Cooking short cuts and genius tips

Check out these cooking short cuts and genius tips from around the web to run a more efficient kitchen.

prep

Better Ways to Butter
1. Use a box grater to break up frozen butter in no time for baked goods.
2. Soften butter quickly sans microwave by using a rolling pin.
3. Melt butter evenly with a warm cup.
4. Kill two birds with one stone by softening butter in a preheating oven.
5. Overzealous with the melting? Bring it back to a solid state with an ice bath.

Smarter Storage
6. Put plastic wrap to work for everything from poached eggs to pie decor.
7. Store your spices in empty Tic Tac containers, perfect for traveling or uniform shelf storage.
8. Keep ice cream soft and ice crystal free by keeping it inside a plastic freezer bag.
9. Place cut potatoes in a bowl of water to keep them from turning brown.

Prep like a Pro
10. Line any-size round cake pan withparchment paper in just one snip.
11. Steam okra to get rid of unwanted slime.
12. Froth milk in a mason jar for a coffee shop-level beverage.
13. Avoid tricky knife work by grating garlic on a Microplane.
14. Pit cherries in a flash with a cake-decorating tip.

Easy Egg Tricks
15. Jazz up fried eggs with edible ring molds, like peppers or an avocado.
16. Test if your eggs are still fresh by placing them in a bowl of water.
17. Give eggs a quick pinprick before cooking for easy peeling.
18. Scramble eggs inside the shell for a stunning breakfast.

Full reading: Kitchen hacks tips and tricks for cooking

I Finally Found a Great Chef’s Knife!

I love to cook, as long as it isn’t too difficult, and I need the right tools to make the job easy. Take knives for instance. When it comes to choosing the best kitchen knives, such as a chef’s knife, you could end up spending a lot of money on a lot of different knives before you find just the right one for you. This was the problem I had. So, with that in mind, I have created a list of things to look for so you get the right knife the first time, and don’t end up having to spend hundreds of dollars on other knives that you will never use. If you’re searching for the best chef knives, look at http://www.pcnchef.com/top-picks/best-chef-knives. This website might be helpful for you.

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Weight

The weight of a knife plays a huge role in its functionality. If it is too heavy, it isn’t going to work for you. On the other hand, if it is too light, you will have difficulties using it as well. Look for a knife that has a bit of heft without being overly heavy. You should be able to easily maneuver the knife without it being so light that it practically flies out of your hand.

Balance

Another important quality that you will find in the best kitchen knives is balance. In order to know if a knife has the right balance, you need to hold it. If it feels too heavy at either end, move on to the next knife because that one doesn’t have a good balance.

Size

An ideal blade size is about eight inches. This is going to be the most versatile knife for you, and anything longer may be too heavy or difficult to work with. Also consider using a six-inch knife for more delicate cutting.

There is one more thing to consider before making your purchase. Make sure that the handle feels comfortable. With these tips in mind, you can go out and find the perfect chef’s knife without the confusion that I had.

More on kitchen knives:
Japanese kitchen knives - The Globe and Mail
Types of kitchen knives – Recipe Tips

What does the best cookware mean to me

To me, the best cookware means many things. It means the best kitchen arsenal that helps me make the best meals in town. The best cookware means pots and pans that can serve me for a life time and that can diligently serve many of my future generations. It means something that makes my cooking an event worth a standing ovation by providing ultimate comfort and maximum balance. A good cookware to me is that which will provide nothing short of safety and ease of maintenance. It is like the most beautiful woman on earth, it will attract attention and make my kitchen extremely charming and unique. Today, I review 3 best cookware sets that have graced my kitchen for the last 3 years;

cookware set

The All-clad Tri-ply stainless steel 10-piece set

I love cookware that will guarantee a diligent life-long service. This is one cookware set that I purchased when I was new in the industry more than 3 years ago, and as we speak now, it is still as good as new. This is solely thanks to its high-end stainless steel material that makes it exceptionally durable.

Due to the fact that this cookware is all-clad, heat is distributed quickly and evenly hence my food cooks faster. I am therefore able to serve all meals in time, and also realize all my daily kitchen goals.

Made of ergonomically designed handles fastened with rivets, the handles in all pieces are strong, comfortable to hold, and provide optimum balance. This enables me to do all my cooking with an assurance of zero-burns and enjoyable cooking.

The Cuisinart 77-7 chef’s classic stainless cookware set

When I went to the market looking for the best cookware but on a very tight budget, this is the set that assured me you don’t have to be expensive in order to be the best. This cookware combines quality and affordability which makes it one of my favorite.

