitchen towel on the inverted lid. Place the bowl of dough or dough in pan on the towel (You could also make yogurt with this method). It should keep the dough warm into the high 80's F or low 90's F. Careful not to cook the dough by letting too much heat reach it, as the slow cooker does reach 200 F inside in the crock.

                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                          That oven that's off? Put a cake pan on the bottom rack of the oven. Pour boiling water into the cake pan.

                                                                                                          Now put your bread dough in the oven. Don't turn anything on.

                                                                                                          Warm, moist environment for your bread -- and no electricity past that to boil the water.

                                                                                                          1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                            I just put mine into the microwave and close the door. It keeps itself at the right temperature because the space is so small.

                                                                                                          2. store fresh ginger in freezer, then grate on microplane -- no peeling required.

                                                                                                            use a pastry blender (with steel blades, not wires) to chop hard boiled eggs and to make mashed potatoes for one.

                                                                                                            even off, my gas oven is often enough to melt several ounces of finely chopped chocolate without burning.

                                                                                                            i save onion and fennel trimmings in a freezer bag to use to stock.

                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: wonderwoman

                                                                                                              i was in a hurry and burned chocholate chips when trying to melt them in a microwave. but i just recently stuck some chocholate wafers in glass bowl and left for 1 minute in microwave, a little less than a cup. they came out less than 1/2 melted but stirring for a bit and residual heat from glass bowl left them perfectly melted.

                                                                                                              1. re: divadmas

                                                                                                                Covered, heat-safe bowl set on the warming plate of a drip coffeemaker.

                                                                                                            2. I keep cookies from drying out by putting a slice of bread in the container with them. As time goes on, they pull the moisture from the bread and stay fresh.

                                                                                                              When my hands stink of garlic, soap doesn't help. Instead, I rub them with salt and lemon juice before washing. (Obviously, you don't want to have any cuts on your hands if you try this.) It works!

                                                                                                              12 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: LeslieWolfhard

                                                                                                                You can also get the garlic smell off by rubbing your hands on the blade of a stainless steel knife. My bf actually got me a stainless steel bar of soap. Its so cute.

                                                                                                                1. re: suzigirl

                                                                                                                  a stainless steel spoon works, too, as does your stainless faucet -- without the threat of blood or smacking your knife blade against something.

                                                                                                                  1. re: suzigirl

                                                                                                                    Never considered the faucet. Good one

                                                                                                                    1. re: suzigirl

                                                                                                                      yep - i use the faucet. works like magic!

                                                                                                                    2. re: suzigirl

                                                                                                                      Oops! Sorry I didn't notice the later mentions of faucet before I posted :-p

                                                                                                                    3. re: LeslieWolfhard

                                                                                                                      Put a slice of bread in with brown sugar to keep it moist and packable.

                                                                                                                      1. re: melpy

                                                                                                                        If your brown sugar does get rock hard, just grate it with the small holes on the grater. When you gotta have it, you gotta have it, lol.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Lakelady10

                                                                                                                          Also can zap it in the microwave briefly--works like a charm.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Lakelady10

                                                                                                                            grating is how i deal with palm sugar now…i once zapped it and got vesuvius.

                                                                                                                            1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                              Palm sugar and jaggery can easily be dealt with via the flat side of a meat tenderizer.

                                                                                                                              http://barbariansatthekitchengate.wor...

                                                                                                                              Another possible solution to the palm sugar dilemma is to smash the daylights out of them as described above, then take the bits and put them in the sauce for your stir fry, refrigerate overnight - it will melt away. Or you can (very carefully because it can burn) microwave the same briefly to heat it up very gently.

                                                                                                                              Palm sugar is my bee-yatch since discovering the wonders of whaling away with the meat tenderizer. Grating doesn't work for me, as most folks find the additional human protein added to the results to be unacceptable.

                                                                                                                        2. re: LeslieWolfhard

                                                                                                                          For stinky garlic hands, I lather up and then run my hands over the kitchen faucet a couple of times before rinsing. Works every time!

                                                                                                                          1. re: hauulagirl

                                                                                                                            you don't even need the soap to get rid of the smell. i wish i knew why this works, scientifically. where is chemical kinetics?

                                                                                                                        3. Use a potato masher to break up chunks of ground meat or sausage when browning in a pan. Works in a snap! (I have the wire kind, like this: http://www.oodora.com/wp-content/uplo... YMMV with the kind that have holes in a metal plate.)

                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: LolaP

                                                                                                                            What does six pack abs have to do with your potato masher....did you give us the wrong link or what????

                                                                                                                            1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                              LOL -- i get the connection: if you eat, you will not have these abs!

                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                Oh, my twenties. How I miss you so.

                                                                                                                          2. I cut cherry tomatoes (and other small tomatoes) in half for salads using kitchen shears. Works a lot faster than a knife. I also use them to cut pizza.

                                                                                                                            12 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                                              I use a deli container lid and put tomatoes in it then put another lid on the tomatoes( 2nd lid flipped upside down) then slice between the lids. I've never counted but I guess its about a dozen tomatoes in one slice.

                                                                                                                              1. re: suzigirl

                                                                                                                                I was just coming on to post this same tip. I think I learned it on Rachel Ray (oh the horror!) - but really, it works.

                                                                                                                                1. re: moreace01

                                                                                                                                  Anne Burrell taught me that one. It works great!

                                                                                                                                  1. re: moreace01

                                                                                                                                    Contrary to the request of the OP, most of these responses seem to be things learned from others, or common knowledge, rather than an original "Eureka!" realization.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                                      Does it matter?

                                                                                                                                      There's still at least a grandmother's worth of useful information here.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: suzigirl

                                                                                                                                    I'll try this and see which method is faster.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                                                      I don't care for the idea of then having two deli lids to wash in addition to the cutting board and knife that are already headed for the sink.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                                                        Really? That seems slower to me.

                                                                                                                                      2. I use cheese grater for hard boiled eggs...for salads and such.

                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                        1. re: melly

                                                                                                                                          I use a pastry blender for eggs.

                                                                                                                                        2. Use a serrated grapefruit spoon to scrap out the gills from a portobello mushroom. When making egg salad, or whenever you need chopped egg, chop them in a bowl with a pastry blender.

                                                                                                                                          1. I had problems with my table knives coming out of the dishwasher spotted or dirty and I started putting all my silverware in a large glass of soapy water while I cleaned up. Not only did it solve the spotty knife problem, but it is easy to separate them into like groups, since they are different sizes., in the utensil basket which makes is really fast to put the silverware away.

                                                                                                                                            1. This may not be the place for this but it isn't worth it's own thread. I made a an exceptionally good batch of pulled pork tonight. I bought 4 pounds of pork carnitas which are pork parts. Basically chunks of Boston butt. I prefer it rather than an 8 pound boston butt with a bone.

                                                                                                                                              Anyway I wedged up a large onion and threw it into the crockpot. Put a rub on the pork (mostly chili powder and smoked paprika some granulated garlic and onion powder) and added that to the crockpot.

                                                                                                                                              I, then added a 12 oz bottle of beer, a 16 oz bottle of barbecue sauce and an 8 oz can of pineapple juice and let it braise on low for 8 hours.

