Showing posts with label Cooking Tips. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cooking Tips. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Top 10 Turkey Tips - How to Open Roast a Turkey Perfectly

Top 10 Turkey Tips - How to Open Roast a Turkey Perfectly

Top 10 Turkey Tips - How to Open Roast a Turkey Perfectly

This time of year it's all about the turkey, or more importantly, not only how to roast a turkey, but how to roast a turkey perfectly so that it's at it's most juicy, tender perfection. Here are some of my favorite tips to help you achieve the perfect turkey.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

7 Top Tips to Perfect Your Holiday Dressing or Stuffing

My top tips to perfect your holiday dressing or stuffing.

How to Perfect Your Holiday Dressing or Stuffing

The perfect dressing, or stuffing... however you look at it, can be a bit elusive, and to be honest it just takes practice to get it to the consistency that you like. Some people like their dressing on the dry side, others like it almost soupy. Here are some of my favorite dressing tips that I've picked up along my way of practice.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Fast and Easy Brining Solution

By brining, you are providing a moisture cushion for the meat - all provided by the process of osmosis.

Fast and Easy Brining Solution

Brine. Your. Turkey. (or your chicken, or your pork...) Period. Just trust me on this one.

What is brining? And why bother?

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Monday, November 9, 2009

Kraft Garlic Cheese Roll Substitute

Oh the lament across the net a few years back when Kraft decided to discontinue the garlic cheese roll! Didn't Kraft realize that while it may not have been a big seller throughout the year, thousands upon thousands of cooks across the country used that roll of garlic cheese to make their holiday broccoli cheese casserole, spinach casserole, garlic cheese biscuits, cheese balls, stove-top garlic cheese grits, and baked cheese grits, who knows what else?!

Well, I was not a user of the famous cheese roll, but in researching this topic for my readers, I ran across a tidbit that said a grocery store manager was told by the folks at Kraft, that the squirt cheese product called Easy Cheese Roasted Garlic Cheddar flavor, was actually the same exact product contained in the roll, 1 can equal to 1 roll.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

How to Make Simple Syrup

Basic simple syrup mixture for beverages, cocktails and glazes.

How to Make Simple Syrup

This is for a medium thick simple syrup with a 2:1 ratio, which will cover most of your beverage needs - such as lemonade, iced tea, cocktails and coffee. You can also do a 1:1 ratio and a 3:1 ratio, depending on the thickness needed. A thicker ratio would be used in baking for glazes. A thinner ratio might be used for some cold drinks.

Microwave Simple Syrup

This is the one I use.  Combine 2 parts sugar with 1 part water in a microwave safe container. Stir together well and microwave on high until boiling, usually about 2-5 minutes, depending on amount. Stir, and return to microwave if needed, and continue boiling until sugar has dissolved and mixture is clear. Do not overboil or you will end up with candy! Stir and set aside to cool at room temperature. Store in refrigerator up to 2 months.

Boiled Simple Syrup

Combine 2 parts sugar with 1 part water in a saucepan and bring to a bring to a boil, stirring constantly and continue boiling until all the sugar dissolves and mixture is clear. Set aside to cool before using. Store in refrigerator up to 2 months.

Infused Simple Syrup

Combine 2 parts sugar with 1 part water and the infusion (such as mint leaves or hot peppers) in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly and continue boiling until all the sugar dissolves and mixture is clear. Set aside for about 12 hours, occasionally stirring.

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Check out These Recipes Using simple Syrup!

Old Fashioned Homemade Fresh Lemonade
Pitcher Perfect Sweet Tea
Homemade Snowball Syrup
Cranberry Pomegranate Winter Sangria
Southern Iced Tea Cocktail
Apple Julep Sangria

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Material Disclosure: Unless otherwise noted, you should assume that post links to the providers of goods and services mentioned, establish an affiliate relationship and/or other material connection and that I may be compensated when you purchase from a provider. You are never under any obligation to purchase anything when using my recipes and you should always perform due diligence before buying goods or services from anyone via the Internet or offline.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

How to Easily Strip Corn off the Cob

This is the easiest way to strip corn off the cob, whether it's raw or cooked. The cob you see in the picture was roasted whole for my Roasted Summer Vegetable & Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing so it was hot when I stripped it, but this works just fine for when you are stripping down raw cobs for a recipe. If you're making a dish that needs the thickening of the starches from the corn, be sure to scrape the cob and extract all of those lovely juices!

Take a small bowl and turn it upside down into a larger bowl. You can also use an angel food cake pan or a bundt pan to set the corn on. The center hole holds it perfectly!

Cut the end of the cob so that it will be flat and even. Position the cob in the center of the upside down bowl, and hold the cob in place, using tongs if it's hot!
Then just carefully run a sharp knife down the cob.

Until all of the kernels are extracted.

Everything is in the bowl - and not all over the counter or on the floor!

