Cooking Hints

1.   Save left over coffee in a jar in the fridge, use it instead of water in all chocolate recipes that call for water, or keep instant coffee in the pantry to add instant coffee to a little hot water and add it to the milk the recipe calls for.  Coffee is also good in many gravies and sauces.

2.  When making rice, use stock or/and a little wine with the water that is called for.  Another option is to add a few chopped herbs to the water, cilantro is awesome if your cooking Mexican food.

3.  Can't eat a pound of bacon before it goes bad, open the package, lay the slices out individually on a cookie sheet using wax paper on the bottom and between any layers the freeze until firm.  Place the frozen bacon slices in a zip-lock bag.  Then you can cook only the slices you need and it will keep much longer in the freezer.  You can also do this for sausage patties, sausage links and hot dogs.

4.  Instead of dirtying up a bowl to use as a "trash bowl" when cooking, use the bags you get when you buy produce.  Just set it on the counter, open up the bag, folding the top of the bag like you would roll up a sleeve that is too long, spread the bottom out a little, when done toss in the trash, that's better than the bowl cause you don't have to wash it.  Or you can put the bag in and over a small bowl, still no bowl to wash.

5. Washing your good sharp knives, peelers, graters, food processing blades in a dishwasher dulls them.  Always wash these by hand.

6.  To resharpen a potato peeler, peel a potato, it really works.

7.  Flour tortillas make great noodles for a chicken noodle soup.  I do NOT like chicken noodle soup for the most part, but a lady at church said she used the flour tortillas for dumplings.  I could not imagine them puffing up she said they did to be dumplings, but I tried anyway.  I like big puffy, biscuit like dumpling.  Needless to say they did not puff up as I'm used to for dumplings, but I ended up with the best chicken noodle soup I ever put in my mouth.  So good in fact I sat down and wrote out what I had done right after eating my second or third bowl.  My son-in-law said they were a "bomb".  If you can go to a Spanish/Mexican grocer and buy fresh tortillas they are the best to use.  Look for my recipe  in my main blog page dated 1/6/12 or on my Recipe:  Soups page.

8.  Did you know that there is a way to tell how hot a jalapeno is before you bite into it?  Next time your shopping stop, and look closely at the jalapenos, notice some brownish little lines, streaks or wrinkles on the skin.  The more of these you see the hotter the pepper. A man who buys for a Mexican restaurant taught me this little trick one day when I was grocery shopping.  I thought they were signs of age...who knew...not me...till now.

9. Need 12 Cupcakes not 24 or 1- 8 inch cake here's my 1/2 a cake mix recipe:  
  • 1 & 3/4 C + 1/2 T   Cake mix or use scales
  • 2   eggs
  • 1/2 C   Milk, if chocolate sub. 2 - 1/2 T Hot H2O + 1 t instant coffee for part of the milk
  • 1/3 C     oil
10.  4 eggs in a cake mix makes for a great cake as well as giving you a little more batter if you want to stretch into 3 layers instead of 2.

11.  Use a jar of spaghetti sauce as a starter for a minestrone soup.  Add water or chicken stock to thin it to a soup consistency, add all your veggies, some extra herbs and spices, along with a crusty loaf of bread and within minutes you'll have a soul warming meal.  Can't wait for the first cool snap of the season.

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