                                                                                                                                              While I was letting the pork cool I took some of the braising liquid out and defatted it and then cooked it down to about half of what it was. I added some bbq sauce to thicken it up and used it on the pulled pork. With the pineapple juice, it was almost like al pastor. That sauce was so good, I kept the extra. I'll use it on a pork tenderloin or something.

                                                                                                                                              Hey.. it's sort of a tip. A lot of people wouldn't use the pineapple juice.

                                                                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                that IS worth its own thread, Hank -- it sure doesn't deserve to get buried here at the bottom of a "random-chatter" post!

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                  Carnitas...tried your recipe & was delicious...thanks for posting. We can always use recipes like that.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                    Ahh. you tried it. That pineapple juice really helps the dish doesn't it?

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                      Yes, the pineapple juice had a nice touch to it. Seems like you or someone else had a recipe like this but it called for orange juice. No matter though, I do like the pineapple better, gives it a very good flavor.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                        we add pineapple juice to the pork roast when it comes off the smoker and wrap tightly for at least an hour for the roast to rest.

                                                                                                                                                2. For some reason a clear response is not flowing from my brain to my keyboard today, so please excuse if this does not "read well".

                                                                                                                                                  I have no idea where this came from, but under the following circumstances it seemed like a good one to me at the time:
                                                                                                                                                  1. Hot day, needed some cooked chicken for chicken salad in a hurry, and didn't want the kitchen to get too hot in the process, so I decided to microwave it.
                                                                                                                                                  2. Also decided that (à la Barbara Kafka) "poaching" in a dish with my homemade stock and tightly sealed with plastic wrap was the way to go.
                                                                                                                                                  3. Had fun watching the plastic expand during initial cooking, but then decided that I didn't want to struggle with steaming hot pastic immediately after cooking. I also didn't want the plastic to settle back down and make contact with the food. So.....

                                                                                                                                                  Took two wooden skewers that were long enough to span my round dish, and as soon as cooking was finished I poked them through the expanded plastic at right angles to form an "x" so that the plastic then settled back down on the skewers well above the food and basically became a "tent".

                                                                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

                                                                                                                                                    Have known many of these tips for years but last five been poaching chicken in micro for many dishes. Does not even require using your precious homemade broth. Water is fine and even results in a light broth of it,s own. Q & E.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: NOLA_Pam

                                                                                                                                                      Unbelievable coincidence - Judging from the timestamp on your post, you were typing at just about the exact time I was "MW poaching" for the first time since I posted my ingenious idea.

                                                                                                                                                      Even funnier is the fact that I decided to try (basically) water instead - I did add about 1/2 tsp of Better Than Bouillon chicken base (it was all I had left) along with some bits of veggies that needed to be used or tossed and a couple of preserved lemon slices.

                                                                                                                                                      Almost liked the broth better than the chicken - next time I'll try it with no chicken base either - thanks for the tip.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

                                                                                                                                                        Actually I have been known to drink the broth when I an done. Light but good and chicken for other recipies. Especially chicken salad which is a big favorite.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: NOLA_Pam

                                                                                                                                                          I hear ya.
                                                                                                                                                          Assuming I can consistantly duplicate what I had the other night (and I think I can) I'd take a mug of that lemony broth over a mug of lemony tea every time.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

                                                                                                                                                            I'll take the broth over the tea all day long. But i like it with ginger and lemon.

                                                                                                                                                  2. There are innumerable uses for good ice cream scoops (in a variety of sizes). From the obvious to putting muffin batter in muffin pans, putting cookie dough on baking sheets, making melon balls, making truffles, etc.

                                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: jbsiegel

                                                                                                                                                      Dropping dumplings into hot broth with a cookie scoop that has a release. Allows me to make tennis ball size dumplings in chicken & dumplings.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                                                        Yep...mine have that release. LOVE them!

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: jbsiegel

                                                                                                                                                        I use mine for making meatballs. And I use my melon-baller for making little meatballs (for Italian Wedding Soup).

                                                                                                                                                      3. When I want to bake I don't want to wait around for the eggs to come to room temp. so I dunk them for a few minutes in hot tap water and then break them into a dish. They're usually warmed up a bit and ready to use.

                                                                                                                                                        1. Easiest way to cook rice (and smaller pasta shapes, etc.) - put dry rice in a bowl, boil the water in the microwave (or even use the KCup brewer), pour the water over the rice in the bowl and cover. Let stand for a while and then fluff with a fork. Perfect!

                                                                                                                                                          26 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: jbsiegel

                                                                                                                                                            Not trying to be a pain in the ass, but what's "a while"?

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: suzigirl

                                                                                                                                                              5-10 minutes while you get other things ready...not all that long!

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: jbsiegel

                                                                                                                                                                I guess you must be talking about par boiled rice or some kind of instant rice because regular long grain white rice has to be simmered for 25 minutes and brown rice takes even longer.

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: jbsiegel

                                                                                                                                                              um -- what kind of rice?

                                                                                                                                                              what kind of pasta?

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                I usually do white rice - the Minute Rice kind. One time I made the mistake of trying it with arborio...didn't work AT ALL. That time, though, rather than admitting defeat, I put the whole container in the microwave and cooked it for 10 minutes or so and it worked out fine!

                                                                                                                                                                Pasta - I've done any kind of relatively small shapes (angel hair works too). Elbows, pastina, ditalini, etc. Couscous works too...

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: jbsiegel

                                                                                                                                                                  arborio in the micro for 10 minutes????

                                                                                                                                                              2. re: jbsiegel

                                                                                                                                                                I make polenta in the microwave. It does the stirring for you.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                                                                  well your micro is helpful! ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                  does it do dishes, too?

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                    I wish, although...soften up baked on dirt...hot water and micro!

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: jbsiegel

                                                                                                                                                                  I took a cooking class once where the chef said to cook rice like you do pasta, in a large pot of boiling water. Test a grain now and then, when it is perfect just pour it into a strainer. The rice absorbs JUST the right amount of water and comes out perfect. So much easier then the try to gauge the time. This is not for Minute rice, but only because I have not tried it. Might work fine, but can't say for sure.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Lakelady10

                                                                                                                                                                    that's how my mother did rice -- about 20 minutes in boiling water for long grain white.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Lakelady10

                                                                                                                                                                      I saw this on French Food at Home with Laura Calder. She called it the French way to make rice.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: kubasd

                                                                                                                                                                        i see that technique in creole and cajun cookbooks

                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Lakelady10

                                                                                                                                                                        I find boiled and drained rice awful.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: jvanderh

                                                                                                                                                                          I've never actually had it... I imagine it's not as cohesive and perhaps less flavor?

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: kubasd

                                                                                                                                                                            It's soggy. I find that it's well worth the extra 30 seconds to measure the water, so that it's all absorbed into the rice.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: jvanderh

                                                                                                                                                                              I boil it until it's a bit al dente, then drain and put it back in the pot. Cover with a towel then the lid and let it sit for 10 mins or so. That way it absorbs any water that was clinging to it in its last moments of cooking and is perfectly cooked, not soggy.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: jvanderh

                                                                                                                                                                            Maybe you boiled it too long? Also, it is not a full rolling boil, you turn it down to a lively simmer after it reaches the boiling point.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Lakelady10

                                                                                                                                                                              I don't know why such a big deal is made of cooking white long grain rice. It's one of the first things I learned to cook. It's one of the easiest things to cook.

