Monday, January 23, 2017

How to Clean Burnt Food Out of Enamel Cookware

clean burnt enameled cookwareThere is nothing worse than getting busy in the kitchen, walking away from the stove for just a minute (or maybe a few :)), only to come back to find a burnt mess in the bottom of your beautiful enameled cookware. Not only is this a bummer because whatever you are cooking is now ruined, but your cookware is in a bit of trouble too.

Well fear not, because we have a super simple method that is going to save that shiny enamel AND time spent cleaning it in the kitchen. The only thing that would make the situation worse is if you had to spend time scrubbing your enamel cookware with a possible abrasive scrubber and cause even more damage.

Luckily, the method I’m about to show you use all natural ingredients that you probably already have around the kitchen. What is this magical little ingredient you might ask? Cleaning up even the most burnt enamel cookware is easily fixed by just a few tablespoons of baking soda.

Here is the rundown:

  1. Bring water to a boil in the burned cookware and add in the baking soda.
  2. Stir in the baking soda until it’s completely dissolved.
  3. Bring the boil down to a simmer and let it cook for a few minutes.
  4. Using a wooden spoon gently start scraping the burnt bits off the bottom of your cookware.
  5. Be amazed at how easy that really was.

And just like the, the cookware is saved. And best of all, you didn’t need to use any harsh nasty chemical to do it, or go out and buy something special.

Do you have a favorite method for cleaning burnt cookware? Let us know in the comments below!



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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Making Tea in Your Ninja Coffee Bar

ninja coffee bar to make teaIf you read our blog at all, you’ll know that we have a special place in our hearts for the Ninja Coffee Bar. We use ours daily (sometimes several times a day), and it always makes great coffee. But one thing that you might not realize if you own one that is that is has more talents that simply making coffee. Believe it or not, we have been using it to make really good tea as well!

One of the the reasons we constantly reccomend it besides being well made is that it’s versatile and you can get a lot out of it for what you invest into it. So when we realized that making tea in the Ninja was possible, we were naturally very excited. Buying tea in bulk can bring down its cost, and the Ninja makes it easy to brew whole tea leaf. The process is  straightforward and is great for brewing large batches of tea as well as single cups.

How to Brew Tea in the Ninja Coffee Bar

  1. Place a #4 coffee filter in the Ninja Coffee Bar. You can opt not to use the filter, but for teas that are extremely fine, it can come through into the batch. If you don’t mind a little sediment in your tea, then go for it, but the filters are always an option for those that don’t
  2. Place about 1 cup of dried tea leaves into the filter. We have found the chamomile works well as the leaves are larger and don’t make too much of a mess in the Ninja.
  3. For the brewing, we use the “specialty brew” mode because it seems to have the best brew timing for extracting the tea well.
  4. Store in the fridge or enjoy hot.

Making tea with the Ninja is really that easy. We you buy tea in bulk, it can save you a lot of money but also be hard to brew without a dedicated tool for doing so. So if you already have the Ninja Coffee Bar, this is just another added benefit!

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Sunday, January 8, 2017

How To De-Scale Your Jura Coffee Machine

de-scaling the jura coffee machineThe Jura Coffee Maker is a true coffee lovers dream. As we covered in our complete guide to the Jura Coffee Machine, there is very little you need to do in terms of maintenance to keep it humming. Basically, every few months you need to run it through a cleaning cycle and a de-scaling cycle. Keep in ming that these are not the same things. The cleaning cycle will clean the entire unit with hot water and a cleaning tablet, while the de-scaling cycle uses de-scaling tablets designed to specifically remove limescale build up in the machine.

How often you need to do this will vary with how often you use it, wether or not your Jura model has a filter, and the mineral content of your water. Jura recommends running the descaling cycle every other filter change. Since they reccomend you change your filter every two months, this comes out to running the de-scaling cycle every four months. If your model does not have the filter, every 3 months is a safe bet.

Why Bother De-Scaling Your Jura Coffee Machine in the First Place?

