Tammy's Kitchen

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Tip for baking with home-cooked pumpkin

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

This week's Kitchen Tip Tuesdays is being hosted by Heather at Feel Good About Dinner. Head over to Feel Good About Dinner to read her kitchen tip and share yours there!

If you're cooking fresh pumpkins this month, don't forget to drain it well before pureeing for your favorite baking recipes. :)

This year my brother (who lives in Eastern Washington) brought us a huge box full of pie pumpkins from their garden! They are so flavorful and less watery than the big pumpkins I've often been given. I did still drain a bit of water out of them after cooking.

Draining cooked pumpkin

Just place the cooked pumpkin in a strainer in a clean sink or big bowl and allow to drain for a few minutes.

Tip: This year I have an immersion/hand blender and it makes it super easy to puree the cooked pumpkin right in a big bowl. Other years, I just mash the pumpkin with a potato masher and that works sufficiently well for everything I've tried.

Some of our favorite pumpkin recipes are showcased here.

I love baking with pumpkin... probably even more than apples. :) I'll be making my signature pumpkin dinner rolls for Thanksgiving next week and I can't wait! :)

For more kitchen tips or to add yours, visit Feel Good About Dinner! :)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Lunchbox tips and more

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

This week's Kitchen Tip Tuesdays is being hosted by Bonnie at Recipes Happen. Head over to Recipes Happen to read her kitchen tip and share yours there!

The kids and I left Seattle last week and flew to Ohio to visit my parents and siblings there. We're having a lovely visit and my mom is making some of her wonderful food for us.

Even though I have many of my mom's recipes, there are a few of her signature creations that I rarely make -- like tapioca pudding (Yehoshua's favorite), energy bars (the kids' favorite breakfast), and beef chop suey (one of my favorites!).

Like last time, my parents (still) don't have internet access at their house. We drove to the local library this evening so I could post this kitchen tip! :)

Lunchbox Storage

Just like my husband has, my dad has always taken a packed lunch to work. I learned a couple helpful hints about lunchbox storage from my mom.

Tip #1: Have an easy-to-access storage spot for the lunchbox(es) when they are not in use. My mom uses the top of her fridge for any lunchboxes that are at home.

When more of my siblings lived at home, the top of her fridge was home to numerous lunchboxes. Having a dedicated storage location kept the lunchboxes from cluttering the counters.

Lunchboxes stored overnight

Tip #2: Store lunchboxes with the lids open so they can air out. This keeps the lunchbox smelling fresher. If the lunchbox is washable or has a removable/washable insert, wash it at the end of the work week.

Alternately, wipe the inside of the lunch box with a soapy dishcloth after emptying it of dirty containers and then store open to dry/air out.

Bonus tip #1: Keep yogurt cold for on-the-go without using an ice pack

I discovered that it works beautifully to put homemade yogurt or Greek yogurt into a serving-size container and then stir in some frozen berries or other bite-size chunks of frozen fruit.

When you're ready to eat your yogurt a few hours later, the fruit will be thawed and the yogurt will still be cold. (This may not work in super hot climates -- but worked great in our Washington summers.)

Bonus tip #2: Pack your lunch ahead from the freezer

Before I left last week, I cooked and froze serving-size containers of pinto beans for Joshua's lunches at work. He told me it's worked great for him to pack his lunch the night before by pulling a container from the freezer and putting it in his lunch box. It's thawed by lunch time (and then he heats it in the microwave at work).

More of my lunchbox tips are in this post.

For more kitchen tips or to add your own, visit Recipes Happen!

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: 4-minute celery sticks (Cutting celery sticks quickly)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

This week's Kitchen Tip Tuesdays link-up is being hosted by Katy at Purposely Frugal. Head over to her blog to read her tips for making homemade corn tortillas and submit your own kitchen tips!

I've lost 36 pounds in the past 7 months... and I've eaten a ton of celery.

I don't love celery, but it's not too bad and it's cheaper than cucumbers and a nice change of pace from lettuce and carrots. :) When I need a mess-free take-along snack, I often go for celery sticks.

One day this summer, we ended up taking a long walk to a park that didn't have a drinking fountain to refill our water bottles. The HUGE bag of celery sticks I had brought quenched my thirst. Celery is 95% water, after all.

With all this celery munching, I had to come up with a quick way to cut celery sticks. Here's what's been working for me:

Wash celery without separating stalks from the head

Wash celery without separating the stalks from the head. I run water inside and all over the celery until it looks clean.

