Tag Archives: kitchen tips

tea and orange brined turkey on a serving platter

The Ultimate Guide to Turkey Cooking Times

The main event during the holidays often involves serving a perfectly juicy and succulent roast turkey to the ones you love. The last thing you want to do is present an overcooked (or worse, undercooked) bird. Even if this isn’t your first gobbler, it’s handy to have a cheat sheet on file to ensure you’re on track for dinner time. Follow the chart below for a foolproof way to roast the perfect turkey for your holiday feast every single time.

Related: The Best Leftover Turkey Recipe You’ll Ever Need (We Promise!)

Get the recipe for Tuscan Turkey Roulade

How to Roast a Basic Turkey

Preheat the oven to 325°F. In a large roasting pan, place thawed turkey, breast side up and tent with a piece of aluminum foil. Bake turkey using the chart below. Remove foil during last hour of cook time. Cook until meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 170°F.

Size of Turkey Unstuffed Stuffed
10-12lbs 3 – 3 ¼ hours 3 ½–3 ¾ hours
12-16bs 3 ¼ – 3 ¾ hours 3 ¾ – 4 ¼ hours
16-20lbs 3 ¾ – 4 ¼ hours 4 ¼ – 4 ¾ hours
20-24lbs 4 ¼ – 4 ¾ hours 4 ¾ – 5 ¼ hours


Related: How to Brine a Turkey and Why You Should Try It

turkey cut in half on a plate with green leaf garnish and orange slices

Get the recipe for Tea- and Orange-Brined Roasted Turkey

Top Turkey Cooking Tips

1. If using a frozen bird, ensure it’s fully defrosted before roasting.

2. Take your bird out of the fridge while the oven preheats. Juices will run clear when the turkey is done. Look at the juices running from the meat around the thigh bone.

3. If you’re using a convection oven, your bird will cook in 25 per cent less time. Take 15 minutes off each hour on the recommended times above.

4. After the turkey is removed from the oven, let it rest for minimum 30 minutes. The juices need to resettle into the meat.

Looking for more delicious inspiration? Here are the perfect side dishes to pair with your holiday turkey.

Fried Bacon (selective focus) on an old vintage wooden table

All the Ways to Cook Bacon For That Perfect Crisp

Fried Bacon (selective focus) on an old vintage wooden table

Few aromas compare to the smell of bacon cooking on a Sunday morning nor are there many meals not made better with bacon. Better still, the popular breakfast staple also comes in pork alternatives (and even vegan options), and can be cooked in a variety of ways to optimize that perfect crisp. Whether you tend to reach for thick-cut, regular or peameal bacon, here is a roundup of all the best ways to get your bacon fix. 

Whatever your chosen method, be sure to let your bacon temper to room temperature by taking it out of the fridge about 15-20 minutes prior to cooking to get the best results. 

Air Fryer

This trending way to cook your bacon is just one more food you can prepare in your air fryer. While it may not be immediately intuitive to cook your bacon in a countertop appliance, and while it may require a bit more maintenance, the results may just be worth it for you. The bacon is crispier when it doesn’t cook in its own fat, and depending on the size of your air fryer, it’s a good option for those looking to prep only a few pieces. The trick? You may need to shake your basket to allow all the drippings to drip down and away from your bacon. 

– Take out bacon from the fridge about 15-20 minutes prior to cooking
– For this method you need to preheat your air fryer to 400°F
– Lay out each strip with no overlap
– Shake the basket as needed
– Air fry until the bacon is your desired crunch (about 8 to 12 minutes)

Raw bacon strips

Pan Seared: Non-stick or Cast Iron

With this method you really only need your non-stick or cast-iron pan and your choice of bacon. The key is to not preheat your skillet. 

– When your bacon has tempered, lay out the strips on the cold skillet without overlapping the pieces so the fat renders slowly and consistently
– Cook over medium heat until you’ve reached your desired crispness and flip, as needed
– Cook for about 8 to 12 minutes
– Lay over a paper towel to absorb excess fat and serve

Just remember to dispose of that cooking grease in a responsible way

Close-Up Of Bacon Slices In Barbecue Grill

Baked: Grill or Parchment

This method requires a longer cooking time than the other methods, but it is a set-it-and-forget-it method in that it doesn’t require a lot of maintenance, once you’ve placed it in the oven. It leads to a meaty bacon, with minimal shrinkage and the aluminum foil helps keep the drippings in place for easier clean-up. Pro-tip for extra flavour: Brush maple syrup on top of the strips prior to baking for a caramelized, crispy maple crunch to your bacon.

– Preheat the oven to 400°F (or even up to 425°F, if you prefer bacon crispier)
– Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil to catch the drippings, making sure to fold up the foil along the edges
– Lay a wire rack on top of the foil
– Arrange slices of bacon on top of the rack so there is no overlap
– Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, depending on how thick and done you prefer your bacon

You can also bake your bacon on parchment paper without the rack (bake for about 18-24 minutes) but the results will basically resemble fried bacon, as the bacon bakes in its own fat. Place the strips on paper towel to soak up any excess fat prior to serving.

Microwave

While this may be the least sophisticated method, it is the quickest. It also allows you to prep only a few slices without committing to a full batch, and the cleanup is the easiest with the microwave. In this method you simply lay the bacon between sheets of paper towel and microwave on high until done. However, this method is also quickest to send your bacon from underdone to overdone, so it may require a few tries until you’ve perfected the timing. It may also require check-ins to remove any slices that are done from the ones that still require microwaving. 

– Layer two paper towels on a microwave-safe plate
– Lay bacon on top and cover with another two sheets of paper towel, without overlaying any slices
– Microwave for 4 to 6 minutes depending on thickness of your cut
– Check in and remove any slices that are done
– Continue microwaving the remaining slices in short bursts, 10 to 15 seconds, until all slices are done

Related: These Budget-Friendly Microwave Recipes Are Total Time-Savers

Sous vide cooker. In field of view are control panel which is backlit touch controlled temperature and time settings with chrome finish, ergonomic non-slip soft touch body, scroll wheel for adjusting time and clamp. Power cable. Clip system attached to pot of water. High point of view. Shallow depth of field.

Sous Vide

While this method is arguably the most elaborate and requiring the most planning (up to 24 hours ahead of your desired eating time), it may be worth the effort if you’re looking to truly wow. It taps into sous vide’s immersion circulator technology to render bacon that’s consistent, crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and with least shrinkage compared to the other methods. Worth noting is that this only really works with thick cut bacon, so if you plan to try this one out, don’t waste your time on regular-cut. 

– Put the entire unopened package of bacon into a large pot or container
– Fill with enough water to cover the entire package
– Cook with the circulator at 147°F for 8 to 24 hours
– After the cooking process finishes, remove the strips from the package, separating each slice
– Quickly sear each side in a skillet so the bacon doesn’t look raw and serve

Related: The History of Peameal Bacon — Plus Our Favourite Recipes

Placing Strawberries into a Freezer Bag

5 Tips to Prevent Freezer Burn

So you hit a great sale and stock your freezer up. But a few weeks or months later, you pull out your edibles and they’re covered in ice crystals. The sad phenomenon that causes unappealing, dried-out, discoloured food happens to the best of us. 

We have five useful tips to make sure you never feel the (freezer) burn again.

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

Frozen Strawberries

1. Wrap your freezer-bound fare twice, with as little air as possible. First wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, then in a freezer bag, squeezing out as much air as you can.

2. Keep your cold storage well organized. That way, you don’t have to keep the door open for five minutes every time you look for something, avoiding temperature fluctuations as much as possible. If you’re shopping for a new unit, keep in mind that self-defrosting models are worse for freezer burn.

Related: This is the Right Way to Freeze Vegetables and Fresh Herbs

3. Don’t put hot foods directly in the freezer; let them cool first. 

4. Keep your freezer full, but not too full. At about three-quarters capacity, the freezer is most efficient at maintaining its cool. 

5. Invest in a vacuum-sealer.  It sucks out all the air around the food before freezing, which makes a big difference in longevity.

Related: 35 Easy Freezer Meals You Can Make Ahead (And Devour Later)

Although colour, texture and taste all suffer when freezer burn strikes, it does not render the food inedible — it’s still perfectly safe. To rescue freezer-burnt provisions, try concealing it in flavourful mixed dishes with lots of liquid, like stews, a bolognese, or barbecue sauces.

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

Person pouring out oil from a frying pan into a grease trapping system

How to Properly Dispose of Cooking Oil

Large plastic bottle with sunflower oil and one glass special oil container on the kitchen table. Copy space.

You’ve gotten your oil to the perfect temperature for that memorably-crisp fried chicken. But now that the meal is done, and cleanup is imminent, it’s clear that knowing how to cook with oil is only half the skill. What do you do with all that oil afterwards? 

Related: From Coconut to Avocado, 10 Trending Cooking Oils and How to Use Them

It may be tempting to just pour what remains – be it this, fat or any other grease – straight from the pan down the drain (or toilet), but doing so is not only potentially harmful to the environment, it could also do major damage to your (and the city’s) plumbing, and even cause flooding. Bacon drippings, we’re looking at you. 

This said, that waste has to go somewhere, right? Here are top ways to handle cooking oil responsibly: 

Dirty frying pan.

Let It Cool

Depending on the type of fat you’re dealing with, and its room-temperature state (liquid or solid), you may want to let it cool, solidify, and scrape it into your bin. Do note, confirm your local waste disposal guidelines for whether to place it in your compost bin or garbage. 

