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 May 3, 2005
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Bacon: When cutting up bacon for frying, freeze it first and it will cut like a dream. Lou Held, OH


If you coat your bacon in flour before you cook it your bacon will not shrink as much.  Pam, VA


Baked Potatoes:  Want a BAKED POTATO with OVEN BAKED TASTE but that's cooked in your microwave faster than lightening?  Clean potatoes and poke holes in them.  Get as many grocery bags (for some reason I like the Walmart bags) as you have potatoes and put one potato in each bag.  Place bags in the microwave.... 6-8 minutes for one potato, add 5 minutes for each additional potato.  I ususally only cook two at a time and cook the 2 for about 15 minutes, but check them about 5 min before done.  Use an oven mit and squeeze the potato to see how soft it is.  Ifit is soft enough you are done!  All the moisture from the BAG puts it back into your potatoes. NOTE: THE STEAM FROM THE BAG IS VERY HOT WHEN OPENING THE BAG AFTER COOKING, BE CAREFUL AND ALWAYS BE SAFE!  Renee, TX


Baking Pies:  When baking a pie that you have to bake with a filling, first bake the crust for 10 minutes then add in the pie filling and bake as usual.  This will make the crust crispier and less soggy.  Maezell, TX


Bananas:  Freeze over-ripe bananas until you have enough to make bread or cake.  They will turn black in the freezer and they will be very mushy but they are great for baking. Be sure to freeze them in the peel.  Dianne Swan, MI


Beans:  When cooking dry beans, such as red beans or any type of dry beans, place in a microwaveable container (I use a 2-quart Corningware with lid) and cover with water.  Microwave on high for 30 minutes to start.  While you're doing this, you can prepare onions and whatever type of meat you choose to season beans.  After all the water has been absorbed by the beans, I usually add just enough water to beans and microwave again until beans are soft.  I also place sausage in ovenproof pan and cover with bacon.  Cook in the oven until the bacon is crisp.  By the time your beans are rehydrated, the meat is cooked and ready to add to your stock pot.  Then season as usual.  There is no difference in the taste and you can cut the cooking time by an hour or so.  Betty Dudley, LA

Boiling Eggs:  If you put a lot of salt in the water the eggs will shell perfect every time. Janet Stallinhs, TN


Place a few drops of vinegar in your water when boiling eggs.  If an egg cracks it will not spill out into the water.  LMF, RI

Boiling Over Pots
:  Place a wooden spoon across the top of the pot when boiling water.  It separates the steam and keeps it from boiling over.  Jim Erickson, IA


To keep boiling potatoes or noodles from running over, rub butter on rim of pan.  Tabby


Bread Crumbs:  Need Italian seasoned breadcrumbs?  Toast old bread (center of loaf or the ends).  Leave for a few minutes to get hard then tear in little pieces in blender.  Add garlic powder, oregano, and onion powder, any other seasoning you want and blend till crumbed.  Put in freezer bag.  It's keeps for up to 6 months. Toni Katrtinecz, TN


Buttermilk:  If you are out of Buttermilk, in a glass measuring cup, try mixing 1 tablespoon of regular vinegar and add fresh milk (low-fat or whole milk) to equal 1 cup of your made up buttermilk.  Minnie, TX

Add 1 teaspoon lemon juice per 1 cup of milk (regular or low-fat) to make buttermilk. Steve Carroll


Add two tablespoons of white vinegar to one cup of whole milk.  Mix well and let set for 5 minutes to let milk thicken.  Charolette Hinshaw, TN

Cake:  To make a cake lower in cholesterol (whether is homemade or from a box mix), simply use egg substitute or egg whites instead of whole eggs, and applesauce instead of vegetable oil.  The cake will still be delicious and it's better for you.  Applesauce is especially good in spice cake and carrot cake.  S. Friel, MO

To grease a cake pan, etc., use a paper towel to dip into the shortening. This will spread easier and make cleanup faster.  LaRhonda, NC

Cake Moistener:
  To make your homemade cake moister, use about a half-cup of sour cream (or less) along with it.  You don't taste it at all, it just makes it super moist, but watch out; moist cakes tend to fall apart easier. Mandy, KY

Mix 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise into the batter.  Elizabeth, MO


Chicken:  Want an easy way to remove skin from chicken?  Use a paper towel. Grip the chicken firmly with paper towel and pull the skin off.  The paper towel works like magic and clings right to the skin. Now you can healthier chicken for you and your family.  Penny, MI

Before you put your chicken pieces on the grill, pre-boil them for about 20 minutes.  Makes for quicker, juicier grilled chicken.  Freeze the broth for chicken soup later.  Add onion, carrots, celery and rice.  A "free" meal.  Mary Ann, AL

Chopping Food Safely:   When chopping vegetables or meat, lay a damp towel under the cutting board to prevent it from sliding around. Karla, IN.

