7 Ways to Use an Ice Tray That Will Change Your Life
Reinvent leftovers, create bite-size desserts and do so much more.
1. Make sorbet or frozen cocktails.
Turns out you don't
actually need an ice cream maker to make frozen desserts, as this easy trick shows
. Start with lemonade, either plain, flavored with a squirt of other citrus, such as lime, or infused with a few sprigs of lavender or rosemary. Pour it into trays, freeze and whiz in a blender until smooth. Serve in bowls and enjoy with spoons; or, pour into glasses, top each with a shot of vodka or gin and sip as a two-in-one cocktail-dessert.
2. Infuse your iced coffee.
You already know that freezing coffee into cubes is a great way to prevent your go-to summer morning drink from tasting watered down. But you can make this trick even more interesting by adding some spice
. If you grind your own beans, add a pod or two of cardamom to the grinder, so the brewed coffee will have a subtly spicy note. Another idea for frozen-coffee cubes: Mix a dash of milk, or coconut milk, into each for additional frosty creaminess.
3. Make handheld treats.
We may not be up for the task of forming marshmallow-rice cereal treats into works of art
, but turning them into two-bite desserts is definitely within reach. Instead of pressing the melted marshmallow-butter-crisps mixture into a greased baking pan, portion it into an ice cube tray you've coated with nonstick spray. Let cool, then remove each and serve as is; or, get crazy and dip each in candy melts
4. Have deglazing liquid at the ready.
A few spoonfuls of Merlot or Pinot Grigio are all you need to deglaze a pan
. The wine releases any browned bits of food that are stuck there and incorporates their delicious caramelized flavor back into whatever you're cooking. Next time you've got half a glass left in a bottle you know you won't finish, pour it into ice cube trays (one compartment holds about 2 Tbsp. of liquid). It won't fully freeze, but it'll come close, and the wine will thaw almost immediately when you place it in a hot pan. You can do the same thing with chicken, vegetable or beef stock; just know that these will freeze solidly and take slightly longer to defrost.
5. Access fresh herbs whenever you need them.
Defrosted parsley, rosemary, cilantro, thyme and other herbs won't look as pretty as fresh, but they can still add flavor to cooked dishes and sauces. Wash and dry them well, chop and place as much as you think you'll use at one time (say, 1 tsp.) into an ice-cube tray compartment. Pour olive oil over them to cover, then freeze. They'll thaw quickly, so you can add them directly to a hot pan.
6. Give the most basic drink a simple yet stunning makeover.
Edible flowers, small berries or even cut-up pieces of cucumber can turn a glass of ice water into something beautiful. Just use distilled water, which will stay clear and not fog up when frozen, filling each compartment almost to the top before dropping the embellishment in.
7. Add instant wow to breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Keep a stash of compound butter in your freezer, and you'll always have something to doctor up a baguette, melt over steak or chicken or swirl into soup for extra richness. A few we love: honey thyme
, orange cinnamon
or any combination of herbs
. Just spoon the butter into the ice cube tray and freeze; it will defrost to the perfect spreadable consistency at room temperature within 30 minutes or less.