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Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Tips for sticky pizza dough (and why I use butter to grease the pans)

Pizza dough is very forgiving.  I don't think I've ever had it not turn out okay!

I even started pizza dough one day and then realized I was out of yeast. I didn't have an alternate dinner plan, so I made the pizza anyway and just pressed the crust really thin. It still turned out quite good! Thin, yes, but good. (Now, I even have an "official" unleavened pizza crust recipe.)

Tip: If you ever find yourself with pizza dough and no yeast, press or roll the dough very thin before adding toppings and baking. Okay, I am probably the only person who runs out of yeast and still makes pizza for dinner... ;)

Sticky pizza dough in my bread machine

I use my bread machine's dough cycle to knead the dough for me. Tip: If you don't have time for the whole dough cycle to complete, you can stop the machine after the kneading is finished and transfer the pizza dough right to the pans.

I usually have 500 things going on at once around here, and so while I try to watch the dough near the end of kneading and see if it needs more flour added, sometimes I forget. And the dough ends up a bit sticky.

Sticky dough still makes great pizza crust. In fact, it's easier to just press onto the pans that way (instead of rolling with a rolling pin, like a stiff dough would require).

A vegetable pizza (which wasn't my favorite): Ranch dressing and minced garlic for the sauce, spinach, zucchini, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, and onions (mozzarella cheese was added after this picture was taken)

Tips for dealing with sticky pizza dough:

Use clean hands to butter or grease your pizza pan(s). Then with your oily hands, lift or pour the dough out of the bread machine pan (or stand mixer bowl) onto the pan(s) and press to the sides. Put more oil or butter on your hands if needed while pressing.

Another way to deal with sticky dough can be to wet your hands with water. I know, it sounds like the wrong thing, but it works! If you're pressing out the dough and your hands are sticking to it -- wet your palms with some water to finish.

The finished (baked) vegetable pizza

Why I like to use butter to grease our pizza pans:

I love using butter to grease pizza pans because it's a little salty (we buy salted butter). That salty butter flavor makes the crust soooo good! Sometimes I skip adding any oil to my pizza dough, but I liberally butter the pan. Just don't liberally butter the pan if you're using a perforated pizza pan. Instead of crisping up the crust, that butter will all drip through and start a grease fire in the bottom of your oven. (Yep, I learned that first hand!)

I don't, however, grease the pan if I'm using my silicone baking mats. There's no need to grease them because nothing sticks, and I'm all about taking a shortcut like not greasing a pan if it still wipes clean afterwards! The silicone baking mats actually make very good breads/pizza crust, even if it's not buttery and salty.

Related posts:

Tips for perfect homemade pizza

I did a price breakdown of my homemade pizza recipe here... concluding that my 16-inch turkey pepperoni extra-cheese pizza costs just $3.25 in ingredients!

I've also shared my tips for making homemade pizza to serve to guests. I especially like serving pizza to families with children, since it's always a hit! :)

My pizza recipes (you'll notice my obsession with Papa Murphy's!)

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please!

In order to keep the kitchen tips more easily accessible, posts not adhering to these guidelines will be removed. We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. Quick cooking method for steel cut oats (Heather at Feel Good About Dinner)
2. From-scratch pancake tips (SnoWhite at Finding Joy in My Kitchen)
3. Plastic wrap substitute (Adrienne at Whole New Mom)
4. How to keep your honey jar lid from sticking (Stacy at Stacy Makes Cents)
5. Knife/cutting practice for kids (Jenna at Blessed Roots)
6. Don't throw away your pumpkin seeds! (Purposely Frugal)
7. 5 essential ingredients for a frugal pantry (The Gentle Mom)
8. Uses for kitchen shears (Georgia at Georgia's Cookie Jar)
9. Easy kitchen cleaning tips (Living So Abundantly)
10. Soup and stew tips (Donna at Moms Frugal)
11. Making jelly NOT messy (Doing My Best for Him)
12. How to freeze cherry tomatoes (Alea at Premeditated Leftovers)
13. Kitchen cleaning tip (Christine at iDreamofClean)
14. Tips for using stevia (Katie at Kitchen Stewardship)
15. Artisan bread tip (Jodi at LgFamilyFarm)

Warmth in my kitchen: Easy chuck roast (or stew meat) with gravy

We eat lots of fish, and a bit of chicken, but beef is a real treat at our house. Oh, I do use ground beef in things like pizza or spaghetti or tacos -- but it's almost more of a condiment than a main part of the meal, crowded out with pinto beans or other, cheaper, ingredients.

