From the Kitchen of barb0812

Soups for the Season

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Woman bent over her ladle from soup pot

What to make for dinner?

The words linger in my head as if an answer might somehow appear to me by the simple act of staring blankly inside the refrigerator.  I take a quick inventory of what I have and consider my choices.  Half a jar of marinara…hmmm, Italian? I take a pass–had some pasta the night before last.  A package of Asian noodles.  Nope, had Chinese last night. As I continue with my survey of the usual food suspects in my fridge, the excuses now seem to be coming with little effort.

I am in a ‘dinner rut.’ Defined as when even the most familiar dishes lack the usual savory enticement.

My solution? Oh, I have one, but admittedly, I do sometimes default to my old standby: hot popcorn.  It’s easy, and when there is just nothing in my kitchen to create a meal or when I don’t feel like cooking, I know I always have something to eat.  I actually consider it a comfort food, as I do when I sit down to a hot bowl of soup.

Soups are my go-to for a simple and healthy meal.  I find them easy to fix and very satisfying. I prefer to enjoy soups that complement the time of year and make my choice to include whole foods in season.

Another reason to go for a soup recipe?  Ingredients for a soup base, such as canned or boxed chicken or vegetable stock and root vegetables that might include onion, carrots, celery root, and garlic, are not hard to keep on hand.

Check out a few of my favorite soups.  These are fairly easy to put together with minimal ingredients and can be ready to enjoy under an hour.

  1. Minestrone Soup

I love a good minestrone.  The spinach really adds to the veggie goodness, too. Pour over bread cubes coated with olive oil then toasted for an Italian favorite.

Minestrone Soup

2. Sweet Potato Soup

This is such a modest, sweet soup with few ingredients and is quickly prepared.  It is a soup you will want to enjoy all winter long.

Sweet-Potato-Soup-001WM

3. Chicken Enchilada Soup

This soup seems to be a general favorite combining all the flavor of enchiladas in a soup base.  It takes a bit more effort then some soups, but the end result is so worth it.

Chicken Enchilada Soup

4. Lentil Soup

Prepare this in your slow cooker or stove top.  There are so many variations, but a simple soup base with carrots, onion and celery is extremely flavorful.

Lentil Soup

5. Creamy Mushroom Soup

If you are a mushroom fan like me, you will LOVE this soup!  It’s absolutely terrific and so easy to make.

Mushroom Soup

 

Posted By: barb0812

My dogs consider me the "greatest chef of all time"...I am lover of all foods vegetarian and advocate for growing your own veggies--no matter the size! I am one of the Co-founders of Hey Good Cookin' and a believer in cooking for yourself because everyone deserves it!

See barb0812's Latest Posts

From the Kitchen of heygoodcookin

Give Me Five

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steak002

If you’re anything like me, the way to check if a steak is done is to take a best guess at how long it has been on the grill and cut into it with a sharp knife for a peak. Sometimes I get lucky, but most of the time I check it too late and end up with a dried out steak. The other scenario is I check it too early and release the juices when I cut into it. Then I throw it back on the grill and end up with, you guessed it, a dried out steak.

I used to date a guy who was a master at grilling. Every steak was perfectly prepared and delicious. I asked him how he did it, and he explained that he touches it and went on with something about his hand. I wasn’t much of a cook back then and so his long explanation was lost on me. It was cataloged somewhere deep in my brain until recently.

I was hosting a BBQ and one of my guests is a chef. As he was skillfully manning the grill this memory came back to me. I asked him about the touching your hand business and he gave me the skinny on testing the doneness of steak. Thankfully, I will never destroy another piece of meat and I may just tuck my meat thermometer a little farther back in my kitchen drawer.

Now, you too can put this handy tool in your grilling toolbox.

Raw Steak

Relax your left hand and touch the meaty part below your thumb with a finger from the other hand. This is how a raw steak feels.

Rare Steak

Put your thumb and pointer finger together like you’re giving someone the A-OK sign and touch the same spot below your thumb. This is how a rare steak feels.

