Blog Posts by Real Simple Magazine

  • Create a Recipe Notebook

    Michele GastlMichele GastlNothing's so annoying as wanting to make your friend Sally's snickerdoodles and not being able to find the recipe -- or her cell-phone number for that matter.

    A binder system can solve one of the most niggling kitchen problems -- keeping track of recipes. This is more than just a place to stash clippings: It works for the novice as well as the gourmet. Unfortunately, this binder will not cook four separate dishes for four sets of picky taste buds. But it will help you avoid the anguish in locating the recipes.

    Setting Up the System

    1. Categorize and Subcategorize. Instead of organizing your recipes by appetizers, entrees, and desserts, make your categories as specific as possible. Break them down by major ingredient (poultry, beef, pork, etc.), type of side dish (salad, rice, potatoes), or kind of dessert (brownies, cookies, pies).

    2. Protect. Keep your recipes behind the plastic sleeves when you cook so they stay splatter-free.

    3. Consolidate. Instead of flipping back and forth

    Read More »from Create a Recipe Notebook
  • Tip: Conquering Food Odor

    David HoriiDavid HoriiThe Cause

    Poorly ventilated or cramped kitchens mixed with pungent foods -- such as garlic, curry, eggs, cheese, and burned casseroles -- make for strong odors that re-create the atmosphere of a pub at closing time.

    The Cure

    Lemon and citrus fragrances remove strong food odors. Often the best (and easiest) remedy is to open a window or turn on a vent. "We use exhaust fans that suck everything out," says Wayne Almquist, a professor at the Culinary Institute of America, in Hyde Park, New York.

    Conquer Common Household Odors

    Don't Miss:
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    Read More »from Tip: Conquering Food Odor
  • How to Choose a Pet Dog

    Nancy NewberryNancy Newberry

    First impressions count, even when it comes to a pet. Before falling head over heels in love, determine whether a dog or a cat will be the right fit for you and your family.

    At a Breeder:
    "When you are first introduced to the litter of puppies, sit down in a chair, not on the floor, and observe them," says Kellyann Conway, director of animal training and behavior for PetFinder.com, an online database of adoptable animals. While the first puppy that comes bounding over may seem full of spunk, he may prove to be a difficult pet. "You want a little hesitation from a puppy, especially if you are looking for a family pet," says Conway. "The puppy that immediately runs over might be too assertive and test boundaries when he grows up." On the other hand, a puppy that hides in shyness or cowers in the corner won't be a good match, either, especially for a social family. "You want a dog confident enough to come over and say hello," says Conway.

    Note, too, how the puppies interact with one Read More »from How to Choose a Pet Dog
  • Become Fluent in Body Language

    Frank HeckersFrank Heckers

    Body language can almost always be interpreted in more than one way. Following are 4 gestures, with advice for reading them from a team of experts in nonverbal communication.

    Furrowing Brow

    It Could Mean: She's thinking.

    But It Might Mean: She disapproves of or disagrees with what you're saying. Or else she can't hear you.

    What the Experts Say: "This almost always means something negative," says trial lawyer Maria Katrina Karos. It is often a cue people use to tell you something is wrong, says author Lydia Ramsey: They want you to ask them what they're thinking.

    Frowning

    It Could Mean: She's unhappy or uncomfortable.

    But It Might Mean: She's concentrating.

    What the Experts Say: Some people frown without realizing it, so don't comment on the frowning directly, says anthropologist David Givens. If it happens during a job interview, you might ask, "Did that answer the question?" With a friend, just ask if she's OK.

    Grimacing

    It Could Mean: Nothing. It's just a

    Read More »from Become Fluent in Body Language
  • Real Simple Recipe: Garlic Roast Chicken

    Anna WilliamsAnna Williams1 6-to 7-pound whole roasting chicken, giblets removed
    9 sprigs fresh thyme
    9 sprigs fresh tarragon
    1 lemon, halved
    4 heads garlic, cloves separated, unpeeled
    1 cup Nicoise olives
    1 teaspoon coarse salt
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    1 large baguette, thickly sliced

    Heat oven to 450° F. Gently loosen the chicken skin from the breast meat and place a third of the thyme and tarragon under the skin. Place another third of the herbs, plus the lemon and a handful of garlic cloves, inside the chicken cavity, and tie the legs together with cooking twine.

    Place the chicken in a small roasting pan and surround with the remaining herbs, garlic, and olives. Sprinkle the chicken with the salt and pepper and drizzle with the olive oil.

    Roast the chicken for about 1 1/2 hours, or until the thigh juices run clear when pricked with a fork or an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thigh reads 170° to 175° F. Transfer the chicken to

    Read More »from Real Simple Recipe: Garlic Roast Chicken
  • How to set up an efficient laundry room

    Michele GastlMichele GastlFew moments are more absurd than the times you beg your loved ones for their dirty laundry. That's why you should put a few receptacles in strategic locations that will make transporting and sorting clothes easier, says Linda Cobb, author of Talking Dirty Laundry With the Queen of Clean ($9.99, Amazon.)

