The kitchen can be one person’s best friend and another’s worst enemy. For some, it’s the first place they go when they’ve had a bad day and all they want to do is take their mind off things. For others, though, it can be an incredibly intimidating space. Whatever type of person you are — that’s okay. No one’s forcing you to become the next Gordon Ramsay. Still, it doesn’t hurt to have some basic kitchen skills down! Here are a few little tricks that can benefit everyone, from young college students who’ve just moved out on their own to young parents feeding their family.
Freezing Your Fresh Herbs
We all know what fresh herbs can do for your cooking but we also know what a short shelf-life they have so we rarely make them part of our weekly shop. With this tip, though, you can get yourself some fresh herbs without having to toss them after a few days.
Try freezing your herbs to keep them fresh — simply fill an ice-cube tray with your chopped herbs, cover them with olive oil, and pop the tray into the freezer. Next time you cook something, just drop a cube in for some extra flavor…
How to Restore Stale Bread
There’s nothing worse than stale bread. What happens, though, if you don’t have time to run to the store to buy a fresh loaf? Looks like you’re stuck with a stale baguette. Or are you? Maybe not!
Try running the bread under some water and stick it in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes. You can also wrap it in a damp paper towel and pop it in the oven. With this little hack, your bread will come out fresh and crunchy as if you had just baked it!
If eggs are stored properly, they can usually last for three to five weeks. Still, it’s better to be safe than sorry. After all, no one likes cracking open a rotten egg, especially if they’re planning to cook with it.
To ensure that this doesn’t happen to you, pop the egg into a large bowl or glass of cold water. If the little guy sinks, you’re good to go. If it floats, throw it away and buy yourself some fresh eggs!
Fricky, Fricky Fresh
Birthday cakes are fun and yummy until they aren’t anymore. Once the party has ended and everyone’s gone home, you’re usually left with the majority of the cake left over, which sadly will most likely sit on the kitchen counter for another week completely untouched.
Don’t fret, though. It’s almost shocking how long a cake can last. Here’s the tip — in order to keep the exposed cut sides of the cake from going stale, secure a slice of bread to each side with a toothpick, ensuring that this cake of yours stays fresh and moist.
Some Suga for My Suga
Have you ever gone to use your sugar only to find that it’s hardened into a solid brick? That can be a hassle if you need it for a recipe or if you want to put some in your coffee. Lucky for you, we have the answer! Keep your brown sugar soft by tossing an orange peel along with the sugar itself into an airtight container.
For a quick fix, microwave the sugar — in a microwavable container — next to a small glass of water for a few seconds. The moisture in the microwave should help loosen up the sugar.
Multi-Purpose Dental Floss
We don’t mean to sound like your dentist but have you been flossing? If you haven’t, start! If you have, that means that you should have some floss lying around, which surprisingly enough, can be pretty useful in the kitchen. How?
Dental floss is good for cutting things including soft foods like cheese or even dividing a large cake, just in case you don’t have or prefer not to use a large knife. Maybe opt for the unflavored floss, though. That might be the best option for these kinds of cases.
Measuring Honey With Ease
Honey is sweet but it’s also sticky, making it a pain in the derriere to cook with. Measuring honey and/or other sticky ingredients can be quite messy and time-consuming. Luckily, we have a simple hack to get that honey to stop sticking!
Try spraying the measuring cup or spoon with a bit of Pam or smear some vegetable oil on it so the honey will pour out quickly and easily. Another bonus is that you’re no longer wasting half of your honey!
Pancakes Without the Mess
So, it’s Saturday morning and your kids are begging you for some chocolate chip pancakes. As easy as they are to make, you’re already dreading the cleanup. Fortunately, we have just the tip for you — a ziplock or pastry bag can be used to mix up pancake batter.
Just make sure to make a small cut in the corner of the plastic bag if you don’t have a pastry bag. This way, you’ll have less to clean up afterward and you can make some creative shapes for your little rascals!
If you’re like any normal person, coffee is essential to start your day. Sometimes iced coffee can be quite refreshing, especially on a hot day. When the ice cubes melt, though, they dilute the extra strong taste that we’re looking for.
If this is a problem you often encounter, try freezing some coffee ice cubes for yourself. With that, your iced coffee will no longer be tasteless and diluted. You can also use these ice cubes to cool down a piping hot cup of coffee without it becoming watery.
