Sunday, January 25, 2009

This is the way we scrub the pans

One of our pet peeves is two fold --

1. those nylon scrubbie things you buy in the store just don't stand up to any long term tough use, and

2. there ought to be something you can do with all these net bags you get assorted produce in at the grocery

A while back we came up with an idea that actually solved both of those problems, and we're happy to provide here a step by step instruction to transform that pile of bags (you ARE saving those aren't you?!) into something useful in your kitchen.

Here then are the step by step directions.

Step #1: Sort the bags you have on hand roughly into sizes.

The longest ones (about 18 to 24 inches) are the best ones for using on the outside of your scrubbie.

If the bags have a label of some sort on them, cut it off. The batch I had this time had a couple with paper labels over the top (or bottom) end of the bag, so I just cut it off. If you get a bag that has a label over part of the side, just cut the label off and use that netting for part of the inside of the scrubbie.

Step #2:

Select one of those longer bags.

at one end, tie a simple overhand knot and pull it up tight (the nice thing about this mesh stuff is that it does clamp down on itself really well, which is useful for keeping the knot snug)

Step #3:

Once you have tied the knot and pulled it snug, turn the bag inside out so that first knot is on the inside of the bag.

Step #4:

Select one of the other pieces from your pile and loosely bunch it in your hand. (Now is when you can make use of any pieces of mesh that are not actually a tube -- like the ones that you cut labels off of.)

The idea is to seperate the mesh so it is a soft loose sort of ball instead of being all stuck together.

Step #5:

Once you have that soft little bunch, slide it down inside your tube from step #2.

Don't press too tight -- the idea is to leave some "bounce" in the little bunch of netting

Step #6:

Repeat steps #4 and #5 twice more so you'll have 3 pieces of netting inside your bag.

I try to select netting of varing size and stiffness to make each one if I have a variety on hand.

Your bag will look something like this one when you have finished putting 3 pieces inside.

If you're using little pieces or smaller chunks, you may want to put in a few more to get to a nice "poofy" size.

Step #7:

Once you have the desired number of pieces inside, gently bunch the bag together --

The idea is to make a compact bundle but not one that is hard -- that "air space" inside give the netting room to move around and do the desired "scrubbing" when you use it.

Step #8:

Once you have everything gathered together, give the bag a couple of turns to twist the top.

Then turn the open end of the bag back over the bundle giving a double layer of mesh over the outside of the whole thing.

Step #9:

Tie another simple overhand knot at the top of the bag.

Push it down snug to the bundle.

Step #10:

Trim the end of the netting close to the top (don't forget to save that piece to put inside another scrubbie!).

These little lovelies do a great job on non-stick pans without scratching and they're pretty effective on steel pans too.

I run mine through the dishwasher with a regular load of dishes at least once a week (more often if I've cleaned up a particularly nasty pan or something that had either eggs or cheese as those things seem to get inside the mess worse than other things do)

Now, aren't you glad you thought there was something you could do with those mesh bags?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Peanut Marshmallow Gooey Bars

Last year at Christmas we did some experimental baking --- new recipes, new ideas --- and part of them put together in my daughter's brand new kitchen!

This one was a big hit -- it's sort of like a Rocky Road Brownie


for the base:
1 2-layer size devil's food cake mix (get what's on sale!)
1 stick of butter, melted
1/3 cup milk

for the top:
1/3 cup milk
3/4 cup peanut butter
7 ounces of miniature marshmallows
1/2 cup salted peanuts
6 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips

Heat the oven to 350 degrees

Mix cake mix, butter and 1/3 cup milk until well blended

Press 2/3 of mixture into the bottom of a 9x13 pan (set aside the rest)

Bake 12 to 14 minutes, until center is almost set. Cool for 3 minutes

Mix peanut butter with 1/3 cup milk.

Spread peanut butter mixture onto crust

Break remaining crust mixture into small chunks and arrange on top of peanut butter mixture.

Sprinkle nuts, chocolate chips and marshmallows over the top and press gently into peanut butter.

Bake for 18 minutes or until center is set

Cool completely before cutting


NOTE: my daughter tells me that you can keep an open bag of marshmallows from getting hard by storing them in the refridgerator.

Monday, January 05, 2009


Let me say right off that I have never tried to do any kind of dipped chocolates before.

In fact, my usual candy making involves a can of Eagle brand milk, a package of semi sweet chocolate chips and a microwave.

This year, however, the DH found a recipe for chocolate truffles that involved just 2 ingredients (before we tweeked it) and sounded easy.

So, we embarked on that candy making journey, and this box of lovelies was the result.

I'd like to add here that you should allow yourself a good bit of time to do this. While the recipe is short on ingredients, it is long in prep time, including a stint where you just hang out while the centers cool in the 'fridge.

This is how we did it:


8 ounces cream cheese, softened
24 ounces semi sweet chocolate
1/2 tsp each of lemon and peppermint extract (or flavors of your choice -- optional)
sanding sugar, powdered sugar or cocoa powder -- optional

Note: the original recipe called for 20 ounces and wanted you to use the baking bars of chocolate, chop them up with a knife, etc., but we found that semi sweet chocolate chips work just as well, and that with only 20 ounces we were a bit short when it came to the dipping part of the recipe.


Melt 8 ounces of chocolate.

Beat the cream cheese with hand mixer until creamy

Stir in melted chocolate

Divide mixture into sections and add flavors if desired (we did the peppermint, the lemon and left some just plain)

Refrigerate until firm --- at least 30 minutes

When firm, shape into balls (the original recipe called for making 36 balls, but we did smaller ones and got about 50)

Melt remaining chocolate

Dip each ball into chocolate using a fork, be sure to coat all around

If you are decorating, sprinkle as soon as the ball comes out of the chocolate dip (we sprinkled the lemon flavored ones with yellow sugar, the peppermint ones with red sugar and left the unflavored ones undecorated)

Refridgerate (remember, these have cream cheese in them, so when they aren't on the serving tray, they need to stay cold)

We used the fancy candy papers (I'd had these for years), and packed them in a gift box so they looked pretty.

Next time maybe we'll try some other things inside with the chocolate and cream cheese.