Thursday, March 31, 2011

Substitute Margarine for Butter?

Margarine vs Butter
Can I substitute margarine for butter in a recipe? Yes, except for a recipe in which the richer flavor of butter is important such as butter cookies or butter cream frosting.

What is margarine? Margarine is a butter substitute made with vegetable oils. For margarine in recipes buy the solid stick form. Both butter and margarine contain 80% fat.

A note about vegetable oil spreads- Vegetable oil spreads (sometimes called whipped margarine) should not be substituted for butter or margarine. Spreads contain less than 80% fat and some of the fat has been replaced by water. If you use a spread, the quality and texture of baked and fried foods will be affected.

To easily tell the difference between a margarine and a spread check the nutrition label. Margarine (and butter) contain 11 grams of fat per tablespoon. A vegetable oil spread will have less than 11 grams of fat per tablespoon.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Zip lock bags- Fill'em with less mess

Putting food in kitchen zip bags can be a messy proposition. Fiddlin' around with the bag, trying to hold onto it while at the same time filling...
Take a tall drinking glass and line it with the bag. Fold the top of the food storage bag over the rim. Now you have two hands free and the glass holds the bag for you. Yay!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Breakfast Biscuits- Easy-Open Version

Here's a simple trick to make them easy to split open for buttering- When making biscuits roll out your biscuit dough thinner than usual then fold it in half before cutting. You'll have delicious biscuits that split open easily for butter, honey or your favorite spread.

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Monday, March 28, 2011

How To Zest A Lemon

Do you have a recipe calling for lemon zest? Lemon zest, orange zest, lime zest, any citrus fruit can be zested. The zest is the colored outer rind or peel of citrus fruit. Citrus zest is used in cakes, breads, and cookies.

To make zest take the clean fruit and rub it over a hand grater, or peel thin strips with a small kitchen knife. Another way is to use a citrus zester; a handy kitchen tool made especially for the job. Finely mince the zest and then add to the recipe.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Frying Bacon-The less messy way

Frying bacon can be messy-all that stovetop spattering. Instead of frying, lay bacon strips on a jelly roll pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 35 minutes, checking for doneness. The bacon will be crisp and flat. Plus, the pan will clean up easily.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Vidalia Sweet Onions

You know its spring in Oklahoma when you see a pickup truck parked to the side of the road and the bed is filled with bright mesh bags full of huge yellow onions. Vidalia sweet onions are for sale! Vidalias are mild and sweet tasting. The sugar content is similar to that of an apple.

Vidalias are grown in a small section of southeast Georgia near the town of Vidalia. The secret to the sweetness is the just-right amount of sulfur in the sandy soil. The same onion grown anywhere else would taste hot.

Interesting note: Vidalia onions are protected by law. It's actually illegal to call sweet onions Vidalias if they are grown outside the Georgia Vidalia region.

Vidalias are delicious on hamburgers, in a salad, or with a steak. Vidalia sweet onions can be used in any recipe which calls for regular onions.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Blue Cheese Bacon Dressing Recipe

Making homemade dressing for salad is easier than you might think and it tastes a lot better than store bought. At least I think so! Here's an easy five ingredient recipe for Blue Cheese Bacon Dressing. Make this a bit ahead of time so the flavors will have time to mingle. Yum!

Blue Cheese Bacon Dressing
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
6 tablespoons blue cheese, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Fry bacon. Crumble into small pieces. Combine all ingredients together. Store in fridge for a couple of hours before serving.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cooking Vegetables- How To Keep The Nutrients In

Cooking Fresh & Frozen Veggies- Keep those nutrients!
If vegetables are cooked in too much water for too long a time the all-important vitamins and minerals will pass into the water and go right down the drain. Bye bye nutrients!
Cook fresh and frozen vegetables in as little amount of water as possible. Add water to the saucepan to just barely cover the vegetable. Bring to a boil quickly and boil gently, cooking just until tender. Hello vitamins and minerals!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Chopping Nuts- The Easy Way

Need chopped nuts for a recipe? Don't fuss with a knife or nut chopper. Put them in a plastic bag and roll over them with a rolling pin. This will break them up into smaller pieces. Then just pour them from the bag into the bowl. Easy and less mess!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Easy Italian Veggie Dip Recipe

Easy Italian Veggie Dip
An easy, three ingredient vegetable dip that’s yummy with baby carrots, cucumber slices…any raw veggie for dipping.
Ingredients: 3 oz. cream cheese, 8 oz. carton sour cream, 1 packet Good Seasons Italian All Natural Dressing Mix. Directions: Soften cream cheese, blend all ingredients together. Serve.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Choosing A Good Steak- USDA Beef Grades

USDA Beef Grades- You see a good-looking steak at the grocery store... but what will the quality be after it's grilled? The USDA meat grades can help us out.

The three top grades are:
Excellent quality and flavor, tender and juicy, good distribution of fat throughout the lean meat. Less than 2% of all the beef in the U.S. is graded prime.

Very good quality. A popular grade because it combines a moderate amount of fat with good eating quality. Higher end grocery stores sell this grade.

Good quality. A tender beef with a high ratio of lean to fat. Not as tender as choice grade. Found in the usual grocery store.

Hint- You can be reasonably sure of high-quality beef when the lean meat is light red, velvety appearing, and liberally marked with fat. The bones should be red and the fat will be flaky and light colored.

