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

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 $70 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! 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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                      Tuesday, September 27, 2022

                      Air Fryer Apple Hand Pies

                       Air Fryer Apple Hand Pies are so easy to make, and make the perfect after-school or anytime snack for your family. My review will show you just how easy these are to make.

                      Air Fryer Apple Hand Pies
                      Air Fryer Apple Hand Pies - Reviewed

                      The weather is starting to cool off, and that always puts me in the mood for apple pie. Instead of making a whole apple pie, I decided on making these easy hand pies in my air fryer.

                      I bought the 9-inch pie crust ready-made and a can of apple pie filling. If you would like to make your own pie crust and apple pie filling See my recipe here: Sam's Apple Pie.

                      Apple Hand Pie Ingredients:

                      • 2 pie crusts (9-inch)
                      • 1 can apple pie filling (I used a 21oz. can of Duncan Hines Comstock Apple Pie Filling) 
                      • 1 egg beaten
                      • Water to wet the edges
                      • White sugar to sprinkle over top

                      Apple Hand Pies Air Fryer

                      I cut out 5-inch circles from the pie crust. I didn't have a 5-inch cookie cutter so I used a small bowl that measured 5-inches across.

                      I got three circles out of each pie crust, and after rolling out the remaining dough I got three more for a total of 9 hand pies.

                      Place one tablespoon of pie filling in the middle of each cutout, wet the edge with water, fold over and crimp with a fork.

                      Hand Pies

                      I brushed each hand pie with the beaten egg mixture and poked a fork through in three places to help release the steam. Then I sprinkled the tops of each with white sugar.

                      Air Fry Apple Pies

                      I started my Ninja Air Fryer and set it to Air Crisp. Set the temperature to 350 degrees and the time to 8 minutes. I could only fit four at a time in the basket of my air fryer, you don't want them to touch. Times and Temperatures may vary with different air fryers.

                      Cooling Apple Hand Pies

                      I set them on a rack to cool for at least 10 minutes. Serve with ice cream, or as you see in the intro photo I served some with caramel sauce. 

                      My grandsons were visiting so needless to say that these didn't last very long. The best thing about these is that they are so easy to make with an air fryer.

                      Don't have an air fryer? No problem preheat your oven to 350 degrees and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until they are golden brown.

                      The Ninja Foodi Grill is so much more than just an air fryer, read my review here:



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                      Friday, August 19, 2022

                      Cooking & Baking Prep Tools: Shot Glasses Used As Pinch Bowls

                      Shot Glass Pinch Bowls
                      Shot glasses may seem like unusual prep tools when cooking or baking, but they are actually the perfect pinch bowls for ingredients. In my kitchen, they are as essential as measuring spoons or mixers.

                      Not only are they glass and transparent, they have measurements printed on them. Plus, they have a weighted base so they will not turn over.  Due to their small size, they are easy to stack & store. Shot glasses take up very little space on the kitchen counter when working which allows you to use as many as you need for individual ingredients.

                      Before I ever start to mix anything, I measure out all of the recipes ingredients in separate measuring cups & shot glasses.  The shot glasses are great for holding small amounts of seasonings, spices, extracts, or small amounts of liquid. I still use my measuring spoons to measure & level the seasonings, but you could use the shot glass measurements on the side if you prefer.

                      By pre-measuring all of the recipe ingredients into separate shot glasses & measuring cups, I don't forget any ingredients, or wonder if I have already added a specific ingredient as I work. If the shot glass of salt is still sitting on the counter, I know I haven't added it yet. Plus, I can stir and mix everything together faster if I don't have to stop to measure each ingredient as I go.


                      Shot Glasses Are Excellent Pinch Bowls

                       Shot GlassesCheck PriceShot glasses can be used for so much more than measuring alcohol. Because they allow a clear view of contents and have the measurements printed on the glass, they are great when cooking. I have 4 shot glasses in my kitchen cabinet of baking supplies and I use them often. 

                      In the introduction photo, I have the seasonings for manicotti pre-measured and ready to add as needed.

