How To Freeze Baked Goods

Sometimes we might want to make sweet treats ahead of time and have to freeze them in order to ensure they are still god when we actually wish to eat them. This is particularly common with preparing for holiday parties and other holiday events. In addition, we may also have leftover baked goods from something. Regardless, it is essential to understand how to properly freeze baked goods if you are truly to enjoy the sweet treats to their full potential once you defrost them! Here’s how:

Cool Completely

Do not put freshly baked items into the freezer. Make sure everything cools completely before you do this. Not following this direction means you might end up with freezer burn or otherwise compromised baked goods! Leave your cakes, bread, muffins, et cetera on cooling racks for a while before you package them up for the freezer.

Eliminate Air

When you package your baked goods, be sure to eliminate as much air as possible with the freezer bags, containers, aluminum foil, et cetera. Air is one of the primary culprits of freezer burn! Always double check when you are wrapping up everything. We also recommend filling containers as much as possible in addition to tight wrapping.

Wrap Twice

Speaking of wrapping, you can give your baked goods a little bit more protection by wrapping them twice. For instance, try wrapping individual muffins in aluminum foil or plastic wrap before putting them in a freezer bag. Doing something like wrapping the muffins individually also helps you only take out a muffin at a time, which means you do not need to defrost the whole batch if you do not wish to! Perfect choice for on the go snacks and breakfasts! All you need to do is unwrap your sweet treat and pop it into the microwave for a few seconds if you are in a hurry—otherwise, let it defrost naturally.

2 Ways To Prevent Freezer Burn

If you have frozen any food before, you will have likely encountered freezer burn at some point. While you can still consume food freezer burn has affected, since it does not mean bacteria has ruined it, the taste will not be what you want it to be. No, freezer burn negatively affects the overall quality of your food—so why risk it? Here are two ways you can help ensure your food remains at its peak condition in your freezer:

Use Proper Containers

The containers you use have a significant influence on how long your food can last in the freezer without encountering freezer burn. In terms of bags, for instance, you need to have actual freezer bags for the best results. You also need to consider how full you will make each container, regardless of whether it is a bag or a solid container. Limiting the empty space, the air, helps prevent the air from causing the freezer burn you hate. With liquids, you want a little extra space since the liquid will expand slightly as it freezes. With solids, however, you just want to fill up a container as much as possible.

In addition, you want to provide extra insulation if you will be storing things for a long period—so try wrapping aluminum foil around your freezer bags! Certain specific items will have their own tricks for preventing freezer burn through packaging as well—with baked good, for example, you want to wrap them in aluminum foil before putting them in a bag.

Cool Food First

The temperature of your food and how fast you cool it has a significant influence over how long you can prevent freezer burn from occurring. You actually want your food to be as cool as possible before putting it in the freezer. Thus, we recommend you put your portioned leftovers in the fridge for a couple hours before you place them into the freezer. The only exception to cooling in the fridge first is if you are trying to freeze things like uncooked chicken, fruit, et cetera. Anything you haven’t heated—especially stuff you were already storing in the freezer—is fine!

4 Tips For Freezing Food

On a busy day, nothing saves time more than pulling out a frozen meal you made before and simply reheating it to enjoy as fast as possible. You can also build up a stockpile of ingredients to make meals in the future. This is especially helpful on your wallet, since you can buy the products when they are on sale and don’t need to shell out the big bucks later on.

All of this means you need to freeze your food. However, sometimes this can go wrong. You might encounter freezer burn and other issues. So what can you do? Here are 4 tips for freezing food to help you out:

Separate Into Portions

If you follow the proper defrosting protocol, you can technically refreeze something if you don’t cook it. However, we do not advise this because its hard to be sure everything went perfectly, and freezing and defrosting multiple times can degrade the quality of the food. Thus, we recommend separating everything into portions. For instance, if you are just cooking for one, only put one chicken breast in a freezer bag. Portion a big meal like lasagna into the size you like to eat for one meal. This dramatically cuts down on food waste!

