Tag Archives: tips

Anna Olson smiles while icing a cupcake with her Anna Olson Kitchen Disposable Icing Bags

Anna Olson’s Top 10 Baking Tools for the Holidays

Holiday baking season is here and having the right tools on hand will help lead you to success. These are my top gadgets to make this holiday season less stressful. Remember, “stressed” spelled backwards is “desserts!”

Related: Anna Olson’s 50 Ultimate Holiday Desserts

1. Offset spatula

This tool becomes an extension of your hand as you use it to lift cookies off of hot trays, loosen cakes delicately from their pans and frost cakes with precision and panache. The spatula I use in Bake is my own. I’ve had it for about 10 years and I’d be lost without it!

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Anna Olson Kitchen Long Offset Spatula,  HBC, $10.

Hands mixing a batter with a black silicone spatula with various baking tools and ingredients laid on the table around the bowl

2. Silicone spatula

I prefer the curved spatulas for effective folding and stirring and for getting every last bit of batter out of a bowl. Silicone is heatproof so it can be used to stir pastry creams and sauces on the stove.

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Allwin Housewares Silicone Spatula 3-Piece Set, Amazon, $12.

3. Oven thermometer

This may sound trivial but a thermometer placed inside your oven is a valuable and inexpensive tool that can save you frustration and prevent spoiled baked treats. You’d be amazed how many ovens don’t sit at the correct temperature the entire time your goods bake. Just because your oven “dings” or displays the temperature doesn’t necessarily mean it is accurate. If you discover your oven temperature is far out of range by 10 °C or more, a repair person can recalibrate it.

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Pecula Oven Thermometre, Amazon, $12.

Related: Anna Olson’s Top 5 Vegan Baking Substitutes

Anna Olson poses in her kitchen while icing a cupcake

4. Disposable piping bags

Gone are the days of fabric piping bags that never quite come clean or that only fit your largest piping tip. Most cake supply and even craft shops will carry disposable piping bags in an assortment of sizes. They can be reused if you wish and are fully recyclable. You can even buy really small ones, which are perfect if you’re hosting a cookie decorating party.

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Anna Olson Kitchen 100-Pack Disposable Icing Bags, HBC, $18.

5. Ice cream scoops

I rely on an assortment of sizes, not just for scooping ice cream. They are great for portioning perfectly consistent cookies and dropping muffin or cupcake batter into tins with less mess.

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Chee Mong Ice Cream Scooper Set, Amazon, $29.

6. Candy thermometer

The world of confectionery and chocolate work requires a precision that only a candy thermometer can offer. The difference between the thread stage and the soft ball stage of boiling sugar is only a few degrees and a candy thermometer takes the guesswork out of it. There are traditional models and also digital probe thermometers – both work equally well. If you have an induction cooktop I recommend the traditional model because the magnetic energy of the induction can interfere with the digital reads.

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Taylor Classic Candy Thermometer, Amazon, $17.

Related: From Easy to Advanced: Anna Olson’s Chocolate Recipes For Every Skill Level

7. Fine rasp

Savoury kitchens use this fine grater for garlic and Parmesan but I value it for finely grated citrus zest, mincing ginger without any fibres, grating nutmeg and for chocolate. Now there are models with larger grates, so you get chocolate curls, not just shavings.

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Starfrit Zester/Grater with Protective Cover, Amazon, $10.

Yellow Citrus Juicer on a marble table with freshly squeezed juice and lemons

 

8. Bar citrus juicer

Lemon, lime and orange juice figure prominently in desserts and I always use freshly squeezed juice. A bar juicer is and fast and convenient way to extract the most juice and it’s easy to clean.

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Chef’n FreshForce Citrus Juicer, Amazon, $33.

9. Measuring tape

This may seem trivial but a fabric measuring tape is immensely handy in a baker’s kitchen. I can verify how thick my dough is as I roll it and I can measure the circumference of a piece of fondant before I lift it to cover a cake. Plus, I can ensure that my squares are all cut to the same size.

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Edtape Measuring Tape, Amazon, $6.

10. Cake wheel

If you are getting serious about baking this will be a tool you’ll want to invest in. A cake wheel spins on its base, making seamless frosting simple and detailed piping less. Professional cast-iron cake wheels can be pricey but there are other more affordable options. You can even purchase a lazy Susan that can function as a cake wheel.

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Anna Olson Kitchen Glass Top Cake Turntable, HBC, $44.

For more festive recipes from Anna Olson, try her Triple Gingerbread Bundt Cake and Hot Chocolate Nanaimo Bars.

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

measured ingredients ready for baking

Your Ultimate Guide to Cooking and Baking Conversions

It is a good time to cook. Thanks to the Internet and more cookbooks than ever, there are countless recipes available to the home cook to choose from. These days you can travel the globe and get a taste of history without leaving your kitchen.

But sometimes a recipe from across the pond or from your grandmother’s recipe collection can leave you scratching your head, wondering how many tablespoons are in a cup. Some countries use imperial measurements, others use the metric system, some use weight as a unit, while others volume. Chances are you don’t often consider how many litres are in a gallon and that’s OK.

Related: What is Bread Flour and 14 Other Quarantine Baking Questions Answered

To help, we’ve created this handy converter chart with some of the most common ingredients and conversions including oz to ml and grams to cups. Bookmark it or print it and stick it on your fridge so you can cook with ease, no matter which measurement system your recipe uses.

