Not Setting Up Your Ingredients Before You Cook
If you have ever accidentally used confectioners' sugar instead of cornstarch or used salt instead of sugar, chances are you forgot to gather all your ingredients before you started cooking. The next time you start a recipe, make sure you have prepped properly and set up your mise en place. It will make you a more efficient cook and you can avoid using a cup of salt in your cake or scrambling around the kitchen trying to find the can opener.
Not Giving Yourself Enough Time to Cook
The quickest way to mess up a dish is to rush through the process. If you know that a recipe is going to take two hours from start to finish, do not start the dish an hour before dinner. Cook a meal that is going to take a shorter amount of time and tackle the more time-consuming dishes later.
Overcrowding Your Pan When Searing
The reason we brown meat is to add flavor, but if you overcrowd your pan, your meat will never brown. Because food releases moisture when it is cooking, foods that are left in a crowded pan will steam instead of searing. Cook your food in batches or use two pans so the process is faster.
Click here to see 8 Foods Not to Cook Naked.
Not Getting Your Pan Hot Enough
Another reason your meat might not sear properly is because you do not get your pan hot enough. If you want to properly brown your meat, make sure to get your pan hot before carefully adding your oil (make sure it is an oil with a high smoking point). Once your oil starts to shimmer, then you can add your meat to the pan. Also, make sure to pat your meat dry with a paper towel before you sear it.
Using Old Ingredients
It is tempting to keep ingredients like old dried herbs and baking powder that has been around longer than Greys Anatomy, but using old dried herbs or baking powder will make your food taste bland and prevent your cake from rising. Dried herbs should only be kept for about six months because after that they lose their flavor. Baking power that is kept in a cool, dry place lasts for about three to six months. Also avoid using frost-bitten meat, dried-out cheeses, and wine that has gone bad. In order to avoid throwing away food, buy smaller quantities.
Click here to see Dried Herbs that Aren't Worth It.
Overcooking Your Vegetables
Overcooking vegetables can ruin a meal faster than guests who forgot to tell you that this week they are meat, gluten, and dairy free right before you serve your spaghetti carbonara.
You can avoid limp broccoli and soggy carrots by cooking them (separately) in a large pot filled with rapidly boiling, salted water. When the vegetables are finished (they should have a vibrant color and still be firm), shock them in ice water to stop the cooking process. This will prevent your vegetables from overcooking.
Oversalting Your Food
There are a couple of ways to make sure you avoid oversalting your food. The best method is to taste your food as you go and factor in salty ingredients like cheese before adding salt to your food. But even if you have taken these precautions and your food still tastes like a salt lick, there are a couple of things you can do to make your food seem less salty.
First, try to trick your tongue into thinking the food is less salty by adding acids like vinegar or lemon juice to your food. Another trick is to add a little sugar to your food. If you are making soups or broth, adding water will help. Do not bother trying to add potatoes to salty dishes because it does not work and picking potatoes out of your tomato sauce is not fun.
Cooking Cold Meat
If you are puzzled by why your meat is raw on the inside and overcooked on the outside, it is probably because you are cooking cold meat. Next time, bring your meat to room temperature before you start cooking. This applies to every piece of meat that you cook (and fish too).
Click here to see 8 Grilling Slip-Ups and How to Fix Them.
Not Sifting Ingredients to Remove Lumps
There is nothing quite as disheartening as cutting into your beautiful cake and discovering clumps of brown sugar or cocoa powder in the middle. In order to avoid clumps in your cake and other baked goods, you should sift brown sugar and cocoa powder to remove all the lumps so that they do not bake into your pastries.
Here is a bonus tip: When it comes to sifting your dry ingredients together, you can probably skip this step and use a whisk or food processor instead. They are better at evenly distributing things like salt, baking powder, or baking soda into the flour.
Measuring Your Ingredients When Baking
If you cannot figure out why your cookies are soft and chewy one day and dry and brittle the next day, it is probably because you are not weighing out your ingredients. Weighing your dry ingredients is the only way to ensure that your baked goods are always consistent, because the weight of a cup of flour can vary by nearly two ounces. Scales are relatively inexpensive and they will make you a better baker.
Click here to see How to Make the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie.
13 Kitchen Organizing Mistakes — And the Easy Way to Fix 'Em
These small but clever tweaks could totally change your kitchen routine for the better.
Little Changes, Big Results
So much of what goes on in your kitchen takes place on autopilot. After unpacking on move-in day, most of us never give another minute&rsquos thought to where we stash the silverware or how we arrange the spices. But of course, often it&rsquos the smallest tweaks that can make the biggest improvements. We asked professional organizers for their easiest yet most brilliant kitchen habits and hacks to make your space work harder.
Store Spices Smarter
The mistake: The spice jars are stacked, stuffed and spun every which way, making it impossible to find what you&rsquore looking for fast. And how long they&rsquove been languishing in the cabinet is anyone&rsquos guess.
The fix: Skip the cabinet altogether, says Amelia Meena of Appleshine Organization + Design. Instead, stand up spices in a drawer and label the tops of the lids, making it a snap to look down and find the oregano. Bonus points for dating the bottom of the jars too take a peek every few uses, and toss and replace spices after about a year for optimal flavor.
