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5 quick fixes to salvage a good meal

Overcooked the pasta or charred the steak? It's not the end of the world.

By Karen Datko Nov 24, 2009 8:08PM

This post comes from Tisha Tolar at partner blog Wise Bread.


We've all likely burned a pot of something in our lifetime, but sometimes a ruined dinner may not be so ruined after all. Learn a few tricks of the trade and save yourself some time and money.

As more and more families go back to basics and choose to stay home to eat, there is big interest in the recipe industry and cooking shows. Catching a few episodes of those shows or investing in a new cookbook can certainly help to keep meals at home fresh and interesting. If you make a mistake during your experimentation, don't throw out the food. Use these five quick fixes to salvage a good meal.


Pasta's hardly al dente? Overcooking your pasta noodles is easy to do, especially when you have other things going on around the kitchen. Fear not. Simply run the pasta through cold water to halt the cooking process. Add tomato sauce and reheat. The acid in the sauce will help bring back a firm noodle.


Burned expensive steak? Meat costs a fortune these days. In the pursuit of making sure meat is cooked fully, we may find that our steak gets a bit too well done, especially for the kids. Simply slice it up and use it in other ways such as fajitas and stir-fry recipes.


Veggies gone limp? It happens a lot: You buy fresh vegetables with the best of intentions and promptly forget about them after you've stocked the refrigerator. Limp vegetables can be brought back to life by adding them to a bowl of cold water (no ice) for a few minutes. Rewrap the vegetables in a clean, damp towel and return to the refrigerator.

Soup's too salty? If you are making homemade soup and get a little excited about the salt, your dinner fare may not be ruined. Throw in a peeled, raw potato and let it cook in the soup for 20 minutes. The starch in the potato will absorb the excess salt. Remove the potato and use it to make homemade french fries or mash it up. Some people swear by this trick while others claim it doesn’t work.  Why not give it a shot before you throw away the soup?


Fruit going bad? Wasting fruit is common because if not stored properly, fruit can go bad rather quickly. If you find that fruit is always rotten before you get to eat it, make a mental note to stop buying so much fruit at one time or purchase only one or two kinds of fruit in small quantities when you do your shopping. It's better to run out than to throw out. If the fruit that you have isn't passing muster for eating, find some recipes for fruit smoothies and get to blending. Also consider getting a food dehydrator to turn the extra fruit into healthy snacks.


Rolls are stale? There's nothing like fresh, steaming rolls for dinner, but the next day the fresh and steaming part seems to have left in its place hard, unappetizing pieces of bread. Next time, don't ditch the rolls. Instead, sprinkle them with some water, wrap them in foil and put them in the oven for about 10 minutes. They will be soft and piping hot for another dinner.


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