Medium Rare Steak

Put your middle finger on your thumb. You’ve got it. This is a medium rare steak.

Medium Steak

Touch the ring finger and you have a medium steak.

Well Done Steak

Finally, for those of you who love a well done steak you know the drill. Put your thumb and pinkie together and see how firm the meaty part of your hand feels.

Wanting more information about testing the doneness of meat? Check out our featured video.

Posted By: heygoodcookin

The Hey Good Cookin' Kitchen has become a place of food inspiration and savory discovery to share with our cookin' singles community. We search out new recipes or sometimes just adapt familiar ones to test, taste, photograph and share in the triumphs and mishaps of creating new dishes.

See heygoodcookin's Latest Posts

From the Kitchen of barb0812

When One of You Is Vegetarian…

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 veggie cacciatore being served for one

I often eat alone, even though I eat with others.  That statement sounds like an oxymoron, but is true for those of us that eat special diets.  Meat has not been in my diet for many years now, and friends and family are usually eager to take on the challenge, so discussions ensue around “what to feed Barb.”  It’s OK, though; I have gotten used to this and luckily am no fussy eater as my parents can attest!

In my younger years, being a strict vegetarian often led to confusion of exactly what that meant—especially with my older family members.  One of my favorite lines in a movie is probably something most vegetarians could relate to at one time or another.  The movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding shows the main character introducing her fiancé to an aunt and explaining that he does not eat meat.  The aunt exclaims, “What do you mean you don’t eat no meat? That’s okay, I make you lamb.”  

Since I do include dairy and eggs in my diet, finding ways to eat with friends and family has not been too difficult.  With a little planning, you can make many meals your own while still eating likewise with others. Along the way I have learned some tips and tricks that are sure to help whether you are a newbie or slowly removing meat from your diet.

1. Going to a BBQ?  Take a mushroom!  Tired of being served those Boca Burgers?  Consider grabbing a Portobello mushroom on your way to the BBQ. So, maybe you are not the greatest fan of mushrooms, but it is amazing what you can do with a bit of the teriyaki or BBQ sauce and a hot grill.   Hand over that mushroom and watch a happy host cook up a delicious “meaty” burger for you.

2. Use a meat alternative.  There are a number of meat alternatives that are so easy to cook up, and they pair well with some veggie-friendly side dishes.  Quorn is an excellent example of a protein product that has a similar texture and feel to meats such as chicken and beef.  I go crazy for the chicken herbed cutlet…yum!

3. Borrow some ingredients.  Many times I will grab ingredients being used for dinner and create my own dish similar to what is being served.  For example, if it happens to be spaghetti, I simply portion out a bit of the tomato sauce and add my own “beef” crumbles or chopped zucchini and mushroom and create a veggie feast for myself. 

4. Make a veggie dish and then meat it up.   I am not bothered by cooking with meat.  I actually do it daily for my dogs, so I am happy to do it for others. Pasta dishes and casseroles are so easy to create as a vegetarian dish, pulling some aside for you and then adding chicken or turkey to the rest.  I recently made a simple veggie cacciatore that can easily be modified with chicken.  Check out my recipe, and give it a whirl.

I can’t wait to read your own tips or suggestions for eating vegetarian solo! 

 

Posted By: barb0812

My dogs consider me the "greatest chef of all time"...I am lover of all foods vegetarian and advocate for growing your own veggies--no matter the size! I am one of the Co-founders of Hey Good Cookin' and a believer in cooking for yourself because everyone deserves it!

See barb0812's Latest Posts

From the Kitchen of barb0812

Dreamin’ of a Veggie Garden…

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Squirrel plotting his next move to feast on veggie garden

Ground squirrels have invaded my life. 

Actually, ground squirrels have probably just outsmarted me.  I hear their mocking chitter when I plant my few modest veggies, and I know they are making plans: organizing their army because they are plotting their next move determined to foil my inevitable plan to harvest a small number of tomatoes, bell pepper and eggplant.