The mistake: It&rsquos always a bit dodgy to eat the leftovers in the fridge because no one can remember how old they are.
The fix: Use a dry-erase marker to write the date on your clear glass leftover containers &mdash you don't even need tape. The marker washes right off in the dishwasher, and you can get a magnetic marker that sticks to the fridge. "Our family has been writing on clear glass leftover containers for the last year, and it&rsquos been great," says MaryJo Monroe of Portland, Oregon-based reSPACEd. "The dry, cold atmosphere of the fridge sets the ink, making it harder to smear without deliberate force." And glass containers are also handy because they save you the step of transferring leftovers onto a plate for reheating.
Keep 'Em Separated
The mistake: You store your rimmed baking sheets with your baking equipment.
The fix: "Baking sheets aren&rsquot really for baking &mdash they&rsquore for roasting veggies, toasting nuts, baking fish and chicken &mdash and you probably use them a lot," says Emily Fleischaker, founder of KitchenFly, an in-home kitchen organization service. "But they&rsquore often stored with cake pans, muffin tins, pie plates, and other things you use less frequently that come in tons of specialty sizes and shapes. This is the definition of clutter! Liberate your rimmed baking sheets and give them better real estate than all your other baking equipment. Stacked is fine. On their side is fine. What&rsquos important is to give them their own dedicated space." To make them easy to access, Fleischaker likes to keep them in a waist-height cabinet or even a drawer near the stove. If you've got the space, a basic sturdy rack (like this one) can help keep things even tidier, and your sheet pans can slide easily next to your other weeknight workhorses like skillets and cutting boards.
Try to Improvise
The mistake: You assume that you need a fancy organizing system to start getting your kitchen in order.
The fix: You likely already have the tools to start straightening up (and keeping your cookware in lasting condition). Even ordinary household items can make for greater organization. File separators (from an office supply store) or thin metal bookends work well in a pantry or deep drawer. And you can spare your pots and pans from scratches by slipping paper plates between the larger ones and coffee filters or paper dessert plates between the smaller ones.
Organize Your Oils
The mistake: Oils and vinegars drip into your cupboards, making shelves a slippery, sticky mess.
The fix: A shallow plastic tray, plate or cutting board inside your cabinet can hold all those messy bottles, and you can easily run it through the dishwasher when things get too greasy, says Monroe. Just be sure to set it up away from the stove or the top of the refrigerator &mdash the warmth radiating from your appliances can quickly turn oils rancid.
The mistake: Your favorite kitchen shelf is working overtime. It&rsquos overcrowded, messy-looking, and even a little bit of a safety hazard.
The fix: Take the guesswork out of finding your most-often-used items by corralling them together within the tiny walls of a tray, suggests organizing coach Maeve Richmond. Trays are handy because you can pick them up and move them around the kitchen, from shelf to countertop to table: "I have a tray under my tea supplies up on a shelf," Richmond says. "It&rsquos light enough that I can easily pull it down, and it frees up lower shelves for heavier, more often used items. I also place a tray under all my mugs because it creates a divider between them and the plates on the other half of the shelf."
Hook It Up
The mistake: You overlook cabinet doors as potential storage space.
The fix: Reclaim that unused space with hooks! Lisa Zaslow of Gotham Organizers swears by 3M Command Hooks to hold oven mitts, potholders, dish towels, measuring spoons, cutting boards, mixer attachments and other frequently-used items that can clutter a drawer infuriatingly.
Test Your Tools
The mistake: You've got a drawer or crock crammed full of utensils, from those used once a year to those used every day.
The fix: "I have my clients put an empty shoe box or coffee can on the kitchen counter," says organizer Cheryl Smith of Consider It Done. "After they&rsquove used and washed a utensil, they place it in the box. In a few weeks, you&rsquove collected the utensils that serve your needs on a regular basis." All the rest can be stored away for special-occasion use. So you'll always have what you need within easy reach, and clutter won't block your access &mdash and you'll eliminate time spent rummaging through three different places looking for the peeler.
Put Lazy Susans to Work
The mistake: You routinely lose condiments in the depths of your refrigerator. There are too many containers in the way, hindering your efforts to access what you need &mdash or even to know what you have.
The fix: Who says you can&rsquot organize the fridge like any other cabinet? Add a lazy Susan to the rear of a lower shelf where infrequently-used items dwell, suggests organizer Deb Baida of Liberated Spaces. Even if you store more frequently used items in front of the spinner, moving one thing and rotating your way through all that&rsquos behind it is a snap. You&rsquore less likely to forget about that gourmet chutney or lose a tiny tube of almond paste this way, too.
Streamline That Pantry
The mistake: You keep snacks in their original cardboard boxes, even when there&rsquos only one left.
The fix: Dump all prepackaged snacks into open-top bins, says Meena. Ideally, multiple boxes of the same size would be most helpful &mdash one for bars, one for snack packs, one for fruit cups, etc. When space is limited, however, one larger box for all snacks may have to do. For aesthetics, choose pretty containers or wrap each box in nice paper and label them. Keep replenishing your system and recycling the store packages.
The mistake: You don't utilize the full height of your cabinet shelves.
