Friday, April 4, 2014

Long Time, No See!

Well hello there followers! It's only been THREE YEARS!!!!! I never thought that I would fall off the wagon that hard! But, I have had some progress and good reasoning(I think, anyways). I last left you in January of 2011 with this post entitled Less Is More. In that post i gave you some easy recipes to make at home with just THREE ingredients! what?! (so yeah, you can check that out later if you want) I also mentioned in my last post (from 2011! again...sorry.) that I was "taking classes and trying to learn the more extensive tricks of the trade". well, GREAT NEWS!! I finished my classes and I graduated from the Catering course!
Also, in my three year absence, I had my second child. David Bascom (nickname: Baz) This is me just after delivery with my precious new baby boy.
I have the SWEETEST delivery/birthing story. All the events of the day even had my doctor shedding a few tears. I will have to share that with you another time, however. This next photo is of a very proud father and big sister! My husband, Jared, and my daughter, Alyssa. I think we all fell in love that day. :)
See?! I told yall that I had good reason to be absent the last 3 years! And I'm not even done with all the major events that have taken place! A little over a year ago we finally found a house to buy. at the end of February/beginning of March we finally closed on the house and got to move! yay!
Getting a little serious for the moment, and long story short.... Two years ago, I started going back to church. God started dealing with my heart and my mind. He convicted me on things like forgiveness, self-condemnation and self-pity. It took some time, but I started to forgive. Everything. Everyone. My parents’ divorce, my ex-husband and his drug addictions and physical abuse, friends who turned their back on me, their lies and betrayals, my own lies and secrets, and even that boy in 7th grade who told me I would never be as pretty as my sister. I forgave it all. The hardest part of forgiveness was forgiving myself. After God had dealt with me about things on the inside, He began dealing with my outside. My appearance. After all, I am a reflection of Him. Last March, I began to start eating healthy and walking/running on a regular basis. I told myself back then that it was because I wanted to have another child and did not want to be overweight at the start of my next pregnancy. But looking back, seeing how God's plan has come together, I see that I was part of such a bigger purpose. God has positioned me to be involved in a praise and worship dance team.
Had I not taken the initiative to get healthier back in March of 2013, I would not be able to be involved. I would still be 260 lbs., and unhappy. I wouldn’t be able to breath or have the energy needed to keep up or to practice, to put in long hours. He is still transforming me on the outside. God had set my path before me years ago and just being able to see a little bit of the big picture is such an amazing thing to grasp. I am so overwhelmed by His Love for me. By His mercy and blessings. I am still continuing with weightloss and eating healthier. A year ago, I started walking, and eventually running, and drinking green smoothies/shakes. I got to compete in my very first 5K last month and, to my unbelief and shock, I won first place in my age division! I think it was by default, lol, but hey...a win is a WIN! woo hoo! and I will take it!
I started my own catering company named Barefoot Catering. You can check out some of the different events and weddings I have catered on facebook. Here are some photos of some buffet setups from a few events:
Since opening my catering company, I have been able to cook for quite a few different things. Luncheons for dentists offices and churches, lots of weddings, a few baby showers and even quite a few private dinner parties. Which brings me to my current job as a Private Chef to a family who are strictly vegan. It has been challenging but very informative and a wonderful learning experience. Not to mention that the people I work for are very sweet and I just adore them! Anyways...back to the FOOD BLOG!!! lol I had to catch you up on whats been going on in my absence, but I could not leave you without a recipe!! That would be ridiculous! And in honor of my weight loss journey (and by request from MANY friends and family) Here is the recipe for my morning detox smoothie. This is the smoothie that helped me shed my first 10 lbs before I ever stepped foot in a gym or on a treadmill or even changed the way I was eating. The only thing I did was start my morning out with one of these bad boys and the lbs started falling off! I hope you enjoy it! and DO NOT be frightened by the is DELICIOUS!
MORNING DETOX SMOOTHIE 2 large handfuls of spinach 1 Cup pineapple 2 bananas 1 Cup non fat yogurt Water til desired consistency. I always ALWAYS freeze my bananas. I like the texture they give better than the fresh. I should also add that this makes a LARGE 32oz shake. This is a meal replacement, not a snack. if you are looking for something smaller, you could half the recipe. I have done that myself, a time or two. I enjoyed catching up with all of you and will hopefully be back in blogging mode full swing! Til next time...