While the Jura is very good at making great coffee consistently, it does need a little help on your part to make sure it continues to taste as good as it possibly can. Obviously, to make any coffee drink you need water. Well, as you continuously run water through your Jura during every operation, limescale and other minerals contained within the water begins to accumulate on the heating elements. A little build up isn’t a big deal, but over time this accumulation of minerals will start to affect the flavor of your coffee. Luckily for us, Jura sells these convenient de-scaling tablets that make this process quick and easy.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Purchase the Jura de-scaling tablets online or in store if you don’t already own them.
  2. Place a container(s) under the spout(s) to capture run-off from the Jura Machine. If you have a model that makes cappuccinos or lattes, you will need two containers for each spout.
  3. Dilute 3 de-scaling tablets in about 2 cups of warm water. The amount of water and tablets will be the same for all models. 
  4. Remove the filter if your model has one.
  5. If you do have a Jura with a water filter, you must first navigate to “Maintenance” in the menu and confirm that the filter has been removed before the “De-Scale” option will appear under the”Maintenance” section.
  6. Select the “De-Scale” mode.
  7. Remove and empty the coffee grounds tray.
  8. Add the solution to the water tank. If you already have water in the tank, remove it first as the machine uses a precise amount of liquid to run the cycle and the excess water will make the cycle run longer. 
  9. Confirm and leave the machine to de-scale for approximately 45 minutes.

And that’s it! The machine will occasionally beep and prompt you to perform different tasks over the 45 minutes but other than that it’s pretty hands off. We have also included a video from Jura below if you are more a visual learner.

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Thursday, January 5, 2017

How to Clean Stainless Steel Cookware Naturally

Clean Stainless Steel Cookware NaturallyIn 2017, I have a new goal to move my mother’s household away from Teflon completely. Teflon has been linked to all sorts of nasty things and without me really realizing it, it’s everywhere in her kitchen. The pots, pans, spatulas, etc. are all made from Teflon and as her daughter, I naturally worry about her well being.

So I recently purchased her some inexpensive stainless steel cookware online and the first thing she tried to do was clean it with harsh chemicals that are going to strip away the chromium that gives it some of its non-stick coating! Many times, cleaning cookware naturally and with items you can find around the house is less expensive and more convenient than conventional cleaners. You usually already have the items so you don’t need to go out and buy anything new and you can rest a bit easier knowing that there are no toxic chemical touching the surfaces that you use to cook your food.

Earth Friendly Cleaning for Stainless Steel Pots and Pans

Clean Stainless Steel Cookware Naturally (The Old Fashioned Way)

I feel like our grandparents knew something we didn’t and a little old fashioned elbow grease goes a long way when cleaning things naturally in the kitchen. Even though most manufactures will advertise their stainless steel cookware as dishwasher safe, and while this is probably true, I prefer to wash them by hand. The dishwasher can easily damage the finish and washing them by hand will guarantee that your cookware keeps it shine and stays beautiful for years. The old fashioned way is not only green, but pretty basic:

  1. Let the pots and pans soak in warm water overnight.
  2. In the morning, finish the job with warm soapy water made from an an eco-friendly dish soap.

The Vinegar and Baking Soda Paste Method

This paste is great for when the food is stuck on a little tougher and you need something extra to get it off.

  1. Pour a thin layer of vinegar to cover the bottom of the pot or pan.
  2. Sprinkle in just enough baking soda to get a reaction between the two going.
  3. Let the mixture site for 3-5 minutes and wash out with warm soapy water.

Heating the Pan After Cooking

Another great method for tougher or burnt food.

  1. After cooking, reheat the pan.
  2. Once the pan is hot, add room temperature water.
  3. Once the water is hot, use a wooden utensil to scrape the food bits off.
  4. Once you have the majority removed, wash the pan with warm soapy water.

The Boiling Vinegar Method

This is a great tactic if you are trying to clean a large stainless steel pot or large vessel.

