Kitchen Hack: Use a melon baller for bell pepper prep

Use a melon baller to make bell pepper prep easier

I’ve been on vacation for the past few weeks, and now I am back with an oldie but goodie: Use a melon baller to clear out those hard-to-clean bell pepper insides.

You know those three or four cliffs of veggie pulp that really make it difficult to cut the pepper properly? I’ve struggled for years to give my peppers a clean look.

I bought a melon baller a couple years ago when I was going to make an elaborate fruit bowl. No one mentioned to me how difficult it was to make fruit balls look good. Melon fail.

This year I resurrected our melon baller to help with bell pepper prep. Just scoop the pulp and seeds out (gently). The insides are now clean, smooth and ready.

Then cut your slices. So much easier.

Last weekend I roasted them in the oven with a basic dressing: balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary. Marinate and throw in a 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Yum!

I tried to make a cookie with only three ingredients and….

I tired to make a single three-ingredient cookie and ....I would love to find the perfect three-ingredient cookie recipe. I love simplicity. I love cookies and anything baked. Wouldn’t it be great if the two worked together?

Last weekend I found a recipe for a single peanut butter cookie on Pinterest. Perfect for someone like me who doesn’t want to eat more than one cookie. It was only three ingredients.

It was almost too good to be true.

It was Sunday afternoon, and my husband and son were going down for their afternoon naps. I thought I would try it. If it turned out well, I wouldn’t have to share.

1. Mix:

  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup of powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of whisked egg

2. Roll into balls, place on cooking sheet and make criss-cross pattern with a fork.

3. Bake for 12-15 minutes (depends on the oven).

Here is the original recipe. (This is a fantastic tutorial with great pics.)

I took some shortcuts here — I used the toaster oven. I didn’t have any creamy peanut butter so I used my husband’s chunky. I put it on foil and let it go.

The original recipe called for 12-15 minutes and I let it cook 12 minutes, which was too long. Yes, it was a little crispy. You could smell the slight tinge of almost-burn wafting in the kitchen. (Although, it wasn’t bad enough to set off the smoke detector, which would have woken up my son. Whew!)

The taste: I ate around the crispy parts and it wasn’t bad. Tasted like cooked peanut butter that was sweetened. Hit the spot for me that afternoon but I wouldn’t serve it to guests.

Seriously, what can you expect from a three-ingredient cookie? There is a reason why some things are more complicated to make.

So here is my shortcut takeaway: Three-ingredient cookies are a quick fix if you need something now. Otherwise, if you are looking for a good shortcut cookie, go to your neighborhood bakery!

P.S. Don’t try this with almond butter, or anything other than peanut butter. Trust me — it does not work at all!

Dinnertime Hack: Frozen garlic

Use frozen garlic when whipping up a quick meal! #dinnerhack
One day a few years ago, I ran across Dorot’s frozen crushed garlic. Cooking with garlic became that much easier, and yes, it changed my world.

It’s perfectly portioned into one-clove cubes. I throw it in almost everything, and no mess to deal with.

I typically buy mine at Trader Joe’s but I’ve seen these in other supermarkets as well. I keep their basil in the freezer too, and recently discovered they have even more spices and sauces!

A better way to powder your pancakes: Easy DIY sugar dispenser

DIY powdered sugar dispenser

My favorite hack of the week: the DIY powdered sugar dispenser.

Every Sunday is pancake or french toast day in the our house, and every Sunday ZJ and I have a little powdered sugar with our meal. I bring the whole bag of sugar to the table and I carefully spoon out the sugary goodness.

Many genius moms and cooks have created better ways to dispense powdered sugar. You can, of course, buy a sugar dispenser. You can also modify a mason jar.

I decided to try a spice jar.

This weekend I took an old Trader Joes 21 Seasoning Salute spice jar that we were no longer using. I cleaned it out and removed the label. Then I poured the confectioner’s sugar inside.

It worked perfectly. It left the right amount of sugar on the french toast, with no clean up.

Right now, ZJ is not old enough to powder his own pancakes but I know he will want to soon. This will be a great hack to keep the amount of sugar he uses under control!

pancake photo credit: ralph and jenny via photopin cc