The fix: Double up on dish and glassware capacity by placing a simple wire shelf inside your cabinet to max out the space you've got, suggests Clutter Cowgirl Jeni Aron. These lightweight, moveable shelves keep your storage system flexible, but leave no spot under-used. Use the shelves in your pantry, too, to create more usable space while avoiding precarious stacking. And don&rsquot forget that cabinet shelves themselves may be adjustable customize to your height needs by repositioning the pegs (call the manufacturer for more if necessary).
End Paperwork Pile-Ups
The mistake: Somehow all the mail always ends up in the kitchen, whether or not there&rsquos a desk in there.
The fix: "As the kitchen is the heart of the home, it can also be the place where clutter gathers," says organizer Mary Carlomagno. "Maintain kitchen space for cooking and dining at all costs. Designate a separate space in your home for bill-paying, mail and kid-related work so that your kitchen can stay tidy."
Don't have an office space? Don't worry &mdash you'll be surprised how much of a difference even a single mail organizer can make. Regular sorting is the only way to prevent a backlog. "Think of it like brushing your teeth or any other routine: It has to be done daily," says Carlomagno. "I like to do it immediately when the mail comes in. Adopting this habit will make you more familiar with your items and more likely to act on them because they&rsquore front-of-mind." Clutter comes from delaying decisions, so the minute the mail comes inside, decide what to keep. If you know you&rsquore not going to need certain things like newspapers, ads and catalogs, let them go lickety-split.
The mistake: You can never find the right lids for your plastic storage containers because you&rsquove got a plethora of random pieces scattered in a drawer or cabinet.
The fix: Stick to one brand of storage containers &mdash in fact, treat yourself to a nice, new matching set. Lids and containers by the same brand will neatly stack within one another &mdash a sanity-saving maneuver totally worth the investment. Go a step further and store all those matching lids in a magazine holder, says small space expert Sarah Karakaian of Nestrs &mdash they have a thin profile and stand upright, streamlining and maximizing cabinet space.
“Use fresh herbs whenever possible. Nothing brings flavor and sense of place to a dish like fresh herbs. A handful of basil or cilantro can transform a dish completely. If you are using dried herbs, make sure to swap them out often. Oregano that has been sitting in your cabinet for years won’t add anything to a dish.” 𠄼hef Karen Akunowicz, Owner and Executive Chef of Fox & the Knife, Boston, MA
“Spices really lose their flavor over time and just don’t pack the punch they are supposed to. Garlic and onions, too. Older ones that are sprouting on your countertop are super pungent and overpowering even after cooking them. If you have a bunch of spices in the cabinet that are older and you don’t want to waste them, I always think a quick dry sauté in a hot pan helps bring out the flavors. And for older garlic and onions, always remove any green that might be sprouting through the middle of the allium.” – Caroline Glover, Owner and Executive Chef of Annette, Aurora, CA
11 Common Kitchen Renovation Mistakes to Avoid
While a significant expense for most homeowners, renovating your kitchen is also an investment that can last you for years to come and may even increase the overall value of your home. Therefore, there are a few tips you'll want to keep in mind before you embark on your renovation journey&mdashas well as a number of common mistakes you'll want to try and avoid. Doing so will help make your time, effort, and money well worth it.
For starters, plan your kitchen accordingly. By this we mean take some time to consider your family's needs and your lifestyle. This will help ensure everyone can get the most out of the space. Ask yourself how often you cook, what appliances you would like to dedicate extra time (and money) investing in, and how much storage you consider essential. Perhaps the kitchen is your family's main space for socializing and entertaining, and sometimes even doubles as an after-school homework zone. In this case, you may want to pay extra attention to your seating choices and counter space, or maybe dedicate certain areas to serve more than one purpose.
If a lack of storage has been a problem for you, look at places where storage can be expanded and maximized. All of these factors are ones to keep in mind when selecting new features and planning the overall design of your kitchen.
Once you've thought out the answers to these questions, you're ready to tackle your kitchen reno! Read on to help keep things moving as smoothly as possible and avoid some common kitchen renovation mistakes.
10 Common DIY Mistakes&mdashand How to Fix Them Fast
You thought you&rsquod save a few bucks by fixing up your home yourself. But you didn&rsquot count on making that big boo-boo. Now what? &ldquoAlmost every mistake can be fixed by someone,&rdquo says Jodi Marks, a licensed contractor and author of Fix It in a Flash: 25 Common Home Repairs and Improvements. &ldquoAnd if someone can fix it, why can&rsquot that someone be you?&rdquo Here&rsquos how to get past the most common DIY mistakes when redecorating or renovating.
You thought you loved it, but it&rsquos not what you expected. &ldquoFortunately, there are many fixes,&rdquo says Sarah Saucedo, who blogs at ThriftyDecorChick.com. &ldquoUse masking tape to make vertical sections then, paint stripes in a lighter shade. Or try adding large-scale graphic stencils.&rdquo You can also tone down the color by applying a sheer glaze over it. Or cover the wall with art so that only a little paint peeks through.
Next time: Buy sample jars to paint swatches in several areas of the room (or paint a poster board you can move around) before deciding on a color.
