The kitchen can be a space that brings comfort to some individuals, while it can cause anxiety to others. Some people find solace in cooking and use it as a form of relaxation or distraction from daily stressors. However, others may feel overwhelmed when they step into the kitchen. It’s perfectly alright to identify with either type of person, as there’s no pressure to be a Michelin-starred chef. Nevertheless, possessing some basic culinary skills can be helpful regardless of one’s lifestyle, whether you’re a recent college graduate or a busy parent feeding a family. Here are some tips and tricks that can benefit everyone in the kitchen.
Freezing Your Fresh Herbs
Fresh herbs are well-known for their benefits in cooking, however, their short shelf-life often means that they are not included in our weekly shopping. Fortunately, this tip allows you to obtain fresh herbs without the need to discard them within a few days.
To maintain the freshness of your herbs, you can consider freezing them. This can be done by filling an ice-cube tray with the chopped herbs and covering them with some olive oil. Afterwards, place the tray in the freezer. When you’re ready to cook, add a frozen cube into the dish for some additional taste boost.
How to Restore Stale Bread
Stale bread can be disappointing, but what if you don’t have the opportunity to purchase a new loaf? In that case, it seems like you might be forced to settle for a baguette that’s past its prime. But don’t worry, there could be a solution!
You can make your bread crispy and fresh by following these steps: moisten the bread by running it under some water and then bake it for 5 to 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can wrap the bread in a damp paper towel and bake it. This small trick will allow you to enjoy bread that tastes like it was just baked!
Eggs can typically remain fresh for three to five weeks when they are stored correctly. However, it is advisable to err on the side of caution. Nobody wants to encounter a spoiled egg while preparing food.
To prevent this from occurring, place the egg in a big bowl or glass of cold water. If it sinks, it is safe to use. However, if it floats, discard it and purchase new eggs.
Fricky, Fricky Fresh
Birthday cakes are enjoyable and delicious, but their appeal diminishes over time. After the celebration is over and the guests have departed, you’re typically left with a substantial portion of the cake that will go uneaten and sit neglected on the kitchen counter for days.
No need to worry. It is surprising how long a cake can stay fresh. Here is a helpful hint – to prevent the cut sides of the cake from becoming stale, attach a piece of bread to each side using a toothpick. This will maintain the freshness and moisture of your cake.
Some Suga for My Suga
Have you ever experienced discovering that your sugar has solidified into a brick when you try to use it? This could be inconvenient if you require it for a recipe or if you want to add it to your coffee. Fortunately, we have a solution for you! To ensure that your brown sugar remains soft, include an orange peel together with the sugar in an airtight container.
To quickly solve the problem, place the sugar in a container that is safe to be put in the microwave, and heat it together with a small glass of water for a few seconds. The humidity in the microwave will assist in making the sugar less compact.
Multi-Purpose Dental Floss
Although we don’t want to sound like a dentist, we advise you to begin flossing if you haven’t already. If you follow a flossing routine, you most likely have some lying around, which can surprisingly have various uses in the kitchen. Wondering how?
Dental floss can be useful for cutting various items such as soft foods like cheese or even slicing a large cake, especially if you cannot find or do not want to use a big knife. However, it may be advantageous to select the unflavored floss for such scenarios.
Measuring Honey With Ease
Although honey is commonly known for its sweetness, it can be troublesome to cook with due to its sticky consistency. Handling sticky ingredients like honey during the measurement process can also be a messy and time-consuming task. However, there is a quick and easy solution to this problem that can help prevent the honey from sticking.
To make it easier to pour honey and prevent wasting it, consider spraying a little Pam or spreading some vegetable oil on the measuring cup or spoon beforehand.
Pancakes Without the Mess
It’s a Saturday morning and your children are craving some delicious chocolate chip pancakes. Although making them is simple, you’re already dreading the cleaning process. Luckily, we have a solution for you – you can use a ziplock bag or pastry bag to mix your pancake batter.
If you don’t have a pastry bag, you can make a small cut in the corner of the plastic bag to create fun shapes for your kids. By doing this, you’ll have less mess to clean up too.
If you are a regular individual, you consider coffee to be a necessary part of your morning routine. On occasions, a refreshing iced coffee can be very satisfying, especially during a hot day. However, when the ice cubes melt, they weaken the intense flavor that we prefer.
In case you frequently face this issue, you can consider making coffee ice cubes to solve it. This way, your iced coffee won’t be weak and bland anymore. Additionally, you can use these ice cubes to lower the temperature of a boiling hot cup of coffee without diluting its taste.
‘Eggstracting’ the Shell
Opening an egg into a bowl can be ruined if small fragments of the shell accidentally get mixed with the yolk and white. Usually, we attempt to remove them by using utensils such as forks, spoons, or our hands.
Instead of spending a lot of time trying to collect all the tiny pieces from the bowl, just rinse your fingers in cold water. This is a straightforward solution that will help you pick up the shell fragments quickly and easily.
Special Blend of Herbs & Spices
As previously mentioned, there are ways to retain the freshness of herbs and avoid disposing of them after a short period of time. If you’re not interested in freezing them, you may attempt this alternative, which involves microwaving them to dry them out.
To completely dry them, all you need to do is put them in for twenty-second increments and flip them over. Afterward, you can make your own special blend of herbs by crushing them up.
Swift Slicing Trick
Cherry tomatoes are incredibly tasty, but they can be difficult to cut. However, an easy solution when preparing a salad and needing to slice several tomatoes in half is to place them between two plates and cut through them with a knife.
To become proficient in this skill, you may require some repetition, experimentation, and a little bit of tolerance. However, once you have perfected it, you will be able to slice a significant amount of them with just one smooth cut. This technique also works with grapes.
Lazy Man’s Whipped Cream
If you have the necessary tools, making whipped cream is quite easy. It’s recommended to use a plastic bowl and a handheld mixer for best results. However, if a mixer is unavailable, using a whisk is still an option, although it requires considerable time and effort.
Fortunately, we have a solution that can come in handy! All you need to do is add a sufficient amount of thick cream into a sizable mason jar, seal it tightly, and shake it vigorously. In a few minutes, you’ll have successfully whipped the cream to a fluffy consistency. Impressive, isn’t it?
Easily Poached Eggs
Cooking eggs is generally easy, but poaching eggs can be a little daunting as it requires more expertise than making an omelet or fried egg. Fortunately, by using this approach, you will witness a remarkable difference in your life.
All you need to do is break the eggs into plastic bags made of high-quality material with a melting point of at least 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, simply place the bags in boiling water for a few minutes before removing them. However, the challenging aspect of this method is extracting the poached eggs from the bags without causing them to break.
The Magic of Ripening
Sometimes it can be disappointing when you have a strong desire for a fruit that is still unripe. This situation is common for everyone. However, there is no need to worry too much. You can easily accelerate the ripening process of stubborn fruits, like avocados, bananas, and peaches, by placing them in a paper bag.
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!