Common Baking and Cooking Conversions

Cups Tablespoons Ounces Grams
Butter 1/4 cup 4 Tbsp 2 oz 57g
1/3 cup 5 Tbsp + 1 tsp 2.67 oz 76g
1 cup 16 Tbsp 8 oz 227g
Flour/Sifted 1/4 cup 4 Tbsp 1.06oz/0.95oz 30g/27g
1/3 cup 5 Tbsp + 1 tsp 1.41oz/1.23oz 40g/35g
1/2 cup 8 Tbsp 2.12oz/1.94oz 60g/55g
1 cup 16 Tbsp 4.24oz/3.88oz 120g/110g
Granulated Sugar 1/4 cup 4 Tbsp 1.76oz 50g
1/3 cup 5 Tbsp + 1 tsp 2.29oz 65g
1/2 cup 8 Tbsp 3.5oz 100g
1 cup 16 Tbsp 7oz 200g
Brown Sugar/ Firmly Packed 1/4 cup 4 Tbsp 1.59oz 45g
1/3 cup 5 Tbsp + 1 tsp 2.12oz 60g
1/2 cup 8 Tbsp 3.2oz 90g
1 cup 16 Tbsp 6.4oz 180g
Water 1/4 cup 4 Tbsp 2 oz 57g
1/3 cup 5 Tbsp + 1 tsp 2.67 oz 76g
1/2 cup 8 Tbsp 4 oz 114g
1 cup 16 Tbsp 8 oz 227g

 

6 Common Conversions You Need to Know

1 tablespoon = 3 teaspoons
4 tablespoons = 1/4 cup
1 cup = 250 mL
1 pint = 500 mL
1 quart = 0.95 L
1 gallon = 3.8 L

Common Weight Conversions

1 ounce = 28 g
4 ounces or 1/4 pound =113 g
1/3 pound=150 g
8 ounces or 1/2 pound =230 g
2/3 pound =300 g
12 ounces or 3/4 pound =340 g
1 pound or 16 ounces =450 g
2 pounds= 900 g

Common Metric Conversions

1 teaspoon = 5 mL
1 tablespoon or 1/2 fluid ounce =15 mL
1 fluid ounce or 1/8 cup= 30 mL
1/4 cup or 2 fluid ounces =60 mL
1/3 cup= 80 mL
1/2 cup or 4 fluid ounces=120 mL
2/3 cup=160 mL
3/4 cup or 6 fluid ounces=180 mL
1 cup or 8 fluid ounces or half a pint= 240 mL
2 cups or 1 pint or 16 fluid ounces =475 mL
4 cups or 2 pints or 1 quart = 950 mL
4 quarts or 1 gallon = 3.8 L

Looking for more handy cooking tips? Learn how to make your own butter and buttermilk, how to cook eggs perfectly every time and even five clever ways to fix over-salted food!

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.

crockpot-freezer-meals

How to Prep Slow Cooker Freezer Meals to Get Through the Week

Slow cooker freezer meals are a must for any family and for the budget-savvy home cook. Often referred to as “dump meals” or “dump bags”, what makes it easy, is that you thaw and simply dump the contents of your freezer bag into your Crockpot. Then you let it do its thing as you go about your day. And when it’s dinnertime: your delicious home-cooked meal is ready to devour. This style of cooking awards you some precious time back, and it also happens to be kind to your wallet. Win, win.

To make perfect Crockpot freezer meals, there are a few tips and tricks to getting it just right. You don’t want to end up with a stew that’s way too soupy or vegetables that are mushy and unappetizing. Here’s what you need to know!

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

lentil-soup-crockpot-freezer

Get the Right Meal Prep Equipment

Before you start planning which meal to make, you need the right equipment: a slow cooker, freezer bags, a permanent marker and labels (although these aren’t entirely necessary). We recommend buying name-brand freezer bags that are sturdy. The ones that have the slide lock are the easiest.

Always Label Your Freezer Bag First

Once you’ve decided what you’re going to make, it’s important you label your freezer bags. Do not attempt to label once the food is in, not only will the bags be too hard to write on, but the marker often won’t work, or the label won’t stick because of the moisture released from the ingredients inside.

This surefire labelling method will help you remember what you froze, how long it’s been in your freezer and how to cook it. First label what the meal is, for example: “Chicken Tortilla Soup” or “Turkey Chili” and write down the date you made it. Then label it with ingredients that need to be added before cooking as well as cooking instructions. For example: add 1/2 cup broth before cooking, set on high for 6 hours.

Label it with instructions on how you’re going to serve the meal once it’s ready – so you know which ingredients you need to have on hand before slow-cooking. If it’s a chili, maybe you want to serve it with avocado, fresh cilantro and some grated cheese. If it’s a curry, you might want to serve with toasted coconuts, peanuts and fresh mint. Or if you’re making chicken tortilla soup, you will certainly need to have tortillas on hand to crisp up and top your bowl.

Related: This Clever Trick Will Prevent Freezer Burn for Good (And Major Food Waste)

slow-cooker-prep

Time-Saving Tips for Freezer Meal Prep

Take your time chopping up all ingredients first and prepping the sauce or marinade before packing. It’s best if all prep work is done before for efficiency and for easy clean-up. Usually prepping for slow-cooked meals only takes 15-20 minutes.

Some savvy home-cooks like to make several different freezer meals at once, so they’ll prep four different recipes first, then pack all of the bags and freeze. This will usually take a whole day to do.

Some slow cooker recipes call for sautéing or blanching the veggies, or browning the meat beforehand. We’ve found these steps to be unnecessary. Just toss everything in, uncooked.

How to Pack Freezer Bags

To avoid big spills and messes in the kitchen, stand the bags upright to pack. You can buy special baggy rack holders online, or simply place the bag in a big bowl so it won’t fall over as you’re adding the ingredients.

No matter the meal, you can add the ingredients to the bag in any order. Some people prefer veggies and beans at the very bottom, sauces and marinades in the middle, and meat on top; but, once in the slow cooker, it will all meld together.

When closing up the bags, press them firmly to ensure all the air is released. Then lay the bag flat in the freezer (this allows for easy defrosting, and it doesn’t take up as much of your precious freezer space).

