BUR 7

Clean Your Stove Drip Pans

For those of you who are fortunate like me to have a non-flat top stove, here is an easy $1 solution to get the drip pans CLEAN. I didn’t realize that was possible. But it is. :)

I found this from Jill @ One Good Thing by Jillee. Hers worked a little more easily than mine did – I’m guessing that is because hers look like they have some kind of teflon coating on them? Some of the stuff came off easily, but I still had to give mine a fair amount of elbow grease with steel wool. But it was worth it.

BEFORE:

Apparently we use the stove a lottle bit over here.

AFTER:

I could cry. Seriously. I love when things are clean, and I get frustrated when I can’t figure out how to get them that way.

And how do you do this?

All you need are four gallon-sized ziploc bags, some ammonia, and your drip pans. And, if you have the old school non-coated drip pans like I do, you may need some steel wool and elbow grease too.

Step 1: Put your drip pans in your ziploc bags.

Step 2: Splash some ammonia in there. You don’t need to cover the drip pans – the ammonia vapor is what does the trick. The vapors act to bind to the oil and fat in your drip pan grime and break it down. Pretty cool.

Step 3: Wait overnight (or, if you are doing this during the day, think 9-12 hours). The longer you let it stay in the bags, the longer the ammonia has to do its work.

Step 4: Get the rest of your stove top clean. Take some time to use toothpicks and Q-tips and get things cleaned out. I cleaned around everything with toothpicks and it looked MUCH better.

Step 5: Open the bag. This seems like a silly step to have alone, but I will tell you – AMMONIA IS VERY PUNGENT. It will make you want to curl up and cry to stand over that bag and get a nice waft of ammonia in your face. So here is how I found it to work best – get water running in your sink, open your ziploc bag a bit (enough for the water to get in), and fill the bag up part way with water. This will not destroy the handy work of your ammonia vapors – it WILL keep your eyes and nose from burning.

Step 6: Wipe the grime off with a sponge (if you are lucky), or give it some elbow grease. This got ALMOST everything off of my drip pans. What was left over may just be the pans aging and changing color or something (with the larger ones). They looked muuuuch better.

 

Ammonia can work very well with other things too – I tried it on something else and was SHOCKED at how well it worked. I’ll post those pictures tomorrow.

Happy cleaning! :)

We Give Books

I just had to share this website because it is pretty cool – wegivebooks.org.There are a bunch of books for kids that they can read online in their “print” format. I love that. A lot of these are the ones that you can find on the ever-popular book orders (especially the non-fiction), so you can even “test drive” some of the books before you buy. Or just enjoy them for free.

This is not only a great resource, but you actually GIVE a book each time you (or your child) reads one online – as in, Penguin Books and the Pearson Foundation will donate a book for each book read online. See? Super cool! There is no limit to your book-giving from your book reading, and if your child has a favorite that they read over and over again, each time they finish it counts as a new book to give away. (Here is a link to the FAQ.) They have given away almost 1,000,000 books since April 2010.

They have ongoing “campaigns” that you can support with your reading (here is a list of the campaigns, current and completed), so you can choose your “cause”, and you are free to switch at any time.

If you’re looking for a fun book to start out with, I would recommend Goodnight iPad. We just checked it out from the library and all got a good laugh over it. That grandma is great. The cultural references are hilarious too.

So – go read a book! And GIVE one too by doing it. It’s a win-win. :)

G1

The Greatest Granola

While we are on a breakfast theme here, I wanted to share one more of our favorite breakfast recipes EVER. It came from my friend Melissa @ 320 Sycamore, and was given to her by her sister Kelsey.

This one is so good that my kids will eat it for breakfast, for snacks, for whenever. And my husband will actually EAT breakfast when we have this. That is saying something.

It is very easy, and – did I mention? – is super delicious.

Ingredients:

6 c. oats

1 c. coconut

1 c. craisins (or raisins or other dried fruit)

1/2 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. almonds (or other nuts on hand)

1/2 c. flax seed or wheat germ (we use milled flax seed)

1-2 T. cinnamon (to taste – we use the full 2 T.)

1/2 tsp. salt

2 T. vanilla

1/2 c. canola oil

3/4 c. honey

Directions: Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Put all of your ingredients in a large bowl and stir them together. Spread on a cookie sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown. The longer you bake it, the crispier it will be, so you can bake to your crunchiness/chewiness preferences.

That is it. When I shared the recipe with my mom, she mentioned that she prefers to mix the dry ingredients together first to keep things from clumping, and then pour the wet ones in. I arranged the recipe so if you would prefer to do it that way also, you can just go down the list until you hit the salt, mix it together, and then add the rest.

Also, I like to pour my canola oil in first, and then use the 1/2 cup measuring cup for the honey and just do 1 1/2 of those (to get the 3/4 cup needed). Since the measuring cup is already coated in oil, the honey all slides right out – no need to scrape.