Related: 32 Easy Air Fryer Recipes That Are Simply Delish

Soak It Up

If you only have a small amount of oil you’re working with, you can soak it up with paper towel, and put it in your compost bin, where it can be absorbed by other organic matter. Just make sure it’s sealed properly, as grease can be a tempting meal to critters and wildlife. 

Collect It and Seal It

In the opposite scenario, where you have a large amount of cooking oil to dispose of (10 litres or more), collect it into a sealable container labeled “cooking oil” and either arrange for a pickup or drop it off to your local hazardous waste facility.   

Related: Fantastic Fried Chicken Recipes

Person pouring oil out of a pan into a fat trapping system

Invest in a Grease Trapping System

If you’re a fan of frying foods, and know you work through large amounts of it but not all at once, you’ll want to consider investing in a grease trapping system, such as this Range Kleen Fat Trapper System and Grease Storage Container (retailing for $36 on Amazon). Let the oil cool, then transfer to the container and once full, seal the bag and carefully place in the bin. Another solid option (pun intended) is to also store it in the freezer so the grease freezes to a solid state for easier handling. 

Reuse It (Maybe)

While we wouldn’t recommend reusing oil on a regular basis (it deteriorates each time you heat it, affecting its smoke point), some people do turn to this as a way to minimize oil waste (and stretch their oil further). If you do opt for this path, don’t reuse your cooking oil more than once or twice before disposing of it (in one of the aforementioned safe ways before), and strain it with a multi-fold cheesecloth to filter out any residue. You may also want to add in some previously unheated oil as a way to freshen it up and extend its life before reusing it. 

Related: 5 Simple Olive Oil Pasta Sauces That Will Transform Your Dinner

Afrim Pristine smiling and holding a plate of grilled cheese

4 Cheeses You Need at All Times, According to a Maitre Fromager

It doesn’t matter if you’re at home making your family a spaghetti and meatball dinner or are sharing a pot of traditional fondue in Switzerland— cheese makes almost any meal so much better. As a staple in nearly every culinary culture globally, it’s also the versatility of cheese that makes it so unique. “There’s a lot of hard work that goes into making cheese,” says maître fromager (AKA cheese master) and Cheese: A Love Story host, Afrim Pristine.

For this reason, no matter what type of cheese you’re working with, it’s important to respect the ingredient, he explains. And with more than 25 years of experience, Afrim still thinks that the art of cheese making is all pretty magical. “We sell a ten-year-old cheddar in our store (Cheese Boutique),” he says. “What other foods can you see that are ten years old, and still unbelievably tasty?”

Whether you’re grating a sharp cheddar or are baking a block of feta for an oh-so-trendy pasta dish, cheese has the transformative power to elevate a recipe from simply memorable to unforgettably delicious. Pristine shares how home chefs can set themselves up for culinary success by incorporating these cheeses into everyday meals.

See More: This Jalapeno Appenzeller Bread is a Cheese Lover’s Dream

French hard comte cheese on a black plate with a knife

French Comte

French Comte is a big, bold, nutty sharp cheese. It can be purchased in most grocery stores, but that wasn’t always the case 20 years ago. Now it’s everywhere, Afrim says, which makes it easier for any cheese enthusiast to enjoy. For a beautiful pairing, serve a French Comte with slices of prosciutto and a glass of red wine.

Related: 10 Facts You Never Knew About Cheese 

Parmigiano-Reggiano wedge on a wooden cutting board with a grey background

 Parmigiano-Reggiano

A cheese that needs no introduction, Afrim says that even just the tiniest bite of Parmigiano Reggiano is something that he can’t help but savour. “A good, aged Parmigiano Reggiano that’s three or four years old is possibly one of the best cheeses ever made,” he says. In fact, he believes it’s one of the most important cheeses that’s ever been made. “It’s just so complex and versatile. And I love that. It’s something that’s always so easy to snack on.”

Manchego cheese wedge and slices on a wooden cutting board with grapes and a knife

Manchego

If you’re looking for a cheese that can elevate almost any meal, turn to manchego. This salty and tangy Spanish cheese is made from sheep’s milk, and Afrim says it’s the best bang for your buck. Manchego goes well with so many different types of food, he explains, adding that it can be served in a cheese wedge as a separate side dish that guests can munch on throughout the meal.

See More: The Perfect Swiss Cheese Board 

Blue cheese wedge on a white cutting board with jam and crackers

Blue Cheese

Aside from cilantro, few foods are quite as divisive as blue cheese: you either love it or hate it. For Afrim, blue cheese is his absolute favourite. “I love blue cheese because it grabs my taste buds and takes me for a ride,” he says, adding that the saltiness and creaminess are what makes it so great. If you’re hesitant about blue cheese, his advice is simple: keep experimenting.

Since there’s so much variety within mild and strong blue cheeses, it can take some time to experiment and find which type of blue you prefer. For a crowd-pleasing blue cheese dish, try these caramelized onion & blue cheese crostinis.

Photos courtesy of Getty Images.

Watch Cheese: A Love Story with Afrim Pristine and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

baguettes in brown paper bag

How to Revive Stale Baguette Bread With One Easy Trick!

There’s nothing like the taste of fresh baguette. The sweet aroma and that soft, comforting mouthfeel — it’s just so darn delicious. However, it’s not always possible to enjoy every bit of the whole baguette before it goes stale. If you have this problem too, be prepared to be wowed by this amazing trick. And no it’s not a simple hack of just reheating in the microwave. Here’s how to make it fresh!

baguettes in brown paper bag

Simply drench your rock-hard baguette in cold water then tightly wrap it in aluminum foil.  Next, place the wrapped baguette in the oven (not preheated), then set the temperature to 300°F and let is heat for 12 to 15 minutes. Then take the baguette from the oven, remove the foil and heat in the oven for an additional 5 minutes. Voila! Your leftover baguette is as good as fresh! Make sure to eat your revived bread right away, as it will quickly harden again.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Published January 8, 2015, Updated May 23, 2021

How to Choose the Healthiest Type of Salt for Cooking

With the ability to bring out the inherent, muted flavours in food, salt is added to most recipes — including sweets — to smooth everything out. Without it, home cooking can be bland and unappetizing, but getting in the habit of adding too much salt to foods is linked to high blood pressure and cardiovascular irregularities. While definitely less health-threatening, large amounts of salt can cause water retention, making your pants feel a bit snugger and leaving your skin looking dehydrated. However, salt is necessary for our bodies to function correctly, maintaining normal heart rhythm and nerve function — without it, complications arise.

888_types-of-salt

How Much Salt Should I Eat Per Day?

Eating too little salt is generally not a concern for most, with the advent of packaged and convenience foods. Enjoying a diet rich in whole, unprocessed, naturally low-sodium foods is the most nutritious option, allowing you to add salt to taste when cooking, reducing the risk of overdoing your daily recommended amount. Current Health Canada guidelines advocate most healthy adults eat approximately 1500 mg of sodium per day, though most are consuming more than double that.

Sodium and chlorine are the two elements that make up salt, making all types of salt sources of these essential compounds, adding another layer of confusion to the mix, as most are indistinguishable to the palate from one to the next. Whether purchasing at a grocery store or specialty food shop, salt’s diverse price range, wide-spanning varieties and nutritional profile can leave you scratching your head.

Related: Forget Salt: I Cooked With 6 Trending Spices to See if They’re Actually Worth the Hype

What is Sea Salt?

Sea salt is derived from its eponymous source (the sea), originating from any number of regions around the world. Its clean, pure taste is adored by cooks and is available in coarse and fine options; the former is well suited for garnishing, while the latter is ideal for cooking food and baking thanks to its ability to dissolve. Coming in white, grey, red, pink and black, the colour you choose is a matter of personal preference and price point.

Regarding health benefits, sea salt is plentiful in trace minerals due to its marine derivation, delivering many of the same nutritional compounds that make superfood seaweed so nutritious. The healthiest forms of sea salt are the least refined with no added preservatives (which can mean clumping in the fine variety). Pink Himalayan salt is touted by healthy home cooks as the ultimate mineral-rich seasoning, said to be the purest of the sea salt family.

What is Ground Salt?

The most common ground salt (taken from the ground, not the sea) is table salt, a cheap and common seasoning that can be found in most home kitchens. A more refined version of salt, table salt has added iodine, a trace mineral necessary for correct thyroid function, thyroid cancer-prevention and proper mental development and maintenance. Iodine deficiency is rare, and the mineral can be accessed from vegetables, seaweeds, milk, wild fish, eggs, and unrefined sea salts.

Related: The Easiest Ways to Save Over-Salted Food 

What is Kosher Salt?

Kosher salt tastes slightly less salty than table salt or sea salts (though it can be derived by either the sea or ground) due to its ability to dissolve more quickly on the tongue. Anticaking agents can be added to kosher salt, but can be purchased pure, too. Kosher salt makes it easy to grab a pinch and clings to food well, making it a favourite amongst chefs and home cooks alike.

What are Gourmet Salts and How Do I Use Them?

Gourmet salts run the gamut in terms of price and taste. “Plain” finishing and naturally flavoured finishing salts can be a unique addition to any dish. They carry a heftier price tag than a basic sea salt or ground salt, but are used in moderate amounts, potentially lasting for years.

Fleur de sel (“flower of salt” in French) is a readily available sea salt ideal for garnishing (both sweet and savoury foods), and, while still expensive, carries a softer price tag than many other gourmet options. Fleur de sel’s pure nature, free of additives, preservatives or anticaking agents, will provide the same trace minerals as other salts, with a cleaner taste.

