Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: The low-down on dicing onions!

 
How to dice an onion

Originally published in 2006

Okay, so you have a nice big onion and your recipe wants it diced.

Have you ever wondered if there's a best way to dice an onion?

I used to have all sorts of problems dicing onions nicely, until my uncle (who is practically a gourmet chef!) showed me how he did it. I've done it the same way ever since, and now dicing onions is a snap... even if I'm making a triple batch of salsa... when I need 18 cups of diced onions.

If you would like to watch the video tutorial, click here! This is a 6 MB WMV file and you can either right-click to save to your desktop, or just click and it will stream.

Here is the photo tutorial of what I think is the easiest way to dice an onion!

How to dice an onion

1. Start with a freshly-peeled onion. I always rinse the onion after I have peeled it, so it doesn't make me cry. (If you wear contact lenses, this won't be a problem for you, though!) Set the onion, root-side-down, on your cutting board.

Step 2!

2. Cut your onion in half.

Next...



Dicing an onion

3. Lay each half, cut side down, on your cutting board.

How to dice an onion

4. Slice one half of your onion as shown.

The best way to dice an onion!

Slice thinly for minced onion, or thickly for coarsely-diced onion, or anywhere in-between as desired!

How to dice an onion

To get every last bit of your onion sliced, use one hand to hold the onion in shape and make the final slice or two.

Dicing onions

5. Now, turn your sliced onion ninety-degrees to either the right or left, and...

The best way to dice an onion

6. Start slicing again, angling towards the middle of your onion. Make your slices thin for minced onions and thick for coarsely chopped onion.

Dicing Onions

7. Repeat steps for the other half of your onion.

Dicing an onion

And then you're done!

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. Menu plan make-ahead strategies (Feel Good About Dinner)
2. Time-saving recipe bases (Davette Brown)
3. Split chicken breast tip (Living So Abundantly)
4. Oil vs. butter tips (Sunny Side Homestead)
5.

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Coffee brewing tip

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

After a gorgeous Summer, Fall is upon us here in the Pacific Northwest! The breeze is chilly and a few dry leaves are littering our yard. If I leave a window cracked overnight, the house is cold when we get up. (Okay, 60's isn't really cold, but we've been spoiled with warmth the past few months!)

I've been enjoying making hot tea or coffee in the mornings again. I absolutely LOVE the AeroPress coffee maker that Joshua gave me on my birthday last year! One of my friends gave me this tip for brewing coffee:

Add a pinch of salt to ground coffee before brewing, then brew as usual. The bit of salt makes a smoother, less bitter cup of coffee.

I normally like salt in my food (I add it to my morning oatmeal without fail!) so as soon as I heard this tip I knew it was the thing I needed to change about my morning breakfast.


Salt and cinnamon added to my morning coffee grounds

I've already tried adding ground cinnamon and other spices to my coffee beans before brewing, and salt is the perfect finishing touch!

Do you add salt to your coffee? :)

Bonus picture:


Sweet sisters, Ruth and Channah :)

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. Celery salt and ways to use it (Whole New Mom)
2. Pitting cherries (Sunny Side Homestead)
3. Softened butter tip (Living So Abundantly)
4. Peeling tomatoes tip (Recipes Happen)
5. Cooking with cast iron (Simply Made Home)
6.

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Partial boxes of pasta

Have you ever opened a box of pasta, used part of it for a recipe, and then later forgot how much pasta was left in the opened box? Well, I used to do that all the time. I usually buy big boxes of things like spaghetti and macaroni, and whether there's 8 or 12 or 16 ounces used, I can never seem to remember.

So now, when I open a new box and use some of the pasta, I mark the outside so I can remember later. I'm not sure why it took me so many years of guesswork to figure out this trick, but it sure makes things easier! :)

Update: Since this post was originally written (5 years ago!) I got this digital kitchen scale. I use it a lot -- more than I ever expected I would! :)

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. Homemade popcorn (Western Warmth)
2. Space saving freezer tip (Feel Good About Dinner)
3. Getting wax off apples (Finding Joy in My Kitchen)
4. Frozen ginger tip (Sunny Side Homestead)
5. Pressing sticky baked goods (Living So Abundantly)
6. Fall pantry tips (The Local Cook)
7. Lattice pie crust shortcut (Black Fox Homestead)
8. Homemade tortillas tips (Recipes Happen)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Keeping the kitchen floor clean (and more!)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

I've been MIA online again... you see, Summer started here in Seattle in July, and it hasn't left yet. We have been enjoying every single day of sunshine and blue sky and cool breezes! I probably can't even count the number of miles we've walked, the picnic lunches we've eaten, or trips (all on foot) to the library or park.