Coffee:  To keep coffee from getting into your pot (automatic coffee pots) just wet the rim of the coffee filter with your fingers and stick it to the filter.  Karen Espey, AL

Coffee Creamer Substitute:  Use Powdered Milk in coffee instead of Creamer, it will mix easier and tast great. Plus it is cheaper so you can add as much to coffee as you would like without feeling guilty.  Keisha Kimbrough

Cooking Oil Substitute:  Out of cooking oil simply replace it with mayonnaise.  Kelli


Cooking Spray:  I have been cooking for 50 years and until a year ago, I just did not discover the convenience of cooking spray.  Now nothing sticks and it is useful in so many ways, like spraying the cover of yeast breads and rolls, cake pans, even cooking burgers and meats that you don't want a lot of grease in.  I just cannot be without this item and thought maybe there is another old time cook out there that has just not tried using the spray.  Trust me, it is a wonderful time saver.  Georgene Trewatha, MO

Cornmeal and Flour Bug Repellant:  Place a bay leaf or two into your flour and cornmeal containers.  The bay leaf will repel bugs and will not leave a funny taste when cooking.  Annie, LA

Cookies:  Refrigerate cookie dough prior to baking to prevent the cookies from spreading and going flat. 

Corn on the Cob: When boiling corn on the cob, add a pinch of sugar to help bring out the corn's natural sweetness.  When boiling corn on the cob, add enough milk to just cloud the water.  This keeps the corn from sticking to your teeth.  Leeann, WA

Cornbread:  When making cornbread by the mix, if I'm out of milk I substitute powdered coffee creamer and water instead.  This also works with pancake mix. Pat, TX

When making cornbread, if I'm out of milk; I substitute a can of cream style corn. Not only does it work in a pinch, it also taste really good.  Donna, MS

Out of eggs when making cornbread?  Add a heaping Tbs of mayo or Miracle WHip.  Annette Campbell, AR

Cream Substitute:  For heavy cream with making cream based sauces, use cream of mushroom soup to thicken for a sauce.  If too thick thin with a little milk.  Pat Zebley, MS

Deviled Eggs:
Instead of spooning the filling into the eggs, which is time consuming and messy, fill a zip lock bag with the filling, cut the corner off and then squeeze onto the eggs.  No mess, no fuss; when you�re done, toss it in the garbage.  You can use it with cake icing to decorate cookies and cakes too.  Stacy Reed, AL

If your deviled egg filling is too runny add some dry instant mashed potatoes - it will thicken them and add no taste.  Carol, TX

When rolling out pie dough, biscuits, etc., dampen counter top and then cover it with plastic wrap.  Dampening it will prevent the plastic from moving and when you're finished; you can just roll up the plastic wrap and throw it away.  No mess! Faith, OH

When cutting out dumplings I always use a pizza slicer instead of using a knife it's much faster and lots of safe fun for children.  Jennifer, KY

  After cleaning fish that has scales, soak fish in water with little vinegar (about 2 capful in half sink of water).  This will get rid of the slime and the fishy smell.  Proceed with seasoning. Gayle

Egg Salad:  When making egg salad use a potato masher instead of a knife to mash/cut up the eggs.  It is a lot faster and less messy. Julie Alm, MI

Egg Substitute:  If you don't have enough eggs to bake a cake substitute them with a little mayonnaise.  It works and you can't taste it at all.  Katie, LA


