How To Use Household Cleaners With Safety

Shelves in pantry with cleaners for home close-up - household cleanersToday’s household cleaning products not only make life easier, they are said to make it a lot healthier, as well. Whatever the cleaning challenge, you can probably find a product that’s perfectly suited to getting the job done right.

Cleaning and killing germs are serious business, plus the medical community agrees that cleanliness practices — such as regular hand washing and keeping your living area clean, are key in reducing the spread of infectious diseases.

Today many individuals, like us here at Splendid Recipes and More have turned to cleaning products that have been labeled “Green,” meaning their products that are environmentally friendly to the earth, as well as the one using the product.

Using Household Cleaners With Safely

But what if you the reader hasn’t decided yet to give up traditional cleaning products as of yet, like all-purpose cleaners, ammonia, bleach, and toilet bowl cleaners, among many others, are you cautious when using them?

The following information are reminders for cautious cleaning when using such cleaning products.

all-purpose cleaner - household cleanersAll-Purpose Cleaner

Some commonly purchased all-purpose cleaners include:

These type of products are designed for diverse in home tasks.

The FDA recommends not using such cleaners that contain antibacterial properties, like dimethyl benzyl ammonium, which is an organic salt (note: not all salts are inorganic like NaCl), composed of the (negative) anion Chloride (Cl-) and an organic (positive) cation, dimethyl ethyl benzyl ammonium ion (Yahoo Answers).

The FDA says that cleaning products with antibacterial agents can actually help create forms of bacteria that are much harder to kill or disinfect.

The Journal Antimicrobial Chemotherapy published a study in 2008 on the use of antibacterial consumer products containing ammonium compounds and drug resistance in the community.

The researchers reported that after 1 year of assigned product usage, were one group used cleaning products with ammonium compounds and triclosan, were as the other group received cleaning products without antibacterial agents – and found that the group using ammonium compounds and including triclosan made bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli resistant to one or more antibiotics.

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The More You Know

Antibacterial Cleaners: Can They Do More Harm Than Good?

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Ammonia

ammonia - household cleanersTrace quantities of ammonia are found in the earth’s atmosphere, which is produced by the decaying process of nitrogenous animals and vegetable matter. Ammonia and ammonium salts are also found in rainwater but in small quantities.

The global industrial production of ammonia in 2014 was 176,300,000 tonnes,  a 16% increase over the 2006 global industrial production 152,000,000 tonnes (Waste Disposal Professionals).

Ammonia can cut grease, but so can many other cleaners. If you use this solution for doing so, it is best to dilute it with 8 parts water to 1 part ammonia. When mixing, always add the water to the ammonia, and not the other way around.

When working with ammonia wear gloves and in a ventilated area. The solution though found in nature, can cause blindness if splashed into the eyes. It may be best to wear eye coverings when using it.

CAUTION: Never mix ammonia with bleach. If you do, it will cause a vapor that will immediately cut off your breathing as the vapor enters your lungs. If you pass out, CPR will not revive you.

Bleach

clorox bleach - household cleanersBleach is a powerful bacteria killer. It is best for use to wipe away mildew or cleaning the kitchen surface after preparing raw meats.

CAUTION: Be careful not to mix bleach with toilet-bowl cleaners or ammonia.

Always wear gloves and work in a ventilated area to protect yourself when cleaning with bleach.

Glass Cleaner

windex - household cleaners

The name speaks for itself, as glass cleaner is used to clean glass and windows.

It is best not to use full strength ammonia-based window cleaners.

Test performed by Consumer Reports noted that you can dilute glass cleaners and still get your windows and glass clean.

Toilet-Bowl Cleaner

These cleaners are used to not only clean, but also disinfect your toilet. A word of Caution from the American Association of Poison Control Centers, corrosive toilet-bowl cleaners are top on the list as the most dangerous toxic cleaning solution found in homes.

It is recommended to only use such toilet-bowl cleaners when you really need them for rust and stains.

Toilet-Bowl Cleaner - Household cleanersKeep in mind that there is no US law that requires manufacturers of cleaning products to list ingredients on their labels or to test their products for safety.

It is also estimated that the average US home contains anywhere from 3 to 25 gallons of toxic materials, most of which are in cleaners.

