Cooking & Baking Tips and Tricks...

Discussion in 'Kitchen Chatter' started by AuntJamelle, Jan 8, 2019.

  1. AuntJamelle

    AuntJamelle Well-Known Member

    I mentioned that I'm including these in a Recipes Binder project and there was some interest in what makes up my lsit...sharing for those that might want to take a look:

    Misc. Baking Tips

    This is sort of a brain dump of all sorts of little things I’ve learned over the years! Apologies if you are well aware of some of them!!!

    Cookie Advice --- Chilled dough will help keep cookies from spreading. If a cookie does spread, use the back of a spoon to gently press back in the sides of each cookie AS SOON AS you take then out of the oven. There is only so much you can do with this but it can really make a difference.

    Drop cookie dough can be made “prettier” by shaping/rolling the chilled dough into logs that you wrap and chill again. You can then slice and bake to get nice little uniform cookies.

    Cookies that are filled with bits of yummy goodness, candy, cookie bits - whatever - can be dolled up a bit by saving back some extra bits to press into the tops of each cookie just before popping them into the oven.

    Whenever baking a new cookie recipe, bake 1 or 2 cookies first to get your baking time right. Let them cool after taking out of the oven to see if they “set up”. They might not look done when you pull them out, but many cookies will get overdone if you leave them in too long past the cooking time called for.

    Never put cookie dough on a hot baking sheet. It will melt and spread and just yuck. Rotate your sheets. If you can, always cook on parchment paper. It distributes the heat nicely and makes for easy cleanup. You can reuse the same sheet of parchment many times before it gets brittle and you’ll want to toss it.

    If a recipe calles for softened butter and you forgot to take it out of the fridge a few hours ago: Run really hot tap water. Take a drinking glass that will hold the whole stick of butter - still in the wrapper - and let it sit under the hot water until glass is HOT. Set stick of butter on one end and turn the hot glass (dried off) over the top of the butter stick and let it sit and think about the error of it’s ways. Repeat as needed until butter is softened.

    If you try to soften butter in the microwave, do it on defrost. A few seconds at a time. The risk is the uneven heating melting part of the butter.

    To rescue partially melted butter. Throw an icecube in the bowl with the butter and stir until the butter hardens back up again - remove what is left of the ice cube. Stop and think - wow, that was cool. Let’s melt some more butter so I can try that again.

    When working with any sticky dough remember your friend, cooking spray. Use it on your hands and any measuring cups or utensils that will interact with the dough to keep things from getting too crazy. Reapply the spray as needed.

    Instead of mixing the spices with the dry ingredients, cream them in with the butter and sugar. The flavor compounds are fat soluble mixing them with the butter first will intensify the flavor.

    What if you aren’t sure if the eggs in the fridge are still good? Let’s say it’s a week or so past the expiration date. Fill a large bowl of cool water. Place the eggs - a few at a time - in the water. If they float or look like they are trying to float - toss em. If they stay on the bottom, they’re golden. If they’re standing up a little, use right away or toss, up to you.

    If you are mixing icing with food coloring and are trying to get a true Christmas red - try adding a little brown food coloring as well. It deepens the hue and avoids the neon/pinkish red problem. Go to a craft store with a cake decorating section for best selection - gel food colors give most intense colors vs. liquid. Dip a toothpick into the gel and drag though what you are trying to color. Repeat with addtional toothpicks until color is achieved.

    Getting bread to rise: Bread likes places warm and draft free. So no doors opening and sending an icy blast. One option is to turn oven on lowest setting for 5 minutes - turn off - let sit a bit with door cracked. Stick your hand in the oven - your want warm but not hot air in there. When it’s right, put in your dough to rise - covered with a dampened lint free towel - either leave oven cracked or close - see what works best. Leave the oven light on, that will help too.