                                                                                                                                                                              1 cup of rice, 2 cups of water. Bring water to a boil, add rice, stir once or twice to prevent sticking. cover, reduce heat to a low simmer. Simmer covered 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Re-cover for 5 minutes. Serve. What's so hard?

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                                                                                  I find it useful when cooking a large quantity, say serving gumbo to 50 peeps.Under normal circumstances the 2/1 method is my go to.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Lakelady10

                                                                                                                                                                              I made brown rice this way once or twice, on some cookbook or other's recommendation. Worked fairly well, IIRC.

                                                                                                                                                                            3. re: jbsiegel

                                                                                                                                                                              I NEVER measure the water to cook rice - just rinse it a few times, drain it roughly, and then add enough fresh water so that when my finger touches the top of the rice, the water level is at the first joint of my finger. Works every time, regardless of the amount or type of rice or the size of the pot.

                                                                                                                                                                              And before anyone says - yeah but not all fingers are the same - once you've done this a few times you know exactly where on your finger to measure to for the softness you want in your cooked rice.

                                                                                                                                                                              Learned this from Charmaine Solomon who is "the queen of Asian cooking in Australia"

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Chookums

                                                                                                                                                                                i learned the finger-level water trick from a boyfriend from india.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Chookums

                                                                                                                                                                                  Does this work with a rice cooker (fuzzy logic) as well?

                                                                                                                                                                              2. A rubberband makes a great jar opener for those stuck tops. Wrap it tightly around the top and unscrew.

                                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: jbsiegel

                                                                                                                                                                                  I did not know that. I like my tool better. Handsome boyfriend. But when he got tired of being the hero, or just caught on to the fact that I could open some of those jars( kidding) he showed me how to use a teaspoon as a lever. Works well.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. This just happened today!! And it's a little silly, but while making the streusel for a peach crisp, I needed to coarsely chop 1/2 c. pecan halves. I grabbed the little cello bag, and a can, and proceeded to keep the pecans in the bag and used the can edge to chop the pecans. 1 cutting board saved, 1 knife saved, and none of that oily chopped-nut mess to clean up!~ Me=1, Pecans=0.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                                                                                    Innovative. I'll have to remember that. This is why I love this thread. There are others but they are so long that I feel like I can never catch up.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                                                                                      I do basically the same thing, but use the flat end of my meat mallet to smash up the nuts in a ziplock sandwich bag.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. When measuring honey for something savory - like barbecue sauce, or phoney teriyaki, which is what I did tonight - if you spray your measuring cups w/ cooking spray before pouring the honey in, the stuff just slides right out. No scraping or dripping. 99.9% sure I learned that elsewhere on CH, but it's nifty.

                                                                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: darklyglimmer

                                                                                                                                                                                        You can also do this by warming up your measuring cup by pouring hot water in it first, letting it sit, and then pouring it out. This is better than using oil (when you don't need to).

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: pdxgastro

                                                                                                                                                                                          Good idea - hadn't heard that one before.

                                                                                                                                                                                          If there's oil in the recipe, it's a slam dunk - just measure the oil first...but this is a great solution if you don't have an oil-based recipe.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: pdxgastro

                                                                                                                                                                                            Very good idea. I'll use that as soon as I reclaim my metal measuring cups from my daughter's play kitchen, where they are currently serving as cookware.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. For baked potatoes, I put 3 or 4 potatoes in one of those clear plastic bags you get in the produce department at the grocery store and squirt olive oil in and then roll them around. Then I put in some kosher salt and roll it around to get olive oil and salt on every potato. I use tongs to put the potatoes onto a rack in the oven. Then I throw the bag away without having got oil all over my hands.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                                                              Well, I sure do love your idea Hank, but you know what, I kinda enjoyed liking my oily/salty stuff off my fingers. But this sure will work well when I am in a hurry & don't have time to stand around mulling over the gooey stuff. Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Proper knife care is probably the most important. Always store knives in a knofe block (I have one that's got what is essentially a plastic brush inside a box, so I can store any random knife I've got in there rather than having the traditional wooden block with slots in it), or invest in some knifeguards to protect the edges of your blades. Get a steel and get in the habit of honing it before usethen handwashing and drying it immediately after use. Sharpen regularly.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Learn your spices. Stocks should have thyme and bay. A pinch of nutmeg makes cream sauces better and a bit of sage does the same for cheesy sauces. Tomato sauces are begging to have some oregano in them. Get whole spices and grind as needed when possibe You can use a coffee grinder for this; grind up some white rice when switchig between coffee and spices (and vice-versa) to clean out the grinder and keep flavors from transfering. Beware ciniamon, there's a few different kinds, the darker kind made of the thick bark will break your grinder.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Individual cloves of garlic can be pealed easily by cutting off the root end and rolling between your palms (optionally, giving a quick whack with the side of a knife first to losten it up. For wnole heads of garlic, cut off the bottom and drop in a hard plastic container with a lid and shake violently. For many things garlic paste is better than minced garlic, mince the garlic, then sprinkle salt over it and crush it with the side of your blade (bonus points ylu can make onion paste the same way). Cut the top off a couple heads of garlic and drizzle with olive oil and put in a 350 degree oven till mushy (about 30 minutes) to make roasted garlic paste.

                                                                                                                                                                                              When you get home, take the rubber bands and twist ties off your produce. Leafy greens and herbs should get wrapped in slightly damp paper towels. Crispy vegetables like romaine lettuce and celery will stay that way longer if you cut off the bottom and store underwater. Tomatoes should stay on the stem until needed (get the kind that comes with bunches still on the vine).

                                                                                                                                                                                              Season meat before cooking, but go light on the salt. If you are using ground meat, mix the seasonings in with the meat before forming it for meatballs, burgers, etc. Save your fats; strain them into jars and set aside (I keep bacon fat in the fridge). Use the right fat for the job (there's not much of a point in sweating onions in vegetable oil if the dish is getting bacon later), and you add a bit of fat to a pan before rendering meat or cooking bacon to help start the process.

                                                                                                                                                                                              If you're up to it, grow an herb garden. Herbs are much better fresh, and even if you later dry skme of the herbs, you can literally taste the love you put into it. To dry herbs, tie a bunch of herbs by the bottom of the stems and hang somewhere.