                      Printed Measurements on the Shot Glasses 

                      • Teaspoons
                      • Tablespoons
                      • Ounces
                      • Milliliters

                      Shot glasses are also dishwasher safe, therefore clean up is a lot faster.  I enjoy cooking & baking, but I hate washing bowls and kitchen utensils.








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                      Tuesday, August 2, 2022

                      Mr Coffee 12 Cup Coffee Maker Review

                       

                      Mr Coffee 12 Cup Coffee Maker Review
                      There is never a shortage of coffee in our house, and there is no doubt about it, we love our coffee.

                      It seems that about every two or three years we are buying a new coffee maker. The Mr. Coffee 12-cup programmable with rapid Brew is our newest addition to our kitchen.

                      We have had many different brands of coffee makers over the years and they all seem to certainly fit our needs. This time we decided to go back to Mr. Coffee. I didn't realize it until I opened the box that I bought such a colorful coffee maker.

                      There is nothing better than waking up to a hot fresh cup of coffee in the morning. I use the programmable setting so that when we wake up the coffee is ready.


                      Mr. Coffee 12 Programmable Coffee Maker Features:

                      • Strong Brew Selector for a bolder cup of coffee. (My favorite)
                      • Delay Brew set it ahead and wake up to fresh coffee.
                      • The freshness timer monitors how fresh the coffee is from the time it's brewed.
                      • Grab-A-Cup Pause when you need a cup before brewing is finished.
                      • 2 Hour Auto Shut-Off automatically turns off the coffee maker so you don't have to.
                      • Easy View Water Window lets you see the exact water level as you fill, for no overflows.
                      • Lift and Clean Filter Basket for fast easy clean-up.
                      • Rapid Brew System.
                      I really like the rapid brew system it brews a pot of coffee 20% faster than previous models. This is a great feature if friends drop over and you need a quick pot of coffee.

                      It's easy to make less than 12 cups with the easy view water window and adjusting the amount of coffee. The coffee maker requires 12-cup basket-style coffee filters (Not Included).

                      So far we are pleased with our new Mr. Coffee Maker, and it is reasonably priced so you won't have to take out a loan to buy this one.

                      If you happen to need a smaller coffee maker this 5-Cup Mr. Coffee Maker is reviewed by my friend, Pat Austin right here on ReviewThisReviews.

                      Find more Product Reviews Here: ReviewThisProductReviews.com

                      Mr. Coffee 12-Cup Coffee Maker, Black (Red)Mr. Coffee 12-Cup Coffee Maker, Black (Red)Check the Price

                       




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                      Wednesday, June 8, 2022

                      The Best Powerful, Lightweight Stick Blender With Versatile Attachments

                      A stick blender, also called an immersion blender, is great for puréeing soups and sauces. Using a lightweight stick blender with a whisk attachment can be a lot more comfortable to use than a traditional hand mixer for mixing batters or whipping heavy cream. Several months ago, after the plastic housing and whip attachment on my 1980s-era Braun MR72 MultiPractic deluxe hand held blender with variable speed control eventually cracked, I did a lot of online research before choosing a new stick blender.

                      Ultimately, I purchased a Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender (model MU-HB-02) with three versatile attachments: an immersion blender, a wire whisk and frother. Today I'll share my review of this excellent, powerful, lightweight stick blender.

                      Müeller Ultra-Stick 3-in-1 Hand Blender
                      The Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender (model MU-HB-02) is one of my most used kitchen tools. It is also one of the best kitchen gifts and can replace several small appliances!

                      The Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender Is Surprisingly Powerful

                      Having used the Braun MR72 MultiPractic stick blender and whisk attachment for several decades gave me a much better idea of which features were important to me when choosing my next model of one of these small appliances. After narrowing down my top contenders for a new immersion blender, the powerful 500W motor on the Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender (model MU-HB-02) weighed heavily in its favor, since the 150W motor on my old Braun made it underpowered for my needs.