    Another option is what I call “putting the bread to bed” :) If you own a heating pad, you can do this. Take some old towels and put one down surface of choice - I’ve used the nightstand in my bedroom for this - just make sure it is somewhere away from drafty windows. On top of the towel place the heating pad. Cover the pad with another old towel. Set the bowl or whatever that has your dough in it on top. With additional towels make a “nest” around the sides of the bowl. Turn heating pad to LOW and let it rise to it’s heart content. Check it every so often in case your heating pad turns off automatically. You can cover the dough with plastic wrap lightly spritzed with cooking spray when using this method. Or a dampened towel works too.
    luludou and Minta like this.
  2. AuntJamelle

    AuntJamelle Well-Known Member

    Freezing Tips

    Now on this subject I could go on and on. The freezer is your friend. It’s like a little bank account right there in your kitchen. This can be small scale - when you just have an over/under the fridge freezer to work with. Or large scale, if you have a chest or upright.

    Freezing leftovers - I’m not talking about freezing leftover spaghetti. Just - no. I’m talking the leftover ingredients from a can or carton that you didn’t use in a recipe. Maybe something called for half a jar of roasted red peppers - you could toss the rest of that $5 jar - or freeze it for next time.

    Things I have frequently done this with include: Tomato Paste, Tomato Sauce, Canned Green Chiles, Jarred Enchilada Sauce (Green or Red), Broth (any kind), Buttermilk…

    To increase the changes of using what you freeze - label it!!! To really be in a good place - freeze it in the portion sizes you’ll need next time. Or by the Tablespoon if you’re not sure. Get some cheap ice cube trays from the dollar store. Measure 1 T into each cube section and put in freezer until hard. Pop out the “cubes” and put into a labeled freezer bag.

    Buttermilk I tend to freeze in the plastic Gladware containers. In the right amount for the DIY Pancakes in this binder. I use a piece of masking tape written on with a Sharpie marker on the side of the container.

    So you probably know this - but ALWAYS put a date on everything you freeze. Just do it. You won’t remember. You think you will. But you won’t. Ask me how I know!!!

    Freezing Flat - Whenever possible, flatten out the contents of a filled freezer bag so you have one big flat squarish pancake. Put on a cookie sheet and freeze until hard. Then you can stack as needed. This also makes it easier to break off portions of whatever is in the bag - shredded meats, whatever.

    Flash Freezing - Whenever you are wanting to freeze something that you are afraid will stick together if you just dump it in a freezer bag as is - i.e. berries, cookies, cookie dough, etc. you can flash freeze it. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper. Set all the little bits of goodness on the wax paper, close but not touching. Freeze until they are good and hard. Then they can be put in a freezer bag for longer storage. Use the wax paper itself as a kind of funnel to easily pick up and slide the contents into freezer bag all in one go. Easy peasy.

    Space Bags - Ever seen the Space Bags commercials? Where you put things in the bag and use the vacuum hose to suck all the air out? You can do the same with things in a freezer bag if you have a drinking straw - bendy kind is best. Fill the bag, seal except for just enough space to slip in the end of the straw. Hold fingers over the straw so you can squeeze it shut between breaths. Suck on the other end of the straw and watch the bag start to shrink and form around the food. Close down your fingers to clamp straw shut and take a breath. Repeat as needed. Slip out straw and close up that last little bit of the seal. I would NOT do this with raw meats however. I just squeeze out the air as best I can!

    Freezer Meals & Baking Dishes - If you tackle making a freezer meal that calls for freezing in a baking dish - and you don’t want to lose your baking dish to the freezer for a month or more you have options.

    #1 Aluminum Foil - Turn the baking dish upside down. Pull out a piece of foil big enough to cover pan with generous overlap on the sides. Press foil down over top of overturned baking dish. Lift up carefully and you will see the perfect impression of your dish. Turn dish over and snug foil down inside. Spritz with cooking spray and fill per recipe directions. Freeze - uncovered - until hard (overnight usually) and then pop the whole thing out of the baking dish - using the overhang of foil as handles. Wrap the foil over top of the food - add an extra piece if your like - then put in a freezer bag for longer storage. When the time comes, you can pop it right back in the same baking dish in the foil. You can also peel the foil off and the then put the frozen block of a meal in the baking dish - in both cases you let it thaw in fridge overnight.

