15 Clever Crock-Pot Hacks You Never Thought to Try!

Forget apple cider vinegar; did you know that your slow cooker can be one of the most versatile items in your kitchen? That’s right, the same thing that cooks your dinner while you are at the office is capable of so much more than you could ever dream of. Here are 15 brilliant ways you can use, clean, and hack that trusty Crock-Pot.

1. Use it as a fondue pot

CoconutCajetaChocolateFondue

No need to purchase a separate fondue pot for your next classy gathering. Simply melt your favorite ingredients into your slow cooker instead!

2. Use it as an air freshener

apple and cinnamon in slow cooker

Love that warm smell of cinnamon during Christmastime? Instead of purchasing pricey candles and air fresheners, just add this special apples and cinnamon concoction, directly into your Crock-Pot.

3. Use it to make homemade Play-Dough

Homemade Marshmallow Playdough FI

Sure, there are many other Play-Dough recipes out there, but we think this one is the absolute easiest around!

4. Use it to keep your mashed potatoes warm

Mashed Potatoes Not For Pets

Because there is nothing worse than serving your guests cold, crusty mashed potatoes with their Thanksgiving dinner.

5. Use it to cook your ENTIRE meal

food in foil

Most home chefs have no idea that simply wrapping your main dish and sides in foil before throwing them into the Crock-Pot can allow all items to cook simultaneously.

6. Use it to make a warming cider

cup-of-slow-cooker-spiced-cranberry-apple-cider

Slow cookers aren’t just for stews and soups. It’s easy to forget that they also act as perfect heating vessels for our favorite hot beverages!

7. Use some foil and a liner to turn one slow cooker into two

divided crock pot

Simply fashion a tin foil barrier that fits snugly across the middle portion, then use a liner to protect the foods from transferring. A genius way to cook two meals at once!

8. Use it to make a decadent lava cake

ChocolateChipsInCrockPot

If you are a dessert hound who hates to bake, then this sweet technique is definitely right up your alley.

9. Use it to make homemade candles

crock pot candles

It’s a safe and virtually mess-free way to make your very own candles at home.

10. Use it to make pumpkin butter

SlowCookerPumpkin

Don’t waste up to 8 bucks on the store-bought stuff when making it on your own is such a breeze!

11. Use it to remove caked-on paint

crock pot paint

The no-scrub way to removing crusty, gooey paint from small, metal objects.

12. Use it to make your own candy

crock-pot-candy-close-up

No need to purchase expensive candy for gifts. Just make your very own and wrap them up however you’d like. It’s our favorite way to cut that holiday budget in half!

13. Use it to make oatmeal

ApplesinCrockPot

Rest easy knowing that you will wake up with some delicious, nourishing oatmeal for breakfast.

14. Use it as a humidifier

Crockpot Brownies Edited

Spring allergies got you down? If so, look no further than your Crock-Pot. Just keep it filled with water, and give those lungs a break.

15. Use vinegar and baking soda to clean it

shiny clean slow cooker

We admit it, slow cookers can be a real pain to clean. That’s why we love letting the appliance do the work for us!

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How to Make Delicious Bread Out of 2 Ingredients

In the baking world, nothing seems more complicated or intimidating than making homemade bread. Although bread seems like the most basic form of baked goods, it’s not something many of us have to worry about making from scratch anymore, and therefore making it at home seems like a scary, foreign concept.

But baking your own bread doesn’t have to be scary! In fact, it’s extremely simple to make with this easy-to-follow recipe.

Our favorite part about this recipe? It only requires two ingredients. Hearing that you can easily make fresh bread at home is one thing, but then hearing that you only need two simple ingredients to make it happen?! Unreal.

The most interesting part of this recipe, however, is the two ingredients that are used. Let’s just say that these two food items aren’t something we’d normally consider mixing together — and one of them doesn’t even seem like it should be in a bread recipe! But this unlikely partnership makes for an incredibly simple and delicious bread that no one saw coming.

What are those two ingredients? (We feel like we need a drum roll right here.) Ice cream and flour.

