Let’s face it, from today until the 2nd week of January we will be more busy than normal. Why? The holidays. Regardless of religion I’ve personally found folks are just busier these next few months than through out the rest of the year. You have the holidays, ALL THE FOOD, the prep, the shopping, the parties, the cleaning (dear God the cleaning), the chores, the traveling and more food. It’s non-stop. In this week’s edition of the Tuesday’s Tip with The Kitchen Whisperer, I’m going to share with you some of my favorite Kitchen Shortcuts that will hopefully make these next few months less stressful…and more delicious!
For me, I tend to buy stuff in bulk – no not toilet paper but more like rice, quinoa, meats, chicken however since there is only 2 of us, we can only eat so much. So what I tend to do is make a lot of stuff up and freeze it or package the meats in portions. It’s cheaper to buy in bulk and when it’s butt-cold out here in Pittsburgh I don’t have to freeze my booty off by treking to the store for chicken. Okay I would trek to the store in a blizzard for bacon because well, it’s bacon folks. Geesh! LOL
I tend to cook up big pots of rice, quinoa, chili and soups. I never could master the method of making ‘just for two’. Growing up we were taught to cook for at least 12-15 people. It took me years to reduce that however I still cook for 6-8 even though there’s just the two of us. Now normally I would just portion it out and freeze the containers of it. However what I found was that I wasn’t really effecient in my freezer storage space. And living in my house, kitchen and freezer space is critical. So I ditched the plastic freezer containers and opted for heavy duty freezer bags. I portion out what I want, remove as much air as I can and seal them shut. Then, I lie them flat in the freezer. By lying them flat you take up less space which means you can freeze a whole lot more! By freezing them flat they thaw out so much faster either in the fridge all day or while still in the bag, in a bowl of warm water.
Kitchen Shortcut 2
Buy meat in bulk and then portion it out into separate freezer bags. Now if you want to take it a step further, add your marinade (not citrus though) to the bag, remove all the air, seal the bag and pop them in the freezer. One note is mark on the outside of the bag what is in the bag. When you want to cook it, pop the frozen bag in your fridge to thaw out (put the plastic bag in a container in case it sweats). By the time your food is thawed, your meat will be marinated.
Kitchen Shortcut 3
Use ice cube trays to freeze things in uniform amounts. an ounce of pesto or stock in each one. Once frozen, move the frozen cubes to a freezer bag, mark the bag and pop it in the freezer. Then when you’re ready to use it take what you need for the recipe and pop it into the dish. I find this works really awesome for chipotle chilies in adobo sauce as I never use the whole can.
Kitchen Shortcut 4
Using a cheese grater to shred frozen sticks of butter is the BEST way (and fastest) to incorporate butter into a pastry crust and cookies.
Kitchen Shortcut 5
Flash freezing cooking dough is THE. BEST. THING. EVER when it comes to holiday baking!!! I loathe baked then frozen cookies however freezing cooking dough is awesome AND you can have fresh baked cookies in minutes. Just grab some frozen cookie dough portions and bake away! They are perfect for unexpected company!
Kitchen Shortcut 6
Now some of you may say “What’s leftover wine???” but in my house we have it and it tended to go to waste. See neither of us are wine fans at all but we love the flavors it imparts in certain dishes. Well just like I shared with you in Kitchen Shortcut 3, you can use that leftover wine, put it in the ice cube trays and then freeze. Once they are frozen, pop them into a plastic bag and back into the frozen tundra. So when I’m making a dish that calls for wine all I need to do is grab some wine-cicles, pop them in my dish and cook away.
Kitchen Shortcut 7
Pressure Cooker, Pressure Cooker, Pressure Cooker!!! Seriously… you NEED one! I have both of these and they are equally phenomenal!!! One is electric and the other for the stove top. Pressure cooking can take a meal that normally would take hours to cook in the oven or over 8-10 hours in the crock pot and have it done in under an hour in the pressure cooker! Wings in 10 minutes! I mean seriously.. you need one (or both) in your life!
All-Clad PC8 Precision Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker