Do you know the best type of apples to use in recipes?
While I know many will be apple picking this season, a variety of apples are better for various culinary uses. Learn about the best type of apples to use in recipes.
Stumped on what apple to use for your recipes? It’s not just apples to apples. Different apples contain different tastes, culinary uses, and may even ripen at different times during the season. Here are some apple varieties that are commonly found while apple picking:
Taste: rich, tart, spicy, crisp Best for: baking, hand-eating Ripens: late October
Taste: crisp, juicy, sweetly tart Best for: baking, hand-eating, salads Ripens: mid-September
Taste: crisp, juicy, sweet, spicy Best for: fruit cups, hand-eating, salads Ripens: September
Taste: super sweet, crisp Best for: cooking, hand-eating, sauce, pie Ripens: late October
Taste: firm, sweet, snappy Best for: sauce, hand-eating, salads Ripens: late August
Don’t leave a crumb behind! Utilize this simple tip for cutting brownies neatly. Hint: There is no fancy kitchen equipment needed.
There is absolutely nothing worse than cutting into a freshly baked tray of brownies and they stick to the knife, creating a mess. A big clumpy chunk of brownie stuck to the knife destroying the perfect brownie square.
One reason when cutting brownies may stick to the knife is not waiting long enough to cool. Patience. It’s hard, especially when it comes to warm brownies right out of the oven.
Majority of the time the reason cutting brownies turns into a sloppy mess is because you aren’t using the correct knife. Now, I’m not talking about any fancy kind of knife here, but a simple plastic knife.
Use a plastic knife to cut brownies
Plastic knives are naturally non-stick and won’t tear the brownies as you are slicing. When cutting brownies with a metal knife the fudgy center of the brownie clings to the knife. There are known methods of spraying a metal knife with cooking spray or running it under warm water after each cut, but who has time for that?
Additionally, instead of a “sawing” back and forth cutting motion, cut in one fluid motion.
Utilize these tips on how to select and store asparagus properly to help it last longer.
Asparagus is most widely available from February to June, with April being the peak.
Did you know? Size isn’t an indicator of quality or flavor; thick asparagus is just more mature than the thin variety. Instead, look for firm, straight, and plump stalks of asparagus vibrant in color. Avoid stems that are very firm, woody, and cracked. This is a sign of aging and drying out.
The tips, also called the buds, of asparagus, are just as important to pay attention to as the stalks. Look for asparagus tips that a tight and firm with a hint of dark green and purple color to them.
Notice that in the produce department or at the farmer’s market, the asparagus bunches are rubber-banded and lined up in a trough of water? If not and just lined up on the shelf, the asparagus has already started drying out resulting in more to trim off and less to eat, when ready to use.
There is nothing worse that taking out asparagus from the vegetable crisper to find either limp or dried out asparagus.
Asparagus will keep for a week or more in the refrigerator if stored properly. Treat asparagus like flowers, needing to be kept upright and moist in water to stay fresh.
The Best Way to Store Asparagus
Right when you bring home asparagus from the grocery store or farmer’s market, trim about an inch off the ends of the asparagus.
Stand the asparagus up in a glass jar and pour about an inch or two of water at the bottom, making sure all the ends are sitting in the water.
Loosely cover the asparagus with a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator for up to a week. If the water looks cloudy, just change it as needed.
Health Benefits of Asparagus
Asparagus, being packed with antioxidants is one of the top-ranked fruits and vegetables for its ability to neutralize cell-damaging free radicals. This may help slow the aging process and reduce inflammation.
The green veggie is packed with good-for-you vitamins and minerals like vitamins A, C, E, K, and B6, as well as folate, iron, copper, calcium, protein, and fiber.
The chef knife – one of the most used pieces of kitchen equipment, but do you really know everything about it?
A chef knife, also known as a utility knife or French knife, is the most valuable tool as it can handle many tasks in the kitchen. Each part of the knife has a specific function. Understand these functions to help you better choose a chef knife that would be the best fit for you.
Each knife has a blade, handle, bolster, tang, and rivets.
The blade is the sharp, flat portion of the knife used for cutting. Most knives are made from high-carbon stainless steel, which can be easily sharpened and resistant to rust and discoloration.
Knife blades have five parts: the point, tip, heel, edge, and spine.
