Don’t waste those leftovers from holiday get-togethers! Freezing your food is a great way to make the most of your meals, but only if you can properly thaw them later in the year. Here are the best ways to take your food from frozen solid to family dinner:
1. The best way: IN THE FRIDGE
Set frozen food in its wrapper on a plate to catch drips. Food thawed in the fridge will last for 2 or 3 more days than those thawed using other methods.
2. The shortcut: IN COLD WATER
Place food in an airtight bag and submerge in cold water; change water every 30 minutes. Using hot water is a no-no: It encourages bacteria.
3. The cheat: IN THE MICROWAVE
Unwrap foods and thaw using the defrost or low setting. If meats start to brown, remove and cool before continuing. Cook immediately.
4. For baked goods: ON THE COUNTER TOP
Bread and other frozen baked good sare safe to thaw on the counter. Keep them loosely covered with their wrapping from the freezer and place on a wire rack to prevent condensation and sogginess.
DID YOU KNOW?
5 Unexpected Things You Can Freeze:
Milk Pour into freezer bags and freeze flat. You’ll never run to the store when baking again!
Egg Whites Freeze each egg white separately in an ice cube tray. Once frozen, store them in freezer bags.
Butter Buy it on sale with no fear of it spoiling. Store sticks in their paper wrap in a freezer bag.
Avocado Save ripe avocados by mashing them with a bit of lemon juice and packing in airtight containers.
Nuts and Grains Store in airtight containers or freezer bags to prevent them from going rancid at room temperature.
Whether you celebrate Hanukkah or not, the holiday season is a perfect time for potato latkes. They’re basically a blank canvas for a myriad of flavors and toppings. So whether you like sweet or savory, traditional or something different, here are three quick tips that’ll take you from latke novice to potato pancake pro:
Test the oil’s temp by dropping in a tiny bit of latke batter. It should sizzle but not burn. If the oil starts to smoke, turn the heat down. No sizzle? Crank it up a bit. As you cook, you may need to keep adjusting the heat.
Dollop the latke batter into the hot oil, then flatten with a metal spatula. An even latke will cook up crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.
Transfer the latkes to a paper-towel-lined plate to sop up extra oil.
Get all of our potato pancake recipes here!
Fuel your fall adventures (and save money) by making your own healthy snacks. Whip up a batch of one of these tasty trail-mix combos created by Nekisia Davis, the genius behind Brooklyn, New York’s wildly popular Early Bird Granola. Then get outside!
1 cup salted roasted almonds – 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots – 1/2 cup golden raisins – 1/2 cup broken wheat crackers – 1/8 tsp. cinnamon – generous pinch salt – makes 2 1/2 cups
2 cups salted popcorn – 1 cup dark chocolate, roughly chopped – 1 cup salted roasted pistachios – 2 tsp. cocoa powder – generous pinch salt – makes 4 cups
3. Kid Stuff
1 cup peanut butter puff cereal – 1 cup yogurt-covered pretzels, broken into bite-size pieces – 1/2 cup raisins – 1/2 cup salted sunflower seeds – makes 3 cups
4. Protein Fix
1/2 cup sliced beef jerky – 1/2 cup store-bought kale chips – 1/2 cup salted roasted pecans – 1/2 cup rice crackers, broken into bite-size pieces – 1/2 cup carrot chips, broken into bite-size pieces – pinch salt – makes 2 1/2 cups
5. Far Eastern
2/3 cup salted roasted cashews – 2/3 cup sesame sticks – 1/2 cup sliced dried mango – 1/2 cup puffed rice cereal – 1/2 cup dried wasabi peas – 2 tbsp. sliced candied ginger – makes 3 cups
6. Health Nut
2/3 cup salted roasted walnuts – 2/3 cup salted roasted almonds – 1/2 cup dried blueberries – 1/2 cup dried sour cherries – 2 tbsp. hemp seeds – generous pinch salt – makes 2 1/2 cups
With one pot, a splash of liquid and a little love, you can slow-cook the simplest ingredients into rich, satisfying, supremely easy dishes. The secret is braising:a hands-off technique that lets foods simmer themselves tender and creates a succulent sauce almost effortlessly. And if that’s not enough temptation, here are five reasons you’ll be praising braising!
Without any extra prep work–pounding, marinating and brining begone!– you can magically tenderize tough bargain cuts like short ribs, shanks and stew meat by simmering them in a little liquid. Cooking low and slow in a covered pot melts down fat and tissue, basting meat from inside to keep it moist, and making the sauce thick and silky.
You’ve had chicken a thousand ways, but never this moist! When you braise a bird, the flavorful cooking liquid–be it stock, wine or, in this case, beer–infuses the meat, making it tender to the bone. In exchange, the meat and skin give the sauce a rich taste and glossy texture.
