Helpful Kitchen Hints
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Helpful Baking Tips
Always read through a recipe a few times before preparing the dish.
When a cake recipe calls for flouring the baking pan, use a bit of the dry cake mix instead, no flour mess on the outside of the cake.
For perfect shaped cakes or jelly rolls, first grease the pan, then line it with greased waxed paper. After baking, invert pan and peel off the waxed paper. No more broken corners or edges! Great for fudges and bars!
To keep a cake from sliding on its plate during transit, drizzle a bit of frosting in a circle on the plate where the cake will rest before removing the cake from the pan. The frosting will hold the cake in place deliciously and your dessert will arrive in perfect shape.
To prevent icing from running off your cake, try dusting the surface lightly with cornstarch before icing.
Foil-line pans for baking bars. Once bars have cooled, you can lift the foil right out and cut the bars cleanly. There's an added bonus: The pans will need only a quick rinse and dry.
If you run out of cookie sheets while baking, spoon the remaining cookie dough on large sheets of lightly greased aluminum foil. When a cookie sheet becomes free, rinse it with cold water to cool, shake off excess water and lay the foil with the cookie dough right on the sheet.
Always bake bars on the middle rack in the oven and cookies on the top rack. If baking more than one pan at a time, place them at different angles on different racks to allow maximum circulation of heat. Alternate their placement on the racks halfway through the baking time.
Yeast will last longer than the specified date printed on the packet if kept in the refrigerator, or even longer in the freezer
If you add a pinch of baking powder to powdered sugar when making frosting, it will stay creamy and not harden or crack.
If you need eggs at room temperature, but have forgotten to take them out of the refrigerator, put them in slightly warm water for 10 minutes.
Substituting applesauce for half of the amount of vegetable oil called for in your baking recipes will reduce the fat content. (Or use all applesauce, which produces a low-cal, moist product!)
If you're out of brown sugar, try substituting an equal amount of granulated sugar plus 1/4 cup molasses (light or dark) for every cup of white sugar.
No time to roll and cut biscuits? Just drop the dough from a tablespoon onto lightly greased baking sheets.
Lumpless gravy can be your triumph if you add a pinch of salt to the flour before mixing it with water.
A small amount of baking soda added to gravy will eliminate excess grease.
Drop a lettuce leaf into a pot of homemade soup to absorb excess grease from the top.
If time allows, the best method of removing fat is refrigeration until the fat hardens. If you put a piece of waxed paper over the top of the soup, etc. it can be peeled right off, along with the hardened fat.
Ice cubes will also eliminate the fat from soup and stew. Just drop a few into the pot and stir; the fat will cling to the cubes; discard the cubes before they melt. Or, wrap ice cubes in paper towel or cheesecloth and skim over the top.
If fresh vegetables are wilted or blemished, pick off the brown edges, sprinkle with cool water, wrap in paper towel and refrigerate for an hour or so.
Perk up soggy lettuce by adding lemon juice to a bowl of cold water and soak for an hour in the refrigerator.
Lettuce and celery keep longer if you store them in paper bags instead of cellophane.
To remove the core from a head of lettuce, hit the core end once against the counter sharply. The core will loosen and pull out easily.
Cream will whip faster and better if you'll first chill the cream, bowl, and beaters well.
A few drops of lemon juice added to whipping cream helps it whip faster and better.
A dampened and folded dish towel placed under the bowl in which you are whipping cream will keep the bowl from dancing all over the counter top.
When a recipe calls for adding oil, garlic, and onions to a pan, always add garlic last. This keeps it from burning and tasting bitter.
Use a meat baster to make perfect pancakes every time.
Always cook pasta in salted water, but don't add the salt until the water boils. You'll need 1 tablespoons of coarse (kosher) salt for 1 pound of pasta. Salted water has a higher boiling point, so will take longer.
Barbecue your chicken with the skin on, then remove it when you are eating it. This will result in juicier chicken.
Shrimp are easier to peel and devein when they are raw.
To make the best and prettiest chocolate shavings, use white or milk chocolate; they are softer in texture and curl better.
To help gelatin hold its shape when unmolded, add a teaspoon of white vinegar to the recipe.
Place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of cooked pudding or pie filling immediately after pouring to prevent a skin from forming.
Before chopping nuts in a food processor, dust them with flour. This keeps the nuts from sticking to the processor.
Cut a meringue pie cleanly by coating both sides of the knife lightly with butter.
To make mashed potatoes fluffier, add a pinch of baking soda along with the butter and milk.
Use flour tortillas for easy dumplings! Cut into strips and add to boiling broth, a few at a time so they do not stick together. Delicious!
Use a piece of plastic wrap the length of your pan for ease in pressing down those crispy rice treats, no more messy hands! (Try this with any bottom crumb layer to be pressed in a recipe.)
When cooking oatmeal, coat the pan with non-stick cooking spray. It keeps the oatmeal from boiling over and sticking to the pan.
You'll find honey, corn syrup and molasses much easier to measure if you remove their lids and microwave for 30 to 45 seconds at 100% power. That's for a 12-ounce bottle. Smaller amounts need even less time.
Corn bread won't stick to the baking pan if you grease it well, then sprinkle with cornmeal.
