Showing posts with label Kitchen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kitchen. Show all posts

Friday, January 20, 2023

Huge 14" Dash Electric Skillet Reviewed

Electric Skillet Review
I have cooked with electric skillets my entire adult life, and that's a long time.  My parents gave me a new electric skillet for my last birthday. It is very large, but I was thrilled with the gift.  I knew immediately that it would reduce the length of time it took me to fry chicken simply because I could fry double the amount at one time in one electric skillet.

In the past, when I fried chicken, it took almost 2 hours in one electric skillet.  Years ago, my brother gave me a second electric skillet so I could use two at a time. That has been a fabulous time saver, but it still required clean up of two electric skillets.

My first experience with my new large Dash electric skillet was, of course, frying chicken.  This skillet will fry 6 - 8 chicken breasts or thighs (depending on size), 10 - 12 legs, or a combination of pieces all at one time in approximately 45 minutes.  I deep fry my chicken so it does take a lot of vegetable oil to fill the skillet, but it took a lot for 2 electric skillets too.  

The clean up is much easier than with my original electric skillets.  After I dispose of the oil, I wipe out the Dash skillet, set it in my sink and wash the inside of the skillet. Thus far, after several uses, the skillet doesn't even look like it needs to be washed after I wipe it out, but I still wash it!

When my siblings were home for the holidays, I took my Dash skillet over to my mom's house to cook.  My oldest brother joined me in the kitchen to make our family spaghetti.  There is no real set recipe for the family spaghetti.  We have a basic beginning of ingredients, but then we season with "whatever" to taste.  

I must say, cooking the spaghetti with my brother was one of my all-time favorite cooking experiences.  He brings a whole new attitude to preparing a meal.  Think the French Chef!  He adds a dash of this and a dash of that to create a delicious dinner.  I will never be able to duplicate that spaghetti, but it truly was the best I have ever eaten. Would you believe we added worcestershire sauce to it?  As Emeril would say, that certainly "kicked it up a notch"!

Most recently, I fried pork chops in my Dash electric skillet.  Wow! How awesome it was to be able to fry 10 boneless breakfast chops at once. For another dinner night, I fried 6 bone-in 3/4" pork chops all at one time.  They were all tender and outstanding!  As a matter of fact, my husband said the bone-in chops were the best he had ever had including what he had eaten in restaurants.  

I can hardly wait to try something new in my Dash electric skillet!


The 14" Dash Family Size Electric Skillet

 DASH Family Size Electric Skillet with 14 inch Nonstick Surface + Recipe Book for Pizza, Burgers, Cookies, Fajitas, Breakfast & More, 20 Cup Capacity, 1400-WattCheck PriceAfter I received the Dash Electric Skillet, I was anxious to try it out.  I've been pleasantly surprised by this skillet.  It cooks evenly and cleans up quickly.  

The tempered glass lid has a seal around it that locks in the heat, almost creating a steam effect to cooking.  I credit that for why the pork chops I cooked were so tender.

Features of the Dash Skillet

  • 20 cup capacity
  • 2.5" Depth
  • Tempered Glass Lid with seal
  • Non-stick Surface
  • PFOA-Free  (the chemicals used on nonstick surfaces)
  • Cool Touch Handles
  • Removable Cord
  • Non-Slip Feet
  • 4.5-qt. capacity
  • 6.7"H x 18.9"W x 16.5"D

I came across this interesting video on Youtube.  I thought you might enjoy watching it too. I never would have thought to make a pizza in the skillet.

 


 



 

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Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Easy Pumpkin Spice Bread


Pumpkin Spice Bread Reviewed


I always like making things from scratch, but sometimes you just have to go with a box mix.

I wanted to make some banana bread but didn't have any ripe bananas. So I started looking through the cabinets and found this box of Krusteaz pumpkin spice bread.

Fran had picked this up at the store and thought it would be a good idea to make with the grandchildren.


Well, I guess I just couldn't wait so I went ahead and whipped this up. It was so easy to make and really moist and delicious. All you need is water, vegetable oil, and a couple of eggs. Stir everything together and bake in a 5-inch x 7-inch bread pan. Just follow the easy instructions on the box and you'll be enjoying this pumpkin spice bread in no time at all.

To be honest I've never heard of Krusteaz (Crust + Ease) before this. So I looked them up and found out that they have been around since 1932. Wow, where have I been?

The Krusteaz Story:

Times were tough during the great depression. A few women who always traded recipes together came up with a recipe for an easy-to-make pie crust and called it Krusteaz. They would go door to door and visit small cafes to sell their creation, and the rest is history. Today Krusteaz is still a family-owned business. 

They make a variety of easy-to-make bread and muffins, and I'm sure that they are all equally as delicious as this pumpkin spice bread. I will certainly be giving some of their others a try.

If you're looking for an easy and delicious dessert or snack to serve your family or friends just pick up a box of Krusteaz.

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Try my made-from-scratch: Quick Cinnamon Swirl Bread

You will find a variety of Krusteaz products in your local grocery store or you can find them on amazon.