    #2 Parchment Paper - If you don’t like using foil, line your baking dish with alternating pieces of parchment. You’ll have to cut and fold and futz with it, but it will work. Freeze until hard and then life frozen meal out of pan by paper overhang - wrap well and freeze.

    Freezing Garlic Heads - I always keep fresh garlic in a freezer bag. When you need some for a recipe, pop the needed number of cloves off of a head and let them thaw at room temp for a few minutes. Slice off the end where clove met the root (little hard piece, not the pointy end) and then squeeze the clove so that it neatly slides out of the paper. Use the flat of a large knife to gently squash the cloves flat - I tap with the palm of my hand - then mince them fine. Never struggle with peeling fresh garlic. Life is too short.

    Juicing Citrus - Wash rind well. 2 reasons - 1) you might be saving it per note below and 2) when you cut into it your knife can transfer bacteria from the outside to the inside. Nuff said.

    Pop 2 lemons or oranges - or up to 3 limes - in microwave for 22 seconds or so. Take them out and roll them hard on the counter under your hands. Then place on cutting board to slice in half. You might want to wear goggles because that juice is going to fly. The combination of the heat and the rolling is powerful. Okay, so goggles might be going a little crazy but you get the idea. You just get more juice this way.

    Freezing Lemon Juice (Or Lime! Or Orange!) - Fresh citrus is best in ALL recipes (except canning - we’ll talk about that later). Keep it easy by juicing and freezing in 1 Tbsp amounts in icecube trays as described above. Thaw in fridge or in microwave on defrost for a few seconds.

    Freezing Citrus Rinds - Flash freeze them or just pop them in a bag. When a recipe calls for fresh zest - take out a frozen rind and grate it. A microplane grater is best but any small grate holes with work. Rind grates better when frozen.
    Minta likes this.
  3. AuntJamelle

    AuntJamelle Well-Known Member

    Storing Things

    Fresh berries - Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, Blackberries, even grapes - all will last much longer after you buy them if you do the following: Fill a bowl that will hold the fruit with cold water. Splash in a couple good glugs of white vinegar (apple cider works too). Put in the fruit, swirl it around a bit and let sit for 10 minutes. Rinse well. Let fruit air dry a while. Then put in an airtight container or bag in the fridge. The air will rot that fruit quicker than a wink - which is why all the produce comes in things with holes!!! So you have to go buy more fruit!!!! The rats!

    Asparagus - You’ll notice that the bundles are sitting in water when you buy them at the store. Do the same thing when you get them home - a pint Mason jar or any container with flat bottom and tallish sides will work. Just put in some water and the bundle of asparagus. Kind of like giving flowers a drink. It will keep several days like this.

    Fresh herbs - I put them in water just like desribed above. I also take the plastic bag I putit in at the store and loosely cover the herbs in their jar. If the inside of the bag is super wet I turn it inside out first. They stil don’t last long but this helps.

    Potatoes - Never store bag of potatoes with your onions. They’ll rot much faster. If you need to save some time by peeling potatoes ahead you can store them, covered in water in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Longer and the potatoes will start to break down. The water keeps them from turning grey in the fridge - which peeled potatoes will do if left exposed to air. Yuck!

    Celery - A bundle of celery will keep for at least a couple weeks in the fridge if you take it out of the plastic sleeve it comes in and wrap it tightly in one long piece of aluminum foil This totally works!!!!

