Monday, April 8, 2024
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64 Cooking Hacks

 I’m always searching to find new cooking hacks that will make cooking fun and easy.  I’ve compiled some of the most useful hacks I have found over the years below at will make you efficient in the kitchen and execute complex dishes flawlessly.

1. How often when you’re standing in the kitchen trying to cook a simple meal for the family, or reheating the leftovers do you have two bowls that both need heating up, yet only 1 ever fits in the microwave. You end up sitting there for 8 long minutes and then have to do the same again. You end up with a hot one and warm or cold one depending on time.

What can you do?

Get your two bowls as normal and place one in the microwave as you normally would. Get a mug and put inside the microwave next to the bowl and place the second bowl on top of the mug…. Problem solved.

 2. Think of all those times that you stood in the kitchen cracking your eggs into a bowl to make an omelette for lunch, only for that last horrible egg not to split right and you end up with little bits of shell in your lunch. You can either leave it and crunch on it later or spend half an hour trying to grab it with your fingers only to give up.

What can you do?

If you get one of the empty egg shells and use it to get the small piece of shell out you will find that for some unknown reason the shell is kind of attracted to the bigger shell and comes out right away…. Problem solved.

 3. When you wake up in the morning on a hot clammy summer day, but you need your morning coffee. You end up with the choice of having a normal hot coffee, which isn’t very refreshing on a hot day. Or end up diluting you’re your coffee with ice cubes.

What can you do?

Try smashing up Oreo and placing the bits in an ice cube tray. Fill it with cold coffee and freeze overnight. When you wake up drop a couple into your iced coffee. YUM… Problem solved.

 4. When the kids are out playing and come running in asking for an iced cream. You go in the freezer, take out that giant tub of three flavor iced cream and end up bending your spoons trying to get out a good size scoop for those cones. You either have to wait half an hour for it to soften or replace your spoons every time.

What can you do?

Try getting a large zip lock back and keep your tub of ice cream in it. Next time you take out of the freezer and remove it from the bag you will notice it is always slightly soft. No more bent spoons… Problem solved.

5. You’re standing in the kitchen cooking a nice romantic meal for your partner. You’re just about to add some nice herbs and you spot that your little bag of herbs has gone bad, and it’s a trip to the shop or use those horrid dry herbs you get in a jar.

What can you do?

When you first get your bag of herbs chop, then put them in an ice cube tray and cover with oil then freeze. The oil stops your herbs getting freezer burn and keeps them nice and fresh for when needed… Problem solved.

 6. You have a few friends around for a meal. It gets to desert time and you go in the cupboard and you suddenly realize that all you have is mixed up bowls that down match.

What can you do?

Try melting a big bar of chocolate and dipping blown up balloons in. When the chocolate hardens, pop the balloons and you’re left with beautiful bowls that go down a treat… Problem solved.

 7. When you go into your kitchen and do the washing up. You wipe down the sides and chopping boards. You get your cleaning spray out and clean away. But then the next time you go to make a sandwich it tastes funny because of the spray.

What can you do?

Try using salt and half a lemon. This kills the bacteria and lets you clean your chopping boards and you avoid the chemicals…Problem solved.

 8. If you’re anything like me, you will have a cupboard filled with random spice jars and nowhere else to keep them apart from dotted around your work tops

What can you do?

Try using an old CD rack. Most people have an old one lying around from the days before mp3 players. If not they are often a lot cheaper than actual spice racks and do the job perfectly… Problem solved.

 9. Picture it. It’s a hot summer day and you fancy a nice iced lolly. All you have in your freezer are those horrid little ice pops that taste like colored water. You can either go out, or spend load of money on 3 little lollies that are ok or you can suffer with the cheaper ice pops.

What can you do?

Best iced lollies I have ever tasted. Mix together and freeze and an iced lolly mold.

2 cups of whipped cream

1 cup of milk

6 tbsp. Nutella

You will never go back. Yum…Problem solved.

 10. I always get tooth ache and when I have a drink, I end up using a straw to help with the pain. It gets kind of embarrassing though when every 2 seconds the straw rises up from your can and pokes you in the face.

What can you do?

Try turning the little metal tab around and put your straw through the hole in the center of the tab. It stops you getting poked in the eye and you avoid the toothache… Problem solved.

 11. Let’s face it, on a roasting hot day when you’re out during the off day, the worst thing is carrying a lukewarm bottle of water around with you. We don’t always have the money to go into shops to keep buying nice cold ones.

What can you do?

Try filling a large bottle quarter of the way up and laying it down flat in your freezer. Next time your off out, fill it up and will stay cold on your trip out… Problem solved.

