Kitchen Tips

Candice - Save your milk carton - wash and dry - and every time you have some left over vegies, layer them in the milk carton in the freezer. When it's full make vegetable soup! (My mom taught me this trick!)

Kerri - After eating all your sweet pickles-throw carrots in the remaining juice. After marinating in the fridge for a few days/weeks, you'll have pickled carrots! If your kids love pickles as much as mine, this is a good trick to get them to eat carrots too!

Michelle - An easy shortcut on Broccoli salad is to use Kraft coleslaw mix. You will find it in the salad dressing isle. It is the same as making it yourself, but faster.

Michelle - To save time after working all day, I use frozen chicken tenderloins rather than the frozen whole breasts. Saves more time in the kitchen, so I have more time with my kids.

Michelle - When you load your dishwasher, put all your forks together, all the knives together, all the spoons, etc. Then when it is time to unload, each of the groups is already together. All you do it pick them up, straighten them and put away. No more sorting!

Anna - Oven Baked French Toast made from salvaged unwanted bread crusts. I came up with this idea after years of throwing away unwanted bread crusts every morning while making my kid's sandwiches for school lunches. Depending on how many kids you have who dislike the "crust" on their sandwiches and the size of your family, the recipe will vary.

Save all the crusts cut off from kid's sandwiches all week long in the refrigerator or freezer in a re-sealable container or bag. When ready to use them, cut or tear crusts into one inch long pieces. Spread evenly in greased or spray-coated glass baking dish. In a separate bowl mix together 2-6 eggs (depending on amount of bread crusts) with milk, brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, or whatever you would normally put in French Toast. Pour egg mixture over bread crusts and bake up in the oven at 375 degrees for about 15-25 min depending on the size of the dish. Serve warm with pancake syrup or jelly for a yummy weekend breakfast treat!

Betsy - Roll up your unused bacon and freeze it for single use later.

LauraMMMM - Save your butter wrappers in the freezer and use them to wipe down the insides of baking pans.

Dellaina - Save the heels from your loaves of bread for fresh bread crumbs. Tightly package them in a plastic bag in the freezer. When a recipe calls for bread crumbs, take what you need out of the freezer and whiz it round in your coffee grinder.

Betsy - Crockpots, or slow cookers, work by surrounding a ceramic crock with heating elements. The lid fits securely, not allowing evaporation. The food cooks at a fairly low temperature, between 170 and 280 degrees F. This is warm enough to ensure food safety, but low enough so the food cooks very slowly.

When you're converting recipes to the crockpot, watch amounts carefully. Any cooking recipe is very adaptable. As long as you keep approximately the same proportions of ingredients, fill the crockpot between 1/2 and 3/4 full for best results. Since there is no evaporation, you should reduce the liquids by about 1/4, unless you are cooking rice or pasta in the crockpot. Those foods need liquid to cook properly, so make sure they are covered by liquid.

How to Convert Recipes
Many recipes can be converted to cooking in the crockpot. Soups and stews, of course, are natural slowcooker favorites. Casseroles and most meats benefit from the low temperatures and even cooking heat.

Reduce the amount of liquid a recipe calls for, since liquids do not evaporate during crockpot cooking. However, if you are cooking rice, beans, or pasta, don't reduce the liquid called for.

You generally need twice as much liquid as product to cook these ingredients. Here are basic conversion times:

I generally prefer cooking most raw meat and vegetable combinations at least 8 hours on LOW. This gives the vegetables time to soften, the meat time to tenderize and all the flavors to blend.

Kate - I keep a package of turkey bacon in my freezer at all times. I chop off a chunk and microwave for about a minute and add to soups, pasta, ect...gives a fantastic bacon flavor without all the fat.

Kate - Save all leftover mashed potatoes in a tub in the freezer. When full, make a quick "baked potato soup".

Dellaina - Substitute chicken stock for cream or milk when making flour gravies. You still have great flavor without all the extra fat.

Anna - Save the plastic coated cereal bags from cereal boxes. Anytime you need to use breadcrumbs, put the breadcrumbs in the plastic coated cereal bag and any food you want to cover with breadcrumbs. This is great because the bag never breaks and, their free, once all the cereal is gone.

Kat - To thicken soups/stews I sprinkle instant potato flakes, use a little at a time because it thickens fast.

Ashley - When saving sauce, soup ect put a ziploc bag in a coffee mug flipping the top of the bag over the top of the cup. Pour the sauce in and seal the bag. gives you a way to hold the bag open without holding it.

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