Whether you’re the next at-home Rachel Ray or you can’t tell a teaspoon from a tablespoon, everyone can use some handy tricks to make cooking easier.
Have you ever wondered why a recipe that says it takes an hour to make online ends up taking an hour and a half in your own kitchen? Oftentimes it’s because the person who wrote that recipe knew some handy tips and tricks that you didn’t. So I have some genius kitchen hacks that will transform the way you cook! January is the perfect time to adopt new habits, and I want to set you up for an easy year!
1. Pancake patterning trick:
Drizzling pancake batter into fun patterns using a mayonnaise dispenser isn’t the only pancake hack in my kitchen cabinet. Another easy one is cookie cutters, the same ones you use to make sugar cookies. Simply place them on your frying pan, pour the batter inside, and watch as your pancakes rise in amazing shapes.
I’m using the ALL-CLAD Stainless 10″ Fry Pan, which is a staple in our kitchen and is not only great to cook pancakes but everything from eggs to meat. The flat bottom and rounded sides make it easy to toss food and turn it with a spatula. All All-Clad products including this pan are all oven safe, so home cooks can easily go from cooking on the stove to finishing in the oven without transferring dishes. It’s also great for keeping cooked dishes warm in the pan!
And if you want to make your pancakes healthier I recommend adding some protein powder to the mix. Kaizen Naturals has a long list of delicious flavours that are free from toxins, fillers and added sugar. This will help add a kick to your breakfast pancakes or knock down that 3 o’clock wall without the empty calories.
Kitchen Canister Set from Wayfair:
I also like to streamline my food prep and stow ingredients in these beautiful Scandinavian Kitchen Canisters from Wayfair. They are great to organize the pantry and the natural bamboo tops are excellent for ensuring freshness. They are also perfect for packing soups or granolas to work or school.
2. Avocados – How to tell if an avocado is too ripe:
While you are shopping for avocados, how do you know whether an avocado is too ripe or just right? If you sneakily pop off the stem, you can look at the color underneath. An avocado that is too ripe will be brown under the stem, and will be useless to just about everyone. An avocado that is just right will be green underneath the stem. Be sure you are looking at relatively dark avocados to begin with (the lighter green ones are under-ripe). This can help prevent you from wasting money at the grocery store.
And say you did pick the wrong avocado at the store and you’re wondering how to ripen an avocado quicker, I’ve got you covered. All you need is a spare beer koozie. Yup, you heard that right: one of these foamy beer can holders you know the one that keeps your beverage from getting warm on a sunny day.
Avocados release ethylene gas as they mature, which acts as a hormone in the fruit. As the skin emits ethylene, the fruit inside ripens. But by ripening an avocado in a beer koozie, you keep the gases closer to the fruit, essentially trapping them against the skin of the avocado, which causes it to ripen faster.
Save your guacamole from going brown:
Put your leftover guacamole in a container and then add a thin layer of water to the top.
The water acts as a protective barrier, and prevents the guacamole from reacting with the oxygen in the air. Pour the water out of the container when you are ready to eat it and that way the guacamole will stay green and delicious.
3. Soften Butter in Minutes
Ok next, you’re getting ready for a dinner party, and you’re finally getting everything out on the table. You realize then you forgot to pull the butter out of the fridge. You take it out, and of course it’s hard as a rock. But dinner is in two minutes! What do you do? Nobody likes cold butter that is impossible to cut. It turns out there is a perfect solution which allows you to soften your butter without melting it, and it only takes a couple of minutes. This is an easy way to make your dinner guests happy.
Click here for a quick video.
Just get a small glass and warm it up, then put it over top of the butter. You can heat up the glass by running warm water over it or by putting it in the microwave for a few seconds. The butter under the glass will quickly soften and will be just the right consistency to easily cut and spread. Voila!
4. Do you hate it when your coffee is too hot to drink in the morning? And when you add ice cubes to hurry up the cooling process, it just dilutes your coffee?
The solution… Coffee ice cubes. Meaning no more diluted drinks.
Coffee ice cubes are just what they sound like — ice cubes made out of coffee instead of just water — they’re an ingenious hack I’ve been supporting for years, since they don’t water down your coffee as they melt. I like to add them to both my hot coffee to cool it down and to my iced coffee as well.
Try adding a scoop of protein powder from Kaizen Naturals to your ice cubes for a more personalized touch and you can lose the milk and sugar. There are endless flavour combinations that will provide more natural energy than the refined sugar in your daily double-double.
5. Now to speed up the process in the kitchen this next item allows you to make multiple recipes in minutes.
The Vitamix A3500 is a real time-saver in the kitchen. Its five program settings automatically adjusts to the container size you’ve selected, process your recipes, and stop the blender when complete. So, you can create hundreds of items at the touch of a button.
(for Smoothies, Hot Soups, Dips & Spreads, Frozen Desserts, and Self-Cleaning)
With all Vitamix machines, you can do homemade, made easy.
It makes steaming-hot soups in about 6 minutes, chilled soups in less, sauces like this pesto, tomato or applesauce to name a few and frozen desserts processing ice cream, sherbet, milkshakes and more in one minute or less.
And my last hack: how to cut ice cream with a knife for easier serving at parties.
If you’re having a dinner party for example, this is a great way to speed things up and make sure the servings are even. Instead of struggling with an ice cream scoop and hard ice cream, take the ice cream carton and put it under warm water in the sink for 15-30 seconds. Turn the carton over on top of a plate. The ice cream should slide onto the plate in a block. Warm up a knife the same way you did the carton, and then try cutting into it. You should be able to cut easy slices, put them into bowls, and serve.
January is the perfect time of year to get into a new routine, but before you dive into routine you need the facts. Hopefully these kitchen hacks will make your life easier, not just this January, but for years to come. The coffee ice cubes seriously changed my life, nothing like desperately needing a coffee and having to wait for it to cool down. Happy cooking guys!
Do you have any must-know kitchen hacks? How do you make cooking your friend?