Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Cleaning Cars and Canteloupe

Does your car's interior look like it just came out of the show room? Or is it filled with candy wrappers, bits of paper, empty soda cans, soccer balls and an ice scraper? Or is your car's interior Like mine-somewhere in between those two scenarios?

If you have 15 minutes, you can clean your car so that it looks like new-or almost new! All you need is glass cleaner, cleaning wipes, air conditioning treatment, a hand vacuum, a small plastic bin, a garbage bag, flat-head screwdriver and paper towels. Ready-set-start the clock:

Minute 1: toss items that shouldn’t be in the car into a small bin. Throw away trash. Sprits the cup holders with glass cleaner and let sit
Minute 2 &3: Use “Armor All Cleaning Wipes to clean dashboard, center console, inside door pockets, steering wheel & gearshift. Spray an air conditioning treatment (try “Clean Air Duct/Treatment-$10 at into the air vents below the windshield and let sit.
Minutes 4 & 5: Clean leather seats with a few wipes. (Seats that are upholstered will get vacuumed later)
Minutes 6-7: Wrap a wipe around the end of a flathead screwdriver and run it along the buttons and switches on the dashboard. Wipe out the cup holders with paper towels.
Minutes 8-9: Spray glass cleaner on paper towels and wipe all windows, including the windshield, sunroof and rear windows.
Minute 11: Remove the floor mats and whack them against each other to dislodge any dirt.
Minutes 12-14: On the driveway, vacuum the floor mats with the bare hose of a hand vac for maximum power (do not attach a tool). Vacuum the seat upholstery and foot wells, shifting the front seats fully forward, then back to hit every spot.
Minute 15: Replace the mats and return the seats to their original positions. Open all the doors and let fresh air blow through.
(from the August 2010 Real Simple magazine)

My car isn't a terrible mess, but it could use a cleaning....I might have to put this to the test this weekend. Try it and let me know what you think...

Did you ever get to the grocery store or the farmer's market looking to purchase a canteloupe and then wonder which was is the best? And will it be sweet and ripe? Use these guidelines and you'll get the best one each and every time...

Cantaloupe tips:
How to buy: Don't be afraid to use your nose-if it has a sweet, slightly musky scent it is ripe. Also it should feel heavy for its size, have a rind that resembles raised netting and has a stem end that yields slightly when pressed with your thumb.
How to store: A not-quite-ready cantaloupe should be left to ripen at room temperature for up to 2 days (keeping it in a closed paper bag will speed up the process). Refrigerate a whole ripe melon for up to 5 days. For cut wedges, cover the surfaces and refrigerate for up to 3 days. (If possible, leave the seeds intact. Cubes without the seeds will last 1-2 days in a resealable container in fridge
How to slice and cube: Wash rind, and then slice off the bottom and top ends of the melon so that it sits squarely on the cutting board. With a knife, from top to bottom, cut away strips of rind, following the shape of the fruit. Halve the fruit, scoop out the seeds, and slice or cube as desired. ENJOY!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Pickles and Puffs!

Cream Puffs, that is...

Christine Lindner, Alice in Dairyland for 2010, was my guest on the show today. She is the ambassador for Wisconsin agriculture and during the next year will log more than 40,000 miles traveling Wisconsin to promote our great state. Did you know that Wisconsin is the #1 cheese producer in the world? It would take over 2 years to taste all the varieties of cheese that are manufactured here. We also talked about the world reknown "Wisconsin State Fair Cream Puffs", AND she even brought some in for us to enjoy! Believe me, they were soooooo yummy!

Baking tip: When making your own cream puffs, always use a wooden spoon, not a metal one to ensure best results!

We also spent quite a bit of time sharing pickle recipes. It's getting to be the time of year for canning and preserving. The "Ice Cream Pail Pickle" recipe is always a hit because it's easy to make and results in quite a large amount.

