Tag Archives: cooking and baking tips

11 Clever Uses for Cream of Tartar

Bakers should be familiar with cream of tartar…especially those who love making meringue cookies, whipped cream, or egg white desserts. But did you know you could use it for lots of other things? Thankfully, cream of tartar is often used in tiny amounts, so a little goes a long way. That means you either have it on hand for years, or you can use it to help clean your home, your pots and pans, and even make playdough for your kids!

Cream of tartar is a natural product, and is formed from the sediment left over in barrels after the winemaking process.

In terms of usage, cream of tartar has multiple uses in food preparation–including stabilizing egg whites by increasing their heat tolerance and volume, and preventing sugary syrups, chocolates and candies from crystallizing. Here are a few other ways to use cream of tartar:

Cream of Tartar

–Add cream of tartar to whipped cream after it has been whipped to help stabilize it. This is especially helpful if you’re using whipped cream to frost a cake.

–In the same respect, you can add cream of tartar to egg whites when whipping them to increase their volume and help them maintain peaks at higher temperatures, like when making a pie or meringue cookies.

–If you’re cooking vegetables in boiling water, you can add cream of tartar to the water to reduce discoloration.

–Make a paste of cream of tartar and vinegar (or any other acid, such as lemon juice) and use it to buff and clean metals, like your cookware. Make a scrub by combining 2 1/2 cups baking soda, 1 1/2 cups salt, and 2 tablespoons cream of tartar. Store it in an airtight container. When you’re ready to use it, pour a couple tablespoons of the powder onto the cookware and scrub with a moist nylon scrubber.

–You could also boil a solution of 2 tablespoons cream of tartar, 1/2 cup vinegar or lemon juice, and 1 quart water in a metal pot for ten minutes to help clean any buildup on the bottom or sides of the pot.

–Use cream of tartar in your homemade playdough to help prevent the formation of crystals.

–Mix in a small amount of cream of tartar to create smooth icings, syrups, and caramels.

–If in a pinch, make your own baking powder by combining two parts cream of tartar with one part each baking soda and cornstarch.

–Repel ants by sprinkling cream of tartar around the hole the ants came from. You can also sprinkle it on cracks and crevices near your doorway to prevent them from coming in the house.

–Combine a small amount of hydrogen peroxide with cream of tartar until it has the consistency of paste. Spread the paste around the area to be cleaned in the bathtub or sink. Scrub the tub with a brush and the paste. Rinse to clean.

–Remove sweat stains from the collar area of a button down shirt by rubbing in some cream of tartar. Launder as usual to remove the stain.

Knowledge is power!  Learn fun facts, hints and tips, and creative ways to use every day items with “The Buzz” posts on Thursday.

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7 Clever Uses for Club Soda

Club soda is a great staple to have in the fridge…especially if you’re trying to lose weight (the carbonation helps fill you up and gives the illusion of a pop without the calories and sugar).  You can mix it with drinks, add it to cake recipes, or just enjoy it as is on a hot summer day.  There are also several other ways to put club soda to use, both in your cooking and around your house.

  •  Lighten up pancakes, waffles, cakes, muffins, and biscuits with club soda (substitute it for the liquid called in the recipe)
  • Give plants a mineral bath by watering your plants with club soda once a week.
  • Pour it on carpet stains and rub to remove the stain.
  • Use club soda to help remove bird poop and other stains from your car.
  • Beautiful blondes can wash their hair with club soda after swimming in a pool to help remove the green tint.
  • Add it to apple or orange juice to create a new fun and carbonated drink for kids!
  • Club soda will also help remove the stains from coffee cups and silver.

Knowledge is power!  Learn fun facts, hints and tips, and creative ways to use every day items with “The Buzz” posts on Thursday.

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6 Clever Uses for Cinnamon

Cinnamon is one of my favorite fall flavors.  I love the taste, the smell, and the color of it.  But cinnamon can do a whole lot more than add flavor to applesauce, pancakes, and oatmeal…


1.  Cinnamon is a great go-to spice for nausea, upset stomach, or other digestive problems.  Drop a cinnamon stick in a cup of tea to help sooth your sour tummy.  You could also add a teaspoon of ground cinnamon to hot water and drink it like you would tea.

2.  Place cinnamon and other fall spices in an envelope and seal the envelope with tape.  Poke some holes in it and place it in your drawer, closet, or around your home to add a wonderful fall fragrance to the air.

3.  Anchor several cinnamon sticks in whole cloves or dried cranberries in a glass: this makes a pretty and sweet-smelling decorative element.  We also tie bunches of cinnamon sticks together and place them in our Christmas tree.  It looks beautiful and smells amazing.

4.  Break 4 cinnamon sticks and combine with 1/2 cup of whole cloves and 1/2 cup whole black peppercorns. Fill small squares of fabric with a tablespoon of this mixture, tie shut and hang in your closets to keep moths away from your clothes.

5.  It may not be a scientifically proven fact, but many homeowners have had success warding off ants with cinnamon sticks. Place some by your entry doors and in the corners on the floor in your kitchen and it should work to keep the ants away.

