Category: How To

Microwave Bacon

Cooing bacon in the microwave. Print

Microwave Bacon

Cooing bacon in the microwave.

Quick, easy, no mess microwave bacon!

  • Author: Trish Lobenfeld
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Bacon

Ingredients

sliced bacon

Instructions

Place covered plate in the microwave and select cook.

Cooking times vary depending on how many slices and the wattage on your microwave. Start slow, check, and continue until desired doneness is reached.

This should only take 2-5 minutes, depending on how many slices.

Notes

Use a microwave-safe plate lined with paper towel if you don’t have a microwave bacon plate.

As much as I love bacon, it’s a messy business to cook up a batch. My preferred method is to cook Microwave Bacon using a microwavable bacon plate.

Cooing bacon in the microwave.

I’ve had mine a long, long time. I looked them up on Amazon and found better designed models than my round one. Why round??? They even come with tops to prevent spattering; I use paper towel. I also line the bottom with paper towel for safety reasons. The ridges do keep the bacon grease away from the bacon, but if you’re cooking up several strips, that’s a lot of fat, the plate is hot, and the grease is slopping around in the bottom – very easy to get burned. The paper towel soaks up that grease and prevents dripping.

Cooing bacon in the microwave.

Crispy bacon or floppy bacon – which camp are you in?

The crew at Honeypie’s Recipes like floppy bacon, however my family members like crispy, really crispy bacon. The only thing needed to make crispy bacon is more time. You can easily make both floppy and crispy by removing some bacon earlier and holding in a warm oven (200 degrees F) on a platter or in a warming drawer.

Cooing bacon in the microwave.

Watch the How to Cook Microwave Bacon Video here.

Seafood en Papillote

Cooking en papillote is fun to make and intense flavors are easy to create because of the cooking method. I chose to use a mixture of cod, shrimp, and scallops for this Seafood en Papillote recipe.

En papillote simply means cooking “in parchment” in French. The Italians call it al cartoccio. Essentially, these are little packets of tender proteins with thinly sliced aromatics, herbs, spices and/or vegetables with a drizzle of acid, such as citrus or wine, a dollop of butter, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and tightly wrapped. The cooking method is a combination of baking and steaming. The enclosed package keeps the steam in, cooks quickly, infuses flavor, and keeps food moist.

The most important thing is to create a tight seal, so the bag puffs up. Using parchment paper can be a little tricky and aluminum foil is virtually fool-proof. The parchment paper, however, makes a more glamorous presentation – slightly charred paper that pierces easily releasing the aromas under the nose of the diner.

Folding the Parchment Packets

4 half-sheet parchment sheets (16 ½” x 12 ¼”)
Scissors
Large baking tray

Fold the parchment in half and trim to a 15″ x 12″ rectangle. Draw a half heart shape on each and cut with scissors.

en papillote

Open and lay the ingredients in the center, fold the paper over and crimp.

Crimping the Packet

en papillote

Start at the top of the packet and fold ½-inch over and crease well. Continue making ½-inch folds with a firm crease until you reach the bottom point. Crimp and tuck final pleat under the packet.

en papillote

The key to success is a tightly sealed packet to contain the steam.

Aluminum Foil Packets

Use either regular or heavy-duty foil that’s 20 inches wide. Pull 4 sheets that are 20 inches long.

Fold in half, open and place the food in the center of one side.

en papillote

Fold over and square off the side by folding the edge. Turn and fold each end, pressing hard to seal tightly.

en papillote

The advantages of foil is the ease of creating a secure seal and if you open the packet and the food isn’t cooked through, it reseals easily.

Watch the Seafood en Papillote video here.
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Seafood en Papillote

Cooking en papillote is fun to make and intense flavors are easy to create because of the cooking method. This Seafood en Papillote recipe uses halibut fillet, sea scallops, shrimp, and cherrystone clams.

  • Author: Trish Lobenfeld
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 4 servings
  • Category: Seafood
  • Method: Baking/Steaming

Ingredients

¼ cup white wine
¼ cup clam juice or fish stock
¼ cup minced shallots (2 small shallots)
1 tablespoon minced cloves garlic (3 medium cloves)
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper flakes
8  thin slices of fresh lemon
4  three- to four-ounce skinned white fish fillets, such as halibut or cod
8 cherrystone clams, thoroughly washed
8 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
8 sea scallops, cleaned
8 fresh thyme sprigs
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into four pieces

Instructions

Parchment paper or foil wrappers.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine the wine, clam juice or fish stock, shallots, garlic, salt, and pepper flakes in a covered container.

