Whether you need to lose weight or save money by dining in, cooking homemade meals is a very rewarding prospect. Homemade food is not only better for you, but affords you the chance to save some dollars.
A great starting point when looking to expand your cooking repertoire is your local library or bookstore. Look for cookbooks which contain basic and simple recipes for you to practice and have fun preparing. Pick out a few recipes to try and decide after it has been eaten if it is a recipe you want to add to your permanent collection. Be sure to be patient as you try these new recipes.
Your spices and herbs should always be stored in a cool and dark place. Exposure to humidity, light and heat all affect the flavor of your spices. Usually herbs and ground spices tend to stay fresh for about a year. Whole spices usually keep their flavor for around 3 to 5 years. They can remain fresh longer if stored properly.
Do you find it tough to know the right amount of grilling time for different cuts of meat? Use an accurate digital meat thermometer to ensure the meat is thoroughly cooked. If the meat is thicker than an inch and a half, it may be a good idea to close the lid of the grill to cut down on total grill time.
If making stir-fry, meat must be cut on the bias and sliced thinly. It is possible that you may have a little trouble doing so in a time efficient manner. When it has firmed (not frozen), take it out of the freezer and then cut it against the meat grain at an angle of 45 degrees.
When trying to eat a healthier diet or lose weight, you should decrease the portion of oils used in cooking meals. Unnecessary fats are contained in butters and oils. A nonstick cooking spray will suffice and is not as unhealthy.
Cooking vegetables for a long time robs them of the critical nutrients that make them a healthy choice. To keep them loaded with nutrients that are beneficial to your body, chose faster cooking methods like steaming or sauteing, or enjoy them raw.
When certain recipes call for milk or water, try adding some other liquids that you would see fit to experiment with flavors. For example, you might try chicken broth or beef broth instead of water in a meat dish. You might even try fruit juice when cooking certain veggies. Instead of using milk, you can substitute yogurt, buttermilk or sour cream. Using different liquids can add nutritional content to certain dishes and improve their flavor.
If you’re cooking food for an important person, such as a new date or even your boss, you should make sure you are cooking food you are experienced at. Stay away from using new ingredients, or a new recipe. You will feel less stressed while cooking if you follow this tip.
It is fairly easy to dry tomatoes yourself. Drying them is easy – simply cut Roma tomatoes in half, or cut larger tomatoes into 1/2 inch slices. Put the sliced tomatoes onto a cooling rack, and lightly salt the cut-side. Set your oven to 190 degrees, place the rack on a baking sheet and let the tomatoes dry in the oven for approximately 10 hours. Place the tomatoes into a freezer bag, and freeze them for later use. You can also store them in jars packed with herbs and olive oil. Kept in the refrigerator, these tomatoes will keep for a couple of weeks.
To make your French fries crispier, let the raw potatoes soak for about half an hour in cold water prior to frying. Vegetables fibers can breakdown under high heat conditions. Soaking reinforces these fibers to produce better results.
Keep herbs and spices fresh and tasty by storing them in an area that is dark and cold. The quality and freshness of spices and herbs will diminish when locked in warm areas.
Be careful when using garlic because the flavor and aroma can be transferred to a variety of surfaces, including your hands. Stainless steel can remove the bad odor that comes from garlic and other smelly items. This will help get rid of the smell so that it is not transfered to the next food item that you handle.
Your cutting board retains the odors of certain herbs and vegetables despite repeated scrubbings. Mark one end, or side, of each cutting board so that you know which is which.
If your burgers tend to stick to your grill, it might be hard to cook them while preserving their shape. Before you put the burgers on the surface of the grill, you should brush it with some oil.
You can make remarkably flavorful dishes by making your stock yourself. Make a large batch, and then store it in your freezer. This ensures you will have tasty, homemade stock available when you need it for soups, stews and many other dishes. Making the stock yourself will allow you to know that you are using a stock that is not loaded with preservatives.
A great source of protein for your diet can be found in beans and tofu. Most grocery stores sell both items. Make a yummy meat alternative by pan frying the tofu with some seasonings. Likewise, beans cooked with herbs can also be a flavorful dish.
Be sure to keep your dishes clean as you cook to avoid a lengthy clean up. If you have a double bowl sink, fill one side with hot, soapy water and the other side with clear water for rinsing. Since the easiest time to clean bowls and other implements is right after you have finished with them, you will save yourself a lot of time and effort since you won’t have to scrub them so much.
Try different liquids in recipes calling for water or milk to add some new flavors to your meals. Use chicken broth, beef stock or vegetable broth instead. Sour cream, buttermilk and yogurt make good milk substitutes. Using different liquids is an easy way to make an old dish more interesting and more nutritious.
The night before you are scheduled to prepare a large, multi-course meal, complete as much prep work as possible. Always look at the recipe and do the menial tasks such as chopping and measuring in advance. Verify that you have all ingredients. When you are ready to start cooking, all you have to do is combine the ingredients and cook them.