Use a potato peeler to slice cheese for garnishing.
If you want to remove fat from soup or stew but can't wait for it to chill and congeal, drag a slice of bread across the surface of the broth to soak up as much grease as possible.
Quickly use that frozen juice concentrate by mashing it with a potato masher while frozen, or place can with the lid removed in microwave for 1 minute.
Double the amount of favorite casserole recipes you cook. Place half in a freezer container for dinner on a busy day.
An egg slicer works great for slicing fresh mushrooms. Makes even slices in a jiffy.
Before party guests arrive, scoop ice cream into muffin tins lined with cupcake liners and refreeze. You won't have to fuss later when serving cake.
Use an ice cream scoop to easily fill muffin tins with the batter.
Transfer jelly to a small plastic squeeze bottle. Less mess and no sticky jars or spoons! This also works well for homemade salad dressings.
Use a cooking spray or oil the measuring cup next time you need to measure honey. No more messy process of scraping the cup, as the honey slides out easily.
An empty salt shaker makes a great container to dust a little powdered sugar over baked goods.
To quickly and easily cut rolled, chilled cookie dough use an electric knife. It slices perfect cookies!
Ground herbs keep best in containers that shield them from light.
When working with ground beef, wet your hands to prevent sticking.
For more flavor, crush dried herbs between your fingers before adding them to a dish.
Keep a big salt shaker filled with flour by the stove for use in dusting meats and baking pans.
Put dates and other sticky fruits in the freezer for about an hour before cutting up. It will make it easier.
Always add croutons to a salad at the last possible moment to prevent sogginess.
If you double a vegetable recipe, increase the liquids, herbs, and spices by less than one-half.
Cook vegetables without a cover and more of the color will be retained.
You can slice a round vegetable easily if you first cut a thin, flat lengthwise slice and hold it cut-side down against the cutting board as you slice. This will keep the vegetable from slipping around.
Try cooking/simmering shrimp (with the shell on) in a little beer for a very interesting flavor.
When you lift the lid of a cooking pot, open it outward to prevent a blast of steam from hitting your face.
For quick and easy mushroom salad, mix with an oil and vinegar salad dressing and let marinade for an hour.
Wash berries just before eating. Washing too far ahead of time will soften them up.
Add some fresh mint to your fresh spinach the next time you prepare it for a wonderful flavor combination.
Warm in a low oven all dishes and platters that will be used for hot food. This helps keep the food warm while being served.
A marinade should completely cover the food. If needed, weigh the food down by placing a plate on top of it.
Add some chopped banana to your next batch of pancakes for a very tasty treat.
Never soak wooden handled knives (or other wooden handled utensils). Wash and dry them quickly. Soaking swells the handle and can warp and separate it from the metal.
Seafood Safety Tips
Cook fresh fish within two days.
Never refreeze previously frozen seafood. Rinse seafood in cold water to remove surface bacteria. The safest way to defrost seafood is in the refrigerator, not at room temperature.Always marinate seafood in the refrigerator, not on the countertop.
Do not buy a cooked lobster from the store if you plan on using it hot. Cooking it further will make it tough. Store bought cooked lobsters are great for cold salads and dishes though.
When grilling fish, make sure the grill is very hot and brush oil on the fish before placing on the grill.
Choose clams that are tightly closed when you're at the market. Discard clams that do not open after being cooked.
Food safety when traveling:
Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially before handling food or eating.
Drink boiled, canned, or bottled beverages without ice. Use bottled water, or boiled tap water when brushing your teeth. Bring along your usual medications for nausea and colds.
Zinc is a nutrient of vital importance in pregnancy; it is required for DNA and RNA synthesis and thus for protein synthesis.
Dietary sources of folic acid include soybeans, endive, garbanzo beans, lentils, whole wheat, and vegetable greens.
Ginseng lowers blood triglyceride and cholesterol levels and increases heart protective HDL levels. It helps in overcoming fatigue, lower blood pressure, stimulate the immune system, and may promote cellular regeneration.
Vitamin E may help protect cells against environmental toxins. It may also help relieve nocturnal leg or foot cramps and help boost the immune system.
Niacin is essential in the body's metabolism of carbohydrates for the release of energy. In nicotinic acid form it can reduce blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Kitchen Safety Tips
Scrub your wood chopping block well after each use, and then wipe dry. Leaving water on it can lead to cracking. Also, every six months, wipe it with vegetable oil and leave overnight.
Always turn pot handles to the iside of the stove.
When you lift the lid of a cooking pot, open it outward to prevent a blast of steam from hitting your face.
Store your rice, pastas, and other grain products in the refrigerator to prevent infestation.
Do not use food from a can that is leaking, bulging, or severely dented.
Store nuts for baking in the refrigerator to keep them from going rancid.
Wash meat thermometers well with hot soapy water after each insertion into the meat you're testing.
Reheat leftovers until they reach 165F.
Use separate utensils when dealing with raw meat and other food.
Quickly discard marinade that was used for raw meat. You don't want someone dipping into the marinade after it's been used!
Always wash your hands,cutting board, counter-top, knives, etc after cutting up poultry.
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