Two ingredients to make homemade bread,

Flour in a bread certainly makes sense, but ice cream? Baking ice cream seems inherently wrong, we’ll be the first to admit that, but the addition of the flour takes this frozen treat to a whole new level.

We would suggest starting with as plain of an ice cream as you can — unless, of course, you’re looking to add some kind of funky flavor to your loaf of bread. If not, though, we would suggest a plain vanilla. To make things even stranger, you’ll have to let the ice cream melt before you can add your flour and mix the two together to form your dough.

True, it seems kind of weird, but think about it; when you get down to it, ice cream is really just cream/milk, sugar, and sometimes even eggs. Those are most of your classic baking ingredients right there, in one convenient package. We’re just used to see it mixed and frozen into the summertime treat we know and love!

Once you see how the dough comes out, all of your skepticism will go away. Combining your two ingredients makes for an honest-to-goodness dough, like what you would see used at a proper bakery to make their fresh bread. So you know you’re on the right track.

To get the full baking instructions from this point on (which we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by!) make sure to watch the full video below. Then go forth and make some amazing loaves of bread with no problem! These make great appetizers for parties or even as gifts, and no one has to know it was THIS easy to whip up your homemade bread.

What do you think of this recipe? Do you have another easy hack for making fresh bread? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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This Chef Show Us the Best Way to Flip an Omelet

When making eggs, few things are as impressive as the elusive omelet flip. Being able to flip eggs into the air and have them flawlessly fall back into the pan is an enviable skill, much like tossing pizza dough or speed-chopping an onion. But as impressive as this trick appears, there is an easy way to learn it yourself!

Who better to show us this intense move than a very intense chef! Chef Rene J. Marquis is a celebrated military chef who got a TV break on “Cutthroat Kitchen” in 2013. Now he shares video tutorials like this one, that help chefs all over learn basic skills right at home.

In the video below, you probably guessed it, Chef Rene is showing us how he flips eggs when making an omelet – and boy does he make it look easy.

He starts by heating up a little oil in a small skillet, then he adds a few beaten eggs to the skillet and scrambles them right there in the pan. Once they’re nicely scrambled, he pushes them to the center of the pan and adds a squirt of oil around the outside; this outside ring of fat helps to loosen up the eggs and makes flipping easier.

The oil alone won’t loosen the eggs enough, so use your spatula to get the eggs clean off the bottom of the pan. Then, the moment of truth: the flip.

Chef Rene Shares that it’s crucial to not just jerk your pan up into the air, there’s a technique that helps the egg get just enough air, without losing control of them completely. All you have to do is roll back and pull the pan at the same time; this will be enough to get the eggs airborne without them getting TOO much air.

That’s it! That’s all you need to do to master the perfect flip, on top of some practice. Besides looking extremely impressive, flipping your eggs is great for your omelet; it’s one of the easiest ways to make sure the eggs are thoroughly cooked and that they’re well-done on both sides.

You COULD just flip them in the pan, but this technique has so much more flare and guarantees your eggs won’t break apart.

What do you think of this technique? Do you have a better method for flipping eggs that you’d like to share? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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When She Pours Lemon Juice into Milk, You Might be Confused. But Just Wait Until You See What She’s Making

When you want to make a dish that’s light and tender – and add just a little bit of extra, slightly tart flavor! – you can’t do better than reach for a bottle of buttermilk. It’s one pantry staple of which we never seem to have enough, and we’re always having to run out to the store to grab some more.

Since there’s nothing worse than not having a key ingredient right when you’re craving some biscuits, waffles or fried chicken, we had to wonder if there was anything that could save the day when we find ourselves in that predicament.

Turns out, there’s an absolutely easy homemade buttermilk hack, and it uses only two ingredients you’re almost guaranteed to have on hand when the buttermilk runs dry: regular milk, and lemon juice.

Make buttermilk substitute with lemon juice and milk

Yes, that’s all you need to whip up a perfect substitution. As the folks at Statosphere explain in the video below, the only thing required is mixing the milk and the lemon juice together in the right proportions, then setting it aside to sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes. Then all you need to do is use the mixture as you would regular buttermilk.

