First of all, I’d like to say: Forgive me readers, for I have sinned. It has been 10 days since my last post. I’m sure you were all losing sleep over it. Today’s post is all about my favorite tips for the kitchen. For those of you pro’s out there, some of these may be obvious. These are just things that make me happy and I am glad I either 1. learned it from someone, 2. saw it on the foodnetwork, or 3. found it on Pinterest.

1. Bacon in the oven: I mentioned this tip in my porkalicious post, so I won’t go into detail. Bottom line you cook the bacon laid flat in the oven and save your self a lot of head aches.

2. Garlic Bread: I am a little addicted to bread and garlic, so when there is something that combines both of these things- I’m in! Turn left over hot dog, brat, or burger buns into garlic bread. You know how you always have left over rolls that either get thrown away or go moldy on your counter? Use them for garlic bread. Butter or olive oil and a little bit of garlic (fresh, salt or powder). You can get fancy if you want, but for a random Tuesday night, this works just fine. Also, you can make it in to garlic bread ahead of time, wrap it in foil, and stick it in the freezer. When the time comes, pull it out and pop it in the oven. I do this when I buy a big loaf of french bread. I usually only use half and the rest goes bad in a day or two. I almost always have some of this floating around.

3. Chicken stock: They sell this stuff in a pretty big container and it only lasts about a week after you open it. Next time, use what you need, and then freeze the rest. You can use ice cube trays to portion it out. That way you can pick how much you want to thaw out. Tip: cover the ice cube tray with plastic wrap or foil so it doesn’t take on other flavors or get yucky.

4. Left over wine: I have no idea. I never have left over wine.

5. Chicken: I NEVER make only enough chicken for that night. I always make 1-2 extra breasts to use in a later dish. I usually use it for a salad or quesadilla the next day. Defrosting and baking takes time. Why do 2 when you can do 4? See- make ahead shredded chicken dishes post for more ideas.

6. Planning menus: Plan your menu before you shop or use Peapod (see The Grocery Fairy post). And when you plan, plan around the produce! In other words- plan around the things that go bad. If you buy parsley for a pasta dish, maybe you also plan to do chicken with parsley and lemon the next night. If you are going to buy lemon for your chicken, maybe you also plan to do a fish dish with lemon zest/juice. You get my point. Don’t throw stuff away because your menu was all over the board.

7. Spices: I’ve actually never done this but the idea came to me while writing this. Host a spice party. Okay- this is a total girl’s night in thing. Have everyone come over, bring a bottle of wine and assign them a spice. ‘Julie has to bring garlic powder’ ‘Angie has to bring cumin’ etc. Have it planned out to make an Italian mix, a mexican mix, and ‘house seasoning’ mix and so on. If you are not the chef of the group, recruit a friend to help you plan. (Or ask me, I can come up with some ideas for you. Maybe that will be a future post).

8. No more scrubbing: I never have to scrub pans! I always line my flat pans/cookie sheets with foil or parchment. And, I always de-glaze my skillets/pans. This is a trick that chefs use to make sauces. They will add a little bit of chicken stock or wine into a super hot pan and all the little brown bits from the bottom of the pan release to flavor the sauce. Well, for those of you who are NOT chefs and just hate doing dishes, you can do the same thing with water. After you pull your food out (i.e. chicken breasts, steaks, veggies, etc.), while the pan is still smoking hot, poor in a small cup of water. As the water bubbles/boils, take a wooden spoon and gently loosen the bits from the pan. It’s like magic.

9. Foil packages: Don’t you hate when you are pulling out a piece of foil and the whole roll comes out??!! For the first 28 years of my life, I had no idea that the sides of the foil box has 2 push in tabs. When you push these in, they hold the roll in the box. My aunt told me this and I was shocked. It was right in my face and I had no idea. Maybe I am just an idiot, but I thought I would share in case you are too. 🙂

10. Make your spouse do the dishes: I say spouse because I know a lot of couples where the man does the cooking. I love it. Whoever is not cooking- cleans. Bottom line…. no exceptions. If I have to go thru the planning and cooking, my husband can do the cleaning. It’s only fair. Luckily enough, I have a wonderful husband. If your husband is less than willing, stop cooking for a week and see what he says.

I’d love to hear your tricks and tips. Post them below in the comments.