Tips & Advice

Attribution Some rights reserved by gregarch2

Found this advice on the discussion boards, but unfortunately did not include the original poster when I copied it for this site.  It’s from one of the December Moms in our group though, and if I get the time to go back through the posts again I will definitely give credit to the author!

Prepare and cook as much in advance as you can. Lots of items (like sweet potato casserole and veggie sides) can be made up to the point of needing to go into the oven and then kept in the refrigerator overnight and pulled out and baked on Thanksgiving. This has the added bonus of letting the flavors marry overnight.

Make sure you start with a clean kitchen and empty dishwasher, then wash and clean as you cook. There are always little pockets of time during cooking where you are waiting for something, use those to tidy up and you will have far less to do after dinner.

Plan out your cooking times and orders in advance. The turkey or ham will usually need to rest after coming out of the oven so use that time to cook quick items like dinner rolls. I try to plan sides that cook at the same temperature for close to the same mount of time. I have a sweet potato casserole and green bean casserole dish that cook at the same temperature for only a 5 minute time difference so I always prep them the night before and then cook them while the ham is resting.

I also cook desserts during the dinner and then serve them later in the evening. Most people are too stuffed after dinner to eat pies and cakes right away and they take forever to cool down enough to serve anyway. Putting them into the oven right before everyone sits at the table typically has them coming out of the oven as people start leaving the table (in my house anyway) and then they are ready to eat about the time people start grazing again.

How to Roll Out Dough:

  1. Find a flat surface in your kitchen. This could be a counter, table, even the stove if you have a large flat wooden board to work on.
  2. Lightly flour the surface and the rolling pin.
  3. Roll the dough into a large ball and place it in the middle of the floured space.
  4. Use your hands to press it down into a flatter circle about 1 inch thick.
  5. Take the rolling pin and set it on top of the flattened dough. Press down and let the pin rotate as you push it. Roll out the dough away from you in gentle even strokes.
  6. Turn it occasionally in order to keep an approximately circular piece and always starting in the middle, continue to roll away from you until it makes as thin a sheet as you need for your recipe.


The following was forwarded to me in an email :) Enjoy!


  • Take your bananas apart when you get home from the store.If you leave them connected at the stem, they ripen faster. (I didn’t  know that!)
  • Store your opened chunks of cheese in aluminum foil. It will stay fresh much longer and not mold.
  • Peppers with 3 bumps on the bottom are sweeter and better for eating. Peppers with 4 bumps on the bottom are firmer and better for cooking.
  • Add  a teaspoon of water when frying ground beef. It  will help pull the grease away from the meat while cooking.
  • To really make scrambled eggs or omelets rich add a couple of  spoonfuls of sour cream, cream cheese, or heavy cream in and then beat them up.
  • For a cool brownie treat, make brownies as directed. Melt Andes mints in double broiler and pour over warm brownies.  Let set for a wonderful minty frosting.
  • Add garlic immediately to a recipe if you want a light taste of garlic, and at the end of the recipe if your want a stronger taste of garlic.
  • Leftover snickers bars from Halloween make a delicious dessert.  Simply chop them up with the food chopper. Peel, core and slice a few apples. Place them in a baking dish and sprinkle the chopped candy bars over the apples. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes!!!  Serve alone or with vanilla ice cream. Yummm!
  • Heat up leftover pizza in a nonstick skillet on top of the stove, set heat to med-low and heat till warm. This keeps the crust crispy. No soggy micro pizza.

I saw this on the cooking channel and it really works.

  • Easy Deviled Eggs: Put cooked egg yolks in a zip lock bag. Seal, mash till they are all broken up.  Add remainder of ingredients, reseal, keep mashing it up mixing thoroughly, cut the tip of the baggy, squeeze mixture into egg.  Just throw bag away when done – easy clean up!
  • Expanding  Frosting: When you buy a container of cake frosting from the store, whip it with your mixer for a few minutes. You can double it in size.  You get to frost more cake/cupcakes with the same amount. You also eat less sugar and calories per serving.

