How to Deep Fry

How to Deep Fry

Many people want to learn how to deep fry. Who doesn’t? Just about anything deep fried is amazing: chicken, French fries, fish, calamari, even Oreos and cheesecake! Deep fried food has been a favorite for centuries, dating back to the Egyptians and later by the Greeks. By the thirteenth century, recipes show that fried fish was a common meal in Spain and Portugal and funnel cakes were already common in northern Europe. From then, we have begun deep frying more and more food—and that’s a great thing! Here are some tips to learning to deep fry foods:

Get the Proper Tools.

You can deep fry using a variety of tools. From a deep fryer, a wok, or a fry basket. The easiest is by far using a deep fryer so I would recommend this for anyone deep frying for the first time.

Temperature is Key.

The right temperature can make or break the food you are cooking. If your heat is too high, you will have to leave the food in longer to cook and it can become extremely greasy and even burned. Heat too low will cause your food to lack that crisp and crunch everyone loves. While the temperature of the oil depends on the food, specifically the thickness of the food, you can plan for the temperature being somewhere between 350 and 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Clean Your Fryer.

Whether you are using a deep fryer, wok, or fry basket, it is important that you are cleaning this tool regularly. I have heard many people tell me “It adds more flavor” by not cleaning it, and, while that may or may not be true, it also adds contaminants to your food. This may end up adding a flavor that you like, however it is not healthy and could lead to health problems later. Use dish detergent and/or baking soda to clean your tools, regularly, to prevent contamination and keep your food tasting yummy.

Don’t Add too Much Oil.

Regardless of whether you are using a deep fryer, wok, or fry basket, you need to make sure that you are not using too much oil. I recommend only filling the pan half-way. The oil can and will splatter and you do not want to be burned by the excess oil. Also, you will need to dispose of the oil later and having less will make your life a lot easier.

Pat Food Dry.

Before placing the chicken, poultry, or whatever food item into the deep fryer, wok, or fry basket, you want to make sure that the food is dry. To do this, use a paper towel to remove any excess water or fluid that may be on your soon-to-be-fryed food. If the food is wet, it will add water to the oil and if you are going to be cooking more than a few things, this could affect how they cook.

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Be a Prep Master

Fresh Vegetables Chopped In Preparation For Cooking

Anyone who has ever attempted cooking from scratch knows that it can be very time consuming. However, the cook who knows how to prep ahead can prepare home cooked meals very quickly. This is immensely helpful for those hectic days spent getting the kids to and from their various activities! Here are a few tips to help you save time in the kitchen by making use of ingredients frozen beforehand.

Sauces and Stews
Any dish that goes on top of rice, pasta or noodles will be convenient to freeze. Simply ladle out portions into tupperware dishes, cool in the refrigerator, then place in the freezer. Tomato sauce, chili, beef stroganoff and curries are all great dishes to freeze ahead of time. Then you just need to make fresh rice, pasta or noodles. Dishes such as these can keep for up to one year. Anything containing seafood should be consumed within six months.

Vegetables
Every mother would love to cook with more fresh veggies, but it takes a lot of time to prepare them. A major time saver is to freeze them so that they are readily available later. Start by peeling (when required) and dicing the veggies. Place them in a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds to one minute depending on what vegetable it is. The idea is not to cook the vegetables, but to shut down the enzymes that will cause them to deteriorate even in the freezer. After this brief blanching, place them in your favorite freezer-safe dishes, add just enough water to cover, and place in the freezer. (Remember to leave space for the water to expand.) This frozen block can be popped out, placed in a pot, and brought to a boil for an instant side dish at a later time. If you're sure you'll be using them for a soup or stew, you can cover them with broth instead of water. And if you're chopping them for use in a stir fry or other similar dish, you can simply freeze them without water.
Casseroles
Frozen casseroles provide home cooked quality at convenience food speed! Most casseroles are great candidates for freezing. Simply get out your dishes (or buy a few disposable aluminium baking dishes), prepare the casserole as usual, cover tightly with plastic wrap and foil, and put it in the freezer. When you want to cook the casserole, just remove the plastic wrap and place the dish in a hot oven. Cooking time will vary based on the size of the dish. Lasagna, baked spaghetti and shepherd's pies are some examples of casseroles that are a breeze to prepare ahead of time and pop in the oven later. They will keep for up to one year.

Incorporating these tips into your cooking routine will save a great deal of time. Cooking delicious, healthy meals for the family is much more enjoyable when you prep ahead. Make use of these time savers and you can effortlessly throw together home cooked meals all through the week.

 

Preparing & Storing Meat

Kafta Shawarma Chicken Pita Wrap Roll Sandwich

Cook, Package, and Freeze Meat Ahead for Quick Meal Preparation

Your days are full, but you can take part of the chore out of making dinner by not only planning meals but also cooking meat in advance to freeze and use later. It is possible to shorten dinner preparations considerably if you shop for meat once a month, and take a day to cook it ahead and store.

A vacuum packager makes storage easy, but cling wrap and zippered freezer bags together work well, too. The secret to storing meat is to eliminate as much air as possible from surrounding the food. This helps avoid freezer burn and preserve the flavor of the meat. Make sure to use the thicker freezer zipper bags, not the everyday bags. Season meat as you use it in your favorite family recipes, typically with salt and pepper. Other seasonings can be added when you make your dish. And if the weather is right for a BBQ, cook some extra meat to freeze.

