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Mama’s Baked Mac ‘n’ Cheese

November 19th, 2014

From Our Kitchen to yours by Mr. Appliance

By Endia Turney

Thanksgiving Day is filled love, laughter and the aroma of your family’s favorite dishes being whipped up in the kitchen. Of all the amazing Thanksgiving side dishes out there, my absolute favorite is macaroni and cheese. It’s so simple that anyone can make, but can also be altered to create a heightened version.

I believe homemade beats box-made every time, and even though we often choose the simpler route (guilty!), making it at home can be just as simple. For me, the feeling that comes with making a beautiful dish from scratch and serving it on a special occasion is completely worth it.  Not everybody’s macaroni and cheese is going to be exactly the same, but it’s always delicious!

This baked macaroni and cheese recipe is a favorite of mine. It serves about eight hungry tummies and will have your family and friends thanking you for months to come.

You’ll need:

  • 1 (8-ounce) package of elbow macaroni
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of onion salt
  • 2 (10-ounce) blocks of sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 4-1/2 cups) and divided
  • 1 cup of soft breadcrumbs (about four slices with the crusts removed)
  • 1/4 cup of melted butter or margarine
  • 1 Quart jar
  • 13-by-9-inch baking dish (you can choose to use two 11-inch oval baking dishes, also)

What you’ll do:

  • Cook the macaroni according to the package directions, then drain it and set it aside.
  • Place the milk, flour, and onion salt in a quart jar, cover it tightly, and shake it vigorously for one minute.
  • Stir the flour mixture, 3-1/2 cups of the cheese you shredded, and the macaroni together.
  • Pour the macaroni mixture into a lightly-greased 13-by-9-inch baking dish.
  • Sprinkle it evenly with the bread crumbs and remaining 1 cup of cheese.
  • Drizzle it evenly with melted butter.
  • Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes or until it’s golden brown.
  • Remove it from the oven, let it cool a bit, and enjoy!

This makes a perfect side dish, but you can also turn this into a hearty main dish. Try stirring in chopped, cooked ham before baking, and then sprinkle chopped, cooked bacon on top before serving!

Mama's baked mac 'n' cheese picture

I love this dish straight out of the oven, but it tastes great as leftovers, as well. I like to cover it and place it in the fridge for a tasty snack or small lunch the next day. Enjoy!

5 Tips to an Organized Refrigerator

November 14th, 2014

“I’m so excited to clean out the fridge today,” said no one ever.

There’s absolutely nothing fun about cleaning the fridge. It’s amazing how quickly it can go from organized and clean to a hot mess of smelly and expired food that isn’t even recognizable.

But how in the world do you even begin the process of organizing your fridge?  Well, we’ve given it some thought and your friends at Mr. Appliance have come up with 5 tips to help you not only organize your fridge, but to also help you keep it that way too.

1. Clean out items that should not be refrigerated.

Did you know that not everything should go in the fridge? There are some foods we stick in the fridge simply out of habit that should actually be kept at room temperature.

Clean Out Foods

2. Line shelves and drawers.

When spills and mishaps occur, clean up is a breeze when you can simply take out a shelf or drawer lining instead of scrubbing dried gunk.

Shelf Liners

3. Use plastic tubs.

Keeping items grouped together in tubs will help prevent the small things from getting shoved to the back of the fridge.  How many times have you found an expired yogurt container in the back corner of the fridge?

Plastic Tubs

4. Label shelves and drawers.

Other folks will be able to help you maintain your nice and neatly organized fridge if they know where things should go.

Label

5. Invest in a dry erase marker.

You can use a dry erase marker on your fridge to help you remember things like how long leftovers have been in the fridge.  Think about it…not only will this help you have a clean fridge, but if you end up eating your left overs instead of letting them go bad, isn’t that also going to save you money?

Dry Erase Marker

BONUS!! If you want to take the dry erase idea to an entirely new level, you can have a little fun and paint your entire fridge with chalkboard paint.  Just think of the possibilities!

Chalkboard Paint

These tips should prevent you from having to call a hazmat team to tackle your fridge. You can check out other fridge organization tips from our The Refrigerator Pinterest board.  The Refrigerator And if you have a handy-dandy organizational tip, we would love to hear about it!

