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When you cook with love, those around you take notice. Though most wish they were better skilled in the kitchen, it does not come naturally for everyone. However, with the tips and tricks outlined here, you can expand on what you already know, and take your cooking to the next level.

In order to make the process of cooking easier, you should take to time to make large amounts of meat or vegetable stock and store it in the freezer. Not only is making your own stock less expensive than buying it from a retailer, but it makes it easy to keep a large supply on hand. Simply freeze the stock in small and clearly labeled portions and then take out what you need when you need it!

Learn to use your hands when cooking (after washing them thoroughly first of course!). Hands are the most sensitive yet versatile cooking utensil you will own. They can be used for mixing, measuring and testing whether a product is cooked enough. A cake, for example, will show that it is done by springing back when touched lightly with a finger on its top.

Always bring your steaks to room temperature before cooking them. A steak that is still cold in the center will not cook as evenly as one that is brought up to room temperature. Usually taking them out one hour in advance will get them to the proper temperature at cooking time.

You can reduce the fat and calorie content of regular mashed potatoes by substituting part of the potatoes with mashed cauliflower. This won’t affect the taste but it adds a handful of nutrition. Cauliflower has a kind of bland taste that mixes well with potatoes and the other ingredients in them. Cauliflower is also the same texture and color of potatoes when mashed so it’s a great way to add more veggies, while lowering calories from classic mashed potatoes.

A granite surface is great for thawing frozen foods, usually taking less than half of the time necessary for typical counter top thawing because granite absorbs the cold (and heat) of items placed on top of it so granite literally “sucks out” the cold from your frozen foods. Granite is also an amazing surface for pastry preparation when dusted with a little flour. If you can’t afford to redo your kitchen in granite, check out a granite dealer for scrap pieces or have a smaller piece cut and polished for a fraction of the cost of remodeling your kitchen.

When you are chopping onions for a home cooked salsa make sure you rinse them. Rinse your onions immediately after you cut them then blot them dry with a napkin. This will remove the sulfurous gas and will make your salsa taste better. This works well for other recipes too.

Impress those you care about with your new-found cooking skills. With a bit of effort, some trial and error, and the tips provided in this article, you can take your cooking up a notch. Time in the kitchen should be enjoyed. Use what you have learned, and go cook up a storm.

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