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How to Clean Cookie Sheet Pans So They Look New!

They come in sizes big and small, rimmed or without sides. We use them to bake just about anything, but mostly cookies. And they can get super grungy with layers of baked- and burnt-on grease resulting in ugly stains and residue build-up.

 

Does anything here look familiar to you? If so, I have good news. Your cookie sheets can be cleaned and restored, even back to the way they looked when new.

What follows is a relatively quick and easy way to get rid of baked-on grease, stubborn food residue, and even rust on any type of cookie and baking sheets—aluminized steel, aluminum, and non-stick—and then to clean and maintain to keep them sparkling clean.

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Where to Find Basic Essentials When the Shelves are Empty

The disruption to U.S. food supply chains is now playing out in grocery stores and supermarkets across the country. It seems like shoppers empty the shelves just as quickly as supermarkets can restock, especially on high-demand items like non-perishable foods, cleaning supplies, and, of course, toilet paper.   empty grocery store shelves

Good news! Finding the essentials you need may not require you to stand in long lines or spend hours clicking through Amazon search results, only to be disappointed over and again.

Today, I have alternatives for you to consider plus options for where to find the essentials you need that are—surprise!—in stock.

Meat, poultry

While we’re being told there’s no shortage of food in the US—for whatever reason, fresh meat and poultry have pretty much disappeared. And when found you’ll discover shockingly high prices, at least for now.

Reasonable alternatives for fresh meat and poultry are canned options that are just as nutritious like tuna, albacore, salmon; chicken, corned beef, and …  Spam!  And don’t forget the frozen food aisle where meat, seafood, and poultry seem to be more plentiful.

Pro tip

Consider this challenge the perfect opportunity to try out more meatless meals, built around eggs, cheese and other non-meat protein.

Meal Kits

Home Chef meal kits with contactless delivery right to your front door are looking better than ever, starting at  $6.95 per meal—with no delivery fees or gratuities. You can still use this link to get $35 off your first order, and that looks like free food to me! Seriously, that is a great deal for excellent quality fresh food that is super easy to prepare.

Home Chef continues to be the cheapest and most family-friendly meal kit service out there—available for delivery in 95% of the US. And of course, you can cancel at any time. Might be time to give Home Chef a try.

Flour

While supermarket baking shelves continue to be cleaned out, online sources like King Arthur Flour and Bob’s Red Mill are fairly well stocked; however, that changes day by day. Keep checking.

Webstaurant is another online resource for flour. Just know you’ll be dealing with professional baker quantities in 25-pound or even 50-pound bags. An easy solution there is for family and friends to go in together on those large quantities.

Another option for flour is to call a local bakery. One reader reports that she called a local bakery in her city to inquire if they might be willing to sell flour. The answer was a resounding Yes! She picked up 25 pounds for just $18 and got to support a local business at the same time. It just might be worth your time to make a call.

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Shelf Life of Baking Supplies + Free Printable Cheat Sheet

Look up the word ‘impulsive’ in the dictionary and prepare to see my face. In my basement pantry, I have bags of chocolate chips to prove it. They are the ghosts of a Christmas past—left over from one of my Gift-in-a-Jar marathon projects.

And those two containers of candied fruit that must be ten years old by now, which I keep only because they’ve become a novelty. They appear to be the same as the day I bought them and perhaps one of the reasons fruit cake has gotten such a bad rap!

Baking supplies on a wooden board, horizontal, close-up

So what’s the deal with baking supplies, anyway? We know that notoriously they’re on sale at rock-bottom prices starting around Thanksgiving and continuing through the end of the year (check the calendar!). It’s the right time to load up but wisely!

I still have bags of all-purpose flour from last holiday season, which I bought for $.99 each, which I’ve stored in the freezer. Sugar is cheap during the holidays, too. Ditto for other holiday baking ingredients from marshmallows to sweetened condensed milk dates to nuts.

One of my basic rules of grocery shopping is this: When it’s on sale, buy enough to last until the next time it’s on sale. Baking supplies become so cheap this time of year, now is the time to stock up.

Which begs the question: How long will baking supplies last in the event you decide to buy enough to last the year? It all depends on the items and if you have the storage space to keep them at their optimum.

To make the information that follows more useful I put together a handy cheat sheet for you. Below you’ll see a link to download a free printable version that you can attach to the inside of a cabinet or another place to serve as a reminder.

baking supplies shelf life storage printable cheat sheet taped to cabinet

Baking powder

Store in a tightly lidded container; 18 months unopened, six months opened. Stored in the freezer, baking powder is good indefinitely.

Baking soda

Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place; good for two years unopened, six months opened. Kept in the freezer, good indefinitely.