Labels of household cleaners that contain the words,  DANGER, WARNING and POISON give only a general idea about the seriousness of the substances a product contains. In fact, a New York Poison Control Center study found that 85% of product warning labels are inadequate (GAIAM Life).

These are household cleaners that contain the words DANGER, WARNING and POISON:

  • Drain cleaners
  • Oven cleaners
  • Laundry detergents
  • Glass cleaners
  • Floor and furniture polish

The take away of this article should be to use caution and safety when using traditional household cleaners.

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Mexican Squash Pasta with Chorizo Meat Sauce

Mexican Squash Pasta with Chorizo Meat Sauce

All squash varieties are members of the Curcurbita family. They come in varying colors, textures, shapes, sizes, and a range of flavors.

The three main categories of the Curcurbita family are:
Curcurbita pepo– include but not limited too zucchini, summer squashes, acorn, and spaghetti squash
Curcurbita maxima– includes but not limited too: banana squash, and pumpkin
Curcurbita moschata– includes but not limited too: butternut squash, and calabaza

Squash is a low carbohydrate food, including a low glycemic index food, between 0 and 35. The low number indicates no spiking of insulin in the blood stream. Most squash have small amounts of vitamins A, C, E and K, and including the B-vitamins. They also contain trace minerals including iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and copper.

Squash is great for heart health and every muscle of the body. Magnesium is great to help the muscles relax, preventing what is called charlie-horse or cramping of the muscles.

As for potassium, one half cup serving of Grey Squash as an example has 603 mg, raw zucchini has 459 mg, cooked has 194 mg, and baked Butternut squash has 289 mg.

Mexican Grey SquashThe squash we are using in our featured recipe is a hybrid of the zucchini squash, and is referred to in Mexico as the Mexican squash or the grey squash.

The grey squash has the same texture and flavor as the zucchini. Unlike the zucchini when harvested at a larger size, the grey squash tends to still have a tender skin.

Now for our featured recipe: Mexican Squash Pasta with Chorizo Meat Sauce. The recipe is simple and easy, as it contains 3 ingredients as follows…

principle ingredients for Mexican Squash Pasta with Chorizo Meat SauceYou can use any type of spaghetti sauce, but we chose to use a tomato base with cream and vodka included, 2 cups.

One pound of organic pork chorizo, which we purchased on sale at the Whole Foods Market, and 3 Mexican squash, which will make about 2 to 3 servings. Here we have a larger harvested Mexican squash given to us from a friends organic home garden.

makng squash pasta with a julienne peelerUsing a julienne peeler, run it from top to bottom all around the squash until you arrive to the seeds in the center. Set the squash pasta aside.

Pork ChorizoHeat a large ceramic coated skillet over medium heat, add a tablespoon of pastured unsalted butter, and when melted add the pork, and cook until done, about 10 minutes. remove from heat, and set aside.

cooking squash pasta in skillet In a large ceramic coated skillet over medium heat, add 4 tablespoons of olive oil. When heated, add the stringed squash and cook for about 5 minutes. You want the oil to cling to the squash strings. If the oil clings then in turn the spaghetti sauce will cling to the squash pasta. Do not over cook the squash, you want a little crunch, and at the same time you want a fork to twirl it, the same as is done with traditional pasta.

sauce and chorizoRemove skillet from heat and transfer squash past to a serving platter. Return the skillet to the heat and add the spaghetti sauce and cooked pork chorizo, and mix together. Allow the heat to warm the meat sauce.

Mexican Squash Pasta with Chorizo Meat Sauce - 2

Remove meat sauce from heat and pour it over the squash pasta arranged on a serving platter. Serve with grated Italian cheese, and enjoy.

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Bacon Wrapped Garlic Lemon Stuffed Chicken Breast

Bacon Wrapped Garlic Lemon Stuffed Chicken BreastThe website Yummy, features about 136 different ways to prepare a Boneless Chicken Breast Wrap. Our featured recipe consists cutting the chicken breasts horizontally and rolling them up with a garlic lemon cream cheese filling and wrapped with a non-cured pork shoulder bacon for a rich and savory dish.

organic garlic lemon seasoningThe garlic lemon is a seasoning we purchased at the Whole Foods Market, and it was a worth while purchase as it added splendid flavor to the dish.

chopped green onionsTo move things along in the preparation of the ingredients, such as the green onions, we used kitchen shears.

