Food Blogger Bites: What’s the one tip that’s changed your cooking forever?

The little things can make a big difference — especially when it comes to cooking. While we wish we had all day to devote to concocting delicious dinners and desserts all day, the truth is as parents, this often falls to the wayside. The solution? Shortcuts and tips that will have you wondering why you ever did it any other way.

Our Top 100 Food Bloggers of 2012 have shared the simple tricks that make their days in the kitchen easier, faster, and more fun. From freezing cookies beforehand to getting a handle on those knife skills, you’ll find something to help your cooking skills — and make the rest of the family happy to be your taste testers!

Check out their most valuable cooking tips after the jump!

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  • Make a schedule 1 of 21
    Make a schedule
    When cooking a big holiday meal, I've learned that it's all about the timing. I make a schedule so I know exactly when I need to prep and cook the different foods on my menu. I also prepare as much of the food as I can ahead of time so that I'm not running around like a crazy person at the last minute trying to get everything ready in time for dinner.
    - Megan, Food and Whine
    Photo credit: Flickr user notahipster
  • Prep food ahead of time 2 of 21
    Prep food ahead of time
    I prep food when I have any sliver of time available. This means cutting and cleaning fruits and veggies, storing them in the fridge for when we need quick snacks or to prepare recipes.
    - Marla, Family Fresh Cooking
    Photo credit: Flickr user dinnerseries
  • Freeze cookie dough in individual balls 3 of 21
    Freeze cookie dough in individual balls
    Freeze cookie dough in individual balls so they can be taken straight to the baking sheet. This is so helpful when putting together trays of cookies!
    - Kelsey, The Naptime Chef
    Photo credit: Flickr user pyxopotamus
  • Invest in good cookware 4 of 21
    Invest in good cookware
    Invest in good pots and pans. After I did, I realized that many of my cooking disasters (uneven cooking, burning, scorching) could have been prevented with a heavier, thicker-bottomed pan. Having a proper-fitting lid nearby can also help control temperatures and improve braising and steaming. My pans not only conduct and retain heat well, they are pretty enough to take from stovetop to tabletop. And we can all use one less dish to wash amid hectic holiday hosting.
    - Kelly, Dinner du Jour
    Photo credit:Flickr user jonesggallery
  • Cook meat low and slow 5 of 21
    Cook meat low and slow
    Cooking meat low and slow is pure magic. Throw a beef shank in a pot, cover it with a bottle of wine, and leave it in the oven overnight. This was last year's Christmas Eve dinner.
    - Phyllis, Dash and Bella
    Photo credit: Flickr user jason-riedy
  • Add a little liquor to desserts 6 of 21
    Add a little liquor to desserts
    When I first met my Hungarian mother-in-law, I learned that most of her chocolate desserts have a bit of liquor in them. She prefers rum; I alternate between rum and bourbon. No one has complained about my brownies ever since.
    - Erika, In Erika's Kitchen
    Photo credit: Flickr user jeffreyww
  • Leave chunks of butter in your crusts 7 of 21
    Leave chunks of butter in your crusts
    I have no doubt in my mind that it was my trip up to Vermont to learn more about baking with the masters of flour; King Arthur. They taught me several indispensible tips for making simply delectable pie crusts and puff pastry that will forever be a part of my sweet creation arsenal from here on out. The secret? Big glorious hunks of butter left intact inside the dough.
    - Julie, Mommie Cooks
    Photo credit: Flickr user cookbookman
  • Use oven bags 8 of 21
    Use oven bags
    One thing that changed my holiday cooking forever is brining my turkey and cooking it in an oven bag. Oven Bags are awesome because you don't have to keep opening your oven to baste your turkey!
    - Leslie, The Hungry Housewife
    Photo credit: Flickr user slgc
  • Sweet and salty 9 of 21
    Sweet and salty
    I add a little touch of salt to everything sweet and a little bit of sugar to everything savory.
    - Emma, My Darling Lemon Thyme
    Photo credit: Flickr user pat_ossa
  • Stick with what you know 10 of 21
    Stick with what you know
    It seems that each year we typically have the same Thanksgiving day feast. Our plates are filled with family favorites. Stick with the tried and true recipes that your family loves. Everyone will be happy and content and walk away satisfied. Make a copy of your long grocery list, and store it with the recipes you will be making. You won't have to sit and think about all the groceries needed for this fabulous family meal. It's already made!
    - Jonna, Get Off Your Butt and BAKE!
    Photo credit: Flickr user dinnerseries
  • Freeze dishes beforehand 11 of 21
    Freeze dishes beforehand