Get a commercial grout haze remover (not grout cleaner) or caulk remover from the home store. For tiles, dab a drop of the grout haze remover in small areas then, sponge the section clean with water. For removing excess caulk, apply caulk remover and scrape it out with a plastic putty knife. Follow the manufacturer&rsquos instructions you may need to leave products in place for a few minutes.
Next time: Don&rsquot cut too much off the caulk tube to avoid getting a sloppy bead of caulk. Also, use painter&rsquos tape to protect areas from caulk. Grout haze can&rsquot be avoided because you must drag grout across the tile to get it in joints.
If the blob is still wet, blot it with a rag and touch up the surface with fresh paint, if necessary, suggests Marks. If it&rsquos dry, hold a plastic putty knife at an angle and peel off the drip, being careful not to gouge the surface. No dice? Use very fine 400 grit sandpaper to buff the area flat. Paint the section, let it dry and then add another coat.
Next time: Use a paint grid or screen on top of your bucket to allow excess paint to drip off your roller before use. Also, double-check your work so you can smooth drips with a brush before they dry.
First, dab a glob of spackling over the hole with a putty knife or your finger, says Marks. Once dry, sand smooth with 220-grit sandpaper. Follow up with a coat of primer, then two coats of paint. If your hole is larger than an inch, use fiberglass mesh tape about half an inch wider than the repair area (repair kits with mesh tape and everything else you need are available at most home stores). Apply and smooth joint compound over the mesh tape with a putty knife. Once dry, sand and apply one more coat of joint compound. Sand again, prime and paint. Don&rsquot attempt to rehang the item in the patched hole it won&rsquot be strong enough to support any weight.
Next time: Use a wall anchor designed to hold heavy items without damaging the wall. Read the packaging to make sure you use the appropriate anchor for your item&rsquos weight.
Deep, saturated greens and blues are hot. But too much of a good thing can be overwhelming. &ldquoWhile it&rsquos not necessary to go monochromatic throughout the house, it&rsquos easier on the eyes to use colors that gently transition from one room to another,&rdquo says Marks. To create a more harmonious feel&mdashwithout repainting&mdashfill each room with neutral-colored accessories.
Next time: Use paint chip cards to pick different shades in the same palette. For example, try cream for the kitchen and café au lait brown for the living room. Or paint a single accent wall a bold color instead of an entire room.
If your first piece is askew, the whole room will be off, so take it down and start over. Since corners aren&rsquot always straight, measure out from the corner instead of beginning there. If your paper is 21&rdquo wide, for example, measure 20½&rdquo out to give yourself some wiggle room. Drop down a few inches from the ceiling and use a level to draw a vertical plumb line the length of the wall. Next, place the edge of your first piece of wallpaper against the plumb line. Butt up adjacent pieces against the first piece. Make a new plumb line each time you turn a corner.
Next time: Houses settle over time, so don&rsquot trust your walls and floors to be straight always draw a plumb line as your starting point for wallpaper.
Heavily pigmented colors such as deep blues, hunter greens and reds aren&rsquot easy to cover. Instead of layering on paint, apply a latex primer coat (or two, if you&rsquore still seeing a lot of the original color after the first coat dries) to block and seal the old pigments, says Marks. Then, paint on two coats of the new color.
Next time: Always use a primer (or paint and primer combination product) to cover vivid colors.
One of the most common reasons new fixtures leak is because the old sealing materials, such as plumber&rsquos putty, threaded seal tape or the wax ring under the toilet, are still there, says Marks. So un-install the fixture (sorry), remove all traces of old sealants (you may need to use silicone caulk remover) and reinstall with fresh sealants.
Next time: Use a plastic putty knife to scrape out all remnants of the original sealants before installing a new plumbing fixture.
If you&rsquore replacing an old fixture with a larger, heavier one, you&rsquoll need reinforcement. Remove the wobbly fixture and install a ceiling fan box or safety brace, an electrical box with long metal arms that fit between ceiling joists first. Then, reinstall the new fixture inside the brace.
Next time: Check the weight of your new fixture before hanging when in doubt, install a ceiling fan box or safety brace.
If you&rsquore trying to be frugal, you may be tempted to cut pieces as small as possible to avoid wasting fabric, but that can be a big mistake. &ldquoIf this happens, I sew the scraps together,&rdquo says Jessica Bruno, who blogs at FourGenerationsOneRoof.com. &ldquoIt&rsquos not ideal, but if you&rsquore on a budget, you can salvage the fabric.&rdquo You can also use no-sew fusible bonding tape to piece scraps together. And if you&rsquore buying fabric, get two extra yards just to be safe, advises Bruno.
Next time: Measure twice, cut once&mdashfor any home project!
How To Cook Eggs Without Making These Common Mistakes
Mediocre eggs can make or break a breakfast plate, and there’s no need to settle when just a few tweaks can take your home-cooked eggs from good to great. To help you achieve perfectly cooked sunny side up eggs (with cooked whites and runny yolks), hard-boiled eggs that are easy to peel, silky scrambled eggs and more, we’ve asked professional chefs to share the top mistakes they see people make in the kitchen and how to fix them.
