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Easy Holiday Cookies

December 18th, 2014

Graphic for baking easy holiday cookies

Sandra Lee is known for her “Semi-Homemade” cooking show on the Food Network.  She once said, “Baking cookies is comforting, and cookies are the sweetest little bit of comfort food.  They are very bite-sized and personal.”

We think Sandra hit a homerun with this statement.  There’s just something about a cookie – especially a Christmas cookie – that can bring out the inner cookie monster in anyone.   Keeping this in mind, we’ve pinned a fabulous recipe for cut-out sugar cookies that we just have to share with you.

Give it a try and be creative while decorating.  Make sure to send us a picture of your personal, bite-sized creations too.  We would love to see your smiling; cookie monster faces enjoying a festive Christmas cookie!

Perfect Sugar Cookies Cut-Outs

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 ¼ cup sugar

1 egg

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

½ teaspoon almond extract

3 cups flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

Colored sugars for decorating

BAKING DIRECTIONS

  1. In large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add in egg, vanilla extract and almond extract and mix until combined.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.  Make sure to spoon the flour into your measuring cup and level it off with a knife to ensure accurate measurements.  Slowly add the flour mixture and mix until completely combined.
  3. Roll the dough between 2 sheets of parchment or wax paper and place on a baking sheet in the refrigerator.  Chill for about 20-30 minutes.
  4. Cut dough into shapes with cookie cutters and transfer to a baking sheet.  Sprinkle with colored sugars and bake at 350 degrees for 8-12 minutes.  Cool on baking sheet 5 minutes and then transfer to a baking rack to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container.

Makes about 40-50 cookies.

TIPS

  • Dough only needs to chill 20-30 minutes in refrigerator since it’s already rolled out.
  • Using parchment paper to roll dough eliminates the need to add extra flour to prevent sticking.
  • 9 minutes seems to be the perfect cooking time.
  • Make sure to let cookies cool on baking sheet for only 5 minutes – any longer will cause the cookies to dry out.

This recipe, along with tons of others, is pinned on our Mr. Appliance® Pinterest page under the Holiday Treats board.  Happy cooking!

Child Safety in The Kitchen

December 11th, 2014

Child Safety in the Kitchen

The kitchen is often referred to as the heart of the home.  It’s a place where memories and masterpieces are created and cherished.  From the recreation of Aunt B’s apple pie that turned out beautifully or the hot mess that should have been Grandma’s creamy mashed potatoes but turned out to be a yellow glob with a near-rubber consistency – memories.

Whether you’re handing down secret recipes or starting new traditions, our kiddos and grand kids have a huge role in these special culinary memories.  Cooking with kiddos can definitely be fun, but it’s so important that we remember that these little ones are often curious, clumsy and inexperienced in the kitchen.  That’s a dangerous combination that could certainly lead to injuries if we aren’t careful.

So, here are some basic dos ad don’ts to help us keep the kiddos safe as we make wonderful memories in the kitchen.

DO

…use back burners if younger children are in the kitchen.

…take your time an not rush around.

…use hot pads and oven mitts.

…remove lids so steam goes away from your face.

…keep a first aid kit and fire extinguisher handy, just in case.

DON’T

…hold or carry children while cooking.

…wear baggy clothes that can get caught in mixers or beaters.

…set anything that can catch fire near or on the stove.

…leave the kitchen while using the stove top.

…place dirty sharp knives in a sink full of water.

Guy Fieri once said, “Cooking with kids is not just about ingredients, recipes, and cooking.  It’s about harnessing imagination, empowerment, and creativity.”

Creativity in the kitchen can absolutely lead to life-long memories, but let’s make sure to keep safety on the front burner during the fun.

Happy Cooking!

Beef Wellington: A Christmas Tradition

December 9th, 2014

graphic for From Our Kitchen to Yours

By Elisa Voland

Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year.  And in my home, it’s a time when the kitchen is always stirring. My mom loves when everyone comes home for the holidays and she really enjoys cooking our favorite dishes for every meal. One of her favorite dishes to make for Christmas dinner is beef wellington. I’m not sure why this particular meal was originally chosen, but no one in our family has ever complained. Even our dog gets his own serving of it!

My mom prefers to prepare individual beef wellingtons for the family and I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Ingredients (Serves 6):

  • 1 lb.  Fresh mushrooms (sliced)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 48 oz. beef tenderloin
  • 17 1/2 oz.  frozen pastry puff sheets  (thawed)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2.  In a large skillet over medium heat, combine the mushrooms, onion, sherry, butter or margarine and parsley and sauté until all the liquid is absorbed and the mixture resembles a paste. Cover the top of each steak with the mixture.

3. Partially thaw the puff pastry sheets and roll out pieces thin enough to cover the top, sides and bottom of each steak. Place the steaks on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until serving time.

4. Bake steaks uncovered in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. They will be rare but will continue cooking while dish is sitting.

