5 Hacks To Perfect Your Oven-Roasted Vegetables

Photo: Taste of Home

Oven-roasted [insert your favorite vegetables here] are easy, healthy and oh-so-good! But if your vegetables have burnt edges (or turn out limp), read on to learn how to perfect this popular dish.

We love oven roasted vegetables! When cooked correctly, they’re sweet and tender, and you can use them for almost anything: power bowls, soups, salads or as a simple side dish. But if your vegetables tend to turn out limp, oily, burnt or undercooked, you might be making one of the mistakes below.

Don’t worry, though—each one has a super easy fix!

1. You’re Overcrowding the Pan

Even as a professional chef, I find myself cramming vegetables onto a single sheet pan to avoid dirtying up a second one. If the pan is packed too tightly, the vegetables will steam instead of caramelizing. The result is sad, limp, less-than-flavorful vegetables.

The solution: Give your vegetables some room to breathe. Arrange the veggies in a single layer, keeping at least a quarter inch of space between them. This may mean using a second sheet pan if you’re meal prepping or cooking for a crowd. But, trust us: washing that extra dish is worth it.

2. The Oven Temp Is Too Low

You might be tempted to turn the oven down if you’ve ever burned a batch of roasted vegetables, but we’d advise resisting that temptation. A low-and-slow cooking technique is excellent for vegetables like carrots, beets or potatoes that you plan to puree into soup. But, they’ll turn out soft and soggy instead of crispy and caramelized.

The solution: Turn the oven temperature up to 400°F to 425°F. The high heat will quickly coax out all those naturally sweet flavors while keeping the vegetable tender-crisp. Everything will be golden brown and delicious!

3. Everything Cooks Unevenly

Do you find that some of your vegetables are burnt while others are still undercooked in the center? Since smaller pieces cook faster than larger pieces, your vegetables will cook unevenly if they’re all different sizes.

The solution: No matter what cut you settle on—sliced, diced or chopped—make sure everything is roughly the same size. This is especially important if you’re mixing different veggies together to create a sheet pan supper.

4. You’re Using Too Much (Or Too Little) Oil

Too much oil and your veggies will turn out soggy and dense. But skimp on that oil and those vegetables will be too dry. Luckily, it’s easy to find Goldilocks’ just right amount.

The solution: Before hitting the sheet pan, place the vegetables in a large bowl and add a tablespoon of oil. (Which oil is best? You get to decide!) Give them a quick toss and add an extra tablespoon if everything isn’t fully coated. Then, transfer the veggies to the sheet pan using your hands, leaving any excess oil at the bottom of the bowl.

5. Some Vegetables Always Burn!

Okay, here’s where the frustrating part kicks in: You’re doing everything right, but some of your vegetables are still burning before others cook all the way through. It’s possible the fault lies with your oven. The easiest way to know for sure? Pick up an inexpensive oven thermometer (as it turns out, my oven runs 25 degrees under and it’s hotter in one of the corners).

The solution: Once you know how your oven handles its temps, it’s as easy as rotating the pans and flipping the vegetables halfway through. In addition to turning the sheet pan all the way around, I like to swap the pans if I’m cooking on two racks. Then, use a spatula to move the vegetables around. Make sure they settle back into a single layer, or you’ll accidentally overcrowd!

Learn more about our top secrets for roasting perfect vegetables, every time.

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Article by Lindsay D. Mattison for Taste of Home. View the original article here.

Feel Good Hacks

12 Timeless Cooking Tips We Learned From Grandma

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When I think of my grandma, I think of her in the kitchen. Whether she was baking bread, making rice pudding or keeping an eye on her old-fashioned pressure cooker (who knew they’d become trendy again?), many of her days were spent over the stove or at the kitchen sink. A fabulous cook who lived to the ripe old age of 91, she passed her cooking tips down to my mom, who has done her best to share them with me.

Whether we were born in 1900, 1950 or 1990, our grandmas learned to cook through hard work, trial and error, and hours upon hours in the kitchen. Just for fun, I polled a few foodies at Taste of Home for the tidbits of wisdom they got from grandma and still use today.

1. Follow directions first; experiment later.

The first time you make a recipe, always follow the directions exactly. Then you’ll know how to tweak it to your taste the next time.

2. Take your time.

Rushing is only going to result in a big mess, skipped steps or ingredients, and maybe even the need for a Band-Aid.

3. Make perfect gravy.

When you add a cornstarch slurry to a sauce (think turkey gravy), add only a little bit at a time. You never know how thick your gravy will be until it comes to a full boil.

4. Brown first.

When baking up a hearty dish, always brown the meat before you put it in the oven. It makes the meat so much tastier.

5. Don’t cry.

After cutting an onion, rub your hands on a metal kitchen faucet to get rid of the smell and prevent tears. This one might be a myth, but it’s so sweet that we’ll give it a try. See the onion-cutting methods we’ve already debunked, here.

6. When in doubt, top with chips.

Toward the end of baking a savory dish, crumble potato chips on the top and cook it a few more minutes. The top of your dish will be beautifully browned with a nice texture and salty crunch. Test it out with this tasty hamburger casserole.

7. Take your frustration out on cucumbers.

Smash cucumbers before cooking to remove seeds, tenderize the flesh and help them absorb flavor. Here’s how: Cut cucumbers into 1-1/2 to 2-in. lengths. Lay skin side up on a cutting board. Place the flat side of a chef knife (or a cleaver or rolling pin) over cucumbers and whack down firmly but gently with the heel of your hand, much like smashing a garlic clove. When you’re done, use them in these delicious cucumber recipes.

8. Add some acid.

When making lentil-, bean– or broth-based soups, add a little splash of vinegar (1/2 teaspoon) or squeeze of lemon at the very end of cooking to brighten the flavors. The little touch of acidity brings the dish to life.

9. Get creative with your eggs.

The secret to making creamy, soft scrambled eggs with a rich, salty pork flavor? Add some minced Spam. Yep, Spam.

10. Be prepared for last-minute guests.

Who can forget Grandma’s old saying: If you drop silverware, it means unexpected company is coming. A fork means a female visitor, and a knife means a male visitor. That’s why you should always have something on hand to serve unexpected guests. Here are a few recipes to get you started.

11. There’s a smart way to do the dishes.

Always clean your countertops before you do dishes, so if there’s a big pot that won’t fit in the rack, you know you have a clean place to set it. (Still searching for more room? Find ways to save counter space here.)

12. Clean the fridge (and what’s inside it).

To keep your refrigerator spotless, always wipe off the tops, bottoms and lids of your jars, food containers and milk jugs (don’t forget syrup and condiments!) just before putting them back in the fridge. This little step will help keep your fridge surfaces sparkling.

Finally, this is perhaps the best bit of wisdom passed down by any grandma: Cook for people and they will know you love them, and they’ll remember it long after you’re gone. So true. Thanks, Grandma.

Celebrate Grandma with something sweet. Grab your fork and check out these timeless desserts.

Related Links:

50 Secret Recipes for Classic Diner Foods

33 Things Your Fast Food Worker Isn’t Telling You

10 Common Mistakes Everyone Makes When Brewing Coffee 

Article by Dana Meredith from Taste of Home. View the original article here.


Genius Colander Hack Was Right In Front Of Us The Entire Time

Boiling pasta has become somewhat of an adventure for us. Not classically trained, we’re still teetering along the line of knowing when that pasta is ready to be drained or if it needs a little more time in the water. Once that pasta is cooked, you don’t have too much time to get your drain game on. All Def Digital posted a brilliant colander hack on Facebook that will make your pasta draining experience so much easier.

All you need to do is go about the normal water-boiling process. Salt your liquid, throw in some noodles, and bring it to a boil, toss in a little olive oil to prevent the noodles from sticking together. Here’s where things switch up.

When your noodles are ready to be drained, whip out that trusty colander. Instead of dumping the entire contents of the lot onto the colander, simply use it as a barrier for the water to drain from the pot. This way you won’t have to dump your noodles back and forth.

If successful, you’ll be able to shave precious minutes off your cooking time. Just make sure your forearms can keep the colander and the pot together in one piece and you have proper oven mitts. Otherwise you might burn yourself.