The blog below was created to give you an idea of what to make for Valentine’s day but what’s the harm in making brownies any other day? As you read the instructions toward the end just remember – if you have a convection oven at home, the amount of time the brownie dessert is in the oven will decrease. Convection ovens tend to cook faster and more evenly so it’s a good idea to keep that in mind and make the proper adjustments if you do have one of these. Now, enjoy the rest of this blog post!
I’m prepping dinner. Taco night again, the one meal the kids and Bubba will eat without complaining. I could make tacos with eyes closed. Number of tacos shells for each person, the perfect portion of chopped red pepper, avocado slices and shredded cheese. Some like black beans only, others a spoonful of ground turkey. A dollop of Greek yogurt, but never, ever any salsa. “Too spicy, mama.” I mindlessly hurry through this task.
My mind wanders to my to do list: valentines, allergists appointment, email C’s teacher, make safe cupcakes for G’s class, well-check for the baby coming up Friday, continuing training and fundraising for the marathon. How many miles this week?
I’m tired today. Next time I’m awake at 3am for no reason at all, I’m getting up and working on this list. Why can’t I sleep?
I look up for a moment and the notice the sky glowing pink, the large naked trees behind our house illuminated in the winter’s setting sun. To the right, the yellow of the sun shines so brightly, I squint my eyes, wondering if the day is just beginning. How odd to feel both the beginning and end of a day at once.
I grab my phone and snap a quick picture. “Mama and her pictures,” chimes C.
“Pink sky goose.” Me.
“I know.” C, unimpressed.
I snap another picture and then one more, attempting to hold on to the colors, carry them around with me, and look at them when I need to. She doesn’t understand this need, not yet.
“Mama, time to eat!”
I sit down with them at our narrow, wooden kitchen table and look out the window. A rich, dark blue replaces the pink and yellow, the trees still discernible, but quickly fading into the night sky.
Brownie Pie with Raspberry Sauce
Rich, intense chocolate brownie pie paired with a bright raspberry sauce is sure to make your Valentine swoon. This is easy to make pie will take no time at all so make the day of and serve slightly warm. Enjoy!
Recipe slightly adapted from Ina Garten
Ingredient for Brownie Pie:
6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted
3 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
3 extra-large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 tablespoon instant espresso
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 or 3 tablespoons heavy cream
Pre-heat your oven to 350F and then grease and flour a 9 inch pie pan or tart pan with removable sides. ( I used a pie pan.)
Using a medium size bowl, melt the butter over a pan with simmering water. Once the butter is melted add 2 cups of chocolate chips and stir until the chocolate is almost completely melted. Be careful not to burn the chocolate. Remove from heat and stir until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Set aside and cool.
Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, espresso, vanilla and orange zest on medium/high-speed until pale and fluffy, a few minutes. Stir in the cooled chocolate. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and 1 cup of chocolate chips. Gently fold the dry mixture into the wet batter until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and bake for about 35 minutes or up to 40 minutes. The center will puff up and crack. The inside should be soft. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Melt the remaining chocolate chips with the heavy cream and drizzle all over the pie.
Slice and serve with raspberry sauce. The pie tastes best the day it is made, but tastes pretty good the next day too. Maybe add ice cream on day two if it seems too dry. Enjoy! Happy Heart Day!
barely adapted from Emeril Lagasse
makes 1 cup
1- 12 ounce bag of frozen raspberries or 1 pint of fresh raspberries
1/8 cup of sugar
scant tablespoon of lemon juice
Combine raspberries, sugar and lemon juice in a pan and cook for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and strain with a fine mesh sieve to remove seeds. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate in air-tight container for a few days. Enjoy!
If you enjoy this post, please visit Cups + Spoonfuls for more from Kelly Fitzpatrick!
We are in the thick of it. Winter, that is. The days are cold, dense gray clouds hide the sun most of the time. The plants and trees sleep peacefully, unresponsive to the winter light. I search for color. I find it in my daughter’s hazel green eyes, my new nephew’s perfect pink lips, the seldom blue sky; the occasional holly bush I spot on my morning run. I would welcome a foot of snow, now. Anything to brighten up this fallow landscape.
