Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tuesday Tips: In the Kitchen

I've been thinking about all the little things I do around here to make life in the kitchen just a little less hectic. Recently I posted on my cooking blog about how I store canned chipotle peppers so that I don't waste the leftovers and so they aren't so hard to access afterward. It received a great response, so I thought I would share that here, as well as some other things that I do to make my life easier.

Storing Canned Chipotle Peppers
Most recipes don't call for an entire can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. They usually call for 2 or 3, leaving you with a bunch of peppers that you glop into a baggie and store in the freezer, then find it impossible to get them out. A much better solution is to wrap each pepper (with some of the sauce) individually in plastic wrap. Then store all the wrapped peppers inside of a zipper sandwich bag in the freezer. When you need 1 or 2, take the individually wrapped peppers out and unwrap them while still frozen. They will thaw pretty quickly, so if your recipe calls for chopped or diced chipotles, go ahead and do it while they are still frozen. Trust me on this, it's a lot easier that cutting them up when defrosted! Here's a yummy recipe for Chipotle Chicken if you would like to try something different tonight!

Making Your Own Taco & Chili Seasoning Packets
My family loves tacos and chili. Years ago I found some recipes for chili seasoning mix and taco seasoning mix, and have never used a seasoning envelope from the store since! the only hassle with that is you have to measure out all the ingredients for the seasoning each time you make dinner. I made things a little easier on myself by mixing up about 4 batches at a time. I set out 4 bowls and measure the ingredients into each one. When finished I pour each one into it's own zipper sandwich bag, then I wrap each sandwich bag in foil. I mark the foil packets with "taco" or "chili" and keep them in the pantry. Next time I make chili or tacos, that's one less step and makes dinner just as convenient as if I were using those stale tasting grocery store packets. :)

French Toast Sticks
My kids love French toast sticks. I'll buy an extra loaf of bread specifically for making this. Mix up your favorite French toast egg mixture. Mine is just eggs, a splash of milk and a few shakes of cinnamon. I cook each slide and set them on cooling racks until they have completely cooled. Then I cut them into dipper sized pieces and place them all on cookie sheets. Put the cookie sheets in the freezer and leave them there for several hours (I leave them in there all day). Then take them off the cookie sheets and toss the frozen dippers into a plastic zipper storage bag and store them in the freezer. Kids can grab out a handful and toss them in the microwave for about a minute and they have instant breakfast.

These are just a few tips from my kitchen. Do you have any great tips to share?

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