The Best Kitchen Hacks To Save You Time, Effort, Money, and Misery

My Best Kitchen Hacks!

Welcome to this compilation of my best kitchen hacks! I’ve been cooking and baking since I was a little girl, and I’ve learned a lot from my mom, a neighbor that let me cook with her, and my own personal experience since getting married. Let me share with you my decades of knowledge! (Two decades to be exact, but it is quality, not quantity that matters.)

My Best Kitchen Hacks!

Baking Muffins¬†Evenly – Only ended up with 11 muffins instead of 12? Fill any empty muffins cups with water to ensure even baking. So say my mom and grandma, anyway….could be family folklore, but I still do it every time. ūüôā

Boiling pasta¬†(etc.) – Place a wooden spoon across your pot and it won’t boil over. This is apparently scientific but only works if you do it before you run screaming to the stove because the contents of your pan¬†have already gone over the edge.

Oil/butter substitute for baking – Keep those¬†snack size¬†containers of unsweetened applesauce on hand.¬†Measure yours, but the ones I buy for my kids are¬†just about an exact 1/2 cup. That’s perfect for substituting in recipes that call for 1/2 cup of butter or oil. It may not be eco friendly, but it’s a lot better than opening a big jar only to have it go moldy in the fridge because you forgot about it. Not that I would ever do that.

Healthy Banana Substitute – Dislike banana but find it in EVERY healthy recipe? I knew I¬†wasn’t the only one! Cook a sweet potato in the microwave until soft and use that instead (equivalent amount- you may have to guesstimate). Applesauce will sometimes work, too. Or, pick a banana that’s on the greener side. They’re not as sweet and not as banana-y tasting. ūüėõ

Multitasking coffee grinder – Gave up on grinding your own coffee beans? Or upgraded to a new grinder? Keep that old extra grinder on hand to grind your own¬†spices. Or nuts, flax seeds, grains….

Make your own oat flour – Ever see a recipe calling for oat flour? My fav muffin recipe calls for it, but I’ve never once bought a bag of it. I grab my Ninja food processor bowl and toss in whatever kind of oats I have on hand. Whirl and pulse until fine. Voila!

Food Processor

Keep your cold foods¬†cold – Having a party and need to keep your salad¬†cold during the event? Put some ice in a bowl that’s slightly larger than whatever your salad (or other cold item is in). Nestle your bowl of salad into the larger bowl of ice and it should keep for longer! I also saw this idea on Pinterest –¬†How to Make an Ice Bowl. Great for serving shrimp, or chilling wines, maybe keeping fruit cold?

Rising Bread – Trying to master¬†homemade breads? Most recipes tell you to put your oven on warm to rise your bread, but¬†that doesn’t always work. My oven is still pretty hot on the warm setting and begins baking the bread prematurely! Instead, microwave a couple mugs of water until boiling. Stick the mugs in opposite corners of your microwave and put your bowl of dough in, covered with a light towel as usual. Close microwave and leave to rise – but occasionally check the warmth inside. You may need to remove the bread and reheat the mugs of water. Do NOT leave the bowl of dough inside when you microwave the water. Your towel might catch on fire. Not that I would know this from personal experience…

Stop¬†crying while chopping onions – Freeze onion briefly or refrigerate before chopping. This is scientific – look it up! You can also run under cold water but it’s not as effective.

Rotten Eggs – Not sure whether your eggs are still fresh? Play sink or float. Place your eggs in a bowl of cool water. If they sink they’re fresh; if they float they’re no good. (To remember which is which, remember – dead fish float to the top, and so do your dead rotten eggs. Ha!)

Save on Citrus Fruit¬†– Don’t you hate when a recipe calls just for citrus zest, no juice? Or vice versa? Next time, squeeze the juice from your citrus fruit and freeze the rind. Next time you just need the zest, you won’t have to waste a fresh lemon, lime, or orange!

Save On Citrus!

Another lemon tip – Enjoy having fresh lemon in your water? Or a slice in your tea? Slice up a couple lemons all at once, and freeze in a layer on a parchment paper lined pan. Or use my lazy man method –¬†line them up in a freezer bag and carry it as carefully as you can over to the freezer. Either way works! Next time you want a lemon slice or two for your drinks, grab one from your frozen stash!

Softer edge brownies – I don’t make brownies much anymore but I learned as a kid, it is best to grease the pan, not spray it. You have more control this way…brownies do NOT like greased edges and the cooking spray often gets on the sides of the pan whether you want it to or not. Also, bake at 25 degrees lower than the box calls for and a few minutes longer. The edges won’t get too crisp before the middle is done. It depends on your oven (and your pan) of course, but this tip helped us be able to stop throwing out concrete edged brownies.