Fake it til’ you make it. Do what you need to. So I hop in my car, crank the heat and drive to the grocery store. I linger in the produce and flower sections. The colors and fragrance sooth my winter weary spirit. I grab as much citrus as I feel necessary. Blood oranges, lemons and a few apples. Every so often, I grab a bouquet of out of season tulips or daffodils. Spring will come, it has to.
I eat one blood orange, hoping the vitamin c will help my immune system fight the latest stomach bug that plagues our house. I slice another blood orange, remove the seeds and marvel at the color. I grab a lemon and slice it. The bright smell wakes me up. I toss the citrus with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and roast them at 425F for about 15 minutes. Roast? Yes. According to Bon Appetit, the high heat will caramelize the natural sugar and add depth to the fruit. They seem to know what they are talking about. While the citrus cools I prep the rest of the salad.
I rip apart the kale and massage it with olive oil, salt and pepper. Within a few minutes the kale softens and becomes edible. I toss the kale into a large bowl with the prepared onion and roasted citrus. Add a quarter cup of silvered almonds for crunch and a bunch avocado slices for creaminess. I drizzle the entire salad with a tablespoon of agave nectar and season it with a bit more sea salt and pepper. After I gently toss the salad, I take a big bite. Healthy and fresh, this citrus salad is just what I need to get through these winter days.
Roasted Citrus, Kale + Avocado Salad
A healthy kale salad with roasted citrus, avocado and silvered almonds. A few slices of red onion add a nice bite and a drizzle of agave nectar balances the subtly tart lemons. Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit
1 blood orange, sliced 1/8″ thick, seeds removed
1 lemon, sliced 1/8″ thick, seeds removed (try to get a Meyer lemon, as they are a bit sweeter than a regular lemon)
4 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 of a small red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
1 bunch of kale, washed, dried, ribs removed and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup mint leaves
1 avocado, sliced into wedges
1/4 cup silvered almonds
1 tablespoon agave nectar
Pre-heat your oven to 425F. Toss orange and lemon slices with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, a bit of kosher salt and pepper and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast the citrus for 10-15 minutes, tossing every 5 minutes, until citrus starts to caramelize and is a bit charred. Allow to cool.
Using a large bowl, mix onion with lemon juice, season with salt and pepper and let stand for about 5 minutes. (This process helps the onion soften a bit.) Set aside.
Place prepared kale in a separate large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Massage the kale with your hands for 3-5 minutes. The kale will soften a bit and that is a good thing!
Add kale, roasted citrus, mint and silvered almonds to the bowl with the onion. Drizzle with scant 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of agave nectar. If necessary season with sea salt and pepper. Just before you are ready to serve the salad, add the avocado and gently toss. Enjoy!
Follow Kelly at Cups + Spoonfuls and discover 5 Winter Salad Links You Must Check Out!
Who is Kelly and why are we following her? She is a mother to two children who loves food, photography and running. She lives just outside of Boston and by the looks of her blogs, knows what she’s doing in the kitchen! We will be sharing her blogs here on the Appliance Factory Blog but please make sure to check out her page (link above) to get the full scoop.
There are two types of laundry sets – electric & gas. When you decide it’s time to upgrade, it’s important to know which set, electric or gas, you need to be looking for. If your home uses gas to power your laundry, there a few actions you need to take during the install process if you are doing it on your own.
It is important as a home owner that you understand how these gas-powered dryers work within your household. Most importantly, while you are replacing your old dryer, you need to check for gas leaks. Gas is naturally odorless but gas companies have added a rotten egg sort of smell to it so it is more detectable. If small amounts of gas are leaking in a large living space, chances are you will not know – this is why it is important to check your gas line and when you check it before install, it becomes a lot more convenient.
We have attached a link below of a full step-by-step process that we found helpful. These directions should make it easy to do at home on your own.
