Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Clean drinking water for the Holidays...



Your Water is Clear, but is it Clean?



We all assume the water filter sitting in our fridge is working, but how do we know if we’re getting the safest and most delicious water? With water contamination in the forefront of many people’s minds, finding effective water filtration solutions is more important than ever.  
If you have reason to be worried about lead, many common water filters can be effective. The team at Reviews.com, a site dedicated to investigating products and industries, spent six weeks analyzing 38 pitcher and faucet water filters to find which are the most successful at removing contaminants and enhancing flavor.

TASTE MATTERS

Water is supposed to be tasteless, right? Turns out it’s a little more complicated. Our saliva and our tongues’ taste receptors have various enzymes and minerals that combine with foods (and water) to affect how we perceive “taste” — it’s why some of us love cilantro and some of us think it tastes like soap.

THE PITCHER IS ONLY THE BEGINNING

A filter works just like a sponge: Once it’s full, it’s useless. Though most filters have an anti-bacterial treatment, it’s only so long before that wet carbon is a breeding ground for grossness.

The up-front costs of a pitcher or faucet filter pale in comparison to the long-term costs of replacing those filters over and over and over: While faucet filters can remain effective for 100 to 200 gallons of water, most pitcher filters only last 40 gallons before they need to be replaced — and that’s only if you believe the marketing claims.
If the owner of a typical water pitcher filter drank the recommended 12 cups of water per day and diligently replaced their pitcher filter every 40 gallons, they’d be buying about seven replacement filters per year. That number goes up the more people you have in your household, and up even more if you follow some water experts’ advice and replace filters twice as often as recommended.

DID YOU KNOW?

The carbon material in your filter is oftentimes the burnt charcoal remains of a natural substance, like coconut shells. Carbon looks like a big sponge if you look at it under a microscope, and that’s exactly how it functions during water filtration: It absorbs organic materials.
When water passes through this carbon material — either by gravity (pitcher filters) or through water pressure (faucet filters) — pollutants are bound to the carbon, thereby keeping them away from your water. Carbon in and of itself is not effective at taking out volatile organic compounds and heavy metals like mercury and lead. To accomplish this, some filters add a non-carbon layer to the filtering process: a plastic resin that works like a magnet.

At the end of the day, it’s easy to take water for granted — but it’s just as easy to use a filter and make sure your H2O is clean and tasty. Learn what contaminants are in your drinking water, and then find a filter with the right certifications to make sure it will do the job it claims to do.

Friday, October 28, 2016

3 versions of oatmeal cookies




It's always great when we stumble upon a good recipe for our favorite cookie. Check out my three variations of the classic oatmeal cookie. I have included the basic: oatmeal raisin, the tropical: orange coconut and the chocolate: oatmeal chocolate chip.
 Sometimes I like to make one basic cookie recipe in bulk and then split it up into different batches to add different additives. You can definitely do that with these three recipes.
Oatmeal cookies, in my opinion, compliment any Holiday cookie platter! You can even add Christmas colored M&M's to bring pretty colors to the platter.

Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

  •  ¾ cup Crisco, butter flavored
  •  1 ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
  •  1 egg
  •  1/3 cup milk
  •  1 ½ tsp vanilla
  •  3 cups oats
  •  1 cup flour
  •  ½ tsp baking soda
  •  ½ tsp salt
  •  ¼ tsp cinnamon
  •  1 cup raisins

 Preheat oven to 350*.
 Spray cookie sheets with butter spray. (Or line them with no stick foil)
 Blend Crisco, sugar, egg, milk and vanilla until blended.
 In separate bowl combine oats, flour, soda, salt and cinnamon.
 Add dry mix into wet mix and slowly blend.
 Add raisins. Mix.
 Drop by teaspoon full scoops onto sheet, 2 inches apart.
 Bake for 10-12 minutes.
 Makes 2 ½ dozen cookies.

Orange Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

  •  ¾ cup Crisco, butter flavored
  •  1 ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
  •  1 egg
  •  1/3 cup milk
  •  ½ tsp vanilla
  •  3 tbsp orange juice
  •  3 cups oats
  •  1 cup flour
  •  ½ tsp baking soda
  •  ½ tsp salt
  •  ¼ tsp cinnamon
  •  1 cup shredded coconut, sweetened

 Preheat oven to 350*.
 Spray cookie sheets with butter spray. (Or line them with no stick foil)
 Blend Crisco, sugar, egg, milk, vanilla and orange juice until blended.
 In separate bowl combine oats, flour, soda, salt and cinnamon.
 Add dry mix into wet mix and slowly blend.
 Add coconut. Mix.
 Drop by teaspoon full scoops onto sheet, 2 inches apart.
 Bake for 10-12 minutes.
 Makes 2 ½ dozen cookies.

Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chips Cookies

  •  ¾ cup Crisco, butter flavored
  •  1 ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
  •  1 egg
  •  1/3 cup milk
  •  1 ½ tsp vanilla
  •  3 cups oats
  •  1 cup flour
  •  ½ tsp baking soda
  •  ½ tsp salt
  •  ¼ tsp cinnamon
  •  1 cup chocolate chips

 Preheat oven to 350*.
 Spray cookie sheets with butter spray. (Or line them with no stick foil)
 Blend Crisco, sugar, egg, milk and vanilla until blended.
 In separate bowl combine oats, flour, soda, salt and cinnamon.
 Add dry mix into wet mix and slowly blend.
 Add raisins. Mix.
 Drop by teaspoon full scoops onto sheet, 2 inches apart.
 Bake for 10-12 minutes.
 Makes 2 ½ dozen cookies.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Make a New Jersey coffee cake anywhere, any time... Plus homemade Bisquick recipe



When I think about Fall, I think about steamy, hot coffee goodness! Then, I often start thinking about coffee cake because what goes better with coffee than coffee cake? Particularly MY coffee cake. I make a New Jersey style coffee cake. I even named it NJ coffee cake. The reason for this is because I grew up eating this stuff! You can find it in bakeries and deli's all through New Jersey, but not here in North Carolina! So, I developed my own recipe so I could have it any time I want it. My coffee cake has more crumb than cake and that is just how I like it!

NJ Coffee Cake

  • 1 stick butter, salted and softened
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk, 2%
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Crumb Topping 

  • 1 1/2 sticks margarine
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 6 cups Bisquick
  • 5-6 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Pre-heat oven to 350*.
Line a 9x13 pan with no-stick foil.
Cream together butter and sugar.
While creaming, mix together flour and baking powder in a large bowl.
Set aside.
Add eggs into creamed mixture.
Add milk into creamed mixture.
Add flour and powder into wet mixture.
Add vanilla and beat until combined.
Pour batter into prepared pan.

Prepare crumb topping:
Add sugars, Bisquick and cinnamon into a large bowl.
Cut in margarine and combine with hands until well mixed.
Sprinkle topping over cake with hands, squeezing it together as you do. (You want the topping to be lumpy).

Bake for 40 minutes or until cooked through in the center.
Cool for 15-20 minutes and top with powdered sugar.
You may have about 1/2 cup of topping left over, you do not want topping to run over the sides of the pan.

Save money and make the Bisquick! 

Bisquick

  • 8 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 cups nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1/4 cup baking powder
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 cups shortening 

Combine 1st 4 ingredients into a large bowl.
Cut in shortening until course crumbs are formed.
Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator.
This recipe makes about 10 cups of baking mix.