Showing posts with label Home Appliances. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Home Appliances. Show all posts

Sunday, September 30, 2018

An Alternative to a Double Oven when Cooking for a Crowd

Counter-Top Roaster Ovens - "Very handy to have on hand"
Counter-Top Oven Roasters are a Practical and Affordable Solution

If you don't own a double oven it can be tricky to cook for a large crowd. 

For most of our life our homes have had one oven. Our family is quite large and cooking for family events, particularly Thanksgiving and Christmas, takes creative planning.

It's certainly possible to plan a large dinner with one oven, but having an extra oven makes the job so much easier. 

For 20 years or more we've owned a counter-top roaster oven. It's stored away for most of the year, but come the Fall the oven gets hauled out and used.

I Didn't Want One!

Not being one for a lot of kitchen appliance clutter, I was against getting another kitchen gadget. Clutter is not my thing.

However, I was absolutely wrong.

Our counter-top oven roaster has been one of the best choices in kitchenware we've ever made. Big family meals would be impossible for me without it now! Don't take my oven-roaster away.

The Brand We Use is 'Nesco'

I've featured a few 18 quart Nesco oven roasters below.

An 18 quart oven roaster typically fits a turkey up to 22 pounds. The non-stick cookwell is also removable which makes it easy to clean. If you use it to cook a large chilli for a party, put the entire oven on the table and keep the temperature on low. You can also remove the cookwell and bring it to the table.

In terms of the temperature gage, it operates like a standard oven. As an example, for our Turkeys, I start cooking the Turkey at 400 and then after about an hour turn it down to 350 to 375.

I'll also put oil and butter on the top of the Turkey and it does brown enough for our taste. However, if the top isn't brown enough for you, just lift the cookwell out and place it in the oven to broil the top to the color you like. The roaster also comes with a rack with handles allowing you to safely remove your Turkey.

It's over 20 years later, and I'm still using our Nesco Oven Roaster. Come to think of it, we've never had one single problem with it. That's rare. Hopefully the newer models last as long as my older model has. As far as my own experience, 'reviewed and recommended'.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Oster Griddle and Why I Love It - A Review

Oster Griddle via Amazon
The biggest reason we have a Griddle in the house is to make pancakes.

For decades home-made pancakes have been a staple in our home and when we're in-between grills, pancake breakfasts usually hit the skids.

Well, we've been in the 'in-between' stage for about a year or more, so just recently I decided a new Griddle was in order.

What's nice about a Griddle is the convenience for breakfast! My fourth son is now 16, still in high-school, and I make it a habit to prepare him a decent breakfast before school. That breakfast usually ranges between:
  • Free-Range Eggs, Spinach & Kale fried in Coconut Oil and Sliced Oranges, or
  • A Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Sliced Oranges or Bananas
What Do I Love about The Oster Griddle?

We've had a Griddle in our home for decades, and I do have a good amount of experience determing whether a grill passes the 'pancake' making test.

When I tried the Oster Griddle for the first time, I knew instantly, by how the pancakes browned, whether I had a winner ... and yes, according to my pancake making judgement, this grill is a winner.

Here are the points about the Oster Griddle that I appreciate:
  • It's ceramic non-stick coating is fantastic for non-stick performance. For the first batch of pancakes, I always put a bit of butter on the grill (even with a non-stick griddle) just to be safe. But with this grill, although I haven't tried it, I believe the butter was unnecessary. However, for the other three batches of pancakes, I did not add any butter whatsoever and the pancakes didn't stick at all!
  • The size of the grill is nice - I was able to make six good sized pancakes at a time.
  • The surface is scratch resistant and less likely to peel or flake. I haven't had ours long enough to give it the scratch test, but based on the durability of the surface, I can believe it.
  • The ceramic coating is free of PTFE & PFOA chemicals.
  • Food cooks evenly
  • It does cook faster and thus I imagine that will save energy over time
  • It looks nice on my counter and it's a snap to clean
I plan to use it frequently for breakfasts and it's situated conveniently beside the Vitamax and Coffee Machine (the two other appliances that get the most use).