The point is the foremost section of a knife tip that can be used as a piercing tool.
The tip is the front quarter of the knife blade. Most cutting is accomplished between the tip and the heel.
The heel is the rear portion of the blade. The heel is used to cut thick food items when more force is required.
The edge is the sharpest part of the knife blade that is between the tip and the heel.
The spine is not sharp and opposite the edge.
The handle of the knife should be comfortable and properly fit the hand. The weight of the handle may differ, so find one that fits your hand best and is comfortable for you.
Not all knives have bolsters. The bolster is a thick band of metal where the blade meets the handle. The purpose is to provide strength to the knife blade and to prevent slipping from the handle during the cutting process.
Tang and Rivets:
The tang is the tail of the knife blade that extends into the handle. The tang is secured to the handle with rivets. The rivets are metal fasteners to secure the tang to the handle. There are different kinds of tangs.
A full tang extends to the end of the handle and typically contains several rivets.
A partial tang extends only a partial amount into the handle and had fewer rivets. Partial tangs are less durable but are lighter to handle.
A rat-tail tang is a narrow rod of metal that runs the length of the knife handle and no rivets are needed to hold it in place. Knives with a rat-tail tang are less durable than both a full and partial tang knives.
For me, investing in a good kitchen knife is key. Personally, the chef knife is the most used kitchen equipment I use daily.
These are the basics of your chef knife, but stay tuned for more information! Coming up we will talk about different styles of knives and their different uses.
Comment below of questions you have about your knives or kitchen equipment that I can answer in future posts!
This post may contain affiliate links. To find out more information, please read my disclosure statement.
References 50 effective knife techniques Michael McGreal – American Technical Publishers – 2017
Brighten any salad, grain, or vegetable dish with this simple lemon vinaigrette. Made with ingredients you probably already have on hand, simply whip this up in a mason jar.
I don’t think people realize how EASY it is to make a homemade dressing. The most basic vinaigrette recipe is mixing an acid and a base. Then just add seasonings you enjoy. Simply pour ingredients into a mason jar and shake away. Your dressing is made! How easy was that? Plus, making it in a mason jar is ready to store any leftovers.
If you want to go beyond the basics, use this guide to build your own vinaigrette.
Create a homemade vinaigrette
Choose your acid:
This can be in the form of vinegar or citrus juice. Pick something that matches with your salad mix-ins. Opt for a sweet acid like white wine vinegar, white balsamic vinegar, or an orange juiced, for salads that have fruit.
Try acids like apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, rice vinegar, lemon juice, lime juice, or other citrus juices.
Tip: Think about the components of your salad. If you have a salad with bright colors, avoid darker vinegar. Once the salad is dressed, those bright vibrant colors will look muddy. Remember – we eat with our eyes first!
Choose your base:
The base is oil. Use good quality oil. This can be a simple olive oil or fancy garlic and rosemary-infused walnut oil. Again think about the components of your salad. If there are avocados in your salad, why not try avocado oil?
Try oils like olive oil, avocado oil, walnut oil, pumpkin seed oil, hazelnut oil, or other flavor-infused oils.
If you are new to making dressings, simple olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing with a pinch of salt and pepper will work just fine. Once you are comfortable making dressings, try amping it up with other seasonings.
Add a teaspoon of Dijon mustard to add a little tanginess and also to help create a creamier vinaigrette. Add a teaspoon of miso for an umami flavor. Try using fresh herbs for a pop of flavor. For a sweet vinaigrette, add a little maple syrup or honey.
Once you start playing around with different combinations, you’ll start to know what flavor combinations you like best!
February is Heart Health Month and oats have a stellar reputation for their heart health benefit. Do you know the difference between each variety of oats?
Fiber’s role in heart health
Dietary fiber can help improve blood cholesterol levels and lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity and even type 2 diabetes.
The American Heart Association recommends that at least half of the grains you eat be whole grains. Eating whole grains (like oats) are consistently associated with a reduced risk of chronic disease, including cardiovascular disease. Whole grain oats and oat bran can help lower blood cholesterol thanks to the power of beta-glucan – a soluble fiber, largely unique to oats, that basically tells your liver to pull LDL cholesterol out of the blood. Then, it binds to some of the cholesterol in your gut, keeping it from ever reaching your bloodstream.
