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Cooking Hacks to Save You Money

female chopping food ingredients Living in such a fast-paced, exciting urban area, it's easy to get carried away with experiencing everything it has to offer, especially the restaurants. But dining out every meal can burn a large hole in your pocket, fast, and can put you in a compromising position with your health & weight. Some argue cooking at home is inconvenient, time-consuming and soaks up what little space you have in your city side apartment. Luckily there are ways to hack the system and cenare all-interno (dine inside) on little money, with no fancy gadgets necessary, and save yourself some calories to boot. Here are some genius at-home cooking tips from the experts at Food & Wine. Breakfast: Poaching the perfect egg is easier than it looks. The secret is starting with a simple household ingredient: distilled white vinegar. First, soak your eggs in the vinegar for about five minutes. Crack our egg into a small dish or bowl, making sure not to break the yolk. With a pan of simmering water on the stove, slide your egg from the dish into the water. You'll notice it immediately begin to cook; use a spoon to move it around the water to cook evenly. After about four minutes, remove it from the water with your spoon and your egg is perfectly poached and ready to eat. Fresh, homemade pancakes are delicious and fun to make, but they often leave a big mess in your kitchen that you won't enjoy cleaning up later. Make it mess free by throwing your ingredients in a zip-lock bag and mix your batter either with a whisk or kneading it by hand. Gather the batter into one corner so it resembles a cake-icing bag and cut the tip. This provides you with the ability to make perfectly round pancakes, just the size you want, or even create other shapes like hearts, diamonds, or whatever you come up with! Lunch: Deviled eggs are a summertime staple and a beloved treat among folks of all ages. But the only thing worse than having bits of shell stuck to your hard-boiled egg, is mangling the egg whites while trying to make your precious picnic favorite. Using a simple household teaspoon will help you effortlessly peel your hard-boiled egg and make your life simpler. Take the cooked egg and hit the bottom of it (the widest part) on your counter or hard surface. Gently peel away only a small portion of the shell. Take the teaspoon and slide it under the thin layer of skin that sits between shell and egg. Carefully move the spoon around the egg to remove the skin and shell. Voila! The hardest part about eating kiwi is cutting off the tough skin and wasting most of your fruit in the process. Similar to the hard-boiled egg, cut off the stem-end of the kiwi, only about 1/8 of an inch. Then take your teaspoon and slide it under the skin, moving it around the whole thing until it lifts away. You can gauge your progress by using your thumb and feeling for the spoon underneath the skin, careful not to press it into the fruit. Pinch the kiwi out of its skin and there you have it, effortless fresh fruit. Sandwiches always taste better on a fresh baguette from the local bakery. But if you've had your loaf long enough that it begins to sag and the ends are hard, it's no longer fresh and appetizing. Or is it? Next time your baguette has gone stale, run some water over the loaf to lightly coat it. Throw it in the oven at 450 degrees for 5-7 minutes. When it comes out, the exterior should crackle and crunch when you press it, and the inside should be soft and fluffy.   Dinner: Oyster Bars do all the work for you, and for good reason--it's hard to shuck an oyster shell. However, you can save money by eating the delicate meat at home, and with this tip you won't kill yourself trying to pry it open. If a stubborn one is giving you trouble, pop it in the microwave for about twenty seconds. The heat will help expand the oyster shell and make it easier for you to crack it open. Then, using a knife, insert it at the hinge, where the top and bottom shell meet. Once the knife is partially in, use a turning motion of the wrist to open it the rest of the way, almost as if you were turning a door knob. But you'll want to make sure your wrist does not bend, and that your whole arm is creating this motion. If that still doesn't work, though, throw in the towel and head over to Ryleigh's before you hurt yourself. Dinner parties aren't complete without decadent gourmet cheeses as an appetizer. But cutting these soft cheeses smoothly and cleanly is sometimes difficult and can mangle your expensive Brie. Using simple unflavored dental floss will solve that issue. Just as you would floss your teeth, wrap the ends around your fingers so the string is taut, and slide it down the roll of cheese until it breaks through the other side, a clean cut. For triangular cuts, place the floss at the ends of the triangle, long-ways. Criss-cross the two ends as the string moves along the cheese smoothly. And there you have it, clean cut cheese for your party platter. Poaching salmon is one of the healthiest ways to prepare this delicious fish. An easy and mess-free way to poach salmon is by placing the filets in a zip-lock bag (add seasonings and lemons, if desired) and lowering them into a boiling pan of water. After a few minutes, remove the bag from the water with tongs, and pinch the ends of the salmon while still in the bag. If it begins to flake away, the filet is cooked and is ready to serve medium rare. For medium or medium well, place the bag back in the water for a few more minutes. Now that you have a few cooking hacks under your belt, you can skip the pricey plated dinner and host your own gourmet meal right in your 520 Park Avenue apartment home.