Genius Ice Cube Tray Hacks

Article by Karla Walsh for EatThis,NotThat!

When you think about an ice cube tray, well, the concept of creating ice to pop into your drinks is all that comes to mind. However, your handy, reusable cube-maker can be used for so many more hacks than just simply chilling water.

“Freezing things this way in an ice cube tray is a great way to use leftover bits and bobs and to have them portioned for the future. You can let the cubes freeze solid, at least overnight, then pop them out and store them in a zipper-lock bag if you want to use your tray for something else,” says Hannah Crowley, executive editor of tastings and testings at America’s Test Kitchen in Brookline, Massachusetts.

So yes, there are tons of ice cube tray hacks that you might be surprised to uncover how much these trays can do! Try these tricks to make the most of your ice cube tray and create flavor-filled food in a flash

Slide 2 of 14: "Chilling coffee with regular ice cubes can lead to a watered-down product. Freezing brewed coffee in ice cube trays allows you to add that 'ice,' but as it melts, it's a continual dose of coffee," says Chanel Hayes, executive chef at Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts.If you prefer your coffee with a splash of dairy, freeze milk cubes, suggests Burt Cho, chef at Katsuya in Hollywood, California.RELATED: Sign up for our newsletter to get daily recipes and food news in your inbox!

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1. Chill coffee without watering it down

“Chilling coffee with regular ice cubes can lead to a watered-down product. Freezing brewed coffee in ice cube trays allows you to add that ‘ice,’ but as it melts, it’s a continual dose of coffee,” says Chanel Hayes, executive chef at Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts.

If you prefer your coffee with a splash of dairy, freeze milk cubes, suggests Burt Cho, chef at Katsuya in Hollywood, California.

Slide 3 of 14: Have some bonus Beaujolais? Pour it into small portions for easy access later on."I like to store wine in an ice cube tray," Crowley says. "It's a good way to use up the last bit of a bottle, especially after a party, and then I have some the next time I want to make a pan sauce or some soup. That way I don't have to use any of whatever I'm drinking that night!"RELATED: Your ultimate restaurant and supermarket survival guide is here!

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2. Preserve leftover wine

Have some bonus Beaujolais? Pour it into small portions for easy access later on. “I like to store wine in an ice cube tray,” Crowley says. “It’s a good way to use up the last bit of a bottle, especially after a party, and then I have some the next time I want to make a pan sauce or some soup. That way I don’t have to use any of whatever I’m drinking that night!”

3. Save stock

If you’ve gone through the effort of simmering up a pot of homemade stock or broth, you want to make the most of it, and that’s where the ice cube tray comes in. “I like to make a big batch of stock and store the leftovers in ice trays. This allows you to choose the quantity you need, so you don’t have to thaw large portions,” Hayes says.

Slide 5 of 14: Store herbs in broth, melted butter, or oil—the possibilities are truly endless! Dice herbs and cover with some liquid substance, then freeze to preserve summer's best to use all year long. Try the herb cubes melted into soups, sauces, or stir-fries, or simply melt a pat atop a grilled steak.

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4. Extend the life of herbs

Store herbs in broth, melted butter, or oil—the possibilities are truly endless! Dice herbs and cover with some liquid substance, then freeze to preserve summer’s best to use all year long. Try the herb cubes melted into soups, sauces, or stir-fries, or simply melt a pat atop a grilled steak.

5. Baby your DIY baby food

Instead of grabbing a jar, defrost a couple of cubes.

“I enjoy making my child’s food—and knowing that it was made from scratch with fresh ingredients,” Hayes says. She dedicates a day to meal prep a few different items (such as sweet potatoes, squash, and carrots), purée them, and then freeze each in a separate ice cube tray. “This way, my kid can have a variety of items in one day, and they’re all quick to heat up,” she says.

6. Make the most of fruit

Berries and bananas can go bad before you know it, so freezing them in cubes is a way to make them last a lot longer than they typically would.

