Tag Archives: kitchen tips

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

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.

How These Nutritionists Organize Their Fridge Will Change The Way You Grocery Shop

When you have an organized fridge, you’re immediately set up for success – not just to eat healthily, but to save money, cook more, eat consciously and order less takeout. As nutritionists and private chefs, we have seen many fridges in our day; the good, the bad and the ugly. We’ve seen it all: mouldy containers, expired condiments, weeknight leftovers, wilting produce that’s turning all shades of brown, and shelves covered in sticky goo from a spill that was never cleaned up. Are you nodding your head? Can you relate? This was us, we admit that we were those people with messy (and sometimes gross!) fridges, and we’ve managed to come out the other side to share our tips on how to live your best organized fridge life.

1. Do a Weekly Fridge Clean Out
Just as you take your garbage out once a week, do the same with your refrigerator. Make every Thursday fridge clean-out day. This is probably the most important tip we can offer, and although it’s a simple one, it’s not necessarily easy because it takes effort (about 10 minutes worth). We know when items accumulate in the fridge, they’re usually shoved to the back, then forgotten to expire and rot. This is how fridges become gross and crowded, which will deter you from opening it and buying new produce items. Then you’ll end up ordering take out, and you know those leftovers will sit in your fridge… for too long. Do you see the cycle? Just clean your fridge!

Read More: 10 Genius Ways to Make Your Food Last Longer 

2. Store Food Properly to Make it Last
One of the most common problems we hear from our clients is, “our produce always goes bad before we get a chance to use it.” This is not only a waste of money, but also a waste of food and effort from everyone involved in the process (think: farmers, food brokers, shippers, grocery stores, etc). Instead, store food properly. Keep veggies and heartier fruits like apples in the crisper drawers. Herbs and asparagus need to be kept in glasses of water like a bouquet of flowers. Leafy greens and broccoli should be stored in bags to prevent them from wilting. Delicate fruit like berries should be placed on the shelf. Don’t wash produce before putting it in the fridge, this will spoil it faster.

3. Invest in a Whiteboard (it costs $1.50)
Keep a whiteboard on the outside of your fridge that lists what you’ll be eating for the week and which groceries you need to buy. You will be an organizational champion if you do this. You clearly outline your meals so you know what you need to prep and when. You also know which ingredients you need to stock up on. Simply take a picture of the board with your phone and use it as your grocery list. We also organize the board in columns of produce, pantry and other. This will make shopping efficient because your list will already be organized by grocery store aisles/sections.

Read More: 10 Clever Ways to Double Your Fridge Space

4. Become a Prep Master
Take a few hours to prep and chop your produce. This step is annoying, we know, but so worth it. We find it best to do at night. Throw on a great Food Network show to keep you occupied as you chop and slice away. Cooking can sometimes to be a challenging feat, especially when you’re tired and busy, but think about how much easier it is when produce is already prepped. You can throw together a quick stir-fry or roasted veggie dish when cauliflower is already in florets, cabbage is already sliced and potatoes are already cubed.

5. Buy Premade Food
While we bet you enjoy cooking, we also know you’re busy with a life and things to do, so crafting an elaborate meal isn’t always an option. We recommend buying a few items that are premade to keep in your fridge like a cooked chicken, a box of mixed greens that’s ready-to-eat or store-bought soups, stews and chilis. This way you won’t reach for foods that you don’t actually want, and you can put meals together in minutes. We recently bought a cooked chicken, spiralized butternut squash noodles and Thai soup, then threw all these items together in a pot and had a warming, delicious meal with minimal effort.

Read More: Here’s How a Nutritionist Meal Preps Every Sunday

6. Place Ready-to-Eat Food at Eye Level
When you’re desperate for a snack or even meal, the easiest thing to do is visit the pantry and grab something carb-o-licious. But, you don’t really want to do that, do you? Have you ever binged on your kids’ goldfish crackers before? No, me neither, never. Put everything that’s already prepared (leftovers, cut up carrots, hummus, soups, grapes, etc) on the middle shelf, or the shelves that are directly at eye level. Grocery stores do this to entice you to buy certain brands, so do the same with your fridge. Keep them in transparent containers so you can see what’s inside.

