HANNAH'S COOKING AND BAKING HINTS
In a soup pot, combine the chicken broth, soy sauce, mushrooms and water chestnuts, carrots and chicken over a medium high heat and bring to a boil.
Add the spaghetti and peas, and continue boiling for 10 minutes or until the pasta is cooked. Stir occasionally. Top each serving with the green onions as you serve the soup. Serves 10
When purchasing a whole chicken look for skin that is cream-to-yellow in colour never gray or wan. Store it in its original wrap no more than two days in the coolest part of your refrigerator.
To test freshness of baking powder, mix 1 teaspoon of baking powder with 1/3 cup of hot water. If the mixture does not foam, the powder is stale and should not be used.
For moist, chewy brownies, add 2 tablespoons of corn syrup to your batter before baking
Here is a serving idea for the holidays. Bake your stuffing in a covered greased fluted tube pan. Let stand for 5 minutes, then invert onto a plate or flat serving dish. Slice wedges to serve.
If you are baking more than one sheet of cookies at a time, ensure even browning by switching the sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through the baking time.
For a simple salad dressing mix tarragon vinegar with oil or mayonnaise. To make your own tarragon vinegar add a quart of warm vinegar to a glass bottle filled with tarragon leaves. Store it in a cool, dry place for a 2-4 weeks. Before you use it strain out the leaves.
Muffins should be mixed quickly and lightly stirred to moisten only. The batter should be blended by hand and it should look lumpy.
Don't rush the melting process by turning up the heat under a double boiler while melting chocolate. The higher heat will cause the water in the bottom pan to boil and cause condensation to form in the upper pan. This in turn will create too much heat and the chocolate will burn.
Have you ever run out of squares of chocolate when you need them to bake something? Well you can substitute 3 tablespoons of cocoa plus 1 tablespoon of butter or shortening for 1 square of unsweetened chocolate.
Measuring ingredients accurately is one of the essential elements for successful baking. When measuring brown sugar, spoon the sugar into a measuring cup, then press down firmly with the back of the spoon to expel all air pockets. Level off the top with the flat edge of a spatula or knife.
Soon it will be time to be baking our Christmas turkey with all the trimmings. I read this quick tip on how to use up the leftovers in a magazine and tried it last year. I worked out great. I spread the stuffing and mashed potatoes, turkey and vegetables in a greased pie plate. I topped it with gravy and dotted it with butter. I baked it in a 350-degree oven until it was bubbly. It made a great meal using the leftovers. I imagine this particular method could be used for a lot of different leftovers such as a roast beef dinner as well.
One way to determine if the meatloaf is fully cooked, insert an instant read thermometer in its center. If it reads 160 degrees the loaf should be done.
This popular fruit is very versatile and is free of fat, sodium and cholesterol. One medium apple also contains 5 grams of fiber. So start enjoying this abundant fruit. There really is something to the saying " an apple a day keeps the Doctor away.'
Oh those wonderful spices. Evidence has proven that cinnamon may help to reduce blood sugars, a benefit that all diabetics should consider researching. This wonderful spice has been known to reduce blood glucose by 18 to 29 percent. It has also shown good results in producing a reduction of LDL (bad cholesterol) levels. This is just one of the many reasons a good diet and healthy eating is the way to go.
Add a delicious flavour to barbecued foods by sprinkling the coals with fresh herbs that have been soaked in water. Long straight rosemary branches make great grilling skewers. Strip needles and cut a point on one end.
Instead of a pastry brush, use a new 11/2-inch wide paintbrush to brush on barbecue sauce and melted butter.
Warm the basting sauces you use on meat because a cold sauce will slow the cooking.
You can never substitute regular flour for self- rising flour in a recipe. Self-rising flour has baking powder added to it. The good news is you can make your own self-rising flour. For each cup of self-rising flour that you want to make add 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in the measuring cup and then you add all-purpose flour to the one-cup mark.
Have you ever had your cookie dough spread over the baking sheet? This is probably because the sheet is still too warm from the prior batch. Run cold water over the bottom of the sheet to cool it down. Or you may have overgreased the baking sheet to begin with.