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Less Is More

Have you ever wanted something to eat but didn't want to be in the kitchen all day? Most likely, the answer to that question is YES. Most of you have jobs, children, families, soccer practice and dance classes. Lots of things to keep you busy during the week. But let me tell you, it is SO easy to make things at home using only THREE ingredients!!! I recently moved into a new house, and with being busy with school and watching my niece during the day and packing and moving...Having easy but yummy dinners was a LIFE SAVOR! I have been trying out and thinking up lots of different things, and i figured it would be great for me to share them with you. These recipes are so easy, you could actually make your kids do this while you relax and put your feet up!

Although I am taking classes and trying to learn the more extensive tricks of the trade, I don't always have the time or energy to be in the kitchen for hours. So I am not ashamed to say that I (like most) are not cooking for Food Network, and actually find canned soups and packaged dry ingredients very helpful.

Ranch Drummettets

1 pkg. Hidden Valley Salad Dressing & Seasoning Mix
1/4 Cup of Vegetable Oil
24 chicken drummettes (wings) about 2 lbs.
*you can also use this on chicken legs or larger portions

Combine the dressing mix and oil in a zip lock bag. Add Chicken and toss well to coat. Arrange on a foil lined baking pan (for easy clean up) and bake at 425* for 25 minutes. Turn over and bake for an additional 20 minutes.
Want a little spice? Add 2 Tablespoons of hot sauce to oil mixture.

Okay so yeah...wings are easy to do...but what about pork loan? This is pretty yummy! How many times (especially after the holidays) have you had left over canned cranberry sauce just sitting in your pantry? This is a great way to use it up.

(I don't have a picture for this one, because my camera was packed up in one of the HUNDREDS of boxes waiting to be moved at the time.)

Cranberry-Onion Pork Roast

1 boneless pork loin roast (about two lbs)
1 Can (16 oz) whole cranberry sauce
1 pkg dry onion soup mix

Season the roast with salt and pepper (I also sometimes rub it down with a mixture of instant coffee and brown sugar. YUM!) Place it on the grill over indirect heat, or place on a roasting pan in the oven at about 400* for 30-40 minutes. Stir together cranberry sauce and soup mix. For easy heating, pop it in the microwave, covered, for about 1 minute. Baste the roast with the mixture every 10 minute, until its done. Let the roast rest for at least five minutes before you slice into it! Also if you have any left over basting mixture, heat it to a boil and continue to boil for about five minutes and serve along side the roast as a sauce.

TIP: Lean cuts of meat, like the loin roast, are terrific sources of protein, B vitamins and zinc! They also adapt very well to a wide variety of flavors and cooking methods.

Oven Baked Chicken

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1/4 Cup Honey Mustard
1 1/2 Cups french fried onions, crushed

Coat chicken with mustard. Dip into french fried onions. Place onto a lightly greased baking pan. (you can cover the pan with foil and spray with a cooking spray for easy clean up) Bake at 400* for 20 minutes or until no longer pink in the center.

What about side dishes you ask? How about these!!!

Onion Roasted Potatoes

1 pkg Onion Soup Mix
4 medium potatoes (about 2 lbs, cut into chunks
1/3 Cup Olive oil

Preheat oven to 450*. combine all ingredients in a 13x9 backing/roasting pan. Bake uncovered, stirring occasionally for even cooking, for about 40 minutes or until the potatoes are tender and golden brown.

TIP: Keep the skins on the potatoes. The skins are a great source of Iron, Potassium and Fiber!