Smoked salts are just that; smoked. This gourmet treat is to be used sparingly on meats, fish, eggs and vegetables for a truly unique taste. Flavoured salts can include any number of natural additions, from lemon peel to lavender to dried truffles to chili, and can be purchased or made at home.

Are Salt Alternatives Healthier?

Like sugar, salt has low-sodium alternatives that are generally comprised of chemical sources. Some find the strange taste of chemically derived salt alternatives to be off-putting. Salt alternatives can adversely interact with some medications and health conditions, so check with a doctor before reaching for this product.

Natural, chemical-free options such as dulse (seaweed) granules are marketed as a salt substitute, containing the same range of minerals as “pure” sea salt. The taste of dulse granules is decidedly sea-like, so use judiciously when adding this salt substitute to a recipe.

And the Healthiest Salt Is…

No matter which salt you choose, the small amount used contributes little nutritional value to your overall diet, making your selection a matter of personal taste. If you’re concerned about increasing the mineral content in your diet, focus on consuming more grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy, nuts and lean protein — salt shouldn’t be used as a supplement or alternative for the nutrition these foods contain. Reducing your total salt intake to the recommended daily intake (1500 mg) can be accomplished with a diet low in unprocessed foods and yes, a pinch or two of salt — any type you like.

Fore more inspiration and alternatives, these healthy salt substitutes are the real deal.

Published January 5, 2017, Updated April 18, 2021

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Flippy robot chef in fast food restaurant

Meet the World’s First Autonomous Robotic Kitchen Assistant

What if we told you that we know someone — rather something — who can work a grill and fryer perfectly for 100,000 hours straight? Its name is Flippy and it’s an AI assistant chef from Miso Robotics. The cost? $30,000 USD, plus a monthly fee of $1,500 USD/month.

Flippy robot chef in fast food restaurant

The robot addresses the problem of fulfilling late-night shifts that no one wants in a 24-hour restaurant. Also, due to the pandemic, there’s greater concern for food safety and hygiene. This is able to solution all of that, as the robot works with minimal human contact.

Related: Ways to Continue Supporting Your Favourite Local Restaurants

The robot chef — invented in 2016 — is controlled by AI to do more than just the repetitive task of being a burger flipper. Today it can keep track of cooking times and temperatures. It can place baskets in the fryer to make chicken wings, onion rings, hash browns and much more. As upgrades are made, this robot chef will be able to take on more complex tasks. The company has raised over $20 million, which shows there’s an appetite for this kind of technology.

Flippy robot chef in fast food restaurant

The robot is currently operating in Caliburger in Fort Myers, Florida. The restaurant chain has ordered more for each of their global locations. White Castle, the oldest fast-food chain in America, wanted in on this action as well. “We’re looking at Flippy as a tool that helps us increase speed of service and frees team members up to focus more on other areas we want to concentrate on, whether that’s order accuracy or how we’re handling delivery partner drivers and getting them what they need when they come through the door.” said White Castle’s vice president, Jamie Richardson. No word yet on whether the robot chef will be coming to Canada anytime soon.

Related: What is a Ghost Kitchen? (And Why They’re Thriving During COVID)

While this technology is impressive, there may be some concern that this will impact jobs in the fast-food industry. With so many unfilled restaurant jobs across North America and turnover rates at an all-time high, the introduction of robot chefs may be seen to some as a much-needed service. Also, while the robot is working the back of house, patrons will still have front-facing human customer service.

Photos courtesy of Miso Robotics

The Perfect Pastry Butter Hack, Plus 9 Golden Baking Rules to Always Follow

The weather is turning, the days are growing longer, and creativity is at an all-time high. And with so many fresh springtime ingredients ready to be transformed, who wouldn’t want to hop in the kitchen and put that extra creativity to good use? Whether you’re baking up some fresh cookies or homemade butter tarts to cheer up friends, following an easy chocolate cake recipe for a special occasion, or kneading a loaf of crusty bread to go with that seasonal salad for dinner, there are a few golden baking rules you’ll want to follow the next time you’re getting your batter on.

But First—The Perfect Pastry Butter Hack

Cubed butter in a bowl

Whether you’re a seasoned baker like those on The Big Bake or someone who’s just beginning to dabble in the world of all-butter pie crusts, short crust pastry, puff pastry and other offerings, getting your butter to that perfect consistency and temperature can make or break your bake. If you’re working on a pastry in which you need air pockets between the layers to rise up in order to create those fabulous flakes, freeze the amount of butter you need for your recipe beforehand. Then, rather than cubing or cutting it and pinching it into your flour, use your cheese grater to grate the butter directly in. The result is an easier dough to work with, since the grated butter is much more forgiving.

But wait—what if you actually need room temperature butter for your recipe, and your butter is in the fridge or freezer? You should still grate it. Doing so increases the surface area, allowing your beurre to warm up and soften quickly. In other words, a grater is the perfect tool to hack all kinds of buttery bakes. And now onto the other golden rules of baking…

Related: Brown Butter Recipes You Won’t Be Able to Resist

Always Read Over Your Entire Recipe Before You Start

Flat lay of cookbook and coffee

This rule applies to all kinds of cooking and baking, but to baking in particular where exact measurements are required and substitutions can throw off your whole game. Read over your recipe from start to finish so that you know exactly how much of each ingredient you need. But don’t just read over the ingredient list—have a good look at the method too. It can be easy to miss simple steps like resting time, sifted flour versus poured flour, or creaming your butter and sugar before mixing. With that last step for example, creaming your butter and sugar together beats air into the butter and helps the sugar to hold that air, giving your baked goods structure. If you just mix or pour butter and sugar in without adding that vital step, you could end up with a dense, flat product.

See More: Flour 101 – Your Guide to Baking

Remember the Quality of Your Ingredients Matters

Flat lay of baking ingredients including nuts, sugars and butter

When you’re shopping for a special recipe, the quality of ingredients will help dictate the quality of your final product. Sure, you can grab artificial vanilla extract, but will it taste the same as the real stuff? Of course not. The same can be said for the type of chocolate, nuts, maple syrup and honey you use—fresh, good quality ingredients will always transform your bake. Butter is another big one. In France, some of the world’s top pastry chefs only use butter that’s high in milk fat—at least 82 per cent. In Canada, our butter is typically only churned to 80 per cent milk fat, and that two per cent drop makes a world of difference. If you really want to create the flakiest of pastries and crispiest of cookies, grab Gay Lea’s new Bakers Gold butter, which is churned to an impressive, chef-grade, 84 per cent milk fat.

Never Overbeat Batter

A stand mixer or even the handheld variety can be a wrist saver for sure, but when you’re talking about mixing together ingredients for a bake there’s a slippery slope. More often than not recipes for baked goods always come with the disclaimer, “don’t overmix.” And for good reason. When you overmix cakes, cookies, muffins, bread or even pancakes you run the risk of injecting too much air into the batter and developing extra gluten. While some gluten is key when it comes to chewy baked goods, too much of it will just make your offerings gummy and dense. In other words, when a recipe says “mix until just combined,” take the step seriously and don’t walk away from a mixer that’s having a party in the mixing bowl.

Related: Harry Eastwood’s Healthy Baking Substitutes

Stop Confusing Wax Paper and Parchment Paper

Blueberry cookies on way paper with fresh flowers and ingredients

Hands up if you’ve charred a recipe or two by accidentally putting wax paper instead of parchment paper in the oven. Baking with wax paper is never really advisable. The stuff is water-resistant, which means it’s great to lay down for cool things when you don’t want them to stick, but it’s definitely not heat-resistant. A good rule of thumb is to remember that for anything cold, you want wax paper. And for anything hot you want parchment paper, which is typically safe in the oven up to 450°F. (But check your packaging.) If you have both and you keep confusing them however, maybe consider investing in a silicon mat or liners. Depending on the brand they’re great for all things hot and cold, and they wash up easily in your sink to cut down on waste, too.

Always Blind-Bake Pie Crusts

Blind baked pie crust with raw ingredients nearby on the table

No, you don’t need a blindfold to pull off the best pie crust of your life. Instead, all you need is a blind bake and some high quality butter, like the aforementioned high milk-fat butter that is Gay Lea’s new Bakers Gold butter. Blind baking means that you bake the crust in full before putting in any kind of filling, so that you know the crust is cooked all the way through. Otherwise you run the risk of adding filling to an uncooked crust and creating a soggy mess. What’s the other benefit of blind baking a pie crust with a butter that’s high in milk fat? Higher butterfat means less water and a softer texture, resulting in butter that easily melts into those pastry layers. There’s nothing like the flavourful, flaky crust that you get as a result. One bite can basically transport you back into your grandmother’s kitchen, where your mouth waters in anticipation of that freshly baked pie sitting in the windowsill.

See More: The Best Summer Pies and Tarts

Don’t Substitute Baking Powder for Baking Soda

…and vice versa. Although it’s easy to confuse baking powder with baking soda, they each do different things in the chemistry that is baking. Baking soda, AKA the one some people keep in the fridge to help deodorize all of those food smells, is sodium bicarbonate. In order for sodium bicarbonate to activate and help your baked goods rise, it needs an acid (brown sugar, lemon, vinegar, chocolate etc.) and a liquid. Baking powder, however, is baking soda that already has an acid (cream of tartar), and sometimes a bit of corn starch. In order to activate its equally awesome rising properties, all you need is a liquid.

