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Monday, April 21 , 2014

Give Your Loaf a Lift

Are you trying to get healthy and bake more with whole wheat? That's a great idea. Whole wheat has more protein and fiber than refined white flour. But whole-wheat dough is tough to knead and hard to get a rise out of. Here's some help for lighter whole-wheat dough...

According to King Arthur Flour Company, whole-wheat bread does not rise sky-high because the bran left in the flour cuts the gluten strands as they form, rendering the dough less able to trap the carbon dioxide being generated by yeast. This is one of the reasons that 100% whole-grain breads tend to be dense rather than light. But all is not lost!

When mixing the dough for a one-loaf recipe of whole-wheat bread, add one tablespoon of lemon juice. The bread will rise higher and be lighter, and you won't taste the lemon. The acidic content of the juice gives yeast the punch it needs. Happy baking!

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Friday, April 18 , 2014

Take the Stink Out of Sardines

Sardines are one of the healthiest foods you can eat, and they actually taste pretty mild—but the smell of a just-opened can is enough to scare away some of the most committed nutritionists! Here's what to do if that describes you…

When you open a can of sardines, salmon or tuna and it has a too-strong fish-oil smell, drizzle white vinegar on it—one-half tablespoon should be enough. The smell should dissipate right away. Let the vinegar sit for about five minutes, then drain it out. Any leftover smell should leave with the vinegar. The fish will also taste a little less fishy and have a pleasant, mild vinegary zing. You can then eat the fish straight or prepare it however you normally would.

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Monday, April 14 , 2014

3 Homemade Salt Substitutes

Do you need to watch your salt intake? Well, don't trade in flavor for bland! Here are three Wilen sisters–approved recipes from a company that pays its bills with seasonings, McCormick & Company.

For green salads or salt shakers:

2 teaspoons thyme

2 teaspoons ground savory

1 teaspoon sage

2 teaspoons basil

1 Tablespoon marjoram

For soups, stews, poultry or pot roast:

1 Tablespoon thyme

1 teaspoon sage

2 teaspoons rosemary

1 Tablespoon marjoram

For cooked vegetables, beef or mayonnaise-based salads:

1 teaspoon celery seeds

1 Tablespoon marjoram

1 Tablespoon thyme

1 Tablespoon basil

Mix ingredients for the blend you choose, multiplying the recipes by however much you need, and grind together in a blender or use a mortar and pestle. Store in a tightly covered dark glass jar, and be sure to label.

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Friday, April 11 , 2014

You're Making Hard-Boiled Eggs Wrong

Don't you hate it when a hard-boiled egg just won't peel? Here's how to get hard-boiled eggs to cooperate every time...

First, make sure that they are high-quality eggs! They don't have to be the most expensive on the shelf, but we've found that organic, cage-free eggs usually will peel much more easily than generic eggs. We don't know why—maybe some scientists will do a big study on it soon.

Next, immediately after cooking your eggs (see below), dunk them in an ice bath. The cold water shocks the egg membrane away from the egg white, making it easier to peel. Let the eggs sit in the water bath for at least 10 minutes before putting them in the fridge. Then when you're ready to peel, start by smacking the bottom of the egg lightly on a hard surface and picking away at the air pocket located at the base. We've tried baking soda in the cooking water, sticking the eggs in the freezer after cooking, tapping with a spoon before boiling...and the cold-water shocker usually works while other methods often disappoint!

To cook scrumptious hard-boiled eggs: We like to put our eggs in an uncovered pot with cold water, bring them to a gentle boil, then shut off the heat and let them sit, covered, for 10 minutes. This creates a soft, yellow yoke without a green hue.

Is it hard-boiled or raw? Wondering whether an egg sitting in your fridge is raw or hard-boiled? You've probably heard or seen this tip before, but it bears repeating, especially with Passover and Easter just around the corner. The secret is to spin the egg (after placing it on its side). A raw egg will wobble, and a hard-boiled egg will offer up a smooth spin like the hand of a clock.

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Tuesday, April 08 , 2014

How to Skin a Nut

It's best to cook with raw, unfettered nuts right out of the shell...then you can salt or flavor them to your liking. But the skins can be quite troublesome! Here's what to do...