You head to the grocery store to pick up oats, and there are so many options. Steel-cut oats, rolled oats, old-fashioned oats – what’s the difference?
Steel Cut Oats
Steel-cut oats, also known as Irish or Scottish oats, are oats that are processed by chopping the whole oat groat into several pieces. This type of oatmeal takes the longest to cook. Why? Because the outside layer of the whole grain, the bran, is fully intact. A longer cook time penetrates through the bran creating tender, yet a chewy texture that retains much of its shape even after cooking.
Don’t have time in the morning to cook steel-cut oats? I don’t blame you! Prepare them in advance by cooking them over the stovetop, in a crockpot, or Instant Pot. Or try my frozen muffin tin method.
Rolled oats, also known as old-fashioned oats, are created when oat groats are steamed and then rolled into flakes. This process stabilizes the healthy oils in the oats, so they stay fresh longer, and helps the oats cook faster, by creating a greater surface area.
Rolled oats cook faster than steel-cut oats. They absorb more liquid and hold their shape well during cooking. With their faster cook time, enjoy a bowl of warm oatmeal in the morning or use in recipes like muffins, granola, pancakes, or other baked good recipes.
Quick oats, also known as minute oats or instant oats are rolled oats and that are steamed for even longer. As the most processed type of oat, instant oatmeal cooks in seconds and has a smooth, creamy, and soft consistency and mild flavor.
Quick cook more quickly than steel-cut or rolled oats, but retain less of their texture, and often cook up mushy. Plus, be mindful of the multiple varieties of quick oats in the shelf. Tip: Opt for the quick oats in the canister vs. the individual packets. Not only will you save money, but often the packets contain disodium phosphate (aka. salt), to help them swell even faster in the microwave, whereas the canister contains just the oats. Additionally, the packets contain added sugar, if choosing the flavored varieties.
Consuming uncooked oats, like overnight oats that are soaked in milk or yogurt to soften, contain resistant starch. Resistant starch is a carbohydrate that resists digestion in the small intestine and ferments in the large intestine. As the fibers ferment they act as a prebiotic and feed the good bacteria in the gut.
The John Hopkins Patient Guide to Diabetes notes that “When starches are digested they typically break down into glucose. Because resistant starch is not digested in the small intestine, it doesn’t raise glucose. Gut health is improved as fermentation in the large intestine makes more good bacteria and less bad bacteria in the gut. Healthy gut bacteria can improve glycemic control. Other benefits of resistant starch include increased feeling of fullness, treatment and prevention of constipation, decrease in cholesterol, and lower risk of colon cancer. Resistant starch is fermented slowly so it causes less gas than other fibers.”
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Give the gift of new recipe ideas for your foodie loving family members and friends. I am sharing some of my favorite cookbooks in my Cookbook Gift Guide. I am very excited to share so many cookbooks from my fellow dietitian colleagues that are not only packed with delicious recipes but also nutrition education.
For more foodie inspired gift ideas, head over to my shop page!
Yotam Ottolenghi is one of the world’s most beloved culinary talents. In this follow-up to his bestselling Plenty, he continues to explore the diverse realm of vegetarian food with a wholly original approach. Organized by cooking method, more than 150 dazzling recipes emphasize spices, seasonality, and bold flavors. From inspired salads to hearty main dishes and luscious desserts, Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking from London’s Ottolenghi’s amust-have for vegetarians and omnivores alike. This visually stunning collection will change the way you cook and eat vegetables
You Have It Made
Ellie Krieger, New York Times best-selling and multi-award-winning author, has written a cookbook devoted to the kind of recipes that her fans have been waiting for—make-ahead meals. For those who are always short on time when it comes to cooking, Ellie is here to help. Her recipes—which include breakfast bakes, soups, salads, casseroles, and more—can all be prepared ahead of time, making putting food on the table that much easier. Each recipe includes instructions for refrigerating and/or freezing as well as storing and reheating directions. With exciting dishes like the Pumpkin Spice Overnight Oats in Jars and the Herbed Salmon Salad, you’ll be able to have meals ready days in advance. As with her other books, all of Ellie’s recipes are healthy and come complete with nutrition information. But that doesn’t mean they sound like diet food! Just look at the Creamy Tomato Soup, Chicken Enchilada Pie, and Smoky Smothered Pork Chops, to name a few. You Have It Madehelps you turn your fridge and freezer into a treasure chest of satisfying, good-for-you meals.