Delicate fillets can quickly become dry or rubbery if you’re not careful with your pan or grill. Braising is far more forgiving. Searing fish first, then cooking it at a gentle simmer, means the outside won’t scorch before the inside is fully cooked, and the liquid “bath” ensures moistness. What’s more, oven braising guarantees that fillets won’t fall apart; the gentle, indirect heat cooks fish evenly without you having to turn or flip the pieces.
4. Vegetables turn silky and sweet
In around half the time it would take to roast them, braising intensifies vegetables‘ sweetness and succulence. First, the veggies caramelize in the pan and form a golden crust. Then, the liquid you add creates steam that helps cook them through evenly. The end result is juicy and soft, never dry and shriveled.
5. Fruit becomes saucy and spoonable
You know how fruit tastes sweetest when it’s soft and ripe? Braising brings that same flavor forward, ripe or not, and delivers a tart, tantalizing sauce to boot. Fruits release their juices in the pan, naturally sweetening and enriching whatever cooking liquid you use. Use luscious braised fruits (try the technique with peaches, pears, apples and pineapple) as condiments for meat and fish; tossed into rice dishes, yogurt or granola; or dolloped over ice cream for dessert.
Simple steps to braising
1. Hit the heat. Start by browning your main ingredients in a little butter or oil over high heat. This caramelizes the outer layer– whether you’re cooking meat, fish or produce– and creates deep flavor that will later make its way into the pan sauce. Use a heavy- bottomed, ovenproof pot with a lid, such as a dutch oven
2. Add liquid. Pour in stock, water, juice or other liquids to cover the food about halfway. This accomplishes two things: It dislodges flavorful browned bits from the pan (scrape them up using a wooden spoon) and helps tenderize the ingredients. Using acidic liquids such as lemon juice or vinegar can help speed up the process.
3. Cover and simmer. Most braises should be fine on the stovetop, but for leaner and more delicate foods like fish and chicken, the oven’s indirect heat can be gentler. In either case, a covered pot traps steam, which tenderizes from above while the braising liquid simmers beneath. Never let the liquids boil– if food cooks too quickly, it can toughen up.
4. Finish the dish. The liquids you’ve already added will become your sauce. Tweak it all you want: Skim the fat from the top; cook longer (or stir in cream or butter) if it’s too thin; or strain if you prefer smooth to chunky. Add fresh herbs, lemon or vinegar to cut richness, or honey, maple syrup or ketchup for sweetness.
After 597,191 views this year (and counting!) on RachaelRayMag.com of our Parmesan-Crusted Tilapia recipe, we can take a hint: You like fish with a flavorful coating. Lucky for you, there are tons of tasty combos you can put together, and not just for fish (we used chicken below)! Here’s the how-to:
Step 2: Coat with your dredger. There’s just one rule: Match thin dippers (oil, milk) with fine dredgers (flour, grated cheese) and pair thick dippers (yogurt, mayo) with coarse dredgers (nuts, crushed chips).
Dippers from thinnest to thickest:
Dredgers from finest to coarsest:
Grated hard cheese
Crushed potato chips
Crushed tortilla chips
Now, some recipes to get your started:
When we’re prepping and chopping veggies, we always run into those stems and ends that seem to be of no use. But the parts you throw away can be as good — and good for you — as the ones you don’t!
(Top Left) CARROT TOPS
Taste like: Peppery parsley
How to use them: Chop them and sprinkle on soups, salads or grilled meats as a garnish, or perk up your pesto by using them in place of basil.
(Top Right) BROCCOLI STEMS
Taste like: Broccoli, only milder, with a subtle cabbage flavor
How to use them: Add crunch to salads and stir-fries with chopped raw stems, or slow-cook them in soup or tomato sauce to bring out their sweet flavor.
(Bottom Right) RADISH GREENS
Taste like: A more pungent version of Swiss chard or spinach
How to use them: Sautee them with garlic and EVOO for a simple side; stir the greens into pasta until wilted; tuck them raw into grilled cheese sandwiches; or use them as a raw or cooked pizza topping.
(Bottom Left) CELERY LEAVES
Taste like: Concentrated Celery
How to use them: Sprinkle them into salads, or add them to chicken soup for a deep, vegetal flavor.
Written by: Marcia Simmons; Photography by: Avery Powell
If you haven’t noticed, we’re pretty much obsessed with fall ingredients: squash, cinnamon, Brussels sprouts and, duh, apples! We compared the prep time and price differences between store-bought and homemade apples, and for just 99 cents each, you’re going to get a high quality, flavorful homemade caramel apple in about 20 minutes. Just follow these three simple steps:
1. Wash and dry 4 apples. Insert a wood ice pop stick, skewer or chopstick into the stem end of each.
2. In a microwaveable bowl, combine 14 oz. (1 bag) soft caramel candies with 2 tbsp. water. Microwave on high in 30-second intervals for 2 ½ to 3 minutes, stirring often, until melted.
