Tips and Tricks in the Kitchen

I love finding new ways to use utensils or find shortcuts, jazz up a recipe and just have fun being creative with things I have in the kitchen. This may not be new, but to me it is. I made muffins yesterday and like so many love the 'muffin tops' I know they make special pans for these but really I don't need any more stuff to store. So, I used small pie/tart pans. A little less than one ice cream scoop of batter to each pan and shake it even. Bake as you would a muffin and there you have it, Muffin Tops! I made regular muffins as well but I have to say, these Muffin Tops are greats. I'd love to hear what your tips and tricks are...thanks! BB

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Nancy September 9, 2016
More of a tip than a trick. Accidentally let a cast iron crepe pan get hotter than usual when I was making pancakes for breakfast. They all came out bad first pancake. Cooked quickly on first & second sides, tasted delicious. So, heat your pan well (just like for grilling meat)...
BerryBaby September 9, 2016
Throughout the day I enjoy grab snacking and have a bowl of sliced melon or veggies on the counter. Both are best cold and to keep them that way this is what I came up with. Take a deep bowl and fill it half way with ice. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the ice and place the veggies/melon on top of the ice. You can either tuck the plastic wrap around the veggies (as seen in the photo with cauliflower) or pull it over the sides of the bowl. The veggies stay cold without getting wet. When the ice melts, lift the plastic wrap, with the veggies in the wrap, dump out the water and replace with new ice and return veggies to bowl.
pierino September 8, 2016
Garlic confit. Peel a whole head of garlic and poach the peeled cloves in olive oil for 15 or 20 minutes. Store in a jar in your refrigerator. This method mellows the intensity of the garlic flavor but captures its essence. You can use the oil as a salad dressing component.
Smaug September 9, 2016
Similar to Mexican favorite Mojo de Ajo- that's usually cooked longer, until the garlic browns. Very useful stuff.
sexyLAMBCHOPx September 8, 2016
I use a paper towel tube told store my silpat.
Smaug September 8, 2016
I would highly recommend the tubes from "Stretch Tite" plastic wrap for this- they're a shade longer than most, and very sturdy.
SMSF September 9, 2016
Ha! I combine two of the ideas here and use a sturdy paper towel tube to store my long spring-loaded (but not locking) tongs in a drawer.
Dona September 8, 2016
I've vein used tongs in the supermarket when I can't reach something and can't find an employee. I go to the gadget aisle and grab some tongs, reach my too high item then return the tongs.
Nancy September 8, 2016
To all of you with the tongs idea - fantastic!
Good at home and even better in grocery stores.
Nancy September 8, 2016
If you want to add garlic taste to something liquid (salad dressing, stew, soup) but don't plan on eating the garlic, just smash a clove or two with the side of your chef's knife, remove the paper skin and add to the dish.
When serving, if you see the garlic chunks, set them aside so no one gets a super anti-Dracula mouthful.
creamtea September 8, 2016
to line a springform pan with parchment: I take out the bottom circle, put the parchment on a thin cutting board, and use a cheap bird-beak knife to trace around the circle.

For a non-springform round cake pan, I think like a dressmaker: I trace a circle onto the parchment, then increase the total diameter by about the height measurement of the pan so the final equals roughly the circular base plus the height. I cut out the circle, then I cut slashes (or notches) inward to the traced circle at even intervals all around with kitchen shears, and fit it into the pan. The paper tabs formed by the notches fold upwards, overlapping to form a 3-D nonstick layer. Just neaten the overlaps and the whole thing is nonstick. Oh and sometimes I first lay two folded strips of parchment in an "x" in the bottom of the pan (before the parchment circle goes in) to be able to easily lift the whole cake out once baked and cooled.
BerryBaby September 7, 2016
In the kitchen there is usually something that I can't reach. I don't want to pull out the step stool or buy one of those grabbers, I have enough gadgets. So I use long tongs! They can grab most anything and serve double purpose, cooking and as a kitchen helper.
Smaug September 7, 2016
I was somewhat appalled to find out that my (ancient) father had taken to using a pair of my tongs to pick up sundry objects- like used kleenex- off the floor; had to get him his own. He doesn't like hauling a grabber around on his wheelchair.
amysarah September 7, 2016
I do this too BerryBaby, but I use BBQ tongs - extra long! My daughter says watching me maneuver something off a high shelf reminds her of those carnival games where you try to grab a toy using a mechanical arm.
creamtea September 8, 2016
I also use tongs--to reach spice jars that are a shelf too high (not for dirty socks or used tissues)
BerryBaby September 7, 2016
Ok, here's something I do that many may think is a bit over the top. I group my spices and herbs together by dish; ie, Italian (oregano, basil, bay leaves, etc.), Mexican (cumin, pepper flakes, etc.), Baking (cinnamon, pumpkin spice, vanilla, etc.) and the list goes on. Makes it so much easier when cooking to grab all the bottles together instead of hunting for them and they each have their spot when putting them away.
Jr0717 September 10, 2016
I've made my own mixes of the spice combos I use most often, as well! Then grouping becomes even easier!
BerryBaby September 7, 2016
When making ice tea, I place 4-6 tea bags in a cup of boiling water. Let it sit for 4 minutes and then transfer it to a pitcher and fill remainder of the pitcher with cold water and ice. No need to wait for a whole pitcher of hot water to cool down and it tastes just as great.
Smaug September 6, 2016
All right, here's one that, while not of great use to many, is at least little known- if you make a crumb crust with margarine and butter the pan (at least a pyrex pan) it won't stick. The other way around doesn't work.
BerryBaby September 6, 2016
If you make brownies, or any gooey bar/cake that needs to be cut, you probably have encountered the knife getting all caked and sticky with crumbs. I have found that using a Plastic knife,, yes the one you get at fast food places, they will cut smooth without goo.
Smaug September 6, 2016
Using a damp knife usually works pretty well too.
BerryBaby September 7, 2016
True, I use to do that until I discovered the plastic knife. No need to dip it in water. It works very well.
Smaug September 7, 2016
I'll have to try it- I like a 10' knife for brownies and bar cookies, though, makes it easier to line up the cuts.
Jr0717 September 4, 2016
When my father was renting a place out of town temporarily for work, he wanted a taste of home in the form of cinnamon rolls on Sunday morning, but didn't have a pan or the ingredients, or really the kitchen know-how, to put them together. He picked up the refrigerated cinnamon rolls in a can only to realize that he had no way to bake them - or so he thought!

I advised him to buy an aluminum/disposable muffin tin and bake each roll in its own muffin space. When they were done, iced, and cooled, I told him to cut the "canna-muffins' into single portions so he could have his Sunday breakfast and take leftovers to work during the week - no mess, no fuss, no problems!
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