Using our Oster Griddle for Grilled Cheese
Photo by
Enjoy My Pancake Recipe:

Well, it's not really mine, it was my Mom's and before Mom, Grandmothers :)
  • 1 Cup of Flour
  • 3 Teaspoons of Baking Powder
  • 2 Tablespoons of Sugar (Optional)
  • 3/4 Teaspoon of Salt (Optional)
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Cup of Milk
  • 2 Tablespoons of Melted Butter or Oil
  • 1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
Mix all of the ingredients together (manually). Don't over mix it of course. Let the Mixed Batter sit for five or ten minutes or even longer if needed. Then, using a ladle, scoop onto your grill ... greased with a little bit of butter if you like.

On the Oster Grill, the temperature between 265 and 300 degrees seemed to work fine for me.

The secret to good, fluffy pancakes is to only flip them once.

You'll know the first side is cooked when there are 'bubble-holes' peeking through the uncooked side. However, you can usually tell by the smell, or just take a little peek to be sure they're the color of golden brown that you like.

Flip them over, let the other side cook for a few minutes or less, and they're done.

Because we are so many in our family, and everyone has there own preference for the fixings they like inside their pancakes, I'll add the items to each pancake on the uncooked side one at a time, while the one side is cooking. Tip: When you add the food item to the uncooked side, gently spread some of the batter from that uncooked side over the food item - that way when you flip it over, you'll have batter cooking on the grill instead of the chocolate chips, blueberries or whatever you added hitting the grill directly (which could burn).

Popular flavor additions in our home are chocolate chips, fresh raspberries, strawberries or blueberries. This morning it was chocolate chip pancakes and blueberry pancakes.

So yes, I recommend this grill, we love it!

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Presto Pizzazz Plus Rotating Oven Review

Presto Pizzazz Plus Rotating Pizza Oven Review
Presto Pizzazz Plus Rotating Pizza Oven Review

A Multi-Use Rotating Pizza Oven (and more) 

I first had my eye on the Presto Pizzazz a couple of years ago, thinking that it might be a fun kitchen gadget, something I'd use now and then to bake or re-heat pizza. I didn't buy it then because I decided that a one-purpose gadget wasn't a good investment of money or space in my kitchen.

But wait, there's more.

Recently, I came across this clever pizza cooker again, with a new, updated name. Now it's called the Presto Pizzazz Plus Rotating Pizza Oven. This time I read the outstanding reviews and realized that there was much more to the Presto Pizzazz than pizza. People love this thing and use it for lots of different convenience foods, and prepare food that you wouldn't even think of as being able to bake outside a conventional oven. Indeed, it's not just a one-purpose kitchen gadget, not at all!

So I bought the Pizzazz Plus and determined to test it out for myself.

First We Baked Pizza

First, we tried pizza (makes sense). I bought our favorite freshly-prepared pizza from the deli (actually they're previously frozen, thawed when you buy them, but they look fresh, taste amazing, and we like them a lot). I ended up adding a little bit of time to the recommended cooking time in the Presto Pizzaz Plus instruction booklet and we really loved the result. The crust was perfectly done on the bottom, the toppings hot, and the cheese bubbly. The frozen pizza that I tried later turned out very well, too.

I should mention that there are two heating elements on the oven, one above and one underneath the tray. It's up to you to choose upper, dual, or lower. So if the crust is done the way you like it but your piled-on pizza toppings need a bit more heat, simply choose "upper," add some time, and watch the pizza until it looks exactly as hot and bubbly as you want it to be.

Chocolate Chip Cookies Baked on the Presto Pizzazz Plus
Chocolate chip cookies
baking on the Presto Pizzazz Plus.
Then we moved on to cookies for dessert. Brilliant! I love being able to bake up just four to six cookies from a refrigerated package for the two of us as a quick dessert. Delicious result!

