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/or tablespoon sized dollops of tomato paste on a waxed paper covered baking sheet and stick that in the freezer. You will get about ten tablespoon sized dollops from a small can of tomato paste.

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.