Tag Archives: how-to

how-to-get-jar-stuck

6 Simple Ways to Open a Stubborn Stuck Jar Lid

It’s dinnertime: you’ve got a pot of spaghetti boiling on the stove and a pan of onions and ground beef simmering beside it. You grab a jar of tomato sauce from the pantry, but when you try to unscrew the lid, it feels awfully tight. Maybe it’s because your hands aren’t completely dry? You place the jar down, wipe your palms on a kitchen towel and try again. No luck. What are you supposed to do now?

Cancelling dinner plans due to a stuck jar lid might sound a little dramatic, but we’ve all had that thought after minutes of struggling to get a stubborn lid open. The truth is, jars can be hard to open for a variety of reasons and it’s not necessarily because you’re not strong enough. Here, we offer some tried and true tips on how to get that just-won’t-budge jar open, every single time.

Related: Your Ultimate Guide to Cooking and Baking Conversions

open jar pickles

Add Traction

Glass jars can be slippery, so something that could help is added traction. Try wrapping a small towel around the lid to twist it open. If the towel moves while you’re trying to open the lid, wet the towel with water and then wrap it around the lid. Rubber dish gloves and rubber bands also work well to create traction. Put on those gloves to grip the lid or try wrapping a thick rubber band around the lid before you give it a go.

Related: Here’s How to Organize Your Tupperware Drawer Once and for All

Break the Seal

New jars often have a tight vacuum seal and by breaking that seal, it takes less force to open the jar. Some people swear by the “baby bum” pat. Turn the jar on its side, then with the palm of one hand, give the bottom of the jar a few strong pats. You may hear a pop, which indicates the vacuum seal has been broken. Another method for breaking the vacuum seal is by targeting the lid. Use an object with some weight to it, such as the back of a heavy kitchen knife or a wooden rolling pin and give the sides of the lids a few taps, rotating the jar as you go. This might help break the seal, making it much easier to twist open the jar.

Run it Under Hot Water

You’ve tried adding some traction and breaking the vacuum seal, but the lid is still stuck. Now, you’ll want to try running the lid under hot water. Depending on the contents of the jar, you may want to be careful not to place the entire jar under hot water (after all, nobody likes warm pickles). Let the hot water run from the tap until it’s piping hot and then turn the jar on its side and carefully dip the lid under water. Rotate the jar so that all sides of the lid get wet. The hot water helps the metal expand, therefore loosening the lid and making it easier to unscrew.

Related: Can I Freeze This? How to Freeze Fruit, Cheese, Leftovers and More

tomato sauce jar

Tap the Lid

This method is more useful for jars that have already been open before. Perhaps there’s some food trapped around the rim of the jar, or a sticky sauce causing the lid to get stuck on the jar. Tapping the lid on top and around the edges, again using a heavier object such as the back of a chef’s knife or wooden rolling pin, can help dislodge the food, eventually loosening the jar.

Break out the Tools

Believe it or not, there are tools you can buy that are made specifically for opening jars. New technology enables these tools to grip, twist and open stubborn jar lids with the simple press of a button. You can purchase them at most kitchen stores and online. You may feel silly for using one, but it will undoubtedly save you time, pain and future frustration!

Related: The Top 5 Kitchen Utensils Every Home Cook Needs

Brute Force

Sometimes, it’s really a matter of strength. It’s tough to wrap your hands around jar lids depending on the size, and jars themselves can be awkward to hold in one hand. If you have another person around, ask them to hold the jar with both hands, then use both hands to twist the lid open. If you’re alone at home, opening the jar may simply require a few tries, with breaks in between to rest your hands. As a last resort, you might want to visit a neighbour’s home for assistance.

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Published April 27, 2019, Updated January 24, 2021

Can I Freeze This? How to Freeze Fruit, Cheese, Leftovers and More

Ever wondered, ‘Can I freeze this?’ Or, do you find yourself with leftovers you can’t eat before its best before date? From meat to cheese to bananas to cakes and beyond, your food freezing questions are answered with this comprehensive guide. We’re here to help you reduce food waste, save money and time and make the most of this under-appreciated appliance.

how to freeze cheese

How to Freeze Cheese, Milk and Eggs

Of all the food groups, dairy is perhaps the one people have the most questions about. Can you freeze cheese? What about milk? Can you freeze whipping cream? The good news is that a lot of dairy can be frozen, as long as it’s properly packaged.

Butter: If you get a good deal on butter but couldn’t possibly use it up before its best before date, you can certainly stash it, still wrapped, in your freezer for up to 12 months. Flavoured and compound butters can also be frozen when tightly wrapped.

Cheese: Wrap hard cheeses (like cheddar, Parmesan) tightly in plastic and they’ll keep for up to 6 months. You can also shred hard cheese, freeze it, store it in an airtight container and use it from frozen. Soft cheeses like goat, ricotta or cream cheese won’t freeze well, as there’s too much moisture in them.

Eggs: Don’t try to freeze eggs in their shells – they’ll explode! Instead, crack them into muffin tins, lightly beat them with the tines of a fork, and freeze. Once frozen solid, pop the eggs out and place in freezer bag for up to 6 months.

Related: The Tastiest Ways to Eat Eggs for Dinner

Milk & Cream: Milk and cream can be frozen, but make sure they’re in a container with some room at the top as the liquid expands when frozen. Thaw in the fridge or in a large bowl of cold water. They may separate slightly once thawed, nevertheless, they’re perfectly safe to consume.

Yogurt: Yogurt can be frozen, but it might separate as it thaws, so it’s best to use yogurt from frozen in smoothies or baking as opposed to thawing it and eating it on its own. To freeze yogurt, spoon into ice cube trays; then, once it’s frozen solid, place the cubes in airtight zip-top bags and use as needed for up to 3 months.

Related: Our Best Healthy (And Tasty) Smoothie Recipes

How to Freeze Bread and Grains

Bread, Rolls and Buns: Slice fresh loaves you know you won’t be able to eat before they go stale, then place in a zip-top bag, being careful to remove all the air from the bag to avoid freezer burn. You can toast the slices directly from frozen. Keep whole rolls and burger buns in an airtight zip-top bag, defrosting at room temperature before slicing and warming. 

Grains: Cooked rice, whole grains and pasta will freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating, or enjoy cold in a grain salad.

Related: Easy and Tasty Ways to Use Leftover Rice

frozen-mixed-berries

How to Freeze Fruit (Like Bananas)

Well-packaged, many fruits can keep frozen 6 to 12 months. Apples and pears don’t freeze well from fresh, but applesauce, apple butter or pear puree (or any other fruit preserve) can be frozen, likewise blanched peeled and pitted peaches.

Bananas: Bananas can be frozen whole or chopped into small pieces and frozen flat in freezer bags for easy additions to smoothies. Thaw them to add to banana bread or muffins.

Related: Brilliant Ways to Use Overripe Bananas

Avocado: Avocado can be frozen, although you’re never going to be able to preserve the texture of a perfectly ripe avocado in the freezer. If you just want to use them in smoothies or guacamole, peel them and remove the pit, then wrap in plastic and place in an airtight container or freezer bag.

Berries: Berries freeze very well. Wash, dry and chop (if necessary)  strawberries, blueberries or raspberries and then place them flat in plastic freezer bags, making sure to remove all the air before sealing so you don’t get freezer burn. Great for baking, smoothies and spooning over yogurt.

Grapes: Frozen grapes make a delicious snack and healthy dessert straight from frozen, tasting like sweet sorbet. Take them off the vine, wash and dry, then add to a freezer bag or airtight container.

frozen-veggies-in-freezer-bags

How to Freeze Vegetables

Many vegetables are suitable to freeze for up to 6 months. Onions, garlic, peas (shucked) and corn (sliced off the cob) can be frozen raw, chopped or minced (in the case of onions and garlic) and stored in an airtight container or zip-top bag, but most vegetables benefit from a quick cooking before being frozen.

Related: The Most Delicious Ways to Use Freezer-Friendly Foods

How to prepare fresh vegetables for freezing: Blanch chopped vegetables by dropping in boiling water or steaming until tender-crisp, then shock with cold water. Pat dry, then freeze in serving-sized portions in airtight containers or freezer bags. This way, you can freeze veggies like zucchini, potatoes, spinach and carrots without tampering with their texture.

How to Freeze Meat and Fish

Meats and fish can be frozen for between 3 and 12 months, tightly wrapped in plastic, then placed in freezer bags so they don’t get freezer burn. Thaw overnight in the fridge.