                      When using any immersion blender, it's important to hold the blades above the bottom of the pot, pan or other container and control the tool as the suction created by the blade and its housing try to force the shaft downward. The first time I used the blending shaft attachment on my new Müeller hand blender, I could feel how much more power it has compared to my old Braun model!

                      Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender speed control dial, power button and turbo button
                      The slim, contoured, ergonomic shape is easy for even a small hand like mine to hold comfortably. The speed control knob turns continuously, and the power and turbo buttons require just a thumb press.

                      Variable Speed Control Knob, One-Touch On/Off Button and Turbo Button Let You Control That Power Easily

                      My old model had a variable-speed control dial, but it had only 6 speeds. That, in combination with the 150W motor, provided a very limited range of speeds. By contrast, the Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender (model MU-HB-02) offers a choice of 9 speeds, thanks to multiple power and speed controls that give you more control over its powerful 500W motor.

                      The top of the motor body housing is the speed control knob. On the side near the top are two stacked buttons: The power button and the turbo button.

                      Speed Control Knob: After inserting the desired attachment—immersion blender, whisk or frother—into the motor body housing, plug the hand blender into the wall outlet. Then, the speed control dial clockwise to increase the speed or counter-clockwise to decrease the speed.

                      Power Button: Press your thumb on the one-touch on/off power button to turn on the motor and continue to depress it as you blend, whisk or froth your food or beverage. Release the button to turn off the hand blender. The company advises not to hold the Power button down for longer than 50 seconds at a time. However, I have not found that to be a limitation, since the 500W motor provides enough power to complete most tasks I have tried in less than 50 seconds!

                      Turbo Button: The Turbo button lets you kick things up a gear when you need to, whether you are puréeing cooked vegetables or whipping egg whites or heavy cream. Just slide your thumb down from the Power button to the Turbo button (directly underneath it) and press it for a quick burst of increased power.

                      Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender (model MU-HB-02) with attachments and instruction manual
                      The Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender (model MU-HB-02) with the immersion blending shaft attached, along with the gear box, whisk and frother attachments and simple instruction manual

                      Immersion Blending Shaft, Whisk and Frother Attachments Are All Extremely Useful

                      Blending Shaft: Attach this to the motor to use the Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender as an immersion blender. Its extremely sharp, stainless steel S-shaped blade lets you blend shakes or smoothies and purée soups, sauces or baby food.

                      Whisk Attachment: I use this lightweight stick blender with the whisk attachment several nights a week to make fresh whipped cream to serve with berries, ice cream, or another dessert. The difference in taste between store-bought whipped cream in a pressurized can and freshly whipped, lightly sweetened heavy cream with a splash of vanilla is significant. And with my new Müeller stick blender and wire whisk attachment, I can whip up a small batch of whipped cream, just enough for my husband and me, in just seconds!

                      I just pour a few tablespoons of heavy whipping cream into a 2-cup Pyrex glass liquid measuring cup, add my sweetener of choice and some pure vanilla extract, then insert my hand blender with the whisk attachment and move the whisk in circles, holding it slightly above the bottom of the measuring cup. I start on the slowest speed for 5 or 10 seconds to avoid splattering, then dial the speed up and finish whipping the cream to the desired consistency. After spooning the topping over our dessert, I just pull out the which attachment and wash it and the measuring cup. Easy peasy!

                      The powerful motor of this hand blender also means I can use it to beat egg whites or mix cake, cupcake or other thin to medium batters, rather than pulling out my large, heavy KitchenAid stand mixer (which I now reserve for mixing thicker, heavier batters and doughs).

                      Frother Attachment: My husband and I drink Bulletproof coffee (hot coffee whipped with clarified butter and MCT oil to a creamy, foam-topped consistency) in the morning. It has several valuable benefits, as I've discussed in my product review of The Best Affordable Programmable Large- and Small-Batch Coffee Maker. We had already purchased a cordless milk frother for this purpose, but it devours batteries and is underpowered, which is even more noticeable as the two AA batteries run down.

                      The frother attachment to our new Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender is a significant improvement in terms of power (110V vs. 3V), and we no longer are chewing through AA batteries.

