Tag Archives: kitchen

MICROWAVE CLEANING THE EASY WAY

Microwave ovens have become a kitchen essential for many, if not most, households. Problem is, once we shut the microwave door, it’s easy to forget about the spilled or splattered food accumulating on its interior….until the next time we go to use it. By that time, it’s hardened into a stubborn residue.

Good news: there’s no need for scrubbing or harsh chemicals to get your microwave sparkling clean and smelling fresh. Try one of these three simple, low-cost techniques, depending on what you have on hand:

Close-up of lemons in a wicker basket on white1. Squeeze the juice of a whole lemon into a cup of water in a microwave safe bowl. Heat the mixture in the microwave for three minutes. Careful—it will be hot! Remove the bowl with mitts and set aside. Wipe down the steamed residue from the interior of the oven with damp paper towels.

2. Follow the same directions above, using vinegar in place of lemon juice. After the vinegar solution cools, you can dip a sponge into it and wipe down the microwave interior again, which will neutralize odors. (For added value, after you clean your microwave, shake a dollop of baking soda into your kitchen sink, followed by the vinegar solution. Wipe down and rinse. Your sink will sparkle from the mild scrubbing and foaming action, and the solution will deodorize the drain).

3. Dissolve a half cup of baking soda in two cups of water in a microwave safe bowl. Heat for two minutes until solution boils, then let cool enough to remove. Dip sponge in baking soda solution (wear gloves as it will be hot) and wipe down interior of microwave.

Stubborn burnt popcorn smell bugging you? After cleaning the oven with one of the above methods, try one of these techniques, depending on your preference for fragrances. Mix a few teaspoons of ground coffee in a ceramic cup of water and place the cup in a bowl. Heat for two minutes. Remove bowl and cup with mitts. Wipe down interior of microwave with damp paper towels. As an alternative, put four teaspoons of vanilla extract in a bowl of water and heat for two minutes. Remove bowl with mitts, and wipe down interior of microwave with damp paper towels.

Cooking up Kitchen Organization

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Meal time can be one of the easiest parts of your day when you follow my  tips and tricks for making meal time one of the easiest parts of your day. Sound impossible? Read on and reap the rewards of a clutter free kitchen.

1. Trash Bag Troubles
Plastic grocery bags scattered under your sink or shoved into drawers take up valuable space and get in your way. Purchase an inexpensive cabinet-mounted or free standing bag holder to create space for more important kitchen items. When the holder gets filled up, recycle them or donate extra bags to a food bank. Better yet, invest in inexpensive fabric bags for grocery shopping. Many markets offer small cash discounts for using them.

2. Space Saving Techniques for Your Cabinets
Organize your cabinets to work for you. Move special occasion dishes and other infrequently used pieces to a cabinet in the dining room or the highest shelf in your kitchen cabinets. Optimize stemware space by placing every other glass upside down. Bowls, Tupperware, and casserole dishes should nest one inside the other. Finally, keep cups, plates and bowls you use most often toward the front of the cabinet, while great Aunt Norma’s bone china should be moved to the back or displayed behind glass.

3. Utensils, Utensils, Utensils
Knifes and forks and pizza slicers–oh my! Those stray steak knives are a safety hazard—and searching for the right tool slows down meal prep time more than you know. If your utensil drawer is a disaster, one trip to your favorite home store will reveal a plethora of drawer organizers that can keep all of your utensils compartmentalized and clean–and speed up the stir fry and salad fixing.

4. Refresh Your Refrigerator
Two-week old pot roast has no place in your refrigerator. But leftovers can get buried in the back of the fridge without you even noticing. First, start fresh. Pull everything out, check all expiration dates and get rid of foods that have gone bad. Give the fridge a wipe down. Place items back inside, grouped together based on type and frequency of use, with more perishable items toward the front. When it comes time to put leftovers in the fridge, ask your family if they plan on eating any more in the next day or so. If they say yes, keep it. If they say no, throw it away. A quick inventory check every evening will keep your refrigerator clutter-free and fresh.

5. Baking Bliss
You’re ready to bake some cookies–but where’s the cookie sheet? If it feels like half your time is spent looking for baking equipment and ingredients, try creating a baking area in your kitchen so all of your supplies will be there when you need them. Use one cabinet to house cookie sheets, pans, and trays. If you have a cupboard above, keep your baking soda, flour, chocolate chips and other ingredients there. An attractive mixer can sit on the countertop directly above. Next time you get the urge for something sweet, you’ll have it in the oven before you can say snickerdoodle.

6. Over-Packed Pantry?
Make room in your pantry by helping other people fill up theirs. Did you go overboard on the discounted macaroni and cheese? Stock up on too much chicken-and-stars soup? Go through your pantry before items expire and donate what you realistically will not use to a local food bank. Also, if spices and sauces tip over every time you reach for one, a “Lazy Susan” will keep them more visible and accessible. Investing a few minutes to alphabetize herbs and spice is well worth the time you waste searching a shelf of identical containers each time you cook.