7. Be a Minimalist
Do you really need a fridge that’s bursting at the seams? We’ve found that crowded fridges are just filled with accumulated mess. We don’t mean your fridge shouldn’t be stocked, but when you can barely even see what’s inside, that means it’s too full, and usually not with good, edible food. Also, the air cannot circulate around properly. Be a minimalist when it comes to stocking your fridge. Think about how much you really eat, what you really need, and when you will actually use the ingredients you’re buying. To be honest, we often have a close-to-empty fridge with only essentials in it to ensure we eat what we buy and don’t let excess food go to waste.

Read More: How Long Do Leftovers Last? We Break it Down

8. Store Raw Meat, Poultry and Seafood on the Bottom Shelf
This is a food safety measure that’s required by restaurants, and you should adopt it for your fridge at home. Store these items on the bottom shelf and put them in a container or on a tray. This ensures that if there is some spillage, it will not spoil any other items in the fridge. Imagine you kept your raw chicken on the top shelf and the juices accidentally drip down onto your berries, yogurt or lettuce. This cross contamination can make you really sick, so, keep these items low down. We also recommend pushing them to the back of the bottom shelf where the fridge tends to be the coldest.

9. Group Ingredients Based on Similarity
For instance, all of our fermented foods like sauerkraut, pickles, yogurt and miso are on the same shelf beside each other. All of our varieties of mustards and BBQ sauces are grouped together on the doors. So are our Asian style condiments like tamari, Thai curries, sesame oil and fish sauce and our nut/seed butters like peanut butter, almond butter and sunflower butter. This makes cooking more efficient so you don’t need to search the fridge to figure out where all the items are as you’re cooking. It also easily alerts you to when one of those items is running low or empty.

Read More: 4 Things You Didn’t Know About Expiry Dates

10. Store Flours, Nuts & Seeds in the Fridge
Many people will store these items in cupboards or in the pantry, but they’re actually better off in the fridge. Flours, nuts and seeds all have oils that can become sensitive to heat and spoil quickly, so keep these items in bags or containers in the fridge. A crisper drawer or any of the shelves will do the trick. Beware: these items can pick up smells from other ingredients in the fridge, so ensure they’re stored away tightly in their bags/containers.

4 Things You Didn’t Know About Expiry Dates

We’ve all been there, squinting at tiny writing on a milk carton wondering if it is still OK to add it to your morning cereal. Should you trust your nose, or stick to the best before date? The answer isn’t always clear.

Expiry dates might be the finite end of when you can safely consume food, but most of the foods we purchase are only stamped with a best before date, meaning it’s merely a suggested date to guarantee freshness and nutritional value. Here are some things you need to know about expiry dates so you can save money, and avoid tossing away food that’s still perfectly good to eat.

1. Only 5 types of products have actual expiry dates

In Canada, the only products to carry a true expiry date are: infant formula, nutritional supplements, meal replacements, formulated liquid diets and food formulated for low-energy diets sold by pharmacists. Not what most of us envision when it comes to filling up our grocery carts! All other food that stays fresh for 90 days or less are stamped with a best before date, which is just the industry’s way of guaranteeing it will taste as it should and be nutritionally accurate to its label.

milk-pour-over-cereal

2. The best before date only applies to unopened packages

While we usually rely on these dates the most when consuming already purchased foods at home, the best before date is no longer valid once a package is open, meaning the countdown to the last sip of milk isn’t as set in stone as it seems. Since food has a higher chance of being contaminated once the package is opened, the best before date is only an accurate gauge of freshness while you’re strolling the aisle of the grocery store.

hard-boiled-eggs

3. You can still consume food past the best before date

Just because it’s on or past the best before date doesn’t mean you have to throw it out. Milk and yogurt can be safely consumed for up to one week after their best before date. How long are eggs good for? You can test uncooked eggs to see if they are still good by placing them in a glass of water. If the egg floats, it has gone bad; if it sinks, it is good to eat. But make sure to use common sense when consuming any food past their stamped date. Always remember the saying: when in doubt, throw it out.

frozen-shrimp

4. There are still some foods to watch out for

Fresh fish, shellfish and most meat (even deli meats) have a smaller window of opportunity to consume after their best before date, so it’s best not to risk eating these items after that suggested time.