Microwaves are found in most every home and their most commonly used for reheating leftovers, defrost, or for their timer… there are other, more clever ways to make good use of your microwave that could simplify several tasks. Here are just a few…
No-Tears Onions: To avoid crying during the process of cutting onions, trim off the ends of the onions and heat them on full power for about 30 seconds. This will alleviate any stinking feeling in your eyes.
Easy Cleaning (probably the best hack): Heat a glass bowl of water with a small amount of vinegar in the microwave for 5 minutes. This will soften the inside debris so you can easily wipe down the microwave with little to no resistance.
Rejuvenate Your Honey: If your honey turns up crystallized the next time you need it, it can be restored! Remove the lid and heat on 50% power for about 2 minutes. (Make sure if you choose to do this, your honey is in a glass jar or another microwavable container)
Juice Your Lemons: Get more juice out of lemons and limes by placing them in the microwave as a whole. Run the microwave on high for 10-20 seconds; this will make them super juicy and easy to squeeze.
Easy Peel: Planning on peeling peaches or tomatoes? Throw a whole peach/tomato into the microwave for 30 seconds on high, allow them to stand for 2 minutes after and the peel will slip off easily.
Make More Space: Need to microwave 2 things at once? Place two bowls into the microwave by balancing one on an upturned mug.
No More Chewy Pizza Crust: Place a glass with a small amount of water into the microwave with your pizza and your crust comes out a lot less chewy.
There are several more hacks out there but these were some of our favorites.
Wait, what? There’s a right and wrong way to load the dishwasher? YES! There are several common mistakes made loading the dishwasher which leads to chipped, broken, and/or dirty dishes. Below are a few steps to insure clean dishes every time – make sure you check out the video tutorial, too!
Set the dishes aside that are not dishwasher safe. Anything wooden, non-dishwasher safe plastics, large knives, and/or fragile glassware should all be removed and washed by hand. Large knives are usually good to wash separately so they do not get dulled in the dishwasher – everything else is kind of self-explanatory.
Scrape the big food particles off of your plates and/or bowls into the trash as sometimes dishwashers have a tough time taking care of these “big jobs”.
After you trash the big food particles, it’s a good idea to rinse most of the larger dishes off. If there are still big messes, a scrub brush or almost any cutlery will help get those taken care of.
When loading the dishes, there are certain ways and places the dishes should be stacked for the highest efficiency. (See the video below)
Large and small plates, staggered every other facing toward the middle.
Large pots and pans face down.
Cups should be placed faced down so they don’t hold water. Make sure they are place BETWEEN the pegs and not on top of them.
Large utensils should be placed faced down if they do not fit in the cutlery area; they should be face-down so they do not hold water as well.
Dishwasher-safe plastics should be stacked on top so they are far enough away from the heating coil so they do not warp.
I know most people just want to throw their dishes in the dishwasher to be done with them, but those Jinga ways of stacking don’t normally result in all clean dishes. So there really is a way to do it that will guarantee perfectly clean dishes almost every time!
How to load your dishwasher properly – a tutorial.
As the holiday season approaches, everyone is making plans for friends and family to visit; this means large gatherings, meals, parties, etc. Basically, who ever is hosting that year is putting their house on display more during these holidays than any other time of the year. This much traffic in the house only means one thing to several home owners: TIME TO CLEAN!
Of course the rest of the house will be eyed top-to-bottom to be cleaned, fixed, adjusted, etc. But one single appliance, in one single room tends to get a lot of this attention during the holidays as it is the star of all these shenanigans – the all mighty oven. Unfortunately, it typically gets thought of to be cleaned last minute. As the month of November flies by and you get caught up in ensuring the cleanliness of the entire house; typically a day or two before the feast is when it finally comes to thought that maybe the oven should get cleaned. “Oh, well I have a self-cleaning oven,” you might think. DON’T DO IT!
