Friday, December 30, 2016

Mom’s Basic Bootcamp: Lentil Soup


This is the second in a series of basic recipes anyone can easily make.  They have existed for centuries because 1) they are simple, and 2) they taste good.  Once you master their preparation, you’re free to improvise…or not. 

I often experiment with Lentil Soup because this basic recipe is very forgiving. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Mom Money-Saving Tip 71


To keep fresh ginger from getting moldy, store a chunk of it in a zip top bag in the freezer.  Grate it frozen.  You can first scrape off some of the skin with a knife or just ignore any small pieces of skin.  They will disappear into the dish you’re making.  Or peel and chop the ginger into 1/4-inch dice before bagging and storing in the freezer.

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Monday, December 26, 2016

Question for Mom



Chocolate-Dipped Tangerines
I ate too much over the holidays.  What’s a cheap, easy, healthy dessert?” –Sara A.

Fruit dipped in chocolate.  Tangerines are easy to peel.  Chocolate chips aren’t too costly.  Combine them and you have a knock-out dessert with lots of vitamin C.  You can find a detailed recipe here

           For more recipes, order "Help! My Apartment Has a Kitchen!"

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Mom Cooking Tip 87


When baking and using 1 or more sticks of butter, cut the stick(s) into 4-6 pieces before adding to the bowl.  They will incorporate into the batter more quickly.  If the butter is frozen, cut the stick into 16 pieces for quick thawing.

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Thursday, December 22, 2016

12 Ways to Use Chocolate Chips


The absolute easiest and cheapest way to use chocolate chips is eating them by the handful.  No cooking involved!  This is a particularly attractive option when you feel the need for something chocolate NOW.  I’ve often gone that route, and you may well have too. 

My job is to tell you another 11 ways to use chocolate chips that involve actual cooking – or baking.  All but one I’ve already written about, so I’ll provide links.  Below is a new recipe—Chocolate Chip Cake.  It’s not as rich as some of these other dishes, but you are unlikely to have leftovers.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Mom Money-Saving Tip 70


If honey crystallizes, don't throw it out.  Put the container it’s in into a bowl of hot water.  The heat of the water will cause the crystals to dissolve.  Stir if necessary. 

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Sunday, December 18, 2016

Mom Cooking Tip 86


Refrigerators and tomatoes do not go together like peanut butter and jelly.  Refrigerating tomatoes changes their taste.  Store tomatoes at room temperature so they will continue to taste like tomatoes should.

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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Question for Mom

Mushroom Risotto
I like serving risotto for company, but I hate having to spend so much time in the kitchen preparing it once guests have arrived.  Any suggestions? –Julie R.

Traditionally risotto, which is an Italian rice dish, is prepared just before serving.  If it sits around and is then reheated, it can turn into a gelatinous mass.  But there is a trick to avoid that lengthy last-minute time in the kitchen. 

Make most of the risotto in advance.  You can cook it two-thirds of the way through and then stop.  About 10 minutes before you plan to serve, continue preparing it.  The boiling stock you will be adding will prompt the risotto to resume cooking.

Here’s a Mushroom Risotto recipe with the cooking twist. 


Mushroom Risotto 3/4 Cooked
Mushroom Risotto – serves 4-6  
6 cups chicken broth + boiling water (if needed)  
4 tablespoons butter or olive oil + 1 tablespoon or more for cooking mushrooms 
1 large onion, finely chopped  
2 cups Arborio rice  
1 cup dry white wine  
2 8–ounce packages sliced mushrooms 
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese 
1 teaspoon salt      
Heat the broth in a saucepan and keep warm over low heat.  
Melt the butter (or heat the oil) in a large pan and add the onions.  Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until the onions soften.     
Add the rice and cook for 2 minutes, or just enough to coat the rice with the butter (or oil).   
Stir in the wine. Cook, stirring constantly, until the wine has evaporated.  Add a few ladles of broth, just enough to cover the rice.  Cook over medium heat, continually stirring, until the broth has been absorbed.   
Continue cooking and stirring the rice in this manner, adding broth a bit at the time, for 10 minutes.  The rice will not be fully softened, but that’s fine.  Remove from the heat and set aside, uncovered.  

Before leaving the kitchen, cook the mushrooms.  Melt the butter (or heat the oil) in a frying pan and add about half the mushrooms.  See Mom Cooking Tip 83.  Remove cooked mushrooms from the pan and add more butter or oil if needed.  Then cook the rest of the mushrooms.  Set aside. 
About 10 minutes before you plan to serve, reheat the remaining broth.  Retrieve the partly-cooked risotto, turn on the heat the medium and add a few tablespoons hot broth.  Continue stirring and adding more hot broth until the rice is done. If you run out of broth, use boiling water.  Stir in 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese and the cooked mushrooms. 
At this point, the rice should be tender but still firm to the bite. It should have a creamy, moist consistency.  Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately with the remaining Parmesan cheese.   

           For more recipes, order "Help! My Apartment Has a Kitchen!"

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Mom Cooking Tip 85


Bored with plain old mashed potatoes?  Jazz them up with 1/2 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, several teaspoons chopped garlic, 1 teaspoon oregano and 1/2 teaspoon paprika during the mashing process.

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Sunday, December 11, 2016

Cooking Can Be Great Self-Entertainment


“It’s not fun to be in the kitchen,” an old friend told me recently.  He was explaining why he was eating frozen TV dinners every night.  His wife was out of town, and he wasn’t willing to employ cooking skills he learned in college to feed himself.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Mom Cooking Tip 84


To keep butter from burning as you melt it, add 1 tablespoon olive or canola oil.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Mom Money-Saving Tip 69


Do you know about unit pricing? Most grocery stores have tiny shelf signs in front of all their products that tell you the price of the product AND the unit price—which means how much something costs per ounce. Two cans or packaged products may look the same size, but sometimes they’re not the same. United pricing makes it easier to compare two products to see which is the better value.

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Monday, December 5, 2016

Question for Mom


Do you need to add salt to the water when you’re cooking pasta?  Geraldine H.

Adding salt is not a requirement, but it helps flavor the pasta.  Try it both ways and see if you can tell the difference.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

What’s the BEST Chocolate Cake Recipe?


There are so many decisions to make about chocolate cake: 

* Sheet cake vs. layer cake
* Chocolate icing vs. buttercream
* Type of chocolate used—Baker’s Unsweetened Chocolate vs. chocolate chips vs. eating chocolate vs. unsweetened cocoa
* Flourless vs. flour
* Brown sugar vs. white sugar
* Milk vs. buttermilk vs. water
* How many people will the cake serve (or how big a pig are you?)

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Mom Money-Saving Tip 68


Don’t buy one-use-only cooking gadgets just because they are available. If they take up drawer space or require more time to wash than the time they saved by using them, walk on by. How often do you need a cherry pitter or pineapple corer unless you have a cherry tree or pineapple plant in your backyard?

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