Not Your Grandma’s Meatloaf Recipes

November 6th, 2014

Graphic titled Not your Grandma's Meatloaf

Did you know that meatloaf is often considered a classic comfort food?  It actually gained popularity during the Great Depression and became “prom queen” of sort during World War 2. Part of the meatloaf appeal is that you can miraculously convert a measly pound or two of meat into a feast for an entire family.  And those with true skill can make that loaf o’ meat stretch out to multiple meals.

Now grant it, meatloaf is definitely one of those dishes you either really, really love or you really, really hate.  The classic, old-fashioned meatloaf consists of simply meat, veggies and filler oats.  Not a whole lot of excitement going on with that.  But, what if your friends at Mr. Appliance® told you that you could have a meatloaf with all the bells and whistles you can possibly imagine?  Pretty exciting thought, don’t you think?  This takes meatloaf to a whole new level.  So long “prom queen”, meatloaf is now the bomb-dot-com!

Here are the Mr. Appliance favorite out-of-the-box meatloaf recipes that are certainly not your grandma’s meatloaf.

French Onion Meatloaf

Secret Ingredient:  caramelized onions

http://arismenu.com/french-onion-meatloaf/

Sweet and Tangy Meatloaf

Secret Ingredient:  apricot preserves

http://www.sixsistersstuff.com/2013/10/sweet-and-tangy-meatloaf-recipe.html

Honey Barbecue Meatloaf

Secret Ingredient: barbecue sauce

http://www.canyoustayfordinner.com/2011/03/09/honey-barbecue-meatloaf/

Taco Meatloaf

Secret Ingredient:  jalapeno or Serrano peppers

http://boulderlocavore.com/2011/10/taco-meatloaf.html

Smoked Party Meatloaf

Secret Ingredient:  cocoa powder

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/smoked-party-meatloaf-recipe.html

Each of these recipes has a little extra special kapowza that’s sure to get your taste buds tingling.  Which recipe do you think you’re going to give a whirl?  Make sure to tell us and send a pic.  Who knows…this may even warrant a special Meatloaf board on our Pinterest page!

3 Tips for Using Pumpkin Seeds and Guts

October 23rd, 2014

3 Tips for Using Pumpkin Guts

Don’t you just love pumpkins!  This time of year pumpkins are everywhere – pumpkin spice latte, fall festivals and everyone’s favorite…jack-o-lanterns.  For some, carving a jack-o-lantern is a family tradition.  From elaborate designs and intricate cuts to traditional triangle eyes and noses, each jack-o-lantern has a story.

But to get to the intriguing spectacle that is the jack-o-lantern you’ve got to get through a bunch of seeds and guts first.  Our first reaction is to obviously toss the orange muck into the nearest plastic bag.  After all, what in the world can you do with a bunch of seeds and slimy goop from the innards of the pumpkin? Well…

What if we told you not to toss the goop in the trash?  What if we told you to keep it and even “upcycle” it?  Here are three out-of-the box ways to turn the jack-o-lantern seeds and guts into something really cool – in three steps.

1. Set the seeds aside for Roasted Pumpkin Seeds.

While kind of high in calories, pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein, vitamin K and phytosterols, which has been shown to reduce levels of LDL cholesterol.  So, why not give roasted pumpkin seeds a try?  You can go sweet or savory, whatever you like best.

Roasted Pumpkin Seed Recipes

2. Set the orange goo aside for a Pumpkin Face Mask.

Pumpkin actually has loads of enzymes and vitamins that are good for your skin.  Who knew?

DIY Pumpkin Mask

3. Compost ol’ Jack after Halloween.

Plain and simple, composting is good for the environment.

Pumpkin Compost

So there you go.  The pumpkin magic doesn’t have to end with the carving.  Let us know how you “upcycled” your pumpkin this year.  Oh, and we’d love to see pictures of your jack-o-lantern too!

Fall Into Apple Delight!

October 15th, 2014

From Our Kitchen to yours by Mr. Appliance

By Hannah Haseloff

It’s fall! Leaves are changing colors and the weather is getting cooler. That means one thing – apples are ripe.  When I was young, fall meant trips to the farm to pick out our own pumpkins and apples. Those were times full of fun and nostalgia. I think that my love of apples comes from those trips. I have always loved apple pie but recently I discovered a new delicious way to enjoy apples that also satisfies my sweet tooth: apple cake! Apple cake is easy to make and it’s a perfect recipe to make with your kids!

