Archive for the ‘Tips’ Category

I hadn’t used this trick in ages, but the other night, I roasted some asparagus and needed a lil something more for dinner. It takes about two minutes to scramble an egg this way, and it was just what I was looking for…

Find a wide-bottomed coffee mug and spray the inside with a quick spritz of Pam or other such cooking oil. In a separate bowl, break an egg, beat it with a fork until blended and pour the egg into the coffee mug. (Actually, I think I just scrambled it up right in the coffee mug this time!) Place a small plate on top on the mug, and then put it in the microwave. Cook on high power for about one minute, or until you hear the plate ‘pop’. The ‘pop’ is actually the plate shifting on the mug as the steam is released from the egg. And voila… scrambled egg! It makes a nice-sized scrambled egg puff pattie of sorts for an egg and cheese sandwich, too. 😉

For the roasted asparagus above, I covered a baking tray with aluminum foil and drizzled it with olive oil. After rinsing the asparagus and breaking off the thick stalks, I laid them out on the tray and gently rolled them to coat them with the olive oil. Next, I sprinkled on some sea salt and rolled them a bit more. They cooked at 350 degrees in our countertop oven for 15 – 20 minutes. Once again, I am finding that I adore the addition of sea salt! 🙂


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I do enjoy the task of chopping fresh herbs… I actually have this curved knife from Alaska – you use a rocking motion to cut and/or chop small items, and it works wonderfully! (I love using it on cilantro… it’s perfect for that!) Sometimes I enjoy just using the big butcher’s knife too. And sometimes, I wish the task was quicker because I just want to get something chopped now. But recently, I came up with a quick and clean way to chop basil leaves… I’m sure it’s been done before, but it just hasn’t been done by me before. So, I thought it was pretty darn cool!

First, stack approximately 6-8 fresh basil leaves together and then roll from side to side as tightly as possible.

Next, cut the rolled basil leaves to your desired width. Then, cut the rolled leaves in the opposite direction. If necessary, pile together and give them a few more cuts.

These steps should give you a nice-sized chopped herb of choice. Here, I added the chopped basil to some orzo.

The rocking-knife that I sometimes use results in a finer cut, but I’ve found the above method to be quite useful when a rough, yet small-ish cut is desired. It’s a good size for the many caprese-style salads that I will be making this time of year. And I’d imagine that it’s a good way to cut other leafy herbs and greens… But for now and for so far, it’s worked very well for me with my basil. Just see here. 🙂

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Three Bags…

These are the three bags that I used while transporting our groceries from my car into the apartment the other day. They really work very well. And of course, they save on not using plastic bags all the time. I’m getting better at remembering to bring these bags before I get to the store… It did take some getting used to, at first. I’ve got one smaller bag (a Colts one, as a matter of fact) that stays in my car for smaller and/or spontaneous trips into the store.

Anyway, I thought this pic of my loot for the weekend looked cute. There’s the Yearly Kos bag, which is actually made of a wonderful grocery-toting material; there’s the paw print bag, just cuz; and there’s a bag that D.’s mom made, which is nice and large and has two big handles sewn all around the bag for extra support. I do enjoy this trio of tote bags. If you look closely, you might see Puggles in the corner, as she pretends not to be sneaking a peek at what is inside… 😉 She’s being a bit more obvious in the pic below… Believe me, she had her head in the bags earlier, sniffing away…

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Flash Test Salad

I think this pic came out fairly well. Specifically meaning, it’s not too shiny. That’s an irritation I’ve been experiencing lately… shiny food pics. I now think it’s because I rely primarily on the camera flash, instead of using other lighting first. Usually, I’m getting ready to eat after I’ve made something, so I’m going for the ‘quick pic’. Also, I’ve been using the quick camera, meaning the lil digital one in the kitchen drawer. I should start using the digital SLR again and focus more on a quality shot.

But, in this pic here, I do think the lighting came out alright. I put the pre-salad under the stove light and it seemed to help cut down on the flash glare. I say pre-salad cuz it’s the majority of a salad for tomorrow, but not everything yet. 😉 What’s in there… romaine lettuce, cucumber, red and yellow pepper and avocado… so far. I figured I’d start that while waiting for some pasta to boil.

