Wednesday, June 30, 2010

More lead...this time in FOOD!

It's appalling. And scary. I mean, lead in kids toys isn't good, but doesn't shock me. They're cheap, coming from China and not meant to be eaten. But high lead levels in APPLE JUICE?  And not just off-brand apple juice: Whole Foods, Trader Joes, even GERBER!  Check out the full article here at inhabitots.  Big thanks to SamsterMommy for reprinting the list. I'd missed this entirely. There is no safe level of lead to ingest. Please go check your cupboards for the following:  All 125 of them!


1. 365 Everyday Value Organic 100% Juice Concord Grapes

2. Beech Nut 100% Apple Juice

3. Best Yet Bartlett Pear Halves in Heavy Syrup

4. Best Yet Chunky Mixed Fruit in Pear Juice

5. Best Yet Yellow Cling Peach Halves in Heavy Syrup

6. Chef’s Review Fruit Cocktail

7. Del Monte 100% Juice Fruit Cocktail

8. Del Monte Chunky Mixed Fruit in 100% Juice (peach, pear, grape, etc.)

9. Del Monte Diced Pears in Light Syrup

10. Del Monte Freestone Peach Slices in 100% Juice

11. Del Monte Fruit Cocktail in Heavy Syrup (peach, pear, grapes)

12. Del Monte Fruit Cocktail No Sugar Added

13. Del Monte Lite Fruit Cocktail in Extra Light Syrup

14. Del Monte Pear Halves in Heavy Syrup

15. Del Monte Pear Halves, Bartlett Pears in 100% real fruit juice from concentrate

16. Del Monte Sliced Yellow Cling Peaches in 100% Juice

17. Del Monte Sliced Yellow Cling Peaches in heavy syrup

18. Dole Diced Peaches, Yellow Cling in light syrup

19. Dole Mixed Fruit in Light Syrup

20. Dole Pear Halves in Juice

21. Earth’s Best Organics Apple Juice

22. Eating Right Fruit Cocktail packed in Sucralose

23. Eating Right No Sugar Fruit Cocktail

24. First Street 100% Apple Cider from concentrate

25. First Street Apple Juice from concentrate 100% juice

26. First Street Diced Pears

27. First Street Fruit Cocktail in heavy syrup

28. First Street Grape Juice from concentrate 100% juice

29. First Street Sliced Bartlett

30. First Street Yellow Cling Peaches in heavy syrup

31. Full Circle Organic Apple Juice

32. Full Circle Organic Bartlett Pear Slices

33. Gerber 100% Juice – White Grape Juice

34. Gerber 100% Juice Apple Juice

35. Gerber 3rd Foods Peaches

36. Gerber 3rd Foods Pears

37. Golden Star Mixed Fruit in Light Syrup (peach, pineapple, pears)

38. Golden Star Peach Halves in Heavy Syrup

39. Great Value 100% Grape Juice

40. Great Value 100% No Sugar Added Apple Juice

41. Great Value Bartlett Pear Halves in 100% Juice

42. Great Value Bartlett Sliced Pears in Heavy Syrup

43. Great Value No Sugar Added Fruit Cocktail

44. Great Value Yellow Cling Sliced Peaches

45. Hansen’s Natural Apple Juice

46. Kedem Concord Grape Juice 100% pure grape juice

47. Kroger 100% Juice Apple Juice

48. Kroger Fruit Cocktail in Heavy Syrup

49. Kroger Grape Juice 100% Juice

50. Kroger Lite Fruit Cocktail in Pear Juice

51. Kroger Value Fruit Mix (Peaches, pears, grapes)

52. Langers Apple Juice 100% Juice

53. Langers Grape Juice (Concord)

54. Langers Red Grape Juice

55. Libby’s Fruit Cocktail No Sugar Added (Sweetened with Splenda)

56. Libby’s Yellow Cling Peach Slices No Sugar Added (Sweetened with Splenda)

57. Market Pantry Diced Peaches in light syrup

58. Market Pantry Diced Pears in light syrup

