Kitchen Hack: Binder Clips

Now, I know, you likely think of the binder clip as a handy office tool. But, it turns out to have lots of kitchen uses too. It’s a great kitchen hack too!

For example, use it to close up bags of chips, bags of coffee, or to keep your open bag of rice shut. There’s another use, that I just discovered yesterday. I was taking out a bunch of ingredients from the freezer to put in the fridge to defrost. I realized that I could just clip the bags together with a binder clip. That way, when I was ready to cook, I wouldn’t have to search through the refrigerator hunting for each item I needed. It would all be together!

More Kitchen Hacks

kitchen hack oxo peelerKitchen Organization Hack: Oxo Peeler 

Finding one tool in a container full of them can be a pain (especially if it’s a small one). This hack helps you spot your peeler instantly.


open tight jarHow to Easily Open a Tight Jar

You don’t need any special equipment or expensive gadgets to get those jars open. Just an ordinary tool to break the seal.


small kitchen storageSmall Kitchen Storage Ideas: How to Store Everything You Need to Cook in a Tiny Kitchen

This is my kitchen. Yes, that’s it. The whole thing. But small doesn’t mean you can’t keep and store everything you need to cook full meals (even for company).

separate a head of garlicEasily Break Apart a Head of Garlic

You don’t need special tools to get one or two cloves of garlic for your recipe. Just an ordinary knife will do the trick.

Measuring Ingredients

teaspoon measuring set US
Measuring ingredients seems straightforward enough, but it isn’t. For instance, I’ve recently discovered that a tablespoon is not always a tablespoon! It seems Australian and New Zealand tablespoons are different from US measurements.

I knew metric and US were different (and how to convert), but I had no idea that something with the same name had two different meanings.

Australian tablespoons are 20 ml (or four teaspoons), while American tablespoons are only 15 ml (or three teaspoons).  And, British pints are different from American pints!



A Bit of Clarity on Measuring Ingredients

The measurements on this blog are in US measures: quarts, pints, ounces, tablespoons, and teaspoons.

Here are some links to conversion charts if you need them:

US to metric conversion – fluid, weight, pan size, and oven temperature conversion

Cooking units conversion – conversion by ingredient, just type in what you want to measure; this one also includes British units (as the British pints and ounces are different)

Grams to cups converter – type in your ingredient, the amount, the units you want to convert, and the units you want to end up with

Cooking equivalents – charts for dry and  liquid measurements, as well as conversions for common baking ingredients and oven temperatures.


More Cooking and Menu Planning Help

Recipe Substitutionsrecipe substitutions

Sometimes, you start out on a recipe, and realize that you don’t have everything you need. Oops. But, there are options. Find out what to do, and how to substitute families of ingredients for each other.


quarantine grocery delivery

Shopping Solutions

If you can’t get out, or if you are trying to stay home, getting groceries can be hard. Here are some options that can get you the food you need, delivered right to your door.


menu planning
Image thanks to Terje Sollie on Pexels

Single Person Menu Planning Without Losing Your Mind or Budget

If you’re new to cooking, or new to cooking for one, menu planning can seem a bit daunting. Most packages are designed for larger households.

So what do you do with that half can of tomatoes, or a quarter of a bunch of spinach anyway?  A bit of planning can fix all that. And no,  you don’t need detailed spreadsheets either (unless you want them).




How to Easily Open a Tight Jar

Trying to open a tight jar can be a real pain.  I’ve seen a lot of fancy gadgets and dubious tips for opening tight lids, but there’s an easy way to do this.  And, you don’t need to go out and buy anything either: no neoprene, no appliances.

All you need is something you probably already have in your kitchen: the humble bottle opener.

My grandma taught me to do this long ago, and it works easily every time, no matter how tight the lid.