So why does this trick work? Because the combination of the regular milk and the lemon juice serves the same purpose in a recipe that buttermilk does, i.e. to add a little bit of acidity to the mixture of ingredients.

When that acidity combines with things like baking soda or baking powder, the reaction creates the lightness we’re all looking for in things like biscuits, while counteracting the more sour taste of the buttermilk.

The Kitchn explains:

Whether we’re talking pancakes or quick breads, the role of buttermilk in almost any baking recipe is to add tenderness and lighten the batter. Once the acids in the buttermilk get in contact with the baking soda or baking powder in the batter, a giant fizz-fest takes place.

The reaction with the baking soda (or powder) cancels out the sourness of the buttermilk, leaving our baked goods airy, tender, and tasty beyond reckoning.

Buttermilk comes from its acidity naturally, thanks to lactic-acid-producing bacteria. (Commercially-produced buttermilk that you get at the store adds this bacteria to pasteurized and homogenized milk. Traditionally, before pasteurization, the bacteria was produced as milk fermented after being churned for butter.)

In the absence of buttermilk, you just add an acidic ingredient, the lemon juice, to some dairy, and voila! You’ve got a mixture that’ll serve the same purpose.

To see it in action, and to get the proportions right for the next time you need it, check out Statosphere’s video below.

Live in the United States and/or don’t use milliliters to measure your liquid ingredients? No worries; we’ve got you covered! For the milk, 250 milliliters is roughly equivalent to 1 cup plus 2 teaspoons; for the lemon juice, 15 milliliters is equivalent to 1 tablespoon. So if you need to make this hack in greater quantities in the future, just remember that the ratio is roughly 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to a little over a cup of milk!

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What Happens When You Bake Eggs in the Shell

Hard boiled eggs are amazing and extremely versatile; you can have them as a healthy snack, use them to make delicious appetizers like deviled eggs, or even dye them during the Easter season! But if you’ve ever had to make hard boiled eggs in bulk, you know they can quickly become a pain in the neck to make.

To fit all your eggs, you have to rummage to the back of your cabinets to get your biggest pot, then you have to wait forever for the extra water to boil, and THEN it takes longer than usual to make the eggs when you’ve over-stuffed the pot. On top of all that fuss, it’s easy to make one perfect batch of hard boiled eggs and completely screw up the next.

For an easier way to boil eggs in bulk, don’t turn to the stovetop — your oven is actually the smartest way to go!

The thought of baking eggs in their shells might seem odd, but it’s an extremely simple way to produce large quantities of hard boiled eggs in only a half hour. The One Pot Chef shows us how easy this can be and the only two things you need to get the job done in the video below.

Finished plate of hard boiled eggs.

Surprisingly, popping your eggs into the oven to bake makes perfect hard boiled eggs every time; the egg shells don’t splinter or crack and internally the eggs cook in the exact same way. What’s more, you get to skip scrubbing your dishes and just get right to enjoying your eggs!

This method also makes it easy for you to make eggs a dozen at a time, which would have been a stretch even for our biggest pots. Depending on the size of your oven, you could easily make three dozen at a time for the sa

me amount of time, which is really incredible.

For full instructions and correct oven temperatures. make sure to watch The One Pot Chef’s video below! If you’re preparing for an Easter egg dying party or planning to make some egg-centric finger food for the holiday, this hack is going to be a huge time saver for you.

What do you think of this unique way of making hard boiled eggs? Share your thoughts and any tricks you have for boiling eggs in the comments section below.

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This Trick for Making Perfectly Juicy Meatballs is So Brilliant, We Can’t Believe We Didn’t Think of it Sooner

When you’re really craving a traditional meal just like Mom used to make, you can’t do better than a really great bunch of meatballs. Whether you’re serving them up Swedish-style or with spaghetti, meatballs are always guaranteed to please— unless they come out too dry.

It’s a more common problem than many of us home cooks would like to admit! While we all crave and strive for the perfectly-juicy balls of meat, we’ve all had a batch or two (or three or four) come out at least a little dry and far from the meatballs of our dreams.

The problem is particularly common if you’re trying to make healthier versions of traditional meatballs by using leaner meats like turkey or chicken, but we’ve seen it happen even with naturally juicier meats like beef or lamb, too.

