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12 creative ways to use muffin tins

Muffins are marvelous, to be sure. Virtually all bakers of all ages and cooking ability levels have muffin tins in their cupboards. But besides making muffins, what else can you do with this compartmentalized cookware?

Consider these 12 creative ways to use muffin tins.

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These 12 muffin pan uses are arranged alphabetically for easy reference.

  1. Cupcakes – With or without liners, a muffin tin is the go-to item for the job.
  2. Cheesecakes – Pour the filling over some graham cracker crust in each muffin cup, and bake.
  3. Chocolate cups – Chill a muffin tin. Dip the bottom into melted chocolate, covering the outside of each section. Chill again until chocolate hardens.
  4. Cookie cups – Press homemade or slice-and-bake cookie dough over the outside of each muffin tin cup. Bake as usual, cookie side up.
  5. Eggs – Pour scrambled eggs or omelet eggs into greased muffin tin cups. Bake.
  6. Ice cream scoops – Shortcut sundae  serving for a large gathering by scooping ice cream into a muffin tin. Cover, and freeze immediately until ready to serve.
  7. Jello molds – Prepare gelatin of any flavor, as directed. Pour it into a muffin tin, and add fruit or other accents before chilling to make easy individual molds.
  8. Pancakes – Grease muffin tin cups. Ladle prepared pancake mix into each one, and bake.
  9. Quiches – Put pie crust into each muffin pan section. Pour egg mixture on top, and bake.
  10. Taco shells – Stretch soft tortillas over the outside of muffin tin cups. (Jumbo muffin pans are ideal for this.) Bake until crispy to make small edible taco salad bowls .
  11. Tarts – Use muffin tins to make miniature pies for a special dessert.
  12. Toddler fun meals – Fill each section of a muffin tin with a different finger food for a young child. Choose apple slices, banana bits, Cheerios, cheese chunks, Goldfish crackers, hot dog pieces, and other favorites.

Outside the kitchen, muffin tins are super for setting up crafts. How about sorting beads, sequins, or buttons into a muffin tin for a handicraft project?

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Freshening fake foliage: How to dust artificial plants and flowers

Fall is coming, and autumn cleanups don’t stop at the front porch. What about those indoor artificial plants and silk flowers? Haven’t they been collecting dust through open windows all summer?

Low-maintenance is in!

Silk flowers and faux trees need no watering, fertilizing, or pruning! Leaves and blooms never wilt or fade, and you don’t need a green thumb to keep them looking lovely and lush. Some even look nearly natural.

However, within a few months, they do tend to grow a bit dusty and musty. How do you clean these without losing leaves or upsetting the beautiful floral arrangement?

No one has the time to wipe each individual leaf. But there is a much faster way! In fact, on an ongoing basis, three strategies are helpful. Here they are, listed in increasing amounts of effort and thoroughness.

1. Give artificial plants a gentle whisking to prevent dusty build-up.

At least once a week, you can use a soft feather duster to shake dust off the leaves and branches of your artificial plants. Be careful! If flowers or leaves fall off, try to re-affix them to the proper spots. Often, you simply have to snap the loose items back onto the right branch stubs.

2. Try a simple spraying solution.

Every week or two, you can lightly apply a thin layer of clear disinfectant spray (such as Lysol) to the blossoms and leaves of your artificial plants. This will minimize dust collection.

3. Give them a cleansing rain.

Every few months, you will want to do a more thorough cleaning. Take the artificial plant outdoors to the deck, driveway, sidewalk, patio, or another solid surface. Test color-fastness by soaking one or two leaves with clear water. Let the sample leaves dry, then shake them lightly to see how clean and shiny they have become.

If this has proven to be successful, then it is time to tackle the entire plant. First, check inside the pot. Is the filler made of Styrofoam, cardboard, or paper? If the filler is water-soluble, you will need to remove the plant from it before proceeding. If the container itself is not waterproof, you will also want to remove it.

Use your garden hose and a spray nozzle (set for a light shower, spritz, or gentle mist). Tip the plant slightly, so the water will shake off onto the ground, instead of into the plant base. Spray the entire plant thoroughly. Then shake off as much water as possible.

Set the plant in a sunny spot, sheltered from the wind, to dry for a few hours. Once it is completely dry, you can re-pot it and put it back in its spot.

What about cleaning artificial plants or silk flowers in an apartment or condominium?

A city dweller can accomplish the same ends by misting synthetic plants with a water-filled spray bottle in the shower. Place your potted items on a deck or balcony to dry.

Avoid costly cleaning products, as these are not needed for this job.

Artificial plant cleaning products are available, but they are quite costly and quite unnecessary. Household cleaning chemicals may damage the color of the leaves as well.

These simple steps will keep your plants looking fresh and healthy and perhaps even realistic.

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