I recently purchased a Pampered Chef Deluxe Air Fryer and wanted to share an honest and unbiased review! Read on to see if this is a product that could add value to your life.
Air fryers are all the rage and for good reason. We can now “fry” up some crispy snacks without the negative effects of using oils. What’s not to love?
But with prices ranging from less than $50 to well over $2,000, it’s hard to know how to choose the best one. I recently purchased the Pampered Chef Deluxe Air Fryer and wanted to share my opinion of this product. Is it worth the price?
For comparison’s sake, let’s first take a look at the less expensive, basket-style air fryers.
Basket Air Fryer
I have wanted an air fryer for quite some time as I had heard great things about them. As it happens, a friend gave me one that she no longer used and I was very excited to give it a try. Unfortunately, I found myself completely underwhelmed with the product.
It was a basket air fryer, which I assume is supposed to make it seem more like a “real” deep fryer but, in my opinion, this setup works against it.
Items must be laid in a single layer with some space between them. Since the cooking surface of the basket itself was quite small this didn’t leave room for many items. As it turns out, this is why my friend was no longer using it. She would have to cook food in batches, with the first batch sitting out getting cold while she cooked the second batch.
The air fryer did come with a rack that rested on the surface of the basket to create an extra cooking surface but that created problems of its own.
The air fryer recipes I have seen require that the food be shaken, turned or rotated halfway through the cooking process.
It’s impossible to shake the basket with a freestanding rack inside without the food on the rack flying everywhere. If you opt to turn or rotate the food instead, that involves somehow removing the rack to get at the food beneath it. The rack sits down inside the basket and there’s not enough room available between the rack and the sides of the fryer to grasp it. In addition, there are no sides on the rack, no way to hold that food in place while lifting it.
For me, the whole process was just more trouble than it was worth
Pampered Chef Deluxe Air Fryer – Is it Worth The Price?
The Pampered Chef Air Fryer opens from the front, similar to a toaster oven. This is a huge improvement from the basket air fryers because it’s easier to get food in and out, as well as turn/rotate food (just slide the racks out!)
This is a great feature to me because the design is similar to a toaster oven and I love my toaster oven. I’m a single person so it’s perfect for creating single-serving meals. It doesn’t heat up my kitchen like an oven does and uses a fraction of the electricity. And, by some weird coincidence, my ancient, secondhand toaster oven gasped its last breath the very moment I was considering the Pampered Chef Air Fryer.
Because this air fryer has the ability to air fry, bake, toast, and function as a rotisserie (it comes with a rotisserie basket for french fries and a skewer for whole chickens), I have used it just about every day since I got it.
The rotisserie cooks a 4lb chicken in 45 minutes, which is much more time-efficient than putting it in the oven.
The 9”x10” cooking surface on each of the 2 racks that are included provides plenty of room for family-sized meals but there’s room for a 3rd rack (which can be ordered separately) if you want even more cooking space!
I will tell you that, from my experience, it IS worth the money. While I’ve gone over the specifics in regard to cooking, I can also say that there is a 1-year warranty, with a no-holds-barred, for-any-reason return or replacement policy. You can send it back for any reason whatsoever! Yes, even if it just doesn’t match your kitchen.
Add to that the 4.7/5 star rating out of 976 reviews and I think we can say that this is a bargain at the price of $289!
Want an even better price? Talk to me about getting 50% or more off the price by hosting a party. Click here to reach me and let’s talk!
Subscription boxes are all the rage lately and meal kits are no different. Meal kits claim to make it easy to eat a healthy, whole foods diet. They deliver every ingredient needed for each meal in the proper proportions so there is no waste and no need to shop for ingredients.
I received a HelloFresh meal kit for free as a gift from my daughter-in-law. Since it’s no secret that I love free stuff, it should come as no surprise that I jumped on the opportunity to order.
It should also come as no surprise that I want to share my opinion with you. Have a seat while I share my review of HelloFresh.
Ordering and Receiving My HelloFresh Shipment
It was simple to sign up. HelloFresh is a subscription program that automatically bills for and ships a meal kit every week. The downside of this is that there would only be two days between receiving one box and being locked into the next box.
Because I wouldn’t be able to access my 6-meal box in two days, I decided to skip the box scheduled for the following week, which was very easy to do. It’s also very easy to change my menu options, adjust the number of meals I receive and cancel my plan if I desire. This makes the service very easy to fit into my life and finances.
There are several different lifestyle options to choose from such as pescatarian, meat & veggie, vegetarian, pork-free, family-friendly, quick/easy, carb smart and calorie smart. I chose the meat & veggie option and was “assigned” three meals but I did have the option of 22 other meals to substitute any or all these 3 meals. Some of these choices were an extra charge, others were not and the choices appeared to be from all the lifestyle categories listed above. I must assume that the lifestyle choice and “assigned meals” are in case I forget to visit the site and pick the meals for an upcoming order.
My HelloFresh shipment arrived on the day they promised. It was surprisingly small and light considering that it contained 6 meals.
As I unpacked the box, the reason became clear and, I have to say, I was delighted. I had received another meal kit as a gift and was disturbed by the amount of packaging I had to throw away.
The HelloFresh box contained an inner cardboard box as insulation and one frozen ice pack. The foods were all packaged in plastic bags, no containers of any kind. I am not saying that plastic bags are good, mind you, but a bag takes up less room in the landfill than a container. The meals themselves were separated into brown paper bags and clearly labeled.
Preparing The Meal
As advertised, the Hello Fresh box came with all the ingredients I would need to prepare the meals, except for olive oil, salt and pepper. All of the ingredients were fresh and in good condition.
The prep itself was easy and uncomplicated. I didn’t run across any ingredients or procedures that I hadn’t encountered before. Someone who is switching over to home cooking from convenience foods or take out will probably see the prep work as excessive but this is the price we pay for improving our eating habits.
I was overwhelmed at first because, when following the directions, I felt I was doing too many things all at once. I ended up overcooking my roasted carrots while I was mixing the meatballs and cooking the rice. I finally realized that I had to go back with the cooking style that I’m comfortable with: I do all my prep (chopping, mixing sauce, coating meat, etc) first and then get to cooking. This added a few minutes to their “box-to-table” estimate but at least I didn’t overcook anything else.
The only downside here is a personal one: There are a lot of dishes to wash. For the ginger meatballs, I ended up washing a knife, cutting board, 3 mixing bowls, two baking pans, a saucepan, spatula, vegetable peeler, plate and various cutlery. Maybe this is just a normal dinner for some but, in my opinion, the fewer dishes, the better. Of course, I did save time and trouble by not shopping so I guess I’m ahead of the game!
The Main Event
Saucy Ginger Meatballs
This entree was the first one I tried and it was wonderful, although, at 910 calories per serving (1820 calories total), I decided to turn it into 3 servings instead of two. Not only did this smaller portion fill me up, I think I would have had trouble eating a “full” portion.
The meatballs are dressed with Bulgogi sauce, which is a sweet Korean barbecue sauce. It was paired with Jasmine rice and oven-roasted carrots then drizzled with spicy sour cream and sprinkled with a generous amount of sliced green onions.
The spiciness of the sour cream complemented the sweetness of the roasted carrots and the combination of colors was pleasing. I would definitely order this again.
