The Genius Trick to Soften Ice Cream That’s Hard as a Brick

...And more clever kitchen hacks that will save you time, money and effort.

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Scooping ice cream hack
Anneka /

Cooking Tips You’ll Wish You’d Known Sooner

Soften ice cream hard as a brick

Heat a sharp knife under warm water, then use it to make one-inch-deep cuts in a grid formation, spacing the lines about an inch apart. This increases your ice cream’s exposed surface area, speeding up the thawing process. Run a scooper under warm water, and easily serve up each section.

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Egg yolk on wooden spoon
Photo: PIMPAN/Shutterstock

Use an empty water bottle to separate egg whites and yolks

Crack an egg into a shallow bowl, then hold the mouth of the bottle near the yolk and gently squeeze. When you release the squeeze, the yolk will be sucked out, and you can deposit it into another bowl.

Here’s what to make with leftover egg whites.

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Cooking shortcuts - Close up view. Greasing bundt cake pan with vegetable shortening and flour to bake funfettti bundt cake.
Photo: Shutterstock

Cut corn with a Bundt pan

To remove corn from the cob quickly, stand the cob upright in the centre of a Bundt pan. Holding the top of the cob steady, stroke a chef’s knife downward along the sides to remove kernels. Scrape the cob with the back of the knife to release juices. Kernels and juice collect in the Bundt pan—meaning one less mess for you to clean up.

Put this trick to work on these tasty corn recipes.

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Cooking pasta in water
Photo: Zapylaiev Kostiantyn/Shutterstock

Skip the pasta rinse

Rinsing noodles washes away flavour and natural starch, which helps yummy sauce stick. It’s why some recipes suggest saving pasta water to use in sauce. Instead, skip the wash and spread drained pasta on a pan to cool.

Find out how to make store-bought pasta sauce taste homemade.

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Cooking shortcuts
Photo: Taste of Home

Don’t cry over a broken cake…

Instead, make a trifle by layering salvaged cake pieces with fresh whipped cream and fruit in a pretty glass bowl, advises Tamar Adler, chef and author of An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace.

Craving cake but don’t have a lot in the pantry? These easy cake recipes can be made with just a short list of ingredients.

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Cooking shortcuts
Photo: Taste of Home

Keep counters clean with a baking sheet

Place all ingredients on an empty baking sheet prior to prepping them. (This will help you catch spills and avoid wasting time hunting for an item as you cook.)

These clever cleaning hacks help take the hassle out of housekeeping.

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Pizza wheel
Photo: Sebastian Studio/Shutterstock

Pizza wheels chop herbs

Turn in the chopping knife: Instead, roll over herbs like parsley and cilantro with a pizza wheel for quick and safe slicing. A pizza wheel also effortlessly chops foods like pancakes and pasta for small children.

Discover 50 more dollar store solutions to life’s little dilemmas.

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Cooking shortcuts
Photo: ThamKC/Shutterstock

Use a countertop bowl for easy garbage

As you cook, toss scraps, eggshells, and other garbage into a large bowl. This will contain messes and save time if a trash can isn’t readily accessible. Line the bowl with a plastic bag to make cleanup even easier.

Find out why you need to stop throwing away eggshells.

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Hard-boiled eggs
Photo: New Africa/Shutterstock

For easier hard-boiled eggs, salt is your BFF

Want the shells of hard-boiled eggs to come off in big chunks instead of a million tiny pieces? Add a teaspoon of salt to the cooking water before putting in the eggs.

Don’t miss these pro tips on how to get perfect hard-boiled eggs, every time.

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Photo: Creative Family/Shutterstock

Clean a blender sans sponge

Fill it one-third full with warm water and a few drops of dishwashing liquid, recommends Woman’s Day. Run it for 10 seconds. Rinse and dry.

Find out the kitchen appliance mistakes everyone makes (and how to avoid them).

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Gourmet bread crumbs
Photo: Sea Wave/Shutterstock

Whip up gourmet bread crumbs in a pinch

Got extra burger or hot dog buns? Tear into pieces and freeze in a zipper-top bag. Ten to 20 pulses in a food processor will transform them into ready-to-use bread crumbs—no thawing necessary.

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Squeezing lemon
Photo: batjaket/Shutterstock

Juice a lemon with a microwave

Zap a lemon for 10 seconds to break down cells and make the juice flow faster, suggests Laurent Tourondel, chef and partner at Arlington Club in New York City. This is good to remember when trying to squeeze out as much juice as possible for a vinaigrette.

Discover more microwave tricks worth adding to your repertoire.

