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Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Easy brownie frosting substitute

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

My friend Kathryn brought over a pan of brownies recently, and I commented on how cute they were. "I'm usually doing good just to get brownies made, much less frosting for them too!" Kathryn's also a mom of 5 kids, so as it turns out, she had a secret tip for the "frosting" part.

When your brownies come out of the oven, sprinkle some chocolate chips on top and then put the pan back in the oven for a few minutes.

Chocolate brownie topping
(This made a fairly thick topping; I think less worked better)

When the chocolate chips are hot and soft, take the brownies back out of the oven and spread the chocolate over the top.

Chocolate brownie topping

Allow to cool before cutting. The chocolate topping keeps the brownies moist and soft, makes them look cute, and is easier than frosting! :)

Fudgy black bean brownies

I made fudgy black bean brownies for this past weekend (we had company both days). These were more fudgy and dense than in the past, and the only thing I can think that I did differently was using a stick blender instead of a regular blender. Maybe having more air beaten into the batter (from a tall, fast blender) makes them fluffier!

At any rate, they were chocolatey and delicious as always... and fancy-looking this time too. ;) The best kitchen tips come from friends and family! :D

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. Using a Mason jar on a blender (Everyday Mom)
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3.

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Shake to coat

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

As I was preparing some broccoli and cauliflower for dinner, I realized how much more effective it is to SHAKE than it is to STIR when you're trying to coat something.

Seasoning veggies for roasting
The lids from my Cuisinart cookware fit tightly onto my Cuisinart mixing bowls,
a feature that frequently comes in handy (my bowls didn't come with lids)

Whether it's oven-roasted root veggies, broccoli and cauliflower, or baked potato wedges -- shake in a sealed container or bag rather than stirring in a bowl. The oil and seasonings will get dispersed much more evenly. I find that shaking especially helps the oil to thinly coat everything without being doused and dripping with grease.

Broccoli and cauliflower
Ready to spread onto my baking sheet and roast in the oven

If you do have to stir, make sure you use a bowl that's plenty big so you can toss everything easily together.

Broccoli and cauliflower

Related:

Tips for using silicone baking mats (I love mine!)
6 Tips for perfect oven-roasted veggies

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. Fruit on the desk tip (The Local Cook)
2. Keeping mashed potatoes warm (Feel Good About Dinner)
3.

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Meal planning tip

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

I'm occasionally guilty of planning a main-dish menu for the week and when it's time to make dinner, I'm at a loss for sides. I'm prone to serving the same things over and over again. Cooked green beans... again? Okay, they were great the first 2 days... but by day 3, everyone wants something different. Something that actually goes with whatever meal I'm serving.

To combat the mental block that often accompanies my menu-planning attempts, I've started writing serving suggestions on my recipe cards. This is my way of remembering what made a good "main" food into a good meal.

Sometimes food packages will have serving suggestions on them, such as recipes or photos. I try to find (and remember) serving suggestions whenever possible!

Serving suggestions

What turned beef vegetable soup into the meal everyone loved? Hot fresh biscuits drizzled with butter and honey. (Fresh homemade wheat bread is another great option, if I plan ahead.)

What made my simple dinner of chili a hit? Having chopped onions, cheese, and fresh jalapenos, along with a sheet of oven fries on the side.

Serving suggestions: Write them on your recipes! :)

There's something else I like to write down these days, too. More on that tomorrow. No, not next week... tomorrow! Yes, I am blogging 2 days in a row. (Has anyone missed me? I hope so... I mean, I hope you're ready to read again. :D)

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. Hardened spices (Titus 2 Homemaker)
2. Pizza dough rolling tip (Feel Good About Dinner)
3. Grocery shopping tip (The Local Cook)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: What to cook with smoked paprika

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

Joshua's been wanting to try smoked paprika for a while now (ever since he first heard of its existence!), so when we saw this 8.5 ounce bottle of smoked paprika at Costco for $3.75, we got one.