Tater tots make for a quick lunch or snack when baked on the Presto Pizzazz Plus Rotating Oven
Tater tots make for a quick lunch
or snack when baked on the
Presto Pizzazz Plus Rotating Oven.
The next day I chose tater tots to fix for a quick lunch. Again, the pizza oven, now a tater tots oven, performed as advertised using the settings and cooking time for "potato patties" in the convenience food cooking chart included with the instructions.

The breaded, cheese-stuffed jalapeno peppers that we tried next turned out great, too.

That night we tried frozen egg rolls to go with our stir-fry vegetables (honestly, we do eat "fresh" most of the time, but everybody's entitled to a little convenience food now and then). Again, score! And no preheating the conventional oven, which sped up dinner prep time considerably.

All the frozen convenience foods that we tried, even the cookies, turned out great. Saturday morning came the big test: cinnamon rolls, the "pop and fresh" kind. I almost didn't try them on the Pizzazz Plus because it seemed so unlikely that they'd turn out, but my husband encouraged me to be brave, to try and see what happens. Once again I was not only surprised but impressed. Eight cinnamon rolls with the recommended settings from the instruction book were a perfect fit and turned out beautifully, as you can see from the pictures below. And yes, they tasted great, too.

Presto Pizzazz Plus Cinnamon Rolls - before.
Presto Pizzazz Plus Cinnamon Rolls - before.
Presto Pizzazz Plus Cinnamon Rolls - after.
Presto Pizzazz Plus Cinnamon Rolls - after.

Presto Pizzazz Plus Tips

Here are seven things about the Pizzazz that are important to remember:

Presto Pizzazz Plus Rotating Oven with Instruction Book. Utensils not included.
Presto Pizzazz Plus Rotating Oven with Instruction Book.
Utensils are not included.
1. Place the Pizzazz Plus away from the edge of the counter. It's attractive to both kids and dogs, neither of which should be allowed to operate or even touch it without the permission (and supervision) of a responsible adult. Safety first!

2. Don't walk away from the Pizzazz Plus when it's in use. First reason, you might not hear the "ding" when it's done and, even though the heating coils turn off at the end of the timed cycle, the residual heat may will burn the food (I should have taken a picture). Second reason, see number one above.

3. Using potholders, lift and remove the tray from the Pizzazz when you're satisfied that the food is done and set it on a cooling rack or cutting board to let the food, and the tray, cool.

4. To avoid damaging the surface of the tray, don't use a pizza wheel or knife until you've moved the pizza to a cutting board. See number 5.

5. Treat the tray carefully to make it last. Store it in a safe place where it won't get scratched. Use only utensils that are designed to be used on non-stick surfaces to keep from damaging the surface. Consider investing in a silicone or plastic spatula and tongs (useful for turning tater-tots, egg rolls, etc.) to use with the Presto Pizzazz.

6. Read the instruction booklet that comes with the appliance. Test it using the times and methods on the cooking charts then adjust accordingly based on your own preferences.

7. Don't overload the cooking tray with food; leave space between individual tater tots, chicken nuggets, etc. For instance, six cookies, spaced evenly, bake much better than nine or 10 cookies that are too close together.

But Wait, There's More!

(Did I say that already?) There are many other foods you can bake on the Pizzazz Plus, I just haven't gotten to them all. Besides typical frozen snack foods, cookies, and cinnamon rolls, the instruction booklet suggests grilled sandwiches and quesadillas, and even includes instructions for making s'mores. What's not to like about that?!

When I first looked, I was amazed at how many 5-star reviews this convenient countertop pizza oven had received. Now I know why. The very handy Presto Pizzazz Plus Rotating Pizza Oven gets 5 stars from me and has earned my "Sassy Susan" Seal of Approval.