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Monday, June 1, 2009

How to Make Cinnamon Sugar

Combine 1/2 cup of sugar with 1 heaping tablespoon of cinnamon. Place into an old cleaned spice jar with a shaker top, cap and shake well. That's it!

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

How to Render and Use Bacon Fat

If you think this sounds yummy, I'd sure it if you'd click to pin it, tweet it, stumble it, or share it on Facebook to help spread the word - thanks!


Ahhh, yes... Bacon Fat.

Now this, my friends, is a true staple of the southern kitchen in my little ole humble opinion and it is a rare southern household that doesn't have a Mason jar or grease pot full of this hanging around the stove or in the fridge.

Course lots of times we cook with bacon, so we use both the bacon and the rendered fat from the bacon. Yum - nothing like bacon. Bacon fat just adds so much flavor to cooking it is impossible to match with any other fat, even butter, and y'all know I love butter.

First, while we're here on fats... {pulls out soapbox} as far as the butter versus margarine argument, I just flat out don't believe in using margarine. Period. I know there are arguments on both sides of the issue and mostly people use margarine for health reasons, but even still, I question that, because I believe that butter is the better choice when there is a health reason, when it is used it in moderation.

Here are my arguments. For one, butter is all natural. Butter is made from churning the cream that rises to the top of milk - that's it - so I know that butter is natural and my body immediately recognizes it for what it is. Butter is a great source of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K and contains natural fatty acids our bodies need.

Margarine has its start from very low quality, chemically extracted refined vegetable oils to begin with. It often contains trans-fatty acids and toxic residues resulting from the process of turning that poor quality oil into a solid substance. These residues in excess can cause lung cancer, kidney disease, depression and contribute to diseases such as arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure and malignancies. Margarine also contains artificial coloring agents to make it look like butter. Butter does not contain those trans-fatty acids or toxic metals or artificial colors.

Yes, margarine is cheaper, but considering that it is completely nutritionally bankrupt in comparison to the purity of butter, is that really a bargain? I choose to pick my budget battles and pinch my pennies in other areas to pay a little more for things like real vanilla and pure butter.

So, for me, butter wins hands down. Now... of course, I'm not gonna call you out as wrong for what you choose to use - I would never do that! Whatever you use is right for you and who am I to try and tell you otherwise?! I'm just sharing why I choose to use butter. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it! ;) {tucks away soapbox}

But... we're here to talk about bacon fat right now!

Except for the strainer that is built into my grease pot, I don't worry too much over straining it well,except for in some cases when I am about to use it, most often with a dark roux since I don't want the solid bits of bacon in there to burn my roux. Then I just warm it and strain it before using it. But as far as storing the rendered bacon fat, when I cook bacon, I just pour the drippings into my little grease pot or a mason jar and I keep it stored in the refrigerator. I know that some folks keep their bacon fat right on the stove or the counter. I don't know if they are straining it well first or not, but the idea of pieces of pork possibly being in that fat and going rancid and growing bacteria is disturbing to me, so I just play it safe and keep my jar in the fridge.

If you want to strain it, while it's still pretty warm and liquid, just place a coffee filter or a paper towel over a spouted container of some sort like a glass Pyrex measuring cup and pour the bacon fat through the filter. This will remove the solid bits that are left behind from cooking the bacon. Discard the filter and transfer the strained fat into your Mason jar or some other glass container - don't use plastic - and stick that in the fridge.

What do you use it for? Well, I'll be the first to tell you that I use heart healthy oils like olive oil wherever I can. But sometimes getting a little boost of flavor from bacon drippings can really make a difference in flavor. Just about any place where you would generally use butter or oil to saute or flavor a dish, or oil to fry, you can use bacon fat.

On the occasion when I decide I want a dirty fried egg, I always cook a strip or two of bacon and cook my eggs right in the bacon drippings. I like my whites cooked and my yolks runny, so if I have made two strips, I'll crumble up one of them and sprinkle it right on top of my eggs just before I dig in. I've made my fried eggs that way forever and I love them. I'd eat them every day if I could get away with it. I do my Birds in a Nest in bacon drippings too.

I use bacon drippings a lot for my skillet cornbread, not only to coat the skillet to produce that wonderful crunchy crust we all love, but then after I swirl it around, I pour it right into the batter as my fat. I just love the flavor it adds to cornbread, and sometimes I'll even add in some crumbled bacon. It's great for old fashioned skillet biscuit bread too. It's even good with chex mix, though I still lean toward butter for that snack myself.

When I am making a light roux or gravy, bacon drippings add wonderful flavor to chicken gravy, or peppered milk gravy for chicken fried steak. I use bacon drippings in combination with butter for my loaded baked potato soup.

I use either bacon fat or bacon in combination with the drippings for many dishes I do, like when I make fried cabbage, collards or turnip greens, skillet potatoes, southern style green beans as well as my sweet and sour green beans. I use it for cream corn, drizzle it over crispy smashed potatoes, creamed squash and fried corn, but it's even great to use for a quick pan saute of fresh spinach or fresh greens too, both of which I love even though the Cajun won't touch either. I even use some bacon drippings in my skillet fried apples!