Never before has there been a phenomenon like Momofuku. A once-unrecognizable word, it’s now synonymous with the award-winning restaurants of the same name in New York City (Momofuku Noodle Bar, Ssäm Bar, Ko, Má Pêche, Fuku, Nishi, and Milk Bar), Toronto, and Sydney. Chef David Chang single-handedly revolutionized cooking in America and beyond with his use of bold Asian flavors and impeccable ingredients, his mastery of the humble ramen noodle, and his thorough devotion to pork.
Chang relays with candor the tale of his unwitting rise to superstardom, which, though wracked with mishaps, happened at light speed. And the dishes shared in this book are coveted by all who’ve dined—or yearned to—at any Momofuku location (yes, the pork buns are here). This is a must-read for anyone who truly enjoys food!
The Mindful Glow Cookbook
In over 100 recipes, Abbey Sharp, of Abbey’s Kitchen, shows us how she eats: healthy and nourishing meals that are packed with flavor like PB & J Protein Pancakes, Autumn Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese, Stuffed Hawaiian Burgers, Chicken, Sweet Potato and Curry Cauliflower, Chocolate Stout Veggie Chili, Chewy Crackle Almond Apple Cookies, and Ultimate Mini Sticky Toffee Puddings. Many of her recipes are plant-centric and free of dairy, gluten, and nuts. Others contain some protein-rich, lean beef, poultry, eggs, and dairy, so there are plenty of delicious recipes for everyone and every occasion. Featuring gorgeous photography throughout, The Mindful Glow Cookbookis perfect for anyone looking to fully nourish their body, satisfy food cravings, and enjoy every snack, meal, and decadent dessert in blissful enjoyment.
Thug Kitchen lives in the real world. In their first cookbook, they’re throwing down more than 100 recipes for their best-loved meals, snacks and sides for beginning cooks to home chefs. (Roasted Beer and Lime Cauliflower Tacos? Pumpkin Chili? Grilled Peach Salsa? Believe that sh*t.) Plus they’re going to arm you with all the info and techniques you need to shop on a budget and go and kick a bunch of ass on your own.
This book is an invitation to everyone who wants to do better to elevate their kitchen game. No more ketchup and pizza counting as vegetables. No more drive-thru lines. No more avoiding the produce corner of the supermarket. Sh*t is about to get real.
Bowls of pasta, abundant seafood, roasted vegetables, bread dipped into olive oil, and even a glass of wine―the Mediterranean diet is easy to follow because it’s also a lifestyle. The 30-Minute Mediterranean Diet Cookbook makes it easier than ever to get your fill of the Mediterranean diet and all of its health benefits with quick, satisfying recipes for health and longevity.
Table-ready in 30 minutes or less, these classic Mediterranean diet meals combine easy-to-find ingredients with quick prep and cook times, so that you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying your food. From Breakfast Bruschetta to Baked Chicken Caprese to Chilled Dark Chocolate Fruit, The 30-Minute Mediterranean Diet Cookbook makes the Mediterranean diet a staple for everyday schedules.
Rich in fish and seafood, hearty vegetables, and wholesome grains―pescatarianism is a varied and balanced diet. The Pescatarian Cookbookis a complete reference to reap all benefits of this naturally nutritious diet with essential information, recipes, and healthy meal plans.
From Zucchini Pancakes with Smoked Salmon for breakfast to Grilled Swordfish with Chimichurri and Roasted Vegetables for dinner, this pescatarian cookbook offers perfectly portioned pescatarian plates for every meal. Complete with 3 weeks’ worth of meal plans―that include shopping lists and tips for meal prep―The Pescatarian Cookbook is your go-to reference to make the pescatarian diet a sustainable and satisfying lifestyle.
Taco! Taco! Taco!:
Make every day Taco Tuesday! Tacos are the perfect food–uniquely versatile and incredibly delicious! Taco! Taco! Taco!, written by Sara Haas, RDN, LDN, features 100 taco recipes that are as easy to prepare as they are to love.