Easily Open a Tight Jar in Three Easy Steps

First take a bottle opener and slide it under the lid of the jar (see photo below)

open tight jar


Then, push down on the handle of the bottle opener, pushing up the pointed end (sort of like the downward motion of a see-saw).  This will break the vacuum seal and loosen the lid.

open tight jar

Once the seal is broken, you should be able to open the jar easily.  If it’s still stuck, turn the jar around and repeat the process on the other side.

open tight har


More Kitchen Organization Hacks and Tips

kitchen hack oxo peelerKitchen Organization Hack: Oxo Peeler

Have trouble finding smaller tools in your giant utensil holder? Here’s a way to fix that. It’s easy.


small kitchen storageSmall Kitchen Storage Ideas: How to Store Everything You Need to Cook in a Tiny Kitchen

This is my kitchen. It’s tiny. I call it the “one butt” kitchen.  I still need to cook in it, and store everything I need to do that. Here’s how.


separate a head of garlic

Easily Break Apart a Head of Garlic

Separating cloves of garlic can be a real pain.  But there’s a trick that lets you do it easily. No special tools needed.


soaking beansQuick Soak Bean Method

Ever want to make beans and forget to soak them overnight?  No problem. There’s a faster way to do it that doesn’t take hours.  Just try my quick soak method instead.


Kitchen Organization Hack: Oxo Peeler

Oxo peeler

I love my Oxo peeler; in fact, it’s one of my favorite kitchen gadgets.

However, it’s black. The trouble with that is that most of the other gadgets are also black (and much taller than the peeler).

To make things worse, my gadget holder is black, or at least mostly black. It’s also quite deep, in order to accommodate tongs and spatulas and other long tools. But, the peeler is relatively short.

I have the other gadgets and tools sorted, and can easily find them, but every time I put the peeler back in the gadget holder it would get swallowed up. When I wanted to use it again, I had a hard time finding it. Not good when you have a small kitchen, not much counter space, and kitchen organization is critical!

After a bit of thought, I figured out the perfect “kitchen organization hack”: nail polish!

I dabbed some red nail polish on the bottom of the peeler. Now, when I put it back in the holder, (bottom-side up) the red is easy to spot in the midst of all those black gadgets.

When the polish wears off, I simply reapply it. Voilà!

More Kitchen Organization Hacks and Cooking Tips

Small Kitchen Storage Ideas: How to Store Everything You Need to Cook in a Tiny Kitchen

open tight jarHow to Easily Open a Tight Jar

Struggling with tight jars? Here’s an easy hack to open them. And you probably don’t have to buy anything to do it.


cuisinart stick blender
Top Kitchen GadgetsMy favorite tools for making cooking faster and easier.



If you struggle to break a head of garlic, learn this easy way to fix that. Plus a tool for peeling it once you’re done.


soaking beansQuick Soak Beans in an Hour

You don’t have to wait all day to get beans ready to cook. Use this tip to get it done in a fraction of the time.

Small Kitchen Storage Ideas: How to Store Everything You Need to Cook in a Tiny Kitchen

Working and cooking in a small kitchen can be a real challenge.  My kitchen is soo small (how small is it)? It’s so small, that only one person can stand in it at a time.  With a space this tiny, clever small kitchen storage ideas are a necessity.

My counter is the size of a sheet of paper. No drawers. There are two standard size cabinets, and two half-size cabinets. And that’s it.

Here are some of the small kitchen storage ideas and organization hacks I use everyday so I can find what I need, and still get food on the table. Yes, I do cook in there!

Repurpose Other Products for Kitchen Storage

Look at organizing with a fresh eye; use a sock organizer for small jars and container lids.

This is supposed to be for socks, but I use several in my microwave cart in the kitchen. They’re great for keeping smaller items in one place. One has plastic container lids, another has small cans of tomato sauce and tomato paste. A third has small bottles (like sesame oil and rice vinegar), and a fourth one has boxes of tea. No socks in sight.

Mini spice storage

SE – Storage Container Set – Plastic, Round, Screw Top, 6 Pc
I stole this idea from my mom. I think she got them in a marine store (they were supposed to be for fishing lures). However, they’re also great for storing spices. They can be stacked, labeled, and stuck in a drawer or a cabinet, without taking up a lot of space.

Ten Easy Small Kitchen Storage Ideas

If your kitchen storage space is limited, then you need to think a bit creatively.

