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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.

Today I’m sharing with you kitchen hacks that took me decades to learn! (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

Cheddar Basil Parmesan Toasts

Cheddar Basil Parmesan Toasts Social
I came up with these Cheddar Basil Parmesan Toasts one day when I just had to have some toasty warm, cheesy bread! They turned out delicious!

Cheddar Basil Parmesan Toasts Social

It all started at Kroger…and I was hungry. Carbs never seem more appetizing than when your stomach is running on empty, amiright?

Salivating, I perused the bakery shelves with their crispy asiago bread and four cheese Italian loaf. But those darn loaves of bread were $4! All I could think was, this is cheap old white flour and water! And I could make it myself, had I the time and inclination (which I certainly did not).

I moved on to the clearance bread rack and found a yummy looking (yet somewhat boring) multigrain loaf for only $1.49. Bingo!

Multigrain Loaf for Cheddar Basil Parmesan Toasts

When I got the bread home, I sliced it into 1/4 inch pieces.

I laid the bread slices in a small pan (leave a little space between each slice for crispier results).

I put a few pieces of white cheddar cracker barrel cheese on top of each slice of bread. (This cheese is seriously awesome Рanother blogger recommended using it in her Creamy Dreamy Mac N Cheese recipe and she was totally right about it!)

Then I grabbed some fresh basil leaves from my little herb garden on my back porch (herbs are pretty much the only thing I can get to grow. ūüôĀ ).

Basil Parmesan Toasts

I ripped my basil up really small and covered every square inch of that bread and cheese with it.

Next, I topped it all off with some shaved¬†parmesan I bought in a giant container from Costco. ‘Cause I’m super fancy like that. You want something to hold the basil on and something to protect it from the broiler.

Cheddar Basil Parmesan Toasts with shaved parmesan from Costco

Which brings me to baking instructions…

Cheddar Basil Parmesan Toasts
Leave a little more space than this between slices- this was my second batch and it was not as crispy as the first. I think I overcrowded the pan.

Set your oven to high broil, and leave your rack in the middle. I ALWAYS burn things when I try to broil them, but this method did not fail me.

Four minutes on high broil did the trick perfectly! The cheese was bubbling all over, some had run over the sides and crisped up ever so slightly, and it was all just pure perfection.

The minute I took the pan out of the oven, my four year old bloodhound daughter perked up her nose. Sniffing, she said, “Something smells delicious! What’s that Mommy; can I have some?”

Begrudgingly, I shared.

It wasn’t long before the 2 year old came in and Big Sis¬†had to flaunt her basil parmesan toast, “Look what I have!!”. Grr…

Needless to say, I had to make a second batch! But that was ok – hubby got to enjoy some too!

To recap the instructions:

Layer:

Slice of bread

Slices of Cracker Barrel White Cheddar cheese (one or two per slice of bread, just make sure bread is covered end to end)

Ripped Basil (Be generous! I used a leaf or two on every slice)

Shaved parmesan (just enough to cover basil)

Broil 4 minutes on middle rack.

Enjoy!

This makes a great, cheap side or appetizer that just might impress your guests!

I was going to sprinkle some garlic powder on these babies, too. Because garlic makes everything taste better! But I forgot, and was surprised to realize I didn’t miss it at all.

Try it and let me know what you think! Try different cheeses, try garlic and chive, whatever sounds good to you! Whatever yummy creation you come up with, report back to me!

And don’t forget to pin it for later!

Delicious, quick and easy cheddar basil parmesan toasts!

Retail Therapy At Groupon Goods

Retail Therapy At Groupon Goods
DISCLOSURE:  This is a sponsored post. All opinions are mine.
Retail Therapy At Groupon Goods
Groupon Goods and retail therapy go hand in hand. I LOVE Groupon for restaurant deals – we pretty much never eat out unless we’ve checked Groupon first. But I often forget there’s Groupon Goods, too! And you can find tons of great deals there, possibly on stuff you actually need and don’t just want!
When comparing Amazon and Groupon Goods, I find that Groupon actually beats Amazon’s prices quite often! Take the hairbrush below, for example. Best. Hairbrush. Ever. I have one of these in blue for my girls. I am thinking I paid around $10 for mine, but on Groupon Goods, they’re only $7.99. Amazon’s lowest price right now is $8.49.
(Side note: I highly recommend this brush if you have little girls with sensitive heads. Everyone in my local Moms Club said, “Buy this brush! It’s the best!”. I was dubious, but I was also desperate, so I bought it. This brush really gets out all the snags with no tears! Of course, detangling spray helps, too! Check out my recent post, Hairstyles for Little Girls That Actually Stay In!¬†to help avoid those snags in the first place!)
Groupon Goods : Wet brush - best hairbrush ever!
At Groupon Goods, you can also buy a camera…
Groupon Goods - Canon DSLR camera
You might find a new phone charger, too,¬†for when you accidentally step on yours and break it after hubby told you a million times, “You’re going to break your charging cord, if you keep leaving it on the floor.” Pshaw.
Groupon Goods - Phone Charger
On Groupon Goods, you can even find some cute, fashionable earrings.¬†Retail Therapy at its finest, here! Things you didn’t need until you saw them!
Groupon Goods - Pearl Earrings
Often, when you buy through Groupon Goods, items are shipped automatically, no need to redeem a promo code!
So next time you need some retail therapy, check out Groupon Goods. You can find some great deals there!
You can follow Groupon here:
 
 
And here: 

10 Ways I Dress My Kids Super Cute and Super Cheap!

10 Ways I Dress My Kids Super Cute and Super Cheap!

10 Ways I Dress My Kids Super Cute and Super Cheap!

10 Ways I Dress My Kids Super Cute and Super Cheap!” is a post I wrote to add to a prompt-based weekly linkup. I got excited when I saw the writing prompt, because this is MY THING. My forte. My jam, if you will. If I’m proficient at anything, it’s saving money. And my kids always look cute, I’m telling you! This is no lie, and I spend so very little on their outfits. Today I am sharing my ‘professional’ tips with you! And as cheap as I am, I’m sharing these tips for free. Gasp!