Brown sugar

Store in freezer and use within six months opened or unopened.

Butter

Comes two ways: salted and unsalted. Salt is added for flavor and as a preservative so it will have a longer shelf life. Salted lasts up to five months refrigerated; unsalted has a short shelf life of about three months in the refrigerator.

If you do not plan to use unsalted butter right away, it is best to freeze it. When properly wrapped so it won’t pick up any odors, butter can be frozen for around six months. It’s best to defrost butter overnight in the refrigerator.

Canned evaporated milk

Store unopened on the pantry shelf for up to six months. Best to check the “use by” date on the product. After this time, it will not turn sour, but it will turn yellow and lose its flavor.

Chocolate chips

Store in a cupboard at room temperature; 18-24 months unopened, one year if opened. I can attest to the fact that chocolate chips will last what seems like forever in the freezer. They may get a white haze, but this will not affect the taste when used in baking.

Cooking oils

Store on pantry shelves at room temperature; good for up to a year; check if still good with the smell test. Oils can become rancid.

Eggs

Properly stored in the refrigerator, fresh eggs are good for four to five weeks past the “sell by” date.

Extracts

Expect these to last up to three or four years when kept at room temperature. (See pure vanilla extract below).

Flour

Unopened flour lasts for up to a year; opened, six to eight months. Whole wheat flour is good for up to a year unopened but use within six months if opened. If you have room, store flour in the freezer.

MORE: 5-Minute Artisan Bread: The Master Recipe, Tools, Resources

Granulated sugar

Store in a cool, dry place; good for two years unopened; use within six months if opened.

Karo syrup

ACH Food Companies, Inc., the conglomerate that owns and markets Karo syrup, says its Karo syrups are safe for consumption for an indefinite period of time whether it has been opened or not. I know, kinda’ creepy, but that’s the fact.

Light corn syrup may turn slightly yellow with age, but this is normal and not harmful. Storage conditions affect product quality.

Before or after opening, Karo syrup may be stored at room temperature. Bottles may be refrigerated after opening; however, the syrup will be thicker and pour more slowly.

Marshmallow creme

Store at room temperature for four months unopened; store in the refrigerator once opened and use within two months.

Marshmallows

Keep in an airtight container on the pantry shelf; good for three months.

Molasses

Store unopened in a cool, dark place for one year; store opened for six months in a cool, dry place or the refrigerator. Make sure the lid is tightly sealed.

Nuts

Stored in a tightly sealed container, shelled nuts will be good for up to six months in the pantry; 9 months to a year in the freezer.

Powdered sugar

Store in a cool, dry place (not the refrigerator); good for 18 months unopened.

Pure vanilla extract

Store at room temperature; as long as it is pure, it has an indefinite shelf life. In fact, it even gets better with age.

RELATED: Still the Most Perfect Homemade Holiday Gift

Raisins

Up to three years stored on pantry shelf at temperatures up to 80 F. Can be refrigerated.

Shortening

Store in the pantry at room temperature. Unopened, shortening lasts up to a year; opened, three to four months until it turns rancid.

Spices, ground

Store in a cool, dry place for two to three years. Here’s a tip to extend the shelf life: Don’t measure or sprinkle spices over a boiling pot. The steam from the pot will hasten the loss of flavor for what spice remains in the bottle. Measure spices into a bowl beforehand and then add them to the pot. Note: Paprika and cayenne pepper should be refrigerated.

Spices, whole

Whole and ground spices don’t spoil, they just lose their strength. Store in a cool, dry place for two to four years.

Sweetened condensed milk

Store in a dry, clean and cool place; good for one year unopened; invert can every two months. Carnation does not recommend using sweetened condensed milk past its “best before date” for quality reasons.

I am still searching for information on candied fruit. So far I can find no indication that it will ever spoil or change in quality or texture.

I’ll keep you posted.

How to Make Tulip Muffin Cups

In a past post I gave away all my secrets when I taught you how to make muffins that are so great, your friends will call you a genius. Reader feedback has been off the chart. In fact, that’s exactly what I was thinking about one Saturday morning as I was making muffins for brunch.

Home made muffin cups

I was all ready to fill the muffin cups with batter when I remembered that I’d used every last one of my cupcake paper liners. I was in no mood to go to the store. Muffin batter is not kind to those who do not move it quickly to the oven once the wet ingredients have been stirred in.

I wanted to kick myself because I’d planned to splurge and order very nice Tulip Muffin Cups online, but at the last minute felt myself beginning to choke at the price.

How dumb would that be to spend ten times the cost of the muffin just to bake it in a very cool looking throw away “paper?” Don’t answer. And don’t hate me when I tell you how much I wished that I’d ordered them anyway. Because at that moment I really needed them.

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