And I am not necessarily a fan of skimping on the meat. I love to serve roast beef and gravy. It's a favorite of everyone in our family! I hope to make it more often this winter.

What can be more comforting and simple than putting some meat and seasonings into a stock pot (or slow cooker, if I start early!) and letting it warm the house with the lovely fragrance of herbs and spices? Thicken the gravy at the end, and make some mashed potatoes. Serve with a side vegetable like corn or green beans, and maybe some canned applesauce. (See? Three things and it's dinner!)

Easy chuck roast made with stew meat
Easy Chuck Roast, made with beef stew meat

I have a few cheats for this already-simple meal. I like to buy the beef stew meat at Costco. It's lean, and already cut, and is so easy to just throw into this recipe!

I also have used instant potatoes for my mashed potatoes. Costco sells a brand of instant potatoes that is amazing. Joshua picked up a box last year and brought it home to me saying "I want to eat mashed potatoes more often! Here is an easy way for you to do that." They were the best instant potatoes ever.

And, I use frozen vegetables. (I love Costco.)

Earlier this year (back in March, I think), Yehoshua took a video of me preparing my mom's Easy Chuck Roast recipe. It's one of those 5-minutes-prep and 3-hours-simmer meals. As long as you plan ahead, your hands-on time is so very little.

A tip from the video: If you have a pepper grinder, you can tighten or loosen the screw at the top to adjust the grind. Loosen it for coarsely ground pepper, or tighten for finely ground pepper. We use our pepper grinder daily. Freshly-ground pepper is the best!! :)

3 Oven-Baked Dinners to Simplify Your Evenings (and warm up your kitchen!)

Cheesy Chicken Vermicelli recipe
Following the "3 things for dinner" rule:
Cheesy chicken vermicelli, steamed broccoli, and grapes

I know I said I'd be blogging this week. I am so easily distracted, though! It's just too tempting to use my quiet, kids-are-in-bed time for other stuff. I always have grand intentions of "blogging later".

Yesterday, I decided that since I had gone to bed early the night before, I would use Moshe's nap time to blog. Shortly before nap time, I got out my sewing bag to do a quick mending job and the next thing I knew, three children were ready to practice their sewing skills on rag fabric.

I spent the next 2 hours helping thread needles, tying knots, and trying to teach them all how to thread needles and tie knots for themselves. I didn't turn on the computer, but we sure enjoyed our impromptu "sewing class"!

I tell Joshua, "I don't think we ever stop doing 'homeschooling' around here!" Even our "play time" involves some sort of hands-on, real-life learning (and even more so since we canceled Netflix in August, yay!).

But, on to the topic of dinner. I told you I'd share a few of my favorite easy dinners this week. While I love grilled food (and the fact that Joshua grills for us, taking some of the dinner load off me!), I'm actually glad that the weather has turned cool and I've been using the oven.

Dinner time is so much less hectic when the 3-year-old is setting the table, the 1-year-old is hanging onto my legs, the "big boys" are fighting in the living room, and dinner is in the oven. Phew! At least one thing will be done on time! ;)

And how did I get dinner in the oven, anyway? Making easy meals and then using "leftovers" is my shortcut. My plan from last week:

Dinner #1: Oven-roasted chicken. (5 minutes prep! Serve yummy sides so there is leftover meat.)

Dinner #2: Three-cheese baked spaghetti. (Cook 16 ounces of extra pasta; I use thin spaghetti.)