Cooked ground beef is one of those foods that you can easily freeze for later use. Depending on the size of your family, you can store the meat in one or two pound batches, and take it out to use in tacos, casseroles, chili, pizza or any family favorites that call for ground beef.

Grilled steak is good to cook ahead and store in the freezer, too. Grill it to your family’s liking and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap before putting in a zippered freezer bag. Thaw what you need and slice for Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, beef stroganoff, stew, Asian dishes, or any of your other favorite beef dishes. If you know you'll use some meat cut into strips or chunks, you may want to do this before freezing.

Chicken is another versatile meat that is great to cook ahead for quick meals. Roast or crockpot a whole chicken or several chicken breasts, and let cool at room temperature for about 20 minutes or until you can handle it. Remove all the meat from the bones and store it in double zippered freezer bags to use in your favorite soup, stir fry, wrap, quesadilla or chicken salad recipes. If you buy the value sized package of chicken breasts, they're easy to freeze individually or cubed. Cool completely and then wrap full breasts in plastic wrap and put cut up chunks in zipper bags, then each should be put in to larger freezer bags. Remember to remove as much air as possible.

For larger quantities, steak and chicken pieces do well wrapped tightly in plastic wrap bundles, and then put into a gallon-size freezer bag. You can remove just the number of servings you need and save the rest for later. Force as much air as you can from the bag before zipping it closed. Be sure to date everything, and do not store any cooked meat longer than three or four months, at the most.

Plan a weekly or monthly dinner menu that utilizes your frozen, precooked meat, and you will truly enjoy the time it saves. Thaw packages of meat for 24 hours, always in the refrigerator, and if it is still a bit icy to start, it will work fine.

Corn Muffins…Fresh From Your Freezer

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Nothing beats a warm muffin just out of the oven, especially when it is paired with a nice bowl of chili or soup. Corn muffins are simple to make and easy to store in the freezer for a day when there is no time for baking. If you enjoy the taste of corn muffins, why not grab a corn muffin fresh from your freezer anytime? First you will need a good make ahead recipe like the one below.

Now or Later Muffins

1 cup of yellow corn meal
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1/3 cup of sugar
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup of vegetable oil or canola oil
1 cup of milk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place paper liners in a 12 muffin pan--this makes clean up easier (if you do not have paper liners, grease the pan). Combine all dry ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk together. Beat the egg in a small bowl and add to dry ingredients. Add oil and milk and stir gently until combined. Spoon mixture into prepared muffin tin, filling each cup about one-half to three fourths full. Place in preheated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

When the pan cools slightly, carefully remove muffins from pan and place on a wire rack to cool. Once muffins are cool, if paper liners were used, gently remove them from the muffins. Place muffins in large (one gallon) freezer storage bags. Use two bags so muffins will stay in a single layer while freezing. As with any food, make ahead muffins can be kept frozen for months, but it is best to use them sooner for better flavor and quality.

When ready to serve, thaw the muffins at room temperature for at least an hour. Once the muffins thaw they may be eaten at room temperature. If warm muffins are preferred, place them on a baking pan and heat in a 300 degree oven until warm. If you must microwave the muffins, use a low setting since it is easy to overcook them in a microwave oven.

Enjoy these muffins with soup, chili, with a salad or with a drizzle of honey for a quick snack. Once you enjoy these muffins, you will want to keep some on hand.

I Just Got A Slow Cooker…Now What?

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A slow cooker can be the start of a new cooking experience that leads to a more simplified, less stressful lifestyle. It can also be the encouragement you need to get more organized in the kitchen. Using this convenient kitchen appliance on a frequent basis gives you an opportunity to reduce your grocery expenses while preparing new, healthy recipes for your family.

With your new kitchen helper, you can easily prepare large quantities of food with a minimal amount of skill or effort. Once-a-month cooking marathons are a wonderful way to simplify your life. Slow cookers are an ideal accessory that makes cooking in large quantities incredibly easy. If you are a new user, there are a few additional items you will need if you decide to cook large amounts of food at one time. You will need some freezer bags and storage containers. As a new user, you may want to do some research on freezer tips to be sure that you follow the best method for the type of food you are freezing.

If you want to prepare a month of meals at one time, you will have to do some planning. First of all, you'll need to block off one day, or possibly two half days, for cooking. You'll need a menu plan. It's helpful if you can go shopping the day prior to your scheduled cooking day. Go shopping with a list in hand that includes everything you will need to prepare the items on the menu you prepared.

On the day you are doing your once-a-month cooking, start with the recipes that will go in the cooker first, then move on to baked goods or stove top cooking. As a time saver, chop all of the vegetables you will need for the recipes at one time. You can then measure out what you need for each recipe without having to switch from mixing to chopping. You'll find this really will save you some time.

Many of the recipes for your favorite soups, stews and sauces can be doubled so that you can freeze them in meal size portions. Once these have been removed from the freezer and thawed in the refrigerator, you can reheat them in the slow cooker. That makes life even easier for you. Now, go search through your recipes, plan your shopping, and soon you'll be ready to prepare recipes in large quantities, freeze them in mealtime portions, and enjoy the time you save.