Browning Butter is a Baking Superpower

Would you consider this one a rule, or a hack? Either way, nothing beats the deep, rich flavour of browned butter—especially in baking. Brown butter cookies, brown butter brownies… even a cake with brown butter frosting is enough to make you hungry. If you want to execute perfectly browned butter for use in your baked goods, slowly melt it in a pan over medium heat. You want even heat distribution so that the butter cooks evenly, but be sure to constantly stir it so that it doesn’t burn (brown butter can turn to burnt butter before you can say “browning burnt butter” three times fast). When the butter is a nice brown hue and the edges begin to sizzle and foam, you’re ready to remove it from the heat. All in all, the entire process should only take about 5-8 minutes, but it makes a huge difference in your final flavour profile.

Related: Anna Olson’s Guide to Buttercream Icing

Chill Your Cookie Dough Before Baking

Chocolate chip cookies baking on a baking sheet

If you’re going through all of that effort to make cookies from scratch, don’t you want to make the best possible batch? Of course you do! So if you aren’t already chilling your cookie dough before baking it, we have to ask, why not? As a general rule of thumb, once your dough has come together you should chill it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes so that the butter can harden again. That way the butter doesn’t disperse too quickly and flatten out the cookie. If you find it tough to work with chilled dough, scoop out your balls beforehand and then chill them on a baking sheet in the fridge. Or, flash-freeze them in the freezer, throw them into a freezer-friendly bag, and bake them up anytime you want fresh cookies.

Chilling cookie dough is a golden rule to be sure, but there are exceptions. If you’re going for a thin cookie that spreads out or you have a delicate dough like macron or madeleine, those are the instances where you’ll want to bake your cookies at room temperature instead.

Weigh Your Ingredients Whenever You Can

Recipes come in all kinds of measurements, but when it comes to baking, many of the pros prefer weighing their ingredients as opposed to counting cups and tablespoons. One reason is that a recipe is easier to half or double when you’re talking about weight over volume. But more importantly, there is less room for error when you’re using a kitchen scale versus the human eye. Baking is an exact science. And while there’s tons of room for creativity and innovation, the science at the base of those recipes remains the same. Whenever you have the opportunity to weigh your ingredients definitely do so, because the better you can get at precise ingredient measurements, the better those buttery baked goods will wind up tasting.

Watch The Big Bake Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Watch and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

Photos courtesy of Unsplash.

Anna Olson Chocolate Recipes for Every Skill Level

Anna Olson’s Chocolate Recipes for Every Skill Level: Easy to Advanced

Has Great Chocolate Showdown inspired you to try out some new skills in your kitchen? Not all chocolate recipes are created equal, so we asked Canada’s most beloved baker and Great Chocolate Showdown host Anna Olson to help us break down which of her recipes would be best suited to your skills.

Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned pro, here are Anna Olson’s best chocolate recipes for bakers of all levels.

Related: Expert Chocolate Techniques to Master Now

Easy Chocolate Recipes for Baking Beginners

If you’re not sure where to start your chocolate baking journey, look no further than this classic bake — cookies. “Chocolate chip cookies are a great basic because it gets you into the chocolate world,” recommended Anna.

Anna Olson's classic chocolate chip cookies cooling on a wooden trayGet the recipe for Anna Olson’s Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

For a serious sweet tooth, fudgy brownies are another great option for new home bakers, and as a bonus, they use items you probably already have in your kitchen. “Brownies take minimal equipment. If you’ve got a pot, a pan, and a whisk, you can make brownies,” said Anna.

See More: Anna Olson’s Top Baking Tools

Anna Olson's fudge brownies studded with a pecanGet the recipe for Anna Olson’s Fudge Brownies

Intermediate Chocolate Recipes if You Have a Few Baking Skills Under Your Belt

For home bakers who have the basic chocolate skills down and want to give themselves a challenge, Anna provided some delightful options.

“You can get into fun things like chocolate crinkle cookies, a good, rich chocolate cake, a flourless chocolate torte, or vegan chocolate cupcakes with fudge frosting,” Anna shared.

Anna Olson's 6-layer chocolate fudge cake with one slice on a plateGet the recipe for Anna Olson’s Chocolate Fudge Cake

Advanced Chocolate Recipes for Baking Masters

If you’re ready to face the ultimate home baking challenge and show off your chocolate technique, Anna had a couple of ideas.

“I have a delicious chocolate mousse cake: chocolate cake, chocolate mousse, and it’s got a dark chocolate mirror glaze, which is really hot right now,” she divulged.

Related: Cynthia Stroud’s Expert Decorating Tips

A slice of Anna Olson's rich chocolate mousse cakeGet the recipe for Anna Olson’s Rich Chocolate Mousse Cake

“[My] chocolate souffle is another very challenging recipe,” she also shared. “It takes confidence, and you have to feel positive that you know how to get it just right.”

Anna Olson's chocolate souffle in a ramekinGet the recipe for Anna Olson’s Chocolate Souffles with Salted Caramel Sauce

Tune into Great Chocolate Showdown on Mondays at 10 p.m. ET/PT. Watch and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription

5 Simple Olive Oil Pasta Sauces That Will Transform Your Dinner

While a high-quality bottle of olive oil can carry a hefty price tag, investing in a beautiful and pure variety will allow you to make quick and simple pastas that are not only delicious, but require minimal ingredients. Because a true olive oil demands less heat and cook time, it’s the ideal solution to whip up an impressive dinner. No matter where in the Mediterranean it was produced, choose an extra-virgin olive oil that carries fruity notes and has a peppery finish. Then, use it in one of these five satisfying sauces.

Five Olive-Oil Based Pasta Sauce Recipes:

 

1. Caramelized Mushroom Sauce

Cook ribbon cut pasta, such as tagliatelle, in a large pot of well-salted boiling water. Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add chopped, mixed mushrooms to the dry pan and cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms have released their moisture and are golden-brown. Reduce heat to medium. Generously drizzle mushrooms with extra-virgin olive oil. Stir in a thinly sliced garlic clove and continue cooking until garlic is soft. Add pasta, then freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley. Toss until pasta is well coated.

wild mushroom fettucini pasta in white bowl on marble table

Get the recipe for Wild Mushroom Fettuccini with Spruce Tip Pesto

2. Fresh Breadcrumb Pasta

Cook long-cut pasta, such as bucatini, in a large pot of well-salted, boiling water. Heat a large frying pan over medium-high. Add fresh breadcrumbs and cook, stirring often, until lightly toasted. Transfer to a plate. Generously drizzle extra-virgin olive oil into same pan and set over medium heat. Add three thinly sliced shallots and cook, stirring often, until soft. Stir in roughly chopped green olives and fresh thyme leaves until warmed through. Add pasta and breadcrumbs. Toss until well coated.

3. Classic Parmesan Sauce

Cook short-cut pasta, such as penne, in a large pot of well-salted boiling water. Reserve a splash of cooking water. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add a generous drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, then two minced garlic cloves. Cook, stirring often, until garlic is soft. Add pasta, along with a large handful of grated Parmesan cheese and reserved cooking water, tossing until mixture is creamy. Season generously with freshly cracked black pepper.

spaghetti pasta in skillet dressed in tomato sauce, with cauliflower, Parmesan cheese, tomatoes, olives and torn basil.

Get the recipe for Vegetarian Cauliflower Puttanesca

4. Capers and Basil Pasta

Cook decorative-cut pasta, such as orecchiette, in a large pot of well-salted boiling water. Heat a large frying pan over medium-low. Add a generous drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, then two finely chopped anchovies. Cook, stirring often, until fragrant. Stir in a handful of chopped, drained capers and continue cooking until slightly crisp. Add pasta, then freshly chopped basil. Toss until pasta is well coated.

Pasta salad in clear bowl with fusilli, cucumber, parsley and tomatoes.

Get the recipe for 15-Minute Gluten-Free Tabbouleh Pasta Salad

5. Sundried Tomato Pesto

Cook short-cut pasta, such as rigatoni, in a large pot of well-salted boiling water. Add oil-packed sundried tomatoes, drained, with toasted slivered almonds, one garlic clove and a handful of grated Parmesan to a food processor until finely chopped. With the motor running, slowly pour extra-virgin olive oil until mixture is smooth. Season with salt and freshly cracked pepper. Toss with pasta.

Looking for more delicious recipes? See here for our best-ever pasta recipes for easy dinners.

Published February 12, 2016, Updated April 2, 2021

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

a hard-boiled egg cut in half on a while background with salt and pepper shaken on top

How to Make Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs (Plus Three Easy Recipes!)

Eggs are a must-stock ingredient, whether you’re meal planning for breakfast, lunch or dinner. This humble, versatile food offers limitless possibilities — be it poached, fried, soft or hard. With that said, it can test even the most experienced chef’s patience when it comes to making the perfect hard-boiled egg. What’s the secret? Turns out, all you need are the four simple steps below.

Master the art of how to make hard-boiled eggs and then whip up these three egg-cellent recipes that’ll become household staples in no time. Get crackin’!

Related: The Best Way to Prepare Eggs Around the World, From France to Japan

perfect hard-boiled egg cut in half with pepper

How to Make Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs

●  Fill a pot with enough water to cover eggs by about 2 inches.
●  Bring water to a boil.
●  Once boiled, remove from heat, cover pot and let them sit for 10 minutes.
●  Remove eggs from hot water and place in an ice water bath for a few minutes.

