Have I Got News for You

Here I am, smack dab in the middle of my 15 minutes of fame and many of you don’t even know about it!  Ah, fame…..fleeting and fickle!!!

Donna and meCameraman KyleBut seriously….I recently had the opportunity to spend some time with CBS21’s newly-named Device Diva, Donna Kirker Morgan and her talented cameraman (or is it now camera-person or camera operator or some other PC term that I’m not up on), Kyle.  Donna came to The Kitchen Shoppe to test some As Seen on TV gadgets and we had a ball.

We tested the Perfect Bacon Bowl and the Veggetti.

Bacon Bacon Bacon

Bacon Ready to GoVeggie Pasta

Now, I could type paragraphs to tell you about our time together….but today I have the news on my side….I can simply link you to the clip of the Perfect Bacon Bowl spot and you can see for yourself! *If you have trouble with the link, hold down the [CTRL] key and click it again!

When the clip of my time with Donna and the Veggetti (sounds like an odd 80s band) becomes available, I’ll link that too.

Just a quick note of thanks to Donna and Kyle.  At the outset I asked you to be gentle with me and you were.  Thanks to you both I wasn’t a bit nervous. It was simply a fun and unique experience.  For you, I suppose, it was all in a day’s work!

The Most Comfortable Bra I’ve Ever Owned….Seriously!

OK, there are those who will read the title of this post and think, “Well, she’s finally gone over the edge.”  And there are those of you who will read the title and think, “Bra, did someone say bra?” (These will probably be the guys and just mentioning the word ‘bra’ means I’ve lost their attention).  And there will be those of you who think, “No way!  There’s no such thing as a comfortable bra!

Well – I don’t think I’ve gone over the edge YET and those of you whose attention I’ve lost are best left to their private thoughts and I would have agreed with you about there being no such thing as a comfortable bra until I found this one!

In the last week I’ve had to transport food a few times and I have relied on this bra for assistance.  Stay with me here…..I promise I haven’t lost it and I will make a connection.

I’ll use this as a shameless opportunity to remind you that I recently became a great-aunt to THE CUTEST BABY IN THE UNIVERSE.  And as a result I’ve made a discovery…..if I bring food to the new parents, I get uninterrupted baby time!!!  It’s a great discovery. Most assuredly not a new discovery; but one on which I fully intend to capitalize!!!

The Cutest Baby in the Universe

The Cutest Baby in the Universe

I also had the pleasure on Sunday of hanging out with friends (some long-time friends and some new friends – and I’m blessed by all) in the woods.  We met at our friends’ “cabin” and everyone brought a dish to contribute to the feast.  We had a great time eating and talking and hiking in a beautiful setting provided by gracious hosts.

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For all the food transport I did, I put into action a great little tool – the PotBra.  It’s such a simple device that you’ll kick yourself for not thinking of it.  The PotBra is a silicone band designed to “keep your lid on tight!”  And it delivers on that promise.

I used it to transport chicken soup in a Le Creuset French oven.  Because the PotBra does not create a seal on the vessel, I covered it with plastic wrap before placing the lid on top.  I easily secured the PotBra to the lid and the handles of the French oven.  I put the pot on the floor of my car and drove about 20 minutes (some over hill & dale and some on the highway) to my destination.  I did not lose even one drop!!!

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I also transported a Baked Potato and Bacon casserole in my small Nesco Roaster.  This time, because (1) I had already seen the PotBra in action, (2) I was transporting something thicker than soup and (3) the interior roasting pan was hot, I did not cover the roaster with plastic wrap.  I simply put the lid on and secured the Pot Bra to the lid and handles of the roaster.  Again, I had no spills or messes in the car!!!

I would highly recommend this product for several reasons:

  1. It’s compact and easy to store.
  2. It is silicone and therefore can withstand heat and is easy to clean.
  3. It delivers on its promise.
  4. It’s made in the U.S. – in Texas.
  5. It stretches to fit many sizes and shapes of cooking vessel.
  6. It is truly the most comfortable bra I’ve ever owned!

