The ability to cook is one of the most handy skills. Everyone loves a nice home-cooked meal. Many people feel they could be better at cooking. Read this article to find out how you can get there yourself.

If you are cooking for someone important, such as a new boss or for a dinner party, don’t use a new recipe and a new ingredient. Make sure you practice the dish first for your own family. Play around with it to make sure it is how you want it.

Use a heavy duty, zip-lock plastic bag to separate pan drippings. After roasting meat, pour the pan drippings into a zip-lock plastic bag. Let the fat rise to the top. Carefully snip off one of the bottom corners on the bag, and pour out the fat-free broth. The fat will stay in the plastic bag, and you will have a tasty broth as a base for gravy or a sauce.

To reduce the fat and calories in a recipe that calls for a lot of mayonnaise, simply replace half the mayonnaise with sour cream. Since mayonnaise serves primarily a textural purpose in many of these recipes, replacing it with similarly textured sour cream gives you the same texture with a lighter, healthier taste.

After you have cooked mashed potatoes, make sure that you return them to the hot pan so that they can steam for the next ten minutes. This will allow for the potatoes to dry out so that you can get a rich texture when you are applying your milk and butter.

Herbs and spices have a powerful impact on the quality of your cooking. To preserve these important, expensive ingredients, keep them in a cool, dark place with minimal humidity. All too often spices are left near ovens and sinks. The heat, light and moisture in such places leach the flavor out of high-quality spices.

When cooking, make sure that you never put anything metal in the microwave, as it will cause sparks given the electromagnetic energy. Always make sure that the items you are microwaving are safe to put in there. This will help to increase your level of safety when you are in the kitchen.

If you are trying to cook pumpkins, cut it exactly in half from top to bottom. Next, set each of the two pieces on a separate baking sheet, taking care to place each one cut side down. Add a touch of water to each sheet before putting it in the oven. You will want to bake this for approximately an hour at 350 degrees.

This is a great tip to use when making salad dressings. If you want to make a dressing that is creamy and rich, but without adding all of the fat, simply use a mixture of half mayonnaise and half greek yogurt. The greek yogurt is a healthy alternative to using all mayonnaise as there is less cholesterol.

Make the best of your baking adventures by leaving eggs and butter out at room temperature the night before. Then you do not have to go through the frustration of softening the butter to the right consistency. Also, warm eggs whisk to a greater volume, which allows the cake to rise evenly.

When you are making Easter eggs it is a pain when the eggs crack because coloring leaks onto the actual egg. To prevent this you can add some vinegar to the boiling water. This helps to seal the egg inside the shell and keep it all in one piece.

Use fresh products if available. Nothing packs the punch in cooking like the taste of fresh ingredients. Vegetables, meats and fruits all contain vibrant, savory and wholesome flavors that can be severely diminished by processing and canning or packaging. When cooked properly, fresh ingredients will make any dish more flavorful.

Placing eggs in water can let you know if they are fresh. Eggs that lie on the bottom, on their side will be fresh. Eggs that stand upright in the bottom are losing freshness and should be used promptly within a day or two. Eggs that float on top of the water should be discarded immediately. Always check eggs for freshness before using.

Use your hands to cook the perfect steak. Pressing the fleshy pad at the base of the thumb, when your hand is making an OK sign, will give the same resistance as steak will during cooking. Start with the index finger OK sign and the thumb base will resist at “rare” temperature. Moving towards the pinky you will register medium-rare with middle, medium with the ring finger and well-done with the pinky. Look for the resistance in your steak to match the resistance when pressing your hand.

As you can see, cooking can be easy. With the right techniques, creating delicious dishes for family and friends can suddenly become a breeze! Now that you have been introduced to these great tips and tricks, you just need to make the time to go and give them a try!