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Quick Dinner Ideas and Kitchen Shortcuts

Three Easy Kitchen Shortcuts

A trio of smart tip-saving ideas.

Ground beef divided into square sections in a plastic ziploc bagJohn Lawton

The Fastest Way to Freeze (and Retrieve) Ground Meat

Fill a zippered plastic bag with raw meat, press it flat, and seal. Score the meat into equal sections by pressing a chopstick over the bag, tic-tac-toe–style, then freeze the grid flat. The next time you need ground beef, simply break off enough for your recipe.

The Fastest Way to Upgrade Your Cabinet Hardware

To give new, shiny brass hardware an instant patina, rub the knobs and the pulls with fine-grit sandpaper. For the most even finish, sand in only one direction.

The Fastest Way to Tell if Eggs Are Fresh

Toss Humpty Dumpty, gently, into a bowl of water. If the egg sinks to the bottom and lies on its side, it’s fresh. If it sinks and stands large-end up, get crackin’ in a few days, since it’s on the verge of going bad. If it floats, toss it. (Subsequently notifying all the king’s horses is optional.)

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Quick Tip

Aluminum foil and plastic wrap in a drawer

The flan can be baked up to 3 days in advance; refrigerate, loosely covered with plastic wrap. Unmold just before serving.