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Applesauce is cooking!

Dear Heloise: Can I substitute applesauce in place of cooking oil when baking items such as cakes or muffins? -- Paula S., Mission Viejo, Calif.

You sure can! Applesauce makes a great substitute. For 1 cup of oil, replace with 1 cup of applesauce. Cakes will be sweeter and softer. And if you like cookies to have a cakelike consistency, try substituting applesauce. You might start using only 1/2 cup applesauce for a recipe and see how your family likes the taste and texture. Here's to your good health!

-- Heloise

Send a great hint to:

Heloise

P.O. Box 795000

San Antonio, TX 78279-5000

Fax: 210-HELOISE

Email: Heloise@Heloise.com

Heloise's club waffles

Dear Heloise: I had to write to tell you that your waffle recipe using club soda as an ingredient is a favorite with my family. We love them! -- Jennifer R. in Georgia

Jennifer, thank you so much! This recipe for Heloise's Club Soda Waffles (they are lighter than air!) was a reader favorite from my mother's column, the original Heloise (1919-1977), and still is. You will need the following:

2 cups biscuit mix

1 egg

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 1/3 cups club soda

Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl using a SPOON, and DON'T overmix the batter. You must use the batter immediately, or it will go flat.

It couldn't be easier to make delicious waffles any day of the week! You even can freeze these waffles for the mornings when you are in a rush.

-- Heloise

P.S. Try a flavored sparkling water, like strawberry!

Saving spices

Dear Heloise: My money-saving hint is when opening a spice jar with a paper seal, don't remove the whole seal. Cut the seal in half so that when you spoon out the spice, you don't take too much. You save product and don't waste any, and you will get a smaller portion when you shake the bottle. It's another way to control how much salt is used. I love celery salt on many dishes.

Before you throw the empty bottle in the recycling bin, check the size of the holes in the top of the old and new shakers. Some have bigger openings than others. Bigger holes mean more of the product will be used when shaken. -- Carson G., Saginaw, Mich.

Only one chore

Dear Heloise: Sometimes I don't feel like starting chores in the kitchen, such as washing or putting away dishes. But if I complete one, before I know it I am doing others to clean up the kitchen.

Once started, I'm motivated to keep cleaning until I've finished. -- Andrea H., via email

My thoughts, too! When I don't want to "start" whatever, I tell myself "Just do three simple things," and that's all. Yep! Before I know it, I've done more. Just get started!

-- Heloise

Homemade pizza

Dear Heloise: I save any leftovers, such as sausage, meatloaf, taco meat, etc.

We then use these items for our homemade-pizza night. We have made some unique pizzas based on what was in the refrigerator/freezer. -- Julia T., Fort Wayne, Ind.