The first couple of years that I planted a garden I chose an area of the property where snails were my biggest nemesis.  Although they challenged about every attempt I made at sending them packing, they did not deter my efforts to yield a decent crop.  Perhaps it was the coyotes that snuck in to hunt for fruit and small rodents that offered some protection for my carefully tended young plants.

Coyote checking out a bunny

Coyote checking out a rabbit in the orchard

Then it happened. The invasion was occurring and I was ignoring the signs, confident that Mr. Green Jeans was indeed in my family tree. Surely nothing could go wrong.

I was wrong. First it was the bunnies.

Cotton tail Rabbit in the fruit orchard

Cotton Tail Rabbit looking hungry for my veggies

My garden was practically inhaled that year.  It started with some nibbles and then it was as if the bugle was sounded, and my plants disappeared just as quickly as if they had never existed.  I was devastated.  Determined more than ever to win the war, I replanted everything that year, and my garden was reinforced with a better fence that no bunny could get in.  I had won!  Or, at least I thought so.

Then, the squirrels appeared. 

Squirrels invading the garden

Squirrel eyeballing cucumber plants

Nothing I could do would keep them out.  I would find beautiful, green tomatoes ripped off my plants, their path of destruction evidenced only by the single bite taken out of each.  I searched online for answers, some websites telling me that this is not the behavior of a typical ground squirrel.  However, I found solace in a forum discussing squirrel garden devastation, including the crime scene photos taken by the tearful and obviously defeated victims.

I decided the next year, I would try again.  Money was of minor consequence at this point; it had now become a war I needed to win.  A fortress was put together with as much effort as Ft. Knox.  I would be victorious.  What I didn’t know is that squirrels always have back-up plans. At first nothing happened.   My plants were growing, and I was feeling quite smug that I had played my hand well.  They knew they couldn’t climb in, but I had not counted on them chewing their way through.  My garden was destroyed in a matter of two days and nothing was spared.  I was defeated and knew all there was left to do was walk away with my tail between my legs.

The next year, I decided to try a couple of potted plants.  Having forgotten some of the pain involved in the ruin of my fortress, I resigned myself to a few plants on the patio.  This could be good.  I planted some herbs, tomatoes, bell pepper and an eggplant.  So far all was untouched. I managed to have a few tomatoes and bell pepper for salads, but was waiting for those majestic purple beauties to make my Eggplant Parmesan. My plant seemed a bit stressed, and I found myself nursing one eggplant and watching it grow to harvest.

The day had arrived. I was ready and really excited to have this modest yield.  Eggplant Parmesan would soon be sitting in front of me to relish with a sense of accomplishment.  I stepped outside and immediately spotted the empty place where my eggplant once hung. I couldn’t believe my eyes.  What could have happened?  It couldn’t be an animal; nothing had touched the other plants.  Still recovering from this unbelievable loss a day or so later, I must have uttered something out loud about my missing eggplant, when someone leaving the house the day of the incident turned to me and said, “Oh that purple eggplant?  I saw a squirrel run across the driveway in front of my car with it in its mouth.”

The knife just got a bit deeper.

Somewhat wiser and un-jaded by my experiences, I decided to create another potted plant garden this year, but this time they sit where the dogs play.

Basset X named Maribelle pictured with 2 bell pepper plants in a pot

Maribelle pictured with bell pepper plants

Tell us about your veggie garden nightmares or share your tips. Whether you have grown eggplant or not, get yourself some of this!

 

Posted By: barb0812

My dogs consider me the "greatest chef of all time"...I am lover of all foods vegetarian and advocate for growing your own veggies--no matter the size! I am one of the Co-founders of Hey Good Cookin' and a believer in cooking for yourself because everyone deserves it!

See barb0812's Latest Posts

From the Kitchen of heygoodcookin

Produce Storage Ideas for Less Waste

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 produce drawers of refrigerator with fruits and vegetables

Food waste is a common complaint from most people and sometimes can be an excuse for not cooking with fresh ingredients or simply not cooking meals at all.  Understandably, with all the convenient foods we have packaged and portion-controlled for us there hardly seems a reason to cook for ourselves. 