No more grating on my nerves (or cheese)¬†– Let it be known that I HATE grating cheese or anything else. So one day, I had this brilliant idea (or, okay, I’m not gonna lie, maybe I saw it on the Food Network, I really don’t remember). Roughly chop up your bar of cheese and throw it in your food processor. Pulse until you have tiny little crumbles. Once it melts, no one is the wiser for your time saving method! You’re done in about 2 minutes as opposed to the hand-cramping hour it would normally be (give or take, ya know). This also works for zucchini! And¬†I sincerely doubt that anyone will care if you have zucchini crumbles instead of shreds¬†in your bread or muffins.

I hope you’ve found some of these kitchen hacks to be useful! I also have a coffee hack post,¬†How to Make Gourmet Coffee at Home¬†in which I share an easy way to quickly froth your own milk!

Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to share with your friends, so they can save time and misery too. ūüėČ

My best Kitchen Hacks to Save You Time, Effort, Money, And Misery

Laughable Labor Tales

Laughable Labor Tales

Laughable labor tales probably don’t exist¬†in most people’s opinions. Labor is many things…¬†It is painful, sometimes gross, always unpredictable. And there’s a wonderful reward at the end. But I think along the way, labor can have it’s funny moments, too!

Laughable Labor Tales

When I was younger and single, I always hated when women started yakking¬†about their labor experiences. It was boring and I couldn’t participate in the conversation. But now that I have my own labor stories, I fully embrace everyone’s tales! But I also prefer to hear about the¬†sweet moments, the laughable labor tales. I will never enjoy hearing the “How Long was your labor?” battle. One woman says she was in labor for 48 hours, and another still claims to have her beat at 92 hours. Since when was this a competition, ladies??? We were all miserable¬†and in pain, ok? We all lose!!! Lol!

Now that my rant is out of the way, let’s move on.¬†Who of you have ever seen the famous “I Love Lucy” episode where Lucy announces it is time to go to the hospital? Such hilarious chaos isn’t really that far-fetched. When it comes to going into labor, people tend to lose their cool.

This doesn’t describe me at all; how about you? Anyone in your family? Tell me your labor story in the comments below – I’d love to hear!

Today, I am going to share a collection of laughable labor tales I gathered from blogger friends. I will kick off the humor with my own funny labor stories!

Here is MY first labor story : 

With my first child, my water broke at home 3 days early on a Friday night. Just a trickle, not a gush – no big deal. I calmly called the hospital, “I think my water broke; should I come in?”. When¬†they said yes, I announced to hubby that¬†I was going to go take a shower and shave (Duh!). My husband scurried around getting things together and worrying about whether I’d ever finished packing my suitcase (the answer was no), but I was cool as a cucumber. I told him, “It’s a first baby – they always take a long time to come; don’t worry about it! Go make me something to eat.”

We pulled into the hospital parking lot as I was texting a friend to let her know that, “The time has come!”. Hubby went¬†to retrieve our suitcase from the trunk¬†and he locked the darn car with me still in it! He stood outside the car¬†holding our suitcase,¬†looking befuddled.

Next, as¬†it just so happened, the hospital doors we thought we were supposed to use after-hours were locked! I don’t know how many times I’d asked which doors to use and when. I’d asked¬†at the doctor’s office, we took the hospital tour, AND I had someone draw me a map. Yet, the doors were locked. It was truly the one thing I had worried about when it came to labor. Let me tell you, in case you’re concerned, hospitals are pretty safe places. It’s not easy to get in there once they start locking doors. We had to trek¬†all around the giant¬†parking lot until we found¬†someone who would let us in, but not before my pants were soaked with broken waters!

Newborn record of birth

My 2nd Funny Labor Tale! : (Yeah, would you believe I have two? We’re a funny couple, I guess.)

With my second labor, I thought I’d given hubby all sorts of clues that I was having contractions (again, on a Friday evening! What are the chances?). In fact, I’m pretty darn sure I came right out and said, “I think I’m having contractions”. The world will never know the true story. It’s merely my crystal clear memory against his fuzzy recollection.

But despite¬†having contractions, they weren’t very regular. So we¬†got ready for bed. Around midnight, I got up to shower and shave (Notice another trend?). I stepped out of the shower and snapped at my slumbering husband, “Are we going to the hospital or not?!?”. He was absolutely oblivious. In disbelief,¬†I exclaimed, “Well, why do you think I¬†got out of bed to take a shower??” as if that explained it all. Hahaha, oh my poor, poor hubby. After this bit of drama,¬†the¬†hospital sent¬†us home 4¬†hours later. Whereupon my water immediately broke in bed!