    My one tip that really helps me out tremendously during the holidays is knowing that is is okay to freeze dishes beforehand. I would stress about how to time everything so that things would arrive at the table hot and beautifully fresh. However, it is nearly impossible to feed a large crowd and have everything be prepared that day, especially when family is staying in your home for multiple days (needing multiple meals to eat per day!). These fall scones are a good example. I make loads of them, stack them between sheets of wax paper and freeze them. I have to remember to give them plenty of time to thaw. In the morning or for afternoon coffee, I can pop them into the oven and everyone can enjoy hot delicious baked goods.
    -Sarah, Snippets of Thyme
    Get the recipe at Snippets of Thyme
  • Marinate your turkey in booze 12 of 21
    Marinate your turkey in booze
    When I finally learned my mom's turkey recipe and found out that she marinates the bird in three cups of booze for a few days, I went from having a turkey at Thanksgiving to being a rock star in my husband's eyes. He's even told his mother that mine's the best he's ever had (and what guy does that?!).
    - Christiane, Taking on Magazines
    Get the recipe at Taking on Magazines
  • Mislabel the goodies 13 of 21
    Mislabel the goodies
    Make cookies, and before you freeze them label them smoked fish. No one touches them until Christmas time. Also, prep everything the night before, because you'll always be rushed the next day otherwise.
    - Michelle, The Tiffin Box
    Photo credit: Flickr user artfulgourmet
  • Learning how to chop correctly 14 of 21
    Learning how to chop correctly
    Learn how to chop correctly. And to always use sharp knives. (Invest in them even if you don't love to cook; you may find that you like it more than you think once it gets WAY easier with good knives.) A great, sharp knife and proper technique — which is easy — cuts prep time and frustration by an order of magnitude. This is especially important during the holidays when there's so. much. prep. work! You don't have to go to cooking school to learn how to cut well. Check out YouTube for tutorials on how to cut an onion. You'll be amazed at what a difference it makes.
    - Stacie, One Hungry Mama
    Photo credit: Flickr user neilconway
  • Less is More 15 of 21
    Less is More
    When the holidays roll around I tend to go overboard in every aspect, including holiday meal and edible gift planning and preparation. As cliché as it sounds, when I remember to simplify I enjoy the holiday more, my family enjoys me more, and the foods I do put the effort into making taste better and have more love in them.
    - Jen, Delightful Delicacies
    Get the recipes at Delightful Delicacies
  • Prepare spice blends in advance 16 of 21
    Prepare spice blends in advance
    To prepare a versatile Mangalorean spice blend called Bafat Powder in advance and in bulk — helps save time grinding masalas as all you need to do is add the blend when you want any curry in a jiffy — be it vegetarian or non vegetarian. Works great for fried fish too!
    - Shireen, Ruchik Randhap
    Get the recipe at Ruchik Randhap
  • Make stock in advance 17 of 21
    Make stock in advance
    Japanese food uses dashi stock as the base for a lot of dishes from appetizers to main dishes. As families gather together during the colder months, dashi stock is also used to make Nabe (hot pot) dishes. Around the holiday season, I was taught to make a big batch of homemade dashi stock with good quality ingredients in advance and keep it in the refrigerator (can last for a week). This simple instruction from my mom saved so much time and effort, and it's one tip that I have been following for the holiday season.
    - Namiko, Just One Cookbook
    Get the recipe at Just One Cookbook
  • Give homemade food 18 of 21
    Give homemade food
    People LOVE homemade foodie gifts! You can use lovely seasonal produce to make jams or chutneys, or bake up batches of candied nuts and biscotti — whatever it is, homemade gifts are appreciated for their thoughtfulness, tastiness, and usefulness. Tick, tick, tick!
    - Amanda, Easy Peasy Organic
    Get the recipe at Easy Peasy Organic
  • Make dishes that can be served at room temperature 19 of 21
    Make dishes that can be served at room temperature
    My mother once told me that when you're having a big party, it's a good idea to make mostly dishes that can be served at room temperature -- takes so much of the stress out of getting the meal on the table! This onion confit is a great example.
    - Merrill, Food52
    Get the recipe at Food52
  • Use a slow cooker liner 20 of 21
    Use a slow cooker liner
    Using a slow cooker liner to keep turkey and chicken moist! You place the poultry in the liner and tie it with kitchen string. Place the lid on your slow cooker and you get moist, delicious turkey every time!
    - Karen, 365 Days of Slow Cooking
    Get the recipe at 365 Days of Slow Cooking
  • Use a cheese shaker for flour 21 of 21
    Use a cheese shaker for flour
    I use a parmesan cheese shaker to keep flour at the ready for dusting surfaces before rolling out cookies.
    - Jaime, Prudent Baby
    Read more at Prudent Baby

What’s your number-one cooking tip? Share it in the comments!

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