Kitchen Tips & Tricks

  • A dampened paper towel or terry cloth brushed downward on a cob of corn will remove every strand of corn silk.
  • A few drops of lemon juice added to simmering rice will keep the grains separate.
  • A jar lid or a couple of marbles in the bottom half of a double-boiler will rattle when the water gets low and warn you to add more before the pan scorches or burns.
  • A low-calorie solution for high-fat frying of corn tortillas is to place them in the oven, directly on the rack. Bake at 350 F, to desired crispness. The tortillas will automatically fold over into taco shell form with just a little postioning help.
  • A lump of butter or a few teaspoons of cooking oil added to water when boiling rice, noodles, macaroni, or spaghetti will prevent boiling over.
  • A perfect pastry crust … in your favorite recipe, substitute a 4 to 1 ratio of lard to butter.
  • A roast with the bone in it will cook faster than a boneless roast – the bone carries the heat to the inside of the roast quicker.
  • A simple way to sharpen kitchen shears … cut a piece of steel wool.
  • A slice of soft bread placed in the package of hardened brown sugar will soften it again in a couple of hours.
  • Add a little lemon and lime to tuna to add zest and flavor to tuna sandwiches. Use cucumbers soaked in vinegar and pepper in sandwich instead of tomatoes. Use mustard instead of mayo to cut the fat and add a tang.
  • Add a small amount of lemon juice to the artichoke cooking water to retain the color of the artichoke.
  • Before opening a package of meat packaged in slices, roll it. This helps separate the slices for easy removal of individual slices.
  • Bread will stay fresh longer if a celery rib is stored with it in the package.
  • Brown gravy in a hurry with a bit of instant coffee straight from the jar … no bitter taste, either.
  • Buy mushrooms before they “open.” When the stems and caps are attached snugly, you know the mushrooms are truly fresh.
  • Buy several small spray bottles to use in the kitchen, for tasks like moistening pie dough, coating oil on pans, misting salad dressing on delicate greens, or other purposes you might think of.
  • Check cookies at minimum baking time.
  • Cheese won’t harden if you butter the exposed edges before storing.
  • Chefs pound meat not to tenderize the meat, but to help even the meat so it cooks evenly.
  • Choosing eggs … fresh eggs’ shells are rough and chalky; old eggs are smooth and shiny.
  • Cook corn with husks and silks on. The silks slide off with husks and both add more flavor.
  • Cookie dough can be frozen up to three months in an airtight container or refrigerated three to four days.
  • Cookies will spread if your dough is too pliable by allowing butter to get too soft. If your cookies are spreading too much, try refrigerating the dough for a couple of hours before baking.
  • Cure for headaches … take a lime, cut it in half and rub it on your forehead. The throbbing will go away.
  • Do not use metal bowls when mixing salads. Use wooden, glass or china.
  • Don’t waste pie pastry scraps … sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, and bake like cookies.
  • Don’t just keep dental floss in your medicine cabinet. Keep some in the kitchen. It’s a great tool. Unflavored dental floss is often better than a knife to cleanly cut all kinds of soft foods, soft cheese, rolled dough, layered cake and cheesecake. I learned that watching my daughter, Miriam, work on a potter’s wheel.
  • Don’t throw out all that leftover wine … freeze it into ice cubes for future use in casseroles and sauces.
  • Drain deep fried foods on brown paper grocery bags as opposed to paper towels to retain crispness.
  • Egg shells can be easily removed from hard-boiled eggs if they are boiled in salty water and quickly rinsed in cold water.
  • Egg whites should always be at room temperature before whipping. Be certain there is no yolk in the whites and that the bowl and beaters are perfectly clean. Cream, on the other hand, should be well-chilled. For the largest volume, chill the bowl and beaters before whipping.
  • For a juicier hamburger add cold water to the beef before grilling (1/2 cup to 1 pound of meat).
  • For fluffier, whiter rice, add one teaspoon of lemon juice per quart of water. To add extra flavor and nutrition to rice, cook it in liquid reserved from cooking vegetables.