It's great for shallow frying meats, or even for browning grilled sandwiches, or even tater cakes. I use bacon with the drippings for pot roasted chicken and the fat even makes a great salad dressing. It's great for okra and tomatoes, or even just for sauteing okra in before adding it to a gumbo.

You see? Cooked bacon and the residual drippings really are quite versatile! Just search my site using that search bar in the upper right hand corner with terms like bacon fat or bacon drippings, and I'm sure there are many things that will motivate your imagination, but start saving your bacon fat, and don't forget ... use it!

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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Tip for Melted Chocolate

When you are using melted chocolate for drizzling, to prevent it from seizing up and hardening on you, add a teaspoon of Crisco shortening in with the chips as you melt them.

Can also use this with caramel - but use butter instead of shortening.
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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cooking Tip - How to Adapt Recipes to Crockpot Cooking


If it normally simmers for:

15 to 30 minutes = 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 hours on High; 4 to 8 hours on Low

35 to 40 minutes = 3 to 4 hours on High; 6 to 10 hours on Low

50 minutes to 3 hours = 4 to 5 hours on High; 8 to 18 hours on Low

Tips to Remember:

Liquids do not evaporate in a slow cooker, so reduce liquids to about one-half of the original recipe, unless you're cooking rice, then leave the liquid the same.

Any dairy products like milk or sour cream should only be added at the end, no sooner than about an hour before the end of cooking time.

Herbs are stronger and more pronounced if they are added in toward the end of cooking time; if added with the other ingredients they blend in better and are not as strong.

To thicken a sauce, add in flour or cornstarch near the end of cooking time, increase the temperature to High and cook for another 15 to 30 minutes (due to lost heat from having the cooker opened) or until it reaches desired thickness.

To shorten cooking time a bit, start a recipe off on high for 1 hour, then switch to low. One hour on high is the equivalent of two hours on low, so you can shortened your total time accordingly.
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Cooking Tip - Breaking up Ground Meats

To easily and quickly break up meat in the skillet while browning it, don't trouble yourself with trying to mash it with a wooden spoon. What a hassle and it never breaks it all up uniformly. You have some pieces that are small, some that are large, what a pain.

Instead, break out your potato masher!

Mush it down on the meats as you're cooking and watch how fast they break up into perfect uniform size - so fast and easy ... give it try next time you're browning ground meat or sausage in a skillet.
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Monday, January 12, 2009

Cooking Tip - How to Truss a Chicken or Turkey

How to truss a bird.

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How to Truss a Chicken or Turkey

Trussing a chicken or turkey helps it to hold its shape together better and cook more evenly, making for a nicer looking bird and one that is easier to carve. There are lots of ways people do this, and some get rather complicated! To me, this way is the easiest and personally, I'm all for easy!

But remember, this is just a basic diagram - you may find it easier to tie if you wrap the twine around the feet several times - do what feels best for you. You are basically just trying to tighten it all together, so use this as a guide and adapt it for yourself.

To start you'll need some twine, so cut a piece of cotton twine that is about two arm's length long and soak it in some water; set it aside. While that is soaking, rinse the bird well, inside and out, and set it in the roasting pan, or on a tray or platter to avoid transferring any juices to your cutting board or counter top. Pat dry with paper towels until the chicken is thoroughly dried. Season the inside cavity with desired herbs and aromatics.

Now you're ready to truss.

Lay the center of the twine underneath the tail and cross it over, tightening.

Keeping it tight, pull each end of the twine up underneath the back of the thighs and legs and then bring it over the top of the meaty part of the legs.

Draw the twine straight outward, wrap under the feet, wrap over, then under again.

Draw the feet tightly together and cross the twine and knot.

Bring the twine back down to the tail and wrap around it again.

Draw it all together very tightly, tie into a knot or two and then a bow.

If you're roasting it, this is time you want to butter him up - AFTER you truss, not before!

Now you'll want to tuck the wing tips.

Turn the bird so the legs are away from you and the neck and breast are closest to you. Grab the wing tip and press it directly down toward you, across the breastbone and tuck it up underneath the breast.

See how the tip of the wing is now tucked up under the breast?

Repeat on the other side. Now you are ready to roast!

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

How to Make Perfect Pasta

Does your pasta often come out tasteless and bland? Is your pasta often gummy and sticky? Well, here are my best tips for perfect pasta.

  • You need to use a large pot and a lot of water - at least 6 quarts of water for a full pound of pasta! Many people use saucepans or pots that are too small for the pasta that they are making and not nearly enough water. Big mistake. The pasta really needs a lot of room to move around or you end up with sticky, gummy pasta, so use a very large stockpot or pasta pot. For a one pound package of pasta, you really need at least 6 quarts of water. Do that and you will not have to rinse the starch off of your pasta and it will hold onto the sauce much better.