The key thing to master when cooking eggs is heat control. “No matter the style or technique, it’s important to use the right level of heat and understand your desired end result,” Nick Korbee, partner at Egg Shop , told HuffPost. “It’s all about building confidence in the ability to control the temperature of your cooking implement. If your pan is smoking hot, fear not. You can always remove it from the heat for a few minutes and start over. While you can’t undo overcooking, you can learn to master heat.”
Sunny Side Up
Mistakes: Overcooking egg yolks, undercooking egg whites and moving eggs too much while cooking
Solutions: Cook eggs low and slow, and cover briefly if necessary
When cooking sunny side up eggs, Frank Proto, director of culinary operations at the Institute of Culinary Education , cooks with a lower heat to ensure the egg whites cook through while the yolk stays runny. He starts at a medium to low heat with oil or butter in the pan, even if it’s nonstick. “I always put oil or butter in the pan, something that’s gonna add flavor to the actual dish,” Proto said.
Crack your eggs into the pan and simply let them cook. “Sometimes people get a little nervous and start moving [the eggs] around. Just let them cook,” Proto said. And don’t forget to season Proto keeps it straightforward and uses salt and pepper.
For home cooks who cover the pan when cooking sunny side up eggs, Proto warns that leaving the cover on for too long can cook the yolks, in addition to the whites. “For sunny side up eggs, the yolk should be soft, so I’ll leave it in the pan until the whites just set,” Proto said. “If you cover it, you’re adding a little steam, which might cook the yolk a little too much, so I tend not to cover it.”
If speed is your main concern, Jen Toomey, chef de cuisine at Huckleberry Bakery and Café , Milo and Olive and Milo SRO in California , shared a hack that she finds particularly helpful during the breakfast rush on weekends. “Start with a hot pan, a nice little smear of butter, obviously, and then the trick we use the most to make sure the whites are cooked evenly is we just break the whites open with a spatula and let them run through,” Toomey told HuffPost. “We break it through a couple times so that the whites drop to the bottom of the pan it helps it coagulate so much faster and then you get an evenly cooked, nice runny yolk but a firm white.”
Mistakes: Overcooking and not moving the eggs around in the pan
Solutions: Remove eggs from the heat while they’re still a bit glistening and moist, and stir and fold eggs constantly while cooking
There are rubbery, overcooked scrambled eggs that you may find at a breakfast buffet and then there are soft scrambled eggs: fluffy, delicate and a touch gooey (in a good way). To achieve the latter, don’t overcook your eggs (read: take them off the heat while they’re still moist), keep them moving in the pan and make sure you season them.
“A soft scramble should be nearly pourable with small ‘curds,’ and is best accomplished over low heat with constant stirring and folding,” Korbee said. “Never scramble eggs over high heat or forget to stir and fold!” He also recommends waiting until the end to add salt. “Salt will draw moisture from the eggs during the cooking process, which will negatively impact the texture.”
Mistakes: Cracking the eggs when placing them in the pot, overcooking and mangling your eggs when peeling them
Solutions: Add eggs to hot water, and place them in an ice bath right after cooking
Approaches varied between the chefs on this particular topic, with some putting eggs in cold water and bringing it to a boil and others putting their eggs in the water only after it’s boiling. Timings also varied — 10-12 minutes in boiling water for eggs placed in cold water and 8.5-13 minutes for eggs placed in hot water. What the chefs did agree on, however, was that submerging boiled eggs in an ice bath is essential to prevent further cooking and that unattractive green-gray ring around the yolk.
Cookbook author and food stylist Andrea Slonecker was particularly passionate about this method of cooking eggs, and shared with us her tried and true method that she studied when writing her book “ Eggs on Top: Recipes Elevated by an Egg .”
“All you have to do is bring the water to a boil, reduce it to a gentle simmer, add your eggs, and cook for 12-13 minutes depending on how many eggs you have in the pot,” Slonecker told HuffPost. The more eggs you add to the water, the longer it will take to bring the temperature back up.
Slonecker avoids adding eggs to water that’s at a full boil (as the eggs will knock into each other and the sides of the pot) and uses room temperature eggs, which “prevents the shock of the cold eggs hitting the hot water and the eggs cracking before they’re done.”
Mistakes: Using a pan that’s too deep, overhandling the eggs and not draining the eggs after cooking
Solutions: Use a low-sided pan with straight sides, avoid moving the eggs too much when cooking, and use a slotted spoon and paper towel to drain the egg before serving
Proto’s method for poached eggs is relatively unfussy and requires no need for a vortex (a method of swirling the water, which he doesn’t teach, as there are many ways it can go wrong). He uses a sautoir, a pan with short, straight sides.
“You want the egg to be submerged fully, but you don’t have to have so much water. If you have a high-sided pan, you can’t really reach in all that well without burning your fingers on the side of the pot.” Proto seasons his water with salt and adds plain distilled vinegar to help set the egg white right after it’s dropped in.
When the water is just under a simmer (around 180 degrees Fahrenheit), Proto drops in his eggs. “I crack my eggs into a small coffee or tea cup and drop them in one at a time, putting the cup into the water and then just sliding the egg out nice and easy.” He lets the eggs cook for 3-5 minutes, and is careful not to push the eggs around as that can cause them to split in the water.