Food waste costs the economy billions of dollars a year, so why not be more mindful of what you’re tossing in the garbage can? It’ll keep extra money in your pocket while helping out the environment.

Want to learn more? Check out: 10 Foods You Can Eat After the Expiry Date.

Your Ultimate Guide to Freezing Food

Using your freezer to preserve make-ahead meals, desserts, snacks and more, can save you money, reduce food waste and turn you into a kitchen saviour on busy weeknights. But you can’t get ahead of the game if you don’t know what can freeze and for how it can be frozen.

Foods high in water, like melons and squash, don’t freeze well, rendering them granular upon defrosting. While others like chicken breasts, cookie dough and chili were seemingly made for the deep freeze. From vegetables and fruit to fully prepared dinners, you’ll want to keep our food freezing guide handy next time you’re in the mood to stockpile.

freezer temperature

Essential Freezing Tips:
– Label foods before freezing with the date and its contents.
– Make at least one meal per week to use up freezer foods.
– Prevent freezer burn by using freezer-friendly bags, not the oftentimes thin plastic the food comes in.
– If freezing soups, stews and other dishes that are high in liquids, remember that when frozen, food expands, so be sure to leave headspace on your container to avoid bursting.
– Keep freezer temperature at -18ºC (0ºF).
– Remove as much air as possible from containers and bags of food to avoid spoilage and freezer burn.
– Defrost your freezer according to manufacturer’s directions at least twice per year.
– When in doubt, throw it out!

Produce:
Vegetables: 6 to 12 months
Fruit: 6 to 12 months
Juices and juice concentrates: 6 to 12 months
Prepared smoothies: 1 month

Produce not to freeze: melons, citrus (juice can be frozen, no whole fruit or segments), apples, pears, lettuce, radishes, alfalfa sprouts, potatoes (unprepared, you can freeze mashed potatoes), eggplant, mashed pumpkin and squash

vegetables-frozen-blocks-beans-peas-broccoli-corn-assorted-spinach

Bread and Grains:
Baked bread: 3 months
Unbaked bread: 1 month
Pizza (homemade): 1 to 2 months
Cooked rice: 3 months
Cooked whole grains: 3 months
Cooked pasta: 3 months

Bread and grains not to freeze: cooked quinoa, uncooked grains, uncooked pasta, cereal, cooked and raw oatmeal

Meat and Poultry:
Beef (steaks): 6 to 12 months
Pork: 4 to 6 months
Lamb: 6 to 12 months
Chicken and Turkey (whole): 12 months
Chicken and Turkey (parts): 6 months
Ground meat and poultry: 3 to 6 months
Sausages: 2 to 3 months
Cooked meat and poultry: 3 months

Meat and Poultry not to freeze: deli meats

Seafood:
Fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines): 3 months
Lean fish (tilapia, halibut): 6 months
Cooked fish: 4 to 6 months
Shellfish: 3 months
Lobster: 12 months
Oysters: 2 to 3 months
Clams: 2 to 3 months
Mussels: 2 to 3 months

Seafood not to freeze: canned fish (in can, you can freeze canned fish outside of can in a separate container up to 3 months)

frozen food in freezer

Dairy and Eggs:
Milk: 3 to 6 months
Butter (unsalted, salted): 8 to 12 months
Margarine: 12 months
Eggs (out of shell): 1 month
Hard cheese: 6 months

Dairy and Eggs not to freeze: whole eggs in shell, hard boiled or cooked eggs, cottage cheese, yogurt, soft cheese (goat cheese, cream cheese), sour cream, buttermilk, kefir

Beverages:
Juices and juice concentrates: 6 to 12 months
Milk: 3 to 6 months
Prepared smoothies: 1 month

Beverages not to freeze: carbonated drinks, soda, beer, wine, coffee (beans and brewed), tea (leaves and brewed), anything in glass bottles

Prepared Meals and Miscellaneous:
Broth: 3 months
Soups: 3 months
Stews: 3 months
Chili: 3 months
Casseroles (without eggs, meat or fish): 2 months
Casseroles (with eggs, meat or fish): 1 month
Frozen TV dinners: 3 to 4 months

