Tag Archives: tips

Slow Cooker Tips and Tricks

Three New (to me) Kitchen Tools I Love

When Travis and I moved in together about one year ago, we discovered that we had double of almost everything. Both of us had very well-stocked kitchens on our own (spices, vinegars, knives, pans, cutlery, and kitchen tools), so when we moved in together we ended up choosing the “better” of all of our duplicates and putting the rest in a big box of storage.

Even though I thought I had almost everything kitchen-related I needed, we’ve still acquired a few things over the last 10 months that make me wonder what the heck I ever did without them. I wanted to share with you my top three new kitchen tools that I LOVE.

 

1. Hamilton Beach Set and Forget Programmable Slow Cooker

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The first on the list is my beloved slow-cooker. Dear Dave and Morgan: THANK YOU for the most perfect gift. I use my slow cooker at least once a week now. One of my favorite ways to use it is to throw in 2 chicken breasts (seasoned with S+P) with 1 cup of chicken broth and cook it on high for 3 hours. After cooking, the chicken is so tender that it falls apart with a touch of your fork. I use this juicy chicken all week long for lunches I pack for work. I just love being able to put something into the slow cooker and walk away for hours without a care in the world. The delicious smells probably torture our foster dog, Bessie, while we are at work during the day!

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2. Joseph Joseph Rocker Garlic Crusher

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My dad bought me this awesome garlic crusher when I was home for the holidays last year. He already had one and I was amazed by how quickly he could mince multiple cloves of garlic for a pasta dish we were making together. Being the incredibly thoughtful guy he is, my dad went out the next day and bought me the same garlic crusher for my kitchen back in LA. Now, I know garlic crushers are nothing new, but I just love this one because it is easy to use and clean. It is perfect for any dish that requires numerous gloves of garlic. It is also great for those of you who hate getting the smell of garlic all over your hands (I, personally, love the smell though!)

 

3.Cuisipro Herb Keeper

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I can’t give this herb saver enough praise. I am kicking myself for not buying it sooner. For months Travis and I talked about ways we COULD better save our herbs based on tips we read online and in magazines. For example, some people chop them up very small and store them in an ice cube tray in the freezer with a little bit of water. When you need fresh herbs you simply defrost a few cubes. The idea sounds great, but I knew I would never have the patience to do that.

After wasting way too much cilantro, basil and parsley over the last few months, I finally had enough, so I browsed Amazon and found this herb saver. It had very high ratings and now I know why! It is so easy to use: all you do is fill the base with water and place your fresh herbs in the large insert. You’re supposed to change the water pretty frequently, but honestly we forget and our herbs still last up to three weeks! YAHOO! We can fit two large bunches of herbs in here without any issues. If you use fresh herbs often in your cooking, I cannot recommend this product more.

 

Note: This post is not sponsored in any way and is simply a list of some kitchen tools I happen to love. Some affiliate links are included and I sincerely appreciate your support!

Tips and Tricks

Mom’s Best Baking Tips

I’ve mentioned this plenty before, but my mom is a fantastic baker. I’ve learned so much by watching her mix, stir, roll, ice, and slice in the kitchen. My mom would admit she is a total perfectionist, and I think that is what makes her such a great baker. I, personally, don’t have the same level of patience,  so I don’t follow everything she does (e.g. all of her cookies are EXACTLY the same size  – madness!)

In honor of Mother’s Day this weekend, I am sharing five of my mom’s best baking tips:

Tip #1

Baking is a science. You must be precise. Use the back of a knife to level dry ingredients in measuring cups. Scrape off the excess ingredients.

My mom's best baking tips for guaranteed perfect results.

 

Tip #2

This tip goes with #1. Place a piece of wax paper on a cutting board. Measure all of your ingredients over the cutting board (NOT your mixing bowl). The dry ingredients that spill onto the wax paper (from tip #1) can easily be scooped up and poured back into their respective containers. This makes clean up a breeze and you end up wasting so much less.

My mom's best baking tips for guaranteed perfect results.

My mom's best baking tips for guaranteed perfect results.

 

Tip #3 

1 cup milk + 1Tablespoon white vinegar = 1 cup buttermilk. Learn this equation. Memorize it. I use this one ALL the time, especially for pancakes. I never, ever buy buttermilk because I can make it so easily with this simple substitution. Simply add 1 Tablespoon of white distilled vinegar into a liquid measuring cup. Then pour milk (nonfat and lowfat are fine) into the measuring cup until it reaches the 1 cup mark exactly. Give the mixture a quick stir and allow it to sit for 10 minutes. Then use as you would buttermilk. Easy peasy!

My mom's best baking tips for guaranteed perfect results.

 

Tip #4

When making multiple batches of cookies, always let the baking sheet cool before adding more raw cookie dough. A hot baking sheet will cause the cookies to bake unevenly. If you want perfect looking round cookies, allow the baking sheet to cool for about 10 minutes before adding your next batch.

My mom's best baking tips for guaranteed perfect results.

 

Tip #5 

You can never be too generous,” my Mom says.  Whenever family and friends come over, my mom always bakes their favorite treat in preparation of their arrival. My aunt is hooked on her ginger snaps. I always request her carrot cake and my brother loves her Bailey’s Irish Cream cake. Growing up, my friend Ben loved her congo bars. No matter how busy she is, my mom always makes sure to bake these treats for us whether or not it is a special occasion. This year on Passover she sent me a surprise package with lots of homemade Passover goodies. It felt so special having a little piece of home all the way across the country in Los Angeles with me.

I’ve really tried to embrace this value and bake for those I love whenever possible. Even our foster dogs get homemade treats from me now:

My mom's best baking tips for guaranteed perfect results.

Growing up I have vivid memories of my mom baking late at night for my school bake sales. I was really good at letting her know about the sales well in advance (NOT!), but despite working a full-time job, my mom always managed to stay up late the night before and bake the best treats.  I know lots of other moms would have just run out to the store  and picked up something for the bake sale, but not my mom – she insisted on baking something every time. And it was worth it, because her baked goods sold out immediately at each sale!

Looking back on it now, I realize she always has been “SuperMom” and I am incredibly lucky. I wish I appreciated these little things more when I was younger (like how she would take me to shop at Hollister, even though she hated it because it was pitch black and the music was blasting).

I love you, Mom. Thank you for your endless love and support. And, see – I will always remember your tips no matter how silly they are!  I am so looking forward to celebrating Mother’s Day at home with you this year.

My mom's best baking tips for guaranteed perfect results.

 

Has your mom taught you any special baking tips?