Wednesday, June 4, 2008

HANDY TIPS

I like to keep small storage bags of the following things on hand in the freezer. This is a good way to use up veggies that will go bad before you have a chance to use them up, little bits of leftovers, and other things. They come in very handy when making omelets and other dishes as well as when making a recipe that calls for a very small amount of some ingredient.

Whenever I need to use bell peppers in recipes, I chop off the tops and bottoms. I chop those, spread them on a baking sheet and freeze them. Once they're frozen, I store them in a zipper bag in the freezer to use on pizzas and in casseroles, etc.

  • Chopped green and red peppers
  • Chopped jalapeno and other hot peppers
  • Sliced mushrooms
  • Chopped celery
  • Chopped leeks
  • Chopped green onions
  • Cilantro (wash, dry well and chop)
  • Parsley (wash, dry well and chop)
  • Spoonfuls of tomato paste, individually frozen
  • Lemon or lime juice (freeze in ice cube trays, then store in plastic bag)
  • Lemon, orange or lime peel (peel in large pieces, then chop frozen, as needed)
  • Nuts
  • Sesame seeds
  • Sunflower kernels
  • Berries such as strawberries, blueberries and raspberries

MAKE YOUR OWN PRE-WASHED BAGGED LETTUCE

Buy fresh leaf lettuce then, when you get home from the store, wrap it unwashed in a linen towel and put it in a plastic bag. Take off some leaves for about 2 days worth of salad, wash and spin them in a salad spinner until as dry as possible, then put them in a gallon size zipper bag between two sheets of paper towels. The lettuce stays fresh tasting this way for 2-3 days at least.

KEEPING CELERY FRESH
Remove the celery from its wrapper and completely enclose in a large piece of wide heavy duty foil. It will make the difference between celery that spoils within a few days or lasts a couple weeks or possibly longer. If your celery is too long to fit crosswise on the foil, place it diagonally from corner to corner on a square of foil. Roll it up then fold the corners over each end.

QUICK WAY TO REMOVE THE FAT FROM PAN DRIPPINGS
Here's a tip from Cook's Country magazine. Pour your pan drippings into a big glass measuring cup, let stand about 5 minutes to allow some of the fat to go to the surface. Add several ice cubes and let them stand for about 5 minutes. When you scoop out the ice cubes, most of the fat will come out with them.

MAKING MILK OUT OF HEAVY CREAM
What do you do when you have a recipe that calls for milk or when you want something to pour over your low carb breakfast cereal? Most low carb cooks use a mixture of half heavy cream and half water. This works very well, but is quite high in calories and fat compared to milk. If calories and fat are a concern for you, I've found that you can cut back on the cream and still end up with an acceptable "milk". You won't get quite the body and flavor that milk has, but with just 2 tablespoons of cream per cup of "milk", it will still have a rich, cream flavor, the calories will be drastically reduced and it should work fine in many recipes. Here are the counts for various milk formulas:

1 CUP WHOLE MILK
146 calories
8 grams fat
11 carbs
1 CUP HEAVY CREAM
821 calories
88 grams fat
6.5 carbs
1/2 CUP CREAM + 1/2 CUP WATER
411 calories
44 grams fat
3.5 carbs
1/4 CUP CREAM + 3/4 CUP WATER
206 calories
22 grams fat
1.5 carbs
1 OUNCE CREAM + 7 OZ WATER
103 calories
11 grams fat
1 carb


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Come on in for a nice cup of coffee and a chat about my weight loss journey as well as all the healthy recipes I have found, including WW points and/or nutritional information if available. I am eating a vegetarian diet and concentrating on getting healthy and hopefully weight loss will follow. Thank to all my readers for their ongoing support.