If you’re creating salsa you don’t plan on consuming in 20 minutes and it contains raw onions, ensure that cold water is used to rinse off these onions. Thoroughly blot them until they’re dry. There is a sulfurous gas in freshly cut onions. This can end up ruining your batch of salsa. By running water over the onions and then drying them off, you get rid of the gas.
Make your own dried tomatoes. Try slicing a Roma in half lengthwise, or cut larger tomatoes into 1/2 inch slices. Next, lightly salt the open sides and place them salt-side up on a wire cooling rack. Put a cookie sheet underneath the cooling rack and then set the pair in an oven heated to 190 degrees. Leave for as many as ten hours. You can then freeze your tomatoes in Ziplock bags. For flavored olive oil add some dried tomatoes and fresh herbs in a good quality extra virgin olive oil and store out of direct sunlight. Kept in the refrigerator, these tomatoes will keep for a couple of weeks.
High quality cutlery and knives are worth the expense. In addition to the practical benefits, you will also improve your safety when cutting foods with sharp utensils. More accidents and cuts happen due to dull utensils than properly sharpened ones.
Many vegetables and herbs have a smell that has a tendency to remain on cutting boards, despite how many times you wash them. Make a mark with permanent ink on the end of the cutting board, so you always know which side to use for the item that you’re cutting.
Take care of wooden cutting boards properly. Keep a wood cutting board away from heat and too much or too little moisture, as this can cause warping and splitting. You should not ever leave your board submerged in water, rather apply a wet sponge to clean it. Bring a damaged wood board back to life with regular oiling, using only oil made for cutting boards. Be sure to dry it off completely before using.
New spices should be purchased every six months. The flavor of spices diminishes if they sit around for too long. If you have spices that you don’t intend to use any time soon, give it as a gift to someone who will use it.
Keep your spices and herbs stored in a dark, dry, and cool area. Exposing them to light or heat could make them lose their flavors fast. This will overexpose your spices to heat and cause them to lose flavor.
If you are going to make macaroni and cheese, follow the instructions. Doing so ensures that the macaroni is cooked perfectly, and is the right consistency once the cheese is added. You can eat macaroni and cheese with a spoon or fork, although it’s probably easier to scoop it up quicker with a spoon. Adding pepper is a terrific way to add a little spice.
A wonderful cooking method to help maintain moisture and flavor in your poultry is brining. Soak your poultry in the brine mixture for at least an hour prior to cooking to enhance the flavor.
When you are cooking, a good habit to get into is to wash the dishes as soon as you are done with them. Fill your sink with hot water and soap on one side and clean water to rinse your dishes on the other. It is much easier to wash cooking utensils right after using them, and in some cases, you’ll need the same utensil again later in the cooking process.
To save counter space when baking, use stacking cooling racks. If you bake large batches, the cooling baked goods often take up every spare inch of space in your kitchen. Stackable cooling racks allow you to use your space more efficiently. Making use of this vertical space can help you still retain more usable space so you can work.
By using beef or chicken broth or stock in the place of water, you can really boost the flavor of many foods. If you don’t have stock on hand, go ahead and use the water, but add a bouillon cube or two. Doing this will allow your food to get the moisture it needs but also add another level of flavor to the dish.
If you are cooking salsa that will be eaten after 20 minutes and the recipe calls for raw onions, rinse them with water and blot them thoroughly until they’re dry. Raw onions emit sulfurous gas when they are chopped. Your fresh salsa can get ruined by sulfurous gas. This gas is removed by the simple act of rinsing and drying your onions.
Use softened butter instead of melted butter when you are creaming sugar and butter for cookies. If the butter has already been melted, place the butter in the freezer to harden for a couple of minutes. You can also use the melted butter in the dough and then place the mixed dough in the refrigerator. Your cookies will not spread if you make sure your dough is cool.
Good quality knives are an excellent investment for your kitchen. You can save time not having to sharpen or deal with dull knives and sharper knives are safer to use. Dull knives have caused many more accidents than nice, sharp ones.
Cooking for large groups can create a lot of anxiety and stress. Instead of leaving things for the eleventh hour, try to have everything ready to go in advance. Set out all of your recipes, ingredients, utensils and sauces.
If you are sauteing, don’t use too much liquid in the pan. Excessive moisture can steam food, instead of actually sauteing it. Make sure you do this at a low temperature as well.
Simplify measurement of sticky foods with cooking oil! Use an oil that has little flavor, like canola; Before you measure, coat the spoon lightly with this oil, and the sticky ingredient will easily slide off from the spoon. This will prevent waste and will make clean up easier. Peanut butter and honey can be measured this way as well.
Using these tips, you can cook healthy and enjoyable meals at home very easily. You will become a better cook the more you practice. One more advantage of homecooked meals is better nutrition for your family. Use these great tips to make delicious, healthy and affordable meals that the whole family will love!
Put some thought into layering a salad when you are preparing it in advance for later that day. The juiciest ingredients like tomatoes should go one the bottom, and anything that has a tendency to wilt, such as the leaves themselves, should go on the top.