cooking and draining pasta for salads or casseroles, spin the
drained pasta in a salad spinner. This removes excess water from
the noodles and will keep the dish from getting water-logged.
Cook large pasta shells for stuffing by boiling
them in a large pot of water for 30 seconds. Cover the pot, remove
from the heat, and let stand for 10 minutes before draining. This
helps keep the pasta from sticking together and tearing.
When cooking lasagna noodles, drain them on a
rack coated with nonstick spray and placed over a baking sheet.
They'll cool quickly and won't stick together and tear like they
could when drained in a colander.
To store leftover lasagna, cut into serving-size
pieces, then wrap in plastic followed by foil; freeze or
refrigerate. To reheat, unwrap completely and place in an
ovenproof dish. Cover and reheat in a 350� F. oven until warmed
Leftover garlic bread makes perfect croutons for
the next day's salad. If the bread is already crisp, simply cut it
into cubes and store in an airtight container. If the bread is
soft, cut it into cubes and toast in a 350� F. oven until crisp.
To freshen slightly stale slices of bread, place
them on a splatter screen and set over a skillet of simmering
water. The steam will revive the bread in a minute or two.
To steam corn or flour tortillas for easy
rolling, wrap them in a clean, lightly damp towel and heat in a
microwave for 20 seconds.
Leftover cooked rice can be stored in resealable
plastic bags and frozen to use later in fried rice dishes or to
make rice pudding.
To give rice subtle flavor, add a few sprigs of
hearty fresh herbs, such as thyme or rosemary, to the pot when
cooking. Remove the sprigs before serving.
Before freezing a package of tortillas for
storage, place a piece of wax paper between each tortilla. This
way you can remove the number you need without having to thaw the
To keep bread warm in a basket, wrap dried beans
in a large, clean tea towel or napkin and heat in the microwave
until hot. Place the bean bundle in the bottom of the bread
basket, then add bread and cover with another towel.
An easy way to make buttered bread crumbs,
butter slices of soft white or wheat bread on one side, tear into
pieces, then buzz in a food processor until crumbs form. (One
piece of bread equals 1/2 cup crumbs.) Use to top casseroles
To make about 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs, buzz
one slice of soft white or wheat bread in a food processor until
crumbs form. Use whenever recipes call for soft or fresh bread
Give bread dough a boost as it rises by setting
the bowl on top of a heating pad set to medium or low.