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Try Grilling Pizza

Have you ever tried using your grill to cook a homemade pizza? If you haven’t done it before you should try it!  Not only is it easy to do, the pizza has a wonderful crispy crust and you are not heating up your house cooking it inside!  I usually make a homemade crust but there are several options available at the grocery store if you want to save that step and purchase one.  If you use your favorite homemade pizza dough recipe spread both sides with corn meal to keep it from sticking to the grill grates.

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You are then ready to put the pizza crust on a hot grill. The crust will cook quickly so watch it carefully to make sure it doesn’t get to dark. Usually it will only take a couple of minutes. Once you see grill marks simply flip it over so both sides are cooked evenly. *We will be putting it back on the grill with the toppings for the final cooking.)  When finished the crust should have char marks on it.

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When it is done remove the crust to a cutting board or cookie sheet. Now you are ready for your toppings. We like to be creative but you can use any toppings that you like. Our favorite is chicken, bacon, ranch with spinach. The ranch dressing is our pizza sauce   Make sure that your toppings aren’t piled too high since we will be returning it to the grill to finish cooking.

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If you have a charcoal grill the last cooking will be done with indirect heat meaning that you will want to gather your coals to one side of the grill. The pizza will cook in the other side. I have a gas grill so I simply turn off one side of the burners. This indirect heat will be like putting it in your oven. The toppings will heat and the cheese will melt. The result will be a pizza that your family will rave about!

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Beth Marrs

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Adult Home Economics Education. I love to cook and entertain and spend time with my family.

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Go ‘Bananas’ for Summer Treats

July is National Ice Cream month and even has its own day on July 17th in 2016! Ice cream as we know it is made from dairy products, sweeteners, gelatin, flavorings, fruits and other ingredients. America loves ice cream. In fact, the average American consumes nearly 22 pounds of this delectable dessert per year (IDFA.com).

But look out ice cream, there’s a new ‘one ingredient ice-cream’ in town and it’s taking the internet and media by storm! It’s low in fat, cholesterol, and sodium, and is a great source of dietary fiber, potassium, and manganese. Further, it’s perfect for those looking for a guilt-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, egg-free, or vegan treat with no added sugar. What is it?

If you guessed BANANAS, you are right!! Thanks to banana’s high pectin content and a bit of kitchen wizardry, bananas make a wonderful soft-serve treat. And because it’s a simple, make-it-yourself treat, you can personalize it with additions of other fruits, nut butters, chocolate chips, nuts, cocoa, spices, or any other add-in desired. Or, bananas can be the only ingredient.

Besides bananas (and any other fruit or add-in desired), you will need a high-powered processor to pulverize the fruit. There are designated frozen dessert soft-serve processors on the market which work very well such as the Yonanas, Big Boss, and Dessert Bullet. However, a blender or food processor will usually work equally as well as long as it is powerful enough to pulverize frozen bananas.

So how do you make this magical treat? It starts with the bananas. Always use bananas that are ‘cheetah spotted’ or over ripe. 20160531_223140These bananas are the sweetest and have developed their pectin potential. 20160531_223509

 

Peel the bananas and cut into ¼-inch coins if using a food processor or blender; if a designated dessert processor is used, follow the manufactures directions.20160531_223744

Place the banana pieces in an airtight freezer bag and freeze for at least 2 hours before using; 24 hours is best. Do the same with other fruits you intend to use with your bananas. Remove bananas and other fruit from the freezer and let thaw for 10-15 minutes before making your treat.

One large banana will make two servings especially if additional fruit is used. The ratio of banana to other fruit is about one banana to 3/8 cup fruit. You can make a bigger batch as long as the food processor or blender is big enough and powerful enough. If using a designated dessert processor, follow the manufacturers’ directions for preparing your soft-serve treat by feeding the fruit through the tube into the pulverizing part of the machine.

20160609_203407If using a blender or food processor, follow these instructions: place the frozen banana pieces (and other frozen fruit , if using) in the blender or food processor and pulse. At first the banana pieces will look crumbled, then mushy and gooey something like oatmeal, and suddenly they will magically become smooth and creamy. You will have to stop occasionally and scrape down the sides and help move the fruit into the blades. After the magic happens, continue to blend for a few more seconds to add a little air and blend in any nut butters, cocoa, flavorings or spices desired. 

