Archive for the ‘A Mimi Tip’ Category

Dear Readers,

Yes, cottage cheese, a bland white dairy product can be exciting but it needs a little help.  Ketchup was a favorite ingredient that my Dad added to it.  I went for a little more zip and flavored my c.c. with seafood cocktail sauce.  This was the beginning of my experimentation with this dairy product.  After all it is a dieter’s friend because a half-cup of low-fat cottage cheese contains only 90 calories and one gram of fat.  Add some of the combos listed below and you have a very tasty luncheon entree.

1.  Chopped carrots, celery and lemon-pepper seasoning

2.  Cocktail sauce with sunflower seeds and freshly ground black pepper

3.  Black beans, chopped tomato, shredded cheddar cheese and a sprinkle of chili powder

4.  Chopped carrots, corn, green pepper and 1 tablespoon Trader Joe’s reduced-fat cilantro salad dressing

5.  Sliced radishes, chopped broccoli and black pepper

6.  Chopped dill pickle or pickle relish with a little Dijon mustard and black pepper

7.  Thawed frozen peas, shredded cheddar cheese, sunflower seeds and 1 tablespoon low-fat Italian salad dressing

8.  Blueberries, strawberries or raspberries with a sprinkle of cinnamon

9.  Chunks of pineapple, shredded cheddar cheese and 1 teaspoon of low-fat mayo

10.  Fresh sliced peaches or nectarines with a cinnamon sprinkle

So the next time you eat cottage cheese, don’t settle for a plain ole boring taste.  Excite your taste buds with Mimi’s cottage cheese combos!  And remember to

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

It’s that time of year when summer thunderstorms occur and many times the electricity goes out.  The first thing I think of is what will happen to all the food in the fridge and freezer.  Here’s an interesting article that answers this question.  The article is entitled “Keep your cool when the power goes out” and was written by Kathleen Purvis of the Charlotte Observer.  I am going to quote the article verbatim.

“Q:  Late-summer storms have knocked out my power several times lately.  Every time, I’m nervous about the food in the refrigerator and freezer.  I used to check the cubes in the ice bin.  If they had started to melt, I would toss everything.  Is there a better rule of thumb for when items are no longer safe?

A:  As long as you keep the refrigerator and freezer closed, they are insulated enough to keep food cold for a while.

A full chest freezer, kept closed, will stay cold for three to four days, an upright deep freezer for two to three days, and a refrigerator’s freezer for one to two days.  A closed refrigerator should keep food cold for four to six hours.  You can stretch that by placing block ice or bags of ice in the refrigerator on a pan to collect the water as it melts.

As soon as the power comes back on, check the frozen food:  If there are visible ice crystals and the food feels cold, it can be refrozen.

For the refrigerator, keep a thermometer inside and check it as soon as the power comes back to make sure it’s still below 40 degrees.  Fresh meat, poultry, lunch meat, hot dogs, eggs, milk, soft cheese and prepared or cooked food should be discarded if they were above 40 degrees for more than two hours.  Fruit, juices and vegetables are OK if they smell OK and don’t show any signs of spoiling.”

Hope you find this info helpful and remember to

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

The weather is cooling down and outdoor grilling is coming to an end; that is unless you enjoy grilling in a heavy coat and holding an umbrella.  October is the perfect time to degunk that barbecue grill.  Here’s an interesting article I read in the August 28, 2011 issue of Parade magazine.  It’s entitled “How To Clean Your Barbecue Grill” and the pointers come from Steven Raichlen, the author of “The Barbecue Bible and Planet Barbecue”.  I’m quoting the article verbatim.

“How To Clean Your Barbecue Grill

1.  Before cleaning, check the grease collector under the grate.  (On some models, the grease collector looks like a large sheet pan; on others, like a can or cake pan.)  If it’s full, empty it.

2.  Crank up the heat – grill grates should be cleaned while they’re hot.  If you have a gas unit, turn it up all the way.  If you have a charcoal grill, use a chimney starter; once the coals are lit, spread them around (a small hand rake works well) so the grate heats up quickly.

3.  Once the grate is hot, put on grill gloves and dislodge any burned-on debris with a stiff wire brush (available at Home Depot an other stores).

4.  Take a paper towel and fold it into a tight pad.  Using tongs, dip the pad in a small bowl of vegetable oil, like canola, and rub it over the bars of the grate.  The oil will clean them and prevent food from sticking.”

Hope you find this info helpful and remember to

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Here’s a tip I want to pass on to you from a column called “Top Drawer” written by Joyce Clark Hicks and appears in the Raleigh News and Observer.

“Cool Uses For Ice Cubes

The August edition of Real Simple magazine offers these cool new uses for ice cubes:

Soup skimmer.  To skim fat from soup without refrigerating it, fill a metal ladle with ice cubes and glide it along the surface a few times, wiping the ladle as needed.  Excess fat will cling to the ladle’s bottom.

Soil soaker.  Avoid messy spills by watering your plants with frozen water.  Cover the surface of soil with ice cubes.  They’ll gradually hydrate your plants as they melt.