We've also shared methods for freezing cucumbers, pickles in a crock and quick mustard pickles.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Hot Dogs and Headaches

Today is National Hot Dog Day.
Did you know that someone has come up with
Here are the "do's and dont's" when eating hot dogs:
  • Don't put toppings between the hot dog and the bun. You need to always "dress the dog".
  • Don't use a cloth napkin to wipe your mouth-paper is always preferable
  • Don't take more than five bites to finish. For a foot-long wiener, seven bites are acceptable
  • Don't leave bits of bun on your plate. EAT IT ALL!
  • Don't use ketchup on your hot dog after the age of 18. Mustard, relish, onions, cheese and chili are all acceptable-no matter what your age.
  • Do eat hot dogs with your hands. Untensils should not touch the dog or the bun!
  • Do use paper plates. Every day dishes are acceptable; china is a no-no
  • Do apply condiments in the following order: mustard and chili should be applied first, (wet ingredients) - followed by the "chunky" ingredients such as relish, onion and sauerkraut, followed by shredded cheese, and topped off with spices like celery salt or pepper.

And of course, DON'T ever think there is a wrong time to serve hot dogs!

The other day we talked about headaches. If you suffer from migraines, you probably know how to avoid "trigger" foods such as aged cheese, alcohol, chocolate, coffee, citrus fruits and processed foods. Skipping meals can also cause a headache. There are foods that can help ease migraine pain. The next time you feel one coming on, load up on foods high in magnesium and calcium such as spinach, kale or broccoli. Some people also find relief from ginger. Try ginger ale made with real ginger, or drink cups of ginger tea. Other foods that might be beneficial include garlic, oatmeal, fish, grapes and cayenne pepper. Give it a try!

"LITTLE BITS" shared by listeners today: For relief from poison ivy: Wash infected areas with Felds Naphtha soap to cleanse and disinfect then wipe with Real Lemon Juice (bottled kind)

For relief from itchy bug bites: Dissolve 2 antacid tablets in a glass of water, then dab the solution on the itchy spot to soothe the skin.

For healthier rosebushes: Plant a banana peel at the base of your rosebush, an inch down in the soil. The potassium feeds the plant and helps fend off diseases.

Coring strawberries: Pluck the leaves and stem from berry. Using a plastic drinking straw, tunnel through the berry from top to bottom to remove the core. Works great!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Congratulations and Crock Pots

Congratulations !!!
Jill Weisensel
winner of our "Phrase of Fire" contest
She won two (2) tickets to the Fireside Theater
to see the fantastic Johnny Cash show "Ring of Fire".
Thanks to everyone who particpated!
We had a great response.
The correct phrase was:
"Hello, I'm Johnny Cash. Come see ring of Fire at the Fireside Dinner Theater"

Summer time is a great time to use the crock-pot. Your kitchen will stay cool and slow cooker cooking gives you extra free time to do other things.
Here are a few tips when using your slow cooker:

  • To cook food properly and safely, fill your slow cooker at least half full, but not more than two-thirds full.

  • It might be tempting to check on your dish, however, everytime you remove the lid you increase the cooking time by 20-30 minutes.

  • For food safety reasons, cook and drain all ground meats. but you don't need to brown large cuts of meat beforehand.

  • You can place all your ingredients in the crock the night before, cover and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, place the crock in the slow cooker, turn it on and go! No need to preheat.

  • Cleaning is a breeze if you use a slow cooker liner. Place the liner in the crock, add your ingredients and cook as you normally would. After cooking simply throw away the liner.

Have you ever tried baking potatoes in your slow cooker? One of my listeners shared this recipe:

Baked Potatoes in the Slow Cooker
Wash and prick potatoes; wrap in foil.
Fill crock pot with as many potatoes as you want.
Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours or HIGH for 2-4 hours.