Write The Date

Make sure you write the date you froze your meal, ingredient, et cetera on the bag or other container. This helps you keep track of everything—even freezing your food won’t make it last forever! You will run into things like freezer burn if you leave food in there for too long. Spoilage can also be a concern, though this is a very long process. More often than not the ultimate freshness will be negatively affected. Dating everything ensures you regularly consume what you have stored.

Use Freezer Bags

Speaking of storing items in the freezer, we highly recommend using freezer bags instead of regular storage bags! Freezer bags are thicker and thus make your food last longer as well as reducing the chances of the food developing freezer burn.

Chill In Fridge First

Though you want to freeze your food quickly, do not put it straight into the freezer after you portion it if it is cooked. Instead, put your food in the fridge to cool first. Putting it in the freezer right away can make the freezer rise in temperature, which can make the other food in there defrost slightly, which can impact the growth of bacteria.

3 Ways To Prevent Cheesecake Cracks

Cheesecake is perhaps one of the most popular rich desserts people make outside of restaurants. The vast majority of people enjoy them, since there are wide ranges of flavours. There is a flavour for just about every taste! However, baking cheesecake can be quite finicky, since there is a fine line between perfectly mixed and overmixed and they are very prone to cracking during or after baking. The good news? Cracks in your cheesecake are simply an aesthetic issue—they do not change the taste. Regardless, if you want to produce a perfect cheesecake without cracks, we have some tips for you:

Remember The Water Bath

Many cheesecake recipes tell you to put it in a water bath—and if the recipe doesn’t, you should still do it. A water bath is your cheesecake’s best friend for preventing cracks. It helps even out the baking process. Uneven baking can cause these cracks to form in the oven! The water bath is also a great way to cool your cheesecake slower, which is the second piece of advice we have on this list for you.

Cool Slowly

The time after your cheesecake comes out of the oven is a critical time for cracks forming—this is where they happen the most often. It has to do with the drop in temperature. A fast drop is a near guarantee of cracks in the top of your cheesecake. Instead, we suggest starting by shutting off your oven and leaving the door open a little bit. You can do this for 10 to 20 minutes before taking your cheesecake out of the oven. At this point, you want it on a cooling rack. Do not flip it or take it off its base though! At most, in another few minutes you should carefully take off the sides of the springform pan. Leave your cheesecake out on the counter for a couple hours before putting it in the fridge.

The key to all of this is to slow down the cooling process as much as possible to help prevent the cheesecake from seizing and forming cracks.

Use A Topping

Okay, so this one is less about preventing the cracks in your cheesecake and more about making it seem as if there are no cracks. Sometimes even if you try everything, your cheesecake will still end up with a crack or two in it. Thankfully, there is an easy way to make it look perfect again! All you need to do is make some kind of topping to cover your cheesecake. This can be a fruit compote, chocolate ganache, et cetera. Either way, it will disguise the cracks!

3 Tips For Cooking For A Crowd

Whether you are hosting a holiday dinner like Thanksgiving or Christmas, or you just happen to be having a large dinner party, there will be times when you will have to cook for lots of people. Cooking for a crowd, unfortunately, can get quite stressful—even overwhelming. Thankfully, we have some sharp tips to help you take control of the situation and pull off cooking for a crowd with minimal stress. Ready? Let’s go!

Go With What You Know

Now is not the time to try a new recipe. Use recipes you have tried many times before and have no mastered. If you know exactly what you are doing, you will be much calmer while you are doing it! Even if the recipes you know are not meant for a larger crowd, it is much easier to make a double batch of something you know how to cook, such as spaghetti sauce, than it is to try a new recipe. This is especially the case when you would have to double a recipe you are not familiar with!

Make Ahead Of Time

Chances are you have to make more than one dish when cooking for a crowd. Do not leave all of this cooking for the day of the event! Where possible, make dishes in advance so you can spread out the pressure. You can also strategically choose dishes to help. For instance, you can prep and entire lasagna the night before, but then put it in the oven before your guests arrive.