What you will need:

6-7 apples

2 eggs

1 ¾ cups of sugar

2 heaping teaspoons of cinnamon

½ cup of oil

2 cups of flour

2 teaspoons of baking soda

Directions:

First mix the sugar, oil, cinnamon, and eggs in a large bowl to create sugar coating. Next peel and slice the apples. Add the apples to the mix as you go to keep them from browning. Mix the baking soda and flour and add this to sugar apple mixture. Mix well until all flour is absorbed. Pour mixture into greased 9×13 or two 9 inch pans. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until apple cake is golden brown.

Now you not only have a delicious dessert, but your house smells amazing! Grab some vanilla ice cream and enjoy your warm, gooey apple cake.

Helpful Tips:

  • Add something extra like nuts or dried fruit to spice up this recipe! I added craisins to my apple cake!
  • You can also use apple pie filling instead of apples if you are on the go.
  • For a different approach to the traditional recipe, try grating the apples instead of slicing them.
  • To sweeten the treat, add caramel to the apple mix or drizzle it on top after baking.
  • For a glutton free option, just use glutton free flour.

On a time crunch? With a few simple adjustments this recipe can be cooked in the microwave in for only 30 seconds! Just take out the eggs and add 2 tablespoons of ground flax seed and six tablespoons of water. Be sure and use a microwave safe dish!

Happy baking!

Take your Pizza to the Grill in 5 Easy Steps

October 10th, 2014

Did you know that approximately three billion pizzas are sold in the US each year?  That doesn’t even count the additional one billion frozen pizzas purchased.  There’s obviously something about that ooey-gooey, hot-cheesy goodness that’s simply irresistible.  A good ol’ slice of pizza gives you that kid-in-the-candy store kind of feeling.  It’s like catching a great sale at Kohl’s or winning free house cleaning for a year.  Yep, it’s just that good.

But even the most die-hard pizza fans can get a little tired of the same ol’ pepperoni pizza day in and day out.  How about spicing things up a bit by taking your pizza to the grill?  Never thought of grilling your pizza pie?  How about this…grilling your pizza you won’t heat up the kitchen; pizza on the grill = party on the patio; and grilled pizza tastes really, really good.

Grilling a pizza isn’t rocket-science, but there’s a little more to it than pulling a box out of the freezer and popping your pie in the oven.  And rest assured, your trusted friends at Mr. Appliance are here to help you.  We found a great how-two guide on thekitchn.com that completely walks you through the steps to grilling the perfect pizza.

To get this patio, pizza-party rocking, we’re even helping you out with a few recipes too.  Try one or mix-and-match.  That’s the glorious thing about pizza.  There’s something for everyone from hot and savory, to sweet and delicious.

If you like it cheesy, go for the Double Cheese Pizza with Fire Roasted Tomatoes pizza.

Double Cheese Pizzas with Fire Roasted Tomatoes

Photo courtesy of rachaelraymag.com

Like veggies on your pizza?  Try out a Spice-Grilled Eggplant, Feta & Spinach pizza.

Spice-Grilled Eggplant, Feta & Spinach Pizzas

Photo courtesy of rachaelraymag.com

Meat lovers need to give this Grilled Sausage and Pepper recipe a try.

Pillsbury grilled sausage and pepper pizza

Photo courtesy of pillsbury.com

But what if you’re in the mood for Mexican food?  This Black Bean Nacho pizza will knock your socks off.

Black Bean Nacho Pizza

Photo courtesy of eatingwell.com

Craving something sweet?  Bobby Flay’s Dessert pizza will tame that sweet tooth.

Bobby Flay's Dessert Pizza

Photo courtesy of foodnetwork.com

They all sound so delicious.  Which pizza are you most likely to try?  Make sure to post a pic of your next grilled pizza and tell us your favorite recipe.

10 Ways to Reuse Lonely Socks

September 25th, 2014

Have you fallen victim to the mystery of the missing sock?  Two socks go into the dirty laundry pile, but somehow only one sock makes it out clean.  Where in the world is the other sock?  No need to worry.  We have 10 amazing things you can do with those lonely socks.