Dinner #3: Cheesy chicken vermicelli. (Use cooked pasta and leftover chicken to make a dish of cheesy chicken vermicelli in about 15 minutes.)

Totally different meals, but all very delicious! :) And they'll all warm up your house if it's chilly like mine is. :)

If that sounds like a lot of cooking to you, remember that you can split up the spaghetti and the vermicelli casseroles into two 9x9-inch square baking dishes (or equivalent) and freeze one for later.

(Don't have enough dishes? I use this method for freezing casseroles and my dishes aren't sitting in the freezer -- plus, it takes up less space!)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: 3 Things for Dinner (tip to make dinner simple!)

I love creating beautiful and delicious things in the kitchen. But, like a lot of things in life my life right now, getting beyond the basics has become more of a hobby than a daily event. Which is okay. :) Healthy-ish and homemade is certainly good enough (and dinner on time is an extra bonus!).

Dinner at our house is often very simple. (I know, I had everyone fooled!) This week, I'm going to be blogging a few of our favorite simple meals. Me?? Blogging?? Well, I am. For real (finally). :)

My tip for keeping dinner simple but balanced: Plan 3 things. It's just enough to call it "dinner". :) (I don't include dessert in the 3 things, and we usually only have dessert on the weekends.)

Some examples of how I use the "3 things" rule:

  • Meat, bread or starch, and vegetables
  • Main dish, vegetable, and fruit
  • Soup, bread, and salad
  • Sandwich, veggies, and fruit


Dinner tonight
Tonight's dinner: roasted broccoli and cauliflower, fish sticks, and oranges. The kids also each ate a banana because they were still hungry after we finished what you see here! :)

My go-to easy meat dishes are grilled chicken or fish, grilled beef burgers or salmon burgers, and oven-roasted chicken.

For a starch, I like to make baked potato wedges (great with burgers!), rice (perfect with fish), pasta (with chicken especially) and bread (with soup).

I either cook frozen vegetables or roast some fresh ones in the oven. For fruit, it's whatever's been on sale, or bananas. :)

(See also: 6 Tips for Perfect Oven-Roasted Veggies!)

Chicken, pasta, and broccoli

I love pasta and white sauce, but hadn't made it for quite a while. Last week, I cooked some pasta, made homemade alfredo sauce, steamed some broccoli, and warmed some leftover grilled chicken breast that I had previously frozen.

If I had mixed everything together, the family would have said "What? One thing for dinner and that's it?!" Instead, I served the foods separately, but everyone ended up with layered pasta, broccoli, chicken and sauce on their plates. Delicious! I even had some shredded (not grated) Parmesan cheese on hand from Costco, thanks to Jessica making me go buy some (see her chicken parmesan?!).

Smiley Ruth :)

I had to take a picture of Ruth (3), so excited about the wagon-wheel shaped pasta! :)

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please!

In order to keep the kitchen tips more easily accessible, posts not adhering to these guidelines will be removed. We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. Cutting dough (Willa at Armstrong Family Fare)
2. 7 baking tips and shortcuts (Heather at Feel Good About Dinner)
3. Maple icing and other ways to stretch your real maple syrup (Blessed Roots)
4. Identifying squash (The Local Cook)
5. Freezing leftover soup, adding spinach to soup, & more (Robin at Happily Home After)
6. Identifying cups in the kitchen (Stacy at Stacy Makes Cents)
7. Year-round mint chocolate chips (Kolfinna's Korner)
8. Sweetening applesauce (Georgia's Cookie Jar)
9. Fridge baking soda tip (Living So Abundantly)
10. Ran-out-of-milk substitute (Adrienne at Whole New Mom)
11. Fruit pizza tips (Cheryl at The Bz House the Love Built)
12. Must-have sweeteners for from-scratch baking (Finding Joy in My Kitchen)
13. Bread-baking tip (Donna at Moms Frugal)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Adjusting the microwave power level

Today's kitchen tip is super simple, but something I would never have thought of doing if Joshua hadn't showed me how! :)

When we moved from an apartment to a house (with a great kitchen!) last year, a friend gave us a microwave that they no longer needed. I admit to using it more than I expected I would!