There are, however, two factors that SHOULD make us reconsider some of our choices:

  1. 1.        Cost.  There is a price for convenience. Even though we can find fresh, organic food choices that may be perfectly portion-controlled, it is expensive. Shopping smart, storing food properly and finding creative ways to use leftover ingredients will stretch the dollar further.

 

  1. 2.       Boredom. Who wants to eat the same meals all the time? Microwave cuisine loses its appeal after a while and can lead to poor food choices for the sake of variety and avoiding cooking meals.

Make your fresh produce last longer by storing it properly. Those fortunate to have a farmer’s market with fresh produce for sale most of the year are buying at top-of-the-line in freshness. Produce at the grocery store has been stored much longer than the newly-harvested veggies and fruit sold at the farmer’s market. 

 A quick guide to storing common produce:

Vegetables and fruit should be stored in separate drawers. The high ethylene produced by apples in particular will ripen your veggies very quickly. 

Make a plan to eat the produce that will spoil quickly first. The guide below will give you a general idea of how long your produce will keep if stored properly.

NOTE:  Reference to a perforated bag can be as simple as a Ziplock bag in which you poke holes throughout the bag spaced the same as with pre-packaged apples at the grocery store. It takes no time to do this and really does make a big difference.

Fruits

  • Apple       Apples—Store them at room temp, in a cool, dry place away from sunlight or in the fridge. They should last a week or more.

 

  • Avocado  Avocados—Store in a cool, dry place. If green, ripen by placing in a brown bag with an apple. The ethylene from the apple will speed up the ripening process. Once ripe, use within 1-2 days.

 

  •    banana         Bananas—Store at room temperature. Purchase them green and you will have them for about 5-6 days. Bought ripe, about 2-3 days.

 

  •    berries  Berries—Store in refrigerator as a single layer, loosely covered with Saran wrap. Do not wash until ready to use. Will keep about 2 days.

 

  •     Grapes  Grapes—Store unwashed in a perforated plastic bag such as a Ziploc bag. Will keep for about 4 days.

 

  • lemons and limes  Lemons and Limes—Store separately from other fruits, in a cool and dry place. Good for about 5-6 days.

 

  • Pear  Pears—(also including peaches, nectarines and plums) can be ripened on the counter. Like apples, they produce higher amounts of ethylene and should be stored separately from ethylene-sensitive fruits. Should keep for about a week.

 Vegetables

  •   Artichoke    Artichokes— Should be stored in refrigerator until ready to use. When selecting an artichoke, look for “leaves” to be tightly shut. Artichokes with leaves that are opened like a flower are old and not good cookin’. Will keep for up to 2 days.

 

  •  Asparagus    Asparagus—Cut about an inch off the bottoms and place upright in a container of water in the refrigerator. Use within a couple of days. 

 

  • broccoli Broccoli—Store unwashed in a perforated bag, and it should keep about 4-5 days.

 

  • Carrot  Carrots—Store in refrigerator in a closed plastic bag. Avoid storing near high-ethylene producing fruits as they will turn carrots bitter. Will keep for a week or more.

 

  •  Celery      Celery—Store in a sealed bag in the refrigerator. Will keep for up to 2 weeks.

 

  • Corn       Corn—Store in refrigerator with husk until ready to use.  Be sure to pull husk back a bit to look for corn kernels that look whole and not shrunken. Break one kernel open, if it is dry (no juice), the corn is old.  Fresh husked corn will keep for 2 days…the quicker you use it, though, the better.

 

  •  Green Bean  Green Beans—Store fresh beans in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator. Use within 2 days.

 

  • green onion  Green Onions—Store in refrigerator in a sealed bag. Will keep up to a week.

 

  • Herbs   Herbs—Clean and trim ends. Place in a glass of water and cover with a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Will stay fresh 4-6 days.