Miscellaneous not to freeze: mayonnaise, prepared deli salads (egg salad, tuna salad, macaroni salad), salad dressings

Desserts and Baked Goods:
Cookies (baked): 6 to 8 months
Cookie dough (unbaked): 3 months
Cake (frosted): 1 month
Cake (unfrosted): 3 months
Cheesecake: 6 to 8 months
Pie (unbaked, fruit): 2 to 4 months
Pie (baked, fruit): 6 to 8 months
Pie (baked, pumpkin, sweet potato, pecan): 1 to 2 months
Muffins and quick breads: 6 to 12 months

Desserts and Baked Goods not to freeze: custards, cream pies, pudding, prepared milkshakes

Want to get the most out of your freezer? Watch this video on how to prep food for freezing.

5 Tips for Getting Rid of Cooking Smells

Bacon, fish, onions and fries — all delicious and intoxicating while cooking, but the second the final bite has been swallowed, can quickly turn into stomach-churning odours that need to be nixed, stat. Here are five tips that will help eliminate those pungent cooking smells and ensure your kitchen stays fresh.

888_cooking-smells-in-kitchen

1. Turn it Up
Prevention is the best medicine and this holds true when it comes to fighting the battle of kitchen smells. The simple flip of your stove’s overhead fan will get the majority of smells out before they have time to get cozy. This is one small yet mighty step to ensure last night’s fish and chips aren’t lingering in the air while you sip your morning coffee.

2. Open the Windows
Don’t underestimate the power of fresh air to help eliminate gnarly cooking odours. If you’ve got a small fan, even better — switch it on and set it near the window to help push out the bad and filter in the fresh.

3. Light a Candle
A candle seems like the obvious quick fix, but when attempting to freshen up the kitchen post bacon-frying, it’s important to take a second look at the label. Competing smells can be tricky, so opt for a fresh scent like citrus or even linen. Covering up evidence of a Sunday morning brunch with strong, musky scents or other food smells can be overbearing and defeat the purpose altogether.

4. Simmer Some Spices
The power of cinnamon sticks, cloves and even star anise to get some serious stink out of your kitchen is quite powerful. To get your own inexpensive, DIY smell fixer, simmer a small pot of water or even apple cider on the stove and plop in a mix of the above spices. This concoction is especially intoxicating at this time of year, when warm, spicy scents wrap you up like a blanket when you come in from the crisp air.

5. Clean Up your Act
Cleaning up the dinner dishes right away is a chore many of us would rather save for later. But those grimy, oily pots and pans is a bad smell breeding ground. Cleaning up right away, or even filling pots and pans with hot, soapy water, will stop the smells from continuing to linger and make the eventual dinner clean up that much easier.

How to Properly Clean Out Your Fridge

Does your fridge smell a little suspect? Do you have multiple near-empty mustard jars, half-full relishes, and countless containers of salsa (mild, medium and extra spicy) vying for space with your daily essentials? Is your freezer playing host to baggies filled with meat so freezer-burned you can no longer identify it? If you answered yes to any of these questions, it’s time to clean out your fridge to make room for the good stuff.

cleaning-out-your-fridge

Getting Started

It’s a daunting task, but it must be done. Turn on some lively tunes and kick everyone out of the kitchen.. Have bags or bins for garbage, compost and recycling at the ready. Wear rubber gloves, and possibly a surgical mask.

Turn the temperature control down a few degrees since you’ll have the doors open a lot, and take everything out of the fridge. Everything. We mean it. If your fridge has a drip pan, remove it to clean.

Once all the food is out, remove shelves and racks, and wash them in hot soapy water. Wash all stationary pieces with a soapy cloth or sponge. Don’t use any strong cleaners — food-grade dish soap only. You don’t want to risk poisoning yourself or your family in the name of a clean fridge!

Replace that ancient box of baking soda (you should be changing it every three months) and while you’re at it, use a few tablespoons of the new baking soda and some water to create a paste that can be rubbed all over the inside of your fridge, then rinsed away with a damp cloth for extra odour control and rotten smell eradication.

What to Toss

In the fridge: Toss anything that’s passed its expiration date, but also keep in mind how long something has been open.

