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Frequently Asked Questions about Quick and Easy Meals
Every day, the Allrecipes staff answer lots of email from cooks like you in the Allrecipes community. For a glimpse of this dynamic exchange of ideas and tips, and for answers to questions about food that you may have had yourself, please have a look at this FAQ! You can also browse all the articles about Quick and Easy Cooking in our Cooking Basics section!

If you still have questions, take a look at the FAQ for another cookbook, or read our Allrecipes FAQ for tips on using this website.

 
  
 
 
Q. What is baking mix? What can I substitute for it?

A. Baking mix or biscuit baking mix is a mixture of all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt and other ingredients. It is sold under a variety of brand names, including Bisquick® and Krusteaz®. We have a recipe for a homemade version on our site, called Easy Biscuit Mixture.

Definitions of other cooking terms can be found in the Allrecipes Encyclopedia.

 

Q. I would like to make meals ahead of time and freeze them for future use. What's the best way to freeze them, and how do I reheat them?

A. In order to freeze meals and save them for later, they should be fully cooked first. That way, you only need to heat the dishes in the oven long enough to heat up the food. We recommend buying some disposable aluminum baking pans, since you don't want all your good baking pans tied up in the freezer for weeks at a time. Once you have cooked the dishes that you want to freeze, first cool them off in the refrigerator, UNCOVERED. (If you cover them, they will take too long to cool off, allowing your food to stay at unsafe temperatures where bacteria can grow). Once the dishes are cool, wrap them tightly with plastic wrap, then in aluminum foil. They are ready to stick in the freezer until you need them. When you want to reheat them, unwrap them, and put them in the oven at about 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Depending on what you're reheating, it could take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to get your meal hot.

To learn more about freezing foods and make-ahead meals, and to get lots of great freezable recipes, read our informative articles Just Freeze It! and Freeze Now, Eat Later.

Take a peek at our Cooking Basics articles for even more recipes, meal ideas and cooking advice.

 

Q. What can I do to prevent the chicken in my chicken dishes from being dry?

A. Overcooking is the most common cause for chicken being dry and/or tough. Recipes often state cooking times, but these should only be looked upon as guidelines. Several factors can affect the accuracy of the cooking time. The thickness of the meat can significantly affect the cooking time; thin selections of meat will cook more quickly than thicker pieces. Heat settings can vary from stove to stove. Even the size and shape of the pan can affect the cooking time. So, the best way to avoid overcooking your chicken is to regularly check on the progress of the dish as it cooks.

 

Q. What is the best method for thawing meat?

A. There are several methods to thaw food safely -- in the refrigerator, under cold, running water, and in the microwave. To ensure that your food is safe to eat, follow one of these methods:
In the refrigerator: Plan ahead as this is the slowest thawing technique. Small frozen items may thaw overnight in the refrigerator, while larger items will take significantly longer.
In cold running water: Place the frozen food in a leak-proof bag and place it under cold running water.
In a microwave on the defrost setting: Plan to cook the food immediately after it has thawed in a microwave, because some areas of the food may have begun cooking during the defrost cycle.

Q. I often find myself adjusting recipes in order to make enough for my family, but it doesn't quite work for some recipes. Do you have any advice for me?

A. Changing recipes in order to make more or less servings is called "recipe scaling." Whenever you alter the amounts of ingredients for a given recipe, you may also need to adjust the cooking temperature, cooking time, pan size and seasonings. But for food chemistry reasons, recipe scaling simply does not work well for some dishes: delicate foods such as souffles, baked items requiring yeast such as breads, and recipes for a single large item that is meant to be later divided into smaller portions such as cakes, pies, breads and whole turkey. Our Recipe Scaling Page will give you a reliable framework for successful recipe scaling: It offers detailed guidelines for recipe scaling and easy instructions for using the handy recipe scaling tool on our site. You can always find this tool and a link to our recipe scaling tips from any recipe at Allrecipes.com.

 


 

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