 

  • Leeks          Leeks—Store untrimmed in a sealed bag in the refrigerator.  Will keep for about 5-6 days. 

 

  • lettuce spinach   Lettuce/Spinach—Store in refrigerator unwashed in a perforated bag with a paper towel to absorb extra moisture. Should keep for up to about 4 days.

 

  • whie mushrooms  Mushrooms—Store in refrigerator unwashed in a brown paper bag. Will keep about 2-3 days

 

  •  red onion   Onions—Store in cool, dry place with good air circulation. Once cut, wrap remainder of onion in plastic wrap and store in fridge or dice it and freeze in a Ziploc freezer bag. Good for a week or more.

 

  • mixed bell peppers    Peppers—Store in refrigerator unwashed. Once cut, wrap in plastic wrap and store in refrigerator or slice it up and freeze for cooking another time.  Should store for up to one week.

 

  • potatoes      Potatoes—Store in a cool, dark place. Store separately from onions, as they will absorb their moisture. Good for a couple of weeks.

 

  • Tomatoes Tomatoes—Store at room temperature stem-side down. Will keep about a week.

             

 Foods that will maintain freshness stored in a Ziplock freezer bag in the freezer:

  •  Ginger         Ginger

 

  •  Mixed Nuts    Shelled Mixed Nuts

 

  •  Chocolate Chips     Chocolate Chips

 

  • Coffee Beans      Coffee Beans

 

Got produce ready to go bad?  Here are some quick meal ideas that are both low on calories and great on taste!
  •  Purchase an Amy’s single-serving cheese pizza and add your own fresh toppings of mushroom, peppers, onion and tomato.
  •  Saute’ extra mushroom, peppers and onion for a few minutes with a bit of olive oil and add your favorite pasta sauce for a quick pasta dish.
  •  Make a quick stir-fry with any cooked rice, leftover meat, veggies and some soy sauce.
  •  Extra berries?  Puree for a topping on whole grain waffles or add to some plain or vanilla nonfat yogurt for a quick and healthy breakfast.
  • Bananas getting old?  Freeze them for use later in banana nut bread or muffins.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted By: heygoodcookin

The Hey Good Cookin' Kitchen has become a place of food inspiration and savory discovery to share with our cookin' singles community. We search out new recipes or sometimes just adapt familiar ones to test, taste, photograph and share in the triumphs and mishaps of creating new dishes.

See heygoodcookin's Latest Posts

From the Kitchen of heygoodcookin

Creating 4 Small Dishes Made Easy

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Creating small dishes blog post

Creating Small Dishes

I have discovered the world of cookbooks that are specifically designed with the single person in mind—cooking for one. Many offer cooking tips, ideas for shopping, storing food, etc., but what really has stood out for me as I pondered helpful hints for cooking single, is that everyone, in fact, at one time or another, eats alone. It is something we all have in common. How we all do this is what creates the variance.

If eating a microwaved meal over the kitchen sink or grabbing bites from take out while catching up on the news sounds familiar, you are in good company. The sheer freedom of eating what I wanted and how I wanted was somehow comforting. I am an adventurous eater, so picking any cuisine for dinner, even if it meant ordered out, felt eventful, and I didn’t have to worry about pleasing anyone’s palate but my own. Eventually though, the take out loses its luster and the economy forces us to reconsider how and where we eat.

Of course there are several challenges with cooking for yourself. While not insurmountable, they do require a bit of thought and planning. I hate wasting food; it is probably one of my biggest peeves. It happens, mainly, when I don’t plan out a menu for using what I purchase or properly store what I don’t need for use another time. I am an impulse shopper and can easily get swept into trying this or that just because something looks new and different—thank you Trader Joe’s.

There is total truth to this statement: food shop after a good meal. You tend to stick to your menu that way and only buy what you need. Your debit card will thank you for that one!

Store and freeze anything you can—it really does help! One of my best kitchen gadgets is a food sealer. I love it for freezing—especially homemade guacamole, which I like to bring out for guests as a quick appetizer.

