It’s almost as if some people were born in the kitchen. When you visit their home for dinner parties, everything is always utterly perfect. The fish is baked just the right way, the potatoes have exactly the right amount of butter and the apple pie literally melts in your mouth. They just instinctively know the best ways to package meats, if the milk tastes sour and how to freeze anything and everything and have it still taste fresh two weeks later. However, for the rest of us, we can always use a little bit of help in the kitchen, especially when these tips can save us time, energy and yes, perhaps even tears. You can utilize these fun, helpful hints anytime you need that extra boost to create a great meal, or to even be sure that there are plenty of snacks ready and waiting for a family on the go!
Are you one of those people who long for the ultimate hash browns? Yes, you know the kind… they are crispy around the edges and soft in the center, making it nearly impossible not to eat every single bite. But unless you are at a restaurant or a delicious roadside dinner, how do you get those wonderfully shaped, super tasty hash browns? It’s actually really simple if you own a waffle maker.
Pre-heat the waffle iron somewhere between medium and high heat. Then take a large mixing bowl and shake the potatoes with salt and pepper, along with any other ingredients that you may like to add, like bacon, cheese or peppers. (You can get really creative here, and add breakfast meats or even scrambled eggs!) Pour a decent amount into the waffle iron and cook for about four or five minutes. Open, and you will see perfect hash browns, easily divided into fourths or halves.
Bananas are a delicious, healthy treat that can be easily tossed into a lunch bag, used in recipes and kept as a decorative snack in your kitchen fruit bowl. They are also fairly cheap, especially as far as some of the more expensive fruits go. Bananas are typically bought by the pound, and supermarkets are constantly having sales. In fact, many stores typically even offer a deeply discounted price per pound on a particular week day, like “Banana Tuesdays”, where prices can dip down to the likes of $.39 a pound.
So when you purchase bananas, and especially when you buy them in bulk due to a good sale, it’s nice to be able to keep them around as long as possible. Bananas can spoil fairly quickly, especially if they are already pretty ripe when purchased. Sometimes they are only good for three or four days. However, there is a wonderful way to get more life out of your bananas! Take a sheet of plastic wrap and wind it tightly around the stem of the bananas and where the fruit actually connects to the stem. This can often give you a few more days to enjoy your favorite fruit!
When I first heard someone mention that cutting onions made them cry, I thought that it was surely some kind of joke, or maybe even a phrase that people used that actually meant something else. However, upon my very first time slicing up onions, I discovered that onions most certainly made me cry, as they seem to do with most other people, as well.
However, there is a simple way to add onions into your favorite recipe without sobbing in the kitchen. Simply place your cutting board on your stovetop, while it is turned off and the burners are cool. Next, turn on the exhaust fan above the stove and begin to cut the onions. The fan that blows down will stop the chemicals (known as syn-propanethial-S-oxide) that are released from cut onions from reaching your eyes, avoiding the stimulation of the lachrymal glands, which release tears.
Eggs seem to be a constant source of confusion in the kitchen. The little stamped dates on the carton are often so light that they are hard to read, and even when they can be deciphered, there’s always that little nagging thought that causes us to question if they are still “good”. Some people can tell when they are cracked by the smell, but most of us don’t have such highly trained kitchen noses. Also, what if we plan on boiling the eggs? It would definitely be wise to ensure that they aren’t spoiled before going through all the trouble.
And you guessed it! There is a perfectly simple way to be certain whether eggs are in fact spoiled or ready to be fried, scrambled or boiled. Take a glass and fill it about three-quarters of the way to the top. Drop the egg in slowly. If the egg floats to the top, then it is spoiled. If it sinks to the bottom, then it is fresh.
There was a huge craze a few years back with baking bread at home. Bread makers were found in every big box store, and they seemed to be on everyone’s Christmas list. Sadly, most of these bread makers ended up in a storage closet or in a summer yard sale, and the biggest complaint was that baking bread in a machine was nowhere near as wonderful as baking it right in your conventional oven.
This being said, people all over the globe love to bake fresh bread right in their own kitchen, rather than opting to purchase the standard loaves of bread that make most people think about school lunches. However, some people don’t like the hard edges of a baked bread, but of course, there is a solution for that. After baking a loaf in the oven, wrap it immediately in aluminum foil. When taken out, it will be just as soft as store-bought bread, but much tastier!