To skin almonds and walnuts, first boil a pot of water and lower to a gentle simmer. Then put the shelled nuts in a strainer and plunge the strainer into the simmering water. After two minutes, take the nuts out of the water. When they're cool enough to handle, each nut has a specific way to peel. For almonds, pinch the rounded (not the pointy) end of each almond and watch it slip right out of its skin. For walnuts, gently rub each walnut to release the skin or rub a bunch of walnuts with a clean cloth, leaving the skins attached to the cloth and the nuts skin-free to pick out and cook with.

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Tuesday, April 01 , 2014

When to Stop Whipping Your Egg Whites

The perfect meringue depends on beautifully beaten egg whites. To get the best results, use fresh eggs and let them sit out at room temperature for an hour or so before whipping. Use a glass or metal bowl (but not aluminum) that's also at room temperature. Recipes usually say to whip “until soft peaks form,” but maybe you're not quite sure that those are the peaks you're looking for. Here's another way to be sure…

If you think the whites are whipped enough (right when they start looking fluffy—you don't want to overbeat), start to slowly turn the bowl over. If the whipped whites begin to slide out, turn it back and whip some more. If the egg whites stay in the bowl when inverted, they have been whipped enough.

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Friday, March 21 , 2014

This Tea Curbs Your Appetite

If you're trying to drop a few pounds, it's nice to have a little help. Here's an herb tea that can curb your appetite, quell your cravings and flush out the fat cells.

Chicory root has long been used to boost digestion…and, when roasted, as a delicious replacement for coffee (just in case you're trying to kick the caffeine habit, too). If you can't find ground chicory root at your local health-food store, you can order it online. To make a tea, steep one teaspoon of ground chicory root for 10 minutes in an eight-ounce cup of just-boiled water, then strain. If you're using roasted chicory root, try brewing it like coffee. (Use a little less than your usual amount of coffee—it's strong stuff!) If you have whole chicory root (not ground), simmer about a tablespoon of pieces for 15 to 20 minutes, strain and drink. Use a little stevia if you need a sweetener.

Drink one cup daily before breakfast to give your metabolism a boost…and to break up your relationship with doughnuts.

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Monday, February 24 , 2014

Perk Up Your Wilted Celery (It’s Not What You Think)

Celery can keep its crunch for a good two weeks if it is tightly wrapped in aluminum foil. But what if you forgot that tight wrap? And you often need only a stalk or two for the occasional tuna salad or soup recipe, so the rest of the bunch can get limp pretty quick. Here's what to do to get the crunch back...

To revive wilted celery, place the rubbery stalks in a bowl or pickle dish with a few slices of raw potato and enough water to cover. Place in the refrigerator. In about an hour, so the stalks should be nice and crisp and ready to serve.

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Wednesday, February 19 , 2014

Easiest Way to Clean Stuck-On Lumps on Cast Iron

It happens more often than not—food sticks to your cast iron and other porous-surface pans (like grill pans). If you are searing something (especially something with a baste that contains sugar) and you can see it's not going to be an easy clean, act fast. Strike while the iron is hot!

After you take the food out of the pan, put the pan in your sink and dump in a good quarter cup of baking soda. Then run tepid water into the pan (filling it about half way), and watch it bubble and steam. Wait a few seconds (to let it cool slightly), and wipe away that sticky burned-on stuff. It should come off immediately.

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Thursday, January 16 , 2014

Fork Trick Makes You Eat Less

January is actually the hardest time to start or maintain a diet. It's cold (so it's hard to get out and exercise)...you’re still recovering from the holidays...and there are all these great clothing sales for the body you have now. But maybe all you need is our unusual fork trick to help the pounds drop.

Eat-less tip: At home or in restaurants (where the serving sizes often are huge), eat the amount of food that you know in your heart is right for you, then place your eating utensils (probably a knife and fork) crisscrossed to form an X right on top of the remaining food. Let the handles get in the food. As the plate sits there in front of you, the X will signal NO MORE. And if the big X is not enough to stop your from mindlessly eating more, you'll think twice about picking up food-covered silverware.

(This works great, but we don't recommend putting your utensils in your food on a first date...or maybe a second date either.)

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