Let’s face it. Cooking from scratch generally means more than 1 pot to wash. There is just no avoiding it. Perhaps this is no big deal if you make a big batch of spaghetti and plan to eat it all week. I am terrible about eating leftovers for any more than lunch the next day, so I try to make my meals for 1 or 2. For that reason, I tend to keep my cooking only kinda-sorta homemade. It helps keep the dishes down, and I tend to wash as I go, so it doesn’t feel like a mountain of work.

Ok, I fudge a bit on that—thank you cupcakes (yes, I did jump into that cupcake craze.)

But, I am able to keep my food costs down, my time reasonable, and my food waste to a minimum. I still eat healthier than a lot of to-go meals; although, I suppose this might be challenged from time to time. So, in the spirit of saving, time, money and dish washing soap, here are some small dishes to try that will provide a meal for 1 or 2. Or, as we like to say in the Hey Good Cookin’ kitchen, for dinner and lunch the next day!

  • Chicken and Rice Bake for One
  • Elegent Pasta Salad
  • Light and Easy Country Frittata
  • Simple Chicken Pot Pie
  • Three Cheese Scalloped Potatoes

Do you have a favorite small dish recipe that will feed yourself and then some? How about some tips for going solo in the kitchen? Please share your feedback and recipes with all of us!

 

Posted By: heygoodcookin

The Hey Good Cookin' Kitchen has become a place of food inspiration and savory discovery to share with our cookin' singles community. We search out new recipes or sometimes just adapt familiar ones to test, taste, photograph and share in the triumphs and mishaps of creating new dishes.

See heygoodcookin's Latest Posts

From the Kitchen of barb0812

Through the Pyrex Glass

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Looking through a pyrex baking dish as a symbolic gesture

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” Julia Child

I was never much of a cook. I am probably not much better even years later, but I have learned to practice this craft and appreciate the result of my efforts.

Ok, I do enjoy eating.

My taste buds have evolved over the years from my days of microwave dependency. Eating out of a box, can, or anything I could throw on a tortilla and nuke for 30 seconds eventually lost its appeal, but my interest in cooking was still pretty limited. I didn’t find any inspiration in the kitchen—especially since it was just cooking for one.

I never thought I needed to learn to cook for myself. It was just something I imagined doing out of necessity—because I would have a family to feed. I also grew up with the image of cooking being a “chore,” because I had a mother who didn’t much care to be in the kitchen.

I eventually began a relationship with someone who was a natural in front of the stove. Home-cooked meals with fresh whole foods became a regular ritual rather than a holiday event. I actually began to see the enjoyment in planning and preparing a meal.

Once I discovered I could actually make more than just mashed potatoes for the family Thanksgiving dinner, I felt a sense of accomplishment. Cooking took on a whole new meaning for me, and the more dishes I sampled, the more I wanted to dive in and experiment myself. It was both frustrating and satisfying for me. I made a lot of mistakes but still I plowed through. What could I try next? What could I “reinvent,” and so on. This became my inspiration, and I learned that the dishes I prepared reflected my own creativity.

“Cooking is at once child’s play and adult joy. And cooking done with care is an act of love.”― Craig Claiborne

Cooking is trial and error but it’s also about practice and timing. It’s stepping out of your comfort zone at times and being willing to try something new and different even at the price of an overcooked meal or forgotten ingredient. I enjoy the challenges and appreciate the times when it feels easy and relaxing.

I will always be a student in the kitchen, but I don’t feel as awkward as I used to. There are still many recipes that feel too daunting to attempt. I confess that I still nervously walk past the spring load pans at Bed Bath and Beyond, but when I muster enough courage, I will add one to my kitchen and attempt that cheesecake!

No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.” ― Laurie Colwin

How do you find your inspiration in the kitchen?

 

Posted By: barb0812

My dogs consider me the "greatest chef of all time"...I am lover of all foods vegetarian and advocate for growing your own veggies--no matter the size! I am one of the Co-founders of Hey Good Cookin' and a believer in cooking for yourself because everyone deserves it!

