Kitchen Tips for Moms
The Heart of the Home
The Kitchen is often the heart of the home for busy families, we congregate to cook, share meals, laugh, do homework, bake, create holiday traditions and recipes and so much more. I love to discover and share handy kitchen tips and hints to make the most of our time spent in the kitchen. Here are kitchen tips I hope you’ll want to add to your repertoire of kitchen short-cuts.
Peeling Bananas: It took half my life to realize this and many mushed bananas later, but now I peel bananas like the monkeys do ~ from the bottom end, not the stem end! What a difference it makes, bananas do peel easier upside down!
Freezing Bananas: You might want to freeze bananas for later use - maybe the really ripe ones are on sale and really cheap so you're gonna stock up, or maybe you've bought too many and no one is eating them...in any case, Smoothies are my favorite use for frozen bananas, you could also freeze bananas to use in muffins or pancakes or bread. I find the best way to freeze bananas is to peel them, break them in half, and place in a flat layer in a gallon size ziploc bag. Lay the bag flat in the freezer and once the first bag is frozen you can stack more bags of bananas easily on top of the first bag.
Or at least stop gaining~
To Cut back on nibbling while you are cooking or baking try chewing gum, any flavor works, but cinnamon seems to work best! It helps cut back on the “taste testing” and nibbling!
Keep a bowl of popcorn or carrots next to you while you are preparing dinner and snack on these, they are high in fiber, Wheat Thins Fiber Select crackers are a good choice also.
Reduce your chances of Burning Dinner or Dessert: We're usually doing 10 different things at once in the kitchen, unloading the dishwasher, cooking the pasta, talking on the phone, wiping the refrigerator, cleaning the pots, and inevitably the cookies come out "way too dark" or the casserole is overdone. To reduce over baking or burninguse a Pyrex type glass dish instead of a metal pan. Pyrex is the classic bake ware that's been around for years, the one your grandma loved. It’s a little more expensive than metal baking pans, but worth the investment because they also go from oven to table and look nice. Be sure to lower the temperature by 25% when baking with glass. Another way to reduce over-baking is to buy an oven thermometer so you can check your oven's heat, you'd be surprised how many ovens are cooking higher that you have the dial set.
McDonalds isn't the only one making Chicken Nuggets!
Flip it Tip: This tip is for baking french fries or chicken nuggets or anything that needs turning halfway through cooking. When it's time to turn them over to brown on the other side take the sheet pan out of the oven and take a baking sheet of the same size or larger and place it over your hot sheet with the same sides facing each other. Hold them tightly together and flip so the food is now on the new baking sheet. Place back in the oven and finish cooking. I like to keep the empty sheet in the oven from the start so they are the same temperature when you flip.
Coat It – Chicken: If you run out of bread crumbs or would just like to try something different for a change, dip your chicken cutlets/breasts in egg and then in “complete” pancake mix! Kids love it, and frankly so do we adults, it's a nice alternative that adds a touch of sweetness, it's delish!
Parchment Paper: When baking cookies, parchment paper is your friend! If you use parchment paper on your baking sheets there is very little clean up you have to do, and it keeps your baking sheets much nicer for much longer. You can buy parchment paper at your supermarket, but I've found the least expensive way to buy it is to use the 40% or 50% off coupons at A.C. Moore or Michaels and buy the double rolls!
Buttermilk Alternative: Recipes sometimes call for buttermilk and this isn't something I always keep on hand. Here's how to make a substitute: add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to a one cup measurer, then add milk to fill up the cup. Stir, let sit for 5 minutes, and you have a great buttermilk substitute for your recipe!
Freezing Bacon: Great tip if you only cook half a package of bacon and want to save the rest, or if you get a great sale on bacon and want to stock up. Lay down a sheet of waxed paper and then lay out the bacon strips individually on top of the waxed paper, cover with wax paper, begin next layer, continue till all bacon is used, then top off with waxed paper. Starting at the short side roll the bacon & waxed paper. Place entire pack into a resealable freezer bag and place in freezer. Take out slices as needed.
Chill Out: This is a fun one to lighten the mood or snap a cranky kid or spouse out of a bad mood: Place a rubber band around the sink sprayer handle so that it holds the handle down as though you were squeezing it. Point the sprayer toward the front of the sink. When the cranky one or frustrating teen turns the water on they get sprayed! Just look out, don’t forget & become the prankee (yes, I have forgotten and gotten sprayed...lol).
Slice It: I love adding sliced grapes to my salads. Here's an easy way to slice a lot of grapes all at once: lay a Tupperware lid on the table and fill it with grapes. Take another lid the same size and place it on top of the grapes and press down tightly. Now take a large sharp serrated knife and saw horizontally between the middle of the grapes all the way to the other side. Presto, you've just halved the whole group of grapes all at once! Works great on cherry tomatoes too!
Or Should I Say Cube It: Buy a few extra ice cube trays to have on hand and get busy cubing! Some of my latest cubes are:
Wine: I hate having to refrigerate the last bit of wine left in a bottle when no one wants to drink it. So now I freeze it and use it for cooking in recipes that call for it and some that don’t or add it to my wine glass another time!
Yogurt: Frozen yogurt cubes are great for adding to the blender to make a quick smoothie, add the cubes, some fresh fruit, a little water and you are good to go! Also, I like to stock up when yogurt is on sale, and now if we can’t get to it by the expiration date I freeze it.
Cookie dough!!: Usually when baking cookies I like to make a big batch, but the problem is, that big batch gets eaten, and way too many by me! So, this is a great solution. Place individual portions of the dough in the ice cube trays and once frozen add them to a Ziploc bag. Now when it’s cookie craving time, toss just a couple in the oven and bake. I find that I eat less that way too, because by the time they are finished baking the craving has subsided a little – and while you are waiting for the cookies to bake drink a nice tall glass of water, or milk!
Hopefully these tips will make some kitchen chores a little easier and come in handy while you are sharing time in the kitchen with your family!