Cooking tips and more!

Remember how I told you my husband kept getting on me to put some paper and pen on my nightstand so I can jot down blog post ideas? Well I got the idea early this morning for this post, it actually came out of a dream. Can you believe it?  I didn’t jot it down because it was so vivid I woke up and remembered everything in the dream.

In my dream a good friend was telling me she was glad to see me at a party where everyone brought food to share because she knew mine would be good. I’m glad to hear comments like those. Then she asked me some questions about cooking grilled cheese of all things! Remember, this was all part of the dream. Very silly but apparently she said her husband kept burning the grilled cheese. My tip to her was this: set the heat to medium and be patient. It seems he was in a hurry to get that grilled cheese sandwich made and kept burning the second side by using very high heat. I said have him start the sandwich on medium heat that way the pan isn’t overly hot when he flips to the other side.

Now that was just so weird to me to have such a detailed conversation in my dream but it told me something: little tips like using med. heat to make grilled cheese are helpful. I think I might make this a weekly post, kitchen and cooking tips that is. Here we go.

1.  When toasting nuts on the stove top, watch them carefully and use a med-low heat. Nuts can burn very fast if you don’t pay attention.  Pinenuts are expensive and often they are to be toasted for recipes so you really don’t want to burn or ruin them.

2. Always salt your pasta water, it’s your only chance to salt the pasta before you add any sauce or topping.

3. Never ever under any circumstances rinse your pasta! The starch that comes out of the pasta helps the sauce cling to the pasta so keep it there.

4. Never cook your pasta ahead of time unless it’s for a baked pasta dish. Make it fresh and serve right away every time. I can tell you horror stories of people cooking their pasta early in the day and warming it with hot water before dinner. Shudder!

5. Olive oil can be used in place of butter and most other oils in many recipes. Don’t be afraid to experiment, even in baking. Olive oil comes in many varieties and flavors, find a few different ones you like and use them often.

6. Use room temperature eggs when baking or making fresh pasta or meatballs. Who wants to work with cold eggs?

7.  Add fresh herbs in the last 10 minutes of making sauce, any sooner and you have killed their flavors with overcooking.

8. Temper sour cream before adding it to sauces or soups by adding a few tablespoons of hot broth to the sour cream first. Mix well then add to soup/sauce.

9. Use the freshest ingredients in recipes for the best flavors. Cook with in-season vegetables. Tomatoes taste best in the late summer or early fall. Shop in your local farmers markets.

10.  Be patient when cooking. Good food takes time. Don’t rush when heating oil for sauteing, use a medium heat and wait for it to warm up. You’ll reap good rewards if you are patient and take your time.

If you have any tips to share, leave them in the comments. Or if you have a cooking question you want to ask, ask in the comments. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll help you find it. Have a great weekend!

Oh yeah, I won the contest for the book Addict Nation with my post A Nation of Addicts. Cool, huh?

7 thoughts on “Cooking tips and more!

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  2. Congrats on winning the contest! Love your tips. I always added salt to my pasta when cooking but didn’t know why. I thought it was to help the water boil more quickly! LOL

    • I thought the same thing and while it may help, the seasoning advantage outweighs the boiling one, in my opinion. Since I’ve been using more salt in the pasta water, I have noticed a better flavor to my dishes. Thanks for the congrats.

  3. Congratulations on winning the book. Yay!


    I loved your list here. It was ALL helpful information. You know what? I think that this list is all practical and useful.

    But what I especially liked was the story about your husband and the dream. Aren’t dreams amazing how vivid they can be? What I think your friend was telling you in your dream was that your information is valuable and needs to be shared!

    Well done girl.

    Here. I’m going to add one to the list. When making pasta, after adding the sauce, continue to cook for a couple of minutes. That seems to get the flavor all the way through. At least that’s what my Italian husband says!


    • Julie, thank you for your words. I am thinking about your tip and I am guessing that only applies to sauce you are making in a pan while the pasta is cooking. The marinara sauces I make are in a huge pot so I am sure how your tip would work. Know what I mean?

      My friend, who was in the dream, is probably one of my best supporters for what I am doing here. So I think you are right about what it meant for her to be in the dream.

  4. As to #4, being the husband and all, I do get the occasional opportunity to take leftovers to work (3 out of 5 days a week). It’s still OK to use the microwave, the flavors of the sauce can be better the second day and out-weigh the pasta being soft.

    • You are absolutely correct babe! I heat up leftovers too. I’m glad you like taking leftovers because many men don’t. Maybe their wives aren’t good cooks like I am! hehe

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