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

crockpot-freezer-packing

Do’s and Don’ts for Slow Cooker Freezer Meals

If you’re making a meat Crockpot meal and your chicken, turkey, lamb, pork or beef is already frozen, don’t defrost it before adding it to your bag. You never want to defrost raw meat and then freeze it again.

Slow-cooked meals tend to release a lot of liquid, especially if you’re cooking lots of veggies. You don’t need to add as much broth or water as you think; otherwise, you’ll end up with a soupy texture and diluted flavour.

Most dairy products need to be added to the slow cooker the day of cooking and shouldn’t be frozen, for example: milk, cream, sour cream and cheese.

If your recipe includes pasta, add it the day-of, don’t freeze beforehand. Pasta tends to get very, very mushy, so unless you’re making a baked ziti, add the pasta 15 minutes before cooking time is up.

Be careful with veggies that get too mushy, like broccoli, asparagus or leafy greens. Add those towards the end of the cook time to preserve some texture. If you don’t mind mushy veggies, then you can add them in with the rest of the ingredients.

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

How to Thaw and Cook Crockpot Freezer Meals

Always thaw the freezer meal first before adding it to the slow cooker… this is important for food safety. You can defrost the freezer bag by placing it in the fridge the night before. The meals tend to store well in the freezer for 3-4 months.

Depending on how much time you have, most meals need to be cooked for 4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low.

The Best Crockpot Freezer Meals to Make

The best meals to make in the slow-cooker are soups, stews, curries, chilis, daals, meatballs, ribs, brisket and roasts. We don’t recommend slow-cooked fish, seafood or pasta dishes.

There you have it: the ins and outs of making Crockpot freezer meals for any weeknight dinner!

Looking for some tasty slow cooker dishes to try? Start with our most popular slow cooker recipes.

Published September 1, 2018, Updated April 11, 2020

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

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

how to freeze cheese

How to Freeze Cheese, Milk and Eggs

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

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

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

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

Related: The Tastiest Ways to Eat Eggs for Dinner

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

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

Related: Our Best Healthy (And Tasty) Smoothie Recipes

How to Freeze Bread and Grains

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

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

Related: Easy and Tasty Ways to Use Leftover Rice

frozen-mixed-berries

How to Freeze Fruit (Like Bananas)

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

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

Related: Brilliant Ways to Use Overripe Bananas

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

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

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

frozen-veggies-in-freezer-bags

How to Freeze Vegetables

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

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

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

How to Freeze Meat and Fish

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

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

How to Freeze Casseroles and Soups

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

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

chocolate-chip-cookie-dough

How to Freeze Baked Goods and Desserts

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

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

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

Preparing and Packing Food for the Freezer

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

• Label all foods with the date you froze them.

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

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

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

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:

Giada De Laurentiis’ Ginger-Soy Chicken Wings

No-Mess Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas

Pork Tenderloin with Chipotle-Maple Mop

Flank Steak with Chimichurri

Bobby Flay’s Korean-Style Marinated Skirt Steak

Baked Fish Packets

Anna Olson’s Horseradish Grill-Roasted Salmon

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

Portuguese Chourico and Kale Soup

Asian Noodle Salad with Sweet Ginger Dressing

Marinated Artichoke Salad with Prosciutto and Parmesan

Grilled Turkey, Brie and Pecan Salad

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

4. Make Use of Your Slow Cooker or Instapot

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 Instapots—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

Alton Brown’s Pressure Cooker Chili

Slow-Cooker Enchiladas Two Ways

Slow Cooker Swedish Meatballs

Slow Cooker Shrimp Boil

Spicy-Shrimp-Fried-RiceGet the recipe for Spicy Shrimp and Pineapple Fried Rice

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, crab or chicken on hand, as well as lots of stock, tomato sauce and a few protein-filled grains and legumes.

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

Crispy Tuna-Cake Sliders with Citrus Slaw

Stuffed Mozza Peppers

Classic Crab Cakes with Pea Puree

One-Pot Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato Sauce

Farmer’s Market Quinoa Salad

Spicy Shrimp and Pineapple Fried Rice

giadas-Lasagna-Rolls Get the recipe for Giada de Laurentiis’ Lasagna Rolls

6. Find Your Freezer Meals

Remember those freezer 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:

Bobby Flay’s Shredded Chicken and Tomatillo Tacos

Southwestern Sloppy Joes

Ina Garten’s Cheese and Bread Platter

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 20 easy vegan weeknight dinner recipes 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:

Leftover Steak and Potato Salad with Bold Tomato Dressing

Italian Chicken Pasta Salad

Sweet Arancini with Leftover Rice

Leftover Turkey Chili

Leftover Chili Mac and Cheese

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

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

10 Brilliant Ways to Use Fruit That’s Going Bad

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

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

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

raspberry-smoothie

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

how-to-make-fruit-popsicles

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

cornmeal-pancakes-with-blueberry-sauce

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

Citrus-chicken-with-raspberry-barbecue-sauce

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

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

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

Summer Berry Sangria

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

ree-drummond- strawberry jam

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

plum-cheesecake galette

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

Berries-Romanoff-Parfait-bobby-flay

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

Raspberry Peach Fruit Leather

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

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

Great Canadian Breakfast Sandwich

Here’s How to Cook Eggs Perfectly Every Time

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

chunky-egg-salad

How to Make Perfect Hardboiled Eggs

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

How to Make a Soft Boiled Egg

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

ina-gartens-Eggs-Benedict_

How to Poach an Egg Perfectly

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

How to Make Soft, Fluffy Scrambled Eggs

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

How to Make Hard Scrambled Eggs

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

How to Make a Perfect Omelette

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

How to Make a Sunny Side Up Egg

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

The Great Canadian Breakfast Sandwich

How to Make Eggs Over Easy

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

How to Cook Eggs Over Hard

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

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

ripe cherries bowl

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

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

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

Related: Foods You Can Still Eat After the Expiry Date

Ripe cherries

Wash Produce Immediately 

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

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

Don’t Feed the Fruit Flies

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

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

Pump Up the Air Conditioning

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

red apples

How to Make Fruit Fly Catcher

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top 5 Kitchen Knives Every Home Cook Should Own

The most important investment you can make for you kitchen is a set of good-quality knives. While you might be put off by the fear of owning an overly sharp blade, it’s actually more dangerous to do your prep with a dull knife, as it forces you to use far more pressure and movement. A well-made knife will always do the work for you, making your prep safer and easier. But which type of knife is best for each job? Here are the best types of knives to prepare you for anything in the kitchen.