(The good news? I'm still losing weight! And, we've added a few things to our family's outdoor activities... like tennis and frisbee and rollerblading.)

Moshe, eating a picnic lunch
Moshe (2) eating lunch at a park

Anyway, here are a few miscellaneous tips from my kitchen; just little things we've been doing that really help. :)

Keeping the kitchen floor clean

With little kids, sometimes it seems like every meal requires a whole cleanup crew. I usually assign 1 child to pick up any dropped food from the floor, and another child to sweep with a small broom and dustpan. We have folding chairs at our kitchen table, so if the floor is really dirty, I also assign someone to fold up the chairs so the cleaning is easier. If it's really, really dirty, I assign a mopper.

Speaking of keeping the kitchen floor clean...

...going to the park for a picnic lunch is a great way to keep the kitchen floor clean. ;) We often take lunch along on our walks, because then we don't have to hurry back home to eat. (We're already working around nap time and make-dinner time!)

What do we like to take for our picnics?

The kids and I love PBJ sandwiches. I also try to have fresh fruit and veggies on hand to take along. I have the kids help with lunch -- making sandwiches, washing produce, and cutting it and putting it into bags. My oldest boys (ages 6 and 8) love getting to wash and cut cucumbers, celery, peppers, or pears! (I usually cut the harder foods like carrots or apples.)

Eliyahu and Channah
Eliyahu (6) and Channah (6 months)

Emergency Stroller Snack Tip

On our walks, I wear Channah in my Ergo and push Moshe (2) in the stroller. We pack our water and food and gear (frisbees, balls, library books, etc.) in the stroller. I keep a small container of whole almonds in the stroller as an emergency snack. If we stay out too long, run too hard, or forget one of our sandwiches at home, we'll still have something to eat besides carrots and celery. (I love fruits and vegetables, but walking on the hilly roads here makes me hungry!!)

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. How to get bread to rise (Recipes Happen)
2. Inexpensive water bottle alternative (Feel Good About Dinner)
3. Squash in the slow cooker (The Local Cook)
4. Preventing freezer burn (Sunny Side Homestead)
5. Making quick oats from old fashioned oats (Living So Abundantly)
6. Water kefir tips (Nourishing Treasures)
7.

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Freezing bananas for smoothies

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

Banana almond smoothie

Ripe bananas are easy to freeze for later! You can use frozen (thawed) bananas for baking, but my favorite use for frozen bananas is smoothies.

Tip: For easier smoothies, freeze ripe bananas in ice-cube-sized chunks on a cookie sheet. After the chunks are frozen, store in a ziplock freezer bag and use as needed for smoothies.

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. Muffin tips (Western Warmth)
2. Peeling tomatoes (The Local Cook)
3. Ricotta cheese (Black Fox Homestead)
4. Freezer inventory (Recipes Happen)
5.

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Dishwasher air-dry dishes tips

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

I like to use my dishwasher's "air dry" setting rather than the heated drying option. Especially in the warmer months, when our windows are open a lot and the house is already plenty warm, there's no need to produce more heat (and use extra electricity) just to dry dishes!

Dishes drying in a dishwasher

Two tips for air drying dishes in the dishwasher:

1. Run the dishwasher at the end of the day, so the dishes have lots of time to dry. I'm able to cram a whole day's dishes into the dishwasher (minus pans and other large items which I wash by hand) and run it once a day, in the evening. This gives the dishes all night to get really dry.

2. When the dishwasher's wash cycle is complete (no need to wait through the "dry" cycle), open the dishwasher. Pull out the racks and pick up the plastic items, or anything with ridges that collect pools of water, and shake off the excess water. Then set those things back on the rack to finish drying.

Doing this speeds up the drying process and eliminates the problem of waking up the next morning with lots of half-wet dishes still in the dishwasher! :)

Related:

Figuring out how to efficiently load a dishwasher 

Poll: How often do you run your dishwasher?