The photo at the start of the post looks to mouth watering, lip smacking good to write more about stuffing a chicken breast, so let’s get to cooking.

Here is what you will need for our Bacon Wrapped Garlic Lemon Stuffed Chicken Breast

2 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless, cut horizontally

1 pound cream cheese, room temperature

3 green onions, chopped

1 tablespoon garlic lemon seasoning

12 pieces bacon, partially cooked

Several tooth picks

Heat oven to 375 degrees

green onion garlic lemon cream cheese mixPrepare chicken breast by cutting each breast horizontally into two pieces, and set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl cream the cheese and add the chopped green onions and garlic lemon seasoning. Set aside.

partially cooked pork shoulder baconIn a large ceramic coated frying pan partially cook the bacon over medium heat.  Set aside in a separate plate.

chicken breast spread with cream cheese  Spread a layer of cream cheese mixture over one side of each breast section, but not to thick. Roll chicken breast up to conceal cream cheese, and secure with toothpicks.

prepared Bacon Wrapped Garlic Lemon Stuffed Chicken Breast for bakingRap two pieces of bacon diagonally and keep in place with toothpicks. Rap one piece of bacon long ways or horizontally and keep in place with toothpicks.

Place all four bacon wrapped chicken breasts into a medium sized glass baking pan. Place pan into heated oven and bake for 30 minutes. Place under broiler for 5 minutes to crisp bacon.

Plated Bacon Wrapped Garlic Lemon Stuffed Chicken BreastPlate and serve.

Green Beans with Coconut and PecansThe side dish is a Green Bean with Coconut and Pecans. Here is what you will need.

3 cups of fresh green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 tablespoon of coconut butter

1/2 cup pecan pieces

1/4 cup dried shredded coconut

Steam cut green beans. Add steamed beans and coconut butter to a serving bowl, and mix till beans are well coated with the butter. Next add dried coconut and pecans and mix in. Enjoy.

 

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Beat the Summer Heat with Crock Pot Cooking

Beat the Summer Heat with Crock Pot Cooking

As the weather outside warms up, the kitchen can be a terrible place to be. There are many things you can do however, when it comes to cooking a nice homemade meal that doesn’t require traditional stove top or oven cooking.

Learn to utilize some of the lesser heat producing equipment in your kitchen, such as the crock pot, in order to truly beat the summer heat and keep your cool while preparing a nice hot meal for friends and family.

How does crock pot cooking really help beat the heat? Simply put, the crock pot in and of itself puts off far less heat when cooking than an oven or stove top. This is the first and possibly the best reason to utilize the crock pot in your summer meal planning.

You should also consider the fact that using a crock pot to cook with will not heat the house and therefore preventing your air conditioning (or other cooling methods) from working overtime in order to compensate for the additional heat that other cooking methods introduce.

This makes crock pot cooking a win-win situation as the costs involved in operating a crock pot are far less than the costs involved in operating a stove or oven in general. Whether electric or gas, your stove and oven are often serious energy hogs. Add to that the fact that you are not raising the temperature in your home by traditional means of cooking and you are using even less electricity.

Unfortunately, the general consensus has been that crock pots are meant for comfort foods and hearty winter meals. The truth is that the crock pot should be one of your best loved and most often utilized cooking methods if you can manage it.

When it comes to cooking with a crock pot, the options are almost limitless. Almost anything that can be baked can be made in the crock pot. That includes many wonderful, enticing meals and treats.

Benefits of Crock Pot Cooking

In addition to the cost benefits mentioned above when it comes to crock pot cooking there are many other benefits that are well worth mentioning.

First of all, the bulk of the work involved in crock pot cooking takes place early in the day when you are refreshed rather than at the end of a hectic work or play day. This means that you are less likely to forget an ingredient or make other mistakes that often occur as we hurry to prepare a dinner when we are exhausted from the activities of our day.

Second, many great crock pot recipes include the vegetables that insure we are getting the nutrients we need. So often, when preparing a meal at the last minute, we may open a can of vegetables (in most cases canned vegetables have little to no nutritional value) in favor of expedience. Crock pot cooking in many instances is a meal in one dish.

Another great reason to use a crock pot for your summertime cooking is the ease of clean up. Unlike pots and pans, most crock pot meals are made in one dish. This means that there will not be mountains of dishes to be either hand washed or loaded into the dishwasher afterwards.