Parmesan-Crusted Chicken with Creamy Lemon Tomato Spaghetti
The calorie count on this recipe was a whopping 1090 per serving (2180 calories total) so I decided to divide this into 4 servings. I also added a side of baby spinach with dressing because I felt it definitely needed more vegetables.
The pasta was a delight. The sauce was a combination of cream cheese and butter, giving it a wonderful creamy texture, although the taste of either was not obvious. The lemon zest and juice added a brightness to it while the roasted tomatoes allowed for a touch of sweetness. The combination of flavors worked very well together.
The chicken was spread with a mustard/mayonnaise mixture and topped with a combination of panko crumbs, seasoning packet and parmesan cheese. I did enjoy it but I felt that the mustard flavor was far too dominant and overwhelmed the subtle flavors in the crumb topping. If I were to make this again, I would skip the mustard mixture.
Butternut Squash Agnolotti This particular recipe had two things I have never tried before: kale and agnolotti. I enjoyed the kale more than I thought I would. In this recipe the instructions had me saute it in oil with the onion. The onion lent a soft sweetness, the kale was peppery with a nice chew to it.
The agnolotti is a ravioli-type pasta I haven’t tried before and it was very good. The pasta itself was fresh and relatively thick, the butternut squash filling was very mild. The added walnuts, garlic herb butter and parmesan cheese gave it a variety of flavors and its end result was delicious. I’m glad I didn’t have to share this with anyone!
The bottom line
Of course, it’s the bottom line that matters so here it is! Would I order this again? Yes, I definitely would and I did. The price per servings in my box would have been $10.48 each, including shipping. Because I had paired down the size of my servings on two of these meals, I ended up with 9 servings which come out to $6.99 per serving, including shipping. This is more than reasonable in regard to price.
The fact that the waste is minimal is a big plus for me. The meals are separated using recyclable paper bags and the outer and inner (insulating) boxes are both recyclable as well. The individual items that require packaging come sealed in plastic bags (no containers) that are just big enough to hold the items, which results in minimal throw away waste.
I am so impressed with this service that I have partnered with HelloFresh to give you a $40 discount on your first box!! What are you waiting for?
Have you ever tried a meal kit service? Which one did you try? How did you like it? Let me know in the comments below!
Is using dehydrated vegetables in your everyday cooking a viable solution? I’m happy to say it is! They’re tasty, nutritious, shelf-stable and easy to use!
This post contains affiliate links that, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. Read the full policy here.
Being single, it’s sometimes hard to determine how many fresh groceries items I’m going to use in a week. Yes, I make a meal plan and, yes, I make a grocery list…but things change. I’m a nanny and my work schedule totally depends on her parent’s work schedule, which is never set in stone. Sometimes my at-home meals don’t always become a reality.
Many fresh grocery items, such as cheese and some other milk items, have a decent shelf life. Meats and poultry can be tossed into the freezer. But what about produce?
Yes, some produce items have a longer shelf life. Winter squash, potatoes, onions, apples and garlic are good examples but others only have a few days before they begin to lose their freshness. Then there are the items that I might use just a little of but are difficult to buy in smaller quantities (celery comes to mind here!)
Now you might ask yourself, “Why not just go to the store when you need something?” Because I only have so much time.
I live in a rural area and a trip to the grocery store is an hour-long trip, at best. I have local farms and a farm-to-table store, as well as a weekly farmers market, that are on my way home from work but the selection there is subject to growing seasons, which are short here in New Hampshire.
One day, I unexpectedly ran across some freeze-dried mixed vegetables and a thought began to form. What would happen if I tried using dehydrated vegetables in my everyday meal plan?
What Is Dehydrated Food?
Dried or dehydrated foods are simply fresh items that have gone through a drying process that removes the moisture, leaving a product that is easy to store and has a very long shelf life. These foods can be eaten as is (such as we do with raisins) or rehydrated to be used in meal preparation.
Dehydrating is one the oldest food preservation techniques known to man. The method of sun drying foods goes back to prehistoric people. Later, the heat and smoke from a fire were used to expedite the process.
Freeze drying was invented in 1906. The method became widely implemented during World War II as a way to preserve and transport blood serum as well as food for the troops.
Many people use the words freeze dry and dehydrate interchangeably and, certainly, the results of the processes are very similar. The process of freeze-drying, however, is able to remove more water from the food, giving it a longer shelf life, sometimes as long as 25 years. Because of the time and equipment required to freeze dry foods, they tend to be more expensive than dehydrated. Dehydrated foods contain more water, which shortens their shelf life to 1 – 2 years.
Using Dehydrated Vegetables
In the past, whenever I’ve ever thought of freeze-dried or dehydrated food, I’ve thought about “Prepper Supplies”. I have nothing against preppers and there’s nothing wrong with preparing for the unexpected but I don’t have the room nor the desire to lay in 25 lb barrels of powdered eggs. But what about getting a few to use in my everyday cooking? Would that work?
The first time I used dehydrated vegetables was in Chinese Chicken Asian Soup. I added ⅓ cup of the carrots and ¼ cup of the celery as well as 1 extra cups of water to compensate for the hydration of the vegetables. They added a wonderful flavor to the soup, much the same as fresh vegetables would.
I also made a stewed beef recipe (again increasing the liquid by one cup) as well as veggie bagels and vegetable rice, all of which were very tasty. I have to say I was feeling pleased with my innovative spirit but I had to wonder how the nutritional value of these vegetables matched up to fresh.
Dehydrated Food Nutrition Facts
I did a little research and was pleasantly surprised to find that dried veggies lose very little of their nutritional value when they go through the dehydration process. They retain most of the vitamins, minerals and fiber they start with, the only exception being the loss of vitamin C to varying degrees (depending, it seems, on which vegetable is being dried). The conclusion is that dried vegetables can be considered to be a suitable source of nutrition.
The same is true of dried fruit with the exception, again, of some water-soluble vitamins.
There are a couple of caveats to keep in mind, though. When eating dehydrated produce in its dried state, it’s easy to overdo in regard to the number of calories and sugar being consumed. This is especially true of dried fruits. It’s also important to check out the nutrition facts and ingredients to make sure no extra salt or sugar has been added.
Where to Buy Dehydrated Vegetables
When making the choice to order these dehydrated goodies, I went a couple of different routes to see which one or which company worked best for me.
Augason Farms peppers were high quality and tasty but I didn’t like the large round can it came in. It’s big, bulky and just didn’t seem to “fit” anywhere.
Roland sun-dried tomatoes were fresh and full-flavored. The bag they come in now appears to be resealable, which was not the case when I bought them so that’s certainly a plus.
I was then off to the Mother Earth website to see what they had to offer. I purchased dried carrots and dried celery and was happy with both. I liked the containers as well. They have a rectangle shape which makes them fit snugly next to each other and can be stacked upright or on their sides.
Harmony House Is a particular favorite of mine because they have a wide selection of variety packs in a variety of package sizes, so you can decide if you want to stock up or just try a few to see if you like them! .They have a very large selection of dried foods including protein choices and bulk purchases. I decided to go with the 16-piece quart-sized pantry stuffer!
The Bottom Line
Would I recommend dehydrated vegetables for my everyday cooking? Yes! They are convenient, tasty and nutritious. They take the worry out of whether I have all the ingredients for a dish or if fresh ingredients will go bad before I have a chance to use them.
Will dehydrated vegetables take the place of fresh vegetables in my life? No. I very much enjoy fresh veggies and nothing can replace them in my salad or side dish. The dehydrated ones will simply make my life a little bit easier!
