Cooking For One Person — Hacks, Tips and Tricks- Part 2

When I post recipes, I’ll often post hacks at the end of it to give some helpful information in regards to storing leftover ingredients or to make things easier.  I hope this has been beneficial but I also thought it might be great to have all those ideas in one place.  Yep, right here.

Print ‘em out and stick ‘em right on your fridge for the next time you’re wondering how to soften that butter quickly!!

Ready?  Let’s GO!

Baked Goods

Bread:

Do not add flour to mat while kneading unless absolutely necessary.  This may cause your finished product to be dry.  If dough is sticky at first, spray the mat and your hands with cooking spray while kneading.  Use a pastry scraper or spatula to fold dough if necessary.

For better rising, put covered dough in a sunny spot in your house.  I’m not sure this is necessary in warmer climates but it sure helps here in cold New England!

On the final rise, gauge the readiness of the dough by pressing your finger gently on the top.  If it bounces right back, it’s not proofed enough.  Your fingerprint should remain briefly after you take your finger away, however, if your dough falls to any degree after removing your finger, it’s over proofed and will probably fall in the oven.

Bread can be sliced and then frozen or refrigerated for longer storage.  You can “refresh” the bread by warming it briefly in the microwave or toasting it before use.

If the bread stales before you’ve finished eating it, run it between your fingers (or use a food processor) to turn it into bread crumbs.   Seal in a bag or container and store in the freezer for future use.

Recipes for loaves of bread can be turned into sandwich rolls if preferred.  After first rise, separate dough into 8 pieces and form into rolls.  Allow to rise until double, about 30 minutes.

Loaves and cakes

Instead of making a single big cake or bread, make smaller loaves (for freezing or giving away!) by dividing batter between two 6’ x 4” loaf pans, 12 muffin tins or shaping dough into rolls.

Dried Beans

Cooked legumes, beans and lentils can be frozen for future use but allow to thaw completely in the refrigerator before reheating.

One 15 oz. can of cooked beans can be substituted for each cup of dried beans in most recipes.  Drain, rinse and add to the pot at the end of the recipe.

Fresh Produce

Brussels sprouts, broccoli florets, shallots, mushrooms and other items can often be found loose and/or pre-cut in the produce department of your grocery store..  If you don’t see them, ask a clerk if they’re available.

Cabbage:  Instead of buying an entire head of cabbage, ask the produce clerk to cut it into wedges so you’ll only have to buy what you need.  They’ll wrap the leftover pieces and put it back on the shelf for sale.

Carrots:  Matchstick carrots can be found in the packaged section of the produce department.  Freeze any leftover carrots for use in cooking

Cranberries:  Cranberries can only be bought fresh when they’re “in season”.  If you want to stock up, fresh cranberries can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 30 days or frozen for up to a year.  Frozen cranberries are available in the freezer section of your local grocery store year round.

Frozen vegetables:  Frozen veggies can be substituted for fresh vegetables in cooked recipes.  This includes frozen onions and peppers.

Green onions: Chop green onions and freeze in a sealable freezer bag or container for future use.  The defrosted onions may not be pretty enough to use as a garnish but they’ll be perfectly fine for cooking.

Oranges:

To easily zest a whole orange, use a vegetable peeler and then chop peeled zest finely with a sharp knife. Lay unused zest in a single layer and freeze. Store, tightly wrapped, in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Puree any leftover oranges in the blender or food processor for use in recipes such as cakes, cookies or breads. 1 orange yields about ½ cup, which can be sealed in a bag and stored in the freezer.

Tomatoes:  If you have leftover tomatoes that are becoming over-ripe, simply puree them in the blender and freeze the fresh puree in sealed freezer bags or containers to use in recipes at a later date.  No need to core, peel or seed ‘em…just toss ‘em right in.  Run the puree through a mesh colander if you want to remove the seeds.

Tricks of the Trade

Bacon Grease:  Store any leftover bacon grease tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.  It can be used as a substitute for butter in various cooked dishes.  Caution:  Use caution when cooking with bacon grease.  It  has a smoke point similar to butter, which is lower than oils.

Blue Cheese:  Many grocery store delis cut and wrap blue cheese for the shelf.  If you can’t find the size you’re looking for, ask a clerk to cut it for you.  Blue cheese can be frozen but it will lose some of its creaminess and flavor.

Meats:  When cutting meats, place them in the freezer for 30 minutes prior to butterflying or thin slicing to allow for more stability.  Allow to thaw completely before proceeding with the rest of the recipe.

Softened Butter:  Butter will soften to room temperature in 30-60 minutes, depending on the size of the chunk of butter.  Butter can also be softened in the microwave at 30% power for 5 second intervals until desired softness.

Room Temperature Eggs:   Forget to take that egg out of the fridge to warm up?  Place it in warm (not boiling!) water for 10 minutes.

Turmeric: stains anything it touches so proceed with caution!

Just one more tip:  Click here to check out my favorite bags and containers to freeze all the above mentioned goodies!

That’s All For Now!

 

So, I think that’s enough for one day, don’t you?  That’s a whole lot of information and I hope it comes in handy!

Did I miss anything?  Do you have any handy-dandy hacks, tips and tricks to share with the class?  Please leave a comment below to let us know what it is!

All my best

Cynthia
cynthia@cynthiaeats.com

 

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