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5 Quick Cooking Tips to Save Time in the Kitchen

I can’t believe it’s Friday! As you can tell, I’m way behind this week on ‘stuff’. Every once in a while seems there is week that gets out of sync for some reason – and this is one of them. Maybe the trip to Palestine on Wednesday is the cause – anyway sounds like a good excuse to me. Or could be because we’re working on putting up an online store… which I might add has been major undertaking. Our plan is to take all the stuff we’ve been collecting for years and offer it for sale on line at cheap prices. We’re planning on getting rid of our over 100 reference books we’ve purchased over the years as well. Seems like a good way to ‘clean house’.

What with being very busy with Internet work most of the day – I’m always looking for ways to cut down time in the kitchen. You all know I love to cook up lots of stuff I can freeze – but I also like to find short cuts that save me time when preparing other foods. I’ve listed five (5) of my favorites below – I’m sure there are more but these are the only ones I can think of at the moment.

Garlic Bread – We enjoy the Texas toast and garlic bread you buy frozen – but in the summer I don’t like having to heat up the kitchen just to bake a couple of slices of bread. So I’ve found I can ‘fry’ it in a preheated no-stick skillet and it comes out toasty warm. David likes his bread toasted anyway – so this is a real hit with him. Now, granted this won’t be to your liking if you like your bread soft sans crunch – but for us it not only saves time but also keeps the kitchen cool.

Meat Loaf – To cut time on cooking meat loaf I cook it in the microwave oven on high for about 10-15 minutes before baking it in the oven. All I do is mix us the meat loaf, put it into the loaf pan – glass of course – and then nuke it. (You have to watch how long you cook it as the edges tend to get hard if cooked too long. And, I sometimes use 80% power to slow down the process a little.) I’ve found that by pre-cooking it, I can cut about 20-30 minutes off the traditional bake time. Pre-cooking also allows me to drain off quite a bit of the excess fat.

Frozen yeast rolls – to give your rolls a quick boost at rising try this trick. Place the frozen rolls in the buttered baking dish, then place a wire cooling rack over a pot of already boiling water (pot should be at least 1/3 full) – then place the dish with rolls on top of the rack so that they are in the steam. Once you’ve placed the rolls on the wire rack reduce the heat to low so that the temperature stays warm – not hot. And, don’t forget to check the water so you don’t run out and scorch the pot.

Fried cabbage – we enjoy cabbage fried with onions – particularly in the fall and winter, but it takes the cabbage a while to ‘fry down’ (can you tell I’m an impatient cook?) – so I pre-cook the cut cabbage in a little water for about 10 minutes in the microwave and then add the cabbage (water too) into the onions I’ve already fried in olive oil until they’ve become translucent. Pepper and salt to taste and continue to ‘fry’ cabbage until desired tenderness. Watch carefully so the water doesn’t all cook out and you burn the cabbage… I’ve done that a few times.    (This method also works for sweet potatoes if you’re in a hurry and want to serve them candied. Just peel and microwave until fork tender, then add to mixture of butter, brown sugar and cinnamon you’ve already got heating on the stove. Cook sweet potatoes over low heat until they’re coated with cinnamon-sugar glaze.)

Crab Cakes – Like the Texas Toast, the crab cakes we buy frozen take too long to bake and again, heat up the kitchen. The box says they can be ‘microwaved’ (not recommended….tends to make them mushy but a quick fix).   So, to save time and get the good texture we like, I microwave them for about 1 minute less than the directions say and then fry them in a small amount of oil in a skillet until they are crunchy on both sides. Drain them on paper towel and serve. We find we like this way better than box directions and it’s much quicker to prepare.

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