Chicken or turkey parts: 6 months
Cooked ham: sliced and portioned, 2 months
Fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines): 3 months
Lean fish (tilapia, halibut): 3 months
Ground meats or poultry: 3 to 6 months
Lamb: 6 to 12 months
Pork: 4 to 6 months
Sausages: 2 to 3 months
Uncooked beef steaks: 6 to 12 months
Whole chicken or turkey: 12 months

How to Freeze Casseroles and Soups

Soups, broths, casseroles, chilis and stews can be frozen and will keep for about 3 months. Pour into plastic airtight containers (portioned, so you can grab a meal for however many people you need), leaving a little room at the top to allow for expansion in the freezer. Thaw overnight in the fridge or at room temperature, then heat on the stovetop or in the oven and eat.

Related: Warm Up with The Pioneer Woman’s Best Soups and Stews

chocolate-chip-cookie-dough

How to Freeze Baked Goods and Desserts

Don’t need to bake all that cookie dough? You can scoop them out and freeze directly on baking trays. Once frozen solid, place the portioned dough in ziplock bags, or wrap them tightly in plastic and just bake however many cookies you you need. They’ll be good in the freezer for up to 3 months. Baked cookies can last 6 to 8 months tightly wrapped in the freezer.

Here are some other desserts from Anna Olson you can make, bake (or not) and freeze.

Cakes (unfrosted): 3 months
Cheesecakes: 6 months
Fruit pies (unbaked): 3 months
Fruit pies (baked): 6 months
Muffins and quick breads: 12 months

Preparing and Packing Food for the Freezer

• Make sure all packaging is airtight to avoid freezer burn.

• Label all foods with the date you froze them.

• Portion your foods so you can easily select the right amount of food to thaw, without wasting.

• Leave room at the top of liquids (milk, soups) for expansion as they freeze.

• Keep your frozen food “fresh” with more of our top Tips to Prevent Freezer Burn.

strawberry-jam-what-to-do-with-fruit

10 Brilliant Ways to Use Fruit That’s Going Bad

Spring and summer are full of bright and fresh flavours, especially in the fruit department. Beautiful berries are calling our name, melons are at their ripest, baskets of juicy peaches and nectarines are readily available, and perfect plums take us well into the fall.

That’s probably why it’s so easy to overstock on some of these offerings—especially as we tell ourselves we’re going to eat better, lighter and fresher.

So what do you do with that big batch of berries once it’s starting to get mushy, or that basketful of peaches that’s starting to bruise?
Well we have a few ideas!

raspberry-smoothie

1. Blend up a Smoothie
The best part about ripe fruit is that it’s usually sweetest. That makes it a great natural sweetener for your next power breakfast smoothie. Can’t use it all at once? Freeze washed and prepared fruit in airtight containers or plastic bags and enjoy summer-inspired smoothies long into fall. Try this recipe for a Raspberry Refresher Smoothie.

how-to-make-fruit-popsicles

2. Freeze Fruity Popsicles
Turn that fruit into a natural popsicle that’s loaded with flavour and good-for-you ingredients. Puree ripe fruit in a blender until smooth then either pour directly into popsicle moulds or mix in some Greek yogurt or milk for a creamier treat. Learn How to Make Summer Fruit Popsicles.

cornmeal-pancakes-with-blueberry-sauce

3. Whip up Pancakes
Who doesn’t love fresh fruit on top of their stack with a little maple syrup? So why not alter your recipe and incorporate a fruit puree either on top or in the actual batter? It’s a great way to use aging fruit while switching up your weekend breakfast routine. Try The Pioneer Woman’s Cornmeal Pancakes with Blueberry Syrup.

Citrus-chicken-with-raspberry-barbecue-sauce

4. Make a Marinade
We don’t often think of mixing meat and fruit, but some fruits actually make for great tenderizers. Chicken and pork can always benefit from a little fruity marinade; in fact we pretty much consider them a match made in heaven. Try Citrus Chicken with Raspberry Barbecue Sauce.

spinach-and-strawberry-salad-with-warm-bacon-vinaigrette

5. Toss Together a Summer Salad
We’re fans of fruit in our salad, especially when you play around with the flavour profiles. Peaches and steak go great with arugula and goat cheese, while strawberries, spinach, toasted pecans and chicken are a classic match. Riper fruit adds an unexpected sweetness that really livens up your plate. Try Valerie Bertinelli’s recipe for Spinach and Strawberry Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette.

Summer Berry Sangria

6. Shake up a Fruity Cocktail or Boost Water with Flavour
Muddled fruit adds infinite flavour to regular old booze like vodka and gin. Create a signature cocktail (bonus points if you can mix in some fresh herbs too) for your next barbecue, or just stick to regular old sparkling water if you want to go easy on the drinking under that hot sun. Try this Summer Berry Sparkling Sangria.

ree-drummond- strawberry jam

7. Jam Out
There’s nothing quite like fresh jam, is there? When done correctly it keeps forever and makes for great gifts. Jam is a terrific way to use up fruit that’s about to expire, especially if you want to liven up plain old toast or cookies. Try The Pioneer Woman’s Strawberry Jam.

plum-cheesecake galette

8. Fill a Pie
We’re always fans of pie, no matter what the season. If you’ve got extra fruit, go ahead and whip up a few to freeze for later. Or, if you’re in the mood for a single serving of pie flavours, cut up some fruit into a bowl, add a little cinnamon and microwave it for a minute or so. Or try this Plum Cheesecake Galette.

Berries-Romanoff-Parfait-bobby-flay

9. Jazz up Your Yogurt
Know those “fruit-on-the-bottom” yogurts you buy? Yeah, they’re loaded with cornstarch and other added sugars. Why not whip up a healthier, fruity yogurt on your own? Muddle or blend your fruit and stir it into plain Greek yogurt. Add a little granola or chopped nuts for some extra crunch. Try Bobby Flay’s Berries Romanoff Parfait.

Raspberry Peach Fruit Leather

10. Make Fruit Leather
This works best if you have a food dehydrator, but you can do it with a regular old oven too. These “fruit roll-ups” are perfect for children and adults alike, and make for a perfect snack to-go. Try Anna Olson’s recipe for summer Raspberry Peach Fruit Leather, subbing in ripe fruit for the frozen stuff.

Too much fruit? Learn how to Get Rid of Fruit Flies for Good.

Great Canadian Breakfast Sandwich

Here’s How to Cook Eggs Perfectly Every Time

Eggs are one of the most versatile foods with limitless possibilities. Whether you’re looking to master the omelette, dip toast soldiers into perfectly soft boiled eggs, make an egg salad with hard-cooked eggs or top your Benedict with a runny poached egg, we make it easy cook ’em just right. Just follow our ultimate egg cooking guide, which includes cooking methods and times, so that you always get the perfect results.

chunky-egg-salad

How to Make Perfect Hardboiled Eggs

To hard-cook your eggs, fill a pot with enough water to cover eggs by about 2 inches. Bring water to a boil. Once boiling, remove from heat, cover pot and leave them for 10 minutes. Remove eggs from hot water and place the eggs in an ice water bath.
Get the recipe for Egg Salad

How to Make a Soft Boiled Egg

Boil enough water to cover your eggs. Gently lower eggs into water with a spoon and boil for 6 minutes. Remove eggs from boiling water and place in an ice bath to stop cooking.
Get the recipe for Bobby Flay’s Bacon Cheddar Twists with Soft-Cooked Eggs

ina-gartens-Eggs-Benedict_

How to Poach an Egg Perfectly

Poaching eggs have a reputation of being a little intimidating to perfect. Fresh eggs poach much better than old eggs. Fill a saucepan 2/3 full with water and bring to a boil. Add 1 Tbsp of vinegar and lower heat to a simmer. Crack an egg into a small cup and gently tip it into the water. Cook for 4 minutes if you like a runny yolk, and 6 minutes if you like your yolk a bit firmer. Remove egg with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to drain excess water.
Get the recipe for Eggs Benedict and Easy Hollandaise Sauce

How to Make Soft, Fluffy Scrambled Eggs

Whisk your eggs in a bowl so that the whites and yolks are fully combined. Heat a pat of butter in a non-stick pan over medium-low heat. Add your eggs into the pan and let cook for 1 minute undisturbed. Using a rubber spatula, push eggs around the pan to scramble. Continue to do this until any uncooked, liquid eggs make contact with the pan, about 2 minutes. Remove from pan immediately and serve.
Get the recipe for French-Style Scrambled Eggs

How to Make Hard Scrambled Eggs

These eggs are a less moist than soft scramble. To make them simply add 2 more minutes to the cook time for soft scrambled eggs.
Try these Great Eggs Sandwich Recipes

How to Make a Perfect Omelette

Whisk 2-3 eggs until completely combined. Heat a pat of butter in a non-stick pan over medium. Pour the eggs into the pan and move around the pan so that the surface is completely covered with egg. Using a spatula drag and push the eggs so that the uncooked eggs make contact with the surface of the pan. Cook until bottom is set and the top is moist about 1-2 minutes. Fold omelette in half and serve.
Learn how to make an Easy No-Flip Omelette

How to Make a Sunny Side Up Egg

Lightly coat the bottom of a frying pan with oil. Heat pan over medium and gently crack an egg into the pan. Cook until whites are opaque and yolk is still runny about 3 minutes.
Get the recipe for The Great Canadian Breakfast Sandwich

The Great Canadian Breakfast Sandwich

How to Make Eggs Over Easy

Follow the same instructions for sunny-side-up, but after 3 minutes of cook time flip the egg and continue to cook for another minute.