59. Market Pantry Mixed Fruit in light syrup

60. Maxx Value Fruit Mix in Light Syrup (peach, pear, grape)

61. Maxx Value Pear Pieces in Light Syrup

62. Minute Maid Juice Apple – 100% Apple Juice

63. Motts 100% Apple Juice

64. Mrs. Brown’s Fruit Cocktail in Heavy Syrup (peaches, pears, grapes)

65. O Organics Organic Grape Juice from concentrate

66. O Organics Organic Unfiltered Apple Juice Not From Concentrate

67. Old Orchard 100% Apple Juice

68. Parade 100% Juice Apple

69. Polar Mixed Fruit

70. Polar Peach Slices

71. Polar Pear Halves in light syrup

72. R.W. Knudsen Just Concord Grape Juice

73. R.W. Knudsen Organic Just Concord

74. Raley’s 100% Grape Juice

75. Raley’s Fruit Cocktail in Heavy Syrup

76. Raley’s Premium 100% Apple Juice not from Concentrate

77. Raley’s Sliced Yellow Cling Peaches in Heavy Syrup

78. S&W Natural Style Fruit Cocktail in Lightly Sweetened Juice

79. S&W Natural Style Pear Slices in Juice

80. S&W Natural Style Yellow Cling Peach Slices in Lightly Sweetened Juice

81. S&W Premium Peach Halves Yellow Cling Peaches in light syrup

82. S&W Sun Pears Premium

83. Safeway 100% Juice Apple Cider

84. Safeway 100% Juice Apple Juice

85. Safeway 100% Juice Grape Juice

86. Safeway Diced Peaches in Light Syrup

87. Safeway Fruit Cocktail in Heavy Syrup

88. Safeway Light Sugar Fruit Cocktail

89. Safeway Lite Bartlett Pear Halves in Pear Juice

90. Safeway Lite Fruit Cocktail in Pear Juice

91. Safeway Organic Grape Juice

92. Safeway Pear Halves in Light Juice

93. Safeway Yellow Cling Peach Slices in Pear Juice

94. Santa Cruz Organic Concord Grape Juice

95. Simple Value Yellow Cling Peaches in light syrup

96. Stater Bros. 100% Juice Apple Juice

97. Stater Bros. 100% Juice Grape Juice

98. Stater Bros. 100% Juice White Grape Juice

99. Stater Bros. Fruit Cocktail in Heavy Syrup

100. Stater Bros. Yellow Cling Peach Halves

101. Stater Bros. Yellow Cling Sliced Peaches in heavy syrup

102. Sunny Select 100% Apple Juice

103. Sunny Select 100% Grape Juice

104. Sunny Select Fruit Cocktail in Juice

105. Sunny Select Pear Halves in Pear Juice

106. Sunny Select Yellow Cling Sliced Peaches in Pear Juice

107. Trader Joe’s Certified Organic Apple Juice, pasteurized

108. Trader Joe’s Concord Grape Juice made from fress pressed organic concord grapes

109. Trader Joe’s Pear Halves in white grape juice

110. Trader Joe’s Yellow Cling Peach Halves in while grape juice

111. Tree Top 100% Juice Apple Cider

112. Tree Top 100% Juice, Grape

113. Truitt Brothers Pacific NorthWest Bartlett Pear Halves, in pear juice from concentrate

114. Valu Time Grape Drink from Concentrate

115. Valu Time Irregular Bartlett Pear Slices

116. Valu Time Yellow Cling Peach Slices

117. Walgreens Apple Juice from concentrate 100% juice

118. Walgreens Grape Juice from concentrate 100% juice

119. Walnut Acres Organic Concord Grape

120. Walnut Grove Market 100% Apple Juice

121. Walnut Grove Market Grape Juice

122. Walnut Grove Market Natural Peaches Sliced Yellow Cling in Light Syrup

123. Walnut Grove Market Natural Pear Halves in Heavy Syrup

124. Welch’s 100% Grape Juice (from Welch’s Concord Grapes)

125. Welch’s 100% Red Grape Juice from Concentrate

Monday, June 28, 2010

Third times the charm?

Yup, I found one more blog giveway for this Silhouette cutter I so want. Imagine the vinyl, the t-shirts, the pyrex, oh I'd be busy for weeks!

If you would be, too, jump over to Just a Girl to see all the neato ideas she's come up with for her free cutter!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Vanilla Almond Granola

I have a love/hate relationship with granola. Most store bought boxed versions are too high in sugar and low in protein to really mesh well with me. I end up hyper and then crashing from the sugar rush it gives me, so I've experimented with making my own. I think I finally hit on the right mix, and then someone requested I share it...which meant I had to go figure out what I'm actually doing when tossing the ingredients together! I think I got it right with these measurements, so this is for you, Shannon!

Vanilla Almond Granola

  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup sliced or slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup sunflower or other oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  1. In a glass measuring cup, mix: oil, honey and vanilla.
  2. Stir well to incorporate the mixture
  3. Pour oats into a large bowl.
  4. Drizzle liquid over oats, stirring to coat completely. For a stickier, clumpier granola let this mixture sit about 30 minutes. For a drier, sprinklier granola, proceed to step 5 immediately. (this is what I do...because I'm impatient)
  5. Stir almonds into coated oat mixture.
  6. Add cinnamon and stir WELL.
  7. Add brown sugar and stir again.
  8. Spread evenly onto cookie sheet. For clumpier granola, squeeze some areas into balls by gripping in your hands. (I don't bother with this)
  9. Bake until brown, stirring at least twice. The official process calls for slow baking at 250 degrees for an hour and a half. My method, as an impatient and sloppy chef, is to use the heat from something else I've cooked to brown the granola. When I pull out whatever else I've been cooking and turn off the oven, I toss the granola in and let it sit for 1-2 hours until brown and toasty. This takes less electricity (which makes the granola cost SO much less), leaves the house smelling yummy and has less chance of  burning when I forget it's in the oven. This is often. C'mon, we're talking about me here!
  10. When toasted, store in plastic bag, glass jar, etc. Enjoy over yogurt or with milk.
This recipe was concocted to meet my own , rather plebeian, tastes for granola. Check out the exotic mix-ins you can add at these sites I used for guidance while developing my own preferred recipe.

This one ended up closest to the batch I like so well!  And I want to try out  blueberry granola and her baking tips for getting a softer, chewier version next!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Still dreaming in Silhouettes...

I found ANOTHER giveway for that dreamy Silhouette Cutter that we all want so desperately! So dash over there and enter it here at Southern Hospitality. Then check out the rest of their neat ideas...before dreaming about that Silhouette machine again, of course!

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Ok, so most of you were expecting easy yumminess in the way of the Oriental Stir Fry I promised. Silly you. I've been sidetracked by the gimmies. Namely, THIS giveaway at my fave

She's giving away the most awesome vinyl/paper cutter AND I WANT IT!  Please random number generator, pick me!! LOL

But seriously, I read her blog every day. Check her out, you won't be sorry. Except for the whole you-loose-track-of-six-hours-and-it's-5am thing that happens to me every time!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Chicken Basics: Chicken Burritos

This recipe can be made with either re-fried or black beans. I prefer the re-fried beans that come with green chilies in them, but often find the black beans are quicker to deal with (less sticky, you know?). Either way, this is a yummy quick and easy recipe that makes TWO good sized burritos! So eat a salad on the side and take the other for lunch tomorrow. (Hey, that's two meals for one! It doesn't get better than that!)

