By Cheryle Finley
JOPLIN, Mo. —
I was a little surprised when I saw tips for making groceries last longer on heidiklum.com. I would expect to see fashion advice, but not onion storage ideas. Sure enough, the tips are originally from buzzfeed.com, but Heidi uses them in her kitchen and wanted to pass them along to us.
The most interesting trick is to store onions in pantyhose. Tie knots between the onions and they will last as long as eight months. This could either be new wall art or a handy weapon. Don't store those onions with potatoes -- the two just don't mix. Instead, store potatoes with apples to keep them from sprouting.
Some more ideas: Add a dab of butter to the cut side of cheese to keep it from drying out. Spray leftover guacamole with cooking spray before putting it in the fridge for the same results.
Prepare a solution of one part white or apple cider vinegar to 10 parts water and swirl raspberries or strawberries around in the solution. Drain, rinse and store the berries in your refrigerator. The solution is weak enough that it won't leave a vinegar taste, but strong enough to keep the berries fresh longer. You should notice a real difference in the length of time it takes for your strawberries to grow gray fur.
Needing some chopped green onions in a hurry? Have them ready when you need them by chopping some ahead of time then freezing them in a plastic bottle. An empty water bottle works just fine. Make sure the onions are dry before freezing to prevent freezer burn.
Wrap the crown of a bunch of bananas with plastic wrap and they should last three to five days longer than they usually do. Store mushrooms in a paper bag -- not plastic -- in a cool, dry place or in the fridge. Sit ripe tomatoes on the counter at room temperature (away from sunlight) in a single layer with their stem sides up (not touching each other) to give them longer life. For tomatoes that aren't quite ripe, place them in a paper bag in a cool place. To get them to ripen faster, store them with fruit -- the gasses emitted will help ripen the tomatoes. Celery, broccoli and lettuce will stay crisp longer if wrapped in foil before being put away in the fridge.
I hope these ideas help keep your perishables fresher a little longer, just like a super model.
I like to start my day with a glass of Pepsi or Coke. I'm not a sipper, I'm a gulper. One piece of toast, then down with the glass of soda. Come to find out, according to "The Doctors" on TV, gulping is best for your teeth. Sipping soda all day can do more than add inches around the waist. Sure, it is mind-boggling when we are told that eliminating one soft drink per day will save 50,000 calories a year, but we should also be mindful of prolonged exposure of tooth enamel to soft drinks.
Ways to keep the acid and sugar from dissolving tooth enamel? Brushing your teeth, obviously. And if you want to drink soda, drink it with meals. Also be aware of the effects of fruit, fruit juice, pickles and salad dressings on your teeth. The best recommendation? Take everything in moderation. And, apparently, gulping.
We discovered Friday evening that Olive Garden now takes reservations. It's a new concept locally. You might expect a hiccup or two, but so far the staff is nailing it. I call it awesome! Bring on the salad and breadsticks.
For a whopping $1 investment, I bought the little cookbook, "Family Fun -- Cooking with Kids." There's lots of kid-friendly ideas, but some require the accompanying pictures in order to execute the idea. Take, for instance, the squid dogs. Try cutting wieners into three pieces, spearing the hot dogs with five or six pieces of dry spaghetti, then boiling the spaghetti dogs until the pasta is tender. You end up with squid dogs. With a little imagination, the cooked spaghetti dangling from the hot dog really does resemble a sea creature, but the picture helps you get the idea. The recipe for the mini frittatas is one you can really make your own by adding your favorite mix-ins. They make such nice individual servings. The steak fries offer several options to punch up the original recipe, but I wish I had thought of the Thanksgiving fries when I made them. The tomato soup is worth the extra effort, and it's suggested you serve it with grilled-cheese croutons. Here's how you make them: Make a grilled-cheese sandwich; cut it into 1-inch squares and toss them on top of the soup. A simple but super idea for mixing a classic combo. Happy eating!
1/4 cup half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon salt
Assorted mix-ins such as diced veggies, shredded cheese, cooked and chopped bacon, sausage or ham
Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Whisk together the eggs, half-and-half and salt in a medium bowl; evenly distribute mixture in 6-cup muffin pan, sprayed with cooking spray. Add 2 tablespoons of mix-ins to each cup, then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if desired. Bake at 350 degrees until frittatas are puffy and the edges are golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Yields 6 frittatas.
Oven baked steak fries
4 medium Idaho potatoes
1/4 cup oil
Salt to taste
Peel potatoes and slice into about 10 wedges. Dry off any excess starch with a paper towel. In a baking dish, toss the potatoes with the oil to coat. Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes, turning at least once. Salt to taste.
Cheese fries: Melt grated cheese over fries.
Spicy fries: Sprinkle fries with cayenne or seasoning salt before baking.
Italian fries: Melt mozzarella over baked wedges and dip them in tomato or pizza sauce.
Thanksgiving fries: Serve the fries with gravy.
Roasted tomato soup
6 cups cherry tomatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup chopped onion
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 cup whipping cream
On a baking sheet, combine tomatoes, 2 tablespoons oil, salt and pepper. Toss to coat and spread evenly in a single layer. Roast at 400 degrees until tomatoes are shriveled with brown spots, 35 to 45 minutes. In a large pot, heat the butter and 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and saute until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the undrained canned tomatoes, broth, thyme and roasted tomatoes plus any liquid on the baking sheet. Bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 40 minutes. Puree soup until smooth in food processor or blender. Return to pot and stir in cream. Warm over medium heat, stirring often, until steaming. Do not boil. Yields 10 servings.
Address correspondence to Cheryle Finley, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.