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25 Common Cooking Mistakes You May Be Making

25 Common Cooking Mistakes You May Be Making

Whether you’re a novice or an accomplished chef, there’s one thing all cooks have in common: we all make mistakes in the kitchen. But you can avoid many cringe-worthy moments with your foodie friends if you steer clear of these common cooking mistakes:

1. You don’t let meat sit after cooking.

This is a cardinal sin in the culinary world. Whatever you do, fight the urge to cut into that beautifully-marbled piece of meat after you take it off the grill. Wait 5 minutes for the juices to distribute. Your taste buds will thank you.

2. You don’t taste the food as you’re cooking.

While it’s good to have confidence in your cooking, not tasting your food is a big no-no. Even if you’re following a recipe, taste early and often.

3. You put too much food in the pan.

Overcrowding your pans means more uneven heat distribution. Instead of stuffing the pan with food, make two batches.

4. You flip the meat on the grill constantly.

You know how many times you need to flip a good piece of meat? Once. That’s all it takes to get a nice, beautiful sear.

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5. You cook beef, chicken, or fish directly after you remove it from the fridge.

Let meat sit in the sink for about 30 minutes before you cook it so it reaches room temperature. This allows for even cooking, so you don’t get a medium-well steak when you want a medium-rare one.

6. You try and save a bad dish by adding more stuff.

Sometimes kitchen experiments go horribly wrong. It happens to the best of us. Don’t be afraid to scrap a bad dish every once in a while. It’s part of the creative process of cooking.

7. You take the lazy way out.

It’s easy to choose the “ready-made,” highly processed junk. But nothing makes up for the real thing. Buy all natural, real ingredients (from local farmers whenever possible).

8. You overseason.

It’s easy to get aggressive with the salt and other seasonings. When this happens, use water or an acid like lemon juice or vinegar to dilute it.

9. You under-season.

The only thing worse than over-seasoning is under-seasoning. That’s why you should always taste your dishes before you serve them (see number 2).

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10. You overcook the meat.

There’s a simple solution for this one: use a meat thermometer.

11. Your food sticks to the pan or grill.

Buy a plastic bottle and fill it with olive oil. This will help grease the grates on the grill or pan so food doesn’t stick.

12. Your breading doesn’t stick to the food.

Try this no-fail process for getting your breading just right: first dredge in flour, then dip in liquid (like beaten eggs or buttermilk), then coat with bread crumbs.

13. You don’t know your kitchen appliances’ cooking times.

Hey, we’ve all been there. Sometimes it takes some getting used to your appliances, especially if they’re new. Practice makes perfect.

14. You added too much heat.

Spicy foods are great but it’s easy to overdo it with the spice. If possible, add a little water, lemon juice, or salt to neutralize the heat. Or grab an extra glass of water, some tissues, and eat it anyway.

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15. Your egg whites won’t whip.

There’s an easy fix for this one: let the eggs sit in the bowl on your counter for at least 15 minutes. Eggs whip easier at room temperature.

16. Your salads are soggy.

Green leafy vegetables are among the healthiest foods you can eat but they’re also some of the most delicate. To decrease the odds of a soggy salad, rinse your greens under cold water then dry them in a salad spinner.

17. You forgot to thaw the meat in the refrigerator.

Here’s a quick fix to thaw frozen food: put in a plastic bag and let it sit in a bowl of cold water for an hour.

18. You’re using the wrong cooking oil.

Certain cooking oils have lower smoke points, which means it helps to know which oils to use at various temperatures. Use olive oil and butter for low-temperature cooking; olive oil and coconut oil for medium-heat cooking; and peanut oil, avocado oil, and ghee for high-heat cooking.

19. You don’t follow the recipe.

If there’s one common cooking mistake I’m personally guilty of the most, it’s this one. For those of you who like to “make it your own,” this can often lead to disastrous results. Sometimes it’s better to just follow the recipe, especially for traditional and complex dishes.

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20. You don’t heat up the pan properly.

Your cooking surface needs to be hot before you place anything on it. Give your pan or grill at least 5 minutes to heat up.

21. You overcook your veggies and they taste mushy.

“Shock” those veggies when they’re done cooking, which means tossing them into very cold water after the allotted cooking time is up. This works particularly well for green beans, broccoli, asparagus, and corn.

22. You burn the bacon.

Cooking bacon in a pan can be a greasy debacle in your kitchen. Bake your bacon instead at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

23. Your guacamole turns brown.

Guacamole has a tendency to oxidize, which turns it an unappetizing brown color. If you’re serving guac, just squirt a little lime juice or lemon juice on the top periodically to prevent browning.

24. Your eggs are tough and dry.

If you struggle with eggs, lower the cooking temperatures. Lower the heat and cook at low to medium heat until the eggs are still moist. Remove them from the heat source immediately and serve.

25. You remove the crock pot lid.

Using a crockpot can produce some of the most tender, memorable meals you can eat. But taking the lid off every half hour means heat escapes, which can affect the cooking time and ultimately the taste of your food. Check on your crockpot creation a maximum of once every 2-3 hours.