  • Season the pot with a very generous amount of salt!  Many people use very little salt, or none at all. Really, this is the only time you'll be able to put any seasoning into the pasta.  I use kosher salt in my kitchen - the "pinching" salt - so I grab two very large and generous pinches - maybe even three for a big pot.  You need a lot of salt.

  • Bring the unseasoned pot of water up to a boil first, then add the salt. If you add salt to a cool pot of water, it will delay the water reaching the boiling point. 

  • Cover the pot while you bring it up to a boil. It will come to a boil much faster. Once you add the pasta, do not re-cover the pot.

Perfect pasta!

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Cooking Tip - Prepare Ingredients Before You Start

Prep for Success!

I was about to get started with making my seafood gumbo and thought about this important element involved with gumbo makin' that really translate to just about every recipe.

If you are pretty new to venturing into the kitchen, I have to say that even as long as I have been cooking, I am still a big advocate of prepping all of your ingredients ahead of time. You know how when you watch a chef on television they have everything premeasured, chopped and ready to go? Well, that's not just for television folks.

Yes, this might mean that you create more dishes to wash, but it will ensure better end results with your culinary creations because it allows you to transition smoothly from stage to stage of a recipe with no bumps in the road. There is nothing worse than to be in the midst of cooking only to find out that you needed to have something prepped that you didn't realize needed to be, while at the same time you are having to also be stirring constantly on something altogether different! Yikes! So follow these guidelines and you'll make your venture into cooking much more pleasant and successful!

1. Always, always, always read through the
entire recipe before even beginning to think about starting to cook anything. You may even find that you have to read between the lines a bit. Some recipe authors do a great job of explaining things step by step and telling you exactly what you need to do and when. Others, well ... not so much. So read through the recipe from start to finish, even before you start to prep the ingredients.

2. Measure out all of your ingredients in advance. Sometimes you can even combine them - for instance, flour, baking powder and salt are often combined and then whisked to "sift." So you can combine those ahead of time and have it at the ready. I still do this when I bake.

3. Try to keep the prepped ingredients at hand in the order of use. It really just makes it easier because you are not reaching over other things and risking knocking things over and spilling them, and if you use them in order and sort of put them altogether
after you use them, there's less of a chance that you won't be able to remember whether or not you've already put that one ingredient in! Believe me, even seasoned cooks go through that "did I add the [fill-in-the-blank] already???" So it helps if you sort of lay things out where you need them in order of use, then scoot them to the side all together after you have used them.

4. Chop
EVERYTHING in advance and have it all ready to go. Sometimes recipes call for sauteeing things one at a time, so make note of that and be sure to keep those ingredients separated as you chop. Other times you can chop and combine the raw veggies because they will be cooked together. For instance, with my gumbo, first I have to saute the okra, by itself. So when I chop that up before I start, it'll go in its own little bowl. But when I chop the onion, celery and bell pepper, I know it will all saute together at the same time, so it can all go in one bowl as I chop it. The garlic, which can burn and get bitter if overcooked, will be chopped separately and set aside on the cutting board to be added once the all the veggies are cooked and tender.

5. Once you think that you have everything ready to go, before you get started do a quick run-through, reading over the recipe once more and checking your ingredients as you mentally prepare the dish. You will often find that you've missed something crucial!

Believe it or not, as long as I've been cooking, I still follow these basic rules of cooking. It really makes for a much more pleasant cooking experience and in my opinion, successful results!

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Cooking Tip - Chicken Wings and Parts

When cooking chicken wings and removing the wing tips, don't discard them!

Place them into a marked freezer storage bag and keep them handy in the freezer for the next time that you are making a chicken stock for chicken and dumplings or chicken noodle soup. Just cook them with the stock portion of the recipe, then remove and discard them. It really helps to enhance the stock.

If you use whole chickens, you can also add the necks and backs to that same freezer bag. Unless, of course, you want to go crabbin' with 'em!
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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cooking Tip - Tomato Paste, Chipotle, Pesto, Broth & Juice

A clever tip for saving bits of tomato paste, canned Chipotle peppers, pesto, broth & leftover juices that you may not have thought about before.

I'll bet there have been times where you have needed only a little dab of tomato paste, instead of the whole six ounce can, but like me you don't have a store near you that sells that cutesy stuff in a tube, or you don't use it enough to buy a case from Amazon. Besides, that's some high dollar tomato paste you're paying for to have that convenience anyway!

 So you open that can and fully intend to save the rest of it in the fridge thinking you'll use it up soon, only to find some dried up can of rock hard tomato goop buried in the back of the fridge, heavens knows how many weeks/months later. Or... is that just me??? Well, I admit, I've been there and done that for sure and I HATE wasting money like that. This tip is a great way to save money and have just a dab of that tomato paste on hand just like with those fancy tubes.

Spread teaspoon and tablespoon sized dollops of tomato paste on a waxed paper covered baking sheet and stick that in the freezer.