Do you or have you used dehydrated products? What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!
Ever wondered about using cooking stones? Here are a few tips and some use/care recommendations as well as my list of the 10 best oven baking stones!
Baking stones. Either you love ‘em…or you’ve never used ‘em. I was in the second group until I attended a Pampered Chef party. I ended up with a couple of cooking stones because I was curious and wanted to try cooking on them. I think the fact that I’m writing this would make you think I’m now hooked…and you would be right!
In this post, I’d like to go over the basics of oven stones and what I consider to be the 10 best oven baking stones on the market! Buckle up and let’s get this ride started!
What Is An Oven Baking Stone?
An oven stone is a portable cooking surface that is used for cooking and is one of the oldest cooking techniques known to man. Its history can be traced back to the Early Paleolithic Age between 45,000 to 9,000 BC. And, although we often think of baking stones as a pizza implement, they were first used to cook flatbreads and are still used for that purpose in many parts of the world.
The types I’ll be talking about here are made of clay but they can also be made of ceramic, cordierite, cast iron or stone. While most of us use them in our kitchen oven, they’re also suitable for use on the grill or over an open fire.
Baking stones are not good conductors of heat. This is actually a plus as your food is less likely to burn than when you’re using a glass or metal pan. They also absorb moisture from the bottom of the food, resulting in a crispier bottom.
But…Back To Me
As I said before, I got some baking stones at a Pampered Chef party. I was a little skeptical because it just seemed like food would stick. The consultant assured me it wouldn’t so I went ahead and purchased a stone bar pan.
The first thing I did was to cook some teriyaki steak tips. That’s a great test, right? I mean, if anything is going to stick, teriyaki marinade would, right? Nope. The steak was delicious and the stone cleaned up with just a few wipes of my dishtowel.
After such a great experience with the new stone, I tried making a pizza on a stone I had been given a while back but had yet to use. A friend had cooked a naan on it and I was so impressed that she gave me the stone. I lightly oiled the stone, spread the dough over it and confidently put it in the oven to bake.
After a bit of research, I spread some cornmeal over a piece of parchment paper and molded my pizza while my stone heated up in the oven. The stone did smoke, perhaps because I had oiled it previously, but it didn’t set off the smoke detectors so it was fine!
I took the hot stone out of the oven and spread cornmeal over it. I lifted the dough, still on the parchment paper, and carefully turned it over onto the stone, peeling away the paper when I was done.
Taking the stone out of the oven would seem to be a no-no from what I had read, but I really didn’t see any other way to do it. The recommended method of “sliding it onto the stone” is, in my humble opinion, not possible with raw pizza dough.
Anyhow, in it went for a 5-minute pre-bake.
It came out a bit wonky looking, as you can see, but it didn’t stick so I considered that a win. I covered it with toppings and back in it went for the final bake! The finished result was a perfectly crunchy, New York-style crust.
HowTo Use and Clean A Baking Stone
As you use your stones, they will darken and develop a smooth, nonstick surface. This is referred to as seasoning.
Using an oven baking stone is fairly straightforward:
Always place the stone in a cold oven and allow it to preheat before using.
Never place frozen or very cold food on a hot stone.
Never place a hot stone on a cold surface. If possible, remove food from the stone to serve and allow the stone to cool in the oven after turning it off. If the hot stone is removed from the oven, place gently on a room-temperature surface.
Don’t oil your stone.
Don’t drop your stone!
Store stone in a cool dry place.
Storing your stone in the oven is not recommended. The repeated heating and cooling of a stone that is not holding food tends to damage the seasoning.
Cleaning my stones depends entirely on what I cook on them. If I bake something that doesn’t leave residues, such as naan or rolls, I just brush off any crumbs and put it away.
If I’m cooking something a bit messier, I allow the stone to cool and clean it off with water and a dishcloth, using a plastic scraper or kitchen brush when necessary. I don’t recommend using soap on unglazed cooking stones, although Pampered Chef stoneware is made with StoneFusion Formula so they can be washed with soap or placed in the dishwasher.
If an unglazed stone needs a deeper clean, I make a baking soda paste (½ cup baking soda to 3 tbsp water) and spread it over the surface of the stone. I allow it to sit for 15 minutes then scrape off the paste and rinse with warm water.
Always allow your stone to dry completely before using or storing it.
10 Best Oven Baking Stones
The Pampered Chef stones that I’ve recommended below are made with StoneFusion Formula. I love them because they’re nonporous so foods and liquids won’t soak in. Once cool, they’re also dishwasher safe, although cleaning them this way will take longer for a seasoned surface to develop. I, personally, clean them in the same way that I clean my unglazed stones.
Take your pizza night to a whole new level! These pizza stones are pre-heat and oven-safe up to 550°F (287°C) so your pizza crust will be perfectly crispy every time. It has been designed with a raised lip on the back edge to make transferring that pizza on and off easier than ever (and keep it from falling off). Integrated handles make the stone easy to grasp and move about.
Get ready for the best cookies—soft in the center, crispy but never burned on the bottom! This stone also turns out the best pizza and flatbreads, appetizers, biscuits and scones, roasted vegetables, garlic bread, brunch braids, and so much more.
Bakers and breadmakers love how yeast bread, pound cakes, banana bread, and quick breads turn out beautifully golden brown and evenly cooked, every time. This versatile pan can also be used to make stuffing, tender and juicy meatloaf, and more.
This unglazed stoneware is made with a new StoneFusion material making it the strongest and most durable stoneware yet. You can pre-heat, broil, and even put it in the dishwasher. Each piece features a ribbon pattern, so you can easily distinguish it from your original unglazed stones.
This pan is just the right size for packaged brownie mixes and ooey-gooey bar cookie mixes, biscuits, sheet pan dinners, chicken, frozen foods, crispy pizza, or reheating leftovers that are just as good or better than day one. Because the unglazed cooking surface draws moisture away, everything cooks consistently and turns out light and crispy. The integrated handles make it easy to move in and out of the oven.
This pan fits in most countertop ovens including the Deluxe Air Fryer and will be your go-to when heating or reheating small amounts of food. It’s a great size for appetizers, roasted veggies, grilled cheese, and reheat slices of pizza.
Our Stoneware Starter Set will be a great addition to your kitchen! You can make perfect pizzas every time with the Pizza Stone, create easy sheet-pan dinners on the Stone Bar Pan, and bake delicious banana bread in the Stone Loaf Pan.
Time To Get Your Bake On!
If you haven’t tried oven baking stones, I hope you’ll take the plunge and choose one of these stones to begin your new adventure!
If you already use baking stones, please share your experience in the comment section below.
It seems like every time I turn around, I see an ad for a meal delivery service and I’ve been curious as to whether they were any good. As you know, I’m not a fan of premade anything so I had decided to forgo trying them. Until…
I received an email from Home Chef stating that my stepmother had referred me to the program and, if I signed up, my first box would be free. Now “free” is definitely one of my favorite things so I decided to give it a go.
Here is my review of the Home Chef Meal Box that I received for free: the good, the bad and the balance.
Order Up! Online Sign-up Form
I cruised over to the website to sign up. There was an initial glitch (more about that later) but it was quickly solved by customer service and I was able to sign up with minimal fuss.
