Household Chores You Need To Take Care Of This Spring

Opened window with a green field outdoorSpring is the perfect time of the year to give your house a good, thorough cleaning inside and out. You may have a list of things you do every spring to deep clean your home.

Here are seven chores you may have not thought of doing as part of your spring cleaning inside the home, as well as outside. What are they you ask? Let’s examine.

Inside The House

Dryer

dryer vent fire

Image Credit: Air Duct Cleaners

Dryer vent cleaning can help improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your dryer, as well as safety. How so? An Austin, Texas based company called – Air Duct Cleaners – explains that about 15,500 fires are started every year due to dryer vents being clogged.

Air Duct Cleaners say that a lint clogged dryer vent can cost a home owner an extract $18-24 a month to dry their clothes. A clean duct means shorter drying time, and your dryer lasts longer.

If you find your dryer taking longer than 40 minutes to dry clothes, or the top of your dryer is hot, there is excess lint on your clothing, or your clothes have a musty, moldy smell, then it’s time to clean your vents.

Furnace

If you keep your home fairly clean, then changing the furnace filter every 3 months is a good idea, and also the manufactures recommendation. Changing out your filter regularly will not restrict air flow (as a dirty filter will), and keeps the furnace from over working. A clogged filter that over works the heater can increase the risk of a carbon monoxide leak.

Sump Pump

sump pump in a house basement

Image Credit: Indiana Foundation Service

 

For those who may not know, a sump pump is used to remove accumulated water that has collected in the sump basin, commonly found in homes that have a basement.

The water enters the basement through the perimeter drains of a basement waterproofing system, funneling into the basin from rain water or natural ground water, specially if the basement is below the water table level (Wikipedia).

If you have a basement with a sump pump, spring is a great time to test it to see that it is clean and operates correctly. Make sure as well that the outflow is draining properly.

Battery Check

carbon monoxide detector Most homes now days have either or both a smoke alarm, and a carbon monoxide detector.

Both units use a 9 volt battery, and it should be changed for a new one every spring, even though the battery may have 6 months to a year more life.

Better to change it than have your home burn to the ground, or stop breathing during the night due to a carbon monoxide leak, because of a dead battery.

Outside The House

There are two things you will want to add to your spring cleaning list outside of your home and they include gutter cleaning, and tree limb trimming.

Gutters

You might clean your gutters in the fall season, but doing it in the spring as well, will save you some costly repairs to your home.

Gutters have drains and spouts, and if they are clogged with last years falling leaves, then rain will not be able to freely flow off your roof.

Gutters and Guards Inc. explain that if your gutters are neglected it can fill with debris, like dead leaves, dirt, pollen and even shingle grit. With spring showers you will have water overflowing, which will cause, water leaks, foundation damage, soil erosion, mold and mildew growth, and standing water.

Clean gutters help carry water away from your homes foundation, so there is no costly repairs.

Tree Trimming

Be sure to prune any dead limbs or branches so they do not break off during fierce seasonal winds. Also if a tree that is covering your walk way leading to your door has dead limbs, you have an increased risk of the limb breaking and falling on visitor’s to your home.

What’s For Lunch

While spring cleaning you may get hungry, so here are some great lunch ideas…

Organic BBQ Hot Dogs and Potato Pack

Rotisserie Chicken Baguette Sandwich With Basil

Orange Ginger Pork Meatball Soup found under – Pork – That’s What’s For Breakfast Lunch And Dinner

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Roasted Yams with Cilantro and Lime Juice 

Roasted Yams with Cilantro and Lime Juice 

The softer, orange-fleshed variety of sweet po...

The softer, orange-fleshed variety of sweet potato, commonly referred to as a yam in the United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you know the difference between a yam and a sweet potato? In some parts of North America, including Canada, the yam and sweet potato are enter twinded or in other words people think they are same.

The fact is, they are not. They both are tubers, and that is as far as it goes to being similar.

The yam are monocots related to lilies and grasses. Were as sweet potatoes are related to or we should say the unrelated morning glory family (Wikipedia ).

Yam in a market

Yam in a market (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to About Foods, yams are mostly sold in chunks sealed in plastic wrap, as they can grow up to 7 feet in length and weigh up to 150 pounds. (Home Cooking – About Food).

Better Homes and Garden (BHG) suggests storing yams in a cool dry place. Much like you would do with potatos.

BHG says do not store yams in the refrigerator as they will dry out (BHG).