Chicken Burritos Recipe

  • Leftover chicken and rice, from Chicken Basics recipe
  • 1/4 can or 1/3 cup either black or re-fried beans
  • two 10" tortillas (these freeze well, if you can't get through a bag before they go bad)
  • 2-4 tbsp of favorite salsa
  • 1/4 cup of shredded cheese (Mexican blend or cheddar work best)
  • Chopped lettuce for salad (I like romaine)
  1.  Open your chosen beans and warm 1/4 can or 1/3 cup. If using black, mix with rice. For re-fried, spread down the middle of the tortilla. 
  2. Dice chicken breast.
  3. Mix diced chicken, rice, salsa, cheese in a bowl and microwave until the cheese is melted. Stir filling to combine.
  4. Spread filling onto tortillas and top with your favorite burrito fillings. (think olives, avocado, guacamole, mmmm)
  5. See my post on how to fold a burrito here, if it's confusing!
  6. Add salad to plate and eat!

I stopped washing my face...

No really! I haven't given into the grime and let the sloth in me take over. I just stopped washing my face.

I have oily skin on my nose and chin that's dry on my cheeks and forehead. Trying to find a face wash that balanced all that, while still being a natural product was killing me and my bank account. Until I stumbled across a blog posting about something called The Oil Cleansing Method over at Simple Mom. Check it out here. Basically, you rub a mixture of olive and Castor oil on your face, steam with a hot washcloth, then wipe the gunk off.  I didn't really know how this would work but I had all the ingredients in my cupboard already so it was at least a cheap option to try! Besides, a face massage followed by a steam sure sounded better than drenching myself and the bathroom with water to wash my face every night!  I know from my BS-in-Chemistry holding Grandma that oil dissolves oil so I figured it might just work to use olive oil to dissolve the nasty oil on my face, right? I was still shocked when it did.

The very first week I tried this with a safe mixture of 70% olive oil and 30%Castor oil, I hit the holy grail people online had been talking about. While I was massaging the oil into my skin, I started feeling little grainy things on the surface of my skin. Never one to wonder, I scraped one onto the tip of my finger and headed for the magnifying glass to determine what it was. Lo and behold: it was a blackhead. Dark at the tip, tapered to a point, ew factor to the extreme. But it was no longer in my face! Woo-hooo! This crazy idea really works! And it left skin feeling moisturized but not greasy...something commercial moisturizers have never achieved.

Since then, I've refined my method to best fit my skin. This process does take some experimenting to get the best results. But you're experimenting with different mixtures of the stuff you already have, so the price doesn't go up! Yay for that!  I now use the same original oil mixture all over my skin, but add a drop of pure Castor oil to my nose and chin for further cleansing of the stubborn black heads. I love feeling the plugs fall out as I massage every night. You know how we all secretly like popping zits? This is better! Looking up close with a magnifying glass before I steam, I can actually see empty pores where the black heads just fell out. SQUEE!  Best of all, I'm meeting my preferred ideal of not putting anything on my skin that I wouldn't put in my mouth! Skin is an organ too and it absorbs everything we put on it. Think about it: how else do those nicotine patches things work?

I also just started using a vinegar toner around my hairline, nose, chine and neck this week. Well, yesterday. The only drawback to this method has been two odd patches of acne forming on my neck under my chin in an area I've never  had acne before. When it dawned on me that I probably wasn't cleaning the oil off this area well enough to prevent clogging the pores on my neck, I started using a vinegar toner/rinse/spritz. I soaked a strip of lemon peel in a 1/4 cup of vinegar for a week, then diluted it with 2 cups of peppermint tea. Rubbing this over my face right after I steam seems to be doing the trick as that weird acne patch is starting to clear after only one use. The lemon-mint vinegar toner is wonderful for summer and smells really nice as you rub it one. I think I may try this trick again for winter, but with a vanilla bean pod instead. Less astringent for the colder months, you know?

If you can get past the weird factor of rubbing oil onto your skin, I really encourage you to try this out! I've been pleasantly surprised to even find a few sun/age spots have started to fade during the last month I've been using OCM. I'm hoping the lemon in my toner will help take them all the way to gone! :) It's all natural  (as in you could drink it while no bad effects), it feels luxurious massaging it in every night, takes the place of face wash AND moisturizers, plus my skin really likes it!  And did I mention it's SO much less expensive than store bought? Homemade is better!

Chicken Basics: Oriental Stir-Fry

Oriental Stir-Fry Recipe

  • Leftover chicken and rice, from Chicken Basics recipe
  • Fresh or frozen Broccoli, 1 cup (you can also use an asian vegetable medly, but I like just plain broccoli)
  • 1 tbsp Soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1tbsp chopped ginger (again, from a jar is fine here)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  1. Pull out the leftover chicken and rice.
  2. Pull out chicken to slice and place rice on plate.
  3. Warm rice in mircowave.
  4. Place frying pan or wok on stove over high heat and add 1tbsp olive oil.
  5. Slice the chicken breast into strips and add to pan.
  6. Add in fresh or frozen broccoli, soy sauce, garlic and ginger.
  7. Saute over high heat, stirring constantly until broccoli is cooked to desired tenderness. Usually about five minutes, or so.
  8. Pull out warm rice from mircowave, pour chicken and broccoli over the top and eat!
 HINT--for a change in flavor, you can also add bottled teriyaki sauce or black bean sauce instead of the soy sauce, garlic and ginger. Choose your favorite!

Monday, June 21, 2010

It's one of those weeks...

You know what I mean? One of those weeks where everything goes wrong, the simplest things take six tries to complete and everyone yells about everything?

Yesterday was stressful. I work in retail sales and yesterday three of our seven scheduled team members didn't show up. Half staff. To top it off, we're changing over to start our twice annual sale and LOTS of merchandise had to move around at closing, all the signs in the store had to be changed and we still had the basic daily work and customers to help. We blitzed through it with a dogged we-will-get-it-done-and-tomorrow-will-be-better.

Tomorrow became today...and it wasn't better.

Two things sum up today: being summoned to abandon the customer I was with to go help another customer across the store. Okay, this happens. We're all specialists in different areas and maybe it was too hard a question? So sure, off I went.  But when I got there and found seven (SEVEN!) managers standing twenty  feet from the poor waiting customers I was appalled. WHY any of the seven managers and three co-workers twenty feet away couldn't help while I was trying to get there, I just don't know!! I felt so bad for the very nice people who'd been waiting more than fifteen minutes at this point! ANY of those seven managers could have looked up two names from a tag and sent them on their way at any point in time before my arrival...but they didn't. They could have read the tag and called us and we could have booked the unit and sent it down to that printer for them...but they didn't do that either. 

Then later that day, one of those self-same managers listed above responded to my quick yes-or-no question with a curt, "I'm off the clock" and a closed door in my face. ?!? But I just saw you clock IN from lunch! Huh? She called me later to ask again what my question had been and did go so far as to admit, "[she] should have spoken differently." I'LL SAY!! H-E-double-hockey-sticks! I was on a legitimate break when I asked the question to begin with! "I'm off the clock" Off your rocker, maybe lady! Try saying, I'll get back to you, Hang on, try me later, let me check. Any of these wouldn't have left me furious. Cause I am. I'll never respect her again, as she has so little respect for me. And that makes me both sad and angry. It's hard to work for people you don't respect. And right now I don't have a lot of respect for any of those seven managers.

So what do I do now? Swallow and move on? Scream and try again tomorrow? How do you deal with this stuff?

Chicken Basics: Cilantro-Lime Chicken

Cilantro-Lime Chicken Recipe

  • Leftover chicken and rice, from Chicken Basics recipe
  • 2tbsp butter (or olive oil if you're worried about cholesterol)
  • 1/3 cup black beans (those ones in the freezer? Yeah, pull 'em out!)
  •  Either 2-3 limes to juice or one bottle of lime juice
  • 2 tsp chopped cilantro (fresh or frozen--NOT dried)
  • sugar to taste (different people like different levels of bite from the lime juice...and not all limes are equally sweet, so taste the sauce as you go and add sugar if it needs it)
  • fresh tomato and/or avocado
  1. If beans are frozen, pop into microwave to thaw.
  2. In a glass measuring cup, combine 2 tsp butter (or olive oil) with 1/4 lime juice and 2 cubes of frozen cilantro.
  3. Mix beans with rice on plate.
  4. Melt sauce in microwave, stirring upon removal until somewhat incorporated
  5. Pour over cold chicken and rice. Try to pour a little at a time to cover every bite with yumminess
  6. Warm sauce covered chicken and rice while you slice a tomato and/or avocado for sides.
  7. Sadly, today I didn't have any avocado to add to the picture. I ate it all in guacamole last night!
Again, it's a good carb, good protein and with tomato and/or avocado, some veggie goodness too!  I like a salad with a lime vinaigrette on the side of mine, but that's probably because I don't like raw tomato. But avocado is KILLER with this sauce on it! Try some!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Chicken Basics: Mexican Chicken!

Mexican Chicken Recipe

  • Leftover chicken and rice, from Chicken Basics recipe
  • 1 can black beans*
  • 1/4 cup frozen corn*
  • 1/2 cup your favorite salsa
  • Sprinkling of shredded cheese (Mexican blend or Cheddar work best)
*You can also buy a pre-mixed frozen version of corn, beans and peppers in the veggie freezer section, if you prefer to keep it easy. Some stores carry it, others don't. If using this, you need 1/2 cup.
  1. Open and drain a can of black beans. Divide into quarters and freeze the extra three servings. This is where those tiny 2 oz. Gladware containers come in handy! 
  2. Mix the first quarter with your favorite salsa, corn and rice.
  3.  Add a tablespoon or two of salsa, to your desired level of heat, and mix. Place beans and rice onto plate and add chicken.
  4. Spoon salsa over the chicken breast and top with shredded Mexican cheese.
  5. Warm in microwave until cheese melts and enjoy!
HINT-- try keeping your shredded cheese in the freezer! It stays good for months there, rather than weeks in the fridge.  So if that block of cheese in the fridge is looking a little sad, shred it up! Why let it go bad when you can freeze it instead? Saves time and money! Just like IQF chicken breasts, cheese happily thaws while it need to wait.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Chicken Basics: With Garlic Green Beans

Day one is really, really easy. You're going to eat chicken and rice with green beans on the side. Add in a side salad-from-a-bag and you have 2-3 veggie servings (depending on how much salad you eat!), one good carb and one lean protein for less than 8 minutes in the kitchen. I can do it in five, but I figured you might need time to double check the recipe, which would take an extra minute or two!

Garlic Green Beans


  • Frozen green beans (I buy mine from Trader Joe's. A big bag is $2 and I've yet to find better green beans...not even fresh taste as good!)
  • Chopped garlic (from a jar is fine, but you can dice a clove if you prefer)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Place a small non-stick pan over medium-high heat. An omelet pan is good, if you're making one serving.
  2. Dribble a teaspoon of olive oil into the pan and let it heat a bit
  3. Place chicken and rice onto plate and microwave until warm.
  4. Toss in some green beans, about a cup of frozen beans per person.
  5. Add a teaspoon to a tablespoon of fresh chopped garlic-from a jar is fine here! One teaspoon for light garlic flavor, a tablespoon for heavy garlic flavor...that;s yours, Mike!
  6. Saute, stirring often until beans are soft and the end of a bean or two show a hint of brown.
  7. Add to your plate off microwaved chicken and rice and eat.
That's it! A yummy side dish ready to go. You can also try adding bacon to it, if you're feeling naughty!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Chicken Basics Starter Recipe

