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11 Hacks for Common Cooking Problems

Save your meal and your energy! Try these easy hacks next time something goes wrong in the kitchen.

By
Bruce and Jeanne Lubin,
everyday kitchen rescues

From forgetting to thaw the chicken to opening lids with ease, our kitchen rescues are here to save you from these common cooking problems.

Meal Rescues

1. Update Your Meat Menu
If your meat turned out dry, rethink your dish. Shred beef or chicken and tuck it into a sauce over pasta or feature it as a taco filling. No one needs to know what was originally on the menu!

2. Don’t Toss Those Muffins!
Baked goods a little burned on the bottom? Just lightly lift the charred bottoms off of them or with a box grater or vegetable peeler.

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Better Prep

3. Keep That Recipe Handy
Don’t have room for a countertop cookbook holder? Here’s a clever way to keep a recipe within your easy view: Attach it to the clips of a pants hanger, then loop the hanger’s handle over a top cabinet knob or pull. Your recipe will be right at eye level!

4. Forgot to Take Out the Meat?
If you’re in a rush to get some frozen meat thawed, pour a bit of white vinegar on it. This will help it thaw faster, as well as help tenderize the meat. This technique works great on steaks!

5. Spray Away the Stick
You can prevent jars of sticky foods and liquids (jam, honey, syrup) from resisting opening with one little step. After opening them the first time, spray a little nonstick spray around the jar rims before closing up. Spraying in pulses and holding the jar at an angle will help you direct the spray at the rim, not the food.

6. Fresh Spaghetti in Small Spaces
Homemade pasta doesn’t need to take over your entire kitchen. Forget those hefty, commercial drying racks. A simple, clean plastic coat hanger hung from a pot rack or cabinet handles can work just as well.

Avoid a Mess

7. No-Drip Pancake Batter
Ladles can still leave quite a mess as you move small amounts of batter repeatedly from the bowl to the griddle. Instead, try pouring a good amount of pancake batter into a clean, quart-size yogurt or cottage cheese container. Bending the flexible sides will give you an easy pour for more portions into the pan.

8. Slow Down That Syrup
It’s easy for anyone but kids especially to pour too much syrup on pancakes, waffles, or French toast. So before you pour, attach a liquid pourer (like you see in cruets of oil) to the syrup bottle top. When done with using, remove, wash, and set aside for your next syrup session.

9. Easy Ice for Bottles
Trying to fit ice cubes into water bottles is messy and difficult. Make ice-cold, on-the-go water easy by storing bottles filled with a small amount of water in the freezer. The water will become built-in ice for the bottles that you can then finish off with fresh water.

10. Perfect Your Pour
Poke holes in the foil seals of oil, salad dressing, and marinade bottles with a fork to control the flow of the liquid. The shirt you’re wearing will thank you for this one!

11. When Movie Night Goes Wrong
If you’ve ever burned popcorn in your microwave, you know that the stink permeates the entire house. Make it smell fresh again by stuffing the microwave with crumpled newspaper—leaving the microwave off, of course! After a few hours have gone by, remove the paper. Smell still there? In a bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of coffee grounds with ½ cup of water, and heat on high in the microwave for 3 minutes.

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