I was expecting it to be strong and, well, not something I would be too crazy about. However...

...I love it!! It's not too strong at all, and it has a delicious, sweet, smoky flavor.

Smoked paprika

Here are some of the things we've tried with smoked paprika and loved the results:

Fish (white or salmon)
Chicken Parmesan
Potato wedges (almost impossible to use too much on these!)
Fried eggs (not too much)
Potato soup
Potato salad
Chicken breast
Chili
Popcorn
Taco meat (or anything Mexican)

I find smoked paprika especially delicious with potatoes, which is handy since we have lots of potatoes to use right now, thanks to my brother's generosity (and garden)!

We also have plenty of fish, so "fish and chips" is on the menu frequently. I make baked versions of both the fish and chips rather than fried, which is healthier while still delicious.

Have you ever tried smoked paprika? What are your favorite foods to use it with? If you see a bottle at Costco (or maybe Sam's or BJ's?) I recommend getting it to try! :) I already bought another bottle to have a spare on hand... let's hope Costco doesn't stop carrying it... Costco has great prices on their spices/herbs for cooking! :)

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. Homemade bread cutting & keeping tips (Extraordinary Ordinary Wife)
2. Gluten-free baking tips (Whole New Mom)
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4.
5.

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Cloudy drinking glasses from the dishwasher

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

While I love the convenience of a dishwasher, I am not always happy with how it cleans the dishes. (Getting the water level sensor -- whatever it's called -- fixed on our dishwasher last fall did help get the dishes a lot cleaner though!)

After so many years of only hand-washing dishes, I notice the tiny scratches that appear after dishes have been washed in the dishwasher for a while. I notice the annoying way water pools in the crevices in plastic containers. I can feel any tiny specks left on what should be a completely smooth clean glass surface...

BUT, I do love using the dishwasher to lighten my evening kitchen cleanup routine! So, I ignore the less-than-perfect aspects of a dishwasher. After all, life is a lot about choosing to be happy about the "good" in things. :)

Our "real" drinking glasses (as opposed to mason jar drinking glasses) have had a cloudy surface on them since shortly after we started using a dishwasher 4 years ago. It's embarrassing to use them for guests because the glasses do not look clean, even though they are!

Cloudy drinking glasses from the dishwasher (soft water and detergent)

Today I decided to do some research and try to remove the cloudy film. I learned that cloudy drinking glasses could be either:

#1. Hard water deposits, which can be removed using vinegar, or

#2. Etching/scratching on the glass from the combination of soft water and dishwasher detergent, which cannot be removed.

Since Seattle tends to have pretty soft water, I figured it was more likely the second scenario. But, I had to try some vinegar. I scrubbed with vinegar, and then scrubbed with baking soda, and then discovered that the "film" was actually on the outside of the glasses, not the inside! So, I scrubbed the outside with vinegar and then with baking soda and when I rinsed and dried the glass...

...it looked exactly how it did when I started.

So, my glasses are doomed to look dirty forever, I guess. Good thing we've broken all but 5 of that set (it was a wedding gift 11 years ago)...

SO, guess what Joshua got for me at Costco last week? New drinking glasses! And they are so pretty and so sparkly and so fun to drink from (and I so don't want to put them in the dishwasher but I will because they weren't that expensive anyway).

However, starting today I am going to use less detergent in my dishwasher. Hopefully these will stay nicer... :)

Do you have any tips for keeping drinking glasses nice in the dishwasher? I'd love to hear! :)

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. Saving time on meatloaf (Sabby Ink)
2. DIY Softscrub (Whole New Mom)
3. Organizing frequently-used recipes (Titus 2 Homemaker)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Dirty dishes tips

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

Since my last trip to Ohio to visit my parents (in November), I've been copying my mom's dirty dishes stacking trick.

A stacking system for dirty dishes? Sounds a little OCD but honestly, for me it's all about reining in the dirty dishes piles while still only doing dishes once a day (after dinner). :)

Dishes stacked and waiting

My system (we have 2 sinks):

Stack bowls, small plates, and silverware neatly in one side of the sink.