How to Cook Eggs Over Hard

Follow the same instructions for sunny-side-up, but after 3 minutes of cook time flip the egg and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.

Ready to get cracking? Try these Tasty Ways to Eat Eggs for Dinner.

ripe cherries bowl

How To Get Rid Of Fruit Flies In Your Kitchen Once and For All

It’s inevitable. No matter how clean you keep your kitchen, how many fly swatters you invest in or how many times you make sure your window screens are shut tight, at some point over the summer, you’re bound to deal with the pesky little gnats known as fruit flies.

Before you throw in the towel – or throw out the fruit – there are a few strategies and solutions for dealing with these annoyances right away. Here are our top tips and tricks for eradicating fruit flies in the kitchen, for good.

Related: Foods You Can Still Eat After the Expiry Date

Ripe cherries

Wash Produce Immediately 

What causes fruit flies?  While some of these bugs travel in through window cracks and screens, it’s most likely that they’ve come in with your actual fruit and vegetables. Most of the time they’re undetectable (they can grow from an egg to an adult in about the span of a week, and procreate rapidly), which means that washing all of your produce as soon as you get home from shopping is an important step in avoiding them all together.

Related: Foods You Should Be Washing But Probably Aren’t

Don’t Feed the Fruit Flies

While we know you’re not purposefully inviting these gnats to an all you can eat buffet in your kitchen, it is helpful to make sure that any food scraps and drippings are cleaned up straightaway, and that you avoid leaving out empty cans of beer or bottles of wine. Take out the garbage, compost and recycling every day, and be sure to eat fresh counter fruit in a timely manner so the unwelcome guests don’t have anything to feed on.

Related: Hearty Sheet Pan Dinners That Make Clean-Up a Breeze

Pump Up the Air Conditioning

Fruit flies thrive in warmer climates, which is why they come out to play during the summer months and why they die off come winter. Keeping your home at a cool, regulated temperature could potentially help to keep these pesky flies at bay.

red apples

How to Make Fruit Fly Catcher

Once you’ve got fruit flies, how do you actually get rid of them? They’re often too numerous to just swat out, and that just gets messy. This is where some of the brilliant DIY concoctions come in handy. Here are a few of our favourite, chemical-free solutions.

– Place a piece of cut-up fruit in a small bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Poke a few holes in it with a toothpick. As the bowl fills up with flies, place it in the freezer to kill them off, dump it out and start again.

– Pour a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar in a mason jar and cover the top with plastic wrap, securing it with a rubber band. Poke a few holes in the jar with a toothpick so the flies can get in, but not out. Eventually, they will succumb to the liquid. If you’re out of apple cider vinegar, try leftover wine or beer, a mashed up banana or overripe fruit instead. Rather than using plastic wrap, make a cone out of a rolled up piece of paper, leaving a small opening, and place that in the mason jar with the point down.

– In a medium saucepan, simmer 1 pint milk with 1/4 lb raw sugar and 2 oz ground pepper for 10 minutes or so. Pour this mixture into shallow bowls with a drop or two of dish soap (this helps the flies stick to the mixture) and place around the house.

– Mix a few drops of lemongrass essential oil with hot water in a clean spray bottle. Spray windowsills and doorways (and any actual flies you see) to leave a gnat fighting, fresh scent around your house.

Hopefully, you’ll be fruit fly-free in no time. Happy hunting!

Looking for more kitchen tips? Try these 10 Time-Saving Kitchen Cleaning Hacks and How to Freeze Fruit, Cheese, Leftovers and More.

Anna Olson’s Ultimate Holiday Cookie Hacks

Plates and tins of shortbread, gingerbread and sugar cookies have long been a holiday tradition in households across the world, and for good reason. Holiday cookies are an indulgent classic, perfuming homes with comforting sugar and spice while satisfying the seasonal sweet tooth. Plus, they’re wonderful for gifting in jolly little jars or tins.


Click here for the chocolate snowflake cookies recipe from Anna Olson. 

But, between the shopping, wrapping, visiting and workplace parties, the holidays can sneak up on the best of us, leaving less time to bake than we’d like. That’s why we love these cookie hacks from master pastry chef Anna Olson, who always has her holiday baking under wraps! From decorated classics to spiced snickerdoodles, this cookie queen has you covered this season and beyond.

Watch Anna Olson’s Genius Ideas for Christmas Cookie Storage:

Plan Ahead, Bake Ahead
Being organized is the first step to creating an array of delightful treats that you and your loved ones can snack on, all season long. Get inspired by Santa and make a list of the recipes you want to enjoy this holiday season, then check it twice. As December can sometimes seem like a marathon, begin your baking as soon as that list is made.

Freeze Your Cookie Dough
If you’ve whipped up cookie dough but want to bake them off to gift or share later, store the unbaked dough in a zipper-top bag, and then pop it in the freezer until you’re ready to go. Anna recommends freezing the dough rather than the cookies themselves as it saves space and retains freshness (and we think that nothing smells better than freshly-baked cookies!). Check out her awesome tips for techniques, storing and labelling in the video above.

Bake A “Fresh” Batch Every Week  
Now that you have a few batches of frozen dough in the freezer, do as Anna would do and bake up a tray of cookies once a week leading up to Christmas. With this hack, you’ll always have fresh treats on hand for family, friends and impromptu holiday guests.

Make One (Killer!) Basic Recipe
Having a versatile cookie dough base to work from saves time and ingredients, while allowing you to have a selection of cookies to enjoy over the holidays. Take Anna Olson’s Ice Box Cookies, for example. The base recipe can be combined with different ingredients to concoct amazing flavour combinations that will tickle a variety of taste buds.

Watch Anna Take One Cookie Recipe and Make Three Different Cookies:

Host A Cookie Exchange
Even the most organized bakers and holiday planners out there can’t always complete their checklists on time. That’s why hosting a cookie exchange is another great option when it comes to securing a selection of goodies. Anna has some tried and true tips on how to host the actual exchange to ensure that it goes smoothly. But don’t stress! As long as the hot cocoa is flowing and there are a few baked goods to snack on during the actual party, we’d say you’re pretty much covered.

Watch Anna Share 9 Tips for Christmas Cookie Exchange Success:

Ready to get baking? Here are dozens of our favourite festive cookie recipes to share, exchange and hoard this holiday season.

Your 10 Most Common Turkey Cooking Questions, Answered

So you’ve decided to cook a turkey for the holidays, have you? NBD. It’s only the centrepiece of your entire meal—what could possibly go wrong?

We get it. The idea of roasting an entire bird that will either signify the success or failure of a dinner party is daunting, which is probably why we always have so many questions about how to properly cook the bird in the first place. It’s not like we do it every other week.

Thankfully, with a little planning and know-how, cooking a turkey is one of the most satisfying—and delicious—things about a group meal. Read on for answers to all of your juicy turkey-themed questions.


Get the recipe for Tuscan Turkey Roulade

1. How to cook a turkey, and for how long?

We swear one of the best ways to cook a turkey—for beginners, novices and experts alike—is the old fashioned way: roasting. How long you cook your turkey depends on how much it weighs and whether it’s stuffed.

A good rule of thumb is to roast a raw (not frozen), unstuffed turkey at 325°F for 20 minutes per pound. Remove the neck and giblets, rub it down with your chosen spice rub, put it in a roasting pan, and cover it or tent it with foil—shiny side down. Baste the bird with melted butter or pan drippings every half an hour, and remove the tent for the last 60 minutes. Then, let the bird rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.

If you’re cooking a stuffed turkey, you can follow almost all of the same steps, but you’ll have to cook it longer. Need more info? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Turkey Cooking Times.

2. How do you brine a turkey?

If you’ve craving super juicy, flavourful turkey, brining can be your best friend. Brining basically means you let your bird sit in a salty water bath for 12-24 hours before you roast it, which allows meat to retain more moisture through the cooking process. But you can dry-brine a turkey as well.

