Preparation Day Linky #14

 

 

 

 

I know I have not done this in a while and on Friday there will be an explanation of why I stopped for a while. I have been trying to cook ahead a bit and this can work well for nay Shabbat meal. Instead of spending a weekend or one day a month doing marathon cooking, I take a simpler approach. I cook two meals at a time-one for that night or the next night and one to freeze. This way I am not taking a whole weekend or day to do it which for me is not practical.

Here is a tip from Values Driven Family that I have tried and it works well. After the meal is frozen in the pan, put a 2-3 inches of hot water in your sink and let your pan sit in it for a few moments. Take a knife and go around the edges of the pan and lift it out-it will come out in one solid piece. Then wrap in a double layer of foil and stick in the freezer-this frees up space and lets you use the pan again.

She suggests using wax paper but I suggest using parchment paper to line your pan. When I wrap, I wrap the meal in the parchment paper first, then, double wrap in foil. This way there is no aluminum sticking to the food.

More tips are here.

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Preparation Day Link Up #1

Please join us for the Preparation Day Link Up.  More information can be found by clicking on my page that says Preparation Day Link Up.  My tip is not to do it all on preparation day, but do some work before hand.  I find that when I clean and cook all on the same day, I am exhausted by the time dinner rolls around.  If you can cook before hand, even if it is the night before, or clean the night before and then cook on preparation day, it helps immensely.  You will not be as tired or as stressed if you have some things done beforehand.

Shiny Challah

A completed challah.

Image via Wikipedia

Some friends and I were wondering how to get that shiny challah coating.  We know how to get it brown, but the shine was alluding us.  I have figured out the secret-it’s all in the wash.  If you use only the egg white, you get the brown.  If you use all of the egg for your wash, you get the challah both brown and shiny.

One caveat: I do not use aluminum foil to place my bread on.  I use parchment paper.  In fact anything that says it needs to be wrapped in foil, I will wrap it in parchment paper first, then put the foil over the parchment paper.

This post is part of  Shabbat Shalom ~ Link Up #11. Other posts can be found here.

Canning Without a Canner

Preserved food in Mason jars

Image via Wikipedia

I successfully canned turkey broth (I think :)) the other day-without a pressure cooker.  I searched and found that as long as you keep the broth boiling while ladling it into the jars, you don’t need a canner-which is good as I don’t have one and getting one is not in the budget right now.

It is sealed when you hear the pop or as I describe it, the light thwock! sound of the jars sealing.  I went to bed while they sealed and heard a couple of them seal before falling asleep.  When I got up I pressed on the tops to be sure they sealed.  If you can feel the top move while pressing on the lid, it did not seal properly.  At that point you can store it in the fridge for quick use, reboil and put it back in a jar or pitch it.  Supposedly they can last for a year this way, but I don’t see mine lasting that long as I will use them in soups and stews.  I will have to see if this method works for other things too as it would make my life easier.

I must say I was so excited to see that this worked-I had one jar I had to reseal out of the 24 I did.  Not bad for a first timer!

Autumn

We are having lovely autumn days here, the type of days that I remember fondly as autumn.  Days that are warm or coll and nights that are cool even if the day is warm.  It even smells like autumn.

We were at the park this weekend-one day with friends and the next day is was just us and a picnic. Then we came home and had warm spiced cider. A lovely way to start October.

Successful Crockpot Lasagna

Have you tried making crockpot lasagna and even though you followed the recipe exactly,  ended up frustrated because:

1) The bottom ended up burned, and

2) The noodles were mushy?

This happened to me too but I tinkered with a couple of recipes and have discovered the right way to do this.  Be frustrated no more!

First thing you to remember is that in order to be successful you need more noodles, sauce and cheese than for conventional lasagna.  3 cups of ricotta or cottage cheese,  2 of the 29 oz cans of sauce, and lots of lasagna noodles.  I know recipes say 8-10 but that is not enough. 1 lb of meat is still enough. And your mozzarella cheese as well, 3 cups I think.

Prepare the meat and sauce the way you normally do.  Add in whatever vegetables and spices you like.  Same with the cheese…some recipes call for adding 2 eggs into the cheese…I don’t, but you can.  If you think you need the eggs for extra moistness, you don’t, but if you like it that way, more power to you.

I use a 5 1/2 quart crockpot.  Spray it with cooking spray first then put in 1 cup of sauce for the bottom layer.  Do not put in less, otherwise you have the scorched bottom.  Then put the lasagna noodles on top of sauce.  I find two is what I can fit in my pot and you need to break about a 1/4 piece off the top of each noodle to get it to fit.  Now do a 1/3 cup of sauce, 1/3 cup of cheese, 1/3 cup of mozzarella cheese and repeat until done.

I keep adding layers until all of my ricotta cheese is gone.  Then I do the last layer of lasagna noodles and pour the remaining sauce on top of and then all around the sides of the lasagna.  Your pot may look pretty full at this point, but as it cooks down it will shrink. After adding the last of the sauce, put the last 1/3 cup of mozzarella on top of the last two noodles.

The layers get pretty high so about halfway through I press gently on the noodles before adding sauce and cheese to help the noodles stay put and also to keep them straight.

Here is the most important part: cook time.  Cook on low for 3 hours.  I know that this is not what the recipes say but as full as your pot is, that’s all the time it needs. Trust me, every time I did the 5-6 hours on high, I ended up with the soggy noodles on top and the burnt bottoms.

If you have any noodles or noddle parts that are sticking up and don’t look like they are cooking, gently push them down into the sauce and let it cook a few minutes.

Last tip: a few minutes before serving, turn pot off and take lid off for 2-3 minutes…no more. This helps the noodles firm up slightly before eating.  Don’t do it any longer than that or the noodles end up with that heavy pasta taste.

Now you can have lasagna without turning the oven on in the summer heat!

Post for Tasty Tuesday and Kitchen Tip Tuesday.

Using Honey

Most of us know about the tip of using oil before using honey. What if you don’t have cooking spray and your recipe calls for honey but no oil?

I take my one cup Pyrex measuring cup and put my measuring spoon or cup over it. I pour the oil into the measuring instrument then dump the oil back into the measuring cup. Make sure you use a cup with a spout. I can then pour the unused oil back into the original container-this way you still get the honey out of whatever you’re using and you are not wasting oil. I have never had oil spill on the counter when I’ve done this-just pour the oil back into the container carefully.

This is a WFMW post over at Rocks in My Dryer.

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