Help Around the Kitchen
Ideas for November
Make weeknight dinners easy so you can focus on getting prepped for turkey day.
Transport casseroles by placing them on a folded kitchen towel set in two layers of plastic shopping bags. The kitchen towel protects and stabilizes the baking dish and the double-ply of bags is insurance in case a handle breaks.
It’s National Deviled Egg Day. Use older eggs when preparing hard-boiled eggs as their shells are easier to peel.
All-Star Deviled Eggs
National Sandwich Day arrives just in time! With heavy-duty holiday cooking around the corner, set out a sandwich bar for dinner and take a night off — and clear out more contents from the fridge. The extra room will come in handy soon enough.
Got Time? Make a Chicken Wrap
Remove the rings that contain sets of measuring cups and spoons — each item is easier to use and clean. (Use the rings to organize recipe cards or as napkin holders.)
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If a gas burner isn’t lighting, try giving it a good scrubbing. Remove the grate, cap and burner unit (if there’s a third removable part, that is) and clean using soapy water made with dish soap (do not use other cleaners, which may leave flammable residue). Use a paper clip to clean the burner openings; let dry completely.
Clean Your Appliances
Fix an easy dinner of homemade pizza on store-bought crust while keeping your eyes glued to the tube on Election Night. Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese along the rim of the crust — the extra seasoning also helps crisp it nicely.
Or Make Homemade Dough Giada's Way
Lightly wet the underside of a sheet of aluminum foil when lining a baking sheet. The water acts like glue and will help the foil lay flat.
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Freeze stew in containers small enough to fit in your slow cooker. In the morning, pop the stew out of the container and into the slow cooker with the setting on low. (Set the container in a shallow bowl of water, if needed, to loosen and remove the frozen stew.)
Paula's Beef Stew
When measuring sticky ingredients like honey, molasses or corn syrup, spray cups and spoons with nonstick cooking spray for easy clean up.
Anne's Game Hens With Pomegranate Molasses
It is possible to make pasta for a crowd! Cook the pasta to al dente, then toss with a touch of olive oil (too much keeps the sauce from sticking) and spread on a baking sheet. Hold at room temperature and re-heat by tossing in a pan with sauce.
Bucatini With Pesto and Shrimp
Save the feathery fronds from a bulb of fennel and use as an herb garnish on turkey or other meats to layer on some anise-spiked flavor.
Chicken and Fennel
Steam green beans in the microwave: Microwave on high 1 pound green beans with 1 tablespoon water for about 3 minutes in a microwave-safe glass bowl that's been covered with plastic wrap.
Steamed Green Beans
For room temperature eggs, place them in a bowl and cover with hot tap water. Let stand for about 5 minutes to remove the chill from the eggs.
Sandra's S'Mores Tart
Prep a salad in advance: Place the dressing at the bottom of a salad serving bowl, top with the foods that won’t break down when soaked in dressing, then top with the greens. Cover with a damp paper towel, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to overnight. Just before serving, add salad toppings, then toss.
5 Simple Salads
In lieu of a roasting rack, use a crumpled wad of aluminum foil snaked around the pan to form grates. Spray with cooking oil to keep foods from sticking.
Pearl onions peel easily once blanched: Trim the ends of onions opposite the root end, then drop into boiling water for 2 minutes before draining. Once cool enough to handle, pinch the onion from the root end and it will slip right out of its skin.
Glazed Pearl Onions
Peel and slice potatoes up to one day in advance — keep them submerged in cold water so they don’t discolor. Unless they’re being boiled, remember to pat dry before using.
Ina's Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes
Baking a pie for transport but don't want to leave your nice dish at the party? Stack two disposable pie plates to keep the pie sturdy.
In honor of National Hunger Awareness Month, pack up canned goods and non-perishables for your local soup kitchen and drop them off before Thanksgiving. Think about well-balanced and nutritional items like canned fruits and vegetables as those are harder for the less fortunate to afford.
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Unless specified in a recipe, use room temperature egg and dairy products when baking for lighter, fluffier baked goods. Pull the ingredients from the refrigerator about 30 minutes to 1 hour before use.
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Gravy a bit runny? Thicken it up instantly by blending in some stuffing.
Tyler's Turkey Gravy
Happy Thanksgiving! Cooking space is at a premium today. Put your slow cooker to use by holding mashed potatoes on low while dinner is being prepared.
The Best Mashed Potatoes
Remove scorch marks and other stuck-on foods from pans by sprinkling on baking soda and filling with enough water to cover; let stand for a few hours before washing as usual.
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Shred leftover turkey meat and freeze by the cupful in snack-sized resealable plastic bags with the excess air pressed out. Add the frozen meat to soups, casseroles or stir-fries for quick fixes of protein.
Or Add Turkey to Thanksgiving Pizza
Chop up excess herbs and fold into room temperature butter before freezing in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag. Add a pat of the compound butter to hot dishes like steamed veggies, pan-fried fish or a pot of rice.
Baked Tilapia With Herb Butter
Test if the oil in a pan is hot by flicking water in the pan — the water will sizzle instantly if the oil’s ready to go.
Pan-Fried Chicken Thighs
Cook steaks in hot oil and don’t turn them until they release on their own — wait another minute, so that the sear has time to properly form. The steaks will release easily when they’re ready to be turned.
Alton's Steak au Poivre
Use wet hands when shaping meatloaf to prevent a sticky mess from forming on your hands. This trick also works well when shaping meatballs and burger patties.
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