As convenient as the self-cleaning feature sounds in the moment of panic, it is a bad idea to use this feature the day right before the festivities. If you are going to use this feature, make sure you use it a couple WEEKS before, and this is why…
Self cleaning ovens typically reach more than nearly triple the temperature during the cleaning process – this is very hard on your oven. Using the self-cleaning feature usually leads to some kind of oven complication, whether it be blowing a fuse, breaking the handle, or any other sort of damage. It is very common for something to break or go wrong, which means you will have to have time for repairs. People don’t normally think about allowing time for repairs “because their ovens are too reliable and haven’t had anything go wrong before”, but if you break the oven before the day of the feast, you’ve got a huge problem on your hands.
My point is, if you’re going to use the self-clean option, please make sure to do it several weeks before the event. Don’t worry, if you forget, you can always look up homemade recipes that will be safe to use in your oven that will take care of the mess without creating a new problem. You might have to use a little elbow grease, but that’s a lot cheaper and way more convenient than purchasing a new oven or a service call.
Growing up, my dad would always say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” This is how I’ve been taught to ‘save money’ and take care of the things I have so they’ll last forever. Unfortunately, Dad, times have changed.
Refrigerators seem to be that appliance that people use until it falls apart; because of my Dad’s philosophy, I have always been a firm believer that upgrading is the last resort. But what people don’t know, is that by keeping that 10 year old refrigerator and passing up the new models, they are actually spending more money and settling for less. The main difference between an old and new refrigerator is the electrical consumption. With better temperature control, new features, more space, and lower noise levels, these new refrigerators are much more efficient, and save you money at the same time!
By consumers ‘indulging’ in new, upgraded appliances, energy use has dropped over 50% between 1987 and 2010. Appliances that have especially helped save energy are refrigerators with the Energy Star rating. Why is this so important? “Refrigerators that earn the Energy Star rating are about 15% more energy efficient than models that meet the minimum federal energy efficiency standard.” That’s 15% more energy saved on top of the amount of energy being saved with a new model refrigerator! If that’s not enough to encourage one to upgrade, switching to a new model is also better for the environment. Using energy efficient appliances in your home will significantly reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that have been a growing concern.
So, if it ain’t broke… that doesn’t mean you can’t upgrade!
More than 15,000 fires are sparked every year by clothes dryers, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Many people are more aware of cleaning out the lint trap between loads but seem to forget that the dryer vent needs to be cleaned out on a regular basis as well.
I’m not saying you need to clean the hose every month or anything – that’s unnecessary; we’re talking about every year to year-and-a-half. The vents used in dryers can built up thick walls of lint and other dirty debris over time that can trap the air that needs to escape for effective drying. By preventing the air and moisture to escape, the dryer has to work harder and harder at drying – leading to heat build-up which may cause a vent fire.
The placement of your washer and dryer could create a higher risk for a fire to occur. If the dryer is located in the middle of the house rather than up against an outside wall, the dryer vent hose is much longer which makes it more difficult for the dryer to push the lint out. Therefore, dryers with longer vents need to be monitored more closely as they are more susceptible to fires.
Getting your dryer vent cleaned out also preserves the life of your dryer and keeps your energy bill down! If you installed your own dryer, chances are, there may be a few tweaks a technician can help you fix in order to ensure your machine is working safely and efficiently.
So please, be mindful of this household task as these fires are preventable. If you don’t remember the last time you had it cleaned, it would be a good time to call someone to get it looked at because chances are, you’re over-due and holding you and your family at high risk!
For tips on how to catch build-up before it’s too late, visit ABC Action News here:
Lint alert can be installed in your home to take the guess work out of this potentially hazardous issue. This device is placed in your home and is connected directly to your dryer; this system detects the amount of lint and debris build up in your dryer vent and will alert you once it evaluates that the vent is too full and there is a high risk for fire. Our specialists highly recommend the use of the Lint Alert to be used in every home to eliminate the risk of a house fire and ensure the safety of your family.
There are quite a few myths, questions, concerns, and even fears based around buying a new mattress. People in the market for a new mattress may not understand that the mattress they end up buying could affect more than just their sleep. Purchasing a mattress that fits your physical needs can improve your quality of life.