See barb0812's Latest Posts

From the Kitchen of barb0812

So, You’re Not Betty Crocker

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A humorous look at learning to cookIf there is anyone I know who can flub up a good recipe, it’s me.

I am notorious for taking the easiest of recipes and turning them into science projects. The good news is that with a bit of practice, I eventually get my recipe to mostly resemble the beautiful photo of the finished dish.

If it sounds like I am bit too hard on myself, rest assured that I have long ago realized my limitations in the kitchen as well as other .   As a kid back in the 5th grade once said to me, after I had been the subject of debate between two dodge ball team captains forced to decide my fate, “Someone has to be the last chosen.”

This very idea is something my good friend and I discussed as she was always last chosen for sport games in school as well. We could recruit others and form our own team “last chosen” A Bad News Bears of sorts. We might not be very good, but with practice and motivation from each other, who knows?

This is really the attitude I take when it comes to cooking. Learning to cook or bake is a skill in which practice knows no bounds for me. There is much terminology and technique that I was unfamiliar with when I began experimenting with cookbook recipes. For example, certain ingredients need to be combined in a particular manner, and why the necessity of checking expiration dates matters.

I have learned a few tips and tricks along the way that I hope some will find helpful!

1. Before you begin a new recipe, read through it all first. If you are unsure of a particular technique used in the recipe, go to You Tube, and chances are someone has a video of it.

2. If you pull a recipe off of a cooking site that has been reviewed, read the reviews. You will find that more experienced cooks offer their opinions on different ways to modify the recipe. Sometimes this is helpful, particularly if you lack a specific ingredient or want to lessen your quantity or calorie count.

3. For recipes that require a lot of prepped ingredients such as chopped onion, peppers, carrots, etc., prepare and measure all these items ahead of time. Not only will it help you not forget to add something, it will allow you to keep from getting too far behind in your recipe steps. Anytime I am preparing something with many ingredients or I am new to the recipe, I always prep and measure as much as I can ahead of time.

4. Just because a recipe calls itself a 30-minute recipe, does not mean it actually is one. Unless this is a dish you have prepared many times, double the time it claims, especially if your dish is time-sensitive.

5. No, it’s not always your fault when a dish fails to resemble the picture. Unless a recipe claims to be “kitchen tested,” measured ingredient amounts can be incorrect or vary according to the quality of the ingredients being used.

6. Don’t fudge the steps. Unless you are familiar with other ways to prepare a particular recipe, follow the steps accordingly. They do make a difference! More than once, I have tried to shortcut steps only to find it drastically changed my dish.

7. Parchment paper will be your best friend. Always keep some handy!

8. If you don’t own a Kitchenaid mixer, consider the investment. It will save you loads of time and has as many uses as Duct tape!

9. Items that contribute to the leavening (rising) of your recipe such as yeast and baking soda do have expiration dates. Check these before beginning any baking if they have been sitting around in your kitchen a while.

10. Most, but not all, recipes can be cut in half by simply cutting measurements for all ingredients in half. Some recipes that require precision for baking can be halved by cutting ingredients according to their weight. Measuring by weight is more accurate than measuring by volume. For example, one cup of flour weighs approximately 4.25 ounces. To cut the recipe in half, you should weigh out 2.12 ounces of flour.

Keep a good attitude and your kitchen mellow. I like to listen to talk radio, so I often put this on when I am cooking. If I am baking, I turn on a TV in the kitchen, and put on something I don’t have to concentrate on too much. Be prepared to make some great dishes and some that might need a bit more practice but, above all, enjoy it! It’s the journey, right?

Posted By: barb0812

My dogs consider me the "greatest chef of all time"...I am lover of all foods vegetarian and advocate for growing your own veggies--no matter the size! I am one of the Co-founders of Hey Good Cookin' and a believer in cooking for yourself because everyone deserves it!

See barb0812's Latest Posts