The Great Cookie Sheet Hunt

It’s over now. The Great Hunt. I’ve found what I’ve been wanting. It took a long time; I’ve shopped all over town and online looking for the perfect cookie sheet, one that meets my very specific needs:

♦ Don’t always need to be greased, especially between batches of cookies

♦ Are big enough to hold up to 2 dozen cookies

♦ Won’t bake the oil, shortening or cooking spray right into the pan

♦ Are heavy duty enough not to bend and dent

I finally found them at Bed, Bath & Beyond. The Brand is USA Pan www.usapans.com  and having used them for a few weeks now, I’m sold.  They meet all my criteria and then some:

♦ They are silicone coated, but don’t look like it. (Don’t risk scratching with metal untensils.)

♦ Their ridged surface cleans like a charm. I don’t grease them and between batches ; simply rinse them with cold water and wipe with a paper towel. (Instructions say do not wash in the

dishwasher.) No matter;  they wouldn’t fit, anyway. A dishcloth and a little soap makes quick work of any cleanup.

♦ You can bake at a reduced temperature (as a rule of thumb, I go with 25° lower) and sometimes  for a shorter time period.

♦ There’s only one rimmed edge.  So there are no corners to get gunked up – hooray!  The one edge makes the whole pan appear larger. Plus they store so much easier. I have a stand up rack in the pantry and I just pull out the cookie sheet. Nothing else comes with it.

USA Pan cookie sheets cost more than most:  $18.00+ Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons come into my mailbox on a regular basis, so I never pay full price, but would be willing to because they are the best I’ve ever baked with.

Your friend in the kitchen,

Jean

On Drinking Water Before Dinner

Everybody knows that water is good for you and we should drink more of it and less coffee, soda, wine, etc.  We’ve heard for years that drinking a glass of water 30 minutes before a meal will help curb the appetite by making us feel full and we won’t eat as much.

An article I read recently said that water alone doesn’t reduce hunger.  But put it in soup and consume a cupful and you will feel less hungry. (If I have a cup of soup I’ll want to postpone eating for an hour or two!)

Your mom probably told you chicken soup is good for you. And it is. But think about this:  In a university study in Pennsylvania, researchers reported that eating chicken and rice soup curbed the appetite better than eating a chicken and rice casserole (with the same ingredients) and drinking a glass of water with it.

I don’t quite know how that works, but it’s interesting. Maybe I’ll try it one of these days.

Jean
“Your friend in the kitchen”

Kitchen Tips, Hints & Insider Secrets

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For instance, did you know that keeping tomatoes in the refrigerator  damages enzymes that make them taste good? Cold also has a negative influence on the texture of a tomato.

So keep them on the counter. You’ll have better tasting tomatoes and more room in the fridge!

Your friend in the kitchen,

Jean

Beets & Eggs – A Simple Salad

I recently purchased an egg slicer. Haven’t had one for years and don’t need one very often. I’ve been slicing eggs with a knife. But I have to say, the slicer does a beautiful job of creating even, smooth slices. The yolk seems less inclined to separate from the white and makes the egg easier to handle.

Anyway, buying the slicer made me remember one of my favorite salads growing up and gave me a good reason to make it:  Beets & Eggs   Here’s how Mom did it:

1. She would shred lettuce and spread it out on a large plate.
2. Open and drain a couple of cans of sliced pickled beets (we were a big family).
3. Take hardboiled eggs out of the refrigerator; peel, then slice them crosswise.
4.  Lay a slice of beet and a slice of egg alternately in a circle around the outer section of the lettuce lined plate. If there was room on the plate, she’d make a second circle inside the first. If there was still more room, she’d pile the remaining beets and a few egg slices in  the very center.
5. She added a few dollops of mayonnaise here and there and it was ready to serve.

If you don’t like pickled beets, you can make this with plain, cooked and sliced beets. It’s a very pretty salad. You can also do the same presentation on individual salad plates with the dollop of mayo in the center.

Enjoy!

 

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For instance, did you know that keeping tomatoes in the refrigerator  damages enzymes that make them taste good? Cold also has a negative influence on the texture of a tomato.

So keep them on the counter. You’ll have better tasting tomatoes and more room in the fridge!

Eat Free One Meal a Week

HOW TO EAT FREE ONE MEAL A WEEK

  • Want to get an extra meal out of your refrigerator once every week or ten days–no recipe needed–using food that would otherwise be thrown out if it continues
    to sit there?
  • Are you tired of wasting the food that goes into the fridge as leftovers and      comes out green and yucky?
  • Want to have fewer leftovers on your refrigerator shelf without throwing food      away?