  1. Not a lot of floor space? Look up! Hang things from the walls. I’ve got my spice rack, wire shelving, teaspoons, and paper towels on the wall.
  2. Use wire racks to double your shelf space. I put wire shelves in my microwave cart, giving me two levels instead of just one.
  3. Get pots that stack! If you’re really stuck for cabinet space, try a marine or camping store. They’ve got sets of pots that stack into each other, so they take up less space.
  4. Measure appliances and space before you buy. Not every toaster oven or blender will fit. Take a tape measure when you go shopping, or measure (and write down) your counter size before you buy online.
  5. Look for double (or triple) duty appliances and furnishings. My microwave cart is also a cabinet, a towel holder, a knife block, storage for silverware, and counter space.
  6. Move cookbooks to another room. Since my living room/dining area/kitchen is all really one big space, the cookbooks are on a shelf over the TV. I only have to walk a few feet to get the one I need.
  7. Store plastic bags in an old tissue box. Thumbtack or nail it to the inside of a kitchen cabinet door. Or, for a more elegant solution, try a fabric plastic bag holder.
  8. Use wire baskets to separate your cleaning supplies, or keep all your pots together.
  9. Hang small appliances (like microwaves or toaster/ovens) under your cabinets.
  10. Get slide-out drawers for more storage.

Use Your Kitchen Door

An over-the-door spice rack saves counter and wall space.

over the door storage

Organize It All 3-Tier Wall-Mounted Spice Rack – Chrome

Keep all your spices organized and easy to reach. This spice rack is very sturdy, and big enough to clear out an entire cabinet of spices.

shelf on rails

Shelf on Rails Pantry Pull Out Shelf

Wire storage shelves are essential in small kitchens. You can use them to create an extra shelf (and get twice as much space in your cabinets), or just to keep your food, ingredients, or cleaning supplies all in one place.

Stack Everything

Get bowls, containers, and even pots that stack. They use less space.

stacking cookware

Stansport Stainless Steel 7 Piece Cookset

The pots nest inside each other, so they use up a lot less space than standard pots. If you’re really, really stuck for space, this set includes 4 quart , 3 quart, 2 quart and 1 quart pots, 10 inch fry pan, a universal lid and a detachable handle. The whole set fits in a small box (so you could even use it for actual camping if you wanted to).

Line Up Your Cookware Lids

coated wire shelf

Closet Maid Wire Shelf

I’ve had a couple of these for years. I’ve been using them to create split-level cabinets, get more room in my microwave cart, and to stack plates.

I just discovered, by accident, that they’re perfect for saucepan lids.   I went to put away a lid and accidentally put it between the shelf wires. It stuck! Now I have them all lined up. Easy to see the right one, and easy to pull it out and return it to its place.

Add a Pot/Utensil Rail

utensil rail

Kitchen Utensil Rail

Here’s an easy kitchen storage solution: hang your utensils, potholders, mugs, and pans on the wall.  This solution uses a lot less space, and you can see everything you have easily, without pawing through cupboards or utensil holders.

Multipurpose Small Kitchen Storage/Furniture

If you’ve got a tiny kitchen, a microwave cart (like the one below) is counter space, pantry, and towel rack.

microwave cart

This compact cart is made of real wood (not particle board). It’s got a counter top for extra workspace or small appliances, plus a towel rack, and a drawer for silverware. The cabinet underneath has a built-in shelf. Add more storage with wire baskets and shelving. Since it’s small (19×25, 34) you can push it out of the way when you’re not using it.


Whitmor Supreme Cart

This holds my recycling (on the bottom shelf, with bags tucked into a repurposed Amazon box), cat supplies in the middle, and coffee and tea supplies on the top.

It’s pretty easy to assemble, and you can adjust the shelves up and down to whatever height you like. And, it has wheels, so you can roll it out to get easier access.

It’s only 13″ wide, so it takes up very little space. If that’s too wide, there’s a smaller one that’s only 9″ wide.

Quick Soak Beans in an Hour

Waiting for dried beans to soak overnight can be a real pain (especially if you’re hungry).  You can, of course, buy them in cans, but the canned beans often have extra salt and/or preservatives in them.  Luckily, there is a way to speed up the process and quick soak the beans in an hour, rather than waiting overnight. Much better!

Here’s all you have to do.  Just measure out the amount of beans you need.  Put them in a large saucepan and cover them with water (about an inch or two over the top of the beans).  Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil. Let the beans boil for two minutes.

Turn off the heat, and allow them to rest for an hour.