Follow these guidelines for food safety:

Ketchup: 6 months
BBQ Sauce: 4 months
Maple Syrup: 12 months
Salsa: 3 days (fresh), 1 month (commercially produced or
jarred)
Mustard: 12 months
Pickles: 1 to 2 weeks (homemade or barrel), 2 months
(commercially produced)
Jam and Jelly: 6 months
Mayonnaise: 2 months

If you have two types of mayonnaise, three types of ketchup and four barbecue sauces, don’t combine one type of condiment into a single bottle. Instead, pick the freshest one and throw away the rest.

When it comes to meats and cheeses, be ruthless. Anything that looks or smells bad has got to go. Also, start storing opened packages in airtight Tupperware containers, rather than closing them half-heatedly with clips and ties. Your food will last longer and your entire fridge will smell better. Plus, containers that can be stacked and labeled are easy to organize.

In the freezer: Follow the directions specific to your freezer for defrosting, if necessary. (Most modern freezers don’t need to be defrosted but will benefit from a good cleaning.)

Then ascribe to these rules when deciding what to keep and what to throw away:

Bacon or Sausage: 1 to 2 months
Ham, Hot Dogs or Cold Cuts: 2 to 3 months
Raw Roasts, Steaks or Chops: 4 to 12 months
Raw Ground Meat: 3 to 4 months
Cooked Meat: 2 to 3 months
Raw, Whole Poultry: 1 to 2 months
Raw Poultry Parts: 9 months
Cooked Poultry: 4 months
Raw, Wild Game: 8 to 12 months

Mangoes

Is This Fruit Ripe? Tricks to Buying the Sweetest Produce

Although it’s easy to spot which fruit is perfectly ripe at a roadside stand in the peak of summer (hello, juicy peaches and oh-so fragrant strawberries!), during the remaining months it can be challenging to figure out if the fruit you’re purchasing is truly at its peak.

While we have seemingly endless options available at the grocery store year-round, it’s not as simple to tell when some fruits are ripe. Here are some easy tips to make sure you are never disappointed when you crack into a beautiful piece of fruit.

orange

Citrus
Since citrus grows in a separate climate from ours, it’s easy to forget that there actually is a season when they’re at their best. Lucky for us, prime citrus season is in the dead of winter, just as we’re so desperately looking for those bright and sunny flavours.
Indulge in blood oranges, pomelos, grapefruit and Meyer lemons from December to March while they’re super sweet and juicy. Look for citrus with tight skin that doesn’t have a lot of give when pressed. If they’re too soft, they could be passed their prime. Always make sure to give them a good sniff. The ripest citrus will be bursting with the scent of their essential oils.

Pineapple

Pineapple
Choosing a ripe pineapple can seem a bit tricky, but they’re actually one of the easiest fruits to tell if they’re ripe — as long as you know what to look for. Counter intuitively, a pineapple can have some green throughout its body and still be perfectly ripe. So take a step back and look at its overall appearance. Its top leaves should be deeply green and not too wilted or browned. and its skin should be tight and only gives slightly when pressed. Most importantly, a fully ripe pineapple will always have super sweet scent, so pick it up by the top and smell the base. Its aroma should be fruity and delicious.

Melons
Unlike oranges and pineapples, not every variety of melon will give off a scent to gauge its ripeness, but luckily there are other simple ways to find out. Look for melons that have consistently even skin, free of any soft spots, bruising or cracks. Smooth melons, such as watermelon, should have a matte finish and lacy melons, such as cantaloupe, should be vibrant in colour underneath their rough, top layer. Regardless of the melon you’re buying, pick it up. It should feel heavy , then give it a gentle knock; a ripe melon will always sound hollow inside.

Mangoes

Mangoes
The best rule of thumb when it comes to purchasing a mango is pretty simple: a soft mango will always be a ripe one. Once you know this rule, it’s easier to look for indicators to make sure the mango isn’t overripe. The skin should be tight and plump, without any shrivelling or discolouration. Take the time to pick it up and smell it by the stem; it should smell sweet and fresh, not alcoholic or sour.