Place 2 slices of lemon centered near the midsection of each wrapper.

Set one fish filet on each of the lemons, set 2 clams, 2 shrimp, and 2 scallops, and 2 cherry tomatoes around the fish. Top with 2 thyme sprigs.

Shake the wine sauce to combine and pour a quarter over each fish and top with a one piece of the butter.

Crimp each packet and cook in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.

Serve in the package and let each dinner open. The aromatic steam is part of the experience.

Notes

Folding the Parchment Packets

4 half-sheet parchment sheets (16 ½” x 12 ¼”)
Scissors
Large baking tray

Fold the parchment in half and trim to a 15″ x 12″ rectangle. Draw a half heart shape on each and cut with scissors.

Open and lay the ingredients in the center, fold the paper over and crimp.

Crimping the Packet

Start at the top of the packet and fold ½-inch over and crease well. Continue making ½-inch folds with a firm crease until you reach the bottom point. Crimp and tuck final pleat under the packet.

The key to success is a tightly sealed packet to contain the steam.

Aluminum Foil Packets

Use either regular or heavy-duty foil that’s 20 inches wide. Pull 4 sheets that are 20 inches long.

Fold in half, open and place the food in the center of one side. Fold over and square off the side by folding the edge. Turn and fold each end, pressing hard to seal tightly.

The advantages of foil is the ease of creating a secure seal and if you open the packet and the food isn’t cooked through, it reseals easily.

Cooking Sunny-Side Up Eggs

sunny-side up eggs

I love a sunny-side up egg. The problem is that not many people cook them right. I want a sunshine yellow runny egg yolk, but I don’t want uncooked egg white on the top. Here’s my secret to cooking sunny-side up eggs!

My secret is to use an ice cube! It keeps the yolk high and prominent, perfectly runny and the egg whites cooked through.

Put a generous dollop of butter in a skillet over medium heat to melt. Once the butter foams, crack your egg(s) into the hot skillet and lower the heat a tad.

sunny-side up eggs

Pop an ice cube into the skillet.

sunny-side up eggs

Cover with a convex cover – like the one below.

sunny-side up eggs

The cover is going to jiggle and the butter sputter a little from the steam of the melting ice cube.

Remove the cover and you have a beautiful sunny-side-up egg!

sunny-side up eggs

Watch the How to Cook a Sunny-Side Up Egg video here.
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Cooking Sunny-Side Up Eggs

Use our fool-proof method to cook the perfect sunny-side up egg – an ice cube!

  • Author: Trish Lobenfeld
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 minutes
  • Total Time: 12 minutes
  • Yield: 1 serving
  • Category: Eggs
  • Method: Frying

Ingredients

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 large eggs
kosher salt
black pepper

Instructions

Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat.

Once the butter foams, drop 2 eggs into the skillet and add 1 ice cube.

Use a convex lid to cover the pan and cook for 60 – 90 seconds.

Slide the eggs onto a warm plate.

 

Scrambled Eggs

Scrambled Eggs with and without dairy

I googled for recipes of scrambled eggs with dairy and without. It was interesting to see how each method has die-hard fans. Does it make a difference if you use dairy nor not?

The water content of the egg white evaporates during cooking. Adding milk, especially whole or 2-percent milk, has added fat and water to keep the eggs moist.

Scrambled Eggs with and without dairy

Lack of dairy produces a scrambled egg that is a little drier and less fluffy, but with more of an eggy taste.

The difference is negligible, though. You decide what’s right for you.

See our post for an in-depth explanation on how to cook protein, which explains why we recommend cooking low and slow.

Scrambled Eggs with and without dairy

Beat the eggs well and season with salt and pepper before cooking for optimum flavor. A non-stick skillet requires less fat than a regular skilled. I prefer butter for the sweet taste it imparts, but you can easily substitute coconut oil or vegetable oil.

Watch the Scrambled Eggs without Dairy video here.

Adding a little milk or cream to your scrambled eggs makes lighter fluffier eggs. A tablespoon or two for 2 or 3 eggs is sufficient, substitute soy, almond or coconut milk, if desired. Final flavor varies.

Watch the Scrambled Eggs with Dairy video here.

