November 26, 2012
It’s that time of year again where people return from a long weekend from work not to actually return to working but to get online and spend, spend, spend. It’s Cyber Monday, the “busiest internet shopping day” of the year or so we are told (it probably really isn’t). There are some deals to be had and I found somethings that will help you to cook like no one else. This first post will be looking at Frigidaire small appliances. I will only list items I would consider buying myself.
Frigidaire Professional 7-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker | 25% Off!
Why Buy This: This slow cooker has a 7-quart capacity, so gives you a lot of space. It’s stainless steel which will look nice in your kitchen, especially if you are going to keep it on the counter top. It also has nice handles on the sides that will make it easy to take it to a potluck or holiday gathering.
Frigidaire Professional 4-Slice Wide Slots Toaster | 30% Off
Why Buy This: Another stainless steel beauty that will go well with your other stainless steel appliances. It has 4 slots, so if you make a lot of toast in the morning that would be helpful. It has a timer that tells you when your toast is done, so if you are really inpatient you can know when your toast will be done down to the second. It has a removable crumb tray, which I think is a must have for effective clean up.
Frigidaire Professional Immersion Hand Blender/Mixer | 40% Off
Why Buy This: The two-in-one concept often sounds good but never seems to deliver. However I think in this case, this concept would work. This is a immersion blender that has an attachment so that you can use it as hand mixer. Being able to control the speed is a must for me with an immersion blender and this one does have those settings. It also comes with a piece to help you mount it in your kitchen for easy storage.
January 27, 2011
This is part three of a five part series on different ways I use my electric griddle. This series is a part of my month long “5 Days With My Appliances” series..
If you go to any classic diner restaurant or watch an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, you would encounter an extra large griddle. All sorts of things are turned out on these. One of those things would be hamburgers. A nice, wide open surface is a great spot to cook a lot of hamburgers in no time at all. Giving the burgers their flip is a singe.
The electric griddle gives you the ability to bring that diner taste into your home. Now I admit there is a certain charm to a grilled burger, but sometimes that is not practical. If you live in a climate like mine, you probably don’t want to grill while snow is falling on your head. I have a cast iron grill pan that I could cook some burgers on and I have before. But if you are lacking a grill pan, or you want to cook for a lot of people, an electric griddle is a great option to have at your fingertips.
I recommend giving Alton Brown’s mini-burgers a try. In the episode of Good Eats, in which he cooks them, he uses an electric griddle! What a great idea! Some advice from that episode: heat up the griddle to 350 degrees. That is enough heat to cook the burgers without burning them. If go with small burgers you can cook them 2-3 minutes per side. Make sure you space your burgers out evenly and to watch for any spots that seem to be cooking faster.
January 26, 2011
This is part two of a five part series on different ways I use my electric griddle. This series is a part of my month long “5 Days With My Appliances” series..
An electric griddle is all about real estate. That real estate comes in a large cooking surface. Perfect for something like bacon.
I fit an entire 12 oz package of center cut bacon on my electric griddle the other day. It was so easy to cook all that bacon and it took no time at all. I am use to having to cook my bacon in stages, 4-5 strips at a time. Since an electric griddle is flat, flipping the bacon is no trouble at all. When it comes to taking care of bacon fat, my griddle has a hole in it, for the fat to drain through and into a waiting pan. I have seen other models that tilt feature, to easily allow you to drain all the grease away.
So if you have the perfect tool to cook your bacon, next you need to know what bacon to buy. Check out my earlier post on shopping for bacon, which includes why I like center cut bacon.
January 25, 2011
This is part one of a five part series on different ways I use my electric griddle. This series is a part of my month long “5 Days With My Appliances” series..
This week, I will be looking at the advantages to owning an electric griddle. Since owning one it has made jobs that I use to have to do in a nonstick frying pan, so much quicker and easier. One of those jobs is making English muffins. The problem I had before was not having enough space in the frying pan. Flipping the muffins was always a challenge. A frying pan has edges that can make it difficult to get tongs into. An electric griddle has a nice, wide open service, so flipping the muffins is so much easier. An electric griddle can be had for the same price as a decent nonstick frying pan.
Another advantage of the griddle is the amount of space I have on the griddle enables me to be able to cook more muffins at one time. Right now I am only limited by having a four rings to cook them in. I could easily fit at least eight rings on the griddle at once. The rings are also pretty inexpensive to buy.
