Sometimes we all need a little help in the kitchen. I learned these tricks this year, and I’ve been cooking for twenty years – proof that we never stop learning. Give them a try!

5. Squeeze grated zucchini dry inside a kitchen towel (over a sink or bowl to catch the liquid). I loved this garlic Parmesan zucchini casserole from The Seasoned Mom, but any recipe with fresh grated zucchini has always turned out too watery for me. I followed her instructions, and it was amazing a) how much liquid came out of the zucchini, and b) how delicious the casserole was. I would also recommend doing this before you freeze zucchini for bread in the summertime.

4. Make dough in the food processor. The biscuit dough in #2, and pasty dough, were both easier in my new (to me) food processor. Instead of wrestling with a pastry cutter, simply pulse the flour mixture and butter together until in pea-size lumps, and slowly add liquid, pulsing until it becomes a dough. Turn out into bowl, chill, and complete your recipe! It’s a dream.

3. Speaking of pasties (pass-tees), if you make them a lot, use these hand pie folder tools. I’ve never seen them until recently when a friend loaned me hers, and I couldn’t believe how much faster it was.

If you don’t know about pasties, you should. The Yooper Girl has a recipe and explanation on her blog. They are hand-held meat pies native to England and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I use carrots, rutabagas, onions, garlic, potatoes, and venison in mine, and I add basil to the salt and pepper seasoning. My dough recipe is 3 c. flour, 2 sticks cold butter cubed, salt to taste, and 1 c. ice water (follow mixing instructions in #4 above). By the way, these freeze exceptionally well, and make an easy, quick meal next time you need it.

2. Fold biscuit dough six times, and cut straight up and down for fluffier, flakier biscuits! It  makes all the difference. In this post, I tell you about my new favorite (easy-peasy) biscuit recipe, and it has directions for cutting the biscuits out.

1. Use a hand mixer to shred chicken (here’s a post where I give more detailed instructions, but it doesn’t need much more explanation. This is a trick I will never quit using!).

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