Cut off tops

Without separating the stalks from the head, cut off the brown tops of the celery.

Cut off bottom

Turn celery around and cut off the bottom of the head of celery. Put the tops and bottoms in your compost, garbage disposal, or trash.

Cut off leaves

This is what you should have now: A bunch of long celery sticks, some with leaves.

Cut off leaves

Cut the leaves off. I don't like leaves on my celery sticks, but they are perfect to add to soups or tuna salad sandwiches later.

Almost finished: celery sticks

Now that the leaves are trimmed, all you need to do is cut into smaller sticks for snacking.

Finished celery sticks

Two cuts and you're finished! Beautiful, perfect celery sticks... and this whole process takes about 4 minutes. :)

The main "tip" to remember is: Save time by trimming celery tops and bottoms first, instead of separating stalks and trimming each stalk individually.

Now, head over to Purposely Frugal to read more kitchen tips and leave your own! :)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Condiment bottles in fridge (Plus: Cookbook giveaway winner announced!)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

The winner of Not Your Mother's Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook Giveaway is:


Thanks, everyone, for your enthusiasm over Jessica's new book! :)

This week's kitchen tip is one I learned from Joshua's grandma. I noticed that the condiment bottles in her fridge all had dates written on them: The date each item was opened.

What a brilliant idea! How many times have I opened a carton of cream that says "Use within 10 days of opening" and I can never remember how long it's been open?! Having the date written on it is a great reminder to use it before it expires!

For salad dressings, writing the dates on them when you open them would allow you to easily see which bottles your family is using regularly and which ones take years to empty.

Hint: If something's been in your fridge for a year and it's only barely used, you could probably skip buying it next time it's on sale... ;)

More condiment tips:

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! 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 ways to save money on beverages + leftover beverages tip (Cooking Up a Sale)
2. Condensed milk substitute -- dairy-free (Whole New Mom)
3. Pie crust tip (Recipes Happen)
4. Flavoring pasta (Moms Frugal)

Eat Well, Spend Less: Time-saving kitchen tips

Eat Well, Spend Less series

Serve nutritious and delectable meals, have fun in the kitchen, and do it with limited time? This month the Eat Well, Spend Less team wrote about time-saving kitchen tips, and we're thrilled to be hosting giveaways for Jessica Fisher's book Not Your Mother's Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook!

Posts you don't want to miss:

How to save time and money grocery shopping :: What, not everyone has a husband who will do the grocery shopping for them? ;) I don't always enjoy grocery shopping but Jessica's tips will help! Enter her book giveaway here.

Save time on kitchen prep work :: Do it now, make extras, add it to your Sunday "to-do"s: Mandi has the scoop on food prep efficiency in a home kitchen!

5 crazy ways to save on kitchen prep time :: Katie K. has some great simple ways to save time! Enter her book giveaway here.

Time-saving kitchen tips :: Katie G. shares her favorite shortcuts in the kitchen. Enter her book giveaway here.

Slow-cooker to the rescue :: Amy reminds me to not let the Crock Pot gather dust in the cupboard. ;) Enter her book giveaway here.

9 tips for spending less time at the kitchen sink :: Dishes! Love these tips from Carrie on the routine, mundane, and ever-growing pile of dirty dishes at home. Enter her book giveaway here.

On batch cooking :: Aimee gives us tips on smart batch cooking techniques

5 ways to save time making family dinners :: Family dinners are a Big Deal to me, and Shaina shares her tricks for making them happen. Enter her book giveaway here.

And, if you missed it this week: My morning routine and a cookbook giveaway (enter here)! :)

My Morning Routine and a Freezer Cookbook giveaway! (Eat Well, Spend Less)

My morning and evening routines are what keep me going these days, it seems. Oh, I have to smile when I get emails like this one from my friend Maleesa:

How do you balance working out, cleaning, making meals, home schooling, blogging and lots more? I find that I have to force myself away from the computer and say I will do things and reward myself to get computer time. Do you have a limit of time? Or just when you have time? Or do you give only cetain times for it?

Honestly? It's as simple as doing the most important things first. And when something doesn't get done that day, I just let it go. Sometimes I let the cleaning go for a bit, and then I suddenly get fed up with the mess or dirt and that anger fuels a fast and furious cleaning or organizing event! Often, I make a "to do" list and then divide the chores among all of us.

