Posts from the ‘Tips and Tricks’ Category

20 uses for coffee

love coffee, especially a very dark, bold roast…. but my husband doesn’t touch the stuff so I sometimes end up with extra in the pot that just gets thrown out… I found this blog that talks about 20 uses for left over coffee… thought it might be something others would be interested in so I’ll pass it along… pretty neat ideas!

Here are a few of my favorites from the list … these are exactly from the list with no changes except the order from the list.

  1. Use it in Red Eye Gravy
  2. Use it to marinate ribs
  3. Add to Chili
  4. Use in BBQ sauce
  5. Water your acid loving plants with it.  Violets are avid coffee drinkers.
  6. Make frappuccinos
  7. Make a confectioner’s sugar glaze for donuts
  8. Use instead of red wine in stews and beef dishes
  9. Try these amazing sounding cinnamon rolls
  10. Facial. Seriously.  Add enough leftover coffee to about 1/4 c coffee grounds to make a paste.  Pat onto your face, allow to sit for 10 – 20 minutes and rinse off.
  11. Use a swab to put on scratches in dark furniture

I wonder about the facial one … would that stain your face I wonder?

My Favorite Cooking Gadgets

I have LOTS of cooking gadgets but there a few key pieces that I rely on regularly. They make cooking a lot easier!

Pampered Chef’s Small Micro-cooker (a larger version is also available)


This thing is so handy for items that you want to heat in the microwave, such as soup or frozen veggies. It has little steam holes in the lid that lets water vapor escape as it cooks. I often put a little water plus frozen corn or beans in the little cooker, snap the lid, and cook in the microwave for about 2 minutes and viola, it’s done! This is great for a busy cook — and it’s something even a college student can easily use!

Adjustable Measuring Spoon

adjustable spoon

I have an adjustable teaspoon sized measuring spoon and it is awesome. I wish I also had the tablespoon sized one (ahem….Christmas gift!). It is very handy to be able to just slide the little thingy back and forth and not dirty up a million spoons. Plus it’s nice to know exact measurements, such as 1/8tsp, 1/4 tsp, etc.

Braun Hand Blender

hand blender

A hand blender is awesome for quick purees or making smoothies. I use it almost every day. Mine isn’t as fancy as the one in the photo above but I still love it. It is easy to use and store.

Aroma Rice Cooker and Steamer

rice cooker

I cannot express enough how much I love my rice cooker/steamer. I wish I had two! It is soooo easy to use and the food tastes great. You can use the bottom pan to steam the rice and the top pan (which has holes) when you want to steam (you fill the bottom pan with a little water first). I often make steamed carrots, broccoli, green beans, peas, salmon, and chicken, in addition to the rice. The only problem with it is that I often want to use it for more than one thing at a time…hence that’s why I want at least one more! Another reason I like it is that it has an automatic shutoff – it always cooks perfectly! If you want your veggies to have a little crispy crunch, just use less water or turn it off when you think they are done to your preference.

Kitchen Mandolin

In case you don’t know, a kitchen mandolin is basically a tool that has interchangeable blades that slice, julienne, and shred vegetables and cheese, among other things. I love my mandolin primarily for shredding all types of cheeses and for making super thin slices of onion or potato. The one in the photo above is a bit different from mine but these are all pretty much the same. Make sure you get one that has a tray that catches the food underneath it and a cover so that you can put it in the fridge if needed. Also, it is good to have the hand guard, which is a small thing you hold which keeps your hand safe while slicing.

Natural Facial Treatment

The first tip comes from a Dollar Stretcher newsletter reader….the second one comes from the website Christian Mommies….. I think I might give one of these a try as my skin gets so dry during the winter!

Natural Facial

The best facial to remove oil is one egg yolk and a teaspoon of mayonnaise.  know it sounds funny, but it makes your skin feel so soft and look new. Just rub it on, wait thirty minutes, and then remove with warm water.