Before we get on with our featured recipe, here is a link to a pdf file from the University of California on yams and sweet potatoes: LINK HERE.

Our featured recipe is: Roasted Yams with Cilantro and Lime Juice, and here is what you will need.

2 medium yams, washed and diced with skin on

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 to 2 teaspoons dried cumin

1/2 teaspoon Himalayan salt

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Juice of 1/2 lime

diced yams with olive oil in a large bowel Add the oil, cumin, and salt to a large mixing bowel. Mix together, then add died yams and toss to coat.

Roasted Yams with Cilantro and Lime Juice  - close upSpoon yams onto a baking sheet spread out evenly. Place baking sheet into a preheated 425 degree oven, and roast the diced yams for 30 to 40 minutes or until a fork can pierce them, turning once during the roasting process.

Remove from oven and let cool about 5 minutes. Add yams to a serving bowel along with chopped cilantro and lime juice. Mix gently to coat roasted yams.

Eat the dish as is or as a side dish with your favorite meat.

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Organic BBQ Hot Dogs and Potato Pack

BBQ Hotdogs and Potato PackPreparing your Independence Day (July 4th USA) is always done with either a party, picnic, or a cookout, at which you may try to make easy to have in the backyard, at the park or by the water. Here is an easy and fast way to accomplish that, with our featured recipe: Organic BBQ Hot Dogs and Potato Pack.

You can easily prepare these at home before you leave to the park, or beach. For each serving, you steam 9 to 10 mini colored potatoes (about 40 mini potatoes for a serving of 4), just until a fork can insert with no problem.

preparing BBQ Hotdogs and Potato PackNext, using heavy duty foil, cut a piece 12 inches X 18 inches long. Place a cooked uncured organic all beef hot dog in the center, and arrange 9 to 10 of the small  steamed potatoes around the hot dog. For each packet you will add 3 to 4 tablespoons of diced onion (optional), 1/4 to 1/3 cup of  shredded cheese, of your choice, and pour an organic barbecue sauce over the top.

Foil wrapped BBQ Hotdogs and Potato Pack in a BBQ

Fold foil to form a tent around the food, making sure it is closed tight. Place into your ice cooler, until ready to barbecue at the park or beach.

Foil wrapped BBQ Hotdogs and Potato Pack in a BBQ basketHeat your barbecue grill to medium. Now place your foiled tent wraps in a barbecue basket and place on the warm grill. Close the lid and let the food heat through for about 10 to 12 minutes.

BBQ Hotdogs and Potato PackUsing a pair of barbecue tongs, remove the tent wraps and place each on to individual plates. Open the wraps, top with more cheese (optional) and allow to cool, serve and enjoy.

Organic BBQ Hot Dogs and Potato Pack

1 pound organic colored mini potatoes

4 uncured organic beef hot dogs

1/2 cup diced organic white or purple onion

1 cup shredded organic cheese, your choice

1/2 to 1 cup of organic barbecue sauce

Divide potato wedges among four pieces of heavy-duty foil (about 18 in. square). Top each with a hot dog, onion wedges and cheese. Drizzle with barbecue sauce. Fold foil around mixture, sealing tightly.

Grill covered over medium heat 10-12 minutes or until heated through. Using a pair of barbecue tongs, remove from heat to individual plates. Open foil carefully to allow steam to escape. Top with more cheese, if desired.

(Recipe adopted from June/July 2013 Taste of Home Magazine – rearranged to fit our pallet)

 

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Natural Bug Repellents

Natural Bug Repellents

happy romantic couple outdoorsSummer is a time to get outside and enjoy the garden, go to the park, camping, or the beach. We may even choose to put on a swim suit, shorts, or maybe nothing at all (if you’re a practicing nudist) to enjoy the summer warmth and sun.

midge to drink blood from hand of the personBut there is one pesky creature we have to also worry about, the bugs and insects, and most of them like to attach themselves to our skin. Therefore, out comes the bug repellent.

Poisons or chemicals that you would not ordinarily consume, doesn’t make since to apply them to your skin either. Many bug repellents have such non-eatable chemicals.

They may work at repelling bugs, but your skin is absorbing the repellent as well, and your liver is working hard to metabolize the toxins once they pass the epidermis and enter your blood stream.

The question arises, are there natural bug repellents that can work as well as chemical-induced repellents? Yes there is. Let’s examine a few ways you can keep obnoxious insects from invading your home and your body this summer.

