Tips-y Tuesdays: Shortcuts in Cooking (Part 2)

I was looking back at some old posts and came across this one. It has been over 7.5 years since I wrote this, and my feelings have actually changed. Having kids now, I would have thought that the shortcuts would have expanded, but instead I choose to make things in steps rather than all at once.

Let’s start with the old shortcuts…

Garlic: I actually prefer to use fresh bulbs these days. If I’m really in a hurry, I might just use garlic powder instead. What I often do is prepare a bunch of the cloves at once and then freeze them whole to pull out when I’m in a rush.

Onion: Again, I prefer whole onions and will chop a whole onion, and then often save some of it in the freezer for a later date. It’s the same as using the frozen ones I would buy before, but now I chop it myself since it is cheaper.

Chopped fruit: I still use frozen for smoothies and sorbets but often use fresh in smoothies just because I might be trying to use up some fruit that is getting a bit old/mushy.

As far as new shortcuts:

Working ahead is a big thing I do, as I mentioned above. For other shortcuts…

I often use jarred spaghetti sauce these days, but almost always when I am making a ground beef tomato sauce. It jazzes up the jarred sauce but still is simple.

Other shortcuts are with butter. Often I will just use Smart Balance versus taking out a stick of butter and cutting tablespoons off of it. I usually decide if it is a recipe that needs real butter. For example, I almost always use real butter for baking, but if it is cooking, I often use Smart Balance because it works just as well for us. When it comes to using real butter and needing it to be softened, I will pop it in the microwave for short bursts if needed, but I will also cut it into pieces because that helps it get softened faster (greater surface area exposed).

A shortcut to reheating pancakes/waffles/biscuits: Ideally I would just use the oven but 1)it takes longer to warm something through and 2) by the time it is warmed all the way through, it often dries out too much. So, I end up microwaving them for a short bit, just to warm them through. They are usually a bit mushy that way. For biscuits I will put a wet paper towel to help. For pancakes I will use a silicone cover (like this kind) on top. Then, I pop them in the oven to re-crisp a bit, usually 5 minutes or so.

Do you have any shortcuts to share?

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