Avocado

Avocados
If you’re shopping on a Sunday and want to have an avocado towards the end of the week, it’s best to buy ones that are under-ripe so it has a few days to reach perfection. If you want to make a bowl of guacamole tonight, look for avocadoes that are so deeply green, they’re almost black and have a slight give when pressed. Be careful if doesn’t feel too soft, an overripe avocado will have a lot of give and feel squishy inside.

How to Cool Down Spicy Food

3 Ways to Cool Down Spicy Food

Sometimes chili peppers are unpredictable. Jalapeños can range from bell pepper sweet to inferno hot, with subtle variations depending on the climate where they were grown and the ripeness of the fruit when it was picked.

You can make a recipe, finding it perfect the first time and inedible the next. Or maybe you just have a heavy hand with the cayenne. In any case, what do you do when you’ve prepared a meal that’s painfully hot to eat?

How to Cool Too Spicy Food

1. Add Dairy.
Capsaicin, the molecule responsible for the burn, is fat-soluble, so water alone won’t wash it away. Your best bet is to incorporate a rich, creamy dairy product. Casein, a protein found in dairy, has a neutralizing effect on capsaicin, so doctor up your your curry with cream, your chili with sour cream, or offer a cooling cucumber-yogurt salad alongside too-spicy meats.

2. Try Texture.
Another trick, offered by the acclaimed food science writer Harold McGee, is to use a rough-textured food to distract your nerves with a different sensation. Try mixing your dish with rice or quinoa, or serving it alongside a particularly tongue-scratchy food, like dry crackers or toasted baguette.

3. Dilute it.
Lastly, you could follow an approach similar to fixing over-salted food. Dilute the spiciness by cooking more of the same dish and mixing the two batches.

Jennifer Pallian is a Vancouver-based food writer and photographer, who shares vibrant recipes on her blog Foodess.

How to Safely Cut a Squash

Autumn has arrived and with it comes a brand new harvest that rivals summers bounty like no other. Squash, for instance, is one of the most versatile vegetables and is at its peak right now. Whether you’re looking to roast it, mash it or even bake with it, there’s a wide range of varieties to choose from, all of which are inexpensive to buy at the farmers market. The downfall? It can be extremely intimidating to tackle the prep. But not to worry — cutting squash is a breeze as long as you have a sharp and sturdy chef’s knife, and a little technique.

I’ve used a dumpling squash here to demonstrate how to safely cut one up, but this method works for any round variety of squash such as acorn, buttercup, kabocha or even pumpkin.

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Step 1: Slice the bottom and top off the squash. This will make a stable surface so you can easily cut the squash in half.

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Step 2: Place the top of the squash cut-side-down and slice it lengthwise in half.

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Step 3: Scoop out the pulp and seeds using a spoon. Added bonus: Save the seeds for later to roast as an easy snack!

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Step 4: Place the squash cut-side down so you have a stable surface to slice.

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Step 5: Cut the squash crosswise into slices. If you’re leaving the squash sliced, cut as thinly or thickly as you’d like. If you’re looking to chop the squash, cut your slices 1-inch thick. Dumpling squash have a tender, edible skin, so you can leave it on, but if you’re using a variety with a thicker skin, use a peeler to remove it.

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Step 6: Lay each slice flat against the cutting board and cut along the curve into 1-inch pieces.

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Step 7: Admire your beautifully cut squash then get cooking!

5 Great Meal-Planning Tips from Chef in Your Ear’s Devin Connell

Restaurateur, mother, Food Network Canada star: Devin Connell knows all about being pressed for time. Here are her meal-planning tips to live by.

We all know the rush: You get home exhausted from work and realize you’ve forgotten about dinner. That means another scrapped-together meal or expensive take-out. It doesn’t have to be this way. Follow this advice from Devin Connell, Toronto-based chef and star of Food Network Canada’s Chef in Your Ear, and you’ll be eating well all week.

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No Rest on Sunday

Spend a little bit of time on the weekend to save a whole lot of time during the week. “It’s just really about committing to spending two or three hours on Sunday to fill your fridge up with the basics, and combine them in interesting and different ways throughout the week.”