There are 7 different categories to choose from: Culinary Collection, Meal Kit, 15 Minute Meal Kit, Grill-Ready, Oven-Ready, Entrée Salad and Protein Pack. You can also designate desired cook time. Menu choices can be further narrowed by opting for carb-conscious, calorie-conscious and vegetarian, as well as what sorts of proteins you prefer or food sensitivities you have. Some kits can be modified in regard to which type of protein will be included.
The choices change weekly, although some of the more popular dishes will reappear from time to time. The week I looked at had 19 extremely varied options. The description is very good, noting the items that make up the meal. Possible allergens and nutrition profile are also included.
The price is noted when you first look at selections (before clicking on the description) so it’s easy to stay within your budget. Both of my choices ran just under $9 per serving, which seems to be the minimum price, while some selections run close to $13. My box of 2 meals twice weekly (4 meals total) would have cost $49.53 at full price, including shipping.
It’s All About The Food
Now for the important section because it’s all about the food, right? The two meals I chose were shrimp paella and apple cherry spinach salad. Each entree provided two servings.
The shrimp paella was an “oven-ready” selection, which boasts no prep work. I had assumed that this meant it would come pre-assembled in the pan a’la frozen dinners (but not frozen). This was not the case. All the ingredients were packaged separately so I would have to assemble them myself.
This was not a difficult task and the meal came together quickly. I simply dumped all the ingredients (except shrimp) into the included tin pan, mixed ‘em up, laid the shrimp on top and baked it for 18 minutes.
The shrimp paella was tasty with the fresh peas, fresh peppers, crispy red peppers, pine nuts and shrimp giving the dish an interesting mix of textures. The flavor was mild but varied and the shrimp was very fresh. The packaging indicated that I would have 3 days to cook it although I cooked it the day after receiving it so I have no idea how the freshness might have held up had I waited.
At 468 calories, 44 grams of carbs, 23 grams of protein and 21 grams of fat, it’s well within the guidelines of what would be considered a healthy meal. It contains 1717mg of sodium, which runs around 75% of your daily intake but higher sodium is a given for prepacked ready-to-eats. This amount is definitely something you could work around by modifying your intake for the rest of the day.
My second choice was apple cherry spinach salad with goat cheese and sherry shallot vinaigrette. This was a no-cook selection, although I chose to add on the chicken breast option, which did have to be cooked.
The produce that came with the meal was fresh and unblemished. The chicken breasts were well-trimmed with no visible fat. In addition to cooking the chicken, there was a small amount of prep work to be done, namely cutting the apple and the scallion. It came together in less than 10 minutes.
There was a generous amount of walnuts, dried cherries and vinaigrette, which gave the salad a fabulous flavor. The only shortfall, in my opinion, was the amount of spinach that was included. I used both portions of spinach for my first salad and some romaine I had on hand for the second one. Again, I enjoyed the mix of textures from the apples, walnuts and dried cherries.
The nutrition profile broke down to 460 calories, 33 grams of carbs, 6 grams of protein and 200mg of sodium, all of which play well into a healthy diet. The 34 grams of fat seemed a bit high but it would be easy to cut back on the vinaigrette, as it was a very generous 3 oz portion. There was no notation as to how much the chicken breast changed that profile.
The things I love
The freshness of the ingredients is pretty amazing. I only have this one box to go on but everything I received was high quality and exactly what I would have chosen if I had picked it out myself.
It’s easy. The ingredients come premeasured and, in some cases, pre-prepped. All the ingredients you need are in the box so there are no surprises or last-minute trips to the store. In the case of the oven-ready selections (such as my shrimp paella), they even include the cooking pan.
The food is high quality and delicious. The portions are generous and could possibly be stretched into 3 adult portions, depending on appetites.
They indicate possible allergens that might be present on the ingredient list for each recipe so there’s no need to go searching for that information.
The price per serving is indicated right up from so it’s easy to stick to a budget. My box would have cost $12.38 (including shipping) per serving which would be equivalent to eating at a moderately priced restaurant. If I were to stretch the box out to 6 servings, each meal would cost only $8.25. I think this is a great value. And guess what makes it even better? I’ve partnered with Home Chef to give you $60 off your order!
The customer service is excellent. When I first went in to accept the offer, a box popped up informing me that I already had an account and could not receive the discount. While this was technically true, I had never ordered after my initial sign-up. I sent an email to Home Chef to explain this. They replied promptly to tell me that they had deleted my original account and I would be able to proceed with the offer.
The things I love less
According to their website, Home Chef claims that their ever-changing weekly menus lead them to use different vendors to obtain the ingredients they need to fulfill those menus. Although they say their ingredients are “occasionally organic” and that they source responsibly “whenever they can”, they are unable to guarantee either.
Despite the fact that they include allergens on their “ingredients list”, the actual lists themselves only include the major players in the recipe but no macro ingredients. “Rice Pilaf” and “tomato seasoning” were listed on the ingredients list of my shrimp paella but there’s no way to ascertain what these two items actually contained in regard to spices or artificial flavorings/preservatives. And you know how much that rankles me.
And then there’s the “leftovers”. I’m a bit horrified by the amount of trash that was generated by 4 meals, as you can see in these pictures.
According to the Home Chef website, the cardboard shipping container is recyclable, which, of course is always a good thing.
The insulated liner is made from recycled cotton and denim, which I assume is biodegradable, although this isn’t mentioned specifically in their literature, nor do they address the possible contamination due to the dies used in denim.
The ice packs contain water and polyacrylate (which is harmless) and can be reused or split open to dump contents down the drain.
This leaves lots of plastic, wraps, bags and containers, which can be more problematic. I don’t want to delve into world events in this article, but I think it’s safe to assume that we’re all aware that plastics are not as easily recycled as they used to be (and to be honest, some never were).
I don’t have any solutions, I’m just saying it makes me uncomfortable to add this entire tall kitchen bag full of trash to the top of the heap at my local transfer station. This is four meals worth.
The Final Conclusion
What’s the bottom line? Where do we draw the line between convenience and what are (or may be) negative consequences? What’s the final conclusion?
The truth is that we make these compromises every day. Every time we start up our car, everything we mail order, every single item we choose that isn’t locally sourced from small businesses. Even those locally sourced products, in most circumstances, come at some cost.
In the case of these meals, they may be a blessing to those who don’t have easy access to a store, have limited cooking facilities or cooking abilities. They may be a lifeline for someone who wants to eat a healthier diet but doesn’t have the time, knowledge or capacity to make that happen on their own.
I, personally, found them to be tasty, convenient and (for the most part) healthy. I would not rule out ordering again.
Does the thought of cast iron skillet cooking leave your stomach in knots? Be not afraid: It’s easier than you think! I go over care and use of your pans here.
I’ll admit it. For years I was afraid of cast iron skillet cooking. It just seemed sooo complicated and I just didn’t think I could do it. Nor did I really want to try.
One day, my mother gave me an 8” cast iron skillet that had belonged to her mother and my life was changed. Well, my cooking anyway. Although I don’t know exactly how old it is, I’m going to guess it’s 60 years old if it’s a day. It looks as good as the day it was born and the seasoned surface was as smooth as glass. The first time I used it, I was hooked for life.
Why Choose Cast Iron?
How many sets of pans have you bought in your life? Most of the “economy-priced” pans sold in department stores are made of aluminum. They’re available in different styles, sizes and colors, all the better to match with your kitchen, your dishes or whatever outfit you’re wearing today.
