I am a wizard. Seriously, Harry Potter and Gandalf got nothing on my magic.
After troubleshooting and creative problem-solving, I have…
…I have learned how to make rock hard cookies – cookies you could chip a tooth on – into warm, gooey, melt-in-your-mouth cookies that taste fresh. You don’t have to preheat your oven, and it takes less than two minutes.
Bow to me, for I am magnificent.
Now I’m going to tell you a rather long story about my Cookie Rescue Journey in order to drum up SEO stats. If you lose interest, scroll to the bottom of this page to see My Secret, plus the secret to keeping cookies from going stale in the first place.
Some of you might be wondering why such a skill as reviving stale cookies is even necessary. After all, you can make a big batch of cookie dough and bake as few cookies as you want at a time. Well, we recently had a garage sale, and I had the genius idea to make a bunch of baked goods to sell. We made a decent amount of money off of them.
Except, I made waaaaaaay too many treats.
The cupcakes got put in the freezer and were defrosted and re-frosted (with frosting, I mean) for church potlucks. The ginger cookies are my husband’s weakness and were soon devoured. The chocolate chip cookies were another matter.
I won’t tell you just how many we had left over *cough, two dozen, cough*, and they were already sort of stale by the time we hosted the garage sale. So we had a problem. The problem could have been prevented, though, because….
TO KEEP COOKIES FRESH
…all you have to do is store them in an air-tight bag or container with something moist, like a slice of bread, a slice of apple, or a tortilla. I wonder if a wet paper towel would work, and then you don’t have to waste bread and tortillas? The cookies suck up all the moisture and this keeps them soft.
But by the time I found out about this technique, the cookies were already hard enough to throw on the floor without breaking.
I tried warming them in the oven. Bad idea. I meant to keep the cookies in there until the chocolate chips melted, but they never did, and the cookies were burned. This is hard for me to admit. Burning cookies is an unforgivable sin, not because it’s wasteful, but because they are cookies.
Mama loves her cookies.
My next attempt was the microwave. Also not a good idea. Microwaves don’t cook evenly, so they’re really only good for food you can stir up. Also, a microwave only heats up water, so if the food item doesn’t have any water in it (i.e. stale cookies), you end up with a tough cookie that has pockets of warmth scattered amid spots of cold. Yuck.
Here is when my stroke of genius happened. We like to eat frozen Asian buns, which are usually steamed. To make heat them in the microwave, you wrap them in a wet paper towel to infuse moisture.
I thought, I could zap the cookies to make them moist, then bake them to make them evenly warm and also crisp on the outside. Except baking in the oven is a huge pain and the toaster oven isn’t much easier, so I thought, why not use the toaster?
Voila. Heavenly cookies in less than two minutes.
TO MAKE STALE COOKIES TASTE FRESH
You are welcome.
If you try this, let me know how it worked out!
The moment I started this blog, friend and family started sending me videos, recipes, and articles with food-related ideas to inspire me. One idea I keep seeing over and over again is how to make vegetable broth out of scraps. (Think onions skins, carrot heads, celery leaves, things like that.)
Obviously, that idea is a home run for No Scrap Left Behind. To think that I could turn garbage into something useful and delicious...brilliant!
At least, it sounded brilliant.
The video I saw told me to use onion, carrot, celery, garlic, parsley, mushrooms, and potato peels.
This post is my magnum opus. I know I haven’t been blogging long so that isn’t saying much, but still, I am pretty proud of these sandwiches.
Once a week before my art history class in college, I would often go to the museum cafeteria and order the same sandwich. It was a massive tower of raw vegetables drizzled in salad dressing balanced between two slices of focaccia.
When my husband and I went on a trip to Italy, we kept hearing people talk about gnocchi. I had no idea what gnocchi was, so I simply had to order it and find out.
After trying it I still had no idea what gnocchi was, but I was nevertheless hooked. It's not quite pasta -- it's more of a dumpling that you can make with either ricotta and flour or mashed potato and flour.
Yet you use it just like you would a pasta. Any sauce that goes on pasta can go on gnocchi; any soup you would put pasta in, you can put gnocchi in.
Do you have potatoes and onions that need to be eaten up? Maybe they're getting soft, or they have mushy parts, or they've sprouted arms and legs?
