How-To Cook Beets

I love love love beets. I am so sad I spent the first 27 years of my life never having tasted them. What a waste! I definitely have a lot of beet eating catching up to do. So to get started I thought I needed to learn how to cook them at home. That way I could use them as snacks and in salads more frequently. I did a little research and learned that there are many different ways to prepare beets. You can bake, boil, roast or even steam them. I picked the two methods I thought would possibly suit my cooking style and decided to do some trial runs to see which way I liked them best. I chose to boil one batch and roast the other. Here are the processes. [Read more…]

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How-To Make Fruity Ice Cubes

Can you say genius? These are great for pitchers of water and ice tea, or even punch bowls at a party. They look beautiful, they are very functional and super simple to make. You can even use different types of fruit to make it even more beautiful. How about raspberries, blackberries or even strawberries. Honestly the possibilities are endless. Thank you Pinterest for bringing these into my life and thank you Martha Stewart for being a crafty entertaining goddess. When I grow up I want to be just like you, minus the whole stint in federal prison thing. I can do without that.

Supplies

  • Muffin pan
  • 6 lemons/limes/Oranges

Directions

  1. Thinly slice up lemons and limes.
  2. Place two or three slices of lemon and/or lime in each section of the muffin tin.
  3. Carefully fill the muffin pan with water.
  4. Freeze overnight.

Notes: If using fruity cubes for ice tea or punch, fill tray with ice tea or non-alcoholic punch instead of water. This way you won’t dilute your drink with watery ice cubes.

How-To Make Pizza Dough

Pizza DoughWhy would you ever order pizza in when it can be so fun to make it at home? Why would you ever buy pizza dough from the store when it is so easy to make from scratch? Not only is it easy and fun, but it can also be very therapeutic. I think I am smelling a fun pizza making party in my future. Who wants to come? Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups warm water, 100 to 110 degrees F, plus extra as needed
  • 1 (¼-ounce) packet active dry yeast
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra as needed
  • 1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt
  • Olive oil, for drizzling

Directions

Put the water in a small bowl. Add the yeast and stir until dissolved.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour and salt together. Add the yeast mixture and stir until a soft dough forms. If the dough is too dry, add a little extra water, 1 tablespoon at a time. If the dough is too sticky, add extra flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface. With floured hands, knead the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic, about 10 to 12 minutes. Drizzle the inside of a clean bowl with olive oil. Put the dough in the bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel. Set the bowl in a warm, draft-free place, until the dough has doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Using a fist, deflate the dough in the center and cut it into 3 equal-sized pieces. Form the dough pieces into 3 balls and put into 3 oiled bowls. Cover each bowl loosely with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and let rest for 1 hour. Remove the dough and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for up to 1 day.

  • Source: Giada De Laurentiis
  • Prep Time: 15min
  • Inactive Time: 3hr
  • Total Time: 3hr 15min
  • Recipe Yields: 3 (13oz) balls of dough

How-To Make Flavored Butter: Cinnamon Honey

This is so easy to do, but really says a lot to your guests about what kind of entertainer you are. Or maybe you are making it just for you and your Wifey or Hubby… That is okay too and she/he will really appreciate you going the extra mile. Shhh, you don’t have to tell them how easy it is.

Ingredients

  • ¼ pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons good honey
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

Combine the butter, honey, cinnamon, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Serve at room temperature.

Notes: Get creative and alter the recipe to make your own flavor. Try mixing raspberry jam or maybe Italian herbs and garlic. The possibilities are endless.

  • Source: Ina Garten
  • Total Time: 10min
  • Recipe Yields: ¾ cup

How-To Cook Perfect Pasta

Cooking pasta is simple and easy, which means it is also simply easy to do it wrong. If you want the perfect Italian Pasta with a little bite and clinging sauce, here’s how.

Directions

  1. Boil Water – Start with a very large pot of water, about 6 quarts per pound of pasta. Bring it to a rapid boil. Tip: A pound of pasta feeds about 5 to 6 people.
  2. Add Salt – Put in a lot of salt, about 3 tablespoons. If you taste the water, it should taste like the sea.
  3. Add the Pasta – Drop in the pasta while the water is at a boil and give it a gentle stir.
  4. Stir the Pasta – Stir it occasionally while it cooks. Use the cooking time on the pasta package as a guide.
  5. Taste the Pasta – But watch out — it’s hot! Sample the pasta at about 2 minutes shy of the indicated time. It should be al dente. You’ll finish cooking it in the sauce. Tip: “Al dente” means “to the tooth,” meaning the pasta should still have a little bite to it.
  6. Drain the Pasta – Just be sure to save about 1 cup of the pasta water. If you have a pot with a colander insert, use it to drain the pasta. If not, drain the pasta in a colander set in the sink. (If you’re cooking ravioli, use a slotted skimmer and gently lift the ravioli a few at a time.)
  7. Add In the Sauce – Add the pasta to your sauce and finish cooking it in the sauce. Give it a stir to coat.
  8. Add Pasta Water – Ladle a few tablespoons of the pasta water at a time until you have the right consistency to your sauce. Remember, the pasta will absorb the liquid. Tip: Pasta water helps to thicken the sauce.
  9. Let Simmer – Simmer over medium-low heat — it’ll help the pasta soak up the sauce. Follow your recipe’s instructions for finishing the dish. And that’s all there is to it. Perfecto!