Reheating refrigerated bread:
To warm biscuits, pancakes, or muffins that were refrigerated, place them in a microwave with a cup of water. The increased moisture will keep the food moist and help it reheat faster.
Newspaper keeps weeds away.  Start putting in your plants, work the nutrients in your soil.  Wet some newspapers.Put layers around the plants overlapping as you go, cover with mulch and forget about weeds. Weeds will get through some gardening plastic, they will not get through wet newspapers.
Broken  Glass?  Use a wet cotton ball or Q-tip to pick up the small shards of glass you can’t see easily.
No More  Mosquitoes!  Place a dryer sheet in your pocket.It will keep the mosquitoes away.
To keep squirrels from eating your plants, sprinkle your plants with cayenne pepper.  The cayenne pepper doesn’t hurt the plant and the squirrels won’t come near it. (Wonder if this works with rabbits?)  Yes it works with bunnies and raccoons too.
Create your own flexible vacuum extension.  To get something out of a heat register or under the fridge, add an empty paper towel roll or empty gift wrap roll to your vacuum. It can be bent or flattened to get in narrow openings.
Reducing Static Cling Pin a small safety pin to the seam of your slip and you will not have a clingy skirt or dress. Same thing works with slacks that cling when wearing panty hose.Place pin in seam of slacks and … TA DA! … Static is gone.
Before you pour sticky substances into a measuring cup, fill with hot water.Dump out the hot water, but don’t dry cup.  Next, add your ingredient, such as peanut butter, and watch how easily it comes right out.
Hate foggy windshields? Buy a chalkboard eraser and keep it in the glove box of your car.  When the windows fog, rub with the eraser! Works better than a cloth!
If you seal an envelope and then realize you forgot to include something inside, just place your sealed envelope in the freezer for an hour or two. Viola! It unseals easily.
Use your hair conditioner to shave your legs. It’s cheaper than shaving cream and leaves your legs really smooth. It’s also a great way to use up the conditioner you bought but didn’t like when you tried it in your hair.
To get rid of pesky fruit flies, take a small glass, fill it 1/2 inch with Apple Cider Vinegar and 2 drops of dish washing liquid; mix well.
You will find those flies drawn to the cup and gone forever!
Get Rid of Ants too!  Put small piles of cornmeal where you see ants. They eat it, take it ‘home’, can’t digest it so it kills them. It may take a week or so, especially if it rains, but it works and you don’t have the worry about pets or small children being harmed!
The heating unit went out on my dryer!  The gentleman that fixes things around the house for us told us that he wanted to show us something, and he went over to the dryer and pulled out the lint filter. It was clean.   (I always clean the lint from the filter after every load clothes.)
He told us that he wanted to show us something else; he took the filter over to the sink and ran hot water over it. I’m sure you know what your dryer’s lint filter looks like.The lint filter is made of a mesh material.   Well ..the hot water just sat on top of the mesh! It didn’t go through it at all! He told us that dryer sheets cause a film over that mesh and that’s what burns out the heating unit.  You can’t  SEE the film, but it’s there.It’s what is in the dryer sheets to make your clothes soft and static free … that nice fragrance too.  You know how they can feel waxy when you take them out of the box …. well this stuff builds up on your clothes and on your lint screen.
This is also what causes dryer units to potentially burn your house down with it!   He said the best way to keep  your dryer working for a very longtime (and to keep your  electric bill lower) is to take that filter out and wash it with hot soapy water and an old toothbrush (or other brush) at least every six months.  He said that makes the life of the dryer at least twice as long!
Note:  I went to my dryer and tested my screen by running water on it. The water ran through a little bit but mostly collected all the water in the mesh screen. I washed it with warm soapy water and a nylon brush. I had it done in 30 seconds. Then when I rinsed it .. the  water ran right thru the screen! There wasn’t any puddling at  all! That repairman knew what he was talking  about!

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