Making English muffins yourself is so much better than buying them in the store, just like any bread like food. And they are not difficult to make as long as you have the right tools (like the griddle). Without the griddle it can be a struggle as my first attempt at making them in a frying pan resulted in some seriously messed up muffins. The recipe I use is Alton Brown’s. It’s basic, and contains ingredients that are easy to come by. Click here for the recipe. Impress your family and friends with something people don’t think about making them yourself. Now all you need is some jam, which I hope you will also make yourself!
January 14, 2011
This is part five of a five part series on different ways I use my slow cooker. This series is a part of my month long “5 Days With My Appliances” series..
On the final part of my series on slow cookers, I decided to take a look at some unique recipes and ideas. These aren’t recipes I have done myself before, but ones that I think found interesting.
1. Overnight Oatmeal | Click here for the recipe
Alton Brown has a recipe for cooking oatmeal all night in a slow cooker and having it ready for you the minute you wake up. The recipe calls for steel cut oats and dried fruit. It got a lot of mixed reviews on Food Network’s website. Some people didn’t like the texture. I guess it’s up to the individual’s tastes. If you are a big oatmeal fan, who doesn’t have a lot of time in the morning, this is one recipe that is worth a look at.
Don’t have a fondue pot but want to still enjoy some? Give a slow cooker a try. If you have a good one, you should be able to set it so that whatever you are melting, stays the way you want it.
3. Hot Drinks
If you are looking for a hot punch, juice, or cider, then a slow cooker can keep that drink at the perfect temperature. Alton Brown used a slow cooker to make Wassail on a Christmas themed episode of Good Eats. I also found this recipe for a mulled apple cider.
4. Tapioca Pudding | Click here for the recipe
Another Alton Brown recipe is for homemade tapioca pudding. If you want to make real genuine tapioca pudding, you need to buy the pearls. These take time to break down, so a slow cooker is a great tool for the job.
Got any other unique slow cooker ideas? Feel free to leave a comment, telling me what you do with your slow cooker.
January 13, 2011
This is part four of a five part series on different ways I use my slow cooker. This series is a part of my month long “5 Days With My Appliances” series..
On a cold winter day, nothing beats a bowl of warm soup. Even better if you arrive home and that soup is already pipping hot. With a slow cooker at your disposal this dream can be a reality. I would not necessarily do any soup in a slow cooker. A slow cooker is good for those soups that have ingredients that need a good amount of time to cook. Some examples include any dried beans, split peas, or lentils. Below you will find some recipes for soups using these ingredients. These recipes don’t necessarily call for slow cookers, but they can be adapted for them. If you have a slow cooker like mine you can set it to how many hours you want. I can’t guarantee the exact amount of time it will take in your cooker. Soup is a meal you can experiment with.
1. Bean & Bacon Soup
2. Split Pea w/Potatoes Soup
3. Alton Brown’s Lentil Soup
One soup that I never cook in a slow cooker is chicken noodle soup. I prefer to cook an entire chicken, and then with the leftovers make a quick soup in a pot on my stove top. If I did cook chicken noodle all day, the noodles would end up total mush. Also the noodles, chicken, carrots, celery, and anything else you put it would also just have the same taste. I like everything in my soup to have it’s full flavor still intact. This is the same point I made when I talked of making pot roast in a slow cooker. I really want to drive home with my readers to not just dump, cook, and eat. Add some additional flavors to your soup near the end or at the end of the cooking. Never miss an opportunity to improve your food. To my bean soup, I add liquid smoke at the end and puree some of the soup to thicken it. To my split pea soup, I like to add freshly cooked bacon at the end of the process, so it still retains some of it’s crispiness, giving the soup an added texture.
January 12, 2011
This is part three of a five part series on different ways I use my slow cooker. This series is a part of my month long “5 Days With My Appliances” series..
I could not avoid talking about pot roast in my series on uses for slow cookers. It’s the obvious choice. The funny thing about pot roasts is that they aren’t roasted at all, but braised. The reason why you would want to make pot roast in a slow cooker is because you are using cuts of beef that contain a lot of connective tissue. This needs to be broken down, so the meat will become tender. This process takes time.