 

Natural Bug Repellents and How to Make Them

Fleas

Spray cedar oil on carpets, floors and in your pet’s bedding.  d-Limonene, produced by the citrus industry, can be sprayed safely to prevent fleas.

Man with his dogWhat about your best friend, the dog that is? They can also be invaded by fleas, which can in turn be bothersome for you.

Try diatomaceous earth or powdered pyrethrum (purchased at any natural foods and herbal store) and sprinkle on your pet’s clean bedding and carpets in your home.

Herbal extracts such as rosemary, citronella, wormwood and pennyroyal are all natural treatments to repel fleas as well.

Mosquitoes

Marigolds, an annual flower are great at repelling mosquitoes. Plant them in around your garden and the areas were you sit, like the deck or patio.

Clove oil is effective against mosquitoes, but use sparingly as it may irritate the skin. Citronella (rose geranium), eucalyptus, peppermint, lavender and cedar oil are some of the most common insect repellents.

Flies

 Citronella can be diluted in oil, such as almond oil, and can be rubbed on the skin to keep almost any flying insects away. Eating herbs like basil, and mint on a regular basis will repel flies. Your skin will ooze the odor of the herbs which the flies do not like. Tansy as well as the smell of pennyroyal oil will keep flies away.

You can also use coconut oil to dilute the citronella, and hit two birds with one stone as they say:

  1. Repel the insects
  2. Retain the Moister of Your Skin and Make it More Youthful

Lemon and limes with cloves - natural insect repellent If your out in the yard enjoying family and friends with a meal, camping, picnicking at the beach or park you can naturally repel bugs and insects with lemon or lime slices stabbed with cloves.

All bugs and insects do not like the odor of cloves, it might be for the the oil it contains, which is eugenol oil, also found in cinnamon, basil, and bay leaves.

spray bottle Any of the natural herbal extracts noted in this article can be used in the following fashion.

Using a spray bottle, add an organic liquid detergent mixed with white wine vinegar and the plant extracts, like eucalyptus, lavender or tea tree oil, and any of the others noted above, and apply to skin.

Try some of these homemade natural bug repellents to repel bugs and insects before purchasing the extremely harmful products that contain poisonous chemicals that can only harm your health and the environment.

 

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Remembering With A BBQ On Memorial Day

Remembering With A BBQ On Memorial Day

In the northern hemisphere summer officially starts the 20th or 21st of June until the first day of the autumn equinox. But for many in the USA Memorial Day kicks off the summer for many, if not for all residence.

History notes that the first Memorial Day June 3, 1861 in Warrenton, Virginia. The first widely-publicized observance of a Memorial Day-type observance after the Civil War, was in Charleston, South Carolina, on May 1, 1865. In that same year, 1865 the federal government began creating national military cemeteries for those who died and were enlisted in the Union Army.

decorating grave site with flowers

May 30th was the official chosen date to celebrate the fallen war veterans, and as the custom was and is to decorate the grave sites with flowers, in 2010 Barack Obama stated that May 30th was selected as an appropriate date to memorialize all who have died while in the armed forces, as it coincides with the time when flowers are in bloom.

Flaming Empty BBQ Grill Many will stay at home, fly or drive to visit loved ones and friends or maybe go to a national park this Memorial Day weekend.

It’s only appropriate to get the grill fired up, as you can’t come together for good conversation and remembering times past without a good plate of food in your hand.

Here at Splendid Recipes and More, we have a few recipe suggestions to BBQ on your grill.

Bacon Wrapped Garlic Lemon Stuffed Chicken Breast

Bacon Wrapped Garlic Lemon Stuffed Chicken Breast

This recipe is baked in the oven, but can be BBQ on the grill.

Just heat your grill, closing the lid to contain the heat.

Place the bacon wrapped chicken breast in an aluminum container and place that on the heated grill.

Keep in mind the meat will cook faster on the BBQ grill than in your electric oven.

 BBQ Garlic Lemon Vegetable Platter

BBQ Garlic Lemon Vegetable PlatterIf your planing a trip to the park to BBQ, just cut the vegetables ahead of time at home, as well as prepare the dipping sauce.