“Purée and freeze fresh fruit at its prime, then try these as a replacement for store-bought frozen fruit for smoothies,” Hayes says. Or, you can pour the final few ounces of your 100% fruit juice into a tray and freeze it to later use them to top seltzers or cocktails with colorful, tasty cubes.

7. Build better buttermilk pancakes

A typical single-serving homemade pancake recipe calls for about 1/3 cup of buttermilk. Too bad it often comes in half-gallon containers, right? The solution: Fill one-ounce wells two-thirds of the way full with the rest of the bottle of buttermilk, then defrost four cubes to build batter for another short stack any time.

8. Waste no more egg whites

Using egg yolks for custards, ice cream, or hollandaise? Preserve the whites for another day by filling each ice cube well with one white. Then, you can thaw as many as you need for your recipe in the fridge overnight and use them to add a protein boost to your menu.

Use egg whites as the “glue” for spices on candied nuts, combine them with whole eggs to bring a stir-fry together, or scramble them with leftover vegetables and proteins.

9. Build a better (stiffer) bourbon drink

Calling all cocktail aficionados: Stock up on larger or spherical ice cube trays.

“A ball of ice is better than a cube because the less surface area that is exposed to the warm liquid, the slower the ice will melt. A sphere of ice will melt slightly slower than a cube of ice, so you can chill the drink without quickly diluting it,” says Mario Segura, chef at Umami Burger in Los Angeles, California.

10. Create crystal-clear cocktail coolers

If you want your ice to be as clear and cool as your favorite cocktail bar, try Crowley’s trick.

“Restaurant ice is bubble-free if it comes from commercial ice machines that have purifiers and freeze the water really fast,” she says. “You can make similarly-sharp cubes at home by boiling distilled water and freezing it—no need to cool first. This makes clear ice, like all the fancy bars serve now, and the clear ice actually stays frozen longer than regular ice, making it perfect for cocktails.”

11. Chill caramelized onions

A bit nutty, a bit sweet, a bit tangy—caramelized onions lend a delicious flavor to soups, sauces, and pasta. What we’re not so wild about is the 45 minutes or so it takes to get them lusciously jammy. Luckily, they freeze up just fine if you pack them into ice cube wells tightly—no other ingredients required. Caramelize several onions at once, then store in a zip-top bag (with as much of the air pressed out as possible) in the freezer for up to three months.

Slide 13 of 14: Bakery-bought chocolate-covered strawberries can cost upwards of $3 each. Try this ice cube tray hack to save cash.Combine two cups of chocolate chips with two tablespoons of coconut oil and microwave at 45-second intervals at 50% power until melted, stirring between each shift.Fill each of the 12 ice cube wells a little over half full with the chocolate mixture, then press a whole strawberry, stem-side up, on top to coat most of the sides of the berry.Freeze until the chocolate is solid, then pop them out and dig in.
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12. Make speedy chocolate-covered strawberries

Bakery-bought chocolate-covered strawberries can cost upwards of $3 each. Try this ice cube tray hack to save cash.

Combine two cups of chocolate chips with two tablespoons of coconut oil and microwave at 45-second intervals at 50% power until melted, stirring between each shift.

Fill each of the 12 ice cube wells a little over half full with the chocolate mixture, then press a whole strawberry, stem-side up, on top to coat most of the sides of the berry.

Freeze until the chocolate is solid, then pop them out and dig in.

Slide 14 of 14: Dress up your daily dose of water with some spiffed-up cubes."Freeze citrus juice and zest, fresh berries, or even edible flowers in water to make your drink a little fancier," Hayes says. Who doesn't love a daily dose of spa water, no getaway needed?For more, check out these 108 most popular sodas ranked by how toxic they are.
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13. Make H2O happier with infused ice

Dress up your daily dose of water with some spiffed-up cubes.