    Avocados - If you only want to use half of the avocado - keep the pit in the other half and wrap well in aluminum foil. It will keep at least a day without a lot of discoloring. I just lightly scrape any darkened flesh off with a spoon - it’s fine to eat but doesn’t look very appealing! Also, when choosing an avocado - even if it looks really dark - lift up the stem a bit - if still bright green underneath it should be good to go. I do give a gently squeeze as well to make sure it’s not TOO soft.

    Salad - Put a paper towel or two into bags of salad lettuce. Or if you prep a salad ahead - put some on top in the bowl before covering and putting in the fridge. It will help absorb the moisture from the lettuce and keep things crisp.

    Random Thoughts

    Non Slip Cutting Board Trick - Dampen a kitchen towel. Lay flat on the surface where you want cutting board to go. Place cutting board down on top of towel and press down slightly to make sure it’s in place. It should stick to the damp towel which is sticking to the counter and you can chop away!!!

    Hard Boiling Eggs - First, always use older eggs - they peel easier. Newer eggs will be a big ole PAIN. For Easter I buy eggs a couple weeks ahead for sure! My tried and true method to hard boil is to put the eggs in the bottom of a deep pot. I cover with cold water by at least 2 inches or so. Then cover and put on the stove and bring to a boil. As soon as it boils, turn off the heat and carefully move pot to another burner, leaving the lid on. Set a time for 12-13 minutes. Towards the end of that time, prepare a large bowl full of ice water. When timer goes off, use a large slotted spoon to lift the eggs from the hot water to the ice water. Let them cool down a bit.

    At this point they can go in the fridge, covered in water, in an airtight container for 1-2 days before peeling and using. Some say they can go longer but I play it safe.

    Cheap Chicken Stock - Included in this binder is a recipe for basic chicken stock. It is MILES and away better than what you get from the store. Having it in the freezer is like having liquid gold. And it is basically FREE the way I do it. Whenever we roast a chicken or a turkey or buy a rotisserie chicken - I strip as much meat as possible off the carcass and freeze the bones.

    When I have enough bones - 1 or 2 small bags or 1 big one - I make stock! This is a great time to use up the last of any carrots, onions or celery lingering in your kitchen. You can also chop and freeze any of those veggies that are getting to the end of their life for making stock later. Just dump them into the pot frozen - same with the bones!

    Cutting Dough - If you ever have to cut long strips or shapes out of dough - don’t use a knife -use your pizza cutter. SO much easier!

    Lighten it Up - Substitute equal amounts of evaporated milk for recipes that call for heavy cream. Still tastes great but lighter on the fat/calories!

    Mushroom Stems - If you like mushrooms and are left with some stems after making another recipe, clean, finely dice and use in tomorrow’s omelette.

    Baking Soda - You know how people put an open box in the back ofthe fridge to absorb odors? I figure the same principle would apply to the open box in my pantry that I use for baking. So I keep it in a plastic Ziploc bag to keep it odor free!

    Brown Sugars - I always keep these in a Ziploc bag as well, all the air squeezed out. Helps keep it from hardening!

    Egg Muffins- If at any point in life you are tempted to bake eggs in muffin cups - just know that you are going to 1) Have dirty muffin pans that refuse to give up their bits of stuck on egg sitting in your sink for a week or 2) Spend a LOT of time cleaning said pans. No fun! This is what silicone muffin pans were made for!!! If you spot some for a good price - they not only make getting muffins out of the pan easy but they are the ONLY way I will ever bake egg muffins again. Enough said.

    Low and Slow - When it comes to cooking meats, low and slow gives the best flavor. So when you see a recipe calling for a low, long cooking time - pay attention! By low I mean 275 or 300 instead of the typical 350 or 400 degree temps called for.

    Kitchen Thermometers - If nothing else, invest in a $10 instant read meat thermometer - the kind that uses little watch batteries. I had nothing but that for years and made it work! You can rest easy knowing meat is done, you can even test the inside of cakes and loaves of bread to see if they’ve reached the right temp!
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  4. AuntJamelle

    AuntJamelle Well-Known Member

    Cheesecake Strategy

    Necessary Equipment:
    • Springform pan in size called for in recipe - if you use larger or smaller size you may have to adjust baking time up or down.

    • Parchment Paper

    • Wax Paper (or more parchment)

    • Wooden Clothespins (Kind with a spring)

    • Cooking Spray

    • Flat bottomed glass or measuring cup

    • Pencil

    • Scissors

    • Large Roasting Pan or other large flat baking dish you can set the springform pan down inside

    • Aluminum Foil

    • Tea Kettle or other way to heat water very hot and then pour into the roasting pan

    • Oven Mitts

    • Plastic Turkey Oven Bag or Crockpot liner

    • 2 Large Platters - For plating cheesecake
    Here is what I have learned after making many, many cheesecakes!!!

    Room Temp Ingredients - You want the cream cheese to be room temp for sure. The blocks can sit out on the counter - unopened for 3-4 hours to accomplish this. Or you can open the blocks and put them on a plate and microwave for 20 seconds, flip, 20 seconds, flip and cut in half, 10-15 seconds more. When you can stick a spatula in it and feel that it’s soft - but not melted - it’s ready. Just scrape into the mixing bowl and repeat with other blocks as needed.

    Eggs shouldn’t be super cold either. You don’t want them TOO warm. I just run some warm to hot tap water in a bowl and set the eggs in the water for a few minutes to take the chill off.

    If butter is called for in the batter, let that sit out to soften or microwave on defrost a few seconds, flip, repeat until softened. If sour cream called for I measure it, scrape into glass bowl and microwave briefly to take the chill off.

    Cold ingredients will cause the cream cheese to seize up and clump. You want it to stay smooth and creamy!

    Overbeating - Whipping too much air into your cheesecake batter can cause it to crack. Beat ingredients until combined well but then stop.

    Prepping the Pan - Parchment paper is one of the secrets to non-cracking cheesecakes! Tear off a sheet as big as your springform pan. Center pan on paper and trace with pencil. Cut the traced circle out just a little larger than the traced line - maybe ¼ to ½ inch larger. Erase the pencil mark.

    Tear off strips of parchment paper twice as tall as sides of pan. Spritz insdie of pan with cooking spray. Fold the strips of paper down over the sides of the pan, folding extra down over top of sides - use wooden clothespins to hold pieces in place as you work your way around the pan. Overlap pieces until sides are completely covered. A bit of extra parchment at the bottom is fine - you want that - just press it in so that extra lays flat on the bottom of the pan. Or as flat as you can get it.

    Place the circle you cut out in the bottom of the pan, pressing it in as best you can. Crust will push it into place in a little bit. Spritz top of circle with more cooking spray. Move on to the crust!

    Crust - Prepare the wet crumbs called for in recipe for the crust. My tried and true crusts that I use in place of those in recipes I find are as follows:

    Chocolate Graham Crust:

    1 ½ sleeves of honey graham crackers crushed fine - I put them in a Ziplock bag, seal with most of air pressed out and roll with a rolling pin until crushed FINE

    ⅓ cup sugar

    ⅓ cup cocoa powder

    ⅓ cup butter, melted

    Mix dry ingredients, add butter and toss/press well with fork until all crumbs are moistened. Add a bit more melted butter if needed. If you press down on some crumbs you should see them wanting to stick together but you don’t want them too wet or melted butter will leak all over when you bake it.

    Plain Graham Crust:

    2 cups graham cracker crumbs

    2 T cup sugar

    ½ cup butter, melted

    Mix crumbs and sugar, add butter and toss with fork as described above.

    Shaping the Crust - Pour the moistened crumbs into the middle of the prepared springform pan in a big pile. Use your fingers to gently spread the pile out into a larger circle - but not all the way to the edges yet. Take your flat bottomed glass or measuring cup and start to press down on the crumbs, twisting slightly to firm them into place. As you get near the ends of the pan use the glass to press crumbs both down and up the sides of the pan - ideally you want some crumbs pressed up on the sides of the pan all the way around - this will help hold the batter.

    The parchment paper may wiggle around a bit as you do this. You can hold it down with a fingertip with one hand while the other hand uses the flat bottomed glass for pressing. You may need to remove some of your wooden clothespins if they get in your way while pressing crumbs into sides of the pan. You can replace them if needed when done.

    When all crumbs are pressed into place, put the whole pan in fridge to chill while you make the batter. This will solidify the butter in the crumbs again and make the crust more sturdy. You can keep crust in fridge up to a couple of days which is a nice way to save time the day of actually making the cheesecake.

    Batter - Mix batter per recipe, using room temp ingredients, careful not to overmix. Smooth and creamy is good!

    Getting the Pan in the Oven - Place prepared pan on top of a sheet of aluminum foil a bit larger than the pan. Fold up around the outside of the pan - coming up sides an inch or two.

    REMOVE the clothespins! Nestle the pan down inside a plastic turkey oven bag or crockpot liner so it sits in the bottom of bag. Work your way around the edges of the bag and fold down, over and over again, until you have a cuff of rolled plastic just a bit higher than the pan. You don’t want it to be able to fold over and flop into your batter while baking. Set the whole contraption in your large roasting pan.

    Now you can pour batter into prepared crust.

    Have boiling or very hot water ready.

    Open preheated oven and slightly pull out the rack a few inches. (You want rack in middle of oven) Place roasting pan on the rack. With an oven mitt on, pour hot water from tea kettle into the roasting pan so that the water surrounds your plastic protected cheesecake pan - water should come about halfway up the sides. A full tea kettle usually does the trick. Oven mitt used while pouring water protects your hand from the steam. Carefully push rack back into place and close oven. Start your timer.

    The Wobble - Cheesecakes will still have a slight wobble to their middles when done. Open oven and gently shake pan to see how it looks. Recipes often call for turning oven off but leaving cheesecake in, sometimes with door cracked, sometimes not. This lets the cheesecake finish cooking. So a bit more of a wobble at the point you turn the oven off isn’t cause for concern when making one of those recipes. When I say wobble, I mean like a bowl full of Jello would wobble. If it looks sloshy - it’s not done yet.

    Cover cheesecake loosely with a sheet of aluminum foil to avoid overbrowning the top if you have to leave it in the oven longer.

    An overdone cheesecake has a hard skin on top and is all browned. It will still taste good, but once you start to see that light browning around the edges, chances are it’s time to turn off the oven!

    Remove whole roasting pan from oven when recipe directs that the cheesecake should come out. Let it cool a bit, then lift the plastic protected cheesecake pan out of the water. Carefully work the plastic off the bottom of the pan, taking care not to drip a bunch of water on the cheesecake. I usually set the side of the pan on the edge of the roasting pan and then work with it that way. Set pan on cooling rack to cool for an hour or so. Then chill in fridge overnight - uncovered. DON’T undo the spring on the side of the pan yet.
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  5. AuntJamelle

    AuntJamelle Well-Known Member

    Plating The Cheesecake - Get out desired platter for serving and one other platter or large flat tray or baking sheet that will also fit the size of the cheesecake. Undo the spring and remove sides from cheesecake pan.

    Gently work the pieces of parchment paper that lined the sides of the cake free. Place a sheet of wax paper (or more parchment) on top of the cheesecake. Turn the “extra” platter upside down and place on top of the cheesecake then flip it all over.

    The cheesecake will now be sitting upside down on the extra platter. Use a knife or other desired tool (an offset spatula works great) to gently work around the edge of the cheesecake pan bottom, loosening it carefully until you can remove it. If you lined it right, it will just lift right off :)

    Gently work up an edge of the parchment paper lining the bottom of the cheesecake and peel it off. Place the desired serving platter upside down on the bottom of the cheesecake, centering as much as possible. Grab it all and flip everything upside down again.