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

Chef’s Knife
A chef’s knife is the most crucial knife to have in your kitchen and if you invest in a higher quality brand, you’ll only ever need one. It’s multi-purpose with a curved edge, which allows it to easily rock back and fourth on a cutting board. Ranging anywhere between 6 to 12 inches long, chef’s knives traditionally have a heavier blade allowing that weight to do the tough work for you. When purchasing, you’ll want to choose one with a handle that feels secure and generally just feels right. Your knife should feel like an extension of your hand, so shop around until you find the perfect one.

chefs-knifeWüsthof Classic Chef’s Knife, Williams Sonoma

Paring Knife
Pairing knives are small with a simple blade that works best for quick jobs like slicing through vanilla beans, or intricate work like crosshatching chestnuts or segmenting citrus. Ranging in size from 2 ½ to 4 inches long, make sure you choose a knife that’s light in weight with a super sharp blade.

Related: The Top 5 Kitchen Utensils Every Home Cook Needs

paring-knifeWüsthof Classic Paring Knife, Williams Sonoma

Serrated Knife
While serrated knives are the no-brainer option when it comes to cutting any type of bread, they’re also the ideal choice for slicing layered cakes or cutting through soft fruit like tomatoes. Keep in mind their ridged teeth can never be sharpened, so you might have to invest in a few throughout your lifetime.

Related: Bread Baking for Beginners: How to Make the Perfect Sourdough Loaf

bread-knifeZwilling J.A. Henckels Pro Ultimate Bread Knife, Williams Sonoma

Boning Knife
Boning knifes have ultra flexible and tapered blades that are usually 5 to 6 inches long, making it easy to guide your way through certain meats. While not necessary in every household, you might want to consider owning one if you butcher whole chickens, fillet your own fish or butterfly chops.

boning-knifeZwilling J.A. Henckels Tradition Boning Knife, Kitchen Stuff Plus

Carving Knife
Carving knives are large, long and thin, with a blade that’s between 8 and 15 inches long. Its super slim shape makes it a breeze to carve meat with precision, giving you show-stopping slices of roasts, prime rib, turkey and ham perfect for entertaining.

Related: How to Carve the Perfect Turkey Like a Pro (We Break it Down)

carving-knifeWüsthof Classic Carving Knife Set, Williams Sonoma

Once you’ve invested in some great knives, the most important thing to remember is to always keep them sharp. If you cook every day, you should be sharpening your knives every week. When you feel like your blade is starting to dull, sharpen it yourself or take it in to get sharpened by a professional to keep its edge clean and long-lasting.

anna-olson-icing-a-cake

Anna Olson’s Best Fixes for Your Biggest Baking Fails

When it comes to baking, nobody is perfect. Even expert bakers  have bad days in the kitchen, but the best part about messing up is learning from those mistakes.

Whether you’re baking a cake, whipping up a batch of cookies, or trying your hand at homemade pie dough, the next time you head into the kitchen, let Anna Olson show you how to fix your biggest baking fails.

Classic-Chocolate-Chip-Cookies

Make Anna Olson’s Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies.

1. Why do my chocolate chip cookies spread too much when baking?

There are two main reasons why your cookies all meld together into one giant sheet while baking. The first is that your butter could be too soft. An easy fix for that is to scoop the dough onto a pan, and then chill it for an hour before baking.

Your cookies could also fall flat if you use too much sugar or not enough flour. Even a seemingly harmless extra tablespoon of sugar could cause the cookies to spread because sugar liquefies as it bakes. Be sure to use measuring spoons and cups and follow the instructions for the best results.

Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Luscious Lemon Coconut Cake.

2. How do I stop my cake from sinking in the centre?

A common culprit that causes your cake to sink is an incorrect oven temperature. Just because your oven beeps and the display indicates that it’s 350ºF doesn’t mean that the temperature is accurate. An oven that runs too hot may make your cake look done when it really isn’t, or if the temperature oscillates, your ingredients can’t set at the right time and the cake sinks. The best solution is to purchase an oven thermometer and manually adjust how you set your oven.

Another cause is inactive baking powder or baking soda. If you don’t bake on a regular basis, always be sure to check the expiry date on your baking powder. For baking soda, replace it every three to four months and use the older box in the fridge as a deodorizer.

3. What causes my cheesecake to crack in the centre?

There are a few key steps to remember when baking a cheesecake. First, when adding eggs to your batter, mix them in on a low speed to prevent air working into the batter. Second, run a palette knife around the inside edge of the pan within 15 minutes of the cheesecake coming out of the oven. That way, if the cheesecake contracts, it will easily pull away from the sides without causing it to crack or tear in the centre. Finally, be sure to cool the cheesecake completely to room temperature before chilling. Your cheesecake can be refrigerated when the bottom of the pan is cool to the touch, not the sides.

Making a cheesecake? Try Anna Olson’s recipe for Classic New York Style Cheesecake.

Try Anna Olson’s Chocolate Banana Muffins.

4. How do I prevent peaked tops on muffins?

When your muffins come out of the oven with peaked tops, this is a sign of overmixing. To get those perfect muffin tops, mix your batter by hand instead of using electric beaters. When hand mixing, use a gentle stirring motion until the point where flour is no longer visible.