Grapes:  Cleaning grapes is a snap when you white vinegar.  Fill your sink or large bowl with cold water.  Add about 1/4 cup white vinegar.  Add grapes to the water and gently move them through the water for about 1 minute. Let grapes sit about 5 minutes in water.  Remove and drain on clean towel. The vinegar cleans and removes all dirt and residue from the grapes.  They are fresh and clean with no vinegar smell or taste.  This tip came from my son's pediatrician years ago.  My son's stomach was bothered by the pesticides used in fruits and vegetables.  After this advice from the doctor, we never had an problems since.  It works well on apples, oranges, pears and all vegetables.  Penny, MI

  When making thickening for gravy, use half flour and half cornstarch.  Your gravy will not lump.  Evelyn Evans, IA

When making gravy, use instant mash potatoes, just add flakes to hot boiling broth and stir briskly, instead of cornstarch or flour.  Diana Shockley, MD

Ground Beef:  Don't rush around when you need ground meat for dinner.  Cook up a large batch when it is on sale and put it (drained) in zip lock bags, in the freezer.  When you need it in a hurry, a little or a lot, just break it into sections or use more than one bag.  Linda LeMaire, Biloxi, MS

Graham Cracker Crust:  When making graham cracker pie crusts crush the crackers using a rolling pin in a Ziploc bag.  Add melted butter and sugar to the bag and then close.  You can work the ingredients together in the bag without having to wash another bowl or get your hands dirty. Kelly, NE

Hamburgers or Meatballs:  Keep your hands wet with water and the meat won't stick to your hands.  Makes for much easier cleanup.  Kim, WA

Before you make hamburgers, wash your hands with Dawn and the meat will not stick to your hands.  Vickie Jackson, AR

Hamburger Patties:  Use an upside down (or lip side up) sour cream or cottage cheese lid under a sheet of wax paper to make hamburger patties.  The edges of the lid help keep the patty round and when cooked, they are about the size of the hamburger bun.  You can still make them as thick or as thin as you like, but they will be bun sized.  Heather, IA

When cooking cheeseburgers this works great, place cheese on the burger then with turner simply place cheeseburger upside down on the bottom bun making the cheese next to the bottom bun, then to add condiments the top bun comes off clean and the cheese stays undisturbed under the meat patty and makes for easy assembly.  Georgene Trewatha

When cooking hamburgers on the grill or anywhere, make a hole in the middle of the burger with your finger. The meat will cook evenly and the hole will close up; no more pink hamburgers.  LaRhonda, NC

Hard Boiled Eggs:
  If you have hard-boiled eggs and get them mixed up with your fresh eggs, just spin them like a top.  The hard-boiled eggs will spin and the fresh ones won't.  Brad Goulet, WA

Shake salt in water when boiling eggs.  If they crack, they will not spill into the water.  Arleen Emison, TN

My brother-in-law taught me several years ago how to always peel an egg without tearing up the whites.  After cracking the shell, start on the most rounded end of the egg, use a teaspoon and gently lift the shell. Rinse and use as you wish.  Hasn't failed me for the past 15 years!  Diana, IN

Hot Pepper Burn:
  Apply olive oil and you will have no burning feeling.  Suman, SC

Ice Cubes:  If you need to make ice in short period of time, fill ice tray cubes with warm water.  The warm water freezes at much faster rate then if you filled them with cold water. 
Trina Berrian, SC

We use a lot of Ice Cubes in the summertime and when it is HOT They melt fast. I now use Cup Cake tins to make My ice cubes and They last so much longer. And doesn't take as many to fill a glass.  Beverly Youngblood, IL

Ice Cube Substitute:  Cut lemons up in pieces and freeze in a bag.  Place pieces in a glass with water for a healthy glass of lemon water.  Use frozen pieces of lemon like an ice cube.  Maureen Wells,  NY

  Soak lasagna noodles in cold water for 15 minutes.  After all other ingredients are ready to assemble, remove noodles and pat dry with paper towels.  This softens the noodles somewhat and reduces the cooking time for the lasagna to half. Marsha Montgomery, TX

Leftovers:  Keep two large plastic ice cream buckets in the freezer, one for leftover poultry and cornbread and one for leftover roast beef and vegetables (such as corn, carrots, etc).  When full, make cornbread dressing with the first and homemade soup with the second.  Small piece of onion or celery can go into either container.  Claire LeMoine, LA

Lemon Juice Substitute:  If don't have lemon juice, I use a tiny bit of lemon Kool-aid.  Fran Scales, TN

Lettuce:  When cleaning lettuce, turn head of lettuce upside down and hit core against counter or table and then pull core out.  Run water thru head of lettuce to wash thoroughly and then turn upside down again to drain.  Never use metal knife on lettuce, this will turn lettuce brown.  Using a plastic knife to shred or cut lettuce will keep the lettuce looking fresher.

