Real Simple magazine staffers spent days putting 16 different gadgets through their paces, trying to find new uses that actually work.
The magazine's Kris Connell shares six of these ideas on The Early Show.
Ice Cream Maker
While making ice cream may often sound like a good idea, it requires a lot of time and a long list of ingredients. However, making a Cola Slushy takes little time and nothing more than a can of soda.
Set up the machine as though you were going to make ice cream. (Freezing the canister, etc) Then, pour in one 12-ounce can of soda and start the machine. A thick slush will form after 10 to 15 minutes. Simply scoop into glasses and serve. This is even easier than running to QuikTrip, and it's certainly cheaper.
You can use this same process to create other delicious frozen, slushy drinks such as frozen hot chocolate, lemonade or even margaritas. Remember: Add the alcohol after the liquid has turned slushy.
Move your pasta maker from the kitchen into the office and use it to shred paper. It's almost like the machine was made for this purpose, Real Simple reports. You can shred mundane items like bills and bank statements to protect yourself from identity theft. Or, shred tissue paper or wrapping paper. Use the colorful shreds to pad gifts or cushion cookies.
This tip is for people who don't use their coffee pots frequently. If you just have a coffee pot so you can offer guests a cup with dessert, or you got one as a gift, but find it easier to run to Starbucks, the following idea is for you. Real Simple suggests using the pot to brew fruit-infused tea. Serve it cold and it is a great summer refreshment.
For peach tea, place eight tea bags and one chopped ripe peach in the filter and brew with four cups of water. Try this trick with any berry, apples or even dried fruits.
You can also use your coffee pot to make spiced cider by placing spices, ginger and orange slices in the filter and brewing with cider instead of water.
The next time you or your family is craving grilled cheese, try making the sandwich in your waffle maker instead of on a griddle. The waffle maker adds a nice crunch, and it cuts the sandwich into four pieces perfect for a toddler or snacking adult. It takes about two to four minutes to make a grilled cheese, and there's no flipping involved. Think of your waffle maker as the paninni maker you never purchased.
A lot of people use crock-pots in the winter, and let the slow cooker lay dormant during the summer. But Real Simple discovered that you could use the slower cooker to bake a delicious cake without heating up your kitchen. After all, who really likes to turn on the oven during summer's sticky months?
Simply prepare cake batter mix according to package directions. Coat the bottom and sides of the pot with cooking spray and pour in the batter. Turn the pot on low for two and half to three hours, cooking until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. This is not a traditional cake. It's very moist. You'll serve it in a bowl with a little chocolate sauce and whipped cream.
You may not want to grind coffee beans, but luckily you can also use this gadget to make bread crumbs and flavor-infused sugars. For the sugars, grind together sugar and either a cinnamon stick or dried fruit. Use this flavorful sugar to sprinkle on cookies or buttered toast or add to a cup of tea. You can keep the sugar sealed in a jar for up to six weeks.
The coffee grinder is also perfect for making very fine bread crumbs. Recipes sometimes call for "fresh breadcrumbs." Now you know an easy way to make your own. Note: trying either of these ideas with a professional grade grinder could break the machine.