Almost everyone loves ice cream. However, some people can’t eat dairy products, or perhaps they are just looking for a healthier alternative. In a world full of expensive smoothies at the mall and a Starbucks seemingly on every corner, sometimes it’s also just nice to make something at home the old-fashioned way. It’s a fun activity, plus it can definitely save you a bit of money.
So head to your local supermarket or corner fruit stand and purchase baby bananas. Next, peel them and pop them in the freezer for a while. Once they are frozen, place them in a food processor, mixer or a large bowl. Next, you can add whatever types of other fruits that you would like, or you can drizzle in flavored syrups, or even add nuts or candies. Then you can blend, and experience a tasty, refreshing treat… perfect for a hot summer day in the shade.
Chocolate chip cookies may be one of America’s favorite treats, temping everyone to indulge in their sweetness. Cookies are also easy to make at home, and they can provide an inexpensive, fun treat. However, if you want to get a little ritzy with your cookies, there’s no need to spend a small fortune on expensive ingredients. Simply buy a few of your favorite candy bars and place them in a ziplock bag. Next, bang the bag with a spoon until the candy bars are crushed into small pieces. Finally, substitute these candy bits for chocolate chips in your favorite cookie recipe.
Everyone seems to have a fast way to make bacon, even though many still stick to frying it in a pan, which has now almost become the “old-fashioned” way. Even popping it into the microwave seems to be a favorite amongst busy folks in the morning. However, the waffle iron may again come into play with this favorite breakfast staple. That’s right! Simply place the bacon on the iron and cook to your desired crispness, but typically about two minutes on each side. This works especially well with turkey bacon!
So we have all been there… standing in the kitchen half-way through a recipe before we realize that we are all out of eggs. Of course, we could always borrow from a neighbor, but times have changed a bit from when most people would simply run next door for a cup of sugar. Plus, what if you’re watching what you eat, and you’re trying to avoid eggs? What do you do when the need for an egg or two pops up in your favorite recipe? Well, the answer to both plights is applesauce. If a recipe requires one egg, just substitute the third cup of applesauce and you’ll be well on your way without a trip to the grocery store!
Did you know that you may be putting way too much work into getting your garlic ready for that pot of spaghetti or bowl of fettuccine alfredo? If you are peeling and cutting away at garlic for several minutes, then you are wasting way too much time on your kitchen preparations. Take the garlic and put it in a bowl. Next, grab another bowl about the same size and shake the garlic while inside both bowls. When you pull the bowls apart, you will find that the garlic is broken apart and ready to go.
If you have never had fresh corn, then you are really missing out. The taste is superb, and it is so much healthier than the kind that comes out of a can, along with its added sodium. Whether you grow it right at home in your own backyard garden or you purchase it locally from your favorite corner fruit stand, some people still don’t like the idea of the additional time to shuck the corn, which means removing it from its husk. However, there is a time-saving solution. Microwave each ear of corn for about four minutes, and then carefully cut off just the bottom of the husk. The clean ear of corn will easily slide out.
Have you ever had leftovers that required backing in the oven, but you just didn’t want to go to all of the trouble to pull out a pan? Plus, not only would you need to find the pan, but you would also have to wash it afterwards. Well, you can easily bake a portion of leftover goodness right on a paper plate in a conventional oven. However, be sure not to use styrofoam or a toaster oven. How cool is that?
OK… we have all run home from the wine store in just enough time to open the door for guests, not allowing for ample time to cool our white wine. If you’re ready to consume right away, rather than water the wine down with ice cubes and take the risk of looking a bit tacky, always keep grapes in the freezer. Not only will frozen grapes cool the wine, but it will also add a fancy touch to the drinks, as well. In fact, you might even start adding grapes to all of your wine!
Since breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it only stands to reason that sometimes a little extra thought should be put into it. Plus, eating the same thing morning after morning can get a little old. But never fear! You can make a new breakfast treat with bacon and pancake batter. Simply place the bacon in the skillet, and then pour the pancake batter directly over the bacon, creating a one-piece bacon and pancake surprise!
Sometimes we need something in a hurry. Maybe friends are coming over for dinner and that rush-hour traffic slowed you down, or maybe you just forgot to set out the hard sticks of butter. If you need room temperature butter in a hurry, but you don’t want melted butter from the microwave, then there is a quick and easy fix. Simply use a cheese grater to grate the butter into slivers that will quickly acclimate to the temperature of the room. Plus, it also looks quite pretty!