20160609_204819The banana soft-serve is now ready to eat. Stir in any additional whole or chopped add-ins or top off as desired. OR, put it in an airtight container and freeze until solid or for later use.

Recipe ideas are endless. To get started, check out Banana “Ice Cream”, Chocolate Banana Ice Cream, and the Yonanas recipe website and let your imagination go. Enjoy your ______-free treat!

 

Marlene Geiger

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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Treating cast iron cookware

One of my children is interested in purchasing cast iron cookware and is wondering how to treat it. Cast iron pan

Season new cast iron by rubbing lightly with vegetable shortening. You will want to coat the interior where the food will touch. The vegetable oil will leave it sticky.

After coating, heat the pan in a 250 degree F oven for 2 hours. It may be necessary to add extra shortening to the pan. Do not let it dry out.

Let the cast iron get stone cold and wipe out with a paper towel.

Remember when you need to wash the cast iron, don’t let it soak in the water for an extended period of time or you will need to re-season.

If you find some older cast iron pieces at a garage sale that you would like to use, simply scour and scrub them with steel wool.  Then season and enjoy.

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Cleaning oven racks

Dirty ovenPart Two of oven cleaning addresses how to clean oven racks and the oven window. Again, always remember to remove the oven racks before cleaning your oven.  Failing to remove the racks can cause permanent damage to them.

You are going to want to cover the oven racks with hot water. Many people put them in the bath tub to do this. Once the racks are covered with very hot water, add ½ cup powdered or liquid dishwasher detergent to the water. Swish around until the detergent is dissolved. Let soak 4 hours or overnight. Rinse, dry, and replace in your clean oven!

Enjoy clean oven racks without all the hard work.

Of course, no oven is clean without a little attention to the window.  Harsh cleaners or scrubbing pads can damage the surface of the window.  You may want to try warm sudsy water  or a solution of vinegar and water to clean the oven window.

It won’t take long and your oven will be sparkling like new.

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Oven Cleaning

Dirty oven      clean oven

Tis the season for Spring cleaning! For many of us that includes the oven. It is suggested to clean your oven monthly and wipe down the oven door weekly. Dirty ovens are less efficient at reaching temperatures and crusty buildup can impact the taste of food.

AnswerLine’s recommended way to clean an electric oven is to preheat the oven for 20 minutes. Turn the oven off and place a bowl of boiling water on the bottom shelf and a bowl of ammonia (about ½ cup ) on the top shelf. Close the oven door and let set overnight. Wipe down and scrub with a nonabrasive scrubber if necessary the next day. This procedure is not recommended for gas ovens with pilot lights for safety reasons. For gas ovens place a bowl of water in the oven and turn the oven on high for 20 minutes. Turn off the oven and allow the steam to loosen dried on food and grease overnight.

If spills do happen, sprinkle salt on the spills when warm and scrub with 3 tablespoons washing soda (which can be purchased at the grocery store) mixed into 1 quart warm water.

The next blog will address the recommended way to clean oven racks.

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Tips for disposing of your old cell phone!

If your cell phone isn’t the “latest and greatest”, you are likely thinking about replacing it. If it is the “latest and greatest” you are probably wondering how to dispose of the old phone. According to the Federal Trade Commission, you have several choices.

The first thing you want to do is to remove all private and sensitive information that is on the FullSizeRenderphone. Old phone numbers, passwords, account numbers, voicemails, and text messages.  It is important not to let anyone have access to your information.

Some devices have a “restore factory settings” option. If you do use this option, be sure that YOU have all the information, passwords, texts, and pictures that you want to keep before resetting your phone.  Your owner’s manual or online owner’s manual may have detailed instructions for resetting your phone.  Follow them carefully.  You will also want to remove any apps that you downloaded to your phone.  They too can contain sensitive information.

