Favorite Tools Series – Sheet Pans!

Today begins a fun series with all of our Spend Smart. Eat Smart. bloggers. We are going to share our favorite kitchen tools and how we like to use them. It is easy to fall into a trap of thinking you need a lot of tools and gadgets to cook well and enjoy your time in the kitchen. That is really not true. A few good tools that do a lot of different jobs go a long way.

Personally, I have a small kitchen and a lot of clutter only makes it seem smaller. So, I try to keep things pretty simple. When I think about the kitchen tools I go to most often, a baking sheet is at the top of the list. A baking sheet, also known as a cookie sheet, can be used for so many things. Here are some of my favorite ways to use mine.

  • I roast vegetables every few days. When I do, I fill up my whole baking sheet so that I have leftovers for later in the week.
  • I roast pieces of chicken, pork tenderloin or filets of salmon in the oven. They just go on the baking sheet and into the oven and I can carry on with other things while they cook away.
  • I reheat leftover pizza or hot sandwiches in the oven on a baking sheet. I find that keeps their quality more similar to when they were first made than reheating in the microwave.
  • I use my baking sheet as insurance under casseroles like lasagna that might bubble over while they’re in the oven. The pan sits under the casserole dish and catches any spills. It is much easier to clean the baking sheet than to clean the oven! If you are working with something that may be very saucy or sticky, you can line your pan with foil to make clean-up easier.

I hope you enjoy reading about all of our favorite tools throughout this month. Share your faves with us on our Spend Smart. Eat Smart. social media!

Happy Cooking!

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.

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How to Cut Cauliflower

cauliflower whole slicedCauliflower is a loved vegetable in my home, especially by my daughter and I. We could eat it every day! There are many benefits to choosing cauliflower at the grocery store:

  • It yields a lot: one head of cauliflower cut up can yield six cups, or more, of florets. It is an easy way to get my family the vegetables they need.
  • It is nutritious: cauliflower is rich in vitamin C. This time of year we do not have access to a lot of citrus fruits, which we typically think of as the best way to get vitamin C. So, we can get our vitamin C from cauliflower.
  • It can be eaten several different ways: raw, steamed, or roasted. Raw cauliflower is great to dip in hummus, vegetable dip, or salad dressing. Roasting cauliflower brings out its sweetness – watch this video for an easy way to roast vegetables.

The one thing I do not like about cauliflower is cutting it up. It is hard to cut up and it leaves a big mess. Here is the method I have started using to cut up my cauliflower in an effort to have bite-sized pieces without the big mess:

  1. Wash the cauliflower under running water using a scrub brush to remove any visible dirt. Pat dry with paper towels or a clean dish towel.
  2. Place cauliflower on a large cutting board. Pull off or cut off the leaves. Use a sharp knife to cut around the center stem.
  3. Break off the larger florets, then break off as many bite sized florets as possible.
  4. For the remaining florets, cut into bite sized pieces. This is where it gets messy, so I try to contain the mess by working with small pieces and putting them directly into a container.
  5. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

I hope you enjoy the next cauliflower you get from the store.

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover is a Registered Dietitian and mom who loves to cook for her family.

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