* Using paper liners for cupcakes or muffins? After placing them in the muffin cups, spray the paper with cooking spray for easier release.
* No time to seed tomatoes before adding them to salad or omelets? Dice and then spin them in your salad spinner. Tupperware« has a great one. The unwanted excess liquid plus many of the seeds will come out.
* Most of us know that by raking the tines of a fork down a cucumber we can have those nice, green and white scalloped-looking edges. But what if we don't want to eat the peel? Scrub the cuke well. Score deeply with the fork. Then peel as shallowly as possible. It won't be quite as pretty, but it will look pretty good!
* Has the peanut butter settled out? All the oil on top and a hard mass in the bottom? Turn it upside down for a few hours.
* Did you mistakenly put too much liquid into the potatoes when you mashed them? Beat in a little dry instant potato flakes.
* Marinating's great! It flavors and tenderizes meat, and even makes grilling less carcinogenic (cancer-causing). But there you are, the meat's drying out on the grill, the left-over marinade is crying to be applied, and you can't do it; we're warned to dispose of used marinade, serving platter and so on that has touched raw meat. It doesn't have to be that way. Pour the leftover marinade into a pan, bring it to a boil for 3 to 5 minutes to sterilize it, take the pan out to the grill along with a clean brush and baste away!
* When working in the kitchen, keep the drawers and cabinets closed. If you spill something (and we all do once in a while), you'll have less of a mess to clean up.
* For economy and safety: when a recipe calls for eggs to be added to other ingredients, break each egg into a cup or small bowl, then add it to the mixture one by one. First, there's less chance of getting eggshell into your food. Second, if an egg is bad (and there's always a bad egg sooner or later), you won't ruin the rest of the food.
* Got a family member who needs to reduce fat and/or cholesterol intake, but insists on eating fried eggs for breakfast? Do this and I betcha they won't notice: using a good teflon pan on lowered heat, heat a little olive or other healthier oil or non-hydrogenated margarine. Break eggs into the skillet. Immediately scoop out half the yolk with the two halves of the eggshell. Discard yolk or give to the dog.
* When melting chocolate, make sure all utensils are completely dry. Even a drop of water will cause the chocolate to become grainy.
* Recycle! Save the baskets mushrooms, sprouts and other food items are packed in to use as drawer organizers.
* Lost your biscuit cutter? Cut both ends out of a 6-oz. tomato paste can (freeze the tomato paste for future use). It's the perfect size for small biscuits, and easy to handle too.
* See Ten Commandments for Microwave Safety; paste it up by the microwave for kids (or other inexperienced users) to refer to.
* See tomato paste hint from Andy F., Preston, England.
* Put a teaspoonful of vegetable oil in the water in which you boil potatoes, to both help avoid boil-overs and make cleaning the pot afterwards much easier.
* For a muffin treat, fill muffin cups half full. Put a small spoonful of fruity preserves in the middle of the batter, and add the rest of the batter. That's a real "sweet heart"!
* Know what to do with leftover tomato paste?
* Many recipes suggest that you add onions and garlic together to a saute pan. It's better to saute onions and other items, then add the garlic a moment before you finish with the saute. Browned onions are so delish, but browned garlic spoils the dish.
* When cutting onions, place the cutting board on the counter near the stove. Turn on the extractor in the range hood. The onions fumes will mostly get sucked outside instead of making you cry.
* Easiest way to peel and cut onions: Cut onion in half from stem to root. Trim off stem end, and only the fuzzy part of root, leaving root bud intact (that holds the onion together). Remove brown skin. Lay onion on cutting board, cut side down. Make a "claw" to hold onion with fingernails (this protects your soft fingers from the knife; see cooking shows on TV for a demonstration). Slice or dice away!
* Have recipes that use small amounts of evaporated milk? Pour the rest in a plastic ice tray and freeze. When solid, twist the cubes out and store in a labeled zipper freezer bag. To use, take out some cubes and melt in the microwave.
* Crumbs, flour or cornmeal used in breading meats becomes contaminated with germs. You can keep it in labeled zipper bags in the freezer handy for re-use with foods to be cooked; the freezing temperature keeps the germs from multiplying and you have seasoned breading ready for quick use.