Banana Facial Mask (for dry skin)

Mash together one half cup of plain yogurt, 1 tablespoon of honey, and 1/4 ripe banana. Apply mask to face and neck. Leave mask on for 10 minutes. Rinse with warm water.

Tofu Substitutions

Tofu is a food that requires “special” handling, so it’s important to keep in mind the basics, I’ve found. Sunrise Soya’s website has some great info on basic handling.

Tofu can be substituted in recipes for the following items (per Sunrise’s website):

  • 1 cup buttermilk = 125 ml (1/2 cup) Sunrise Soft Tofu blended with 85 ml (1/3 cup) water
  • 1 cup cottage or ricotta cheese = 250 ml (1 cup) Sunrise Medium Firm Tofu, well-drained & mashed
  • 1 cup cream cheese = 175 ml (3/4 cup) Sunrise Medium Firm Tofu, well-drained and mashed, blended with 60 ml (1/4 cup) margarine and 15 ml (1 tbsp.) lemon juice
  • 1 cup yogurt = 250 ml (1 cup) Sunrise Soft Tofu
  • 1 cup sour cream = 175 ml (3/4 cup) Sunrise Medium Firm Tofu, well-drained and mashed, blended with 60 ml (1/4 cup) vegetable oil and 15 ml (1 tbsp.) lemon juice
  • 1 whole egg = 60 ml (1/4 cup) Sunrise medium Firm Tofu, well-drained and pureed

now, I need a tofu cookbook! I think I might give this one a try.

Milled Flaxseed Instead of Eggs

This tip comes from The Dollar Stretcher Newsletter. It has some really neat ideas for saving money on a variety of topics, including cooking!

I’ve never purchased milled flaxseed but I might have to give this tip a try! (I recently learned that regular flax seeds are not digestible by the body, and they must be ground up into a flour or powder to get their full benefit….just use your coffee bean grinder!)

Instead of Eggs in Baking

If you aren’t a big fan of fish, but you really want to get those super healthy Omega 3 oils in your diet or you’re trying to lower your cholesterol, raise your fiber intake, etc. I have the tip for you!

There is a whopping 2600 mg of Omega 3 oils per two tablespoons of milled flax seed. Instead of using eggs in your every day baking needs, you can replace one egg with one tablespoon of milled flax seed plus three tablespoons of water. You get the same end result with no change in taste! I use this tip in every recipe that calls for eggs, including sweets, bread, casseroles, etc.

You also save money by doing this. I get milled flax seed at my local grocery store (in the baking section) under the Hodgson Mill brand. One box contains 52 tablespoons of milled flax seed (equal to 52 eggs) at $1.42 per box opposed to roughly $5.72 per 52 eggs (at the cheapest price). Here’s to your health and pocketbook in 2008!
Melissa K. in Cicero, IN

UPDATE: I’ve learned that you should not mill your flax seeds until you are ready to use them -it will go rancid if left too long before use so keep any unused milled flaxseed in the fridge.

Here are some links to learn more about flaxseed:

Herbs and Spices for Pennies

This tip comes from The Dollar Stretcher Newsletter. I think this is an excellent idea, provided you have a store that sells bulk herbs locally. It’s such a simple concept that I just never thought of before!

Herbs and Spices for Pennies

Next time you run out of an herb or spice don’t throw the container away. Instead, go to your local natural or health food store and buy just the amount you need to refill it.

Since most of the cost of herbs and spices is the name brand and marketing, the actual cost of the herbs is only about 25 cents to fill the standard little container. At the health food store, you’ll find large jars to scoop out as much as you need into little plastic bags.  Be sure to write down the names of the spices that you need to replenish because there are so many that it’s easy to forget the one you need! You’ll also see blends like Spike and Mrs. Dash so you can try some new ones without spending the usual $4 or $5.

I also write the name of the spice on the twist tie because when you get home they all look alike! Not only will you be saving some “green,” but also you’ll be living a little greener by reusing the containers.