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Hints From Heloise: Keep the mess to a minimum when stirring peanut butter

Dear Heloise: I buy the natural peanut butter, the kind where you have to stir the oil into the solid peanut butter. I usually store the peanut butter jar upside down so the oil collects at the bottom of the jar. In this way, I can stir the oil into the peanut butter without splashing it all over my counters.

— Mary-Ann R., Aurora, Colo.

Dear Heloise: During these warm days of the year, I like to make a nice dinner for my family, but I hate spending time in the kitchen. We have a pool, and we like to have dinner outside on warmer summer nights by the pool. Anything that's quick to prepare, tastes good and allows me to spend time with my family is fine with me.

— Courtney B., Boerne, Tex.

Courtney B.: My baked Italian chicken is one of my favorite go-to recipes for summer dining. It’s simple to make and has only a few ingredients. You’ll need:

1 chicken, cut up or equivalent in parts

1 8-ounce bottle low-fat (or regular) Italian salad dressing

1 medium onion, peeled and sliced

4 medium potatoes, sliced (peeled or not) into bite-size pieces

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a casserole dish with a nonstick spray. Place the chicken in the casserole dish and cover with the Italian dressing. Top with onions and potatoes. Bake for about 1 hour or until done.

Serve this with a tossed salad and good bread, and you have a tasty, nutritious dinner that basically keeps you out of the kitchen and doing the things you enjoy.

If dinners like this are something you enjoy, you can get a copy of my “All-Time Favorite Recipes” pamphlet. Just go to or send a stamped (75 cents), self-addressed, long envelope, along with $5 to: All-Time Favorite, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-50011.

Why spend the beauty of summer cooking in a kitchen when you can be enjoying activities you really like to do and spending time with the people you love?

Dear Heloise: We come from a very large Italian family and, of course, family gatherings mean lots of leftovers. We send people home with plates and plates of food. First we load up a plate, cover it with clear plastic wrap, then place another paper plate under the first paper plate to help secure the plastic wrap. This lessens the likelihood of a spill in the car on the way home.

— Jennifer G., Warren, Mich.

Dear Heloise: My 90-year-old grandmother needs to use a straw to sip liquids, and I couldn't figure out how to clean them, rather than tossing them in the trash. Finally, my neighbor told me to use a pipe cleaner, and sure enough, it worked. We believe in recycling things whenever possible, and throwing out a straw just went against my sense of responsibility to the planet.

— Heather D., Port Charlotte, Fla.

Dear Readers: During these warm days, please keep in mind that pets outside need water, and lots of it. Always make sure your pets have lots of clean drinking water.

Heloise’s column appears six days a week at Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or email it to

2021, King Features Syndicate