Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Quick thawing or quick cooling tip

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

When you want to thaw something more quickly without a microwave or warm water (warm water isn't recommended for meats), here is another way.

Place the frozen item on something that will absorb the cold. In my case, I use one of my heavy multi-clad stock pots -- which absorb the cold right down the sides of the pan, thawing the meat more quickly while keeping it cold.

Quickly cooling black bean brownies

Last weekend I had an "aha!" moment when I realized I could use this same technique to more quickly cool the black bean brownies that Yehoshua and I had made.

We were having guests, and black bean brownies are much better when they've been chilled. Even though we "started" the brownies the night before (by putting black beans in the crock pot to cook overnight!), they were still warm from the oven a couple hours before lunch.

My solution? I put the warm dishes of brownies on the over-turned stock pots, which quickly cooled them enough for me to pop into the fridge to finish chilling! :)

Channah and me

Bonus picture today: Channah (3 months) and me on our deck. We had eaten lunch out here and Eliyahu (6) took this picture of us. I know it looks like she's frowning, but it's really just her non-smiling face. She does smile -- just not for the camera! ;)

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. Freeing up counter space in a small kitchen (Lily of the Valley)
2. Cleaning pans with baking soda (Frugal in Florida)
3. Tips for cooking with coconut oil (Feel Good About Dinner)
4. Tips and recipes for cooking with kids (Balanced Platter)
5. Baking with toddler (All Done Monkey)
6. Meals disguised as snacks (Western Warmth)
7. Tips for saving money / bulk shopping (Simply Made Home)
8. Natural cleaning tips (The Joyful Wife)
9. "Put an egg on it" tip (The Local Cook)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Paper funnel to the rescue!

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

Eliyahu (age 6) helped me make some homemade instant oatmeal packets. I don't have a big food processor, just this little mini chopper that attaches to my immersion blender. It works fine but only holds about 1 cup of oats at a time! I did a small batch of the instant oatmeal which will be used for snacks or individual breakfasts.

Making instant oatmeal

Eliyahu loved getting to pulse the blender! We practiced counting to 30 while he held the button. Then it was finished! It was a fun way to get a little extra math practice into our morning. :)

paper funnel

I like to store things in jars, but this particular jar was difficult to fill from the chopper without spilling. Tip: I didn't have an appropriately-sized funnel, so we made our own from a rolled up piece of paper!

paper funnel

The paper funnel worked and all the kids thought that was pretty cool. (I did NOT show them how to make paper cups yet!!)

paper funnel

Last step was to label the jar, which Eliyahu also did for me with masking tape and a pen. Labeling things with tape and a pen or marker is a fun way to get spelling and writing practice. ;)

Eliyahu (6)

All done? Time for exercise! I sent this monkey outside to play. :)

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. Paper clutter kitchen tip (Western Warmth)
2. Shortcut for mashing bananas (Feel Good About Dinner)
3. Freezer yogurt pops (Under the Big Oak Tree)
4. Chive blossom vinegar (The Local Cook)
5. Hamburger patties w/o touching the meat (Simply Made Home)
6. Testing baking soda/powder (Nature's Nurture)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Cleaning condiment lids

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

With little hands using our condiment bottles, they can get kinda messy. I usually wipe the tops before putting them away, but now that my kids are old enough to put things away for me, the cleaning part doesn't get done.

It's pretty embarrassing to pull out ketchup or hot sauce for guests and have them find dried condiment all over or around the lid!

Tip: When we're planning a barbeque and will be using condiments, I pull them out and clean the lids before the guests arrive. If it's something we don't use often (like ketchup), the lid may need to be washed (in hot soapy water) for all the dried goop to come off.

Clean condiment lids

Yay! Clean lids! :) Now no one will ever know that our 2-year-old was using that ketchup bottle... ;)

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. Healthy alternatives for thickening sauces (Feel Good About Dinner)
2. Dehydrating, canning, freezing comparisons (Whole New Mom)
3. Freezing dessert portions (Western Warmth)
4. Making the most of your CSA share (The Local Cook)
5. Freeze extra marinade (Simply Made Home)
6. Watermelon tips (Ponder Your Path)
7. No stick cookies (The Joyful Wife)
8. Reviving over-microwaved peas (Rie 'n Wheat)
9. Reuse take-out containers (Under the Big Oak Tree)
10. Stale foods (Moms Frugal)
11. Quinoa tips (Wholesome Homemaker)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Re-use wooden grilling planks

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

Did you know that wooden grilling planks can be re-used? Well, they can! We soak ours for at least 2 hours, leaving them quite saturated.

