Shortcut Key Lime Pie

Looking for an easy desire to put on the table which doesn’t require much stovetop or cooktop time? Well, here you go.  In fact, if you heat the water in the microwave, you needn’t touch the stove or oven.   This recipe is handy year-round, but especially so in the warm weather of summer.

Total Time

  • 2 hours, 20 minutes

Preparation Time

  • Twenty minutes

Refrigeration Time

  • Two Hours

Ingredients

  • 1 carton (8 ounces) fat-free whipped topping
  • 1 purchased or prepared graham cracker crust
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 2 cartons (6 ounces each) Key lime yogurt
  • 1 package (0.3 ounces) sugar-free lime gelatin

Directions

  • In a large bowl, combine the gelatin and boiling water to gelatin.
  • Stir gelatin about two minutes until gelatin is completely dissolved.
  •  Whisk in yogurt.
  • Gently fold in whipped topping.
  • Pour into crust.
  • Level and smooth out filling.
  • Refrigerate, covered, until set, about 2 hours.
  • Garnish, if desire
  • Cut and serve cold.

Servings

  • This recipe makes eight servings

Why House Cats Love Cardboard Boxes So Much

Cats are one of the most wonderful pets, and many homeowners like to own a single cat or a few of them. Along with dogs, they make excellent company. They are extremely cute and would like to keep themselves scrupulously clean. They are also playful and could help in ensuring that the owners reduce stress and tension. If people are staying alone, as it happens quite frequently these days, a cat can help a lot in removing loneliness and solitude. However, like all other pets, cats need a good place to live. Though many cat owners design special homes for these feline beauties, most cats have a fascination and liking for making cardboard boxes as their homes. Are you keen on getting answers to the question as to why cats love cardboard boxes? If yes, it would be a good idea to go through this article. It may help the readers to understand a few reasons as to why cats have a fascination for cardboard boxes. In spite of best efforts, many veteran cat-owners are not able to find out why cats continue to enjoy staying in cardboard boxes. Though most questions remain unanswered, there are perhaps a few reasons that make these feline pets so attached to cardboard boxes. We share a few possible reasons for this unexplained love between cats and cardboards.

Security And Safety

Security and safety are perhaps one of the most important reasons for cats having a special relationship with cardboard boxes. Cats seek and love enclosed spaces. Seeking enclosed spaces is the obvious and most common response of these pets when they are either afraid or stressed. It is more of an instinct for them. Seeking enclosed spaces is perhaps because when they are inside a box, cats are confident that nothing can sneak up to her either from the side or from the back. Cats will be able to enjoy a direct field of vision and will be in a position to see anything that is approaching. The boxes provide a mechanism for coping with stressful things and events, and it helps to relieve anxiety for them. Seeking enclosed spaces is especially true for cats who are new entrants into a home.

They Find It A Fun Place

Cats love to be always in a playful and happy mood. When they are on cardboard, they find it full of fun. They love to roll around in the cardboard boxes, and they also have great fun jumping in and out of it. If you have toys in the cardboard or outside the box, they love to pounce on the same from the insides of the cardboard. Cats do love a fuzzy ball, and they would not mind playing with it for some time. However, if you can provide them with a cardboard box, they would be too happy about it. It perhaps would make them feel that they are in cloud nine. They will consider this as a priceless gift and would not mind playing in it for hours at length.

It Helps Them To Develop Their Instincts

Cats, as we all know, have predatory instincts. They love to hide and then pounce on their prey. We all know that wild cats are one of the finest predators. They enjoy watching, hiding and stalking their prey. They wait for the opportune moment. They love to jump out of their hiding place and ambush the prey. Though domestic cats don’t hunt for their survival, their instincts are still at play. They love to indulge in their instincts from inside the cardboard because it gives them the right environment, surroundings, protection, and hiding space.