Krusteaz Quick Bread Supreme Mix, Pumpkin Spice, 30 OunceKrusteaz Quick Bread Supreme Mix, Pumpkin Spice, 30 OunceKrusteaz Quick Bread Supreme Mix, Pumpkin Spice, 30 OunceKrusteaz Chocolate Chunk Muffin Mix - No Artificial Flavors/Preservatives - 18.25 OZ Box (Pack of 12)Krusteaz Chocolate Chunk Muffin Mix - No Artificial Flavors/Preservatives - 18.25 OZ Box (Pack of 12)Krusteaz Chocolate Chunk Muffin Mix - No Artificial Flavors/Preservatives - 18.25 OZ Box (Pack of 12)5 Pounds Krusteaz Sweet Cream Pancake Mix Just Add Water5 Pounds Krusteaz Sweet Cream Pancake Mix Just Add Water5 Pounds Krusteaz Sweet Cream Pancake Mix Just Add WaterKrusteaz Snickerdoodle Cookie Mix, 17.5-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 2)Krusteaz Snickerdoodle Cookie Mix, 17.5-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 2)Krusteaz Snickerdoodle Cookie Mix, 17.5-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 2)

 




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Wednesday, January 4, 2023

My 10 Best Product Reviews of 2022 Revisited

Last year I published 18 in-depth, personal product reviews here on Review This Reviews. As I was looking back at them recently, I decided to revisit and share my 10 favorite products that I reviewed in 2022.

My 10 Best Product Reviews of 2022 Revisited
Check out the best products I reviewed in 2022 to find some great buys in 2023!

My Top 10 Product Reviews From 2022

I hope the reviews I've chosen to highlight in this "best of 2022" collection will help you find some new favorites of your own, as well as some terrific gift ideas for others to enjoy.

My Favorite Fashion Product Review

VIKIDEER Microfleece Lined, Ultra Soft Lambskin Leather Touchscreen Gloves

Winter here in New England is long and extremely cold. These VIKIDEER microfleece-lined, ultra soft lambskin leather touchscreen gloves keep my always-chilly hands and arms warm and cozy, even when I need to pull out my mobile phone, Kindle or other touchscreen device.

VIKIDEER long, warm, lined, lambskin leather touchscreen  gloves
VIKIDEER Elegant Winter Black Long Leather Full Touchscreen Gloves for Women

They're also long enough to prevent any gap below the hem of my coat sleeves when I bend or raise my arms, so they stay nice and toasty even in the chilliest weather. Any woman who lives in a cold climate would love to receive these as a gift!

Check out my in-depth review of these Long, Lined Leather Gloves - A Luxurious, Affordable Gift She'll Love.

My Best Gift Review for Music, Audiobook and Podcast Lovers

SHOKZ OpenRun Pro Bone Conduction Bluetooth Headphones

My husband and I love listening to audiobooks or music while we are doing chores, relaxing, traveling, etc. We both love our SHOKZ bone conduction Bluetooth headphones and wear them all the time.

Man wearing SHOKZ OpenRun Pro bone conduction Bluetooth headphones
SHOKZ OpenRun Pro Open-Ear Bluetooth Bone Conduction Sport Headphones

He first introduced me to bone-conduction Bluetooth headphones several years ago, and I've never looked back! Bone-conduction headphones use a technology that transmits sound vibrations along your cheekbones instead of through the air into your ears. It's great for someone like me, who has difficulty with ear buds, and for my husband, who has itchy ears and doesn't like anything in or against them. 

SHOKZ is the undisputed leader in bone conduction headphones. They make a variety of styles, but our favorites by far are the OpenRun and OpenRun Pro, which are both ultra lightweight. In fact, I often tease my husband about his SHOKZ bone conduction headphones being permanently grafted onto his head, since they are so comfortable that he forgets he's wearing them and almost never takes them off during the day, even when he's not listening to anything through them.

Learn more about why we're such hugs fans in The Best Bone-Conduction Bluetooth Headphones Review: Shokz OpenRun Pro.

My Best Gift Review Pick for Recipients Who Are Hard to Buy For

DuraTech Tool Roll Organizer With 21 Pockets

My husband enjoys working on cars, scale models, and model trains. As a result, he has several collections of prized hand tools for both automotive and hobby use. Keeping not only his wrenches and sockets but also his fine precision tools organized and well protected is a high priority for him. 

DuraTech tool storage organizer - rolled up and latched

After considerable product research, I chose this attractive, durable, well-designed and well-made DuraTech tool roll organizer as a Christmas gift for him and he absolutely loves it. 

Here's a view of the interior, filled with his precision hand tools, including fine nippers, needle nose pliers, precision tweezers and X-ACTO knives:

DuraTech tool roll organizer, unrolled to show tools stored inside
DURATECH Tool Roll Organizer, 21 Pockets Tool Bag Roll

I'm planning to buy one for myself for my most-often-used jewelry making and crafting tools.

Find out more about why this makes such a terrific gift for anyone who relies on hand tools for hobbies, models, automotive repairs, etc. in my review of The Best Tool Roll Organizer To Store & Protect Your Tools.

