tips and tricks

Although many of my tips and tricks have little to do with cooking, I thought they would be useful and interesting.

I see alot of "I loved the recipe, but my kids wouldn't try it" on my blog. A trick I use to get my kids to try anything that works really well is to put it on a stick. Whatever it is...Brussels sprouts, chicken, fruit or's all more appealing to my kids when I put it on a BBQ skewer. I will call out "who wants green beans?". I get silence. I then call out "who wants green beans on a stick?" and they all yell "MEEEEEEEE". Go figure!

Another get them to eat it trick I use is give them the melon baller. I will give them a soft veggie like squash just cut in half and the melon baller. They will eat it gladly if they can ball it and eat it. Whether it's fruits like melon or soft veggies or even potatoes, it all goes down easier in little round shapes : ) Give it a try and let me know if it works for you.

When my 6 year old daughter was just 2, I planted some rosemary in the garden. She really loved picking it and anything else I planted, including flowers and tiny, not ready to be picked vegetables. She loved sprinkling seeds around and watering the garden. I got an idea one day at the grocery store that became a family tradition we have repeated with each child. I bought carrots with the leafy green tops still on. I went home, dug a few holes and planted all the carrots I bought, leaving just the tops exposed. I then called my daughter out to the garden and told her the seeds she planted were ready to be picked. Well, you could imagine the look on her little face as she pulled up these huge beautiful carrots. She was thrilled at the incredible results of her planting, from just days before! We have since repeated that with each child. I bet a 10 year old would even be excited about that experience!

A trick I use with poultry is first, I'd rather undercooked it than over. I can always cook it a bit extra if it's under, but when it's over it's over. Dry poultry is just not good. I cook my turkey meatballs or chicken, then remove them and place on a dish. I let it sit for 5 minutes before I check them. Letting them sit helps them complete cooking and reabsorb their liquids. Once I've left them for 5 minutes, I then cut one open. If it's not cooked, which doesn't happen often, I could always nuke (I mean microwave) them for 30 seconds at a time with no effect on their taste or texture at all. Try it, I never overcook my poultry based on this trick.

It is this time of year I remember to stock up on egg coloring tablets. I usually buy them if they are on sale or right after Easter when they are half off or more. Once in a while I make a dozen hard boiled eggs in all different colors and serve them on a Sunday morning. The kids are thrilled to peel and eat the eggs for breakfast. It always is a big deal when I serve them. And of course, hard boiled eggs keep for 5 days in the fridge, if there are any left over. Give it a try!

Keeping markers from drying out has always been a bone of contention for me and the kids. I realized that storing them in a ziploc bag, even without the tops, along with a moist papertowel, keeps them from drying out much longer. Without the tops they almost dry out immmediately. Even without tops, they will live on in their moist baggie environment! Give it a try. Let me know if it works for you.

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