Oven Roasted Asparagus

12-14 oz of Asparagus spears (tough ends trimmed off)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 Cup shredded Asiago or Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425*
Place asparagus in shallow baking dish. Drizzle with oil and turn stalks to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, if desired. Roast until tender, about 12-15 minutes depending on the thickness of asparagus. Sprinkle with cheese.

Cauliflower w/ Onion butter

1 1/2 sticks of butter
1 Cup diced onion
1 Head Cauliflower, cut into florets

Melt 1 stick of butter over medium heat. Add onion. Cook and stir until onion is brown, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, blanch cauliflower in boiling water for about 5-8 minutes. Then melt remaining butter in the skillet with onion. Pour over cooked cauliflower. Serve immediately.

Simple recipes like these have saved me many nights. Whether I was in between grocery shopping days, or just needed to get a meal on the table with ease. I hope that you try these and learn that just because you want a good meal for your family does not mean that you need 20 different ingredients to do it.

Til Next Time...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Out! Out Damn Spot!

Just as Lady Macbeth was talking about the blood on her hands, i am talking about the blood in fruit! (not litterally, people! Thats just disgusting...) More specifically the blood orange. Here, I am going to share with you the many things you can do with this absolutely wonderful winter fruit. But first, lets get down to the basics..

What is a blood orange, you ask? The blood orange is a variety of orange, with crimson, blood-colored flesh. The fruit is smaller than an average orange and its skin is usually pitted. The distinctive dark flesh color is due to the presence pigments common to many flowers and fruit, but uncommon in citrus fruits. The degree of coloration depends on light, temperature and variety. The skin is also considerably tougher, and harder to peel than other oranges.

Ready for a little Health class info? Check it...I have read that a blood oranges' red pigment, anthocyanin, is an antioxidant. Blood oranges may also diminish the risk of heart disease, some types of cancer, and cholesterol accumulation. Additionally, they may reduce the risk of cataracts, and aid in the body's healing process. Like all citrus fruits, they are a great source of vitamin C; an average orange provides 130% of the FDA's recommended daily intake. It also provides 16% of the recommended daily intake of dietary fiber. Oranges can also be a valuable source of folate, calcium, and vitamin A. SO EAT UP!!!!!

Now on to the more important aspects of the blood orange. What you can do with it! (well, its my fave part anyways) The oranges can be used to create marmalade, and the zest can be used for baking (like most citrus fruits can). A very simple and delicious winter salad is made with sliced (blood)oranges, sliced bulb fennel, parsley and olive oil. The recipe includes a few other things, like salt and pepper, and can be found here. Very simple, very light, very tasty!

The oranges have also been used to create gelato, sorbet and
Italian soda. They are also popular in vinaigrette-style dressings, and are sometimes used to flavour niche-market beer. (yummy yummy, right? am i right???) Also included are syrups, salads, salsas, and even candy!

They tend to get redder as the season progresses. In the United States, the season lasts from January into May or June. As for taste, that, too, varies with the weather. They tend to get sweeter later in the season. They are at their peak for only a few months each spring. That's the time of year when I juice a bunch of them, boil it down to a thick syrup, freeze it in a jar and use a spoonful at a time over the course of the year in vinegar-and-oil salad dressings. Here are recipes for syrup and other ways to use this distinctive fruit.

Blood Orange Syrup

3 cups fresh blood orange juice
9 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons grated blood orange peel or regular orange peel

1. Stir all ingredients in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil until syrup is reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 20 minutes.

2. Refrigerate until cold. Cover and keep refrigerated for use within a few days, or freeze.

It can be used on pancakes, waffles, pound cakes, ice can even use it in mixed drinks.

Blood Orange Vinaigrette
Source: The Vineyard Kitchen: Menus Inspired by the Seasons

2 small blood oranges
1 shallot, minced
1 to 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (up to 1/2 Cup if needed)

1. Juice and strain the blood oranges. Measure 1/4 cup of juice.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk the juice with the shallots and the sherry vinegar; season with salt and pepper to taste and let the mixture marinate for 10 minutes.

