Thursday, November 19, 2009

Deceptively Delicious and Organized, Too

I am a huge fan of the book, Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld. The premise is that you hide vegetable purees in food you already make, to increase your kids (and hubby's) veggie intake. I figured out from her cookbook what purees work with what flavors and I am now puree-happy.

The difficult thing for me was figuring out the best way to organize all the purees in the freezer. I had been lining tea cups with quart sized bags and then dumping 1/2 cup puree in each. I then sealed and marked each bag, laying it flat in the freezer so they could stack easily. Sounds reasonable, right?


I had an "AHA!" moment the other day. Why not use ice cube trays? Two of my "ice" cubes equals 1/4 cup. Perfect. Now I can adjust the amounts of puree easier!

So I just smear a veggie in the tray, stack and freeze. Once frozen, I place them in freezer safe containers and mark them. See?

Disclaimer: Photo is blurry because I was feeling lazy and snapped it with my phone.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Reinvent the Grilled Cheese

I love a good grilled cheese sandwich. So do my family members. The problem is that it takes forever to cook them one by one. I've tried using a large George Foreman grill, a larger skillet, etc. The GF works fine, but it's squished, so the sandwich tastes more like a panini than an actual grilled cheese sandwich. I like my grilled cheese crusty on the outside and gooey in the middle.

I found this new method of "baking" a Grilled Cheese sandwich in the latest issue of Kraft Food & Family magazine.

You will need the following:

8 slices white or wheat bread (I used wheat)
8 teaspoons butter, softened
8 slices cheese (I used 2% sharp cheddar)
1-2 teaspoons dijon mustard (this only goes on my hubby's)
Parmesan cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter one side of each slice of bread then fill the inside of each sandwich with two slices of cheese and mustard, if desired. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes. Sprinkle each sandwich with 1/2 teaspoon Parmesan cheese. Flip and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan, continuing to bake for 6-8 minutes or until golden brown.

You end up with a Parmesan-crust and a gooey center. It was a big hit with the kids. I like to serve it with sugar snap peas from the freezer and a couple of oranges. Mmmm. If you dig the tomato soup thing, I think it would hold up as a great dunker.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Storing Bed Linens

A few years ago, on Mission Organization I saw one of my favorite tips of all times. When you are putting your sheets away in a linen closet or in a drawer, why not store all of the pieces together so you can quickly grab what you need to make a bed?

The following method was suggested:

1. Neatly fold the fitted sheet.  (A great tutorial on folding fitted sheets can be found on

2. Fold the flat sheet the same size and place on top.

3. Top with one of the pillow cases.
4. Stuff all of this inside the other pillow case.

5. Gather the "slack" on one of the long sides and fold/tuck under.

6. Fold the short-sided end back.

7. Flip over and store with the smooth end showing.

It looks so much prettier in the closet and keeps everything you need to make the bed in one place. I even store my child's "puddle pad" inside the sheet set.

Photo and instructions also found on
Here's to no more pillowcases hitting me over the head!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Detergent - How Much Is Too Much?

We had to replace our dishwasher recently. The appliance repairman said the bottom of our 5-year-top-of-the-line dishwasher was full of suds. Apparently over time this can damage the motor. I had been using the dishwasher gel tablets that you just throw in. Because we have very soft water in our area, it was too much detergent. He suggested I only use 1 teaspooon of dry detergent in the wash bin and 1 teaspoon in the pre-rinse bin. My dishes have never been cleaner. (I store my dry cascade in a tupperware container and spoon out a teaspoon at a time. I found it easier than attempting to only pour 1 teaspooon!)

I also asked why my dishes were not drying well. He noticed I wasn't using rinse aid. This also is a must for newer dishwashers. (Use the amount it calls for if you want dry dishes.)

While I still had the repairman's ear, I asked about laundry. He said the same soft-water-rules apply. He advised me to cut it by about 4 times what the box recommends and see what happens. He also said the dry detergent seems to dissolve faster (who knew?) and may perform better. Again, my clothes were cleaner when I used "below-the-one-line" for my super large loads.

So the moral of the story is, call your local water municipality. If your water is soft, adjust the detergent down and save some money. If it is hard, you may need to use more detergent, but you won't have to wash everything twice. This also applies to shampoo, dish detergent, etc.

Happy cleaning!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Freeze Your Wrap

A few weeks ago the Rachael Ray show had an episode devoted to tips.  I was all over it!  My favorite was to store plastic wrap in the freezer.  It keeps it from sticking together when you're attempting to unroll it and tear off a piece.  The only thing it sticks to is the dish you want to cover.  It really works!