Seasoned cooks use shortcuts to save time and save money. Here are 10 easy recipe shortcuts you can use. Time spent in the kitchen preparing and cooking food can be tight. When you run out of a basic ingredient, it’s good to know what you can substitute. To get the most done in the kitchen, use these time-saving tips and save money to boot.
1. Measure cheese by the pound. When a recipe calls for 1 cup of shredded cheese, this is the equivalent of 4 ounces of cheese. Eight ounces of cream cheese is equal to 1 cup. Forgo the actual measuring, which can be messy, and use these recipe shortcuts instead.
2. Peel tomatoes in minutes. Place tomatoes one at a time in boiling water for 1 minute. Have a bowl or pan ready that is filled with cold water. Drop the hot tomato into the cold water and pierce the tomato skin with the point of a knife to peel the tomato skin right off.
3. Make your own croutons. Use up old bread and make your own croutons. You’ll save money and have fresher croutons. Cut the crust from slices of bread then cut the bread into cubes. Toast the cubes of bread in an oven set to 300 degrees Fahrenheit till golden brown. Melt butter and toss the croutons immediately with butter. Season with garlic salt or other seasoning if desired.
4. Know the measures of eggs. The average medium to large egg equals about 1/4 cup. If a recipe calls for 1 cup of eggs, that is the equivalent of four eggs. There is no need to actually measure the eggs, just count them.
5. Substitute evaporated milk for whole milk. Sometimes we all run out of milk. Keep canned evaporated milk on hand to use instead. For 1 cup of whole milk, use 1/2 cup evaporated milk and 1/2 cup of water.
6. Save your produce bags. When you buy loose oranges or fresh green beans or apples, save the bags you use to bring the fruit and vegetables home. Use two of the produce bags, one inside the other, when you need to coat chicken or other items. Use double bags for durability and add the coating for chicken or other items and place a piece of chicken or two inside and shake. Throw away the bags when done. You save money and don’t have to clean another bowl.
7. Use kitchen scissors to cut up dried fruit or marshmallows. For some foods, it’s easier to cut them with kitchen shears than with a knife. Experiment to see what you can cut with scissors.
8. Use the coffee grinder to chop nuts. Clean the coffee grinder and use it to chop nuts for recipes. Try using it for a small amount of time and gradually chop more depending on how fine the nuts need to be.
9. Figure the equivalent of pasta shapes. Small shaped pasta like macaroni doubles its size when cooked. Two cups of uncooked noodles yields 4 cups cooked macaroni. Larger pasta shapes like egg noodles do not increase in size when cooked. Five cups of uncooked egg noodles yields 5 cups of cooked pasta.
10. Substitute cornstarch for flour. When you need a quick replacement for flour in a recipe, use 1-1/2 teaspoons of cornstarch for 1 tablespoon of flour. Often cornstarch blends better than flour is not as lumpy.
Source: Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, New and Revised Edition, Second Printing, 1979