A lot of people make this because they can throw everything in the pot, head to work, and come home to a meal ready to eat. This is something I actually never do. My problem with throwing it all in is that after hours of cooking, your vegetables are nothing but mush. Any flavor that had on their own is long gone. That is why I always add things like potatoes and carrots in the last hour. These vegetables don’t need an entire work day to cook. If you are not going to eat within an hour of being home, then just wait until you get home, then dump in your veggies. The whole dump and go concept is all about convenience, not flavor.
Here is one of the pot roast recipes I use: Mushroom Base Pot Roast. I recommend cooking it in a cast iron dutch oven, but you could also do it in a slow cooker. You will just have to brown the meat in another cooking vessel.
January 11, 2011
This is part two of a five part series on different ways I use my slow cooker. This series is a part of my month long “5 Days With My Appliances” series..
When it comes to slow cookers, most people think of beef. Meatballs and pot roast are two popular beef dishes that are prepared in slow cookers. But it isn’t the only type of meat that could benefit from a long, slow cooking. I love pulling out my slow cooker to cook “the other white meat” : pork. Just about every time I cook pork with some type of wet method it is always in a slow cooker.
The best cut of pork for this is the bone-in pork chops. Do not waste your time on boneless pork chops. The bone is going to add some additional flavor and you are going to cook the pork until it falls off the bone. Some of the most tender, flavorful pork dishes I have ever had, have come out of a slow cooker.
My favorite recipe for slow cooked pork is Alton Brown’s Slow Cooker Pepper Pork. Pepper and pork were made for each other. I cooked this dish for my wife’s grandparents and they loved it!
If pepper isn’t really your thing, then you can change spice it up however you like. Just be sure you cook your pork in a flavorful liquid. This recipe used chicken stock (or broth). You could use a different stock or broth. Cream of mushroom soup would be another good option. If you just use water you will lose out on so many flavor opportunities.
Slow cooked pot roast has it’s place, but also make a place in your household menu for some slow cooked pork. Everyone will be asking for seconds!
January 10, 2011
This is part one of a five part series on different ways I use my slow cooker. This series is a part of my month long “5 Days With My Appliances” series..
A slow cooker is a great tool as a cook to have at your disposal. It’s great for long cooking processes and it’s great to keep things warm when bringing them to a potluck or party. Over the next 5 days, I will show you some ways that I use my slow cooker. Homemade applesauce is up first.
When I see those jars of pale looking applesauce staring at me at the grocery store, I run away as fast I can. Applesauce you make yourself is so superior. So get your sauce from the produce aisle. Select a combination of sweet and tart apples. When you are ready, turn your slow cooker on, and slice up your apples. If you have a food mill you can keep the skins on, otherwise you will have to remove them before cooking. The slow cooker allows you to gently cook the apples without the worry of burning the bottom of a pan. You can forget about it for a couple hours. And If you like warm applesauce, then you already have your serving vessel! If you find that your sauce has too much liquid it, just put it back in the slow cooker, crank it up to the highest setting and allow the sauce to reduce.
Below you will find my recipes for different flavored sauces:
1. Pomegranate Applesauce
2. Cranberry Applesauce
3. Pear Applesauce
4. Peach Applesauce
For more on selecting the right apples for sauce making, check out this post.
January 7, 2011
This is part five of a five part series on different ways I use my food processor. This series is a part of my month long “5 Days With My Appliances” series..
In the summer months I love to pick my own fruit. This leads me to coming up with creative ways to use that fruit. Ice cream, sorbet, granita, and homemade lemonade are a few options I turn to. All of those recipes, call for fruit to be pureed before adding. A food processor is very useful for this task. It does a good job of taking fruit and making it into a uniform puree. I think the job is faster in the food processor than in a blender.
Here are some recipes that call for pureed fruit.
1. Homemade Peach Lemonade
2. Homemade Blueberry Lemonade
3. Lemon & Strawberry Swirl Ice Cream
4. Alton Brown’s Melon Sorbet
Another idea is to just puree your favorite fruit along with enough sugar for your taste. Use that as a topping for ice cream, cheescake, or whatever your heart desires. Or you can make a granita by adding a bit of water to your puree, mixing it together, and chilling in the freezer in a pan. Every 30 minutes you scrape the mixture with a fork, until you have a pan full of flaky ice crystals. Any of my lemonade recipes can be turned into granitas.