How to salvage overcooked chicken, a crumbly cake, mushy vegetables, and more.
By Renee Schettler
Kana OkadaHow to Fix Mushy Potatoes
Problem: You intended to boil those new potatoes just until fork-tender. But when you drained them, they collapsed into mush.
Solution: "Make mashed potatoes,'" Rozanne Gold, a chef and author of the 1-2-3 series of cookbooks, says. Not in the mood for a mash, make home fries: Drain the potatoes and fry them in a skillet with a small amount of fat―olive or peanut oil, butter, or bacon drippings―stirring occasionally, until golden and crisp, about 20 minutes.
Next time: Gently simmer the potatoes instead of boiling them. The lower temperature causes the starch in them to swell more slowly. As a result, only a bit of the gummy starch leaks out of the potatoes and into the cooking water, says Shirley O. Corriher, a food scientist and the author of CookWise: The Secrets of Cooking Revealed ($35, amazon.com).
See More: Top 10 Mashed Potato Recipes
Kana OkadaHow to Fix Stale
Blog Posts by Real Simple Magazine
How to salvage overcooked chicken, a crumbly cake, mushy vegetables, and more.Read More »from Easy Fixes for Common Kitchen Mishaps
Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate ChipsOur favorite chips for the best cookies and treats.Read More »from The Best Chocolate Chips
By Suzanne Rust
Best Milk Chocolate Chips
Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate Chips
"Smooth!" said several panelists, praising these chips. One tester, loving the way they melted on the tongue, called them "very mellow, with a milky vanilla taste." Another said, "They aren't overwhelmingly sweet." The chips' large size inspired one clever taster to propose using them for s'mores.
To buy: $3.85 for 11.5 ounces.
See More: 50 Best Chocolate Recipes
365 Whole Foods Real Semi-Sweet Chocolate ChipsBest Semisweet Chocolate Chips
365 Whole Foods Real Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
"Kind of like a wine with different notes, they have several layers of flavor," said one sampler of these "sophisticated" chips. Another enjoyed the "nice, lingering aftertaste." And they have a "robust cocoa quality," enthused a fan. Even uncooked, "they taste like brownies."
To buy: $1.79 for 12 ounces.
See More: The Best Chocolate Bars
Nestlé Chocolatier 53% Cacao Dark Chocolate MorselsBest Dark Chocolate Chips
Nestlé Chocolatier 53% Cacao Dark Chocolate Morsels
Antonis AchilleosCombat clutter with ordinary household items used in unexpected ways.Read More »from 18 Clever Organizing Tricks
Use Jewelry Boxes
Those little boxes are so sturdy and trim that you hate to throw them out. So don't. Instead, clip them together to create tidy divided storage for pens and pencils, lipsticks, plastic flatware, whatever it is that clutters your drawer (maybe jewelry?).
See More: Make Over Your Junk Drawer
James BaigriUse Glass Jars
"Grandpa's wood-shop solution of attaching glass jars underneath a table or a shelf is tried-and-true," says Ted McCann, a Brooklyn-based custom woodworker. This trick works in the garage, the basement, and the craft room (or even possibly the home office, if you have an appropriate area): Nail or superglue the lids to the underside of a surface near where you store your tools, then twist the jars into place. Put like-size nuts and bolts in one jar, wood screws in another, nails in another. Also attach an empty jar so that when you're working on a project, you can gather the necessary hardware
RealSimple.comDo these 11 things this month and start 2012 off on the right financial foot.Read More »from Your New Year Money Checklist
Rebalance your portfolio. Making sure that your asset allocation is in line with your investment goals is an essential part of managing a portfolio. The beginning of the year is an opportune time to do it, and the process may take only a few minutes.
See More: Take Control of your Finances in an Hour
Track your spending. Whether you use a software program (such as Quicken) or pen and paper, you need to know where your money is going. Break your expenses down into categories--like utilities, insurance, entertainment, and clothing--to identify where you can scale back.
See More: Financial Help for Everyday Money Worries
Set short- and long-term financial goals. Whether you want to be debt-free in 10 years or own a house in five, you're more inclined to save if you have specific goals. So write them down and determine how much money you'll need to save each month to reach them.
See More: 7 Ways to Reach Your
Getty ImagesDon't let sky-high food-and-drink bills crash your party. These affordable strategies let you scrimp without looking like Scrooge.Read More »from Inexpensive Ideas for Holiday Party Food
By Yelena Moroz, Shivani Vora, Kaija Helmetag, and Brad Tuttle
Skip: A full bar.
Opt for: A single, memorable cocktail. For example: a winter lemonade. Muddle ¼ cup fresh cranberries in 8 ounces of this traditional summer drink, then top it off with 2 ounces of vodka or whiskey and a splash of seltzer. Presto! An instant merrymaking hit.
See More: 10 Healthy Foods That Cost Under $1
Allison GooteeSkip: Champagne.
Opt for: Cava or Prosecco. These affordable bubblies are available for around $10 a bottle, says Allison Enke, a spokesperson for Whole Foods Market. Find one that was produced within the past two years. For roughly half of what you would pay for a vintage bottle, you'll get just as much fizzy flavor.