    Remove “extra” platter and piece of waxed paper covering top of cheesecake. Cheesecake should now be right side up on your serving platter. You can cover with ceran wrap spritzed lightly with cooking spray and put it back in the fridge until ready to add desired toppings and serve.

    Topping and Cutting - Hopefully your cheesecake did not crack. But if it did - who cares??? You can easily cover it with any number of toppings. Store bought hot fudge or caramel sauce, slightly warmed in microwave and poured over the top is easiest. Or a berry preserve, warmed in microwave slightly, works well too!

    Or make a simple chocolate ganache or whip some fresh cream and pile that on top! (See Desserts Section!)

    To cut the cheesecake turn tap on to hot water and leave running. Hold knife under the hot water several seconds to heat it. Wipe dry. Cut into cheesecake. Wipe knife clean on paper towel, heat in water and cut again. Repeat until you have cut all the desired pieces.

    Freezing Cheesecake - If you have leftover cheesecake - or you want to make one ahead of time for a special event they freeze REALLY well!

    Whole Cheesecakes - once cooled and taken out of the pan (per directions above) can be placed on a wax or parchment lined cookie sheet and in the freezer until cheesecake is frozen, overnight works well. Take it out and wrap in plastic wrap, then again in foil. If only freezing for a short time - 3-4 weeks - this is really enough. Or you can get 2 gallon size Ziploc freezer bags to slip it in as well. If freezing a whole cake I usually do NOT top it first - I plan to do that after thawing.

    Cheesecake Slices - Place slices on wax or parchment lined cookie sheet and in the freezer until cheesecake is frozen, overnight is fine again - then slip into Ziploc bags, pressing as much air out as possible.

    I’ve frozen cheesecake slices topped with chocolate ganache and buttercream frosting and they thawed out just fine!

    Thaw cheesecake overnight in fridge - unwrap and enjoy!!!
    Minta likes this.
  6. Holiday_Mom

    Holiday_Mom Well-Known Member

    This is incredible, AJ! I'll have to reread these again. There is a lot here... :)
    AuntJamelle likes this.
  7. GrammaDeb

    GrammaDeb Well-Known Member

    All I can say, AJ, is wow. Just wow!
    AuntJamelle likes this.
  8. Minta

    Minta Administrator Staff Member

    Awesome tips AJ.. May I add a few more ...

    If you don't have butter milk .. you can add 2 Tablespoons of vinegar to 3/4 cup of milk and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.

    I have 2 storage containers in the freezer .. 1 is for veggies so when I have veggies left over from dinner that will not be used up in the next couple days I toss them into this container. After a while it will get full and then I use It casserole or a soup. The other container for tomato sauce. Again anything left over that will not be used up in a few days gets dumped into this container and once its full it will be enough for a pasta dinner

    To add on with the idea of use ice trays - I freeze broth in the ice cube trays and then toss into a labeled bag in the freezer. This is perfect if I only need a small amount of broth and not a whole container.

    Another way to get bread dough to rise or proof is turn the oven to warm, turn off and let it cool for a few minutes and then place your bowl of dough or your tray of rolls into the oven. If the air is to dry place a small shallow pan of very hot water on the bottom rack when warming the oven, this will add humidity to the oven for better rising.

    Flash freezing pancakes and waffles is a great way to give the family other options besides cereal for breakfast on those busy mornings.

    For anyone who grates parmesan cheese from the block, save the rinds by freezing them to add to soups, sauces, etc for added flavor.
    luludou likes this.
  9. DahliaDoll

    DahliaDoll Well-Known Member

    AJ ~ What a treasure of tips! Thank you!

