Help Around the Kitchen
Ideas for December
With the holidays in full swing we'll help you make your kitchen work as efficiently as possible.
Give a boxed brownie mix a holiday makeover: Sprinkle chocolate chips over the brownies straight from the oven. Let sit for a few minutes, then spread the melted chocolate. Sprinkle immediately with crushed peppermint candies, pressing in the candies to adhere. Let cool completely before cutting and serving.
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Drop-cookie dough is great for freezing (and thus, baking a cookie when a craving strikes!). Portion out the dough onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, freeze, then transfer to a covered container and refreeze. When you're ready, bake as usual, tacking on an extra minute or two as needed.
Cakey Chocolate Chip Cookies
When separating eggs, do them individually before adding the separated white and yolk to the other ingredients. Consider this a quick and easy measure worth taking to avoid contamination of the bowls due to a yolk accident.
Celebrate the season by throwing together batches of cookie dough. ‘Tis the season for holiday cookies, as cookie dough refrigerates for up to 3 days and freezes for up to 3 months.
Giada's One Cookie Dough, Three Ways
Hanukkah ends at sundown. For extra-crisp latkes, wrap the shredded potatoes in a clean kitchen towel and wring out as much water as possible.
For recipes that call for melted butter, try browning the butter for a nuttier flavor: Melt the butter and cook until it turns a hazelnut brown, then pour into a heatproof bowl immediately to stop the cooking. Use while still in liquid form.
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Store cheeses in the crisper drawer wrapped in parchment, where the high humidity will help keep them from drying out.
Serrano Ham and Manchego Cheese Plate
Cool baking sheets in between baking batches of cookies by running cold water over the underside of each sheet — placing raw cookie dough on a hot baking sheet will lead to uneven baking.
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Store soft and crisp cookies separately as softer cookies will leach moisture from crisp cookies, causing them to become soft, too. Store soft cookies with an orange peel or apple wedge to keep them soft. The apple will need to be changed daily.
Lemon-White Chocolate Cookies
For a shiny, glossy crust, brush dough with an egg wash made from an egg beaten with water.
Brush Ina's Apple Turnovers With Egg Wash
In a pinch, instead of using a toothpick to test cakes and other baked goods for doneness, use a strand of uncooked spaghetti.
Rachael's Pasta Puttanesca
It’s National Cocoa Day! Add a spoonful of cocoa to your morning coffee for a fun, chocolatey fix.
Or Make Super-Thick Hot Chocolate
The secret to mailing cookies without breakage is to stack them in single layers separated by sheets of bubble wrap.
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When beating egg whites for volume, make sure the beaters and bowl are free of any fat, which will interfere with the formation of foamy egg whites.
Little Cheese Souffles
Use scissors to snip dried fruit into small pieces — dried fruit can be difficult to chop because of its sticky texture.
Stockpile your favorite croissants and freeze for the holidays. Wrap each croissant in aluminum foil before storing in a freezer bag. Remove from the foil and heat in a 325 degrees F oven until just heated through, about 5 minutes.
Use Croissants in Bread Pudding
In honor of National Maple Syrup Day, treat the kids to old-fashioned maple syrup candy: Bring 1 cup maple syrup and ¼ cup butter to a boil, 5 to 6 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes, then pour over vanilla ice cream — or snow, if available — so the candy hardens. Indulge immediately.
Make Blueberry Maple Syrup at Home
After boxing cookies as presents, store the packages in sealed plastic bags until ready to be given to the recipient. The airtight seal will keep cookies fresh for longer.
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Freshen up the house by simmering a holiday brew of cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon sticks and orange peels. For an added benefit, strain the liquid for use as a room freshener spray.
Or Imbibe With Nigella's Mulled Cider
For elegant scallion curls, thinly slice a scallion into long, thin strips and submerge in ice cold water. Use to garnish holiday roasts and soups.
Tangerine Beef With Scallions
It may be cold outside but you can still grill indoors. Make an inside-out cheeseburger: Gently push a cube of cheese into the center of a patty, pinching together the meat to enclose. Cook as usual.
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"Keep cooked foods warm as they rest by tenting them with aluminum foil. The aluminum foil helps keep heat in but lets steam escape so you don't overcook your meat.
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When carving ham, cut the ham crosswise in 2 to 3 places before slicing lengthwise so it falls off in smaller pieces.
Glazed Ham With Roasted Apples
What better reason than National Eggnog Day to treat your family to eggnog French toast? Just swap the eggnog in for the liquid and beat with a few eggs. Top with whipped cream spiked with vanilla and grated nutmeg.
Or Make Eggnog Yogurt
Merry Christmas! Unflavored dental floss easily steps in for kitchen twine when tying a holiday roast — just be careful to not tie it too tightly and cut into the meat, causing juices to run and dry out.
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Save bubble wrap from packages to line stacks of cookware and serving platters when you store them.
7 More Smart Storage Tips
Hold onto a stick of butter in its wrapper when buttering a baking dish, then store the butter in its wrapper in a resealable plastic bag. Reuse the same stick for greasing other baking dishes.
Use a blender to make foamy milk. Warm the milk, then pour it into the blender and blend until foamy. For a wintery spin on steamed milk, warm the milk with sprigs of mint or spearmint, strain before blending and serve with a peppermint stick.
Tyler's French Press Cappuccino
Release the seeds from a pomegranate half by thwacking at the peel side with the back of a wooden spoon, with the cut side facing a shallow bowl. Use force, so the seeds come flying out.
Guy's Pear and Pomegranate Salad
The grated peel of citrus fruit can be frozen: Drop by the teaspoon on a sheet of plastic wrap, then cover with another sheet and form a seal; roll up and freeze in a freezer bag. Use scissors to snip away mounds as needed.
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