After grilling fish (usually salmon), I wash the plank in my dish water with a soapy scrub brush. It comes mostly clean -- which is okay because...

cedar grilling plank

...after the board is washed, I wrap the still-wet board in plastic wrap and put it in the freezer. Now I have a pre-soaked grilling plank ready for next time! :)

My favorite grill-planked foods are Cedar Plank Salmon and Alder-Plank Potatoes... yummy!!

Joshua's Weber Q gas grill is still holding strong. This will be our 9th year of using it! A friend gave us an extra tank of propane, which is very handy since we grill a lot.

This past weekend, Joshua and the boys cleaned off the deck and chairs. There were pine needles, maple tree "helicopter seeds", and algae growing. A sturdy scrub brush, soapy water, and a broom had things looking sparkly out there in the sunshine when they finished! I love eating outside. (It keeps the crumbs off my kitchen floor!) :)

By the way, this week I'm departing from my bad habit of blogging only on Tuesdays. ;) Come back tomorrow for a fun Mother's Day giveaway! :)

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. Pasta cooking tip (Newlyweds Blog)
2. Water tips (Moms Frugal)
3. Prepping garlic tip (Frugal in Florida)
4. Storing asparagus + homemade veggie wash (The Joyful Wife)
5. Vinegar tips (The Local Cook)
6. Opening difficult jars (Feel Good About Dinner)
7. Apple cider vinegar tips (Simply Made Home)
8. Baking soda / washing soda tip (Nature's Nurture)
9. Butterfly cake and decorating/frosting tips (All Done Monkey)
10. Guacamole and avocado tips (Wholesome Homemaker)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Tip for healthy snacking + snack ideas

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

I love snacks! But more importantly, I get hungry a lot and need to eat snacks between meals. As a breastfeeding mom, I'm even more hungry than "normal". But I can't let my eating habits go out the window just because I'm extra hungry! I need to have a plan for healthy snacking options.

My tip? Plan ahead and make snacks ahead for easier, healthier snacks! Here are some of my current favorite snack solutions.

Carrots, celery, and hummus

Homemade hummus (made in a big batch in my crock pot and then frozen in smaller containers), carrots, and celery for dipping. I try to get carrots and celery ready for several days all at once -- a big bag of celery sticks and a big bag of carrot sticks.

Having the carrots and celery ready-to-eat in the fridge makes it easy to grab one-handed while I'm holding my baby and doing school with the boys. The hummus helps satisfy my hunger more than just carrots and celery. Hummus isn't low-calorie (if you pile it on like I do!) but it's got lots of fiber and protein and good fats (I use olive oil), and it's filling and delicious! :)

Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt is my newest favorite quick snack, from Costco. (It's $3.50 a quart there.) One cup has 140 calories and 24 grams of protein! It's thick and creamy enough to substitute for sour cream, too. (Normal plain yogurt doesn't work for my taste buds when I've tried subbing it for sour cream...)

I usually pair this greek yogurt with some almonds for a snack, since I actually do want the extra fats in my diet (and the yogurt is nonfat).

I've also used this greek yogurt as a yogurt starter for making my own homemade yogurt. It's not as protein-rich, but easy enough to do (now that I've figured out how!) and I can make a gallon at a time.

Cooked pinto beans make a simple lunch or quick snack. When my beans are finished cooking in my crock pot, I ladle them into containers for snacks or lunches. The ones in this photo are for Joshua's lunches: 200 grams of beans, 14 grams of cheese, and a few splashes of hot sauce. Each container is 340 calories. Having a kitchen scale makes it super easy to measure the right amount quickly.

I also like to drink tea throughout the day! It doesn't satisfy hunger, but it's a yummy way to stay hydrated (I usually drink caffeine-free herbal teas). :)

Fresh fruit is another of our go-to snacks! Bananas, apples, pears -- whatever's on sale and looks good. I don't usually cut the fruit (like apples) ahead of time, but having it washed and in the fridge makes it easier to grab one for a snack!

I also got string cheese at Costco last week. It's a favorite of the kids', so I usually ask them to eat a banana or something else first. Otherwise, they'd beg for seconds! :)

Channah

Bonus photo: Sleeping Channah. I can't believe how big and chubby she is already!