I don't have a computer time limit, and that works for me because I am usually quite happy to leave it turned off and do other things. That doesn't work so well for blogging, but currently I am putting homeschooling, family time, exercise, and sleep ahead of blogging. I think I would go insane if I tried to blog while home alone with 5 kids! Then Joshua comes home and we like hanging out together in the evenings. :)

And then it's bed time. I've become a big baby about having to function on less than 8 hours of sleep; I much prefer mornings when my alarm goes (at 5am) and I get up feeling refreshed and ready to start the day.

Moshe (2)
Moshe (2) is often awake in the morning before I am!

So what do I do? I've really pared down to a few basics. My morning and evening routines keep me going and my kitchen happy. :)

Every evening:

Load and run dishwasher
Hang wet dish cloth(s) up to dry
Fill the Berkey with water
Open the (finished) dishwasher and shake water off the dishes

Every morning:

Put away clean dishes
Get out a fresh dish cloth
Serve breakfast

If I can keep these routines going (and I usually can!), we have plenty of clean, dry dishes (with minimal effort), non-stinky dish rags, and filtered drinking water. :)

Our breakfasts are often oatmeal in the microwave, bananas, or eggs and toast. After breakfast, we get started right away on school. School, school. Right now it takes a portion of my day and an even bigger portion of my energy!

Which is one of the reasons I was so excited to receive this book in the mail last week:

Jessica Fisher, the great lady behind Life As Mom and Good {Cheap} Eats, has a new cookbook full of awesome recipes and freezer tips! I'm picky about freezer meals, but I know I am going to LOVE trying her freezer meal recipes and suggestions. Jessica includes an extensive grocery list and various meal plan options for making a big freezer cooking day of it, but I'll just be trying recipes here and there as the fancy strikes, doubling the recipes and freezing extras.

Not Your Mother's Make-Ahead & Freeze Cookbook is nearly 400 pages and a bargain for ~$11 on Amazon. I vastly prefer a bound and printed book to the e-book format, and this cookbook comes in nice quality paper. (There's also a Kindle edition available.) I was given a copy to keep in exchange for doing this giveaway.

Giveaway: One person will win their own copy of Jessica's new book! Leave a comment on this post letting me know you'd like to be entered. (Be sure to include a way for me to contact you if you win.) Winner will be announced on Monday, October 22, 2012.

Eat Well, Spend Less series

This post is part of the Eat Well, Spend Less series! I'll be back with more from this series in a couple days! :)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Natural peanut butter mixing tip

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

Joshua went to the linen closet/pantry to retrieve something and proclaimed, "You're a genius!"

While this trick hardly makes me a genius, it is worth sharing for those of you who use natural peanut butter which separates in storage. :)

I buy the big jars of Adams peanut butter from Costco, and getting a new jar "ready to serve" used to require some serious stirring power. The jars are also filled quite full so I usually ended up with sore hands, an oily drippy jar, and maybe even a bent metal spoon by the time it was finally mixed!

Now, I know some people have a special peanut-butter-stirring device, but I don't normally go for single-purpose items. (Plus, I don't think those stirrers come with a variable lid size, and my jars have huge lids.)

Others recommend dumping the whole jar of peanut butter into a big bowl and using the mixer to stir it, then returning to the jar. I don't mind dishes but that still sounds like a lot of bother to me!

Store natural peanut butter upside down for easy mixing when ready to use

My solution -- recommended by a reader, if I recall -- is: Store natural peanut butter in the jars upside down. When ready to open and use, it will be much easier to stir because all the oil will have separated to the bottom instead of the top! :)

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! 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. 7 Ways to Save Money on Produce (Cooking Up a Sale)
2. Prep ahead (Recipes Happen)
3. Favorite wheat flour (Western Warmth)
4. Freezer tip (One Daily $$$ Tip)
5. Bread baking doneness tip (Anne Jisca's Healthy Pursuits)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: No-Puff Powdered Sugar Tip

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

Powdered sugar is one of those messy pantry ingredients, at least in my house. A couple years ago I tried making my own powdered sugar which was a disaster. (Now that we own a Vitamix blender, I'm pretty sure it would work.)

So, I usually buy a bag of powdered sugar at Costco which lasts us something like 2 years. And Joshua did this handy storage trick to keep it from puffing everywhere when I rummage through my Lazy Susan looking for other stuff.