Ever wondered how to get your homemade meatballs all the same size? Try this. Make your meat mixture then lightly pat it into the shape of a 1-inch thick rectangle. Cut the rectangle into the same number of squares as meatballs in the recipe. Gently roll each square into a ball.
This weeks hint will be for our young bakers as well. To make a quick Toy Oven cake, use 2 tablespoons of a commercial cake mix and 1 tablespoon of water or milk. (Use only enough to make a cake batter consistency). Place in greased toy cake pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Makes 1 serving.
To remove catsup from the bottle especially a new bottle, insert a drinking straw, push it to the bottom of the bottle, and them remove. Enough air will be admitted to start an even flow.
How about those petty annoyances that we all experience with plastic wrap. There are ways to avoid them. Keep it in the refrigerator to prevent it from ever sticking together. If plastic gets stuck to your toaster or other metal surfaces, rub petroleum jelly on the spot, then rub clean with a soft cloth.
If you can't find the end of a roll of plastic, wind a piece of tape around your finger, sticky-side out. Tap around the roll until the tape catches onto the edge of the wrap and you can unroll it.
If you have an upcoming birthday and will be celebrating with a cake how about using rolls of candy with holes in the middle for birthday candle holders on the cake. Lifesavers are excellent. They catch all the drops of wax and look pretty too.Enjoy
Homemade Croutons - Since I have learned that most store brought croutons are deep fried and therefore adding unnecessary calories to my plate I have been on the prowl for a good version of the homemade kind. Well I think I have found it in this simple but yummy version.
To prevent hot fat from splattering, sprinkle a little salt or flour in the pan before frying
If a recipe calls for "superfine" sugar, put regular granulated sugar in the blender and pulse several times until the sugar granules have reduced in size slightly.Splattering
Put several garlic cloves in canola or olive oil to steep for about 8 hours. When the oil is deeply flavored with garlic, slice and toast small French rolls and spread on a cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees until croutons are crisp and golden on both sides. When the croutons are cool and just before serving, you can sprinkle the garlic-flavored oil over them.
Chocolate melts more easily if it is grated or chopped before melting. High temperatures will cause chocolate to be dry and grainy.
Semisweet chocolate morsels and semisweet chocolate squares can be used interchangeably when a recipe calls for this type of chocolate melted.
Holiday Diet Hints.
1. If no one sees you eat it, it has no calories.
2. If you drink a diet soda with a candy bar, they cancel each other out.
3. When eating with someone else, calories don't count if you both eat the same amount.
4. Foods used for medical purposes have no calories. This includes any chocolate used for energy, brandy, Sarah Lee cheesecake (eaten whole) and Haagen-Daz icecream.
5. Movie related foods are much lower in calories because they are part of the entertainment experience and not part of one's fuel. This includes Milk Duds, popcorn with butter, Junior Mints, Snickers and Gummy Bears.
6. Cookie pieces contain no calories because the process breakage causes calorie leakage.
7. If you eat the food off someone else's plate it doesn't count.
8. If you eat standing up the calories go to your feet and get walked off.
9. Food eaten at Christmas parties has no calories courtesy of Santa.
10. Stressed is just desserts spelled backward.
For a pretty flower design on sugar cookies press the bottom of an empty plastic thread spool (label removed) into the rounds of the dough.
To soften butter quickly, cut it into pieces, put it on a plate and cover with a metal bowl that has been rinsed with hot water.
Have you ever had the problem cutting baked items like sheet cakes or brownies, because too much of the bakery would stick to the knife. Try a pizza cutter instead, it rolls along smoothly and it cuts nice clean squares.
If you are living alone or are an empty nester and you are looking for ways to downsize your meals here is a good idea for that pound of bacon. This will allow you to use the exact amount you want without defrosting the entire package. Take individual slices from your pound of bacon and roll them up and secure them with a toothpick. Place all the rolled up slices in a freezer bag, remove the air and then seal the bag. When you want bacon it is so much easier to just take out only the amount needed.
