Softening Butter Quickly

Forgot to take the sticks out of the refrigerator in advance? Here are two ways to speed the process along. Fast: Cut the sticks into pieces and set out on a counter. In 10 to 15 minutes, you’ll be good to go. Faster: Microwave the pieces on low in 20-second intervals, checking in between. The...
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Keeping Baked Goodies Fresh

Most holiday cookies and bars will last for up to a week in a tightly sealed container. But what if you’re planning to give them as a gift in a basic box? To maintain freshness until you drop them off to the lucky recipient, wrap the entire present in plastic wrap. (Alternatively, depending on the...
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Storing Leftover Tomato Paste

Most recipes for pasta sauce and chili call for only a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste. If your paste comes in a tube, leftovers aren’t a problem. But if it’s in a can, don’t toss the remainder or let it dry out in the refrigerator. Instead, freeze it in tablespoon-size portions in an ice-cube...
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Easy Homemade Bread Crumbs

Making your own is a great way to use up the heels of old loaves. Stow the pieces in a large plastic bag in the freezer. When the bag is full, cut the bread into large chunks and pulse them in a food processor until you have fine crumbs. Toast the crumbs on a rimmed...
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Cutting Up a Pineapple

Supermarkets can charge twice as much for sliced pineapple as they do for the same amount of whole fruit. Here’s an easy way to handle this prickly job yourself. Step 1: With a serrated or chef’s knife, cut off the top of the pineapple and a thick slice from the bottom. Step 2: Stand the...
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How to Soften Brown Sugar

Midway through the banana bread recipe, you realize that your brown sugar is one rock-hard mass. Solution: Place the block of sugar in a bowl, sprinkle with a teaspoon of water, cover with a damp paper towel, and microwave in 30-second intervals, checking between each, until soft. (This may take several minutes.) To keep a...
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Prepping Hearty Greens

Kale, chard, mustard greens, and collards make delicious sautes and are a tasty addition to soups, but first you have to remove their tough stems. Instead of cutting them out with a knife, simply “zip” the leaves off. With one hand, hold a leaf at the bottom by the thickest part of the stem. With...
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How to Clean a Seasoned Cast-Iron Pan

Step 1: Very important—don’t use soap or scouring powder on a seasoned pan. It will destroy the nonstick coating. Instead, sprinkle the pan with kosher salt and scrub it with a paper towel. Step 2: Rinse the pan clean under hot water. Dry it immediately and thoroughly with paper towels, then apply a thin, even...
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Cast-Iron Pans 101

This affordable classic should be a staple in every kitchen. Cast iron distributes heat evenly and holds heat, so it’s great for searing and frying. Its naturally nonstick surface—the product of “seasoning,” a method used to seal and smooth the iron—makes it a good choice for delicate items, like breaded cutlets. Some pans come preseasoned...
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