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IQ-tips: quick meals anyone? anyone?

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Because we're still up to our ears in boxes in our new home, with half the kitchen still MIA (note to self: when moving next time, be a little more liberal when labeling boxes. "Downstairs sh*t" doesn't help much when trying to locate the remote controls or extension cords), my wife and I find ourselves making a lot of little, quick, easy meals.

Lately my favorite has been an avocado/cheese melt. To make it, all you need is a tortilla (I prefer flour over corn), half an avocado and a slice or two of your fav cheese (I like provolone). Mash up the avocado, spread it on the tortilla, slap the cheese over it and heat. Once the cheese melts, take it out and dash on some red hot-sauce. It's delicious and takes a whopping 5 minutes to prepare.

The New York Times had a long list of 101 quick meals in their Dining/Wine section the other day. Here are the top ten, all of which sound rather easy except #5. Mussels just don't belong in any recipe with the words easy or quick if you want my opinion. What about you all? Have a quick, easy dish I can make in less than 10 minutes? (sans microwave, if possible)

  1. Make six-minute eggs: simmer gently, run under cold water until cool, then peel. Serve over steamed asparagus.
  2. Toss a cup of chopped mixed herbs with a few tablespoons of olive oil in a hot pan. Serve over angel-hair pasta, diluting the sauce if necessary with pasta cooking water.
  3. Cut eight sea scallops into four horizontal slices each. Arrange on plates. Sprinkle with lime juice, salt and crushed chilies; serve after five minutes.
  4. Open a can of white beans and combine with olive oil, salt, small or chopped shrimp, minced garlic and thyme leaves in a pan. Cook, stirring, until the shrimp are done; garnish with more olive oil.
  5. Put three pounds of washed mussels in a pot with half a cup of white wine, garlic cloves, basil leaves and chopped tomatoes. Steam until mussels open. Serve with bread.
  6. Heat a quarter-inch of olive oil in a skillet. Dredge flounder or sole fillets in flour and fry until crisp, about two minutes a side. Serve on sliced bread with tartar sauce.
  7. Make pesto: put a couple of cups of basil leaves, a garlic clove, salt, pepper and olive oil as necessary in a blender (walnuts and Parmesan are optional). Serve over pasta (dilute with oil or water as necessary) or grilled fish or meat.
  8. Put a few dozen washed littlenecks in a large, hot skillet with olive oil. When clams begin to open, add a tablespoon or two of chopped garlic. When most or all are opened, add parsley. Serve alone, with bread or over angel-hair pasta.
  9. Pan-grill a skirt steak for three or four minutes a side. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, slice and serve over romaine or any other green salad, drizzled with olive oil and lemon.
  10. Smear mackerel fillets with mustard, then sprinkle with chopped herbs (fresh tarragon is good), salt, pepper and bread crumbs. Bake in a 425-degree oven for about eight minutes.
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Using Your Headphones as a Mic
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So here's something you probably didn't know: If you're ever in a pinch for a microphone, to record something quickly when the quality doesn't really matter, you can always use a pair of headphones. Say WHAT? Yep, it's true! A microphone is the same as a speaker. The diaphragm of the driver of the headphones is moved by the molecules of air that make up a soundwave. This driver is attached to a coil of wire (voice coil) which rests between a magnet. As the coil moves through the magnetic field, a current is produced.


So how do you do it?


Simple! Just get a pair of headphones and plug them into your laptop's input. Or plug them into whatever recording device you're using. Then hit record and start talking into the earpiece.

It seems to work best with cheaper iPod type headphones. And it doesn't always work. Sometimes it depends whether the mic jack supplies voltage and whether that voltage is as limited as it should be. But give it a try! You have nothing to lose.

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IQ-tips: Computer Timesaver Tips
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Some of you may know some of these tips, but if you're like a lot of people out there, you may not know them all. Today, I present 4 tips that will help speed your life along while working at the computer. If you know some other PC timesaver tips, by all means, don't hesitate to drop them down in the comments and let us all in on them.

1. No need to type www

That's right! When typing a URL into a Web browser, there's no need to waste time typing the www part. Don't believe me? Go ahead and type mentafloss.com into the browser and watch what happens. [ed. note: As some readers have correctly pointed out, this is only mostly true. Some URLs still require the full www. But that shouldn't stop you from trying it first without!]

2. Alt + Tab (Apple key + Tab)

alttab.jpgThis is an easy way to toggle between the applications you have open. So let's say I'm typing a document in MS WORD and want to copy and paste some of the document into a spread sheet open in EXCEL. No need to take your fingers off the keyboard, just hold down the ALT key (for Mac users it's the Apple key) and TAB through your open applications until the highlighter lands on the EXCEL icon. When you let go, presto! you're in EXCEL. This trick is also great for switching quickly when your boss comes up behind your cubicle and wants to talk to you. If you happen to have mentalfloss.com loaded on your browser (and why wouldn't you?), just TAB to that PowerPoint presentation without touching the mouse and he'll have no idea you were goofing off on company time. (Not that anyone actually goofs off by reading mentalfloss!)

3. Tab through forms

Let's say you're in the middle of filling out a profile on our site. You're confronted with dozens of empty fields that need filling in (First Name, Last Name, Address, blah blah blah, you've done it a million times in your life already). What a pain in the neck it is to use the mouse to move through the boxes. You don't have to, though! Just hit the TAB key and shazam! you're in the next box. Make a mistake? Hold down the SHIFT key and then TAB back a box. HUGE time saver.

4. No need to go to Google.com to perform Google searches

google.jpgThis is something my wife just can't get through her (every-once-in-a-while) thick skull. In the upper right-hand corner of every browser, there a search bar that lets you name your default search engine. Plop the cursor in there and search just as you would if you were my wife, typing www.Google.com every time she wants to look up something.

Your turn! Hit us back with some shortcuts of your own.

Check out previous IQ-tips here.

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