3. Whisk in the olive oil to taste. Add more olive oil if the vinaigrette is too acidic for your palette. Adjust the seasoning to taste.

It can be as simple as a handful of mescalin greens, or baby spinach salad tossed with the vinaigrette. It is very elegant looking with a little drizzled on the plate, too. Like this:

*Side Note* For any tossed salad in any kind of dressing, always use tongs to toss it around. If you try to use your hands you will toss it to roughly and make the greens mushy! eeew! (That was in one of the recent episodes of Worst Cooks In America)

Candied Blood Orange

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 blood orange, thinly sliced (you can use a regular orange also. just as good!)

1. Bring water and sugar to boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves.

2. Add Orange slices to skillet, arranging in a single layer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and barely simmer until the white pith of the orange becomes translucent, turning the slices occasionally, about 40 minutes.

3. Allow the orange slices to cool in the syrup, turning occasionally. Arrange the slices and drizzle with some of the syrup just before serving.

You can eat them separately or include in pies and tarts, among other things.

I believe I can squeeze in one more, don't ya think?

Blood Orange Salsa

1 blood orange
1/2 cup cubed avocado
1/3 cup chopped red onion
1/3 cup chopped mango or strawberries (optional of course, but its REALLY good!)
2 teaspoons minced jalapeño
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons olive oil

1. Using small sharp knife, cut the peel and white pith from orange. (watch this video to learn how to properly peel an orange) Working over small bowl, cut between membranes to release segments.

2. Add avocado, onion, jalapeño, and lime juice to oranges in bowl; stir gently to blend. Season salsa to taste with salt.

You can use this salsa on top of grilled chicken. Seafood is exceptional when paired with this salsa. I love it atop a couple of grilled scallops. like so:

Like always, experiment with your own tastes. These are just the beginning of what you can do with a Blood Orange. I hope you grow to love this wonderfully delicious fruit like I have.

til next time...

Bet Your 5th Grader Can't Do This!

A few weeks ago, I had some very dear friends come visit. They had just recently gotten the board game "Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader". I quickly realized that I was NOT! (I don't know that I need to be admitting to this on a public blog, but...) I am normally the one opting to read the questions or keep score just so that I don't have to show how ignorant I really am by not being able to answer the simplest of things! I will tell you what, I may not know all of the state capitals or which mountains are in what states...but I know how (and love) to cook! Although, I don't think most kids would care to know what I know about food...but oh well.

So since I got my face handed to me by 5th grade (and sometimes younger) questions, I thought I would treat myself to adult only recipes!
bwaahahaha! <---evil laugh.

I actually wanted to take the time to share a few ideas for winter fruits. Most people think of summer when they think of fruits like strawberries or watermelons. Fruits are perfect and refreshing and light during those hot summer months. But what can you do with them during the winter to help warm you up? How about Sangria!?

For those that do not know, Sangria is a wine type punch. It can include any or all of the following:

*a light, dry, young, inexpensive wine;
*chopped or sliced fruit (often orange, lemon, apple, peach, berries, pineapple; occasionally melon, grape, or mango)
*a sweetener such as honey, sugar, simple syrup, orange juice, and/or fruit nectar
*a small amount of added brandy, triple sec, or other spirits
*some spices like cinnamon
*and ice and carbonated soda

The possibilities are ENDLESS when it comes to sangria. A great winter recipe that I recently stumbled upon includes some really nice Winter time fruits like pears, apples, and *blood oranges. Combined with wonderful winter flavors from a stick of Cinnamon and honey, mixed with OJ, Sprite, and even a little Grand Marnier (an orange flavored liqueur)!

I am actually going to take each and every winter fruit that I use regularly and dedicate a separate blog to each. This one i told you a little about Sangria. My next blog is going to be about the beautiful Blood Orange. The blood orange is just as versatile as making a sangria. I am excited to try out some things and review my success with you!

til next time...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

SoCo Foods!