Make Sock Puppets

This is a classic solution: If you have a collection of unwanted socks, allow your children and their friends to make sock puppets out of them! You can turn this into a great craft project by supplying felt, google eyes, and fabric markers so the children can personalize their puppets. You will be hosting puppet shows in no time!

picture of sock puppets

Photo courtesy of spoonful.com and originally appeared in FamilyFun Magazine

Other Sock Crafts

There are many other crafts that can be done with socks other than puppets, like making plush animals or dog toys.

picture of a button sock doll

Photo courtesy of moms.popsugar.com

Display Them Until They Find Their Other Half

There are many variations on the lost sock hanger on Pinterest and Etsy, so you can buy one or take the time to make your own! Not only does it advertise the missing socks for the whole family to see, it is great decoration for a typically overlooked room.

picture of a place to hang up lost socks

Photo courtesy of shoponelove on Etsy

Clean

Lonely socks can be used as dust rags. This can be more satisfying than just throwing the socks away or keeping them and hoping you eventually find a match. You will be breathing new life into the lonely cloth, giving it a new purpose.

swiffer cleaner out of a lonely sock

Image courtesy of onegoodthingbyjillee.com

Make a Heating Pad

Fill a sock with rice, beans, or flaxseed, and warm it up in the microwave for about 30 seconds (or until it’s at a good temperature for what you need) and you will have a homemade heating pad. Click here for more detailed instructions

picture of making a heating pad out of a sock

Photo courtesy of wikihow.com

Make a Sock Bun

Does your hair need a little help? Rather than taking a sock from a pair to make your bun look better, try making a lonely sock the designated “bun sock.” See here for a instructions on how to make a sock bun

sock bun out of a lonely sock

Photo courtesy of birchbox.com

Wear Mismatched Socks!

If your outfit doesn’t show your socks, consider putting the lonely socks together to make a pair. This isn’t the best choice for office wear, but it is more than acceptable for children and teens who may not take the time to match their socks in the first place.

mismatched socks

Photo courtesy of foottraffic.com

Sock Wreath

Check out this great tutorial on making a wreath from two pairs of tube socks. If you don’t happen to have any lonely tube socks around the house but still want to do the project, you can buy some fairly inexpensively from the store

sock wreath

Photo courtesy of bluecricketdesign.com

Use as Padding When Packing

When packing breakable items—whether for moving or simply putting way seasonal decorations—use mismatched socks to cushion your breakables. Glass Christmas ornaments can be put inside of a sock and then placed into bins with the other decorations. Drinking glasses can also be slipped inside socks to ensure they won’t crack during travel.

Potpourri Holder

Old socks filled with potpourri can be used to freshen up drawers and closets. Just fill the sock about halfway and tie it closed. Moth balls could also be used.

5 Breakfast in Bed Ideas

September 5th, 2014

Graphic with title "5 Easy Breakfast in Bed Ideas"

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”

“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh.  “What do you say, Piglet?”

“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully.  “It’s the same thing,” he said.

We think that maybe Winnie the Pooh was on to something here.  What could possibly be more exciting than starting your day off with a good ol’ breakfast?  And to take it a step further, wouldn’t it be awesome to treat a parent, child or spouse to a breakfast in bed?  That’s an absolute win-win for everyone!  You get those feel good, warm fuzzies and your someone special is honored with a most delightful and exciting breakfast treat.

But breakfast in bed can definitely be a tricky.  What in the world do you prepare for a breakfast in bed?  The occasion certainly deserves more than a mere poptart, don’t you think?  So, in honor of September Better Breakfast Month, your Mr. Appliance professionals have 5 easy breakfast in bed ideas that are sure to help you and your someone special start the day with an exciting burst of sunshine and a delightfully full tummy!

Yumminess In a Bowl:

Super Simple Breakfast Cereal

Breakfast in a Bowl

Garth’s Breakfast Bowl

Fun On a Stick:

French Toast Kebabs

Pancake Pops

Sausage Pancakes on a Stick

Delight With Fruit:

Lemon Crepes

Citrus Blueberry Casserole

Blackberry Cobbler Waffles

Tastiness From a Sandwich:

Egg and Tomato Breakfast Sandwich

Breakfast Biscuit

Healthy Breakfast Sandwich

Deliciousness Amid Syrup:

Creamy, Fruity Stuffed French Toast

Peanut Butter Banana French Toast

Neapolitan Pancakes

So, do you think you can pull together a breakfast-in-bed surprise?  We think you can absolutely do it.  Have fun!