Who doesn’t like tacos? Simple to make, tacos can be prepared in many different ways, and provide the ideal platform for tons of nourishing foods. Taco! Taco! Taco! features 100 taco recipes, each providing delicious and fun ideas for your next meal.
When you’re dealing with symptom flare-ups, the last thing you want to do is spend hours cooking. The 30-Minute Thyroid Cookbook offers quick recipe solutions to manage hypothyroid and Hashimoto’s symptoms, so that you can get in and out of the kitchen and back to your life.
From Crispy Baked Tempeh Fingers to Rub Roasted Pork Tenderloin, these no-fuss recipes combine quick and easy prep and cook times for table-ready meals in 30-minutes or less. Complete with a guide to setting up a thyroid-friendly kitchen, plus tons of tips and tricks to make home cooking easier, The 30-Minute Thyroid Cookbook is an everyday solution to get long-term symptom relief.
The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club
Whether for weight loss, managing prediabetes or Type II diabetes, or a healthy, fit lifestyle, The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club, written by Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN is filled with delicious, easy to make recipes containing 300 calories or less and packed with a minimum of 20 grams of protein. Power up your morning with protein! You’ll find recipes featuring dairy, protein powders, nuts, seeds, eggs and ancient grains including hot trends like overnight oats, smoothie bowls and mug cakes. Discover healthier versions of classics like pancakes and French toast. Many recipes are also vegetarian and gluten free. In a hurry in the morning? Don’t worry! Prepare your breakfast in the evening or on the weekend to save precious time during the morning rush while ensuring you begin the day with an energizing, protein-packed breakfast!
The 28 Day DASH Diet Weight Loss Program
Achieve your weight loss goals with the comprehensive diet and exercise plan from The 28-Day DASH Diet Weight-Loss Program, co-authored by Andy De Santis, RD, MPH, and Julie Andrews, MS, RDN, CD.
The DASH diet offers a path to weight loss that is rooted in balanced eating, but it’s not the only key to your success. The 28-Day DASH Diet Weight-Loss Program offers a holistic diet and lifestyle plan to help you achieve your weight loss goals for long-term health.
The 28-Day DASH Diet Weight-Loss Program begins by tackling critical lifestyle components for good health with guidance for exercise routines, stress management, and a good night’s sleep. With a 28-day meal plan that includes trackers to monitor habits and exercise, this book kick-starts weight loss and sets you on a path of long-term health.
Whole Cooking and Nutrition
Enough of the dieting and deprivation! It’s time to embrace the joy of eating well with the intention that healthy foods are nourishing, sustaining and delicious. Whole Cooking and Nutrition, written by Katie Cavuto, MS, RD, RYT, shifts the conversation away from dieting to one of positive messages and gratifying intentions. The result is a book packed with information to help readers improve their relationship with food, turning a spotlight on 85 everyday foods that maximize flavor and boast rich nutrient density that will inspire you to live a healthy lifestyle! With more than 150 vibrant, flavorful recipes, this cookbook promotes a mindful, pleasurable approach to eating.
A complete dietary program for women seeking a healthy pregnancy. Created by RDN certified experts, Liz Shaw, RD and Sara Haas, RDN, LDN, Fertility Foods provides you with powerful nutritional benefits and more than 100 recipes.
Struggling with infertility can be one of the most frustrating experiences for women looking to conceive. Rather than juggle multiple prescription medications all while scheduling an endless series of doctors’ visits, Fertility Foods helps you to seek better results—just by changing your diet!
As you prepare to enter one of the most significant times in your life, you owe it to yourself and your future children to make sure that your body has absolutely everything it needs, at the proper times and in the proper quantities. Fertility Foodsis more than just a diet plan or cookbook, with over 100 nutritious, satisfying dishes to boost your fertility. It’s a companion, a constant support providing you with the information you need to ensure you receive proper nutrition before conception.
Moving beyond your traditional cookbook filled with delicious recipes, I also really love these educational books, which are perfect for anyone who loves to cook. From food pairings to food science, these additional books will be a great gift for your foodie loving family members and friends.
The Spice Companion
A stunning and definitive spice guide by the country’s most sought-after expert, with hundreds of fresh ideas and tips for using pantry spices, 102 never-before-published recipes for spice blends, gorgeous photography, and botanical illustrations.
