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How Do I Make My Cookies Softer?

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Are your cookies hard and slightly burnt on the bottom? Worse yet, they don’t seem to taste much better, even after dunking them into a glass of milk. It’s almost as if they can’t soak up any of the milk. Are you asking yourself, what did I do wrong? Don’t worry, I have the answer.Make sure to check out all of my tips and tricks to help you in the kitchen here.

I want big, soft, gourmet style cookies, but mine always turn out too hard. How do I make my cookies softer?

Use more brown sugar. That’s it. Brown sugar will make your cookie a little more crumbly after it bakes. For example, take my recipe for chocolate chip cookies here. It calls for only ½ cup of granulated white sugar, compared to, 2 cups of brown sugar. That is a full 4 to 1 ratio of brown sugar to white. The result is a softer, more granular cookie. It breaks apart easily and readily soaks up milk upon dunking it. Just be careful, it might just fall in! Now that is what I call a soft cookie!

Try experimenting with some of your existing cookie recipes. If your recipe calls for 3/4 cup of sugar, try 1/4 cup brown sugar to 1/2 cup white. If your recipe calls for 1 cup, try half white sugar and half brown sugar. You can have a lot of fun trying out different combinations. Put your own spin on your favorite recipes. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to fail. I went through at least a half dozen different recipes before I found the one that I liked best. If all else fails, throw your failed cookies in some ice cream and call it a day.

1,862 total views, 2 views today

The BEST Dusting Tip

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I don’t know about you, but I hate dusting and I am willing to try just about anything to keep from having to dust every other day. So here is a little trick I heard from a friend and I have been doing it ever since: I use a dryer sheet to dust with! I have found it works well for shelves, windowsills and baseboards. 

The method I have found that works best is:

First, go over the area with a cloth designed to “catch” dust, not simply spread it around. I found my duster at the dollar store. It has a removable cloth that can be washed in the laundry.

Next, I spray a little water on a dryer sheet (just a little, you don’t want it dripping). Then, I simply wipe everything down with a dryer sheet.

Think about it. Dryer sheets repel static on clothes, right? It does a pretty good job on windowsills and baseboards too.

Here is a comparison of two windowsills in my house after TWO WEEKS without dusting. The first one is a picture before I started using dryer sheets in my weekly dusting routine, the other picture is after using dryer sheets. I had to wait two weeks, because there wasn’t even enough dust on the windowsill after the first week to warrant a picture. Take a look for yourself.

windowsill 500

 

So what do you think? Are you going to try this?

4,425 total views, 2 views today

Easy Lunch Pinwheels

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Here is an easy, six-ingredient recipe that you’ll love! These are perfect for a quick lunch on the run, camping trips or in the summer, when it is just too hot to turn on the oven. Sandwich Wraps are easy to make and require no stove to make. Pinwheels are also kid-friendly! For a list of more Sandwich Wrap Recipes click here.

Easy Lunch Pinwheels
Serves 1
An easy, six-ingredient recipe that you'll love!
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Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. Flour or Wheat Tortilla (pictured: flour)
  2. Sliced lunchmeat of your choice (pictured: turkey)
  3. Sliced cheese of your choice (pictured: mild cheddar)
  4. Lettuce
  5. Tomato (sliced)
  6. Yogurt or Dressing of your choice (pictured: honey Greek yogurt)
Instructions
  1. Lay out your tortilla
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of your favorite dressing or yogurt and spread it out a little (try: light ranch, caesar, regular or greek yogurt)
  3. Add a layer of lettuce
  4. Add a layer of cheese
  5. Add a layer of lunchmeat
  6. Add a layer of thinly sliced tomato
  7. Roll your tortilla into a wrap shape
  8. Slice into 1 inch sections
  9. Enjoy!
Notes
  1. Another fun thing to try: Add a little yogurt on the side for dipping. Kids love it!
http://heavenlypennies.com/

2,354 total views, 3 views today

The BEST Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe

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When I was younger, I used to work at a Red Robin Restaurant. They had the most delicious Tortilla Soup I had ever tasted up to that point. Here is my own version of that tortilla soup that I used to love so much, but with a few additions that I believe make this even better than Red Robbin’s. This soup is so good, you’ll want to eat it all winter long.

