Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Cleaning Tips

I'm always looking for household tips and tricks to make housekeeping easier.  Here are a few tips I found on the GoodHousekeeping website a couple of days ago.  I certainly plan to try them out.

In the Bathroom
To clean bathtub rings, use cheap shampoo and a long-handle scrub brush.  Do not use on marble or granite.

Put your plastic shower curtains and liners in the washing machine and add a bath towel or two for scrubbing action.  Add your regular amount of detergent and wash on the delicate cycle.  Dry for a few minutes in the dryer or rehang to dry.

In the Laundry Room
To clean your dirty dryer, unplug it.  Pull out the filter and remove any lint with a fabric softener sheet or brush.  Hold the filter under a faucet; if water beads up or doesn't flow through, there is a build up of fabric softer.  Clean with soap and water and a scrub brush, and allow to dry before putting back in.  Use the crevice tool on your vacuum, a bottle brush, or a ruler with a cleaning rag to remove debris down in the lint trap.  Last, check the exhaust hose to be sure it's not clogged or deteriorating.  Use a damp cloth to wipe off all surfaces.

To remove gum or crayon in a dryer, put several old towels in the dryer and let it run on Warm for a few minutes to soften the gunk.  Then, mix a tablespoon of powdered laundry detergent with just enough water to make a thick paste and apply to a clean cloth.  Use the cloth to scrub off the gum; go over the entire inside of the dryer.  Before drying your next load of clean clothes, run one cycle with several damp rages, just to be certain all of the gum or crayon is gone.

There are oh so many more, but that's enough for one day.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Rosemary - Lemon Chicken

People are always asking me for new and different ways to cook chicken.  Saturday night I decided to do a little experimenting, and I wasn't disappointed.  This will definitely be dinner again one night soon at our house.

2 pkgs bone-in split chicken breasts (skin on)
1 lemon
4 Tbsp butter (softened, but do not melt)
1 shallot (sliced thin)
1 1/2 tsp Rosemary
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Lawry's seasoned salt
Olive oil

Coat the bottom of a 9 x 13" baking dish with olive oil.
Salt and pepper the bottom of four bone-in breast halves and then place them in the baking dish.
Combine the butter, shallot, Rosemary, salt and pepper in a small bowl.  Thoroughly mix, and then smear under the skin of the chicken - don't miss an inch.

Slice the lemon and place one slice just under the skin of each breast half.  Brush the top of the skin with olive oil, and then sprinkle with Lawry's seasoned salt.

Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.  Remove from oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Remove the lemon slices and serve.

Sliders for Dinner!

Tonight's dinner was a hit!  You'll really have to give this one a try when you're looking to impress a teen-age crowd.  The hubby thought it was pretty good too.

2 lbs ground beef (80% lean)
1 lb ground pork
4 oz fresh mozzarella cheese (cut into small chunks)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Worcestershire pepper (made by McCormick)
Companion Pretzel Slider Buns (yummy) - slice them in half

Combine the first five ingredients and mix well.

Heat frying pan over medium-high heat.  When thoroughly heated, place small, slider size burgers into the pan.  I like my burgers medium-well, so I fried them about 4 minutes on each side.

Serve burger on a slider bun.  I served them with sliced tomatoes, lettuce, and onion slices.  I let everyone select their choice of ketchup, mustard, mayo, and/or Country Bob's Sauce (another favorite).

Only problem with this dish . . . opening your mouth far enough to get the total bite!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Perfect Pasta

16 oz uncooked angel hair pasta
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Break pasta in half.  Combine broth and water in large stock pot.  Bring to a boil and add pasta.  Cook for about 6 minutes until pasta is tender.  Most liquid should be absorbed, but drain off any excess.  Add butter and parsley.  Toss to coat and serve immediately the desired seasoning or sauce.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Do You Have to Pack Lunch for a Loved One?

Eating a packed lunch has never been my idea of yummy, but here are a few ideas I found from Jamie Oliver that I think will make packed lunches lots more fun!

Decorate a Ziploc bag with stickers and fill it with lettuce and veggies.  Add a small container of salad dressing to the bag and then have the bag shaken to mix the salad right at the table.

Freeze a fruit juice box (not from concentrate) to act as a "lunch box fridge".  It will help keep food cold while it sits until lunch time.  By lunch, the drink should be like a slushy.

I hate a soggy sandwich, but here's an idea.  Spread butter edge to edge to "waterproof" the bread before adding the meat and fillings.  Use a funny cookie cutter to shape the sandwich.

Who wouldn't want to each such a creative lunch?  These are quick and easy ideas - give them a try.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Our Family is Growing - Welcome My Sweet Little Niece

Saturday morning our family was blessed the arrival of a sweet baby girl.  Mom, Dad and baby are doing just fine and went home from the hospital yesterday -- with the help of a big brother of course.  Nana and Papa kept big brother for a couple of days while Mom and Dad were at the hospital.  A fun time for all  :)

 Aren't they a great looking family?  

Home-Style French Fries

My family loves French fries, and in my opinion, homemade fries are the best!

Wash, but do not peel 2 lbs of russet potatoes.
Slice a potato in half lengthwise.  Lay each half cut-side down.
Slice lengthwise into 1/4 - 1/2" thick slices.
Stack about half of the slices and cut lengthwise into 1/4 - 1/2" thick fries.
Repeat with the rest.  Long potatoes are best for fries.

Transfer your sliced fries to a bowl of lukewarm water as you go.  Heat peanut oil in your deep fryer to 375 degrees.  Drain the potatoes and dry well.  Place 1/4 of the potatoes in the fryer at one time.  Fry for approximately 9 - 10 minutes or until golden brown color.  Remove from fryer and drain on paper towel.  Season with salt.

Try one of these salts of sauces with your next batch of fries.  I found these in Food Network Magazine.

Herb Salt
Strip the leaves from a few rosemary and thyme sprigs.  Pulse in a food processor until fine, then toss with coarse salt.

Bacon Salt
Pulse 3 slices of cooked bacon in a food processor until fine; toss with 3 Tbsp coarse salt

Parmesan Salt
Mix equal parts paprika, grated Parmesan and coarse salt.

Smoky Ketchup
Stir 1/2 - 1 minced chipotle pepper in adobo sauce into 1/2 cup ketchup.  Add a splash of balsamic vinegar.

Spicy Mayo
Add a little Sriracha sauce (or other hot sauce) to 1/2 cup mayonnaise.  Mix in the zest and juice of 1 lime.

Zesty Mustard
Mix 1/2 cup Dijon mustard, a spoonful of horseradish and some chopped parsley.