Canning Tongs for Custards


My tip of the day…I like to make a recipe for an orange custard. The custard needs to be cooked in a water bath. When I need to take the custards out of the hot bath, I find it easiest to use a pair of canning tongs. Other ways (and I have tried several) can be a bit dangerous. The canning tongs are super because they are meant to grab hot things and grip glass very well. This makes getting the custards onto a cooling rack super easy, fast, and safe.

For the recipe (which I highly recommend):

As always, Happy Baking!


Blender Tip of the Day


When using a blender to puree hot soups or sauces remove the little clear plastic center of the lid and place a towel over the opening and hold in place. In doing so, pressure will not build up and send hot liquid flying to the top of the lid, therefore, it will be safer and less likely to burn the operator.

Blender lid
Blender lid with plastic center removed

A Sticky Situation


As Charlie Brown would say, “Aaugh!” I did it again. You would think I would have learned by now, however, that never seems to be the case.

I decided to make dinner rolls. Yum! However, I did not really want all sixteen rolls that the recipe would yield. Easy enough. I proceeded to cut the recipe in half.

Everything was going great and then I added the flour. “Why is this dough so gooey?” I wondered. Then it dawned on me. While I cut all the ingredients in the list portion of the recipe in half, I did not cut the water (which was listed in the instructions) in half. Rats!

So in I throw in the rest of the ingredients to make it a full recipe. Now I am hoping I have not ruined everything as the ingredients are mixed in all out of order. We will be having those sixteen rolls, good or bad, after all.

Well, I have done this sort of thing before. I will be sailing along just fine and then I mess up on one of the ingredients. Some times it is not a big deal. Other times, it is a huge problem. Am I the only one who ever does this?

Learning from my mistakes, I would like to offer home cooks a bit of advice. Write down the altered ingredient amounts on a sticky note and place over the top of the original amounts on the recipe. In this way, the old noggin does not have to think to hard. If a distraction occurs one will not forget to cut the ingredients.

Speaking of sticky notes, I also like to use the sticky note page flags to mark my spot in recipe books. When I am going through a book and making out my shopping list, I stick a flag on the page so that when I am ready to make the recipe that week I do not have to search for it again. The flags can be reused many times before they lose their stick.

By the way, in case anyone was wondering, the sixteen rolls turned out beautifully. A bit more than we needed but they are almost gone.

Having a Bad Day? Serve Chicken


Is it important to pound chicken breasts before cooking them? Indeed it is! Why not just cook it as is? Will anyone be able to tell the difference? A Master Chef will!

There are several advantages to pounding chicken breasts before cooking. The chicken will cook more evenly as it will be the same thickness. It will also be thinner and in turn will cook faster. Also, by pounding the chicken, it is being tenderized.

Pounding chicken is very simple. Place the chicken on a cutting board meant for meat and cover with plastic wrap. Grab a meat mallet and start pounding in the center working to the edges of the piece of chicken. The goal is to pound to 1/4″ to 1/2″ thick.

So, if having a bad day, why not serve chicken? Get out some frustration by pounding that chicken. The results will be delicious! Bon Appetit!

Kitchen Tools Make a Difference


I was looking around in a local home store when a pretty pastry brush caught my eye. It had a round painted handle and fit my hand beautifully. “Ohhh…I have to have this,” I exclaimed. I was in need of a new brush anyway, and although it was slightly more than I was used to paying, I snatched it up and am so glad I did.

My old pastry brushes were the typical 2-pack grocery store isle type. They never lasted long and so were not, in my opinion, the value they were cracked up to be. There is also a silicone brush in our kitchen. However, I do not care for the silicone brush, as the butter does not tend to adhere to it very well and it’s texture is course on pastries.

My new Jamie Oliver pastry brush, however, is a dream. It seems to be holding up quite well and I love the round shape of it compared to the flat, paint-brush styles. It is easy to poke into nooks and crannies. The handle is comfortable and it is just nice to use as it glides across surfaces so easily.

Having the right tools in the kitchen is a must. Quality tools will most likely last longer saving money down the road. They will not only make the task easier, but also make the kitchen experience more pleasant. Happy cooking!

Recipe Hoarding and What to Do About It


If you love to cook like I do, you may find yourself inundated with recipes. This overload of recipes can leave one unorganized and therefore, unproductive. Do not despair, there is hope.

I used to subscribe to a number of magazines which were loaded with recipes of delicious looking meals, tasty looking snacks, and tempting, mouth watering desserts. Of course, I had to cut out all the recipes that I was sure to make some day in the near future. These recipes were then placed in a nice, neat stack on the cookbook shelf.

Unfortunately, most of the time, these recipes never got made. My recipe stack accumulated into a pile and then an overflowing mound. The recipes I had actually made were put into a file folder that became so full I could not find the recipe I wanted without going through the whole folder several times. Same thing with my recipe card box. I knew the recipe was in there somewhere. At times, I even had my children help in the search for a beloved recipe. I did have some of my recipes organized in binders with clear sleeves. However, they too were not in a particularly great order. It was time to face the fact, I had become a recipe hoarder!

What I have learned from my recipe hoarding days is… You do not need fifty recipes for cheesecake. Some recipes do not look as appealing over time, aka..why did I save this recipe? While some recipes look good, I will probably never make them anyway…they take too long…the ingredients are crazy…no one else in the family would eat it, and so on. My family really only wants the “go to” recipe for their favorite dish anyway. Family favorites can never be replaced.

I write notes on my recipes after making them. So I might write “the best”, “yum”, “so and so likes”, “ok- but needs more seasoning”, “fast and easy”, “good but takes time”, and so on. If the recipe did not get a good review, it went into the recycle bin. No need to file that one away. Some of the recipes I hoarded were honestly never going to get made anyway so into the recycle bin they went. My pile was slowly getting smaller.

binder using divider pages to separate categories

I decided to keep my binder method for storing recipes. This time, however, I made separate binders for different categories so finding a recipe would be easier. So, a binder for desserts, breads, sides and appetizers, cookies, entrees, etc… Then each recipe was put into a clear sleeve and put inside the binder in more specific sections divided by page dividers. For example, the entrees binder was divided into chicken, beef, pork/ham, turkey, and seafood. Then, using the computer, I made an index for each binder. In this way I know what is in each binder and in which section the recipe can be found.

I also did away with my recipe card box. Some of the cards were written on both sides. I took these and copied them onto one sheet of paper using my printer. They were now easy to slide into a sleeve and put into the proper binder.

I have decided I will never again need a magazine subscription for recipes. My cookbook shelves are now organized and I am no longer stressed out because I cannot locate a desired recipe. After all the work I did to get my recipes super organized, I can honestly say my hoarding days are over. Lesson learned.