  1. I shop at yard sales. Duh. I’m not an avid shopper (anymore) but I still hit plenty of sales- enough to clothe my daughters for a year or more.
  2. I plan ahead. So what if my daughter is not in a size 6 yet? If I see a super cute shirt in brand new shape for only 50 cents, I’m going to snatch it up. She will wear it in a year or two.
  3. I buy multiple sizes. I know, without a doubt, my daughters will need snow boots come Wintertime. The unknown factor is size. I can do my best to guesstimate, but growth spurts are curve balls. Regardless, if I find a great pair of Stride Right boots for $2, I will grab those babies up faster than you can say “snow day!”. And if I find another pair in a bigger or smaller size, I’ll grab them, too. Because now, for under $5 I have two great pairs of boots, and surely one will fit. That is still cheaper than any retail sale! And better quality boots, too, than if I ended up running to Wal-Mart at the first hint of snowflakes falling from the sky.
  4. I get excited when I come across Fill-A-Bag Sales. Do you know how much stuff you can shove in a bag for only $5? One summer, I hit the jackpot and got sooo many cute sundresses for my little girl! I notice towards the end of a yard sale, people are more likely to offer fill-a-bag, or churches sometimes on the second day of their rummage sale.
  5. I buy multiple seasons of clothes.¬†Knowing which season for which size is tough with babies, especially. You never know how big your baby will be, or how fast they will grow. So with my newborns, I bought both warm and cold weather clothes in different sizes. You can always use those short-sleeved onesies as undershirts, if nothing else. At 50 cents apiece (my optimal buy price), if something doesn’t get used, or is only worn once, I’m still saving money when one outfit usually costs a minimum $10-$15 ¬†at the store!
  6. I accept hand-me-downs. This doesn’t happen¬†often¬†since my friends have kids that are my kids ages, but I also accept hand-me-downs for myself!! ūüėČ If we need specialized items like ballet leotards or tap shoes, I’ll ask friends or¬†my¬†MOMS club¬†if I can buy their older daughter’s outgrown dance items. Sometimes they just give it away, and my daughters can play dress up if nothing else! I think we’ve bought only one leotard and one pair of ballet shoes brand new since the beginning of my daughter’s two years dance ‘career’. Not too shabby!
  7. I keep an eye out for¬†Consignment Sales in the area. And sign up to be notified of the next sale, if that’s an option. In my opinion, consignment sales are sometimes expensive. This is where, though, if you really need something, you have a better chance of finding it. The Winter boots you need may be $6 instead of $2, but still cheaper than the mall.
  8. Secondhand¬†stores are always an option, too. Definitely the most expensive way to save, lol, but again, if you really need something, you will probably find it there! You’ll at least score name brand items for Wal-Mart prices.
  9. Ask for clothes at Christmas or birthdays. If I find that my girls don’t have enough leggings, or something specific, like plain colored shirts, I ask my mom. ūüôā She is always happy to buy adorable little girl clothes and they make a great gift, rather than¬†more toys to¬†organize and pick up!
  10. Sign up for e-mail notifications of sale events at your favorite kids retail store. And then never open the e-mails. Seriously. Open them, and you’ll be sucked in. But when you want to splurge, or need something in particular…the promo codes will be there. Look for a clearance sale- you can even find in-season clothes on clearance. Wait until they offer an extra percentage off clearance and that’s your ticket to shop. I went a little crazy at Oshkosh last year around Christmas, buying my girls adorable matching outfits, sweaters, and dresses. But I still only spent $100, and they made great Christmas presents. ūüôā
10 Ways I Dress My Kids Super Cute and Super Cheap!
My girls in cute outfits from yard sales- my oldest is wearing a nice Gymboree top I paid a dollar for!

Bonus tip!: Make sure you sign up for a cash back program like Ebates, or Shop At Home. So when you do shop online, you will get cash back! Just be sure to start at the Ebates or Shop At Home website, and they will track what you spend so you’re credited for it in your account.

(If you sign up for Ebates with my referral link, we’ll both get $10¬†deposited in our account!)

My kids always look nice, except maybe when we play out in the yard. And even then, they’re decent. Nicely combed hair helps, and a clean face. Our holiday outfits almost always come from yard sales or consignment sales. That is an awesome¬†thing to score, since your kid and the kid before that will likely only wear it once or twice. So your kids’ clothes may be last season, or the season before that. Your friends won’t see it on the shelf next time they’re at Gymboree or Carter’s. As long as it is decent and clean, who cares?¬†I’d rather have more money for vacation or eating out than spending $30 on a dress my daughter will wear once and stain.

How do you save on your kids clothes? Did I miss any stellar tips?

 

I added this post to the Share The Wealth Link-up. Click the button below to check it out!

Fun Money Mom