Back at the hospital,¬†hubby had the nerve to laugh as I kept nodding¬†off during my epidural, due to the sleeping pill they’d given me on our first visit when they were so sure I wasn’t in active labor. But who can sleep through contractions?? My eyes would close and my head would droop, but then I’d have a contraction and my head would pop right back up! I’m sure I did look hilarious…

Laughable Labor Tales - hubby sleeps while wife contracts

Both stories I’ve related were¬†definitely more funny than stressful! (Except for the hospital sending me home when I was most definitely in labor.)

I’m not sure if the following¬†women would have been content with boring stories, but they definitely had some funny circumstances surrounding their labor and births. Check out their stories below! (I can relate to the first one! Haha!)

Labor Tales - 2nd child

Nikki from Healing Mama Remedies :¬†My water broke at 3am. I shook my husband and said, “Honey, my water broke!”. He replied, “Okay”, so I thought he knew that it was time to go to the hospital. I started getting my stuff ready and still didn’t hear him get up! By the time everything was packed, he was still asleep! So I woke him again, saying, “My water broke; we have to go to the hospital!”. Later, he told me he heard me say, “I THINK my water broke”, so he didn’t see the need in getting up if I wasn’t sure. ūüėÄ

Hannah from Sunshine and Spoons¬†–¬†When I was in labor with my first, my brother-in-law called to see how things were going. I talked to him for a few minutes while stopping periodically to get through a contraction until a really bad one hit and I literally threw the phone at my husband because I was done talking. It wasn’t until later that I learned my brother-in-law had me on speaker phone at a church gathering (our small, family-like church) so everyone could get an update!

Another funny thing happened when I gave birth to my 3rd baby. We had two ultrasounds that predicted a boy, so when SHE was born, it was the shock of our lives! I seriously thought the doctor was joking until I saw her myself. When the nurse laid her on me, the first thing my baby girl did was pee on me, which I think was payback for calling her a boy for 4 months, lol!

Daisy¬†from Fertile Brains –¬†When my water broke, I was busy filling up my annual self-assessment (performance review) for work (It was 6:00 am and 9:00 am was the deadline). I actually called up my gyn and asked, “Can the baby wait for some more time?” LOL! I am not sure if it is funny or pathetic!

Bree¬†from Family As we Go –¬†The only thing funny to me was right when I pushed my baby out (and I didn’t know the sex). The midwife said, “Here’s your girl!” and then I looked down laughing, “No way, he’s got a little pee-pee! …¬†it was midnight, so I’m sure she was exhausted!

Tabitha from Love My Mom Life : My family was stressing me out so much during the transition phase, that the staff technically kicked them out. My father-in-law was so nervous that he kept peeking through the waiting area doors at the nurses. I was continually reminding my husband to quit hitting my bed with his foot during labor. He was pulling my iv every time! I also had a nurse tell me no way I needed to push because I was checked almost an hour before and I was only at 3cm then. She was really surprised when she checked and I was at 9!

Suzanne from Made Perfectly Imperfect – I was in horrible labor and my husband hadn’t had anything to eat. We stashed blow pops in our hospital bag, so he decided he would suck on one.¬†He was trying to open the bag while I was having a particularly bad contraction. All of a sudden, the bag exploded, sending blow pops everywhere! One hit¬†the doctor in the head and one landed right between my legs as if it were a treat waiting for the baby’s arrival. Everyone, including me, busted out laughing.
newborn
I hope you’ve enjoyed all these labor tales whether¬†you’re awaiting your first baby or aren’t having any more. Labor is painful and scary, but it can also be funny! Enjoy the experience if you can!
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Laughable Labor Tales

How to Make the BEST Zucchini Noodles Ever

Tips to make the best zucchini noodles ever!

Lately,¬†I’ve found myself repeatedly sharing with friends¬†how to make¬†the best zucchini noodles. Finally I thought to myself, why not just make a blog post about it?

Tips to make the best zucchini noodles ever!

We’re cutting back on grains, and with zucchini in season, it is the PERFECT time to be making zucchini noodles! I never expected “zoodles” to take the place of my beloved carb loaded pasta. BUT….I’ve found it to be a pretty delicious alternative.

If you don’t like zucchini, try these anyway. (I typically hate cooked/stir-fried/baked zucchini – yuck!!) Use my method, and these “noodles” will come out with a great texture very similar to pasta.

  1. Make your zucchini noodles. (I use a Pampered Chef spiralizer I bought from a friend. My Palermo brand one from Amazon broke after six uses. Spend a little more for better quality!)
  2. Put the zoodles in a colander and set it over a bowl.
  3. Salt the zoodles well.
  4. Let sit in fridge for several hours, the longer the better.
  5. Remove from fridge. You will see a lot of zucchini water in the bowl below!! Squeeze and pat zoodles dry with a paper towel or two.
  6. Grab a skillet and throw those zoodles right in there. I don’t even oil my pan, but you can if you think you need to. ¬†Saute over medium to medium-high heat for a few minutes. Just long enough to heat through and get a bit more water out.
  7. Add your sauce and Voila!