5. Can I still use curdled custard?

Curdled custard means that the eggs in the custard have overcooked, but don’t throw it away and start over. While still hot, put the custard into a food processor or blender, and puree on high speed. Strain the custard into a dish, cool and chill as usual, and no one will even know – it’ll be smooth and perfect!

Put your baking skills to use with Anna Olson’s Peach Raspberry Custard Tart.

6. What is seized chocolate, and how do I avoid it?

If your chocolate has seized, it will take on a dull, curdled look, it will not be smooth, and some oil (which is actually cocoa butter) will be floating. To prevent seizing, melt your chocolate in a metal bowl placed over a pot filled with an inch of barely simmering water while slowly stirring. The steam from the water gently melts the chocolate. Try and avoid using the microwave to melt your chocolate, but if you must, use a lower heat setting.

If your chocolate seizes, remove it from the heat and add a few drops of tepid water. Stir slowly and gently with a spatula where the water was added, then increase the radius of your stirring motion to return the chocolate to its smooth state.

Anna Olson’s Chocolate Fruit Truffles are a must-try for chocolate lovers. Still not enough chocolate? Check out Anna Olson’s best chocolate recipes.

Lemon-Meringue-Pie-anna-olson

Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Lemon Meringue Pie.

7. Why does my pie dough crack when rolled or shrink when baked?

Dough cracking while rolling may not be a sign of anything wrong with the dough itself. It is often that the butter within the dough is too cold, causing the cracking. To prevent this, try pulling out the dough 30 minutes before rolling. It will roll out with less cracking (and far less effort).

If your dough shrinks when rolled or after baking, it’s a sign that it needed “relaxing.” The proteins (gluten) in flour become elastic when “exercised,” i.e. making and rolling the dough, and time is the only fix. If your dough springs back when rolling, pop it back into the fridge to rest for 20 to 45 minutes. To avoid a crust that shrinks when baking, chill the lined pie shell for 30 minutes before baking.

8. Is there a way to prevent a cake from breaking when it’s turned out of the pan?

All baked goods, including cakes, tarts, cookies and muffins, are fragile directly out of the oven. Be sure to wait 15 to 20 minutes before turning them out to cool.

If you suspect that the problem may be caused by the pan (cake will stick to a scratched pan even if it’s greased), then line the pan with parchment paper. Have the parchment hang just above the edges of the pan so you can use it to easily lift out the cake.

Test your baking abilities with Anna Olson’s Carrot Cake.

9. Is there a secret to preventing butter tart filling from bubbling over or sinking in the centre?

Butter tart filling bubbles over or sinks in the centre due to over-mixed filling. The eggs hold in the air which rises in the oven, causing the filling to overflow while baking and then sink immediately when taken out of the oven. The secret is to whisk the filling by hand until it’s evenly blended.

Sugar crystals in the bottom of the tarts are also caused by over-mixing, causing the sugar to separate from the eggs as the filling bakes. Adding a teaspoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to the filling ensures the sugar will completely dissolve as the filling bakes.

Anna Olson shows you how to impress your guests with a butter tart buffet.

 

10. How can I avoid lemon square filling from seeping under the crust base?

The key to making squares with a fluid filling poured over a base, such as lemon squares, is how you mix the base. It should feel crumbly, so don’t over-mix it. Gently press the base into the pan, and make sure a bit of it comes up the edges and goes into the corners. Do not pack it in firmly or it will pull away from the edges while it bakes, leaving a gap for the fluid lemon filling to seep underneath.

Give Anna Olson’s Lemon Meringue Squares a try.

Looking for more? Try Anna Olson’s Best New Desserts.

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 strong neighbour’s home for assistance.

Turkey Trouble? How to Fix Your Worst Holiday Cooking Disasters

Whether you’re a seasoned chef or new to the kitchen, preparing a holiday feast is not without its challenges. No matter how well you plan and prepare ahead of time, something is bound to go awry when it’s time to get cooking. From forgetting to thaw the turkey to over-mashing your potatoes till they’re gluey, we’re here to help you fix all those holiday dinner mishaps.

brined-herb-crusted-turkey-with-apple-cider-gravyGet the recipe for Brined Herb-Crusted Turkey with Apple Cider Gravy

How to Defrost a Turkey Quickly

Arguably the most important part of any holiday feast, the turkey is the literal centerpiece of your table. If you’ve forgotten to defrost your turkey ahead of time (most frozen birds will need a few days to thaw fully in the refrigerator) you’re not entirely out of luck. Thawing turkey is one of those things you need to do safely in order to prevent any foodborne illness, and a cold water bath can take this task from days-long to a matter of hours.

Place the turkey in a sterilized tub, large sink or bathtub filled with enough cold water to cover it. Do not remove the bird from its wrapper. Refill the sink or tub with cold water about every 30 minutes to help prevent bacteria growth. Using this method, a 15-pound bird should take about 7.5-hours to defrost. When your turkey has defrosted, remove it from the water and dry with paper towels.

How to Fix an Overcooked Turkey

If you forgot to set a timer or simply calculated the math wrong for cooking your bird, you could be serving a dry, overcooked turkey. There are a couple of solutions that can help save your meal, the easiest being to make a knock-your-socks-off gravy to smother any overcooked meat with. Alternatively, you can ladle a bit of broth over the bird or rub some butter on the dry spots to help bring moisture back into the meat.