Before covering a frosted cake or cup cakes with plastic wrap try coating the plastic wrap with a light layer of vegetable oil or cooking spray. This way your frosting will stay intact.
If while you are baking you suddenly discover that you don't have enough Baking Powder there is a solution. You can successfully substitute 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar + 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda to overcome this crisis.
Muffins, like tea biscuits, should be mixed as quickly and lightly as possible, only stirring to moisten. Batter should look lumpy. Never bake muffins in an oven that is too hot. A 375-degree oven is usually good. If the oven is too hot it can result in the muffins turning out to be too tough and leathery. To avoid any difficulty unmolding fruit filled muffins let them cool completely first.
Have you ever wondered if it is really necessary to keep butter refrigerated? Well experts tell us that butter can safely be left out of the fridge for no more than 2 hours. Butter can be stored wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. You can store it up to 6 months if you freeze it in a freezer bag.
1 pound of chocolate is equivalent to 16 squares.
1 pound of cocoa is equivalent to 5 cups of cocoa.
A substitute for 1 square of chocolate in most recipes is 3 tablespoons of cocoa plus 1 tablespoon of shortening or butter.
Are you wondering how to freeze fish so that you can prevent freezer burn? Put the fish into a resealable plastic bag, fill the bag with water, press out the air and seal. This just might come in handy for some of you ice fishermen.
Since it is the season to make cookies for Christmas I thought perhaps this information would be useful. Before slicing icebox cookie dough, make sure it's very cold. Keep any extra dough in the refrigerator until you need it. You can help maintain the round shape of the dough "log" by making a quarter turn every four to six slices. This will help to maintain its round shape.
When using rosemary in any recipe it is recommended that you either chop or crush it for maximum flavor. If you have fresh rosemary, use a pair of kitchen shears to snip each needle like leaf into smaller pieces. Dried rosemary can be crushed with a mortar and pestle, chopped with a knife on a cutting board or coarsely crushed in the palm of your hand.
Have you ever wondered how they freeze fresh potatoes for hash browns or French fries so they won't darken? It can be done in your kitchen. To make frozen hash browns, shred potatoes into a bowl of cold water. After you have shredded the amount you want drain and blanch in boiling water about 3 minutes. After you have completed this process drain and rinse in cold water once again then pat dry. Pack into freezer containers or resealable bags. You can store these in your freezer for up to a year and have them handy for any of your recipes.
For French fries, cut potatoes and hold in cold water until all potatoes are cut. You then blanch them in boiling water for 2 minutes. Next you plunge them back into cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Fry in hot oil at 375 degrees until they are very light brown. Drain on paper towels until cool then pack them into freezer containers or bags. Later as you require, fry frozen potatoes in deep fat preheated to 375 degrees until crisp and golden brown.
Ground poultry should always be thoroughly cooked and you should always refrigerate the leftovers immediately. Uncooked ground chicken may be stored in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days. Unopened packages can be frozen for 3 to 4 months.
Are you constantly looking for healthy treats to give the little ones in your life. Why not try apple slices topped with a spread made from two parts peanut butter and one part honey. Kids just gobble this one up.
Always store crisp cookies in a container with a loose fitting lid. Cake-like cookies should be stored in a tight fitting container. Use wax paper to separate layers of cookies to keep them from sticking together. Plastic wrap does not allow enough air to circulate. Always make sure your cookies are cooled completely before storing them and don't mix soft and crisp cookies in the same container. If your crisp cookies become soft, try re-baking them for five minutes in a 300-degree oven.
It's time again for all that lovely peaches and cream corn on the cob to be available to us at our local grocer's. Instead of struggling to take the husks off the corn why not try cooking it with them on. This intensifies the flavor and makes removing the silk so much easier.
Before immersing the ears in boiling water remove only the thickest outside husks. Once cooked, the husks along with the silks will easily slip off.
This week I have a few ideas you may find useful during the season of barbecue. How do we keep the barbecue clean?
Well there are a few easy ways to do that. Place the grill in a plastic garbage bag with 1/4 cup of ammonia thrown in. Tie the bag closed and leave it lying flat outside overnight. In the morning just hose it off. This method works very well indeed.