Follow these tips and you’re almost guaranteed to come out with the best zucchini noodles you’ve ever made!

So far, I’ve never managed to ruin my zoodles, not even once. Well, ok, I came close when I tried to make sauce and cook the zoodles at the same time in the same pan. (They were a bit chewy. So don’t do that.) So, I’ve either got the touch or these are pretty much fail proof! Try them and let me know!

Here are some of my fav zucchini noodle recipes I’ve made so far:

Zucchini Noodle bowl

Ginger Scallion and Egg Drop Bowl Zucchini Noodle Bowl¬†(If adding the zoodles to soup, I think they’re pretty much dump and go. No need to spend a lot of time getting the water out and saut√©ing since they’ll be going into broth.)

and…

delicious zucchini noodles with sesame ginger sauce

Zucchini Noodles with Sesame Ginger Sauce 

which go great with :

Asian Quinoa Meatballs to serve with zucchini noodles!

Asian Quinoa Meatballs

Just remember not¬†to saut√© the zucchini noodles in the same pan you’re making the sauce in. It¬†ruins any chance of great pasta-like texture. Go ahead and make both the sesame ginger sauce and the meatball sauce if you make those two dishes for dinner- you will probably need the extra sauce. I used almond butter in the sesame ginger sauce and we LOVE it that way!

You can also saut√© extra veggies along with your zoodles – bell peppers, mushrooms, super finely diced¬†carrots (I obliterate my carrots in the Ninja Master Prep¬†chopper bowl¬†– ain’t nobody got time for a cutting board! ūüėČ And unless the carrots are chopped tiny, they won’t cook fats enough.)

Good luck¬†making the best¬†zucchini noodles ever! I hope my tips help and are easy to follow! If not, let me know about it in the comments and I’ll do an edit just for you. ūüôā

Being a mother means…

Being a Mother Means...

My¬†observations on what being a mother means…

Being a Mother Means...

Being a mother means….

You forget what personal space is.

You eat cookies in the closet because you don’t want to share.

Sometimes the most unattainable dream is simply having 5 minutes of pure, blessed silence.

And if you ever get those 5 minutes of silence,¬†you’ll rue them when you see what havoc the kids have wreaked¬†in your absence .

You just might discover that you know every word to the most popular Disney songs….and you love belting them out!

The days of listening to grownup music are fading fast…because you either don’t want to explain the adult lyrics, or the demands for Disney songs (see above) are too overpowering.

A picture is worth a thousand words. Literally. Read your talkative four year old a book and you’ll find you can barely get past the first illustration…”What’s that? What’s he doing? Why is she wearing that? Where are they going? Is that a boy or a girl? Why are they carrying a backpack?”….

Dinner is quite possibly the most stressful time of your day – from making it, to eating it, and to cleaning up the mess afterwards.

You forget what your living room floor looks like.

You wear the same clothes until they get snot or poop on them to cut down on laundry.

Shopping becomes an Olympic Sport, involving intensive training (be quiet, don’t touch, stay with me, etc.), hard work, sweat, tears, and moving as rapidly¬†as you can to get down the aisle and out of the darn store.

Before kids,¬†you were young and carefree. Now you’re old and curmudgeonly, and your favorite word is, “No.”

Being a mother also means….

You don’t sleep in any more, even on weekends, but oh those early morning snuggles!

So many kisses and hugs. So. Many.

As frustrating as the plethora of toys in your house are….you can’t resist buying new ones you’re certain your kids will love and cherish forever (or at least a day or two).

Any time you need an excuse to stay home, you’ve got it, baby! Same goes for anytime you need an excuse to get OUT.

You’ll take personally¬†the¬†compliments directed at your little one…What an adorable little girl? Why thank you, I’m her personal stylist!

You’ll gain the utmost joy and pride in another person’s accomplishments…rolling over, taking steps, and peeing in the potty never seemed so miraculous and brilliant until now.

You’ll become a pro at terrorizing young children that are mean to your kids. Don’t worry about it; they have it coming to them.

Both rational and irrational fears will abound. No matter how rational you were before you had kids.

You may begin to wonder if you have an undiagnosed anxiety disorder. Or need anger management classes.

Your constant companions are surefire conversation starters. Great for making new friends!

For the next few years, you will live with the cutest little comedians you ever did see. Daily shows, free admission, just sweat and tears to get in!

You will hear the words, “I ‘lub’ you so much” and know that it is the truest, sweetest, purest form of love ever bestowed upon any human.

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