                                                                                                                                                                                              7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Bryson

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Try a rubber band for drying herbs. The herbs shrink as they dry and can fall out of the string. You lose half the herbs on impact unless you have them over something sanitary. I had mine hit the floor after drying them in butchers twine. So sad the amount that was lost

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Bryson

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I keep my knives cutting side UP in the knife block. So when I slip one out of its slot, I'm not dulling the blade.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: pdxgastro

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Great hint, I hadn't thought of that!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: pdxgastro

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Interesting.... The slots in my knife block are horizontal. I guess I know why now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Bryson

                                                                                                                                                                                                          yes i hate when knives are left out or horrors put in sink or dish drainer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Ever had a non-stick pan get hard to clean? I don't know of anything that will get it back. But when you replace it, get in the practice of spritzing the pan with vinegar after you wash it. Then use a towel to wipe it out. It will lengthen the non-stick life span of a non-stick pan.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: becurious

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I don't really wash my non-stick pans. As long as the coating is intact, wiping them out with a paper towel should get them clean.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            For something without a non-stick coating, baking soda with just enough soap and water to moisten it makes a good scouring paste.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Bryson

                                                                                                                                                                                                              baking soda in water warmed in a pot with stuck-on crusty bits lifts them easily.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. just discovered a new one tonight. i needed to break down a big bag of store-bought ice cubes that had frozen together into one giant mass, and the ice pick is nowhere to be found. i didn't want to use a knife (too dangerous) so i opened one of the utensil drawers looking for inspiration, and the removable beaters from the hand mixer caught my eye. i attacked the ice with the tail/insertion end of one of the beaters, and it worked like a charm!

                                                                                                                                                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I, usually, drop the bag on the concrete (right in front of the ice machine) to loosen it up when I buy it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                If I got it out of the freezer like that, I would probably take it out on the patio and do the same.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                If I needed to get the chunks even smaller... then I might use your idea or maybe the tenderizer hammer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  knowing my luck, if i dropped it on the concrete the bag would split open and send the ice flying everywhere ;) i slammed it against the edge of the counter several times, but it didn't help a bit. that thing was frozen solid! the ice was loose when i bought the bag but it's been sitting in the freezer since October.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  i recall having tried the tenderizer in the past - i ended up with chips like crushed ice (maybe it was my method). the beater really worked like an ice pick, breaking it apart into chunks/cubes. but since i'm on a crushed ice kick these days, i may see if i can chip some off with the mallet. thanks for the reminder!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  On the subject of ice (if you know ahead of time that you're going to need it) I recently read somewhere to freeze water balloons for use in a cooler. Ice is oddly expensive here, and I was quite tickled by it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jvanderh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    i have to remember that water balloon trick - VERY cool. i had no idea i was going to need the ice tonight. we've got an automatic ice maker & dispenser in the freezer door, but i sent my sis back to her apartment with a bunch of perishables, and apparently she dumped all the ice out of the bin into a plastic bag to keep everything cool in the car! i tell ya...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Blobs of ice in a bag, I just lay a towel down on a chair (wooden preferably), find my big round cast iron skillet & smash it real hard a few times & you are all done!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. These are all great! Nifty one found on youtube was for peeling garlic. Break the heads apart (smacking them once does the trick), then put them into a stainless steel bowl, paper and all. Put another bowl of the same size on top (rim to rim) and shake like mad for half a minute or so. Peels the garlic beautifully without smashing it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ginaatcateror

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      this shaking garlic tip is one i've got to try soon!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: suzigirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          i just tried a sofrito recipe and it recommended soaking garlic heads in water to loosen paper. i havent tried that yet, i generally just bash with flat of knife.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: divadmas

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            That works great with onions - some are easy to peel dry but thin-skinned ones can be difficult. If you don't need them in rings, just halving from pole to pole and loosening the outermost layer will pop off the thin skin. But if you want the onions whole, soak in cold water for a few minutes before peeling.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            On a different topic - peeling citrus. Score from pole to pole every inch or two. Then start peeling from the STEM end, not the other (navel). For some reason, working in this direction removes more of the pith. Peel remaining pith in that direction, too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. 1. NON STICK EGGS. If you're making an omelette in a regular pan (cast iron, steel, or aluminum), use plenty of butter. Even if you use a cast iron, your eggs will slip easily out of the pan.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. BUTTER. For a quick way to increase the smoking point of your butter, add a bit of neutral tasting oil to your pan (about 1:1 proportion)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. BATTER. When working with any form of flour + water dough or batter, make sure that it rests for at least 15 minutes. This ensures that gluten relaxes a bit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      4. HERBS. Rosemary, Thyme, Sage, Verbena, and any other hardy herbs freezes very well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      5. GARLIC/ONION. Always add garlic or onions to a cold pan with cold oil. It ensures that pieces are evenly cooked.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      7. ACIDS. Vinegar/Lemon is such a potent seasoning, and, sadly, it's underused. If your dish is perfectly salted and peppered but it's missing that extra "oomph," it usually needs a touch of acidity.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      6. VINEGAR/ALCOHOL. When adding vinegar or alcohol in a dish, make sure that the pan is hot and dry. You want to burn out some of the acid/alcohol to make them more rounded in flavor. If it's too late/if you're adding towards the end of your dish (such as a soup that you've already made), take a small saucepan and cook the vinegar/alcohol until it reduced by 2/3rds then add.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      7. OLIVE OIL. Good olive oil is worth its weight in gold. Seriously! Seek out locally produced, organic olive oil. Taste & see which one you like the best. And, most importantly, NEVER cook with extra virgin olive oil, but rather add it towards the ending as a finishing touch. The flavors of olive oil is so delicate and fresh that the heat from the pan would evaporate almost all the volatile compounds.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      8. RICE. If you want to make fried rice, make sure you either refrigerate/freeze the rice before adding it to the pan. It ensures that the rice doesnt clump or mush as easily

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      cheers!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. When making pie crust, I tape a large piece of freezer paper (shiny side up) with duct tape & roll the crust on that & then just toss the whole thing in the trash when I am through. Have been thinking of getting about a yard of vinyl cloth & doing the same thing so it won't be such a waste. Also, this idea could be used if you are making anything else that is messy, like meatballs or whatever.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          My mom rolls her pie dough out on waxed paper placed on top of newspaper. I like your taping idea, because hers moves around too much.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I use a silicone mat, and rinse it when I'm done. It doesn't move around, and I use much less flour since it tends not to stick.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              LOVE my rolling mat! And my SS sprinkle can for light flouring.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I put a silicone mat UNDER my parchment paper when I'm making sugar cookies or gingerbread houses. The silpat (or a barely damp towel) keeps the paper from sliding around wonderfully. I cut out my shapes, lift away the excess, and can prep and bake the entire batch. It's a lifesaver when I'm making 100+ gingerbread houses!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I also freeze my sugar cookies before baking. They keep their shape gorgeously, and I can do that part of the project a couple weeks ahead of the baking and decorating.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: modthyrth

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I bow before you. I used to teach at a kids' cooking school, and we baked hundreds of little gingerbread houses for a Halloween haunted house project. Dear God, never again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I've at least been toying with getting out the set of cutters I have to make a big gingerbread house with -- but it's been about 8 years to get to "toying with".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My grandmother started the tradition, and I'm now teaching the 4th generation all of our gingerbread tips and tricks! We really do have Operation Gingerbread down to a science. ;-) It is a lot of work, usually a full weekend of baking and assembling, but it just wouldn't feel like Christmas without gingerbread.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Some of my most cherished memories are of my mom making gingerbread houses for each girl in the girl scout troop, each kid in the preschool, etc., and I'm so glad to have the opportunity to do the same for my girls now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I wrote up my top 10 gingerbread tips for Frog Prince Paperie here: http://frogprincepaperie.com/2010/12/... (moderators--this isn't my blog. It doesn't even link to my current blog.) if you ever decide to try it again!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: modthyrth

