Working in the kitchen used to be an all-day affair. Grinding grain for one loaf of bread took hours. Churning butter even longer. But since the beginning, we have been creating tools and inheriting kitchen hacks that speed up the process. But even as we reached the industrial revolution, when canning processes made meals faster than ever and kitchen inventions were popping up left and right, there were still many women at home to prepare them.
Today, however, more women are taking leadership roles and starting their own businesses. Traditional cooking isn’t passed down as it once was, and the lives of every member of the family are often too busy to handle hours of bending over the stove.
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In response, food companies prepare bagged salads, ready-made rice only requires a microwave, and boxed meal services like Blue Apron have become simple kitchen solutions. While these are great options, they aren’t necessarily a good replacement for the ability to whip up a meal from simple ingredients.
If you’re like us and want to save time and energy in the kitchen while still producing delicious meals, you’re going to love our kitchen hacks below. These are simple hacks that will turn up the flavor of your meals in a big way.
There are countless ways to cook an egg. In fact, there are whole books, blogs, and buzzfeed kitchen hacks lists dedicated solely to cooking better eggs. In fact, we can’t choose just one hack for better eggs, so we’ve curated a few to make your cooking easier:
Don’t follow use-by dates
Eggs can last a lot longer than you think, and they don’t even necessarily have to be refrigerated. If your eggs were never refrigerated (like those from a farm or farmers market, or if you live in Europe), then you can keep them in a basket on the counter and they’ll still last.
To tell if they are no longer good, place them gently in a bowl of water. If they stand on end or float, then they are bad and you should toss them. Otherwise, you’re safe to get cracking.
Martha Stewart hard-boiled eggs
Martha Stewart is a cooking icon, and we can all learn a lot from her. One lesson, in particular, is how to boil eggs, Martha Stewart style. Whether you’re aiming for a hard-boiled snack or soft-boiled so you can dip toast into the yolk, Martha has a tip for you.
For soft-boiled eggs, boil the water first, then lower in the eggs with a slotted spoon, cover and remove from the heat to let stand for 4-6 minutes. For hard-boiled, put the eggs in cold water, let it come to a boil, then cover and remove from heat to let stand for 13 minutes.
If you’re looking for scrambled eggs, here’s another great hack. Martha advises that the creamiest scrambled eggs are achieved by combining butter, salt, pepper, and eggs in a large coffee mug and steaming them with a frother or espresso machine steamer.
Lighter, fluffier scrambled eggs
Few people have a frother or full espresso machine at home, but that doesn’t mean you have to go without fluffy eggs. Instead, here are a few other easy egg tips:
- Put just a little water into the eggs while whisking
- Adding air to your eggs gives them a lot more fluff, so you can either whisk them vigorously or blend them in a food processor or blender
- Pass eggs through a sieve once you’ve whisked them. It will make them smoother.
- Add salt and pepper as soon as you add the eggs to the pan, it helps give them a cheesier taste than if you add the seasoning after they’re cooked
- Stir constantly, never letting up while they’re cooking
- Remove your eggs from the heat before they are quite done. Eggs cook quickly and they will continue in the pan’s residual heat. On the other hand, too much heat can dry them out if you leave them on the burner until they’re done.
Baking is a delicious hobby, and its industrialization has made the whole process easier and faster than ever. Whether you’re using store-bought cake mix or baking from scratch, these genius cooking tips will turn your baked goods into bakery-quality treats.
Milk powder: the ultimate dairy hack
Adding milk powder to your cookie batter will add a depth of flavor that can’t be achieved with simple milk. It’s not necessarily a dairy flavor that you’ll notice, but it will taste like every ingredient is enhanced.
Of course, milk powder still contains lactose, so if you are intolerant, it’s best to stick to lactose-free milk or dairy substitutes like hemp milk, coconut, or almond milk. These also have very distinct flavors that might add some unique flavor.
Honey, real maple syrup, and agave are all really great alternatives to sugar. Not only are they less processed, and sometimes raw, they add very unique flavor profiles to your baked goods. We love adding honey to our granola recipe. It really enhances that nuttiness that we love. These alternatives can also help to sweeten Greek yogurt, oatmeal, pastries, or a bowl of fruit.
