by Jessi Maple
With Thanksgiving tomorrow, there is always so much cooking to do and so many leftovers. We spend hours in our kitchen cooking, and as much as I enjoy it, I am always looking for shortcuts. Helpful tips can not only save time, but they also save money. Whether you are just beginning, or a seasoned cook, there are tips for everyone. The digital revolution has sparked an appetite for culinary innovation. Thanks to the internet, help is just a click away. Blogs are a great place to find tried and true tips, recipes and reviews. Check out these helpful tips!
- Soup or stew too salty? Add wedges of raw potatoes or apples to absorb the salt. Simmer for 10 minutes then remove. If the soup is still too salty, add a spoonful of sugar.
- When defrosting meat use an aluminum tray or skillet. Aluminum is a conductor of heat and will draw energy from the surrounding environment into your frozen meat.
- Slicing meat to grind or cook in stir-fry can be tricky, even with a sharp knife. To make it easier, place the meat in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes to stiffen it up.
- If you are unsure of an egg’s freshness, see how it behaves in a cup of water. Fresh eggs sink and bad ones float.
- A bay leaf slipped into a container of flour, pasta or rice will help repel bugs.
- Make store bought icing go twice as far by whipping it with a mixer and allowing the air to plump it up.
- When sautéing onions, add a pinch of baking soda. It speeds browning and practically cuts cooking time in half.
- When adding ground spices to bread or cake batter, cream the spices with the butter and sugar instead of adding them with the other dry ingredients. The fat in the butter helps disperse the flavors of the spices for a much more intense taste.
- Mash bananas inside their peels using your hands. It’s quick and easy, and it doesn’t make a big mess.
- When you’re browning meat, blot the surface dry with a paper towel so the meat doesn’t release moisture when it hits the hot oil. Too much moisture makes the meat steam instead of sear, and you will lose that rich brown crust.
- To get nice, crispy caramelization on roasted vegetables, simulate the intense heat of an industrial oven. Bring your oven up as hot as it goes, then put an empty roasting or sheet pan inside for 10 to 15 minutes. Toss the vegetables with olive oil, salt and pepper, and put them on the hot pan. This method will give you the high heat you need to caramelize the sugars in the vegetables quickly.
One of my all-time favorite time saving tips is to use up those leftovers. When roasting pork, chicken or beef I always make extra. This way I can turn leftovers into a round 2 meal. Enjoy this recipe for Shepherd’s Pie made from leftover roast beef and leftover mashed potatoes. If time allows, always cook bigger meals on the weekend and enjoy a quick easy meal during the week.
Saving time in the kitchen means more time with your family.
1 large onion, quartered and sliced
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 cups diced leftover roast beef
2 cups brown or beef gravy, leftover or prepared from mix
1/2 cup sliced or diced cooked carrots
1 cup frozen peas, cooked
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 egg yolk
2 cups leftover mashed potatoes
Melt butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat; add onions. Sauté onions until tender; add diced beef, gravy, carrots, and peas. Heat through and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to baking dish. Beat the egg yolk into potatoes and spoon potatoes over the shepherd’s pie meat and vegetables (press potatoes through a pastry tube, if desired). Bake shepherd’s pie at 400° for about 30 minutes, or until mashed potatoes are browned and gravy is bubbling. Serves 4.
Note: You can also add in corn, celery, and any other vegetables your family chooses. Remember, you aren’t limited to what the recipe says. Make it your own.
Farmhouse Favorites, tying tradition back to the good old days
one apron string at a time.
Following in the footsteps of her ancestors, Jessi, momma to three kiddos, enjoys country cooking because it is inexpensive and the ingredients are easy to find. Having kids that are actively involved in sports and rodeo, she understand it is hard to always get dinner on the table. Jessi says her goal is to get families out of the drive thru window and back to the supper table.
She enjoys re-creating old favorite recipes for busy families. Farmhouse Favorites is a blessing in disguise and served as great therapy when her mother passed away unexpectedly to cancer. Being able to honor her mom’s cooking skills and keeping her legacy alive, not only through Jessi, but through thousands of other families is beyond fulfilling.