Since founding his spice shop in 2006, Lior Lev Sercarz has become the go-to source for fresh and unusual spices as well as small-batch custom blends for renowned chefs around the world. The Spice Companioncommunicates his expertise in a way that will change how readers cook, inspiring them to try bold new flavor combinations and make custom spice blends. For each of the 102 curated spices, Lev Sercarz provides the history and origin, information on where to buy and how to store it, five traditional cuisine pairings, three quick suggestions for use (such as adding cardamom to flavor chicken broth), and a unique spice blend recipe to highlight it in the kitchen.
The Food Lab
Ever wondered how to pan-fry a steak with a charred crust and an interior that’s perfectly medium-rare from edge to edge when you cut into it? How to make homemade mac ‘n’ cheese that is as satisfyingly gooey and velvety-smooth as the blue box stuff, but far tastier? How to roast a succulent, moist turkey (forget about brining!)―and use a foolproof method that works every time?
As Serious Eats’s culinary nerd-in-residence, J. Kenji López-Alt has pondered all these questions and more. In The Food Lab, Kenji focuses on the science behind beloved American dishes, delving into the interactions between heat, energy, and molecules that create great food. Kenji shows that often, conventional methods don’t work that well, and home cooks can achieve far better results using new―but simple―techniques. In hundreds of easy-to-make recipes with over 1,000 full-color images, you will find out how to make foolproof Hollandaise sauce in just two minutes, how to transform one simple tomato sauce into a half-dozen dishes, how to make the crispiest, creamiest potato casserole ever conceived, and much more.
The Vegetarian Flavor Bible
Throughout time people have chosen to adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet for a variety of reasons from ethics to economy to personal and planetary well-being Experts now suggest a new reason for doing so maximizing flavor – which is too often masked by meat-based stocks or butter and cream The Vegetarian Flavor Bible is an essential guide to culinary creativity based on insights from dozens of leading American chefs representing plant-based whole foods including vegetables fruits grains legumes nuts and seeds the book provides an A-to-Z listing of hundreds of ingredients from acai to zucchini blossoms cross-referenced with the herbs spices and other seasonings that best enhance their flavor resulting in thousands of recommended pairings The Vegetarian Flavor Bible is the ideal reference for the way millions of people cook and eat today- vegetarians vegans and omnivores alike. This groundbreaking book will empower both home cooks and professional chefs to create more compassionate healthful and flavorful cuisine.
A well-made meal planner guarantees that hectic schedules don’t get in the way of healthy meals. More effective than a pen and paper, the 52-Week Meal Planner provides the tools you need to map out exactly how you’re going to shop, cook, and eat, week after week.
This handy meal planner features one year’s worth of weekly templates to plan breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. With grocery lists, price comparison sheets, and recipe pages, the 52-Week Meal Planner is an all-in-one guide to take control of what you eat and how much time and money you spend.
This post contains affiliate links, to find out more information, please read my disclosure statement.
According to Cook’s Illustrated, “Eighty-proof vodka is 60 percent water and 40 percent alcohol. Unlike water, alcohol does not contribute to the formation of gluten, the network of proteins that can cause a crust to turn leathery.”
By using vodka instead of water, you can add more liquid to your dough, making it easier to roll, while still limiting the gluten development that can threaten to turn your tender dough tough. As the crust bakes, most of the ethanol ends up vaporizing into the air and you’re left with a crust that’s flaky and tender with no trace of the alcohol flavor.
On Amazon Prime Day in 2017, it was estimated that 215,000+ Amazon customers purchasing the Instant Pot on Prime Day alone. It was the hottest new kitchen appliance and it’s here to stay! I’m curious to see if it will exceed in 2018 Amazon Prime Day.
The Instant Pot is a single appliance that does the job of seven (yes, seven!) different kitchen appliances. It can handle the tasks of a slow cooker, electric pressure cooker, rice cooker, steamer, yogurt maker, sauté/browning pan, and a warming pot. Think of all those appliances taking up space in your kitchen that can be replaced by one.
It’s magical! Check out these 7 tips and tricks about the Instant Pot I wish I knew before I started using mine.
1. Be sure the pressure value is turned to seal.
When you use the pressure cooking feature, be sure the pressure value is set to seal. If it is set to vent, the Instant Pot will not be able to come to pressure. It can be easy to miss if you’re cooking in a hurry. You’ll hear a whistling sound from the Instant Pot if the pressure value is not set to seal. Simply turn it, and then the unit will come to pressure.