Use a slotted spoon and place your poached eggs on a paper towel to drain fully before serving — the last thing you want is a soggy English muffin.
Mistakes: Overcooking, and adding raw fillings to your eggs
Solutions: Remove the omelet from the pan while the inside is still moist, and pre-cook fillings like mushrooms and onions
While you can get away with sprinkling some cheese in the center of your omelet just before folding it and serving, Slonecker notes that any toppings you’d like to be cooked through need to be precooked before adding them to your eggs.
As usual, overcooking is a common pitfall. “People need to stop cooking the eggs while they’re still a little bit moist as they will continue cooking off the pan,” Slonecker said. “My biggest pet peeve is how almost everyone way overcooks omelets and scrambled eggs. I keep them pretty moist because I actually like my eggs to not be totally set.”
10 Common Crochet Mistakes (And How to Solve Them)
Whether you are just learning to crochet or have years of experience, we are all capable of making the same mistakes. There is no shame in falling for these common crochet blunders! It is best to be aware of these time suckers now, so that we can be proactive in avoiding the things that can make a mess of our
Here are 10 common crochet mistakes and some suggestions on how to fix them or avoid them
1. Only Crocheting In The Front Loop
When you are new to crocheting it can be easy to make this mistake. Learning where to place your hook in each stitch is VERY important it is the basis of this craft. This mistake might happen because you didn’t fully understand the way you were taught to crochet or it’s because your hook slips from time to time and you aren’t seasoned enough to notice the mistake right away.
An effective way to fix this mistake is to spend some extra time analyzing each row that you work. It might feel tedious but now that you know the golden rule of crocheting under both loops (unless specifically directed not to) then you should make double sure that your stitches are worked properly until it becomes second nature.
2. Your Project Keeps Getting Wider And Wider
This is a mistake that everyone makes at least once. I bet you can remember the exact time that you started that project and thought “This is going to be so easy, it’s just repeating the same stitch back and forth!” and then an hour later you realize that your rectangle blanket is now a hexagon!
This issue occurs when you are not counting your stitches and you end up working more stitches than needed. You could be doubling up into one stitch or unintentionally working a stitch in the turning chain. The only way to stop this mistake from happening is to count those stitches! You could count each row
as you finish them, or you can keep a close eye on the shape of your work. Don’t waste valuable time working quickly and then realizing that 10 rows back you added an extra stitch. Welcome to frog town!
3. Not Counting Your Rows While You Work
This point and the point above are all about not wasting your ever-so valuable time. Just like you need to be counting your stitches when you are working, you also need to be counting the rows. I don’t know about you, but I have been working on a project that only required an easy stitch repeat and then after 20 minutes of mindless crocheting I realize that I have just made 5 extra rows!
If you repeat that mistake multiple times then you have basically just made and then frogged a whole second scarf. The easiest solution to this problem is to use a row counter. That could be a fancy digital row counter that counts each row with a simple click or you can get back to the basics and use a pen and notepad to
make a small tick after each row that you complete.
4. Confusing U.S. And U.K. Crochet Terms
Source: Mollie Makes
I am going to be honest with you guys, when I first started crocheting I didn’t even know that this was a thing. I never came across this issue until I started writing crochet patterns of my own. I had released one of my first patterns to the world and a lovely customer from the UK messaged me asking if the terms I was using in my pattern were US or UK. With a quick search on the internet I figured out what
she was referring to.
For example: What is known as a single crochet (sc) in U.S. terms is known as a double crochet (dc) in U.K. terms. (Mind = Blown) With this in mind, it is VERY important to check the pattern before you start. If it is not written on the pattern, then I dosuggest contacting the author for clarification. On the flipside, if you are a designer, then it is also VERY important that you make it obvious to everyone which terms you are using.
5. Using A Different Weight Yarn And Expecting The Outcome To Be The Same As The Pattern
The weight of the yarn is very crucial when it comes to following a crochet pattern. If you are wanting to make a chunky scarf from a pattern that requires a #6 yarn but all you have is a #5 then you should expect your gauge and your finished item to look different.
Each pattern is written with a specific yarn in mind and even a single change up or down in weight can vary your outcome. If you want to use up the yarn that you have on hand, then I suggest working your gauge swatch. This will determine what adjustments you might need to make to the pattern to get it as close as possible.
6. Using The Wrong Hook Size
This point and the point above are also very similar mistakes. Using the wrong hook size can dramatically change the outcome of your project. Again, each pattern is written with a specific hook size in mind and changing that will either make your
stitches way too tight or much too loose.
Make sure to read your pattern closely to make sure that you are using the correct size. As well, make sure to make your gauge swatch! You may not even realize that you have the wrong hook in your hand and once you see that your gauge swatch is off then you have just saved yourself a lot of wasted time frogging a whole project!
7. Not Reading Through The Whole Crochet Pattern First
When starting an exciting new project, the last thing you want to do is spend time reading through each line first. You just want to grab your yarn and your hook and begin! After some experience working with crochet patterns I do feel that it is a mistake if you don’t read the pattern first. It may not make a huge difference every time, but I can remember finding myself confused by a more complicated step simply because I didn’t read ahead to understand the context.