If you’re wet-brining, you’ll need an extra-large container to hold all of your liquid. If you’re dry-brining you’ll have to get down and dirty with your bird, ensuring that you massage all of that salty, flavourful goodness evenly into the meat.

Whichever method you go for, brining will definitely up your turkey-roasting game.

3. What temperature should you cook turkey?

Although 20 minutes per pound is a good rule of thumb, how long a turkey actually takes to cook varies according to how often you’ve opened the oven door, whether the bird was completely thawed when you popped it in, how well your individual oven heats up and how evenly it cooks. That’s why it’s always important to check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer. A bird is good to go when a thermometer inserted into the inner thigh of an unstuffed turkey reads 170° F, or 180° F for a stuffed bird. Be sure to check the stuffing itself too—that should reach 165 °F.

4. How to defrost a turkey quickly?

Most turkeys need a few days to fully defrost—about 24 hours per five pounds is widely considered the golden rule. Here’s the good news: If you forgot to transfer your turkey from freezer to fridge in time, you can still thaw your bird in a cold-water bath. Pop it in a clean sink, tub or container with enough cold water to immerse it completely, and then refill it every half-an-hour to help prevent any foodborne illness. At that rate, a 15-pound turkey should be ready to go in about 7.5 hours.


Get the recipe for Lemon-Sage Butter Roasted Turkey

5. How to carve a turkey?

Ever notice how no one ever jumps up at the chance to carve a turkey? It seems like such an overwhelming task, but once your turkey is roasted to golden perfection, you’re going to need someone to volunteer as tribute. Or, you can learn how to do it yourself!

Basically, remove the legs and thighs first, followed by the drumsticks. Carry on to remove the wishbone and then the breasts, followed by the wings. Slice the thigh meat and breast meat, then voila! Put it on a platter for all to enjoy. Easy peasy, turkey breezy. Or, something like that.

6. How to make ground turkey?

If you’re tired of regular old chuck, ground turkey can be a delicious alternative. When experimenting with new recipes remember to ensure you always cook ground turkey to an internal temperature of 165°F in order to prevent foodborne illness. Other than that, ground turkey is your playground. You can use it for comfort foods like meatloaf and chili, or get even more creative with stuffed peppers, meatballs and burgers. Basically you can use it any way you’d use regular ground beef.


Get the recipe for Valerie Bertinelli’s Ohio  Turkey Chili

7. Why is turkey the healthiest meat?

We’ve all heard about the health benefits of eating turkey—it’s a lean, low-fat meat that’s full of protein and helps promote muscle growth. But like most health foods, there are some stipulations. Dark meat, although still full of vitamins, is higher in fat than white meat. And, like chicken, it’s best to avoid the fatty skin if you’re looking to keep the calories in check.

Considering that, why not take advantage of turkey leg sales after the holidays and whip up some Jerk Turkey Legs? Or pick up a breast and try out a hearty and satisfying stuffed Turkey Roulade.

8. Which holidays do you eat turkey?

As far as we’re concerned, any holiday is a good excuse to roast up a turkey, but typically in Canada we flock to the bird come Thanksgiving and Christmas. That’s probably because fall and winter are great times to indulge in plenty of turkey leftovers. From Turkey White Bean Chilli and frittata, to sliders and panini, there are myriad ways to use up those bird-tastic extras.


Get the recipe for Ree Drummond’s Leftover Thanksgiving Panini

9. How long do turkey leftovers last?

If you need a bit of a break from new recipes after making such a big feast, no one would blame you. But if you do eventually want to give your leftovers new life, you’ll want to wrap them up and pop them in the fridge within two hours, and then use them within three-to-four days.

Otherwise, freeze leftovers in an airtight plastic bag or container for up to six months. That way, you can just pull them out the next time you’re hankering for a classic casserole or soup.

10. What are the easiest turkey recipes for beginners?

If you’re hesitant to cook a turkey, we definitely recommend starting with the basics. There are many, many ways to switch up roasted turkey when you consider the various spice mixes, brining techniques, stuffing options and even basting methods out there (we personally love layering the bird with bacon slices before popping it in the oven!).

Pick a recipe that you feel comfortable with, and experiment from there. And remember, practice makes perfect…ly  delicious turkey.

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How to Make Fast Homemade Turkey Stock with Your Instant Pot

After a night of Thanksgiving cooking, cleaning and entertaining the last thing anyone wants to do is step back into the kitchen and embark on new cooking projects. You could spend hours simmering your turkey carcass to create stock, but with the help of an Instant Pot electric pressure cooker, you can transform it into a rich, delicious golden stock in less than 20 minutes. Use this golden liquid to make soups, risotto, or use as a braising liquid. It also freezes beautifully, so you can use it any time.

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20-Minute Instant Pot Turkey Stock Recipe

Ingredients:
1 turkey carcass
2 carrots, roughly chopped
2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
2 onions, halved with skin left on
1 bunch parsley

Directions:
1. Pull any meat off the turkey carcass and reserve for another use. The bones don’t have to be completely clean. Place them in the Instant Pot with any leftover pan drippings or small leftover turkey bits.
2. Place carrots, celery, onion, and parsley into the pot.
3. Fill pot with water just to cover contents. Close lid and set to soup setting for 15 minutes.
4. When it is finished. Let the steam release from the valve.
5. Strain stock through a mesh sieve and discard bones and vegetables.
6. Season stock with salt and pepper.

I like to make this beautiful soup using the stock with leftover turkey meat, sautéed leeks, fresh peas and Parmesan cheese. Looking for more ideas for what to make with your turkey stock? Try these tasty recipes:

Turkey-Kale-and-Brown-Rice-Soup-Recipe

Turkey, Kale and Brown Rice Soup Recipe

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Leftover Roast Turkey Pho Recipe

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Bird to the Last drop Turkey Soup Recipe

Looking for more leftover ideas? Try these Tasty Ways to Use Your Thanksgiving Leftovers.

Here’s How Long You Can Eat Your Thanksgiving Leftovers

Once you’ve enjoyed a couple days of hot turkey sandwiches, and maybe made some turkey soup,  how long can you keep eating those Thanksgiving leftovers before it is time to toss? Here’s your ultimate guide for how long you can keep Thanksgiving leftovers like potatoes, turkey, stuffing, how to store them properly and how to know if they’ve gone bad.

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How Long Leftover Turkey Lasts

Leftover turkey needs to be stored in the fridge within two hours of cooking in order to minimize the chance of bacteria growth. The meat should be cut and deboned from the bird before being placed into shallow storage containers and cooled completely in the fridge. Once it’s cool, seal tightly and store in the refrigerator for two to four days. If you’re not sure if leftover turkey is safe to eat, check for a rotten egg smell or a slimy texture. If you notice either of these things, discard the meat immediately.

How Long You Can Keep Leftover Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes should easily last three to five days in the fridge if stored correctly and within two hours of cooking. This means ensuring there isn’t any moisture buildup under the lid that could encourage the growth of bacteria. If your leftover mashed potatoes have an off smell or appearance, throw them out without tasting. Cooked potatoes can be frozen in an airtight container for up to one year.

Oven Baked Stuffing

How to Store Leftover Stuffing

Because stuffing is moist and slow to heat up and cool down, it provides an ideal place for bacteria to grow and is best consumed within two days of cooking. If you want to enjoy stuffing long after the main event, you can easily freeze it for up to four months and reheat when you’d like a festive side of comfort food.

How Long  You Can Keep Leftover Gravy

Gravy has a short shelf life at just three to four days, but like stuffing, it can be frozen for up to four to six months for increased enjoyment. In order to maintain food safety, gravy should be brought to a rolling boil before serving in order to properly kill any bacteria that may have started growing.

How Long You Can Keep Leftover Sweet Potatoes in the Fridge

Just like regular potatoes, leftover sweet potatoes are safe to eat for three to five days after your Thanksgiving meal, whether they’ve been baked, boiled, or cooked in a casserole. Again, refrigerate within two hours of cooking, and store your cooked sweet potatoes in shallow airtight containers or resealable plastic bags. They can also be frozen for up to a year, just be sure to sprinkle them first with a small amount of lemon juice in order to prevent discolouration. If they smell strange or are discoloured (some browning is fine and is just the result of oxidation) you’re best off tossing them.

How Long You Can Keep Leftover Cranberry Sauce

Homemade cranberry sauce should keep in the refrigerator for anywhere from 10-14 days, so long as it’s stored in a covered glass or plastic container. You can also pour the sauce into freezer-safe bags and freeze for use later in the year. If you’re using canned sauce and open the can only to discover brown or black bits inside, do not eat the sauce. If your homemade cranberry sauce has an off smell, flavour, or appearance, or you see any mould on top, toss it.