I have also used my slow cooker to make these great tasting candy treats:

Crock Pot Candy
1 (16 oz.) jar unsalted dry roasted peanuts
1 (16 oz.) jar salted dry roasted peanuts
3 pkg. (4 oz.) each German Chocolate baking bars
1 (12 oz.) bag chocolate chips
1 (24 oz.) white almond bark
Layer into crock pot as follows: unsalted peanuts, salted peanuts, chocolate baking bars, chocolate chips, white almond bark. Cook on LOW for 2 hours. DO NOT STIR. After cooking time, stir to completely combine. Dip out onto wax paper by spoonfuls and let cool.

Friday, July 16, 2010

"Phrase of Fire"
Piece of the puzzle: #5
At The
Be sure to send in your completed phrase the "Phrase of Fire" contest and your chance to win (2) tickets to The Fireside Theater in Fort Atkinson.
Send your phrase, along with your name, address and phone number to

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Lemonade ~ Low Fat ~ & Lincoln

"Phrase of Fire" Contest
Piece of the puzzle: #4
Ring of Fire
Today's Quote of the Day:
"The most important things in life aren't things"
In today's Book Nook segment I spoke with Gayle Brandeis, about her first "young adult" novel, "MY LIFE WITH THE LINCOLNS". The book is set during the turbulent 60's and the intricate storylines come together to create a great read for both adolescents and adults. The main character, 12 year old Mina Edelman believes that she and her family are the Lincolns, reincarnated. The book is sometimes "laugh out loud" funny and gives a lot of attention to historical detail.
We also had the chance to talk with Dr. Natasha Turner about her new book, "THE HORMONE DIET: A 3-STEP PROGRAM TO HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT, GAIN STRENGTH AND LIVER YOUNGER, LONGER". Dr. Turner has a 3 step program-that takes 6 weeks to complete. In her book, she walks you through the process and helps you figure out if the stress, fatigue and failure to lose weight are related to a hormonal imbalance. She also stressed that these imbalances can be found in both men and women. A very interesting concept-one maybe worth exploring. Her website is:
And I shared a Lemonade Dessert recipe that will taste great during the heat of summer:
Lemonade Dessert
1 ½ c. all purpose flour
¾ c. packed brown sugar
¾ c. cold butter, cubed
¾ c. chopped pecans
½ gallon vanilla ice cream, softened
1 (12 oz.) frozen pink lemonade concentrate, thawed
In small bowl, combine flour & brown sugar; cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in pecans. Spread in single layer into greased 15x10x1” baking pan. Bake at 375 for 9-12 minutes or until golden brown, stirring once. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes. In large bowl, beat ice cream and lemonade until blended. Sprinkle half of crumbles into greased 9x13” dish. Spread with ice cream mixture; sprinkle with remaining crumbles. Cover and freeze overnight. Remove from freezer 15 minutes before serving. Yield: 12-15.

Tip: to soften ice cream in the refrigerator-transfer from freezer to fridge 20-30 minutes before using. Or let it stand at room temperature for 10-15 minutes. Ice cream can also be softened in the microwave at 30% power for 30 seconds.

Here are some tips for "Low-Fat" grilling:
· Say "NO" to hamburgers and/or hot dogs unless you’re using very lean ground beef (veggie burgers are best) or low fat, low sodium nitrite free turkey dogs
· Light or fat free mayo, mustard, ketchup, steak sauce, hot sauce, pickles and relish are good for condiments.
· Use whole grain buns
· Marinated chicken breasts, halibut, scallops or shrimp are low fat. Salmon is also a good option. Leave skin on the chicken while cooking but remove before eating
· Opt for lean cuts of beef, flank steak, filet mignon, top loin or round steak are good choices. Trim all visible fat before cooking
· Kebabs are delicious and a great way to eat veggies and balance your meat consumption.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Books, Bees and Bugs

"Phrase of Fire" Contest
Piece of the puzzle: #3

Fireside Dinner Theater

Emilie Richards was featured in the "Book Nook" segment today. She is the best-selling author (over 60 books) and was with us today to talk about her newest novel, "FORTUNATE HARBOR"- a powerful book about friendships and how good friends are there to support, encourage and guide us. This book, is the second in her "Happiness Key" trilogy. A great summer read, but also one with depth and a suspensful twist. When you've got friends, anything is possible...For more information you can go to

Who are your best friends? If you haven't talked to them in a while, get on the phone, send an email, or better yet, send a handwritten note!

