If life in your Great Falls VA home is anything like that of your neighbors, it’s incredibly busy – and nowhere is it likely busier than in the kitchen. The modern-day version of “helpful tips,” kitchen hacks can save you time, keep you organized and help you stay sane in the most hectic room of the house. If you love preparing fabulous meals for your family but stress over the time it takes, we’ve put together 11 genius tricks to make prepping, cooking, and baking as simple as pie.
1. Picture Perfect Food
Keep your shredded, chopped, or diced potatoes looking fresh by covering them with cold water before cooking. This time-honored tip keeps them from turning that not-so-attractive grayish-brown color that occurs when the exposed starch oxidizes.
2. Easy Does It Eggs
You never have to wrestle with eggshell pieces again. If your first instinct is to use your finger or a spoon to scoop eggshell bits out of bowl of batter, don’t. Use a piece of the cracked egg shell instead. It acts a natural magnet, drawing up the pieces without wasting any of the egg. Want to know if those eggs are still edible before cracking them? Place raw eggs in a bowl of cold water. If they float, it’s time to toss them. Here’s why: over time, the liquid inside the egg evaporates, leaving a gas bubble behind, which makes an egg more buoyant.
3. Pop Those Fruit Pits
But do it with a twist. To pit stone fruits, cut the fruit into two equal halves. Then gently twist the halves in opposite directions. Use your thumb or a butter knife to pry out the pit. For even easier separating, cut the fruit into quarters.
4. Easy-Peasy Cheese Prep
What dish doesn’t cheese make better? To make grating less messy, freeze softer cheeses like mozzarella, fresh cheddar, and fontina for about 30 minutes before shredding. A great hack for slicing soft cheeses like brie and creamy goat varieties is unflavored dental floss!
5. Spread the Love
Everything tastes better with a little butter spread on it, but no one likes ripping their bread with the hard stuff that comes straight out of the fridge. You can soften it in a flash by grating it or putting in a plastic bag and then flattening it with a rolling pin. You can also cut a stick into eight or more smaller pieces, which allows it to soften more quickly. You can also use the microwave, though you need to go slow or you’ll end up with melted butter. Try a couple seconds on the lowest setting to start. If it does melt, give the bowl of butter an ice bath to bring it back to solid form. Just place it a larger one filled with some ice and cold water.
6. No Need to Flip Out
You don’t always have to flip your food. If you pre-heat your cookie sheet, you can skip tossing French fries and veggies half-way through the baking process. But unless your recipe calls for it, don’t pre-heat cookie sheets for baked goods.
7. Revive Leftovers
We throw out billions of dollars’ worth of food per year. Save those leftovers instead and give them new life in inventive dishes. Use grilled chicken, pizza topping, rice, and leftover veggies to make delicious casseroles, tacos, or frittatas.
8. Fresh Herb Storage
More fresh herbs than you know what to do with? Freeze them in an ice cube tray or muffin tin that you’ve added a little water, olive oil, or stock to. Once frozen, pop them into freezer bags and use as needed. Or try drying them. Place chopped basil and parsley or whole thyme and rosemary on a plate and set aside in a cool, dry place for a few days. Then store in the refrigerator in a re-sealable container.
9. Pot and Pan Cleanup
Never use soapy water on a cast-iron pan. It strips away the seasoning that’s built up over time. Instead, use a salt scrub to remove stuck-on food bits.
10. Combat Cross-Contamination
The easiest way to do this is by using multiple cutting boards. Some people stick with two – one for raw meat and one for everything else. Others use one for meat, another for veggies, and another for cheeses and breads. Choose different colored or shaped boards to help you remember which is which.
11. Quicker Chopping
Cherry tomatoes are the perfect addition to many dishes, but it can take forever to chop or slice them. Use two plates or plastic lids to hold the tomatoes in place, lightly press down, and then gently glide a serrated knife through them to form perfect halves.
Are you ready to move forward with your Great Falls kitchen remodeling project? Contact us today to schedule a conversation – we look forward to meeting you!