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    Tip of the Day on 11-15-2001

    Source of Recipe

    Simplify Me with Hints and Tips Yahoo group - posted by Spring

    Recipe Introduction

    This is from the Nov. 15, 2001 edition

    Recipe Link:

    Subject: Cooking Tips (Nov. 15)

    ~*~ Vacuum Pack Foods
    If you're not ready to invest in a professional vacuum sealing machine, try this low-budget tip. Fill a bowl with water and immerse the bag, but do not let water enter the bag. Pressure will force air up and out of the bag. When the bag has collapsed, seal it and place it in the freezer. You can also remove air from a bag by sucking it out through a straw.

    ~*~ Keep Sponges Clean
    It's a good idea to replace kitchen sponges often, since they provide a comfortable home for bacteria. Spruce up existing sponges by tossing them into the dishwasher with your next load. Detergent and high temperatures will help keep bacteria at bay.

    ~*~ Foam Milk for Coffee
    Don't have an expensive cappuccino machine? No problem. To foam milk for specialty drinks, fill a glass measuring cup halfway with skim milk. Heat the milk in the microwave until it starts to bubble, then use an immersible hand blender or large whisk to foam it. If using a whisk, rapidly rub your hands back and forth with your fingertips forward until foam reaches the top of the cup.

    ~*~ Heavy Cream Substitute
    Out of heavy cream? Light cream can be whipped by adding egg whites.

    ~*~ Remove broken egg yolk
    To remove a broken yolk from an egg white, wet a cloth and dip it into the egg. The yolk will cling to the cloth.

    ~*~ Frosty Mugs
    Enjoy beer or root beer? Keep a couple beer mugs in the freezer. For a quick turnaround, swirl ice cubes in a glass or run it under cool water, then place in the freezer for a few minutes.

    ~*~ Add Sparkle to Beverages
    Add seltzer water or lemon-lime soda to fruit juice (cranberry, grape, orange, grapefruit, etc.) for a sparkling treat.

    ~*~ Fruit Ice
    Tired of watered down beverages? Try freezing juice in an ice cube tray. Fruit ice provides a refreshing alternative to traditional cubes. Try dropping them into iced tea, water and more.

    ~*~ Bread Foods

    Before breading, dredge food items in flour.

    Dip the floured item in an egg wash (whipped eggs with a little milk), then drain off any excess.

    With one hand, set the item in a shallow dish filled with your breading. With the other, scoop and pat the breading into place. Get creative with your breadings -- breadcrumbs are fine, but other items can be used. (Crushed melba toast, cornmeal, crushed cereals, etc.)

    ~*~ Measuring Pasta Quantities

    Not sure how much pasta to throw in? The National Pasta Association offers the following guidelines:

    2 oz. of dry spaghetti = bunch w/ diameter of a quarter = 1 cup cooked pasta
    8 oz. of uncooked small to medium pasta shapes = 4 cups cooked
    8 oz. long pasta shapes (spaghetti, linguine, etc.) = 1.5" diameter bunch
    = 4 cups cooked
    8 oz. uncooked egg noodles = 2.5 cups cooked

    ~*~ Perfect Pasta Dishes
    For extra flavor, saute al dente pasta in a little olive oil with garlic and herbs before introducing it to a dish.

    ~*~ Dress Up Pasta Sauce
    Don't have time to make your own spaghetti sauce? Try revamping prepared sauces by adding a few ingredients. Here are a few to try:
    sliced olives
    bell peppers
    artichoke hearts
    red pepper flakes
    parmesan cheese
    minced garlic
    hot Italian sausage (or Turkey Italian Sausage)
    ground beef or turkey

    ~*~ Heating Tortillas
    Tough and chewy tortillas? Try spraying tortillas with water (or running them quickly under the faucet), then sauteing them briefly in a lightly greased skillet over medium high heat.

    ~*~ Broil Juicy Steaks
    When broiling steaks, be sure to preheat the oven. A hot broiler will sear the outside of meat and seal in juices in the process. Use a spatula to turn meat instead of a fork -- forks puncture the surface and let juices escape.

    ~*~ Edible Toothpick
    Try using raw spaghetti instead of toothpicks to secure stuffed chicken breasts or other meats. It's a great edible solution!

    ~*~ No-Mess Hamburger Patties
    Making hamburger patties is a slimy job. This tip keeps hands cleaner during the process. Invert a plastic bag (save the bread bags!), grab the ground beef, form the pattie in the bag, then slide it onto a plate or tray.

    ~*~ Save Money on Chicken
    Are boneless chicken breasts always on your shopping list? Save time and money by buying in bulk. Look for family packs at a discount. When you get home, freeze what you don't need. Here's a no-mess freezing tip: Invert a sandwich bag with your hand, grab a breast or two, seal the bag and toss it in the freezer.

    ~*~ Cut the Fat in Baked Goods
    Try replacing shortening or butter with prune puree, applesauce or pureed cooked beets.

    ~*~ Sprinkle in fresh herbs
    Fresh herbs lose their flavor when cooked for long periods of time. For flavorful results, add a handful just before serving!

    ~*~ Storing Leafy Greens
    To store leafy greens, wrap them in damp paper towels, place in a perforated plastic bag and refrigerate. If the greens are purchased in good condition and the paper towels are kept moist, most varieties will keep one week.

    ~*~ Boil Potatoes
    Allow water to come to a boil before adding potatoes. Some vitamins and minerals are water soluble, and the longer potatoes soak in water, the greater the chance of nutrient loss.

    ~*~ Remove Pith from Citrus Fruits
    The white membrane from oranges and grapefruit can be easily removed after soaking the fruit in boiling water for about 5 minutes.

    ~*~ Storing Apples
    Refrigerated apples last up to 10 times longer than those left at room temperature. Apples emit ethylene, a naturally occurring gas that speeds ripening. To prevent apples from speeding up the ripening process of other items in your produce drawer, store them in a plastic bag.

    ~*~ Selecting Onions
    Wonder which onion is best? The National Onion Association recommends onions with short necks and dry, papery outer skins. They should be firm, hard and reasonably free of blemishes.

    ~*~ Overripe Fruit
    Puree it and use as an ingredient for smoothies or a topping for ice cream, pancakes or waffles.

    ~*~ Store Cheese
    Wrap cheese in aluminum foil and store it in the vegetable bin (under vegetables, where the temperature is ideal). The foil is moisture proof, but allows cheese to breathe.

    A pajama-clad tot called out to family: "I'm going upstairs
    to say my prayers now. Anyone want anything?"

    Sally Jo




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