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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Top Ten Kitchen Tools Or Tips

I try to keep things easy in my blogs, especially in my recipes.  I want people to eat healthy but I realize not everyone loves to cook like I do.  In today's post, I'm going to share the top ten things I use that make cooking a breeze.

1.  Sharp knives.  Nothing is more frustrating and slows you down like a dull knife.  Always hand wash your knives as putting them in the dishwasher dulls the blade.  Sharpen your knives frequently.  I have not had much luck with the knife sharpeners you can find at the store.  I was very pleased with a local man who will come to your home to sharpen everything you have.  His name is Bobby Bennett and his number is 336-0125 for those of you who live in the Jonesboro area.

2.  Jarred chopped garlic, jalapenos, shredded lettuce or cabbage, frozen chopped bell pepper, southern style hash brown potatoes, etc.  I keep the garlic and bell pepper on hand all the time because I use both frequently.  If I have time, I chop my own fresh but we all need a short cut at times.  Shredded cabbage is great for stir fries or slaw.  The potatoes can be used in so many dishes - soup, casseroles - and saves time peeling and chopping potatoes.

3.  A microplane grater.  I don't know how I got along without one because I use it for so much now.  Even a tiny bit of lemon or lime zest or fresh ginger adds such a big flavor boost to your food.  I use it several times a week and toss it in the dishwasher.  It's also wonderful for grating hard cheese like parmesan.  (Kids like using a grater too so they will do it for you.)

4.  Frozen cooked chicken.  You can throw together a pasta dish or a stir fry in no time if you keep this on hand.  You can either purchase it from the grocery or grill extra chicken and chop it up yourself for the freezer.

5.  Nonstick pots and pans.  Cooking with anything else means clean up will be a battle.  A better quality pan should last longer but expensive ones aren't necessary.  Just make sure they are not too thin. 

6.  Cooking spray.  Crisco original 100% canola spray is my favorite.  Use it on anything that might stick.

7.  Olive oil.  Using olive oil in cooking is an easy way to get some health benefits without much effort.  I use canola oil when baking but olive oil for just about everything else. 

8.  Magic Bullet.  This is a pint sized blender or processor.  It's great when you are making a smoothie for one or pesto sauce.  It's small size takes less room in the dishwasher.  (I hate cleaning up large appliances, therefore I don't own a large stand type mixer, only a hand mixer as well.)

9.  Kitchen scissors.  A wonderful tool that is easier to use than a knife for so many jobs.  I use kitchen scissors for cutting up meat, herbs and green onions.  Kids can use them safely too. 

10.  Mini or baby carrots.  I always have a bag of these around.  We snack on them and with very little chopping, they go in stir fries, soups, salads or casseroles as they are peeled and ready to go.  I've even been known to give everyone a handful at dinner as a side dish.  A no cook or prep dish!  How easy is that?

I hope these tips will help you in the kitchen as well.  I love to cook but don't always have alot of time.  Short cuts relieve the pressure and make life easier.  Have a great weekend and get some exercise and eat well!   


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