10 Secret Kitchen Hacks

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I am always looking for ways to be more efficient in the kitchen and for ways to get things done quicker in the kitchen.  I mean lets face it, we are all busy and our schedules tend to get totally out of hand.  Right? I mean it does for me!  I just wanted to share with you a few things I have learned to help resolve time restraints and to correct mistakes when you are in hurry.  It never fails when I am busy; I will add too much salt to recipes; I will forget to chill that bottle of wine for dinner,  or I don’t have ripe bananas for that banana bread.  Hope you enjoy these kitchen hacks that make my life just a little bit better!

1. Quick Freeze for White Wine:

This is a hack which I have used several times.  Have you ever forgotten to chill that bottle of white wine and now dinner is almost ready?  Have no fear!  There is a hack for that.  Wrap the bottle of wine in a wet dish towel and place it the freezer.  In less than 20 minutes the towel will quickly freeze and drop the temperature of the wine to 50 degrees.  When you remove the bottle from the freezer, place the bottle briefly under warm water to release the towel. 

Noah wrapping apple cider in wet dish cloth.
When your grandson gets ready for bed during taping you film in pjs.

2. Boiling Eggs in the Microwave:

Are you looking for a quick way to make boiled eggs in the microwave? Yes you read that right – boiled eggs in the microwave. It’s very important for this hack that you have to add salt to your water. Otherwise, there is a very real chance your eggs could explode.   

Your steps to boiled eggs in the microwave:

Add 2 to 6 eggs in the bottom of a microwave safe bowl. Cover the eggs with water at least 1/2 inch above the eggs. Add a 1/2 teaspoon of salt for each egg you want to cook. For example: 1 teaspoon for 2 eggs and 3 teaspoons for 6 eggs. Microwave for 5 minutes for 2 eggs, 6 minutes for 4 eggs, 8 minutes for 6 eggs. Fill another bowl with ice and water or cold water. If you want soft boiled eggs with runny yolks, immediately remove the eggs from the water and plunge in a ice cold water. If you want hard boiled eggs, allow them to stay in the hot water for 2-3 additional minutes. Two minutes will give you just slightly creamy egg yolks. Three minutes will give you firm egg yolks.

3. Juicing Lemons the Easy Way:

Are you looking for an easy way to squeeze your lemons? Not only does this ingenious trick not require a knife, but it also saves you from wasting a whole lemon every time you want a splash of juice. So basically all you will be doing is rolling your lemon and poking a hole in it. Seriously, it’s that easy. This trick can be used on lemons, limes and any other type of ripe citrus.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Roll your lemon (or lime or orange) on the counter for about 15 to 20 seconds to loosen up the membranes.
  2. Using a skewer poke a hole in the non-stem end of the lemon.
  3. Squeeze out the juice to your heart’s content.
  4. Store the lemon in a zip-top bag in the refrigerator until you want to use it again.

No more dried-out refrigerator lemons!

My grandson, Clay, demonstrating the juicy lemon hack. He loves his different accents.

4. Easy slicing: 

Let’s face it, prepping food is not the most exciting element of cooking. Slicing and dicing can be boring and in my kitchen a little dangerous. Luckily, we have a super easy food hack that will help you slash your food prep time in half. Okay here it goes – just grab an egg slicer.  So many things can be cut with an egg slicer.  Strawberries, mushrooms, kiwi, avocados, olives, bananas and hotdogs. 

Looking for ways to make slicing easier.  When cutting olives, mushrooms, use you egg slicer.  If you are making nachos or another dish that requires lots of slices olives, individually cutting each olive can be time consuming.  An egg slicer speeds up the process. 

5. No More Greasy Hands:

Keep your hands clean while greasing a pan by using a plastic sandwich bag.  While wearing the bag like a glove, grease the pan.  When finished, remove the bag by turning it inside out and neatly discarding it.  No more messy paper towels! 

6. Rejuvenating Dried-Out Marshmallows:  

Marshmallows have a tendency to become hard and stale over time. To restore the freshness to the stale marshmallows, place the stale marshmallows and one slice of white sandwich bread in an airtight container.  After 24 hours, the marshmallows will be soft and ready for smacking or floating on hot chocolate.  Discard the bread.