  • For fresh flavor in orange juice add the juice of one lemon.
  • For fresh-tasting lemon or lime juice year-round, freeze lemons and limes whole; thaw in microwave before squeezing.
  • For the perfect boiled egg, cover eggs with cold water and a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a full boil. Remove the pan from the heat and cover. Let the eggs sit for 8-9 minutes. Drain the water and place the eggs in ice water to cool and stop the cooking process.
  • Freeze tomato paste in the can. Open both ends and punch out the paste. Wrap the frozen paste in foil and freeze, then slice off what you need as you need it.
  • Fresh fish freeze (cute alliteration, and tongue twister) well in a milk carton filled with water.
  • Ground spices really should be replaced every 6 months or so. Unless you know you will use them up fairly quickly, buy a bottle in partnership with a friend and split the contents. You’ll each benefit from fresh spices.
  • Ice cubes will 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 a recipe calls for 1 cup sour cream, you may substitute 1 cup cottage cheese blended until smooth with 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1/3 cup buttermilk.
  • If guests are coming and you’re behind making dinner, throw some onions on to saute and your kitchen will smell wonderful and homey.
  • If lettuce starts turning a little brown (but not slimy) it may not be suitable for salads, but you can saute it. Sauteed salad greens like lettuce, radicchio, and endive make an unusual but tasty side dish. Saute lettuces just as you would spinach. Cook them quickly in a little olive oil, minced garlic, and salt. They taste great, and you cant tell that the greens were once a little brown.
  • If you have a problem opening jars … Try using latex dishwashing gloves. They give a on-slip grip that makes opening jars easy.
  • If you need extra counter space for cooling cookies on racks or baking sheets, set up the ironing board and let them rest on it (cover the board to prevent stains).
  • If you need only 1/2 an onion, save the root half. It will last longer.
  • If your cake recipe calls for nuts, heat them first in the oven, then dust with flour before adding to the batter to keep them from settling to the bottom of the pan.
  • Instead of adding raw garlic to sauces, saute the garlic first for a milder flavor.
  • Instead of the water your recipe calls for, try juices, bouillon, or water you’ve cooked vegetables in. Instead of milk, try buttermilk, yogurt or sour cream. It can add a whole new flavor and improve nutrition.
  • Instead of using a pastry blender, mix flour with butter by grating cold butter into it.
  • It’s important to let a roast — beef, pork (pardon the expression), lamb or poultry — sit a little while before carving. That allows the juices to retreat back into the meat. If you carve a roast too soon, much of its goodness will spill out onto the carving board.
  • Keep popcorn fresh and encourage more kernels to pop by storing in the freezer.
  • Lemons stored in a sealed jar of water will produce twice the juice.
  • Let cookies cool completely before storing. Store different types of cookies in separate containers so they’ll keep their original flavor and texture.
  • Let raw potatoes stand in cold water for at least half an hour before frying to improve the crispness of french-fried potatoes.
  • Lettuce keeps better if you store in refrigerator without washing first so that the leaves are dry. Wash the day you are going to use.
  • Make your own celery flakes. Just cut and wash the leaves from the celery stalks; place them in the oven on low heat or in the hot sun until thoroughly dry. Crumble and store in an air-tight container.
  • Maple-flavored syrup, commonly found on the shelves in the store and in restaurants, is actually corn syrup flavored with a bit of pure maple syrup to keep the cost down.
  • Marinate chicken in buttermilk to tenderize (doesn’t sound kosher to me).
  • Marinate red meats in wine to tenderize.
  • Marshmallows won’t dry out when frozen.
  • Microwave a lemon for 15 seconds and double the juice you get before squeezing.
  • Microwave garlic cloves for 15 seconds and the skins slip right off.
  • Never heat pesto sauce … the basil will turn black and taste bitter.
  • Noodles, spaghetti and other starches won’t boil over if you rub the inside of the pot with vegetable oil.