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How to Store Leftover Apple Pie

Pie made with fresh fruit, such as apples, usually only lasts a day or two in the fridge, so it’s best to gobble up any leftovers (or share with friends and family) as soon as you can. Un-cut apple pies can stay on the counter for about two days, so you should be good to make dessert ahead of time. You can tell your leftover apple pie has gone bad if the crust is soggy, which is a sign that it’s absorbed the moisture released by the fruit, or if it’s discoloured in any way.

How to Freeze Leftover Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin pie is generally safe for two to four days in the fridge, and should be covered loosely with aluminium foil or plastic wrap. Leftover pumpkin pie can last for about six to eight months in the freezer if stored properly. Store bought pies will keep for longer on the counter than homemade versions. Because pumpkin pie is an egg-based dessert, it is best eaten within an hour of cooking or being removed from the fridge, and can cause serious health issues if eaten after being left out for too long.

Have lots of leftovers? Try these great recipes for leftover turkey.

Chicken tortilla casserole

How to Host a Successful Freezer Meal Swap

From must-make recipes to time-saving tips, we’ve got everything you need to know about hosting the ultimate meal swap party . What’s a meal swap party? It’s a chance to meal prep with your friends and family, so you can all stock your freezers with a dinner stash that will last for months. So call up your friends and get ready for one great afternoon of cooking together.

Start with Freezer-Friendly Recipes

Deciding on recipes that freeze like a dream is the key to any successful meal swap party. While we love casseroles, soups and stews for freezing, this is the time to pull out all the stops. If you’ve been dying to try that recipe for cheesy lasagna made with slow-braised beef short ribs and pork belly, instead of regular ground beef, go for it. Everyone will appreciate the extra effort when they finally dig in to their freezer supply.

If you’re looking for recipe inspiration, start with these 12 Make-Ahead Meals You Can Freeze.

Beef stew and chicken tortilla casserole

Try Ree Drummond’s Chicken Tortilla Casserole or this Stew-Pendous Beef Stew with Biscuits.

Clear Out Space in the Fridge

Before your guests arrive, do an intense fridge and freezer clear out to ensure you’ve got enough space to accommodate all those meals you’re about to whip up. Take the opportunity to use up items you already have on hand, like frozen peas and corn for casseroles, fresh herbs and vegetables and even eggs, cheese and cream.

Have One Person Buy All The Food

Orchestrating a freezer meal swap party takes some next-level organization skills. Keep it as streamlined as possible by having one person do all the grocery shopping. This will minimize
waste and any chance of forgotten ingredients.

Make Work Stations

To run your cooking party with military precision, every recruit will need their own set of tools at their station — think chopping boards, a sharp knife (emphasis on ‘sharp’) and bowls to keep all those pre-chopped ingredients together. It’s also a good idea to ask guests to bring extra cooking vessels like pots and pans, to limit intermittent dishwashing and make the most out of your time.

Strategically Chop Your Veggies

Before you start, comb through each recipe to see how much chopped garlic, onions and fresh herbs you’ll need, and then designate a member of the group to tackle it all at once, making use of appliances like food processors and mandolins. Prepping all the ingredients ahead of time makes cooking and assembly that much faster.

Greta's-Shepherds-Pie

Another scrumptious recipe option is Shepherd’s Pie with “Squashed” Potatoes.

Make Sure You Have Enough Storage Containers

All those meals need to be portable, so ensuring there are sufficient food storage containers is key, especially if you want to maximize the number of meals each person gets to take home. One bonus to meal prep parties is that you often come out with more food than you bargained for, so plan accordingly. If your aim is to cook enough food to stretch into 15 take-home meals per person, it’s a good idea to budget enough containers so that everyone has 20. Also, don’t forget to label your meals clearly and include a simple ingredient list, the date it was made and cooking instructions.

Have Easy Snacks at the Ready

To have a marathon cooking day, you’re going to need sustenance. Ideally, things that don’t need to be cooked and don’t take too much time to prepare. We like the idea of a simple charcuterie board that guests can munch on throughout the afternoon or this idea for a DIY bruschetta bar.

Looking for more kitchen tips? Try our 20 Life-Changing Freezer Hacks.

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How to Make Easy Flash Brew Iced Coffee All Summer Long

Cool down in a flash with this simple iced coffee recipe that is crisp, refreshing, and delicious. Instead of waiting hours for cold brew, or chilling hot brewed coffee, this easy method requires brewing a coffee concentrate directly over ice. The result is an instantly chilled coffee that is ready to serve in less than 10 minutes.  The best part is that you don’t need fancy equipment—almost any manual drip or pour-over style brewing device with a filter will do. This easy method can also work with some automatic drip machines.

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Easy Flash Brew Iced Coffee

Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 2.5 cups

Equipment:
A coffee brewer like a Chemex or a similar brewer that you use to make filter/drip coffee at home.
Kettle
Kitchen scale
Timer
Spoon

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Ingredients:
1 ¾ cups (14 oz) hot water,  just finished boiling
2 cups (300 g) ice
1/2 cup (50 g) coffee grounds, medium

Directions:
1. Add ice to the carafe.
2. Place the coffee filter in the brew basket and add coffee grounds.
3. Position coffee brewer on top of a kitchen scale and set value to zero.
4. Start the timer and pour first 1/2 cup (4 oz) of hot water over coffee grounds in about 30 seconds. Gently stir the grounds with a spoon, making sure all of the coffee is fully soaked.

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5. After 1 minute, pour an additional 1/2 cup hot water (4 oz) over wet coffee grounds.
6. After 2 minutes, pour the remaining hot water over the coffee grounds for a total of 1 ¾ cups (14 oz).
7. Brew will finish dripping through coffee grounds after about 4:30-5 minutes.
8. Serve freshly brewed cold coffee over ice and enjoy!

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Looking for more coffee knowledge? Learn how to brew the best cup of coffee ever.

How to Make Rainbow Swirl Frosting

If certain coffee franchises have taught us anything through their creative iced drinks, it’s that when it comes to all rainbow-coloured or unicorn-inspired  people are all in. So why shouldn’t the tri-coloured frosting be all the rage with cupcakes, too? Thanks to a little kitchen creativity, you can get that same pretty rainbow effect without heading out to the bakery or fancy cake shop.

Rainbow Frosting, Two Ways

Anna Olson has two ways to achieve a tri-coloured swirl that works for any colour-combo of your choosing. That means decorating with soft pastels, funky neons, or with themed birthday or anniversary party hues – it’s as simple as scooping icing into a piping bag.

Anna Olson puts a pastel concoction to the test with a fresh batch of cupcakes, first by using three separate piping bags joined by a special coupler. The tool helps to give the icing a rainbow-like effect, with perfectly defined edges. Then, for those of us who don’t have such fancy tools, she shows us how to create a pretty tie-dyed effect using one large piping bag and a simple star tip. Sure, those edges may fold into each other a little more, but it’s actually a really pretty and neat way to finish off a traditional cupcake. One that’s guaranteed to be loved by children and adults alike.

It may sound like a fancy schmancy way to top the traditional dessert, but it’s actually really easy. Even novice bakers can get the hang of this with a little practice and a spare frosting plate.

“I love that no two cupcakes look the same… it almost looks like a bouquet of flowers,” Olson says towards the end, once she’s decorated half-a-dozen impressive yet oh-so-simple cupcakes in a matter of seconds.

With frosting tips like these, you’re certain to be the star of your next birthday celebration, potluck get-together or cupcake party. If you can resist the tempting colours long enough to actually get them there without eating them all first, of course.

You special little unicorn, you. And now as someone out there probably once said, “keep calm and cupcake on.”

Want more recipes to satisfy your sweet tooth? Check out 30 Celebration Worthy Cupcake Recipes.

Pudding Chomeur is The Québec Dessert We All Need in Our Lives

It’s no secret that some of our favourite foods are French Canadian classics; Tourtière, split pea soup, maple everything and of course, gravy-and-cheese-curd-smothered poutine. But when it comes to desserts, nothing beats syrupy, sweet pudding chomeur.

What is Pudding Chomeur?

If you haven’t had this classic, quintessential Québec dessert and you love the taste of fresh maple, this is definitely one you’ll want to add to your recipe box. The dish first rose in popularity during The Great Depression, when factory workers were forced to be a little more creative with what they had on hand, especially if they wanted to indulge their sweet tooth. For French Canadians that meant all the staples for a basic cake (flour, butter, milk and eggs) and tons of maple syrup that they sometimes sourced in their very own backyards. (If they didn’t have access to maple syrup, they used brown sugar as a caramel stand-in instead.)