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Cooking shortcuts
Photo: Joerg Beuge/Shutterstock

For better pie crusts, use a cheese grater

A cheese grater makes quick work of piecrusts and biscuits. Instead of cutting the butter into the flour, simply grate a stick of frozen butter, and then toss the shreds with flour until a crumbly mixture forms, says Beth Moncel, creator of

Find out more brilliant butter hacks.

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Wine ice cubes
Photo: Ahanov Michael/Shutterstock

Flavour sauces and stews with leftover wine

Freeze leftover wine in ice cube trays to add flavour to sauces and stews. White and sparkling work best in creamy or clear and brothy soups (think chowder and simple vegetable), while red wine goes well with tomato or beef-based varieties (think chili). Add a few generous splashes per portion.

Here, Canadian chefs share their best-ever chili recipes.

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Photo: etorres/Shutterstock

Flip natural varieties of peanut butter upside down

This position allows the pool of oil near the lid to move through the rest of the jar and make the peanut butter creamier (and to skip messy stirring). Just make sure the cap is screwed on tight to avoid a greasy pantry shelf.

These pantry organization ideas make meal prep so much easier.

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Cooking shortcuts
Photo: Jesus Fernandez/Shutterstock

Use your porch to refrigerate

If your fridge is full because you’re hosting a party, place hardy perishables (like fruits and vegetables) in a cooler outside near the back door. Doing so will free up a lot of extra shelf space while still keeping food cold.

Find out the genius trick that keeps ice cubes from sticking together.

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Photo: ruzanna/Shutterstock

Leftover Doritos? Think outside the chip bag

Smash a handful of chips, stuff into a clean pepper mill, and grind away onto everything from mac and cheese to broccoli.

These simple three-ingredient recipes come together in a snap.

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Cooking shortcuts
Photo: Ozgur Coskun/Shutterstock

Make friends with your kitchen scissors

Use them to chop cooked or tender raw vegetables (especially greens) right in the bowl or pan, suggests Mark Bittman in his book How to Cook Everything Fast.

Discover more smart uses for kitchen scissors.

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Cherry tomatoes
Photo: More Than Cake/Shutterstock

Halve cherry tomatoes fast

Save time on your next salad: Find two similarly sized storage container lids. Place cherry tomatoes on top of one, then firmly hold the other lid on top of the tomatoes. Use a very sharp knife to slice through the entire bunch at once.

Find out 20 foods you should never store in the fridge.

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Apple slices
Photo: stickasa/Shutterstock

Apple cutters slice potatoes

You’ll have perfectly sized pieces to bake as wedges!

Here are 40 kitchen hacks that’ll change the way you cook.

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Strawberry slices
Photo: UMB-O/Shutterstock

Chop strawberries with an egg slicer

Use an egg slicer to quickly chop strawberries for fruit salads and desserts. Or cut avocados for sandwiches and uniform mozzarella slices for salads and pizza.

This viral video reveals the trick to dice an onion without a knife.

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Cooking shortcuts - mason jar rings
Photo: 40North /

Twist open a mason jar for easy fried eggs

For perfectly round fried eggs (handy for breakfast sandwiches), heat a pan and spritz Mason jar rings with cooking spray. Place the rings on the pan, and slowly drop one cracked egg into each of the rings. Cook for about five minutes for a medium yolk. Use tongs to remove the Mason jar rings, and serve.

Here are the 10 mistakes everyone makes with eggs.

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Cooking shortcuts - microwave French toast
Photo: Nataliia Suietska /

Whip up French toast in your microwave

Rub a pat of butter on the bottom of a mug; fill it to the top with chopped bread. In a separate cup, mix one egg, three tablespoons of milk, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Pour the mixture into the mug, and microwave for one minute.

Discover more easy mug meals you can make in minutes.

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Cooking shortcuts - mould on cheese
Photo: Maliflower73 /

Cut away the mould

Before you toss suspect-looking leftovers, know this: firm foods are more likely to be salvageable than soft foods. Mould generally can’t penetrate deep into hard cheeses like Asiago and cheddar, so it’s OK to cut off about an inch. The same goes for firm produce like bell peppers and carrots. However, chuck mouldy-looking foods with high moisture content—yogurt, soft cheeses, cooked leftovers, and bread. Porous foods are likely to be contaminated beneath the surface.

Find out which expiration dates you should never ignore.

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Beef steaks
Photo: Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Defrost meat at the last minute

Thank high school science for this neat trick: Remember, metal conducts heat. Place meat in a plastic bag, then put it on top of an upside-down aluminum pot. Fill another pot with room-temperature water, and set it on the meat. In five to 10 minutes, your meat will be defrosted.

Check out more cooking hacks that’ll save you time (and money) in the kitchen.)

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