Measuring:  Save the measuring spoons and syringes from childrens medicines.  They are better than teaspoons for liquids like vanilla or other extracts.  Tracy Webber, IN

Meatloaf:   We (my husband & I) shop for meat at a store where we buy in bulk. When I make meat loaf I make two or three and put one in the oven and the other one or two I freeze for a later time. The day before I'm ready to bake one I take it from the freezer and put it in the fridge so it can thaw, then the next day I bake it with some carrots and potatoes all in the same pan, and there you have a good hot home cooked meal with hardly any prep time.  P. Toler, NV

Milk Substitute
:  Use non-dairy coffee creamer mixed in water for recipes that call for milk.  This is great for people that are allergic to dairy products.  Anita Rogers, GA

Non-Sticking Noodles:  When cooking pasta, put a cap full of vegetable oil in the water before adding the pasta.  Your noodles won�t stick together. Deanna, TX.

Oil substitute: When a cake recipe calls for margarine or oil, you can use applesauce as a substitute.  It works great and less calories. Taffy Ponvelle

Onion Hands: Do you have onion smell on your hands after cutting one?  Use the metal part of the knife and rub your hands with it while under running water.  Rob, MS


Want to chase away onion odor from your hands.  Just use a metal serving spoon.  Rub off the odor under running water.  K Rose, TN


After cutting an onion, spray the vinegar on your hands as well as on your cutting board and knife.  The strong odor will completely be removed.  Linda, IO


To remove onion smell from your hands, use a half-teaspoon or so of salt in your palm.  Dampen it with a few drops of water and rub it all over your hands as you would soap. Rinse, and the smell will be gone.  Zoe Hobby, GA


Wet hands with cold water.  Sprinkle generously with table salt, pour dishwashing liquid over hands, vigorously rub hands together, getting between fingers as well.  Rinse hands under running cold water!! Mary Ann, IL

Onions:  If you have an onion that is hard to peel, because the skin is dry, just drop it in some water for about 5 mins.  Sharrell Tarawneh, GA


When slicing an onion, to avoid tears, try holding a piece of white bread in your mouth while slicing, it prevents tears every time! Billie, KY


When chopping onion, you will have fewer tears if you put your chopping board under the exhaust fan on your stove or light a candle and place it near the cutting board.  Sara R., WY

Before slicing onions, place the onion in the freezer for half hour.  This will keep the onion from smelling and burning your eyes.  Mandi, AR

To prevent tears when cutting an onion, cut the root end off last.  Becky Ellison, MS


To make chopping onions a less teary-eyed experience hold two unlit matches in your mouth.  Have the non-striking end in your mouth.  No tears on your cutting board.  Cordy, AR


Place the onion in the microwave for a few seconds and then chop it up.  You won't tear up anymore.  C Bergeron, LA


When I cut onions, I find that eating a piece of bread through out the time of dicing prevents watering and stinging eyes.  Tracy, CT

Bite down constantly on a wooden match stick while doing your cleaning/chopping.  I promise your eyes will not burn or tear.  So Simple!!  DeAnna Dunn, MO.

Chop onions by cold running water. You'll have 0 tears.  Cachet, OH

Opening Jars:   To get the lid off a jar, slide a butter knife under the lid and twist the knife.  It will break the seal and the lid will come off easy.  Vivian Romper, CA

Orange Zest:  To always have some orange zest on hand just save your orange peels and freeze them.  Then you always have some on hand.  Adele Majchrzak, NY


Pasta:  To stop pasta (and potatoes) from boiling over, put a little oil in the pot.  This saves time watching the food while cooking and no mess on stove. Carolyn Jackson, TN

Place a small amount of vegetable oil or margarine in the water in which you cook starchy foods such as rice, potatoes, and pasta.  This keeps the water from foaming up and boiling over. 
Barb, MN

To keep pasta from boiling over while cooking, add a small amount of olive oil while cooking it.  Clara Gantt, SC