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Those are SO pretty -- you're smart to do the A-frame style. Ours had four walls and two roof pieces. Argh. When I got home that night, I had royal icing sticking my clothes to my body. What a mess (although it was fun to see all the kids decorating individual houses -- we made ours with meringue powder, too, to get around the raw-egg issues)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. 2 questions:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              why do tv chefs use giant bowls to transport dry ingredients like flour to a huge stand mixer like a Kitchen Aid? Isn't it better to sift the dry (flour/sugar/salt/baking powder/baking soda) onto waxed paper, pick up the paper from both sides and cleanly (is that a word?) and neatly get the white dust only in the Kitchen Aid bowl instead of all over the side of mixer and counter?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              how hard is it to place nuts in a zipper bag and use a meat mallet or wooden French rolling pin to smash nuts? who needs one more thing like a fancy nut grinder taking up cupboard space?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                How nuts does it make you when tv chefs use a bowl that's too small? Me, plenty!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: pdxgastro

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  one of my PET PEEVES, pdxgastro! all the time i see this. it drives me bonkers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. I find kitchen shears to be really useful ... for cutting up basil, making pork medallions, etc. I keep 5-6 pairs so that I always have some clean and ready to go, even if I haven't run the dishwasher yet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I also find food keeps better in glass than plastic.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I wrap cheese in wax paper before putting it in whatever container I'm using, and find it keeps better that way as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I use a tomato corer on onions as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I too save non-recyclable bags for disposing of such things as onion skins and cores, fat I've removed from meat, etc. I use ziplocks for this purpose (and take them directly to my trash cart).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I buy ground bison or ground grass-fed beef. With the bison there often is no fat to drain, but with these meats, the fat is relatively good fat and the meat is lean to start with, so no draining needed. And plenty of flavor--it's a fallacy that fat is the source of flavor.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Good pasta is totally worth it--never the place to save money. Good parmesan is key as well ...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: foiegras

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  +1000 on the kitchen shears. I have a pair that separates into two pieces to easily wash in the dishwasher. Use them for EVERYTHING!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jbsiegel

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sadly, mine don't separate, so after the dishwasher, I often use a tiny spritz of Pam on the screw area where the blades meet, then wipe off any excess. Works fine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. When I have half a pot of soup or chili leftover, I put a large ziploc bag into the bowl of my food processor (blade removed) and fold the top of the bag over the bowl all 'round. It supports the plastic so that I can pour the liquid right in without the bag falling over. I freeze the bags flat in the freezer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  And my husband doesn't have to tolerate me pouring soup over his fingers any more. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Baking real sourdough bread and swirled raisin bread in the bread machine by using separate Manual Dough and Manual Baking cycles. Remove kneaded dough from machine, manually shaping the dough, return it to the bread machine and let it rise at its own rate. Start manual bake cycle when dough has risen enough. Now I don't have to start the regular oven in the summer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Sincere thanks for this. I don't often remember that the manual cycles are wonderful for pizza dough and for custom-loaves like yours. Thanks for the reminder.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. I use my pasta pot, which includes a strainer insert, when making stock. Instead of the hassle of dumping a heavy, hot pot into a colander and splashing hot stock all over the sink, and myself, when the solids thud into the colander, just lift up the strainer and set it at a tilt on the rim of the pot for a moment so it drains thoroughly. The stock remains in the pot, ready for reduction or soupmaking. And there's not a third container (the one the colander sits in) to wash.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      When your hotel room includes a cheap disposable shower cap that you don't use, bring it home and use it as a cover for odd-shaped containers that need refrigeration. Not sure if they still sell this type of cover in the wraps/bags supermarket aisle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Brilliant. Turning a single-tasker into a double one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          What a great idea. I feel really dumb for not thinking of it myself! LOL

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Not exactly and "ah hah" moment, but the best way I've discovered for baking potatoes. Poke holes, olive oil, sea salt and then right onto the oven rack (no pan). Put a piece of aluminum foil on the rack below to catch the drippings. No mess...no soggy bottoms, perfect! Also...you can pretty much do any temp on those potatoes...just adjust baking time accordingly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Another foil one...to line a pan with foil, lay the foil on the counter, pan on top, and wrap it like a present (without folding down the top). Lift the pan off, pick up the foil wrapping and drop it right in. Perfect!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. A teaspoon works the best for peeling kiwi fruit.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Just slice a bit of peel off with a knife and then run your spoon between peel and fruit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            When frying bacon for another recipe I deep fry it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I usually deep fry a pound at a time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This way I also have bacon flavored oil as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Sparklebright

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              +1 on the deep frying bacon. I sometimes don't bother with additional oil - just throw the bacon in a dutch oven and stir VERY frequently. Enough grease comes off to make it work just fine. Fetch out the strips (nice and curly with this method the way I like them) with tongs, and save that great bacon grease!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: jbsiegel

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Speaking of bacon, when I get home, I take my package of bacon & cut it in half & then separate the slices & generously sprinkle cracked pepper all over the slices or sometimes add McCormick Smokehouse ground black pepper all over. That pepper gives your bacon a really neat "butcher shop" flavor to your bacon. I then freeze half since I don't eat much bacon. In a perfect world, you should let the bacon set up a few days to give the pepper a chance to "marry".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Dang, that's so smart! I bet the peppered bacon would be awesome in pasta carbonara since I usually put pepper on it anyway.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  (yeah I know it's supposed to be pancetta but bacon is ubiquitous)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: pdxgastro

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Peppered bacon - the bacon grease is so good too...has lots of flavor to add a dash of bacon grease to just about anything. Glad you like the idea.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    aha -- very clever, cstout! i love the peppered bacon. and i have some of that mccormick smokehouse pepper, too (but i haven't used it too much).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Sparklebright

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  i remember several years ago that whole foods was promoting the yellow kiwis, and the kiwi importer was doing a demo giving away special kiwi colored plastic spoons, basically one was a shallow spoon the size of a tablespoon, with a short pointed handle. i think the point was for removing the stem point. i still have mine (somewhere ;-)).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Sparklebright

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    or for kiwi; cut fruit in half and spoon flesh out of each half with same spoon and eat... no need for "peeling"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Cast iron pan lost it's cure and no time to recure it? Spray with nonstick spray "for grilling" and heat empty until the spray melts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    When making your own tomato sauce and it is too acidic, "salt" with sodium bicarbonate instead of table salt.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    An oil and vinegar dressing will be less sharp if you add a little water.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A Turkish hand coffee gringer makes an excellent pepper grinder.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A small elecric coffee grinder makes a small amount of cracker crumbs in no time flat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A small amount of instant espresso coffee adds wonderful flavor to home made brownies.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A teaspoon of cocoa enhances a pot of tomato sauce.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: therealdoctorlew

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Another one:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      To get crusting ingredients such as panko or sesame seeds to stick to fish, coat the fish with mayonnaise.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: therealdoctorlew