While we here at TipHero have plenty of recipes we love for perfect juicy meatballs, we started wondering if there was a more universal trick out there to guarantee the desired juiciness level regardless of the recipe and/or the particular meat one was using.

Our search led us to our friends and food geniuses at Food52, who had also been wondering the same thing and came up with a novel, unexpected solution: steam.

Yes, steam! Hear us out here. Inspiration for using this technique came from observing how tender and juicy the meat in steamed dumplings and buns typically are. Because the steaming technique only exposes the meat to direct contact with the vaporized air, not the actual boiling water, the meat becomes much more moist and tender. Perfect!

You’re probably familiar with the idea of steamed meatballs from the menus of Cantonese and other Chinese-inspired restaurants, but as Food52 has proved, you can use it to make meatballs in any culinary tradition you want.

Best of all, you don’t need to buy a fancy steamer or special equipment especially for the meatballs; just keep using the same steaming technique you’ve already mastered. Here’s how it’s done.

Steamed Meatballs

Ingredients:

Your favorite meatball recipe!

Directions

Prepare, mix, and roll your meatballs according to your favorite recipe. Food52 recommends using your hands for a more even mixture.

Using the same technique you would use for vegetables, steam the meatballs for 5 to 10 minutes until cooked-through. As you’ll see in the video below, Food52 has a fancy oven with a steam option, but we have an easy hack for simple steaming using aluminum foil you should definitely check out, too!

Continue preparing your meatball dish as you normally would, with the happy knowledge that your meatballs are the juiciest even.

And that’s it! How easy is that? You should definitely check out Food52’s video demonstration of this technique below – if you’re like me, you’ll come away with serious oven-envy! – especially since they share a final, special tip to finish the meatballs off with a crisp, caramelized outsides. Check it out!

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How to Make Poached Eggs in a Muffin Tin

Got a muffin tin? Then you have the secret to making a dozen poached eggs all at once in the oven — with less time and effort than the traditional hot water method. Now invite your friends over for an eggs Benedict brunch and get cracking!

Scrambled eggs and sunny-side up eggs get all the love, but there’s something so fancy about poached eggs. With that just-set egg white and a nice runny yolk, they’re great for adding protein to a dish without adding fat — because unlike fried eggs, poached eggs are cooked without any oil at all.

Muffin Tin Poached Eggs gif cracking eggs into pan

Not sure how to poach an egg in the first place? The classic way is to crack an egg into a ramekin, boil of pot of water and stir it to create a gentle whirlpool, then slide the egg into the almost-boiling water.

Muffin Tin Poached Eggs raw eggs in muffin tin

Easy enough. But the problem with traditional poaching is making more than one egg at a time can be a pain. Plus, if you don’t master the method, the egg can break apart in the water — and then you end up with egg drop soup.

Muffin Tin Poached Eggs spooning water on top

You could buy a special egg poaching pan (as if you needed one more gadget taking up kitchen space). But we’re sure you already have a muffin tin, which means you have everything you need to make poached eggs en masse. Just crack an egg into each muffin cup, spoon a tablespoon of water on top of each one, then pop ’em in the oven.

muffin tin poached eggs scooping

It usually takes three minutes to poach an egg in hot water, so making poached eggs in the oven does take a bit longer (10 – 15 minutes, depending on how runny you like your yolks). But it doesn’t take an egghead to see that you’re actually saving a ton of time with the muffin tin method, if you think about how long it would take to poach six eggs individually the traditional way.

Muffin Tin Poached Eggs on top of a potato hash

Here are some eggcellent ideas for how to enjoy your perfectly poached eggs:

eggs Benedict doused with Hollandaise sauce
Korean bibimbap
vegetarian tacos
huevos rancheros
niçoise salad
pasta carbonara
on top of an avocado rose on toast
breakfast potato hash

muffin tin poached eggs runny yolk

Makes 6 – 12 eggs
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

6 – 12 eggs

6 – 12 Tablespoons water

kosher salt, to taste

ground black pepper, to taste (optional)

EQUIPMENT

muffin tin

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.