The result was pudding chomeur, which roughly translates into “unemployment” or “poor man’s” pudding. Don’t let the name fool you though; once you dig into these single-serve cakes and all of their glorious maple goodness, you’ll feel like you’re indulging in the richest (not to mention easiest to whip-up) dessert ever.

Anna Olson has her own elevated riff on the dish, where she takes a regular old cake base—no added vanilla or lemon zest here—and gussies it up with some additional butter and brown sugar for a little extra luxurious richness.

Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Pudding Chomeur.

Then comes the really delicious part: the maple syrup concoction. Olson simmers up maple syrup, water, vanilla and more butter and then douses her uncooked cakes until they’re swimming in the stuff.

“You’re going to think it’s too much syrup,” she advises. But it’s not. It’s really, really not.

For you see, as the pudding chomeur bakes up, the maple syrup bakes down, thoroughly soaking the cake and transforming it into a sweet, syrupy ramekin of heaven. You end up with cake on top and all of the maple goodness for dipping and dunking underneath.

It’s so simple you could make it on a weeknight, but it’s also rich enough to serve to guests at the end of a fancy dinner party. Another bonus? Your house will smell absolutely incredible.

Now that’s what we call une bonne idée.

Want to try your hand at more classic dessert recipes? Take a look at this list of Anna Olson’s classic baking recipes.

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4 Must-Know Chocolate Rules for Better Baking

A chocolate dessert is a welcome sight at any time of the year, no special occasion required. While there’s a certain set of rules for making chocolate truffles and other candy, chocolate desserts like cakes, tarts, mousses and more requires some specific know-how. From knowing when to use baking chocolate vs. chocolate chips to decoding chocolate percentages, this information will help you deliver desserts that are as decadent as they deserve to be.

Rich-Chocolate-Mousse-Cake

Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Rich Chocolate Mousse Cake

1. The Difference Between Chocolate Chips and Baking Chocolate

There are two types of chocolate used in baking recipes and they have distinct characteristics and functions.

Chocolate Chips

Sold in a bag and measured by volume (i.e. 1 cup/250 mL), chocolate chips are designed to hold their shape when stirred into a batter or dough, like in Chocolate Chip Cookies. They often contain ingredients like soy lecithin that helps the chip hold its shape and stay in place within the recipe. That is why chocolate chips are not meant to be melted and folded into recipes like chocolate cake, frosting or brownies. You will find that when melted, the chocolate is thick and even grainy since the chips weren’t designed for this function.

Baking Chocolate

Sold in squares, bars or large chips called “callets,” baking chocolate is also called couverture chocolate. It is made to be chopped and melted to be used in baking. It is important to weigh your baking chocolate for recipes, and not measure it by volume. When melted, baking chocolate is smooth and glossy, making it easy to stir into your recipes. Chocolate sold in bars labelled as “chocolate” can be used in baking, but if the bar is labelled as a “candy bar”, then that is eating chocolate, not baking chocolate.

2. The Difference Between Dark, Milk and White Chocolates

Dark and milk chocolates are made up of cocoa solids (also called cocoa liquor), cocoa butter, sugar, flavouring such as vanilla, and sometimes emulsifiers like lecithin. Milk chocolate is milder than dark chocolate because it has fewer cocoa solids and more sugar and cocoa butter, making it melt more easily and taste a little sweeter.

White chocolate has all of the above ingredients except for the cocoa solids, so the absence of that bitter character makes it taste so mild and sweet. On the opposite end of the spectrum, unsweetened chocolate has no sugar and very little cocoa butter, so it is strong and very bitter.

Because these differences in cocoa contents, dark milk and white chocolates melt and re-set differently from each other. Because of this difference, they’re not interchangeable in recipes. Other ingredients such as the sugar, cream and butter would need to be adjusted if you planned on changing chocolates.

Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Classic Dark Chocolate Mousse

3. Chocolate Percentage Explained

In the world of dark chocolate, you may notice that it is called semisweet or bittersweet, or the package has a percentage on it. This percentage indicates the cocoa liquor content. The higher the percentage, the more intense the chocolate.

Semisweet needs a minimum of 35% cocoa liquor but typically falls between 40 and 65%. Bittersweet chocolate falls between 66% and 99%, but 70% is my preferred number for desserts that have a chocolate intensity and balance.

White Chocolate Mousse Cups

4. Baking Chocolate Storing Tips

Be sure to store chocolate, well-wrapped in a cool, dark place, but be sure not to refrigerate or freeze chocolate. If you see a white “dust” on the surface of your chocolate, it is not mould. It is called bloom, and is simply a little cocoa butter rising to the surface of the chocolate, and is a sign of a temperature change at some point. It is perfectly fine to use.

Are you a chocoholic? Try Anna Olson’s Best Chocolate Recipes.

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How to Make the Best Birthday Cake

Birthday cakes carry some of the fondest memories. Sweet, colourful frosting,  the warm glow of birthday candles and making a wish when you blow them out.

What’s most important when baking a birthday cake from scratch is to feel the spirit of the occasion. You’re baking this cake for someone you care about, to celebrate them and mark their special day with a shared sweet treat.

From choosing the perfect birthday cake recipe to icing tips and tricks, this guide will help you make a memorable and mouthwatering birthday cake.

How to Select a Birthday Cake Recipe

Which Flavour of Cake to Make?

Chocolate and vanilla cake are the most common types of birthdays because they tend to be crowd pleasers. Birthday cakes are for sharing, after all! Lemon and carrot cake follow close behind these top two cake flavours. And if you happen to be baking a cake for my birthday, then consider this Luscious Lemon Coconut Cake, it’s my all-time favourite!

Here are my favourite recipes for the most popular birthday cake flavours.

Chocolate Cake:  Anna Olson’s Classic Devil’s Food Cake


Vanilla Cake: Anna Olson’s Classic Vanilla Birthday Cake with Caramel Pastry Cream

Lemon Cake: Anna Olson’s Lemon Swiss Buttercream Hatbox Cake

Carrot Cake: Anna Olson’s Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting

How Big of a Cake to Make

While an 8-inch or 9-inch round cake might be typical, it’s popular right now to make cakes that are taller with a smaller diameter. You can take a recipe for a two-layer, 8 or 9-inch cake and spread the batter evenly in an 11-x-17-inch sheet pa. This will likely take less time to bake, so set the timer 10-15 minutes sooner, but check the doneness the same way. Then use a large round cutter or a template you can trace to cut smaller rounds and make a 4 or 5-layer cake that will sit wonderfully tall.

The Right Ingredients

Stick to the ingredients called for to make the cake. If the recipe calls for cake and pastry flour, it is because using it will result in a tender cake with a fine and delicate crumb structure, because the flour has a lower protein content than all-purpose. Dutch process cocoa powder has some acidity removed so it will react to the baking powder or soda differently than regular cocoa. Buttermilk really makes a cake moist and nicely balanced.

 

Make-Ahead Cake Tip

Cake layers can be baked well ahead of time and frozen, and then thawed on the counter when ready to assemble. Do not refrigerate unfrosted cake or it will dry out.

Birthday Cake Frosting Tips

There are countless types of frostings to choose from, and my above recipes feature common types: chocolate, basic buttercream, Swiss buttercream, and cream cheese. Here are a few quick tips that apply to all  frostings:

  1. Work with frosting at room temperature. To be smooth and spreadable, frosting needs to be at room temperature. If it’s a warm day, your butter may be softer than room temperature, so pop the frosting in the fridge until it holds its shape when you spoon or spread it.
  2. Food colouring gel works easily and smoothly into frostings. Just add a little at a time with a toothpick, mixing well before adding more. The colour will intensify the longer it sits, so favour less at first. Also, the colour will fade if exposed to sunlight, so keep that in mind when you display your cake.
  3. Buttercream or cream cheese frosting benefits from whipping on high speed to build in structure and a fluffy texture. If you want a fudgy frosting for your chocolate cake, like Devil’s Food Cake, then avoid whipping the frosting.

Make-Ahead Frosting Tip

All of the above frostings can be made ahead and then chilled or frozen to be used later. Thaw the frostings on the counter (do not microwave) and then re-whip them to fluff them up before using.

How To Assemble a Birthday Cake

There are 3 parts to assembling the birthday cake:

 

How to Fill a Layer Cake

If adding a pastry cream or a fruit filling to your birthday cake, you need to prevent it from seeping out the sides.  To do this, spoon some of the frosting into a piping bag and pipe a “dam” around the outside edge of the cake, then spoon and spread the filling before topping with the next cake layer.