Did you enjoy the review? Does this appliance appeal to you? How would you use it? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Buy the Presto Pizzazz Plus at Home Depot (Best price as I type this - subject to change)
Buy it at Walmart
Buy it at

Meet the Reviewer

P.S. If you enjoyed this review, please pin it:

The Presto Pizzazz Pizza Oven does more than bake pizza. Use it to prepare convenience foods and snacks, even cookies and cinnamon rolls!

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Frigidaire Gallery Series Fridge Review

Frigidaire Gallery Series
Our New Frigidaire Fridge & What We Love About It
We recently had to purchase a brand new fridge. I say "had to", because it wasn't optional; our old one had officially done it's time and was put out to pasture.
So, like most people, I decided to do some homework before we made a large purchase. The photo to the left is the fridge we decided to go with: The Frigidaire Gallery Series - Model #FGHC2355PF
Why We Didn't Choose a Fridge with a Bottom Freezer
Although we really wanted the 'french door model with the freezer on the bottom', there were a number of reasons why it wouldn't work for our kitchen:
  1. Crazy as it sounds, because I'm on the taller side, bending with these less than perfect knees every time I would need something from the freezer was an issue
  2. I find the bottom freezers have more potential for disorganization (I have a lot of people in the house, and supervising how they remove and put things back isn't possible)
  3. I prefer the freezer items to be at eye level (or most of it at eye level)
  4. The location of our fridge in our kitchen wasn't really conducive to having a large freezer drawer pulled out - it would block the flow of traffic
What Almost Made Us Choose a Fridge with a Bottom
The Inside of Our New Fridge
  1. The Fridge sections are wonderful! They have double french doors (although some come with one door if you would prefer that)
  2. The wider upper fridge area easily enables you to store food width-wise - very convenient for cakes, trays and other large serving dishes.
  3. They look amazing!
  4. If money wasn't really an object and I were to choose a bottom freezer fridge, 
So that brings us to Why We Chose the Side by Side (22.7 cu.ft):
Our previous fridge was a side-by-side, and we're used to it - However, after we compared the bottom freezer to the side-by-side, these are the main reasons we went for it:
  1. The stainless steel finish had to be the 'finger print proof' kind - We did like another manufacturer's product, however the fridge was not treated with a finish to prevent the ugliness of constant finger prints and thus constant wiping of the doors.
  2. The side by side french door model was important to us - Our kitchen size works best with this kind of fridge
  3. We wanted an Ice and Water Dispenser and really liked how easy this one was to use and understand
  4. We love the lighting in the fridge - It's a daylight lighting with a very light blue hue to it - looks modern, and looks great at night when you open the fridge (futuristic)
A Closer Look Inside of our Fridge at the Lighting
Ok, so it can't be all sunshine and roses right? 
There must be something I don't like about it?
Well, yes there is: The ice maker dispenses the ice very very quickly, so if you get this model, remember to put a larger cup underneath to catch the fast-spewing ice, otherwise some of it will end up on your floor. Other than that, there aren't any other negatives for us.
We would probably choose a slightly larger style than this one, but other than that, we really liked it.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Small Rival Rice Cooker Review

This small Rival rice cooker with steamer basket is the perfect size for our small family. Here's my review.

What's red, resembles a donation kettle at Christmas-time, and cooks rice without muss or fuss? It's one of my favorite kitchen appliances, the RC61, 6-cup small Rival rice cooker and steamer, the perfect rice cooker for a family of two or three.

What To Love About a Rice Cooker

You'll love the steamer basket that comes with this handy 6-cup rice cooker.

I've owned this cute kitchen appliance for five years now and use it faithfully and frequently. In fact, since I got it I haven't prepared rice any other way. It's great for any kind of rice that I've tried (my favorites are jasmine and good-for-you brown rice) and makes plenty for our family of two plus a couple servings more, up to six cups total.

