Saturday, May 29, 2010

Useful Tip # 6 - Cleaning Glass

Cleaning glass such as mirrors and windows in one of my least favorite cleaning chores (my first is scrubbing showers or tubs). But a useful and resourceful way to clean your windows/mirrors without using up half a roll of paper towels or a lint ridden rag is to use newspaper. Just spray on your window cleaner (whatever brand you prefer) and then use the newspaper as your "rag". It'll shine up that glass no problem. And you don't have any lint left behind. This is my neighbors tip and she does it all the time. I've seen her use it and it really does work. It's a tip I need to put into practice for myself. So give it a shot and see what you think. If you try it and like it or hate it post your comments below!! Happy Cleaning!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Recipe # 4- Strawberry Margarita Cheescake Trifle

This is a great recipe I got from my Pampered Chef consultant that we used at my party. I do recommend using the Pampered Chef Trifle bowl but any trifle bowl you have will do just fine. I made my own angel food cake for this. Well from a box. And when I told my grandmother this she was like "Don't you have a Betty Crocker Cookbook" which I do and she said well the recipe for it was in there! Needless to say I'll know that for next time although even though I love to bake if Kroger has an already made angel food cake for $1.99 I'm still buying it. Because it was actually cheaper than the box of mix...go figure. So anyway here's the recipe which I think you'll really like. You can omit the booze too but I used the Triple Sec and it made it that much better. Happy Cooking!!


Strawberry Margarita Cheesecake Trifle
2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tub (12 oz) Cool Whip (thawed)
1 prepared Angel Food Cake (from the bakery section or prepared Pound Cake (frozen Sara Lee works well)
2 quarts fresh strawberries
3 tablespoons sugar
3 limes
Optional - 3 tbs Grand Marnier or Triple Sec
Reserve 3 larger firm strawberries for garnish
Slice remaining strawberries and place in a bowl with 3 tbs sugar and optional liquor. Set aside.
Cut cake into cubes, squeeze 1 lime over cubes & set aside.
Mix together cream cheese, confectioners sugar, sour cream vanilla. Fold in 1 cup Cool Whip. Zest 1 lime w/ Micro plane Grater and fold in.
Fill Easy Accent Decorator with remaining cool whip.
Layer cake cubes, strawberries, cream cheese filling, repeat.
Garnish top with Cool Whip, strawberry slices, lime slices, add'l lime zest. Gorgeous!!!!!!

Useful Tip #5- Garbage Disposal

Here's a tip from my hubby on an easy way to "clean out" your garbage disposal. First of all garbage disposals are not really meant for you to dump all your garbage down them and grind it up. They are basically meant for those tidbits and remenants left on your dishes and pots and pans when you are rinsing them off for the dishwasher or if they are in the dishwater you've cleaned them with. Putting tons of food down your garbage disposal is not a good idea. Especially if you have a septic system. Two of things you should NEVER EVER run down your disposal are potato peelings and coffee grinds. Potato peels I know from experience can wreak havoc on your disposal. So much so that mine actually clogged all up and then literally fell apart (granted I was living in an apartment at the time and have no clue how old the thing was) but I never put potato peels down there again. And the hubby agrees. I guess they don't chop up very well and can lead to a clogged drain. Coffee grinds are another no no and it's kinda the same thing. Clogged drain. And when I say coffee grinds I mean like from a whole pot of coffee not just a little bit that may be in your coffee from an overflow or anything. So with that said if your disposal doesn't seem to be working up to par or sounds like something isn't grinding up to well just fill it up with ice cubes and then turn it out. Don't run water at first until the ice is chopped then you can run water down it to rinse any remaining particals down the drain. So I hope this little tip helps if needed. If you have any funny stories about clogging or wrecking your disposal post below.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Recipe # 3- Cilantro Chicken Burgers

This is a great recipe my friend Nancy passed along. Not sure where she got it from but it's really yummy and a great alternative to beef! If you try it post a comment on what you thought!!

