Dear Sara:

There is a spray that is used with shoe stretchers. Do you know what is in that formula? -- Carol W., email

Dear Carol:

You can use equal parts water and rubbing alcohol on the inside of the shoe where you want it stretched (using a cotton ball to apply it). Then use your shoe stretcher and a hair dryer to stretch the shoes. Repeat until you have the desired results.

Dear Sara:

I have saved two dozen Del Monte red grapefruit slices pint jars. I often give my jellies and pickles away, and I thought these jars would be great for that, but the labels just won't come off. I have tried soaking, and they have been in the dishwasher several times, but I still cannot remove the labels. I called the company and a young man only suggested what I have already tried. Can you help me? -- Donyta, email

Dear Donyta:

Soak the jars in hot water. If there's still some glue residue, use vinegar, nail polish remover, baby or vegetable oil and a plastic or green Scotch-Brite scrubbie to remove it. Label removal is easier if you score the label first. You might have luck with Goo Gone, WD-40 or Pledge furniture polish, too. Run them through your dishwasher afterward.

Dear Sara:

I sometimes forget to marinate. Is there anything wrong with just pouring marinade onto the meat/poultry and cooking it? -- Pauline, Ohio

Dear Pauline:

Marinade is pretty strong because it's concentrated, so using too much directly can result in a flavor that is overpowering. If you're short on time, you can brush the marinade onto the meat/poultry toward the end of the cooking process. The idea is to enhance the flavor of your meat, so soaking your meat in it overnight isn't absolutely necessary.

Dear Sara:

We rarely drink hot chocolate, but happen to have tons of mix. What can I do with it besides make hot chocolate? -- Dob, email

Dear Dob:

Give some to friends or family, or donate it. You can make chocolate pudding or a chocolate shake, or add it to coffee, pancake batter or oatmeal. You can use it in baked goods such as cakes and muffins, too. Here's an easy microwave cake-in-a-mug recipe:

Dear Sara:

I'm making a breakfast sausage casserole, but I grabbed the regular Jimmy Dean sausage instead of the sage flavor. I have some sage; how much do you think I should mix in with the sausage to flavor it? -- S.S., California

Dear S.S.:

I wouldn't add more than 1 tablespoon of sage per pound.

Dear Sara:

Can I freeze leftover cooked rice? -- Jennifer C., North Carolina

Dear Jennifer:

You can freeze cooked rice. Let it cool, then package it in freezer storage bags. Flatten the bag (leaving rice in a layer about 3/4-inch thick) and squeeze out any air, or you can even roll the rice into a ball and wrap with plastic wrap. To reheat, microwave on high for 1-2 minutes or until fully reheated, or use a frying pan or small saucepan. Add a bit of water if needed.


photo by LMarie