‘Eggstracting’ the Shell
There’s nothing like cracking an egg open into the bowl only to notice that small pieces of the shell made their way inside. We’ve all tried picking those bits out with a fork, spoon, or our fingers.
Rather than wasting what feels like hours on trying to gather every little shard from the bowl, simply wash your fingers under cold water. That’s it — there’s no catch. Wetting your fingers will enable you to easily pick up those shell pieces in no time at all!
Special Blend of Herbs & Spices
As we’ve mentioned before, there are ways to preserve fresh herbs so you don’t have to throw them out just a few days after buying them. If you’re not really keen on freezing them, you can try this solution — dry them out in the microwave.
All you have to do is throw them in for twenty-second intervals whilst turning them over until they’re completely dry. At this point, you can crush them up and even make your own unique blend of herbs!
Swift Slicing Trick
Cherry tomatoes are absolutely delicious but they can be a pain to cut. If you’re making a salad and need to chop a whole bunch of them in half, stick them between two plates and slice through them with a knife.
It may take you some practice, a few tries, and a hint of patience before mastering this trick. Once you’ve got it down, though, you’ll be able to slice a ton of those suckers in just one swift motion. You can try this with grapes, too!
Lazy Man’s Whipped Cream
Making whipped cream is a pretty simple task if your kitchen is equipped with the proper things. A plastic bowl and handheld mixer work best. If you don’t have a mixer, what should you do? You can always use a whisk but that takes a lot of time and effort.
As luck would have it, though, we have just the trick! Just pour some heavy cream into a large mason jar, close it tight, and shake away. Within a couple of minutes, you’ll have created fluffy whipped cream. Not bad, eh?
Easily Poached Eggs
Sure, eggs are an easy food to cook. Poached eggs, however, are a bit intimidating. They definitely require more skill than a simple omelet or fried egg. With this method, though, your life will change forever.
Just crack the eggs inside high-quality plastic bags — ones with a melting point of minimum 250 degrees Fahrenheit — pop the bags into boiling water for a few minutes before taking them back out. One tricky part of the process to keep in mind is taking the finished poached eggs out of the bags without breaking them.
The Magic of Ripening
It can be a total bummer when you’re really craving a fruit that just isn’t ready to eat yet. We’ve all been there. Don’t stress too much, though. Instead, simply throw those stubborn fruits (i.e. avocados, bananas, peaches) into a paper bag to speed up the ripening process.
Fun fact — when fruit is put in a paper bag, the concentrated ethylene gas helps it ripen faster. Just sit back, relax, and watch the magic happen right before your eyes.
Don’t Let Your Fruit Brown!
Speaking of ripening fruit — don’t let them ripen and brown too quickly! We often store half-cut fruits in the fridge that end up browning before we get back to them. It doesn’t have to be like this, though. Instead, find a happy medium between not ripe enough and too ripe.
Try storing sliced fruit in a mixture of water, honey, and lemon juice. The citric acid and vitamin C in lemon juice, as well as a peptide in honey, slows down the oxidation process that causes the discoloring. Plus, the fruit will last much longer!
No More Plastic Wrap Disasters!
Plastic or saran wrap can be the absolute worst, especially if all you’re trying to do is cover your leftovers. You end up wasting a ton of the wrap because it either rips or starts sticking together, turning into a ball of saran along the way.
So, have you had enough of wrangling around with it? Try this hack — chill the wrap in the fridge while you eat. This will make it easier to transport the plastic wrap from the roll to your container.
Crème de la Crème
So this may not be a cooking tip per se but you’d be lying if you told us that you don’t love ice-cream — plus, it technically counts as food. Now that we’ve established that, let’s discuss how annoying it is to pull your ice-cream out of the freezer only to have to wait 15 minutes before you can manage to scoop anything out.
So, the next time you buy a pint of your fave Breyer’s, try keeping it in a zip-top freezer bag. With that, your ice-cream should stay soft and scoopable at any time. You’re welcome!
Skim the Fat
Most of you probably know what it’s like to have prepared some sort of meat-based stock, stew, soup, or sauce only to have to spend time scooping out the fat that forms at the top of the broth. While it’s not the hardest job in the world, there are definitely ways to make it easier.
Take this tip for instance — wrap a few ice cubes in a paper towel or cheesecloth and skim that along the surface of the liquid. The ice will help to solidify the fat, making it easier to remove it with a spoon.
