Cooking is a wonderful art to learn. Whether it is purely for nutritional purposes or for the joy of creating a meal from scratch for your family and friends, the relaxation that can be associated with this skill is immense. But if you were never taught the basics of cooking, and finding your way around a kitchen is not your forte, here are a few handy hints you need to know.

Remember, the smaller the item, the higher the baking temperature. Small cookies will bake on a higher temp than a full cake would. Make sure to double check your recipe to find out the exact temperature it needs to be. You don't want to prepare a perfect item only to have it burn or be under cooked.

Get the most juice out of lemons. Fresh lemon juice is much more tasty than the kind that comes out of a bottle, but it is sometimes surprising how little juice you can get out of a lemon. Heat the lemon in a microwave for 20 seconds on high power. Then, roll the lemon on your cutting board using as much pressure as possible. This way, you will get about twice the amount of juice out of the lemon, and your dish will be much more flavorful!

Cook your pasta one minute less than the package suggests, then finish cooking it in a pan with sauce. Your pasta will absorb more of the flavor of the sauce without having an over cooked texture. This can be a quick and effective way to prepare a pasta meal.

As you cook your meal during the course of the night, make sure that you taste it at several different points. This will allow you to pinpoint exactly when it is done, so that you do not run the risk of overcooking it. Tasting your food is important to achieve the quality you desire.

If you want to add a unique touch to your dinner, use fruit as a side dish. Fruit will help to flush down the thick pieces of meat that you just ate and will serve to re-energize your body after consuming a lot of calories. Add oranges, pears and apples to your dinner to optimize your experience.

An easy way to experiment with combining savory flavors in the kitchen and not spend a lot of money in food waste, is to turn your ideas into an omelet. Eggs, especially egg whites, are fairly flavor-free and provide a great "canvas" on which to "paint" the ingredients you want and then combining into a dish. Small batches of scrambled eggs that you can fold your ingredients into, will also give a neutral background for your flavor taste tests.

One of the best things that you can do for your cooking is to watch cooking shows during the course of the day. Pick up on what the professionals are doing and implement that into your routine if you want to achieve the best possible results for your dishes. Tips from other people can serve you well while cooking.

If you would like to bake a berry desert in the winter (when most berries are out of season), use frozen berries as a delicious and more eco-friendly alternative to fresh ones! Thaw your frozen berries for 45 minutes, drain the excess, then use as you normally would when making a berry pie or cobbler.

If your burgers tend to stick to your grill, it might be hard to cook them while preserving their shape. Before you put the burgers on the surface of the grill, you should brush it with some oil.

If you are stuck trying to figure out what to cook for dinner during the week, consider building your meals around themes. "Mexican Monday" could mean burritos or a nice taco salad. How about "Tuscan Tuesday" featuring spaghetti and meatballs or maybe meatball subs? And "Fish Friday" offers lots of options for shrimp, salmon or even tuna. Bring the whole family into the fun by letting the kids pick a theme and help plan the meal that day.

You may or may not have heard of schmaltz, but it is a very useful component when cooking. Schmaltz, otherwise known as chicken fat, is very rich. The flavor of schmaltz is deeper than duck fat and can be used for many things, such as cooking meats or poaching fish.

When cooking burgers, no matter what the type of burger, it is important to only flip it one time in order to retain all of the juices. If you don't do this your burger will most likely end up dry and will resemble a hockey puck! Don't let that happen to your burgers.

When you are cooking any dessert that has strawberries in it, add a small amount of aged balsamic vinegar. The vinegar gives the dessert a sweet taste and it helps to enhance the strawberry's taste. If the dessert is something bigger, such as a strawberry cake, add a touch more balsamic vinegar.

How to 'un-seize' melted chocolate. If the chocolate you are melting suddenly gets lumpy or grainy, this means it has 'seized', and it will ruin a recipe. Remove the pan and add 1/2 to 1 tsp of shortening or cooking oil (not butter or margarine). Stir until the mixture becomes smooth again. To prevent seizing, make sure the pan is completely dry before trying to melt chocolate.

Cauliflower is white when you first place it in water, but it has a tendency to sometimes turn a grayish or yellowish color. To prevent that from happening and keeping your cauliflower perfectly white you should try adding a little bit of milk to the water while it is cooking.

There is no longer a need to hold onto any fear of the kitchen. By following these ideas and learning the basics of cooking, you will be rewarded. With a little time and practice you will be whipping up gourmet meals to impress your friends in no time at all.