Convenience is what we all look for. We strive to find ways to be more efficient – quicker, better, faster. The same goes for cooking. Sometimes it seems as if there isn’t enough time in the day to prep and cook a meal and so we resort to convenience foods, which in the end can take just as long. Instead of fretting over the time it takes to eat real, I challenge you to use that time to find creative ways to be more efficient in the kitchen.
I struggle with these issues as well, especially right now with a new baby. Even though I love to cook, I don’t have as much time as I would like in the day to do so. This is where I rely on finding creative ways to speed the process up and with less mess of course. One of the ways I do this is to find new uses for kitchen utensils that normally just sit in a drawer to get the job done. So I decided to make a list of some common kitchen utensils that I use on a regular basis, but share some creative ways to use them that you may not have considered.
Besides the standard use of slicing hard boiled eggs, you can use this to slice strawberries, kiwis, olives, mushrooms, cooked potatoes or semi-soft cheeses in a flash. Plus, as an added bonus, whatever you slice comes out uniform and you may even be able to convince your kids to help you out…under supervision of course.
The rolling pin is the kitchen’s standard utensil for flattening foods. Besides dough, there are some other things that can be flattened to speed up the cooking process. Have you ever thought of using it to flatten a cold stick of butter? This helps to soften it quickly for use in recipes. To do this, cover the butter in plastic wrap, then roll over it until it’s flat. In no time you will have room temperature, softened butter. Gone are the days of melted on the outside and hard on the inside using the microwave. Now you will always have evenly warmed, perfectly softened butter. Another common trick is to use a rolling pin to flatten chicken breasts for quick, even cooking. Simply place chicken in a plastic bag and gently pound, starting in the middle and working towards the edge until the meat is 1/4 inch thick. No need for a fancy meat tenderizer, just a good ‘ole rolling pin!
Have you ever thought of using a pizza wheel for more than just slicing up pizza? It is perfect for quickly mincing fresh herbs and works perfectly for chopping up lettuce to make a chopped salad. Lay out the leafy greens on a cutting board and go to town. Chopped without much effort. This can also be used to cut up sliced deli meat (nitrate free of course) for topping salads or just use it to cut up any cooked foods for your kids. If your brave enough, give it to your kids and let them use it on some play-doh!
Forget the juicer, just use tongs. For an easy way to squeeze and press out every last ounce of juice from fruit use tongs. Cut the citrus fruit in half, remove seeds, stab with a fork (to loosen fibers), hold the tongs closed and push the fruit into them to juice it. You can also use them as a bottle opener or to hold meat when you are slicing it so you don’t have to stab it with a fork. As my husband noted, you could even use it to pick up dead rodents you find in your house, just be sure to throw them away when your done!
We haven’t had our alcohol talk on here yet but know it is coming so you might as well find a new use for the cocktail shaker. For perfectly scrambled eggs, crack eggs, add milk, shake vigorously and pour into a pan. Perfect every time. You can also use it to quickly make an iced drink. Pour in your hot tea or coffee with some ice, shake, pour and enjoy!
Cooking meat or pan frying things can be a messy task, especially when you can’t use a lid. If you want to prevent the splatter and keep your walls clean try using a strainer as a lid. It helps block the splatter but allows it to vent. Turn the strainer upside down over the pan and their you have it, a innovative vented lid. You can also use it to double as a vegetable steamer. Place uncooked veggies in the strainer over the top of a boiling pot of water and enjoy perfectly steamed veggies!
If it’s just sitting out on your counter, you might as well put it to use. One of the most powerful tools in your kitchen and besides for just mixing doughs and sauces the stand mixer can also shred meat in no time flat. Add cooked chicken breasts, pork or beef, turn it on and watch as your meat is evenly shredded in minutes. Forget the forks, this is the way to do it.
More than just freezing water, freeze anything in the perfect portions. From sauces, to herbs (frozen in water), to kefir and even baby food. Place ingredients in the tray, freeze, remove and store in freezer bags for later use. One of our favorites if freezing juices (lemon, pomegranate, cherry, lime) and then use them in water to add a little spunk.
What did I miss? Let me know in the comments what some of your creative tips and tricks in the kitchen are!