In addition to making things less stressful on the day, it also opens up your chances of mingling with the guests instead of being chained to the stove.

Slow Cooker Magic

When it comes to cooking for a crowd, there is nothing easier than using your slow cooker. You can easily feed a decent sized group with one 6 or 7 quart slow cooker!  In addition to making a large quantity of food in one go, slow cooker meals are also easy to make, since you often just have to dump ingredients into the pot and let the slow cooker work its magic. You can set it at the beginning of the day, thus freeing up time throughout the day so you can get one with other things (including other meal prep activities).

 

3 Meals To Cook With Loved Ones

Did you know cooking makes a great group activity? You can cook alone, a lot of people do, but involving other people can boost the fun of the task itself, and promote bonding between those who are cooking. This might be through the discussion they have while cooking, bonding over failed attempts at cooking, et cetera. So what can you cook with your loved ones? What meals lend themselves really well to this? Let’s look at three of them now:

Pizza

Pizza is amazing to cook as a group. You can do homemade crust if you would like, but premade crusts make this even better. It works well if you cook multiple pizzas, where each person can sit at the table and customize their toppings. Common ones to start with include mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, and green pepper. We recommend you ask people what their favourite toppings are so there can be a plethora of choices during the cook.

Tacos or Fajitas

Similar to pizza, tacos and fajitas work well for a group cooking setting since all you really need to do is heat up the shells and/or tortillas. Then it becomes a matter of each individual filling their tacos and fajitas with the toppings and fillings they desire. This normally includes one protein like chicken or ground beef, though it can be just about anything.

Barbeque

When in doubt, have a barbeque! Someone can grill the burgers, hot dogs, et cetera, others can make salads and sides, et cetera. Some of this can be made beforehand at everyone’s own house, but if you want to truly embrace the idea of cooking with loved ones, we recommend doing everything on the day. You have to do this with anything you are actually putting on the grill, so why not include the other parts on the actual day as well?

Why You Should Eat The Rainbow

Occasionally when you read about eating healthy, especially when the topic leans towards eating fruits and vegetables, you will hear the phrase “eat the rainbow.” This is a great practice to follow, but many people may not, at least initially, be aware of what exactly this means. Are you unsure? You have come to the right place!

Eat the rainbow refers to eating a variety of fruits and vegetables in a range of different colours, instead of limiting yourself tow only a couple of different ones. Thus, you might find yourself eating things like carrots, zucchini, strawberries, blueberries, and bananas instead of just strawberries and carrots.

So what exactly do you get out of eating this variety of fruits and vegetables? Why is it important for your body and health? The answer is simple:

Nutrients

The food you eat contains nutrients you need in order to survive. You need nutrients to help your body function! Different food contains different nutrients (both in the specific nutrients as well as the quantity). You might think you can get away with just eating the fruits you enjoy, such as strawberries, raspberries, and cherries, to get the nutrients your body needs. However, the colour of fruits and vegetables actually plays a role in what nutrients they contain. This means that, while you are getting nutrients from red fruit like strawberries, you are missing out on the iron and other nutrients you will find higher quantities of in green vegetables.

Eating one colour of fruits and vegetables is better than not eating any—but you are still missing out on all these other nutrients, which can put your health in a compromised position.

Happiness

Another secondary reason to eat the rainbow is happiness. Studies show eating from a plate bearing food in a variety of colours (e.g. a rainbow of colour) actually increases your happiness, at least while you are eating. Thus, fill your plate with bright reds, oranges, and yellows. Why not throw in some green in there too, to introduce the forest?

 

3 Differences Between Ice Cream And Frozen Yogurt

Cold desserts are incredibly popular, especially when the weather starts getting warmer. You have a lot to choose from, of course, but the two most popular are normally ice cream and frozen yogurt. So how do you choose between the two? Is there a difference? What are the differences? Let’s find out:

Nutritional Content

If you compare regular ice cream to regular frozen yogurt, you will notice that, on average, frozen yogurt has fewer calories and less fat. This can shift if you consider low fat ice cream options, but for the most part you will be consuming less if you eat frozen yogurt. Of course, frozen yogurt tends to have more protein than ice cream—but with that also comes more carbohydrates, on average. It is important to look at the labels of the specific products you buy in order to compare. The best comparison, of course, comes with examining within the same brand of products (especially the same flavours).

Amount Of Air

Yes, the amount of air plays a role in ice cream and frozen yogurt as well. Both of them contain some air, something that is often the result of the churning process. However, the major difference when it comes to ice cream and frozen yogurt is how ice cream has a limit on how much it has to weigh in order to qualify as ice cream. This requirement is 4.5 pounds per gallon. With this comes a limit on the amount of air allowed in the ice cream, since more air makes it lighter. There are no such regulations for frozen yogurt.

Ingredients

A lot of the differences between ice cream and frozen yogurt come down to the specific ingredients they include. The biggest shift between the two in ingredients is cream and cultured milk. Cream is, as you might guess, in ice cream. But frozen yogurt? The main dairy ingredient becomes cultured milk, which helps mimic the idea of regular yogurt, though the freezing process eliminates the bacteria. Of course you  can get the same mix-ins with both desserts, though you are far more likely to find fruit in frozen yogurt than in ice cream. You also tend to find more sugar in frozen yogurt in order to maintain the low fat properties.

3 Reasons Why You Should Never Grocery Shop Hungry

We’ve said it before and we will say it again: the golden rule of grocery shopping is to never, ever grocery shop hungry. It is always a recipe for disaster—often one you won’t see coming even if you make a promise before walking in the doors of the store. So why do we say this? Let’s review a few of the key reasons now:

Overindulging

Indulging in your favourite dessert or other comforting food on occasion is a good thing. You can, however, go over the line and overindulge. Walking into a grocery store with an empty stomach is priming you for buying all kinds of food not so healthy for you. In other words, when you grocery shop hungry you are setting yourself up for overindulging. This can easily ruin your diet or weight loss goals before you know it.

Overspending

Even if you make a list of things you need to buy when you grocery shop, going when you are hungry increases your chances of buying things not on your list—often the junk food, as we mentioned in the previous section. Unfortunately, buying things not on your list, even if you were going to be under budget with that list, opens the possibility of overspending. Stay on budget by eating a snack before you go, lessening the chances of you buying something that looks good simply because you are hungry.

Forgetfulness

Unfortunately, going grocery shopping while you are hungry also sets yourself up for forgetting to buy things you actually need, especially if you do not have a list or do not check it frequently while in the store. Your mind will just be focused on how you are hungry, and will want to steer you towards whatever looks good to eat right now, never mind what you actually need to buy for the week (or however long you happen to be buying for).

3 Reasons Indulging Is Important

Eating healthy food is a big part of your overall wellness. It helps you stay fit, lose (or just manage) weight, and just generally makes you feel good! However, this does not mean you should not eat some more indulgent types of food. In fact, indulging is important to maintaining a healthy diet! Here are three reasons why:

Satisfying A Craving

No one is immune to getting cravings. If you’re lucky these cravings can be for specific, healthy meals, but more often than not they are pointing you towards something a little more indulgent. While you obviously should not go overboard and eat tons of chocolate or something like that, occasionally indulging (in moderation in terms of quantity as well) helps to easily satisfy a craving.

Boost In Your Mood

Enjoying something you truly love, especially with food, is a great way to boost your mood. It really has to do with the endorphins your brain will release when you finally consume the food in question. This is especially the case if you have been craving the food in question for a little while now!

Increases Chances Of Success

Have you started a new diet? Whether it is a temporary change or a permanent one, any significant shifts in your diet can be very hard to maintain. No one is meant to be absolutely perfect with what they eat, regardless of what they tell you or others. Being too strict with yourself, especially if you are just starting a new diet, can be a recipe for disaster. If you are not careful, you will eventually crack and overindulge. But knowing you have a regular time for indulging (just remember to keep it in moderation), makes it far easier to actually stick with your overall diet. Trust us on this!