My Best Health Product Review

Dnsly Ultrasonic Toothbrush Set With Travel Case and Extra Brush Heads

I've been using top name brand ultrasonic toothbrushes with fancy features from Oral-B and Philips Sonicare for most of my life. A few months ago, however, I switched to this much more affordable and equally effective Dnsly ultrasonic toothbrush set with a choice of five brushing modes (White, Clean, Sensitive, Polish and Massage). It also has ultra soft bristles that protect my gums from erosion as well as compact brush heads and an interdental brush that make it easier to get into hard-to-reach spots. 

Dnsly electric toothbrush with travel case
Dnsly Sonic Electric Toothbrush with 5 Modes, 2-Minute Smart Timer, 8 Brush Heads, 1 Travel Case

The set I purchased includes a hard, fitted travel case, a clear plastic brush head cover (so you can toss it in your purse or briefcase without carrying the travel case) and seven brush heads, in addition to the tiny, pointed interdental brush. You can brush twice a day for 30 days on a single 4-hour charge, which makes it perfect for travel! 

Check out this affordable, high quality set in my product review of The Best Dentist Approved, Inexpensive, 5-Mode Electric Toothbrush.

My Top 3 Kitchen Product Reviews

I enjoy cooking and baking, but not washing dishes. Three of my favorite product purchases for 2022 were kitchen items that have made our time spent prepping, making good food and cleaning up more efficient and enjoyable.

Adjustable Stainless Steel 3-Tier Over Sink Dish Drying Rack

The first was this fabulous three-tier 304 stainless steel dish drying rack that has gotten all our nonstick cookware, bakeware, oversized items (like the Vitamix blender jar and the large cake storage box in the photo) and other hand washable items off our countertops. (This large-capacity drying rack also comes in a smaller, two-tier version.)

Boosiny stainless steel, 3-tier over sink dish drying rack
BOOSINY Adjustable 3-Tier Over Sink Dish Drying Rack, 304 Stainless Steel

We love the adjustable-height shelves and moveable accessories, such as the hanging hooks, utensil holder, cup hooks, soap/sponge tray and cutting board holder, that we can configure to our needs and preferences. With the limited counter space in our old galley kitchen, this over-the-sink dish drying rack has been a godsend! And the convenience of being able to simply hang items to drip dry after hand washing them means we save electricity by running our dishwasher less often.

Read my full review of The Best Large, Sturdy, Adjustable, Over-the-Sink Dish Drying Rack to learn more about why it is one of my favorite product purchases of the past year.

Mueller Ultra-Stick 500 Watt 9-Speed Immersion Blender, Electric Whisk and Frother

My second favorite kitchen purchase from 2022 is this awesome Müeller Ultra-Stickmulti-purpose hand blender with a heavy-duty 500-watt copper motor and brushed stainless steel body. The comfortable handle with an ergonomic, non-slip grip makes this hand blender a pleasure to use, and the powerful motor offers 9 speeds and a Turbo Mode for a burst of extra power when needed.

Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender model MU-HB-02
Mueller Ultra-Stick 500 Watt 9-Speed Immersion Multi-Purpose Hand Blender

The three attachments make this three, high-quality, small kitchen appliances in one: an immersion blender, an electric whisk and a milk frother. We use ours all the time for blending soups, making fresh whipped cream and frothing milk for our coffee (or making frothy bulletproof coffee or silky-smooth hot cocoa).

Read my detailed review of The Best Powerful, Lightweight Stick Blender With Versatile Attachments.

Astercook 15-piece German Stainless Steel Kitchen and Steak Knives Set With Wooden Storage Block

My third kitchen product purchase from last year that my husband and I have really been enjoying is our Astercook kitchen and steak knives set.

Astercook 15-piece stainless steel kitchen and steak knives set in a wood storage block
Asktercook 15-piece German high-carbon stainless steel kitchen & steak knives set with storage block

This 15-piece set includes an acacia wood knife block fitted with a full set of the most useful kitchen knives, including an 8" chef knife, 8" slicing knife, 7" santoku knife, 8" serrated bread knife, 5" utility knife and a 3.5" paring knife; a set of six 4.5" serrated steak knives; a pair of kitchen shears with a handy built-in bottle opener; and a sturdy sharpening steel for honing the sharp, German stainless steel blades to keep them "in good nick." 

My husband and I have been extremely pleased with the quality of these knives, especially considering the extremely low price (less than $45 as of this post's publication date)!

Learn more about this excellent, inexpensive knife set that would be a great addition to any kitchen, and a welcome gift for anyone outfitting their first kitchen, in my in-depth review of The Best Affordable, Super Sharp Kitchen and Steak Knives Set.

My Favorite Low Carb and Keto Food Reviews

Scotty's Everyday Keto Pizza Crust Mix With 0 Net Carbs Per Slice

My husband and I both love high-carbohydrate foods like breads, rolls, cookies, cakes and pizza. We have chosen to cut back substantially on both carbs and highly processed foods because of the health benefits we have both noticed when we eat a very low carb, largely whole food diet. Even though my husband is quite slim and has to make sure he eats enough calories to avoid losing weight, we both have experienced significant improvements in mental clarity and focus, reduction in joint pain and inflammation, and other health benefits by eating this way. However, neither of us is willing to give up our favorite foods, so I invest time and effort researching, trying out and evaluating healthy, low carb alternatives for foods like pizza crusts and burger buns.