A Much-Needed Product

Some of you may be surprised to hear (read) me proclaim that I am a stickler for cleanliness (ok, Mom, you can stop laughing now)…..at least when it comes to my fridge.  Not only do I get frustrated when my fridge is cluttered – you know what I mean, a bit of this. a dab of that, all in tiny containers that get pushed to the back and promptly forgotten only to be discovered later when they are beyond the science experiment phase – but I also hate it when it’s dirty.  The crumbs and pieces of fruit stems and spills make me anxious.

It feels like I’m always cleaning out the fridge.  And when I do, I throw away the old paper towels that were lining the shelves on the door and the fruit/veggie/lunchmeat bins.  I can’t imagine how much money I’ve spent over the years buying paper towels that catch the drips and spatters in my fridge.  Recently I discovered Fridge Bin Liners.  Perhaps I am behind the curve and you know about them already.  But if you don’t, you should.

They are made of a machine-washable fabric that absorbs spills and excess moisture.  You can cut them for a custom fit for your fridge bins, drawers and shelves.  And they are reversible – plain white on one side and a fun fruit/veggie pattern on the other.  The package I purchased is from envision home and includes three liners that are 12 x 24 inches wide.

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So when I cleaned out my fridge on Black Friday (no, I was NOT out shopping), I was excited to try out the fridge bin liners.  They were easy to cut to fit – I am not too terribly anal retentive so I didn’t spend time measuring, I just eyeballed it and they fit quite well.  And I’m happy to tell you that I had VERY LITTLE waste.  I was able to line all the shelves on the fridge door, two veggie bins and the small cold-cut drawer – all with only a few tiny unusable scraps.  I would like to line some of the shelves – especially those where I store juice and taller jars like pickles, etc.  Next time I’m at the Kitchen Shoppe, I’ll be adding another package to my shopping basket!

The good news is you can buy them from the comfort of your own living room by clicking this link.

This product falls under the category of “why didn’t I think of that?”  They are affordable and solve a problem much better than paper towels because they are washable and reusable.  While I won’t go so far as to say (write) that I’m looking forward to the next time I need to clean my fridge, I will say (write) that when it is time to clean the fridge again I will be happy not to be wasting paper towels.  And I do like seeing the cheery print when I open the fridge door…….oh no, the last thing I needed was another reason to open the fridge!!!!

How often do you clean out your fridge?  BE HONEST!

I have received no compensation for this product review.  The thoughts above are strictly my own.

The Gadget Drawer: Leuke Citrus Sprayer

Last week at work my beautiful (inside and out) friend Barb handed me a zip-lock bag with three bright green pieces and some cardboard packaging inside and told me to give it a try.  Of course, my curiosity was piqued.  What in the world were these neon green pieces?  She clued me in that it was something Dr. Oz had recently talked about on his show, which made me even more curious.

It turns out that the bag contained two Leuke citrus sprayers (they come two to a pack – one for larger citrus fruits and one for smaller citrus fruits).  Of course, my skepticism kicked in.  I’ve been down this road before only to end up with clogged sprayers and no citrus juice.  BUT, never one to shy from a challenge or the opportunity to share my opinion about something, I pressed on.

Packaging

I have to admit, the bag sat on my counter for a few days before I was able to try the sprayers.  But when I finally did, I remembered what Barb had shared with me about her experience when cutting the top off the lemon.  She told me that she had cut too much off the lemon and that the “collar” of the sprayer then did not fit over the lemon as well as it should.  So I was careful to cut just a small piece off the top of the lemon.  And, because my lemon was quite pointed on both ends, I cut a small amount off the bottom of the lemon so that it would sit flat in the base.

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The sprayer is designed quite well in terms of fit.  Because it has a screw-type design, it twists into the fruit and does not slide right out or become loose.  The collar on the top keeps the juice where you want it – in the mister – not running down the side of the lemon!  And the base, although unnecessary for the sprayer to work, is handy for keeping the fruit upright and keeps things neat.

The skeptic in me thought, “Ok.  This is great when you first put it into the lemon, but what about if it sits in there for a while. After all, some people might not use all the lemon juice at one time.”  Well, that skeptic in me was surprised to find that even a few DAYS after I had inserted the sprayer into the lemon, it continued to spray a fine mist without clogging!!!  In part, I believe this is because of the multiple holes in the shaft of the sprayer that is inserted into the fruit.  You do have to give the fruit a squeeze from time to time to get the juice to the sprayer, but that’s to be expected.