 12. So it’s breakfast time and there’s a decision to be made. Half the people you’re cooking for want bacon and the other half want pancakes.

What can you do?

Try cooking your bacon in the frying pan. When done pour over a little pancake mix and cook as normal. You’re now the proud maker of the bacon pancake. Pour over some syrup. Yum… Problem solved.

 13. How many times have you stood there in your kitchen holding that cookbook and the dreaded words separate the egg yolks appear. You end up getting horrible slimy fingers or end up not bothering and just going with the whole egg.

What can you do?

Try cracking your egg as normal into a bowl. Get a clean, empty bottle and place the top over the yolk and squeeze. The yolk will get sucked up into the end of the bottle ready to pop back where you need. No more slimy fingers… Problem solved.

 14. You wake up in the middle of the night with the sudden urge for a spot of cake. Or the kids have just had tea and want some desert but you have none in and no time to bake one.

What can you do?

A brownie in less than 2 minutes? Sounds like a plan.

Mix together in a cup until smooth, and then cook in the microwave for 1 minute 40 seconds. Yum.

¼ cup sugar

¼ cup flour

2 tbsp cocoa

Pinch salt

2 tbsp olive oil

3 tbsp water

Problem solved.

 15. When you’re standing in the kitchen trying to look all manly while cooking some dinner. You get to the onions and stand there with tears streaming down your face like a baby.

What can you do?

Chew gum while chopping onions it stops you from crying… Problem solved.

 16. Whenever I use a block of cheese or have a large cake, I go digging through the draw routing around for a knife I can use to get nice neat slices. The trouble is, the only thing I can ever find is the standard blunt butter knife.

What can you do?

Try using an unscented dental floss. It works a treat and a pack lasts ages. You can use it to slice up pretty much anything that isn’t too hard… Problem solved.

 17. Do you miss being able to make a decent toasted sandwich because all you currently have is the standard two slice toaster. The only thing you can think of is to toast two slices of bread, stick on some kind of filler and slap them both together.

What can you do?

Try making a sandwich as normal squashing the bread together and put the whole sandwich into one toaster slot. The result is a nice toasted sandwich that is still soft in the middle. Yum… Problem solved.

 18. I find it so annoying when you go out to the supermarket and you spend an hour picking up everything you need. You get to the till pack up and go home. As soon as you finish putting all your stuff away you realize that you have forgotten a few important things. You can either go back or go without.

What can you do?

Try taking a photo of the inside of your fridge so while you’re out shopping you can see what you have and what you don’t… Problem solved.

 19. We all do it, don’t we? We go out and buy a load of fresh fruit and veg and but the time we get round to actually eat them, half have gone bad. Bananas seem to be the worst.

What can you do?

Try wrapping some plastic wrap around the stem of the bananas and you will notice that this keeps them fresher for longer… Problem solved.

 20. I love a nice takeaway. You order a giant pizza for the family; there are a few pieces left in the morning and naturally you stick it in the microwave and reheat it for breakfast. When you take it out the crust is either rock solid or really chewy.

What can you do?

Try placing a glass of water in the microwave next to the pizza. The steam helps it stay soft but stops it going all chewy… Problem solved.

 21. I find it so irritating when you reheat food in the microwave and it’s steamy and feels hot, yet when you sit down to eat it half of it in the middle is still cold. You end up carrying on and pay for it the next day or pay another trip to the kitchen for round two. This usually results in dry burn food that goes in the bin.

What can you do?

Dig a hole in the middle of the food so you can see the plate. Now when it goes in the microwave it will heat nice an evenly… Problem solved.

 22. My kids love spaghetti and hotdogs, but sometimes and can get a little boring for them.

What can you do?

Try this little tip. Get the kids to help too. Chop up your hotdogs into quarters and pierce a few pieces of dry spaghetti through the middle and boil as normal. Mix in a little ketchup when done and sprinkle with cheese. The kids will love it… Problem solved.

 23. I always take a packed lunch to work but I like something different now and then so I’ll take a bagel. The problem is the filling always falls out. You end up with a bald bagel and bag of sandwich filler.

What can you do?

We all have those old CD spindles lying around. Give a clean out and it makes a great bagel holder. Yum… Problem solved.

24. Many of us out there turn into a bit of a clean freak now and then. I myself have been getting dirty hands, but I love nothing more than milk and Oreos. Problem is I hate getting all the mess on my fingers.

What can you do?

Use a fork in the middle of the Oreo. You get your treat with none of the miss… Problem solved.

 25. Do you ever pick up a pizza on the way from work only to find that it’s gone cold by the time you arrive home?

What can you do?

Try using your seat warmer. Most people don’t think of it but it works a treat… Problem solved.

 26. Do you remember that time you had the girls round for a movie, chat and a bottle of wine only to find that the corkscrew has gone missing. You end up spending half an hour trying to get the cork out and come to the solution that the only thing to do is push it in instead.

What can you do?

Try using a hammer and nail. Gently hammer the nail into the cork and then use the claw to pull it and the cork back out… Problem solved.

27. I think we have all ruined a few cook books haven’t we. We get a nice one for a Christmas and give it a whirl. Next minute you notice you have a grease of food marks all over the pages or something has splashed on the side and got the pages all wet.

What can you do?

Find and pants hanger with the clip on each side. It works great to hold a book and hang where you can use it… Problem solved.

 28. I love tacos. The problem is when you cook the shell and can’t get it the right shape. It’s either a flat circle or you fold it and it falls on its self. No good.

What can you do?

Try using a muffin tin. Turn it upside down and put your taco shells in the spaces. Spray with oil and cook at 375F for 10 minutes. Perfect… Problem solved.

 29. You wake up in the morning, go in the kitchen and boil a couple of eggs. You fancy some sliced egg or egg mayo with lunch but it takes forever to peel the shell of the egg.

What can you do?

Add a teaspoon of baking soda into the water before you start boiling your eggs. Now when it comes to peeling the shells off it will just seconds… Problem solved.

 30. A random thought. How do you eat a cupcake? If it’s a large one with butter cream all over the top you end up with quite a sickly taste after a while.

What can you do?

This is the right way to eat a cupcake. Slice it through the middle and place the bottom half of the cake into the top, to make a kind of which sandwich. You will never eat a cupcake the same way again… Problem solved.

 31. The thing that bugs me when I make pasta or boil potatoes is when the water boils over and leaves you with a big messy clean up job.

What can you do?

If you place a wooden spoon on the top of the pan as the water boils it stops the water ever boiling over… Problem solved.

 32. My kids love pancakes but it can be a bit of a pain making up the mixture every day and getting splatters over your side. You can either put the horrid readymade stuff or persist and clean up each time.

What can you do?

Try pouring your pancake mix into an empty large ketchup bottle. It will keep in the fridge and save all the mess than if you used a bowl and ladle… Problem solved.

33. It’s summer time and you have the family round for a BBQ. Everyone wants a different sauce and it’s a real pain trying to find somewhere for all those dips and bottles.

What can you do?

Use a muffin tin. Pour some of each condiment into the tin and leave by the BBQ. Now everyone has what they want on hand… Problem solved.

 34. Have you ever tried to remove the stem from a strawberry when making a desert? You either end up using a knife and wasting half of the fruit, or leaving it in there as a crunchy woody surprise.

What can you do?

Use a straw place it over the top of the stem and push down. Stem removed… Problem solved.

 35. It’s horrible when you wake up late for work. You rush to get ready and make a coffee. Just before you leave your coffee is still roasting and you have the choice to leave it and miss your caffeine fix, or water it down with a little cold water. Either way, your morning is ruined.

What can you do?

Try keeping some frozen black coffee in some ice cube trays. This way, if you’re ever in this situation again, you can cool down your coffee without watering it down… Problem solved.

 36. You and your partner have just put the kids to bed for a nice warm day. You settle down to have a glass of white wine only to discover you forgot to put it in the fridge. You can either water it down with an ice cube or take it warm.

What can you do?

Keep a bag of grapes in the freezer. No need to water that wine down. The grapes do a great job of cooling it… Problem solved.

 Last little food hack.

When you’re down to the last bit of Nutella in the jar. Don’t sit scraping away stick a dollop of ice cream in. Lovely little treat.

37. Prep Potatoes for a Crowd Easily.  I’m well known for making potato dishes around the holidays or for special events that will feed a huge crowd.  Instead of standing over my kitchen sink scrubbing 10 pounds of potatoes, I rinse them off in my dishwasher.  Here’s how you do it. 

Place your potatoes on the top rack only and turn the setting to the rinse cycle.  Don’t add any detergent and be sure to set the drying setting to “air dry’.  This is a super effective way to get your potatoes clean quickly.  You can also rinse off other root vegetables this way.

38. Create Clean Cuts.  The best way to create clean cuts on soft or crumbly food is to use unflavored dental floss.  You can cut clean, precise slices of cakes and brownies.  You can slice a sheet of cake horizontally to create an extra layer in your cake.  I’ve used floss to cut through cookie dough to make uniform pieces, as well as soft cheeses.

You can create perfect, straight slices when using it to cut through a log-shaped cookies, as well as cinnamon rolls. If you don’t have butcher’s twine when cooking a roast, you can substitute it with dental floss in a pinch. 