3. Dip apples into the caramel to coat; transfer to a greased, wax paper-lined baking sheet or liners. Chill for 1 hour. Let stand 15 minutes before serving. Makes
Test Kitchen Tip: To offset the sweet caramel coating, pick tart varieties like Granny Smiths or Macouns. Enjoy!
Today is Homemade Cookie Day, and we couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than by baking some treats of our own. But before we get out the butter, sugar and cookie cutters, there are some tips, tricks and pointers that every baker should know.
Best Baking Tools
Start with a baking sheet and for rolled cookies, a rolling pin. Nonstick silicone baking mats are great because you don’t need to grease a cookie sheet or roll out parchment paper. They’re super easy to clean and double as work surfaces. For a uniform cookie size and shape, use a melon baller or cookie scoop, and you’ll have perfect dollops every time.
Follow the Recipe
Unlike cooking, baking is more of a science, and requires you to follow the recipe down to that tiny 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg. Don’t use glass liquid-measuring cups for dry ingredients. Dry measuring cup sets allow you to scoop up dry goods and then level them using a straightedge, such as the back of a butter knife. Cool your hot cookie sheets in between batches, or else baking times and cookie shapes will be affected.
To make your cookies last, cool them completely before storing, or else they’ll turn soggy. You can freeze baked cookies in an airtight container up to three months, and you can freeze cookie dough in wax paper up to one month. Wanna send someone some edible TLC? Pack the cookies in cellophane bags, which will help keep their texture. Stack small, flat cookies in cupcake baking liners before packing in a tin, and always remember to follow up with your loved one to make sure your cookies aren’t sitting in a mailbox for too long!
Have you ever been to a restaurant where your juicy steak comes out with a mountain of herb-infused, melty butter? Or your ear of corn comes dripping with butter that releases flavors of chili and lime? As mouth-wateringly magical as these compound butters may seem, they’re super simple to make at home. All you need are a few staple ingredients and some creativity. Here are some tips to get you started:
Make sure you use unsalted, good quality butter. Many compound butters will call for salt in the recipe, and the last thing you want is an over-salted butter! Take your butter out of the fridge a few hours before you plan to start cooking, so it is completely soft and at room temperature. This will insure that all of your mix-in’s are evenly distributed.
Use flavors that will mirror the flavors of whatever you plan to put the butter on. Making steak? Fresh herbs will brighten up the meat. Corn pairs well with chili powder and lime or lemon, or parmesan cheese. You can even get more creative by mixing in more complex flavors like tomato paste, pesto, or vinegar. And don’t forget, butter isn’t just for savory items; combine it with honey and cinnamon for a killer muffin or cornbread spread.
The easiest way to store and use your butter is to place it on a large sheet of plastic wrap, form it into a log and refrigerate it until it’s hardened. All that’s left to do is slice, serve and watch the magic melty goodness! And just as with regular butter, you can expect a pretty extensive fridge life.
You know it’s football season when the foam noodles get traded for foam fingers, and sunblock is traded for face paint. Here at Every Day with Rachael Ray, we may not all agree on what team will make it to the Super Bowl, but we do agree on one thing: Come Sunday, tailgating is a must. We’ve gathered the best recipes, cooking and hosting ideas and clean up tips to make your tailgate the best in the parking lot.
1. Get Your Grill On
Let’s face it, you can’t host a proper tailgate without some grilled goodies. But getting an entire grill over to the stadium may seem like a hassle. In order to ease your grill troubles, pick up one of these affordable, yet sturdy portable grills for your next tailgate.
2. Cater to the Crowd
While you’re cooking in a parking lot is not the time to experiment with crazy ingredients or time-consuming recipes. Make 2 to 3 crowd-pleasing finger foods (items that require just one hand!) or items you can eat with a spoon. Don’t forget dessert and drinks! Here are some of our faves:
3. Be the Host(ess) with the Most(est)
Tailgating can start pretty early in the a.m., so make sure you bring activities to keep people awake and energetic. As a true ode to fall sports, we love this Striped Corn Hole set. You can even get it custom made with your team’s colors!
Don’t spend the entire tailgate (or game) worrying about the clean-up. Bring plenty of garbage bags, hand sanitizer and cooking utensils that can be easily stored until they make it home. This five-piece barbeque set comes with a carrying case, so you won’t have to worry about stains.
At the end of the day, it’s about being with friends and family and enjoying the big game. Everything else will fall into place!