Toast nuts in the microwave and 6 other life-changing (really!) kitchen hacks

I can feel you rolling your eyes. You’ve clicked onto other bloggers’ sites before who’ve claimed to offer “life-changing” hacks, and you were sadly disappointed.

Not this time. My secrets, or hacks, as they say on social media clickbait, really did change my life. I’m pretty sure they’ll change yours, too. How? By taking the tedium out of kitchen tasks. And thanks to these hacks, I’m using flavor enhancers–think fresh garlic and fresh lemon and lime juice, far more often with incredibly delicious results.

Here are the hacks in no particular order. Most involve the microwave oven. Please note: the cooking time is for my microwave. Your’s may take slightly more or less time. Also, as far as the microwave goes, if the instructions below call for using a plate or ramekin, assume that it must be ceramic, glass or some other microwavable material.

1.Toast nuts in the microwave. Sounds, well, nuts, righ!? But it’s true! You can absolutely add toasted flavor to nuts by using your microwave. I do it with almonds and walnuts all the time. Just spread out chopped nuts on a small plate or dinner plate (depending on how many nuts you need toasting) and microwave for two minutes. If the nuts aren’t quite brown enough, put them back in the microwave in 10 second increments or until the nuts reach the desired color. Be careful though; too long, and they’ll burn. Let nuts cool before using.

2. Take the unappealing out of peeling garlic. Place a couple of cloves in the microwave oven on a small plate for 10-15 seconds, and the outer skin slips off like a glove. If the cloves are too hot to handle, let them sit on the counter for a few minutes or run them under a little cold water.

3. Poach an egg the easy way. High-five my niece Kelsey for this one. Place 1/2 cup of cold water in a coffee cup or mug and add about a 1/2 teaspoon of white vinegar. Crack open an egg and put it in the cup of water. Cover with saucer and microwave for one minute or until egg white is no longer translucent. Scoop egg out of the cup with a slotted spoon and enjoy any way you wish.

4. Juice a lemon or lime. In the old days, before I knew about this trick, every time a recipe called for fresh lemon or lime juice, the fruit was as dry as a bone. I’d squeeze and squeeze and get diddly-squat. But now I do this: I cut the lime or lemon in half and put a half on a small plate in the microwave for 20 seconds. (I usually save the other half in the frig to be used later) You won’t believe how soft and juicy it gets! Hint: As with garlic or nuts, if your lemon or lime is too hot to handle, wait a few minutes before squeezing it or put the fruit under cold tap water–skin side up.

5. Make hot fudge sauce for one. Sometimes you just have to have a chocolate sundae. Put two tablespoons of semi-sweet chocolate chips in a ramekin. Add one tablespoon of cold water. Microwave for 20 second. Stir until smooth and mixed thoroughly. If not totally smooth, put back in microwave for 10 second intervals until desired consistency is reached. Spoon over ice cream and enjoy.

6. Create a scrumptious last minute pizza. Last year I discovered Trader Joe’s Pizza Crust. You can find it in the bread aisle. It’s rectangular-shaped, the new pizza trend , and it has a nice crunchy crust if you follow the directions. It only takes about 8 minutes to bake, and you can custom-make it any way you want. Hint: Because the crust is an awkward size (16 inches long!) for my freezer, I cut the crust in half and place in a plastic bag in my freezer and store until ready to use.

7. Ripen a pineapple. Here’s how: turn the pineapple upside down (and leave it for a day or two) before cutting it open. It’s not an easy feat because of the stiff leaves. I put the pineapple upside down in a blender container and lean it against something heavy it so it doesn’t fall over. According to internet lore, turning it over is supposed to help the sugars rush to the top. All I can say, is I’ve tried it twice with sweet, juicy results!

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