Browsing Category: tips & tricks

How many packets of Splenda equal * of sugar?

While granulated Splenda can be measured cup-for-cup in baking, it has a lot of maltodextrin in it, which affects my body about the same as, or maybe even worse than sugar. So I try to stick with the Splenda packets. I know they also contain a little filler, too, but not nearly as much as the granulated version.

One packet equals the sweetness of two teaspoons of sugar, but has nowhere near the same volume. So how do you tell how many packets of Splenda to use to sub for a tablespoon, 1/3 cup, or one whole cup of sugar? Find all those answers here, on this Splenda conversion chart.

(No, I’m not shilling for Splenda, and yes, I know it’s got man-made chemicals and probably isn’t the healthiest thing in the world. But sometimes, it’s just the best substitute, and as long as you’re not drinking buckets of it every day in your coffee, pop or tea, I think a little now and then probably won’t hurt the average person.)

Easy roasted chicken breasts

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make-ahead roasted chicken breasts

One of the best things you can do to make quick, healthy dinners more doable is to have some already-cooked chicken on hand. The stuff you buy ready-cooked at the grocery is loaded with salt, probably has corn syrup in it, and doesn’t taste all that great. Here is the simplest, lowest-hassle, and most delicious method I’ve found for make-ahead roasted chicken breasts.

If you want to be super efficient, make enough to stash for future use, plus enough for dinner tonight, and serve it straight out of the oven — it’s great on its own, too!

Recipe (really, just a method):

Roasted chicken breasts, to use in recipes

Bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
Olive oil (about 1 teasp. per breast)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Line a baking sheet with foil, and spray or oil it. Place the chicken breasts, skin side up, in the pan with an inch more more between them. Brush the tops liberally with olive oil, then lightly with salt and pepper, according to your taste. Place a meat thermometer 2″ into the fleshy part of the largest piece, trying not to hit bone. (Which would make the temperature misread.) Here’s my favorite brand of thermometer.

Bake uncovered until the internal temperature hits 165 F. If you don’t have an accurate thermometer, the skin should be a light golden-brown…

…but the juices should also run clear. To clearly see the color of the juices, slip a white dish under the edge of one breast and poke a hole just above it. Let some juice run into the dish, and look at it in good light. This test looked a little pink, so I stuck the chicken back in for about five minutes.

But also be careful not to overcook it! That’s what makes chicken tough and dry. If in doubt, pull it out a little on the underdone side. The outer and smaller parts of the chicken will probably be cooked through, with a little more pinkness in the center. Save the more-done pieces for salads and sandwiches; use the slightly underdone pieces for dishes that will get cooked some more, like soups, casseroles, and enchiladas.

If you’re serving the chicken right away, though, make sure that everything you serve is cooked through.

To store for future use, let chicken sit at room temp or in the fridge till it’s cool enough to handle. Pull off and discard the skin. Pull the chicken meat off the bone. Discard the bones. You can bag the meat and store as is, or cut into bite size pieces, or shred — whatever works for your use. Store in tightly covered containers or plastic bags.

The FDA says that cooked chicken can be kept three to four days in the fridge, or up to four months in the freezer.

Tomorrow I’ll post a round-up of six of my salad recipes that use chicken!

A dozen ways to use up leftover hard boiled eggs

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The Easter bunny’s long gone, the last of (or at least, you hope the last of) the plastic Easter grass has been vacuumed up, and you’ve got a bunch of hard boiled eggs in the fridge, taunting you. “What are you gonna do with us, huh? Deviled eggs? How original!”

Here’s a dozen ways to use up those little bum nuts (as the Aussies call them). And yeah, we’ll start with the common deviled egg, but things get creative — and maybe just a little weird — as we progress through the list.

Cookies made with hard boiled eggs, anyone?

(The first one on the list is a 2015 update…)

Bacon Deviled Eggs – with sriracha and avocado!

Bacon fat in the yolk mixture? Pure paleo genius!

I first made these for my husband, because he hates traditional deviled eggs (the mustard, mostly) and LOVES bacon. I subbed 2 teaspoons of sriracha for the Frank’s. Once I tasted them, I made another batch for me with far less hot sauce (I’m a spice wimp), but a little bit of mustard. Either way, this will get made again in our house!
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If you’re going to start with deviled eggs, you might as well start with a classic: here are Martha Stewart’s creamy deviled eggs.

I do love deviled eggs, and I don’t usually like to mess with the classic recipe. This variation is tempting me, though: deviled eggs with cream cheese and green onions, from Life’s Ambrosia.

Salad is another great use for leftover hard boiled eggs. Of course you can add them to caesar salad, potato salad, or tuna salad. Here are a few more variations.

Spinach salad with ham and egg, from Martha Stewart

My very own bacon and egg salad with creamy balsamic dressing.

Simple salad Nicoise lettuce cups, also from Real Simple.

Pioneer Woman shares her recipe for avocado egg salad.

How about a sliced egg sandwich with herbed mayo? Via RealSimple.

The Low Carb Diner took Grandma’s potato salad and remade it into cauliflower salad.

How about asparagus (another spring classic) with Greek yogurt, from A Couple Cooks.

These look intriguing: Chinese tea eggs, from Asian Supper.

And as promised: chocolate chip cookies made with hard boiled eggs, from The Girl Who Ate Everything.

Chocolate chip cookies not your thing? How about these Norwegian sugar cookies, via Rachel Ruff of the Denver Cooking Examiner. Yep, they’re made with hard boiled eggs, too!

Kitchen tips: Stuff to keep handy by the stove

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Today I’m going to share a couple things I love that make everyday cooking just a little easier.

I’ve always kept all the most-frequently-used cooking tools close at hand in one large canister right by the stove. That’s handy, but as we collected more gadgets it got more stuffed, to the point where you couldn’t pull out one item without bringing one or two others with it. Not a major problem in the big picture, but just a little daily irritation.

So, a few weeks ago, I went through the utensils and narrowed them down to the ones that really get used weekly to daily. There were still quite a few, so I got two canisters of different heights and sorted the tools out by height. It’s a small change, but it makes it so much easier to find the exact thing I’m after, and pull it out quickly and cleanly.

Then a few days ago I had an ah-ha: I use my measuring spoons every single day, but I’ve always kept them in a drawer with other gadgets. Why not keep them out in the open by the stove, too? So I hunted in a local flea market for something tall enough to hold my measuring spoons, short enough so I can read the measurements stamped on them, and hefty enough to not tip over easily. I found this cute little ironstone pitcher for six bucks — score! It’s just perfect.

By the way, one of the things that makes every day cooking a little easier is these rectangular stainless steel measuring spoons. What I love most about them is that because they’re so long and narrow, they fit in just about any spice jar! I also like the fact that the rectangular shape makes it easy to eyeball a partial spoonful if, for example, you need a 1/2 teaspoon, but that spoon and the 1/4 teaspoon are in the dishwasher. Just grab the full teaspoon and guesstimate it.

I actually have two sets, so there’s (almost) always one clean in any size I need. I also like that the set includes a 3/4 teaspoon and a 1/8 teaspoon. You might balk at spending $12 – 14 on a set of measuring spoons, but not only will you use them every day, but these things will last for generations — literally. So that really makes it pennies per use.

Where I got the stuff:
The red canisters: Target (they came with lids, but I don’t use them)
The ironstone pictcher: A Legacy Antique Mall, Wichita KS
The measuring spoons: I don’t remember, but you can pick up a set (or two) at my Amazon shop.