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Depending on fish, you can also use mustard. Wouldn't reccommend it for anything delicate, though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Lakelady10

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Bet mustard would be good on catfish....thanks for the idea.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: therealdoctorlew

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Like the idea of mayonnaise, was always trying to make Pank stick to my fish...now I am anxious to try your suggestion. Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: therealdoctorlew

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I also always use mayo on the outside of the bread when I'm making paninis. Great flavor - perfectly crispy bread. Yum!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: jbsiegel

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I like that idea too...never knew these things!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: jbsiegel

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Try it on the outside of bread instead of butter for grilled cheese sammies.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: therealdoctorlew

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I sometimes like to take a fillet of salmon, coat it with a layer of mayo, then *liberally* coat that with ground black pepper (medium-fine grind) mixed with some salt (something sized equal to or just a bit bigger than your pepper grind) and lemon zest. (Maybe 80% pepper, 15% salt, 5% zest.) Then bake @ 375 until it's done.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The pepper browns and gets slightly crunchy and the mayo keeps the salmon moist. A very simple prep but really tasty if you like pepper. Even better if you mix a bit of some kind of fresh herb (thyme is nice) with the mayo before putting it on the fish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Fillet of salmon, thanks for that idea too. Have some salmon that I will have for lunch tomorrow, will try the mayo, black pepper & lemon zest...was always sauteing the salmon, but will try baking like you suggested.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Here's one I haven't seen listed.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              If I haven't timed my boiling or steaming eggs I can tell their level of doneness by taking an egg out with a tongs or a spoon and counting how many seconds it takes for the egg to dry off.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              If it's hard boiled it will be dry in less than 9 seconds.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              If it takes longer than that to dry, they aren't hard cooked.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Just used another one last night.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A dixie cup with a small hole poked in the bottom is the perfect delivery system for just a little oil at a time when making mayo.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I add the first few drops by eye but after it's started I can fill the dixie cup set in the feed of my food processor and walk away and do some cleanup.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Its a lot easier to use my dixie cup than to stand there adding a whole cup of oil in a thin stream.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Sparklebright

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Or you can stick one of those Bar pouring tops into your bottle of olive oil. That really controls the trickle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: pdxgastro

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    i have an over-abundance of plastic speed pourers...now i know where one of them is going! great suggestion!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. I like to keep dish soap in a pump container. It's easier to get soap without making the entire bottle messy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Run extra herbs through the food processor with a bit of oil. Freeze it in ice cube trays then put them into bags so you have fresh herbs regardless of the season- and wtihout any waste!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Painters tape works as a great substitute for chip clips. It removes easily, reseals well, and is stored conveniently. It is all over my apartment.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Magnetic hooks above the oven for (for me, on the fan) store potholders right where you need them. A tip from my parents that has been a huge help.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Not cooking, per se, but nothing cleans a garbage disposal better than those dried out bits of citrus after a party.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Chopsticks are perfect for everything: scrambling eggs, getting hot foods out of the toaster, picking up overflow from a pan without burning yourself, etc. I even keep the extra-long ones around for stirfrying.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  In a pinch, a clean dishtowel can be used for many purposes. I use them as overflow cooling racks for cookies, to drain/squeeze defrosted spinach, and to strain chicken stock in a pinch. Needless to say, I have a very large, stained collection that I love.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I've never found a cheese that can't go into mac n' cheese. If the scraps after a party are too small for much, else, grind 'em up and put them into mac n' cheese. Stronger cheeses can be mellowed out with a mild chedder, etc. I discovered this the last time I moved but with one caveat- string cheese is a step too far!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  19 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: wandajune6

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Use hot water when boiling water, boils a lot quicker!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: tommg

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Not to be a squasher, but "they" say not to cook with hot tap water, as the hot water rinses more pipe deposits out and into your food......?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        no, but since an electric kettle is more efficient at heating water than a stovetop, it's fair game to boil water in the kettle before putting it on the stove.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Saves time and money.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Oh, I like this one, sunshine. A new use for the electric kettle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Wtg2Retire

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            i was amazed at how fast an electric kettle is.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            the undersink instahot water heaters seem to start to leak after a few years. i would not get another of these spendy devices.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: divadmas

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Glad to hear that -- we were considering putting one in the kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I have the Breville Variable Temperature model, and I think it is the best small kitchen appliance I have ever owned. It's a stainless steel over-engineered marvel, and though higher-priced than other models, was more than worth the price. I now use my fancy stovetop teakettle for heating stock or other liquids. With the teakettle's pour spout, it's a handy step up from the ladle and saucepan method of heating and delivering stock or other liquids to risotto or other simmering dishes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I have often wondered if I could use a kettle for a liquid other than water. Is it easy to clean. Do you think I could do it with cream? It would be very convenient when making chocolate truffles.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It's possible, but I would think the heat control would get really, really tough -- and if you scorch the cream, it's going to be a beast to try to clean.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This is the reason I have shied away as well from heating dairy in the teakettle. While the body of the teakettle has easy access for cleaning in case of scorching, the spout not so much. I suppose I could use a brush, but what's easier is to use a saucepan. It's better for dairy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Ok, I thought as much. I figured maybe you had a way to clean it as you mentioned using it heat stock for risotto.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          As you probably know, stock doesn't leave a residue like dairy, especially scorched dairy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Heh -- I hadn't even though of the spout -- I was still stuck on trying to get my hands into the kettle far enough to scour the scum out of the corners (because brushes only do so much in scorched-milk incidents)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Try a chopped up whole fresh lemon boiled in the full kettle along with the water. Rinse out and boil again with fresh water and you'll be amazed at how shiny and clean it gets inside - worked with mine, so I hope it works on your kettle too!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Chookums

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Do you heat cream in your kettle? Have you ever scorched it?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                We weren't talking about removing hard-water deposits (for which lemon or vinegar are both excellent) ...we were talking about the viability of heating heavy cream in a teakettle, and the issues of trying to get it clean if it scorches.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I doubt that it would work well. For certain, you have to be able to set the temperature at 180°F and be confident that it wouldn't over heat. I am not confident. The cream would still stick and you better not put off cleaning that kettle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I agree -- I think a saucepan is still the way to go -- if I'm doing something that requires a fair amount of control, I just transfer the cream to a glass measuring cup that I've warmed in the sink.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Um, sorry but no. Funny enough I'd never think to heat cream that way - the kettle would be a nightmare to clean afterward, especially compared to a pot.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My lemon tip is just a general "how to get the inside of your kettle shiny" .

