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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.

Baked Spooky Pumpkin Doughnuts

These baked pumpkin doughnuts are fluffy, tasty and most importantly, easy to make! They would be a perfect treat to bake for a Halloween party.  This recipe makes about 18 doughnuts.

PRO TIP: Accurate measuring of ingredients by volume, leads to more superior tasting doughnuts! The tare feature on our EatSmart Precision Elite Digital Kitchen Scale will help with all of your baking needs.
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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar (200 grams)
  • 4 tablespoons butter (60 grams)
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (225 grams)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 cups of whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup of milk of your choice (We used whole milk)
Optional topping:

Spooky sprinkles of your choice + cinnamon + sugar

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350F/176C.
Spray a doughnut tin with cooking spray, and set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix together the butter and sugar.
Add in the egg, pumpkin puree, and vanilla until combined.
Mix in the dry ingredients; flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
Add in the milk and stir all ingredients together into a smooth batter.
Spoon the batter into doughnut pan and distribute evenly.
Bake 12-14 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Let cool on wire racks 5-10 minutes.
Makes about 18 doughnuts.

For the spooky topping:
In a new small bowl, melt ~ 2 tablespoons of butter in the microwave for ~10 seconds or until melted. In a second bowl, mix together sprinkles, cinnamon and sugar (make the ratios according to your taste). Dip the top of the doughnut in the butter then immediately into the sprinkle mix. Set aside to let it dry. *For a healthier option, skip the spooky topping and eat plain*

NOTE: Store in the fridge for up to 5-7 days.

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Easy, Homemade Waffles

These homemade waffles take less than 15-minutes to prepare. They are perfect for weekend breakfasts.
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Recipe makes approximately 6 Belgian Style Waffles

Ingredients

2 eggs
2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 + ¾  cups milk
½ cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt

Instructions

Combine all ingredients and stir until just mixed.
Spray waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray.
Pour in batter, and wait until waffle iron indicates ready.
Top with your favorite fruit.
Enjoy!

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!

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

This healthy chocolate chip cookie recipe uses only honey as a natural sweetner. With a cake-like consistency, these cookies are the perfect combination of peanut butter, oatmeal and chocolate. Remember, accurate measuring of ingredients by volume, leads to superior tasting cookies! Our Precision Pro Digital Kitchen Scale will help with all of your baking needs.

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Ingredients:

  • 144 grams (1.5 cups) Rolled Oats
  • 93 grams (3/4 cup) Whole Wheat Flour (or flour of your choice)
  • 1 tablespoon Baking Powder
  • 1/3 tablespoon of Salt
  • 128 grams (1/2 cup) Peanut Butter
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 cup Honey (or liquid sweetener of your choice)
  • 1 tablespoon Vanilla
  • 2 heaping tablespoons melted Coconut Oil
  • 174 grams (1 cup) Chocolate Chips

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix dry ingredients together, followed by wet ingredients. Lastly, add the chocolate chips.
Drop by tablespoonfuls on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
Bake 12 minutes or until edges are golden brown.
Let cool on sheets on wire racks 5 minutes.
Makes about 24 cookies.

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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.

Grilled Salmon with Avocado Salsa

Heart diseaseScreen Shot 2016-02-11 at 7.48.26 AM is the leading cause of death among both men and women in the United States. Eating a heart healthy diet can decrease the risk of developing both heart disease and heart attack by helping to lower cholesterol, sugar levels and blood pressure.

Two foods that are extremely beneficial to heart health are salmon and avocado. Salmon is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids which decrease the inflammation that damages blood vessels and leads to heart disease. Avocados are also full of unsaturated fats that, when eaten in moderation, can lower bad cholesterol levels. Thus, this Grilled Salmon with Avocado Salsa recipe by Becky at The Cookie Rookie is a heart-health home run.  Enjoy!

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Ingredients

  • 2 lbs salmon, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 tbs olive oil (I used light extra virgin olive oil)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper

For the Avocado salsa:

  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1/2 small red onion, sliced
  • Juice from 2 limes
  • 1-2 tbs finely chopped cilantro (depending on how big of a cilantro lover you are)
  • Salt to taste

Get the cooking instructions from The Cookie Rookie. 

The recipe is courtesy of Becky at The Cookie Rookie.  Becky loves to create delicious and easy recipes anyone can make and everyone will love!

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

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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

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Get the recipe from Boys Ahoy.


Overnight Apple Cinnamon Oats

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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!

Low-Carb Egg Muffins

Egg Muffins are a perfect breakfast for anyone who is “on-the-go.” They are incredibly easy to make and very versatile.  They can be customized hassle-free to include your favorite vegetables, meats and spices.

egg muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely diced
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 slices turkey bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 3/4 cup reduced fat cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 tbs. milk
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper (or to taste)

Click here for preparation instructions.

About the Author: Stephanie is the author of the food blog, Eat.Drink.Love. where she loves to share easy and healthy recipes that everyone can enjoy. Visit her site to check out all of her creations!

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