Dear Readers: Summer is in full swing, and that means barbecues, picnics, camping and visits to parks. These usually include hamburgers and hot dogs. Here are a couple of hints to help make a better burger, and with a twist:

* Add taco seasoning to the meat, then add Monterey Jack or jalapeno cheese. Serve with salsa, jalapeno slices, guacamole or sour cream as condiments.

* Add a dry ranch or Italian dressing mix to the meat. Serve with blue-cheese crumbles, roasted garlic and red onions.

* Add bits of Italian sausage, Parmesan and minced garlic to the meat. Serve with tomato sauce or pesto and mozzarella cheese.

Give one (or all) of these a try! If you have a special recipe you would like to share, please send it in, and I’ll try to print some of the most unusual. -- Heloise



P.O. Box 795000

San Antonio, TX 78279-5000

Fax: 210-HELOISE



Dear Heloise: I have always wondered if carrots should be peeled before eating. -- Sonya D. in Cincinnati

Well, this is a question that does not have a definitive answer. If you are eating a raw carrot, scrubbing the carrot well under running water and peeling should suffice. If the carrots are certified organic, the peel can be left on.

It is recommended by major producers of carrots to always wash and peel carrots before eating; the only exception is organic carrots or baby carrots (which are actually regular carrots, peeled and cut down to a small size).

Since most of the vitamins are NOT in the skin, peeling does not really affect the nutrition. Another interesting carrot hint: More vitamin A is released when you cook carrots than when you eat them raw! -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: This hint saves time and avoids a mess when opening cans of refried beans, thick (condensed -- Heloise) soups, tomato paste, etc. After removing the top, turn the can upside down in a bowl. Using a bottle opener, puncture the bottom of the can. The contents of the can will slide right out. -- Liz S., via e-mail


Dear Heloise: To prevent hard-boiled eggs from sliding around on a plate, put lettuce leaves on the plate under the eggs. It looks pretty and keeps the eggs in place. This works well when transporting a dish to a potluck dinner or picnic. -- Ruth F., via e-mail


Dear Heloise: I save the round or square cardboards from frozen pizzas. I cover them with aluminum foil and use for occasions when I want to transport a cake to a gathering or surprise someone with a home-baked dessert. This eliminates any confusion about returning the dish to the right person. -- T.W. in Florida


Dear Heloise: Like most people, I save the wide rubber bands from broccoli and cauliflower and throw them into a kitchen drawer. They are perfect for wrapping around your thumb when slicing veggies by hand. Protects your thumb much better than an adhesive bandage. -- Ronnie in West Virginia

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