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. re: Chookums

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Fresh lemon in the boiling water, great idea!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. If you are going to be mashing up avocado, once you have halved the avacado leave it in the shell. Cut all the way through the avocado meat horizontally and vertically, then scoop out with a spoon. Makes mashing the avocado much easier and quicker.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Okay, this came out of necessity. As a teenager, I once made salsa with jalapenos, and didn't make sure to cover my hands in some way while cutting them. I ended up with jalapeno-hands all day, and forgot about it by the time I had to take my contacts out. Long story short, don't EVER do that! Worst thing that ever happened to me.. I had to have my boyfriend of the time take my other contact out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          So, now I buy jalapenos and I get them in the clear bags from the produce section. When I need to cut them, I'll take them out of the bag, turn the bag inside out (so as not to end up with any possibility of jalapeno-hands again!), and stick one hand inside of it. That hand holds the jalapeno while I'm cutting/scooping out seeds. My makeshift glove looks odd, but works very well! :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: rhumphrey205

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            What I do is touch the jalapenos on the skin only.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. I found this list of "The Best Tips Ever" at http://www.dobhran.com/greetings/GRin...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Here are some of the better ones.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Stuff a miniature marshmallow in the bottom of a sugar cone to prevent ice cream drips.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Use a meat baster to "squeeze" your pancake batter onto the hot griddle and you'll get perfectly shaped pancakes every time. I thought this one was clever.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            6. When boiling corn on the cob, add a pinch of sugar to help bring out the corn's natural sweetness.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            9. To easily remove burnt on food from your skillet, simply add a drop or two of dish soap and enough water to cover bottom of pan, and bring to a boil on stove-top.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Doesn't everybody do this?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            10. Spray your Tupperware with nonstick cooking spray before pouring in tomato-based sauces and there won't be any stains. Loved this one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            11. When a cake recipe calls for flouring the baking pan, use a bit of the dry cake mix instead and there won't be any white mess on the outside of the cake. This is an interesting one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            13. Wrap celery in aluminum foil when putting in the refrigerator and it will keep for weeks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            17. If you have a problem opening jars: Try using latex dishwashing gloves. They give a non-slip grip that makes opening jars easy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            19. To get rid of itch from mosquito bites, try applying soap on the area and you will experience instant relief.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            21. Use air-freshener to clean mirrors. It does a good job and better still, leaves a lovely smell to the shine. Does this really work?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            23. Don't throw out all that leftover wine: Freeze into ice cubes for future use in casseroles and sauces.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            24 Clean a vase or even a thermos bottle by dropping a couple of Alka-Seltzers into the container with some water.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            13 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I've tried #9, didn't seem to work too well. But I'll give it another shot.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              On that note, with regard to #9 and #24, I regularly clean all sorts of stuff, including tough pans, with a soak in a solution of Oxyclean. I'm quite certain that the product is not designed for food, so I re-wash and rinse very, very carefully after using it. But it rips crusted-on stuff right off. Great stuff.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I think of #9 as deglazing a pan. I scrape all the yum yums up with a wooden spoon or spatula.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Interesting about the oxyclean. I wonder if it's active ingredient is oxalic acid? If it is, it would work on copper tarnish, too.... like Bar Keeper's Friend.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Nope. Oxyclean is sodium percarbonate, an adduct of sodium carbonate (Na2CO3) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  http://pubs.acs.org/cen/coverstory/81...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  #23 ?? What the hell is " left-over wine " ?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chookums

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Aprapos of that, I just received a birthday card - the front has a sketch of a woman holding a bottle of wine and it says, "I read about a lady who makes ice cubes out of leftover wine. I never knew that was possible." Inside, the card says, "...to have leftover wine, I mean."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: CindyJ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I always drink enough wine to make sure I never have leftovers to contend with.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: CindyJ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        My sister's birthday is today, and I just sent her that very card!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      9. Baking soda, stir to dissolve in boiling water and watch the black goo float up.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      11. Sugar rather than flour. Adds a tasty crisp edge and does NOT scorch.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      19. ammonia for instant relief of itch. That's what's in the spendy roll-on, After Bite. It also
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      neutralizes venomous insect stings IF applied promptly.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      24. dishwasher detergent to remove that coffee scum you didn't even know was building up
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      in your thermos.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        about the thermos grime, related story: purposely bought an office coffee mug that that a jet black inside. That way, I was blissfully ignorant of how gungy the cup became. I'd clean it out rarely. Still alive.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: pine time

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          psy-ops on oneself. interesting. very interesting. ;-D.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: pine time

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              LOL -- you're just more "aware" of what you're doing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. I use separate 4-ounce paper cups to hold small amounts of many ingredients for my mise-en-place when I'm cooking Asian foods. Chopped garlic, chopped ginger, sliced scallions, fish sauce, rice wine, light soy, dark soy... you get the picture. The ingredients go into the wok and the cup goes into the trash. It saves BIG TIME on clean-up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: CindyJ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Along the same lines, I use paper muffin liners for small mise en place. Same idea, cheap and disposable....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: jeanmarieok

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Wow... these tips might have just changed my life.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: jeanmarieok

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              In my "day job" I work in a lab, and we use inexpensive disposable plastic weigh boats for the lab equivalent of "mise en place." They work just as well in the kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              All kinds of different sizes.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              e.g.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Small: http://www.amazon.com/Plastic-Square-...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Medium: http://www.amazon.com/Plastic-Square-...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Large: http://www.amazon.com/Plastic-Square-...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Super useful post-my contribution: I learned years ago to snip herbs with a sharp embroidery scissors right into the dish rather than try to knife-cut them into submission on a cutting board, leaving half the oils and much of the greenery behind on that board.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: LJS

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              microwave corn in husk about 3 minutes. cut at stalk end right at edge of ear. shake ear from husk, it will slide right out clean of silk. hot, be careful, maybe use pad.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              microwave citrus 10-15 seconds and get a lot more juice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: divadmas

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                You will need 4 minutes for each ear of corn for it to come out right.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Alfred G

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I did 3 minutes the last time and thought it was overdone; guess it just depends on your microwave.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Try about 1 min. if it's really fresh corn. sometimes I go as low as 30 secs. Don't cook much.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Mercury ball test to determine when your pan is hot enough to sear a piece of meat. When droplets of water turn into a mercury ball on a heated pan, you know it's the perfect temperature to add oil and begin cooking the meat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The larger holes on a box grater work well when you need to rice potatoes but don't have a food mill.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Ginger, garlic, and onion paste is the secret base of great curry dishes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Whole spices last forever and add amazing flavor when freshly ground than any pre-ground spices.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Pressure cooker > crock pot. It's a godsend for making quick stocks (20-30 mins) and cooks dry beans and legumes in record time (5-20 mins average). Main dishes reap the benefits of low and slow cooking in a fraction of the time and with less planning involved.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A little yogurt makes restaurant style creamy tahini sauce.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Use a mixture of oil and butter in pancakes. Oil will add just the right amount of softness and the butter will impart enough flavor without making them too dense.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Baked goods made with oil instead of butter last longer and don't dry out as quickly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Salt works great for cleaning a cast iron pan without removing the seasoning

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Chi_Guy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Put your bbq grill grates in the oven and turn self clean works great just get the heavy stuff off first or kitchen can get smokee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                DC