You’re in luck, because I have a recipe that calls for potatoes and onions… and that’s it.
It sounds crazy, but it’s a Julia Child recipe, and everything she touches turns to gold. If you don't trust me, trust Julia.
Did you ever read Julie and Julia? It’s about a blogger who made everything in Julia Child’s cookbook in one year. This potato soup recipe is The One that inspired her to start the blog.
Despite my adamant efforts not to waste food, one or two scraps will inevitably become inedible in my household. I dropped a whole sippy cup of milk on the floor, for instance.
I keep a list on the refrigerator of the small amounts of food I do waste; this helps keep me focused and encourages me to do whatever it takes to keep the list from growing.
When I first started saving all my scraps, I found five strawberries in the back of my refrigerator. They weren't good even when I bought them, and by this time they were wrinkly and had changed to a dark maroon.
Not to mention everything in the back of my fridge freezes, so my mushy dark strawberries were also fruit ice cubes. (Now that I've learned how to eat waste-free, I can't imagine letting five strawberries go bad! Why didn't I just throw them in the freezer and make a smoothie later?)
I read an article about a guy who paid off $52,000 in credit card debt in seven months. “Wait, wait, wait,” you’re probably saying. “There’s a person who charged $52,000 to a credit card?”
In his story, he explains that he and his wife felt like they deserved a certain lifestyle because they had worked so hard. That meant cruises, designer clothes, a sports car, etc.
I can’t be too critical because we’re all guilty of this mentality. We have this idea that a certain amount of work equals a certain amount of luxury, but the math doesn’t always add up. More often than not, we think we should have to do half as much work as we actually need to.
The other day I found a tomato in my fridge that had mold on it. I cut the mold off but ate the rest of the tomato. Is that okay?
Too often, people rely on Best By, Sell By, and Expiration dates to know when to throw away food. This is a flawed way of thinking for so many reasons. The Wasted Food Dude says it better than I could:
“Food doesn’t expire. It doesn’t die at midnight on the date stamped on its package. Instead, it slowly passes from optimal to inedible. And that date stamped on the package — no matter what words precede it — tends to fall much closer to edible.”
When it comes to using up your food before it goes bad, the best advice I can give you is this: SHOP YOUR KITCHEN.
Treat your kitchen like a grocery store whenever you plan meals. Often you'll already have everything you need, except maybe one or two ingredients.
I’ve always planned my meals around what I already have, but now that I’m trying so hard not to waste, I really push myself to use up everything. Even the random stuff that gets pushed into cupboard corners.
The last time I made a grocery list, I planned seventeen meals and three desserts… and only needed eight ingredients to make them.
When I first went on a hunt for affiliate partners, I assumed using them would be a chore. I had no idea how excited I would be about the great products I can now offer my readers.
Already, I have Home Chef and Plated - for both, you order the meals and they bring all the ingredients to your door; Valley Food Storage - food with a shelf life of 25 years; Peapod - a grocery delivery service; and the company I want to tell you about today: $5 Meal Plan
$5 Meal Plan
Do you struggle with meal planning? Do you ever go to the grocery store and not know what to buy, or look in the fridge and not know what to make? Is your grocery bill astronomically high and you want to lower it?
Five Dollar Meal Plan offers weekly plans to cook meals that generally cost only $5 per meal to make. It's only $5 a month and the first two weeks are free; considering how much money you can save planning cheap meals, that's a great price.
When I first heard about this company, I thought they just gave you a list of recipes each week and that's it. Even if that were true, it's well-worth the purchase; I believe proper meal planning is not only the key to food management, but also the key to happiness.
But this company has an entire social network with exciting features:
Sorry that list got pretty long, but there was just so much stuff about $5 Meal Plan that I like!
You're probably thinking, "Fine, but do the meals actually taste good?"
The Facebook followers certainly seem to like them, but of course that isn't enough for me. When I get back from vacation, I plan on testing an entire weekly meal plan. Not only will I tell you how the cooking went; I will also price out the recipes to see if they really pass the $5 test.
Stay tuned! When I'm done, I'll post links to my articles on this page.
Have you tried $5 Meal Plans? What did you think?