This is no AA meeting people! I am not talking about the whiskey! Nor am I talking about my dog. I am talking about good ol' comfort foods that are great for those COLD winter months. I don't know really if the recipes would classify as Southern comfort or not, but hey...i am from the south, and these foods comfort me!!! The recipes i am going to share with you today are also very good for making in bulk and freezing for when you really don't wanna be in the kitchen. Just thaw and reheat!!!

Tonight, for me and my family, I am making the classic meatloaf. You can put any and everything you like in a meatloaf. I have added ingredients like, Parmesan cheese and pizza sauce, or barbecue sauce and a little shredded chedder. Sometimes i have even made glazes with things like balsamic vinegar and honey. As long as you follow the basic recipe, you cannot go wrong with any ingredients you feel like adding. You can also use different kinds of ground meats to start your loaf. Beef, veal, turkey...or even a veggie loaf! Explore all the possibilities of a meatloaf, as long as you start it with this: A ground meat, an egg; to hold it in its loaf form, and bread and/or bread crumbs to soak up any moisture and also binds it together.

You can also take this very simple recipe and stuff it into bell peppers before popping into the oven and have some delicious stuffed peppers for something new! (just remember to poke a few holes in the bottom of the peppers so that the grease can drain out)

My basic, no fuss recipe is this:

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 Large egg
1 Onion, chopped
1 Can Rotel tomatoes
3 slices of day old bread
1-2 tsp. chili powder

Combine all the ingredients above, carefully. You do NOT want to over work the meat. Place in a meatloaf pan or mold to form a loaf. Cook at 375* for One hour. Drain off any liquid and glaze as you see fit. Place back in the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before cutting into slices.

Hopefully yours will turn out looking something like this...

Another WONDERFUL winter time recipe that freezes really well is Taco Soup. A very simple recipe and oh so easy to prepare! Can it get any easier than this?:

2 lbs hamburger meat or stew meat.
1 Large Onion, chopped
2 cans stewed tomatoes, un-drained
2 cans pinto beans, un-drained
2 cans of whole kernel corn, un-drained
1 Can Rotel Tomatoes, un-drained
1 pkg. Taco Seasoning
1 pkg. Dry Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix

Brown meat and onions. Drain off fat then add the rest of the ingredients. Heat through and enjoy! You can serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, chives, and even chips, tortillas or homemade corn bread! yum!

You could easily put this in separate serving size bowls and freeze. It gets even more flavorful as it sets!

Chili (everyone has their favorite recipe), stews, and even your favorite sandwich can be frozen for later feasting. Instead of going to the local grocery store and paying out the wazoo for them, make them at home. Get more for your buck!

something very simple that you can do is make and freeze peanut butter sandwiches. You can add your favorite jam, jelly, or preserves. Or how about peanut butter and honey? So yummy! Wrap them individually and freeze. All you have to do is take it out of the freezer for at least an hour to thaw and it is as fresh as it was when you first made them! They are fantastic to put in a child's lunch box.

Hope you guys have fun making and freezing these scrumptious, winter, Southern Comforts!!!

til next time....

Monday, November 8, 2010

baby bell (pepper) bottoms

I want to take this opportunity to share with you guys that I was able to Cater my first event this past weekend. Some friends of mine were throwing a baby shower for a friend of theirs. The mommy-to-be is in love with fruits and vegetables. That is all she requested. It was a pretty simple menu, and i thoroughly enjoyed planning it. Being able to do it only made me want to do it more! I can not wait to get through with my classes, get my license, and hopefully open up my own catering business! Here are a few pics of what I prepared for the shower.

This first picture is of a Baby Stroller made from a small seedless watermelon filled with a fruit salad of mandarin oranges, grapefruit, pineapple, and blackberries. And it was sitting on top of a bed of different sliced apples.