Crack one egg into each cup of a 6 or 12 cup muffin tin. (You may want to crack the eggs into separate ramekins before adding them to the muffin tin, in case an egg breaks.)

Season the eggs with salt and pepper.

Add 1 tablespoon of water to each cup in the muffin tin.

Bake the eggs for 10 – 15 minutes, or until the egg whites are set and the yolks are cooked to your liking. If you like runny yolks, poach the eggs for about 10 – 12 minutes.

If you prefer your yolks to be a little more cooked, poach the eggs for about 13 – 15 minutes. During the cooking process, the water will rise and sit on top of the eggs; keep this in mind when you’re checking the egg whites for doneness, since it can be easy to mistake the water on top for an egg white that has not fully set.

Remove the muffin tin from the oven and let the eggs stand for 1 minute in the muffin tin. Then scoop the poached eggs out of the muffin tin with a spoon. Gently pat each egg dry with a paper towel. Serve warm.

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If You Hate Peeling Food, Then You Have to Try These 6 Handy Hacks!

If you’re anything like me, you LOVE to cook, but absolutely hate engaging in any sort of food prep. Who likes scrubbing potatoes and mincing carrots anyways?

But my most dreaded chore is, without a doubt, peeling produce. Oftentimes, I find that even the priciest hand-held peelers can’t get into those tough nooks and crannies.

That’s why we’re going to share a video with you today that helps take the fuss out of skinning your fruits and veggies, all without having to touch that peeler. Here are some of our favorite highlights from the clip.

1. Scour your carrots with ease

Removing the skin from a “hairy” carrot doesn’t need to be a laborious task! All you need to do is grab a stainless steel scouring pad and get to work.

Simply wash your carrot using your favorite produce wash (you can make your own right here) and place the veggie on a cutting board. Take a hold of your scouring pad, then simply “buff” the skin away.

The best part about this hack is that clean-up is so easy; just rinse the stainless steel pad with soap and water and put aside for your next peeling session. Cool, huh?!

2. Skin your grapefruit with a spoon

If you’re looking to add some wonderful tartness to your fruit salad, then look no further than this brilliant grapefruit skinning hack.

Start off by laying your grapefruit on its side so that its ends are facing out horizontally. Make one full cut to the fruit, but don’t pull apart! Next, inch a tablespoon into the crease and turn clockwise, making tiny pushing motions as you go.

Once you’ve made a full circle, you should be able to easily twist the skin off of the two equal halves. This method keeps the juice in the fruit and allows for a more attractive presentation.

3. Peel your potatoes by hand

Out of all of the “peelable” foods out there, I think I loathe working with potatoes the most. The undertaking can just be so time-consuming! That’s why I ditched my potato peeler ages ago when we first featured this no-brainer.

Take a boiled potato from a steaming pot, and quickly plop it into some ice water using metal tongs. Leave the potato in the frigid bowl for about 5 to 10 seconds. After the hot potato is properly cooled off, dip your hand in and grab that spud—you should notice some skin already sloughing off right at first touch!

To get the rest of it off, gently peel the brown part back with your fingers. And remember to do this gingerly; the outside will probably come off a lot easier than you expected!

See how stress-free peeling can be? To learn 3 more brilliant tips from this video, be sure to click on the play button below. Pretty soon you’ll be kissing that dull peeler of yours goodbye!

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Oven Baked BBQ Ribs with Homemade Rib Rub & BBQ Sauce

Makes 6 – 8 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes

Ingredients:

3 – 4 pounds of pork baby back ribs

kosher salt, to taste

ground black pepper, to taste

SPICE RUB

½ cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon onion powder

2 teaspoons chili powder

2 teaspoon paprika, sweet or smoked

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste (optional)

1 teaspoon garlic powder

BBQ SAUCE

¾ cup ketchup

2 Tablespoons tomato paste

3 Tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons chili powder

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste (optional)

½ teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons mustard or 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder

3 Tablespoons vinegar

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 250°F/120°C and place an oven rack in the middle of your oven.

Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs: use your fingers to get underneath the membrane and loosen it along one side, then pull it off. (It may come off in more than one piece.)
Season the ribs with salt and black pepper.