Boil water first then add pasta, bring to second boil and stir, then cover. Then shut off stove. DO NOT LIFT LID! IN 7 MINUTES IT SHOULD BE DONE! SAVES GAS OR ELECTRICITY. Christine Vagai, TX

Peanut Butter Cookies: To make the criss-cross pattern, instead of using fork tines, use a potato masher.  It's easier to handle and one print will go the width of the cookie.  Sandra Glover, MS
Potatoes: To keep potatoes from boiling over, place a wooden spoon across the top of the pan.  Tami, MO

Pie Crust:  Using a graham cracker crust?  Brush it with raw egg and bake for 10 min at 350 degrees.  Let cool before filling.  When you cut the pie the crust will stay intact and not crumble.  Mary Ann, AL

  To assure all grains will pop store popcorn in refrigerator prior to popping. Rick, AK.

Raw Egg Clean Up:  If you drop a raw egg, simply pour salt on it, this makes it is easier to clean up. Gloria Snyder

Rice Krispy Treats: To spread these bars easily into the pan after preparing, run your hands under cold tap water for a few seconds.  Wipe excess water off your hands, and press the rice crispy mixture into the pan.  Repeat cold water if necessary.  Melinda, IA

Clogged Salt Shaker: Place about a tablespoon of uncooked rice in shaker then fill the rest of the way with salt.  The rice will absorb the moisture and keep the shaker from clogging. Karen, KY

Sauce: If you put too much salt in a sauce, drop in a potato while the sauce is simmering and it will absorb much of the salt.

Soup: Don't throw away the bones from that chicken you had last night, boil the bones with a little chopped up onion and celery (don't forget the leaves) salt and pepper to taste.  You have a great chicken stock for soup, veggies and rice.
Robin, GA.

Squash:  To slice squash in two - first microwave for about a min. or so depending on size. Slices easy and seeds remove easier.  Bill Achenbach

Stop Boiling Over Pots:
To keep pots from boiling over when you boil potatoes or pasta, just spray pot with Pam first.  Your stovetop will thank you.  Nancy E Hess

Sweetened Condensed Milk Substitute: 

1 cup    Powdered milk
1/3 cup Boiling water
2/3 cup Granulated sugar
3 tbls    Butter (optional)

Place all ingerdients in blender. Blend until sugar is desolved. Equals approx. 1 can sweetened condensed milk.  Susan Richardson, TN

Taco Shells:  I always hated the fact after heating hard shell tacos up in the oven so they'd be nice and crispy, the openings had closed shut, if you seperated them according to directions and layed them flat on the baking sheet. I discovered if you just lay the whole stack of them directly on the oven rack while they're still inside one another(you can even leave the little "cushion insert" in the very first one) and heat them they hold their shape alot better leaving more room to put all the goodies inside!  Jacinda Derby, IA

Tastier Cakes
:  When cake mix calls for water use buttermilk instead.  It will make the lightest and best cakes.  Plus it will give it that homemade taste.  Mary Alice, TX

Time Saver: Work full-time?  Here's a real time saver.  When you do cook, cook a lot.  Then freeze the leftovers in small containers.  Makes it easy to just throw a single serving into the microwave when you don't have the time to cook. Pam McClung

Toaster:  Always unplug your toaster after use.  Toasters are the #1 cause of house fires.  Lisa Foley, KY

To keep tomato stains out of your plastic bowls (or Tupperware) when storing tomato-based dishes (such as spaghetti sauce, chili, etc.), spray bowls first with cooking spray.  Cheryl Missouri

Vidalia Onion Substitute:  Want a sweet onion for your hamburger and Vidalias aren't available?  Cut a whole yellow or white or red onion in half and soak in a bowl of cold water (1 cup or to cover with 1/4 c sugar added).  Let soak at least 15 minutes, this really sweetens the onion and takes out the bitter bite, I can eat Vidalias but not the regular and this works great, the longer they soak the sweeter they are.  Georgene Trewatha, MO

Wine:  Leftover redwine from cooking? Fill the red wine into icecube trays or small icecube-bags and put it in the freezer. That way you don't have to open a new bottle, everytime you need redwine for your cooking.  Per Madsen, Denmark

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*Please note: This is a community exchange. The ideas mentioned here have not been tested and product mentions are not indicative of a station endorsement.

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