7. Rescuing Salty Food:

Next time you over salt a soup, toss in a few wedges of raw apple or potato. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes and discard the wedges to get the flavor back to normal.

To get salt out of other recipes use a form of acid.  Lemon juice or vinegar—whatever the acid, it’s your saving grace. Use a squeeze of lemon or a drizzle of a mild vinegar to help mask some of the aggressive salt with a new flavor. Opt for something all-purpose like a white wine vinegar and don’t go overboard: you don’t want something that’s too salty and too sour.

8. Soften and Sweeten Bananas Super Fast

Why is it when you finally get around to fixing that banana bread or banana nut muffins, you never have any ripe bananas on hand?  Even if you run to the grocery store to find some, it is highly likely the bananas are green.  I have found a really quick way to brown bananas. Ripen a bunch in a flash by placing the bananas, in their peel, on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and putting in a preheated oven at 300 degrees for about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on size, until the skins are dark brown and the fruit is soft.

Additionally to ripen other fruits like apples, pears, peaches, kiwi, and avocados, you can speed up the process by ripening then in a paper bag. Ripening fruit gives off ethylene gas, and putting the fruit in a paper bag traps the gas near the fruit, causing it to ripen faster. This usually takes about 2 to 3 days depending on room temperature. 

9.  Peeling Potatoes Super Quick

Does anyone out there hate peeling potatoes besides me?  I feel I always waste so much of the potato when I am peeling them by hand!  So I found a way to de-skin them without stress.  All you need to peel a whole bushel of potatoes is a knife, a set of tongs, a pot of boiling water, and a bowl of ice water.

Step 1: Score Potatoes Around the Middle

Rinse and brush away any dirt and blemishes of the potatoes, then use a knife to carefully slice through the peel around the circumference of each potato. Just slice past the skin, but be careful to not cut too  deep because you want to save  as much of the flesh as you can for your recipe.

Step 2: Boil Until Tender

Place the scored potatoes in a large saucepan, and fill with enough water to cover the tops of the potatoes. Season with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook on high to bring water to boiling, then reduce heat to low. Cover pan with a lid and gently boil for 15 to 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Check them with a fork for doneness. Use the tongs to safely remove your now-hot potatoes and transfer them to the ice water. Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, you can effortlessly slide the peels off from the center out to the ends.

Step 3: Drain and Rinse with Cold Water

Use the tongs to safely remove your now-hot potatoes and transfer them to a bowl of ice water. Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, you can effortlessly slide the peels off from the center out to the ends.

10.   Best Way to Freeze Berries:

Summer, oh I just love summer.  And one of the reasons is because you can find so many sweet, perfect fresh berries.  But then during the winter that is all gone.  I have found a way to freeze berries so that I can use them for smoothies or recipes in the winter. Whether you have excess blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, or strawberries, freezing them is an easy way to extend their shelf life and save them for another day.  When frozen properly, berries will retain their delicious summery flavor for months and months. All you’ll need besides fresh berries is a rimmed baking sheet, freezer bags, and a freezer.  

My granddaughter, Mia, freezing berries for smoothies.

Step 1: Pick over the berries to make sure no stems, unripe berries, or damaged berries are in the mix.    

Step 2: Rinse the berries in cool water and dry thoroughly. Either leave them spread out in a single layer on a clean, dry kitchen towel until dry or carefully pat them thoroughly dry with paper towels. If you’re freezing strawberries, remove the green caps.  

Step 3:  Line a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper and add the berries in a single layer.

Step 4: Put them in the freezer until frozen solid. A few hours is usually long enough but leave them overnight if it’s convenient.

Step 5: Transfer the berries to resealable plastic storage bags, forcing as much air as possible out of the bag before sealing it.

Step 6: Store the frozen berries in the freezer until you’re ready to use them for up to 6 months (or a year if you have a stand-alone deep freezer).

And there you have a few solutions for your time in the kitchen.  

 

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