Spoiler alert: You can skip the stovetop option and try Instant Pot Hard-Boiled Eggs and Air Fryer Hard-Boiled Eggs instead.

Related: How to Cook Eggs Perfectly Every Single Time

Rabokki/Tteokbokki (Spicy Ramen and Rice Cake)

When we think of hard-boiled eggs, a comforting bowl of ramen is one of the first recipes that come to mind. After all, there’s nothing quite like a sliced egg perched on top of a steaming bowl of noodles, meat and vegetables to really satisfy our hunger pangs.

If you’re looking to elevate your ramen game, consider this hearty tteokbokki/rabokki recipe inspired by a classic Korean street food. For the uninitiated, tteokbokki is a spicy rice cake dish while rabokki refers to traditional ramen noodles. Pair the two together and you’re in for a treat — just don’t forget to top it all off with a hard-boiled or (or two).

Get the recipe for Rabokki/Tteokbokki (Spicy Ramen and Rice Cake)

Deviled Eggs

We love options as much as the next person, so the next time you’re craving a satisfying bite of deviled eggs, consider whipping up multiple batches. Think: pickles and capers, wasabi and ginger and sesame carrot for a spin of the classic recipe. You can thank us later.

Get the recipe for Valerie Bertinelli’s Deviled Eggs, 3 Ways

Classic Cobb Mason Jar Salad

Portable, make-ahead meals are the stuff dreams are made of — and this adorable mason jar salad is the perfect recipe to fill your belly with hearty chunks of cooked ham, crispy bacon, hard-boiled egg, tomato, avocado and crumbled blue cheese.

Get the recipe for Classic Cobb Mason Jar Salad

Want more how-tos? We give you the lowdown on how to make apple juice and grow fall vegetables.

Feature image courtesy of Pexels

The Top 5 Kitchen Utensils Every Home Cook Needs

An equipped kitchen is incredibly important for any home cook. Imagine baking a cake without mixing bowls or chopping veggies for a stir-fry without a knife. Whether you’re moving into a new home and need to stock your kitchen or you’ve been living with an ill-equipped cooking space for years – now is the time to take charge! While there are many cooking tools and equipment you can buy, here is a list of the top five utensils every kitchen needs.

Related: Do You Really Need an Air Fryer? (And 5 Other Kitchen Essentials You’ve Been Eyeing)

wooden-spoons-in-mug

1. Chef’s Knife

I’m not just talking about any old chef’s knife, I mean a good-quality one. Trust me, this is one tool that is worth the investment. A knife is the most used utensil in the kitchen, and having a sharp knife that properly slices, dices and chops is a key component for cooking. Higher-quality sharp knives are actually safer than dull, cheap varieties because they’re less likely to slip and cut you. A paring knife is also a great and inexpensive investment. It’s very sharp and great for chopping smaller veggies and fruit.

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: ZELITE INFINITY Chef Knife 8 Inch, Amazon, $190.

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Mercer Culinary 3.5-Inch Forged Paring Knife, Amazon, $31.

Related: Top 5 Kitchen Knives Every Home Cook Should Own

2. Mixing Bowls

Mixing bowls are like your kitchen’s hands. You use them for just about anything, from storing to cooking to baking and everything in between. Having varying sizes is important because you will likely need a small, medium and large bowl depending on what you’re making. If you have a big family or often make large quantities of food, I highly recommend purchasing an extra-large bowl. I personally love stainless-steel, but any variety will work. If you tend to store food in your bowls, consider purchasing silicon lids: they’re reusable and easy to clean!

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Luvan Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls with Lids, Set of 5, Amazon, $28.

3. Cutting Boards

A kitchen is not complete without cutting boards. Where are you going to chop your onions – on the counter? I don’t think so! Similar to mixing bowls, having varying sizes is important for any home cook. It’s also great to get a variety of materials such as wood, plastic or glass. Some people love to leave out a large all-purpose cutting board on their countertops, too.  It’s a good idea to have designated cutting boards for meat and veggies/fruit to prevent any cross-contamination.

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Home Organics Bamboo Cutting Boards, Amazon, $20.

Related: Your Ultimate Guide to Cooking and Baking Conversions

4. Wooden Spoon & Spatula

A home cook’s kitchen is not complete without spoons and spatulas! How are you going to mix your batter, sauté your onions or scrape your leftovers without them? A wooden spoon is a great all-purpose cooking utensil; it doesn’t scratch pots and pans, which makes it safe for frying and sautéing. It’s also a great baking utensil perfect for mixing and scraping. A spatula carries out many of the same tasks as a wooden spoon, especially if you get a silicone one. Spatulas are great for lifting and flipping. Get a spatula with a thin front edge rather than a thicker one so that it easily slides under food.

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: 6-Piece Natural Teak Kitchen Utensil Set, Amazon, $35.

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: KitchenAid Silicone Mixer Spatula, Amazon, $24.

5. Measuring Cups and Spoons

It doesn’t matter if you’re baking or cooking, measuring out flours, grains, spices, sweeteners, vinegars and oils is important for crafting a delicious dish. Eyeballing when cooking is a wonderful skill to have; however, sometimes it’s important to be precise with the amounts you’re putting into your dish. Measuring cups and spoons will give you the precision you need (although some baking does require a scale) and you won’t have to worry if you added way too much of one ingredient. No one wants a meal that is overly spiced or seasoned.

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: U-Taste 10-Piece Stainless Steel Measuring Cups and Spoons Set, Amazon, $35.

Looking for more tips? Learn how to organize your Tupperware drawer, plus the cooking “rules” you should actually be breaking.

All products featured on Food Network Canada are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy through links in this article, we may earn an affiliate commission.

We Tested 4 Popular Canadian Meal Delivery Kits. Here’s How They Compared

I have a confession to make: When it comes to cooking, I have a love/hate relationship with the entire process. In theory, I love the idea of whipping up a home-cooked meal – the gathering of fresh ingredients, discovering new recipes and enjoying the scrumptious finished product. More often than not, however, it’s an often harried battle wherein my husband and I arrive home late from work and we’re just looking for the shortest, fastest route to getting food on the table.

Many of my friends swear by meal delivery services, referring to them as complete game-changers that ultimately expanded their recipe repertoires and drastically cut down the amount of time spent sweating over the stovetop. Perhaps this was the solution I was looking for, even if only on weeknights when time was short and my patience was thin.

Related: Refrigerator Rules: How Long Do Leftovers Last?

If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, meal delivery kits are essentially boxes of raw ingredients with easy-to-follow recipes that typically feed up to four people. You don’t have to be home to receive the box; they can be left on your doorstep or at your condo’s front desk, since they’re stocked with reusable ice packs. Each recipe and its wealth of ingredients are individually packaged in their own brown paper bags and come with printed card stock with all the relevant directions and health information. In an effort to reduce the food waste that accumulates from the typical family meal, these services provide their ingredients in pre-measured amounts – although it often results in a lot of packaging. (Note: pantry staples, such as olive oil, salt and pepper, are not included.)

So, I decided to give it a shot, testing out four of the major Canadian companies that provide fresh meal ideas and ingredients to thousands of hungry fans across the country. Here’s how it went.

Hello Fresh

Availability: A 95 per cent delivery reach in Canada, including Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Newfoundland and the Maritimes.

Average price per person: As low as $10.31/serving.

Packaging: With its paper-based packaging, the boxes are made from 100 per cent recyclable and biodegradable cardboard. Even the insulation and ice packs are made of sustainable cardboard and recyclable plastic, respectively. Hello Fresh has also eliminated single-use packaging for any produce with its own natural skin or peel (for example, potatoes, garlic and limes).

Dietary Variety: A diverse selection of recipes that will satisfy both vegetarians and carnivores. In addition, you can customize your Meal Preferences online or via the app by clicking on such options as No Beef Meals, No Fish Meals, No Pork Meals, etc. They’re also the first meal kit service in Canada to partner with Beyond Meat, which was only recently announced this summer.

Convenience: The average meal takes approximately 30 minutes, including prep time, and when ordering online or via the app you can choose from options such as quick family-friendly meals to vegetarian dishes.

Favourite Recipe: One-Pot Mexican Quinoa and Black Beans with Cilantro-Lime Crema

Overall Experience: Each meal comes with a detailed, one-page summary that includes total cooking time, ingredients and thorough instructions that are clear and easy to follow. Although the finished product never looked quite as good as advertised (which is on me: I was never good at plating meals), I don’t have any complaints in the taste department. I was genuinely surprised by how flavourful and tender the dishes were. Although the meals are certainly quick and easy to prep, one thing I discovered was that I was often left with a stack of dirty dishes, as some of the recipes required multiple pots, pans and other kitchen utensils. Incidentally, my favourite meal wound up being a one-pot dish, which made clean-up a breeze. The One-Pot Mexican Quinoa and Black Beans with Cilantro-Lime Crema (say that three times fast!) was so delicious that I could have polished off a second bowl in one sitting. The recipe also did something I previously never thought impossible: It made me fall in love with sour cream. I’d debated whether I should even add the dollop of cilantro-lime crema to the dish, but I wanted to try the recipe in all its glory and I’m so glad I did. This dish was such a hit with both myself and my husband that I’ve actually made it a second time already.

Best For:
● Offering Beyond Meat options
● Customizing your Meal Preferences

Chefs Plate

Availability: Currently delivers in Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, with plans to expand.

Average price per person: As low as $8.99/serving.

Packaging: All packing is 100 per cent recyclable and can be easily broken down once all the ingredients and ice packs are removed from the box. Many of the containers used to house Chefs Plate‘s ingredients are also ideal for leftovers, so don’t be in such a hurry to dispose of them.

Dietary Variety: Each recipe includes a detailed description of ingredients and instructions in a handy booklet with chef’s notes, portion sizes and caloric intake. Chefs Plate also offers gluten-free and dairy-free options, although they aren’t available every week. You can edit your Taste Preferences profile online or via the app to default to recipes that don’t include meat or fish, for example.

Convenience: For those with hectic work weeks, the fact that Chefs Plate is currently the only meal delivery service that offers an option for 15-minute meals will be vastly appealing to many.

Favourite Recipe: Beef and Black Bean Chili

Overall Experience: Similar to its sister company, Hello Fresh, I found the instructions easy to follow thanks to a clear and concise booklet containing the week’s recipes and ingredient list. I appreciated that the simple and flavourful Beef and Black Bean Chili meal (my favourite of the bunch) provided a handy lunch option made from the leftovers, including the additional provision of six soft shell tacos that helps transform the recipe from beef chili to beef taquitos. I particularly enjoyed the seasoning that came with the meal and appreciated that it listed all the spice blends on the packaging so I knew what it contained. Similar to the other meal kit delivery services, however, I found that there were more dishes to wash afterward than was the norm in our household (although, when cooking for myself and my husband, I typically opt for one-pot or sheet pan meals because I hate washing dishes). I appreciated the wide selection of meals to choose from and was surprised by how fresh the ingredients were when I reached into their bags.

Best For:
● Offering dairy-free and gluten-free options
● Providing 15-minute meal selections for hectic weeknights

GoodFood

Availability: Currently delivers in Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia and the Maritimes.

Average price per person: As low as $5.85/serving.

Packaging: The GoodFood cardboard boxes, insulation liners, bags, bottles and baskets are all 100 per cent recyclable. Tip: Use the ice packs to keep food cool during a family picnic. My freezer is now fully stocked with them.

Dietary Variety: Choose your weekly meals from a variety of categories such as Clean15 (low-carb) and Vegetarian.

Convenience: The average meal takes approximately 30 minutes to whip up, while those looking to incorporate more smoothies in their daily routine will be thrilled to discover that GoodFood offers fresh ready-to-blend Breakfast Smoothies (starting at $4.99/each) that can easily be stored in the freezer.

Smoothies: Initially, when I learned that GoodFood had recently introduced a series of ready-to-blend smoothies, I scoffed a little. Who can’t chop a few fruits and veggies and toss them into a blender? Little did I know how much easier mornings could be when all I had to do was reach into the freezer, dump the contents of the smoothie into the blender, add a little milk and hit the Power button. In addition, each delivery comes with easy-to-clean reusable straws. Members can choose from 16 original recipes chock-full of superfood chunks and farm-frozen fruits and veggies. I also appreciated that GoodFood included ingredients I typically wouldn’t have on hand at home (acai, hemp, maca, goji, etc.), making for an even sweeter smoothie experience. My husband, in particular, was obsessed with them – he wasn’t much of a smoothie drinker before this experience so I can thank GoodFood for his newfound love.

Favourite Recipe: Butter-Poached Lobster Fra Diavolo over Fresh Fettuccine with Pine Nut-Basil Gremolata

Overall Experience: This rich, buttery pasta dish was just the type of carb overload I needed on the night I decided to prep it. I was expecting a flimsy lobster portion given how pricey the shellfish can be, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that the meaty chunks were as plentiful as they were flavourful. I also appreciated that the Fra Diavolo spice blend had a list of its ingredients. Again, clean-up was a bit more chaotic than I’d like, but nothing quite beats the feeling of being able to simply reach into your fridge for one of those brown paper bags with everything you could possibly need for a well-balanced meal.

Best For:
● Those who want to incorporate more smoothies in their diet
● Introducing more Clean15 (low-carb) meals to your routine

Cook It

Availability: This Montreal-based company is currently only available in Quebec and Ontario but it’s looking to expand. All packaging and instructions come in both French and English.

Average price per person: As low as $7.89.

Packaging: All the ingredients come inside a chilled, 100 per cent recyclable and reusable cardboard box. Of all the companies I tested, Cook It had the most manageable box in terms of size (the majority are pretty bulky and I don’t quite have the wingspan to carry them comfortably) and was the easiest to break down and discard.

Dietary Variety: Members can choose from a diverse selection of meat and vegetarian options.

Convenience: There are a couple of unique features here. Unlike the other meal delivery services I tested, Cook It offers a Pantry section on their website where customers can order local products to add to their box, such as smoothies, milk or granola bars – which is ideal if you’re looking to get in a little grocery shopping as well. They also offer a Ready-to-Eat selection each week that allows you to select from cooked meals that are ready to go once you’ve popped them in the oven or microwave for five minutes.

Favourite Recipe: Curry-Spiced Chicken and Peach Salad

Overall Experience: These were probably the simplest recipes of all the meal delivery kits I tried, both in terms of easy-to-follow instructions and minimal ingredients. The Curry-Spiced Chicken and Peach Salad was a lot easier to prep than I first anticipated and it was savoury and refreshing simultaneously. In fact, all the meals were consistently delicious, including the ready-to-eat beef lasagna that I just needed to heat up in the microwave. I’m leery of pre-cooked packaged meals because I tend to associate it with awful plane food, but the lasagna tasted homemade – my husband, who arrived home late that night, didn’t even realize it wasn’t freshly-prepped. (Airlines might want to consider hiring Cook It to prep their in-flight meals.) In addition, because the recipes I received were so low-maintenance, it also meant the least amount of clean-up afterward, compared to the other companies.

Best For:
● Offering a Pantry section and a selection of ready-to-eat meals
● The most manageable boxes in terms of size and break-down

Final Verdict

There are plenty of pros when it comes to trying out a meal delivery service. It’s ideal for people short on time, who hate meal planning or dread making regular trips to the grocery store. An added bonus is that it truly does help cut down on food waste as everything is so expertly measured out in advance that nothing gets left behind. I loved being able to reach into my fridge each night, pull out a brown paper bag and know that everything I could possibly need for my meal was all in one place.

At the same time, things start to add up and it’s likely going to be more costly overall to rely on meal delivery kits (unless you’re not planning on doing it every single week). Also, be prepared for more of a clean-up than you might be accustomed to and lots (and lots!) of boxes and recyclable materials to take out to your bins.

Related: Here’s How a Nutritionist Meal Preps Every Sunday

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

Our Tupperware drawers used to stress us out. Seriously. Just opening them up and seeing the chaos that lurked inside was enough for us to toss leftover food away instead of packing it up — it was so wasteful, we know! The thought of spending more than 10 minutes in an archeological dig to find a matching top and bottom was too much of a feat. It’s like trying to find a matching pair of socks while sifting through an enormous pile of clothes in the dryer: it’s frustrating, it wastes time and there are far better things to be doing. So, we came up with a system that now has our Tupperware drawers looking glorious. Now we proudly package up leftovers anytime, looking at the orderly drawers with awe and admiration. This system will change your life. OK, maybe it won’t change your life, but it will change the function of your kitchen, which will inevitably make you calmer and a little bit happier.

Step 1: Empty it Out
Take a deep breath and open the drawer. Take every single item out of the drawer: all lids, all containers and any other random objects that might be stashed away in there. Make sure to look behind the drawer to see if any lids or containers have fallen back there. Have a clear space ready to transfer all the items onto, like a section of the countertop, the kitchen table or even a clean space on the floor. This is the messy part.

Step 2: Partner and Purge
Often times food storage container drawers will be filled with mismatched lids and containers that are just a waste of space. Start finding partners by stacking all of the same-sized container bottoms together. Push all the lids to the side and work on just the containers first. You will inevitably have singles of some containers or ones that are incredibly large or small, don’t stack these ones with the others, just place them to the side. Once you’re done, move onto stacking all lids that are the same shape and size and ensure they have a matching bottom container. Simply count the number of bottom containers and matching tops to see if the numbers add up.

Now, for the purge. If you have lids with no matching bottoms or bottoms with no matching lids, recycle those, unless you have another use for them. If you have containers that are stained, broken or just plain gross, recycle those too. If you find any other items that are not food storage related, find their appropriate home (that may very well be the garbage).

Step 3: Tame the Lids
In a food storage container drawer, often times it’s the lids that like to go rogue and crazy. It’s time to tame them by placing an elastic band around the stack of ones that are the same shape and size. Then organize them into storage containers that will fit into your drawer. You can find these online or at any kitchen store or dollar store. If your drawer doesn’t have room for the storage containers, you can lay the lids on top of their matching bottoms, but they must be contained with an elastic band.

Related: The Leftover Chicken Recipes You’ll Look Forward to Devouring

Step 4: Clean the Drawer
Before the organized containers can go in, give the drawer a good clean and wipe down. You don’t know what dust, crumbs or yuckiness have been living in there.

Step 5: In With the New
Start putting the stacks of container bottoms into the drawer. If some of the single ones are big, place them in first and stack similarly shaped ones inside of it. Do the same with smaller singles and stack those into similarly shaped larger ones. Make space for the storage containers of lids or place the matching lids on top of their partnered bottoms.

Step 6: Beam With Pride
You did it! You now have a chaos-free Tupperware drawer that is actually user friendly! Aren’t you excited for packing leftovers and snacks now? Your job is not done though — now it’s time to pass this article along to those who desperately need it, you know who they are.

Related: 35 Weeknight Meals That Taste Even Better As Leftovers

Step 7: Maintenance
This is the most important step of them all. Once all your food storage containers are washed and clean, you must put it back properly. Let us repeat. You must put it back properly! That means you don’t just toss it back in the drawer, you stack it where it needs to go. You don’t throw your cutlery all willy-nilly in a drawer, you spend time organizing it into sections. Similarly, you don’t throw your clothes in a drawer, you spend time folding it first. Take this same care and a bit of extra time with your Tupperware drawer. And if you are someone who just throws cutlery in a drawer — we need to talk. Happy organizing!

Ready to use up your leftovers? These fried mashed potato balls and this pasta frittata with salad will help you reinvent the wheel.

Refrigerator Rules: How Long Do Leftovers Last?

Remembering you have leftover chicken, pizza or turkey in the fridge can feel like a siren call to happiness. But depending on the type of food you’re dealing with, figuring out whether or not Wednesday’s dinner can safely be eaten as Friday’s lunch can feel like a guessing game. If you too are Googling “how long do leftovers stay good” and asking everyone you know the same question, here’s the complete run-down.

chicken-thighs-slow-cookerGet the recipe for Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs

Leftover Chicken

Storage conditions will cause the shelf life of cooked chicken to vary from kitchen to kitchen. If your fridge is exceptionally cold and the chicken is sealed properly, it can last for more than four days. However, a good rule of thumb for the average fridge is to toss cooked chicken after four days, which is when bacteria usually begins to grow. If you’re unsure whether or not the chicken is safe to eat, look for any signs of a sour smell or slightly slimy texture. If you find any of these traits, discard the chicken without tasting it first.

Related: Budget-Friendly Pantry Staples You Should Always Have on Hand

Leftover Stuffing and Gravy

While some might argue that half the fun of popular holiday dinners is the leftovers, both stuffing and gravy have a surprisingly short shelf life. Stuffing — which is often soaked through with meat drippings — shouldn’t be consumed after a maximum of two days in the fridge. The same two-day rule should be applied to the gravy, which should always be brought to a rolling boil to properly kill bacteria before serving again. The good news is that freezing excess stuffing and gravy will extend the shelf life for up to four months.

Leftover Pizza

Any food with meat and cheese that’s left unrefrigerated for more than two hours can cause foodborne illness. This includes the half-eaten pizza box you left out just in case “someone” wanted another slice. Place your pizza in the fridge within two hours of preparation and it will last for up to four days, three days being the recommended shelf life of the average slice. After that, bacteria can begin to grow and lead to food poisoning.

cauliflower-lasagnaGet the recipe for Roasted Cauliflower Lasagna

Leftover Lasagna

Cooked lasagna keeps in the refrigerator for up to five days if stored in a tightly sealed container to keep out excess moisture and other contaminants. The best way to determine whether or not lasagna has turned is to look for dried-out noodles or a sour smell emanating from the tomato sauce and cheese.

Related: Surprising Foods That Boost the Immune System

Leftover Pad Thai and Takeout Noodles

Pad Thai and other popular takeout noodle dishes will generally last up to three days in the refrigerator. Due to heavy sauces that can contribute to a soggy texture, these dishes can sometimes taste bad before they actually go bad. To be safe, always reheat noodles with meat and animal products to a temperature of 165°F or higher in order to kill any outstanding bacteria before eating.

Leftover Beef 

Are you reaching for last week’s beef tenderloin leftovers or prime rib leftovers, but not sure if it’s still good to eat? If properly stored, the general rule of thumb for cooked beef is three to four days in the fridge or up to six months in the freezer. If it is giving off a bad smell or it looks slimy or sticky, it’s definitely time to toss that goodbye.

Looking for more info on food safety? Learn These Things You Don’t Know About Expiry Dates.

Published January 5, 2019. Updated April 2, 2020

9 Easy Weekly Meal Plan Ideas That Really Work

Between busy schedules and a family full of picky eaters,  the dinner struggle is real. Finding inspiration for quick, budget-friendly and (at least somewhat) healthy meals can challenge the best of home cooks, never mind those whose plates are already heaped pile-high.

That’s where meal planning becomes a lifesaver—if you can take the time to actually do it. If you don’t have the means to sit down weekly and plot out your favourite fare, we’ve got your back with this simple guide that will help you plan your meals and grocery list, too. These meal ideas and recipes (one for every night of the week, plus two bonus ideas to swap in and out) makes preparing a weekly meal plan  or menu easy while helping you to create dishes that are anything but routine.

How to Start Meal Planning? Try These No-Fail Meal Planning Ideas!

easy-pasta-pumpkin-sausageGet the recipe for Pasta with Pumpkin and Sausage

1. Start with Pasta

Pasta is an affordable universal favourite, so why not make it a weekly thing? Having a designated pasta night is genius because you can essentially pair any kind of pasta with whichever sauce, protein and veggie you feel like, and then you can do something completely different the following week.

Looking for some inspiration other than another plate of spaghetti and meatballs? Try these recipes instead:

Pasta with Pumpkin and Sausage

15-Minute Three-Cheese Spring Pasta with Peas

Sweet Potato and Zucchini Noodle Pasta with Garlic Scapes and Grilled Shrimp 

Anna Olson’s Beef Stroganoff

Ina Garten’s Bow Tie Pasta with Broccoli and Peas

korean-steakGet the recipe for Korean-Style Marinated Skirt Steak

2. You Can’t go Wrong with Protein and Veg 

A  barbecued, baked or even pan-fried cut of meat or fish always pairs well with some steamed or baked veggies. Switch up your marinades and cooking methods for even more variety, and then throw in some rice, lentils or potatoes for a complete meal.

Want some new ideas? Check out these simple-to-prepare recipes:

30-Minute Kimchi Chicken Patties

No-Mess Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas

Slow Cooker Pork Tenderloin With Veggies

The Best *Vegan* Steak Recipe Ever 

10-Minute Blackened Trout With Green Beans

Dill Salmon Burgers With Dairy-Free Tzatziki

chourico-kale-soupGet the recipe for Portuguese Chourico and Kale Soup

3. Soup and Salads are Your Friends

There are so many hearty salads and filling soups out there these days that it’s easy to make either one a meal in itself. If the weather is nice, plan on eating an elevated salad one night of the week with some fancy ingredients to make it interesting. Or, for those weeks when you need something a little more comforting, plan on having a hot soup and some crusty baguette to go with it.

Get started with these recipes:

Immune-Boosting Bone Broth, Chicken and Vegetable Soup

The Pioneer Woman’s Cheesy Cauliflower Soup

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

Marinated Artichoke Salad with Prosciutto and Parmesan

The Pioneer Woman’s Lighter Asian Noodle Salad

Instapot-Pulled-Pork-recipeGet the recipe for Instant Pot Barbecue Pulled Pork Sandwich

4. Make Use of Your Slow Cooker or Instant Pot

Who doesn’t love a meal that you can throw together and then forget about until it’s ready? That’s the beauty of slow cookers and Instant Pots—they do all of the heavy lifting for you. Figure out which night of the week will be your busiest, and then plan to use either tool to help pull dinner together in a breeze.

Need a new Crockpot or pressure cooker recipe? Check out any of these delicious dishes:

Instant Pot Barbecue Pulled Pork Sandwich

Instant Pot Chicken Adobo

Slow Cooker Vegetarian Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas

Slow Cooker Swedish Meatballs

The Pioneer Woman’s Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili

Get the recipe for Slow Cooker Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas

5. Stock up on Easy-to-Assemble Ingredients

Having a well-stocked pantry is always key when it comes to throwing together last-minute dinners, or figuring out how to use up fresh ingredients that have been sitting in your fridge for a few extra days. Make sure to keep things like canned tuna  and lots of stock, tomato sauce and a few protein-filled grains and legumes on hand.

Check out these simple ideas to elevate your basic pantry staples:

The Pioneer Woman’s Classic Tuna Melts

The Pioneer Woman’s Tuna Noodle Casserole

One Can of Chickpeas, Six Different Meals

10-Minute Spicy Sautéed Cauliflower and Chickpea Dish

One-Pot Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato Sauce

How to Make the Perfect Veggie Burger (Plus One Easy Recipe!)

Get the recipe for The Best Homemade Veggie Burger

6. Find Your Freezer Meals

Remember those meals you made a few months ago that have been sitting in your freezer just waiting to be eaten ever since? Well, make use of them already, especially if you know you have an evening coming up where preparing dinner is just going to be another thing to worry about. And if you haven’t gotten on the freezer meal train just yet, you may want to think about starting. Whether it’s doubling up on your next pasta sauce or cobbling together a second lasagna or tray of enchiladas, there are plenty of freezer meals that you can make ahead of time to enjoy on those hectic nights when cooking is the last thing you want to be doing.

Turkey-Burger-Patty-Melts-recipeGet the recipe for Guy Fieri’s Turkey Burger Patty Melts

7. Have an Eat-With-Your-Hands Night

Whether it’s a burger, pizza or taco, it’s always fun to eat with your hands. That’s probably why these are the same fast-food items we tend to usually order throughout the week. If you want to save money, use better ingredients and still have a meal in a matter of minutes for a well-deserved Eat-With-Your-Hands night!