** Pro Tip: You can also add these sweeteners to sweet potatoes, squash, apples, chicken, salad, vinaigrettes, sauces, marinades, or even in chili. Some people like to add brown sugar to chili to help bring out some of the flavors and to add depth, but maple syrup is a very good alternative. Honey makes a great glaze for wings when mixed with BBQ sauce and ginger.
Hacks Using Milk
Milk is a necessity for many baked goods, but rarely for other recipes. But you might be surprised at the number of ways you can use milk to enhance your dishes. Here are just a few:
Cook corn in milk
This might be an obvious one, but cooking corn in milk helps give it a little something extra, and also makes the kernels tender.
Soak chicken in milk
Milk is an excellent tenderizer. Soaking your chicken in a bowl of milk will help to make the meat much more tender. It’s an old trick, but really worth it. It’s best to use a milk bath like this as a marinade, overnight in your fridge. However, even soaking your chicken for a few hours before you do the marinade will still carry that tenderness all the way to dinner.
Mash potatoes with milk, not water
Boiling your potatoes in milk makes your mashed potatoes extra creamy. You can also toss in some rosemary, thyme, or even celery root to give it that extra flavor. If you don’t have milk in the fridge, heavy cream is also an option. If it’s too much to boil them in the cream, you can also add either heavy cream or buttermilk instead of sour cream after straining as you form your mash.
Cooking Hacks for Meat
Meat seems like it’s hard to get wrong, and that’s somewhat true. There are hundreds of ways to make all types of meat, and there are few ways to be wrong about it (unless you make it dry or you burn it). However, there are many ways to make your meat taste better.
Wine with that meat?
Wine is often a complement to meat dishes, however, it is also great for adding extra flavor to the meat itself. One way to be a pro at cooking is to freeze some white and red wine in ice cube trays to use when you want to add some flavor to a sauce.
(check out our shrimp scampi recipe)
Let it rest
We get a little eager to eat, and often bring our meat straight from the pan to the plate. However, this is a mistake, and is a big no-no for restaurant chefs. Cutting straight into your meat makes all the liquids seep out of it. Give your meat a chance to rest and absorb everything once it’s off the heat. You want all that flavor to really soak in.
Sear your meat then put it in the oven
Oven made meals are a great way to save time, however, you should always sear your meat before putting it into the oven. Not only does this help it cook faster, but it also helps to lock in the flavor. This is also a great tip for those cooking stove top meals. Save on mess and time, and keep your meat nice and juicy by searing and then putting it into the oven to finish. This is a common practice in restaurants.
Use salt, more than you think
Many people are shy with their salt, but one of the reasons restaurant food always seems to taste better is because they use A LOT of salt. Not only that, but they know when to use it. Always salt your meat right before you put it on the pan, not with a marinade. Putting salt on your meat too early will steal the juice from it, resulting in a dry final product. Salting your meat as you plate it won’t allow the flavors to combine in the cooking process.
A brine is basically a salt and sugar bath, though you can add other flavors such as herbs if you choose. It’s not a very common practice for home cooks, but it’s a chef’s secret for helping the meat retain all of its moisture through the cooking process. Chicken and turkey are especially prone to drying out, so use this trick to keep them juicy and flavorful.
Brining your meat may seem to contradict the salt hack above since we just mentioned that salt will steal the moisture from the meat if it’s applied too early. The difference is that when brining, the water from the bath is soaked up by the meat, and the salt helps to retain it.
Let the pan heat up first
If you love cooking, you might be eager to start cooking the meal and want to jump in right away. However, when cooking meat, you should always let the pan heat up first. In fact, you should let your pan heat up first for any meal, whether you’re cooking onions, oil, fish, or any other ingredient. This ensures that you get a nice crust on your food and that it doesn’t stick to the pan.
Sous-vide instead of a crockpot
One great tool you’ll commonly find in restaurants is a sous-vide (pronounced sue vee) machine. While a crock pot is really great for making stews and roasts while you’re at work, it can’t beat the flavor and tenderness of a roast made with a sous-vide. The great thing about it is that you can use it much like you would a crockpot. Simply put your food in a plastic bag, submerged in a vat of water with the sous-vide and leave it there all day.
Become a Pro at Cooking
These kitchen hacks are a simple and easy way to spice up your meals like a pro. Find more cooking hacks and enticing recipes at Teaspoon of Goodness. We’re your go-to resource for delicious home-cooked meals that don’t take a lot of time or energy to get onto the table.