But, I don't like it when I go to melt butter in the microwave and before it's all melted, it's splattering everywhere. Or, I try to warm some leftovers and need to keep stirring the food as it gets hot, to prevent spots that are sizzling along with spots that are still hard and cold.

To avoid this? Adjust the power level. Here's how it works on ours:

1. Set the time (minutes/seconds) you want to use.

2. Press the "Power Level" button. Ours is saying "HI" which is at 100% power.

3. Continue to press the "Power Level" button until it says the % of power that you want to use. Ours goes down 10% with each press (shown above: 30% power).

What adjusting the power actually does:

The power level is adjusting how much the microwave cooks. At 100% power, it is emitting microwaves 100% of the time. At 50% power, it's emitting microwaves 50% of the time (alternating 10 seconds "cooking", 10 seconds just turning the turntable).

So, to use my melting butter example: Instead of setting the microwave for 20 seconds and hoping I don't have butter splashed everywhere inside, I set the microwave for 90 seconds at 20% power. This allows the butter to slowly melt.

My tips for Defrosting and Re-heating Without a Microwave (I still think defrosting meat in the microwave is a little scary/gross!)

Softened butter tips (super useful when you don't have a microwave to soften butter on-demand!)

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please!

In order to keep the kitchen tips more easily accessible, posts not adhering to these guidelines will be removed. We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. Tips for packing lunches (Healther at Feel Good About Dinner)
2. Covering dishes in the oven (SnoWhite at Finding Joy in My Kitchen)
3. Butter tip (Living So Abundantly)
4. Cleaning the seal on your fridge (Anna at The Joyful Wife)
5. Using a bowl to cover a crock pot (Lenetta at Nettacow)
6. Easy kitchen tips (Georgia at Georgia's Cookie Jar)
7. Getting real food on the table, simplified (Christine at Lily of the Valley)
8. Freezing leftover spaghetti sauce (Alea at Premeditated Leftovers)
9. Tip for less-icky dish drainer (Stacy at Stacy Makes Cents)

Creating and Using from a Long-Term and Short-Term Food Storage (Eat Well, Spend Less)

This month's Eat Well, Spend Less topic is centered around emergency preparedness. I've been interested in this topic for a long time, and today I get to write about food storage!

Growing up on a farm with parents who grew (and preserved) much of their own food, buying ahead and having short-term food storage in our home seemed natural to me. Then, we took our first steps toward long-term food storage several years ago. Now, we have a mixture of short- and long-term food on hand. I'm still expanding our variety with new foods, like lentils this year.

Here are my tips on getting started:

Research What Stores Well and How To Store It

I knew I wanted to store some food long-term, and I wasn't planning to buy the little bags or boxes from the grocery store with a "use by" date. Was it really true that properly-stored wheat could stay good and nutritious for decades? What about the shelf life of dry beans?

Here is one of my favorite pages about long-term food storage, and here is another site that is a wealth of information on the topic. Google has lots of results for search terms like "long term food storage", and a YouTube search for similar terms brings up videos on the topic (if you like to watch instead of just reading!).

Decide Which Foods You Can Both Use and Store

For example, if you've never cooked with dry beans, buy a small quantity and use them before deciding to invest in a hundred pounds of beans for your food storage, even though they are cheaper in bulk! ;)

Why store and use?

  • You'll save money by buying in bulk quantities.
  • It's easier to maintain a short-term food supply (items with a shorter shelf life).
  • You'll be using ingredients while they're still fresh (and not tossing anything, having paid only to store it and not to use it).

I also have a grain mill, which means I can easily use wheat (which stores very easily) and make my own flour as needed. If you don't have a grain mill or the means to purchase one (or simply don't use a lot of flour), you can purchase flour in bulk -- such as 25 or 50 pounds at a time.