Notes: For more tips and pasta recipes check out the Food Network… It’s my Bible.

How-To Scramble Eggs

Making the perfect scrambled eggs isn’t difficult. The key is whisking the eggs thoroughly and vigorously before cooking them. Whisking incorporates air, which produces fluffier scrambled eggs. And fluffier is better! Overcooking is a common problem with scrambled eggs. For starters, scrambled eggs should never be even the slightest bit brown… That means they’re burnt! The perfect scrambled eggs should be soft and just a little bit moist. One last thing: Eggs should always be cooked in a nonstick sauté pan. For that reason, you should always use a heat-resistant rubber spatula.

Ingredients

  • 8 eggs
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoon clarified butter or whole butter
  • Salt and ground white pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Crack the eggs into a glass mixing bowl and beat them until they turn a pale yellow color.
  2. Heat a heavy-bottomed nonstick sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the butter and let it melt.
  3. Add the milk to the eggs and season to taste with salt and white pepper. Then, grab your whisk and whisk like crazy. You’re going to want to work up a sweat here. If you’re not up for that, you can use an electric beater or stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Whatever device you use, you’re trying to beat as much air as possible into the eggs.
  4. When the butter in the pan is hot enough to make a drop of water hiss, pour in the eggs. Don’t stir! Let the eggs cook for up to a minute or until the bottom starts to set.
  5. With a heat-resistant rubber spatula, gently push one edge of the egg into the center of the pan, while tilting the pan to allow the still liquid egg to flow in underneath. Repeat with the other edges, until there’s no liquid left.
  6. Turn off the heat and continue gently stirring and turning the egg until all the uncooked parts become firm. Don’t break up the egg, though. Try to keep the curds as large as possible. If you’re adding any other ingredients, now’s the time to do it. Examples: Chopped Fresh Herbs, Grated Cheese, Diced and Sautéed Onion (sauté the onion separately and then add) Chopped Cooked Bacon, or Diced Ham.
  7. Transfer to a plate when the eggs are set but still moist and soft. Eggs are delicate, so they’ll continue to cook for a few moments after they’re on the plate.

Notes: There’s no limit to the variations you can create by adding ingredients to this basic scrambled egg recipe. Some schools of thought hold that for the sake of simplicity, you wouldn’t want to add more than one additional ingredient. Then again, rules are made to be broken!

  • Prep Time: 5min
  • Cook Time: 5min
  • Total Time: 10min
  • Recipe Yields: 4 servings

How-To Hard Boil Eggs

Whether you are making them for breakfast, just a snack or delicious deviled eggs, hard boiling the perfect egg is not difficult, but we all know the frustrating problems that can arise. Sometimes they are near impossible to peel and other times there is a gross greenish layer on the outside of the yolk that is completely harmless, but makes deviled eggs not so pretty. Have no fear, there are some tricks of the trade that solve these annoying problems that shouldn’t be ignored in order to achieve not only a delicious, but a perfectly simple hard boiled egg.

Ingredients

  • Eggs (preferably not super fresh for peeling purposes)
  • Pot of water (enough to cover single layer of eggs by 1 inch)

Directions

  1. Place eggs in saucepan large enough to hold them in single layer. Add cold water to cover eggs by 1 inch. Heat over high heat just to boiling. Remove from burner. Cover pan.
  2. Let eggs stand in hot water about 12 minutes for large eggs (9 minutes for medium eggs; 15 minutes for extra large).
  3. Drain immediately and serve warm, or cool completely under cold running water or in bowl of ice water, then refrigerate.

Recipe Tips

  1. Banish the Greenish Ring – This harmless but unsightly discoloration that sometimes forms around hard-boiled yolks results from a reaction between sulfur in the egg white and iron in the yolk. It occurs when eggs have been cooked for too long or at too high a temperature. Our method – cooking eggs in hot, not boiling, water, then cooling immediately – minimizes this.
  2. Don’t Use Fresh Eggs – Very fresh eggs can be difficult to peel. To ensure easily peeled eggs, buy and refrigerate them a week to 10 days in advance of cooking. This brief “breather” allows the eggs time to take in air, which helps separate the membranes from the shell.
  3. Peel Cooled Eggs – Hard-boiled eggs are easiest to peel right after cooling. Cooling causes the egg to contract slightly in the shell.
  4. To Peel a Hard Boiled Egg – Gently tap egg on countertop until shell is finely crackled all over. Roll egg between hands to loosen shell. Starting peeling at large end, holding egg under cold running water to help ease the shell off.
  5. Storage Time: 
    • In the shell: Hard boiled eggs can be refrigerated safely up to one week. Refrigerate in their original carton to prevent odor absorption.
    • Once peeled: Eggs should be eaten that day.
  6. High Altitude Cooking – It’s almost impossible to hard-cook eggs above 10,000 feet.