Quick Tip: Doubling (or Tripling or Halving) Recipes

Hi there, I just wanted to share a suggestion that might come in handy when you need to alter a recipe to make it larger (or smaller). If the recipe is only a few ingredients this probably isn’t necessary, but if you are making something complex take the time to do it: calculate and rewrite the recipe amounts ahead of time, in the order listed in the original recipe.

doubling recipes

I wrote out the ingredients for the cake batter and the frosting on post-its and stuck them to the cookbook.

Yes, this is a very simple tip, but it can save you so much time and keep errors from occurring during the actual cooking. If you are constantly referring back to the ingredient list and mentally doubling the ingredients as you go there is a good chance you could forget to double one or more items. It’s even more likely to happen if it is a recipe that uses a cooking technique you are not familiar with. While you are carefully reading the instructions for what to do next you may fail to do the mental math correctly on the ingredients. This also helps make sure you have enough of the ingredients on hand for the recipe!

I put this advice into practice this weekend as I made my son’s birthday cake. I decided to make a chocolate cake with buttercream frosting from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. I needed enough cake to fill an 11″x 15″ cake pan (half-sheet) so I had to double the recipe. The cake itself had a lot of steps but the buttercream frosting was more difficult because I had never made real buttercream before. I wanted to minimized the chance of error by writing out the doubled ingredients so I could concentrate on the steps. I couldn’t have a flop cake for my son’s party with 30 people coming over!

Super Bowl Party Food

Since the Niners are in it this year we are having some people over to watch the game. I’m not a big football fan myself, but any excuse to cook for guests and I’m in!

I don’t want to spend the afternoon in the kitchen–I’d like to visit with my guests. So I will plan a menu that can be prepped ahead and just a little cooking during the party. It also needs to be kid friendly. Here’s what I’m thinking for a menu :

Grill

Sausages – I love the Aidell’s sausage that I get in bulk from Costco. They are fully cooked chicken sausages and come in great flavor combinations. I have some Bacon, Mushroom & Swiss in the freezer right now!

Main Dish

I have a large batch of chili verde pork in the freezer. I can put it in the Crock Pot and have corn tortillas, shredded cheese, sour cream and other topping ready in “serve yourself” fashion. Kids may not eat the chili verde, but they can have a quesadilla instead.

Veggie Tray

I love preparing a beautiful veggie tray for parties. I use carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, thin sliced yellow bell peppers, broccoli, radishes and green onions.

Tips: I get bagged whole carrots to peel and slice into sticks. The flavor is so much better than baby carrots. If serving broccoli it’s a good idea to blanch it. After chopping it into bite size florets drop into boiling water for just a few minutes, then drain and place in ice water to stop cooking. The broccoli will be tender but still firm and much tastier than raw.

Chips & Dips

I’ll make this smooth restaurant style salsa instead of fresh since tomatoes are not in season. I have a bunch of ripe avocados so I’ll probably make guacamole too. I have one of those nifty mini crock pots that’s perfect for dips, so I may make a hot spinach-artichoke dip too.

Beverages

Beer for the men of course, wine or mixed drinks for the ladies. I’ll make lemonade by the pitcher for the kids. I also keep a pitcher of water in the fridge. I don’t like serving kids soda or bottled water–they never finish it and I end up throwing away half-empty cans and bottles.

Dessert

I want this to be grab and go too, so I’m going to do cupcakes or brownies. I’m planning to do some football related decorations on top to make them fun.

I think that will cover it. Are you hosting a party to watch the game? What will you be serving? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

 

Quick Tip: Freezing Meatballs

frozen meatballs

I’m a big advocate of Plan Ahead Cooking. When possible I like to make a double batch of whatever we’re having and freeze half of it.

After reading her Lady and the Tramp, Audrey insisted that we have spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. I went ahead and made a double batch and froze the extra.

 

STEP 1: Place the formed meatballs on a cookie sheet and put in the freezer (a level spot) for a couple of hours.

