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The best way to reheat a baked potato

Whether you’re serving them oozing with chili and cheese or slathered with butter as a simple accompaniment to a steak dinner, baked potatoes make for a tasty, versatile side dish. But perhaps you found you made too many and now have leftovers.  Don’t pitch that potato. Here’s how you can make sure they taste as great in the few days following as they did when you first pulled them out of the oven. The best way to reheat a potato: The oven No question about it, the best way to reheat a baked potato is in the oven. This method keeps potatoes moist while skin stays crispy and delicious. The downside is that it takes a lot longer than zapping the potato in the microwave, but the extra time is totally worth it. First, remove potatoes from fridge and let them warm up to room temperature. Preheat the oven to…

How to freeze and thaw bread while keeping it fresh

If you’re guilty of wasting one food it’s probably bread. Here’s the all-too-common situation: You just twisted open a basic bag of sliced sandwich bread at home, but then you go ahead and buy an artisanal loaf to accompany tonight’s dinner-for-two anyway. (After all, they are very different breads.) Then you buy buns for grilling burgers later this week and perhaps some bakery rolls for Sunday’s dinner. That’s when you realize, you’ll never get through all of that bread before it gets stale. Can you keep it fresh in the freezer? Thankfully, the answer is yes! Most bread really only lasts about two or three days before it starts to show signs of staleness, or worse, mold, but the freezer can help ward off both. Also see: Is it safe to tear the mold off of bread and eat the rest? How to freeze bread: short-term Short term storage can…

How to store a cake and keep it fresh

Nothing beats freshly baked cakes and cupcakes, but eating them all in one sitting certainly isn’t advised. So how do you go about storing leftovers, or handling those times when you have to buy a cake in advance? Here is how to keep your cake fresh as long as possible. The refrigerator is not your friend If you’re in the habit of thinking the fridge magically lengthens the life of any food, think again. Refrigerating cake actually makes it go stale faster. It has to do with how cooling forces moisture to the surface where it evaporates. Since this process happens faster in the fridge, the cake will harden and get stale prematurely. The best thing you can do, is let your cake sit at room temperature—the same goes for breads and other baked goods too. store 1 to 3 days: Cake goes on the counter If you’re planning on…

How to make homemade Nutella

I don’t buy Nutella that often because, quite simply, I can’t control myself. That sweet, nutty, chocolatey butter spread beckons me in the middle of the night, and before I know it, I’ve eaten several slices of toast heavily smothered in the stuff. (I could easily kill this 6.6 pound bucket — just hand me the bread!) It’s not super healthy, and it is super expensive (about $5 for a tiny jar!), but when I make my own, it becomes not so bad on either front. Check out this restaurant with an entirely Nutella menu. This homemade Nutella recipe is quick and easy to pull off if you have the right equipment. You’re going to need a high-powered food processor or blender along with a microwave and an oven or a toaster oven. As for ingredients, you’re going to need hazelnuts. They might be a little harder to find than,…

Everything you need to know about freezing cookies

Nothing is better than freshly baked cookies. But during the holidays when fresh, homemade cookies matter most, we’re also needing to split our time between cooking, hosting, shopping, and celebrating the season, leaving little time to spend rolling out and filling dozens of dainty little cookies. This is when having a magical holiday depends on the magic of the freezer. Freezing cookies or cookie dough now can save you later when you’re just too busy to bake. Just follow these tips and you’ll be good to go. What types of cookies can I freeze? Lots of cookies are great candidates for the freezer. Cutout cookies, slice and bake (icebox) cookies, drop cookies, and biscotti are all excellent choices. Any cookie with a lot of butter or fat will freeze well. Try to avoid freezing cookies that are decorated, filled, or delicate — like meringues — since they would loose a…

The 6 biggest mistakes you can make when baking pumpkin pie

Pumpkin pie, with its thick, pumpkin-y custard, fragrant spices, and flaky pastry crust, is about as delicious as Thanksgiving gets. Served with a dollop of homemade whipped cream, there is no Thanksgiving dish that arrives with such anticipation. Yet, even the most seasoned bakers know a truly perfect pumpkin pie is no easy task to pull off. Here are a few mistakes you need to avoid in order to make your best pumpkin pie ever: 1. You use fresh pumpkin I can hear you now, “But such-and-such variety of pumpkin makes a delicious pie, just like my grandma made!” Well, if you have a tried-and-true family recipe that you’re used to, then nothing is going to change your mind — nostalgia looms large on Thanksgiving. But for those who want to make a truly perfect pie every time, it’s important to practice consistency. Fresh pumpkins can vary wildly in size…

The 9 best cheeses to use in mac and cheese

Instant mac and cheese might pass the test for as a college dorm room quick fix, but everyone knows that nothing beats the homemade stuff. At its best, the real deal — made from scratch — can truly transcend you to a carb-loving comfort food heaven. Whether it’s baked into a crunchy-topped casserole or scooped straight from the stove top, the creamiest mac and cheese starts with the right cheese. So what cheeses guarantee maximum creaminess? The main quality a cheese must have is meltability. It might seem obvious, but often times home cooks can lose sight of the end goal (And, admittedly, those fancy, sprawling cheese departments at the supermarket can have us wanting to experiment with all kinds of cheeses we don’t need). Plus, you want a cheese that isn’t going to separate into an oily, grainy mess. So stay on task and when you head to the…

How to store apples so they last all winter

For many people, autumn means one thing: apples. Families love heading to the orchard and loading up on bags full of apples for making devious homemade applesauce, pies, and cobblers. But don’t let your enjoyment of those tasty fall treats end earlier than it needs to. Believe it or not, some varieties of apples can last you all the way through March. They just have to be stored the right way. Also see, the best apples for eating fresh. Apples are abundant in the fall, meaning you can buy them at cheaper prices and stock up. You’ll save money by buying in bulk, and you’ll also avoid grocery store apples which can be coated in unnatural waxes or doused with chemicals used to delay their ripening. Here’s everything you need to know about storing apples for winter: What type of apple should you buy Apples come to maturity between late July…

How to pick the best butternut squash

Fall has finally arrived and winter squash are stocked on the shelves — acorn, spaghetti, and of course, butternut. Butternut squash a must-have fall vegetable that dates back nearly 10,000 years ago.  It’s true. Archaeological evidence suggests that squash was first cultivated in what is now known as the Isthmus of Panama. Squash was one of the three main crops (known as the “Three Sisters” — maize, beans, and squash) planted by Native Americans. If you’re looking for authentic North American fall foods for your Thanksgiving feast, squash certainly qualifies. (Read more at: How Americans Became so Obsess with Pumpkins) The most noticeable difference between winter squash and summer squash, like zucchini and yellow squash, is the exterior skin. Summer squash have thin, flavorful skin you leave on and eat, while winter squash have a tough, inedible outer shell. It’s because of this shell, however, that winter squash can be…

The very best way to freeze peaches

Is there anything as delicious as a fresh peach? Peaches on ice cream, peach sangria, peach barbecue sauce — my mouth is already watering. Some summers the crop is extra delicious, juicy and fragrant. It’s these flavors I want to capture and savor all year long. When you come across a crop like this, you’ll be tempted to buy the whole bushel, and that’s what I say go for it! Delicious fresh peaches make for delicious frozen peaches, too. What good are frozen peaches? Well, you can pretty much do just about anything with them that you would have done when they were fresh: savory dishes like peach topped pork chops, kebabs, cobblers, pies, jams, sangria, smoothies. Or use them as ice cubes in your iced tea or lemonade for a fruity treat when you reach the bottom of your glass. So what’s the best way to freeze peaches? The…