When it comes to cooking, it is important to keep in mind that everyone started somewhere. Whether you are a total beginner or a seasoned home cook, here are 14 cooking hacks that will make you life easier in the kitchen.
1. Caramelized onions in only 10 minutes
While most recipes call for low heat and cooking time from 40 to 60 minutes to caramelize onions perfectly, you can use this trick to speed up the process if you’re lacking of time. Just add a pinch of baking soda to the oil and onions in the pan and they will caramelize way faster. These are soft, delicious and don’t turn into mush! Just give this hack a try!
(Picture by Oh My Veggies)
2. Keep pork chops from curling
If you’ve ever pan fried or seared pork chops, you know they can curl up a little. To fix this, just make a few small cuts in the ribbon of fat around the sides. It will prevent the chop from curling in the pan and cooking unevenly.
(Image courtesy of Williams Sonoma)
3. Speed up your smoothie routine
To make your smoothies even faster on busy mornings, cut and freeze everything you would want in your smoothie, excluding the liquid base. When your ingredients are frozen solid, you can pack them in zip-lock bags and return them to the freezer. Then you’ll just have to take out one smoothie freezer pack, blend all the ingredients in addition to your liquid base until smooth. You can also defrost the pack in the fridge the night before you make it.
(Photo credit: Just A Taste)
4. Freeze homemade pesto in mini muffin tins
To always have homemade pesto at hand, make a big batch and ladle pesto into each section of a muffin tin. Once frozen, you can pop them out of the tin and store them in a plastic bag in the freezer. Then when you’re headed to cook, just grab frozen pesto cubes and stir into hot pasta or toss with roasted potatoes. It can even be used as a sandwich spread or a tasty topping for pizza.
(Image credit: Oh my veggies)
5. Perfect cake frosting
The secret to perfect frosting cake is to apply a “crumb coat”. It’s a kind of frosting primer that will keep all those pesky crumbs from getting mixed up in the frosting. Apply this first coat, be careful around the edges, and let it chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before slabbing on a second layer of frosting. This second layer will spread easily, without going messy or tearing the cake apart.
(Picture courtesy of Baker by Nature)
6. Freeze eggs to keep them longer
To stock up on eggs when they are on sale or near their expiration date, freeze them! Just crack the eggs into a muffin tin, plastic egg crate or even ice cube trays (you can even separate whites and yolks first). Freeze until the eggs are frozen solid. Then transfer them to a Ziploc bag. They keep frozen for up to a year!
(Photo by D. Sauvage)
7. To make juicy BBQ kabobs, use wood skewers rather than metal
To make great juicy BBQ kabobs: Use bamboo or wood skewers rather than metal because the heat from a metal skewer can start cooking your meat from the inside, making you loose the juices and tenderness you might want to keep. Soak your wooden skewers in water at least 30 minutes so they don’t scorch or burn completely on the grill. Leave a little space between your meat cubes and veggies so your food grills perfectly on all sides.
(Image credit: Half Baked Harvest)
8. Make perfect pasta sauce
The secret to a great pasta sauce lies into the cooking water. Save a cup of pasta cooking water before you drain it, then add water to your sauce as needed. The starch in it will help the sauce adhere to pasta, making your dish creamier and more flavorful.
9. Reuse pie dough scraps
If you hate wasting food, here’s a good tip to reuse pie dough scraps: Use the scraps to roll out a mini shell dotted with butter and cinnamon sugar, then bake it; kids will love it! If it’s a savory dough, brush with melted butter, sprinkle with a little paprika, then bake off and use as croutons. Ultimately, you can freeze scraps of pie dough shaped into a ball. Thaw still wrapped in the fridge until it’s still pretty firm, then roll on a lightly floured surface as you would do with fresh dough.
10. Keep bacon from curling in the pan
To avoid “curly” bacon for breakfast, soak it in cold water for two minutes before frying it and dry well with paper towel.
11. Freeze fresh herbs in oil to keep them longer
To ensure that you always have fresh herbs at hand, whether they are in season or not, freeze them in oil. Take your herbs, give them a quick rinse under cold water and dry them well. Pick off any brown bits that look suspect and discard. Then chop ‘em up, and freeze them in an ice cube tray with olive oil or melted butter. When needed, throw your herbs in stews, pasta, potato dishes, roasts, or use them for grilling vegetables.
(Photo by A Beach Cottage)
12. Rub an onion on a BBQ grill grate to make it non-stick
To make your BBQ grill non-stick the whole season, all you need to do is cut an onion in half, dip it in a fat/oil of your choice, and rub it on the hot grill grate. It’s better than using a steal grill brush all the time, but if you do, just reapply the onion/oil combo.
(Photo via Williams-Sonoma)
13. Seal lemons in plastic bags in your refrigerator to keep them fresh and juicy
To keep lemons fresh and juicy for a whole month, seal in plastic bags and store them in your refrigerator. This will prevent them from drying up and you’ll be able to keep all their juice.
14. Clean a burn-blackened pan or pot
To clean a burn-blackened pan or pot, just fill the pan with water, and add 2 tablespoons baking soda per quart. Simmer 10 minutes, cover, and let soak off heat overnight. The black burnt residue should scrub off easily with a stiff brush.