For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved to cook, so today I thought I’d share some of my best cooking tips. Making and serving great food is an awesome way to usher in great times with family and friends. There is something about sharing a meal that bonds people, and there is something about serving a meal to others that makes them feel loved. This is why it’s so vitally important that, when making a meal, one puts in his/her best efforts.
1. For perfect hard-boiled eggs every time: Don’t you hate it when you try to peel hard-boiled eggs and half the egg white comes off with the shell? Try this method – it’s never failed us yet: place eggs in pan and cover entirely with cold water. Bring to a rolling boil, turn off heat, cover, and let sit 15 minutes. Then drain and cover again with cold water. Put top back on pot and let sit for another 15 minutes. The eggs are now ready to peel and the shells should come off easily if you let the water get to a true rolling boil in the first step.
2. For a moist and flavorful turkey every time: Brine your turkey. Brining the turkey creates a moist and flavorful turkey. And cook the turkey upside down (breast side down) in the pan for the first hours, turning it back right side up about an hour before it’s done.
3. For big meals like Thanksgiving, prepare as much food as possible the night or day before, as long as the sitting doesn’t compromise the integrity of the food. So, for instance, salads are best done the day of, but we always prepare our stuffing (and our veggies) and get it ready to cook the day before.
4. Always cook and bake with real, unsalted (and organic if possible) butter. Margarine is full of chemicals and diminishes the quality of the food. Salted butter is often made with the lowest quality of cream, as the salt brine covers up the poor taste.
5. Always use pure sour cream. Pure sour cream, such as Daisy brand, is void of all of the chemicals used in other commercial sour cream, and makes meals taste better.
6. Use fresh pressed-garlic. Instead of the dried, powdered stuff or the jarred version, get a good garlic press and use fresh-pressed garlic in your meals. The taste quality is scores above the powdered stuff.
7. Buy local, grass fed chicken and beef when possible. The quality is better and if you buy in bulk, the price is often better too.
8. Use extra virgin olive oil when frying. It’s better for you than vegetable oil and you’ll hardly notice the olive-y flavor.
9. Shop at your local farmer’s markets for quality veggies at great prices, and support your local farmer.
10. To enhance the quality and flavor of your baked goods, use room temperature butter and eggs.
11. For great meat loaf, use quick-cooking oats instead of bread crumbs. It’s healthier and holds the meat and other ingredients together really well.
12. Great tasting mashed potatoes include whole milk or heavy cream, lots of butter, and some fresh-pressed garlic along with some salt and pepper.
13. For dishes with cheese, buy block cheese and shred your own instead of buying the pre-shredded bagged stuff. Block cheese doesn’t contain the chemicals that keep the pre-shredded stuff from sticking together, and it melts/tastes better too.
14. Feel free to experiment with recipes. Add or take away ingredients, and experiment with different amounts to get the flavor you enjoy.
15. Toasted, slivered almonds make a great addition to salads and green beans.
16. Spice up your veggies by adding different things to them (such as nuts, green onions or red pepper) or mixing them with other veggies.
17. Caramelized onions make a great addition to mashed potatoes or meats.
18. Want the good deal of buying fruit in bulk, but know you won’t use it all before it goes bad? Freeze some after removing the stems and use it for quick and easy fruit smoothies in the blender.
19. Give fresh asparagus a “WOW!” flavor buy brushing it with olive oil, seasoning it, and baking it in the oven or roasting it on the grill.
20. For perfect baked goods, don’t be sloppy when measuring. Preciseness is key when baking.
21. Clean as you go in the kitchen – it brings the joy back into cooking and prevents a big mess to clean up after the meal.
22. Always be on the lookout for a better way to prepare your favorite dishes. Don’t just stick with the old standby because that’s what you’ve always done.
23. Try new dishes regularly in order to keep cooking fun.
24. Fry your pancakes using bacon grease instead of vegetable oil. The caloric count is high, but the taste is out of this world.
25. To keep safety a top priority in the kitchen, keep handles of pots and pans turned inward, and use the back burners, especially for boiling water.
26. Don’t skimp on the spices: a lack of spices is a sure way to add “boring” to your food.
27. Trade in your boxed dishes and learn how to make them from scratch. Dishes such as Au Gratin potatoes, bread stuffing and mac & cheese taste much better when they’re homemade.
28. Buy decent knives, both for safety reasons and for ease of use when cooking.
29. Buy a quality pair of kitchen scissors – you’ll use them often and they’ll be well worth the money spent.
30. Declare baking and cooking a form of entertainment in your home. It’s fun and free; you’ve got to eat anyway, right? 🙂
What are some of your best cooking tips? What’s your favorite dish to make or to eat?