Posted: February 26, 2014 at 2:39 a.m.

DEAR HELOISE: Every year around the holidays, I bake. I always end up with bits of baking items left over that I never use (example: oatmeal, chocolate chips, coconut, brown sugar, powdered sugar, etc.). None of it is enough to make anything, and I eventually throw it out. If I make something else, I have to buy more of the same ingredients, and again I am left with bits of this and that. Any ideas on what I can do?

  • A Reader, via email

DEAR READER: One of the easiest ways to use up those bits and pieces is to add them to a packaged cake or cookie mix, or, even better, make “everything” cookie bars. Use your favorite sugar-cookie recipe (or prepackaged dough) and make a crust in a baking pan. Then spread your leftover toppings, add some melted butter to help bind it together a bit, bake and enjoy!

DEAR HELOISE: Whenever I make deviled eggs, I insert toothpicks in a few of the outer eggs and one in the center once they are arranged on the dish. I am then able to put plastic wrap on top without the egg filling sticking to it.

This also works with a cake, cupcakes or any food item that could potentially stick to the plastic wrap.

  • Jenna H. in Ohio

DEAR HELOISE: Please tell your readers to remove the fiber husk before placing coconut in the oven! (Heloise here: From a previous column, placing coconut in the oven is a step in getting the meat out). Years ago, newly married, I had a recipe calling for fresh coconut. My mom had always baked coconuts, but somehow I never noticed that she removed the husk.

Do you know how embarrassing it is to explain to the fire department that your coconut is on fire? After quite a bit of laughter, I was told to remove it from the oven using potholders, place it in the sink and run water over it.

  • Colleen H. in Texas

DEAR READER: Oh, Colleen, it’s a great story to tell now, but I am sure it was scary. Thank you for the reminder.

DEAR HELOISE: Instead of regular, granulated sugar, can I substitute brown sugar in recipes?

  • Leah M. in Colorado

DEAR READER: Yes, you can substitute the equal amount of brown sugar for regular. All it will do is add a hint of molasses flavoring.

Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000; fax to (210) 435-6473; or email

Food, Pages 36 on 02/26/2014