6.  Cooks and bakers alike know the value of fresh cinnamon.  If you want to experiment with cinnamon in your own cooking, know that cinnamon goes well with cardamom, cloves, coriander seed, cumin, ginger, mastic, nutmeg and mace, tamarind and turmeric.

Knowledge is power!  Learn fun facts, hints and tips, and creative ways to use every day items with “The Buzz” posts on Thursday.


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6 Clever Uses for Sauce Packets

It’s inevitable.  You order Chinese take out for one and they give you a lifetime supply of sauce packets.  They sit in your fridge until you finally convince yourself that it’s okay to toss them…but these little guys can be put to good use!

1.  Toss the sauces…together, that is.  Combine 2 packets duck sauce with 1 packet soy sauce and 1 mustard packet.  Use this sauce to marinate chicken or pork…or use it to dip your home made summer rolls.

2.  Sweet and sour sauce is also an amazing addition to grilled pineapple.  Grill whole slices or chunks on a kabob and glaze with sweet and sour sauce.

3.  Season noodles or ramen with hot mustard or a sweet and sour packet.

4.  Know someone heading off to college?  Throw some sauce packets in a food basket with Ramen noodles and other easy dorm foods.  When the going gets tough, the “college kid” will find a way to use them.  😉

5.  These little packets are awesome for trying out new recipes.  If you’re experimenting with hot mustard, soy sauce, or duck sauce, save some money by using these little packets instead of buying a whole jar of sauce.  Granted, the quality of these sauces isn’t awesome–but in a pinch, they will get the job done.

6.  Having a potluck or a picnic soon?  Throw some packets of whatever you have on the table (oriental flavors, taco sauces, etc.).  Cook your meat with salt and pepper so guests can experiment with different flavors.

Knowledge is power!  Learn fun facts, hints and tips, and creative ways to use every day items with “The Buzz” posts on Thursday.


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5 Fun (and Practical) Kitchen Gadgets

When my boyfriend and I go to Crate and Barrel, it’s like two kids in a candy store…especially when we’re playing around with kitchen gadgets.

Granted most gadgets on the market are kinda pointless, since they often have one useful job that can be done just as easily with something you probably already have in your kitchen…but here are some gadgets I came across that are not only fun, but practical.

Okay, so maybe this isn’t practical, but come on!  How cute is this?!  This doggie tushies hold towels in the kitchen or bathroom and are just innocent enough to not be gross.  BUY!

These are brilliant.  These 5-blade shears allow you to quickly and easily chop herbs and spices for cooking and garnishing.  And with 5 sets of blades, your chopping is done quicker and looks professional.  BUY!

I love this cutting board!  I often use the same board over and over if I’m cutting lots of fruits and veggies and stuff always gets in the way.  With this prep bowl board, you can chop onions, garlic, and more and easily set it aside so you can move on to the next thing.  BUY!

Nothing like a glass of freezing cold iced tea in the summer…and with these nifty spider webs, you can enjoy your cold beverage without having blocks of ice hit you in the face as you tip the glass.  Keep your drink nice and cold till the very last sip.  BUY!

Here’s another “grate” gadget.  This Grate n’ Store is a measuring bowl with 3 attachable grating lids, plus one solid lid for storage.  Prevent messy cheese grating and ensure proper measurement with this fun little gadget.  BUY!

Knowledge is power!  Learn fun facts, hints and tips, and creative ways to use every day items with “The Buzz” posts on Thursday.

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How to Use a Slotted Spoon to Prepare Herbs

Hand-picking herbs off their stems is a tiresome task.  However, you can save time and patience by grabbing that seemingly useless slotted spoon.

Simply stick the stem through one of the holes and pull through.  The leaves will come off easily and will remain in the spoon.  This works great with thyme and oregano.

Knowledge is power!  Learn fun facts, hints and tips, and creative ways to use every day items with “The Buzz” posts on Thursday.

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4 Clever Uses for Salad Spinners

Almost everyone has one of these seemingly useless utensils hidden away in the depths of their kitchen:  the lonely and forgotten salad spinner.  I’m guessing you take it out maybe two or three times a year to dry off some lettuce leaves; however, this strange contraption can be put to use in several other ways…so don’t pitch Grandma Millie’s kitchen toys yet…

1.  Obviously the salad spinner is a pro at drying things…so bring it out to help you dry eggplant (damn that salt sweating process!) and potatoes before frying.  This utensil also works great at drying veggies before you dump them into your stir fry.

2.  Rigatoni and penne pasta tend to store water in their little curves and crevices.  Drop your cooked noodles into a salad spinner and give it a couple twirls to remove that extra water.

3.  Not a veggie muncher?  Use your salad spinner to dry your delicate hand washables.  Silky smooth undergarments can get a jump start on drying with a few twirls around this nifty contraption.

4.  If you’re using a dry rub on your meat, drop the meat in the spinner to help dry it off.  This will insure that your spices stick to the meat and not your hands.  You can also drop floured meat in the spinner before frying to get rid of all that extra flour.

Knowledge is power!  Learn fun facts, hints and tips, and creative ways to use every day items with “The Buzz” posts on Thursday.

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