I have tried several low carb pizza crust mix products and recipes, and one of my favorites so far is Scotty's Everyday Keto Pizza Crust Mix. 

Pizza made with Scotty's Everyday Keto Pizza Crust Mix

One of the reasons is convenience, since this mix calls for only olive oil and water, both of which we always have on hand. Others include speed (just mix, roll and bake), fairly clean, healthy ingredients), high in dietary fiber, low in calories and 0 net carbs per slice, and a surprisingly good taste and texture considering the nutritional profile.

This mix makes a pizza crust that, unlike some low carb options, is crisp on the outside, slightly chewy on the inside, and sturdy enough to pick up and eat with your hands. We love being able to eat pizza for dinner once a week again and have fun changing up the toppings to keep things interesting.

Check out my full review of The Best Keto Pizza Crust Mix With 0 Net Carbs including some of our favorite low carb, keto friendly pizza toppings.

KetoBakes Best EVER Sandwich Buns Keto Bake Mix

My husband makes the best burgers and, for many years, we have had a tradition of him making his special Friday night burgers (or, as we like to call them, Friday night "burglars") to celebrate the end of the work week and kick off the weekend. Although some people enjoy using lettuce as a burger wrap, we much prefer ours on a nice, soft, lightly toasted bun. And, although we love Natural Ovens Bakery Keto-Friendly Buns and often keep a few bags in our freezer, they contain a few ingredients that aren't strictly "clean keto" and are not gluten-free.

So, unless I'm pressed for time, I prefer baking fresh burger buns using KetoBakes Best EVER Sandwich Buns Keto Bake Mix, which lives up to its name as far as keto-friendly buns are concerned.

KetoBakes Best Ever Sandwich Bun Mix
KetoBakes Best EVER Sandwich Buns Keto Bake Mix

This mix has clean ingredients, the same ones I would use if I were baking keto buns from scratch, and makes soft, pillowy, yummy buns that are perfect for burgers or sandwiches. They also freeze beautifully, which I do in my favorite Stasher reusable silicone 1/2 gallon food storage bags, which open and seal incredibly quickly and easily (I love them!). 

Get the 411 on this excellent baking mix in my product review of The Best Low Carb Keto Sandwich and Burger Buns Mix.

ChocZero Regular and Dark Cocoa Hazelnut Keto Spreads and Livlo Zello Keto-Friendly Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

These low-carb chocolate hazelnut spreads with no added sugars offer three excellent, healthy (and keto-friendly) alternatives for people who love Nutella.

ChocZero and Livlo ZELLO keto chocolate hazelnut spreads
ChocZero Dark Cocoa Hazelnut Keto Spread, Livlo Zello Keto-Friendly Chocolate Hazelnut Spread and ChocZero Cocoa Hazelnut Keto Spread

I've provided a detailed side-by-side comparison of the flavor, size, price, nutrition facts, ingredients, dietary restriction / special diets information and other considerations in my review Comparing the Best Keto-Friendly Chocolate Hazelnut Spreads - No Added Sugars.


I hope this recap of my 10 favorite products that I reviewed in 2022 helps you find some gift ideas or new favorites of your own for the coming year.

Wishing all our Review This Reviews readers and my fellow contributors a healthy, happy, peaceful and prosperous 2023!


My 10 Best Product Reviews of 2022 Revisited 

by Margaret Schindel


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Friday, December 16, 2022

Rustic Wall Mounted Wine Racks

These rustic wall-mounted wine racks make a perfect gift idea for any wine enthusiast on your list, and for any occasion.

Rustic Wall mounted Wine Racks
Rustic Wall Wine Racks - Reviewed

A wall-mounted wine rack is a nice addition to any kitchen or dining area. They are easy to hang and will display your favorite wines and wine glasses all within reach.

We always have a couple bottles of wine on hand for special occasions and when friends drop by. Our problem was always that we didn't have the cabinet space to store the wine bottles.

It's always a good idea to have a couple of different wines on hand. Fran and my daughter enjoy dry wines, as for me I like a wine that is more on the sweet side. So, this handy wall-mounted wine rack can hold a variety of wines along with your wine glasses.

The wine rack in the photo above was a gift from our son and daughter-in-law. It is handmade from recycled pallet wood. They both had a hand in making this wine rack, my son cut and assembled it, while my daughter-in-law added the inscription, "May Your Glass Always Be Half Full".

Our wine rack measures 18 inches across x 14 inches high x 5 inches deep, and easily accommodates four bottles of wine and four wine glasses hanging underneath. As you can see it's also perfect for our Christmas Snowman.

Although it took me a year to hang it on the wall, the installation was quick and easy. It attaches to the wall with two wall anchors and a couple of 2-inch screws. It is a perfect addition to our kitchen and hangs on a side wall above our sink.

These wine racks are sure to be a perfect gift for wine lovers and can be found on Amazon in a variety of styles.

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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Air Fryer Italian Style Roasted Potatoes

 These Italian-style potatoes are a perfect complement to any main dish. I'm calling these roasted potatoes, but they were really air fried in our Ninja Foodi Grill and Air Fryer.