See More: 10 Festive Holiday Cocktails
Skip: Fancy flat breads and spreads.
Opt for: Crostini. You'll save a few bucks if you buy a couple of
Formula Z/SNutritious morning meals you can eat while driving, walking, or sprinting out the door.Read More »from 9 Fast, Healthy Breakfast Ideas
By Maureen Callahan
Fruit and Cheese
A balanced, easy-to-assemble make-ahead morning meal: Grab an apple, wrap 1 to 2 ounces of Cheddar in plastic, and toss ¼ cup of fiber- and protein-rich walnuts into a resealable plastic bag.
See More: 5 Ways to Save Time in the Morning
Formula Z/SPeanut Butter Waffle
Instead of dousing a whole-grain or bran toaster waffle in syrup, cut the sugar and boost the protein and fiber by spreading it with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter. You can also sprinkle on 1 tablespoon of raisins, sesame seeds, or extra peanuts for even more fiber, which helps deliver the meal's nutrients slowly and steadily.
See More: Start With: Frozen Waffles
Formula Z/SPlain Doughnut With Chocolate Milk
A plain cake-style doughnut is usually a better choice than a bakery muffin. At Dunkin' Donuts, for instance, an old-fashioned doughnut has 280 calories, while a corn muffin has 510 calories. Add fiber by eating ¼
Mark LundMake any room seem larger with new colors and smart furniture and storage solutions.Read More »from Make the Most of Small Spaces
By Michael Cannell
Go From Dark to Light
Make a cramped living room feel more spacious by lightening the walls (pictured, Benjamin Moore Lemon Drops). The color's brightness is accentuated by darkening the adjacent entryway (Benjamin Moore Bronze Tone).
See More: Color Combinations for Your Home
Mark LundLet the Light In
When curtain rods extend beyond the window frames, it allows in more light and draws the eye outward. "Windows are the eyes of the room," says Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, the author of Apartment Therapy (Bantam, $15, amazon.com). "When you cover them up, you make your place smaller."
See More: Your Guide to Curtains and Window Treatments
Center the Room
"People in small spaces often try to get the room they want by moving stuff to the edges," says Gillingham-Ryan. "But it kills warmth." To enliven the space, he suggested a sociable triangle consisting of a Chris Madden classic sofa, a Room &
Thomas LoofReal Simple brings some order to a cluttered kitchen.Read More »from Real-Life Kitchen Makeover
By Nicole Sforza
Wendy Odabashian (pictured here) found her old, 50s-style kitchen only about 50 percent functional-and often overtaken by clutter. Real Simple recast it as a calm cooking and command center, where family flow and food prep could live in peace.
See More: 24 Smart Organizing Tips for Your Kitchen
Thomas LoofAfter: Sleek Outside, Clever Inside
Spotless surfaces. With interior-cabinet space maximized, counters stay clear for cooking. A clean white refrigerator, free of photos and notices -- it holds only caddies for pens and paper -- opens up the room; it's like adding a window.
To buy: Memo center and cup, from $10, containerstore.com.
A stove that fits better. Wendy's old, 30-inch stove didn't fill the space (there was a five-inch gap on each side). This commercial-style model is wider and serves as a sparkling focal point. Under lower cabinets, aluminum toe kicks replace peeling wood baseboards; they match the stove,
Wendell T. WebberNo matter the kind of spill or carpet, these treatments will lift up whatever's underfoot.Read More »from How to Remove Carpet Stains
Food and Drink
See Homemade Carpet-Cleaning Solutions for recipes for all solutions below.
Wine, ketchup, chocolate, coffee, tea, beer, milk, tomato sauce, berries, hard candy, juice, soda, Gatorade, Kool-Aid
1. Dip a white cloth (or a white paper towel with no printing) into the detergent solution and dab repeatedly, then press the cloth on the spot for a few seconds. Wait 15 minutes (it takes time to break down the stain), then soak up the excess liquid with a dry white cloth.
2. Dip a cloth into the vinegar solution and dab repeatedly, then press the cloth on the spot for a few seconds. Wait another 15 minutes. (This is an important step, because white vinegar removes residual detergent, which will attract dirt if left in the carpet.)
3. Rinse by blotting with a cloth soaked in lukewarm water. Wait one hour or until the carpet dries completely. For bad spills, place a
Lauren NassefDon't let money worries ruin your reindeer games. Here, insiders go off the record to spill their best-kept secrets for an affordable holiday season.Read More »from How to Make the Holidays More Affordable
By Yelena Moroz, Shivani Vora, Kaija Helmetag, and Brad Tuttle
Save on Entertaining
Tips from an anonymous caterer
Besides asking friends for recommendations, the best way to find a caterer is to go to a cooking store, like Williams-Sonoma or Sur La Table, and speak to the employees running the demonstrations. Many of them do catering gigs as well, for less than standard local rates. An independent caterer will often be more wallet-friendly than a large company, which can have high minimum requirements (as much as $2,500 per event) and more operating costs, like paying full-time staffers. In contrast, independents are usually amenable to negotiation. So ask for a 10 to 20 percent break, or see if they'll toss in a few more appetizers or another entrée for the same dollar amount.
See More: Inexpensive Ideas for Holiday Party Food