You can spend less time cleaning just as you spent less time slaving over a hot stove. Once cleanup is complete you can get back to enjoying the sun set, chasing the lightening bugs with your little ones, or waiting for the first star.

While there will never be a one size fits all best cooking method, crock pot cooking comes very close. If you have a crock pot collecting dust somewhere in the back of your pantry it is time to get it out, dust if off, and dig up some great summertime crock pot cooking recipes.

Here’s a great article we posted on the safety of crock pot cooking: Slow Cooking, Is it Safe?

 

Header Image credit: Restore Community Center

 

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Blue Cheese and Apricot Crostini

Blue Cheese and Apricot Crostini

 

Crostini is a popular Italian appetizer that features thin slices of toasted bread served plain or topped with a wide range of  toppings.

What you will need is simple really, one loaf of  multi-grain baguette and extra virgin olive oil. The toppings I used are blue cheese, apricot jam, purple grapes and parsley.

6 oz. container of blue cheese

1 cup apricot jam

1/4 cup of purple grapes or about a hand full, slicing grapes in half

4 sprigs of parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Slice the baguette into ¼-inch slices and arrange on a baking sheet. Brush each slice with olive oil and toast in the preheated oven until golden brown.  You may need to turn the baking sheet or flip the slices to get uniform results.

close-up of Blue Cheese and Apricot Crostini Remove from oven and top with chunks of blue cheese, apricot jam, grape slices and chopped parsley.

Other topping choices you have are:

 Gorgonzola, Walnuts & Honey

6 oz. Gorgonzola cheese

¼ cup walnuts, chopped

Honey for drizzling

Divide Gorgonzola and chopped walnuts among toasted bread slices. Put back in the oven at 350˚ until the cheese melts, approximately 1 – 2 minutes. Drizzle each crostini with a small amount of honey.

You could substitute nuts for pecans and gorgonzola for goat cheese.

 

White Beans with Sage

3 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 (15 oz.) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

3 tablespoons really good extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for drizzling

Salt and pepper, to taste

¼ cup fresh sage, washed and finely chopped

Add garlic, cannellini beans, lemon juice and olive oil to food processor and pulse until mixture is coarsely combined. If necessary, add more olive oil to achieve the desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Stir in chopped sage until evenly distributed throughout mixture.  Spoon on top of toasted bread slices and drizzle with olive oil.

 

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Beyond Skillets 4 Must Have Cast Iron Cookware Pieces

Beyond Skillets 4 Must Have Cast Iron Cookware Pieces

Cast iron skillets are so easy love. Whether inherited from a beloved grandmother, found at a bustling flea market, or purchased brand new, the origin of these durable and dependable skillets doesn’t really matter. Once one makes its way into your home, it will soon become a treasured kitchen staple.

Fortunately, the beauty of cast iron doesn’t end there. In fact, there are many affordable cast iron pieces available that are just as wonderful as your favorite skillet.

Here are four other great cast iron cookware pieces:

1. Dutch Oven – No kitchen is complete without a cast iron Dutch oven. There are many choices available, especially now with the increasing popularity of the enamel finishes. Although the colorful designer styles can be pricey, you can still find the simple ‘campfire’ or ‘raw’ varieties of cast iron at a very reasonable price.

Both the designer and raw styles work extremely well – after all, the quality is in the cast iron, not the color!

When you shop, choose a Dutch oven that is heavy, with sturdy handles, and a tight-fitting cast iron or heavy glass lid. A good cast iron Dutch oven can be used on top of the stove to make soups and stews or it can be used in the oven to make roasts and casseroles. You can even take a “raw” version on your next camping trip to whip up some delicious meals over your campfire.

Aside from your cast iron skillet, your Dutch oven will be among your most often used cookware pieces.

2. Grill/Griddle Combo – Although you may long for a stove with a built-in grill/griddle combination, it may not be a realistic option in the near future. However, you may be surprised to discover how easy and fun it is to cook with a cast iron version. Just heat up your cast iron griddle and you will feel like a short-order cook in no time!

Cast iron is so versatile, you’ll soon be frying up crispy bacon, golden brown pancakes, and perfectly done eggs without having to wash several pans or mess around with a bunch of specialty appliances. Plus, the grill side makes those nice grill marks that make everything you cook look so wonderful. For some reason, food that looks good seems to taste better, too.