Get Ready to Purchase

For short-term food storage (items with a shorter shelf life), watch for sales at your local grocery stores. Research bulk purchase options such as bulk food stores, health food stores, or co-ops. Azure Standard is a co-op that services where we currently live. When we lived in Ohio, we were able to order from Something Better Natural Foods.

One of the best ways to find out about stores or deals in your area is to ask friends or acquaintances. "Where do you buy ___ ?" is a common question I have when I'm at someone's house or if they've brought food to our house. I've written more about buying in bulk here. We try to buy in bulk as much as possible! :)

After you've scoped out the options available in your area, you're ready to buy ahead! :)

Italian Pasta Salad recipe
Italian Pasta Salad -- using mostly pantry ingredients

Carefully Store Your Food

Label and date everything!! I love buckets for bulk grains or flours.

We have stored some grains in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers. Those buckets are not in rotation and have not been used yet, for two reasons. Reason #1 is that Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers cost money. However, that cost is worth knowing that those grains are safely stored and can be kept for 20+ years before using. Thus reason #2 is that those buckets can be stored for a very long time before using. I have other buckets (not sealed with Mylar bags) that are in regular rotation and are used from. :)

Food should be stored in a cool, dry, dark location, preferably without any drastic temperature changes. (E.g., storage at 70 degrees year-round is better than a fluctuating 50-80 degrees.)

Don't be Afraid to Try New Recipes!

Search online, in cook books, or in books from the library for ways to use the ingredients you've stored. Storing simple, whole ingredients like dried beans and legumes, sugar, salt, pasta, and hot cereals allows for plenty of experimentation in the kitchen -- and incorporating fresh ingredients when you have them! :)

The Prudent Homemaker has a lot of great articles and tips about living off of food storage. Really, anything I could write on the topic is inferior to Brandy's knowledge and experience! Be sure to read her story about living from their food storage, and check out her list of what she buys at Sam's Club! :) (By the way, Brandy's recipes all look mouth-watering! See the sidebar for her recipe categories and then browse the photos!)

Don't miss the other great posts this week from the Eat Well, Spend Less team:

Making the most of your pantry, fridge, and freezer (Jessica at Life As Mom)

5 ways with beans (Katie at goodLife{eats})

5 ways with lentils (Aimee at Simple Bites)

5 ways with pasta (Mandi at Life... Your Way)

5 basic steps to emergency preparedness (Katie at Kitchen Stewardship)

Whole Grain 101 (Shaina at Food for My Family)

An emergency fund in your pantry (Alyssa at Keeping the Kingdom First)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Salt the water when cooking pasta or beans

I love beans and I love pasta! We eat beans often, but pasta is more of a treat. Last week I made macaroni and cheese for lunch with the kids... so delicious! (I'm ready to enjoy some non-grilled comfort foods again, now that the weather is cooler.)

When I posted my tips for perfect, tender cooked beans, I mentioned that I like to add salt to the cooking water. The salt does not stop the beans from becoming tender and soft, but DOES give a great flavor to the beans, since the salt is in the beans and not just sprinkled on after cooking.

Adding salt when cooking beans eliminates the problem of either A) draining off the salt when you drain the beans or B) needing to stir salt into the cooked beans and ending up smashing them in the process.

Now, the part about pasta. I had known for a long time that adding salt to the water when cooking pasta was an option. I didn't routinely do it or even consider why it might be a good idea until recently though!

Just as beans absorb the salty water and are perfectly salted after cooking, adding salt to your water when cooking pasta salts the pasta from the inside and gives a great flavor! This also eliminates the issue of needing to make an extra-salty sauce to make up for unsalted pasta.

I now always add salt when I'm cooking beans or pasta, and I love the results! Is there anything else like this that you add salt to when cooking? I'd love to hear about it! :)

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please!

