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13 Common Cooking Mistakes You’re Probably Making

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Whether you’re a professional chef, or are still learning to boil water properly, everyone makes mistakes while cooking. Some mishaps will go unnoticed, but others can spoil a dish and will leave you ordering take-out.

We’d like to help take your cooking skills to the next level. We’ve compiled some of the most common cooking mistakes and how to prevent each of them from happening in your kitchen.

Mistake #1: You didn’t read the entire recipe before cooking

Before you prepare a dish, you should confirm that you have the correct ingredients and verify the proper cooking time. If you don’t read the full recipe, you could miss critical marinating or resting times for your meal.

Follow this tip: Be prepared before beginning your meal. It’s not worth dirtying the dishes if you’re pressed for time or don’t have the correct ingredients to perfect your meal.

Mistake #2: You boil instead of simmer

Stews and soups benefit from a slow simmer rather than an intense boil. Don’t try to hurry your meal along by bringing it to a boil. Boiling dries meat out and makes the vegetables too soft.

Follow this tip: Simmering helps make the meat tender and allows flavors to blend. Allow enough time for your meal to properly simmer on the stove or utilize your slow cooker. Adding your ingredients to your slow cooker in the morning lets your stew or soup simmer throughout the day, eliminating the need to rush in the evening.

Mistake #3: You don’t know your oven’s real temperature

Not all ovens heat evenly or accurately – even the pricey brands. You may think you are baking your cake at 350 degrees, but your oven’s true temperature is actually lower or higher. Even a slight difference could lead to a cake that’s raw in the middle or burned on top.

Follow this tip: Use an oven thermometer to ensure an accurate oven temperature reading. Then you will know if you need to raise or lower the heat to hit the proper cooking temperature.

Mistake #4: You don’t accurately measure ingredients

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Depending on the dish, this isn’t always a big deal, but when baking this can ruin your cake or cookies. Packing flour into your measuring cup causes cakes to be dense and tough, while using too much butter can make cookies flat.

Follow this tip: The most accurate way to measure your ingredients is to measure them by volume with your EatSmart Precision Digital Kitchen Scale. Using your kitchen scale, weigh food items and recipe ingredients directly on the scale platform or utilize the scale’s tare (zero) function, which eliminates the weight of a plate or bowl and makes cleanup a snap. You will get superior results when you have the correct ratio of ingredients.

Mistake #5: You put cold meat in the oven

Cooking very cold meat leads to uneven results. The chicken may be perfectly browned on the outside but pink and raw on the inside.

Follow this tip: Let the meat sit out a few minutes to take the chill off.  Your meat will cook much more evenly when it’s closer to room temperature.

Mistake #6: You overcrowd the pan

Overcrowding leads to soggy and unappealing meats and vegetables. Meat won’t brown and vegetables won’t crisp or caramelize if there isn’t room for moisture to evaporate.

Follow this tip: Give your food some space by either cooking in smaller batches or using more pans. Spreading the food out will give you the texture you’re longing for.

Mistake #7: You keep poking the meat

Repeatedly flipping your burgers while grilling or constantly poking your meat lets the juices escape, resulting in dry meat.

eatsmart-food-thermometerFollow this tip: Leave your meat alone during the cooking process. Use a food thermometer, such as our Precision Elite Thermocouple Food Thermometer, toward the estimated end of your cooking time to determine when the meat is cooked to perfection. The 1.5mm probe leaves a very small puncture so juices stay within the meat, and it records the temperature in seconds.

Mistake #8: You don’t heat the pan enough

Adding cold oil to a cold pan and topping with cold food can throw off texture and lead to gummy results.

Follow this tip: Food should sizzle when it hits the pan. Be sure to adequately heat the pan and the oil before adding your ingredients.

Mistake #9: You don’t get your ingredients together

You have to stop prepping the meal to find an ingredient and then you need time to chop it up. Or, worse, you are missing necessary items to complete your recipe.