Due to the fact that this cookware is made of Cuisinart’s state-of-the-art stainless steel, I am guaranteed that the children of my children’s children will still prepare the best meals with all its pieces.

All the pieces in this set are made up of encapsulated bottoms which enhances even and fast distribution of heat which makes it possible for me to prepare toothsome delicacies faster than anyone could possibly expect.
This cookware is dishwasher friendly thus making its cleaning and maintenance a walk in the park for me. What else could one wish for in the best cookware?

The Cuisinart Multiclad pro Stainless Steel 12-piece set

What does heavy mean to you? Well, to me, heavy means durability. Heavy means reliability. Being one of the heaviest cookware I have used, this set provides me with a durability assurance which is also echoed by its charming stainless steel coating.

The handles in all its pieces are long enough and ergonomically crafted to provide me with the best balance in town, and utmost cooking comfort. Its small pans and pots are of great help to me especially when I want to cook small portions of food.
Did I mention anything to do with beauty in all the 3 cookware? Oh no! Due to the fact that they are all made of stainless steel, they always make my kitchen a beautiful and modern piece of art which attracts many. If you want to be the best in the kitchen, going for the best cookware is not an option. Good luck!

My Checkist For Cookware that Lasts More than 10 Years

My kitchen is the most important room in my house. I always want to ensure that everything that goes into is is of the best quality and durable. That’s why I always ensure that I carefully select the best cookware that I can afford. Living by this rule, I have been able to acquire cooking sets that have lasted over 10 years. This has meant extra savings and not having to worry about having to dispose of kitchenware frequently. My steps to finding quality and durable cookware sets are as follows.

I always check the brand of the cooking set I’m about to buy. I have made the mistake of trying out too many brands before. This led to a waste of time and money. I try to be loyal to a specific brand unless if find one with better quality kitchenware.

good-cookware

I also check to see what other customers say about a particular piece of kitchenware before I invest in it. Reviews always come in handy. Positive reviews tell me that the kitchenware is worth investing in. However, even with positive reviews, I always try to find any negative reviews on the cooking set I’m interested in. It’s a way of ensuring I know exactly what to expect when I buy the item, you can visit this site for detailed information, Cook with Tina.

Another thing I check when buying cookware is the materials it’s made from. Cast iron, stainless steel and aluminum are my favorite choices due to their heat retention and dispersion. They are also easy to clean. I also go for cooking sets that have an inner coating of ceramic or are seasoned. It makes them non stick.

Finally, I always check for warranties placed on the cooking sets I buy. Longer warranty periods are best since I know that I can get a replacement if something goes wrong. However, warranty comes after I’m sure that I’m getting the best quality for my investment.

I decided to buy the Breville Smart Toaster Oven

A toaster oven can be a very convenient appliance if you live in a small space. Not only will it toast your bread, but it will also bake your most favorite pie or heat up last night’s pizza.

I am a 26 year old individual and I live in a one- bedroom apartment that I had to furnish myself. The kitchen is very small and there is little space for me to buy all the kitchen products out there. I have a full schedule and no spare time to cook during the day (except for the weekends). So all I need is the essential appliances that can heat my food or cook occasional meals.

I decided to buy the Breville Smart Oven. The salesman advised that it was the best toaster oven out there so far. It uses little electricity and performs adequately. Indeed, he was right. I use it to toast my bread in the morning for breakfast. It takes about 3 minutes for my bread to reach the golden color and crunchy texture. Other functions include reheating your food, roasting, baking etc. This toaster oven does the deed. It costs around $250. Not that bad for a multi-usage product. (Check out here)

However, if you are opting for a smaller and much cheaper toaster oven, then the Waring Pro Digital Convection Oven might be the right option for you.It costs just under $100. It might be a better option if you are on a budget. This toaster oven has less options than the Breville one. It probably won’t bake your standard pie, but it will toast your bread and heat your pizza. My friend bought this toaster oven and is very happy with it. Personally, I need something much bigger and more performing because I cook more than she does.

So there you have it- two toaster ovens -choose your pick and you will not be disappointed.