The bugs and bees are out in full force! Bees, wasps, hornets and yellow jackets can build their nests in trees, bushes, under the eaves or even on the ground. Be careful when walking barefoot! Bees and yellow jackets like sweet things so don't leave open soda cans outside. Honeybees like colored flowers, although they don't like the color red. Red geraniums in your garden or on your porch should be ok.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Dill Plants and Dieting

"Phrase of Fire" Contest
Piece of the Puzzle #2

Hello, I'm Johnny Cash

When is the best time to harvest dill? That was the question posed by a listener on the show the other day. I did a little research and found out that you can harvest dill leaves any time. Dill generally blooms about 8 weeks after sowing. Once the flowers develop, the plant stops producing foiliage. After picking, you can use fresh or store in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks. Dill can also be frozen or dried, for later use and is probably best known for its use in pickles. The seeds are almost always included in pickling spice mixes. However, the leaves can be used to flavor all sorts of foods, like potatoes, breads, salmon and other fish, lamb and many vegetables like peas (pea soup), beets and asparagus.

You might think that cutting out carbohydrates is the best way to lose weight, however, trying to drop all carbs from your diet might actually make it harder to drop pounds. In fact, carbs may be your "secret weapon" if you want to lose weight. The trick is to add the right kind-especially those with "resistant starch"-which is a type of carb that acts like fiber so it helps you feel full. It can also help you lose more abdominal fat and even out your blood sugar levels. Here is a list of "GOOD FOR YOU" carbs:
  • Potatoes-are full of vitamin C, potassium, and resistant starch
  • Beans-are loaded with fibe, protein and resistant starch
  • Pasta-has resistant starch too! Try noodles made with chickpea flour for a fiber bonus
  • Strawberries-have lots of vitamin C, fiber, folate and potassium
  • Beets-are scrumptious when roasted, peeled, and drizzled with olive oil and vinegar and have healthy doses of iron, folic acid and fiber
  • Artichoke hearts-have a rich taste and will give a fiber boost
  • Quinoa-has sub high-protein. Use it for rice or pasta in salads and soups

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sunburn Solutions and S'mores

"Phrase of Fire" Contest
Piece of the Puzzle #1
Come see

Today kicks off our "Phrase of Fire" contest for the Fireside Theater. Be sure to check my blog each day this week, collect the pieces of the puzzle and at the end of the week, assemble all parts of the phrase into the one we are looking for. Email your phrase to with your name, address and phone number. You could be the lucky winner of 2 tickets to see the Johnny Cash show now playing at the Fireside. I've heard it's a terrific production with over 36 of his songs. So keep checking everyday...

Today we talked about solutions for sunburn pain. If you've been out in the sun lately or a family member has a bad sunburn here are a few solutions:

  • Place white vinegar (undiluted) in a bowl. Soak a towel in the vinegar, ring out and place on the affected area until the cloth turns warm. Repeat the procedure until the skin is no longer hot. The vinegar relieves the pain, eliminates the heat and will prevent your skin from blistering. (You can also use vinegar and a cottom ball).
  • Cover the sunburn with "Baby Magic" baby lotion
  • Pop a Vitamin E capsule (or use liquid Vitamin E). Spread over the sunburn for relief and to ward off the chance of infections.
  • Bactine also works. (Remember the distinctive smell of bactine. My mom soothed cuts and sunburns with this product!)

I also shared lots of great dessert recipes for the grill. The open flame is a great way to bring out the sweet flavors of fresh fruit, poundcake, and more for some very tasty treats.