5 Tips to Simplify Your Life

August 27th, 2014

Graphic with title "5 Ways to Simplify Your Life"

With the hustle and bustle of each day, our schedules seem to get crazier by the minute.  Do this, be there, meet them, pick up that… It seems like we’re on a perpetual merry-go-round that goes faster and faster the more we try to slow it down.  When did life get so busy and complicated?

And just as we appear to have it all together, the side effects of this overloaded lifestyle creep in: headaches, muscle tension, chest pains, fatigue, stomach upsets and sleep problems.  Who has time to slow down because of a headache or upset stomach?  It’s time to simplify.  Not tomorrow, not next week.  It’s time to simplify, now.

Mr. Appliance® wants you to maintain your lifestyle in a more manageable and simplified way.  So in honor of National Simplify Your Life Week, here are 5 tips to help you simplify your life.

Just Say No

With time demands coming at you from every direction, you have to allow time for yourself.  Try saying no to requests and obligations that aren’t really necessary.  This will allow some free time for you to relax.

Slow Cook It

Who has time to stand in the kitchen for an hour or two preparing dinner every night?  It’s time to pull out the slow cooker and start using it.  Get everything together in the morning and just leave it.  It doesn’t get much easier than that!  To get you started here’s a link to a great collection of slow cooker recipes from the Food Network.

Easy Slow Cooker Recipes from Food Network

Exercise

Did you know that physical activity increases your energy, improves your mood and helps you sleep better?  Try to allow for 30 minutes of exercise each day and see if you notice a positive change.

App It

One of the easiest ways to simply is to get organized.  And guess what?  There’s an app for that!  Maybe it’s time to do away with the post it note wall and the multiple to-do lists.  HowStuffWorks has a great article with 5 Apps to Organize Your Life.

Stop Multi-Tasking

Did you know there’s research that shows that multi tasking actually reduces productivity and increases stress?  Is it really worth it?  It may seem counterintuitive, but in reality, single tasking will help you manage your time better.  Lifehacker can help you kick the multi tasking habit.

Life doesn’t have to be complicated.  So, sit back and enjoy the simple things in life.

5 Ways to Simplify Your Morning Routine

August 25th, 2014

graphic with title "5 ways to simplify your morning routine"

Do you ever have those mornings when everything that could possibly go wrong…does?  You hit the snooze button one too many times, so you’re rushed from the get-go.  Coffee takes too long to brew, and you have to leave without your beloved cup-o-joe.  In a frazzled rush, you spill your lunch all over the kitchen counter.  You grab the closest thing in your closet and walk out of the house in an unmatched, wrinkled hot-mess.  And for the rest of the day, you have a sourly scowl that puts the infamous Grumpy Cat to shame.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could simplify things?  Well, guess what!  You absolutely can simplify things and Mr. Appliance is here to help.  Here are our top 5 ways to simplify your morning routine.

1. Prepare breakfast before you go to bed.

Obviously, we don’t mean to literally let a glass of juice or milk sit out all night.  That’s just wrong.  But you can set out your eating utensils, premeasure your coffee and wash and cut your fruit.  Anything that can be done ahead of time, do it.

2. Pick out your clothes before you go to bed.

This alleviates the whole ‘what am I going to wear’ drama that can eat up your morning schedule.  This also prevents grabbing something that’s wrinkled, too tight or not the right color.  Ideally, it would be great if you picked out your wardrobe for the entire week, but we’ll start with one-day-at-a-time, baby steps.

3. Pack lunch the night before at dinnertime.

Gather everything for your lunch as you clean up from dinner.  Set aside one designated spot in the fridge just for lunches.  That way, you can grab your lunch, pop it in your cooler and go.  A side benefit is preplanning your lunches will help you eat healthier and avoid a starvation induced mad dash to the vending machine or drive thru.

4. Do not hit the snooze button!

Set your alarm for the time you need to get up – no exceptions.  To get you out of the snoozing habit, place your alarm clock across the room so you are forced to get out of bed as soon as the dreaded beeping ensues. There’s just something about oversleeping that sets an uneasy tone for the entire day.

5. Follow a distraction-free breakfast policy.

No, television, cell phone or newspapers are allowed at breakfast.  How many times have you scurried away from the breakfast table in a frazzled mess just because you wanted to watch one more news segment, read one more article or LIKE one more status update.  Just say no.

You’ve got a plan now.  Simplify your morning routine and say goodbye to the Grumpy Cat scowl…forever!