This next series of posts is being written primarily for my friend Mike, though anyone who's cooking meals for one will find them useful.  We've been friends since our freshman year of college, but he lives a few hours away so we don't get to see each other as often as we'd like. On a rare visit last Saturday, he was complaining about how hard it is to eat well when you're only cooking for one. I was really surprised that after almost fifteen years of friendship, I'd never shown him my easy method for making a basic recipe and changing it up every night to make a new taste sensation! Now that I'm married, this isn't much of an issue anymore (my husband Scott can eat), but I spent many years doing this as a single person. Once you have a basic dish, it's easy to change seasonings without having to cook a completely new meal from scratch every night after work. Especially- when-all-you-want-to-do-is-collapse-and-watch-TV. This method cuts down on dishes, but still means you can choose your desired meal every night while eating well and cheaply! Which is even more important in today's economy than it was when I did it all those years ago.

Today's post is a how-to for the basic chicken recipe. Then every day this week I'll post a new mix-up for the basic recipe.  When I was single, I'd make Chicken and Rice Basics once a week, then make up a Basic Ground Beef Recipe while the Chicken Basics cooked in the oven. I'll post the Ground Beef Starter Recipe once I've finished with the Chicken Basics variations. By mixing and matching, you can eat a week of dinners alternating the chicken and beef Basics...without ever realizing you're eating leftovers!

Chicken and Rice Basics Recipe

  • 1 lb chicken breast, boneless and skinless (four pieces if using IQF* chicken breasts)
  • 1 cup brown rice (it's better for you and tastes good cooked in broth! no cardboard here, I promise! )
  • 2 cans chicken broth, or 2 cups water and bouillon  (I use Better Than Bouillon concentrate)
  • salt, pepper, granulated or fresh garlic
*IQF=individually quick frozen. These are found in the freezer section and are often cheaper than fresh. They also make cooking for one person MUCH easier as you can pull out only as much as you need.

1. In a 9x13 baking dish, spread rice evenly into bottom of pan.

2.  Evenly space chicken breasts on top of rice.  (Yes, my chicken is still frozen. So what? It thaws while it cooks in the oven.)

3. If using fresh garlic, chop into fine pieces and mix into chicken broth before pouring broth over the rice. If using granulated garlic, sprinkle over top of chicken breasts to taste. 

4. Add salt and pepper before covering pan with aluminum foil and bake 1 hour at 350 or until rice absorbs all liquid.

5.  When no liquid remains in bottom of pan, remove foil to brown breasts and bake 5-10 minutes more.

6.  Set aside to cool. Once cool, separate chicken and rice evenly into 4 containers.

I use Gladware entree sized containers; they're just the right size for a one person meal.  Freeze whatever you won’t use in the next week or so. Safe storage times in fridge will vary from fridge to fridge and climate to climate. If you're in doubt, freeze it. Just toss it in the fridge before you leave in the morning to it can thaw out and be ready for dinner that night.
Check back tomorrow for the perfect veggie side dish to go with chicken and rice: Garlic Green Beans!

    Friday, June 4, 2010

    The Battle of the Grungy Grout

    So, many of you may remember where we left off yesterday. The excess grout left all over the tiles during installation had been removed with a putty knife and the Mr Clean Magic Eraser.  However, the grout lines themselves were still the same icky-nasty-dirty mess.
    That's it, hanging out on the right over there. Say it again, EWW! For the record, much of this isn't even our dirt! It was worse when we first moved in two years ago.

    Choices of weapons in this war? Baking soda or the smelly, burn-your-hands off chemical spray. I did buy one to use as a more scientific experiement, but I nearly choked when I opened the bottle! The fumes were awful.  I couldn't stand it, not even to try it out so I broke out the baking soda and went to town. Very low tech, I dumped a couple big scoops into a shallow bowl and filled it up with hot water to make a kind of slurry. It was wetter than a paste, but not a liquid by any means.  I grabbed a scrub brush, scooped some baking soda from the bottom of the bowl onto it and tapped it onto the grout lines. It kinda slid off the brush and puddled in between the tiles.  I let it sit and soak in for ten minutes or so before giving it a couple quick back-and-forth swipes with the scrub brush and rinsing the baking soda off with a rag. the results? AMAZING! See for yourself below.