                      Close-up of extremely sharp stainless steel blending shaft blade
                      The stainless steel blending shaft has an extremely sharp blade. Fortunately, it's also dishwasher safe!

                      Easy to Assemble and Disassemble

                      The plastic whip attachment for my old Braun hand blender was a pain in the neck to attach and detach from the motor housing. Fortunately, assembling and disassembling my new Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender (model MU-HB-02) with different attachments is a breeze!

                      Make sure the motor body is unplugged before attaching or detaching anything to or from it.

                      To attach the immersion blending shaft, insert it into the motor body and turn it counterclockwise so it snaps into the housing (you will hear a click).

                      To connect the whisk attachment or milk frother, first insert the shaft of the attachment into the gearbox. Then, insert the gearbox into the motor body and turn it counterclockwise so it snaps into the housing (you will hear a click).

                      To remove the immersion blending shaft, whisk or frother after using, simply reverse the process: Turn the blending shaft or gearbox clockwise and pull gently to detach it from the motor body housing, then gently pull out the whisk or frother attachment from the gearbox, if applicable.

                      Quick and Easy Clean-Up With Dishwasher-Safe Attachments

                      The motor body housing and gearbox should never be immersed in water, but can be cleaned easily just by wiping with a sponge or damp cloth.

                      The blending shaft, whisk and frother attachments can be hand washed in warm soapy water or put in the dishwasher for easy clean-up.

                      Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender assembled with blending shaft as an immersion blender
                      Connect the stainless steel blending shaft to the motor housing for a powerful immersion blender

                      Lightweight, Slim and Comfortable to Use

                      The Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender model MU-HB-02 weighs only approximately 1.9 pounds. It is lightweight, slim and has an ergonomic grip that is comfortable even for small hands like mine.

                      It is also 12.6 inches tall, so if I'm puréeing hot soup in a stockpot or Dutch oven, for example, my hand stays comfortably elevated above the heat.

                      Surprisingly Affordable and an Excellent Value

                      I could have spent more money on an immersion blender with whisk and other attachments that had features this one lacks, such as a speed dial that be operated with the dominant hand while the power is on. However, the quality/price/performance ratio on this Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender is quite impressive and it does everything I need it to at an extremely affordable price—less than $35 at the time of publication.

                      Since this stick blender with the whisk attachment is made mostly of stainless steel (unlike many others), takes the place of frother and a hand mixer (and is much more comfortable to use), can stand in for a regular blender or food processor in many cases and does a better job than either of those for blending small amounts of ingredients, it's really a terrific value. The America's Test Kitchen expert testers also recommended this immersion blender on the Cook's Illustrated website.

                      Don’t Use the Immersion Blending Shaft in Nonstick Cookware

                      The only other feature I could wish for would be a removable pan guard for the immersion blending shaft's blade housing, like the one on the KitchenAid KHBV53BM Variable Speed Corded Hand Blender, that wouldn't scratch nonstick cookware. However, the pan guard appears to be plastic, and I wouldn't feel comfortable using a plastic attachment inside a hot pan or pot of food that's directly on the heat anyway. In addition, that KitchenAid model has only 180W of power, doesn't come with a whisk or frother attachment, and the removable immersion blending arm isn't dishwasher-safe.

                      If I need to purée a soup or sauce, it's easy enough to use a stainless steel pot or to transfer the contents of a nonstick pot to a stainless steel bowl for immersion blending and then return the puréed mixture to the pot. This minor inconvenience is well worth it to have all the advantages and versatility of the Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender, especially given its affordable price.

                      An Affordable and Versatile Small Kitchen Appliance Any Home Cook Would Love

                      Click image to order the
                      Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender
                      (model MU-HB-02) 
                      on Amazon

                      This is one of those kitchen tools that you don't realize you needed until you have one. In fact, since I don't do a lot of immersion blending, when my old Braun stick blender with plastic parts cracked, I thought about not replacing it. But I really loved being able to whip up a small batch of fresh whipped cream or whip just one or two egg whites without having to drag out my heavy KitchenAid stand mixer, which is what prompted me to take a look at getting another hand blender with a whisk attachment. Finding a lightweight, stainless steel model with a much more powerful motor at an affordable price made the decision very easy.