Follow this tip: Gather, measure, and prep your ingredients beforehand to make cooking and assembling meals quick and effortless. It takes much less time to prep ingredients than to chop them up as you go along. It also ensures you have the ingredients you need while cooking.

Mistake #10: You use a non-stick pan for everything

Non-stick pans are great for breakfast foods such as eggs, French toast, and pancakes but they don’t get as hot as a regular pan. You cannot properly sear a piece of meat in a nonstick pan, nor will your vegetables get that crispy edge.

Follow this tip: Cook your stir fries, meats, and vegetables in a traditional pan, especially if you desire a crispy texture.

Mistake #11: You don’t allow the meat to rest

Cutting your meat immediately after taking it out of the oven or off the grill allows all the juices to run out; resulting in dry and tough meat.

Follow this tip: Let your steak or chicken breast rest for 5 minutes to allow the juices to distribute evenly throughout the meat. A roast, pork loin, or whole chicken will need 20 minutes, so keep it warm by loosely covering with foil.

Mistake #12: You use the same knife for each task

A paring knife is great for smaller vegetables but isn’t up to the task of cutting open a butternut squash. On the other hand, a large knife can be awkward when mincing small items, such as garlic cloves.

Follow this tip: Chose the correct sized knife for the job. You will be more efficient and reduce risk of cutting yourself.

Mistake #13: You didn’t taste the dish as you go

Neglecting to taste the dish can lead to bland, boring food or over-seasoned, inedible food. More than one cook has grabbed salt instead of sugar, used too heavy a hand with spices, or forget to add pepper.

Follow this tip: Taste your dish while cooking to ensure a perfectly seasoned meal. And, please, wash your spoon in between tastes.

Some of these common mistakes are the result of bad habits. By making a few tweaks to your cooking routine, you can serve consistently delicious meals to your family.

Do you have a cooking question? Tweet it to us at @eatsmartscales.

Last-Minute Thanksgiving Appetizer and Side Dish Recipes

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Do you have to bring a side dish for Thanksgiving? Did you put off picking out your recipe until the last minute? If you’re still searching for something fun (and healthy) to bring to Thanksgiving dinner, we have picked out several Thanksgiving Appetizers and Side Dishes that are sure to be crowd pleasers!

Loaded Sweet Potato Bites

Loaded Sweet Potato BitesGet the recipe from A Healthy Life For Me.


Parmesan Crusted Baked Zucchini Sticks

parmesan crusted baked zucchini strips

Get the recipe from Closet Cooking.


Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts

Get the recipe from The Food Charlatan.


Fennel and Pomegranate Quinoa Salad

fennel and pomegranate quinoa salad

Get the recipe from Sweet Peas and Saffron.


Easy Garlic Herb Butternut Squash

easy garlic herb butternut squash

Get the recipe from Healthy Seasonal Recipes.


Feta & Herb Cantaloupe Truffles

Feta & Herb Cantaloupe Truffles

Get the recipe from The Fit Fork.


Grain-Free Homestyle Stuffing

grain free stuffing

Get the recipe from Mommypotamus.


Warm Harvest Salad with Honey Walnut Vinaigrette

warm harvest salad

Get the recipe from Lexi’s Clean Kitchen.


Sweet Potato Pecan Casserole

sweet potato pecan casserole

Get the recipe from Kristine’s Kitchen.


Cranberry Apple Pecan Wild Rice Pilaf

apple cranberry wild rice pilaf

Get the recipe from Carlsbad Cravings.


Creamy Broccoli Salad

creamy broccoli salad

Get the recipe from Yummy Healthy Easy.


Chipotle Lime Grilled Corn

chipotle lime corn

Get the recipe from Life’s Ambrosia.


Gluten Free Stuffing

gluten free stuffing

Get the recipe from Officially Gluten Free.


Greek Feta, Sun-Dried Tomato, and Pistachio Truffles

feta tomato truffles Get the recipe from Half Baked Harvest.


Cranberry Baked Brie Puff Pastry Bites

cranberry brie puff pastries

Get the recipe from Well Plated.


Which of these recipes will you try?  Share with us @eatsmartscales.

Double Chocolate Cherry Chipotle Bars

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Guest recipe by CafeTerraBlog.com

Chocolate, no wait, double chocolate love. Yes, that is what we need- or want- for some. These bars provide three dimensions of flavors with each bite. As you bite down, your teeth will pass a soft fudgy layer, followed by a crunch from the chocolate crust. The third dimension, and the unique flavor, comes from No Ketchup’s Cherry Chipotle Sauce. These bars will not only make you dance with each bite, they will give you cold chills from the amazing flavors melting in your mouth. Who’s ready to enjoy a Double Chocolate Cherry Chipotle Bar?

Prep: 20 min | Cook: 55 min | Yield: 6-9 bars

Ingredients

For Crust:

1 3/4 cup chocolate graham cracker crumbs (7.5oz box of Annie’s Homegrown Bunny Chocolate Grahams ground finely)
1/2 cup ( 1 stick) salted butter, melted

For Brownie:

1 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
1 3/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup Not Ketchup Cherry Chipotle Sauce
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray cooking spray on 9 x9 inch square pan, or line pan with parchment paper.

For Crust:

Note: Buy chocolate graham crumbs already ground up, or if in cracker form, grind in food processor.

In small sauce pot, melt down 1/2 cup butter. In small bowl, mix together melted butter and chocolate graham crumbs. Spread out evenly in prepared pan, and press down well.

For Brownies:

In a double boiler pan, (or use metal pan that will sit over medium sauce pot). Add one inch of water to pan, set stove top to medium-high heat. Add chocolate chips and butter to metal bowl, melt down, stir frequently.

In medium bowl, add white sugar, and eggs and with electric hand mixer, mix together for 2 minutes or until fluffy and smooth in appearance. Add Not Ketchup Cherry Chipotle Sauce and mix for another 30 second. Then add in melted chocolate and butter into batter and mix for another 30 seconds. With spatula, fold in flour and baking powder.

Add the brownie batter on top of the chocolate graham crust, and spread the batter out evenly.

Bake brownies for 45-55 minutes depending on oven. You want the batter to have a more solid appearance, but still be fudgy in the center. Let cool.

Enjoy!

About the Author: Cafe Terra Blog is a sweet and savory food blog where there is something for everyone. It is a place where you can sit down, relax, and enjoy new recipes along with family favorites. Come on in – have a seat!

Easy, No Cooking Required Summer Recipes

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Summer days are meant for having fun, not slaving over a warm stove. When it’s just too hot to cook, try a recipe that doesn’t involve turning on the stove. We aren’t talking about a bowl of cereal or a boring salad! The following no cook recipes are hearty meals and snacks that are perfect for hot summer days.


Four Bean Salad bean-salad-salad

Get the recipe from Miss Fitz NYC.


Shrimp Salad Bites

shrimp-salad-bites

Get the recipe from Happy Mothering.


Zucchini Noodle, Tomato & Avocado Salad

zucchininoodle Get the recipe from Life’s Ambrosia.


Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese & Chickpeas

Beet ad chickpea salad

Get the recipe from Scrumpdillyicious.


Strawberry and Avocado with Tuna Salad Recipe

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Get the recipe from Foodie Crush.


Peaches and Cream Overnight Oats

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Get the recipe from Easy Living Today.


Cucumber Avocado Basil Mint Gazpacho

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Get the recipe from Self Proclaimed Foodie.


Big Green Breakfast Bowl

big green breakfast bowl

Get the recipe from Wholehearted Eats.


Cauliflower Tabbouleh

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Get the recipe from Power Hungry.


Key Lime Pie Chia Pudding

key lime pie chia pudding

Get the recipe from Blissful Basil.


Chickpea Salad with Artichokes and Pesto

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Get the recipe from Avocado Pesto.

Do you have a go-to no cook meal? Tweet it to us at @eatsmartscales.

Quick and Easy One-Pot Recipes

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Cooking dinner sounds less intimidating if you only have one dish to clean up afterwards. That’s why we have gathered 7 delicious, easy one pot meals. No mess, no stress!


Honey Garlic ShrimpHoney Garlic shrimp

Get the recipe from Kevin and Amanda.


Vegetarian Pasta Primavera

Get the recipe from Oh My Veggies.


Sweet Potato Burrito Bowls

Get the recipe from Chelsea’s Messy Apron.


Seven Vegetable Minestrone Soup

Get the recipe from Mama Miss.


Enchilada Pasta

Get the recipe from Taste and Tell.


Summer Seafood Stew

Get the recipe from Feasting at Home.


Teriyaki Chicken and Pineapple Rice

Get the recipe from Carlsbad Cravings.


Have a favorite One Pot Meal Recipe? Tweet us @EatSmartScales!

15 Easter Brunch Recipes

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Easter is just a hop, skip and jump away! To help you celebrate and eat smart, we rounded up some of our favorite festive recipes. Whether you want healthier breakfast treats,  main courses and sides, or dessert, we have you covered. These tasty recipes will impress your family and guests while keeping holiday splurges under control.

Breakfast Sweets

Carrot Cake Oatmeal Bake
Get the recipe from Slim Pickin’s Kitchen.


Easter Egg Breakfast Popsicles
Get the recipe from Eats Amazing.


Clean Eating Blueberry French Toast Casserole
Get the recipe from The Gracious Pantry.


Carrot Cake Donuts
Get the recipe from Inside Bru Crew Life.


Main Courses & Sides

Herb Crusted and Stuffed Leg of Lamb with Mint Gremolata
Get the recipe from Feasting at Home.


Lemon Asparagus with Pistachios
Get the recipe from The Food Charlatan.


Broccoli Garlic Quiche
Get the recipe from Love & Olive Oil.


Red Wine Braised Brisket
Get the recipe from Food Done Light.


Quinoa, Asparagus, Pea and Lemon Salad
Get the recipe from Taming Twins.


Slow Cooker Ham (Paleo and AIP)
Get the recipe from Southern In Law.


Homemade Cheesy Potatoes Au Gratin
Get the recipe from Yummy Healthy Easy.


Asparagus Salad with Shrimp
Get the recipe from Simply Recipes.


Desserts

Fruity Easter Egg Smoothie
Get the recipe from Amy’s Healthy Baking.


Healthy Vegan Carrot Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Icing

Vegan-Carrot-Cake-Cearas-Kitchen-easter-foodGet the recipe from Ceara’s Kitchen.


No Bake Coconut Butter Easter Bunnies
coconut-butter-easter-bunniesGet the recipe from Sugar-Free Mom.


Vegan Carrot Cake Smoothie
Get the recipe from Southern In Law.

Do you have a favorite Easter recipe to share? Share it with us on Instagram by tagging @EatSmartProducts. Use the hashtag #getleanin2016 to enter our weekly Instagram giveaway!

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Slow-Cooker Curried Vegetable Lentil Soup

They say March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb and that seems to be the case in 2016.  With temperatures still chilly in much of the country, it is a perfect weekend to make a simple, comforting soup.  This slow-cooker vegetarian soup is easy to make and tastes great.  Enjoy!

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  • 2 cups uncooked lentils
  • 1 can Garbanzo beans/chick peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 10 oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 green pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 large carrots, chopped
  • 3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

For cooking instructions visit Dishing Out Health.

About the Author: Jamie Vespa is a Registered Dietitian and health food blogger with a passion for food, fitness and getting creative in the kitchen. Jamie’s blog, Dishing Out Health, offers nutritious recipes to help prove that eating healthy can taste just as good as it feels.