For questions about choosing quality meat ask the butcher at the grocery store meat counter or your local butcher shop.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Milk Substitute In Recipes

Milk Substitute for RecipesIn the middle of a recipe and find you're out of milk? Here's a substitution- For one cup of whole milk mix 1/2 cup evaporated milk with 1/2 cup of water. Or, if you have a box of dry whole milk in the cupboard mix it with water according to the package directions.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Roasted Corn- Buttering the easy way.

Butter corn on the cob the easy way-To easily butter corn on the cob, spread an extra-thick layer of butter or margarine on a slice of bread. Wrap the bread around a hot ear of corn and rub. This is especially fun for the kids. Wha-la! You have an evenly buttered ear of corn plus a slice of nicely buttered bread as a bonus.

Friday, March 18, 2011

How To Freeze Milk For Later Use

Freezing Milk- Going to the store just for milk can be expensive these days considering the current gas prices. Here's how to freeze milk- Buy the half gallon size. It fits better in the freezer and defrosts quicker. Open the jug and pour out half a glass. This is to allow for the milk expanding when frozen. Replace the lid and put the jug in the freezer. When you are ready to defrost, place it on the counter or put it in the fridge. Allow three to four days for defrosting in the fridge. After defrosting, shake the milk thoroughly.

If Borden milk is sold in your area here's a free printable coupon for 75 cents off one gallon or two half gallons. Just click on the tab that says "coupons".

Thursday, March 17, 2011

How To Pick the Best Fruits & Veggies- Part 2 of 3

Continued from the first post…here's some tips on choosing the best fresh produce at your local produce market, farmers market, or grocery store.

Head lettuce and cabbage- Choose heads heavy for their size. Avoid lettuce with discolored leaves. Avoid cabbage with holes in the leaves.

Cucumbers- Choose those medium to dark green. Long and slender ones are best. Skip the ones that are yellow.

Cantaloupes- A thick, close netting on the rind indicates best quality. Cantaloupes are usually ripe when the space between the netting is yellow or yellow-green in color. Press with your thumb gently next to the stem end. If it gives to slight pressure it is ripe. A fruity smell is also an indicator.

Honeydews- Honeydews are ripe when the rind has a creamy to yellow color. A whitish green color means it’s not ripe yet.

Watermelon- Watermelons are tricky. Ripe watermelons are dull in color and are well-rounded at the stem end. Check the underside. A white “belly” means under ripe- a yellowish belly is better. The larger the yellowish spot underneath, the more likely the melon is ripe. Thump the melon. It should have a low, hollow sound. The only sure-fire way to tell watermelon ripeness is by cutting a plug.

Onions (mature)- The size and color of the onion does not affect flavor or quality. Those clean, firm with dry outer skin are usually of good quality. If you see black areas or moisture around the neck it’s a sign of decay.

Citrus Fruits- Oranges, Lemons, Grapefruits, Tangelos- Choose the ones heavy for their size. A smoother and thinner skin usually means more juice. Minor skin blemishes or a slight greenish tinge does not affect quality. Avoid fruits that look withered or have soft, sunken areas. Light-colored lemons are tarter than deep yellow ones.

Part 3 is coming up. I’ll be covering the rest of the fruits and veggies…from peaches to sweet potatoes.  *smile*

Corned Beef- What is it?

Irish Trivia for the Day! What is Corned Beef?
Corned Beef and Cabbage is a dish served on St. Patrick's Day but what is corned beef? It's a cut of beef (usually brisket or round steak) cured in a seasoned brine. A brine is a strong solution of water and salt. Sometimes spices are added to the brine.
The word "corned" comes from the English use of the word "corn" meaning any small particle (such as the grains of salt used in the brine). Visit to learn more about this traditional Irish dish.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lime Sherbet Soda Recipe

Tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day! Surprise the kids with a green, yummy treat--

Lucky Leprechaun Sodas
Put two small scoops of lime sherbet in a soda glass or beer mug. Pour clear soda (7-Up, Sprite, or Sierra Mist) over the sherbet. Top with a squirt of whipped cream and a shake of green sugar sprinkles.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Fresh Produce- How to pick the best fruits and veggies.

When I was little I would go to the grocery store with my Mom. While in the produce section my Mom would pick up a cantaloupe, smell it, turn it over looking at the underside, and then squeeze it. To my young eyes this was strange. What was Mommy doing? It was a mystery to me but she always seemed to pick the best fruit and veggies of the bunch.

Here's some tips on choosing the best fresh produce at your local produce market, farmers market, or grocery store.

  • Apples- Good, bright color usually indicates full flavor. Check for firmness, firmer apples are usually the freshest. Check for bruises.
    A new crop of apples tend to have a tart flavor in the fall but then the flavor mellows out in the winter.

  • Asparagus- Stalks should be tender and firm. Tips should be close and compact. Choose stalks with very little white; they are the most tender. Prepare asparagus soon as the stalks will toughen rapidly.

  • Snap Beans- Those with the smallest seed pods are the best.
    Avoid beans with dry looking pods.

  • Berries- Blackberries, Raspberries and Strawberries- Select plump, solid berries with good color. Avoid stained containers-this indicates overripe, leaky berries. Blackberries and raspberries with the caps still attached may not be ripe. Strawberries without their caps may be too ripe.

  • Broccoli and Cauliflower- Flower clusters on broccoli and cauliflower should be tight and close together. Avoid broccoli with yellow flower clusters. Smudgy, dirty spots may mean insect damage.

I’ve got lots more fruits and veggies to cover so I’m going to break this up into the next three posts. Stay tuned!

*smile* Sherri