They’re now ready to cook. These are cranberry (or Roman) beans, by the way. Sadly, they lose most of their color when you cook them. They are rather pretty though. And, I find they are firmer and tastier than kidney beans.

Recipes with Quick-Soak Beans

pasta e fagioli soupPasta e Fagioli Soup (Small Batch)

A classic Italian pasta and bean soup in a rich tomato broth. Downsized so it’s perfect for one person.


black beans and rice recipe one personBlack Beans and Rice Recipe for One Person

Pantry-friendly, and made with an ingredient you might not expect. Plus, it’s two recipes in one (cook it more you have beans, less and it’s soup).


spicy stovetop chiliSmall Batch Spicy Stovetop Chili Recipe

Ground beef, chili powder, garlic, and sriracha! Plus a bit of cinnamon to add warm spice and balance out the heat.

Easily Break Apart a Head of Garlic

Tip: How to Easily Break Apart a Head of Garlic

separate a head of garlic
How to separate a head of garlic

Need to break apart a head of garlic?  It may seem daunting, but there’s a secret trick that makes it simple and easy.

Here’s all you have to do. Just place the bulb on a cutting board, with the larger, wider side down, and the individual cloves pointing up (see photo on right).

Then take a sharp knife and push it straight down through the center of the head of garlic.  Essentially, pretend that you’re stabbing it! Then twist the knife back and forth.  The cloves will come apart easily.

Garlic Recipes

crispy garlic basil potato bitesCrispy Garlic Basil Potato Bites

Tiny crispy bites of potato nirvana, with fluffy interiors and a crispy outside. A lot easier (and faster) than fries.


garlic ginger turmeric riceGarlic Ginger Turmeric Rice

Packed with garlic, ginger, green cardamon pods, and a pinch of turmeric for that beautiful yellow color.  The cardamom adds a minty, citrus flavor. As is, it’s a side dish. Add a few more ingredients, and it’s dinner.


linguine with garlic and olive oilLinguine with Garlic and Olive Oil

Simple? Yes. But delicious.  And you can essentially make it from your cupboard.  No shopping required.


sauteed garlic parmesan spinachSauteed Garlic Parmesan Spinach

Just a few basic ingredients turn ordinary spinach into something special. Ready in minutes too.


Handy Garlic Tool

Premium Garlic Peeler

Once you’ve broken the head of garlic apart, here’s an easy tool for peeling the cloves. This is silly simple. All you have to do is put the garlic clove inside the tube. Then roll it around on your counter. The papery outside will come right off and your garlic clove is now peeled.

Top Kitchen Gadgets

cuisinart stick blender

Every cook loves kitchen gadgets. Hey, that’s part of what makes cooking fun. These are the top kitchen gadgets I own — the essential tools and utensils I can’t live without.

From a microplane grater to a garlic peeler, to an Oxo can opener, these gadgets make cooking much easier and faster.

Most of these are under $20. And, since they’re pretty cheap, you don’t have to feel guilty about treating yourself. They’d also make great gifts for your favorite cook.

Plus, I’ve added some helpful tips to give you more inspiration on how to use them.

Premium Garlic Peeler

If you’ve ever struggled trying to laboriously peel the skin off a clove of garlic, you know what a pain it is. It’s thin, it’s crinkly, and removing it is really hard.

Well, those days are done. Put a clove of garlic inside the tube, roll it around on your counter, and voila! It’s so easy, you may find that you just can’t stop using it. Just be mindful of the neighbors and your friends after you eat all that garlic!


Microplane Zester/Gratermicroplane zesterr

The microplane started its life in woodworking, as a rasp, and moved over to food. You can do lots of things with it. Use it to shave chocolate over a hot cup of cocoa or a freshly-baked cake. It’s also handy for grating hard cheese easily or zesting lemons. It also grates ginger (which is really hard to cut or chop with a knife).

The only tricky part for me is cleaning it (but that’s because I don’t have a dishwasher). It is dishwasher safe, so you can just toss it in and not worry about it.

It’s Sharp!
One thing about this zester, is that it is very, very sharp! Be careful when you use it, and make sure to keep it in the holder so you don’t scrape your hands when you pull it out of a drawer or gadget holder.