In order to keep the kitchen tips more easily accessible, posts not adhering to these guidelines will be removed. We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. Cleaning your stained crock pot (Heather at Feel Good About Dinner)
2. Freezing pizza dough (SnoWhite at Finding Joy in My Kitchen)
3. Leftover tomato sauce tip (Living So Abundantly)
4. Baking dishes tip (Anna at The Joyful Wife)
5. Homemade dishwasher rinse aid (Adrienne at Whole New Mom)
6. Save money on paper towels (Stacy at Stacy Makes Cents)
7. How to puree winter squash (The Gentle Mom)
8. How to puree pumpkin (Carrie at My Favorite Finds)
9. Making colored sugar for decorating (Cooking Luck)
10. Cleaning coffee parts (Christine at iDreamofClean)
11. Drying herbs from the garden (Blessed Roots)
12. Potato tips (Donna at Moms Frugal)
13. Tips for canning green beans (Gretchen at Extraordinary Ordinary Life)
14. Thawing baby food quickly without the microwave (Covenant Homemaking)

Blackberries fill my freezer (and the best blackberry coffee cake recipe)

If you look in my freezer right now, you'll see a whole lot of salmon fillets and gallons of blackberries. Salmon and blackberries... foods that will always shout "Pacific Northwest!" to me! Our summer finally warmed up and we had a month of the perfectest weather possible. Clear, sunny days with highs in the 70's... and handfuls, literally handfuls, of juicy wild blackberries.

Fresh blackberries!
A couple of the biggest blackberries Joshua picked this evening

These guys are huge, and will fill a small bucket in no time at all. They're also growing everywhere here in Western Washington. We've found several great picking spots within a short walk of our house.

My favorite spot isn't the one at the end of our driveway (too close to the road with an 18-month-old runaway), but the one at the park down the road. The children play, run, and visit with the goat kids that live right beside the park while I pick blackberries... and pick blackberries... and pick blackberries from the (what I thought was a) SMALL blackberry patch there. :)

Bucket for berry picking

The easiest berry picking is with a bucket and string. I used a few old (clean) shoelaces and cut slits in the sides of empty sour cream or yogurt containers so we'd each have a bucket for picking.

Yehoshua and his bucket, ready to pick blackberries
Yehoshua (7) ready to pick berries :)

Also useful is a grabber of some sort. You know those high-up bunches that are so huge and ripe and get the most sun but no one can reach them? They MUST be gotten. ;) A friend suggested using a long stick with a nail half-way pounded in at the end to help maneuver the canes.

At any rate, something to reach or pull with that doesn't involve skin is really great because those branches just don't like to let go. At all. My parents were here from Ohio last week, and remarked on the size of the blackberries... and the tenacity of the prickles (they're not technically thorns... I just learned this today).

When my parents were here, we tried to make their food experience as PNW-ish as possible. ;) The first evening, Joshua grilled tuna steaks. (I didn't take pictures, but let me just say that leftover grilled tuna steaks takes a tuna melt to a whole new level!)

The next morning for breakfast, I made some fresh blackberry syrup with whole wheat pancakes. For dinner that night, Joshua grilled salmon on cedar planks.

Later in the week, I made blackberry coffee cake with more of the berries. Joshua's freshly made vanilla ice cream went perfect with the blackberry coffee cake!

And believe it or not, blackberry season is still going. I think our freezer can hold a few more gallons, if I take the time to pick them. And it's free food, so I may as well! This is, after all, the only time of year when blackberries are not (as much of) a pesky weed here. ;)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: When your grilling plans go awry

I've been so not online lately, but I'm back this week. I'll share about our blackberry harvest tomorrow, along with one of my favorite recipes for using our freshly-picked or frozen blackberries! :)

We have a gas grill, and we sure do love it! It's quick and convenient and Joshua makes the best grilled food ever. Of course I'm not biased. Anyone who tries his food agrees! ;)

Until recently, we had just one propane tank for the grill. Every number of months, the tank would run empty, sometimes surprising us when we would open the lid of the grill that we thought was pre-heating, only to find a cold grill with no fuel.