They Enjoy Scratching And Chewing

If you are a cat lover and have a few cats in your home, you will certainly know that they are notorious scratchers. They always like to sharpen their claws on the couch, and you also would see them doing it to your curtains and carpets. Cardboard boxes are ideal for scratching. They relish the way it feels when they sink their razor-sharp claws into the cardboard.

Further, the cat’s paws also have scent pads. When they scratch, their claws leave behind a scent on the various things. They love to mark the cardboard and surrounding areas with their scent, and this helps them to mark their territory. Cats like other pets are extremely territorial, and cardboard boxes help them to protect their territorial integrity.

They Love The Warmth

Cats love to stay put in certain temperatures ranging from 86 to 97 degrees Fahrenheit. In most homes, the temperature ranges from 72 to 76 degrees Fahrenheit. They feel cold when the temperature is below 86 degrees. Therefore, it is quite obvious that cats feel warmer and cozier in cardboard boxes. They would not mind the insides of the cardboard boxes stuffed with newspapers and other such soft things.

They Love To Sleep In Cardboard Boxes

It would not be the right decision to invest in expensive and fancy cat beds. All that your pet cat wants is a blanket inside the cardboard boxes. They are psychologically attracted to the boxes because they provide a luxurious and cozy place to sleep. It may not look luxurious to us mortal human beings, but your feline pet certainly loves sleeping in them for hours at length. They find cardboard boxes to be a favorite hiding place and would like to curl up and sleep in a place that they think is very safe and comfortable.

How To Make The Cardboard Box Comfortable

The above certainly should have given the readers a reasonably good understanding of the eternal love between cats and cardboards. It is a very simple, cost-effective and wonderful way to show your love to these awesome feline pets. Be sure that the cardboard is of the right size. It should not be too big or too small. Ensure that the cardboard is safe and remove all pin, staplers and other such things that might hurt the pets. Yes, you will have to change the cardboard boxes once in a while because your cat will damage it for sure within a few weeks or months. You certainly will not mind doing this much to your beloved cat, and you can be sure that it will remain ever grateful to you and will be a wonderful company for many years and decades.

How to Freeze Bake Ahead Homemade Pies

Some traditions are passed on to you, and then there are traditions you create. A tradition I have created is organizing a Thanksgiving dinner each year for my closest friends and relatives. I have done this for the last 18 years, and I have enjoyed every Thanksgiving dinner more than the one before. It is because I have become something of an expert over the years. I understand the importance of planning and organizing things in advance.

The holiday season is around the corner, and most of you will be welcoming guests into your house. No holidays are complete without a good pie. This blog is dedicated to all those house chefs who are worried about how they will manage to make a pie while entertaining all the guests. Read on to know how you can make your life easier by freezing and baking pies in advance.

How to Freeze a Homemade Pie

If you are planning to make a homemade pie in advance and freeze it, follow these simple steps.

Pick a Fruit-Based Pie Recipe

If you are going to make and freeze pie weeks or months in advance, I recommend you to pick a fruit-based pie recipe. While fruit-based pie recipes freeze well and retain the texture and flavor of the ingredients used, custard pies become soggy and lose their flavor if frozen and stored for long. Apart from fresh fruit pies, chocolate and mince pies also freeze well. Another thing that you must remember is: always use quality ingredients if you plan to freeze the cake you are making as excellent quality ingredients do not lose their flavor over time.

Assemble and Wrap The Pie

Once you have decided on the recipe and have all the ingredients, it’s time to assemble the pie and make it ready for freezing. Take a pie pan (aluminum or disposable are recommend) and cover it with the pie crust dough. Once done, add the filling and the thickener to the bottom crust of the pie. Next, place another layer of the dough and top it with another layer of the filling. Fold the edges of the pie into whatever shape you want to give it. Once your pie is assembled, you must wrap it properly. This is the area where many people make mistakes. Before freezing, the pie must be wrapped in at least two layers of plastic wrap, and any air present between the pie and wrapping must be diffused out. Add another layer of aluminum foil wrap on top. Creating a double-layered wrapping is vital to protect your pie from any moisture present. Freeze the pie. Your frozen pie will stay good for up to three months.