Chicken Tortilla Soup
Serves 16
The Best Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe you will ever find.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
40 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 cans chicken broth
  2. 1 can diced tomatoes
  3. 1 can diced tomatoes w/jalapeños
  4. 1 can sweet kernel corn
  5. 1 can black beans
  6. 1 packet taco seasoning
  7. 10-15 corn tortillas (I use 12, add more if you want thicker)
  8. 1 cup carrots, diced
  9. 1 cup celery, diced
  10. 1 cup onion, diced (I use yellow or white onion)
  11. 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  12. 2-3 chicken breasts or thighs (boneless, skinless meat)
  13. Salt and pepper
  14. Corn oil
  15. 2 ½ cups shredded cheese (I use Mexican blend or 4 cheese blend)
  16. 1 cup milk
  17. Sour cream
  18. Tortilla chips
Instructions
  1. Defrost chicken meat & cut meat into cubes (I use kitchen shears – much easier).
  2. Add salt and pepper and half the garlic to the chicken. Then, cook the cubes in a lightly oiled pan.
  3. Pour the cans of broth, tomatoes, corn, beans and taco seasoning into a large pot. Start to bring the soup to a boil.
  4. Dice the carrots, celery, onion and mince the garlic. Then, sauté them in a bit of corn oil until they are soft (about 10 minutes).
  5. Cut up the tortillas, and throw them in with the vegetable mix after you have sautéd them (this step helps the tortillas absorb all the remaining oil and it also softens the tortillas a little bit).
  6. Add the veggies and tortillas to the broth mix. Bring to a boil. Then, reduce to medium.
  7. Boil the soup for about 20 minutes, stirring about every 5 minutes, to keep the vegetables and tortillas from burning at the bottom of pot. (WATCH OUT: When you stir and scrape the bottom of the pot, sometimes pent up pressure will cause the mix to POP up, so be careful to stir slowly and don't lean over the pot so you don’t get burnt).
  8. After about 20 minutes, bring the boiling soup down to a simmer.
  9. Add 2 cups of shredded cheese to soup (saving about ½ cup to top the finished soup with) and simmer another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent anything from burning the bottom of the pot).
  10. WARNING: After the cheese is added, the soup is prone to burn at the bottom, so stir it often.
  11. Add 1 cup milk and stir. Then, simmer another 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes to keep the bottom from burning.
  12. Turn off the Stove. Your Chicken Tortilla Soup is done!
  13. Serve in a bowl w/a dollop of sour cream, some shredded cheese and broken up tortilla chips.
  14. Enjoy!
http://heavenlypennies.com/

27,917 total views, 8 views today

Messy Laundry Detergent? Save money and keep your laundry room clean with this tip

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Do you use liquid laundry detergent? Does it make a mess everywhere? Do you feel as though you are wasting detergent (and wasting money) because the liquid soap runs everywhere or the cup that it comes with sits on top of your washer collecting a big puddle of soap?

Here’s a helpful tip that can help save you money and keep your laundry room nice and tidy:

You will need a small container of liquid detergent. Make sure it is the kind with the lid that is the dispenser, not the kind that uses a separate cup to measure out the soap. I bought a small (25 loads) container of liquid Tide at Family Dollar. It was on sale for $4, but with my .50 off coupon it was only $3.50.

I used the detergent in the smaller container for laundry as normal. Then, when the container was empty, I simply refilled the smaller container, using the liquid from the Large (120 loads) container of Kirkland liquid detergent that I bought at Costco. Every week or so, I just refill the smaller container. 

I now have a cleaner laundry area and I am saving money by not wasting any of the detergent.