Set glasses, containers, etc. on the counter beside the sink. (This means I still have one side of the sink free for washing produce, etc.)

Dishes stacked and waiting

This usually keeps things tidy until dinner, when I actually cook and make a big mess in the kitchen. After dinner is when I load the dishwasher and clean everything up. Since I hand-wash the pans, strainers, large bowls, etc. I can get away with running the dishwasher once a day, after dinner. This allows plenty of time for the dishes to air dry overnight, and one of the kids unloads and puts everything away the next morning.

The good part: With a stacking system, the kids can clear their own dishes after breakfast and lunch without filling up my counter with miscellaneous stacks... and it's a lot faster to load the dishwasher in the evening, too!

Small plates: more fit!

Notice all my small plates in use? Some months ago I discovered two things:

Small plates are often sufficient for breakfast or lunch, and any time for little kids or weight-losing individuals (me).

Small plates also fit 3-wide in the bottom of my dishwasher. This is one of the ways I am able to still run the dishwasher only once a day with 7 people in our family: We only use big plates at dinner. :) Granted, this may change as my children get older (our oldest is 8), but overall small plates help reduce portion size (the kids can always get seconds!) and mess. :)

If you have a difficult-to-efficiently-load dishwasher like mine, take note... :)

I don't have any tips on conserving silverware use. We go gung-ho and fill that silverware basket to the max. I bought spoons for 20 cents each at GoodWill, picking out the nicest-feeling ones, and while they sure don't match my set, we never run out of spoons anymore! :)

I also watch for Corelle plates and bowls at GoodWill and have been able to supplement my set more affordably that way. :)

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. Princess flavoring (Make Do & Mend)
2. How to clean your crock pot (A Proverbs 31 Wife)
3. 5 ways to use a bakery baguette (Feel Good About Dinner)
4. Make-ahead lunches tip (The Local Cook)
5.

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: What to do with difficult pie crust

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

Sometimes my thoughtless hurrying gets me into trouble! A couple weeks ago I was making blackberry pie for Eliyahu's 7th birthday. (He had requested pie instead of cake.) My Foolproof Pie Crust recipe calls for shortening, which I don't keep on hand, and so in recent years I'd been just using butter instead. But, an all-butter pie crust wasn't turning out as perfectly, so I decided to use coconut oil instead of the shortening called for in the recipe.

At first the dough was too soft, so I put it in the fridge... and got busy making dinner. Three hours later, it was rock-hard.

It ended up being tricky to work with and made only an okay crust. (Tip: Since I was using coconut oil in place of salted butter, I added extra salt to the crust. We can really tell a difference when a substitution is made for butter and additional salt isn't used.)

I had an audience while I was rolling out the pie dough and lining the pans. I suppose that's an indication of how rarely I attempt anything as time-consuming as a "real" pie these days.

Eliyahu's birthday pies

I was able to "wow" my audience when I took my difficult-to-work-with pie dough and instead of making a flat top for the pies, I made a lattice top with strips of dough. Tip: When you have pie dough that isn't cooperating, a lattice top can save the day!

Eliyahu had a marvelous birthday and the blackberry pie was so delicious that Ruth said it's what she wants instead of cake this week for her birthday, too. :)

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. Slice, dice, and chop (Cooking Up a Sale)
2. 3 ways to cook dried beans (The Local Cook)
3. Quick-add apples to instant oatmeal (Feel Good About Dinner)
4. Easy microwave cleaning tip (Extraordinary Ordinary Life)
5.

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Fixing a cracked plastic kitchen trash can

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

This week's kitchen tip is so simple, but I wish I had thought of it weeks ago! It would have saved months of annoyance!

A repaired plastic kitchen trash can
My "recycle" trash can (read about the label on it here)

I have two plastic trash cans under my kitchen sink: one for trash and one for recycle. We've had them for many years now and with the constant use they get in the kitchen, the recycle trash can was cracked on several sides and even cracked half-way across one side. It was difficult to continue to use like that, so I went in search of a new plastic trash can at the store.

