Always wondered whether or not you should serve your cheese at room temperature? Or the best way to cut a cake? Here are helpful hints and tips for anytime you are cooking or entertaining.
Appetizers and Beverages:
- Add flavor to hot tea by dissolving old-fashioned lemon drops or hard mint candies in the cup.
- To keep a punch cool, make an ice ring using some of the punch and float it in the punch bowl. This way the punch will not become diluted with melted ice cubs.
- Place fresh or dried mint in the bottom of a cup of hot chocolate for a cool, refreshing taste.
Soup & Salad
- If a recipe calls for chicken or beef broth, make your own by using chicken or beef bouillon cubes or granules. The ratio is 1 cube or 1 heaping teaspoon of granules to 1 cup water.
- A leaf of lettuce dropped in a pot of soup absorbs grease from the top.
- Add a little vinegar to the water to cut down on odors when cooking cabbage or cauliflower.
- The ratio for a vinaigrette is typically 3 part oil to 1 part vinegar.
- Cook pasta al dente when using in a pasta salad. This will allow it to absorb some of the dressing and not become mushy.
Vegetables and Side Dishes
- To keep hot oil from splattering, sprinkle a little salt or four in the pan before frying.
- A few drops of lemon juice added to simmering rice will keep the grains separated.
- To dress up buttered, cooked vegetables, sprinkle them with toasted sesame seeds, chopped nuts, grated cheese or slightly crushed seasoned croutons.
- Add a little vinegar or lemon juice to potatoes before draining to make them extra white when mashed.
- Not sure what to do with leftover hotdog or hamburger buns? Melt half a stick of butter in the microwave. Chop up 1 garlic clove and stir it into the butter. Put the butter into the refrigerator and allow to harden again. Spread the butter over the buns and toast. Yum!
- Marinating is a cinch if you use a plastic bag. It is easy to turn and cleanup is a breeze – just toss the bag in the trash.
- It is easier to thinly slice meat if it is partially frozen
- Tomatoes added to meats naturally tenderizes the meat.
- Enhance the flavor of fish by rubbing lemon juice on the fish before cooking.
- Overripe bananas can be frozen until it is time to bake. Just store them unpeeled in a plastic bag
- Nuts, shelled or unshelled, keep best and longest when stored in the freezer.
- Keep the cake plate clean while frosting by placing 6 inch strips of waxed paper under each side of the cake. Once the cake is decorated, remove the waxed paper and your plate will be clean.
- Achieve professionally decorated cakes with a silky, molten look by blow-drying the frosting with a hair dryer until the frosting melts slightly.
- Use dental floss to perfectly cut pieces from desserts like cheesecakes.
- For uniform cookies, bake one sheet at a time on the middle oven rack.
- Dip cookie cutters in flour or powdered sugar before cutting. If using chocolate dough, dip the cutters in baking cocoa.
- Use parchment paper when baking cookies. While one batch is cooking, get the second batch ready on a new piece of parchment paper. Slide off the parchment paper on the baked cookies and load the next parchment paper already to go.
This and That
- Never overcook foods that are going to be frozen.
- To avoid teary eyes when cutting onions, cut them under cold running water or briefly place them in the freezer before cutting.
- Fresh lemon juice will remove onion scent from hands.
- Transfer jelly and salad dressings to small plastic squeeze bottles – no more messy, sticky jars.
- Fill a large shaker with 6 parts salt and 1 part pepper for quick and easy seasoning.
And the answer to the cheese question … yes, you should serve it room temperature!