2. Utilize the steaming rack. Use the steaming rack what it’s intended for – steaming. It perfect steams food in a matter of minutes and makes the perfect hard-boiled eggs. Beyond just steaming, the steaming rack can be useful for reheating. Use the steamer insert and add food wrapped in foil. If you open the Instant Pot to add an ingredient, it will reheat much faster.
3. Get acquainted with saute mode.
What I love about the Instant Pot vs. a Slow Cooker is the saute function. A recipe can be made from start to finish right in the Instant Pot. I don’t know about you, but when I see a slow cooker recipe that requires other pots and pans to first to brown over stove top then to add to the slow cooker, I’m more likely to pass over that recipe.
4. Food cooks by surface area rather than volume.
Larger pieces of foods like a roast or a large potato will cook slower than foods cut into smaller pieces. The steam and pressure must reach the inside of each piece of food, so if you want to speed up your cooking time, cut food into smaller pieces.
5. No need to wait for food to thaw. Start right from frozen.
Don’t waste time waiting for items from the freezer to defrost. Add frozen veggies, fruit or other frozen ingredients directly to your Instant Pot. It may just take a few more minutes of cook time.
6. The cook time listed in your recipe is not the total amount of time it will take.
The Instant Pot needs time to heat up before it starts to cook and needs time to release the pressure afterward. Add about 10 minutes to the total cook time, mentally, every time you see a suggested number and you’ll always have a better idea of the actual cook time.
7. Easy clean-up.
Many of the Instant Pot’s parts, including the inner pot and steam rack, can be washed in the dishwasher, making for a quick clean-up. The outside of the Instant Pot can easily be wiped down with a wet towel. Keep in mind that the lid does need to be hand-washed, but hey, you can wash one part by hand, can’t you?
Let’s get nerdy! I love sharing new recipes with you, but I want to start diving more into the food science of food too. When a recipe calls for baking soda or baking powder, what is their purpose? What’s the difference between the two?
Let’s answer the first question: Is there a difference between baking soda and baking powder? YES!
My friend, who is an 8th-grade science teacher, says “Obviously, there is a difference. When you add baking soda to vinegar, it makes cool science volcanos and the other doesn’t.”
Welp, that’s all you need to know. Blog post over. Just kidding, there is so much more to learn! Baking soda and baking powder do have a lot in common, as they are both chemical leaveners, meaning they generate gas during the making and baking of a batter.
Some recipes may call for one or the other, or both, but just make sure you don’t confuse the two because they do have distinct differences.
Baking soda contains a single ingredient, sodium bicarbonate. When baking soda is combined with something acidic (think buttermilk, yogurt, citrus juice, vinegar, etc.), it produces carbon dioxide. This creates little bubbles that helps give rise to baked goods.
I know you might be thinking, I’ll just add more to get a better rise in my baked goods. Think again. Be careful not to add too much! When sodium bicarbonate is heated it produces sodium carbonate, which produced a metallic taste. No one wants a metallic tasting muffin. That metallic taste can be neutralized by the acid that is used in the recipe, while still giving our baked goods a pretty good rise.
Did you know?
You can also use baking soda to create homemade cleaners to freshen and clean up tough stains in your home. Learn ways you can use baking soda for cleaning purposes.
Baking powder is a mixture of baking soda and dry acid (plus, sometimes cornstarch). Yup, baking soda is one of the main ingredients in your baking powder. The acid that is typically used is cream of tartar. Cornstarch is often added in to keep the ingredients separate and dry.
The balance of acid (cream of tartar) and base (baking soda) is already balanced for you, so there will be no metallic aftertaste even if you go a little heavy handed with baking powder.
Baking powder only needs a liquid or moisture for a reaction to occur (no acid necessary). With baking powder, the chemical reaction that helps the product rise happens when the product is slowly heated. Baking powder allows for more flexibility because you can let the batter or dough sit for a little while before baking and still get the rise you’re after.
You might see some baking powders at the grocery store that say “double acting”. This means that a small amount of carbon dioxide is released and that some leavening occurs (bubbles) when the baking powder gets wet from wet ingredients, but the rest of the leavening occurs when the baked good is heated.