Two twisters = no puffing powdered sugar bag in the pantry

Look! Two twisters! This bag can be picked up or shoved around without puffing powdered sugar everywhere!

And then we stuck it in this plastic canister I had laying around and wasn't using. My Lazy Susan is looking much more organized. (But I think that should be a whole separate post... how to tame the Lazy Susan which is so handy to just throw/push/squeeze/squish everything inside!)

Apple Brownies recipe
Apple Brownies recipe -- super easy and a delightful Fall treat!

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! 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. Gluten-free enchilada substitution tip (Western Warmth)
2. Fruit fly trap (Whole New Mom)
3. Reducing tomato sauce (A Dusty Frame)
4. Tomato sauce tip (Trial and Error Home Ec)
5. Freezing bananas (Anne Jisca's Healthy Pursuits)
6. Evenly dusting sugar or spices without a shaker (Sabby Ink)
7. Secret to crispy fried potatoes (A Proverbs 31 Wife)
8. Old socks become cleaning rags (Recipes Happen)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: The low-down on dicing onions!

How to dice an onion

Originally published in 2006

Okay, so you have a nice big onion and your recipe wants it diced.

Have you ever wondered if there's a best way to dice an onion?

I used to have all sorts of problems dicing onions nicely, until my uncle (who is practically a gourmet chef!) showed me how he did it. I've done it the same way ever since, and now dicing onions is a snap... even if I'm making a triple batch of salsa... when I need 18 cups of diced onions.

If you would like to watch the video tutorial, click here! This is a 6 MB WMV file and you can either right-click to save to your desktop, or just click and it will stream.

Here is the photo tutorial of what I think is the easiest way to dice an onion!

How to dice an onion

1. Start with a freshly-peeled onion. I always rinse the onion after I have peeled it, so it doesn't make me cry. (If you wear contact lenses, this won't be a problem for you, though!) Set the onion, root-side-down, on your cutting board.

Step 2!

2. Cut your onion in half.


Dicing an onion

3. Lay each half, cut side down, on your cutting board.

How to dice an onion

4. Slice one half of your onion as shown.

The best way to dice an onion!

Slice thinly for minced onion, or thickly for coarsely-diced onion, or anywhere in-between as desired!

How to dice an onion

To get every last bit of your onion sliced, use one hand to hold the onion in shape and make the final slice or two.

Dicing onions

5. Now, turn your sliced onion ninety-degrees to either the right or left, and...

The best way to dice an onion

6. Start slicing again, angling towards the middle of your onion. Make your slices thin for minced onions and thick for coarsely chopped onion.

Dicing Onions

7. Repeat steps for the other half of your onion.

Dicing an onion

And then you're done!

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! 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. Menu plan make-ahead strategies (Feel Good About Dinner)
2. Time-saving recipe bases (Davette Brown)
3. Split chicken breast tip (Living So Abundantly)
4. Oil vs. butter tips (Sunny Side Homestead)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Coffee brewing tip

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

After a gorgeous Summer, Fall is upon us here in the Pacific Northwest! The breeze is chilly and a few dry leaves are littering our yard. If I leave a window cracked overnight, the house is cold when we get up. (Okay, 60's isn't really cold, but we've been spoiled with warmth the past few months!)

I've been enjoying making hot tea or coffee in the mornings again. I absolutely LOVE the AeroPress coffee maker that Joshua gave me on my birthday last year! One of my friends gave me this tip for brewing coffee:

Add a pinch of salt to ground coffee before brewing, then brew as usual. The bit of salt makes a smoother, less bitter cup of coffee.

I normally like salt in my food (I add it to my morning oatmeal without fail!) so as soon as I heard this tip I knew it was the thing I needed to change about my morning breakfast.

Salt and cinnamon added to my morning coffee grounds

I've already tried adding ground cinnamon and other spices to my coffee beans before brewing, and salt is the perfect finishing touch!

Do you add salt to your coffee? :)

Bonus picture:

Sweet sisters, Ruth and Channah :)

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! 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. Celery salt and ways to use it (Whole New Mom)
2. Pitting cherries (Sunny Side Homestead)
3. Softened butter tip (Living So Abundantly)
4. Peeling tomatoes tip (Recipes Happen)
5. Cooking with cast iron (Simply Made Home)


User login

Subscribe to RSS - Tammy's Kitchen
Subscribe for free recipes, menu plans, and kitchen tips!