Banana Split S’mores

6 bananas, in the skin ½ c. chocolate chips
½ c. mini marshmallows 6 large graham crackers
Set or light grill to medium heat, or build a small campfire. Make long slit in each banana from end to end, through the skin and down to, but not through, the skin on the other side. Gently push in on either end to open the banana. Divide chocolate chips and mini marshmallows among bananas, pressing with your fingers to fit as much as possible (It’s OK if the banana smushes a bit). Wrap each banana in aluminum foil and place on center of grill or around perimeter of fire. Cook 5 minutes, or until chips and marshmallows are melted and banana is warm. Serve immediately with graham crackers for dipping. Yield: 6 servings. 210 calories, 6g fat, 0mg chol; 3g protein, 42g carbs, 4 g fiber, 5mg sodium.

(You might want to try these tucked inside a banana on the grill; brie or goat cheese, honey, almonds, white chocolate, caramel sauce, dried cranberries, candied ginger, gingersnaps and/or coconut)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Food Safety

How clean is your kitchen?
We spend ALOT of time each day in the kitchen and the kitchen is the busiest germ factory in the house! But you can fight back-here's how:

If you're baking a cake, spill some of the batter with raw egg in it, and don't get it all wiped up, you'l have a "bacterial breeding ground". If you later make a sandwich in the same spot, you could have trouble.
The fix: use a disinfecting wipe or spray after any food prep to kill lingering bacteria. To truly banish the "yucky" stuff-use a product that says it kills 99.9% of germs and bacteria.

Faucet Filter:
If you brush the dirty dishrag against the faucet as you're rinsing it out, bacteria can grow. Lime-scale residue can also build up if you have hard water.
The fix: take out the filter and soak it in white vinegar overnight once a week.

The Cutting Board:
This kitchen staple is used for everything from chopping onions to slicing roast beef.
The fix: Wash the cutting board with hot soapy water and rinse well. Spray board with mixture of 1 teaspoon bleach to 16 oz. of water that you keep in clearly labeled spray bottle. Then rinse the board with hot water or toss it in the dishwasher on high.
The best boards are glass or plastic because they are non-porous and most resistant to germs. Remember to toss your board if it worn, or has lots of knife-cut indentations as they can trap bacteria.

The Dish Towel:
If you rinse pieces of chicken and wipe your hands on the towl before continuing to cook, you could be inviting "salmonella" into your kitchen!
The fix: during food prep with raw meat, use paper towels (not cloth) and then toss them. And wash your hands immediately with soap and water.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Fried Chicken and the Fireside

I am very excited to tell you about a new contest that will begin next Monday, July 12th and run through Friday, July 16th right here on my blog page. Note the "Ring of Fire" logo on the right side of my page. Every day next week, you'll find a photo of Johnny Cash with part of a "phrase". Collect the phrases, unscramble the words in the correct order and submit your entry to Deadline is Monday, July 19th.


I will select one winner from all qualifying entries to win (2) tickets to see the Fireside's production of "Ring of Fire".

Today is "Fried Chicken Day"- with temperatures and humidity levels being what they are, you could almost fry chicken without an oven. IT IS HOT!

But fried chicken is oh so good! My grandma used to make the best oven fried chicken. She would always make up a huge batch for spring and summer family gatherings as well as for each of my siblings graduation parties. (I'll have to check with my Mom, to see if she still has the recipe).

Meanwhile, I did find a good oven baked fried chicken recipe that I shared today (see below). It's less messy than pan frying and features Italian seasoning for extra taste.

Oven Fried Chicken
12 chicken thighs
3 eggs
1 c. all purpose flour
1 c. Italian seasoned bread crumbs
Salt & pepper to taste
1 tsp. paprika
½ c. vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 350°. Place flour in shallow plate or bowl & season with salt & pepper to taste. Place bread crumbs in another shallow plate or bowl & beat eggs in a third bowl. Dredge chicken pieces in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs, until all pieces are coated. Pour oil into 9x13” baking dish. Add chicken and sprinkle with paprika to taste. Bake for 30 minutes; turn chicken pieces and bake for another 30 minutes. Remove from oven; drain on paper towels.