You may also need to remove or clear the SIM or SD card in your phone. Your provider may help you transfer the SIM card or the information on the card to your new phone.  SD cards can hold pictures or other information that you would like to protect.  You may need to remove both cards physically from the phone to be sure your information is protected.

Be sure to double check that you have, in fact, removed the date after your reset. Look at your

  • phone book
  • logs for both dialed and received calls
  • voicemails
  • sent and received emails and text messages
  • downloads and other folders
  • search histories
  • personal photos

Now that your phone is “clean”. You have several options for disposal. The phone can be recycled or donated to a charitable group. Check with your phone carrier for options available locally.

Liz Meimann

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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Cleaning your dishwasher

Have you had problems with your dishwasher not cleaning well or growing mold? Here are dishwasher2some tips on cleaning your dishwasher to make sure that your dishes come out clean and sanitized.

  • Mold requires nutrients and moisture which can both be found in a dishwasher.  The first thing to check is the filter to make sure there is no food left in it.  To get to the filter remove the bottom rack.  Usually it is either in the middle or back on the bottom of the dishwasher.  Then clean any food or gunk that might be in it.  If your dishwasher is attached to your garbage disposal it is always a good idea to run it before you start your dishwasher to make sure there is no food remaining in the sink drain.  Also check the silverware drawer to make sure there is no food caught in it.  It can easily hide in that spot!
  • Check the door gaskets to make sure that there is no mold growing.  Look on the sides of the gaskets since often water can get trapped there and mold can grow.  If that is a problem you may need to wipe the gaskets dry after you empty the dishwasher.
  • If the inside of your dishwasher is NOT stainless steel try getting a bucket with 1 gallon of water and 1 cup of bleach.  Remove the racks and use a brush to scrub the inside of your machine.  If there are small areas try an old toothbrush.  I try and save some for just these kind of projects.  Make sure you aren’t mixing the bleach with any other cleaning products and wear gloves to protect your hands.  After cleaning run the dishwasher empty to rinse out the bleach residue.
  • If your dishwasher inside is stainless steel don’t use the bleach solution since it could damage it.  Instead try cleaning with vinegar.  Getting on the inside with a brush or toothbrush and using the vinegar will get in all the areas that need to be cleaned.  If there is an area (most commonly right inside the door on the bottom) where mold is growing try soaking some paper towels in vinegar and laying them on that area to soften and clean.  Then scrub with the brush again.
  • Remember I said earlier that mold grows with food and moisture so use the heated dry setting.  This will not only make your dishes dryer when they are clean but also dries out the inside of the machine.  If you plan to be gone and not using your dishwasher regularly it might be a good idea to leave the door open slightly to make sure that any moisture that might be in it will have the opportunity to dry and not cause a mold problem.
  • One last thought…check the holes on the spray arm to make sure they are not clogged.  Sometimes hard water can plug the holes and not allow the water to circulate in the dishwasher.  If you find any that are plugged remove the spray arm to clean it.

Hopefully these cleaning steps will help!  If you have any additional questions please don’t hesitate to contact us at AnswerLine.

Beth Marrs

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Adult Home Economics Education. I love to cook and entertain and spend time with my family.

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Clothes Dryer Safety

Clothes dryer safety is not a topic that we think about very often, even though I use my dryer on dryer2almost a daily basis. I do try to take care of the easy maintenance but I don’t always take the time to thoroughly clean the vent system for my dryer.  Here are a few easy steps we can take to avoid a clothes dryer fire.

    • Do use a professional to install the dryer.
    • Be sure the lint filter is in place before starting the dryer.
    • ALWAYS clean the lint filter before starting a new dryer load.
    • Be sure the dryer vent that exhausts air from the dryer is clean and sturdy.
    • Don’t overload your dryer. Smaller loads will dry quicker.
    • Don’t run the dryer if you are planning to leave home or when you are sleeping.
    • Be sure the outlet for the dryer is connected properly and grounded.
    • This time of year, be sure the dryer outlet outside is not blocked by snow or ice.
    • Keep flammable items away from the dryer.
    • Don’t put clothing that has come in contact with flammable liquids like gasoline into the dryer. Let them air outside and dry before washing. If you still can smell an odor after washing, don’t put them in the dryer.

