Tag Archives: kitchen tips

Kitchen Hacks: Quick-thaw ground beef!

I love buying my food in bulk. It saves me effort, time, and money. My mother-in-law has 9 kids and knows a thing or two about bulk food purchases. She taught me this nifty trick for bulk ground beef!

Last weekend, I found a pretty good deal on ground beef:

4 pounds for $9? I’ll take it! I obviously can’t use that much at once, so I divvied it up into 1-pound portions and froze it. Here’s a quick overview on how to freeze ground beef in an accessible, easy-to-thaw manner!

Label a gallon-sized bag for each pound of beef.

Stick a lump of meat into each bag, squeeze all the air out, and seal it.

Next, leaving the bag sealed, use the heel of your hand to flatten the beef.

Keep working it until you have a uniformly thin layer that goes all the way to the edges of the bag.

1 pound makes for a very thin layer.

Once all your lumps of meat are flattened, stack ’em up and freeze.

The super-thin layers  freeze and thaw VERY quickly. You can even toss the frozen sheet of meat directly into your pan when you’re ready to cook!

Ta-daa, enjoy your pre-portioned beef!

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How to make Creamy Rice Pudding

Rice pudding is a staple breakfast around here – rich, filling, and slightly sweet, it always makes the kids happy! I usually make a fish and rice dinner on Friday evenings, so I just make extra rice to use on Saturday morning!
We prefer our rice pudding chilled, but it is just as delicious when it’s hot. Depending on your preferences, you can make it right when you want to eat it, or you can make it the night before and have it ready to go in the fridge.

Start with leftover or freshly cooked rice. I use about 1/2 cup cooked rice per person. Dump the rice in a heavy pot. For 6 servings, I usually use a 3-quart pot.

Add enough milk to cover the rice.

It doesn’t look like much right now, but it will be delicious and creamy soon! Add sugar or honey next.

My ratio of rice:milk:sugar is 2:4:1. That’s 2 parts rice, 4 parts milk, 1 part white sugar.

Next, add cinnamon and/or nutmeg to taste.

Cook over medium-low heat, stirring every few minutes, until the rice is nice and soft. This usually takes about half an hour.  If you’re using freshly made rice, it may take less time. Be careful not to scorch the bottom!

While you wait, prepare your eggs. My rule of thumb is 1 egg per cup of milk. You could certainly add more if you want a more custard-like pudding. In case you haven’t noticed, this is an extremely flexible recipe!

(Optional: separate and set aside whites. They can be beaten into meringue at the end to make your rice pudding extra creamy and light!)Whisk eggs thoroughly or run them through a blender. Slimy strings are to be avoided at all costs!

When your rice mixture is soft and warm, you’ll need to temper the eggs. This means slowly bringing the temperature up so that the eggs don’t scramble. Do this by adding one spoonful of hot milk/rice at a time.

 

When the eggs are hot, slowly pour them into the pudding, stirring the entire time. (Pretend I’m stirring. I didn’t have enough hands to do this and take pictures at the same time!)

Continue cooking and stirring until the pudding thickens. It will be the consistency of thin oatmeal when it’s done. You can continue cooking liquid off or even add a bit of cornstarch if you’d like it to be thicker.

At this point, you can consider yourself done! Cool and serve.

OR, if you separated your egg whites, dump them into a stand mixer. You could also use a hand mixer. Beat the whites until frothy, then add a tablespoon of sugar for every 2 egg whites. 4 eggs = 2 tbsp sugar. Continue beating at high speed until peaks form. Carefully fold the meringue into the cooled pudding and enjoy!

Note: If you include the meringue, there  will be some raw egg white in your finished pudding. If you’re not comfortable with this, don’t separate the eggs before adding them to the pudding.

Kitchen Hacks and Camping

First off… the camping didn’t really happen. We made it to Horse Thief Springs, played for about 3 hours, then my poor two year old started throwing up and running a fever. For the few hours we were there, the kids had fun.

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ImageWe came home and made s’mores on the grill in the backyard instead.

Secondly, Kitchen Hacks! I’m always looking for shortcuts in the kitchen, especially during the hot summers. My kitchen is usually the warmest room in the house. As much as I enjoy cooking, it’s not fun in a 95-degree kitchen.

Today’s shortcut: biscuits!

Start with your favorite biscuit recipe. Mine is from Comfortably Domestic.

I throw everything but the liquid in the food processor and mix it up, then slowly add the liquid (milk in this case). Instant biscuit dough!

Instead of rolling and cutting, I pat my dough into a nice big square. Then I slice it up with a pizza cutter. I’m done cutting in 10 seconds instead of five minutes or more.

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And they turn out just as lovely.

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Hint: they’re even prettier when they’re spread with homemade strawberry jam!

Here’s an image for Pinterest, if you feel so inclined.

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