How to Fix Lumpy Gravy

A great gravy should be smooth and creamy, with nary a detectable lump. But if your gravy is more lumpy bumpy than silky smooth, there’s actually a pretty simple fix. First, whisk that gravy like your life depends on it — this will help break up larger clumps and smooth everything out. Then, pour the gravy through a fine mesh strainer to separate any smaller clumps the whisk might have missed. If your gravy is still lumpy after trying both of these things, you can try placing it in a blender with a touch of broth and pureeing until smooth.

recipe-vegetarian-gravyGet the recipe for Vegetarian Gravy

How to Fix Burnt Gravy

A burnt sauce happens to even the most experienced cook, and can be solved with a bit of care. First, remove your pan from the heat immediately. Place the bottom of the pan in cool water to help prevent further burning of the gravy. Grab and fresh pan and gently start scooping up as much unburt gravy as possible. Some cooking experts swear that adding a raw, peeled potato to the gravy will help absorb any burnt flavours, or you can try adding 1 tsp of smooth peanut butter at a time to the gravy, whisking well and tasting until the burnt flavour is gone. A pinch of sugar is another way to rescue burnt gravy.

How to Fix Crumbly Cookie Dough

If your holiday cookies are falling apart, it’s likely because the flour hasn’t absorbed enough liquid to bind everything together. In order to fix crumbly cookies, try adding more liquid to the recipe in small increments — whether that’s additional water, melted butter, or an egg.

How to Fix Burnt Cookies

Unless you have time to bake an entirely new batch of cookies, it’s worth trying to save the ones you accidentally burnt. You can try using a fine grater, such as a microplane, to shave off the burnt bits, or a serrated knife to cut off larger burnt pieces.

apple-pie-sliceGet the recipe for Anna Olson’s Blue Ribbon Apple Pie

How to Fix Crumbly Pie Dough

Just like a crumbly cookie dough, crumbly pie crust needs more moisture added to it if you’re going to salvage it. Try sprinkling a few drops of water over your pie dough mixture before gently kneading or rolling until it is more pliable.

How to Fix A Hole in Your Pie Crust

Pie crusts are fragile things, and a hole can happen if you spread the dough too thin. Keep a few scraps of dough on hand in order to patch any holes with, then seal with a small amount of egg white and sugar before baking.

How to Fix Gluey, Over-Mashed Potatoes

Mash your potatoes too much or too vigorously and you’ll be left with an inedible gooey, gluey mess. Sadly, once this happens there isn’t much you can do to salvage them, aside from mixing in some properly mashed potatoes to help cut the gluey texture. However, you can turn your gluey mashed potatoes into a holiday gratin by spreading them in a thin layer across a baking dish, topping with butter, cheese, and breadcrumbs, and baking until the top is nice and crispy.

Looking for more holiday cooking help? Try these 10 Turkey Cooking Tips to Roast the Perfect Bird Every Time.

anna-chocolate-cake

4 Must-Know Chocolate Rules for Better Baking

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

Rich-Chocolate-Mousse-Cake

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

1. The Difference Between Chocolate Chips and Baking Chocolate

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

Chocolate Chips

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

Baking Chocolate

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

2. The Difference Between Dark, Milk and White Chocolates

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

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

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

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

3. Chocolate Percentage Explained

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

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

White Chocolate Mousse Cups

4. Baking Chocolate Storing Tips

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

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

Cast Iron Skillet Cookie

How to Season Your Cast Iron Pans

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

Cast Iron Skillet Cornbread

How to Season a Cast Iron Pan

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

How to Wash a Cast Iron Pan

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

cast-iron-skillet-cookie

How to Care for a Cast Iron Pan

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

What to do About Rusty Cast Iron 

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

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

Bumble Bee Cake

Bee-utifully Sweet Spring Honey Cake

With whimsical bumblebees swarming around a beehive-shaped cake, this honey and apricot dessert is perfect for a springtime birthday party. The slight tartness of the apricot filling pairs perfectly with the sweet and smooth honey buttercream icing. The simple shape is easy to carve, and just a swirl of buttercream transforms an ordinary layer cake into an edible birthday centerpiece. The best part? The marzipan bumblebees are super fun (and simple!) to make with a few basic cake-decorating tools.

Spring Bumble Bee Birthday Cake

Bumble Bee Birthday Cake

Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 40 minutes
Makes: 8-10 servings

Ingredients:

Honey Butter Cake
3 cups cake flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup honey
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1-1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs

Honey Buttercream
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
3-1/2 to 4 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup honey, or to taste
2 tsp vanilla extract
Yellow gel food coloring

Assembly
1/2 cup apricot preserves
6 marzipan bees (See instructions below)

Spring bumble bee cake

Directions:

Honey Butter Cake
1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour four 6-inch cake pans and set aside.
2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
3. Measure the milk and honey in a liquid measuring cup and set aside.
4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth.
5. Add in the sugar and mix until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
6. With the mixer on low, add in the vanilla and eggs, one at a time.
7. Stop the mixer, and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
8. With the mixer on low, add in 1/2 of the flour mixture. Pour in the milk and honey mixture, scraping out any remaining honey if necessary.
9. Add the remaining flour mixture and mix on medium-low until combined.
10. Evenly distribute the batter between the four pans. Bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.
11. Let cool on wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.

Honey Buttercream
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and cream cheese on medium until smooth.
2. With the mixer on low, gradually add in the sugar, honey and vanilla.
3. Once everything begins to combine, turn the mixer up the medium-high.
4. Continue mixing until the buttercream is light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.
5. Add in the gel food coloring, a few drops at a time, until desired shade is reached.
6. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap until use.