Picture number two is of the fruit tower I made with grapes, and strawberries.

I filled the "fruit bowls" made from the bottom of a pineapple, grapefruit, orange, and a lemon. The pineapple was filled with a chocolate dip, the grapefruit and lemon were filled with a strawberry and yogurt dip, and the orange was filled with a cream cheese mix.

Picture number three is just a simple veggie platter with carrots, celery, tomatoes, three different colored bell peppers, and cucumber. I turned a few green bell peppers into bowls for the veggie dips.

I received lots of compliments on the presentation and taste of the food. The one that stands out to me, and made me giggle was the hostess of the party. She said "I am going to poo so easily tonight! Thank you so much!" LOL I thought that was awesome!

My loving husband accompanied me to the shower. He helped me carry all the heavy things and such, but he actually only came along for one reason. We were told that there would be "other dudes" there for him to hang with. And yes, the dudes did come to the shower, but they didn't show up til about 4 hours after we arrived. My poor hubby had to sit through baby and breast pump chatter from all the mothers and other women. He was horrified. I think I scarred him for life!

But anyways...this last picture is one of my fave's from the evening. I took the tops of the bell peppers i used for the veggie platter and cut them so that they would look like tiny baby butts. hehe I thought they were the most awesome thing ever! Here is a little sample:

I hope you enjoyed the photos as much as I enjoyed putting the dishes together! I have some good recipes coming your way for delicious winter comfort foods. It is taking me some time to put together, cook and photograph these recipes. Please be patient as I try and prepare them for you! More coming your way very soon!

Til next time....

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

kitchen tips and hints

Thought I would start out with a story about the midget. As i was doing laundry yesterday, I noticed something banging around in my washing machine. I figured it was buttons or something and i would figure it out when i was transferring the clothes to the dryer. So after the cycle was over, and I started carefully sifting through the clothes trying to figure out what was making so much noise, I came across a hoagie bun. It was plastic, mind you, and belonged in my daughters play kitchen. Upon further inspection...i recovered what seemed to be an ENTIRE sandwich, consisting of two pieces of bread, two pieces of sandwich meat, some lettuce, a little bundle of pickles, and a tomato. I swear living with children is like living with tiny hammered people. My daughter keeps me on my toes, though!

So as I thought about my daughters failed attempt to help me with my laundry, or whatever it was she was trying to do, I started to think about being helpful. What a great thing to do! Everyone could use a little help in the kitchen. So i am taking this opportunity to share with you all of the little kitchen tips and tricks that i have learned or come across!

These are in no particular order or organized in anyway! lol I am just listing as many things as I can think of.

Don't throw away sour milk. Make a cake or bread with it.

Save your leftover rice. You can freeze it in a covered freezer container for up to 6 months.

Never worry about finding your brown sugar hard again. Store it in its original box inside your refrigerator. It will stay soft and easy to mix with other dry ingredients.

When deli sandwich meats are on sale, buy extra. Put enough meat for a few days in a freezer bag, and then freeze. To thaw, put in the refrigerator a day before you want to use it. It will taste as fresh as the day you bought it.

If a soup or stew is too salty, add cut raw potatoes. Discard the potatoes after they have cooked because they will have absorbed the salt.

Store celery and lettuce in paper bags, not plastic. Do not remove the outside leaves and stalks until ready to use.

If your stew is slightly burned, add milk to take out the bad taste.

Before opening a package of bacon, roll it. This helps separate the slices and makes them easier to remove individually.

To retain crispness, drain deep-fried foods on brown paper grocery bags instead of paper towels.

Don't just keep dental floss in your medicine cabinet. Keep some in the kitchen. It is a great tool. Unflavored dental floss is often better than a knife to cleanly cut many soft foods, including soft cheese, rolled dough, layered cake, and cheesecake.

To make better French fries, soak freshly cut potatoes in water for 5 minutes, drain, and pat dry before cooking. This removes the excess starch that causes them to clump together and stick to the pan while cooking. For extra crispy fries, lightly dust them with flour before frying.