Reading the pattern first can also give you a chance to learn a new stitch ahead of time. You don’t need to memorize each step but reading through a pattern is like studying for a test before you write it. It’s always best to begin a new crochet project with confidence!
8. Not Counting The Starting Chain Correctly/Not Knowing Where To Put The First Stitch
The backbone of each crochet project (and probably one of the least enjoyable parts of each project) is that starting chain. Learning to chain is one of the first things you will learn when crocheting and it can be one of the most confusing.
A very common mistake when chaining is not placing your first stitch in the right chain. This will result in too many or not enough stitches and if you aren’t counting those stitches (see mistake #2) then your project is doomed from the start. The best way to avoid or fix this problem is to become very familiar with how to chain and how to count the chains.
9. Not Creating A Gauge Swatch/Not Working The Gauge Swatch When Following A Pattern
The gauge swatch is something that should be learned early on. This simple square can save you loads of time and effort when following a pattern and can make your own designs much easier to follow. The gauge will determine the tension needed to create the pattern correctly.
I personally crochet more on the tight side so if I start following a pattern written by someone who has a looser tension then my final project will be much too small. What a waste of time! Make sure to make those gauge swatches (and include them in your own designs) and if you find that your tension is different then spend a bit of time adjusting by increasing or decreasing your hook size,
10. Not Leaving A Long Enough Tail Of Yarn
Weaving in the ends is probably everyone’s least favorite part of crocheting. No, unfortunately you can’t just cut the yarn and hope nobody notices - and then struggling because your strand is too short.
There is no difference between binding off a project, adding a new ball of yarn, or switching between different colours of yarn you need to make sure that you leave a healthy length to weave in. I suggest leaving at least 5-6 inches of yarn so that this process can be as painless as possible.
I hope that this list has been helpful to you and your crochet journey. Always remember that you are not alone when making these crochet mistakes and that over time you will be able to look back and smile at how far you have come!
Information provided by: Jennifer Stewart of @jmshandmade
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“When I cook pasta at home, I never follow the cooking times on the package. I generally cook it two minutes less. This way, after you strain it and it sits a little, it won’t overcook,” says Bill Telepan, executive chef at Oceana Restaurant in New York. “Even better,” he says, “if you put slightly undercooked pasta directly into the sauce and let it simmer for a minute or two, it will flavor the pasta better.”
Remember to account for “carry-over cooking” — the fact that when you take food from the heat, it will continue to cook. Carry-over cooking is often discussed with meat, since meat’s internal temperature will continue to rise even after you pull it from a hot pan. Pork chops can go from just done and juicy to dry and tough. But carry-over cooking also applies to lots of foods, including baked goods and vegetables. Roasted asparagus that comes out of the oven tender can get too soft upon sitting, so pull it out a few minutes before it’s reached the doneness you are looking for.
3. Choosing Only Non-Fat or Low-Fat Ingredients
Avoiding fat entirely when you're cooking is a recipe for disaster. Your body needs fat to absorb fat-soluble nutrients, such as vitamins A, D, E and K. Fat is also an important source of energy and necessary for cell growth, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
Health benefits aside, fat adds flavor to food and makes it taste good. Think about it: Have you ever eaten a salad without dressing and actually enjoyed it?
On top of that, low-fat alternatives tend to substitute fat with sugar, especially when it comes to dressings and sauces. Instead of completely avoiding fat, be mindful of how much and what kind of fat you're using.
12 of the most common cake baking mistakes fixed
From opening the oven door too early to using out-of-date ingredients, there are plenty of reasons why a beautiful cake can become a sunken disappointment.
The Good Housekeeping Cookery Team has identified some of your most common pitfalls when it comes to cake making, so you should get the perfect rise every time.
You&rsquore not measuring your ingredients accurately
Too much flour or sugar can have a bigger negative effect on the finished product than you&rsquod believe.
Follow the exact weights given in a recipe and don&rsquot use cheap analogue scales that are hard to read. Digital scales that weigh in 1g increments are your best friend when baking.
Use calibrated measuring spoons rather than cutlery spoons. The latter isn&rsquot a standard size and vary hugely in their capacity. We like the Tala Stainless Steel Measuring Spoon.
You&rsquore substituting or adding extra ingredients
Unless you&rsquore a truly seasoned baker, don&rsquot be tempted to substitute one ingredient for another.
Oil and butter are both fats, but they don&rsquot work in the same way (oil makes denser, moister cakes than butter) and you can&rsquot substitute them gram for gram, either.
The type of sugar matters, too. If a recipe states caster sugar and you only have granulated, you&rsquoll end up with a crunchy, speckled sponge with a denser texture.
Your raising agents are out-of-date
If you use baking powder past its sell-by date, your cakes won&rsquot reach the dizzying heights they could have.
To check your baking powder hasn&rsquot lost its mojo, mix 1tsp into 4tbsp of hot water and see if it bubbles up immediately.
You&rsquore not following the method properly
If a recipe says beat eggs and sugar together for 5 minutes, or to wait for butter to cool before adding it to a mixture, then there&rsquos generally a scientific reason why, and doing otherwise will result in a flop.
