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! :)

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! :)

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. :)

WC 8

Make Your Own Watercolors

I am fairly cheap. I think that can be a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that, for the most part, we live by a budget and don’t do anything crazy. The curse is that I have a hard time buying things that I know are going to get broken quickly or discarded or used unwisely. Like watercolors. Even though they are not terribly expensive, I still find myself cringing when they just become little colorful ponds for the kids to play in instead of being used for art tools.

Then I saw this idea from Jill @ Meet the Dubiens, which she found from Martha Stewart – how to make your own watercolors. Joy! I had everything on hand, and thought I should give it a go.

Ingredients

Baking Soda

Corn Starch

Vinegar

Corn Syrup

Food Coloring (Drops or Gel)

Containers

That is IT my friends. I found packs of 10 small containers at the dollar store when I was getting stuff for the light sabers – and they (obviously) cost $1.00 for the package. If you are looking for them, I found them by the mugs/ceramic plates/etc., NOT by the other reusable storage containers. You may try checking both places in your store – I’m not sure whether organization is consistent from store to store.

For one container size, you will need:

2 T. baking soda

1 T. vinegar

1 T. corn starch

1/4 tsp. corn syrup

My containers were 2.3 fl. oz. and were filled just under halfway with this recipe size, just to give you a gauge. I ended up making 8x the recipe, which gave me these measurements:

1 c. baking soda

1/2 c. vinegar

1/2 c. corn starch

2 tsp. corn syrup

Step 1: Mix the baking soda and vinegar in a LARGE bowl. Yes, as soon as my kids saw these ingredients together they knew it meant one thing – VOLCANO! So, plan your bowl size accordingly, even if doing a “single container” batch.

Step 2: Once your fizzing has stopped, add in your corn starch and corn syrup and mix well. This will give you some seriously cool stuff – Jill termed it as “Gak” or “Ooblek” consistency. All I know is that when I stirred it, it went from solid to liquid, and if I had some drip overboard that I could pick it up and it would be solid until I dropped it back into the container with its friends. Super cool.

Step 3: Separate into individual containers and add your food coloring. Jill used gel coloring; Martha used normal drops; I tried both. I think the normal drops ended up producing a better finished product as far as usability goes, but you have more color control with the gel. You may want to try both if you have them on hand and see what works best for you. Use a fair amount of color to get brighter results. The kids were great at stirring here.

Step 4: DRY OVERNIGHT. There will be a liquid left on the top when you go check on them in the morning. I just poked at the “solid” below to make sure it was firm, and then dumped the top liquid off. I figure if the bottom is solid, the liquid on the top will not do much to help things out.

I was excited to see if these would actually work – and they DID! I painted a rainbow like Jill’s daughter so I could see the colors in action:

One tip – make sure you add enough water when you are painting. We occasionally would end up with small paint pieces on the brush that would not brush color onto the paper well (see the yellow and green in the rainbow) – if you dip the brush slightly in water, it works like a charm. Just make sure you add water.

Here is a masterpiece from my 5-year old:

Pretty awesome! His colors were the ones that I used food coloring with – again, they tended to work a bit better, so he preferred them.

Since my boys did well with them and had fun, I decided to finally let my 2-year old use watercolors. She was very excited. And went straight for the pink.

She had a blast, and I didn’t feel like I had to stand over her and make sure she was using the paint “appropriately” – she could just have fun! I know how to make more (good thing too, huh). :)

And, for those of you who are curious, I washed out my son’s old watercolor container and decided to see how many wells a single container recipe would fill. Turns out, it filled an even 24 wells (the whole tray filled three times).  So you are essentially getting three 8-pack watercolor containers worth of paint for $.10 (yes, I priced it out). And you can make them from supplies at home. You could probably even do a little bit of food coloring in each well if you wanted to deal with a very small quantity and keep the “bought watercolor” look. Thanks Jill & Martha! :)

CCC

THE Best Chocolate Chip Cookies – Hands Down.

These lovelies are THE best chocolate chip cookies. Ever. Really. Whenever I make them, people ask for the recipe. And I laugh – because it is just slightly modified from the recipe on the Nestle chocolate chip bag. But the slight modification is what makes them perfect. I believe this was a tip passed on to my mom by a friend many moons ago (which is amazing, since my mom is still only 27….), and it is how we grew up enjoying chocolate chip cookies.

Ingredients

2 1/4 c. flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt (my mom updated this – she uses 1/2 tsp. – we’ll have to try that next time)

3/4 c. sugar

3/4 c. brown sugar (packed)

1 c. SHORTENING <—-THIS is the change, my friends.

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 eggs

Chocolate chips (the recipe calls for one 12 oz. package, but I usually use less – personal preference)

Step 1: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.

Step 2: Cream SHORTENING, sugars and vanilla extract in a large bowl. Add eggs and beat well. Please, oh please – do NOT use butter or margarine. Use the shortening. It is magical. I promise. And, actually, all of my favorite cookie recipes have shortening instead of butter or margarine. Just sayin’. They will be fluffy and wonderful.

Step 3: Gradually beat in flour mixture, and then stir in your chocolate chips.

Step 4: Bake for 9-11 minutes on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Step 5: ENJOY!! :)

These are SO good – don’t they look perfect? Again, we gave some of these away too. Good for calorie counting, but sad for tummies that need yummy chocolate chip cookies. Not want, NEED. I may now need to make me some more of these. :)

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