Caulk smoother.  As you squeeze a new caulk line around the bathtub, run the corner of an ice cube behind it.  The ice will create a clean edge without sticking.

Disposal scrubber.  Run a handful of ice cubes and a pinch of baking soda through your garbage disposal.  You’ll get rid of the built-up grease on the blades and the smell of any leftovers.”

Hope you find these tips helpful and remember to

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Since I try to offer motherly advice to my readers, I would be remiss if the problem of bed bugs wasn’t discussed, especially since we are entering vacation season.  Kitty Bean Yancey of USA Today wrote a very informative article concerning these loathsome insects.  A lot of her information came from “The Bed Bug Survival Guide” by Jeff Eisenberg.  I’m going to quote her article directly because I think this info will be very helpful to you.

“Bedbugs are once again an epidemic…They can live up to 18 months without a meal and can lie dormant until they do damage.”

Eisenberg says bedbugs “can lay eggs in the zipper of your briefcase and fit into a crack the width of a business card”.

“Here are some of Eisenberg’s tips for avoiding the critters, who are harder to eliminate since the powerful chemical DDT was prohibited.

Having dinner out?  Put your handbag on your lap instead of on the back of the chair or, worse, at your feet.

On a plane?  Decline a pillow and blanket.  And take a carry-on stored in the overhead bin rather than checking a bag that goes in the luggage compartment.

Checking into a hotel?  Put your bag in the bathroom, where critters are less apt to crawl (they like wood and upholstery).  Don’t use hotel drawers, and keep clothing in sealed plastic bags.

Don’t be fooled by luxury.  You are just as likely to be bitten at a five-star hotel as you are at a place that rents rooms by the hour.

Men are less likely than women to show evidence of being bitten (or more correctly, sucked) by bed bugs.  Also bed bugs inject an anesthetic, so it can take many hours for a bite to show, which makes it harder to know where you got one.

Use a high-powered flashlight to examine both sides of a mattress, plus the headboard and box springs, for blood and fecal matter that would indicate the presence of bed bugs.”

I hope this info doesn’t keep you from taking a vacation; just be sure to be very vigilant.  In this case, an ounce of prevention is really worth a pound of cure!

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Mimi loves snacks and knowing what snacks to choose for only 100 calories makes diet control  very palatable.  Judy Hevrdejs in an article titled “What can you have for 100 calories?” printed in the Chicago Tribune lists a number of healthy and not so healthy snacks containing only 100 calories.  Here is the list of snacks.  Use it wisely because the “Mayo Clinic points out that to work off 100 calories (if you weigh 160 pounds):” one has to “cycle or play volleyball (about 20 minutes): bowl, ballroom dance or walk (about 30 minutes): or do low-impact aerobics (about 16 minutes).”

Snack List

Hard cooked egg (1 large):  78 calories

Raw spinach (10 ounce package):  65 calories

Raisins (about 3 tablespoons):  81 calories

Fresh blueberries (1 cup):  84 calories

Apple (1 medium):  95 calories

Smooth peanut butter (1 tablespoon):  94 calories

McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets (2 pieces):  95 calories

Doritos Nacho Cheese Flavored Tortilla Chips (about 7 chips):  95 calories

Fresh strawberry halves (2 cups):  98 calories

Dry roasted peanuts (about 16):  99 calories

Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies (2 cookies):  120 calories

Dry roasted almonds (about 13):  99 calories

Baby carrots (25):  100 calories

Well, now you have a choice – two chicken McNuggets or 2 cups of strawberry halves.  Looks like a no-brainer to me.  What will you choose?

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Ready or not here they are.  One is an original Mimi Tip.  The second came from my younger sister and the third tip was gleaned from a newspaper article.

Okay, here’s my original tip.  My clear vinyl shower liner was looking pretty grungy as it was covered with white, hard water marks.  I proceeded to clean the liner with straight white vinegar, scrubbing the marks using a Scotch-Brite Dobie cleaning pad made by the 3M Company.  The white vinegar eliminated the unsightly water marks.  Then I rinsed the liner with a clean cloth and warm water.  Re-hung the liner and it looks like new!  Clean the liner every six months to prevent a too-heavy build-up of hard water marks.  This procedure took less than 15 minutes and it’s more economical than purchasing a new shower liner.

The next tip is for storing those plastic bags from purchases at Wal-Mart, Target, etc.  They are excellent for lining those small wastepaper baskets found in bath and laundry rooms.  Take a clean plastic gallon-size milk container and with scissors cut a hole about 2-1/2″ in diameter in the center of one side.  Stuff as many bags in as possible and believe me, the container will hold quite a few.  All the bags are neatly contained in one area and the hole is big enough to reach in and grab one when needed.

The final tip came from the newspaper.  Did you ever notice the colored tag or twist on a bag of store-bought bread?  It’s not just for decorative purposes.  It’s actually a code to tell you what day of the week the bread was baked:

Blue – Monday

Green – Tuesday

Red – Thursday

White – Friday

Yellow – Saturday

I guess the bakers take a day off on Wednesday and Sunday!  Bread can also be frozen and will keep for up to a month.