Follow the method to the letter.
You don&rsquot know the difference between creaming, beating and folding
- Creaming is mixing butter and sugar together until it reaches the consistency desired by your recipe (usually &lsquountil pale and fluffy&rsquo) and is most effectively done using an electric whisk for a good few minutes.
- It traps air into the creamed mixture &ndash the more you trap, the finer the texture of your cake.
- For an ethereally light sponge, try creaming the butter and sugar until the mixture is nearly white.
- Beating refers to the process of adding eggs to the creamed sugar and fat. The best way to do this is to beat all your eggs in a jug first, then pour them into the bowl a little at a time, so the mixture doesn&rsquot curdle.
- Again, an electric whisk works best here. You&rsquore trying to incorporate and keep as much air in the batter as you can.
- Folding in flour and dry ingredients preserves all the precious air you&rsquove created in the cake batter so it rises as high as possible.
- Don&rsquot use a wooden spoon or electric whisk to do this, and try not to be heavy-handed, otherwise, you&rsquoll knock the air out.
- If you&rsquore too vigorous, you&rsquoll also make the texture of your cake tough. Instead, use a spatula in a gentle, slow and deliberate figure-of-eight motion, finishing with scrape around the edge of the bowl. Repeat this action until you can&rsquot see any more flour, but don&rsquot be tempted to over-mix.
Your ingredients aren&rsquot at room temperature
Butter that&rsquos too cold won&rsquot cream properly and eggs that are straight from the fridge will make a mixture curdle, resulting in a coarse-textured, greasy cake that doesn&rsquot have a good rise.
Plan ahead and have everything out at room temperature for a few hours before you start baking.
If you&rsquore tight for time, try these simple hacks: pop the uncracked eggs in a bowl of warm tap water for a few mins to take off the chill, and put the butter in the microwave for short 20 seconds bursts on the defrost setting to soften it without melting it.
You&rsquore not preparing your cake tin sufficiently
Different types of cake use different lining methods, normally outlined in your chosen recipe, so make sure you follow the instructions when given.
For a standard Victoria sponge, lightly grease the base and sides of the tin with butter or oil, and put a circle of baking parchment or greaseproof paper in the bottom that fits the base of the tin exactly. Use a good quality tin, like the Kitchen Craft Non-Stick Cake Tin.
You only need to line the sides of the tin for fruit cakes, deep sponges baked for celebration cakes or square bakes such as brownies.
If your sponge cakes seem to always have a dark, crunchy edge, then it&rsquos likely you&rsquore greasing the tin too generously.
You&rsquore using the wrong size tin
We&rsquove all been there. You find a cake recipe that sounds amazing, but you don&rsquot have the right size tin.
Think twice about using whatever you do have to hand. The size of the tin affects the cooking time and how thick or thin the sponge turns out.
Too small and your cake might burn at the top or overflow out of the pan, while still being a raw mess in the middle.
Choose one too big and it could end up a thin, dry pancake. Use the tin size stated in the recipe.
Your oven is the wrong temperature
All ovens vary to a degree, which is why a lot of baking times are approximate.
If your oven runs too hot or too cold, you may find that the cooking times are consistently too short or too long, respectively.
Invest in a reliable oven thermometer to check, like the Heston Blumenthal by Salter Oven Thermometer.
If you have a fan oven, most recipes will give you a slightly lower temperature to use, to account for the fact that these ovens run hotter.
If you have a gas or a conventional oven, cakes are best baked on the middle shelf, as the temperature of each shelf position varies (this is not the case with fan ovens, which have an even heat throughout). Get to know your oven and make sure you use the correct temperature for its make.
You&rsquore opening the oven door too soon
Curiosity killed the cake. Open the door too early and you run the risk of having a cake with a permanently sunken middle.
It&rsquos a good idea to let at least 3/4 of the cooking time pass before even thinking about opening the oven. If you find your cake isn&rsquot cooked, don&rsquot keep opening the door every minute to check &ndash doing this makes the oven lose heat and lengthens the cooking time with each occurrence.
Wait at least another 5-10min, depending on how close you believe it is to being done.
Conversely, if your cake seems to be browning too quickly while still raw in the middle, cover the top of the tin with foil for the remainder of the cooking time.
You&rsquore taking too long to put the cake in the oven
Cakes that don&rsquot rise properly or have a surface covered in little holes are often the result of not getting the cake into the oven quickly enough a common mistake that happens because you forgot to turn the oven on before you started, or you get distracted with something else mid-way through mixing.
Once the raising agents in the batter are activated and start to bubble up (usually when the baking powder or self-raising flour gets added to the liquid mixture), you need to capitalise on this chemical reaction quickly so that the heat of the oven can set the air bubbles in place before they pass.
Make sure your tin is prepared, the oven is preheated and all your ingredients are out before you begin baking.
You&rsquore not using a reliable recipe
The internet is packed to the rafters with recipes. Odds are, picking one from a website you&rsquove never heard of before may mean that you were doomed to fail before you even opened your kitchen cupboard because it was never going to work.
Good Housekeeping recipes are all Triple-Tested, so you can rest assured that the delectable creation you&rsquore about to whip up will be a roaring success.