Air Fryer Italian Style Roasted Potatoes Reviewed

Fran picked up a nice rump roast last week and cooked it in our Instant pot. While it was cooking I remembered the days when my mother would cook a roast in the oven for hours with these delicious roasted potatoes. So, I thought why not try to duplicate these potatoes in the air fryer. 

Air Fried Italian Style Roasted Potatoes:

4 or 5 medium potatoes (washed and peeled)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove of garlic (minced)
2 tablespoons of Italian seasoning 
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:
  1. I washed and peeled the potatoes and cut them into quarters. 
  2. Placed them in a one-gallon plastic freezer or storage bag.
  3. Add the olive oil close the bag, shake and mix.
  4. Open the bag and add the remaining seasoning, close and mix again.
  5. Preheat the air fryer to 390 degrees and set the time to 20 minutes.
  6. After 10 minutes I turned them over.
Although I set the timer for 20 minutes, I checked them again at 15 minutes and they were done. It's always a good idea to check the food when you're making it for the first time. Different brands of air fryers may vary with temperature and time.

Needless to say, these potatoes were a perfect side dish for the rump roast. They were crispy on the outside, tender and soft on the inside, and full of flavor.

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Friday, November 11, 2022

Lightweight Acrylic Cake Plate with Dome Lid Reviewed

Domed Acrylic Cake Plate
Let me start by saying, I absolutely love my new acrylic cake plate!

Domed Acrylic Cake Plate

I rarely buy anything for myself.  I usually keep a running wishlist for special occasions. Normally, if I want something new for my kitchen, I add it to the wishlist and try to forget it.  That way, my family can select things they know I will want and I can be surprised by a new gadget, utensil, or cookware.  

For some time now, I have been searching for a lightweight, pretty covered cake plate that I can easily move from the refrigerator to the table.  For decades, I have used my domed glass cake plate, but in recent years I have noted that it is heavy for me to carry.  

I hate the way wrap or foil messes up cake frosting and much prefer the domed cake plates, so I have continued to use the glass domed cake plate in spite of the weight.  My glass cake plate is also footed, which makes it rather tall.  I have to move my refrigerator shelf to accommodate the height, which is another inconvenience.

When I found this footless acrylic domed cake plate on Amazon, I thought I would try it.  I wasn't sure it would work well for me and I didn't want to wait for Christmas to receive it.  With several birthdays to celebrate in October & November, I really needed the cake plate now.  Therefore, I bought it for myself.  

Because it turned out to be exactly what I wanted and needed, I wish I had waited for a beloved family member to gift it to me so it would have that memory attached to it.  I'll have to settle for the memories of the birthday cakes that were first served and stored in it.

 

The Lightweight Acrylic Domed Cake Plate

This cake plate is perfect!  It is very lightweight, almost feather light.  Because it is not footed, it easily slides into my refrigerator without having to adjust the shelf height, even with the handled tall dome.


 

I was concerned that the dome would not be tall enough, however, it easily accommodates our two layer lemon cake (shown below) or chocolate cake without touching the frosting.

I use a glass plate under my cake because they turn easily on the table when frosting a cake.  The dome is tall enough and the plate is wide enough to accommodate the plate and the cake together.  As you can see in the picture below, my husband used a dinner plate for the lemon birthday cake he made for me.  The cake is not touching the lidded dome on the top or the sides, and there is plenty of room for the dinner plate underneath the cake.

 

The diamond pattern of the plate itself is very pretty on the table and compliments any dessert. 

I am thrilled to have a lovely domed cake plate that will protect my frosted cakes and that I can easily move from the fridge to the table.  The dome does get fogged between fridge and table, but that is easily wiped away with a paper towel, leaving the cake in a clear and lovely domed display.

 AVLA Acrylic Cake Plate with Dome, 13 Inch Cake Stand with CoverCheck Price




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Monday, October 3, 2022

Salt Potatoes a Tasty Side Dish

 These easy-to-make salt potatoes are a perfect side dish to compliment any meal, and your family and friends will love them.

Salt Potatoes a Tasty Side Dish

Salt potatoes are a regional side dish that originated in Syracuse New York. The potatoes used for salt potatoes are, first harvested small young potatoes.

As the potatoes cook, the salt forms a crust on the outside, while the inside is soft and creamy. I garnished my salt potatoes with fresh parsley and chives and served them with melted butter to pour over the soft creamy inside.

I honestly have never heard of salt potatoes before. I was telling a friend that I was going to smoke a turkey breast over the weekend and he suggested making salt potatoes as the side dish.

Salt Potatoes

We have lived in Western New York for 33 years and I have never seen these in the grocery store until now. Apparently, you can buy salt potatoes in a kit. So, look in your local grocery store to see if you can find Salt Potatoes in a kit.

If you can't find a kit, you can use young small white potatoes and one cup of salt to six cups of water.

How to make Salt Potatoes:

5 lbs. small white potatoes (Washed)

1 cup salt

6 cups water

1/2 cup melted butter

Fresh parsley (Chopped)

Fresh Chives (Chopped)

Directions:

  1. Bring the water and salt to a boil until all of the salt has dissolved.
  2. Add the potatoes and boil for 25 to 30 minutes until the potatoes are soft and tender.
  3. Drain the water, pour over the melted butter and garnish with parsley and chives. Serve with more melted butter.
Needless to say that these salt potatoes were a big hit with the whole family. They made a perfect side dish for my Hickory Smoked Turkey Breast.

