TIPsy Tuesday

TIPsy Tuesday
Tips, Tricks, and Culinary Cheats!

Turn your fruit and veggies into seasonal centerpieces! Oranges (or other citrus fruits) and peppers work great. Slice off the top, scoop out the insides, and fill with water. Trim your flowers short and arrange inside the “vases.” Avocados work well for woodier / firmer stems. Slice the top then poke the stems into the flesh. You may also need to slice a very small piece from the bottom so it has a flat surface with which to stand upright. Apples can work, too! So unique and pretty!
I don’t know about you, but my grill is getting a workout these days! I’ve loved all the grilled veggies and such, but love not having to clean up all the gooey sauces and grease from the grates. Of course you can use an iron brush, but what fun is that?? Did you know you can use everyday items right in your pantry? Get your grill nice and hot, then cut an onion in half and scrape off the residue (use a fork or heat resistant glove, of course). Bonus: extra seasoning! You can also use a ball of tin foil in the same way. Or brew a pot of coffee and pour it into a large container, then submerge your COOL grill grates for about an hour.  The acid in the coffee will help break down all the goop. 
Today’s TIPsy Tuesday is on the more serious side: Do you know how to put out a “simple” grease fire? I was faced with one recently in my own kitchen, inside my toaster oven! I’m more knowledgeable about a pot or pan grease fire, so this threw me for a loop and I blanked. It took NO TIME for my toaster oven to be nearly engulfed in flames. So my very first tip to you is this: CLEAN OUT THE BOTTOM OF YOUR TOASTER OVEN. The greasy crumbs on the bottom are what ignited. Beyond that, commit these very important “tips” to memory:
–If possible, cover the flames with a metal lid or cookie sheet. Leave the cover on until it has cooled.
–Turn off the heat source.
–If it’s small and manageable, pour baking soda or salt on it to smother the fire.
–As a last resort, spray the fire with a Class B dry chemical fire extinguisher.
–Do NOT try to extinguish the fire with water.
–Do NOT attempt to move the pot or pan outside.
–Do NOT use flour, baking powder or any other cooking powders even if they resemble baking soda or salt. They have a different chemical makeup and will not react similarly. They will make the fire worse and can even EXPLODE.

Instead of salad dressings, which are laden with fat and calories, try mixing 2 Tbsp of Greek yogurt with 2-3 Tbsp of your favorite (or homemade) salsa. It coats the salad well, gives you a boost of protein, some heat to aid in digestion, is fat free, and is only about 35-45 calories. So much healthier! You’re welcome. ***A 2-Tbsp serving of ranch dressing has about 3x the calories and 10+ grams of fat.***

Let’s talk egg slicers – you know those old school, harp looking things? You can use them for more than just making egg salad! Slice up mushrooms. Make short work out of an entire handful of olives. Create beautiful servings of strawberries. Egg slicers. So much quicker! Who knew?!?

Cookie cutters can turn a meal into a message of love! Make a quick omelet, nuke a frozen pancake, or construct a great sandwich, then use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to turn it into an edible Valentine! Can be done for all the holidays, or for no reason at all. Have fun with it — your kids/spouse/friends will, too!

Holidays = Fruit Baskets. And messy counters. Take your leftover orange peels and make a fresh, all-natural cleaner! Place them in a jar or container, cover them with white vinegar, and store in a cool, dark place for 2 weeks. Strain the peels and transfer the vinegar into a spray bottle. For basic cleaning purposes, dilute the vinegar with water by 50%.

The other night I was out of onions. Who does this?? But I was, and I was cooking a dish that called for them. I did, however, have turnips. I diced and sautéed a turnip in a pan with olive oil, salt, pepper, and onion powder until golden tinged. They were a near-exact match for the flavor and texture I was needing in the dish!

No melon baller?  No problem!  Try using your measuring spoons.  Half – one tablespoon should give you a great size for fruit salad!

Eat your salad with a SPOON! I like to get up as many fresh veggies into my salads as possible, but can be hard to get all of that on a fork. Chop up your lettuce, dice up your veggies, and use a spoon instead. So much easier! You won’t regret it!

Instead of flour, use ground oatmeal for your breading and baking! Old fashioned oats in a food processor and/or spice grinder make an awesome, healthier replacement for your bleached white flour. Make everything from breaded veggies to pancakes to muffins with it!

Instead of mayo or sour cream, try using plain Greek yogurt. I like the FAGE brand. Saves you from unnecessary fat and calories, and gives a bonus punch of protein!