 Mediterranean BBQ Chicken

Mediterranean BBQ Chicken and a side of Garlic Lemon Vegetables

 BBQ Beef and Sweet Pepper Fajitas

BBQ Beef and Sweet Pepper Fajitas

You can also make some tacos on the grill with Mexican Marinated Steak Fajitas

Marinated Steak Fajitas

 

If you don’t have a menu planned yet, we hope you enjoy these selections as part of your Memorial Day BBQ? If you have a planned menu for your BBQ, share it with us in the comment section below.

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BBQ Garlic Lemon Vegetable Platter

BBQ Garlic Lemon Vegetable Platter

BBQ Garlic Lemon Vegetable Platter

If only we could include the smell, of those vegetables barbecuing. You’ll just have to prepare this featured recipe to enjoy that smell.

Grilling vegetables is really easy and a lot of fun. Barbecuing gets you outside to enjoy fresh air. Put on a little music and enjoy the view of your garden. If you bbq in the sun, you’re getting your daily dose of vitamin-D as well.

The general rule to BBQ your vegetables is to cut them into pieces that will cook quickly and evenly. All the cut pieces should be of consistent thickness and no more than about 3/4 to 1 inch thick. Most will soak their cut vegetables in cold water for about 30 minutes before grilling them to keep them from drying out.

BBQ vegetables are meant for entertaining, and grilling them brings out their natural sweetness, and the the seasoning mix or marinade adds a real punch of flavor your palate is sure to enjoy every time.

Let’s get started with our featured recipe: BBQ Garlic Lemon Vegetable Platter with a Avocado Greek Yogurt Dipping Sauce. This vegetable platter makes for a great appetizer to keep your guests happily waiting while you finish up the main course.

Avocado vinaigrette and Garlic Lemon seasoningHere is what you will need.

1/2 pound green beans, fresh, trimmed

1 medium sweet potato, cut french fry style, 1 inch thick (option to remove or leave peel on)

1 each red, yellow, purple carrots, medium size, cut into strips, 1 inch thick (option to remove or leave peel on)

2 teaspoons garlic lemon seasoning (we purchased the seasoning at Whole Foods Market)

1/8 to 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 to 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Dipping Sauce

1/2 cup of Cindy’s Kitchen “Fresh Avocado Vinaigrette” (purchased at Whole Foods Market)

4 or 5 tablespoons greek yogurt, with full fat

Seasoned Vegetables for BBQ Garlic Lemon Vegetable PlatterLine your BBQ grill with some aluminum foil, put grill into place, and heat the grill with your favorite method (chips, charcoal, or gas). While waiting for grill to heat, in a large mixing bowl add the oil, vinegar, and seasoning. Next add the cut vegetables and mix until well coated.

After preparing the vegetables (no we did not soak them in water, as the grill is foil lined they are not exposed to the flame) spread out the season coated vegetables onto the hot grill, then turn down fire (if using gas).

Grill the vegetables, turning occasionally, for about 7 to 8 minutes (if using gas). Do not overcook, as the vegetables can dry out, and will become flimsy, which you do not want. You want your vegetables cooked, but still firm and with some crunch.

Remove BBQ vegetables to a plate, and set aside to cool some while preparing the dipping sauce.

BBQ Garlic Lemon Vegetable Platter -close upTo a medium mixing bowl, add the avocado vinaigrette and greek yogurt, and mix until well blended. pour into a smaller bowl that will fit in the middle of a round platter with vegetables arranged around it.

Serve this prepared platter as a side dish or an appetizer to entertain your guests as they arrive, or even put it on your Sunday Brunch menu.

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Quick and Easy BBQ Recipes The Whole Family Will Love

Quick and Easy BBQ Recipes The Whole Family Will Love

Quick and Easy BBQ Recipes The Whole Family Will Love

Just hearing the word barbecue can make one think of a social gathering about to take place, either in your backyard, in the mountains, at the beach, at a friends place, or at the park. Where there is a barbecue, there is always food served.

friends make barbecueBarbecuing is most always outdoors, and either in the late afternoon or evening, and most of the time on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

Have you ever wondered about the term BBQ or barbecued? Well, this term is used in two ways, as an adjective that refers to this method of  cooking the food, and secondly used as a verb for the act of cooking the food.

Barbecuing food is cooked either using wood chips, charcoal, or propane gas, and there are many different regional variations depending where you are at in the world.

History Of Barbecuing

Most literature on the history of barbecuing points to Haiti as the origin. Some historians on barbecuing write that when the Spaniards who arrived after Columbus (who landed in North America in 1492) a few years later, found the Haitian people roasting animal meat over a raised wooden framework. The fire was built underneath, and the flames and smoke would rise and envelop the meat.

