Solutions & Substitutions by Reena: Cookie Dough and Cupcakes

Solutions & Substitutions by Reena: Cookie Dough and Cupcakes

By Reena Nerbas

Mixing Cookie Dough

Dear Reena,

Whenever I bake cookies, the recipe says to mix all dry ingredients together before adding them to the wet ingredients. Why can’t I just add all the ingredients together in one bowl? Also, how can I make my cookies all the same size so that they look good enough to sell at a bake sale? Delores

Dear Delores,

The reason why dry ingredients such as salt, baking soda and flour are mixed separately, is too avoid clumps. Imagine eating a cookie and suddenly, ‘POW’ a mouth full of baking soda. Yuck! Stirring (or whisking) the baking soda in with the flour breaks up the pieces and ensures evenness in your baking.

As for consistently shaped cookies, purchase a retractable ice cream scoop (they come in different sizes). Not only will each cookie end up the same size, but you will notice that your cookies don’t flatten as much because the dough is rounded, plus cookie scooping is much faster with a retractable scoop vs. two spoons. Another option is to bake cookies inside of silicone muffin pans; they will all turn out the same shape.

Smoky Odor

Hi Reena,

I received 4 ceramic onion soup bowls with lids that have a terrible cigarette odor. I’ve tried washing them in the dishwasher several times as well as soaking them in a solution of 1 cup vinegar, 2 cups water and 2 tablespoons of baking soda for 15 minutes. That solution somewhat masked it, but I can still smell the cigarette odor. Do you have any solutions I can try? Kathy

Hi Kathy,

Fill each bowl with cola and leave for a week. Rinse and rewash in the dishwasher. Next stuff each bowl with newspaper and close the lid. Leave until you want to use the bowls, the cigarette smell will soon be gone.

Pilling on Socks

Dear Reena,

I just bought a bulk bag of socks from Wal-Mart and after the first wash they had little balls of thread on the outside. Why do my socks pill and how do I prevent this from happening? Disappointed, Ruth

Dear Ruth,

The cause of pilling is abrasion and friction, in other words fibers get damaged through either wear and tear or in the washer/dryer. Poor quality cotton is more likely to pill than cotton with a high thread count such as denim. This is not to say that high quality fibers such as cashmere don’t pill, soft fibers are also prone to pilling. But typically, high quality clothing has less chance of pilling due to the fibers being stronger and less likely to separate. Purchasing higher quality socks will help and so will turning them inside out before washing. If pilling does occur, fabric shavers are the safest and fastest fix.

Cupcakes in Kids’ Lunches

Dear Reena,

I often make cupcakes for my kid’s lunches. I am wondering if you have any advice about the best way to pack one single cupcake so that the frosting is not ruined by the time they sit down to eat. Thanks, Nancy Jane

Dear Nancy Jane,

Purchase a plastic cup with a lid and a straw. Next time you need to carry a single cupcake somewhere, place the cupcake onto the lid of the cup. Put the cup upside down over the cupcake and close. This is a good way to transport one single cupcake. Or better yet, save plastic sundae cups and lids from your favorite ice cream restaurant for transporting cupcakes. But for lunch bags, save the plastic containers that muffin liners come in, use that container and lid to transport cupcakes for lunches. As well, if you know that you will be transporting one or more cupcakes, make Decorator’s Icing because it isn’t as smushy as regular buttercream. An icing that hardens slightly on top is much easier for transport. You can also top cupcakes with candies (i.e. chocolate chips or candy corn), doing this prevents the lid from attacking your cupcake and distributing frosting onto the lid (instead of inside your mouth). Or melt a small amount of chocolate and dab it underneath the cupcake(s) in the holder. This helps temporarily glue cupcakes in place. Lastly, there are single and multiple cupcake carriers available for purchase in stores and on-line.

Fabulous Tips of the Week

  • Nightcrawlers are as important to our environment as earthworms and ladybugs. But sometimes like many other bug friends, they have the capacity to take over the yard by forming mounds on the lawn, making it hard to enjoy the yard or even cut the grass. If left, they can completely destroy the yard. Begin by power raking the lawn. While there are chemical pesticides on the market, you will help yourself be watering your lawn deeply but not often. What this does is force the worms to bury themselves deep into the soil.
  • To catch nightcrawlers, into an empty ice cream bucket, make a solution of 1 gallon water combined with one third cup mustard powder. Stir and pour over soil. This will attract the nightcrawlers to the surface. Pick the worms up and sell them to a fish bait store. Businesses will pay good money for these large worms.

Note: Every user assumes all risks of injury or damage resulting from the implementation of any suggestions in this column. Test all products on an inconspicuous area first.

Reena Nerbas is a popular motivational presenter for large and small groups; check out her website: Ask a question or share a tip at

, , , ,