Helpful Hints

Nov 24, 2013

Make Ahead Gravy (and it’s low fat!)

gravy

Who wants to make gravy at the last minute? Not me! I love to cook a traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner with mashed potatoes but I’m starting my gravy today. It’s one less thing to deal with on Thursday. Here’s how I do it: I picked up a package of turkey wings this morning and roasted them in the oven. I just rubbed them with oil, salt & pepper and put them on a baking sheet, roasting for an hour at 375 degrees. Now I’m using them to make stock. I put the wings and every bit of their drippings into a big pot of water along with some onion, carrot, celery, parsnip, parsley, thyme, salt, pepper, and bay leaves. I will cook it down for 2-3 hours, let it cool, and refrigerate. (The meat from the wings makes a terrific sandwich).

Once the stock cools overnight, I skim off and discard the fat off the top and now I have a delicious roasted turkey stock, ready and waiting in the fridge, to use in my stuffing and to make gravy the day before. Any leftover stock… either becomes soup or I freeze it in ice cube trays for other cooking.

Use this with your own gravy recipe or try mine…

2 Tbsp. butter

1/4 cup flour

2 cups turkey stock

1. Melt the butter in a pan and add the flour. Cook and stir for 1-2 minutes.

2. Slowly whisk in the stock, stirring constantly until it’s smooth. Cook for 10-15 minutes.

3. Let it cool and refrigerate.

4. DAY OF: Just heat up your gravy and once your turkey is done, pour the drippings into a glass measuring cup and let them stand until they separate (I use a separating cup). Pour off and discard the fat and add the dark particles left on the bottom to your gravy. Taste for salt.

This makes a delicious, low fat gravy with no last minute stress. And for a lighter dessert, try my Lightened Pumpkin Cheesecake. Happy Thanksgiving!

Sep 12, 2013

Broccoli: Eat it or Wear it?

Fresh green vegetable, isolated over white

Luckily, green goes with my hazel eyes. We already know that eating broccoli is one of the healthiest things you can do, especially when it comes to protection against cancer, but how about wearing it? Researchers at the University of Arizona and Johns Hopkins University are testing to see if rubbing it on your skin may reduce the risk of skin cancer. The key ingredient is sulforaphane, which prevents the growth of cancer cells. The researchers will be testing a broccoli solution on skin to see if it works.

It could happen. But until it’s proven, don’t go to the beach with a bag of broccoli unless you plan to eat it. Continue using sunscreen and eating your broccoli. Imagine if they start selling broccoli sunscreen? What would they call it? Broc of Olay… La Roche-Brocay… Broccer-tone… Agreeno…  Broc-o-gena… Broccoli Boat… Any other suggestions?

Aug 19, 2013

How To Keep Cookies Crisp

To keep crisp cookies crisp all you need is a stapler, a coffee filter, some baking soda, and an air-tight container. I can explain. The baking soda absorbs moisture and the coffee filter is made of a porous material full of tiny holes that lets the air  circulate easily and allows the baking soda to absorb any moisture.

How to Keep Cookies CrispPut about 1/3 cup of fresh baking soda into a coffee filter and staple it closed with two staples, allowing the open edge to get as much air as possible. Stapling the baking soda inside the filter keeps it from spilling onto the cookies. A couple of staples is all you need. Also, make sure the freshly baked cookies are completely cooled before storing.

How to Store Crispy CookiesPlace the stapled coffee filter in an air-tight container (in any position, upright or laying down) with your cookies and you will find them just as crispy the next day. Here are some other tips for keeping cookies crisp:

  • Cool cookies completely before storing.
  • Do not store soft cookies together with crispy cookies.
  • Glass containers are good for storing crispy cookies.
  • Do not store in plastic bags but use a covered container.
  • Refrigerating cookies will help keep them crisp.
  • If you freeze cookies they will be crispy if you eat them frozen.
  • Cookies that have softened will be never become crispy when stored no matter what tricks you use.
  • Cookies can be re-crisped in a 300 degree F oven for 5-10 minutes.
Jul 28, 2013

Avocado Cookies??

avocado

Did you know you can substitute avocado for some of the butter in cookies? Not all – but some – and it’s a good thing. This simple change eliminates some of the saturated fat in favor of the heart-healthy monounsaturated kind.   You won’t taste the difference although your cookies might be a little green. But if they’re chocolate cookies, who’s gonna know? You can swap up to half of the butter in a cookie recipe with mashed avocado. This simple change will reduce the fat content and calories and you’ll still get the creaminess of butter and the fatty taste.