I’m going to attempt to make my own laundry soap one of these days… but for now, I am happy not to waste the stuff I bought.

4,215 total views, 2 views today

How To Create A Harlequin Pattern On A Wall

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Here is an easy to follow picture tutorial on how to paint a harlequin pattern on a bedroom wall.

 

The Before and After:

before and after

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 1:

First, paint the wall with your basecoat color. I used a lighter paint color as my base color (I used Behr Premium with Primer in the Paint – Expedition Khaki) and I chose a slightly darker shade for the lines (I used Behr Premium with Primer in the Paint – Beachwalk). Here, I measured left to right and top to bottom and found the center of the wall. Mark this point with a pencil.

Wall step 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 2:

Use a pencil so you can erase your grid lines with a wall eraser or Mr. Clean eraser later. I used a long level and drew a line strait across, horizontally. I wanted the diamonds to be 9 in wide, so i marked 4.5 inches to the left and then 4.5 inches to the right of my center mark (I marked on the line I drew with the level, so it would be exact). Then, I did the same thing, only top to bottom, except, since I wanted the diamond shape to be 18 inches, I measured 9 inches above the center mark and 9 inches below it (again, I marked on the lines I drew with the level). 

Wall step 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Center mark. Then, left at 4.5 inches, right at 4.5 inches (to make the diamond 9 inches wide), and 9 inches top and 9 inches bottom of center mark (to make the diamond 18 inches tall).

Wall step 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 3: Start creating your grid. You are going to erase all of your pencil lines later, so don’t draw your lines too dark if you can help it.

Wall step 5

 
  

 

 

 

 

 

 Here is a better idea of what your grid will look like all across the wall. 

Wall step 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Step 4: Start connecting the points for the the diamond.

Wall step 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 5: Just keep following your grid lines to create the same pattern across the entire wall. After you have drawn out all of your lines with a pencil, go over just the diamond pattern with your secondary paint color, using a small paint brush. Again, only paint the lines that create your pattern. The grid is just to keep everything straight and even.

Wall step 7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 6: Erase the pencil lines. I used a Mr. Clean Eraser. Then, I went over the lines I had pained one more time, so they completely covered the pencil marks. I also used my base paint color to go back and fill in any areas that I thought looked crooked or the lines appeared too thick. Enjoy!

Wall step 8

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Christian Has Two Loose Teeth

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A Conversation with Christian, 7 yrs old

Christian (rushing up to me as I stand in the kitchen): Mommy! Mommy! I have TWO loose teeth now. But don’t worry mommy. They are my baby teeth, so they are supposed to fall out.

Me: Oh? Well then, that does sound exciting!

Christian: And my grown up teeth will be in and need to stay there… for like 75 years or something. 

Me: Well, I guess you should take care of them.

Christian: Yes. (He looks down very solemnly) or I will die.

Me: You will die?

Christian: Well, I won’t be able to eat crackers anymore so I might as well die. It’s practically the same thing.

(10 minutes later…) Wait, wait. I’ve changed my mind. I won’t die. I can still eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. 

1,066 total views, 1 views today

How To Get Glue Off Plastic Containers

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If you are anything like me, then you are probably on a constant lookout for containers that can serve multiple purposes around the house.  Anytime I can save money by not having to buy something new, it’s fantastic! I really like using clear containers to store various little things: needles and thread, buttons, and of course, the ever elusive Lego collection.  I recently found these awesome animal crackers at Costco. The best part? The container they come in is clear! Now, here comes the tricky part: removing the label.

crisco

So, how the heck do you get glue off a plastic container?

The answer is a lot more simple than you might expect. Vegetable Shortening. Yup! That’s all it takes. A little Crisco will clean even the stickiest glue residue from plastic. 

label off

Just make sure to clean the “paper layer” off the label first (for example, like the image to the left). This can usually be done by running a little warm water over it and peeling back the paper. WARNING: Rubbing shortening over a label before removing the first layer will just make a big mess. After the first layer is off, just rub a little vegetable shortening over the glue residue. It should come off fairly easy from there.