  • One way to preserve the flavor of fresh herbs is to make herb butter. Let the butter soften, then add finely chopped herbs in any combination, about 2 to 4 tablespoons per stick of butter. The butter freezes well, and you can serve it spread on French bread or with seafood or chicken.
  • Pancakes are lighter and fluffier when you substitute club soda for milk in the batter.
  • Place green fruits in a perforated plastic bag. The holes will allow air to circulate while retaining the ethylene gas that fruits produce during ripening.
  • Poke a hole in the middle of the hamburger patties while shaping them. The burgers will cook faster and the holes will disappear when done.
  • Put meat used for stir frying in freezer for 45 min. to 1 hr. to make slicing easier.
  • Rescue stale or soggy chips and crackers … Preheat the oven to 300F. Spread the chips or crackers in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes. Allow to cool, then seal in a plastic bag or container.
  • Sausage patties rolled in flour before frying won’t crack open during cooking.
  • Save butter wrappers in the freezer to use for greasing pans when baking.
  • Steak sauce with a kick … De-glaze your frying pan (after searing your New York steaks) with brandy. Add two tablespoons of butter, a little white wine and a splash of Grand Marnier (that’s an after-dinner cordial). Serve over steaks … you’ll never use steak sauce again.
  • Store freshly cut basil on your kitchen counter in a glass with the water level covering only the stems. Change the water occasionally. It will keep for weeks this way, even develop roots. Basil hates to be cold, so NEVER put it in the refrigerator. Also, regular cutting encourages new growth and healthier plants.
  • Stuff a miniature marshmallow in the bottom of a sugar cone to prevent ice cream drips.
  • Sunlight doesn’t ripen tomatoes, warmth does. Store tomatoes with stems pointed down and they will stay fresher, longer.
  • Tenderize pot roast or stewing meat by using two cups of hot tea as a cooking liquid.
  • Thaw fish in milk for fresher flavor.
  • Thaw frozen meat and poultry in the refrigerator and not on the kitchen counter where bacteria can grow.
  • The best way to store fresh celery is to wrap it in aluminum foil and put it in the refrigerator … it will keep for weeks.
  • To determine if an egg is fresh, immerse it in a pan of cool, salted water. If it sinks, it is fresh; if it rises to the surface, throw it away.
  • To determine if an egg is hard-boiled, spin it. If it spins, it is hard-boiled. If it wobbles, it is raw.
  • To hasten the cooking of foods in a double boiler, add salt to the water in the outer boiler.
  • To keep cauliflower white while cooking, add a little milk to the water.
  • To keep potatoes from budding, place an apple in the bag with the potatoes.
  • To keep salt from clogging in the shaker, add 1/2 teaspoon of uncooked rice.
  • To keep your work area dry and less messy, place the cutting board inside a baking sheet or jellyroll pan, so excess falls into the pan. Rubber bands or a damp cloth underneath helps prevent the board or pan from slipping. This works especially well when carving meats and roasts to save their juices.
  • To make cookie crumbs, cracker crumbs or to crush shelled nuts, seal them in a zipper bag then crush with a rolling pin.
  • To make lighter and fluffier mashed potatoes, add a pinch or two of baking powder to the potatoes before whipping.
  • To make your own corn meal mix, combine 1 cup corn meal, 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 4 teaspoons baking powder. You can store it in a tightly covered container for up to 6 months.
  • To remove egg shells from a batter, use the remaining shell to attract the piece.
  • To slice meat into thin strips, as for Chinese dishes … partially freeze and it will slice easily.
  • To thaw foods more quickly, place frozen foods on a metal surface, like a metal tray or heavy frying pan. Metal conducts room temperature better than formica, wood, glass or tile.
  • Too salty … add cut raw potatoes to soups or vegetables and then discard once they have cooked and absorbed the salt. A teaspoon each of cider vinegar and sugar added to salty soup or vegetables will also remedy the salty situation.
  • Two drops of yellow food coloring added to boiling noodles will make them look homemade.
