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Wednesday, October 01 , 2014

How to Stop Your Rice from Sticking

We love plain old long-grain white rice...the most versatile side dish ever. But we hate it when cooked rice sticks to the pot bottom! We do three things to make sure that never happens.

Most people make rice by measuring out the rice and the water, putting them into a pot and bringing it all to a boil.

Before cooking rice, we first rinse it using a fine-mesh strainer under cool running water. Then we add the rice to a pot of simmering water, bring it to a second boil and then stir before lowering the heat. After the rice is finished cooking, we let it sit (covered) for at least five minutes (up to a half-hour). No stuck rice! Anything that rests is always more cooperative.

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Friday, September 26 , 2014

No More Hard Edges On Your Cheese

You know those hard, translucent edges that form on your block of cheese when it sits in the fridge for more than a few days? Here's how to keep cheddar cheesy and delicious.

Coat the exposed edges of the cheese with a thin layer of butter—the moisture from the butter will prevent the cheese from getting hard and inedible. Wrap in foil, and store the buttered cheese in the refrigerator. When you're ready to eat the cheese, just wipe off the butter...or not.



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Thursday, September 25 , 2014

Make Bread Fresh Again

You just bought that baguette yesterday, and it's already feeling a little too stiff to eat. Here's an easy way to bring it back to delectable...

To make stale bread fresh again, spray it with a bit of water or milk and wrap it in aluminum foil. Put it in a 350°F oven for about eight minutes, and the bread should taste as though it just came out of the oven…for the first time.





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Thursday, September 18 , 2014

Elegant Way to Serve Butter

Are you planning a special dinner party or another event where you want every element to say “elegant”? Here's a special touch for the table that's fun to do.

Serve a bowl of butter balls instead of putting out sticks or individual pats of butter. Simply place a melon ball scooper in very hot water for about five minutes. While it warms up, prepare a bowl of cold water with lots of ice cubes in it. When the melon baller is warm, scoop out the butter balls from a large container of slightly softened butter, and drop each of them in the bowl of ice-cold water. Let them sit in the ice water for 10 minutes or so, and then remove the balls carefully with a spider strainer or a slotted spoon. Keep the balls cold in the refrigerator until you're ready to put them on the table for your guests.

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Tuesday, September 16 , 2014

You’re Cooking Bacon Wrong

What beats the smell of bacon and coffee on a sunny weekend morning? Here are some tips for perfectly fried bacon...

First, rinse the slices in cold water before frying, and they won't curl in the pan. To minimize the shrinkage of the bacon, do not preheat the skillet. Just plop the bacon into a cold pan, and turn the heat to medium. Try to turn the bacon only once to keep the slices as flat as possible. (We know that's hard to do!)

If you throw a few celery leaves into the pan along with the bacon, the grease will stay in the pan instead of splattering. Another way to prevent splatter is to add a thin layer of water to the pan with the bacon before you turn on the heat. Check this tip out here.

And don't forget to save the bacon fat for delicious (and cheap) future frying!

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Thursday, September 04 , 2014

Easy Way to Make Meatballs

We just discovered this, and it works great. If you are pan-frying a close-knit group of delicate, small food items that each need individual attention (such as meatballs), don't flip them with a wide spatula (which will puncture your other meatballs) or a pair of tongs (which might cause the fragile meatballs to fall apart). Use this instead...

A metal pie cutter is angled to a point and can work around the tight spots between your meatballs or fritters, making it easy to turn each one over. This tip comes from a happy accident—Joan didn't have a regular spatula nearby and used the first thing she pulled out of our utensil drawer. It worked like a charm!

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Wednesday, August 27 , 2014

The Right Way to Ripen Tomatoes

We love it when our local farmers' market has freshly picked tomatoes right off the garden vines! Or maybe you grow your own and are in the middle of a delectable harvest. Here's what to do to ripen your picked beauties quickly and to enjoy them more.

To ripen tomatoes quickly, place them in a brown paper bag with a banana or a few apples. The ethylene gas emitted by the fruit will help the tomatoes ripen fast. Check the bag frequently (every day) because you don't want overripe tomatoes.

Best way to slice a tomato for an unsoggy sandwich: Tomatoes have ovary walls, and when you cut into them, the pulp and juice tend to slosh out. But if you slice a tomato vertically—from the top of the stem down to the bottom of the fruit—the slices will stay firmer, which will keep your sandwich drier. Also, vertically cut tomatoes will not juice up your salad as much.

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Tuesday, August 26 , 2014

Healthy Homemade Microwave Popcorn—Cheap, Easy, Delicious!

Sometimes you just want a single-serving snack of popcorn without harmful additives or expensive “gourmet” cheddar toppings. That's a good craving to have because popcorn (without the artificial butter flavoring) is a healthful snack food (read this to learn more). Got a microwave? Here's what to do...

If you don't have an air popper but you do have a microwave, you still can prepare fresh, healthful popcorn very easily. Put one-quarter cup of popcorn kernels in a lunch-sized brown paper bag. Fold the top over twice, and secure it closed with tape. Microwave the bag on high power until the kernels stop popping...from one-and-a-half to four minutes.

When the popcorn is done popping, carefully open the bag...face it away from you so you don't get a steam burn. Then put the popcorn in a bowl, and add salt or curry or any seasoning of your choice. You can also drizzle real melted butter on it. Stir and enjoy! Makes about one cup.

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Monday, August 18 , 2014

No More Tears When Cutting Onions

Do you dread chopping onions because you can't stand the tears? Onions have an interesting defense mechanism— when you cut into a raw bulb, a compound called propanethial-s-oxide is released in a vapor. When the vapor comes into contact with your eyes, it converts into a form of sulfuric acid. That stings! But healthful onions are a kitchen staple and a key ingredient to many savory dishes—so don't stop chopping. Do this instead...

You've probably heard numerous ways to cease the tears, from goggles to continuously running water, but this is our favorite way that's simple to do. Burn a candle in the area where you are cutting. Light it before you start chopping, and keep it as close as possible to your cutting board (without being a hazard). The tear-causing vapor from the onion is drawn to the heat source from the flame, and it will burn off some of the noxious fumes. It will also add a nice ambience to your food-prep area. And you don't have to buy a pair of goggles, waste tap water or stuff a piece of bread in your mouth. How's a cook supposed to chat with dinner guests when her mouth is full?

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Tuesday, August 12 , 2014

Sweet Smell Curbs Your Appetite

“The stronger the flavor of the food, the stronger its power to satisfy and reduce hunger,” says Alan R. Hirsch, MD, neurologist, psychiatrist and director of The Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago. Based on his extensive research, Dr. Hirsch offers the following suggestions to curb your appetite.

The odor molecules of fresh-cut strawberries travel directly to the limbic system of the brain (which is involved in emotional behavior). From there, the molecules activate the hypothalamus (the brain’s satiety center) and trick it into believing that you’ve eaten more than you have.

So if you want to feel full faster, put some fresh-cut strawberries on your plate and sniff-sniff-sniff-sniff-sniff.

More help from Dr. Hirsch: Knowing how to use your nose with any food can help reduce your appetite. Sniff each bite of your meal quickly five times before eating. Fast sniffs signal food messages to the brain—this decreases hunger and works to satisfy the appetite without consuming excess calories.

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