Here is the link to my:

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Friday, September 30, 2022

Waffle Plates for Cuisinart Griddler Reviewed

Heart Waffles
Almost 7 years ago, I purchased a Cuisinart Griddler Countertop Grill & Griddle. We bought it primarily so my husband could grill steaks, hamburgers, and pork chops indoors during the winter months.  However, we quickly found additional uses for the Griddler. 

The Griddler plates are two sided. The grill is on one side of the plates and the flat griddle is on the other side of the plates. You simply insert them on the side you wish on cook on. I frequently use the griddle side for pancakes and eggs. The Griddler is so much easier to use than a skillet because it sits higher and has no sides to work around.

I've never been particularly fond of waffles, but my husband loves them. I also purchased the standard Griddler waffle plates imagining that I would make waffles for him. However, in the 7 years we have had our Griddler, I have never used the standard square waffle plates. Then, a few weeks ago, I noticed Griddler now has heart shaped waffle plates. I immediately bought them!  Because I was excited to make heart shaped waffles, I used them as soon as they were delivered. They were so much fun to make, plus they are delicious, that I have made them several times in the last few weeks.

Turns out, if they are heart shaped, I love waffles!  

 

Heart Shaped Waffle Plates for the Cuisinart Griddler

Using the Griddler is very easy.  All of the cook plates are coated with a non-stick Teflon, but I still use a cooking spray when making waffles.  

 Waffle Plates for Cuisinart Griddler GR-4NP1 5-in-1, Cuisinart Griddler Waffle Plates, Nonstick coating baking waffle plates,2 pcsCheck PriceThe cook plates are dishwasher safe. I normally wash the waffle plates by hand, but I do put the grill plates in the dishwasher to make sure all meat residue is washed away and the plates are clean. 

To make waffles, I used Pearl Milling Company (previously Aunt Jemima) Original Pancake & Waffle Mix

 

Waffle Recipe for Cuisinart Griddler

  • 1 Cup of Pearl Milling Company Original Pancake Mix 
  • ¾ Cup Milk 
  • 1 Egg 
  • 2 Tablespoon Oil 

Whisk all together well and let it set for 5 minutes. Spray each Griddler plate lightly with a cooking spray.  Cook on Griddle Setting on 375 for 3 – 3 ½ minutes 

One recipe makes 2 full 5-hearts shaped waffles & 1/2 of another. Serve them with maple syrup or other flavored syrup. I personally love Smuckers blueberry syrup, but my husband prefers the maple syrup.

You can cut the waffles into individual hearts after they are fully cooked or leave them whole.  We have laughed over whether the waffles are hearts, flowers, or ice cream cones.  Yes, they are meant to be hearts, but we have enjoyed "seeing" other shapes in the waffles.


Waffles


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Wednesday, September 28, 2022

The Best Affordable, Super Sharp Kitchen and Steak Knives Set

Sharp knives are the most important tools in any kitchen. A good chef’s knife, slicer (AKA carving knife), santoku, utility or prep, paring, and serrated bread knife (along with a boning knife, if you frequently debone bone-in meat or poultry) can help you accomplish any food cutting, slicing or chopping task faster and more efficiently.

Using only very sharp kitchen knives is extremely important, not just because they enable you to make faster, easier, more precise cuts but also because they’re safer. A dull blade that doesn’t slide easily into the food you are slicing, paring, etc., requires more force and is much more likely to slide off the food and slice into your finger or hand instead.

Fortunately, with a little effort, it is possible to find good quality kitchen knives that retain their sharpness well with just simple, routine maintenance. In this product review, I’ll share the well-made, affordable, super sharp kitchen and steak knives set I bought last month that also includes a wood storage block.

Photo of Astercook 15-piece knives and knife block set

True confession: I held onto our 30+-year-old Chicago Cutlery stainless steel kitchen knives for way too long. I received the set as a gift when I was too young to know that kitchen knives shouldn't go through the dishwasher (regardless of "dishwasher safe" marketing claims that benefit manufacturers and retailers by increasing both short-term and long-term sales, since blades with ruined edges needs to be replaced more often). The riveted wood handles had become loose and wobbly thanks to swelling and shrinking during dishwasher cycles, and the blades had become so nicked and dull that they couldn't hold an edge even with routine honing and sharpening. This made slicing, dicing, chopping and cutting slow and laborious and caused more frequent cut fingers. I don't know why I waited so long to replace them.

Not All High-Carbon Stainless Steel Knives Are Alike

Several years ago, I took advantage of an Amazon Prime Day deal for a kitchen and steak knife set with sharp blades and molded plastic handles. It also included kitchen shears and a wood storage block with a built-in blade sharpener instead of a honing rod (before I knew that frequent sharpening was a bad idea!).