Almost-Instant Mashed Potatoes
Sure, homemade mashed potatoes are delicious but they do take a while to make. On the other hand, the instant stuff sucks. So, what to do? Pay attention to this simple cooking hack and you’ll have your answer — all you have to do is rinse some potatoes, poke holes into them with a fork, place them on a damp paper towel, and pop them in the microwave for about eight minutes.
Once done, the potatoes will be soft enough to mash. Top it with a piece of butter, add seasoning of your choice, and voila!
Food for the Week
When the kids are home, and you’ve got a busy week ahead of you – all you need to do is spend one Sunday cooking up a storm. Take that lazy Sunday and cook up enough veggies, fish, rice, baked potatoes, or whatever else you may fancy! Then, store the food in plastic containers, and you’re good to go!
You have meals that are ready to go for the next few days or the entire week! Try mixing main courses with the different sides you whipped at the beginning of the week.
Pancakes & Protein
Pancakes are often viewed as a guilty pleasure, something you indulge in on special occasions, right? We often see healthy pancakes at cafes and breakfast boutiques, but you can make your own version at home!
If you’re having a lazy morning and you’re in the mood for this special breakfast treat, you can make a healthy diet-friendly version. You can use protein powder, almond milk, oat flour, fruit, dried fruit as substitutes for the fatty ingredients – it’s that simple!
We’ve all been in the scenario when we’ve boiled an egg, but when we try and peel it, all that is left is less than half of the egg. If you let the eggs cool off, they’ll be much easier to peel.
If you’re really in the mood for eating the boiled eggs the moment they’re done cooking, you can add a little salt in the water when they cook. When they’re done – use a spoon to crack one end slightly and peel the shell from the inside!
A problem we’ve faced one too many times is buying fresh produce for the whole week or two weeks, and having them bruise or ripen too fast – especially bananas! If you hang the bananas on a hanger, it will prevent them from going bad too quickly.
If it’s located somewhere that allows them free movement, this contraption will slow down the ripening process. Another tip is to keep them away from other fruit – bananas give off gases that cause produce to spoil quicker.
When Life Gives You Lemons
Squeezing lemons is a hard task, especially if you thought you were cutting open a juicy lemon, and you realize it’s not! You can get more juice from a lemon by microwaving it on high for about 20 seconds.
It sounds crazy, we know, but it works! It will become softer than a lemon straight from the fridge, making the citrus fruit much easier to squeeze. Next time you’re stuck with a tough lemon, try this!
Juices and smoothies are the perfect way to start your day – they are full of nutrition and will keep you feeling full for a while! Prepping them can be time-consuming, so when you have a moment, divide fruits and vegetables into individual food bags (frozen produce works too), and store them in the freezer or fridge.
Take out when needed, adding whatever you like to spice up your hearty breakfast. Yogurt, water, coconut milk, and orange juice are all good options, use whatever you have at hand.
This may come as somewhat of a surprise to you, but you can add a tangy sweetness to a dish with an ingredient that is always in your fridge! Ketchup is sometimes a better answer than sugar when you’re cooking.
It’s an essential ingredient in barbecue sauce and also makes a great glaze when it comes to chicken wings! If you’re feeling fancy, you can even add it to the classic prawn cocktail!
Lentils Here, Lentils There
If you’re on a budget or just want to use those legumes that have been sitting in your pantry for some time now – lentils are the way to go! They are a great way to make your meals more interesting – they bulk up sauces, soups, and salads!
They are an excellent source of both protein and fiber and will have you feeling happy and satisfied with every bite you take! There are different types of lentils so you can mix and match – figuring out which type works with what meal!
The Perfect Potato
This may be the greatest hack of them all! There is not much we love more than potatoes, in any way, shape, or form. Mashed, fried, cooked, grilled – potatoes always work! You won’t be able to get potatoes that are perfectly crispy on the outside and fluffy like a cloud in the middle by cooking them in the microwave – but you can use one as a timesaver.
Poke holes into the potatoes with a fork and microwave them on high for ten min! When they’ve softened up, transfer them to a preheated oven for the perfect potato!
Dried pasta is one of the most versatile foods out there – it fits every palate and every occasion. From kids to college students, to a romantic candlelit dinner, there is a pasta dish that is suitable for everyone. There is more science behind the perfect pasta and sauce pairing.