Make the spice rub: in a small bowl, mix all of the spice rub ingredients together until they’re well combined.

Gently rub the spice mix all over the ribs, making sure to completely cover the ribs in the spices.

Make a pouch for the ribs: place two layers of aluminum foil down, and place the ribs (meat side up) on the foil, then pull the edges of the foil up around the ribs to wrap them. The pouch needs to be sealed well so that it will keep in the moisture. Let the ribs sit, refrigerated, in the spice rub for 1 – 12 hours, or bake them immediately.

Place the foil pouch on a baking sheet or baking dish and cook for 2½ – 3 hours, or more depending on the size of your racks of ribs. Turn the oven off and allow the ribs to rest until they’re cool enough to handle without oven mitts.

Open one corner of the foil pouch and pour the accumulated juices from the ribs into a large measuring cup or a bowl, and set aside. Keep the ribs wrapped in foil and return them to the warm oven while you make the BBQ sauce.

Make the BBQ sauce: add the reserved rib juices and all of the sauce ingredients to a medium-sized sauce pot over medium low heat. Simmer the sauce, stirring frequently, until it’s thick (about 20 minutes).

Remove the ribs from the oven and open the foil pouch. Turn the oven to broil. Brush the ribs with a good layer of sauce and broil them until the top is caramelized and the sauce is set (about 5 – 10 minutes).

Allow the ribs to cool slightly before cutting them into individual ribs or sections. Serve with extra sauce.

Chef’s Tip:

If you have time, it’s best to let the wrapped and rubbed ribs sit in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, and up to 12 hours.

Generally speaking, the longer the ribs have to absorb the flavors of the dry rub, the better. But if you need oven bbq ribs like now, it’s fine to cook them immediately after applying the rub.

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Here’s the Best No-Mess Way to Pipe Buttercream Frosting!

Who doesn’t love baking? Throwing something sweet in the oven for your friends and family to enjoy can be so gratifying! BUT, what kills me when it comes to making these goodies is the fact that decorating them can be messy business, to put it mildly. I equate working with frosting like working with eyeliner—sometimes it comes out perfectly and other times it, well, just doesn’t.

Don’t get me wrong, I rely on my plastic dessert decorator every time I whip up my famous cupcakes, and it does help me achieve some pretty cool buttercream ruffles, but the whole process tends to be rather hit or miss.

For one, the clean-up that’s involved with piping frosting can be time-consuming, especially if I am working with multiple flavors and colors of frosting. But, the absolute worst part of the process is having to sacrifice precious frosting whenever I decide to switch out the variety.

Whenever I see pastries that are adorned with perfect little swirls like this, I think: Sure, these cupcakes are cute, but you know that they must have taken forever to decorate!

That’s why I searched far and wide for a piping technique that would not only convince people into thinking I was a pastry chef, but also would help with some of the clean-up. Luckily, our friends over at LittleThings had just the trick!

In their video, they illustrate the best way to effortlessly change frostings while using just ONE ordinary piping bag. Here’s how it works:

Start by taking a well-whipped buttercream frosting of your choice (I recommend making this one yourself) and plop a dollop onto a sheet of heavy-duty plastic wrap. Be sure to pack the frosting tightly, leaving the ends loose.

Grab each of the open ends in either hand and spin the dollop around in loops, kind of like you’re playing with a jump rope. Do this until both ends are tightly sealed together.

Insert the makeshift frosting container into your piping bag, taking care that one of the ends works its way smoothly out of the end of the nozzle. Cut the excess plastic end, getting as close to the hole in the plastic nozzle as you can, then fasten the metal tip.

cutting off end of plastic piping

When you are all finished with your masterpiece, unscrew the nozzle and remove your plastic wrap frosting holder. If you have other types of frosting that you are working with, simply unscrew the metal tip and repeat the process.

Now, I know I said that this piping technique is pretty much a no-brainer, but it does take a little bit of practice. To learn the ins and outs of the process for yourself, be sure to watch LittleThings’ video below. Once you get it down, you’ll never pipe frosting the same way again!