Browsing Category: tips & tricks

How To Peel, Cut, Core, and Dice: Tips for Fruit and Vegetable Prep

how to cup up veggies, how to cut up fruit
The Kitchn has compiled a super-handy list of 20 tips and how-to’s for prepping various fruits and vegetables. Some of the more interesting entries:

How to peel a head of garlic in 10 seconds. Two bowls, a solid surface, and you’re 10 seconds away from a bunch of naked garlic cloves.
How to peel roasted red peppers.
How to cut a mango.
How to dice an avocado.
How to dice an onion.
How to core a head of iceberg lettuce.
How to seed a pomegranate.

See the full list of 20 items.

Also, here are a few short, helpful videos from Domestic Geek:

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.)

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.

Stealth Health Part Two: 10 ways to sneak healthier habits into your meals.

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A couple days ago, I shared 10 ways to sneak healthier habits into your snacks. Today, here are some tips for meal time; some for at home, some for eating out.

1. Keep baby spinach in the fridge. It keeps for several days, and has a subtle flavor which makes it easy to slip into dishes unnoticed. (Confession: I once passed it off as “herbs” to a certain picky eater.) Add it to scrambled eggs, soups, pasta dishes, pizza… even smoothies.

2. Sneak in some extra Vitamin A by adding grated carrots — or just V-8 Juice — to chili and spaghetti sauce.

3. Replace potatoes with cauliflower in your favorite recipes. (Check out Crazy Cauliflower: 15 things to do with the other white vegetable.)

4. Replace white tortillas with whole wheat ones, or with lettuce wraps.

5. Make your own salad dressings. Store-bought is usually loaded with corn syrup! Which isn’t just a factor for the calories you ingest: it can also kick off cravings an hour or so after you eat. Check out several of my salad dressing recipes.

6. To boost the Vitamin C in your salads, add thinly-sliced cabbage. You can also use cabbage to replace iceberg lettuce in tacos and sandwiches.

7. Eating out and can’t avoid something-in-between-two-pieces-of-white-bread? Cut the burger or sandwich in half; put all of the stuff on one half of the bread, discard the now-empty bread. Or order with a side salad, and put all of the sandwich contents on top of your salad; cut into bite-sized pieces.

8. When eating salad in a restaurant, avoid these sugary salad dressings: French, Catalina, most vinaigrettes, Italian, poppyseed (usually LOADED with sugar). Instead, choose: Caesar, bleu cheese, Greek, or vinegar-and-oil.

9. Replace croutons with sliced almonds, or roasted, salted pepitas.

10. Don’t be afraid of avocados; they’re healthy fat! Add them to salads, sandwiches, smoothies. My mom and dad used to spread them on toast like butter.

diet tweaks - avocado

Bonus. Almost everyone’s diet could be improved with just eating more (non-starchy) vegetables.  Try one or two new vegetable recipes every week. You might be surprised; you could discover you love something you thought you hated. My husband discovered he like brussels sprouts so much, he started taking them to work for lunch!

Here’s to healthier eating in 2012, because you’re worth it!

Stealth Health Part 1: Ten ways to sneak healthier choices into your snacks

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Snacks get a bad rap, but they can and should be an important part of any “get healthier” plan. Don’t avoid snacks, and don’t pretend like you’re not gonna have ’em! Plan for them. Stock your pantry, your desk, or your vehicle with some handy but satisfying alternatives.

Here are 10 ways to sneak healthier habits into your snacks:

1. Want something crunchy and salty? Replace crackers and chips with nuts. Keep a variety of your favorites on hand. Yes, they have fat, but it’s mostly the good kind (especially walnuts and almonds), and fat satisfies sooner than carbs, so you may eat less.

2. Want something salty and sweet? Try an apple and sugar-free peanut butter, or apple with cheese. I especially like smoked Swiss.

3. Want something creamy and sweet? Stir together some frozen berries, Greek yogurt, vanilla and sweetener of your choice. (Find out which ones are lower in fructose.)

4. Replace sugar- or sweetener-laden soda with soda water. Flavor it with a squeeze of lemon or lime. Add sweetener if you must, but you get to control what kind of sweetener and how much goes in.

5. Dip raw carrot or jicama chips in caesar, ranch or blue cheese dressing. Watch out for sugar and corn syrup in store-bought dressings, though. Better to make your own. (Search this blog for some great salad dressing recipes! Also, try this 5-minute magic green sauce!)

6. Serving dip at a party? Take hearts of romaine: tear or cut away everything but the strong central rib. Save the leafy part for salads, and use the ribs for dippers, instead of chips or crackers. (Here’s my herbed cream cheese dip. For a dairy-free dip, try Dump Ranch!)

7. Got the munchies? It might just be thirst and/or boredom. Have a glass of ice water and go do something interesting or relaxing for 10 minutes.

8. Mix cottage cheese, salsa and guacamole; dip it with celery stalks or romaine ribs.

9. When you would normally go to potato or corn chips, go with 100% whole-grain crackers (such as Triscuits), and spread them with something that brings some protein and/or fat to the mix: cheese, ricotta, sugar-free peanut butter, or hummus.

10. Do a little research and find out what healthy options are available where you tend to stop for snacks. At QuikTrip, walk right past the chip aisle and look for the healthy options, including fresh fruit and cheese sticks.

Watch for “Stealth Health Part 2: Meals!