If there's one thing that we really loved about 2012, it's all the kitchen tips we learned throughout the year. Cooking, baking or just general kitchen maintenance is too time consuming -- but these hacks make it infintely easier. Honestly, we don't know how we got through the day without them. And to make your life easier in 2013, we've assembled our favorite kitchen hacks in one simple list. It's our holiday gift to you.
1.) Make boxed cake mix taste like it was made from scratch. You can make a boxed cake mix taste homemade with seven easy tricks, like adding extra eggs. Because really, who has time to make one from scratch anymore.
2.) Save your salty soup. If you tend to over-salt your soups -- some of us have no restraint with that salt shaker -- you can use a potato to make it better. Add a peeled potato to the salty soup for 15 minutes, and then discard it. The potato will have soaked up a nice amount of salt.
3.) Use a syringe to decorate cookies. Decorating cookies can be hard. And working with a pipping bag is infuriating. Why bother with it? Use a syringe for surgical decorating presicion and ease.
4.) There's a new way to cook bacon. And some say it's better then using the frying pan, oven or even microwave: give it a try in your waffle maker.
5.) Yes, burnt cookies can be saved. If you've ever burned your cookies, you know how disappointing it can be. Not only was your time and effort wasted, but you also don't get to eat freshly-baked cookies. If you own a boxed grater, burnt cookies are no longer an issue. Just grate off the burnt part. It's that easy.
6.) Never peel hard-boiled eggs again. If you don't need a whole hard-boiled egg, you can forego the headache of peeling altogether. Cut the egg in half with a knife, and scoop out the two halves with a spoon.
7.) There's a secret to having a no-stick cake. If you have problems with your baked cakes sticking to the pan, but you don't want to buy those fancy miracle-release products, make your own with vegetable shortening, vegetable oil and flour.
8.) You don't need an oven to bake cookies, just a stove top. If your oven is busted or you just don't have one, "bake" your cookies on the stove. It's very similar to making pancakes -- you even have to flip them.
9.) There's a fast way to chill wine. When we want something, we want it now. And that's definitely true when it comes to our wine. With a bucket, ice and salt, you can chill wine in just six minutes.
10.) Even if you can't face the nightmare of working with frosting, you can still decorate cakes and cupcakes. With a piece of lace, you can make your cakes and cupcakes look just as pretty as frosting can. Lay the lace down on the baked good, sift powdered sugar or cocoa on top, and gently remove the lace. A pretty pattern will be left behind.
11.) Stop garbage disposal stink with vinegar ice cubes. Disposals see a lot of garbage; it's normal that they should start to stink from time to time. To get rid of that smell, throw in a couple of ice cubes made with vinegar. Vinegar is the ultimate in odor problem solving.
12.) You. Can. Freeze. Avocados. We know, this blew our minds too. You can freeze your avocados when they're in season to enjoy them all year long. The texture will change slightly, but the flavor stays the same. This means you'll be enjoying a lot more guacamole come wintertime.
13.) Frost cupcakes like a professional. If you've ever wanted pro cupcake skills, now you have them. With two frostings, two piping bags and just one tip, you can make a swirled frosting for your cupcake.
14.) Make hard-boiled eggs in the oven. If you ever need to make a lot of hard-boiled eggs, like when deviled eggs are on the menu, you can get the job done a lot easier if you cook them in the oven.
15.) Keep your fridge clean with cling-wrap. If you're tired of scrubbing your fridge because of the inevitable spills and messes, just line the shelves with cling-wrap. Once it gets dirty, just throw out the cling-wrap and lay down a new layer.
Want to bake a cake to celebrate all those great new hacks you learned. Check out these cake baking tips before you get started.
Neglecting To Grease And Flour The Pan
Almost every recipe calls for greasing, or greasing and flouring a cake pan prior to pouring in the batter -- in fact it's usually the first instruction right after the one about preheating the oven. It's really a step that shouldn't be skipped, because it makes all the difference whether a baked cake will fall easily out of the pan or stick right in -- there's no saving grace in that. Photo from <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/theatrical03/2374344245/" target="_hplink">TheatricAL 03, Flickr</a>.
Not Sifting The Dry Ingredients
Many people skip sifting because they think it's a waste of time, but actually sifting is very important because it can avoid many problems that may arise after the cake is baked. First, sifting removes lumps from the flour, ensuring your cake will be free of dry lumps. Second, sifting better incorporates the leavener (baking powder and/or soda) so you won't end up with cake that has a surface similar to that of the moon's. Photo from <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/chriswaits/6607823843/" target="_hplink">waitscm, Flickr</a>.