When we made the granola this time, we used blueberry craisins. One of my favorites was when we used orange crasins – that had a nice twist to it.

See? Happy boy. Thanks Melissa – and Kelsey! :)

PC 5

Breakfast for Dinner

Who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner? Seriously – I could happily eat breakfast for every meal.

Weekend dinner nights seem to be the ones that are prone to turning into breakfast for dinner here, but really, breakfast for dinner is good any night of the week.

Here are some of our favorite recipes for “breakfast foods” – be them for dinner, or for a real breakfast:

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Grandma Rock’s Pancakes (family recipe) – this batter works great for waffles as well

Ingredients:

2 c. flour

1/2 tsp. salt

2 T. sugar

1 T. baking powder

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1/3 c. oil

2 c. milk

Directions: Preheat griddle to 325 degrees. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Pour onto heated skillet, and flip over once there are bubbles that form, pop, and then stay “empty” (see below). Cook on other side until browned to your liking. Enjoy!

*The original recipe has you separate the eggs, put the yolks in the batter, and beat the egg whites. Then you fold the egg whites into the batter. We have found that they still get nice and fluffy if you just beat everything together for awhile, and then it is not an extra step. They still are super tasty either way.

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Homemade Pancake Syrup (from allrecipes.com)

Ingredients:

3/4 c. packed brown sugar

1/4 c. sugar

3/4 c. water

1/2 c. light corn syrup

1/2 tsp. maple flavoring

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions: In a saucepan, combine the sugars, water and corn syrup and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 7 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in maple flavoring and vanilla. Cool for 15 minutes. We store the remaining syrup in a container in the refrigerator.

This recipe is legit – it has the perfect consistency (in our opinion – it’s not thick like the store kind, but has a little more substance than some homemade ones we have tried), and it tastes fantastic.

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Breakfast Potatoes (slightly modified from Our Best Bites)

Ingredients:

4 medium baking potatoes (or more – we sometimes fudge on that one)

1 small onion, minced

1/4 c. salted butter

Pepper and salt, to taste (Kosher salt is great)

Tabasco sauce

Directions: Bring a medium or large pot of water to a boil. While you are doing this, cut your potatoes into bite-sized cubes. Once the water is boiling, add your potatoes and cook for 5 minutes, or until potatoes are slightly softened, but not totally cooked. Drain and set aside.

Heat a large skillet (we use an electric one) over medium heat. Add the butter. After butter is melted, add your onion and cook for 1 minute. Add your potatoes in a single layer and cook for 3-4 minutes. DO NOT STIR THEM AROUND. Please. :) Sprinkle some salt, pepper, and a couple of dashes of Tabasco. Flip your potatoes, trying to get as many to flip at once as you can. This is just to minimize your potato touching.

Cook for another 3-4 minutes and give them a test to see if they are done and how your seasonings are. You can add more salt, pepper or Tabasco at this point, if desired. If they are still not done, flip them as before, and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Repeat cycle until they are done.

*These are also legit – they are so tasty! The original recipe calls for up to 20 shakes of Tabasco – 4 shakes about does me in and gives me heartburn for the rest of the night. It is all up to your preference. We usually moderate to around 3 – enough to have a “kick”, but not so much that you feel pain rather than have the sensation of taste.

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There you go – add some scrambled eggs and you have breakfast for dinner. Enjoy!!

TAPE 3

Scotch Tape Jar Leveler

I honestly have no idea what to call this, except to describe it. Sorry. :) This is a pretty simple tip, but it has made me very happy. I usually like to credit the people that I get ideas from, but I cannot find this one. Originally, they used a note card and tape on cocoa powder. If/when I find the source, I will link it here. I tweaked it a bit, but either way could work great.

I do not do well with things that are inefficient. For example, a ROUND cornstarch container with NO LEVELING DEVICE. Who designed that? Even Arm & Hammer managed to design a little cardboard leveler into the part that you pop open with their baking soda. With my cocoa containers, I can keep things close-ish to level because there are flat parts to the container, but not so with my ROUND corn starch container.

Usually my husband is the cornstarch user – and he only uses it when he makes gravies (he makes THE BEST), and the corn starch doesn’t seem to bother him. As I was using the corn starch for the watercolors, and also for a meatballs recipe that I will post later, it drove me crazy not to have something to level my tablespoons off with. So I remembered the tip I had seen and made my own little leveler out of scotch tape.

Take two pieces of Scotch tape – one slightly longer than the width of the lid (or opening) of the container you are adding your “leveler” to, and one that is an extra 3″ or so LONGER than the first piece. Lay them sticky side UP on your counter or table.

Take the center of your shorter piece and line it up with the center of your longer piece. Then FLIP the smaller piece over on your larger piece. This will give you a non-sticky center (the part you will put over your opening), and extra length on the sides you can then use to attach your new “leveler” to your container.

Voila! A cheap precision measurement instrument!

Happy LEVEL baking….or watercolor making. :)

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