In a directly above shot of a kitchen counter, chopped vegetables, and canned foods can be seen next to different seasonings.

The holidays are right around the corner, which means it is time to start preparing your menus. Cooking for the holidays can be a daunting task, which can take a lot of hard work. Your holiday cooking does not have to be an impossible task, though. Just follow the advice from this article, and you will breeze through it.

Take care when storing chocolate for use in cooking. As a rule, only buy as much chocolate as you can use within a few months. Chocolate contains fat, and under the wrong conditions, it can turn rancid. Store in a cool, dry place away from sunlight. A kitchen cupboard away from any heat sources is ideal. Keep the chocolate wrapped in foil or plastic and store it away from anything with a strong smell, as it absorbs odors easily.

Fresh herbs can add a great deal to most recipes. Herbs can be tricky to handle, though, because they need to be chopped so finely. Sprinkling salt over the cutting board before chopping herbs can cut down on mess. The salt encourages herbs to stick to the board instead of flying off.

To have a meal ready when you get home from work use a slow cooker or crockpot. Some meals come prepackaged. All you have to do is pour it into the crockpot, maybe add some water, and set the heat. If you like making your own meals you can prepare ingredients the night before. After you’ve prepared the ingredients put them in the fridge. Add everything to the crockpot in the morning before you go to work.

Tofu is a great source of protein that vegetarians should use to get the nutrients their body needs. Many vegetarians are lacking in protein because they are not eating meat. Tofu can be prepared in a variety of ways and really soaks up flavors so it can be served as a meal or as a quick snack.

When attempting to make baked goods, less fattening, applesauce is a great ingredient to use. It can be used with cake mix, brownies or even pancakes. It is an inexpensive way to make foods that are usually fattening, healthier and delicious. When baking, it is a good idea to use unsweetened applesauce.

When picking out a melon for purchase, make sure that it is still fresh. Many times, people get sick from melons that have gone bad. You can check its freshness by checking the part of the melon that was connected to the vine. If it is soft, then the melon is still good.

For an easy meal to put together, save the sauces from other meals you had earlier in the week. Put them in an ice cube tray. You can reheat the cubes in a sauté pan for a quick sauce. Add some veggies and you will have a yummy meal.

A great cooking tip is to spray your pan with oil before you cook with it. Spraying the pan with oil will make it so that the food doesn’t stick to the pan. Trying to clean a pan with food stuck on it can be very frustrating and time-consuming.

If you are preparing a whole chicken or turkey, take the time to season under the skin as part of your preparation. By gently sliding your fingers between the skin and meat in the breast area and thigh area, you can create room for seasoning. Blend your preferred herbs and spices and slowly rub them against the meat under the skin. The skin will lock in juices and allow your seasoning to absorb into the meat.

Reserve some pasta water for use in your pasta sauce. Save around 1/4 cup of water and put it aside. When your sauce is also ready, add in the water before tossing or topping the pasta. Starches present in the retained water can contribute to a creamier sauce when combined.

Don’t be afraid to play with recipes and change the ingredients you don’t like. Recipes are not the Bible; they are simply guidelines for preparing a dish. If you do not like an ingredient like oregano, for example, replace it with thyme. Most of the time, the dish’s flavor is preserved, and you’re happier knowing you don’t have to eat something with a flavor you dislike.

When preparing food in the kitchen, always remember to wash your hands with soap and warm water before touching food, or anytime you handle raw meat, fish, or eggs. In addition, you never want to put cooked food on plates, counters, or any other surface where these raw meats have been unless they have been washed with hot, soapy water.

As we previously mentioned, upcoming holidays mean lots of cooking. A lot of people do get concerned about getting started on their holiday menus because they can be so vast. However, the tips and tricks you read in this article will make your cooking woes and inhibitions disappear and get you ready to conquer that holiday cooking!