Cilantro-Chicken Burgers

• 1-1/2 pounds uncooked ground chicken
• 1 cup packed fresh cilantro
• 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
• 2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
• 3/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1 cup or so of plain breadcrumbs if mixture is too wet
• 4 teaspoons olive oil
• ******************************************************************************************
• 1 cup mayonnaise (I used low fat mayo & couldn’t tell the difference !!!
• 1 cup packed fresh cilantro
• 1/2 teaspoon finely shredded lime peel (optional)
• 1 teaspoon lime juice (or to taste)
• 4 kaiser rolls, split and toasted
• Lettuce
• Onion slices (optional)
1. For burgers, gently combine chicken, 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped onion, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Shape into four 3/4-inch-thick patties. Brush tops of burgers with 3 teaspoons of the oil.
2. Heat remaining oil in a large grill pan or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Place burgers, oiled sides down, on hot grill pan or skillet; cook for 8 minutes. Turn and cook for 8 to 10 minutes more or until internal temperature registers 165 degree F on an instant-read meat thermometer. Transfer burgers to a serving plate.
3. Meanwhile, combine mayonnaise, 1 cup fresh cilantro, lime peel and juice in a small bowl. Spread mayonnaise mixture on cut sides of rolls. Top bottoms of rolls with lettuce, burgers, onion slices (if desired), and tops of rolls. Makes 4 servings.

Useful Tip #4- Baking Soda and Vinegar

Now I know there are a gazillion uses for baking soda but today I'm just going to focus on one use. And this is not a tip on how to make your kid's volcano science project ooze lava!! Baking soda is not only used as a levening agent in baking but as a cleaner for many household used. My favorite use of baking soda though is to use it to clean out a smelly sink drain. This was a tip my grandma told me years ago and it's always my got to if the kitchen sink drain stars smelling funny. I normally have a box of baking soda on hand just for cleaning. I keep a smaller box seperate in my pantry for all my baking needs. When needed I just dump some of the baking soda into the kitchen sink drain and then add some regular white vinegar until it bubbles up and over. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes and then wash it down with some water. This should cure your stinky drain. If you have any other tips on how to clean a smelly drain please post your comments below. Happy Cleaning!!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Useful Tip # 3- Garlic do I love thee!! Garlic is so yummy in so many different ways but yet smelly and sometimes a pain in the but to peel. Personally I prefer fresh garlic but nothing against you if you like it already preminced in a jar. If that's the case this post really won't help much. If you are using fresh garlic here are a couple tips. First if you need to mince it I prefer to use my Pampered Chef garlic press. I swear by this press and it's the only one I'll ever use again in my life. You just take your clove, peel and all, pop it into the press, squeeze and out comes your garlic. Your peel stays on the inside and they even have this handy little brush tool to help you scoop it out so you don't have to get your hands smelly. If you don't need to mince it and say need to dice or slice then lay the clove down on your cutting board and smack it with the flat side of your knife. The skin should break open and it should be pretty easy to remove. I know Pampered Chef has some garlic peeling contraption that I've never tried so by all means you can go that route. Now if you do have to touch the garlic I have a simple way of removing the nasty smell from your hands. I've read somewhere to rub your hands with lemon juice and I've tried that and all that happens is you smell like lemon and garlic. The tried and tested way to remove garlic smell from your hands that actually works is STAINLESS STEEL. Yep that's right. Now I've seen fancy little bars of stainless steel at the cooking stores and as I'm sure they'll work just fine here's another "Free" trick. This will only work if you have one but take a look at your sink!! Is it stainless? Then yep that's all you need. Just rub your hands on the inside of the sink and then take a sniff. I guarantee the garlic smell will be gone!! I've been using this trick for a couple years now and it never fails me!!! So pass it along!!
Happy Cooking!!!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Recipe #2- Apple Cole Slaw

I made this coleslaw to go as a side to the Talapia with Tomatoes and Olives. I was skeptical at first about how this would taste but it was excellent. We enjoy coleslaw during the summer and were getting tired of the creamy style and asian style that I usually make. This was a great alternative that I will surely make again! I found this recipe at thru Google Search.