From pizza and tacos to sloppy joes and charcuterie boards, there are plenty of hands-on dishes to choose from here:

The Pioneer Woman’s Sloppy Joes

Mushroom Lovers’ French Bread Pizzas

The Pioneer Woman’s Shrimp Tacos

Guy Fieri’s Turkey Burger Patty Melts

cauliflower-pot-pieGet the recipe for Vegan Shepherd’s Pie with Crispy Cauliflower Crust

8. Make One Night a Meatless Night

We’ve heard of Meatless Mondays, but really any night of the week is a good excuse to go meatless—especially when you incorporate foods like whole grains, quinoa and barley that fill the tummy and soul. Stir yourself up a creamy risotto, build a yummy Buddha bowl with all the things, or stuff an eggplant or squash with some whole grains and nuts. Keep it simple and hearty, and before long, you won’t even remember a time when you didn’t incorporate a meatless dish into your meal planning.

Check out these easy vegan recipes for beginners to get you started.

Leftover-Turkey-Chili-recipeeGet the recipe for Leftover Turkey Chili

9. Plan a Designated Leftover Night

Last but not least, it’s always a great idea to make one night an evening of no planning. That’s right, we’re talking leftovers. Once a week, throw whatever leftovers you have in the fridge on the table for everyone to enjoy, or reimagine them into a creative, brand new dish that requires very little effort.

Check out some of our favourite ways to use up leftovers here:

The Best Leftover Turkey Pizza 

Our Favourite Leftover Chicken Recipes

The Most Genius Ways to Use Leftover Rice

Weeknight Dinners That Taste Even Better as Leftovers

Looking for more meal planning tips? Try these hacks that will help you plan like a pro.

Building a Zero-Waste Kitchen is Easier Than You Think. Here’s How!

Whether you want to be more eco-friendly, save some cash or you simply like having a little organization in your life, there are plenty of reasons to move towards a waste-free kitchen. The good news: even if it sounds a little overwhelming at first, it’s a whole lot simpler to achieve than you’d think. Here’s how to make it happen.

10 Easy Steps to Creating a No-Waste Kitchen 

1. Invest in reusable containers, wraps and bags

One of the easiest ways to eliminate extra waste is to ditch the plastic wrap, single-use containers and plastic bags in favour of reusable containers, Mason jars and beeswax wraps. And, if you’re already taking tote bags or baskets with you to do your shopping, consider upping your game with produce-friendly mesh bags. It’s a pain-free start to making some pretty big changes, and it also sets you up for better long-term food storage and less waste at the grocery store.

2. Buy in bulk and buy whole

For basic goods that you use often, like oats, flour, beans and grains, head to the bulk food store and fill up your own containers. You’ll save money and even potentially extend the shelf life of some of those products by storing them in glass jars. Meanwhile, when it comes to meat, select whole chicken and fish rather than pre-cut trays, and in the produce aisle, don’t fall victim to pre-packed greens, cut beans, or other “handy” items that have already been prepared for you. When you take full items home, you can portion and use them how you wish, plus you can use the leftovers to whip up a nifty vegetable, fish or chicken stock.

Get the recipe for Lentil Mushroom Meatballs

3. Use a meal plan

Is there anything more dangerous than doing your grocery shopping while hungry? That’s when you tend to fill the cart with wants, rather than needs. Fill up before you shop, but also make sure to put together a meal plan and a grocery list first. That way you can avoid overbuying and tossing food that goes bad before you have a chance to use it. Plus, you’re more likely to stick to healthy choices when you plan ahead. Double win.

Related: 10 Ways You’re Destroying the Planet From the Comfort of Your Own Home

4. Make things from scratch

We’ve covered stocks, but there’s a whole world of basic condiments you can also whip up with things you already have in the fridge or pantry. There are tons of recipes for everyday salad dressings out there, mayo is pretty simple to throw together, while ketchup, mustard and barbecue sauce always taste better when they’re made in-house.

Related: 18 Freezer-Friendly Vegan Dinner Ideas to Prep This Week

5. Regrow your vegetable scraps

If your veggie scraps aren’t worth transforming into a stock, why not give them a whole new life by planting them and starting your own veggie garden? If you’ve never done this before, it’s actually shocking how many things you can plant and regrow in the kitchen, while eliminating how much waste you produce. Green onion roots turn into new shoots, pepper seeds will grow into the real deal, and even celery bases get a second life if you plant them. If you’re just starting to explore your green thumb or you need some more inspiration, here are vegetables you can regrow in your kitchen.

6. Get creative with food scraps and compost when necessary

If you don’t compost, now is a good time to start — it’s a smarter alternative to recycling, and if your city doesn’t have a program already in place, then it’s something you can easily start doing at home. Meanwhile, reconsider the food scraps you may currently be tossing into the bin. Broccoli stems make for a delicious slaw, veggie pulp from a juicer can be tossed into a pasta sauce, and carrot tops transform into a surprisingly delicious pesto.

7. Find a second use for your leftovers

Don’t just get creative with your food scraps — get creative with your leftovers before they go bad and you’re forced to toss them. While meal planning definitely helps eliminate unexpected leftovers, if you find yourself with extra food, don’t be discouraged. Your freezer is always your friend in terms of extending an item’s shelf life, or get inspired with some of our ideas for leftover chicken, leftover steak or leftover rice.

Related: 10 Tasty Uses for Leftover Food Scraps to Reduce Food Waste

8. Ditch the coffee pods and tea bags

Coffee pods may be convenient and easy-to-use, but they’re also expensive and they create so much unnecessary waste. If you insist on a single-pod machine, invest in a reusable filter that gives you the further benefit of adjusting the amount of coffee per serving to individual tastes. And when it comes to tea, buy a diffuser and stock the pantry with loose-leaf tea to avoid extra staples, strings, and plastic-coated tea bags being tossed into the rubbish bin.

9. Clean your kitchen the smart way

As you’re ditching disposable kitchen-storage products, consider eliminating unnecessary one-time-use cleaning items like paper towels and sponges, too. Dish towels and clothes can be thrown into the laundry and used over and over again, which might feel like more work, but it also saves you more money in the long-run. And when it comes to cleaning products, consider making your own. A solution of vinegar, baking soda and water will clean most household items.

Related: 12 Ways You Can Organize Your Kitchen Like Marie Kondo

10. Think quality, not quantity

If you get excited by new tools and gadgets, we feel you — it’s always fun to try out a new toy in the kitchen. But, if the goal is to create a waste-free kitchen then sometimes it’s better to ask yourself if you really need an item, or if it just sounds like a cool thing to have. Cast-iron pans will produce quality food for a longer period of time than a Teflon-coated one, for example, while most pressure cookers also double as a slow cooker these days. Garlic presses are handy, but sometimes it’s quicker to just mince a clove or two yourself. Take stock of needs versus wants, and then begin living your best minimalist life from there.

Related: 17 Kitchen Gadgets That’ll Be Extinct by 2025

If you’re looking to take your zero-waste kitchen one step further, find out where to take your used appliances and cabinets (by province) or check out the best zero-waste restaurants and food stores across Canada.

First photo courtesy of Unsplash

5 Ways to Fix Over-Salted Food

Salt can be your best friend in the kitchen. It brings forward and enhances flavours, taking a dish from drab to vibrant with just a pinch. But what do you do when you’ve lovingly tended and seasoned a dish and you realize that you’ve added way too much salt? The panic is real.

Firstly, take a deep breath and put down that box of salt! There are lots of ways to rescue over-salted food.

Related: These Healthy Salt Substitutes Are the Real Deal

Salt

Here are your best options for fixing over-salted food:

 

1. Make More of Your Recipe 

Let’s start with the most obvious: make more. If you have enough ingredients, double the recipe or make more by half, then mix it in with the salty batch a bit at a time until you’ve reached your desired flavour.

2. Bulk up Your Dish

Bulk up the dish with more of any quick-cooking main ingredients you have, such as vegetables from your crisper drawer. I’ll often add handfuls of greens to dishes with too much salt.

3. Add a Starch

Stir in some cooked (unsalted) rice, barley, quinoa, pasta or couscous. These salt-thirsty ingredients will absorb quite a bit from a sauce. Depending on the dish, simmer or bake it with a splash of liquid to meld the flavours and allow the grains to absorb the excess salt. If it’s a soup, curry or other saucy dish, you can add large chunks of potato to soak up excess salt, then discard once tender.

Related: Easy and Tasty Ways to Use Leftover Rice

4. Dilute Your Dish With Liquid

With this option, you just want to be careful not to dilute all the hard-earned flavours as well as the salt, so don’t reach straight for water. Opt instead for unsalted broth, some unsalted diced tomatoes, or a splash of cream or wine. Make sure you’re adding something that will add to the flavour and not dilute the dish.

Related: This is the Right Way to Freeze Fresh Veggies and Herbs

5. Last Step: Re-Season, But Not With Salt!

If you’ve mitigated the saltiness by adding liquids or other ingredients, you’ll likely need to bolster the other seasonings so you don’t end up with a perfectly salted but otherwise underwhelming dish. Ground spices and fresh herbs can be added directly, but things like garlic, onions, ginger and whole spices won’t be very tasty if added raw. Here’s the golden secret: borrow a fantastic cooking trick from India called a “tarka” — aromatics such as onions, spices and garlic are sautéed separately and added to the dish at the last minute. The method is like magic, adding a ton of flavour as a final step.

For more kitchen tips, these are the five utensils every home cook needs. Plus tips on how long leftovers last, and 10+ spices every kitchen needs.

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