Cooking Tips and Information

Having a recipe doesn't always insure that your food will be delicious. In the future I will be sharing more cooking tips that I have found helpful to make cooking easy and delicious.

Bouillon: Many recipes call for bouillon cubes or granules. Although I used these products in the past, I never really cared for their artificial taste. I have found a similar product that I love, Better Than Bouillon, concentrated stock base. It is high in sodium, so I use it sparingly. It really gives sauces and gravy a nice depth and I often use this in place of or in addition to salt in a recipe. If your grocery store carries it, it is usually near the soup and broth section. It comes in an 8 ounce jar in chicken, beef, or vegetable varieties and needs to be refrigerated after opening.

Broth: If you don't have time to make your own broth or stock, I recommend Pacific Organic Chicken and Beef Broths or Kitchen Basics Natural Chicken and Beef Stocks. Besides superior flavor, I like these boxed broths because they have few ingredients and very few additives. Next time you are at the grocery store, compare the ingredient list of some popular canned broths to these boxed broths. You may be surprised at the long list of additives in the canned broths. As a note, the Pacific brand has a pale color and the Kitchen Basics brand has a much darker color. If you buy in bulk, I have seen Pacific Chicken Broth in a 6 box case at Costco. I sometimes buy different brands depending on what dish I'm making and if the darker colored broth will result in a more or less attractive sauce.

Cooked Chicken: Many recipes call for cooked chicken. You can either cook it yourself or purchase a pre-cooked rotissarie chicken at the grocery store. If you want to cook your own, I would recommend poaching it on the stove: Place a whole chicken or chicken pieces (boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs are the easiest) in a large stock pot and cover the chicken with water or chicken broth. If you want additional flavor, you can add a few garlic cloves, a cut up onion and a few carrots. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat and put a lid on the pot. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the chicken is done. Larger, bone in pieces may take a bit longer. Turn off the heat, and let chicken cool in the liquid for 20-30 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot, remove bones and skin if necessary. Then, chop up the chicken. If you used broth to cook the chicken you can strain the broth and freeze it for use in another dish. You also can purchase pre-cooked rotisserie chicken at the grocery store. I often buy pre-cooked chicken at Costco. The price and convenience are hard to beat.

Cooked Eggs: I use one of two methods to cook eggs, depending on how much time I have. My preferred method is to place a single layer of eggs in a pan and cover with water. Place the pan on the stove and turn the heat on high. When the water boils, put a lid on the pot and remove the pot from the heat (that is correct, the eggs will cook in the hot water). Leave the lid on (no peeking!) for 20 minutes, then drain the water and add cold water to cool.
If I'm in a hurry, I boil the eggs, covered with water, for 10 minutes. Then drain the eggs and cover with cold water.
To peel eggs easier: After draining the hot water, shake the pan so the eggs crack a bit. Then, add cold water. The cold water will seep in the cracks and expand the shell, making peeling easier.

Nutrition Information Having your own personal nutrition guide can make planning weekly menus even easier. Suzette Kroll-Barancik, RD, is an expert in weight loss and healthy eating.

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