Cold fish

Photo: Christopher Testani

Don't Defrost the Fish
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
Shrimp tacos

Photo: Alison Gootee

Toss Tacos Like Salad
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
Noodle bowl

Photo: Kana Okada

Let Hot Water Do All the Work
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
Cut beef

Photo: John Kernick

Freeze Beef for Just a Moment
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
Potatoes in a cast iron skillet

Photo: Oxmoor House

Don't Just Preheat the Oven
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