For example, pasta shells should be served with a chunky sauce that collects inside the shell and sticks to the outer surface. Next time you’re in the mood for pasta – make sure you pair the delicious food with the right sauce!
Freezer burn can be a real bummer when it comes to preserving food. After all, no one likes to throw away food that was perfectly good before freezer burn ate away at it!
The best way to prevent freezer burn is to make sure all of your foods are as sealed as tight as possible — reducing the amount of air the product is exposed to. For example, if it’s a bag of frozen peas, try cutting off as much excess bag as possible and sealing it as tight as possible.
Often when we cook, we find ourselves stuck with leftover sauce. Instead of throwing the extras away – try freezing them! Egg cartons are ideal for freezing small liquid portions such as juice or sauce. Cover and freeze leftover pesto or red sauce and transfer the cubes to freezer bags.
To use, defrost the cubes in your fridge for around two hours – and they’re ready for action. You can also use egg cartons for your meal preps if you want to prepare ready-to-use sauces!
Snacks in a Can
Believe it or not, some delicious snacks are found in a can! Yes, you read that, right! Roasted chickpeas, for example, are a great afternoon snack that can be found in a can.
You can roast them in the oven, or even make hummus. Drain and rinse a can of chickpeas, saving two tablespoons of the liquid in the can. Puree the chickpeas and the liquid with two tablespoons of tahini, three tablespoons of olive oil, two garlic cloves, and salt to taste!
That Gourmet Twist
Stay-in movie nights call for popcorn! You can give microwave popcorn a gourmet twist in many different ways. If you’re feeling fancy, you can add some herbed olive oil and toss taco seasoning or garlic powder and rosemary. Topping off the treat with dill and lemon zest.
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you can drizzle some chocolate on the popcorn and enjoy yourself a sweet-savory snack. The perfect popcorn for an at-home movie night.
Peel Ginger With a Spoon
Ginger is basically nature’s medicine. Not only does it have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, but it also helps soothe tummy aches and muscle soreness. If you’re in the mood for a cup of tea, simply add a few slices of the root plant to your piping hot cup.
No need to worry if you prefer your ginger skinless. Since the peel is fairly thin, all you have to do is scrape a metal spoon down the side and around the tricky round edges to flake the skin away.
Checking the Oil
It’s a pretty common mistake to put our ingredients into the frying pan before the oil is even ready. In fact, it has probably happened to all of us at some point or another. For the best results, though, it’s important to make sure the oil is piping hot before cooking.
No, we’re not telling you to touch the oil — please don’t — but it’s a lot easier than you think to check. Just stick a wooden spoon or ladle into the pot of oil. If the oil begins to bubble around the wood, then you’re ready to go!
So, you’re craving pizza but you’re sick of ordering take out and the frozen stuff just doesn’t cut it. Not to worry! We’ve got the perfect and most simple recipe for tasty homemade pizza dough.
Just take a cup of greek yogurt and mix that with a cup of self-rising flour. There you have it — that’s the recipe! All you have to do now is add some tomato sauce, cheese, and any toppings of your choice. How easy is that?!
Preventing Oil Splatters
There’s no denying that fried food is absolutely mouthwatering. Still, frying food in hot oil comes with the price of dealing with hot splatters of oil constantly jumping out.
While you can use a splatter shield to prevent yourself from getting burned, another option is to just sprinkle a bit of flour or salt in the hot oil when it starts to bubble. These two ingredients are able to absorb moisture from food, which will ultimately prevent splashing.
Bake a Cake in a Mug!
While baking can be a fun thing to do, it’s not always the most time-efficient…and neither are cravings for that matter. So, what exactly are you supposed to do when you’ve suddenly gotten the craving for cake but you just can’t be bothered to bake?
Simply coat a mug with nonstick spray, crack an egg inside, and whisk. Then, stir in ¼ cup nut butter or Nutella and microwave for 60 seconds for a tasty dessert! Perhaps this isn’t an everyday solution but it definitely works in the moment!
Easy-Peel Trick for Garlic
Garlic is a staple of any yummy recipe. Get past the hassle of peeling garlic by following these steps — (1) remove all the cloves from the garlic head and place them on a cutting board, (2) take a chef’s knife and place the blade down flat on the cloves.
(3) Make your hand into a fist and carefully apply pressure to the blade, (4) carefully whack each clove with the flat side of the blade until the skin starts popping off the cloves. If you’ve done it right, the skin will peel right off!