                      The fact that this stick blender also has a milk frother attachment was a nice bonus that many gift recipients would appreciate, since lattes, cappucinos and other frothy drinks have become so popular. And, of course, anyone who drinks Bulletproof coffee would definitely love such a powerful frother.

                      I find myself using this versatile stick blender nearly every day, sometimes multiple times a day, for frothing coffee, making fresh whipped cream, or puréeing a sauce or gravy to get the lumps out quickly and easily. I'll bet someone you know would get a lot of use out of this Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender, too.


                      The Best Powerful, Lightweight Stick Blender With Versatile Attachments by Margaret Schindel


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                      Monday, June 6, 2022

                      Reviewing Vacuum Sealing Jars with a FoodSaver Machine

                      Bad news. All dry foods such as beans, rice, flour, corn meal, and pasta may have been exposed to moths or weevils during processing and packaging at food plants or during shipping. This is how these bugs are able to hitchhike into your home - even if your kitchen is pristine. If you suddenly have tiny beetles in your flour or moths in your bag of beans, it is because the eggs have had time to hatch before you've cooked the item. Yuck! One solution to avoid this is vacuum sealing your dry goods in jars. And the FoodSaver does this.



                      The FoodSaver machine is fairly well-known. Many people know that it is a machine that vacuum seals food into special plastic bags. When air is removed from food products that food stays fresher longer. And many are aware that vacuum sealed frozen food is at less risk for freezer burn. But not as many people know that Mason jars can be used with the FoodSaver machine to vacuum seal food in jars. 

                      Important Note: Not all FoodSaver machines have the Accessory Port that is needed to vacuum seal jars. If you are shopping for a FoodSaver machine so you can seal jars, make sure that the machine has the Accessory Port

                      Jar Sealer Attachments

                      I purchased a set of the jar sealer attachments. The set included the hose and two jar attachment lids; one wide mouth sized and one regular mouth sized. 

                      In just a few easy steps, you can seal food into jars:

                      • place dry food such as rice, pasta or beans into the Mason jar
                      • lay the flat lid on top of the jar
                      • press the correct size of jar sealer - wide mouth or regular - over the lid and jar
                      • insert the hose into the jar sealer and into the FoodSaver
                      • move the FoodSaver lever to the "operate" position
                      • press the button for "vacuum"
                      • after hearing the vacuuming begin then end, and after the light turns off, move the lever to the open position (releasing the pressure)
                      • remove the jar sealer from the jar
                      • gently check the lid to test for a seal
                      • label the lid with the food item and date
                      • I add the ring to help keep the lid secure in case I bump the jar - but I do not screw the ring on tightly
                      If you are a visual learner, I have prepared a very brief video to show how I seal my jars:




                      Important Vacuum Sealing Flour Caution

                      Because flour and similar items are finely ground, the action of the vacuum sealing process can pull the flour into the accessories. So you'll need to use some sort of barrier between the flour and the vacuum sealer.  I have seen some folks use a piece of cloth or paper towel inside the top of the jar when vacuum sealing flour into jars. However, I do not feel that I'd be coordinated enough to insert the cloth correctly. While I MUCH prefer vacuum sealing in jars, flour is the one thing I prefer to use the FoodSaver plastic bags for. I learned to seal using a bag in a bag; the flour in either a clean paper lunch bag or the bag it is packaged in then sealed in the FoodSaver plastic bag.

                      Why I Vacuum Seal My Food

                      While living at my last apartment, I had purchased some bulk rice and beans. Because I was feeding only one or two people I did not go through those those bulk items very quickly. One day, I opened the cupboard to find a bag of rice with a swarm of moths inside. It was like a bad scary movie. I did some research and that was when I learned that the eggs of these insects can be present in dry foods before they reach our homes. But I was also living an a metro apartment complex where the exterminators were frequently seen onsite to battle a variety of creepy things. So really, it's hard to tell where my rice infestation came from. But it was disgusting. And I never want it to happen again.

