Saturday's with Nichole: Miscellaneous Food Tips (Week 6)


Happy Saturday! Can you believe that this is already my 6th week? Time is going by rather quickly! Since I told you in the first post of Saturday's with Nichole that I would give you tips and tricks and I haven't really done so in detail yet, I figured this was a good a week as any to fill you in on all of the little tips and tricks I've learned while spending way too much time in the kitchen.

* Mold - fruit especially can tend to grow mold quickly. Nothing drives me more crazy than searching through containers of berries at the grocery store trying to find ones that aren't overripe, too bruised or already growing mold! To stop mold growth, spritz fruit with 1 part distilled white vinegar to 10 parts water. Rinse fruit thoroughly and pat dry before storing. 
* Save the Lettuce! Ever buy a prepackaged bag of lettuce with an expiration date 5-6 days in the future and find that its only a day or two before your lettuce goes bad? I blame this on the excess moisture in those plastic bags. Avoid this by rinsing the lettuce then running it through your salad spinner. Pat dry with a kitchen towel  or paper towels and then store in the crisper drawer in a ziplock bag. 

* Fruit not ripe enough? Store kiwi, bananas, peaches, plums, nectarines, etc. in a brown paper lunch bag. Fold over to close and check daily until fruit is as ripe as you need. 

* Mushrooms - I've never had mushrooms last more than 2 days in the refrigerator when they are kept in their original packaging. Like lettuce, I blame this on the moisture aspect. Transfer mushrooms to a brown paper lunch bag, fold over and store on the top shelf of your fridge. Mushrooms should last up to 7 days, depending on the condition they were in when purchased. 

* Never buy Green Onions/Scallions again! Please tell me I'm not the only one who always ends up with half of the green onions called for in a recipe? Trim the tops of the green onions (making them no more than 8" tall) and place in a glass with water. Change the water daily and watch the onions grow and grow! Just make sure you really do change the water each day. If not, it quickly gets cloudy and your green onions, while still growing, will become slimey inside. 

* Corn on the cob is best when eaten immediately, but if you need to hang onto it for a few days, leave the husks intact and store in a cool, dry place (preferably away from any windows). 

* Lemons and Limes. I'm telling you, its an evil kitchen conspiracy that almost every recipe that calls for lemon or lime zest doesn't also require the juice, or at least not all of it! After zesting, squeeze juice into a plastic container with a tightly sealed lid. Store in the refrigerator for at least a month! 
* Tired of trimming off the herbs you need before every meal? Fresh parsley/oregano/mint and rosemary can be cut, rinsed, wrapped in a damn paper towel, placed in a ziplock bag and stored on the top shelf of your refrigerator for about 7 days. 

* Ran out of parsley? Wash and dice the leaves from the stalks of celery. Use in place of parsley in just about any recipe.

* Need toasted sesame seeds? Place seeds in an even layer on a small piece of aluminum foil. Put inside your toaster oven and heat to 350. Watch closely because the seeds can burn very quickly.

* Why does tomato paste come in a 6 oz. can if most recipes only call for a tablespoon of it at a time? Place tablespoons of tomato paste on a paper plate (or in an empty ice cube tray) and freeze overnight. Remove from the plate and transfer to ziplock bags. Take out a tablespoon of tomato paste as you need it!

* Not going to use that full pound of bacon before it goes bad? Roll up each slice of bacon and place on a paper plate. Freeze overnight and then transfer to small ziplock bags or wrap each piece in plastic wrap and store together in a large ziplock bag.

* Oh no, you forgot to pick up buttermilk at the store! Make your own by adding 1 tablespoon of distilled white vinegar to 1 cup of milk. Let stand for 5 minutes, then used desired amount.

 * Replace vegetable or canola oil for unsweetened applesauce in just about any baking recipe. The applesauce keeps the baked good moist but takes off a ton of calories and fat! I keep individual (4 oz.) containers of unsweetened applesauce in my pantry just for this reason.

* Substitute plain Greek Yogurt for sour cream! The Greek yogurt is healthier but has the same texture and consistency as sour cream. I doubt you'll ever notice the difference!

* Realized you don't have enough cake flour in the middle of a recipe? Combine 3/4 cup of all purpose flour and 2 tbs. cornstarch for each cup of cake flour you need.

* 1 cup honey works just as well as 1 cup of molasses.

* Love to eat raw cookie dough but not interested in getting salmonella? Substitute 1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk for eggs in most cookie dough recipes and eat until you get a stomachache!

* Want to make a recipe just a tiny bit healthier? In baked goods, for each cup of all purpose flour you can use a second cup of whole wheat flour without any or much change in taste.

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