Help! How do I use a dishwasher?

2 tricks for washing small stuff in the dishwasher

11 Unusual Things You Can Wash in a Dishwasher

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. How to make crispy carrot or sweet potato fries (Feel Good About Dinner)
2. Using space wisely (Recipes Happen)
3. Naturally nice-smelling kitchen (Recipes Happen)
4. Peeling tomatoes (Living So Abundantly)
5. Toddlers in the kitchen (Sunny Side Homestead)
6. Meatloaf tip (Trial and Error Home Ec)
7.
8.

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Dinner Made Diet-Friendly

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

I am not "on a diet", but sometimes it feels that way. Losing weight has meant eating fewer calories... to the tune of about -500 a day. Those have to come from somewhere, and since I'm still eating chocolate, I've had to be creative. ;)

When I'm trying to lose weight and I don't want to be hungry all the time, I need to eat differently from "normal". When I'm the only one in my family who wants to eat "different", this can be challenging.

Tip: I've been making our "normal" meals, but not "put together". By serving build-your-own meals, I can build mine a little healthier or lower-calorie than everyone else's.


A recent dinner: grilled chicken, sauteed veggies, and fresh peaches

My favorite build-your-own dinners:

Tacos, taco salad, or nachos
Burgers (see my "burger salad" here)
Chili (served with toppings like cheese, tomatoes, avocado, and greek yogurt)
Any three-things-for-dinner meal

Tips for building a healthier (or lower calorie) meal:

Tuna Salad
Tuna Salad

1. Make a sandwich into a salad.

For example, tuna salad spread onto a bed of lettuce and sprinkled with chopped onions, pickles, and celery = tuna salad minus the "sandwich". Grilled chicken served over a vegetable salad instead of bread, a hamburger served over it's usual "toppings", or even lunch meat and cheese diced and served with lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers will be fewer calories and extra veggies for you!

I find that having fresh diced tomatoes or avocados is often "juicy" enough that salad dressing or mayonnaise isn't missed. (I know avocados aren't low-calorie, but they're healthier than mayo!)

2. Use Greek yogurt in place of sour cream. I love this tip! Plain Greek yogurt is tart and thick and creamy enough that I don't miss my real sour cream... much. :)

3. Skip the bread, or make an open-faced sandwich. You might be eating with a fork while everyone else at the table is holding a sandwich, but... :)

4. Don't be afraid of "plain". Grilled meats, fresh veggies, fresh fruit -- it doesn't have to be fancy! I almost always serve fairly plain and simple fruits and vegetables with our meals. It's easy and usually healthier that way, too.

Bonus baby picture for the week (because I've been too busy picking berries and playing in the sunshine to worry about blogging!):

Channah

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. Dishwasher rinse aid (Whole New Mom)
2. Pantry mixes and spices (Simply Made Home)
3. Cleaning Misto oil sprayer (Finding Joy in my Kitchen)
4. Chocolate chips substitute (Living So Abundantly)
5. Quick stir fry tip (Sunny Side Homestead)
6. Birthday cake tip (Simply Rebekah)
7. Freezing cherries (A Proverbs 31 Wife)
8. Apron from tea towel (Black Fox Homestead)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Tips for making fried eggs in a stainless steel skillet

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

I've been using stainless steel cookware for years, and I love it. We bought our cookware 4 years ago and it gets tons of use and performs wonderfully for everything I've tried.

Before "the nice stuff", I had some older stainless steel cookware from a garage sale and a few Teflon pieces from another set we had purchased. The Teflon was flaking but...

One of my fears about getting rid of every last piece of Teflon cookware in my kitchen was... making eggs.

Omelet
Omelet, made on stainless steel

I grew up scrubbing eggs off of a stainless steel skillet after breakfast on the weekends. The "egg skillet" was the worst dish to wash, and getting married and (subsequently) having Teflon for cooking eggs was my dream-come-true as a dishwasher.

When I originally posted my tips for cooking with stainless steel cookware, I hadn't figured out how to make eggs without a big stuck-on mess.

