Sheet pan suppers, muffin-tin meals

A sheet pan, a handful of ingredients and less than half an hour are all it takes to make fast meals full of oven-roasted flavor. And cleanup is a breeze.

Rotate the pan halfway through the baking time to help ensure even cooking, and if you're using an older oven that seems unreliable, consider spending less than $10 on an oven thermometer so you can set it to the correct temperature. It's not uncommon for older ovens to be inaccurate by as much as 100 degrees.

Just as a cookie sheet can be put to work to make supper, muffin tins can make more than breakfast food. Layer wonton wrappers with ricotta cheese, vegetables and tomato sauce for individual lasagnas, or follow the same method with salsa and Cheddar cheese for a Mexican-inspired version.

Blender basics

Although an electric blender may more commonly be used for making smoothies and shakes, it's also a handy tool for sauces, soups and many other recipes, from hummus to salsa, especially if you don't own a food processor. Be judicious when pushing those buttons, as ingredients can go quickly from chunky to puréed; it's a good idea to take advantage of the pulse function if you want to retain some texture.

And here's a pro tip to save your fingers from sharp blades when trying to clean that blender: As soon as you empty the contents of the blender, rinse it out with water. Then add a few drops of dishwashing liquid, fill the blender halfway with hot water, cover and place it back on the motor and run it on high for about 20 seconds. Rinse and let it drip-dry.

Kristen Hartke