Once the dollops of tomato paste are flash frozen solid, place them in a freezer bag, seal it up and keep the bag handy in your freezer. Next time you just need a teaspoon or tablespoon, pop one out. Works like a charm!

And you know those cans of chipotle in adobo that you only need a little bit of? And the rest seems to get shoved into the back of the fridge to become the next science experiment? Yep. Separate the peppers and sauce and freeze it in ice cube trays too! Pop out and bag.

This is also a handy method for canned or boxed broths. Usually once they are opened, they should be used within xx days. So when you only need a little bit of broth, the rest languishes in the fridge and spoils. Next time, use what you need out of the can or box and then pour the rest of the broth into ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen, pop them out, put them into a labeled freezer bag and the next time you need just a tablespoon or two of broth, just pop a cube or two out!

Overflowing with basil? Make a chiffonade and place into ice cube trays.

Cover with water, and add to any dish. The water will evaporate away and leave behind the basil.

You can also make batch of pesto and freeze in trays or even or a muffin pan for larger batches. Pesto can be used in many different dishes to add just a bit of flavor. Use it in eggs and omelets, add to soup, in salads and salad dressings, even in potato salad, toss in pasta, rice or on veggies, use on toasted baguettes or mix it with mayonnaise as a sandwich or burger spread, use it in place of pizza sauce, mix some into softened butter to use as a spread, top hummus with some or blend it in with sour cream or cream cheese dips for snacking, or use as a sauce enhancement for meats, fish and poultry. It's more versatile than you think!

Great for juices of all kinds too - I use it all the time for freshly squeezed lemon, lime and orange juice.  Just squeeze the citrus - a hand juicer makes an easy job of this - one of the handiest tools in my kitchen! Zest them first and you can also freeze the zest!

Pour the juice in ice cube trays, freeze, pop in freezer bags and you have fresh juice anytime to make drinks or use in recipes! Just thaw and use. Make sure that you save cherry juice when you make those desserts or fruit salads where you need to drain the cherries. Pour it into the trays and freeze and next time you want to make a sangria, or other beverage, use it as a cube in your beverage or melt in the microwave. Speaking of sangria, you can freeze white and red wine in the same way and the next time you need just a little bit of wine for a recipe, you'll have it without having to buy a full bottle of wine.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Cooking Tips -Tips, Shortcuts, Substitutions & Other Helpful Things

I really love old cookbooks. But, sometimes it can be hard to decipher the ingredients list. Like when it states that you need two No. 300 cans! What exactly does that mean??

No. 300 = 14 to 16 ounces (1-3/4 cups)
No. 303 = 16 to 17 ounces (2 cups)
No. 2 = 1 pound 4 ounces (2-1/2 cups)
No. 2-1/2 = 1 pound 13 ounces (3-1/2 cup)
No. 3 = 3 pound, 3 ounces (5-3/4 cup)
No. 10 = 6-1/2 pound to 7 pounds 5 ounces (12 to 13 cups)

1 (t) teaspoon = 1/6 fluid ounce
3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon

1 (T) tablespoon = 1/2 fluid ounce
1 tablespoon = 3 teaspoons
1 tablespoon = 1/16 cup
4 tablespoons = 1/4 cup
5 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon = 1/3 cup

1/2 cup = 8 tablespoons
1 cup = 8 fluid ounces = 1/2 pint = 16 tablespoons
2 cups= 16 fluid ounces = 1 pint
4 cups = 32 fluid ounces = 1 quart
8 cups = 64 fluid ounces = 4 pints = 1/2 gallon
16 cups = 32 fluid ounces = 1 quart
4 quarts = 128 fluid ounces = 1 gallon
1 gallon (gal) = 4 quarts
16 ounces = 1 pound
Pinch = Less than 1/8 teaspoon

*Shrimp Counts - What size shrimp for what type meal?

Small – 41+ count
Medium – 26 – 40 Count
Large – 16 – 25 Count
Jumbo – 8 to 15 Count

For stewed dishes like gumbo and shrimp creole, skillet meals and casseroles, the small and medium sized counts are the best choices. Large can also be used in many of those preparations, and medium and large are the best size for boiling and frying. Large and jumbo are best for smoke BBQ cooking, charcoal and gas grilling, and in preparing New Orleans Style BBQ Shrimp.

*How Many Cups is One Onion?  Onion Math:

1 small onion = 1/3 cup chopped onion
1 medium onion = 1/2 cup of chopped onion
1/2 of a medium onion = 1/4 cup of chopped onion
1/2 of a large onion = 1/2 cup of chopped onion
1 large onion = 1 cup of chopped onion
1 large red onion = 2 cups chopped onion

*How Much is One Pepper and Other Veggie/Fruit Math:

1 cup of chopped bell pepper = 1 large pepper

1 (10 ounce) package of frozen, chopped broccoli = about 1-1/2 cups

1 (10 ounce) package of frozen, chopped spinach = about 1-1/2 cups, cooked
1 pound of fresh spinach yields between 10 and 12 cups of torn leaves = about 1 cup cooked.

