Here’s a hot tip for busy cooks: Spend a few minutes scanning through the hints here and then try them yourself. You likely won’t have any problem deciding how to use the extra time you’ll save!
1. When frosting a two- or three-layer cake, I find it’s quicker and easier to frost the top and sides of each layer as you build the cake. When you add the top layer and frost it, you’re finished.
— Ila Jane D., Hopewell, Pennsylvania
2. Here’s a hint for quickly coloring flaked coconut. Place the amount of coconut you need in a resealable plastic bag and add your food coloring. Seal the bag, then work the coloring into the coconut by kneading it through the plastic with your fingers until you get the desired color.
— Judi R., Las Vegas, Nevada
3. I like to substitute seasoned stuffing mix (sold in canisters) for plain bread crumbs when making meat loaf. It’s a speedy way to give it a little extra flavor.
— Amy J., Urbana, Illinois
4. For perfectly round and uniform meatballs, use the larger end of a melon baller to scoop the meat mixture. Rather than fry them, I bake them in a 375° oven for 15-20 minutes. If you have extras, freeze them to use later when you’re in a hurry.
— Laura H., Sandusky, Ohio
5. When cooking kabobs on the grill, leave a 1/4 inch space between each piece of food. Not only does this allow the items to cook more quickly, it’s easier to baste them thoroughly.
— Carol F., Richardton, North Dakota
6. One of the handiest tools in my kitchen drawer is a roll of masking tape. When putting away leftovers from a meal, I tear off some tape, write the name of the food and the date, then place the tape on the lid of the storage container. This makes it easy to see at a glance what’s in the fridge and how fresh it is. We waste less food this way.
— Barb L., Hornell, New York
7. I store brown sugar in the freezer. I never have to worry about it getting hard. I just take it out of the freezer a half hour before using it, then return the unused portion until I need it again.
— Jillaine H., Ellsworth, Maine
8. I used this quick fix when I didn’t have prepared frosting on hand for a 13 x 9-inch chocolate cake. When I took the cake out of the oven, I immediately sprinkled it with 4 cups of miniature marshmallows and 1/4 cup of flaked coconut. The melted marshmallow and coconut topping reminded me of the snowball cakes my dad would pack in our school lunches.
— Jennifer M., Washington, Illinois
9. When using small pastry shells or individual graham cracker shells to make tarts, I use an ice cream scoop to fill them quickly. A heaping scoopful of pie filling is just the right amount I need for each one.
— Lou M., Richfield, North Carolina
10. One of my favorite kitchen utensils is a grapefruit spoon. It’s the best strawberry huller invented! I also use it to clean the seeds out of squash, pumpkins and melons.
— Katie M., Meadowlands, Minnesota