Tips on How to Freeze Homemade Pie and Mistakes to Avoid

If you are planning to host a large gathering, it is a good idea to make a pie in advance and freeze it. Here are a few tips to make your pie taste good and the mistakes to avoid while freezing it.

  • It is possible to freeze both baked as well as unbaked pies. While unbaked pies stay good for up to three months, baked pies can be used for up to four months. However, pies that are first baked and frozen often lose their authentic taste. Thus, it is always a better idea to freeze an unbaked pie.
  • Remove the pie from the freezer, take off all the wrappings, and place the pie directly into the preheated oven. For best taste, line the baking dish with some egg wash and sprinkle raw sugar on the top of the pie. The egg wash will give your pie a beautiful brownish golden color, and the sugar will add to its rich flavor.
  • Depending on the kind of pie you are making, add 20 to 25 minutes to the baking time given in the recipe. Since the pie is frozen, you will have to provide it with some extra time to bake.
  • Sometimes people freeze their pie with the icing on top. If you are planning to add any icing or decorations, do not add them while freezing. The best time to add these is right before you bake your pie.

Freezing pie and storing it is any day a good idea. Many chefs do it. If you are going to freeze your pie, be careful about the ingredients you are using. Also, make sure you have wrapped your pie well, and it is guarded well against any moisture in the surrounding air.

How to freeze homemade cookies

When you freeze cookies and dough for your holiday baking, you can enjoy stress-free schedules. These come in handy during holiday periods when you need a lot of time for activities such as buy, travel, and celebrate. Our easy-to-follow steps on how to freeze cookies and cookie dough and bake later help you freeze and bake when you are in a time crunch.

1. What type of cookies to freeze?

You can freeze almost every type of cookies cutouts, slice-bake, biscotti, and drop cookies. Avoid freezing cookies such as meringues that are decorated, filled, or have a delicate structure. You should also avoid freezing cookies that are coated with chocolate. A chocolate-coated cookie tends to form a boom, which is a white-colored layer on the surface when you freeze it.

2. How to freeze cookies?

After you bake your cookies, allow them to cool completely in the room temperature. Place these cooled cookies in a single line on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper. You can stack multiple layers of cookies provided they are separated by parchment or wax paper. Store the lined up cookies in a freezer friendly zip lock storage bag. Before you close the bag, squeeze out any extra air in the bag and place it in the freezer. You can also label these bags with a name and date when you have many different types of cookies to freeze.

Whenever you like to taste the cookie, grab the cookies from the freezer and place it outside the freezer for a while to get rid of the coldness in the cookies. Allow it to attain the room temperature before you eat. You can also heat the frozen cookies in a microwave in a 10-second interval. You need to avoid heating decorated cookies.

3. How to freeze a cookie dough?

It is preferable to freeze a cookie dough instead of freezing the baked cookies. Frozen cookie dough allows you to make fresh homemade soft cookies with a nice smell, any time you need it. You can place the baked cookies or roll or cut the cookie dough in paper sheets lined with wax and place them in the freezer. You need to freeze them for an hour or so until it becomes firm hard. You can then transfer the frozen unbaked cookies or cookie dough in an airtight container or storage bag and freeze it. You can label this cookie dough or cookies when you have many doughs that look similar. You can store cookies or cookie dough in the freezer for up to 6 months, provided they are wrapped and stored properly.

However, if you need to complete the entire task of baking cookies in one shot, you need to bake the cookies and freeze them.

6 mistakes to avoid when freezing cookie dough.

1. Freezing a wrong cookie dough.

You can freeze all types of cookie dough except thin and delicate cookies such as lace, Florentines, pizzelle. The doughs for these cookies have watery batters and do not freeze well, whether they are baked or unbaked. It is preferable to make fresh batters for these types of cookies.

2. Not freezing cookie dough in the right method.

Depending upon the kind of cookie dough, you need to follow a different method to freeze it.

Drop cookie doughs should be rolled into balls on a baking sheet and frozen until it is firm and transfer it to an airtight container or a freezer bag.

Slice and bake doughs should be rolled into logs, tightly wrapped in waxed sheets, and placed in the freezer.

Cut out doughs can be shaped into discs, layered one upon the other, and separated by wax sheets. You can place these stacked discs in a plastic wrap and transfer to an airtight container.

3. Freezing cookies rolled in granulated or powdered sugar.

Freezing cookies that are rolled in sugar or granules make the sugar to clump. It forms an unpleasant coating on the cookies and an eyesore. To prevent this, you can roll your cookies on powdered sugar right before you pick them to eat.

4. Not baking for additional time.

Though you can bake frozen balls of drop cookies, slice and bake and cutout cookie doughs need to be placed outside the room temperature for a short while before you bake. Colder doughs need more time to bake, and you need to allow it to bake for few more minutes than the suggested baking time. Warming the dough helps you to get better-baked cookies when you use cold doughs.

5. Not freezing doughs first.

You need to freeze your baked cookies or cookie dough until it is firm using a baking sheet wax before you transfer them to a freezer bag or an airtight container. Otherwise, it might end up in a block of stuck cookies or cookie dough when you grab them out.

6. Thawing baked cookies in the same frozen containers.

When you thaw the baked cookies in the same container, you froze them, the lingering condensation from the frozen containers deposits on cookies, and make them soggy. You need to take out frozen baked cookies containers to separate plates lined with paper towels and place them at room temperature.

These simple tips enable you to create great homemade cookies and give you a lot of time for other holiday activities. You can grab out your cookies any time you need a variety of cookies within minutes.

How to Oven Roasted-Asparagus

Though you can cook asparagus in different ways but roasting them is considered as the most admired way to cook them. If you do not know how to oven-roasted asparagus, then you should read this write-up till the end as it will also introduce you to the mistakes commonly committed by people while cooking this vegetable.

Some Basic Things to Follow

Before proceeding towards the recipe for roasting asparagus you should know about some basic things like the ends of asparagus spears are normally impossible to cook as they are too hard to cook. So you should trim them before starting to cook them. Before oven roasting asparagus, you should season them generously with pepper and salt. Asparagus should be cooked in an oven in a single layer as they will not char if they have crowded your pan.

Recipe of Oven Roasted Asparagus

Roasted Asparagus Ingredients

Ingredients required to oven-roasted asparagus may include:

  • Trimmed stalks of asparagus (2 pounds)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (3 tbsp)
  • Black pepper
  • salt

Directions for Oven Roast Asparagus

Before starting to roast asparagus in the oven, you should preheat the oven up to 400 degrees. Now put a large baking sheet on a large baking sheet in the oven and place generously seasoned asparagus with olive oil on that sheet. Roast the asparagus sticks up to 25 minutes or until they tender.

Some of the Common Mistakes to Be Avoided

While roasting asparagus, people usually make some common mistakes, which can be avoided while roasting them a bit carefully. Some of these mistakes may include:

Use Of Too Big Or Too Small Asparagus Stalks

While roasting asparagus stalks, you should take them of the right size as too thin stalks can be overcooked easily, whereas thick stalks will be more fibrous and woodier. So, they should be medium in size when you are oven roasting them.

Peeling Asparagus Stalks

According to cooking experts, peeling asparagus before cooking is not necessary. Moreover, it will take much time to peel them. Instead of peeling the asparagus stalks, you should cut off their bottom part as the rest of them is edible.

Cut off Too Much Woody Portion

Some people bend the asparagus stalks to remove their woody portion, which is not the right method to remove their inedible part. According to experts, it is a time-consuming method. You should check them by pressing them with your fingers. The stalk will break up automatically, or you can slice it from that point to remove its woody part easily.

Avoiding Blanching of Asparagus

Most cooking experts blanch asparagus, regardless of the method they use for cooking them. It makes easier to start their cooking process. When you are roasting asparagus without blanching it them its outer surface will be charred, whereas from inside, it will remain raw. You should blanch asparagus in boiling highly salted water for 1-3 minutes, according to the size of its pieces. But you should not blanch it for a longer time as it will boil them, which may not be suitable for roasting them.

By avoiding these mistakes, you can easily oven roast perfect asparagus.

Good Reasons To Eat Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash is a very healthy vegetable, packed with vitamins and fiber. It has a neutral taste so that it can be combined with almost all other types of food. It is low in calories, which makes it perfect for people who are on a food regime. Moreover, it is really easy to prepare, even if you are a complete beginner. Here are the biggest benefits of spaghetti squash:

Spaghetti squash is a great source of vitamins

It is loaded with vitamins! One cup of spaghetti squash contains 9% of the recommended daily dose of vitamin C. Do we even need to mention vitamin C? It is crucial for our immune system, it is a great antioxidant, and it is great for skin as it prevents premature aging. One cup of spaghetti squash has 8% of the recommended daily dose of vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 is necessary for the proper functioning of our brain and nervous system. Moreover, it activates some of the hormones responsible for our happiness level, and it can improve our mood and reduce the risk of depression. Spaghetti squash also contains other important nutrients such as manganese, potassium, niacin, and magnesium.

Spaghetti squash is low in calories

Spaghetti squash is perfect for people who want to lose weight or to eat healthily. This watery food is really low in calories but very rich in nutrients. It is difficult to say how many calories one spaghetti squash contains because they come in different sizes and shapes. But we can say how many calories there are in one cup of cooked spaghetti squash: it contains only 42 calories! On the other hand, one cup of traditional spaghetti (without any sauce) contains from 180 up to 220 calories. Now it is clear why more and more people opt for spaghetti squash, as a healthier alternative to spaghetti.

Spaghetti squash contains a lot of fiber

It is a great source of fiber. One cup of spaghetti squash has as much as 9% of the daily dose of fiber. It means that regular consumption of this vegetable can improve your digestive system, eliminate potential problems and lower your blood sugar level. Fiber also helps people who are trying to lose weight, and that’s one of the biggest benefits of this vegetable.

Spaghetti squash is easy to prepare

It is one of the easiest dishes to prepare, and it does not require advanced cooking skills. All you have to do is cut it in half and remove the seeds. Then you should add a little olive oil, salt, and spices and roast it in the oven at 400 F for about 45 minutes. As you can see, it is not time-consuming because while it is roasting you have time to do whatever you want. Once it is roasted, use a fork to make strands that look like spaghetti.

Spaghetti squash can be prepared in many different ways

Above we have described the easiest way to prepare spaghetti squash. You can also use it in various meals that require spaghetti or noodles as one of the ingredients. Spaghetti squash is a great substitute for both of them, and it does not change the flavor or consistency of the dish – it only lowers calorie intake. Spaghetti squash is the perfect solution for people who want to lower calorie intake without having to give up on their favorite meals. It is worth mentioning that it has a very mild flavor so that it can be combined or topped with various ingredients. That way, you can prepare it often, but it will not bore you. Some of the most popular toppings include cheese, veggies, and meatballs. But you can be creative and combine it with any other food that you like. You can not go wrong, and you may end up discovering a great new combination!

Now you should understand with more clarity why many doctors recommend spaghetti squash as a healthier substitute to spaghetti. It has a lot of benefits for your overall health, as well as the digestive system, weight loss, and youthful looks. Once when you try it and see how easy it is to prepare and combine with other food, you would wish you have tried it earlier!