I went to one store but they didn't have the size I wanted for under the kitchen sink. Something too small, and we would be emptying it more than once per day. Something too big, and it wouldn't fit under the sink (key to keeping little hands out of the trash can and making the kitchen look tidy).

A repaired plastic kitchen trash can

Then I spied duct tape. Duct tape can fix anything, right? And surely it couldn't hurt to try fixing a very broken kitchen trash can before it ended up in the trash itself!

I started taping and was VERY pleased with the results. The trash can is very sturdy again and appears to have quite a bit of use in it yet. I wish I had thought to take a "before" picture, because it looked pretty bad! I'm not worried about the appearance of duct tape since this will be hidden behind a cupboard door. Although, a bright colored duct tape might have been fun! ;)

I'm excited that I get to keep using my perfect-sized trash can and it's not going to the landfill. :D

A repaired plastic kitchen trash can
One of the side cracks, which ran across 2 sides of the trash can

A repaired plastic kitchen trash can

The handles were starting to break on my other kitchen trash can, so I went ahead and duct-taped them to prevent the cracks from getting worse.

A repaired plastic kitchen trash can

Do you have broken plastic trash cans in your kitchen? Have you ever used duct tape on them?! :)

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. Pie dough tip (A Proverbs 31 Wife)
2. DIY kitchen tips (Whole New Mom)
3.
4.
5.

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Tip for scubbing lots of tiny potatoes

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

My brother gave us two banana boxes full of beautiful red potatoes from his garden this fall. They are delicious! I am enjoying having fresh potatoes. :)

Recently, I gathered the smallest ones for Turkey Sausage and Kale Soup. It's fun to use tiny potatoes in soup and have them whole or just halved (not peeled). So pretty!

I brought my bowl of tiny potatoes into the kitchen and ran cold water over them to soak off some of the dirt. You know how dirty garden-fresh potatoes are, right? :)

Scrubbing small potatoes

After soaking them a while, it was time to scrub them. Normally my hands cramp up when scrubbing lots of tiny potatoes, so I came up with an alternative method that worked great.

Put the potatoes in a bowl with just enough water to cover them. Use a scrub brush to stir and scrub the potatoes in the bowl. Change the water as needed. Scrub and stir with the brush until potatoes are clean.

This took about 5 minutes for probably dozens of tiny potatoes! They were squeaky clean and made delicious soup. :)

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. Neatly cutting homemade fudge (Feel Good About Dinner)
2. Rescuing old hotdog buns from the freezer (Cooking Up a Sale)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Freezing Kraft Singles or American cheese slices

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

Earlier this year, Costco had a great deal on Kraft Singles using a coupon from their coupon booklet. We use processed "American Cheese" occasionally, and normally buy Costco's store brand when we buy it.

Kraft singles

I was excited that the Singles were even more affordable, along with the convenience of being individually wrapped (great for occasional use!) and bought several boxes. I put 1 in the fridge and the others in the freezer.

A few weeks later I was organizing my freezer and the end of the box of Singles popped these words into my face: Do Not Freeze.

Kraft singles

Oh no! Was I doomed to dozens of cheese slices that wouldn't unwrap after thawing or would otherwise be a big pain to use or not "work right"?!

Fortunately, no. I don't know why the box says "do not freeze", but I haven't noticed a bit of difference in the boxes that have been frozen. The wrapper comes off just fine, and we've used them for burgers, grilled cheese, and lots of other things with complete success. :)

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. Pie crust tips (Whole New Mom)
2. More pie crust tips (Trial and Error Home Ec)
3. Crock pot tips and recipes (Purposely Frugal)
4. 10 tips for shopping at Costco (Cooking Up A Sale)
5. Sourdough tip (The Local Cook)
6. Cake carrier substitute (Premeditated Leftovers)