Lemons.  Check.  But what about limes?  The shaft of the small sprayer is shorter than the shaft of the large sprayer – most likely because of the size difference between lemons and limes (and other fruits) – but if you have a big lime, you could use the longer sprayer.  When I tried the small sprayer, I had more trouble getting the fine mist at the outset.  I’m not sure if it’s a difference in the product or simply the juiciness of my citrus.  It would take a large bag of lemons and a large bag of limes to get a “statistically significant sample,”  but I’d bet it’s the juiciness of the fruit that was the issue!

The packaging also tells you that you can also use the sprayer on other fruits like oranges and grapefruits.  At first I didn’t think it would work on larger fruits, but when I examined the sprayers I realized that the “collar” is silicone and has room to expand to fit over a larger fruit.  I did not try it on oranges or grapefruits because I didn’t have any on hand, but I’d be surprised if it didn’t work just as well as on the lemons and limes!

Overall I really like this product.  It was easy to figure out, easy to use, worked well over time and was easy to clean!  I keep a toothbrush at my kitchen sink for small jobs like this one and it made light work of getting any remaining pulp out of the holes on the shaft of the sprayer.  And p.s., it’s dishwasher safe!

Because I have limited space in my kitchen and I use lemon juice A LOT – just ask my friend, Alicia – I’m not sure I’ll purchase the sprayer.  I think I use too much juice for this to be a practical tool for me!!!  I rarely use only part of a lemon or lime.  But if you are someone who likes a little bit of citrus juice spritzed in your water, sprayed on your salad or to wake up any dish, then this would be a great choice for you!

If you don’t believe me, just ask Dr. Oz…..he made it a Find of the Week!!!!!

A New Gadget – GEFU Spirelli

Oh My Goodness! If you eat gluten-free, you are going to LOVE this gadget!!

Let me start by saying that I have not been paid for this review.  The following are MY ideas about the product.

Those of you who are regular readers know that I am not necessarily a “gadget person.” At least not just for the sake of owning gadgets.  Because I don’t have a lot of space in my kitchen, I only buy things that do more than one job – and only after careful consideration.

I have owned this gadget for just over 24-hours and have already made a fabulous Asian Carrot Salad, Fried Sweet Potato Shoestrings, and a delectable Zucchini Pasta with Lemon Sauce.  For diversity of use, I give this gadget 5 M’s.

The gadget…..The GEFU Spirelli.  With the Spirelli you can cut thin or thick “ribbons” of veggies that can be used in many different applications – including as a pasta alternative.  There are two cone-shaped ends (making it look sort of like an hourglass) with blades in them – one for thin ribbons and one for thick ribbons.

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Let me warn you, however, that I had to go out to youtube and some other websites to learn the proper way to use it because the package instructions left A LOT to be desired.   The youtube video was helpful, but it wasn’t until I read a few users’ comments re: the Spirelli that I fully understood how to use it.

Relying only on logic, it seems as though you should try to hold the vegetable you are Spirelli-ing at an angle against the blade and turn the gadget; however you insert your veggie straight into the cone and twist the veggie with even pressure.  The Spirelli comes with a guard/lid/food holder, but from my experience and from what I read it is not very functional.

I tried a few carrots before I got the hang of it.  Once I mastered using the Spirelli I moved on to sweet potatoes and was able to get one ribbon of sweet potato that was 5-feet long.  I’m not sure when you’d ever need a 5-foot long ribbon of sweet potato, but it was impressive nonetheless!

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I tried a zucchini from my garden that I had in the fridge, but it was (1) too wide in diameter to fit into the Spirelli and (2) a little too mushy.  I even tried cutting the zucchini lengthwise so that the width was right, but it was simply too soft to work.  So I texted Jeff and asked him if he would mind stopping at the grocery store and picking up a zucchini on his way home.

Last night, as an accompaniment to pizza, I made Asian Carrot Salad by Spirelli-ing some rainbow carrots from the garden and adding a tasty peanut vinaigrette, green onions, sesame seeds and some chopped salted peanuts. Mmm mmm mmm!