3. Muffin and Loaf Pans – The best part of making cornbread in a cast iron skillet is the golden crust that forms around the outside of the pan. When you use cast iron muffin or loaf pans, you’ll end up with even more of that golden crusty goodness.

In addition, you can use cast iron muffin pans for all sorts of muffins and other individual serving size dishes, plus switching to cast iron loaf pans for bread results in consistently golden brown crusts with no scorched bottoms.

4. Fajita Serving Platters – To re-create that restaurant-style sizzle when your fajita or steak comes to the table, you can’t beat individual cast iron serving platters. Just heat the platters in a hot oven, and when your meal is ready to serve, carefully pull the platters from the oven and plate them up for that mouth-watering sizzle everyone loves.

You can also find sizzle platters with heat-resistant carriers so all you have to worry about is making enough food so you don’t run out when everyone asks for more!

Besides the fun restaurant-quality presentation you can achieve with these individual serving platters, they offer the added bonus of keeping your food warmer longer. This is a great idea when you’re cooking and serving outdoors. No more chilled plates on the picnic table, which makes sizzle platters both fun and practical.

A good set of cast iron skillets is a great starting point for every kitchen. But, once you get your basic skillets seasoned just right, isn’t it time to expand your horizons?

These four versatile pieces will open up a whole new world of cast iron cooking in no time. From roasts to soups to breads to the lazy weekend morning breakfast extravaganza, cast iron cookware does it all – and does it deliciously!

 

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How to Care for Your Cast Iron Cookware

How to Care for Your Cast Iron Cookware

Over time, cast iron cookware develops a thin protective coating known as “seasoning” from the natural fats and oils associated with the cooking process. This coating fills in all the nooks and crannies inherent in the pan metal to create a smooth, uniform surface.

This seasoning is what gives cast iron cookware its wonderful non-stick quality.

Today, most new cast iron cookware comes with this protective coating or “seasoning” already on them. If the package has “pre-seasoned” printed on it, your new pan should be ready for use because the manufacturer has already completed the initial seasoning process for you.

When you buy a brand new pre-seasoned cast iron skillet, all you need to do is rinse it out in hot water and dry completely by placing on your cooktop over medium-high heat. Make sure the entire surface is dry before putting away because cast iron can and will rust if water is left sitting on its surface.

After cooking with your new cast iron skillet, wash it by hand in hot water right away. Avoid putting your skillet in the dishwasher or soaking it in water overnight due to the potential for rust.

Instead, once the pan cools to the touch, rinse it under hot water while using a dishcloth or soft-bristled nylon brush to remove cooked-on particles. Also avoid using any harsh soaps, detergents, or metal scouring pads and scrapers as these items can damage or remove the seasoning.

How to Re-Season Your Cast Iron Skillet

If your seasoned cast iron cookware loses its sheen for whatever reason, you may need to re-season it to get it back into tip-top shape.

If you search online for how to re-season a cast iron skillet, you may be a bit overwhelmed by all the different points of view out there regarding the best methods and types of oil to use.

How to Care for Your Cast Iron Cookware using flaxseed oilFor example, there is a lot of debate about what oil to use due to the different smoke points associated with each type of oil and the release of unhealthy free radicals caused by using oils with too-low smoke points. As a result, flaxseed oil is often suggested as an ideal oil to use due to its high smoke point.

According to Lodge, a leading manufacturer of cast iron cookware, the proper way to re-season their products is to start by preheating your oven to 350 – 400˚.

While it is heating, wash the pan with hot, soapy water and a stiff brush. (It’s okay to use harsher soap and a stiff brush for this because you’re not trying to protect the original seasoning at this point).

Once clean, rinse and dry completely before applying a very thin coat of melted solid vegetable shortening or other cooking oil of your choice. Place the pan upside down on the upper rack of your preheated oven, with a metal cooking sheet under it to catch any drips.

Leave pan in hot oven for at least an hour. Turn oven off and allow the skillet to cool completely while still inside the oven. Remove pan from oven and if the coating isn’t as consistent as you’d like, repeat this process until the desired sheen is achieved.

Following these easy tips on how to care for your cast iron cookware will help keep your pieces in great shape. A minimal investment of time and effort on your part will yield delicious meals for you and your family for years to come.

 

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