  • Ultimate disposable pastry bag … Take a heavy-duty zipper-seal plastic bag and snip off one corner, making a slightly curved cut. Using a standard two-piece plastic coupler (available wherever cake decorating supplies are sold), insert the larger piece into the hole. Choose a tip and secure it with the coupler’s ring. Fill the bag and zip the top closed. Decorate away, then remove the coupler/tip assembly and toss the bag. No messy cleanup.
  • Use a gentle touch when shaping ground beef patties. Overhandling will result in a firm, compact texture after cooking. Don’t press or flatten with spatula during cooking.
  • Use margarine instead of butter to pan-fry or saute. Butter burns quickly.
  • Use paper bags rather than plastic to store lettuce and celery in the crisper. They will stay fresh longer.
  • Vinegar brought to a boil in a new frying pan will prevent foods from sticking.
  • When braising meat, cook it at a low temperature for a long time to keep the meat tender and have it retain all the juices.
  • When browning ground meat, brown several pounds and drain. Divide evenly in freezer containers and freeze. Unthaw in microwave for quick fixing next time.
  • When cooking any kind of strawberry dessert, add a splash of aged Balsamic vinegar to the recipe to enhance the flavor of the strawberries.
  • When going on a picnic, keep sandwiches from becoming soggy by packing lettuce and condiments in separate containers. Add them to sandwiches just before serving.
  • When making chocolate-based cakes or breads, grease the pan and dust with cocoa powder, instead of flour, to prevent sticking.
  • When making roux for a recipe, make extra and keep in the refrigerator for future use.
  • When mincing garlic, sprinkle on a little salt so the pieces won’t stick to your knife or cutting board.
  • When picking a melon, smell it for freshness and ripeness. Check to see that the fruit is heavy in weight and that the spot on the end where it has been plucked from the vine is soft.
  • When scalding milk, first rinse the pan in cold water to prevent sticking.
  • When separating eggs, break them into a funnel. The whites will go through leaving the yolk intact in the funnel.
  • When slicing a hard boiled egg, try wetting the knife just before cutting. If that doesn’t do the trick, try applying a bit of cooking spray to the edge.
  • When tossing a salad with a basic vinaigrette, always make the vinaigrette at least 1/2 hour ahead of time and let the mixture sit to allow the flavors to marry. Pour the vinaigrette down the side of the bowl, not directly on the greens, for a more evenly dressed salad.
  • When using all-purpose flour, keep in mind that one pound flour is the equivalent to 4 cups.
  • When using dried beans and peas, keep in mind that 1 cup dry beans or peas makes 2 1/2 (that’s two and a half) cups cooked.
  • When using fresh herbs such as dill, chives, parsley, etc., hold them together in small bunches and snip with kitchen scissors. It is a lot faster this way, and you’ll find the herbs will be light and fluffy, not bruised and wet as they often get when chopped.
  • When using granulated sugar, keep in mind that one pound sugar is the equivalent to 2 cups.
  • When using rice, keep in mind that 1 cup of uncooked long-grain white rice makes 3 cups cooked.
  • When using spaghetti, keep in mind that 8 ounces of uncooked pasta makes 4 cups cooked.
  • When working with dough, don’t flour your hands; coat them with olive oil to prevent sticking.
  • Whenever possible, warm your dinner plates slightly in the oven before serving so the meal stays a little bit hotter.
  • You can correct greasy gravy by adding a little baking soda to it.

About Delicious Goodies

Love life, the outdoors, photography, reading, cooking, baking, spending time with family. Just a girl next door in what I call paradise - Southern California. By no means a professional cook, I do enjoy cooking, trying new recipes and sharing with others. I hope you enjoy what you find here! I have one Vegan in the family, so we are always making two meals, rather fun, and it allows us to try new ideas. When I was in Middle School I use to help my Grandmother make cookie canisters - every year at Christmas we would make an assortment of cookies, breads, candy and put them in a wrapped canister and give them as gifts. I still enjoy this idea, although haven't done it that much - at least not an assortment of goodies. I think this year will be the year I go back to that idea and see how everyone likes it. Have a wonderful week, and spread kindness everywhere you go!
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