Two things I especially love about this rice cooker:

1. It has a steamer basket (as shown in the picture above). I'll often add fresh broccoli, green beans, or asparagus while the rice cooks, preparing two parts of the meal in the same space as one, just a little taller!

2. It's so easy to clean! The pot part of the cooker has a non-stick finish and requires little more than a good soapy swish and rinse after the meal's over.
Rival RC61 Small Rice Cooker - Red

Tips for Using a Small Rice Cooker

Rice cooker instructions can be confusing. With that in mind, here are two more things to know before you buy:

1. Measuring the rice and the water. Don't confuse the rice measuring cup that comes with the cooker with a regular, 1-cup measuring cup. When the included instructions and cookbook refer to "cups," they always mean the rice cup, which actually holds less than a measured cup. The first time you use the rice pot, use 1 rice-cup of rice and add liquid (I like to mix chicken broth and water) to the "1" mark on the inside of the pot. Cook as directed (i.e. put on the lid, plug it in, and move the selector to "Cook") and you'll see how much cooked rice you'll get. Usually, that amount will be enough for a side dish of rice for two people.

2. Will this size be big enough? If you usually cook for more than two or three people, it's likely that you'll want to choose the next size up. However, I'm surprised how inexpensive these convenient gadgets are, so having one small (like this) and one large-capacity version on hand isn't a bad idea at all since they really take up very little storage space. When we have the extended family present, a large rice cooker would occasionally come in very handy.

Another benefit of this appliance (that I'd almost call a requirement in anyone's kitchen) is the price. At around $2, it's super-affordable and makes a very nice wedding or shower gift. While you’re at it, pick up or order two, one for the gift recipient and one for yourself.

Where to Buy the Rival RC61 Rice Cooker

Can you tell I like my little red Rival rice cooker? If you and your family enjoy healthy meals that include rice, I think you'll like it, too. Here’s the link to find the Rival RC61 on eBay and here it is at

P.S. Here's a tasty tip. Use your rice cooker to make rice pilaf. Simply add chopped, sauteed vegetables (celery, onions, carrots) to the rice and water/chicken stock before cooking for an easy, flavorful, dressed-up side dish.

Rice pilaf made in my small Rival rice cooker makes an easy but special side dish.
Rice pilaf made in my small Rival rice cooker
makes an easy but special side dish.
-- Susan Deppner

Food photos property of the author

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


Sunday, March 8, 2015

Review of an Easy to Use One Cup Coffee Maker

My Mom finally took the plunge and treated herself to a Keurig Coffee Maker. As most of us know by now, the convenience rests in the fact that it's quick and very easy to make one cup of coffee.
Since dad passed, and mom doesn't need (or want) a regular sized coffee maker, she's been talking about getting a Keurig for herself. Well she finally took the plunge, and sitting on her counter is this pretty coffee brewing system.
Quite frankly, I wasn't sure if I was going to like it; the main reason being that I had tried another brand
Available on Amazon - Funny Flag
of one cup coffee makers several years ago, and didn't like it at all. I found it complicated. However, in regards to this particular make and model, I do like it...and yes, it's easy to use.
It's not the type of coffee maker that would work for my family though - I have too many family members and a one cup brewing system just wouldn't cut it.
So who would a Keurig work best for:
  • Empty Nesters - absolutely ideal for just a couple!
  • Widowers - my mom is in this category, and this set-up couldn't be any better
  • Kids in Residence - University students in Dorms! A very handy item to have in their rooms
  • The Cottage - Since the amount of people vary at the cottage, when it's quiet and you don't have many visitors, this is a terrific alternative coffee maker
  • RV's - If you're on the road, the ease and speed of getting a cup of coffee is ideal
  • Nanny's Room/Grandma's In House Suite - For those who are fortunate enough to have either a Nanny or a parent living with them, this machine could easily be placed on a shelf in their bedroom.
In my own opinion what I like about this model is:
  • It really is simple - fill it with water, put the coffee cup packet in, put the cup underneath, press the start button and that's it
  • It's fast - I didn't have to wait longer than a minute or so and my coffee was made (I think it was less than a minute; anyway, it was fast)
  • No fuss to make - There's no need to pull out the coffee grinds, put in a filter (or clean an existing filter holder) or clean a coffee pot
  • Clean up is Very Simple - Toss out the used filter cup packet and wash your coffee cup
  • Flavored Coffee's Don't Alter the Taste of the Next Cup of Coffee - With this system, just put the flavored cup packet in and don't worry about the next cup taking on the flavor of the previous cup
So here's the ultimate question, would I personally invest in a one cup coffee maker, namely a Keurig...YES, I sure would! My personal favorite coffee brand is Maxwell House, and you can get Maxwell House packets for this machine - In fact I had two cups this morning! Most of all it's the speed and convenience that make it a worthwhile investment.
by Barbara Tremblay Cipak