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. When you spill oil, don't try wiping it up with a paper towel or a rag. You'll just smear it around and it'll be a huge hassle. Instead, sprinkle some cornmeal or flour over it, and then sweep it up. You can feed it to the birds or squirrels if you like.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Baking powder works too, but you can't feed it to the birds then.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Oven racking - put it in a large heavy plastic bag, be very careful that there are no holes in the bag, then throw in a cup of cloudy ammonia, seal the bag tight and leave for a day or two.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  All the stuck on crudd comes off really easily with a brush and scourer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I scrub and hose it off outside as racks are always big, awkward and messy to clean in a sink and its probably a bit healthier than dealing with the ammonia fumes in an enclosed space indoors.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Gotta give credit to my brother-in-law, Richard, for that tip!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. to make garlic press clean-up easier, leave the clove in the skin.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Nice one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Same can be said for potatoes in a ricer. I never bother to peel potatoes when I make mashed. Nor do I boil water. I bake the potatoes in the oven, halve them, put them cut side down in the ricer, toss the skins, move on with life.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The potatoes would have more flavor than boiled, too. The ricer or a food mill would take care of the skins. I think I will have to get the food mill out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          davis, that is my recipe for mashed potatoes!!! You stole it!!! :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            What do you add to 'em once they're riced?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I use a version of a recipe from Good Eats: peeled garlic cloves get simmered in cream (the cloves also go through the ricer once they soften up), and salt, white pepper, and a splash of buttermilk are added to the mix. Simple and, in my opinion, delicious.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Yes, I have done the simmered garlic, the cream, the buttermilk, the salt. Not the white pepper yet, but sounds good. Sometimes sour cream. I usually warm the dairy and other add-ins in a casserole dish in the nuker before ricing the potatoes in on top of it all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Butter goes on top after - the food scientists say that you can't taste it in mashed potatoes if you mix it in and I am taking their word for it. I know that if I mix in butter, I will still put it on top, so by not mixing it in I think I'm using less butter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I don't think it needs any butter. Although on that note, slightly browned butter might be tasty. And I'm sure you'd be able to taste it mixed in...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. I tape the oven door closed with a bit of masking tape when baking popovers. No curious folks can cause them to collapse when I do this (thanks, sister....).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Use a standard coffee filter to cover plates in the microwave. They stay tented, prevent splatter and cost about a penny each.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          To prevent ooze from plastic condiment bottles (mustard and sriracha seem most prone to this), use silicone plumbers tape on the threads of the bottle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: MplsM ary

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Standard coffee filters to cover plates in microwave - excellent idea! Purchase a big bag of them at the Dollar Store & you are set to go.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I also use them folded in half to hold spoons, etc. when I am cooking or just want a quick place to put peelings & what not when I am cooking Toss in the trash when it is clean up time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Lots of great ideas for coffee filters if you put your thinking cap on!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              coffee filter as a thinking cap?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: TeRReT

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                coffee filters as snack bowls to hold pop corn, candies or chips for kids (or grown ups).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Good idea. Mess contained and unbreakable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Apologies if this has already been mentioned, but I use paper coffee filters to strain the liquid in which I've re-hydrated dried porcini mushrooms. All the dirt is left behind.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: CindyJ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  cindy j, you're hitting on all cylinders! another good tip!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. re: MplsM ary

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Great tip! I will be picking up some coffee filters. I always get irritated when reheating something in the microwave and food sticks to the wax paper I usually use for a cover, especially cheese.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              4. When I see a good price on red bell peppers I buy a bunch. I cut them in half, remove the seeds, place them on a baking sheet and broil to blacken the skins as usual. Then I put them in plastic baggies without removing the blackened skin and freeze. When I need to use some I take out a few pieces and warm on the counter or in the microwave, and the blackened skins slip right off.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: kittyfood

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  We do the same Kittyfood, we buy boxes when they're in season and do them on the BBQ, tossing them into a big lidded pot as they're done, let them cool and then peel and de-seed them before freezing with a bit of the liquid that accumulates. Gets the mess over with in one hit and it's fun too!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. This has been a great post suzigirl & friends.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  One thing I have learned to do to avoid frustration is to buy only freezer baggies instead of both storage & freezer. I know this cost a little more but I just hate it when I think I have freezer bags on hand & then realize I only have the storage kind.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Also, I take the quart baggies out of the box & store them in a half gallon bag & then store the half gallon bags in a gallon bag & label each accordingly & store laying flat. Anytime you have "boxes" of something, you have wasted space. I try to strive for getting everything in a "flat" state. If that is not possible, I just store in jars. When you take ingredients out of the box, be sure & put the expiration date on your label too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Since I am doing all this transferring to jars, I am thinking of purchasing a label machine to make things look neater. Writing on baggies is no big deal, but constantly making labels by hand for the jars has become a pain. My excuse for the label machine is that it can be used to label a lot of other things around the house.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ....and they are ultra cheap. I have been thinking about a label machine, too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I have a Brothers label making machine; big office supply stores often have them on sale. BUT, they get you on the price of the replacement labels. I'm still glad I have one, though. I like to buy the clear ones with black letters, look nicer than the white paper ones.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      a sharpie will write directly on a jar -- and will come off with a scouring pad or a trip through the dishwasher.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yes, I tried the sharpie, but my printing always ends up not straight & I bothers me when things aren't exactly lined up, just a part of getting old I guess. But that is an excellent idea for folks who can print in a straight line.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Awww. Exactly why I sign gift cards on an angle. Cannot accept my wonky handwriting. Lol

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          isopropyl or rubbing alcohol removes sharpie ink, too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I have learned a ton from this post. I am thrilled people are still posting. I have a label maker. You will love it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I use masking tape and a sharpie pen for making labels for bags and containers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: CindyJ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              masking tape and sharpie is a great kitchen labeling set.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. yesterday I saw someone do this on a tv show.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            place a piece of waxed paper or papertoweling next to your cutting board and when you slice off ends of onions or carrots or celery tops, simply with your knife scoop it onto the paper of your choice and then into the garbage or compost piling and using paper towels you can put that in your composter too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Keep a piece of paper on the fridge with a magnet & write down all small bags of whatnot you just tossed in the freezer, along with the date. I swear I will remember that little hunk of sausage or that little bag of frozen blueberries, but a week later I never knew it happened. Seeing that list on the freezer door is always reminding me what I have in there. This helps for all frozen things in fact, but it's those little bags that seem to get overlooked most.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Now if someone would tell me how to keep that pen/pencil handy on the door next to the list, I would fare really well. Thank you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I have a bottom freezer drawer, which I call the archeological dig: GOK what's buried in the bottom layers. One of these days, I'll do your inventory idea. Until then, frozen bits RIP.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: pine time

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Those little baggies of frozen what not can really turn into serious wasted cash if not careful. A small container of a really expensive casserole, some leftover pork tenderloin, salmon & on & on. Not good. I speak from experience & a deflated pocketbook!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Glue a magnet to the side of a pencil?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Funny enough, this problem was discussed in our household this weekend when my DH found something ancient in the freezer that I'd forgotten. I'm thinking of keeping a log book or something next to the freezer

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chookums

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Magnet glued to a pencil......ha ha...how much simplier can that be? Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      You're right. That is a good one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        stainless fridge -magnet no workey...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Chookums

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Unfortunately, as of this posting, currently not available at amazon.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        http://www.amazon.com/MagnaCard-Magne...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. A cleaning trick I just recently figured out:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        If you ever have a pan with sticky leftover oil deposits, cleaning the oil out with soap and water -- even with a choreboy -- can be a real pain. This is especially problematic on my end with nonstick pans, because a choreboy will rip them to shreds.