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Scrambled Eggs

Scrambled Eggs with and without dairy

Scrambled eggs are delicious for any meal. For lunch place in a pita or wrap with some bacon and sliced tomatoes.

  • Author: Trish Lobenfeld
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 minutes
  • Total Time: 8 minutes
  • Yield: 1 portion
  • Category: Eggs

Ingredients

2 large eggs
1 1/2  tablespoons milk or cream
pinch of salt
pinch of black pepper
2 teaspoons butter or oil

Instructions

Beat the eggs, dairy, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl until frothy.

Heat the butter over medium heat in a skillet.

Once the butter is frothy, pour in the scrambled eggs and gently and continuously stir to create curds.

The eggs are done when all liquid disappears and the eggs are yellow and fluffy.

Notes

Substitute soy, almond or coconut milks for cow’s milk.

 

Winter Greens

Mustard Greens

My husband and I love greens of all kinds.  Hearty, leafy winter greens are readily available during the winter months; a welcome addition to our table. Look for collard greens, kale, mustard greens, Swiss chard, and turnip greens.

See this post for two recipes using winter greens.

How to Clean, Store and Use

Look for greens that are crisp and vibrant in color. Avoid yellowing greens with droopy leaves and thick stems. To prepare, remove and discard the thick stems.

KaleChop roughly, including the more delicate stems.

 

KaleSoak in lots of cool water and swish around to loosen any dirt. Rinse thoroughly. Repeat until the bottom of the bowl is free of any grit. To store, lightly spin dry; some residual moisture is desirable, which keeps the greens crisp and fresh. Roll in paper towel and place in an airtight container or plastic bag for up to a week.

Not only are greens delicious, they are low in calories, a good source of vitamins A and C, calcium, folic acid, and potassium. Greens mostly water (85-90%) and therefore shrink considerably during cooking. One large bunch will feed 2 people, so judge accordingly when purchasing.

Each green has a distinctive flavor and they are a great addition to soups, just stir in during the last 10 minutes of cooking. As a side dish, sauté with diced bacon or ham, onions, garlic. Add cooked potatoes, beans or rice for a heartier dish.

For post for two hearty winter green recipes.

Safely Blend Hot Ingredients

Blender Safety

Use these tips on how to safely blend hot ingredients to prevent an accidental splash of hot liquid in the face and chest.

  • Barely fill the blender halfway up the container. The blending action creates volume and the hot liquid oozes out the sides.
  • Make sure there is an even amount of liquid and solids in the container to blend smoothly.
  • Remove the smaller cap from the top and cover it with a kitchen towel folded in quarters or a thick oven mitt and be sure to hold the cloth or mitt over the hole with your hand. The steam creates pressure and pops the top off the blender and the hot liquid smacks you in the face.

Follow these simple tips and you’ll have a smooth puree and no accidents!

Try our: Curried Butternut Squash Soup.

Watch the video on How to Safely Blend Hot Ingredients here.

How To Sauté Chicken Breasts

finger test

Skinless boneless chicken breasts are so versatile. Here’s a simple way to sauté chicken breasts with only salt, pepper and a little olive oil. Pouring a vinaigrette or a little fresh citrus juice over the chicken as soon as it comes off the heat to rest quickly and easily infuses flavors into the chicken.

Make sure you pound the chicken breasts to even out the thickness and they’ll cook evenly. If you have time, let the chicken sit on the counter for 30 or 40 minutes to warm up a bit.

finger test

Check out the “Finger Test” video  to test for doneness when you don’t have a thermometer handy.

Watch the How To Sauté Chicken Breasts Here

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How To Sauté Chicken Breasts

sauteed chicken breast

Skinless boneless chicken breasts are so versatile. Here’s a simple way to sauté chicken breasts with only salt, pepper and a little olive oil. Pouring a vinaigrette or a little fresh citrus juice over the chicken as soon as it comes off the heat to rest quickly and easily infuses flavors into the chicken.

  • Author: Trish Lobenfeld
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 20 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings
  • Category: Chicken
  • Method: Saute

Ingredients

  • 1 whole skinless, boneless chicken breast, split
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions

  1. Pound each breast to even thickness for even cooking with a meat pounder or heavy-bottomed pan. Be sure to cover the chicken with film first to prevent splattering.
  2. Season each breast, both sides, with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat the oil over high heat in a skillet large enough to hold all the chicken, or cook in batches.
  4. Lay the chicken breasts in the pan and cook for 3 minutes.
  5. Turn and cook for 2 minutes.*
  6. Be sure to rest the chicken; then slice on the bias or serve whole.