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


Saturday, January 31, 2015

A Personal Double Oven Review - What's Good and Not So Good About It!

Double Oven  Review - Smaller Oven on Top &
a Larger Oven on the Bottom
If You're Thinking About Getting a Double Oven Stove - Here's some Feedback
For years I insisted that once we were in the market for a new stove, we would get a stove with a double oven. We have a large family, and a double oven is necessary to handle the large meals that are required when everyone gets together for a celebration - especially Christmas!
Finally, it happened - a new stove was required - and finally we did in fact get that Double Oven Stove.
I learned a few things about a Double Oven since then, and thought I would share them with those looking for the same type of stove.
What I Like About the Double Oven Stove
  1. It's extremely handy when you have to prepare a large meal. The second oven is very useful, especially in warming up pre-made dishes
  2. It looks really impressive and modern
  3. Love not having to clean stove-top inserts like we had to with the old stove
  4. We've had it for a few years, and so far there's been no problem with it
  5. We took the extra step of getting a double oven stove with a convection oven - that's handy once in a while
  6. It's self clean (which I really appreciate)
  7. Cooks the food nicely
  8. Easy to use
What I Don't Like About a Double Oven Stove
  1. There are two types of Double Oven Stoves I could have selected - One with the smaller oven on
    Double Oven with Two Ovens the Same Size
    top and the larger oven on the bottom - The other with two ovens the same size (The two different choices are featured on this page) - I went with the former: The smaller oven on the top, although very convenient, it has a few limitations: Because the heating elements are so close to the food, the food can burn, so you have to watch it carefully. In fact I do not put cakes and pies in the top oven to bake anymore - The first time in my life that I ever burnt a homemade chocolate cake was by putting the cake in the smaller top oven to bake! The element is too close to the cake, so I suspect that was the problem. The stoves with the two ovens the same size more than likely wouldn't produce this result!
  2. I'm not a fan of a flat-top (so I discovered) - Yes, there are advantages to it (looks good, no grills to clean), however I find it marks up a bit too easy for my liking. We do keep it clean, but it's never perfect like it was when we bought it.
  3. Our old stove had an electrical outlet built into it, this newer model oven doesn't
  4. Although the convection oven is handy once in a while, for our family it's a bit of waste of money - so if I had to choose another one, I would select one without a convection oven built-in. We just don't use it enough to justify the added cost.
Two Full Ovens
In Summary, would I invest in a Double Oven Range again?
The answer to that is yes. The reason I say yes is that it's in an affordable price range for us, and although point number 1 in the 'don't like' column above does bother me, the convenience of having two ovens without doing a major renovation is worth it.
If I were doing a full kitchen reno, then no, I wouldn't get this double oven stove; I would have two separate ovens installed one above the other and get a stand alone stove-top installed on the counter.
By Barbara Tremblay Cipak -

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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Review This is Dedicated to the Memory of Our Beloved Friend and Fellow Contributor
We may be apart, but You Are Not Forgotten

Susan DeppnerSusan Deppner