Another way is to simply place a sheet of aluminum foil on your grill, shiny side down. Turn the flame on high and close the barbecue for a few minutes. This works on the same principal as the self-cleaning oven or if you have a self-cleaning oven, just pop your grill in and turn it on.
If the grill is not too dirty let it lay on the lawn overnight. The dew can loosen a lot of the burnt-on food for you.
Always spray your grill with non-stick cooking oil before you use it and it will make cleaning it a much easier job next time.
When making a fruit salad, I use the juice from a small can of pineapple to keep my apples and bananas from bowning. Adding the pineapple gives the salad a little more zing too.
When baking biscuits arrange you oven rack so that the baking sheet is in the center. Also be sure that you have preheated the oven. Biscuits bake better in a hot oven. Also be aware that insulated baking sheets will not allow the bottom of biscuits to brown like regular baking sheets do.
After you squeeze an orange or lemon for juice, put the peel in a resealable plastic bag and freeze. When recipes call for peel, you'll have a ready supply, which grates very easily when frozen. Grate what you need and pop the peel back in the freezer for future use.
Ever wondered what to do with leftover rice that we all have from time to time. I add an undiluted can of mushroom soup to it then spread it in a casserole dish. I top it with my favourite vegetable or I use can green beans or peas. Pop it into the oven and bake till it is hot, then serve as a side dish to any meal.
How about trying this combination? The next time you make a cook-and-serve chocolate pudding, stir in some creamy peanut butter after you have removed the pudding from the heat.
Extracts and flavorings will last indefinitely. But for optimum flavour, it has been suggested to keep them only three or four years. These flavourings lose their potency when exposed to heat and light, so store them in a cool and dry place.
How about trying this combination? The next time you make a cook-and-serve chocolate pudding, stir in some creamy peanut butter after you have removed the pudding from the heat.
If you have problems turning your cakes out of a Bundt pan try coating the pan with shortening before you flour it.
Shortening has better releasing qualities than butter. Remember to cool the cake for at least ten minutes on a wire rack before turning it out of the pan.
Barley has a tendency to thicken your leftover soups. If this should happen to you, rather than adding water to reheat the leftovers, add chicken, vegetable or beef broth to achieve the right consistency. It is very easy to lose the flavour by adding too much water.
Create a new entrée with that leftover turkey, gravy and dressing. Combine it together and place in a greased baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees until golden.
Turnaround that leftover chili into a hearty dip for tortilla chips. Reheat your leftover chili and then stir in plain yogurt and cheddar or process cheese.
Quick cooking tapioca is great to use as a thickening agent in place of cornstarch. It works well in fruit pies, sauces and even slow cooker recipes. Mixtures thickened with tapioca don't need stirring and can withstand long cooking times. They also freeze well and keep their thickness when reheated.
To substitute tapioca for cornstarch,use two tablespoons of quick-cooking tapioca for every 1 tablespoon of cornstarch.
Your favourite peanut butter cookies will stay moist if you add 1/2 cup of sour cream when you are mixing the dough.
For moist chewy brownies add 2 tablespoons of corn syrup to your batter before baking
Have you ever wondered about the freshness of your spices? Generally, whole spices stay fresh up to 2 years, ground spices about six months.
When fresh, most spices have a bright, rich colour and strong aroma when you open the container. If either the colour or the aroma seems weak, discard the spice and purchase a new bottle
Instead of making a molded gelatin salad in one large serving bowl to take to a potluck, put the mixture in foil cupcake liners. The individual servings are easy to handle and keep the gelatin separated from other food on the plate.
If you want to make your pancakes a little more interesting stir in crumbled cooked bacon and a teaspoon of almond extract into the batter, then top the cooked pancakes with sour cream.
For accurate temperatures, always use a good oven thermometer. A mercury thermometer will outlast metal spring-style thermometers, which are less expensive but can become unreliable after a jolt. Mercury thermometers can be found in kitchen supply stores. If you're baking more than one sheet at a time, ensure even browning by switching the sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking time.