Ruth

And one more: Ruth with "the goats at the park". We've had such a lovely Spring, with some rain AND some sunshine. :)

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. Tips for healthier cookies (Bobi at Western Warmth)
2. Foraging for frittata ingredients (The Local Cook)
3. Frugal meal tips (Adrienne at Balanced Platter)
4. Grocery trip tips (Tara at SimplyMadeHome)
5. Having company in a small space (Purposely Frugal)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Make-shift whisk

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

I use whisks a lot when cooking or baking! They're perfect for beating eggs, sauces, batters, or combining dry ingredients. When my other whisks are dirty, I pull out my makeshift whisks:

Whisks

Tip: Use beaters from a hand mixer as a make-shift whisk. I just hold one beater in my hand and whisk with it. It works great for smaller tasks! :)

By the way, my very first "Kitchen Tip Tuesdays" tip was about using whisks! :)

Our weather has been like this for days on end:

Boys outside watering plants

I think we've spent most of the last two days outside! And today, I got the lawn mowed for the first time this year. Yay! I love a freshly cut lawn and sunshine. Today Yehoshua told me, "I wish every day could be like today." That may have had something to do with the new magnifying glass the boys got and were using out in the sun. ;)

Channah

Sweet little Channah in her Noah's Ark dress (handmade by a friend). :)

And I think that's enough off-topic photos for now. ;)

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. "Two of everything" tip (Bobi at Western Warmth)
2. 10 tips for ice cream making success (The Local Cook)
3. Slicing onions without tears (Anna at The Joyful Wife)
4. Quick and healthy meal tips (Adrienne at Whole New Mom)
5. Tips for setting the table (Heather at Feel Good About Dinner)
6. How to make your vegetables taste amazing (Mindy at The Purposed Heart)
7. Sparkling stainless steel sink tip (Nature's Nurture)
8. Cooking whole chicken in the crock pot tip + 1 more (Purposely Frugal)
9. Tips for getting more veggies (Tara at SimplyMadeHome)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: A soft resting place for fragile fruit

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

I use this tip mostly for bananas, but it's good for any ripening fruit that tends to bruise easily, like pears, peaches, etc.

Place a piece of cardboard, bubble wrap, or foam under the fruit (or bag of fruit) as it ripens, to ease the pressure and prevent bruises.

Bananas ripening

I normally store bananas on a hard shelf. My current "banana shelf" is a hard plastic mesh -- even more likely to bruise a heavy bunch of bananas. I used some old bubble envelopes to make a nice cushion on the shelf for the bunches of bananas.

Eliyahu on the bike

I hope no one missed me online last week. We were busy enjoying amazing Spring weather! Inside it's Legos, outside it's the bikes. We're blessed to have a nice quiet driveway/road in front of our house. The kids have been outside so much more since we moved from the apartment to this house. I'm SO GLAD for the space! :)

Kids riding bikes

Sometimes I get tired of the clouds, but when the weather is nice here it is really, really nice. 60's and sunny is perfect in my book! :)

And... I really truly will be blogging at least two more times this week. I'll be posting my Eat Well, Spend Less post for April (!!) and then write about some of the new "food things" we've been doing lately. And next week, well, we'll see. I have ideas but run out of time first sometimes. ;)

Related Kitchen Tips:

Easy way to wash fresh fruit

Fruit basket tips 

How to save an avocado without it turning brown

Keeping apple slices fresh

How to ripen pears quickly easily

Snacking on frozen blueberries

When grapes (start to) go bad

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. Leeks and green onions tip (Donna at Moms Frugal)
2. More affordable fruit desserts (The Local Coook)
3. Coconut oil tips (Heather at Feel Good About Dinner)
4. Healthier desserts tips (The Better Mom)
5. Vinegar tips (Tara at Simply Made Home)
6. Hash browns tips (Sarah at Nature's Nurture)
7. Food prep tip (Frugal in Florida)

Note: I'm sorry about the delay in getting these links posted! Our internet was down all day Tuesday.

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Cutting greens with less mess

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

When I need to chop some greens, like spinach or kale to put in soup, this helps contain the mess:

Kale greens

Split the bag open and chop on the bag. If I'm chopping a lot of greens, I may do this in two batches.

