Wednesday, December 17 , 2014

Don’t Be That Guy Who Buys Too Little Champagne

If you're having a party tonight and you're trying to figure out if you bought enough champagne for your crew, this is what to do…

If you want to figure out how many bottles of bubbly to buy for your New Year's bash, instead of winging it, start with a list of the people who are coming (don't forget yourself!). Then write down how many glasses of champagne you think each guest is likely to drink—for some it may be none or one…for some two or three…and for others, well, you are collecting car keys at your front door, right? If you've invited people whose drinking habits you don't know, count each in for two drinks to be on the safe side. Once you've added up all the expected servings, you can figure that each bottle of champagne will provide about six four-ounce servings (or 12 two-ounce servings, if you're toasting with mini portions). If you want to add regular wine to the blend, figure about five glasses per bottle (people tend to pour a little more wine in a glass than champagne). Now you can do the math and then go out and buy the indicated number of bottles…plus one. Like we said, you don't want to that guy who runs out, right?

More help with celebrations…


Wednesday, December 17 , 2014

Wine Cork Disasters

Did you get some bits of cork in your excellent bottle of wine? Not all of us can be expert wine uncorkers. Don't throw the wine out or bother decanting. It's still very drinkable once you get the cork bits out. A restaurant-manager friend told us an easy way to do that…

Stick a paper-covered straw (like the kind you see in bars or in McDonalds…grab a bunch when you get a chance) into the bottle, and the cork will adhere to the paper like a magnet! Carefully pull out the straw. Don't let anyone make you laugh.

More great tips on wine…


Tuesday, December 16 , 2014

Keep Your Cake from Sticking to the Plate

'Tis the season for lots of goodies! If cake is going to be the centerpiece of your next party and you want to avoid a lot of aggravation, here's a tip for you...

To prevent your cake from sticking to the serving plate, sprinkle the plate with powdered sugar before setting down the cake. Easy! Now you're ready to cut and serve!

More great dessert ideas...


Thursday, December 11 , 2014

Flax Cocktail

Do you need to get more fiber in your life? It'll help you with you-know-what. Here's a way to get some easy roughage…

To get more daily fiber, fix up a flax drink. Boil a few cups of water with two tablespoons of flaxseeds. Strain and cool, then add a teaspoon of organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar (which helps aid digestion) and drink. The fiber and liquid combo can help move things along without the super strength of pure flaxseed hitting you too hard at once.

Thanks to Kitchen Cabinet Cures by Sara Altshul with Dr. Pamela Hops (Reader’s Digest and Bottom Line Books) for help with this tip. (To purchase Kitchen Cabinet Cures, call Bottom Line Books customer service at 800-678-5835.)

More natural food cures…


Wednesday, December 10 , 2014

Cracking Tough Nuts

We get all nostalgic about nuts around the holidays. No, we don't mean the loony friends and relatives that come out of the woodwork this time of year. We mean the ones with shells, you silly. Here's what we do to crack open walnuts and pecans more easily.

Walnuts: Soak them in salt water overnight—one-half teaspoon of salt to every cup of water—and they'll be a cinch to crack with your nutcracker.

Pecans: These nuts have a reputation for being almost impossible to open, but hot water makes pecan shells more porous and creates air pockets, making them a breeze to open. Here's how to do it—place pecans in a microwave-safe container, cover them with water and zap them on high for about three minutes. Then take the pecans out of the water and, once they're cool, their shells should be easy to crack. If the pecans seem a little damp, place them on a baking sheet in a 350°F oven for a few minutes to dry them out. Leave them in the oven for two or three minutes longer (check frequently…they can burn easily) for a delicious toasty flavor!

More about nuts…


Tuesday, December 09 , 2014

Crazy Way to Fix DVD Scratches

Did you accidentally scratch your favorite movie DVD or music CD? Don't buy that special repair kit just yet. Try this first…

Gently rub a freshly cut ripe banana in a circular motion to coat and fill in scratches on your CD or DVD. Then use the inside of the peel to clean and polish the disc. Finally, wipe away any residue with a clean, soft cloth and your disc should be ready to play!

Thanks to Julie Edelman, The Accidental Housewife (JuliesTips.com), for help with this tip.

More ways to do things better with common household items…


Thursday, December 04 , 2014

Easy Way to Dry Herbs

Fresh herbs are great for a variety of recipes, but they can be pricey and you often can't use the whole bunch before they start to weep and wither. Here's what to do...

For an easy way to make fresh herbs into dried herbs, place them on a paper towel and cook them in the microwave on high for about one minute. (Depending on the strength of your microwave, it might only take 45 to 50 seconds.) When dry, the herbs should keep their color but will crumble to the touch. Store the dried herbs in labeled, resealable plastic bags. They should retain their flavor for up to one year.

More ways to use herbs...


Tuesday, December 02 , 2014

Get Rid of the Garlic Smell Without Soap!


If your hands smell like garlic or onion, we've got a hint that works like magic! Take a piece of flatware—any metal spoon, dull knife or fork will do. Pretend it's a bar of soap, and wash your hands with it under cold water. No special kind of metal needed! And you can go back to cooking without a soapy smell on your hands! The garlic or onion smell will disappear in seconds.

Monday, December 01 , 2014

Our Favorite Cauliflower Recipe

We love to indulge in the bounty of fall/winter vegetables...like cauliflower! If you think about it, it really is an exotic-looking food...a cloud of white "flowers" in a ring of silver-green. And some varieties are purple or the color of cheddar cheese! Here's a super-healthy recipe for cauliflower that is now our favorite.

We love cauliflower as a simple side dish, just boiled (don't overcook!) and topped with butter and tarragon. But we really love the following irresistible roasted version. So tasty, so nutritious...did we mention "tasty"?

Cherry-Roasted Cauliflower

1 head cauliflower, florets cut into one-half-inch-thick slices from top to stem, so that the pieces lie flat

1 Tablespoon olive oil

3 Tablespoons lemon juice

4 Tablespoons roughly chopped dried cherries

½ teaspoon salt (to taste)

Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

1. Place an oven rack on the middle shelf of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350°F. On a sheet pan, spread the cauliflower in a single layer.

2. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, cherries, salt and pepper and mix until well blended. Drizzle the cauliflower with the mixture, and bake for 25 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender. Halfway through the cooking process, turn the cauliflower. Some of the smaller pieces may cook more quickly...watch them carefully to avoid burning.

3. Remove the cauliflower from the oven, making sure to scrape up all the bits. Transfer to a dish and serve.

Makes two servings as an entrée or four servings as a side.

Thanks to The Healing Kitchen by Stephen Sinatra, MD, and Jim Healthy with recipes by Rebecca Bent (Bottom Line Books) for the above recipe. Buy the book here.

More fantastic ways to cook vegetables...


Wednesday, November 26 , 2014

How to Extract Your Extract

Some ingredients come out of their containers just a little too fast…or a lot too fast. We're thinking especially of flavored extracts like vanilla or liquid smoke. Here's a better way to dole out these expensive ingredients.

When your recipe calls for a small amount of vanilla, almond or any other extract (such as liquid smoke, which is strong stuff), don't risk pouring straight from the extract bottle into your small measuring spoon. Instead use an eyedropper to dribble just the amount you need into your spoon. You can usually find eyedroppers in a medical-supply section of your local drugstore or buy here. Now you can easily extract the exact amount of extract.

More help in the kitchen…