Few suggestions on a great slow cooker

Studies show that 25% of Americans eat some fast food every single day and, if I have to be honest, I used to do it quite often too. With the long work-hours, the travel time, and all the other hobbies that we might have, there is simply no time for cooking delicious, healthy meals and, unfortunately, the cheapest alternative is often fast-food. However, one day I decided to start a new diet and spend more time cooking. I quickly realized that even with the best of intentions, I did not have the proper tools at my disposal to continue. You see, I left home early, and when I came back I was either too tired to cook or, if I forced myself, I would eat late in the evening as the preparation took too long. I did not want to give up on a new diet yet again, so I did my research and was able to find exactly what I needed: a slow cooker.

slow cooker recipe

Simply put the ingredients in the slow cooker in the morning, leave for work, and have a hot tasty meal ready for you when you come back home. It sounds too easy right? Well, that is what I thought the first time! I was worried I would find my apartment on fire when I came back. But there I was, home with a plate of a delicious stew in front of me early in the evening. Gradually, I started to experiment more and more with my slow cooker. Butternut squash cornbread, lasagna and butter chicken are but a few of the more exotic meals I’ve tried since. I can either wake up 10 to 20 minutes earlier in the morning to cut the ingredients, or simply do it the night before and put them in the slow cooker in the morning. If you are not yet convinced, what if I told you that you could also cook Dulce de Leche or chocolate cakes? It’s hard to resist the idea of a nice cake cooking itself at home while you are at work! (Learn more: Slow cooker basics)

If you decide to buy a slow cooker, I have a few suggestions for you. They can greatly vary in their price range, so you should know what you need first. Different slow cookers can heat meals differently (some offer a more even cooking by heating not only the bottom, but also the side) and some have more functions and options than others. A budget but quality option is the Morphy Richards 3.5L Digital Sear and Stew Slow Cooker. With a name that long, you know there must but something good about that one! First, you can use it with electricity, or gas hobs. Second, it has a 3.5-litre cooking pot that is dishwasher-safe, hence saving you a lot of trouble. If you want an option that cooks rice to perfection, but a bit more expensive, you should go with the Sage Risotto Plus. It’s No-Stir Risotto cooking mode will definitely impress you, and its huge 3.7-litre cooking pot is a plus for families. Finally, if you want to have a whole set of functions, you should look into the Tefal Rk302E15 8-in-1 Multi Cooker. As the name indicates, it has eight different cooking modes, including three for rice, it can also steam vegetables and has a delayed start function in case you do not want to overcook your food.

I hope you will become a complete fanatic of slow cookers like me! It helped me maintain a healthy diet, and I’m sure it can help you too!

Kotobuki-Style Lunchables

Well, this is not my most creative lunchbox, but it was quick and simple, which I desperately needed this morning! I packed this lunchables style bento in their Kotobuki frog

Today the kids have some triangle cheese pieces, crackers, and rolled up turkey and ham.  They have apple slices with peanut butter in their fruit compartment. I threw in a few qrapes for the Little Dude.  We got a fresh delivery of carrots yesterday and still had a few leftover from last week’s CSA, so I decided to make some more of the carrot soup I made a couple of weeks ago (recipe here).  I followed the cookbook’s version this time and I have to say, I liked my version a little better.  This one still came out great and I know Girlie will be happy to eat it in her Hello Kitty thermos.  Little Dude has the Greek yogurt cup.

In other news, Girlie and I are training for a race next month!  Well, that might be an overstatement – we’re both participating in a “fun-run” in our community next month.  I am doing the 5K and she’s doing the 1K.  This is 3.2 miles for me and just under 2/3 of a mile for her.  I run a few times a week as part of my fitness routine.  This is a big part of how I manage my weight.  I run 5K or more during my lunch break on most weekdays.  The Girlie doesn’t run for fitness, but runs around the playground all the time, of course! Last night, it was nice and light out after dinner and we went for a family bike ride.  After we rode the bike around the block, I asked my Girlie if she’d like to do a practice race around the block too (about half of the distance she’ll need to cover for her 1K run).  She agreed and took off so fast!  I had no idea that she could run like that! Of course, she burned out after a very short distance, but she managed to recover and finish the .3 mi loop pretty quickly overall.  I am feeling better about her odds of doing .6 next month if we keep practicing.   Anyway, we were a sight, jogging around the block, holding hands and laughing.   It felt really great to be doing a fitness activity together and having a blast doing it!

Girlie is extremely competitive and is very focused on winning this race.  I know she cannot possibly win.  She will be among the youngest and smallest there. I have tried to make her focus on that fact that it is a Fun Run and we are not out to win.  I have no ambitions of winning anything and we’re just going to have fun and support our community.  None of this is getting through to her!  Does anyone have any advice on how to continue to encourage her to participate, but ensure she is prepared to lose?? That sounds so weird, but that is what I think I need to do with her!  Thanks!