Scrambled eggs in stainless steel cookware

Thanks to my fabulous readers, I learned the secret to making scrambled eggs on stainless steel without them sticking! Seriously, it still makes me smile when I pull off scrambled eggs (or an omelet!) and they're not burnt or stuck and the skillet is super easy to wash afterward.

However, it wasn't until last week that I mastered fried eggs in stainless steel. Those pesky little guys always stuck and often broke and were just generally a pain to try to make. I basically never made fried eggs for this reason.

Last week, Joshua mentioned that he was getting tired of hard boiled eggs. (I serve him 1 hard boiled egg every morning with his oatmeal for breakfast.) Neither of us really love hard boiled eggs, but they are easy and... easy. Joshua said he'd like to try a fried egg instead.

I remembered that my sister Bonnie had posted tips for making fried eggs. With just a few tweaks to my previous method, I turned out some perfect fried eggs... and I spent 0 minutes scrubbing my skillet afterward.

How to make perfect fried eggs in a stainless steel skillet:

1. Preheat empty skillet over medium-low heat.

2. Lightly spray skillet with oil. (I use a Misto.)

3. Crack egg(s) into skillet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

4. Reduce heat to low; cover skillet with lid. Cook for several minutes, checking for desired doneness.

Flipping the egg(s) is optional. When cooked at the lower temperature, very little egg should stick to the skillet.

After removing egg(s) from skillet, run a little water into the skillet (enough to cover the bottom) to soak. Within minutes or hours (or however long it takes you to get to your dishes... hopefully not days!) anything stuck on the skillet will be completely loose and can be wiped away... no scrubbing!! Yay!

Related: My best omelet tips

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. Spreadable butter tip (The Earthling's Handbook)
2. How to dehydrate tomatoes (The Local Cook)
3. Roast cooking tips (Simply Made Home)
4. Peeling and cutting peaches (Simply Rebekah)
5. Eating healthfully at work (Recipes Happen)
6. Using bulgur wheat to stretch ground beef (Feel Good About Dinner)
7. Tips for buying organic produce (Modern Alternative Mama)
8. Frosting a cake (Living So Abundantly)
9. Flipping pancakes easily (Sunny Side Homestead)
10. 7 unexpected uses for ice cube trays (Plus Other Good Stuff)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Fried egg rolls (wrapping, sealing, cooking, and freezing tips)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

Last year, Joshua got a deep fryer (similar to this Waring Pro model) at Costco. We haven't used it much, but that was his plan: don't increase fried food consumption, just make it a lot easier to make perfect fried food when we do.

And I must admit, the fryer does make it super easy to fry! One of the things we've made with the fryer is egg rolls. Not having to constantly babysit the temperature of the oil was so convenient. Our egg rolls turned out great!

We even put some of the egg rolls in our freezer meal stash for after Channah's birth. (I'll give the reheating details at the bottom of this post.)

Egg roll filling

I don't use much of a recipe for making egg rolls. Gather some ingredients like:

Sticky rice (or your favorite rice), cooked with salt
Grilled chicken, chopped
Finely chopped/shredded cabbage (green or purple)
Chopped onions
Shredded carrot
Chopped broccoli
Minced garlic
Chopped bell peppers (any color)
Thinly sliced celery
Bean sprouts
Bok choy, chopped
Salt, to taste

Unless you want a huge batch of egg rolls, use small portions of all these vegetables. ;)

Saute the vegetables until crisp-tender in a heavy skillet (I use cast iron). Toss in the chicken and rice and stir in some salt to taste.

Tip: If you are making a big batch, you can saute each vegetable separately. This is handy because you can get each item to the perfect crisp-tenderness. (I learned this trick from my mom's Beef Chop Suey recipe.) It does take a bit of time to do them separately, though. You can toss the final mixture in a big mixing bowl.

Egg roll filling tips

When it all tastes really yummy, you're ready to fill the egg roll wrappers.

Tip: Buy big wrappers. Whether it's burritos or egg rolls or anything else, I find that the bigger wraps hold more filling -- and the filling is usually the healthy part. :)

Tips for filling egg roll wraps:

Keep wraps covered with a towel, except for the one you're filling, so they don't dry out.

Have a small bowl of water nearby while wrapping.

Egg roll filling tips

Place filling in the middle of the wrap, as shown. Tip: I use a measuring cup so I can easily see how much filling fits in each egg roll, and then measure accordingly for subsequent rolls.

