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Divas on a Dime: Ice cube trays offer tasty treat options

Your ice cube tray called … it feels unfulfilled.

There are few things sadder than a kitchen essential not living up to its full potential. So, here’s a bunch of ideas to exploit that ice cube tray that’s just longing to be more useful.

Freeze the leftover bits. The best way to utilize your ice cube tray to help save you money is by freezing small odds and ends that might otherwise go to waste. You know those recipes that call for only a small portion of an ingredient leaving you wondering what to do with the remainder? Things like tomato paste, coconut milk or buttermilk. Freeze the rest for next time.

Freeze fresh herbs. Summer is fleeting but those fresh herbs can last through winter. Place the herbs in the tray (chopped if you wish) and top with either oil or water. I’d suggest oil for herbs you’re likely to sauté like basil for tomato sauce. And water for those you’re likely to add uncooked to recipes like mint in lemonade. When in doubt use water. You can add oil later if appropriate.

Make fancy-pants ice cubes for drinks. Freeze cubes of wine and coffee to chill those beverages without diluting them. Freeze fruit juice to add color and flavor to plain or seltzer water. Make ice cubes with berries or sliced fruit (think citrus or grapes) suspended in them to add whimsy to clear beverages.

Freeze very ripe fruit and veggies for smoothies. Did a great sale hoodwink you into you overbuying avocados or berries? Or maybe you were swept away by the Farmer’s Market and have too much spinach? Don’t let them spoil, just mash or puree and freeze in ice cube trays and they’re ready for your next smoothie.

Make beurre manié. This sounds quite elegant but it’s simply a mix of butter and flour and is one of the best ways to thicken a sauce, soup or pan gravy. Rub equal parts flour and butter into a thick paste and freeze by the teaspoon. Then add bits of the paste and whisk to finish a sauce or thicken a soup with no lumps.

Freeze bacon fat. Don’t let that amazing flavor end out in the trash! Freeze by the tablespoon and bring the rich, savory goodness of bacon to scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, green beans, caramelized onions, hot dressing for spinach salad, quiche. Seriously, I’ve got a million ideas for foods that are better with bacon.

DIVA TIPS:

Designate one tray for sweet, one for savory so your banana puree doesn’t taste like roast garlic. And visa versa.

When your treasure is frozen, pop out of the tray and place in zip-top freezer baggies. Use a sharpie to label the baggie with the date and what it is. You don’t want to mix up your roast garlic with the banana puree. Trust me on this.

Store your frozen assets in a plastic bin in your freezer and remember to use them.

Here’s to a varied, useful and fulfilling career for your ice cube tray. What an awesome multi-tasker!

Fabulous Food by Patti Diamond from Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous! – www.divasonadime.com Join us on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom

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