It’s possible and it’s easy.  Make Freezer Soup!  All you need is a Freezer Jar and the leftover bits you accumulate during the week.  Here’s how it works:

If you have leftovers after any meal that has meat, veggies, or gravy, (but not enough for another meal) cut them up and put them in the Soup Jar, then into the freezer instead of the refrigerator.  Add to the jar all week. When it gets full, you’re ready for soup!

MEATS:   Meats should be cooked before putting into Soup Jar.  You can use almost any meat your family eats: chicken, pork, lamb, hamburger, roasts, hot dogs, even bacon.  Dice it up and throw it in.  It doesn’t matter if you have 2 bites or a cup full.  If it isn’t designated for lunch the next day, put it in The Jar. You can have more than one kind of meat in the jar – it works fine.  I’ve had chicken, ham and roast beef in the jar and it made wonderful soup.  Chicken can be roasted, grilled, baked, even barbecued. It all works.

VEGGIES:     Just about anything goes!  In our house, the only veggies not put in the soup jar are okra (we don’t eat it), lettuce and cucumbers (used only in salads), and brussel sprouts (we love them roasted and never seem to have any left over.)  You can use potatoes in almost every form: mashed, baked, roasted, boiled and raw (grate or shred for quicker cooking).  Just dice everything before you put it in The Jar.

If you have fresh veggies that are starting to lose their freshness, dice them up and put them in The Jar – even tomatoes.  Any vegetable that you might not ordinarily freeze can go in the Jar because if it turns to mush, it won’t matter.  It adds flavor and nutrition.

Add to The Jar all week or until it gets full.  You don’t need to add liquid until you’re ready to make the soup, although it’s fine to put leftover amounts of gravy, mushroom sauce, tomato sauce etc. into the jar as it becomes available.

Some bonus benefits of using this system are that your refrigerator doesn’t get clogged up with little bits of leftover this-and-that; the leftovers don’t get shoved to the back of the fridge and you have more room for other food in the fridge.  Hint: Designate a particular shelf in the fridge to keep all leftovers that don’t go in the Soup Jar. As with anything else, an assigned location makes it easier and faster to find.

When The Jar gets full, you’re ready to make soup.  Remove The Jar from the freezer early in the day so contents will thaw.  Pour into a soup pot and add a cup or two of the liquid of your choice depending on how thick you like your soup.

LIQUID:         Use water or broth (beef, chicken or veggie) for the liquid.  Your jar may have gravy in it, or a spoonful of tomato paste left over from a recipe earlier in the week.  You can add canned tomatoes or tomato sauce.  If using water, you can throw in a couple of bullion cubes for more flavor, but watch the salt.

EXTRA INGREDIENTS:     If you want more volume or color, you can always toss in a handful of fresh or frozen vegetables or a can of beans.  Leftover rice is another addition.  On occasion, I’ve stretched my soup with a handful of salad macaroni or uncooked rice.

Simmer soup for 20 minutes or until heated through.  Taste, season and enjoy!  Every Freezer Soup meal is different and your only regret may be that you can’t duplicate the one you made that everybody raved about.

You can even serve Freezer Soup to guests.  Make a green salad and serve with bread or rolls and you have a great meal.

QUESTIONS:

What if my soup is too thick?  Add more liquid.  Remember, it can be water.

What if it’s too thin?  Add half a can of refried beans (put the other half in the Soup Jar for next time), or potatoes in some form.  When thoroughly cooked, they will break up and thicken the soup.  These could be mashed, shredded (hash browns – you can take them straight from the freezer or use leftovers from breakfast), baked, boiled, roasted, you name it. Peelings are fine as long as they’ve been scrubbed.

How much will it make?  That depends on you.  You can stretch one quart of freezer contents to a whole gallon of soup by adding liquid and additional canned, frozen or fresh veggies – corn, peas, beans, carrots, onions, broccoli, celery, zucchini, etc. etc.   If you have a family of two adults or one adult and two small children, using a one quart jar for your freezer will work fine. For bigger appetites or more people, use 2 quart jars.

What if it’s too bland?  Add seasonings your family likes: salt, pepper, garlic, onion, Mrs. Dash, fresh or dried herbs to taste.

Enjoy!