You would substitute an equal amount of mashed avocado for butter but since it doesn’t melt the same way, it won’t coat your dry ingredients the same. For that reason you need to increase your wet ingredients a little to compensate. To test it out, start slowly, like 2 tablespoons of avocado for 2 tablespoons of butter. Anytime I can reduce any of the butter in baking, I’m on it! – Jenny Jones

Jul 23, 2013

Make fresh berries last longer

berriesBerries are in season right now but they don’t always last very long. If you don’t eat them in that “window of freshness opportunity” they can spoil pretty fast. So here’s a way to make them stay fresher longer… wash them in vinegar and water. Make a mixture of 10 parts water to 1 part vinegar in a bowl (use white or cider vinegar). Let the berries soak for a few minutes and gently swish them around a little. The vinegar kills mold spores and other bacteria. Drain and rinse the berries and let them dry completely on paper towels. You can also spin them dry in a salad spinner lined with paper towels. Once they are dry, refrigerate and enjoy them… even longer. – Jenny Jones

Jul 15, 2013

Refreshing fruit-infused water

Here’s an easy, healthy way to cool down in the summer without drinking sugary drinks. Just take a pitcher of fresh water and add some sliced fruit. After about an hour in the fridge, the fruit gives it a really nice, subtle and refreshing taste and it sure beats plain water. Plus it looks great, too. Today I added some sliced apple, lemon, watermelon, peach, mango, and apricot.

Fresh fruit is more affordable and better tasting in the summer so this is easy to do right now with any of your favorite fruits, or you could even add a refreshing vegetable like cucumber slices. Try it with my combination or create your own. I’m always trying to drink more water and this makes it easy because it tastes so good. It’s a healthy way to stay hydrated and now you can say, “Anyone for an aguas frescas?” – Jenny Jones

Jun 29, 2013

Paper-thin onion slices

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Use a vegetable peeler to get those nice, even paper-thin onion slices or other vegetables. – Jenny Jones

Jun 6, 2013

A clever way to help bread rise

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If you’ve ever baked bread or anything with yeast you know that it helps to have a warm spot to help the dough rise. Some things that work are a warming drawer, placing the dough under a lamp, or heating the oven for a minute and then turning it off (but then you need to preheat the oven). But here’s a way I never thought of… a heating pad. Whaddya think? Good idea? Or do you have something better?

Apr 13, 2013

Hard boiled eggs made easy to peel

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Here’s why I always keep hard boiled eggs in the fridge:

1) easy to make

2) there’s always something to eat

3) a great source of protein

4) lutein for your eyes and choline for the brain

5) an egg a day does not raise cholesterol

6) portable snack

7) only 70 calories

8) egg salad is only minutes away!

Did you know that adding 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to the water makes hard boiled eggs easier to peel? I tried it and it works. Here’s how I make mine: Cover cold eggs with cold water in a saucepan without crowding the eggs too much. Add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. Bring to a full boil. Cover and remove from heat. Let stand 17 minutes, depending on the size of your eggs. Rinse under cold water for a minute or better still, place eggs into ice water for about 2 minutes. They’re perfect every time with no green ring. – Jenny Jones

For the latest research on eggs from Prevention Magazine, click here.

For my video on how to boil eggs, click here.

Apr 10, 2013

You Can Grow Green Onions in Water

When I first saw this on Pinterest, I was skeptical but it works. Boy, does it work! All you do it cut the white fuzzy ends off of your green onions and put them in a glass of water, placed in a sunny window (keep the green parts for eating).  The onions will grow almost immediately and can be harvested almost indefinitely. Just cut off what you need and it grows back!. There are lots of internet articles about it but this is the first I’ve heard and had to share. – Jenny Jones

Here’s what my onions looked like 10 days ago…

Before

and here they are today…

After

Eating onions can help prevent blood clots, improve memory, and boost your immune system.

Let me know if you try it. 🙂