Trib Tips

Marie Havenga • Jul 21, 2015 at 12:14 PM

This week, Trib Tips will explore how to shave an hour from preparing a classic comfort dish so you can have it any ol' night of the week.

We'll also look at a low-cost and effective way to organize your cleaning products.

A shoe-in

I swear that sometimes we have more household cleaners than we have items to clean.

And it was a constant battle figuring out how to store them.

If those spray bottles are lined up on shelves, they rob valuable real estate. If they're piled in a bin or bucket, it's too difficult to find what you're looking for without taking everything out.

I finally stumbled upon a solution that's a shoe-in for success. It's cheap and simple to do. And you'll no longer have to stoop to pull products from under your kitchen sink or risk clunking yourself on the head while you reach for a high shelf.

Go to your favorite discount store and pick up one of those inexpensive shoe organizers that hang over a door.

I had a blue fabric model sitting around the house. If I were to buy one, I'd opt for clear to make it a cinch to see the product labels. That way, you know what you're grabbing.

Arrange your multipurpose cleaners, carpet stain removers, laundry aids, cleaning rags, sponges and maid apron (just kidding on that one) in the slots and hang it on the inside of a pantry or closet door. This way, all your supplies are in one place — and highly visible.

It also works great hanging on the inside of a bathroom closet door to hold your hair products, face lotion, mouthwash and extra rolls of toilet paper.

Punctual potatoes

I love fluffy-cloud-like whipped mashed potatoes, but I don't relish the time involved in making them.

Around here, mashed potatoes were always reserved for special occasions. I was craving the silken swirled spuds on a recent weekday, but I didn't have nearly enough time to peel, boil and mash the traditional way.

On a whim, I tried an experiment that has quickly become a favorite “go-to” side dish recipe:

— Wash and poke 6-8 potatoes and cook them on “high” in the microwave for 8-12 minutes, depending on spud size and appliance wattage.

— Throw the potatoes in a mixing bowl and cut them into four or five pieces with a knife, skins and all. Before you ick out on this, remember that most of the nutrients reside in the peels. If you truly are anti-skin, I suppose you could cut the potatoes in half and scoop out the flesh — a la twice-baked potatoes — but that negates time-savings.

— Add butter, salt, pepper and milk (you may need to use a little extra liquid with this method to reach your desired consistency).

— For a variation on traditional style, jazz up the taste with a few splashes of ranch dressing, garlic and onion powder.

— Mash and whip with hand or stand mixer.

Have some favorite apps, household hints or savings secrets of your own you'd like to share? We'd love to hear from you. E-mail your suggestions to Marie Havenga at mhavenga@grandhaventribune.com. Include your name, address and phone number. You may also snail-mail ideas to: Trib Tips, 101 N. Third St., Grand Haven, MI 49417; or call 616-847-2628.

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