I explained to my husband that, unlike our previous, beat-up set that had been through the dishwasher countless times (and had the beat-up, dull edges to prove it), our new one had high-carbon stainless steel blades that would need to be hand washed and towel dried thoroughly immediately after use to avoid rust. John is a wonderful cook who makes dinner on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights (I am so blessed!). However, whereas I try to clean as I go when I'm cooking, he prefers to focus on the food and leave the clean-up until after dessert. Old habits are hard to break, and despite his best efforts, he often forgot to wash and dry the new kitchen knives right away. Predictably, the blades routinely developed light rust spots. Eventually, we gave the set to a young relative who was moving into his first apartment.

I bought a Victorinox Fibrox Pro 8-Inch Chef's Knife (model 45520), the winner of Cook's Illustrated favorite chef's knives under $75, which my husband and I really enjoy using. It has a molded, ergonomic, thermoplastic handle for a comfortable grip and sharpens very nicely. Best of all, it can be hand washed and left to drip dry in our awesome over-the-sink dish drying rack without developing rust stains, which makes both of us happy, and cost less than $40 on Amazon (as of this post's publication date). We love it so much that I gifted one to my brother when he started teaching himself to cook. It's still my husband's go-to kitchen knife.

We already owned an excellent handcrafted, serrated bread knife with a beautiful handle that I had purchased long ago at an upscale art and craft fair from the man who made it. Between it and our Victorinox Fibrox Pro, we made do just fine for a year or two. However, while a chef's knife is the single most useful size, shape and style, it isn't optimal for tasks like paring, carving, or making precision cuts or paper-thin slices. So, a few months ago I started looking for a new kitchen knife set that we could use without having to worry about rust spots developing if they weren't washed and dried as soon as we finished using them.

My first step was to check out Cook's Illustrated's knife block set reviews. None of the preconfigured sets they tested met their criteria for top picks. Instead, they put together two highly recommended sets that buyers could assemble but purchasing specific, individual kitchen knives and the testers' favorite knife block. The total cost of these two assemble-your-own "knife block sets" came to $440 and $224, respectively, well above my target price range.

Next, since I really wanted the sharpness and more refined edges of high-carbon stainless steel blades, I decided to look at moderately-priced high-carbon stainless steel kitchen knife sets with "dishwasher safe" marketing claims. Even though I would never put mine in the dishwasher, I reasoned that a set that claimed to be dishwasher safe might be less prone to rust or corrosion than our previous set.

After copious research and reading products reviews to see what customers experienced in terms of both performance and ease of maintenance, I found an affordable set with good reviews on Amazon and decided to buy it.

Astercook 15-piece kitchen knife block set
My Astercook 15-piece knife set with storage block includes kitchen shears, an excellent honing rod and six serrated seak knives (one of which is shown below the honing steel).

Astercook 15-Piece German High-Carbon Stainless Steel Knife Set with Storage Block

Our new Astercook 15-piece German high-carbon stainless steel kitchen knife block set has performed admirably since I bought it nearly two months ago. It is serviceable rather than fancy, which is exactly what we need, and it has not only the essentials but also several nice-to-have and bonus tools.

The Essentials

  • 8" chef's knife
A Western-style chef's knife, with its curved tip, is the most versatile and efficient tool for many tasks, especially those requiring a rocking motion. It's the one we use most often.

    • 8" serrated bread knife
    This versatile blade has many uses beyond just slicing bread. We like using it to cut through fruits that have a thick skin or rind (e.g., pineapple, watermelon) and delicate foods (e.g., slicing cake horizontally into layers).

      • 3.5” paring knife
      The blade is a great length for tasks like peeling, quartering and coring apples, while the sharp, pointed tip makes hulling strawberries a breeze.

        The Nice-to-Haves

        • 7" santoku
        This smaller, lighter, sharper Japanese-style chef's knife was designed for the more precise cuts used to prepare Japanese food and is nearly as versatile as its Western counterpart. I love it for cutting very thin slices of cucumber and other vegetables and prefer it to a serrated bread blade (which also works) for slicing tomatoes cleanly with minimal loss of the interior jelly and seeds. (Did you know that most of a tomato's flavor is in the "guts," i.e., the jelly and seeds?)

          • 8" slicer
          The long, straight blade makes this our tool of choice for carving large, even slices of meat, poultry or fish.

            • 5” utility knife
            Shorter than the chef's but longer than the paring, we love using this versatile midsize, mid-weight blade for slicing hard cheese or salami, mincing parsley, breaking down or deboning poultry and many other tasks.

              Bonus Items

              • Six serrated steak knives
              The 4.5" serrated blades slice effortlessly through cooked meats and stay sharp longer than blades with straight edges.They definitely add to our enjoyment of a good steak!

                • Honing rod (AKA honing steel)
                Like all blades, the ones in this high-carbon stainless steel kitchen knife set require frequent honing to keep them sharp and prolong the need for sharpening. The honing rod that comes with this set does a fabulous job and is far superior to the one from my 30+-year-old set. Just a quick pass or two lets me restore the edges from somewhat sharp to razor-sharp.

                Note: This stainless steel blade honing tool is often referred to as a "sharpening steel" or "sharpening rod." See "What's the Difference Between Honing and Sharpening?" (below) to understand why that's a misnomer.

