Dear Heloise: I have read the Heloise column since it was first published in the Lubbock (Texas) Avalanche-Journal, and I have appreciated and used many of your hints.

The last time I made my “famous” (family) recipe of CHICKEN WITH DUMPLINGS, I substituted strips of tortillas instead of mixing up my recipe, only adding a dash more salt and pepper to the broth. They went over big-time, and cooked without falling apart! Now that’s my “new” recipe, and everyone loves it! -- Wynelle C., Post, Tex.

What a great substitute hint! We love our flour tortillas here in San Antonio! Soups are a great meal on a cold day, and are one of my favorite things to cook. I have compiled my Heloise’s Spectacular Soups pamphlet, which you can receive by sending $5 and a long, self-addressed, stamped (65 cents) envelope to: Heloise/Soups, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Have you made soup that had fat on the surface? Remove from the heat and add a couple of ice cubes. Scoop out the ice cubes, and the fat will come out along with them. -- Heloise


Dear Readers: What is ratatouille?

A) A type of sausage

B) A blend of herbs and spices

C) A vegetable stew

D) A type of pasta

The answer is C. It is a vegetable stew that originated in the Provence region of France. Ratatouille is made from eggplant, zucchini, onions, bell peppers, tomatoes and seasonings (such as garlic and basil). The ingredients are cooked until tender, usually starting with just one or two in the pan. Additional vegetables are added until they are all together, simmering in the mixture of vegetable juices. It can be used as a side dish or eaten as a meal. Typically served at room temperature, this dish also can be eaten hot out of the oven or after being chilled in the refrigerator. Delicious at any temperature and at any time! -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: I love making potato salad but hate peeling and cutting the hot, boiled potatoes. I like to use small (either red or white) new potatoes because they are small enough for me to use an egg slicer to slice and peel them. Most of the skins come off, and if they don’t, that’s okay, because I like having some of the peels in the salad. The peels get caught in the tines of the slicer, pull off easily, and the potatoes are cut into perfect pieces. Then you can prepare as usual. Love your column in the North Port (Fla.) Sun. -- Elaine N., North Port, Fla.


Dear Heloise: Here’s a timesaving cleanup hint. When lining a pan with aluminum foil for oven-baking chicken, brownies, etc., turn the pan upside down and mold the foil to the bottom of the pan. Then turn the pan over, place the molded foil in the pan and secure the edges. So easy! -- Jackie C., via e-mail

Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Tex. 78279-5000, fax it to 210-HELOISE or e-mail it to Please include your city and state.

2012, King Features Syndicate