But then what happens next? Aluminum is a soft metal so your pans begin to warp. They get dented and the color begins to wear off the outside. Someone uses a metal fork and scratches the nonstick coating (which – FYI – they then eat). It’s time to replace them but you don’t mind. Maybe you can match the next set with the tablecloth.
Let’s say you decide to shell out a little more cash for some high-quality stainless steel pans. Sure, you’re gonna pay a few hundred dollars but it’s going to last a lifetime, right? Except…that I find that they’re more trouble than they’re worth. I actually have 2 stainless steel skillets that I never use.
In order to avoid having your food stick to these pans, you must cook over higher temperatures. The pan needs to be preheated to just the right temperature, then you need to add just the right amount of oil and heat that to just the right temperature. Only then are you ready to cook your eggs.
The problem here is that I’ve never been able to make it work. Every time I attempt it, I spend the rest of the day scrubbing because there is one thing stainless steel pans are really good at: hanging onto stuck food.
Cast irons pans, on the other hand, are a dream. For the cost of just one set of those “economy” pan sets, you’ll have a pan that’s indestructible and, when properly seasoned, naturally nonstick. A cast-iron pan will, literally, be the last pan you’ll ever have to buy. They don’t ever wear out, warp, fade, dent or crack. And the more you use them, the more nonstick they will become.
According to the Quora, fat polymerization is ”All commonly used fats and particularly those high in polyunsaturated fatty acids tend to form larger molecules (known broadly as polymers) when heated under extreme conditions of temperature and time. Under normal processing and cooking conditions, polymers are formed. When oils or fats are heated in a pan, multiple degradation reactions occur, including: autoxidation, thermal oxidation, polymerization, cyclization and fission.”
Wait…what? Trust me, it’s relevant. Most of us call it “seasoning the pan”. This is the first step in cast iron cooking and the most important. Seasoning will give your pan a non-stick surface.
Seasoning is an easy process that should be applied to every new cast iron pan you get, even if it claims to be “pre-seasoned”. It’s a process that also can be used on a pan that hasn’t been properly taken care of in the past or hasn’t been used in a while.
Depending on what you cook in your pan, it may need to be reseasoned from time to time. Cooking acidic foods such as tomatoes or using acidic ingredients such as wine or vinegar can damage the seasoning. Cooking foods that don’t have a lot of oil in them (such as baking pizza or cookies) can also leech some of the seasonings away from the pan. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t cook these things in your cast iron…it just means you’ll need to season it again at some point.
Here’s the good news: the more you cook in your cast iron, the more durable the seasoning will become. Every time you use oils (whether it be added oils such as olive or oils naturally found in meats) in your pan, the seasoning improves.
So what is the process? Here it is in 7 easy steps:
Preheat the oven to 375℉.
Thoroughly wash your pan in hot soapy water. If your pan hasn’t been properly cared for, has food residue/carbon build-up or rust, use steel wool to remove it.
Spread a thin layer of oil or shortening over the pan using a paper towel or basting/pastry brush. My personal preference is vegetable shortening as it’s easier (read: less messy) to use than liquid oils but you can use any oil you have on hand. Olive oil, sesame oil, flaxseed oil, butter or bacon grease are not recommended due to their low smoke point.
Place your pan upside down on the upper rack of your oven. Place a piece of aluminum foil or silicone baking sheet on the lower rack to catch any drips.
Bake for one hour.* Shut off the oven and allow the pan to remain in the oven undisturbed until it’s completely cool.
That’s it! Go cook something!
*This will likely create a bit of smoke. If you’re sensitive, be sure to open a window or turn on your kitchen fan.
Continuing Care Of Your Cast Iron Skillet
The logical thing to do next is to ask around for advice on how to manage the continuing care of your cast iron skillet. How do you clean it? How do you store it? What foods can you cook in it? What foods should you avoid? How do you preserve the seasoning?
How many different answers did you get? I’m guessing all of them. I’m guessing that now you know that you should just wipe out your pan after cooking. Unless you should use rock salt to clean it. Except that a stainless steel scrub is the only way to go. Never, ever, let water touch it.
You should always store your cast iron in a dark cupboard except that it’s better to keep it in the oven. Hanging it from the ceiling is optimal unless it falls on your head. In that case, you should take it down and leave it on your stovetop.
Don’t cook stinky foods like garlic and onions in your pan. Acidic foods such as tomatoes, lemons or wine will end in disaster. Eggs will stick. Fish will dry out. And that family-sized chocolate chip cookie? That’s certain to taste exactly like the ham and red-eye gravy you had for dinner. You could cook a steak as long as it hasn’t been marinated (again with that nasty ACID). It might be best to stick to just cornbread and bacon.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is what gives cast iron a bad name.
Real Life: Cooking With Cast Iron
So, what’s a girl to do? Well, the first thing is to remember that these pans are made from iron and steel. There’s not much you can do to hurt their feelings. The only real thing that will put a damper on your day is if it develops rust but since we know rust can be scrubbed out that’s not a deal-breaker. Just kind of a pain.
Here are my thoughts:
Season your pan. Season it when it’s new (even if it claims to be pre-seasoned) and reseason if you notice that food is sticking to it more than usual.
Clean your pan as soon as possible after cooking. If there are food particles stuck to the bottom of the pan, feel free to put a little water in the bottom after removing the food. You can let it sit until the food is loosened, which I’ve found takes about as long as it takes me to eat.
I like to swish the inside of the pan with some soap and water to remove any cooking flavors, using the scrubby side of the sponge to remove any food particles. After rinsing and towel drying, I use a towel or paper towel to apply a thin layer of vegetable shortening to the inside of the pan. Turn the towel over to the “dry” side and wipe any excess shortening from the pan, leaving as thin a sheen as possible. The whole thing takes less than 5 minutes.
If you prefer to use one of the other cleaning methods discussed above, feel free to do so. This is a judgment-free zone.
Don’t allow your pan to remain wet for any length of time. Don’t put it in the dishwasher. Don’t let it soak in the sink until you “get around” to washing it. If it gets wet (intentionally or not) wipe it dry ASAP. This is simply so you don’t have to spend time removing rust from the surface of your pan.
Don’t store leftovers in the pan. Because…again….rust. No one wants rust in their leftovers.
Store your pan in an area where it won’t get wet. Cupboard, oven, stovetop, above, below, east, west, I don’t care. Just not in a wet area.
Cook whatever you want. If it affects your seasoning, simply coat it with a little shortening or reseason it. Cooking some foods will have a learning curve but you’ll get the hang of it in no time!
Real Life Recap – Cooking With Cast Iron: Season your pan and don’t let it rust. The end.
That’s My Story And I’m (Non)Sticking To It
So there it is and it’s just as simple as it seems. What do you think? Are you ready to take the plunge? I promise you won’t regret it.
There are now crock pot designs to match your inner favorite cartoon character, Nerd or superhero. So buckle up and let’s go on a ride. The fun starts here!
This post contains affiliate links that, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. Read the full policy here.
Slow cookers, or crock-pots as they are commonly known, were originally patented in 1940 as a “bean simmer pot” and the first “Simmer Crock” hit the market in 1950 with limited success.
In the 1970s, Crock-Pot became an unlikely symbol of the women’s liberation movement as more women took control of their own destiny by working outside the home. It was a way for women to earn a living and still take care of their families. It was proof that the Modern Day Woman could, indeed, do it all.