Egg roll filling tips

Pull bottom corner of wrap up, over filling, and then pull down (towards you) to squeeze the filling into a tube shape.

Egg roll filling tips

Fold side corners to the middle.

Egg roll filling tips

This is where that bowl of water comes in: With wet fingertips, dampen that final corner/flap of egg roll wrapper before folding it down and around. This will seal everything inside.

Egg roll filling tips

Here is what the finished rolls will look like! But don't leave them out too long before frying, because they'll dry out.

Egg roll filling tips

To prevent them from drying out, place them in a dish with a towel covering them while you work on the frying part. :)

To Fry:

Fry egg rolls in 350-degree oil for about 2-4 minutes. They should be lightly browned. Since the filling ingredients are all fully cooked, you don't need to worry about the egg rolls being "raw" inside.

Drain on paper towels. Serve hot and enjoy! Joshua especially likes these served with red pepper jelly.

To Freeze:

Fry until very light brown (about 1/2 to 2/3 the normal frying time). Drain and cool on paper towels. Wrap individually in waxed paper and then place in a Ziplock freezer bag. Store in freezer for up to 6 months.

To reheat from freezer:

Unwrap frozen egg rolls and place on a baking sheet. Bake (from frozen) uncovered at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, until hot inside and crispy on the outside.

More great ideas: Check out Heather's blog for some filling recipes and dipping sauces for egg roll wrappers, plus instructions for baking instead of frying (probably way healthier!).

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. Pouring liquids without spilliing (Natures Nurture)
2. Reusing oil after frying (Recipes Happen)
3. Cleaning cooking utensils (Living So Abundantly)
4. Prepping vegetables (Sunny Side Homestead)
5. Tips for packing food for camping trips (Feel Good About Dinner)
6. Batch cooking made easy (Frugal in Florida)
7. Picking a canteloupe (Premeditated Leftovers)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Summer produce tips (Eat Well, Spend Less)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

Last night, I forgot I had 5 kids ages 8 and under, and I made a to-do list for today:

Cook beans
Give girls baths
Wash sheets
Clean rug (that Moshe squirted soap onto... 2 weeks ago...) and hang to dry
Do school (3 kids)
Send card to my brother
Weed flower beds
Walk to the library
Laundry
Dishes
Make dinner
Order photo prints
Write Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

Sounds reasonable, right? I wasn't including breakfast or lunch, 12 diaper changes, lots of baby-holding and nursing, and a general lethargy induced by a very messy house. :O

Only half of my list got done today, and it wasn't even the fun stuff. :P I guess that's a good thing though -- it means the fun stuff (like walking to the library!) is left for tomorrow. :D

Last week I shared 10 Easy Ways to Eat More Veggies. That night, I served grilled burgers for dinner. The only side dish was a bowl of fresh cherries. I'm sounding more and more like superwoman, aren't I? ;)

So, I'm not sharing any revolutionary kitchen tips this week. Instead, let me point you to some great tips from the Eat Well, Spend Less team:

Tips for using your CSA share (or any good produce sales!) from Life As Mom

Jessica has appealing and practical tips as usual!

Ways to use zucchini from Life...Your Way

I love zucchini and pretty much ALL of those zucchini dishes look amazing to me!

Fermenting your own vegetables from Kitchen Stewardship

Katie gives step-by-step photos and instructions for making kimchi (and more).

Garden-fresh pepper salsa from Kingdom First Mom

Salsa is a great way to use fresh fruits or veggies!

Sweet Cherry Plum Jam from Simple Bites

Anything Aimee cooks is something I'd love to be eating. :)

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. Freezing and storing berries (Whole New Mom)
2. Tip for vintage recipes (Trial and Error Home Ec)
3. Resources for what's in season (The Local Cook)
4. Peeling fresh tomatoes (Mamal Diane)
5. 5 Ways to Make Healthy Choices Less Painful (Feel Good About Dinner)
6. Freezing mushrooms (Recipes Happen)
7. Extra use from the coffee grinder (Simply Made Home)
8. Real food snack tips (Simply Made Home)
9. Composting ideas (Living So Abundantly)
10. Spices (Sunny Side Homestead)
11. Potatoes in the crock pot (Wholesome Homemaker)

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