• A holiday reminder: Freezy equals flaky when it comes to baked goods. Pie crusts, biscuits, even shortbread cookies turn out better when you keep ingredients very cold (not actually frozen, though). For items that you want soft and light, like cakes, let ingredients (butter, eggs) come to room temperature for best results.
• Recipe substitution: For ricotta in Italian pasta dishes, try pureeing cottage cheese instead.
• “Add a shake or two of cinnamon to chili this season. It really enhances the flavor, and my family has enjoyed great renown locally for our recipe.” — E.L. in Texas
• You can refill your foaming hand soap by watering down budget shampoo. Really. It’s supercheap, smells great and lasts forever. If you don’t have a foaming hand soap dispenser, cut down on the amount of soap that comes out with each pump by wrapping a rubber band around the pump.
• Here’s an easy DIY decoration that really makes a table — candles. Simply wrap the label area of your empty wine bottles with your favorite wrapping paper of the season, then stick a tapered candlestick into the top. Surround with painted pinecones for a beautiful centerpiece.
• “Use a hole punch and ribbon to add Christmas cards to your display. They can double as ornaments, or look great hanging from a bannister or around a doorway.” — A.V. in Kentucky
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