My solution for times when grilling goes awry: 

Oven-grilled chicken breast on a wire rack

Use a baking sheet (with sides) and wire cooling rack and place meat in the oven (top rack or near the top is best). Roast uncovered at 425-450 degrees until meat is done, turning once during baking if desired. I usually use a meat thermometer unless I'm really familiar with the cut of meat.

I even have an old, worn-out baking sheet on hand to use for this purpose, so I don't need to worry about harming one of my "good" pans.

The finished chicken breast...

Yay! Dinner was rescued, and while my oven "grilled" chicken breast wasn't quite as good as "the real thing", it was definitely better than any other baked chicken breast I've made. :)

Oven-grilled chicken breast on a wire rack

A few tips for determining when meat is done (although I still recommend using a thermometer if you're really unsure when it comes to chicken!):

Chicken: Chicken should feel firm, not soft, when you press down on it.

Beef: For beef, one comparison I've read is that a rare steak will feel like your cheek when you press it, a medium steak will feel like your nose when you press it, and a well-done steak will feel like your forehead when you press it. Elise from Simply Recipes has a similar method shown in pictures here.

Fish: Fish should flake easily with a fork. Fish also cooks really quickly! When I first started cooking with fish, I would usually over-cook it because it just didn't seem possible that it could be done after just ~15 minutes. One day, I tested some salmon that truly wasn't done yet -- and it didn't flake. I finally SAW the difference and could believe that my flaking fish really was fully cooked. (Fish should reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees.)

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please!

In order to keep the kitchen tips more easily accessible, posts not adhering to these guidelines will be removed. We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. Tip for not wasting fruit (Willa at Armstrong Family Fare)
2. Sweetened condensed milk substitute (The Local Cook)
3. Reduce splatters when frying food (Stacy at Stacy Makes Cents)
4. What to do when you're out of coffee filters (Heather at Feel Good About Dinner)
5. Tips for using less disposables in the kitchen (Purposely Frugal)
6. Weigh ingredients for easier baking (Robin at Happily Home After)
7. How to make perfect wavy bacon (JessieLeigh at Parenting Miracles)
8. Keep apples from browning (SnoWhite at Finding Joy in My Kitchen)
9. Spaghetti sauce tip (Georgia at Georgia's Cookie Jar)
10. Freezing lemon zest (Living So Abundantly)
11. Instant mixes for bread machine (Centsable Dining)
12. How and why to soak grains (Adrienne at Whole New Mom)
13. Keeping cookies soft (Carrie at My Favorite Finds)
14. Shopping/pantry supplies tip (Donna at Moms Frugal)
15. Tips for cooking real food with little ones (Blessed Roots)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: How to reach things in high cupboards without getting a stool

Since I'm not very tall (5'4"), many times the top shelf of a kitchen cupboard is too high for me to reach without getting a chair or stool, especially if it's something in the back of the cupboard.

My lazy woman's solution? Get a silicone spatula and use it to grab the item and pull it to the edge of the shelf. I have a shiny/smooth silicone spatula that is especially "sticky" and helps me get just about anything from the back of the cupboard without dragging over a chair. Yay! :)

Do you have any tips for helping short(er) people in the kitchen? I'd love to hear them! :)

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please!

In order to keep the kitchen tips more easily accessible, posts not adhering to these guidelines will be removed. We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. 8 time-saving kitchen tips (Adrienne at Whole New Mom)
2. Using parchment paper for cookies (Anna at The Joyful Wife)
3. Sneaky carrots (Christy at One Little Word She Knew)
4. Save money by using re-usable sandwich bags (Stacy at Stacy Makes Cents)
5. Keeping pancakes warm without turning on the oven (SnoWhite at Finding Joy in My Kitchen)
6. Menu plan and grocery list tips (Purposely Frugal)
7. Organizing foods you stock up on (Heather at Feel Good About Dinner)
8. Quick and easy way to pit cherries (Georgia at Georgia's Cookie Jar)
9. Ideas for leftover chicken (Living So Abundantly)
10. Tips for packing tasty healthy lunches (The Gentle Mom)