Several people are uneasy about buying a new mattress because it is such a large part of our lives. Our mattresses are to us as chargers are to our phones – it’s where we go to charge back up for the next day, so changing the platform in which your body rests on can be really nerve-racking.
When you think of purchasing a mattress, what are your concerns? You would be surprised how many other people have similar hesitations. Below are some customer concerns that July’s edition of Sleep Savvy came up with – can you relate?
Knowing when to replace your mattress
Consumers need help identifying when to replace their mattresses.
“I usually replace (my mattress) when there are holes in it or it sags so bad I can’t sleep”
“I replace when I feel a sunken impression made by years of sleeping in the same place on my mattress”
From our previous mattress post, Improve the Quality of Your Sleep:
4 Signs you desperately need a new mattress set
You wake up with stiffness, numbness, and aches and pains.
You had a better night’s sleep somewhere other than your own bed, such as a hotel.
Your mattress shows visible signs of overuse – it sags, has lumps, the interior is exposed, etc.
Your mattress is 7 years old or older.
Being overwhelmed with options
Some consumers don’t know where to start.
“I hate shopping when the options are limitless.”
“Do I start by researching the technology or find something in my price range?”
Our Mattress Buyer for Mattress Kingdom always asks, “Do you prefer to sleep in the mattress or on the mattress?” If you know if you like to sink in to your mattress or like to sleep comfortably on top of it, that will eliminate about 50% of your options to get you started. You also want to keep your physical needs in mind: do you have a bad back, in which position do you typically sleep, etc. Keeping all of this in mind and talking to a mattress specialist about these things will help eliminate most of your confusion and help make the experience a more pleasant one.
PDA… with a mattress
Consumers are embarrassed about testing mattresses in public.
“I hate going to a store to look at a mattress. You can never really lie down and test it like you would at home. I am afraid of messing up the mattress or of everyone staring at me.”
The reason why mattress retailers have test beds is so you can get a feel of what you are looking to purchase. You shouldn’t be shy to test out the bed you are interested in, I mean, it’s a very important and impactful purchase! How will you know which bed is for you if you don’t get a feel for it; so jump on in and get comfy!
The “used car salesman” approach
Consumers liked genuine retail associates who encouraged “test-drives.”
“(The retail associate) immediately had me lay down on a mattress while she talked about it and asked me how it felt. She was not pushy at all and kept reminding me which ones were firmer and which weren’t to help me remember. She was very knowledgeable and shared stories from her customers. She never made me feel that I was bothering her or wasting her time.”
Most mattress retailers understand that the customers coming in are shopping for “the most important health care product in the house hold.” They have also been mattress customers themselves so they will understand you mean when you say, “this isn’t the one.”
Have no fear potential mattress customers! It’s really not as scary as you think it is. Take your time and find the mattress that is right for YOU.
You’ve seen and heard about HE washers; shoot, you probably have one! But Whirlpool has gone above and beyond to create the first HE dryer.
What does it mean for a dryer to be Energy Star-qualified? To be considered energy efficient, these HE dryers need to use approximately 20% less energy on average than dryers that meet the federal minimum efficiency standards for 2015. Dryers have been adapted to this by including advanced moisture sensors which prevents over drying and is easier on your fabrics. HE dryers are also advanced because of the Ecoboost setting which improves the method for turning the heaters on and off during the cycle depending on the load. This is where you can save most of your dryer’s energy!
Great it saves energy, but “How much money does it save?” is what you really want to know. Energy Star says to expect to save about $18 a year in electricity costs. Over 12 years, that’s more than $200 – it doesn’t seem like a lot but consider saving that amount of money on top of saving the life of your clothes. The Whirlpool Duet WED87HED electric dryer is the ‘ying’ to your HE washer’s ‘yang’ – it may not seem like you’re saving much now but using these high efficiency laundry sets not only save you money in the long run but can take better care of your clothes and in turn, take better care of your wallet.