Miranda’s Tips and Tricks

ATTENTION: Informational post, no pictures.

Since I have had several requests for tips and tricks when I am cooking/faking, I figured I’d better start brainstorming. First off, I’m sure these aren’t all of tips and tricks but these are the ones I use pretty frequently. Secondly, they all work! I will never share something that isn’t of use or won’t work when you try it but with that being said; follow the instructions. Many of mine will be up for debate until you try them for yourself. I’ve tried alternatives that I have come across through the internet and through others. If there is a tip you are questioning or one you don’t see on my list, feel free to ask me below in the comments. I’d be happy to test them or may have a direct answer for you!

  1. Hard boiled eggs– Completely cover in cold water. Add 3 tbsp white vinegar and cover. Bring them to a boil on the stove, lower to a simmer for 5 minutes. Turn the heat off and leave covered for another 5 minutes. Place the eggs in an ice bath for 5 more minutes. The skins should remove easily in the ice water and the yolk is perfectly cooked with no gray ring.
  2. Pasta water– Bring water to a roaring boil and place 1-2 tbsp salt in the water. Add the pasta and wait until the water is boiling again. Stir the pasta and turn the heat down at least half way. The water will continue to boil just not as frantic. Cover and with a low boil, the water does not boil over.
  3. Cutting onions-Refrigerate the onion a couple hours prior to cutting and place knife in the freezer 5 minutes before chopping. It may not stop you from completely tearing up but it will minimize the effects.
  4. Thickening soups, stews, etc.– Gravy: 2 tbsp corn starch and 1/3 cup of warm water. Mix until smooth and no lumps. Soups and stews: 2 tbsp flour and 1/3 cup warm water or milk. Mix until smooth and no lumps. Macaroni and cheese: always use flour to conduct the rue. Cornstarch does not act the same and you will have a much thinner consistency.
  5. Fresh herbs-chop small enough to fit in ice cube trays. Fill with olive oil or melted unsalted butter. Freeze and use in different recipes such as oven baked chicken or pot roast.
  6. Tomato based foods– for soup, sauce, or any tomato filled dish; store in plastic containers or zip lock bags. Steel or aluminum will break down after the acid in the tomato is on it for so long. Wooden bowls will begin to absorb the tomato and it makes it almost impossible to remove that tomato stain.
  7. Excess cookies or brownies– freeze in air tight containers or zip lock bags for up to six months.  I freeze all of my Xmas cookies so I can enjoy them months later. (you’re welcome 😊)
  8. Cast iron pots and pans– never, ever, EVER put them in the dishwasher. Always wash by hand with warm soapy water and oil after every use. This will ensure that they remain a true cast iron with no rust. Put a couple drops of oil in the dried pan and rub the pan with a paper towel.
  9. Bacon– Yup! Let’s talk bacon! Bake it, don’t fry it! Why? More crispy, completely flat, little to no mess. Line a baking sheet with non stick foil. Preheat the oven to 375° and bake until crispy (about 20 minutes). You’ll never go back to pan frying ever again.
  10. Prepping fruits and veggies– Why? It makes for a quicker and smoother transition when cooking a meal. How? Chop, dice, peel, etc. to the same size. They cook evenly and look pretty when serves.
  11. Prevent fruit and veggies from turning brown– toss in 1 tsp or lemon/lime juice or vinegar. It won’t flavor anything but it will keep it from turning brown and looking old. Also, sanitize the same way. Add a cup of water with the lemon/lime juice or vinegar. Toss the veggies/fruit in and place on paper towels to air dry.
  12. Melons– how to tell if they’re ripe? Cantaloupe and watermelon should have a yellowish color on the skin. A watermelon will have no smell but a cantaloupe will have a sweeter smell to the skin. Pineapples will not be bright green. They will be starting to turn yellow and if you gently pull on a leave it should easily come loose.
  13. Buttermilk– if you can’t make it to the store, just combine 2 cups whole milk, 2-3 tbsp white vinegar, 1 tsp cooled melted butter. Stir it together and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour. It should thicken a bit.
  14. Sinking chocolate chips or berries– toss them in 1 tbsp of flour and add them to the recipe. They won’t sink to the bottom.
  15. Hot peppers– place the peppers in an ice bath for at least 15 minutes prior to cutting. This will help with watering eyes, or in my case, choking from the spicy fumes. Remove all the seeds since they contain additional heat. Wash your hands with antibacterial soap and lemon juice. Avoid contact with eyes for at least an hour.
  16. Small lemons and limes– place them in the microwave for 10 seconds and roll with your palm. This with allow you to get as much juice as possible from them.
  17. Garlic– if raw garlic is too strong, roast a couple cloves in the oven. Place the cloves in tin foil with a drizzle of olive oil and salt. Form a packet and bake it for 20 minutes and 350°. The garlic will be less intense, a little sweet, and just squeeze out of its skin.
  18. Restaurant style home fries– bake the potatoes for 25 minutes at 350°. Cut them into squares and fry. Season with seasoned salt and they will taste like diner style home fries. You can freeze them after they are cooked for a quick breakfast during the week or for additional filling for burritos.

 

I hope these tips, tricks, and ideas help you in the kitchen as they have myself. Please, leave me comments of you have questions abut any you see here or any for the future. As always, enjoy!

Triple Berry Pie

Homemade pies always seem to take people back to their past or even to childhood memories. My grandmothers both make amazing pies and nothing I could do, would match the taste, warmth from smiles, and love that each bite holds. My favorite pie, growing up was strawberry but as an adult, there are too many to count. I have made this triple berry pie for several years and this has truly become a top favorite just because there are so many textures that take your taste buds in different directions. Please, give it a try and it may give you a glimpse back to your past for a few moments.

 

Triple Berry Pie

Approximately 8 slices

 

Crust (Optional)

  • 2 Cups AP flour
  • 1/4-1/3 cup Crisco (Butter flavored)
  • 2 tbsp Sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/8 tip Cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup Ice cold Water (maybe more or less)

Mix all ingredients together except the water in a large bowl. The dough should turn into pea size shapes. Add the water slowly and then use your hands to combine into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to 4 hours. * Feel free to use store bought crust.*

Once the dough is cold, flour a flat surface and use a rolling pin to flatten the dough. Depending on the pie plate size, the dough should be rolled into a round shape approximately 10″ in diameter.  Carefully roll the dough onto the rolling pin and roll back off onto the pie plate. The dough should hang over all the side. Pinch the sides or use a fork to crimp the crust.  Prick the insides about a dozen times all over to let steam escape when baking.

 

Filling

  • 1 1/2 cups of each berry- blueberries, strawberries (sliced), cherries (pitted and sliced)
  • 1/4 cup Brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup White sugar
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla
  • 2 tbsp Spiced Rum
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4-1/3 cup corn starch or tapioca (according to directions on back)

Mix all the ingredients together and let sit for 45 minutes to an hour. If the mixture is very soupy, add more corn starch to thicken it before pouring into the pie crust. After the filling has set and is fully combined, add to the pie dough in the pie plate.

 

Brown Sugar Topping

  • 1/2 stick Butter (cold and cubed)
  • 1/2 cup Brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp AP flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup Oats
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp Nutmeg

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until combined. Pour into the pie crust with the berry filling and press down slightly. Make sure the topping goes to all the edges. Preheat the oven to 325° and bake for 60-65 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for one hour. Place in the refrigerator for another hour or so. This should make the pie easier to cut and solidify. Cut and serve.

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*Heat in the microwave for 15 seconds to warm before adding ice cream or whipped cream. As always, enjoy!

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