Prepare Elements, Not Meals

Here’s how meal planning of ten goes— and dies: Make a big pot of chili on the weekend, portion it out, and eat it all week. The problem? By Wednesday you’re sick of chili. “You don’t have to go the whole way with one thing,” says Connell. “Break your Sunday cook down: roast your proteins; do your veggies; and cook your starches separately, and then you can doctor them each up in different ways as the week goes by. It’s more about assembly during the week as opposed to cooking.”

Versatile Veggies

“A great way to use up veggies is soups. My family eats a lot of roasted root vegetables, so on a Sunday night I’ll roast sweet potatoes, parsnips and butternut squash and serve it with a roast chicken. Then the next day I’ll puree whatever’s left over with a little chicken stock to make a soup that’ll be good for the entire week.

Plan for Everyone

While having kids makes set meal times more important, it also makes them more tricky, as what young kids can (and, really, will) eat doesn’t always excite their food loving parents. “It’s hard when families try to cook multiple meals,” she says. “But it’s also unrealistic to think your two-year-old is going to eat marinated octopus.” Connell has a solution: prepare a basic, kid-friendly version of something that can be tweaked for adult taste buds.

Early Planning for Mornings

While everyone frets over the evening meal, mornings rush by even more frantically. But quality breakfasts are just a few simple steps away. “I make a dry pancake mix—wholewheat flour, ground almonds, the baking powder and all that—and keep it in a big jar I can leave at room temperature and it’s good for a month. In the mornings all I have to do is add eggs and milk, and it’s ready in pretty much as long as it takes to make toast.”

Chef in Your Ear airs Mondays at 10 pm ET. Find out more about this show here.

Get more recipes and entertaining ideas here: The Kit’s Fall Guide

11 Foods That Should Never Be Refrigerated

Call me weird, but I really hate putting away the groceries. There’s never any room in the fridge and I now know why. I’ve been putting foods I don’t need to refrigerate in my already-crowded fridge!

Have a look at the list below (I’m going home and taking out #3, #6, #7 and #9 immediately)!

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1. Honey

No need to put honey in the fridge, it’ll just thicken and crystallize which is really annoying to scoop out but perfectly fine. Honey is all natural so it stays good almost indefinitely in the pantry. In fact, a 1000-year-old jar of honey will be as fresh as the day it was put into that jar.

2. Avocados

Avocados should not be refrigerated until they are ripe. Once ripe, you can put them in the fridge for a week. Best to keep avocados whole, not sliced, to avoid browning that occurs when the flesh is exposed to air. Also if you want them to ripen faster, put them on top of your fridge in a paper bag.

3. Hot sauce

I didn’t know this but you can keep it in the pantry for up to three years!

4. Coffee

The fridge (and the freezer) create condensation which affect the flavour of both ground coffee and coffee beans. It’ll also absorb odours in the fridge. My mom actually uses coffee grounds instead of baking soda for its odour-absorbing powers. Keep coffee in an airtight container in the pantry.

5. Onions

Avoid direct sunlight. Keep them in a cool, dry place but NOT next to your potatoes. When stored together, both deteriorate faster. Moisture in your fridge will turn onions soft and moldy–yuck.

6. Potatoes

Putting them in the fridge affects the flavour and texture (they become gritty) Store in the pantry in paper bags (plastic bags trap moisture and speed decay). Most varieties should last three weeks but not next to the onions (See #5).

7. Bread

Did you know refrigeration will dry your bread out quicker? It’ll also make it tough and less tasty. Unless it’s sliced bread you plan on using in the next few days, keep it in the freezer or the counter.

8. Tomatoes

Tomatoes lose all their flavour in the fridge because the cold stops the ripening process. It also messes with the texture and them mealy and mushy.

9. Melons

You really shouldn’t store any whole melon fruit in the fridge. Once it’s cut though, that’s another story. There’s research that shows refrigerating whole melons decreases the antioxidants – that’s the good stuff you want.

10. Garlic

Store them in a cool, dry and ventilated container to preserve their powerful flavour. Once the head has been broken open, use the cloves within 10 days.

11. Oils

Nut oils (like hazelnut oil or peanut oil) must be refrigerated, but for other types of oil keep them in the pantry. They become cloudy and harden when refrigerated. While this doesn’t do lasting damage, it’s a pain to wait for the oil to warm up before it flows properly again.