The One Trick That Cuts Your Cooking Time In Half

It turns out you can cook that frozen seafood right now. Plus, four more clever ways to get dinner on the table faster.

By Lynn Andriani

Don't Defrost the Fish

cod with lemon recipe

Waiting for frozen seafood to thaw can be a drag—which is why chef Jesse Cool of the Flea Street café in Menlo Park, California, skips that step. She sautés, broils and roasts fillets directly from frozen, just adding a few minutes to the usual cooking time. As the fish thaws, its juices infuse the pan sauce.

Get the recipe: Cod with Lemon, Olives and Capers

Toss Tacos Like Salad

shrimp taco salad recipe

DIY tacos are great. Filling 14 bowls of fixings and arranging them on the table, not so much. This throw-everything-in-a-bowl version is a major time-saver; think of it as moo shu pork, but Mexican. You mix all the taco fillings together on the table, place them on a serving platter and let everyone fill their own tortilla.

Get the recipe: Shrimp Tacos

Let Hot Water Do All the Work

noodle bowl recipe

A rich-tasting bowl of homemade noodle soup with vegetables is a dependable and healthy meal, but it isn't usually the speediest dinner, which is why we were thrilled to learn this shortcut: All you need to do is place thin egg noodles, powdered vegetable bouillon, a pinch of sugar and some shredded or chopped carrot, scallion, bok choy, garlic and chili into a container. Pour boiling water over everything and let stand 10 to 15 minutes. The noodles and vegetables will become soft and tender, and the water will turn into a delicious savory broth.

Get the recipe: Noodle Bowl

Freeze Beef for Just a Moment

beef stir fry recipe

Whether you're making fajitas, a stir-fry or some other dish that involves thin slices of beef, cutting the meat into a uniform size can be frustratingly time-consuming. The trick to getting the job done in a flash is to partially freeze the uncooked steak first. Place it in the freezer for 20 minutes, while preparing the rest of the ingredients; when you take it out, you should have no trouble slicing the beef into perfect, quick-cooking bite-size pieces.

Get the recipe: Stir-Fried Orange Beef with Sesame Seeds

Don't Just Preheat the Oven

cast iron potatoes recipe

The recent popularity of cast-iron skillets makes sense for so many reasons: The pans are a great value, incredibly durable and, as time-pressed cooks know, excellent conductors of heat. But a cast-iron skillet can be even handier if you stick it in the oven to preheat while the oven warms up. It doesn't matter if you're cooking chicken or potatoes; adding the ingredient to an already-hot pan will not only shave your overall cooking time but will also give the food a nice browned edge.

Get the recipe: Cast Iron-Roasted Potatoes with Rosemary and Onion

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