 

How to Mask a Cake

Covering the cake smoothly takes a little patience and practice. A fully masked cake has the frosting on the top and sides while a “naked” cake has the sides exposed (no frosting, or just a sheer layer). A few hints on masking:

  • More is More! Dollop or spread generous amounts of frosting when first applying. It is easier to scrape away excess frosting than to add more (at the risks of pulling up crumbs).
  • Top then Sides: Spread a level layer of frosting onto the top of the filled cake, pushing it right over the edges. This makes it easier to frost the sides and have the edges meet easily and straight.
  • Smooth, smooth, smooth! Use an offset palette knife to keep smoothing the top and sides of the cake until it is smooth and seamless.

Birthday Cake Decorating Ideas

  • any sprinkles, cookies or candies should be applied before chilling the cake
  • ribbon can be used, but place a strip of parchment under the actual ribbon, so that grease marks from the buttercream do not appear.
  • practice any piping detail on a plate or sheet of parchment before starting on your cake, but …
  • remember that all piping mistakes are erasable.  Simply scrape off and start again.
  • the same goes for writing “Happy Birthday” in chocolate. Practice on a plate first
  • fresh fruits and flowers are a lovely way to finish a cake. Be sure that flowers are non-toxic, and that fruits are washed, and air-dried before applying.

Have a birthday coming up? Try one of our Best Birthday Cake Recipes.

5 Budget-Friendly Cuts of Beef and How to Cook Them

As grocery prices mount, it’s a bonus to find cheaper alternatives, especially when it comes to meat. One area where you can save big and find some great new favourites is by seeking out inexpensive cuts of beef, a typically higher-priced protein. These new cuts of beef are as delectable and easy to cook as some of your old standbys, but far more affordable. Before you head to the butcher this week, take note of what to ask for and how to cook it with this handy guide.

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7-Bone Steak or Chuck Steak

Often thought of as the ground meat in a good burger, chuck steak is akin to a rib steak in its fattiness and makes an excellent, cheaper alternative cut. If prepared correctly, it provides the perfect balance of marbling and highly flavourful meat. Because it contains bones, you’ll also benefit from the richness they impart.

How to Cook: Best marinated to tenderize, this steak yields greatest results when grilled over high temperature just to medium-rare doneness – overcooking will lead to a chewy, dry steak.

Bavette Steak

Also called a flap steak, this cut comes from the bottom of the sirloin. This inexpensive option boasts major flavour and benefits from being marinated and scored as you would a flank steak.

How to Cook: After grilling it should be seared at a high heat for a short time and rested before slicing against the grain. A perfect cut for a steak salad, sandwiches or tacos.

Petite Filet with Wasabi CreamGet the recipe for The Pioneer Woman’s Petite Filet with Wasabi Cream.

Shoulder Tender or Petit Tender

The consequence of being difficult to cut from the animal, the shoulder tender is an underused piece of beef. Similar to filet mignon and pork tenderloin, only more flavourful, it’s a very tender cut of beef weighing about 8 to 12 oz. Like pork tenderloin, it occasionally has a silverskin that can be easily cut away.

How to Cook: Try it seared and finished in the oven, cut into medallions and grilled or cut into strips for a fast stir-fry. It’s best cooked no further than medium to maintain tenderness.

Merlot Steak

Perfect for grilling, broiling and stir-frying, the merlot cut is known for its flavour, but is also a lean steak, making it one that needs proper attention to avoid dryness and toughening.

How to Cook: It’s recommended to cook this cut over high heat for only a few minutes per side, which helps maintain flavour and tenderness. Like the shoulder tender, keep this steak below medium doneness.

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Oyster Steak

The oyster steak’s higher fat content and exposure to air means bigger, beefier taste. It’s called oyster steak because this cut’s interesting fat pattern looks a bit like an oyster shell.

How to Cook: Deeply flavourful, this little 6 oz gem is another steak benefiting from higher temperature for a shorter period of time, about 3 minutes per side.

Get ready for barbecue season with our essential tips for grilling any cut of steak perfectly.

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Anna Olson’s Guide to Making Bread at Home

Comforting, filling and satisfying, bread is the cornerstone of western food culture. And making your own bread is one of the gratifying baking projects. There’s a sense of power and confidence that comes from coaxing four simple ingredients into a dough that grows and then bakes into something so fulfilling.

There is such satisfaction to rip into that loaf of freshly baked bread, a whisper of steam emanating from it, and letting the butter wind in little rivulets as it melts on your first bite. If you’ve always wanted to try making your own loaf, this guide will give you the knowledge and confidence to bake bread at home.

Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Rustic Ciabatta.

The Four Magic Ingredients

Flour

Bread flour has a higher protein (gluten) content than all-purpose, so when kneaded, the proteins bond, giving the dough strength so it can hold in the air the yeast produces. Many types of bread can be made with all-purpose flour, but if you are getting serious about bread baking, then bread flour is best.

Water

Tap or spring water is a personal choice, but no matter your choice, the temperature is key. Yeast ferments at around 115ºF (46ºC), so your water should be that or a touch warmer. A thermometer isn’t necessary – I just test the water on my wrist – it should feel slightly warmer than body temperature.

Yeast

Yeast is key to fermentation. Yeast feeds on the natural sugars within the flour and generates alcohol and carbon dioxide, which causes your dough to rise. As the bread bakes the alcohol cooks off, while the air bubbles produced by the CO2 stay in place, making the bread airy, fluffy and light.

Leavening Agents

Most bread recipes call for commercial yeast, but there’s more than one way to leaven your bread.

Commercial Yeast

The simplest ways to start fermentation is to add a few teaspoons of dry active or instant yeast. Dry active yeast needs to be dissolved into water, while instant yeast can be added at any time, no dissolving needed.

Starters

A yeast starter is a natural and flavourful way to start fermentation, most commonly used for sourdough bread. To make your own starter, combine equal parts by weight of flour and water. Then add a touch of honey. You could also add a pinch of commercial yeast, which is optional. Place the mixture in a loosely-covered jar on your countertop and let sit for 24-36 hours. The natural yeast in the air will start a fermentation. After using, remaining starter can be re-fed and stored in the fridge, feeding it every two days with the same proportions of flour and water. The longer it ages, the more flavour it develops.

Salt

Salt does more than flavor bread. It also slows fermentation, which is a good thing. The longer a bread is left to rise the better flavour you get and the interior texture becomes stretchy when you tear into it. Commercial breads than have a fluffy cotton-like texture are quickly fermented, where homemade or artisan breads have a chewier texture and more character.

 

4 Easy Steps to Making Bread

How to Knead Bread

Kneading is the important step of working the dough to develop the proteins in the flour. You can do this by hand or with a mixer equally well, and it is a gratifying step – that feeling of pushing, stretching and pulling the dough is so soothing, and as the dough becomes developed, you will feel it get elastic under your hands.

Don’t be tempted to add too much flour to your dough as you knead it. I like to hold back 1/2 cup of flour from the recipe to use for kneading. Bread dough should still be a little tacky in most cases and barely come away from your hands after kneading.

How to Proof Bread

This is the most important part of bread making, and where you do nothing! Time is key here – the first proof (also called rise) is where the yeast really gets to work, developing flavor and texture. The first proof is usually at room temperature and some recipe call for you to punch down the dough, to challenge the yeast to get to work again.

The second proof happens after shaping, and you can control the timing of this by popping the bread into the fridge (this way you can make, proof and shape your bread dough the evening before, chill it overnight and then proof it in the morning to start the day with freshly baked bread).

Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Seeded Rye Bread.

How to Shape Bread

Every culture with bread has a style for shaping it. Regions in France and Italy have very specific shapes to their bread, or consider flatbreads and other styles such as naan.

Shaping isn’t just for aesthetics – as the baker, you are knocking out the air from the dough one last time, coaxing that yeast back to work, and this helps develop the crust.

How to Bake Bread

Most bread cooks best in a high temperature oven, to set the crust and get that final burst of leavening. Adding steam, by spraying the inside of the oven with a misting bottle, or placing a tray filled with 2 cups of boiling water helps develop a good crust and a shine to the crust.

You can tell when your bread is baked by lifting it up with a tea towel and tapping the bottom – if it sounds hollow, then it’s done.

If you are baking bread in tins, turn the bread out of the tins immediately from the oven.

The most challenging step when baking bread? Letting it cool at least 20 minutes before slicing or tearing into it!

Can’t wait to get baking? Try Anna Olson’s Best Classic Baking Recipes.