It is also written that Spanish explorers, Gonzalo Fernández De Oviedo y Valdés, were the first to use the word “barbecoa” in print in Spain in 1526. Barbecoa is the Spanish word for Barbecue in English.

As we noted earlier, barbecuing is used as a verb, and the Oxford English Dictionary cites the first recorded use of the word in the English language as a verb in 1661.

BBQ as a Sport

Barbecuing really isn’t a sport, but it is has permeated all of society and is a tradition in much of the world. There are BBQ competitions held yearsly, and almost all competition grillers use charcoal, most often in large, custom designed brick or steel grills.

Barbecue competitions are held in just about every state in the United States during the warmer months, from April through September. These competitive events feature competitions between teams of cooks and are divided into separate competitions, best BBQ pork, beef, chicken, and including the best barbecue sauces.

Here at Splendid Recipes and More, we are not competitive when it comes to barbecuing, we are just happy that the method was ever invited.

Here are some very simple and easy recipes for barbecuing beef and chicken.

The first one is -Mediterranean BBQ Chicken

basting and BBQ the chicken

To a small boil add about 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil and about 1/8 cup Mirin (a sweet rice cooking wine).

To the bowl add:

1/2 teaspoon himalayan salt

1 teaspoon dried minced garlic

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

Mix spices, mirin, and oil until well incorporated.

Place 1 pound of chicken breasts (about 4) onto a heated foil prepared barbecue (your choice to use wood chips, charcoal or propane).

Next bast each chicken breast with spice mixture, turn breasts and bast the other side. Turn chicken about every 6 to 8 minutes so meat cooks evenly. No need to bast continuously, as the foil protects the meat juices and spices from falling through the grill.

foil tented vegetables on a barbecue

We also have a foil tent of mixed vegetables (you can use what ever type of vegetable you like), this is a great way to utilize the heat from the barbeque without using your kitchen stove top, and possibly warming the house up on a hot day.

mixing in spices and oil

We added about 2 or 3 tablespoons of avocado oil with 1 teaspoon of garlic lemon seasoning, that we purchased at the Whole Foods Market. Cook vegetables until done.

vegetables are being kept warm while meat finishes barbecuing

If the vegetables do finish before the meat is cooked, just leave them in their foiled tent and place them into a cover dish to keep them warm.

Mediterranean BBQ Chicken and a side of Garlic Lemon Vegetables

When everything is cooked and ready to eat…

Plated Mediterranean BBQ Chicken and a side of Garlic Lemon Vegetables and a salad

just plate and enjoy.

Now for our second simple and easy barbecue recipe – BBQ Beef and Sweet Pepper Fajitas –

meat and sweet peppers prepared

Prepare 1 or 2 pounds of carne para asar or carne asada, as it is called in Spanish. It is thin (very thin, less than 1/4 inch thick) cuts of sirloin, which can be found in most meat markets or the meat section of your favorit market to shop for food. Prepare the meat by cutting away any fat, and cutting meat into 1 and half inch long strips by about 1 inch wide. Seed about 7 or 8 sweet mini peppers (use yellow, orange, and red), cut them into strips about 1/2 inch wide.

spices that can be used for making fajitas

Now for the seasoning we had two choices in our spice cupboard. A Mayan Coffee Rub, and a Caribbean Rub, both purchased at the whole foods Market. We used the Caribbean Rub, and how fitting considering the history of barbequing started in Haiti, which is in the Caribbean.

Place 1 tablespoon of Caribbean rub spices into a large mixing bowl with 1/4 cup avocado oil, and a small amount of balsamic vinegar (about 1/2 teaspoon). Mix the liquids and spices together.

adding meat and peppers to oil spice mix

Next add the meat and sweet peppers and mix till well coated. Let set, and fire up the barbeque. Line a piece of tin foil to fit your grill.

Barbecuing Beef strips and Sweet Peppers

When the barbeque is heated, add the meat mixture and cook until done, turning about every 5 or 8 minutes.

BBQ Beef and Sweet Pepper Fajitas

When the meat mix is cooked remove to a platter and serve.

juices of cooked meat and peppers

Because we foil lined the grill, look at the juices that did not trip through. After placing cooked meat mixture onto a platter, pour those juices over the -BBQ Beef and Sweet Pepper Fajitas –

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