Oxo kitchen tongs

Kitchen tongs

These are great for tossing pasta, grilling fish, or transferring cutlets from egg to bread crumbs. The locking mechanism keeps them from getting stuck to other gadgets in your kitchen drawer. Like all Oxo products, they’re ergonomically designed so they’re easy to hold. I have the 12″ model, which is probably the best size for kitchen use. However, the longer ones (16″) would probably work well for a barbecue (when you need to be further away from the source of heat).

Premium Garlic Peeler

I love this potato peeler! My old peeler wasn’t very sharp and it hurt my hand. The good grips peeler really lives up to its name. It’s much easier to hold, my hand doesn’t hurt, and I could peel a whole peck of potatoes with this one and not mind.

And it doesn’t just stop with potatoes. It even peels butternut squash easily. I bought one and peeled it in seconds (without straining or hurting myself)! Wow!

Oxo can opener

OXO SteeL Can Opener

There are several Oxo can openers, but this one is the best— and has high ratings on Amazon too. It cuts through cans like a knife through soft butter! You can hardly tell the can is there.

It’s also really easy on your hands (my old metal can opener used to dig into my palms). And, it looks sleek and shiny sitting on my counter in my gadget holder.

cuisinart stick blender

Cuisinart  Immersion Hand Blender

Lots of soup recipes call for you to make the soup, puree it in small batches, and then return it to the pot. You have to get the big blender out, pour small amounts of soup in, puree it, then get another pot to put it in, and keep repeating over and over. You end up with 2 dirty pots and a dirty blender to clean.

With the immersion blender, you just prepare your soup, turn off the heat, stick the hand blender into the pot and whir away. It’s the best immersion blender I’ve tried. And, it snaps apart when you push a button, so you can just wash the shaft with the blade, and put the motor half to the side (where it won’t get wet).

Soup Cooking Tip
With this blender, you don’t have to bother pureeing soup in batches in your regular blender.
Just take the pot off the heat, stick the blender right in the pot, and whirr away. It’s a lot faster and easier to clean.

Vacu Vin Wine Saver Pump Black with Vacuum Wine Stopper - Keep Your Wine Fresh for up to 10 Days - 1 Pump 2 Stoppers - Reusable - Made in the Netherlands

Vacu Vin Wine Saver

Drinking wine with dinner is great, but when you’re one person, there’s always some left over. I used to stick it in the fridge, and then forget it was there. Two or three days later, I’d end up with a half bottle of really expensive vinegar. Not good.

My mom gave me a wine saver as a gift for the holidays one year and it’s great. All you have to do is pop on a stopper and vacuum the air out of the bottle with the little pump. The wine will stay fresh for nearly two weeks: no waste, and no vinegar.

Black and Decker food chopper

Black and Decker mini food chopper

This little gadget is great for mincing and chopping, without having to haul out (or clean) your big food processor. Use it to chop onions, bread crumbs, grind nuts, and mince fresh herbs. It’s easier to clean than a blender, and comes with a mini spatula to scrape down the sides.

Since it’s so small, you can keep it out on your kitchen counter, where it’s handy, rather than having to drag it down out of a cupboard.

stainless mesh tea ball

Stainless Steel Mesh Tea Ball

Lots of recipes call for adding spices, such as bay leaves or cloves, in cheesecloth so they can be removed later.

I’ve never seen cheesecloth in a store, and since I have a small kitchen, I don’t want to keep it around if I do find it. So, I use the tea ball instead. Rather than fishing out the bay leaves, cloves, or the peppercorns one by one (my dad does this!), I put them in the tea ball.

This way the flavor spreads into the soup, without making a mess. Pull the tea ball out with a spoon when you’re done. Pretty simple.

Oxo utensil holder

OXO Good Grips Brushed Stainless Steel Utensil Holder

I’ve got about 30 (maybe more) kitchen gadgets (trimming this page down to just a few top gadgets was hard!). My old gadget holder was looking pretty grim. So, I decided to treat myself to this sleek new one from Oxo.

It’s got three sections, so I can sort everything by type – spoons in one section, spatulas in the second, and everything else in the third. I wasn’t quite sure it would hold all my gadgets – but it does. It’s got an elliptical shape, so it doesn’t take up a lot of space (another plus, as space in my kitchen is at a premium).

What are some of your favorite kitchen gadgets? And do you have any unconventional ways to use them?