How to cook rice on stove

How to Cook a Perfect Pot of Rice on the Stove

Confession time: Years ago, I received a rice cooker as a gift that I’ve used guiltily only when the gift-giver in question comes for dinner. The rest of the time — whether I’m cooking rice to accompany a hurried weekday dinner or as the base for a leisurely simmered-all-day weekend cooking project — I turn to a trusty pot and a stovetop burner. Want to learn how to cook rice with a no-fuss, no-mess method? Look no further than this recipe that will turn out a pot of fluffy, perfect rice every time.

The perfect pot of rice is easier than you think.

The perfect pot of rice is easier than you think.
Thinkstock

The Right Equipment to Cook Rice

I find up to two cups of uncooked rice will be just fine in a medium-sized saucepan, while anything more is best prepared in a larger pot. Similar to pasta, you’ll be using a boiling liquid as a cooking medium, so make sure you have enough room for bubbles to rise without boiling over. A lid with an adjustable steam vent is nice, but not crucial — you can always prop the lid open with a wooden spoon or pair of chopsticks. The flat wooden paddle found in Chinese or Japanese supermarkets is made specifically for this purpose (and the ones with a straight edge are perfect for stirring the bottom of the pot).

How to Cook Jasmine Rice: A Basic Method

There are as many methods of cooking rice as there are cultures that use it, so keep in mind this is the way that works for me, but it’s not the only one by far: pilafs and pilaus, risottos and biryanis all use different techniques for speciality dishes.

1. Pour your rice into a pot. (Up to one and a half to two small coffee mugs will adequately feed two people). Rinse the rice in cold running water, drain the excess water, then repeat this twice or until the water in the pot is clear when you agitate the rice.
2. Add enough liquid to cover the rice by about an inch. Use a ratio of 2:1.
3. Cover the pot, place it on a burner set to medium-high and bring the water to a boil.
4. Once the liquid boils, lift the lid and give the rice a thorough stir, making sure you get the areas at the bottom. Turn the heat down to low (just above minimum). Keep cooking the rice on low for about 20 to 25 minutes, until the rice is tender, and has lost that wet look.
5. Fluff the rice with the paddle.

This method creates light grains of rice across the top of the pot and a crisped rice crust along the bottom and sides. You can stir those crunchy bits — prized among some cultures — into the rest of the rice for textural variation, or toast and enjoy it later for a snack.

You can vary this basic method to a wide range of rice options:

How to Cook Sushi Rice

I prefer the pleasant fluffiness and slightly sticky texture of short-grain sushi rice, pairing it with everything from spicy stir-fries to a silken stew. Use the above method, reducing the water to a 1:1 ratio. When the rice is cooked, add a tablespoon of seasoned rice vinegar (add two tablespoons if you will be using the rice to make sushi) and a sprinkle of furikaki flakes (a Japanese rice seasoning mix that can consist of sesame seeds, seaweed, dried egg or bonito and other crunchy goodness) to taste.

How to Cook Basmati Rice

For those looking for a little more structure in their grains, long-grain varieties such as basmati, are delicate and slightly perfumed options that retain their slender shape when cooking. Using the method above, reduce the water to a 1:1.5 rice/liquid ratio. Some basmati rice recipes will benefit from a short soaking period for softer rice — a purely optional step.

How to Cook Brown Rice

Brown rice, which can be either short or long grain, adds fibre and whole grain goodness to your diet. Although brown rice generally takes longer than white rice to cook (typically, an additional 15 minutes or more), the simmering time can be minimized with a brief toasting in butter first, which emphasizes the grain’s natural nuttiness. Before beginning the method above, melt four tablespoons of butter or margarine in a  pot on medium-high heat, then stir in the brown rice. Toast for a couple of minutes while stirring, then add the liquid and proceed with the method above.

Rice Flavour Variations

If you’re pairing rice with other dishes, using water is fine. Add creaminess with some coconut milk, use chicken broth to give it a little pep (the concept behind recently trendy Hainanese chicken rice) or use some mushroom stock if you’d like a little umami heartiness.

There it is; simple rice in about 30 minutes, without needing to pull out specialized equipment and without too much fuss. For more ideas on how to cook rice, check out our 16 Best Rice Recipes for Dinner and Dessert.

Cast Iron Skillet Cookie

How to Season Your Cast Iron Pans

Cast iron pans are a game-changing addition to any kitchen. In my opinion, there’s no better way to cook crispy hash browns, fry an egg or sear a burger than by using a cast iron pan. Cast iron Dutch ovens are essential for braising, stewing and even making bread. While there are many myths about cleaning and seasoning cast iron cookware, it is actually simple and easy to care for. Follow these tips that will help your cast iron last forever.

Cast Iron Skillet Cornbread

How to Season a Cast Iron Pan

When we say season, we’re not talking salt and pepper. Seasoning a cast iron pan means treating it with oil. A brand new cast iron pan might say “pre-seasoned” on it and but it’s best to season it yourself before using it. Start by preheating the oven to 325°F. Pour a few tablespoons of oil in the pan, and spread in and around the edge of the pan. Place a sheet of aluminum foil over the center rack in the oven. Place the cast iron pan upside down on the foil. It will catch any oil drips. Bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool.

How to Wash a Cast Iron Pan

Many people that will tell you that soap and water will destroy a cast iron pan. This isn’t true. Cast iron pans can get grimy just like other cookware and it’s okay to scrub your pan. Use the abrasive side of a sponge, and rinse your soap off with plenty of water. Dry your cast iron right away and re-season it to get back that beautiful oily lustre.

cast-iron-skillet-cookie

How to Care for a Cast Iron Pan

The best way to care for your cast iron cookware is by using it. The more you cook, sear and fry in it, the better seasoned it becomes. Cast iron is great for cornbread, brownies, fried chicken and steaks. The more use a cast iron pan gets, the more non-stick it becomes.

What to do About Rusty Cast Iron 

When cast iron is left wet or stored in a humid environment, it can start to get rusty. This is an easy problem to fix and even easier to prevent. Ensure that your cast iron cookware is completely dry after using it and store it in a dry place. Do not let it soak in the sink before you clean it or re-season it. It’s best to minimize the time between when you begin cleaning it and when you re-season it. If your pan does get a bit rusty or cruddy, scrub it away with dish soap and an abrasive sponge. Steel wool is also a good option. Once the rust is removed, dry your cookware and re-season it.

Seasoned and ready to get cooking?  Try one of these 14 Incredible Cast-Iron Skillet Recipes.

5 Tasty Waffle Iron Hacks That Go Beyond Breakfast

There’s no denying that fluffy, fresh waffles are pretty much the most heavenly food ever. But who says your waffle maker is limited to breakfast use? The handy appliance can cook far more than your favourite brunch dish, which means they’re no longer relegated to a pre-noon meal in our books.

With a little kitchen creativity the sky’s the limit — so why limit yourself to sweet breakfast waffles topped with berries and cream when you can use your iron for incredible, savoury lunches and dinners, too? Think waffle-inspired sandwiches, pizzas, creative side dishes and more. When you break it down, there’s so much more to this comfort food than syrup and jam. Not that we’d ever complain about those toppings either, mind you.

Take this recipe for a simple Margarita Pizza, for example. Fresh pizza dough is waffled up to crispy perfection, then topped with tomatoes, two kinds of cheese and shredded basil at the very end for a new twist on a classic that’s calling our name. It’s simple, savoury and something outside of your typical slice of pie. The fact that it’s ready in a matter of minutes is just an added bonus.

 

Now how genius is that?

But we don’t have to stop with pizza — swapping out regular old bread for seasoned waffles makes for the perfect sandwich twist.  The Sweet Potato Chronicles gals whip up some tasty examples in the video below, breathing new life into Southwestern Corn Waffles (made with buttermilk and topped with Monterey Jack cheese);  Caprese Waffles (stuffed with fresh mozzarella); and these Thanksgiving Waffles, which take turkey and sweet potatoes to a whole new level.

 

It’s amazing how just a few adjustments to a waffle batter can result in so much goodness. Looking for more waffling inspiration for your next lunch or dinner? Try these recipes on for size.

Breakfast-for-Dinner Savoury Waffles

Who says you can’t have breakfast for dinner? Good old-fashioned cornmeal batter is waffled up to perfection and then served with your choice of fresh eggs, sausage or bacon in this riff on a classic.

Taco Waffles

These cornbread jalapeno waffles are stuffed with more traditional taco ingredients like shredded chicken and pico de gallo for a fun, Mexican waffled twist.

Waffle Maker Quesadilla

Who needs waffle batter when you have wheat tortillas laying around? Stuff yours with some fresh cheese and let the iron do all of the work while you waffle around.

Discover genius hacks for your slow cooker, freezer and more.