Crock-pots haven’t changed much since their inception and why should they? They are the epitome of simplicity. Just throw something in there, turn it on and leave it to its own devices. Now, there have been a few minor improvements, such as larger sizes and timers but in general, they are the same as the originals shown above.
Some things never change:
Manual high, low and warm setting
Removable Stoneware insert for easy serving and cleaning
Non-skid rubber feet for stability
ETL Certified and UL listed.
But guess what has changed?!?! Crock-pot Designs. There’s now a crock-pot design to match your favorite cartoon character, Nerdist tendencies and inner superhero. So buckle up and let’s go on a ride. The fun starts here!
In A Galaxy Far, Far Away
This film franchise has ended but rest assured that Stars Wars will live on in our hearts and our minds…and on Disney+. After being rejected by two major studios, the first movie Star Wars: A New Hope was finally granted the go-ahead by 29th Century Fox. What was to be a low-budget, standalone film morphed into a saga that has continued for over 40 years. Oddly enough, that means that the Star Wars franchise has been around since the 70s…just like Crock-Pot. Coincidence? I think not.
Who doesn’t love Mickey? He turned 90 years old just a couple of years ago so I think it’s safe to assume that we all grew up with him in our lives!
Mickey made his 1928 debut in the short film Steamboat Willie, one of Disney’s first sound cartoons. The new Disney mascot was created in secret to replace Oswald The Lucky Rabbit, the Disney mascot that was co-owned by Disney and Universal Studios.
Pixar was the brainchild of Disney executive John Lasseter. He pitched the idea of using computer animation for producing movies but Disney’s reaction was not what he expected: They fired him.
He teamed up with George Lucas, and later Steve Jobs, to create Pixar Studios. Despite an Academy Award nomination and some success in advertising, the company struggled. It wasn’t until their 1988 Academy win for “Tin Toy” that things started to look up. Turns out Disney wanted in after all. And the rest, as they say, is history.
What’s that? Who’s Jack-Jack? Just ask a Millennial. Or a Post-Millennial. I’m sure they’ll think it’s charming that you don’t know.
These character powerhouses were dreamed up by Illumination Entertainment and Nickelodeon, respectively.
Although they don’t have the big-name connections of some of the others, they deserve respect in their own right. The Minions is the highest-grossing non-Disney film of all time and SpongeBob SquarePants has a television history spanning over 12 years (so far).
They have certainly earned a spot in the Crock-Pot Hall of Fame!
Comic book superheroes have been around since the 1930s. The first was Mandrake the Magician in 1934 but it didn’t take long for him to be overshadowed by The Phantom (1936), Superman (1938) and Batman (1939).
Frankly, I’m not surprised. Mandrake’s superpower was his ability to “make people believe anything, simply by gesturing hypnotically”. Since he was, apparently, unable to make anyone believe he was the top superhero, he definitely deserved to go.
Like Crock-Pot, superheroes haven’t changed much since they showed up on the scene some 80-plus years ago. Why mess with a good thing? Let’s get cooking with the Earth’s mightiest superheroes!
Let’s take a peek at these 14 silly kitchen gadgets. I posted this for amusement’s sake but I must confess that I’m oddly intrigued by the Spartan Knife Set!
What are gadgets? While the terms gadget, utensil, tool and appliance tend to be used interchangeably, especially in advertising, gadgets are contraptions that are used for a specific purpose. It turns out that Americans are quite fond of our contraptions — to the tune of more than 1 billion dollars a year in sales. It’s no wonder that manufacturers, inventors, marketers and retailers are constantly on the hunt for new, unique gizmos to put on the market.
Some are great (where would we be without our vegetable peeler?) but I feel like the list of silly kitchen gadgets grows by leaps and bounds every year.
Let’s take a look, shall we? Here’s my list of the top 14 silly kitchen gadgets!
This is a product that promises to make spreading cold butter a breeze! It claims to use “heat conducting technology” that transfers the heat from your hand to warm the knife.
Unfortunately, a full 27% of Amazon users were not impressed, claiming that it did not work as advertised, while another 14% felt it was just ho-hum. On the flip side, almost 60% of users gave it a 4-5 star rating, stating, for the record, that was a fantastic little knife. Do you suppose this is a case of “cold hands, cold butter”?
I’ll just soften my butter out on the counter for a few minutes before I use it and save myself $30.
It’s said to have a “proprietary cheese propulsion valve” that allows “complete control of cheese”. I’m sorry…what? Not only was I completely unable to type that with a straight face, but I also don’t even know what it means.
A full 66% of Amazon users gave this puppy a 4-5 star rating with comments that ask, “who’s ever had this much fun with their food?” and that it “perfectly squirts hot melted cheese”. It was even called the “perfect family activity” but I really had to struggle to find someone who had an actual use for it. One user built a house for her sons’ Legos out of cheese and crackers while another constructed an entire log cabin village in his room from pretzels and cheese. Someone else spoke of the very real prospect of Sunday morning cheese wars.
Did the 1-3 star naysayers point to the absurdity of this product? The $50 price tag? Nope. Incredibly, their chief complaint was that it’s difficult to clean.
Perhaps it’s me, maybe I’m just not a fun person. And please don’t try to prove me wrong by inviting me to your next cheese and potato chip crafting party. I’m busy that day.
Translation: Little claws for your fingers so you never, ever have to come into contact with the food you’re eating. Of the 70% of Amazon users who thought they were aaaa-maaa-zing!, the comment I enjoyed most was the gal who used them “because my work was having a hot wings potluck and I did not want to deal with a messy keyboard”. Because your work doesn’t have soap and water? I think there are bigger fish to fry there….
Not my cup of tea, but if you like ‘em, I’ve got a tip for you. The two-pair pack has a cost of $49.31 but if you buy in bulk, you’ll get 6 pairs for $14.95. The company claims this is due to shipping costs. Let that sink in for a minute…
90% of users gave this gadget a 4-5 star rating, mostly because it’s “neat”, “cool” and “quirky”. One lady uses it because her eggs will stay put on the dashboard during tractor pulls.
Another user pointed out its usefulness for deviled eggs and, OK, I get that but the device seems labor-intensive and time-consuming. It involves freezing the container for 20 minutes, peeling a hot hard-boiled egg, inserting it into the container and dropping it in ice water for 5 minutes. This is for each egg.
I guess you could drop $35 to get a 6-pack of these babies or take the long-winded advice from users who have put together assembly-line instructions to make the most of their time in the kitchen.
It just feels to me like the reviewers here are trying to justify spending their hard-earned dollars on a device that isn’t all that useful. Sure, it may astound the ladies at the church picnic the first time they see it. And, yes, it may be fun to tell your kids that you got eggs from a square chicken. Once.
Oh, but wait! Here’s one for Halloween eggs!. His name is Fred. I’ll bet if we look hard enough, we can find one for every holiday. If you think your friends would be impressed with square eggs, think of the hero worship you would receive if you could show up with seasonally themed eggs all year-’round!
The maker of this taco-shaped cheese shredder claims that you’ll want to make every day Taco Tuesday with this nifty grater that keeps your cheese “neatly contained until you’re ready to aim it at your enchilada”. That doesn’t even make sense considering that you must turn this “taco” upside down to grate which lets the cheese fall freely out of the top (or is it the bottom?). With both ends open, I can’t imagine that it “contains” anything.