I know that I will thoroughly clean the vent system on my dryer this weekend. The last thing we need is a dryer fire.

 

 

 

 

 

Liz Meimann

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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Start Using Your Bread Machine Again

bread machineI decided recently to bring my old bread maker out of the basement and begin using it again. I remember how much our family enjoyed the smell of fresh bread baking! Since it has been a little while since I used mine I thought it would be good to review a few tips that I thought were helpful for using the bread machine successfully!

  • Review your manufacturer’s instruction on the order to add ingredients. They are in an order for a reason. For example if you place the yeast in direct contact with the salt or sugar it will decrease the activity of the yeast and it won’t rise well.
  • When using butter or margarine cut it into small pieces so that it will easily blend in with the other ingredients.
  • Make sure that your liquid ingredients are no warmer than 80° F.
  • If you are using the bread machine’s delay cycle and you are waiting several hours before you start your bread don’t use a recipe with eggs, milk or other ingredients that need to be refrigerated. Items that are normally refrigerated should be out at room temperature only for a short time since bacteria can grow rapidly when they are about 40° F (refrigerator temperature).
  • Be sure to open the lid and check on your dough about 5-10 minutes into the kneading process. If the dough is too dry add additional water (1/2 to 1 Tablespoon at a time) until the dough is elastic and smooth. If a dough is too wet add flour 1 Tablespoon at a time. Only do this during the first knead cycle and never during the rise cycle. Correct measuring is important but there are many variables including humidity that affects dough consistency.
  • Using bread flour will give your bread better volume and texture. If you use a whole grain flour you will have a more dense loaf. A combination of the two flours usually works well and gives you a good quality loaf.
  • If you add raisins or nuts to your bread try tossing them with a little flour to help them work into your bread more easily. If the machine stops kneading and they are not well mixed remove the dough from the machine and knead them by hand until they are mixed then return the dough to the machine.

I hope if you have a bread machine that you haven’t used in a while that you will get it out and try it again! Your family will enjoy the results and you will be a master baker, loved and admired by your family!  If you would like additional information The University of Kentucky Extension has a helpful publication.

Beth Marrs

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Adult Home Economics Education. I love to cook and entertain and spend time with my family.

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Use the Correct Canner for Home Food Preservation

People of all ages have started gardening and are home canning to preserve their produce. Knowing the correct steps to safely preserve their bounty is important and something that we love to teach here at AnswerLine.  One question that we often get asked is “Can a pressure cooker be used for home food preservation instead of a pressure canner?”  The answer is NO, they are not the same!  The similarity is that they both trap steam and build up pressure inside the pot.  This happens when the lid, which has a gasket, forms an airtight seal when it is in the locked position.  The pressure then builds up and the high temperature destroys microorganisms more quickly in pressure canning or it cooks food canner1faster in pressure cooking.

Here are some of the differences between the two.

Pressure cookers or pressure saucepans

*Used to rapidly cook meats, vegetables and other foods for meals.

*They heat and cool too quickly to be safely used for pressure canning meats and vegetables in jars

*They are smaller in size and will not hold 4 quart jars.

*Many have no way to regulate the pressure since they have low, medium and high settings. Even the ones with weighted gauges may not accurately regulate the pressure.

 

Pressure canners

*Designed to can low acid foods like vegetables and meat.

*To be considered a pressure canner they must hold more than 4 Quart jars.

*They use a dial or weighted gauge to make sure you are maintaining adequate pressure.

*When canning recipes are being developed, the researchers place a thermocouple into the coldest spot in the jar. They need to know that the cold spot gets hot enough long enough to kill bacteria that may be present. Researchers calculate processing time by adding the time it takes the vessel to get up to pressure, the time at pressure, and the cooling down time. Shortening any of these times will result in an under processed and unsafe product.

Make sure you are using the correct canner when you are doing home food preservation. Using a pressure cooker or pressure saucepan could make your home canned foods unsafe.

Beth Marrs

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Adult Home Economics Education. I love to cook and entertain and spend time with my family.

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