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.)
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. 🙂
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. 😛
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!
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!
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. 😉