Bumble bee cake

Assembly
1. Once the cakes are completely cool, trim to tops so that each layer is flat.
2. Fill a piping bag fitted with a medium round tip with some of the buttercream and set aside.
3. Place the bottom layer of cake on a cake board or serving dish.
4. Pipe a ring of buttercream around the top, outer edge of the cake. Fill in the buttercream dam with about 1/3 cup of apricot preserves.
5. Top with the next layer of cake and repeat.
6. Pipe a double ring of buttercream on top of the third layer of cake and fill with about 1/4 cup of apricot preserves.
7. Use any remaining buttercream left in the piping bag to fill in the gaps between the layers of cake. Use an off-set spatula to smooth out.
8. Chill in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes, or until the buttercream firms up a bit.
9. Once chilled, use a serrate knife to carve the cake into a beehive-shape. Taking only a little bit off a time, carve the cake until the top is shaped like a dome.
10. Once carved, crumb coat the cake with the honey buttercream. Chill to set about 10 to 15 minutes.
11. Frost the entire cake with buttercream.
12, Set the cake on top of a cake turntable. Place the tip of a metal spatula near the bottom of the cake. Gently press into the frosting and spin the cake. As you spin, slowly bring the tip of the spatula up the side of the cake and over the top to create the spiral texture.
13. Finish with the marzipan bees while the frosting is still soft.

Bumble Bees

Marzipan Bees

Materials:
7 oz marzipan
Rolling pin
Paring knife
Piping tip
Thin paint brush
Yellow gel food coloring
Black gel food coloring

Bumble Bees How to

Directions:

1. Tint about 3 ounces of marzipan yellow and 1 to 2 ounces black.
Divide the yellow marzipan into about 6 half-ounce balls (about the size of a large gumball) then roll into a bee shape.
2. Use the end of a thin paintbrush to indent two eyes and the large opening of a small piping tip to create a smile. Set aside.
3. Roll out the black marzipan to about 1/8-inch thick.
4. Use the paring knife to cut thin strips. Wrap the strips of black marzipan around the body of the bees and secure by gently pressing the ends into the belly of the bees.
5. Re-roll the remaining black marzipan. Use the large, round opening of the piping tip to cut out one circle per bee. Adhere the black circle to the back ends of the bees.

Bumble Bees
6. Roll out plain (untinted) marzipan to about 1/4 to 1/8-inch thick. 7. Using the large, round opening of the piping tip, cut out two circles per bee. Pinch the tips and elongate the circles slightly to create wings.
8. Press the tips together on the backs of the bees.
9. Roll two tiny balls of plain marzipan per bee to create the eyes.
10 Gently press them into the indented eye markings.
11. Lightly dip the end of the paintbrush in the black gel food coloring and mark the centers of the eyes. Let dry.

Looking for more great birthday party ideas? Check out our Winter Wonderfuland Birthday Party or our 25 Best Birthday Cakes.

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.

marinated-chicken-breast on a plate with salad

How to Cook Chicken Breasts Perfectly Every Time

Loaded with lean protein and low in calories and fat, boneless, skinless chicken breast have become synonymous with people looking to start or maintain a healthy diet. Baked in the oven, roasted with veggies, stuffed or slow cooked, there are countless chicken breast recipes to choose from. While the versatile protein has a magic ability to take on any flavour you apply to it, the lack of fat means it is easy to overcook, leaving you with dry, bland chicken. Not to worry, it doesn’t have to be that way!
Whether you are starting a healthier diet or simply looking to eat more chicken, learn how to cook chicken breast perfectly every time. These tips will add life and excitement to your baked chicken breasts and ensure maximum flavour.

sliced stuffed chicken breast on a plateGet the recipe for Rachael Ray’s Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Start with Quality Chicken Breast

The taste and texture of chicken starts with how it was raised. Chickens that are raised to free range on pastures are usually healthier and more nutritious. Look for organic chicken that has been humanely raised. The meat might be pricier, but the difference in flavour and texture is worth it.

Season Your Chicken Breast

Sprinkle salt on raw chicken before you even think about pre-heating the oven. This will ensure the meat has time to absorb the salt, flavouring the meat inside as well as out. The result is a more flavourful chicken breast than seasoning after it is cooked.

sliced chicken breast with salad and lemonGet the recipe for Marinated Chicken Breast

Marinate Your Chicken Breast

Chicken breasts are like sponges for flavour – so get creative! Place chicken in a freezer bag with the marinade of choice. Store it in the fridge for hours or overnight before cooking for maximum impact. Pesto makes an easy herby flavour-injection, or try yogurt with Indian inspired spices for a creamy texture.

Don’t Roast Chicken Alone

Chicken breasts are a blank slate for flavour, so consider roasting them with complementary vegetables and herbs. Aromatic vegetables, citrus and herbs help inject flavour into the meat and help give you a tasty side dish to serve alongside.

bowl of chicken phoGet the recipe for Anne Burrell’s Chicken Pho

Try Poaching Chicken for Maximum Moisture

If you are making chicken soup or stew, poaching is an easy way to cook chicken. Simmering it in water or broth will ensure your meat stays moist and helps add flavour to pot. Immerse chicken breasts in simmering stock for about 10 minutes, then shred or slice the chicken into your desired dish.

When in Doubt, Don’t Overcook

We’ve all been there, you’ve left your chicken breasts in the oven a few minutes too long and you’re left with dry, unpleasant meat. How do you know when chicken is done? An instant-read thermometer will help you know what temperature you should cook your chicken to, no more guessing! Inserted into the thickest part of the breast should read no higher than165°F when the chicken is done. Easy, peasy!

Let Your Chicken Rest

Once you’ve cooked your chicken to the perfect temperature, remove it from the oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes before you slice. This will allow time for the juices to redistribute throughout the meat and ensure maximum juiciness. Cut too soon and those juices will escape. Have patience.

Looking for chicken breast recipes?  Look no further than these Popular Chicken Breast Recipes You Need to Try.

vegan-mac-and-cheese

The Best Vegan Substitutions for Eggs, Dairy and More

Eating a vegan diet shouldn’t mean letting go of your favourite foods and flavours.  Whether you are beginner vegan or cooking for a vegan friend,  making animal-friendly food is now easier than ever. Even common ingredients like cheese, eggs, milk and even meat have easy vegan alternatives and substitutions. Here, we show you how to easily make your most-loved recipes (even the meatiest ones) with a vegan twist.  These easy substitutions will help make your dreams of fluffy vegan pancakes, vegan cheese and even vegan alfredo sauce a tasty reality.