 

Coffee Fans Should Get This Great Insulated Coffee Mug/Tumbler

I am a huge fan of coffee and absolutely love my coffee warm. Like many of you guys, I have always struggled with keeping my coffee warm for me to savor every drop of its heavenly aroma and flavor. I have tried several coffee mugs and most of them failed me. But everything changed when I got the Thermos Sipp Vacuum Insulated Tumbler. It worked wonders for me!

travel mugI have used this mug for about 4 months now. Unlike many coffee mugs that I have used previously, this mug has not leaked or spilled ever since I started using it. The best part of it is that the lid of this tumbler allows you to drink from anywhere around the rim. This super convenient when I am multi-tasking and want to a sip of my coffee while I keep my eyes to my work. I have had several accidents where I spilled my coffee, simply because I misaligned the hole to my mouth.

Although it does not have a handle, the tumbler is very well insulated. Even when I put freshly made coffee in it, the tumbler’s exterior is never too warm. The material is very comfortable to hold and it does not topple easily.

Cleaning this mug has never been any easier either. The disassembling of the lids and bottle is super easy. When I am really tired after a long day of work, I will just put the tumbler into the dishwasher and it comes out just fine.

If you have days where you feel that you want to drink tea, there is a functional hook that is attached to the lid to hold the tea bag. With such a good tumbler, you can enjoy your tea or coffee at your own time! I have never been more pleased with my coffee till I met the Thermos Sipp Vacuum Insulated Tumbler. Having good coffee is one thing, and being able to enjoy it comfortably is quite another.

More travel mugs:

 

Making Fresh Baked Loaves With A Bread Machine

Do you know that quality bread machines can easily offer fresh baked loaves better than supermarket option? It is a good idea to always invest in the right machine so as to give your home the best aroma that counts. Buying your bread machine is often never easy if a user is inexperience. Using certain factors will help you in selecting the best bread maker that works. Ensure to consider functionality, ease of use, power, durability in service, price, performance just to mention a few. Using the mentioned factor will help on best bread machines for whole grain that stand out in the marketplace. Checking through the best bread makers 2016, you are sure to get bread makers such as Panasonic Automatic Bread Dispenser SD-YD250, Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme BB-CEC20, Sunbeam Programmable 5891 just to mention a few.

bread loaf

Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme BB-CEC20:

In case you want to spend more dollars on your bread maker product, then considering Supreme BB-CEC20 is never a wrong decision, go through this top Zojirushi bread machines for further details on this brand. It has the best and greatest performance when it comes to offering quality service. The functionality of this product cannot be compared with any other in the marketplace.

Panasonic Automatic Bread Dispenser SD-YD250:

This product is often mixed with yeast and has goof performance. Users are sure to also discover good range of setting at a price that will not break the bank. This machine has all the required features that make it unique. This can be found in the likes of a dough-only cycle, three loaf sizes, an automatic yeast dispenser and a delay-start function. Depending on the mentioned of this product will help you greatly on use. These features help the named product to work effectively with longevity.

More reading:

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/bread-machine-ingredients.html

I still trust Japanese rice cookers

I know there are many rice cookers in the market now, and many of them come with different features. Rice cookers have changed a lot since the days when we were young. In fact, there are many changes within last decade. About 10 years ago, I purchased a Panasonic rice cooker for my sister in law, and it is still in good condition. But now her family has increased in size. So she does need a larger one. This Christmas, we want to surprise her with slightly larger one. Our obvious choice would be one of the best Japanese rice cooker because Japanese eat rice like us, and they know how it should be cooked, unlike some westerners who eat bread more regularly than rice.

sanyo rice cooker

I was thinking of Panasonic’s 660 watt automatic rice cooker. This one is a 4.4 liter rice cooker. It is a multi purpose cooker unlike the previous one that we gave to my sister in law. So she can make those idlis, and steam food as well. It can be used to thaw meat as well. My husband however is not happy with it. He feels that the plastic may not be good for cooking. He also does not understand how multi functional appliances such as this one are of any use. He feels that they delay cooking because she would first need to use it for steaming some food, and that will take some time. After that she would cook the rice. That is some more time. Effectively, she is not really saving on time. But I disagree. I feel that we don’t use rice cooker continuously. She can cook rice later. The biggest advantage is, she can do other things like cleaning and dusting and not fear that what she has left for steaming is overcooked or the water in the vessel has evaporated. But I have to concede the advantage is not as much as it seems. I am also concerned about the plastic units and the health problems that can arise because of them. But then, the aluminum alloy that we all have in our rice cookers is not very healthy either, is it? I mean, I heard that it can lead to Alzheimer’s.

We are still undecided on what we should buy. Japanese are inclined to be perfectionists and basically, they are good in electronic products. So I know that I would be selecting only a Japanese rice cooker but whether it will be the sophisticated rice cooker with multiple thermostats, or simple one with only one function and aluminum vessel. Is saving power more important than other health complications, because of plastic? I find myself debating on that.