                      Now I live in my single dwelling home. I do not have to be concerned about what might be living in someone else's home just on the other side of my wall. But I have a new risk for bugs. Rather than purchasing my groceries every day or two in meal-sized portions as I usually did living in a metro area, I now purchase items in bulk. My goal is to go to the store for non-perishable items only once every month or two. But that increases the opportunity for these hitchhiking eggs to hatch.

                      I LOVE the option of vacuum sealing in jars. I can easily see what I have. Jars are more secure (I have seen videos of people discovering rodents have chewed through plastic tubs used to store their vacuum sealed bags). If I have a large jar of vacuum sealed pasta, I can open the jar and use a very small amount and reseal the jar. 

                      I would say that I am saving money by buying in bulk but with today's extreme inflation I do not feel as though I am saving money. However, I am protecting the food I have invested a good deal of money in and I am reducing the number of times I need to drive to the store. There have also been times that pasta is not available on the store shelves but I am able to relax knowing that I have a little of my own in a jar at home. 






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                      Saturday, May 28, 2022

                      Review of the 5-Cup Mr. Coffee Mini Brew

                      My new coffeemaker



                      I have had many Mr. Coffee coffeemakers over the years and always bought the 12-cup size. Since I am now the only coffee drinker in the house, when it came time to replace my old coffeemaker I decided to 'downsize'. Thus, I purchased the 5-Cup mini brew Mr. Coffee


                      My purchase decision was based on four things:

                      Mr. Coffee 5-Cup Mini Brew

                      1. Only one coffee drinker living in my house.
                      2. The fact that I've noticed I now (usually) only drink two cups of coffee each morning instead of the 4 or 5 I used to drink. 
                      3. This coffeemaker brews just 5 cups (25 oz.) instead of the larger 12-cup size, which is just the right amount for two 12-ounce cups of my mug-size cups of coffee at a time. If more is needed, or you have coffee-drinking company, it is quick to brew another pot.
                      4. The small size of the Mini Brew coffeemaker fits so much better on my kitchen shelf, taking up less space.



                      Features of the Mr. Coffee Mini Brew




                      • Since I was going to a smaller coffeemaker, which is less expensive than the larger 12-cup version, I decided to splurge on a 'programmable' one. It has some nice features.
                      • Brew Later. You can set it ahead to automatically turn on, letting you have fresh-brewed coffee ready when you get up.
                      • Auto Pause.  Allows you to grab a cup while the coffeemaker is still brewing if you cannot wait (which I seldom can first thing in the morning!). 
                      • As with the larger versions, this Mr. Coffee Mini Brew has an easy to view water window, handy for filling the coffeemaker. 
                      • Most important ~ it has a 2-hour auto shut-off feature. It automatically turns itself off if you forget.


                      The Important 2-hour Auto Shut-Off Feature



                      Let me tell you how important this feature is in ANY coffeemaker. Years ago I had a non-programmable, standard Mr. Coffee coffeemaker. It worked fine, except you had to remember to turn it off when you were done drinking coffee for the day.


                      Hubby & I would leave for work after coffee and breakfast and drive 18 miles to the office. At work, the coffee pot in the break room would remind me of my own coffee pot at home. Three different times I was suddenly so convinced in my mind that I had not turned off my coffee pot that I had to call my neighbor and ask her to run over and check my coffee pot. Once I DID leave it on.  After the third time of this 'did I, did I not' turn off the coffee pot, I gave up and bought a programmable one that shuts itself off! It is well worth the piece of mind to have this auto shut-off feature, even if you are now retired and home all day most days. 


                      Summary


                      I am very pleased with my new 5-cup programmable Mr. Coffee Mini-Brew coffeemaker


                      *Review of the Mr. Coffee Mini Brew Coffeemaker is written by Wednesday Elf





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