Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spring Cleaning Checklist - Kitchen

This is the first of several posts I will create each week that will focus on cleaning one room of your house. The kitchen is the most used room in The Good House, hands down. I like to start my spring cleaning with this room just to get the hardest out of the way first. All the other rooms are a breeze after this.

My trick for any whole room cleaning is to start at the top and work your way down. I try to do my spring cleaning on days that are sunny but a bit cool, so I can open the windows to air out the house, but the chill will keep me from overheating and work a little faster.

I also like to turn the on the 80s radio station and rock out while I clean, but Bon Jovi is optional.


~Dust ceiling and corners of walls

~Dust and clean the ceiling fan

~Wipe down walls, minding spots behind the stove and counter top appliances

~Remove and clean all art and photographs from wall

~Remove all draperies, curtains, and blinds and wash or have cleaned

~Wash all windows

~Dust and clean the tops of the cabinets

~Clean the inside of the oven

~Remove knobs, burners, and burner covers and wash

~Clean the fridge

~Wipe down and clean the small appliances

~Wipe off the shelves inside the cabinets

~Dust and polish the outside of the cabinets

~Wipe down and clean out any drawers

~Clean the switch plates

~Dust and polish the outside of the drawers

~Clean the dishwasher by running an empty cycle

~Wash the counter tops in your kitchen

~Wash the sink

~Clean the outlet covers

~Dust and wash the baseboards

~Sweep and mop the floors

~Empty and wash out the trash can

How to clean your fridge

To do daily to decrease overall cleaning:
~Clean any spills immediately

~Check for any expired food and discard bad items

~Place anything likely to drip or leak on a plate

Spring Cleaning Checklist:
~Turn off the power

~Remove all food and put in deep freezer or cooler

~Remove shelves and crisper drawers. If shelves are glass, bring to room temperature before you wash them so they don't crack.

~Wipe the interior with a solution of 2 tablespoons baking soda and 1 quart hot water. Rinse and wipe dry. Be careful when using soap since it can leave behind fragrance, which will be absorbed by food.

~Wash shelves and bins in same solution. Wipe dry and replace.

~Clean the door seals with hot water and liquid soap; dry thoroughly with a clean cloth. Check the seals periodically.

~Clean the drip pan or tray, if your refrigerator has one. Check your manual for location and cleaning tips.

~Vacuum under fridge and base grill

How to clean your small appliances

How to clean small appliances:

Toaster Oven

Remove racks; wash them in warm, soapy water. Scrub the interior with a nylon scrubber and a mild abrasive. Wipe outside with a damp cloth

Garbage Disposal
Run ice cubes and lemon or orange peels through it to clean the blades and give your sink a fresh smell

Wash carafe and wipe down outside of the machine.

To remove mineral deposits: Pour equal parts white vinegar and water into the tank. With the carafe in, run the machine for half a cycle, then turn off. After an hour or so, turn it back on and finish the cycle. Run two or three cycles with fresh water before brewing coffee.

Deep Freezer
Turn off power and allow to defrost. Wipe down interior with a solution of 2 tablespoons baking soda and 1 quart hot water. Rinse and wipe dry.

Wash racks by hand. Mix 1/4 cup salt, 3/4 cup baking soda, and 1/4 cup water into a paste. Brush on, avoiding metal coils and let sit overnight; remove mixture using a putty knife. Wipe with clean with a sponge.

Microwave Oven
Wipe stains with warm, soapy water; rinse. For baked on messes, heat a glass of water in the microwave on high for two to three minutes or until boiling; let stand with door closed for five minutes for steam to loosen the food and then wipe interior.

Electric burners: Wipe food off burners when they are cold. If food remains, open windows, turn burners to high, and let the food smoke off. Scrub the burner pans with an equal mixture of baking soda, salt and soap and scrub with a metal scrub brush.

Gas burners: Always wash porcelain-coated stove-top pans and grates by hand.

How to clean:
Cutting board
After every use clean both sides with a damp cloth and antibacterial soap. Rinse with hot water and allow it to dry in an upright position. Every few weeks, use a heavy sprinkle of coarse salt on the board and rub it with a sliced lemon. Rinse well with hot water.

If you have a butcher block cutting board, you'll need to oil it about once a month. Heat a small amount of mineral oil in a pan and apply it to the wood with the grain. Allow the wood to soak up the oil and continue applying until the wood stops absorbing the oil. Wipe off any excess and allow the board to dry overnight.

Place sterling or plated silver in an aluminum pan (it has to be aluminum for the chemical reaction to work) and sprinkle 1/2 to 1 cup baking soda over the silverware. Pour enough boiling water to cover the utensils. When the tarnish disappears, remove the silverware and buff with a soft cotton cloth.

Spice Grinder
After every few uses process soft, fresh white bread through the grinder to soak up and oil and spices left behind.

Cast Iron
Scrub it with coarse salt and a soft sponge. Never use soap on cast iron.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Complete Spring Cleaning Guide coming soon!