Kale greens

It looks like a lot less after being chopped! For some reason, chopping on the bag seems to be easier and less messy for me. I did use a cutting board under the bag, to protect the landlord's counters. ;)

And be sure to use a dull knife. I used a big sharp knife and chopped away happily... and it cut into the bag a little! We definitely don't want plastic in our food! Normally my dull kitchen knives don't cut the bag at all.

The kitchen counter

After I took pictures of my chopped kale (it's awesome in Turkey Sausage Kale Soup or Veggie Bean Soup!), I took a picture of what the *rest* of the kitchen counter looked like. Way too full of my junk and projects I keep thinking I'll have time for. Well, I did get some mending done this week and did some decluttering last week, but I'm ready to be done! Plus, the weather has been too nice to spend my free time cleaning junk out of kitchen cupboards. :P :)

Eliyahu with his Legos

And one more bonus picture today: Eliyahu with a Lego drawer. The drawer slides in and out and can hold small things (like treasure maps). :) For Eliyahu's 6th birthday this year, he got The Lego Ideas Book and both boys have spent hours looking through it, reading it, and using ideas from it to create things from our big box of garage-sale Legos! I am amazed at the things the boys have been building. I look at it and just see a jumble of bricks... :)

I've missed blogging! I did pull my camera out last week for some pictures of dinner, and I have some really good stuff to write about... I may start trying to use the computer again during afternoon quiet time... or get up super early to write... :)

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. Using and storing avocado (Heather at Feel Good About Dinner)
2. Growing green onions in water (Sarah at Nature's Nurture)
3. Egg substitutes in baking (Tara at Feels Like Home)
4.
5.

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: How to make your food look as good as it tastes!

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

When I started cooking regularly (which was when I got married 8 years ago), I was a no-nonsense cook. Garnish? Bah! Who needs it?! Taste is all that matters, right? :)

Joshua, however, loves to make foods look beautiful. In the years since I started blogging about food, I've realized the importance of making a dish look attractive. Here are some of my tips for garnishing foods!

The obvious: Place a few parsley sprigs on the plate of food (attractively arranged, with the main dish in the middle of the plate).

Grilled chicken souvlaki gyros

Grilled food:

Aside from getting beautiful grill marks on our Weber Q grill, Joshua recommends fresh coarsely ground black pepper to garnish grilled meats or veggies.

My mom's chili

Mexican food:

Garnish Mexican food with freshly snipped cilantro or chopped green onions.

Garlic bread:

Add chopped parsley (dried or fresh) or chives to the butter when making garlic bread for a more colorful appearance.

Pizza:

Sprinkle dried basil or Italian seasoning on top of homemade pizza before baking. After baking, sprinkle with crushed red pepper and/or Parmesan cheese.

Salad

Salads:

Finely shred some carrot or cheese to garnish a lettuce salad.

Garnish a pasta salad with shredded Parmsean cheese.

Use red onion rather than white or yellow for a more attractive presentation.

Oven-roasted chicken

Roasted chicken:

Sprinkle with parsley flakes, freshly chopped chives, or kosher salt.

Breads:

Brush beaten egg over bread tops and sprinkle with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sliced almonds, rolled oats, or wheat bran before baking.

Waffles with powdered sugar

Waffles, french toast, or desserts:

Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Cheesecake with whipped cream

Cheesecake, pies, baked apple oatmeal, chai tea lattes, and just about anything else:

Top with whipped cream for some extra style and deliciousness! :)

Any tips to add on the topic of beautiful food? :)

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. Homemade natural blue food coloring (Whole New Mom)
2. Hard-boiled eggs tip (Newlyweds Blog)
3. Tips for simplifying lasagna (Happily Home After)
4. Tip for stocking up on eggs (Feel Good About Dinner)
5. Ingredient substitutions (Whole New Mom)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Hosted at Armstrong Family Fare this week

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

I'm taking today off from hosting Kitchen Tip Tuesdays. Would you believe we have more doctor appointments and an outpatient surgery scheduled this week?! (I'm not the one having surgery.) At any rate, I'm thinking this has just got to be the last week of doctors, surgeries, and babysitters at our house for hopefully quite a long time! :)

Willa at Armstrong Family Fare is our Kitchen Tip Tuesdays hostess this week while I'm busy baby-snuggling and wrapping up loose ends at home.

Head over to Armstrong Family Fare to add your kitchen tips and check out her tip for Crumbs Made Simple! No, not the kind of crumbs you get when you give a kid a cookie... although those are pretty easy to come by too. ;)

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