  1. Make a mixture of one part vinegar to 3 parts water.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil, turn off the heat, and let it cool down.
  3. Empty the solution and clean with warm soapy water.

The Kitchen Sink Method

This method is for the absolute toughest stains and burnt on food. It generally isn’t necessary, but we have all burnt that one pan a little too bad at one point or another. These steps should take care of it in short order.

  1. Make a paste out of water and baking soda. A 1:1 ratio should work well.
  2. Rub it in thoroughly into any burnt food or stains on the cookware.
  3. Let the past sit for 20 minutes while it does its thing.
  4. Rub away the paste with the soft side of the sponge or cloth.
  5. Add a cup of vinegar and water and bring the mixture to a simmer.
  6. Let it simmer for at least 20 minutes. The worse the burn the longer you will need.
  7. Pour out the mixture and wash with warm soapy water.

Keeping things green and cleaning stainless steel cookware naturally doesn’t have to be hard OR expensive.

If you are looking to clean your stainless steel appliances in an eco-friendly fashion, check out the YouTube video below.

If you have any other green cleaning methods we should know about please let us know in the comments!

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Sunday, January 1, 2017

What Makes A Cookie Chewy? The Ingredients You NEED Revealed.

What makes a cookie chewy?When baking cookies at home, the hardest part is attaining the perfect chewiness. While some prefer their cookies a bit harder or even crunchy (we know, it’s strange), we love our cookies soft to the touch, but also slightly firm striking the perfect balance between yielding and hard. Chewy cookies hold the ingredients just right while still coming apart at the right time in your mouth.

But how do you make a chewy cookie? What ingredients do you need to include to make sure your cookies come out perfect every single time? We set out to discover just that, and we are happy to report that we discovered the tips and ingredients required for the best cookie we have ever made.

What Ingredients Do You Need for Chewy Cookies?

Less Fat Means More Chewy

The one thing you always want to remember is that when trying to make cookies chewier, you are going to need less fat. As a general rule of thumb, less fat equals more chewy and more fat equals less chewy. Sounds counterintuitive, but these are the delicious facts!

More Moisture Means Soft and Chewy Goodness

When we say more moisture, we don’t mean adding extra liquid into the recipe. You simply need to adjust the existing recipe to allow it to retain more moisture. This looks like reducing the cooking time and baking temperature slightly so the moisture doesn’t bake out in the high heat.

Another tactic is to bind the water, butter, eggs, brown sugar with flour . This helps because the brown sugar contains molasses (which is approximately 10% water) and adding the flower is going to slow down the evaporation of any liquids, results in a softer, fuller cookie. Remember, a fuller cookie is a chewier cookie

Cut Down on Cooking Time

While we mentioned this above, it’s deserves to be expanded on a bit because it’s important when chasing chewiness. We asked several bakers what their go-to trick was for making sure their cookies stayed soft and many of them said to cut down on the baking time slightly. For many, it was really as simple as that. Try upping the baking temperature and shaving between 5-10 minutes off the baking time and you’ll find that the cookies hold their shape and stay extra soft.

More Mass Means a Better Cookie

When using larger dollops of cookie dough when forming the raw cookies, you ensure that the cookie will stand a better chance at retaining moisture and not getting too hot when baking. This is more of a preventive tactic than ingredient but it works!

Untested Methods For a Chewier Cookie

Everything mentioned above we have been able to test and confirm for ourselves. Here are a few things that we have always heard contribute to chewiness but haven’t tried ourselves. Your mileage may vary but we have heard these time and time again so they are definitely worth a shot:

Inverted Sugars – replacing your sugars with inverted sugars can lead to a chewier end result.

Using Melted Butter – many people swear by this technique. Instead of folding in your butter at room temperature, melt it first and then add it. Legend has it that you will be rewarded by the chewy cookie gods.

Hopefully with the tips and tricks outlined in this post, you have your arsenal full of baking techniques that will help you create the chewiest cookie you have ever tasted!

Do you have a tip that we missed? Let us know in the comments. We would love to hear it!


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