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The 9 Hacks You Need If You're Just Learning How To Cook

Make things easier on yourself.

Learning how to cook can be intimidating -- there's a lot to know and a whole lot you can mess up. But if you've resolved to put down those takeout menus and be done with the store-bought freezer meals, we're here to help -- with hacks.

There are so many cooking hacks circulating the Internet these days -- and not all of them work or are even that useful. When you're just starting to cook, some of these hacks can do more harm than good. To ensure that you don't get discouraged with bad information, we've rounded up the best, most useful tricks and tips we could think of to help you on your new culinary journey.

Here's what you need to know:

1. There's an easier way to cut open a butternut squash.

Don't risk cutting off your fingers. Poke the squash all over with a fork, microwave it for five minutes, and THEN peel it. It's like cutting through butter.

2. The rice cooker is for way more than just rice.

Seriously. You can use this appliance to steam veggies, make mashed potatoes and even make chocolate fondue with ease. If you own one of these, your cooking repertoire just expanded.

3. There's a way to save burned cookies.

No one has to know. Just pull out a box grater and scrape away with the burned bottoms. It's that easy.

4. Don't waste time peeling lots of garlic with your fingers.

If you're planning on cooking with lots of garlic -- which you should, because it's delicious -- use two bowls and give them a strong shake to do all the peeling for you.

5. Core a head of lettuce in no time.

Time is money, and peeling away leaves of romaine from a head is a waste. Get the job done in three seconds with nothing more than a kitchen knife. Just cut a circle around the core of the lettuce and pull it out. Viola, the leaves are ready to be washed and turned into a delicious salad.

6. The easiest way to clean a blender is to blend more.

Blenders can be a pain to clean -- so much so that it'll make you not want to use one anymore. There's an easier way. Just fill the blender with soap and water and blend. It'll clean out all those hard-to-reach crevices.

7. If baking scares the bejeezus out of you, use the microwave.

Ain't no shame in the mug cake game. (Because yes, you can "bake" a cake in a mug in the microwave. And even cookies, too.) Don't think of this as cheating. Think of it as an introduction to baking.

8. Don't bother chopping onions.

Just grate them with a cheese grater. It really can be that easy. Same with garlic -- you can grate garlic with a microplane to quickly "chop" it.

9. Add water to the pan to cook perfect bacon.

Bacon can be tricky to cook right. It's easily undercooked or overcooked, and getting it done just perfectly sometimes feels like an elusive feat only possible for breakfast restaurant chefs. Not so. Adding water to the pan when it starts to cook will give you perfectly chewy bacon every time. Here's how.

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