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 STEP 2: Transfer to a freezer bag labeled with the item, date and number of meatballs.
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Quick Tip: Homemade Frozen Waffles

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Frozen waffles (like Eggos) are super convenient for getting a hot breakfast on the table in the morning. But you don’t need to buy them. Just make them yourself.

The next time you decide to make waffles on the weekend make a double batch of batter. After everyone has had their fill cook the rest of the batter.

Place cooled waffles in zipper bags and label with the date. Pop them in the freezer.
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When you are ready to eat them remove the quantity you need from the bag and place in the toaster on a low setting. My toaster dial goes from 1 to 8 and I reheat the waffles on 4. Run through a second toast cycle on low if you like them extra crispy.
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They won’t be as perfectly uniform as store-bought waffles, but they taste better and you know exactly what they are made of.

Buy Meat in Bulk to Save Money

meats on saleLook at all the meat I bought at Savemart on Monday! With meal plan in hand I hit the store to do my shopping. What I planned to buy was on sale (which is why it was part of my meal plan) and several packages had discount stickers.

I purchased two value-packs of ground beef (each had $4 off stickers), two tri-tips (also $4 off each), two whole chickens at $0.88 per pound, and one pack of boneless skinless chicken breasts at $1.49 pet pound. All together I spent $56.66 dollars for 29 pounds of meat. Regular price would have been $82.93, a savings of $26.27!

If you are thinking that’s a lot of meat for a family of four you are right. There is no way we could eat it all before it goes bad.  When I get the meat home I divide and repackaged it for the freezer. Ground beef I divided into one pound sections and placed in quart size freezer bags. I separated the two chickens into their own gallon bags. And finally I trimmed the tri-tips and placed them in separate gallon zipper bags. In this case I will be using the chicken breast in the next day or two so that was not packed for the freezer.

I write the date on the bags with a permanent marker and toss it in the freezer.  If I was planning on storing these meats a long time I would have wrapped them in waxed paper before placing in the freezer bags. This meat will get used up in about a month to six weeks so it should be fine in the freezer bags.

Look at my meat all packaged up and ready for the freezer!

meat packaged

Quick Tip: Pizza Sauce

I have been making pizza at home about once a week lately. I make the pizza dough from scratch using a recipe that doesn’t require rising. I also make the pizza sauce myself.

Pizza Sauce: 1 can (15 oz) of tomato sauce + 1 can (small) tomato paste + Italian seasoning + 1/4 tsp salt. Heat in a small pan, spread on pizza dough.

This recipe, if you can call it that, makes a good amount of sauce. I use what I need and spoon the rest into a small freezer bag. When it’s time to make pizza again I just pull it out and defrost in the microwave, which only takes about 2 minutes!

This technique can be used with all sorts of small amounts of sauces and ingredients: tomato paste, chipotle chilies, pesto sauce. Don’t let it go bad or just throw it away–save it in the freezer. And write the date and description on the bag!

Quick Tip: Storing Bulk Hard Cheeses


I’m a big fan of bulk shopping at Costco. Even though we are only a family of four we go through a lot of groceries. We eat almost exclusively home-cooked food –three meals a day, every day. That adds up to a lot of cooking and groceries in a month!

One of the things I buy in bulk is hard cheeses. I usually buy Romano because it’s less expensive than Parmesan.  This wedge was about $9, compared to $15 for a similar sized wedge of Parmesan. I use it to top spaghetti, in lasagna and on home-made pizzas.

The large package may seem like a lot of cheese, and it is, but it will keep for a one to two months if stored properly.  This is how I do it:

I cut the large wedge into 5 smaller wedges. These are the size you would find in a regular grocery store.

Then wrap each wedge in tightly in plastic wrap.

Then place inside a zipper bag (with the date written on it)

I left the small piece out to use in making two lasagnas that night. Why make one lasagna when you can make two, right? One went into the freezer to be used next month.
Do you buy cheese in bulk? How do you store it? Let me know in the comments!