Notes

Timing will varie depending on the thickness and temperature of the chicken.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 4

 

 

How To Blind Bake a Pie Crust

Blind baking

Not all pie fillings require baking, but the pie crust certainly does. Use this simple technique to blind bake a pie crust before adding the filling.

To blind bake a pie crust, place the dough in a pie dish, crimp and then use a fork to gently poke holes around the sides and bottom of the dough. This allows steam to escape and prevents the bottom of the pie dough rising into a small hill.

Blind bakingPlace a piece of plastic wrap, no worries, it doesn’t melt, parchment paper or foil in the bottom of the unbaked shell and fill with pie weights. Pie weights are sold in stores in small quantities and tend to be expensive. An excellent and inexpensive alternative is a one-pound package of dried beans. Cool the beans after removing and store in a covered container for reuse.
The cooking takes place in two stages:

  1. Baking with the beans in the shell and removing about 20 minutes in.
  2. Return the pie shell, without the beans or liner, and continue baking until golden brown.

Cool the shell before adding filling.

On occasion, it pays to blind bake a pie crust with a filling that needs to be cooked, such as quiche, which makes the bottom crust soggy. See our recipe for Bacon Spinach Quiche.

Blind baking

See the How To Blind Bake a Pastry Crust Here.

How to Finger Test a Chicken Breast for Doneness

Finger Test

Here’s a quick tip on how to finger test chicken breasts for doneness with your finger.

Sometimes we find ourselves without the proper tools at hand and need to improvise. Perhaps you’re at a friends house cooking or camping and don’t have an instant read thermometer. Here’s a little tip to help you out.

Finger test

Cutting the breast is an alternative, but it releases all those precious juices and dries it out. Use this method as a last resort if you’re still unsure.

Note: The chicken breasts should be white and juices should be clear (no red); pounding the chicken breasts to an even thickness helps and aids in more precise cooking.

Here’s our post on how to sauté chicken breasts.

Watch the “Finger Test” Video Here.

 

Hard Boiled Egg

eggs

The key to a successful hard boiled egg is gentle heat and slow cooking. By using this method, the egg is moist and tender with no off odor and a perfectly yellow egg yolk.

Overexposure to high heat releases sulfur from the egg white and iron from the yolk, which results in that unpleasant odor and gray-green coloration on the outer yolk.

Place eggs in a pan large enough to hold the eggs so they are covered by two inches of cold water. Bring to a boil, turn off the heat, cover and let sit for 12 minutes.

Plunge the eggs into an ice bath and let cool completely.

Crack and peel for delicate and delicious hard boiled eggs!

Here’s a recipe for Curried Devil Eggs.

How to Roll Out a Pie Crust

pastry dough/pie crust

The technique to roll out a pie crust is relatively simple. Follow these simple rules and the pie crust is tender and flaky.

Here’s our post on basic pie crust. Here you are instructed to gently handle the dough. The more moisture and agitation (mixing and kneading), the more the gluten develops. This makes the pie crust difficult to roll out, it stretches out and shrinks back. Refrigerate the dough for at least an hour before rolling out to allow the starch to properly hydrate.

Also see our post on how to freeze a pie crust.

How to Roll Out a Pie Crust

Lightly flour a flat surface to prevent sticking, place the dough in middle and lightly flour the top of the dough and the rolling pin.

The dough is cold and stiff, so start by tapping on the dough with the rolling pin in different directions, flip, flour and tap again.

pastry dough/pie crust

The dough has flattened a bit and warmed up, now place the rolling pin in the center of the dough and push out away from you. Place the dough in the center and pull towards you. Turn the dough, add a sprinkle of flour, and turn the 90 degrees and repeat. Keep rolling and turning until the dough is a 14-inch round and about ¼-inch thick.

pastry dough/pie crust

Fold the dough in half and in half again. Place the center point in the middle of the pan and reopen. Tuck the pie dough into the pan making sure to leave no gaps at the edges. Trim to 1-inch from the rim of the pan.

pastry dough/pie crust

Don’t discard those scraps – make these delicious pastry treats.

