Dear Heloise: Desperate for a CRISPY COOKIE, but tired of the soft, chemical-tasting ones from the grocery store, I stuck a store-bought chocolate-chip cookie in the toaster oven at 350 degrees for about five minutes. The edges and parts of the bottom were actually dark brown. After cooling a bit, it tasted delicious and crisp.
I’m glad I didn’t discover this trick earlier in my life, or I’d probably be 10 pounds heavier. -- Elizabeth D., via e-mail
Love your hint, and it can be a trick to make warm, almost-home-style cookies from store-bought. Please do test the time and temperature so they don’t burn. -- Heloise
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Dear Heloise: Many restaurants serve bread with olive oil to dip it in, but I don’t always want to have to go out to a restaurant to get it. So, I’ve started making it myself at home. Any small dish of oil mixed with freshly ground pepper, pepper flakes, minced garlic or other spices will do. I like to add Parmesan cheese on top for a delicious appetizer. -- Gwen R. in Tennessee
Great money-saving hint, and here’s another bread hint from Betty in Huntsville, Ala. She says: “I’ve baked bread for years, and I’ve found that by laying each baked loaf on its side, it is much easier to slice. You will be slicing from side to side instead of from top to bottom, which also gives more uniform slices. I also use a serrated knife, which is a must.”
DRY WHITE WINE
Dear Heloise: When recipes call for a “dry” white wine, could you specifically tell me which white wines are considered “dry”? -- M.F., via e-mail
Well, a dry wine is one that is not sweet. When cooking or drinking, a good general guideline for a dry white wine would be a sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio.
Many recipes call for dry white wine as an ingredient when you want the enhancement of wine but no sweetness added. -- Heloise
Dear Heloise: My favorite use for leftover taco meat is in an omelet. When the eggs are almost set, add the taco meat, shredded cheese, chopped tomato and thinly sliced green onion. Finish cooking until the cheese is melted.
You can serve it with warm, buttered tortillas or with a little salsa and sour cream on top. Yum! -- Penny H., Jamestown, N.D.
Dear Heloise: With a busy schedule, the ready-to-cook breaded fish fillets that are available in stores make a great meal for the family. When cooking in the oven, though, I always make sure to place them on a rack so the bottoms stay crispy. -- Ellie S. in Indiana
Dear Heloise: As I emptied my specialty mustard bottle, which is plastic, I decided to wash it out to use as a honey bottle. It has a tight-locking lid, so ants can’t get into the good stuff. -- Dorothy T., Omaha
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