“Freeze citrus juice and zest, fresh berries, or even edible flowers in water to make your drink a little fancier,” Hayes says. Who doesn’t love a daily dose of spa water, no getaway needed?

Source: https://www.msn.com/en-us/foodanddrink/foodnews/13-genius-ice-cube-tray-hacks-that-ll-blow-your-mind/ss-BB18mr4Q#image=14

THE ONE LAS VEGAS EXPERIENCE EVERYONE IS MISSING OUT ON

Awesome kayaking day trip from Las Vegas. Kayak Black Canyon near the Hoover Dam. / Travel Mindset

THE ONE LAS VEGAS EXPERIENCE EVERYONE IS MISSING OUT ON

By Bobby Christian

Black Canyon kayaking tour is the one Las Vegas experience everyone is missing out on.  Within an hour from the strip, Lake Mojave winds its way between towering canyon walls and alongside some of the most unexpected terrain in the American Southwest, including cave saunas, island turquoise water, and secluded hot springs. 

On a recent Viator Tour, I embarked on a full day kayaking trip that is now my go-to Vegas adventure.

Starting bright and early, the Viator tour picks you up from your Vegas hotel and takes you for a 50- minute drive to the desert. Once there, you are teamed up with your kayak (they have double or single kayaks, depending on who you are traveling with) and the skillful and friendly guide talks about the type of trip you’re about to embark on. Depending on the day, kayakers have been known to see bald eagles, Big Horn sheep, and hawks. And that’s just the wildlife. 

The kayak trip is long- it’s a full day- and you’ll be kayaking for most of it. The full course is 12 miles, with lots of stops along the way. The adventure stops and the changing scenery were my favorite part of the entire tour.

While the trip down stream is lined with dozens of stops, here are my picks for Black Canyon’s top five most amazing sights and experiences.

1.) Emerald Cove – Pulling into the cove, the clear emerald water tosses up a web of teal light that dances across the cavern walls.  This is one of the most talked about spots on the river, and being within two miles of the Marina, is the most accessible stop for visitors not wanting a full day trip. 

2.) Sauna Cave – Simply put, this is one of my top travel surprises ever. Climbing into the cave, the desert atmosphere is immediately replaced by thick, humid air and a wading pool knee-to-waist deep. Along the walls, the rock exterior is gradually overtaken by what look like flowstones giving the pitch-black corridor a magical feel.  Slowly the water subsides and the cave dead ends into a small cavern, where the thick sauna air can reach 120 degree Fahrenheit, perfect for a steam. 

3.) Arizona Hot Springs – These hot pools, sunk in between narrow canyon walls are the most secluded springs I’ve ever visited.  Just a short hike from the shore, and at the top of a waterfall, this series of pools is literally wedged between towering canyon walls making the entire experience feel like you’ve stumbled upon something secret. 

4.) Gold Strike Canyon – Weeping Rocks, waterfalls, and temperature controlled hot springs, this is one of the most geologically exciting places I’ve visited and I don’t understand how I hadn’t heard about it before.  Nearly right off the shore, the canyon is covered in a huge variety of eye-catching sights, like weeping rocks and waterfalls.  One of the highlights was a hot pool built at the base of two streams, one hot and one cold, so the bathers could naturally regulate the temperature.

5.) The River/Lake – Emerald green, sapphire blue, the water is the color of Italian sorbet, and, continually, its vibrancy blew me away.  Not only is the water in Black Canyon nearly identical to ocean in Cancun, it’s unbelievably clear.  The Hoover Dam filters out sediment from upstream, so when paddling through the canyon, the lakebed is visible down to nearly 30 feet, all along the way I could watch submerged rock towers pass beneath the kayak.

Must note: The only way to reach the starting point of the tour, with a kayak put-in right under the Hoover Dam, is to take this Viator tour. They only allow 40 park passes a day and while you can express Black Canyon through the park without a pass, you can not get that close to the Dam without one. 

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