                  • Kitchen shears
                  These have so many uses! I find it quicker and easier to use kitchen shears for things like making a chiffonade of fresh basil leaves (i.e., stacking, rolling and cutting them into thin strips), snipping fresh chives or scallions into small pieces, cutting up sticky dried fruits (oil the blades first to minimize sticking), and trimming excess pie dough, green beans, fat, etc. As a bonus, this thoughtfully designed pair also has a handy built-in bottle opener!

                  Tip: To help keep the blades sharp, reserve these kitchen shears for food use only and keep a pair of utility scissors in your kitchen drawer for non-food tasks, such as cutting open bags and boxes or cutting baking parchment paper to size.

                    • Acacia wood storage block
                    The wood knife block is not as well made or nicely finished as the tools it holds, which was a bit disappointing but definitely not a deal-breaker. The one we received is darker and has a less attractive wood grain pattern than those in the Amazon listing photos (but is very similar to the one in the product video) and the edges around the slots are a bit rough.

                    That said, it does its job of protecting the knives, kitchen shears and honing rod when not in use and, as you can see, it looks fine on our kitchen counter.

                      Excellent Value, Affordable Price

                      Here are some of the attributes that make this Astercook 15-piece knife set with storage block my pick for the best affordable, super sharp kitchen and steak knives set.

                      • 15-piece set includes everything a home cook needs to choose the best cutting tool for any task
                      • Comfortable in the hand, with enough clearance under the handles to wrap your fingers around them
                      • Forged (vs. stamped), seamless construction
                      • Extremely sharp, German high-carbon stainless steel blades that hold their edge well with frequent honing
                      • Rust-resistant (not rustproof)
                        • Even though the Amazon product listing claims this set is "dishwasher safe", that claim (for any knife set, not just this one) is a marketing gimmick. Believe the Astercook user manual that comes with the set, which clearly states that blades should never go into the dishwasher. That said, if you really don't want to wash and dry them by hand, you can run them through the dishwasher as long as you are willing to have them sharpened frequently and accept that they will need to be replaced much sooner than if you care for them properly.
                      • Lifetime warranty (note that a few Amazon reviewers had difficulty reaching the manufacturer)
                      • Impressive value—a full set of six good quality kitchen knives, six serrated steak knives, a honing steel, a pair of kitchen shears and an acacia wood knife block, all for less than $40 with free Amazon Prime shipping (at the time of this post’s publication)

                      How to Keep Your New Kitchen Knives Sharp

                      Frequent honing will maintain a blade's sharp edge(s) and prolong the its useful life, since most can only be re-sharpened a limited number of times.

                      What's the Difference Between Honing and Sharpening?

                      Honing realigns and smooths the metal along a blade's existing cutting edge to restore its sharpness. Since no metal is removed, you can hone a blade as often as you wish (some people do it either before or after each use) without damaging the edge, as long as you maintain the correct angle as you are sliding it across the honing rod. However, honing won't sharpen a dull blade, which is why it's important to hone frequently to maintain the sharp edge as long as possible.

                      Sharpening removes metal (with abrasives such as a whetstone, diamond sharpening block or manual or electric knife sharpener) to create a new cutting edge. Even with routine maintenance, a blade that gets a lot of use will dull eventually and will need sharpening. Creating the original cutting edge and sharpening the blade correctly when it becomes dull requires precision. For example, different types of blades have cutting edges at different angles, and some are beveled on both sides while others are beveled on only one side. A professional knife sharpening service will deliver the best results at a very reasonable price. However, it's also possible to do a creditable job yourself if you are willing to invest in a high quality knife sharpener, such as Cook's Illustrated's top picks, the three-stage Chef's Choice Trizor 15XV Knife Sharpener and the more affordable, two-stage Chef's Choice 315XV Knife Sharpener.

                      Side view of Astercook 15-piece knife block set
                      This attractive, well-appointed set would make a wonderful gift!

                      A Thoughtful Gift

                      This 15-piece set of high-carbon stainless steel kitchen and steak knives, kitchen shears, honing rod and knife block makes a great gift under $40! Here are just a few ideas for potential gift recipients:

                      • Engaged couples or newlyweds
                      • Cooking enthusiasts
                      • High school graduates headed to college away from home
                      • Anyone who is moving into their first apartment or house and needs to outfit their first kitchen
                      • A would-be home cook who wants to improve their knife skills
                      • Grandparents who haven't replaced their kitchen knives in many years
                      • Anyone with old, dull, or low-quality kitchen knives
                      • Someone who frequently cuts their fingers while prepping food
                      I'll bet there's someone on your gift list who would be thrilled to receive this set as a wedding, engagement, graduation, housewarming or "just because" present.

                      Also, if your current tools aren't as comfortable, well-balanced and sharp as you would like and prepping ingredients takes more time and effort than it should, consider this affordable, super sharp kitchen and steak knives set as a gift to yourself. Remember, dull blades are more likely to skip, slip and accidentally cut you instead of your food. A set that can maintain a very sharp edge with just routine honing makes food prep not just faster, easier and more enjoyable but also safer! 


                      The Best Affordable, Super Sharp Kitchen and Steak Knives Set by Margaret Schindel

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