Once you are done, it may be a little greasy. Simply wash the container with a little dish soap and warm water and then dry it off. Voilà! A perfectly clean container, ready to re-purpose around the house. The best part about using this method, compared to others (such as Goo Gone or WD-40), is the plastic remains crystal clear! I’ve used Goo Gone in the past, only for the plastic to become foggy. I like keeping things in clear containers so that I can easily see what is inside, so a foggy container can be very disappointing.

This method is also great because you don’t need to use any harsh chemicals. Saving money by re-purposing an old container and doing it in an environmentally safe way… What’s not to love about that?
 

6,497 total views, 4 views today

Salted vs Unsalted Butter

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Did you know, that when a recipe states “butter” as an ingredient, it really means “unsalted butter.” WHY was this not explained to me earlier!? Bakers just assume that everyone knows this. You could be sabotaging your baking and not even know it! 

So what is the deal? Should you use salted or unsalted butter? Here is an easy guide to understanding the pros and cons of each.

 

Salted Butter:

Pros: tastes yummy, excellent for buttering savory items like warm corn on the cob and it is easy to find in the grocery store.

Cons: Every company is different and there is no “standard” amount of salt per stick of butter. So you don’t know exactly how much salt is in the butter, which makes it hard to calculate the impact of the salt in a given recipe.

 

Unsalted Butter:

Pros: Most recipes are written with unsalted butter in mind and ingredients reflect this. So if your recipe requires salt and you are using salted butter, then you are already starting with too much salt.  The pro to this is that it is much easier to control the amount of salt in your recipe if you start off by using unsalted butter and just add salt from there.

Cons: There are times when salted butter simply tastes better. For instance, when I make Chicken Marsala, I notice a distinct difference in the flavor of my sauce when I use unsalted butter instead of salted butter. In this case, I prefer using salted butter.

 

What to do if you only have salted butter on hand:

A general rule of thumb is to decrease the amount of salt your recipe calls for by 1/4 teaspoon for every 1/2 cup (that’s one stick) of butter. Of course, my recommendation is to use unsalted butter whenever possible, but at least now you have a handy guide to help you be the best baker you can be. 

 

3,474 total views, 3 views today

Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Simply the BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies you will ever experience.

If you like this recipe, you might like to check out these other tips and tricks in the kitchen to help you be the best baker in town.

Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yields 36
Simply the BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies you will ever experience
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Dry Ingredients
  1. 3 ½ c. flour
  2. 2 c. dark brown sugar
  3. ½ c. granulated sugar
  4. 1 tsp. baking soda
  5. 1 tsp. baking powder
  6. ¼ tsp. salt
  7. 2 tbsp. instant espresso powder (finely ground)
  8. 3 c. semisweet chocolate chips
Wet Ingredients
  1. 2 lg. eggs
  2. 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  3. 1 c. unsalted butter, softened
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F
  2. In a large bowl, thoroughly mix together flour, sugars and instant espresso powder.
  3. In another bowl, mix together the salt, baking soda and baking powder to activate. Then, add this mixture to the bowl of dry ingredients and mix in thoroughly.
  4. Add slightly softened butter to the dry ingredients and begin to incorporate into the dry ingredients.
  5. In another bowl, slightly whisk the eggs and vanilla extract together. Then, add the eggs/vanilla mixture to the dry ingredients, further incorporating into the mixture.
  6. Add the chocolate chips into the batter and gently mix until all of the chocolate chips are thoroughly mixed throughout the batter.
  7. Drop large (slightly bigger than a golf ball) sized dough onto baking sheets.
  8. Bake at 325°F for 18-20 minutes.
  9. approx. 36 large cookies
http://heavenlypennies.com/

2,068 total views, 3 views today