Why dirty a spoon? Add your milk and sugar first to your cup before pouring a cup of coffee. By pouring the coffee last, you mix it all without a spoon.
Don't ever put stringy, tough food like celery down your sink's food disposal. You're just asking for trouble-eventually. The fibrous strands can wrap themselves around the spindle of the grinder.
When filling a pot with water for boiling, add hot water instead. You'll save time cooking and save on energy, too.
When sauteing boneless chicken breasts, it's best to cut them horizontally in half to make cutlets (see our prep videos). They will cook faster and the meat will be more tender. You'll get twice the servings, too. (This does not apply to grilling though.)
Always let grilled meats rest 5 minutes at least before serving. This allows the meat to "relax" and the juices to return to the meat itself.
Try using vanilla ice cream as a sauce topping on cakes! Yup. Just allow the ice cream to melt and drizzle over slices of chocolate, lemon or other cake. Add some extra vanilla extract or rum or sprinkles or whatever to the melted ice cream! They will think you're a kitchen genius!
When you load up a plate of raw meat to take out to the grill, simply put a sheet of foil on the plate before adding your raw meat. Once the meat is on the grill, remove the foil, you now have a plate for serving or eating--no need to go grab another plate!
Make a better red pasta sauce! Simply add 1/4 tsp of red chile powder to 1 jar of pasta sauce while cooking. It doesn't really change the taste of the sauce but DOES make it taste richer and magically better.
A quick way to peel raw shrimp is to grab the shell just above the fin of the shrimp and squeeze while gently pulling shell away from the shrimp. Once loose, pull the shell down and away from the sides of the shrimp, with a slight squeeze- it will all come off in one quick motion. Takes a little practice but works great once you get the hang of it!
Better lasagna! Instead of laying out layers of lasagna noodles in the baking dish the classic way, try this...
Cook lasagna noodles until they are pliable and about half cooked- then drain and cool them off with cold water. Now lay each noodle flat on your counter and spread a hefty layer of the ricotta* over each noodle and roll them up jelly roll style. Place them in the baking dish seam side down. Add sauce and cheeses and bake away. They are so much easier to serve than having to slice through all those pasta layers with a knife.
*Add crumbled, cooked sweet italian sausage and chopped fresh basil along with a large pinch of nutmeg to the ricotta mix. Always add grated parmesan as well. I know many of us want to lose weight--but consider whole milk ricotta. The flavor is far superior to part skim ricotta. (ya gotta live a little--right?)
Filling Jumbo shells with ricotta is easier if you fill a resealable plastic bag with your ricotta mixture. Snip off one of the corners of the bottom of the bag with scissors. Now you can fill those shells with ricotta easily by squeezing the ricotta-filled bag.
If you own a coffee grinder, you can use it to also grind up herbs and spices when necessary. Perfect for dried rosemary, whole cloves, etc. (Just be sure to clean out that grinder with a damp paper towel when finished--rosemary flavored coffee is no treat believe me!)
Use a tea ball for holding mulling spices when making hot cider. Steep the filled tea ball in a saucepan of hot cider for 15 minutes or so. Now... no need to strain the spices out of the cider.
Use those plastic magazine holders you see in office supply stores to hold potatoes, onions, etc. They work great on countertops by saving space and helping to ventilate the goods. Looks neat , too!
If you need to cook down a sauce or other liquid to thicken it, use a wide bottom pan. The greater the surface area of the pan, the quicker the sauce will cook down!
To keep pasta sauce from spurting sauce all over your stove, use a saute pan instead of a sauce pan. The shallower depth of the sauce in the pan helps prevent the sauce from "spurting" when it bubbles up while simmering. But as we mention in the above tip, the sauce will cook down and thicken faster. Keep an eye on it.