The Ultimate Cooking Guide: Tips and Tricks

This is the sixth installment of “The Ultimate Cooking Guide” series! You can read the previous ones here: TermsToolsGrains and StarchesLegumesFruits and Vegetables, Desserts and Pastries

I love collecting kitchen tips and tricks because, especially as a super busy mom, I can use all the help I can get.

Food Prep

  • Peel ginger with a spoon rather than using a knife, the skin comes right off.
  • Slice avocado in their skins before scooping out the slices.
  • Use a spoon to peel kiwi.
  • Dry your salad greens with a kitchen towel. It removes the need for a salad spinner and keeps you from having soggy salad.
  • Add some salt to the cutting board before chopping herbs to keep things tidy.
  • Grate frozen butter instead of using a pastry cutter or food processor for super easy pastry dough.
  • Firmly roll citrus under your hand to squeeze out some extra juices before slicing and juicing.
  • Take a tip from Rachel Ray and use that “garbage bowl”. It makes clean up so easy, and if you compost it gets everything ready to go!
  • Chop produce before you start cooking so everything is ready.
  • Chopping hot peppers? Wear gloves. Your fingers will thank me.
  • Get mixing bowls in a variety of sizes. They have fantastic glass, nesting mixing bowls at many kitchen supply stores, mine is from Crate and Barrel. The little bowls are perfect for garlic and spices and the big ones can handle cookie dough and salad.
  • Put a whole head of garlic in two bowls fitting together and shake, shake, shake. It will peel itself!
  • Take a pomegranate apart in a bowl of water. The seeds will sink, the pulp will float, and your clothes will stay clean.
  • Always zest citrus right into what you’re making to catch all those juices.


  • An obvious but important tip: Read the whole recipe before starting.
  • Another obvious but important tip: Taste it as you go and before serving.
  • Boil pasta a minute or two less than the package says to and finish cooking in the sauce for tasty and never mushy pasta.
  • Save some of the pasta cooking water before you drain it, it helps sauce to stick to the pasta.
  • Always make double batches of grains like rice or quinoa. Chill or freeze the extra for lunches, quick side dishes, or just to have on hand to bulk up a dish.
  • Some ingredients do really well when you toast them in a dry pan first: spices, nuts, and grains.
  • Salt, acidity, and vinegar help to create umami in savory dishes. Don’t forget at least one.
  • Parchment paper or a silicone mat are both great at preventing food from sticking.
  • Glass heats more evenly than aluminum when baking. Stick to glass pie pans and glass casseroles.
  • Don’t put too many ingredients in the pan when sauteing, a crowded pan will create steam.
  • Boiled and chilled potatoes will have their skin slide right off, no need to peel.
  • Chill your cookie dough before cooking for soft, fluffy cookies.


  • Roll herbs and greens up in a damp paper towel before sticking in the fridge to make them last longer.
  • Herbs (and asparagus!) can also be stored with the stems in a glass of water and a plastic bag over the top. Stick it in the fridge to longer lasting herbs.
  • Store basil at room temperature with the stems in some water.
  • Save those bits and pieces of vegetables that you would normally throw out. Freeze them until you have enough for vegetable stock.
  • Store onions and potatoes separately. But both require cool, dark, and airy environments. Pantyhose works great, as does baskets.
  • Whole grain flours should be kept in the fridge to help them last longer. All flour goes rancid eventually.
  • Store apples and potatoes together to keep the latter from sprouting.
  • Keep mushrooms in a paper bag when you pop them in the fridge to make them last longer.
  • Buy extra bread and freeze it for fresh tasting bread whenever you need it.
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