39. Make and Preserve Guacamole.  If you don’t have a fancy mortar and pestle to smash avocados when making guacamole, you can still make an amazing guacamole. Carve out the flesh of the avocados and place them into a bowl.  To get perfect avocado chunks for your guacamole, simply mash the avocado flesh with a hand held potato masher. 

Once you have made your guacamole and you want to save it for the next day, add it to a bowl that only has an inch or two of space between the top of the guacamole and top of the bowl.  Slowly add some water to the top and cover with plastic wrap.  The water won’t seep into the guac, but will prevent it from browning.  When you are ready to eat it, simply dump out the water on top and enjoy.

40. Remove Fat From Stews, Soups and Casseroles.  Take a couple of ice cubes and drop it into your stew, soup or casserole dish.  Fat globules will start to solidify on the top from the colder temperature.  Scoop out the extra fat and save on fat and calories.

41. Take the Bread out of Bread Crumbs.  If you are trying to eat gluten free, you can still enjoy “breaded” chicken.  Take some gluten free pretzels or some brown rice cereal, and place them in a food processor.  Hit the pulse button until the pretzels or cereal has a breadcrumb-like consistency. Shake and bake as normal, or coat the chicken with milk and egg, then add the crumb mixture and bake.

42. Prevent Bacon Shrinkage.  Ah, bacon! Yummy, delicious bacon!  Whether you cook bacon in the oven, stove top or microwave, you always end up with some shrinkage.  You can reduce shrinkage by up to 50% by rinsing the bacon off with cold water before cooking it. 

43. Cook Crispy, Bright, Flavorful Vegetables in Your Oven.  Say goodbye to dull, mushy vegetables that have completely lost their flavor.  Take any soft veggie, like asparagus, green beans or pea pods and cook them inside a head of lettuce.  This method has actually been used for years to create crispier, more vibrant vegetables in the oven. 

Slice a head of iceberg lettuce down the center.  Scoop out the leaves inside, so the halves retain its shape, but have a little pod for the veggies.  Add the veggies, put the head of lettuce back together again with the veggies inside and roast on a cookie sheet on 300F for 20 – 45 minutes.

44. Avoid Clumps in Brown Sugar.  The best way to keep brown sugar in your pantry from becoming hard and clumpy is to store it in an airtight container once it has been opened.  Then add a couple of marshmallows to the container to prevent any hardening or clumps.

A muffin tin can be used to serve the condiments at barbecues and parties. In addition to looking good, it helps you cut down on washing. Think twice before discarding your muffin tins next time.

45. You can easily pull out the egg shells from the egg in a bowl if you wet your fingers.

46. You can remove the stem of an avocado to see how ripe it is. If it appears yellowish, it is ripe; if it appears dark brown, it is overripe.

47. To make bananas last about 5 days longer, wrap their tops tightly in a plastic wrap.

48. Pour milk in an ice cube tray and add crushed cookies (or Oreos) in it to make cookie ice cubes.

49. Unscented dental floss can be used to easily cut or slice cakes, pastries, and other soft solid goods into perfect shapes.

50. Give more shape and designs to your pancakes by using cookie cutters.

51. When storing salad into a sealed bag, blow some air into it to ensure that it stays fresh longer.

52. When going grocery shopping, open your fridge and take a picture. Look at it before you leave the shop to make sure that you have not forgotten anything.

53. You can freeze grapes and use them to chill white wine. Unlike ice, the grapes will not water it down.

54. To keep ice-cream soft, put it in an airtight bag before storing it in the freezer. It won’t be spoon-bendingly hard when you take it out.

55. To prevent the pizza crust from getting chewy when microwaving it, put a glass of water along with it in the microwave when reheating it.

56. To keep the potatoes from budding, place an apple among them when storing them.

57. When cutting an onion, if you chew a chewing gum, your eyes will not burn or water.

58. To make sure that your cake stays soft and moist, put a slice of bread over it.

59. When boiling something, put a wooden spoon or stick over it to keep it from spilling.

60. When storing meat in plastic bags, section it evenly. It makes it easier to remove even sized pieces later.

61. If you wrap lettuce, celery, or broccoli in a foil when storing it in the fridge, it will stay crisp longer than usual.

62. To test the freshness of an egg, put it in a glass filled with water. If it floats, it is not fresh, throw it away. If it sinks to the bottom, it is fresh.

63. Instead of letting a sauce go to waste, put it in an ice cube tray and freeze it. Remove a cube and heat it when needed.

64. To easily peel garlic, smash it apart by applying pressure from the top. Then put it all inside a box and shake it. When you remove it, the garlic will be peeled.



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