Undermixing The Batter
Undermixing is easily evident in chocolate batters where you'll see swirls of white and black in the finished cake -- unless you were going for the marbled look, it's definitely a mistake. Make sure to adequately combine the batter by folding the ingredients gently while being careful not to overmix either. It's a fine balance, but you'll know once a cake is well incorporated when nearly all the flour has been absorbed. Photo from <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/mishism/3139862276/" target="_hplink">MiiiSH, Flickr</a>.
Overmixing The Batter
Overmixing a batter is very easy to do especially since most people now rely on their trusty stand mixers. Too much air in a cake will likely result in a fallen cake. Once you've beaten in your sugar and butter, it's best to continue with a light hand and fold in the dry ingredients as gently as possible. Photo from <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24013072@N05/6546583881/" target="_hplink">YoAmes, Flickr</a>.
Not Using Parchment Paper
Sometimes greasing and flouring isn't enough -- the best, most foolproof method to ensure your cakes come out of the pan every time is to use parchment paper to line the bottom and sides. This is especially so for dense, fudgey cakes, which would otherwise require you to spoon pieces out of the pan even if you did grease and flour it. Photo from <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/22995353@N08/3468532858/" target="_hplink">From Argentina With Love, Flickr</a>.
Neglecting To Smooth The Top
It's important to smooth out your cake batter once you've poured it into the pan. Not only does it help work out large air cavities, it also ensures the top of your cake will be evenly baked, smooth and free of mounds and valleys. Photo from <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24013072@N05/6546595899/" target="_hplink">YoAmes, Flickr</a>.
Forgetting To Tap The Pan Before Baking
Now that you've smoothed the surface of the cake batter, the next step is to tap the cake. This step removes any errant air bubbles that may have gotten trapped in the batter (this is especially so with thick batters). Getting out the air bubbles now ensures your cake won't fall later (that is unless you open the oven door to peek too much). You also will prevent the formation of any craters during baking, which would otherwise leave large holes on the surface of the baked cake. Photo from <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/quiddle/394838120/" target="_hplink">tquiddle, Flickr</a>.
Opening The Oven Door During Baking
Many of us are tempted to open the oven door while our cake is baking just to see how it's doing, but please, don't. Opening the door can create great fluctuations in heat, which can cause your cake to collapse. If you've got an oven door window, look through it instead. Otherwise, don't open the door until it gets close to the finish time (this is especially so with flourless cake and cheesecake). Photo from <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/peapodlabs/7109990343/" target="_hplink">peapod labs, Flickr</a>.
Overcrowding The Oven
If you're baking a multiple layer cake, you may be tempted to bake all the layers at once, however, it's not a good idea to have more than two cake pans in the oven at one time. The temperature of the oven will be affected and the cakes won't bake normally because the air won't circulate properly. Instead choose to bake the cake in batches and always place the pan in the center of the oven. Photo from <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lpolinsky/5179760149/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_hplink">lpolinsky, Flickr</a>.
Overfilling The Pan/Too Small Pan
If you've ever had a cake that's had a great big volcano-like hump in the middle, one reason why may be because the pan you used was too small. If a recipe calls for a 9-inch cake pan, don't use an 8-inch in a pinch -- your cake may end up with a hump in the middle -- or worst case scenario the cake will grow out of the pan as pictured. Photo from <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/cefeida/2122045779/" target="_hplink">Magic Madzik, Flickr</a>.
Underbaking/Removing The Cake Too Early
Maybe you opened the oven door too soon or you were just too eager and removed the cake ahead of its finish time, but you've got a fallen cake on your hands because you probably didn't test it. The best method for testing a cake's doneness is with a skewer or toothpick, inserted into the middle of the cake. If, and only if, the pick comes out clean is the cake done (unless you're making fudge brownies where you want a few crumbs attached to the pick). Even if you must bake your cake a little past the time the recipe indicates, it's better to do so than risk a collapsed cake. Photo from <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/whitneyinchicago/4048086798/" target="_hplink">whitneyinchicago, Flickr</a>.
Not Cooling The Cake
Proper cooling of a cake is a very important step after baking -- you want the cake too fall right out of the pan especially if you've greased and floured or parchment-papered it. After removing your cake from the oven, let it cool slightly in the pan up until the top feels firm -- this gives the cake a chance to finish baking from within and acclimate itself to room temperature. Then turn it out onto a cooling rack to cool completely (don't frost until it's completely cool). Whatever you do, don't cool the cake too rapidly by placing it in a cold environment like a refrigerator -- the rapid cooling will shock the cake, making it stick to the pan, collapse or both. Photo from <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/yortw/5847573977/" target="_hplink">Yortw, Flickr</a>.
WATCH: Cake Baking Basics
Expert Amanda Oakleaf presents the basics of how to make a cake, before you graduate to cake decorating.
Related on HuffPost: