3 Kitchen Shortcuts to Make Your Life Easier

Simplifying / Monday, March 23rd, 2015

We’ve been doing a lot more eating at home this year, especially in the last month, so I’ve been falling back on the shortcuts that have stood the test of time in our kitchen.

Here are three of my favorites, and I’ve been using them so long that I don’t remember where I first heard about them. If I did I would definitely give credit where credit is due, because each one saves me a lot of time, mess, and/or money.

1. Bake your bacon

Not only does baking your bacon mean less of a cleanup, but you end up with nice flat pieces to boot. Here’s how it works:

  • Set your oven to 400 degrees.
  • Completely cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.
  • Lay strips of bacon side by side on top of the foil.
  • Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake until it has the desired crispness (I like mine crispy so it takes about 20 minutes).
  • Once out of the oven, use tongs to move the bacon slices to paper towels to drain.
  • Let the bacon grease cool and harden on the aluminum foil and then wad the foil up and toss the whole mess.

I like to bake a whole pound of bacon at once and then put what we don’t eat in the fridge for a quick zap in the microwave later.

2. Shred chicken with your mixer

This technique will have you looking for recipes that call for shredded chicken.

  • Bake boneless chicken breasts until they’re cooked through and let them cool.
  • Toss whole breasts (2 or 3 at a time) into the bowl of a stand mixer, like a KitchenAid*.
  • Attach the flat beater, turn the mixer on medium, and “mix” until the chicken is shredded to your liking.

You won’t believe how quickly this works — as in less than a minute — so keep an eye on the chicken so you don’t end up with chicken dust. You’ll never use the two forks method again.

*I’ve never tried this with a hand mixer. If you have, let me know how it works.

3. Microwave your popcorn the DIY way

Microwave popcorn doesn’t have to come in boxes of individual bags wrapped in cellophane. All you to make your own are brown paper bags (the kind for packing lunches) and a bag of popcorn kernels.

  • Put ¼ cup of kernels in a bag, roll the top of the bag down about halfway and lay it on its side in the microwave.
  • Microwave on high (or on the popcorn setting) until you hear the popping of the kernels slow down.
  • Eat plain or add salt or butter to your liking.

Simple, cheap, and a lot less of packaging to dispose of.

What kitchen shortcuts do you use? I’d love to hear your favorites.

8 Replies to “3 Kitchen Shortcuts to Make Your Life Easier”

  1. Thank you for the tips. I like your bacon tip, but alunimum foil is an energy intensive product to manufacture (extraction from mines and processing) and it is a recyclable product, but not when covered in bacon grease. I suggest you use parchment paper instead of foil.

  2. I know this sound weird, but I read cookbooks on occasion as a pastime. It’s not often I hear of a new cooking technique, but your shredded chicken idea is new to me. You’re right – I want to find a recipe to try it out now!

    1. Karen, that doesn’t sound weird to me at all. I love Ina Garten’s cookbooks and read them like the beautiful picture books they are. I rarely cook from them. Let me know how the shredded chicken method works for you.

  3. Thanks for the chicken shredding tip! I didn’t know you could do that with a mixer…I’ll have to try that! I do bake bacon…and I love that method! ;)

  4. Hi Julie, I recently reverted to the old “Jiffy Pop” way of making popcorn on the top of the stove in my large skillet w/a glass lid. I toss the mess in the dish washer,but I’m wanting to try your microwave short cut. Just clarify for me please, no oil? Just the kernels in the brown bag and it doesn’t burn? Wow! This will cut inches off my waistline AND save time! I’m in! Thank you.

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