So what did we miss? What are other common cooking mistakes you’ve made?

More by this author

Scott Christ

Scott Christ is a writer, entrepreneur, and founder of Pure Food Company.

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Last Updated on January 3, 2020

The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

Are you waiting for life events to turn out the way you want so that you can feel more positive about your life? Do you find yourself having pre-conditions to your sense of well-being, thinking that certain things must happen for you to be happier? Do you think there is no way that your life stresses can make you anything other than “stressed out” and that other people just don’t understand?  If your answer is “yes” to any of these questions, you might find yourself lingering in the land of negativity for too long!

The following are some tips to keep positive no matter what comes your way. This post will help you stop looking for what psychologists call “positivity” in all the wrong places!  Here are the ten essential habits of positive people.

1. Positive people don’t confuse quitting with letting go.

Instead of hanging on to ideas, beliefs, and even people that are no longer healthy for them, they trust their judgement to let go of negative forces in their lives.  Especially in terms of relationships, they subscribe to The Relationship Prayer which goes:

 I will grant myself the ability to trust the healthy people in my life … 

To set limits with, or let go of, the negative ones … 

And to have the wisdom to know the DIFFERENCE!

 2.  Positive people don’t just have a good day – they make a good day.

Waiting, hoping and wishing seldom have a place in the vocabulary of positive individuals. Rather, they use strong words that are pro-active and not reactive. Passivity leads to a lack of involvement, while positive people get very involved in constructing their lives. They work to make changes to feel better in tough times rather than wish their feelings away.

3. For the positive person, the past stays in the past.

Good and bad memories alike stay where they belong – in the past where they happened. They don’t spend much time pining for the good ol’ days because they are too busy making new memories now. The negative pulls from the past are used not for self-flagellation or unproductive regret, but rather productive regret where they use lessons learned as stepping stones towards a better future.

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4. Show me a positive person and I can show you a grateful person.

The most positive people are the most grateful people.  They do not focus on the potholes of their lives.  They focus on the pot of gold that awaits them every day, with new smells, sights, feelings and experiences.  They see life as a treasure chest full of wonder.

5. Rather than being stuck in their limitations, positive people are energized by their possibilities.

Optimistic people focus on what they can do, not what they can’t do.  They are not fooled to think that there is a perfect solution to every problem, and are confident that there are many solutions and possibilities.  They are not afraid to attempt new solutions to old problems, rather than spin their wheels expecting things to be different this time.  They refuse to be like Charlie Brown expecting that this time Lucy will not pull the football from him!

6. Positive people do not let their fears interfere with their lives!

Positive people have observed that those who are defined and pulled back by their fears never really truly live a full life. While proceeding with appropriate caution, they do not let fear keep them from trying new things. They realize that even failures are necessary steps for a successful life. They have confidence that they can get back up when they are knocked down by life events or their own mistakes, due to a strong belief in their personal resilience.

7. Positive people smile a lot!

When you feel positive on the inside it is like you are smiling from within, and these smiles are contagious. Furthermore, the more others are with positive people, the more they tend to smile too! They see the lightness in life, and have a sense of humor even when it is about themselves. Positive people have a high degree of self-respect, but refuse to take themselves too seriously!

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8. People who are positive are great communicators.

They realize that assertive, confident communication is the only way to connect with others in everyday life.  They avoid judgmental, angry interchanges, and do not let someone else’s blow up give them a reason to react in kind. Rather, they express themselves with tact and finesse.  They also refuse to be non-assertive and let people push them around. They refuse to own problems that belong to someone else.

9. Positive people realize that if you live long enough, there are times for great pain and sadness.

One of the most common misperceptions about positive people is that to be positive, you must always be happy. This can not be further from the truth. Anyone who has any depth at all is certainly not happy all the time.  Being sad, angry, disappointed are all essential emotions in life. How else would you ever develop empathy for others if you lived a life of denial and shallow emotions? Positive people do not run from the gamut of emotions, and accept that part of the healing process is to allow themselves to experience all types of feelings, not only the happy ones. A positive person always holds the hope that there is light at the end of the darkness.  

10. Positive person are empowered people – they refuse to blame others and are not victims in life.

Positive people seek the help and support of others who are supportive and safe.They limit interactions with those who are toxic in any manner, even if it comes to legal action and physical estrangement such as in the case of abuse. They have identified their own basic human rights, and they respect themselves too much to play the part of a victim. There is no place for holding grudges with a positive mindset. Forgiveness helps positive people become better, not bitter.

How about you?  How many habits of positive people do you personally find in yourself?  If you lack even a few of these 10 essential habits, you might find that the expected treasure at the end of the rainbow was not all that it was cracked up to be. How could it — if you keep on bringing a negative attitude around?

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I wish you well in keeping positive, because as we all know, there is certainly nothing positive about being negative!

Featured photo credit: Janaína Castelo Branco via flickr.com

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