Tonight for dinner I made Zucchini “Pasta” with Lemon Sauce and it was delicious.  I used the Spirelli to cut my ribbons in under 60 seconds.  Then I sautéed them in a little bit of extra-virgin olive oil.  While they were cooking I looked up Giada DeLaurentiis’ recipe for Lemon Pasta and adapted the sauce to the ingredients I had available.  Can I just say mmm mmm mmm?  Wow.  Since I’m not eating gluten-free, I found that a light sprinkling of seasoned bread crumbs gave the pasta a nice mouth-feel.

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For ease of use, I give the Spirelli 4 M’s out of 5; however for instructions to help you learn how to use it, I’d give it only 2 M’s out of 5.  If the instructions were more explicit, I would have been up and running a lot more quickly and would have avoided becoming frustrated with the product.  I must admit, the foot-stomping-brat in me was ready to throw it down and yell; but after a few minutes on the internet I was de-frustrated!!!

Overall I’d say the Spirelli will remain in my gadget drawer for a long time.  I can see myself using it over and over again.  Although I own a mandolin, I have never had luck julienning carrots on it.  The Spirelli makes that task soooo easy.  And anything that helps me turn vegetables into a pasta substitute is a good thing.  As much as I LOVE pasta, it’s not something I want to (ok, well I DO WANT TO, but I know I shouldn’t) eat frequently.

This is a terrific addition to your gadget drawer and overall I would give the GEFU Spirelli 4 1/2 M’s out of 5!

Spirelli Review GraphicHave you tried the Spirelli?  What do you think?  What have you made with it?

Asian Carrot Salad

by mmm mmm mmm

Keywords: salad carrots

Ingredients

    For the Salad

    • 6 carrots, julienned
    • 6 green onions, sliced thin
    • 1 Tbsp sesame seeds
    • 1/3 cup chopped salted peanuts

    For the Dressing

    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 Tbsp fresh ginger root, grated
    • 1/2 cup olive oil
    • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
    • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
    • 1/2 cup soy sauce (low sodium is best)
    • 3 Tbsp honey
    • 2 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
    • Sriracha to taste

    Instructions

    For the Dressing

    Mix together all ingredients EXCEPT the olive oil.

    When the dressing is well combined, SLOWLY drizzle in the olive oil while whisking briskly to create an emulsion.

    Check for seasoning.

    Add salt and pepper if needed (keep in mind, the soy sauce is very salty and the Sriracha will add heat).

    For the Salad

    Toss together the julienned carrots, green onions, and sesame seeds.

    Toss with enough dressing to coat (save remaining dressing for use on other salads)

    Sprinkle with chopped peanuts.

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    Zucchini “Pasta” with Lemon Sauce

    by mmm mmm mmm

    Ingredients (Serves 4 – 6)

    • 6 Medium Zucchini, julienned with Spirelli cutter

    For Lemon Sauce

    • 2/3 cup olive oil
    • 2/3 cup grated parmesan
    • 3 lemons, zest and juice (about 1/2 cup juice)
    • salt and ground black pepper to taste
    • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

    Instructions

    Saute julienned zucchini in olive oil over medium heat for approximately 10 minutes.

    While cooking zucchini, whisk the lemon juice and parmesan in a large bowl/ Slowly drizzle in olive oil while briskly whisking to create a smooth emulsion. Add a hint of salt and pepper and half the lemon zest and chopped parsley.

    Toss the pasta with enough lemon sauce to coat. Sprinkle with the remaining lemon zest and parsley.

    *If you’re not eating a gluten-free diet, a dusting of seasoned breadcrumbs gives the pasta a nice mouth-feel!

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    The Gadget Drawer

    Among the many perks of working at The Kitchen Shoppe and Cooking School is getting to try new products as they arrive.  Recently I got to try out three gadgets….(1) a new micro plane grater with a measuring “cup”, (2) a new Oxo self-scraping measuring cup, and (3) a new silicone scraper.

    Here are my impressions, for which I have not been paid…they are entirely my own ideas.    Microplane 4 Continue reading