Hope these tips are helpful and remember to

Keep smilin’!

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Kitchen Tips From Mimi

Dear Readers,

I have “The Cook’s Answer Book” torn from the April 1, 1997 issue of Family Circle.  I refer to it often and would like to share a few tips from it with you.  I’ll quote directly from the booklet.

“Q.  Following instructions from an old cookbook,  I threw spaghetti against the wall to test for doneness.  It stuck.  Is it done?

A.  Probably–but clean the wall and use this method instead.  Fish a piece of pasta from the pot and run under cold water.  Bite it:  the pasta should be tender but firm, without a white core; mushy pasta is not nice.  Two more often-heard queries:  Should I add oil to cooking water to prevent pasta from sticking?  Oil is for salads.  Use plenty of boiling water and stir occasionally; nothing will stick.  Oil in the water may coat pasta, causing sauce to slide right off.  Do I rinse cooked pasta or not?  Don’t rinse!  Starch on pasta helps sauce adhere.  The exception:  Do rinse if making cold pasta salad, so pieces stay separate.

Q.  Should I go ahead and carve the roast as soon as it comes out of the oven?

A.  No–let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes.  During cooking, most of the meat juices retreat to the center, leaving the edges dry and center wet.  As the roast stands, the liquid magically redistributes itself; plus, the meat firms up for thinner slicing.  Also, remember to remove the roast from the oven while it’s slightly underdone; the internal temerpature will continue to rise anywhere from 5 degrees for a thin cut, to 15 degrees for a much thicker piece.

Q.  How do I tell when fish is done?  When the scales fall off?

A.  Gently poke the fish with a fork in its thickest part.  Properly cooked, the flesh just begins to flake easily and is opaque (cloudy or milky)–not translucent or raw-looking.”

Hope these tips are helpful and remember to always

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

“Flavors To Shake the Salt Habit” is the title of an article written by Betsy Towner that was published in the December, 2010 AARP Bulletin.  It lists herbs and spices to use in various food items in place of salt.

Here is a partial list of the foods with these salt-free add-ins:

Roasted beef – bay leaf, garlic, parsley and thyme

Roasted poultry – marjoram, oregano, pepper, rosemary, sage and thyme

Beef stew – bay leaf, garlic, onion, parsley, pepper and thyme

Chicken soup – bay leaf, onion, parsley and thyme

Chili – drilled chili, cumin, garlic, oregano and pepper

Vegetable soup – basil, garlic, onion, oregano, parsley and pepper

Pasta salad – basil, garlic, mint and parsley

Black bean soup – chili pepper, cumin, coriander seed, garlic, onion, oregano and pepper

Lasagna – basil, chili pepper, garlic, onion and oregano

Pasta primavera – fennel, pepper and thyme

Veggie stir-fry – chili pepper, cilantro, garlic, ginger and sesame seed

This seems like an interesting way to cut down on salt in a recipe.  Lowering salt intake is very good for a healthy heart.  I think it is worth a try.

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Isn’t it a treat to receive fresh flowers for a birthday or special occasion?  They are such a luxury and we all want them to last forever.  Well, here are a few tips on how “to get the most bang from your bouquets”.  These tips are from an article written by Barbara Mahany of the Chicago Tribune.

1.  Keep the water clean.  Bacteria can clog stems and hasten rotting.  Use the packet of powder from the florist or concoct your own.  Here’s a recipe from chemistry.about.com:  Combine 2 tablespoons each white vinegar and sugar, 1/2 teaspoon household chlorine bleach and 1 quart warm water.

2.  “Ditch the scissors: Use a sharp knife or garden shears.  Scissors merely squeeze and crush stems”.

3.  “Cut on the angle:  You might think this boosts the water uptake, but really it keeps the stems from resting flat against the bottom of a vase and blocking the entry point for water.  By cutting off the bottom inch or two, you remove the natural seal that formed when the stem was first cut”.

4.  “Short is good:  Shorter stems allow water to get to the bloom more easily”.

5.  “Lose the leaves:  You want the energy surging to the bloom, don’t you?  So don’t provide a detour into the leaves.  And don’t think of having any foliage under water, where it will swiftly break down and turn to goo”.

6.  “Cut the heat: Room temperature tap water (not lukewarm, not chilly) is the happiest bath for most bouquets”.

7.  “Storing fresh-cut flowers for six hours in a cool corner of the basement can triple the vase life”.

8.  “Ditch the swamp water:  OK, sometimes it’s a pain to airlift a big bouquet and change the water.  Sam McGee of Prufrock Floral and Botanical Design in Winnetka, Ill., shares this trick:  Instead of budging the flowers from the vase, hold the vessel under a running faucet for about five minutes.  As the water spills from the vase, you are essentially changing the water without moving a bloom.  Once it’s crystal clear you are back in business”.

Hope you find this article enlightening – I certainly did.

Keep smilin’!

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