    I hope you don’t mind if I add just a few additional ideas or expand on yours …

    I love my stacking cooling racks for cookies. I slide the parchment paper with baked cookies onto the rack to cool. I don’t have to try to spatula them off. My three racks are usually sufficient for one recipe. If I need more, the bottom rack of cookies is cooled off by the time I need another rack, so I can just remove those cookies and re-use the rack for the next batch.

    Using parchment paper, I can also get several batches of cookies ready to go into the oven while one batch is baking. I just put the parchment paper on the counter, put the cookie dough on it, then slide it to the baking sheet when ready. If they are ball cookies, though, they want to roll off very easily.

    For drop cookies, I use a spring-loaded cookie scoop.

    I like the microwave method to soften butter, but need to make a record of how long to do it in my new microwave. Quite different than my last one.

    For raising bread, I put boiling water into a glass measuring cup; put it in a “cold” oven with my covered bread bowl and close the oven door. It makes a nice environment for raising bread.

    Great idea for freezing items in the quantity needed for a particular recipe! I do that, but I think it would be an additional help to put a post-it note on the recipe saying what ingredients I have in the freezer ('cause I forget). Your tip made me come up with that idea. I will have to implement.

    For taking air out of zip lock bags for freezing, I’ve seen a video that shows putting the bag with contents into a bowl of water which forces the air out. This would leave you with a wet bag to dry off, but would/could work great for meats.

    "Pop 2 lemons or oranges - or up to 3 limes - in microwave for 22 seconds or so.... "

    Are you saying you freeze them whole first?

    Asparagus - I do store asparagus in water and make a fresh cut off of the ends first.

    Avocados - I saw a video which showed storing half of an avocado (I think it helps to leave the pit in) in a container with a wedge of onion to help keep the color from turning. Haven’t tried it yet.

    Non Slip Cutting Board Trick - You mentioned using a damp towel. A silicone hot pad works, too.

    Brown Sugar - I use a sugar bears in a canister with my brown sugar. Works well.

    Meatballs: Form meatballs with wet hands to help keep the fats from sticking to your hands. I also use a cookie scoop to keep them a uniform size (dipped in water). Bake in a hot (400 degree) oven for about 15 minutes on parchment paper rather than browning in a pan on the oven. I always double the recipe and freeze half after baking. (I don’t particularly care for Costco’s frozen meatballs, so I make my own.)

    If you’re measuring something sticky like honey or molasses, spray the measuring spoon/cup with cooking spray first or coat with cooking oil. The ingredient will slide right out.

    Speaking of cooking spray, open the dishwasher door and spray your pan there, so any overspray will be mostly inside the dishwasher (DSonIL’s tip). Sometimes I just take it outside on the deck.

    If I open a can of vegetables, or steam vegetables, I freeze the liquid to use in recipes (especially soups) that call for water or vegetable stock. I even save the liquid from cans of olives. It looks really dark like it might change the color of the soup, but it actually doesn’t, and adds so much flavor! I keep a large yogurt or cottage cheese container in the freezer and just pour layers of liquid on top until the container is full.

    We buy tomatoes at Costco and sometimes don’t eat them fast enough (just the two of us), so when they start to get over-ripe, I blend them up (don’t have a food processor) and freeze them to use for cooking (spaghetti sauce/soups/chili).

    I love this tread and hope others will share ideas that aren’t covered here … although this is pretty darn complete!
    AuntJamelle, luludou and Minta like this.
  10. MrsSoup

    MrsSoup Well-Known Member

    Love this!
    Minta likes this.
  11. cmerth

    cmerth Well-Known Member

    Wow!! I can say is Wow!!:cool:
    Minta likes this.
  12. AuntJamelle

    AuntJamelle Well-Known Member

    I love love love the additional tips and suggestions - keep em coming! :)

    "Pop 2 lemons or oranges - or up to 3 limes - in microwave for 22 seconds or so.... "

    Are you saying you freeze them whole first?

    No, they are just fresh from the store. Heating them helps the fruit release more juice. Makes big difference!
    Minta likes this.

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