Use This Instead of Cheesecloth

Use Paint Strainer Bags Instead of Cheesecloth

There are lots of kitchen items that I love. Cheesecloth isn’t one of them. Don’t get me wrong; it’s useful when you need it. I use it to strain pumpkin puree and broth, to make spice bundles and – on occasion – to make cheese. But it’s awkward to work with, hard to clean and it wears out quickly. There has to be something better.

And you know what? There is. While walking up and down the aisles of my local hardware store the other day, I spotted paint strainer bags. They’re simple mesh bags designed to fit over a five gallon bucket, so you can – you guessed it – strain paint. But you know what? They work just as well in the kitchen. Because they have a wide elastic band around the top, they fit beautifully over a mixing bowl, and stay right where you put them (something cheesecloth never wants to do), and since they have a finer weave than cheesecloth, they do a better job of straining, too.

Strained Butternut Squash Puree

Liquid from Butternut Squash Puree

My husband used them to strain the butternut squash puree that he made last week (yep, he’s a keeper) …

Straining Ham Broth

Strained Ham Broth

and I used them to strain the ham broth that I made yesterday. They performed perfectly in both situations.

And since they cost just $1.50 a bag and are machine washable, I’d say they’re an all-round winner. Don’t you love when you find a better way to do something?

Pan Substitutions

Have a recipe that calls for a pan size you don’t have? No problem. Just use these charts to find other pans that you can use instead:

Pan Substitutions - Rectangular Pans

Print Rectangular Pan Substitutions Chart

Pan Substitutions - Round

Print Round Pan Substitutions Chart

Pan Conversion - Square

Print Square Pan Substitutions Chart

Baking Times:

If the substituted pan is the same depth as the one called for in the recipe, you shouldn’t have to adjust the baking time. However, if the substituted pan depth is shallower, (a 1″ pan, instead of a 2″), you’ll need to shorten the baking time. If the substituted pan depth is deeper (a 2″ pan, instead of a 1″, you’ll need to increase the baking time.

It’s also worth noting that foods cooked in a glass pan may take 5-10 minutes longer than those cooked in a metal pan.

New Uses for Shower Caps

New Uses for Shower Caps

When you stay in a hotel, you probably snag the shampoo and maybe even the coffee and tea, but I’m betting you leave those shower caps behind. Not me. I take them home, and use them for all sorts of things. Take a look:

[Read more...]

Ocean Spray + SodaStream = Genius

Ocean Spray + SodaStream = Genius

Cranberry juice is a big deal in my house, so when I heard SodaStream had released Ocean Spray sparkling cranberry juice mixes, I was psyched, and had to try them right away.

Sparkling Cranberry Juice

The verdict: Delicious. Totally delicious. There’s a Cranberry, Cranberry Grape Mix
and Cranberry Raspberry version. I’ve tried the Cranberry and the Cranberry Raspberry mixes so far, and they’re both brilliant.

SodaStream Sparkling Juice

I love that it’s sparkling juice, rather than soda because it’s something that my whole family can drink. My kids could count the number of times that I’ve allowed them to have soda on one hand, so they’re really excited about the new sparkling juice mixes, too.

I’ve also been experimenting with my own soda concoctions, so expect to see some homemade soda recipes from me very soon. I made one with cranberry juice and fresh basil from my garden, and it was out-of-this-world good. I may just kick my half-a-glass-of-Mello-Yello-a-day-habit yet.

Thinking about asking for a SodaStream for Christmas? This is the one that I have:

SodaStream Source

It’s the Sodastream SOURCE Metal Edition.

**SodaStream provided samples**

What’s in My Freezers?

What's in My Freezers?

Yesterday, I spent some time moving stuff into the upright freezer that we bought at an estate sale last weekend. We’ve had a chest freezer for a while, but we really needed a second freezer to keep up with all of the stuff that I pick, make or buy on the cheap. It’s a big part of how I keep our grocery bill down.

Now, that all of the rearranging is done, I thought I’d give you a peek at what I keep in my freezers. [Read more...]