It would appear that I’m not alone. 7 of the 10 people who reviewed this product were compensated for their views and it still only got a 3-star rating.
This ceramic cup of repugnance is marketed as an egg separator but that doesn’t seem to be its main purpose. Why? Because it just doesn’t work. The consensus is that the holes are too small to be effective. Apparently, the whites just hang there like…well…boogers.
Many of the almost 80% of people who rated it highly admit that they bought it for the shock value or collectibility of the item, not as a kitchen aid.
This nifty picnic firearm comes with two refillable cartridges and a stopper to avoid accidental discharge (and presumed injury). On the off chance you should not consider this a gravely serious weapon of the highest caliber, the company is quick to warn you that this is not a toy, it should not be fired at the face or body of anything (man or beast) and it’s not suitable for children under 12 years old. I wonder if I would need a concealed carry permit to put this in my picnic basket?
The yayers and nayers are about equally split on this product. The nayers claim that it’s cheap and doesn’t work as advertised, although one user was quick to recommend that a Condiments Firearms Safety Course might be helpful.
The fans tell us that it’s a hit at parties and is especially fun for the under 12 set (the ones for whom this sidearm is deemed not appropriate).
As for me? I’ll keep that $21.99 right in my pocket. I couldn’t live with myself if someone were wounded on my watch.
This little guy lays his…ummm…below the belly button area across the top of your condiment bottle and when you’re ready (because this is all about what you want), he will release a liquid stream from his backside onto your sandwich. The advertiser recommends that you use protection and enjoy responsibly.
Canadian Philosopher Matshona Dhliwayo once said, “A warrior proves his courage in the heat of battle.” I guess there’s no way to know how this battle ended but about 80% of reviewers seemed to think it was a win as they got to keep the knives
Nothing says, “Thinking of You” like this voodoo knife holder, especially when the knives themselves are made from Premium Stabbing Stainless Steel. While most reviewers thought this was a great conversation piece, others returned it for being creepy or because the humanoid is made from plastic.
And, yes, he was referred to as a “humanoid”. It’s like they’re pretending he’s not a person.
A little pricey at $7.99 but there’s nothing really wrong with this one. It’s just that I saw the title and thought (in horror), “Who would peel a monkey?!?!” I decided to throw it in here to see if anyone else had the same reaction. Anybody? No?
So There You Have It…
…the silliest kitchen gadgets I could come up with. What do you think? Would you buy any of these? Why or why not? What’s the silliest kitchen gadget you couldn’t live without?
Think you need fancy expensive tools to cook a great dinner? Nope! Here are 17 essential kitchen tools that won’t break your budget!
It’s no secret that I love to cook. I think the reason that some people shy away from it is that they don’t have the proper tools which make the job hard and the outcome uncertain.
But let’s say that you decide to give it a go. If you watch cooking shows or hit up a kitchen supply store, it’s likely that you’ll be presented with a plethora of great gadgets for every purpose under the sun. They’re all sleek, clever and cute items that insist you NEED them in your kitchen.
Does anybody want to shell out $20 (each) for a butter warming knife, cheese gun or garlic roaster? $30 for a breakfast sandwich maker? How about $15 for some finger tongs so you don’t have to actually touch the food you’re eating? (No, I’m not kidding. I even posted some of the crazier ones I came across!)
This just makes me chuckle. I have a kitchen full of very basic and inexpensive tools that I use all the time. Stash your credit card for just a sec while I show how economical it can be to outfit your kitchen with my list of 17 essential kitchen tools that won’t break your budget.
Take Time To Appreciate The Little Things
These are the true unsung heroes of the kitchen! Every single one is under $30 (most are under $15) and they make everything run more smoothly.
Call me crazy but this is my favorite vegetable peeler. It’s simple and basic but has many uses. Peeling fruits and vegetables, of course, but also use it to shave chocolate, Parmesan or soap, peel the zest off citrus fruits and de-string celery.
Any peeler can do all that but the reason I stick with this particular style is because of the pointy end. Use it to dig out potato eyes and bruised spots or hull strawberries. After cutting the top off a pepper, you can easily slide the end of this peeler inside to remove the seeds and pith while leaving the pepper intact, which is especially useful for smaller peppers such as jalapeño.
I know a lot of you will disagree with me about this one. I’ve even seen plenty of articles that mock this item as a waste of money and space but I do not care. Trying to hang onto that slippery egg to cut it into any sort of uniform shape adds unnecessary stress to my life.
With this handy-dandy egg cutter, you just pop it on and lower the lid, using the stainless steel wires to cut through the hard-boiled egg. A quick 90° rotation and one more snap of the cover will give you perfect, tiny, egg squares that you can simply dump into the bowl straight from the cutter. And it just rinses clean.
Despite the name, I don’t ever use these to make cakes or pastries (although you certainly could!) I use them for making sandwich rolls from homemade bread dough.
I originally got them to make brioche rolls (which has thinner dough and actually does need a mold) but now I use them for shaping whatever breads I make. The rolls come out perfectly shaped and in matching portions, which is something I’m never able to achieve when shaping rolls by hand.
I did learn that the rings should be greased well before each use (I use cooking spray) to avoid sticking. I portion my dough out into 8 rings per loaf-sized dough ball on the final rise but you could make more or fewer rolls as you see fit. When they’re done baking, I simply use kitchen tongs to lift the rings off the (perfectly shaped and totally even) rolls.
These rings are also a perfect size for cutting dough to line a standard muffin tin. This comes in handy when making recipes like Mini Pork Pies or Chicken Pot Pie.
These are far superior to quilted oven mitts or potholders. They can withstand much higher heat without it penetrating through to your hands and they don’t wear thin as the quilted ones do. You can use either the mitt or potholder to protect countertops when setting down hot items.
I do have one caveat, however. There’s definitely a learning curve as these do not flex or mold to surfaces as well as cloth. I recommend a practice run before attempting to pull a hot pan out of the oven!
I have this exact set and I love them! These tongs are made from 1mm stainless steel which makes them sturdy without being too cumbersome. They have a unique pull ring on the top to ensure that your tongs will never be locked closed when you want them opened and vice versa. The best part is the silicone tips and grips which provide a non-slip surface for your fingers and the item you’re picking up. whether it be a delicate wonton or one of the heavy gauge steel molds I mentioned above.
This colorful grater set makes short work of anything you have to grate. I find that the 13” length makes it easy to use when grating or zesting. It comes with 3 separate graters (held together with a silicone band) which will ensure you have the right size for any job!
This just makes my life easier. I like the fact that it contains the mess when I’m working with dough (just pick it up and dump the “remains” in the trash!).
It’s easy to peel your pastry off, takes the guesswork out of measuring it to fit in a pan and cleans up easily.
Because it’s silicone, it also doubles as a baking sheet and oven liner which is a great way to reduce one-use items such as parchment paper and aluminum foil. It won’t be long before you recoup your cost by reducing your purchase of throw-away kitchen lining products!
This gem is great for chopping just about anything. I’ve had mine for well over 20 years (yes, this exact brand) and I use it all the time.
It’s especially handy chopping onions into little tiny pieces to hide in food, (don’t tell my kids ;-)) but it can also be used for any vegetable, nuts, salsa, salad dressing, herbs, bread or cracker crumbs.