Heart Healthy Honey Basil Fruit Salad

Here at EatSmart, we’re continuing to celebrate Heart Health Month with another nutritious recipe! This week, we are featuring a Honey Basil Fruit Salad, which blends together 3 healthy fruits with a sweet, quick and easy dressing.

A key ingredient in the salad is strawberries, which are great for maintaining a healthy heart because they are naturally free of sodium, cholesterol, and fat! Strawberries can help control three risk factors of heart disease:  high cholesterol, high blood pressure and high homocysteine levels.

The salad is also loaded with raspberries. Raspberries are an excellent source of dietary fiber and vitamin C, and when combined with an overall a healthy diet, have the potential to lower your risk of heart disease.

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Head over to With Salt & Wit for the recipe, which was created by Megan, who is an artist in the kitchen with a serious passion for creating healthier meals without compromising flavor. Enjoy!

5-Minute Lentil Tomato Salad

Did you know February is Heart Health Month?  Here at EatSmart, we are dedicated to bettering the lives of our customers through encouraging a healthy lifestyle.  We encourage our readers to learn more about living a heart-healthy life by visiting and exploring the American Heart Association website.

To do our part in celebrating Heart Health Month, EatSmart will be sharing heart-healthy recipes throughout the month of February.  This 5-Minute Lentil Tomato Salad, developed by Kaitlin at The Garden Grazer, which is loaded with lentils, a high fiber food known to reduce the risk of Heart disease, is a great way to kick off the month.  Enjoy!

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Ingredients
15 oz. can lentils
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup white wine vinegar (or white balsamic vinegar)
1/8 cup chives (optional)
Salt to taste
Other additions: olive oil, basil, parsley, etc.

Click here for preparation instructions from The Garden Grazer.

The recipe is courtesy of Kaitlin at The Garden Grazer.  Kaitlin is vegetable enthusiast who loves animals, nature, matcha, positivity, kindness, and colorful food!  Stop by her website for lots of healthy recipes!

Slow Cooker Oatmeal Recipe Round-Up

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Did you know January is National Oatmeal Month? This highly nutritious food is a perfect way to start your morning. If the thought of eating oatmeal for breakfast sounds boring, we’ll have you thinking again. Break out your crockpot and get ready for an oat-astic experience with the following delicious recipes. A little prep the night before (and we mean little – simply throw all ingredients into your slow cooker!) and you will wake up to a pot of creamy oats that tastes like dessert. Enjoy!

Banana Nut Oatmeal

Crock-Pot-Banana-Nut-Oatmeal-The-Lemon-Bowl

Get the recipe from The Lemon Bowl.


Creamy Coconut & Strawberry Steel Cut Oats

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Get the recipe from Domestic Superhero.


Overnight Cherry Almond Steel-Cut Oatmeal

Get the recipe from The Yummy Life.


Overnight Steel Cut Oats in a Jar

Get the recipe from Making Thyme for Health.


Overnight Maple & Brown Sugar Oatmeal

Get the recipe from Mel’s Kitchen.


Banana Chocolate Steel Cut Oats

Get the recipe from Cozy Country Living.


Peach Oatmeal

Get the recipe from Yummy Healthy Easy.


Apple Pie Steel Cut Oatmeal

Get the recipe from Five Heart Home.


Overnight Carrot Cake Oatmeal

Get the recipe from Foxes Love Lemons.


Peanut Butter and Jelly Steel Cut Oats

Get the recipe from The Gold Lining Girl.


Blueberry Muffins Oats

Get the recipe from Dishing Out Health.


Overnight Spiced Vanilla Pear Oatmeal

oatmea

Get the recipe from Boys Ahoy.


Overnight Apple Cinnamon Oats

apple-cinnamon-oats-2

Get the recipe from Table for Two.

Do you have a favorite slow cooker oatmeal recipe you would like to share? Share it with us on Instagram by tagging us, @EatSmartProducts. Use the hashtag #getleanin2016 to get entered into our weekly Instagram giveaway!

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