Vegan Cheese

Most major grocery stores now have a vegan food aisle, complete with vegan “cheeses” that are shredded, sliced and bursting with real-dairy appeal. There are lots of great vegan cheese brands to choose from, but you can also make it yourself. To make your own vegan “cheese” at home, you’ll want to pick up nutritional yeast, a vegan staple with a rich, Parmesan-meets-cheddar flavour. Nutritional yeast can be pulsed in a food processor or blender with soaked raw cashews or medium-firm tofu to make a ricotta-style “cheese,” or pulverized with walnuts to make pasta-perfect “parmesan.” To make tangy, vegan Greek “feta,” skip the nutritional yeast and instead crumble medium-firm tofu into a bowl, then toss with distilled white or white wine vinegar, black pepper, salt and dried oregano.

Vegan Egg Substitute

In baking recipes like cookies and muffins, if you’re replacing just one egg, you can simply use 2 Tbsp of water in its place. If a recipe calls for two to three eggs, it’s time to pull from your egg-free bag of tricks. For the same volume of eggs, use mashed banana, a pinch of baking powder mixed with applesauce, soy yogurt or ground flaxseeds mixed with water. In savoury baking, like quiche, try soft (silken) tofu blended until smooth with a bit of flour and salt.

Vegan Milk and Cream Substitute

Even meat-eating households have some form of non-dairy “milk” in the fridge. Take your pick of delicious and nutrient-rich soy, coconut, rice, almond, oat and cashew milks, and add to recipes in the exact quantity called for. Buy unsweetened varieties, for use in both savoury and sweet recipes, and try full-fat canned coconut milk as an alternative to regular heavy whipping cream. To make vegan buttermilk, add 1 Tbsp lemon juice per 1 cup of non-dairy milk.

Vegan Substitute for Meat and Poultry

While you can have your pick of prepared vegan “meats,” many plant-based cooks prefer to keep things all-natural. Cooked, mashed lentils make an amazing base for “meaty” meatless pies, while portobello and shiitake mushrooms add big, bold umami taste to any dish. For burgers, turn cooked, mashed beans and rice into patties, or roll into “meatballs” to serve with tomato sauce and pasta.

Vegan Butter

Vegan margarine and “butter” are an easy, store-bought solution to any recipe calling for the stuff, but there’s another option, too. Coconut butter or coconut oil can be mixed with water and added to your recipe as a creamy substitute. For every 1 cup of butter in a recipe, use 3/4 cup liquefied coconut butter or coconut oil and 1/4 cup of water.

Vegan Sauces and Condiments

This may surprise you, but animal products are hiding in many common condiments and sauces. Worcestershire sauce, Caesar salad dressing and puttanesca sauce all contain anchovies, a good number of prepared miso pastes contain fish and mayonnaise is loaded with eggs. Check out your local health food store or your grocery store’s vegan aisle to purchase plant-based alternatives. Or, if you have the time, you may even want to try making them yourself.

You can have your cream sauce and eat it, too. Try this decadent (but healthy!) Vegan Lemon Fettuccine Alfredo, and kick dairy to curb.

4 Genius Ways to Elevate Store-Bought Desserts

So you’ve been tasked with making or bringing a dessert, have you? While it’s a nice thought to want to bake up a spiced cake with hand-crafted frosting, crumble an amazing pie with those apples you picked in the fall, or even whip up a batch of the warmest cookies the season has to offer, sometimes time just isn’t on your side.

That’s when store-bought desserts from the local bakery or grocery store are oh-so-key. You can buy them ahead of time (giving you more time for other dishes or a little more sleep), and then thanks to these ingenious tips from our very own Anna Olson, you can take them to the next level. Trust us, these simple tricks just may have people thinking you slaved in the kitchen.

Just don’t forget to put the dish on your own plate before serving!

Classic Chocolate Sauce

Six ingredients, a pan and a whisk are all you need to make an indulgent, silky-smooth chocolate sauce that you can pour over decadent vanilla ice cream, fresh fruit, or—if you feel like it—just eat it straight up with a spoon. It’s that good.

 

Want to make something from scratch anyhow? Pair Anna’s Classic Chocolate Sauce with:

Brownie Sundae Explosion

Caramel Butter Tarts

Classic Caramel Sauce

We were shocked at how easy this yummy dessert-topper is to make with just a little planning and the foresight. It’s a classic addition to any crumbly, fruit-based dessert, but we love it mixed with brownies or other chocolaty items too.

 

Want to make something from scratch anyhow? Pair Anna’s Classic Caramel Sauce with:

Anna Olson’s Caramel Apples

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Raspberry Coulis

If you’ve got a creamy dessert or something chocolaty on-hand, bring it to the next level with a fruit-based coulis—a classic pastry chef concoction that’s actually way simpler to make than it sounds. (Seriously, you don’t even need to turn on the oven.) The people you’re making it for don’t have to know that though; tell them you made a fresh coulis and then sit back and revel in their impressed looks.

 

Want to make something from scratch anyhow? Pair Anna’s Raspberry Coulis with:

Anna’s Coconut Cream Pie

Mint Chocolate Cake

Quick Toffee Sauce

Gingerbread, sticky pudding or plain old ice cream will never be the same after you’ve had those items with this simple toffee sauce that packs a huge flavour punch. Amazingly, you only need four ingredients and a few short minutes to whip it up, but it can also be assembled beforehand and quickly heated up again before serving. Now that’s what we call a (not-so) sticky solution.

 

Want to make something from scratch anyhow? Pair Anna’s Quick Toffee Sauce with:

Spiced Nut Cake

Maple Walnut Ice Cream

Looking for more easy desserts? Try Anna Olson’s Best Pie Recipes.