I am working on a complete Spring Cleaning guide, organized by every room in the house. I will try and post one room a week for the months of April and May.

I've got Spring Cleaning Fever!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Oatmeal Scones

As part of our St. Patrick's Day breakfast for dinner, I decided to make oatmeal scones. These were actually part of the St. Patty's Day Brunch Menu from Epicurious, so I have to credit them with the inspiration.

This was the second time I have made scones and honestly, I think I will make them more often since they are super quick and easy to make and they are great with coffee in the morning.

The oats gave the scones a soft, nutty flavor and a slightly crumbly texture. I served these with soft honey butter.

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar plus additional for sprinkling
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces
Finely grated zest from 1 large navel orange
2/3 cup well-shaken buttermilk plus additional for brushing

~Preheat oven to 425ºF.

~Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, and salt into a food processor, then add oats and pulse 15 times. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with small (pea-size) lumps, then transfer to a bowl.

~Stir together zest and buttermilk and add to oat mixture, stirring with a fork just until a dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead 6 times.

~Pat dough into a 1-inch-thick round, dusting surface with more flour if necessary. Cut out as many scones as possible with cutter, dipping it in flour before each cut, and transfer scones to a lightly buttered large baking sheet. Gather scraps into a ball, then pat into a round and cut out more scones in same manner.

~Brush tops of scones with buttermilk and sprinkle lightly with sugar. Bake in middle of oven until golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes, and transfer to a rack.

~Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe from :Epicurious

Corned Beef Hash

There are some things I am weird about, foodwise. I can't eat foods with names I think are funny (Baba Ghanoush, succotash) and for the longest time I wouldn't eat corned beef because even when it was cooked, it was still pink. But I have since changed my ways after having a few Rebuens. So I was excited this year to actually make corned beef for the first time.

Now, I did cheat a bit and bought beef brisket that was already corned, so I just had to cook it, but I still added some extra pickling spices to the meat to make it extra flavorful. I mean, who are they kidding with the scant half tablespoon of spices that comes with the corned beef brisket?

Now, just because I like Rubens, doesn't mean I really wanted corned beef and cabbage. So I decided to make breakfast for dinner on St. Patrick's Day so we had corned beef hash.

The Good Husband really liked this hash and honestly, it was the first time I had made hash. Considering that TGH usually eats his fried eggs and 'taters together, I am not surprised he liked the meat in with it.

1 pound russet potatoes
1 large onion, diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 cup beef broth
2 tablespoons horseradish
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 pounds cooked corned beef, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
fried eggs as an accompaniment


~Peel potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch dice. Add potatoes to a large saucepan of boiling water and boil 6 minutes, or until just tender. Drain.

~In a large non-stick skillet cook onion and garlic in butter over moderate heat, stirring, until onion is golden.

~Add bell pepper and cook, stirring, 5 minutes. Sprinkle flour over mixture and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Stir in broth, horseradish, and Worcestershire sauce and simmer, stirring, 2 minutes. Add corned beef, potatoes, and salt and pepper to taste and cook over moderate heat, turning hash, until browned and crisp, about 15 minutes.

~Serve hash with fried eggs.

recipe from:Epicurious

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Philly Cheese Steak

The Good Husband is a picky eater. He used to only eat burgers and fries and nothing else. Then he was introduced to a Philly Cheese Steak and now that is his go-to dinner. If any place has it on the menu, TGH will order it.

I should make a very important distinction here. TGH has never been to Philly and has never had a real Cheese Steak. He has only had Cheese Steaks from Midwest kitchens. I have only been east of Indiana once and that was to go to the beach, so I haven't had a real Cheese Steak either.

So I don't want to offend anyone that has had and knows how to make an authentic Cheese Steak with this recipe of a fake Cheese Steak. This is the kind of Cheese Steak you will get from a Midwest kitchen for someone who has never had a real Cheese Steak, made by someone who has never had a real Cheese Steak.

But, hey, it tastes as good as the ones from the state fair.

2 lbs rib eye, sliced thin
2 green bell peppers, sliced thin
1 large onion, sliced thin
Canola oil
Hoogie Rolls
Sliced Provolone Cheese

~Place meat in freezer for 20 minutes to allow the meat to firm. This will make slicing easier. After 20 minutes, remove from freezer and cut as thin as possible on a bias. Slice onion and peppers.

~On a very hot griddle, heat a few tablespoons of oil. Sautee the onions and peppers until soft and golden brown. Remove the onions and peppers and add the meat, cooking until no longer pink. Add the onions and peppers back to the griddle to heat through.

~Split the hoogie rolls and spoon in a generous helping of meat, onions and peppers. Place 2 slices of Provolone cheese on top and melt until a broiler for a few minutes until cheese is melted. Serve warm.

As you can see from the recipe that I make a ton of the filling. I like to freeze whatever I don't use, along with several slices of cheese, so that on nights when I don't feel like cooking, I can throw the mixture on the griddle and have dinner in a few minutes. You can freeze the rolls too, but I need my freezer space, so I usually just pick those up fresh.

recipe by: The Good Wife