For a single pie crust, tuck edges of the dough under and then crimp with your fingers or with a fork to make a decorative edge.

For a double pie crust, add filling, trim dough and tuck both top and bottom crusts under and crimp.

 

Basic Pie Crust

How to make pie dough

Whenever I make a pie crust, I think of Grandma Mary, my mother’s mother. Pies have always been a big thing in our family and I remember when Grandma taught me how to make my first one. I was 16 and my parents had gone on vacation, a very rare occurrence, I can assure you, and she was staying with me and my brother.

I asked her to teach me and we set up on the table in the breakfast nook, put all the ingredients together, gently brought the pie dough together and rolled it out. This is the only cooking experience I ever had with her, which is a real shame considering the repertoire of recipes she had in her head! I didn’t realize until it was too late the importance of learning about food and recipes from family members, including my Mother-in-Law Ruth who passed away very early on in our marriage. Her sisters and daughter didn’t know her secrets either.

Cherish your memories of cooking with family and remember to write down traditional recipes and family favorites, even if you need to measure ingredients as you go along because they don’t!

Ratios

For a basic, savory pie dough use a 3:2:1 ratio of flour to butter to water, plus a little salt (1/2 teaspoon per 1 ½ cups flour). For a sweet pie dough add 1 tablespoon sugar per 1 ½ cups flour.

Flavored Crusts

Add more sugar for a sweeter crust, add herbs or shredded cheese for a savory crust.

Smear the Butter

You don’t need special equipment to make the dough. Mix the dry ingredients in a medium bowl, add the butter, which has been cut into small pieces and work the four and butter together by smearing together with your thumb and index finger until the butter is the size of peas. Alternatively, use a pastry blender, electric mixer or food processor, but be very cautious of over developing the dough when you add water with these appliances.

Smearing the butter coats the flour with fat and is one step in preventing an over-developed gluten. The most important factor is to use as little agitation as possible: minimal mixing, no kneading.How to make pie dough

Want a flakier crust? Leave the butter pieces in slightly larger pieces.

Flaky Crust

Butter contains about 15-20% water and milk solids, the rest is fat. Because of the water content, a butter crust is crispier than a crust made with lard or shortening, both of which are 100% fat.

The water in the butter turns to steam, puffs up the layers and creates that much desired flaky, crispy crust.

Add the Water

Water is always given in an approximation; it depends on how much moisture is in the flour. Use only cold water to keep the butter from getting too soft. Add about half the water at first and gently toss the flour and water together.

Pick up a small handful of the dough and press together. If it falls apart, add more water, toss and check. Keep this up until the dough holds together with no crumbling.

How to make pie dough

For a single-crust recipe, scoop the loose mixture onto a piece of plastic wrap, large enough to contain the disc.

For a double-crust recipe, divide the loose mixture in dough in half and place each portion onto a piece of plastic wrap large enough to contain the disc.

Gently form a mound and wrap the dough. Push the mound down with the palm of your hand and form a disc. Refrigerate at least two hours or overnight to hydrate the flour.

 

How to make pie dough

Watch the video here.

 

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Basic Pie Dough

How to make pie dough

This recipe gives the ingredients for a double-crust pie. Divide the recipe in half for a single, or make the whole recipe and freeze the second disc.

  • Author: Trish Lobenfeld
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 2 9- or 10-inch crusts
  • Category: Baking

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces and kept cold
  • 3/4 cup cold water, approximate

Instructions

  1. Mix the dry ingredients in a medium bowl, add the butter, which has been cut into small pieces and work the flour and butter together by smearing together with your thumb and index finger until the butter is the size of peas.
  2. Alternatively, use a pastry blender, electric mixer or food processor, but be very cautious of over developing the dough when you add water with the appliances.
  3. Water is always given as an approximation; it depends on how much moisture is in the flour. Use only cold water to keep the butter from getting too soft. Add about half the water at first and just toss the flour and water together. Pick up a small handful of the dough and press together. If it falls apart, add more water, toss and check. Keep this up until the dough holds together with no crumbling.
  4. Divide the dough in half, it’s loose and crumbly because you haven’t forced it together yet, and scoop each half onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Gently form a mound and wrap the dough.
  5. Push the mound down with the palm of your hand and form a disc. Refrigerate at least two hours or overnight to hydrate the flour.

Notes

Freezes well. Freeze as a disc or roll out and freeze as a rolled up sheet. See video here.