Crap… I meant to do something with the pasta water, but I forgot. I drained the pasta in the sink, as I normally would. BUT, I read a tip somewhere about using leftover water like that for your plants. After cooling it down, of course. So, I meant to do that tonight, but out of habit, down the drain it went. And I just remembered now that I forgot to do that. Sigh… Now that I’ve written it down, hopefully I’ll remember for next time. [ Tying string around my pinkie finger… ]

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Good Food Link…

I came across this link the other day to Penny Thoughts11 Ways to Eat (and Enjoy!) More Vegetables‘. It was a very good read, and I really liked some of her ideas:

  • Keep a dry-erase board on the fridge, with a list of all the current veges inside. This should help reduce spoilage and make it easier to keep in mind exactly what perishables are in there. I know for me, sometimes out of sight does, unfortunately, mean out of mind. At least when it comes to ingredients…
  • Menu planning – there is no argument from me on the benefits of planning. I find it makes the week’s food prep and cooking much easier, and we end up eating better too, rather than having too many throw-together meals. Although, some throw-together meals come out quite good. I would imagine that the bullet point above may even help further in throwing things together, when necessary, of course. 😉
  • Plan meals around veges rather than around meats. I found this suggestion rather interesting… I’m not really the meat-eater of the household, but I do find that I plan meals around when it’s time for something meaty again. I like her idea of using veges as more of a guide. Particularly, as the author notes as well, when it’s farmer’s market time and the veges are both abundant and spontaneous.
  • Make interesting salads. Tee-hee… I think I can say that I do pretty darn well in this area. She’s got a few salad ingredients that I could try adding, but I usually do a fair amount of experimentation and ‘just toss it in’ in that area.
  • Snacking on vegetables… We’re just starting to focus on doing that, consistently. Keeping celery sticks on hand, along with carrots and peppers. Grapes, too. Nibble food, but good nibble food. That’s not to say that we’re out of chips, or anything… Just trying to better moderate the salty snacks with the healthy ones, and be sure the healthy veges are available and fresh.

So, there’s a synopsis with commentary on some of the author’s vegetable suggestions. I actually found the title on the WordPress homepage and took a gander. And I’m glad I did. Food for thought, as the case may be…

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Frozen Tomato Paste
So, I recently read somewhere (it was semi-here… I get the magazine), that tomato paste can be frozen in ice cube trays, if you are using it but not using the whole can. Which, in fact, I did recently. I used some tomato paste in this recipe, but I did not use the entire can’s worth. So, I spooned out the remainder and put it into what ended up being four ice cubes’ worth.

I told D. the next day, “Oh, by the way, if you go into the freezer looking for ice cubes, don’t be surprised if you find something red in there.” “Red, like blood red?” he guessed. “Yeah. It’s the tomato paste.” I had mentioned that food tip to him earlier, but still, a warning was in order. 😉 I’ve since put the tomato paste cubes into a baggie, dated and back into the freezer. So all is well and normal in ice-cube world again.

And my world is close to getting back in order again, and even better. D. is hopefully sleeping now, and as he’s had a sore throat, I hope he is sleeping and resting and healing himself. We’ve had a past couple of weeks semi-filled with change, and that change will be normalizing itself shortly, I do believe…

I ended my formerly-current job on Thursday (after a year of it, how I did it, I’m not exactly sure, only very glad to be done with it). I start my new job on Monday. It’s closer to home, and I’ll be doing more of what I want to do, which also offers more opportunity in general. I was approached almost four weeks ago with the opportunity, went through the interviewing and such, got an offer, and accepted. Then gave my two weeks’ notice at the formerly-current job, and finished there yesterday. I was sent off with a very nice bouquet of yellow and white flowers, two cards, and some dinner and movie gift cards. From my co-workers, mind you, not the owners… 😉 I would not have expected anything from them, but I was surprised and smiley to receive the gifts from those I had worked with. I think I called it the soul-sucking-place-in-which-I-worked, although I am quite fond of some of those I worked with. However, a change was needed, this I knew for awhile.

So, I got a car. I needed it, for my new work is in the opposite direction, though it’s very nicely less than ten miles from home. I’ll be saving at least an hour and a half a day, from commuting and required working hours. D. will be saving time too, as we had previously been carpooling. It will take some getting used to, and it’s a new job so I’m slightly anxious, but I think it’s a very good change overall. My former place was kind of rigid, and that’s being polite. D. has noticed the burden lifted from my shoulders, and I do feel lighter and giddier. I’m pleased…

So, with all of the recent goings-on, the cooking part has suffered. It was just a temporary thing. I’m glad that I’ve been able to keep up with my personal goal of posting every 2-3 days, even though it’s been on the 3-side days lately. It’s understandable. And now, with more time at home, I’ll be cooking more! I’m very happy about that. 🙂

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Onion Tip?

I got a tip from my mother-in-law about chopping onions. More specifically, about chopping onions in such a way that one’s eyes do not water. She told me to chop them cold. Hmmm… I had not heard of that before. So, the onions for tonight’s dinner were stored inside the fridge, instead of the usual on top of the fridge. Did it work?

Well, I’m not fully convinced yet, although I do think the idea has merits. My red onion was small to begin with, and had been kept in the crisper drawer of my fridge. When I began chopping, my eyes did not immediately tear up, as they often / usually do. Here is a link to some other variations of cutting onions cold, including putting the onion in the freezer for several minutes, running cold water while chopping, or sticking out your tongue! I think I’ll try the freezer tip next. Of course, sticking one’s tongue out is pretty simple. I’m not sure about the matches in the mouth one though… 😉

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