The pulsing action gives you plenty of control while the bi-level stainless steel blades stay sharp, providing long-lasting performance.
I know there are fancier models out there but I have this basic blender in my kitchen.
There’s a very real possibility that I just don’t know what I’m missing but this baby has always done everything I’ve asked of it. Smoothies, salad dressings, sauces, shredding cooked meat, ricing cauliflower and broccoli.
I like the glass jar because it won’t get scratched or hold flavors.
I finally got a KitchenAid Mixer when a total stranger gave it to me at his company Christmas party. (He had won it) While I’d love to give this a rom-com ending and say we lived happily ever after, it ain’t true. I never saw him again. I’m happy to report, however, that my KitchenAid and I have never had a cross word between us!
I love this thing so much I could write a whole article about it. Oh, wait…I did!! Take a gander at this to find out why I would never use another mixer.
Yes, it cooks rice. But if you mix some cubed meat and chopped-up veggies in with the rice and water, you have a delicious one-pot meal in less than 30 minutes!
Suspend food in the steamer rack to cook separately (with or without rice on the bottom). It will even keep your meal warm until you’re ready to eat.
It makes oatmeal, mac and cheese, soups, chili and stewed fruit. You can even use it to bake bread and cakes. An important feature to me is that it’s compact, easy to use and easy to clean.
I’ve saved the most important for last. What good is having all the above-mentioned tools if your food is not cooked to perfection? If you want to know when something is done, a thermometer will never do you wrong.
I think we all know that meat and poultry should be cooked to a certain temperature but when was the last time you took that leftover lasagna out of the microwave and sat down to have a good nosh only to find out it was still cold in the middle? A perfectly heated (or reheated) food should read 160℉ so next time stick a thermometer in it!
What about baked goods? Sure you can jiggle your puddings and poke your cake but did you know that you can have a better gauge by using a thermometer? Bread comes out of the oven at 190℉, while cake prefers to be around 205℉.
Bonus? Every single one of these thermometers is $10 or less.
I like this one for larger items as well as meat and poultry.
I like that the recommended temperatures are right on the face and a moveable target temperature indicator can be placed at the desired temperature so I can easily know when the item is ready to be removed from the oven.
I will caution you to hand wash this particular thermometer. I have not had good luck with putting these in the dishwasher as the steam penetrates the housing and the resulting condensation makes the face hard to read.
I hate it when the bottoms of my biscuits burn before the tops brown! Since I’ve placed one of these in my oven to make sure the temp is accurate, it’s never happened again.
Let The Adventure Begin!
While I know you’re going to want to get busy outfitting your kitchen, I just wanted to take a minute to let you know that I use every single one of these items on a daily basis so I can vouch for how valuable they are.
What’s your favorite unsung kitchen hero? Let me know in the comments below!
While it’s great to be able to look up a recipe online, sometimes you just want a book. These books look so good I can almost smell the food cooking.
This post contains affiliate links that, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. Read the full policy here.
I am very grateful to all my friends, both new and established (Please note that I did not use the word “old”!) who take the time to visit this site, read my ramblings and try my recipes. I appreciate the thoughts, encouragement, ideas and recipes that you have shared and I hope we can continue this beautiful back and forth for a long, long time. But I also know, for sure, there’s another truth out there for many of us.
Sometimes you just want a book.
Cookbooks have the feel that many readers love. You can hold it, turn the pages, and feel the paper. It looks great on your bookshelf. As time goes on it gets well broken in, with frayed edges and splattered stains on the pages. (Or maybe that’s just me. Maybe I’m a sloppy cook.)
If this sounds like you, I’ve put together a selection of books you might enjoy, either in digital form or hard copy.
After the death of Judith Jones’s husband in 1996, she took on the task of cooking for one and decided to write a book about it. This is a great book that includes kitchen tips, easy-to-understand French-inspired recipes and “makeovers” for leftovers.
If you like gourmet food (or just want to Feel Fancy!), this is the book for you! Check out a preview here.
Judith Jones (1924-2011) was an American writer and editor. She was best known for her campaigns to publish The Diary of Anne Frank and Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, both of which she rescued from the reject pile. Her friendship with Julia Child is featured in the 2009 movie “Julie and Julia”.
Vegan Cooking for One is an updated version of Leah Lenemans’ 1989 book The Single Vegan, which sold over 600,000 copies. This cookbook offers over 200 diverse and seasonal recipes that tempt the taste buds, are easy to follow as well as being very simple and straightforward,
It offers weekly menus, which include shopping lists to make sure you have the ingredients you need for the week. In addition, you can take advantage of the seasonally based collections to make the best use of fresh, local produce.
Leah Leneman (1944-1999) was an American actor and author born and raised in California. She eventually moved to Scotland and, after receiving a history degree at the University of Edinburgh, pursued an academic career built around independent research and writing geared towards the depiction of the women’s suffrage movement in Scotland. After becoming vegan in her twenties, she also authored a number of vegan cookbooks.
Mugs aren’t just for coffee anymore!! This amazing book has over 100 recipes to make right in your microwave, with a wild variety of options for any meal, snack or dessert. Chili Con Carne? Beef Stroganoff? Poached Salmon? Yes, please! Brownie-in-a-mug? Of course, it’s there.
This book is a must-have for those with limited cooking facilities, new cooks or those of us who are just plain busy! Check out a preview here.
Leslie Bilderback is a Certified Master Baker and has been a chef for nearly 20 years. She is a graduate of the California Culinary Academy and was one of the first instructors at the California School of Culinary Arts. She went on to become the Executive Chef and helped guide the school as it partnered with Le Cordon Bleu. In 2002, she was a finalist on Team USA at the Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie, an international, invitational artisan baking competition held in Paris, France.
Dana Jacobi tuned into freezing serving-sized meals when she became a caregiver to her parents. She wanted to serve them healthy, nutritious meals but soon found that cooking and delivering meals every day was an impossible task. Luckily for us, this cookbook fits nicely into what we’ve been talking about here on this site. She covers the basics of freezer storage, organization and reheating as well as 150 delicious recipes.
In addition to writing cookbooks, Dana Jacobi writes the nationally syndicated column “Something Different,” and has been featured in a number of national publications including Cooking Light, Eating Well and The New York Times. Her healthy approach to cooking has been endorsed by American Institute for Cancer Research and her work was published in Diabetic Gourmet Magazine, Vegetarian Times and Prevention.
Here’s what we’ve all been looking for! Slow cooker recipes of all types! It’s great for those with limited cooking facilities or abilities, hot weather or if your only wish is to have dinner cook itself.
The ingredients are basic while still being whole foods and it even has entries that will make two different recipes in the same pot at the same time! Click here to see a preview.
Cynthia Graubart is an author, Southern Living Magazine columnist, food writer, cooking teacher and former television producer based in Atlanta, GA.
In 2004, she garnered national attention with the publication of her book “The One-Armed Cook”, aimed at the challenges of young families in creating healthy meals. She went on to create a weekly food e-newsletter for Nickelodeon’s online parenting portal, ParentsConnect. In 2014, she won the James Beard Best Cookbook Award for her 2012 publication “Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking”. She was named a Georgia Grown Executive Chef in 2017 and has recently released her 8th cookbook
What are you waiting for?
These books look so good I can almost smell the food cooking. Which one will you choose? Let me know in the comments below! And don’t forget to come back to let me know which one has your (new) favorite recipe.