Apple Cole Slaw

3 cups chopped cabbage (I just used the store bought tri-color coleslaw mix from Dole. I used the whole bag).
1 unpeeled red apple, cored and chopped
1 unpeeled Granny smith apple, cored and chopped
1 carrot grated (I omitted this since the bagged coleslaw already has carrot in it
1/2 C finely chopped red bell pepper (I am not a big red pepper fan so I left this out).
2 green onions finely chopped
1/3 C Mayonnaise
1/3 C brown Suger
1 Tbsp lemon juice, or to taste

In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, red apple, green apple, carrot, red bell pepper, and green onions. In a small bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, brown sugar, and lemon juice. Pour over salad and mix completely. (Note-I ended up making a double batch of the dressing as I thought it was a little dry.It's up to you if you want to add more or not. I didn't make a full 1/3 cup of each just a couple extra tablespoons of both the mayonnaise and brown sugar and a squirt of the lemon juice).

Enjoy. If you try this please comment with your opinions!

RECIPE #1 - Tilapia with Tomatoes & Olives

Tilapia is a nice mild white flaky fish. I'm not a big fan of fish especially if it has an overpowering flavor. Tilapia is prefect for me because it's mild. I think that this particular recipe would also be good with Mahi Mahi another great mild fish. I found this recipe on thru Google search.

Tilapia with Tomatoes & Olives

6 Tilapia filets (I only used three as I was cooking for just the two of us)
1/4 C extra-virgin olive oil ( I omitted this and just sprayed the pan with Pam Olive Oil Cooking Spray-the topping was great w/o the oil)
4 sprigs of fresh thyme (thyme is great because it has a great lemon flavor)
3 tomatoes (I used Roma) peeled, seeded, and chopped
1/2 C coarsely chopped green olives
1/4 tsp. dried hot red pepper flakes (optional or to taste)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 C finely chopped red onion
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lighly oil a shallow baking dish large enough to hold the fillets in one layer. In a bowl stir together the oil (optional), thyme, tomatoes, olives, red pepper falkes, garlic, onion, and lime juice.In a prepared baking dish arrange the fillets (if they have skin-skin side down), season them with salt & pepper, then spoom the tomato mixture over them. Bake, uncovered, in the middle of the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the fish flakes apart.

Useful Tip #2- Bananas

So since I mentioned bananas it reminded me of a useful tip I learned. Bananas are one of those items in the store that you can choose how many you want even though they come in bunches. They are sold by the pound but I think most people buy them buy the amount they think they will use before they go bad. That still doesn't mean you forget about them hanging on your banana hook and a week later they are already turning brown. Of course just because they are turning doesn't mean they still aren't edible. But I do know of some people who do not like overly ripe bananas. Your options of course would be to eat them or use them in something such as banana bread or cake, make a smoothie, etc. But what if you don't have the time to do any of that right then. Well FREEZE THEM. Yep that's right. You can freeze bananas! I normally just toss them in a ziploc with the skins on but you can peel them. I'd recommend using a vacuum sealer if you are peeling them to keep the freezer burn away. When you are ready to bake or whip up a drink just pop them out, let them thaw out (if needed) and add them to your recipe. If you are wondering how long the bananas will keep in the freezer I've kept mine in there for months. I would think as long as they don't get any freezer burn they'll be fine. So I hope you found this tip useful. I'm now going to go and find a good recipe to post that you can use your bananas in!!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Useful Tip #1 - Celery

Celery is one of those foods that you just don't use everyday. Or at least I don't. And I hate having to throw out food that's gone bad. Celery is not one of those items like bananas where you can just tear off and buy how many you think you'll use before they go bad. So somewhere along the line I read a useful tip on how to make your celery last longer. And it's not using that oversized tupperware container that takes up half of your dang fridge. It's very simple and it's something that almost everyone already has in their kitchen. Aluminum Foil!!! Yep that's right just plain old foil. When you get your celery home just take it out of the plastic bag, tear off a piece of foil that is long enough that you can fold the ends back over the stalk. Basically wrap the celery in foil and you must make sure it's completely covered. My celery has easily lasted me a month or more if sealed completely in the foil. And when you need some just carefully unwrap it, take off the amount you need and wrap it tightly back up. If you try this let me know if it works for you or if you have any other useful ways of storing celery so it lasts longer post a comment below.