1 cup of grated raw carrot = 1 large carrot
2-1/2 cups of sliced carrots = 1 pound raw carrots

1 large or 2 small to medium sized ear of corn = about 1 cup of corn kernels
1 (10-ounce) package of frozen corn kernels = almost 2 cups corn kernels
1 can of whole kernel corn - about 1-1/2 cups

4 cups of cooked green beans = 1 pound fresh beans

4 cups of sliced potatoes = 4 medium potatoes


1 large sized tomato is about 8 ounces on average = to about 1 cup of chopped tomato
1 medium sized tomato is about 6 ounces on average
30 small cherry tomatoes = about 2 cups of chopped tomato

1 pound of tomato = about 1 cup of chopped tomato

1 (6 ounce) can of tomato paste = about 1/4 cup
1 (15 ounce) can of tomatoes is about 1 cup of drained or 2 cups undrained tomatoes
1 (28 ounce) can of tomatoes is about 2 cup drained or 3 cups undrained tomatoes

Tomato Sauce Substitute - One small (6 ounce) can of tomato paste mixed well with 1-1/2 cups of water will fill in for a 14.5 ounce can of tomato sauce.

Chili Sauce Substitute - Combine 1 cup of tomato sauce with 1/4 cup of brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of white inegar, 1/4 teaspoons of cinnamon, and a dash each of ground cloves and allspice, for 1 cup chili sauce substitute.

Fruit in General

4 cups of sliced apples = 4 medium apples
1 cup of mashed banana = 3 medium bananas
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind = 1 medium lemon
2 tablespoons of lemon juice = 1 medium lemon
4 teaspoons of grated orange rind = 1 medium orange
1 cup of orange juice = 3 medium oranges
4 cups of sliced peaches = 8 small to medium peaches
    or about 1 to 1-1/2 pounds
2 cups of sliced strawberries = about 1 pint of strawberries
1 pound of fresh blueberries = about 2-2/3 cups of berries
It takes about 4 cups of fresh or frozen blueberries to make a pie.

*How Many Marshmallows? Marshmallow Math:

7 ounce Marshmallow Creme = approximately 1-1/2 cups

13 ounce Marshmallow Creme = approximately 3 cups

1 Regular Marshmallow = 13 Miniature Marshmallows

8 Regular Marshmallows = 1 cup

16 ounce bag Miniature = 8 cups

10.5 ounce bag Miniature = 5-1/2 cups

50 Miniature Marshmallows = 1/2 cup Miniature Marshmallows

5 Regular Marshmallows = 1/2 cup

64 Regular Marshmallows = 16 ounce bag

*How Many Strawberries? Strawberry Math:

Substitute 2 cups of sliced fresh strawberries for one large (approx. 20 ounces) package of frozen strawberries.

1 pint strawberries usually has about 16 to 20 medium size berries or 12 to 14 large.
1 pint strawberries = 2-1/4 cups sliced berries
1 pint strawberries = 1-3/4 cups pureed berries
1 pint strawberries = 2 cups whole berries

1 cup of strawberries weighs about 4 to 5 ounces

1 quart of strawberries weighs about 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 pounds

A flat of strawberries contains about 12 pounds of strawberries, or approximately 8 quarts.

To make a 9-inch pie, you'll need approximately 1-1/2 to 2 quarts of fresh strawberries.

*How Many Sweet Potatoes?  Sweet Potato Math:

Canned sweet potatoes are smaller in size than their fresh counterparts. Six to eight canned whole sweet potatoes are equal to about four medium sized fresh sweet potatoes.

2 medium sweet potatoes = 3 to 4 canned whole sweet potatoes = about
   1-1/4 cups cooked and mashed
3 medium sweet potatoes = 1 pound can = about 2 cups cooked and mashed
4 medium sweet potatoes = 3 quart cans = 2-1/2 cups cooked and mashed

*How Many Dried Beans Equal a Can, How Many Cups - Bean Math:

It really depends on the size of the bean but here are a few of the basics, generally:

1 pound of dry beans = about 2 cups of dry beans = about 6 cups cooked = or about 4 (15 ounce) cans
2 pounds of dry beans cooked = about 8 cans of beans
1/2 cup of dry beans = about 1 (15 ounce) can of beans = about 1-1/2 cups cooked

*NOTE:  All math counts are estimates.

1 cup of soft bread crumbs = 2 slices of bread
1 cup of bread cubes = 2 slices of bread

1 cup of egg whites = 6 or 7 large eggs

3-1/2 to 4 cups of chopped nuts = 1 pound of shelled nuts

1 fresh yeast cake (.06 ounce) = 1 (1/4 ounce) package of dry active yeast = 2-1/4 teaspoons of dry yeast

Pumpkin Pie Spice: Mix 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon with 1/4 teaspoon ginger, 1/8 teaspoon each of nutmeg and allspice for 1 teaspoon

Southern Flour (like White Lily) Substitute:  Well, in my little ole opinion, there just ain't a proper substitute for White Lily flour, but that said, I do realize a few of y'all live above the Mason-Dixon line and can't get it without ordering it on the internet, which I highly recommend if you do any amount of baking really. BUT... try this.  For whatever amount of White Lily flour, use half whatever brand of flour your have, plus half cake flour. It won't be quite the same, but it'll help.

Cornstarch Substitute: For each tablespoon of cornstarch needed, use 2 tablespoons all purpose flour.

1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter generally contains at least 1/4 teaspoon of salt. When making a substitute for salted butter with a stick of unsalted, add in 1/4 teaspoon of salt with the butter, generally in addition to any other added salt. When substituting salted butter when unsalted is called for, make adjustments down in the amount of salt listed elsewhere in the recipe. 

1 tablespoon of flour = 1-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 cup of self rising flour = 1 cup sifted all purpose flour + 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder + 1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup of self rising cornmeal (homemade cornmeal mix) = 1 cup of regular cornmeal, plus 2 teaspoons of baking powder, plus 1/2 teaspoon of salt

1 cup of buttermilk = 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar + enough whole milk to make up the full cup. Can also use 1/4 cup skim or lowfat milk plus enough sour cream or plain unflavored yogurt, well mixed, to make up one full cup.

1 cup of cake flour = 1 cup of all purpose flour MINUS 2 tablespoons. Replace the 2 tablespoons of flour with cornstarch and whisk together well.

Half and half - 1-1/2 tablespoons melted butter + enough whole milk to make up a full cup

1 teaspoon of vinegar = 2 teaspoons of lemon juice

A 1 pound box of powdered sugar = approximately 3-3/4 cups of powdered sugar.

Make 1 cup of powdered sugar by streaming 3/4 cup of granulated sugar into a blender on high speed

Use 1 cup of granulated sugar mixed with 1 tablespoon of molasses as a brown sugar substitute.

Need evaporated milk in a hurry? Substitute 2/3 cup of dry milk with 3/4 cup of water for 1 can of evaporated milk. Want to substitute evaporated milk in a recipe calling for whole milk? Since evaporated milk is just milk with the water removed, you'll need to reconstitute it. Use equal parts water and evaporated milk, so if a recipe calls for 2 cups of whole milk, use 1 cup of evaporated milk & 1 cup of water.

1 large (16 ounce) Cool Whip contains about 6-1/2 cups by volume.

1 package of prepared Dream Whip equals about 2 cups.

Substitute for boxed yellow cake mix:

The yellow cake I have is a little larger than boxed cakes though - you could try this one when subsituting for a box cake mix:

Dry mix for standard size (18.25 ounce) basic yellow cake mix - although that box size has actually shrunk the past couple of years:

2 cups of all purpose flour
1-1/2 cups of granulated sugar
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1/2 cup of non-fat dry milk

Mix and store in pantry. For a cake, add in:

3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup of unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs

Add water, vanilla, butter, and eggs to dry cake mix. Combine with an electric mixer then beat an additional 2 minutes. Pour into a greased and floured cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees F:

20 to 25 minutes for 8 or 9-inch cake pan
30 to 40 minutes for a 13 x 9-inch pan
12 to 15 minutes for standard cupcake sizes
45 to 50 minute for a tube or bundt pan

For other conversions.
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Friday, December 12, 2008

Butter Tip - Forgot to Soften Butter?

Method to Quick Soften Butter or How to Soften Butter Fast!

Want to bake something that requires room temperature softened butter, but your's is still in the fridge, hard and ice cold? Don't fret!  But don't microwave it either!!

Break out that grater from your kitchen drawer and grate your sticks of butter on the larger holes. It's fast and it works great! Give it a try next time you find yourself short on room temperature butter.

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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Perfect Boiled Eggs

Eggs, hard boiled perfectly, with pure yellow yolks and not a trace of green on the edges.

Perfect Boiled Eggs

Perfect boiled eggs seem hit and miss these days, but this method that I've used for years is pretty consistent to give you a pretty yellow yolk, no green edges, and a shell that easily separates from the membrane and doesn't shatter to a bazillion pieces. Even still, sometimes they peel beautifully and other times they are downright stubborn.

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Monday, December 1, 2008

Culinary Definitions and Pronunciations

Thought it might be an idea to build a dictionary of some of our cooking terms as I go. I'm also including a listing of recipe ingredients that are common here in the U.S. but might not be well known elsewhere.


Chorizo - Mexican chorizo sausage is a raw sausage that is stuffed into a casing. Spanish chorizo and Portugese chorizo are cured sausages - more like the smoked sausages we are all familiar with.

Half and Half - When you see me refer to half and half in a recipe, it is a product we have available here in the United States that contains a mixture of equal parts whole milk and heavy cream. You can mix up equal parts of milk and cream, or simply substitute heavy cream. Half and half is mostly used in place of full fat, heavy cream to reduce some of the fat in a recipe.

Culinary Terms and Other Southernisms:

Bain-Marie - (bahn-mah-REE) The process of cooking one container in a larger container surrounded by hot water. Typically used for egg custards.

Deglaze - To add liquid to the fond in a skillet after browning meat, in order to scrape up the bits of browned meat left behind, so that you can use them to flavor a pan sauce or gravy.

Fond - This is a French term that refers to the caramelized, browned bits that remain in the pan when browning meats. The fond is what you want to scrape up when deglazing a pan to make a pan sauce, as in when you remove a holiday turkey from the oven and scrape up the bits from the bottom of the roasting pan in order to make a gravy, or when making a pan sauce after sauteing meat or chicken in a skillet. Fond also refers to the bits on the bottom of a pot when you turn over jambalaya. This is also called Gratons in Cajun cooking.

Gremolata or gremolada - A chopped herb condiment usually made from the zest of lemon with garlic, and parsley.

Lagniappe - (LAN-yap) This term derives from New World Spanish la ñapa, “the gift,” and ultimately from Quechua yapay, “to give more.” The word came into the rich Creole dialect mixture of New Orleans and there acquired a French spelling. It is still used in the Gulf states, especially southern Louisiana, to denote a little bonus that a friendly shopkeeper might add to a purchase. By extension, it may mean “an extra or unexpected gift or benefit.

To Macerate or Mascerate - (MAS-uh-rayt) To soak food, in syrup, alcohol, liqueur or other liquid, in order to flavor it. Salt and sugar maceration is done when there is a need to draw out moisture from the food such as to draw moisture out of tomatoes for a tart or pie, or with eggpant. Sometimes sugars are added to create a syrup, such as with berries.

Making Groceries - Faire son marché, “to do one’s market shopping.” (Faire meaning “to do” or “to make.”), a phrase used in and around the New Orleans and other south Louisiana areas to describe not merely the act of going to the store to buy groceries, but more a process - beginning with deciding what one would be cooking, and all the way to the actual process of cooking it, with the trip to the grocery store simply a single step in the middle. This description perfectly explains why I love to browse the shelves of our local Louisiana owned Rouse's Supermarket, just like I used to at Schwegmann's Grocery in New Orleans. Makin' groceries is an entire experience, not just an errand.

Mise en place - (meez-ahn-plahs) A French term for "putting in place," and that refers to gathering of all the cooking ingredients needed to cook a recipe or dish prior to starting. Everything in one place, and always a good idea to do anytime you are going to cook something, lest you discover you are missing a key ingredient!

Mirepoix - (meer-PWAH) A mixture, usually but not always, of two parts of onion to one part each of celery and carrots. A white mirepoix uses leeks in place of the carrots. Cajun mirepoix is most often known as The Trinity and replaces the carrots with green bell pepper.

Pince - (PEEN-say) Tomato paste, browned in fat, often following The Trinity and usually in the making of a brown roux, though sometimes also with a Creole red tomato gravy. It helps to extract more flavor from the paste, imparting a unique richness to the dish.

Roux - A mixture of fat (butter, pan drippings, shortening, canola) mixed with flour and cooked slowly over fairly high heat to reach the desired color and thickness for soups, stews, gumbo, gravy and sauces. The lighter color and less time that a roux is cooked, the more thickening power it has; the longer it cooks it gains flavor, but loses the ability to thicken. A white roux (white sauce) is cooked with butter, but only just enough to cook the flour. A blond colored roux is also generally made with butter but cooked until it reaches a light golden brown in color. The darker roux is generally made using oil, since butter is difficult to cook at that high temperature for that long of a period of time without burning.

The Trinity - A mixture, sometimes in equal parts but not always, of chopped onion, celery and green bell pepper. Used as a base seasoning in many Cajun and Creole dishes.

What exactly is...

A stalk of celery? While technically speaking a "stalk" is a whole head of celery and the individual pieces of it are considered ribs, a single rib of celery is most commonly called a stalk of celery in many recipes. Just apply the rule of common sense when you see it in a recipe. If the celery appears to be intended as a flavoring to a recipe - such as in the classic Trinity mentioned above - it would be rare to see more than one or two stalks (ribs) called for. On the other hand, if it's a recipe for a cream of celery soup, celery would be much more central to the recipe. A stalk of celery is equal to about 1/2 cup of chopped celery.

How Do You Say It?

1.   Bruschetta (broo-SKEH-tah)
2.   Gnocchi (NYOH-kee)
3.   Gyro (YEER-oh)
4.   Huitlacoche (wheet-lah-KOH-chay)
5.   Pouilly-Fuisse (poo-yee fwee-SAY)
6.   Mole (MOH-lay)
7.   Paczki (POONCH-key)
8.   Pho (fuh)
9.   Prosciutto (proh-SHOO-toe)
10. Sake (SAH-kay)
11.  Courtbouillon (COO-bee-YON)

How Do You Say It is courtesy in part of Chicago Tribune
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