To avoid crying when peeling onions, put them in the freezer for about ten minutes before cutting.

Put flour in a large salt shaker and keep it in the freezer. When you need to flour a pan or make homemade gravy give it a shake. It helps prevent lumpy gravy and messy counters.

Lettuce loves fat: Fat can be removed from hot soup by floating a large lettuce leaf on the surface. Remove and add more leaves if necessary

Large tuna fish cans can be used to bake small pumpkin breads for gifts. Great size, great shape.

Stale chips? Try refreshing chips and crackers by putting them on a plate and microwaving them for 30 to 45 seconds. Let stand one minute to crisp.

Next time you have a headache try eating some strawberries. They contain natural salicylates, an ingredient that's found in aspirin.

Inexpensive meat tenderizer: Cooking a roast and the meat is still tough? Add lemon juice or vinegar to liquid in which meat is being cooked about thirty minutes before its done.

To clean small-neck bottles or vases, place a little rice and warm soapy water inside and shake well. Rinse out and let drip dry

If your hands smell like onions, garlic, fish or whatever, put a few shakes of salt on your palms and rub briskly. They'll wash up fresh.

If you need eggs at room temperature, but have forgotten to take them out of the refrigerator, put them in slightly warm water for 10 minutes.

When you lift the lid of a cooking pot, open it outward to prevent a blast of steam from hitting your face.

A little lemon juice added to the water you cook green vegetables in will help them retain their color.

1 tbsp of flour will thicken the consistency of 1 cup thin liquid to that similar of medium cream.

Scallions are excellent for tying food together, such as stuffed sole or vegetables. They make a wonderful presentation when used in this way.

Rice cooks better in low wide pots than high narrow ones.

To help prevent color loss, do not cover vegetables when cooking them.

When you fill muffin pans with batter, fill one of the cups with water and the other muffins won't scorch during baking.

If you add cocoa to a cake recipe which does not call for cocoa, decrease the amount of flour by 2 tablespoons for each 1/4 cup of cocoa.

If you are going to substitute oil for solid shortening in a cake batter, use about 1/3 less than the amount of solid shortening suggested.

Cooked rice freezes very well, for up to 6 months. Freeze in 2 cup portions for quick side dishes and additions to soups, etc.

Oatmeal cookies will taste better if you toast the oatmeal first. Sprinkle over a pan and heat in an oven on low heat for about 10 minutes.

If vodka is kept in the refrigerator, it will be more flavorful.

Champagne should only be ice-chilled up to the neck of the bottle, any higher and the cork may be difficult to remove.

Adding one pinch of salt to the basket of the coffeemaker will remove some of the acid taste.

For clear coffee, put egg shells in after perking.

Always start with cold water.

Make coffee more exotic by adding a dash of ginger, cardamom or cinnamon to the grounds.

Crush a small piece of ginger and add it to the upper container of the filter while brewing. Ginger coffee has an great taste and can also help to end a nasty cold.

Before you cap the plastic bottle, squeeze it to force out as much air as possible (so that the liquid is almost at the top). The bottle may look odd, but the soda won't lose its carbonation.

Instead of using sugar, dissolve old-fashioned lemon drops, cinnamon red hots or hard mint candy in your tea. They melt quickly.

You will need less sugar in iced tea if you add the sugar while the tea is still hot.

Freeze leftover tea in an ice cube tray. The next time you serve iced tea, use tea cubes instead of plain ones and you tea won't be diluted. You can do the same with other cooling summer drinks such as lemonade and fruit juices.

If a recipe calls for unsalted butter and you have only salted butter, remember that each 8 ounces of salted butter contains about 3/4 teaspoon of salt. Reduce the salt you add to your recipe by that amount.

Slice bananas and add to egg whites and beat until stiff for a wonderful substitute for whipped cream.

I really hope some of these help you in the kitchen like they have for me.

Til next time...