    - A hamper, a basket, or a bin should go in each family member's bedroom or bathroom. Even if you can't get every family member to do his or her wash, you can save time by giving everyone a portable receptacle. Make sure the hamper has soft edges that won't mar paint or chip doorjambs.

    - Set up a central three-bin sorter in the laundry room where people bring their individual hampers. Laundry that doesn't make its way to the sorter doesn't get washed. (If your child's jeans du jour are left dirty, it's not your problem.) Any family member over four feet tall should be able to separate lights and darks. Hand-washables go into the third bin.

    - Keep dry cleaning away from the laundry

    Read More »from How to set up an efficient laundry room
  • 4 media organizing tricks

    - Organize your DVDs by slipping them into DiscSox boxes with plastic sleeves (shown) so you can flip through them by genre or artist. To Buy: $27 for 25, www.discsox.com (Get a 10 percent discount with the promo code RealSimple).

    - Use a decorative wooden ladder to hang magazines. See Real Simple's 12 Ways to Cut Clutter

    - Send Riptopia your CDs and the company will convert them to digital music for easy transfer to your iPod or computer. To Buy: 99 cents to $1.70 per CD, www.riptopia.com.

    - Depending on its shape and size, a wine rack might store magazines and newspapers. See Real Simple's Instant Wine Smarts

    Don't Miss:
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    Read More »from 4 media organizing tricks
  • 10 Ways to Speed Up Dinner-Prep Times

    Use 5-minute windows of time to make big headway on making meals

    Photographer: Yunhee KimPhotographer: Yunhee KimShop Smart
    Sort groceries before you get home. At the market, ask the bagger to put all the perishables in one bag, the snacks in another, the canned goods in a third. You can help the process along by loading like foods together on the conveyor belt. At home, unloading will go far more quickly and be easier to delegate.


    Jump-Start
    Prep meat and fish. The few minutes it takes to trim or pound meat can be sandwiched in between the flipping of the breakfast pancakes or afternoon calls to doctors and plumbers. Come suppertime, just pull your pan-ready fillets from the plastic bag and cook.


    Meat can sit in an oil-based marinade for about 24 hours in the refrigerator, so you can set up the next day's dinner before hitting the sack; fish, with its more delicate flesh, should sit for no more than 4 to 6 hours, so this is something you might do at lunchtime. Place the meat or fish and the marinade in a resealable

    Read More »from 10 Ways to Speed Up Dinner-Prep Times
  • Best way to pack for a business trip

    Susie CushnerSusie CushnerStep 1: Gather all the garments you anticipate needing.
    Then put half of them back. Select clothes in the same color family, packing more tops than bottoms. For a five-day trip, you'll likely need five shirts, two pairs of slacks or jeans, and one skirt, says Kathleen Ameche, author of The Woman Road Warrior: A Woman's Guide to Business Travel (Agate. $13, Amazon). The average 22-inch check-in bag fits roughly two pairs of jeans, three sweaters, two dresses, and five shirts.

    Step 2: Choose knits, wools, and cottons.
    These fabrics tend to resist wrinkles and are versatile (some garments can do double duty, like yoga pants that moonlight as pajamas).

    Step 3: Roll softer garments and fold stiffer ones.
    Underwear, T-shirts, jeans, cotton pants, and knitwear won't wrinkle when rolled tightly, says Judy Gilford, author of The Packing Book (Ten Speed Press, $13, Amazon). Stiffer fabrics, such as starched cotton shirts, blazers, dressy pants, and skirts, should be carefully folded.

    Step 4:

    Read More »from Best way to pack for a business trip
  • Food Pairings 101

    Kana OkadaKana Okada

    Certain foods play well with others, while others lose strength in pairs. Watch out for these toothsome twosomes.

    Do Mix Grilled Steak and Brussels Sprouts
    It turns out that certain compounds in Brussels sprouts (and other cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower) may help rid the body of carcinogens that can form on meat during high-heat cooking. That said, loading up on these vegetables doesn't give you license to char meat, chicken, or fish on the barbecue. "It's always best to cook meat or fish at low temperatures until it's done," says Kristin E. Anderson, Ph.D., a cancer epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health and Cancer Center, in Minneapolis. "And if there are burned pieces, trim them off."

    See Real Simple's No-Fuss 30-Minute Meals

    Do Mix Avocado and Tomato
    Tomatoes, which contain the antioxidant lycopene, are a superfood. Eat some avocado at the same time and you've got a super superfood -- the fat in the avocado helps the Read More »from Food Pairings 101

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