Tips and Tricks:

  • This dish pairs perfectly with twice-baked potatoes.
  • Heat your baking pan or cookie sheet before putting the wellingtons on to prevent them from becoming soggy.
  • Use the leftover pastry and cut out Christmas shapes using a cookie cutter to top the wellingtons.

Stay Healthy at Holiday Parties

December 4th, 2014

Eat healthy at holiday parties

Oh, don’t you just love this time of year?  True, our schedules are unbelievably busy, but intertwined within the hustle and bustle of shopping, parties and get-togethers, there’s the most amazing food imaginable.

Most of these seasonal delicacies are once-a-year goodies; so, when you think about it like that, it’s completely ok to overindulge, right?  Well, that may not be the best strategy.

Admittedly, there’s the initial oh-my-goodness this is absolutely divine feeling we all experience when devouring the mouthwatering, tasty treats of the season.  But what about afterwards?  Make way for feeling sluggish, puffy and maybe even a bit grumpy.  Urgh, no one wants that.

The good news is we can absolutely enjoy once-a-year delectable goodies without the unwanted and not-so-pleasant side effects of excess.  Here are some handy and easy-to-do tips from Mr. Appliance’s that will help you stay peppy, puff-free and Pollyanna happy while still having fun at holiday parties.

Pre-Party

  • Don’t go to a party on an empty stomach.
  • Eat a high-protein snack before you head out to the party: Greek yogurt, handful of nuts, string cheese, or even a boiled egg.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Keep up your exercise routine.

At-Party

  • Be picky and choose your favorite goodies instead of noshing on everything.
  • Fill half of your plate with high-fiber fruits and veggies.
  • Step away from the buffet table.
  • Watch portion sizes.
  • Avoid too many cocktails, sodas or juice drinks that are loaded with empty calories.

Post-Party

  • Keep up your exercise routine.
  • Don’t beat yourself up if you do overeat.
  • Get back to regular, daily routine.

If you have some other tips that help you from over-doing-it at holiday parties, let us know.  We hope you have a fabulously happy and healthy holiday season!

Cook Like a Pilgrim – No Appliance Recipes

November 24th, 2014

graphic for cook like a pilgrim - no appliance recipes

We recently asked the folks on the Mr. Appliance Facebook page to finish the following sentence:  If my microwave stopped working today, I would __________.

The results were anything from plug in the crock-pot to simply not eat.

Well now, we certainly don’t want someone to stop eating simply because of a modern-day appliance break down.  Obviously, if your have an appliance that stops working the first thing you would do is call your local Mr. Appliance because…well, because Mr. Appliance is the expert in appliance repair.

However, we also want to help you out with a few no-appliance-needed recipes, just in case the unthinkable does happen and you are left without a working appliance.  If the pilgrims could do it, we can do it.  Right?  Right.  We can absolutely cook like a pilgrim!

So, here’s an entire meal that you can prepare without the use of a modern-day appliance.

Smashed Chickpea & Avocado Salad Sandwich

Ingredients

  • 1 15 oz. can chickpeas or garbanzo beans
  • 1 large ripe avocado
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tbs chopped green onion
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Bread of your choice
  • Fresh spinach leaves or other sandwich toppings: lettuce, tomato slices, sprouts, etc.

Prep Instructions

  • Rinse and drain chickpeas. Place on towel to remove outer skin. You can leave them on if you prefer.
  • In medium bowl, use a fork or potato masher to smash the chickpeas and avocado together.
  • Add cilantro, green onion and lime juice.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Spread salad on bread and top with your favorite sandwich toppings.
  • Enjoy!

Cucumber Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 English cucumbers
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 ½ tbs salt
  • 1 tbs plus 1 tsp. white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. dried dill or 2 tbs fresh dill

Prep Instructions

  • Slice cucumber lengthwise, remove seeds and slice thinly.
  • Thinly slice onion.
  • In colander, toss cucumber and onion with salt and let sit and drain for 20 minutes.
  • Press liquid out of the vegetables and rinse well with cold water.
  • In medium bowl, combine vinegar and sugar and stir well.
  • Add cucumber mixture and toss to coat.
  • Stir in dill.
  • Enjoy!

Dessert Nachos by Mr. Appliance

Ingredients

  • Granny Smith apples (1 per person)
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • Caramel syrup
  • Chocolate syrup
  • Mini chocolate chips
  • Granola

Prep Instructions

  • Wash and slice apples into wedges (6-8 per apple).
  • Place apples on serving platter.
  • Squeeze lemon juice on apples to prevent browning.
  • Drizzle caramel syrup on the apples.
  • Sprinkle on mini chocolate chips and granola.
  • Top with a light drizzle of chocolate syrup.
  • Enjoy!

There you have it.  You can actually prepare a meal without modern-day appliances.  Who knew? We would love to hear from on how you prepare appliance-free meals!

Mama’s Baked Mac ‘n’ Cheese

November 19th, 2014

graphic for From Our Kitchen to Yours

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

graphic for From Our Kitchen to Yours

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!