    I KNOW! I can't believe it's the same floor from when we started; it looks almost brand new. When my husband got home that night, he thought I'd regrouted the floor. Seriously! It was THAT clean! From baking soda, a bit of water and a few quick swipes with a scrub brush. Hmm, wonder how clean it would've gotten if I'd thought to do the final rinse with vinegar? Something to try next time! Like next week on the bathroom grout...

    PS-Just a side note, the baking soda completely cleans it, but can't lay down a layer of protection against future dirt so once I let it dry out completely I gave it a good sealing with a paint on grout sealant to prevent a return to its previous state of ick. Thus far the sealant is working and we are still enjoying spakling clean grout several months later!

    Thursday, June 3, 2010

    Who says natural cleaning products don't work?

    I certainly don't anymore!  We had some seriously nasty tile in our kitchen. Well, the tile was great, but the grout hadn't been cleaned off well and was stuck to the tiles so they always looked dirty. And since that self same grout was never sealed properly, it was FILTHY. All the time, no matter how I tried to clean it. I mean, see for yourself:

    Ok, now- as a chorus: "EWWW." 

    So, as part of our recent kitchen remodel, I took advantage of the lack of kitchen cabinets (well, lack of  anything really..even walls!) and decided to really deep clean this area. Since there was no need to be in the kitchen as it wasn't like we had FOOD there so now was the time if I had to use a nasty chemical to strip the dirt out of the grout. I figured I could seal the area off, stick a fan aimed at the vent hole and shut it up until the fumes were gone if I had to. But I didn't want to. I mean, chemicals can be seriously nasty stuff. I was a college chemistry minor; I know! So after a lot of googling, I came down to two options for removal of the excess grout and dirt:
    1. Use muratic acid to remove the excess grout and heavy duty grout cleaner for the dirt in the grout. I knew it would work, but muratic acid is heavy duty stuff I didn't really want to go near, let alone spending several hours crawling around in.
    2. Use baking soda and a putty knife for the excess grout. This might or might not work, but I figured it couldn't hurt anything, so why not at least try it?
    BOY am I glad I did! I could not believe my eyes when that grout started coming off the tiles with a putty knife. (You know, those metal scraper things you use to fill holes in walls. It looks like a fat, flexible flat head screwdriver and comes in various widths. Mine was a 2"er)  A quick wipe with a damp cloth, and most of it was gone! Now I'm sitting there going, 'I should've done this ages ago!'  and wondering why I didn't!

    Then I got stumped, trying to figure out how to get the last bits of it out of the tiles' texture. See, floor tile has a texture to it to keep you from slipping on it and mine, well, it looked like my thighs. Seriously, the only way to describe the texture of these is that it looks like cellulite. Hence, it looks like my thighs. sigh  So while I'm sitting there, stumped on how to get to the 100% clean I so desperately desire, I decide to remove the heel marks I've left all over the tile before moving on. Enter the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Just for the heck of it, I swiped it over the remaining grout stuck in the cellulite dimples. (On the tile, people, not on me!) And it came off. That nasty excess grout that always made my floor look dirty was GONE.  Completely. Now I'm grinning ear to ear and madly wiping the little bits up and generally acting like a crazy person...because the grout on the tiles is gone!!  I'm sad to say, when I stood up and looked at the kitchen floor once I'd removed all that nastiness,  I did a happy caroling dance of pure joy that woke my poor hubby out of a sound sleep. It was 2am, after all. I just hope I didn't wake the neighbors, too!

    Moral of the story: do not believe you need chemicals to tackle a dirty job. Start simple, start easy, start safe. Try it.  And then be joyful when it works....unless it's 2am, of course!

    Part two of the experiment tomorrow: the grungy grout lines!
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