Sunday, December 31, 2017

Cake Balls

1 box cake mix (any flavor)
1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened

Make cake according to package directions.  While the cake is still hot, spoon it into a large bowl.  Using a potato masher, mash the cream cheese into the cake.  Make sure it's well blended and there are no lumps from the cake nor the cream cheese.  Roll into walnut size balls.  Refrigerate.  Makes about 3 dozen.

Comment:  I made these using a Butter Pecan cake mix and added about 1/2 cup of chopped pecans.  I had decided to roll the balls in powdered sugar but it ended up dissolving so I'm omitting that from the recipe.  You can use ANY flavor of cake mix you want.  A friend of mine made these using red velvet and dipped the balls into melted white chocolate.  This recipe is so easy that there is no way you can mess it up!  Imagine - strawberry or chocolate with nuts or butter with coconut, etc. 'Think With Your Taste Buds'!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Easy Chopped Spinach

I use a lot of spinach.  I love using it with chicken or egg dishes but have even worked up a couple of recipes using pork.  In the past I've always bought frozen, chopped spinach, keeping at least 2 packages in the freezer at all times.   Many times I've had my taste buds set for a dish just to remember that my spinach is still in the freezer so I put off making my dish until the next day.  And we all know that when using frozen spinach you not only have to thaw it out before using, you also have to go through the process of squeezing out the liquid.   Well.... I've found a solution to both of these little problems.

While looking through the produce department I found fresh baby spinach on sale.  I picked up two bags, got them home and, like a lot of times when I buy foods on sale, I realized that I wouldn't be using 2 whole bags of spinach before it started to wilt and I would have to throw out what wasn't used.  So, I did what I frequently do and that was put one bag in the freezer.  A couple of weeks later I found a recipe I wanted to make that called for spinach.  I grabbed the bag of frozen baby spinach and when I took it out of the freezer the leaves started breaking up.  Since the recipe called for chopped spinach I simply started mashing the bag.  This broke it up into the size I needed keeping me from thawing it out and then cutting it up.  Also.... I didn't have to squeeze the liquid out!  It didn't seem to have any liquids to squeeze.  I simply added my spinach to my pan and completed my dish. 

This is a great time saver and makes cooking with spinach so easy.  Do make sure you buy the kind that says it is pre-washed or if you buy it by the pound, wash it first and DRY it completely before putting it into a sealed bag and into the freezer.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Things That Shouldn't go into the Dishwasher - part 16

Sterling Silver Knives

Sterling silver flatware goes through a dishwasher just as well as stainless steel, with one exception: Many sterling silver knives have a hollow handle and the heat of the dishwasher can cause the glue that holds the blade to the handle to melt and separate. This happens whether the blade is sterling or stainless steel. Hand wash instead.

Comment:  Did not know this but I've always washed silver by hand and dried it immediately.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Things That Shouldn't go into the Dishwasher - part 15

Vintage China, Delicate Crystal and Repaired Items

For any glass or china heirlooms, skip the dishwasher and carefully hand wash. This is especially important for any item that has been repaired. The high heat and harsh detergents will cause the adhesives used to weaken and you may lose any small pieces.

Delicate crystal should be hand washed to prevent chipping. If you decide to use the dishwasher, use the top rack and place the glasses between the tines, not over them, to help avoid breakage. Remember, some lead crystal will become cloudy.

Comments:  Not guilty!  

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Things That Shouldn't go into the Dishwasher - part 14

Gold Flatware and Metalic Trimmed China

While sterling silver flatware travels through a dishwasher well, gold-colored flatware will dull and discolor in the dishwasher due to the harsh detergent.

Porcelain and fine china are dishwasher safe unless they have metallic trim or images. The harsh detergent and the strong water action of the jets can cause the metallic work to flake away. With any delicate china, take care when loading so that pieces don't knock together and cause chipping.

Comment:  This is one that has to be washed with a soft touch no matter how you wash it.  

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Things That Shouldn't go into the Dishwasher - part 13

Containers With Paper Labels

Along with your deli containers, you may also save glass food jars for storage. There's no problem with placing the jars in the dishwasher, IF you remove the paper labels first. If you don't, the paper and adhesive may come off and clog the dishwasher drain and food disposal system.

Extra tip: One of the best label/adhesive removers on the market is Un-Du with a built-in scraper. 

Comment:  Never heard of the Un-Du but sounds like something that might be worth checking into.  I have washed containers before but have had enough brain to soak the paper part in hot water to remove the label before going into the dishwasher.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Things That Shouldn't go into the Dishwasher - part 12

Thin Plastic Containers

If you save every butter tub and deli container to use for storage, be prepared to loose a few if you place them in the dishwasher. The high heat can cause them to melt or warp.

When you place them in the dishwasher, use the top rack only and skip the high heat drying cycle. Remove from the dishwasher to air dry.

Comment:  Learned my lesson the hard way with this one.  A lid got hot, crinkled up and ended up on the heating element of the dishwasher.  Never again.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Things That Shouldn't go into the Dishwasher - part 11

Printed or Hand Painted Glassware

The techniques for commercial printing on glassware have improved but they are not always infallible in the dishwasher. That harsh detergent and the force of the water spray can remove the paint in just one or two washes.

And what good is a glass measuring cup with no lines?

Comment:  I have noticed over the years that the markings eventually came off my measuring cup.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Things That Shouldn't go into the Dishwasher - part 10

Insulated Glasses, Tumblers and Thermal Containers

Plastic and metal insulated cups, tumblers and containers are great for keeping hot things hot and cold things cold. Most are constructed with two layers of material with an airspace between the two. It's that airspace that provides the insulation.

While some containers are labeled as dishwasher safe, many are not. It is best to hand wash both plastic and metal insulated containers. If you decide to place one in the dishwasher, opt for the top rack and skip the high heat of the drying cycle.

Comments:  I'm waiting on the list of what I CAN put in my dishwasher!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Things That Shouldn't go into the Dishwasher - part 9

Acrylic or Melamine Dishes

Lightweight, non-breakable acrylic or melamine dishware is very popular due to the bright colors and patterns. Unfortunately, the high water and drying temperatures and harsh dishwasher detergents can ruin the dishes. After several washings, especially for cheaper sets, there can be hairline cracks and loss of color and design.

If you love them and want them to last, hand wash.

Comment:  I've wasted a few of these dishes in the past.  Guess I now know why.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Things That Shouldn't go into the Dishwasher - part 8

Nonstick Pans

While many nonstick pans are labeled as dishwasher safe, the harsh detergents and excessively high drying temperatures can take a toll on the nonstick coating. If you choose to wash your pans in the dishwasher, skip the drying cycle and allow them to air dry.

At the first sign of damage to the surface, it's time for a new pan. When the nonstick surface is scratched, chipped or flaking, it can release dangerous toxins into the food.

Comment:  Guilty again.  Guess this is why I've gone through so many non-stick pots and pans.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Things That Shouldn't go into the Dishwasher - part 7

Pressure Cooker Lids

While a pressure cooker pot may go through a dishwasher cycle just fine, you should never put the pressure cooker lid in the dishwasher.

The lid contains the valves that control how well the cooker works. The action of a dishwasher can force small particles of food into the valves and vents and cause the cooker to malfunction (explode). The harsh chemicals can also damage the rubber or silicone seals of the lid.

Comment:  Not guilty.  I'm actually afraid of pressure cookers.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Things That Shouldn't go into the Dishwasher - part 6

Copper Pans and Mugs

Copper pans and mugs for Moscow Muels are classic and beautiful but require extra effort to keep them shiny and bright. Don't make the task any harder by putting them in the dishwasher. The harsh chemicals in dishwasher detergent will immediately dull the finish and can be corrosive and cause the copper to pit.

Pitting is not going to be removed even with the best copper cleaner and elbow grease.

Comment:  Whew!  I don't have copper so I don't have to worry about this one.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Things That Shouldn't go into the Dishwasher - part 5

Aluminum Pans and Cookware

If you've ever put a shiny disposable aluminum pie plate in the dishwasher, you've seen what happens. It turns dull and darkens. 

The same thing can happen to your aluminum pots, pans and baking sheets. If the aluminum has not been anodized, the harsh detergent can cause pitting and corrosion. You may also see white spots on the surface from the alkalinity of the dishwasher detergent. Even if the pan is labeled as "dishwasher safe," it's better to hand wash.

Comments:  Guilty again. I'm beginning to wonder if there is any need for a dishwasher!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Things That Shouldn't go into the Dishwasher - part 4

Cast Iron Cookware

Cast iron skillets and pans have been around for centuries and they can last nearly forever if they are cared for properly. To keep cast iron from rusting and food from sticking, it must be seasoned with oil. The oil penetrates the iron and leaves a near perfect cooking surface.

When the cast iron is placed in the dishwasher, the harsh detergent and excessive water strips away the oil and leaves the cast iron unusable. The seasoning process must be completely started over. 

Comment:  I knew this one.  I always wipe my cast iron pans out with a paper towel removing anything that might be left after making my bread and then lightly wipe it with oil.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Things That Shouldn't go into the Dishwasher - part 3

Graters and Sieves

Any kitchen tool with sharp edges should not be placed in the dishwasher. Graters and sieves can nick the plastic coating on the racks and rust will begin to form. 

And if you crowd items with small holes into the dishwasher, it is nearly impossible for the water stream to remove all of the food particles. Again, hand wash for best results.

Comments:  Guilty Again.  Never thought about them nicking my rack.  

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Things That Shouldn't go into the Dishwasher - part 2

Kitchen Knives

Knives pack a triple no-no whammy in the dishwasher. First, the edges can nick the protective coating on racks and baskets causing rust to form. Secondly, those sharp edges are dangerous when unloading the dishwasher especially when kids are helping.

Finally, the harsh dishwasher detergent can dull edges and cause wooden handles to loosen and split. It's best to hand wash all types of kitchen knives.  

Comment:  I'm afraid I'm guilty of this.  I had no idea it would damage my knives.  Guess that's why I have to sharpen them so often.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Things That Shouldn't go into the Dishwasher - part 1

Great article I received and wanted to share.

Automatic dishwashers are magical machines and a real timesaver in the kitchen, but they can damage items, and some of them are quite expensive to repair or replace. It's better to be safe and handwash these kitchen and dining room items.

If you do choose to slip them in the dishwasher, opt for the top rack and be prepared to accept your mistakes!

#1 - Wooden Spoons, Bowls and Cutting Boards

The harshness of dishwasher detergents can strip the natural oils that keep wooden utensils and cutting boards from drying out. When those oils are stripped, the wood will begin to crack. 
Wooden items should be hand washed quickly with a mild detergent in warm water. Do not allow them to soak because that can cause the wood to swell and distort. If you feel the wood needs to be disinfected, use a mild solution of chlorine bleach and warm water–1/4 cup of bleach to 1/2 gallon of water.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

List of Best Weight Loss Foods - Part 14

Roast Beef

You might think that dieters who eat roast beef are destined for failure. And you might be right.  But it is possible to eat beef and still lose weight. You just have to choose your meat carefully.

If you get a craving for red meat, you can buy a lean beef choice like a filet mignon. But steaks like that are often expensive. Instead, go to your deli counter and get thinly sliced roast beef.  You can satisfy that craving for red meat with a 2-ounce serving that only contains about 80 calories. You can even use the roast beef in a cucumber sandwich to eliminate calories from bread.

COMMENTS:  This is one of my favorite diet tips.  I sometimes use low cal wraps for my bread and add mustard instead of mayo for my condiment.  

Saturday, September 16, 2017

List of Best Weight Loss Foods - Part 13

Old Fashioned Oatmeal

Do you eat oatmeal for breakfast? If you do, that's great. But some oatmeal brands are better than others. If you buy those single serving packets that come in flavors like maple syrup or apple cinnamon, then you might want to think twice.  Those packets are often loaded with sugar.

Instead, look below those fancy packets in the grocery store and you'll usually find old fashioned rolled oats on the bottom shelves. Look for the cardboard canister - the same one your grandma used to buy. These oats are healthy, easy to store, cheap and each hearty serving provides 150 calories.

COMMENT:  I love oatmeal, especially the Old Fashion kind.  I use it to make my own granola by mixing it with raisins, cranberries and nuts.  I also like it for breakfast and have found another type that is, to me, just as good and that is steel cut oats.  They have a definite chew and so good.