Don’t you love to learn a secret shortcut for anything in life?!  I sure do!

Well here are a few tips for around the kitchen that I learned from Simple Mom along with her readers additions.  I read through them all and pulled out any bits of added info. to save you time!  Because after all, we do need those shortcuts in life!  So here they are (there are a lot, but definitely worth the read!).  Oh, and please forgive the punctuation errors, I quickly cut and paste the info. to save myself time as well.  I thought you probably wouldn’t mind…
1. To make buttermilk, add 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to regular milk.

2. To make self-rising flour, mix together 1 cup of all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, an 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda.

3. To hull a strawberry while still leaving most of the fruit, push a drinking straw through the bottom of the berry and push it through the top.

4. Here is the best recipe ever for roasted chicken. I’m shocked with how easy it is. You can eat it as the main feature of your meal, or as I mentioned earlier, you can dice it, fill ziploc baggies with one cup of chicken, and freeze it for future meals. You can then use the juice for homemade chicken stock.

5. Speaking of which, here is a fabulous recipe for homemade cream of chicken soup, which is used in tons of recipes. It’s very easy.

6. Actually, for most recipes, it doesn’t take that much more work to double it. Then you can freeze a second portion, and when you’re busier than normal, you can reheat it and still eat from scratch.

7. You need boiling water in so many recipes. To save time, fill a pot with water and get it started on the stove first thing, as soon as you get started in the kitchen. You’ll probably need it.

8. To minimize the tears, put onions in the freezer for about 15 minutes before chopping. Don’t forget about them, though! (When you do this all the time, expect your husband to make fun of you.) A lit candle also works, Another tip to try if you’re ALREADY crying because of the onions: stick your head in the freezer for a short while

9. If you accidentally put too much salt in a recipe, sometimes putting a slice of raw, peeled potato will soak up excess salt.—note: the potato/salt tip has been tried by America’s Test Kitchen (I believe it was) and found to remove very little salt.

10. Store onions and potatoes separately. They both make each other go bad faster.

11. Separate your bananas as soon as you return from the store. They’ll stay fresh longer.

12. When reheating bread goods (such as muffins, pancakes, and the like), put a cup of water in the microwave with it. It adds moisture to the air and keeps the bread soft. 12: this applies to meat, too: if you sprinkle it with water before you cover it, it won’t dry out while you’re reheating it

13. Before putting sticky ingredients in a measuring cup, give it a quick rinse with hot water. The ingredient will then slide right out.

14. Keep a bowl on your kitchen counter for your food scraps while you’re cooking. It’s amazing how much more efficient this is than going back and forth to the trash can, and it’s such a simple idea. Sometimes I’ll have two next to me, where I can separate scraps that are compost-able. (I know Rachael Ray has marketed this concept with a garbage bowl, but I’d love it if someone could tell me how these bowls are different than regular bowls.)

15. To get the most juice out of a lemon or lime, zap it in the microwave for 20 seconds or so, let it sit for a minute, and then roll it around on the counter a few times.

16. To peel a whole garlic clove, place the flat side of a knife on top of the clove and give it a good whack. The skin should fall right off.

17. Get the icky smell of garlic or onions off your hands by “washing” them with water and baking soda. The odor slides right off when you rinse. I’ve also heard you can rub them on a stainless steel spoon under running water, but I haven’t tried it yet.

18. To double the amount of your butter used for spreading, simply whip it with a small amount of warm water until it’s light and fluffy. This isn’t ideal for baking recipes that need a specific fat amount, but it’s great for spreading on your bread or corn-on-the-cob. Just keep it in the refrigerator, and it should stay light.

19. When a recipe calls for buttermilk, I usually use yogurt instead. If your yogurt is too firm, mix 2/3 yogurt with 1/3 milk. I’ve never had this not work for me!

20. To make fresh cottage cheese, get 1 litter of low fat buttermilk in a carton, place the carton in a pan with water and boil on low heat for about 4o minutes. Let stand in a pan over night. In the morning, open the carton and pour buttermilk through a gauze or mesh colander to seperate the curds from the liquid. Enjoy!

21. when you’re rolling out cookies or other sticky treats, coat your hands in butter, and the dough won’t stick to you.

22. We use the butter and margarine wrappers to grease pans, store them in a plastic zip loc bag until you need them

23.I keep a spray bottle filled with water near my stove. When I pop something like left over past or buns in the oven to reheat I just give them a little squirt. They come out moist instead of dried out and chewey.

24. If you’re rolling out sugar cookies, use powdered sugar instead of flour to dust your counter- helps the cookies not get too stiff.

25. when I’ll be making a lot of scraps, I keep a brown paper sack next to me (grocery or lunch sack.) It’s compostable, I just throw the whole thing in the yard waste bin )

26. When making cookies or brownies you can substitute 1/2 the called for oil for applesauce. They still taste great and will be a tiny bit more healthy.

27. Buy a bag of powedered milk to have on hand for baking. When you are mixing your dry ingredients, add the milk powder to that, then add the water to the wet ingredients. It actually makes your baked goods rise better. It also helps with the grocery bill.

28. rub olive oil on your fingers before cutting hot chilies to avoid irritation. my skin seems to be more sensitive than most but this kitchen hack does the trick.

29. for those who use chopped garlic ALL the time in their cooking, chop your own in bulk, then place them in a thin layer in ziploc sandwich bags, close them airtight, and freeze them. then you just snap off the appropriate amount to stick into your recipe whenever needed without having to peel garlic at all! i absolutely couldn’t cook efficiently without this!

30. Rather than shredding cheese, put it in the food processor. This will save you time and money since cheese in a block is cheaper than the pre-grated. Also, it’s much better tasting to have it freshly grated!

31. Never let a citrus fruit leave your kitchen without being “zested”! I have ziplock bags in the freezer that I add to. Lemon, lime, orange, even grapefruit! The zest can be used in so many ways – add to icing for a little bit of zip on a plain yellow cake, use in marinades, etc. You’re going to eat the fruit and toss the rind, so you might as well zest it first.

Here’s to money, time and resources save— ahh, this is Le Dolce Vita!!!