X-Chef 100% Silicone Basting Brushes, 4-Pack

There are some kitchen tools you can never have enough of. Spatulas. Spoons. Bowls. And basting brushes. When I got offered the opportunity to test out a four pack of 100% food-grade silicone basting brushes from X-Chef, you better believe I said yes with a quickness! And am I ever so glad I did.

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You see, despite the advertisements to the contrary, silicone does hold scents and can transfer them between dishes. And up until recently, I’d been keeping my one smaller silicone brush especially for sweet and neutral dishes, or for egg washes, and a separate one for my savory dishes in a separate drawer so they never got confused. Now, thanks to X-Chef, my brushes can all go in the same drawer because they came in four bright colors to easily tell one from another. The clear lucite handles means I can even label them with a Sharpie if I so desire. The handles are long and sturdy, and the heads can slip right off for easy washing. And being that the silicone brushes are dishwasher safe, I can just toss them right in after use. They’re also temperature safe for foods up to 500°, so basting right out the over or right off the grill is no problem. What I especially liked was that the silicone on these brushes was softer than my other brushes, which means I no longer had to brush very slowly or just dab, because the silicone bristles won’t whip or fling marinades or sauces all over the counter, stovetop or oven door.

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As if all that wasn’t enough, X-Chef guarantees their silicone brushes with a 1-year, “No-Hassle” money back guarantee. It’s not just convenient, it’s essential to have multiples of some tools in your kitchen. A silicone basting brush in and of itself is very essential, but having a few on hand at all times will make a day’s worth of cooking and baking a little less of a mess and hassle. At $8.99 shipped from Amazon, I don’t see any reason for your kitchen to be without them!

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from X-Chef.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

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X-Chef Easy Flex Silicone Spatula Set

 

I cook and bake a lot, and one thing I’ve learned, aside from you can never have enough mixing bowls, is you can never have enough spatulas. I usually buy them 2 or 3 at a time, and when X-Chef offered me their 4-pack, I was soooo game. They’ve been a blessing in the kitchen, but their not without their faults.

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Silicone spatulas are ubiquitous in the kitchen, so much so that I don’t know a single person without one. And yet, there’s good ones, and bad ones, and the line that delineates them is often very easy to cross. To rigid and they won’t flex, to soft and they won’t hold. Too short and you end up with schmutz on your fingers, too long and you can’t get the fine control you need for nooks and crannies. Handle shape, build quality…It seems like I’m really overthinking this, but until you’ve used a bad one and been so frustrated you wanted to hurl it across the room, you realize I’m not just picking nits. X-Chef’s spatulas are almost there. There’s a lot to love here, too. They’re long enough, with good rigidity without being too stiff. They’re different colors, so you can essentially “color-code” them for different mixes when doing more than one dish. They’re dishwasher safe, non-stick, and heat resistant to over 500 degrees Fahrenheit. But then they sort of start to fall apart, figuratively speaking. The shape of the spatula is did not have enough curve on the end, and there was no tip for whipping up peaks or getting into corners. The handles are thin and not too ergonomic, so prolonged use will be a pain in the hand. And the palstic the handles are made from is the kind that clouds and gets brittle after a few trips through the dishwasher. I don’t know about you, but after spends a couple hours mixing and making int he kitchen, the last thing I want to do is stand there for another 30 minutes hand washing everything.

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Maybe I’m being too picky. A four pack of these X-Chef spatulas with only run you $6.99 shipped. At that price I would look at them as disposable, because they certainly aren’t going to last a very long time. So in the end, you could do much worse. You could also do a lot better. They do have a ” LIFETIME NO-HASSLE FREE-REPLACEMENT GUARANTEE!”, but when mine discolored and cracked, I asked them about it through the “contact us” potion of the website and didn’t get a response yet.

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from X-Chef.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

The Complete Slow Cooking For Two by Linda Larsen

If you’re like Hubby and I, you may have given up on trying to use the electric Crock Pot for meals because 90% of the recipes out there are for 4 or more servings, and there’s times you just don’t feel like making a huge mess for two meals or two people. Especially after a long, grueling day. It is sometimes easier to make a sandwich or nuke some leftovers, taste and texture be damned. In fact, we got rid of our Crock Pot years ago, and after this book, I’m kinda wishing we hadn’t.

With plenty of advice about what slow cooker best suits your particular needs, tips and tricks, as well as helpful hints61ws2v3SSEL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_ and healthy debunking of the many “Yeah, but I heard that…” horror stories that tend to surround slow cooking, it was a read that was quick, easy, easy to follow and in fact even taught me a thing or two about cooking with an electric slow cooker, so much so that I may just have to buy one again soon! The recipes call for stuff just about everyone has already in their fridge, freezer or pantry, and lest you think a slow cooker is good for just chili or stew, There’s recipes for stuffed peppers, shepherd’s pie, breakfasts and desserts!! I was able to adapt quite a few of these to my Le Creuset dutch oven, too, so if you’re like me and short exactly one electric slow cooker, with some careful adjustments you’re still ready to open up your culinary world to the magic of slow cooking.

This book was a pleasurable read, because it broadened my horizons to the world of possibilities of electric slow cooking, especially after spending years and years as a “range-top and oven only” snob. It made me excited to try out an old method of cooking I’d written off, and I think you’ll find something (or two or three!) to love too.

I received the above product(s) free of charge from TVM.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Ozeri’s GreenEarth Fresh Spin 4.24qt. Salad Spinner

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Around here we consume a lot of greens. Well, I should say that I consume a lot of greens. Hubby somtimes acts as if they might cause him some harm. But I eat more than my share, probably more than anyone I know. Kale, lettuces of all shapes and sizes, broccoli, squash…you name it, I eat it. And one thing they all have in common is a need to be washed, prepped, and stored dry. I’ve tried other brands of spinners, all of which fell far short of my beloved OXO spinner. And then Ozeri went and offered me their Swiss-designed GreenEarth Fresh Spin Salad Spinner. I may just swoon.

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With a fast-spinning ergonomic pump handle, non-slip base and table-ready BPA-Free clear bowl, this spinner has displaced my OXO and become my go-to for big heaps of lettuce. It’s size is deceptive from the pictures…It’s huge, at 4.2 quarts. Before what took me several rounds of “rinse-spin-pour-repeat” now is all done at once. The spin action also doesn’t cause the entire bowl to become unbalanced and threaten to wobble off the counter and scatter my greens to the four winds. It’s quite and only takes 2-3 pumps to achieve maximum velocity. And the brake button brings everything to an immediate halt with no issues, squeaks, squeals or noise. What I love best, and had become a major gripe with my OXO, was the spinner shaft that comes down and takes up valuable real estate inside the bowl. That’s a thing of the past with Ozeri’s GreenEarth Fresh Spin Salad Spinner. All that space in there is free to use, and use it I did.

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I never thought anything would take the place of my OXO. And yet here I am, with my OXO in a closet and My Ozeri GreenEarth Salad Spinner under my counter and waiting my next batch of green goodness. With Ozeri’s 2-year warranty and stellar record of outstanding customer service, this GreenEarth Fresh Spin Salad Spinner is going to see a lot of miles in the coming years.

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Ozeri.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

Chefsperience 56-Blade Meat Tenderizer

 

Every now and again, despite my best efforts, I end up with a cut of meat that’s tough. Chewy. No so “choice”, even if the label says otherwise. And when that happens, I used to wish I had a meat tenderizer. I know, I know…how could I not, right? Thankfully, the folks at Chefsperience went and remedied that for me by offering up their 56-Blade Tenderizer. And I’m super glad they did.

See, what can make meat tough is connective tissues. The stuff that hold the muscles together. Everything from age to environment to feed affects these tissues in animals. And you usually have a choice: Extended cooking times to break down these tissues, or take the shortcut and use a product like the Chefsperience 56-blade Meat Tenderizer. Since Chefsperience send it, I’ve chosen the latter option. And it’s no shortcut. I punches through even frozen meats with ease, though particularly dense meats have had the blades stick in a bit. The blades are made from stainless steel, so rusting shouldn’t ever be an issue. So far, all the times I’ve used mine and let it air dry after, not a spot of rust. And beyond making meats more tender, beyond the quicker cooking times, you can now marinade your foods and get deep penetration of flavors, instead of things having a tasty crust on the outside and being bland on the inside. The tenderizer has a locking ring on it to keep hands and fingers safe from accidental deployment of the blades, and a clear acrylic storage cap as well.

I think this is a product that should really be a staple in every kitchen. And while i think I’m still partial to the longer rectangle shape of traditional meat tenderizers, the Chefsperience 56-Blade Meat Tenderizer is round and perfect for irregularly shaped cuts of meat, so it becomes a matter of personal preference. At around $15 shipped, it’s on par price wise with other, similar products, so I think it’s worth a try!

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Chefsperience.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

Kuuk 3-in-1 Vegetable Spiralizer Review

Every now and again, you see and hear about a product that intrigues you. The idea seems sound, and it has the possibility to open up some new horizons for you. And then you get that product, and you feel that crushing disappointment of potential squandered. That pretty much sums up my experience with the Kuuk Vegetable Spiralizer. And then, to add insult to injury, their after sales support was atrocious. So let’s go over what went right and what went so very, very wrong.

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For starters, the idea is pretty neat. In theory, you have a wonderful hands-free way to make healthy, vegetable “pastas” and your own home-made fresh curly fries. It’s made from BPA-free plastic, and it’s under $15. Then you try it and the wheels come off this little red wagon pretty quick. For starters, it’s made with the absolute cheapest materials available. Not “cheap”  as in “affordable”, but “cheap” as in many corners were cut. The metal shaft that holds the crank handle to turn the vegetable holder bent while trying my first potato. Bent. While turning a potato. Yikes. Second, for the product to even work, you need to cut some of the end off for a flat surface for the teeth that hold it to bite into, and the other side flat as well to make good contact with the blades. So you’ve wasted a good potion of food before you even start. The teeth are also plastic, so they don’t bite or hold well. 3 times we had to put the potato back on the teeth. And then to add insult to injury, we had a long potato “tube” from the center of the tater that we could do pretty much nothing with. The blades did their job fairly well, though. They even shaved off a portion of the plastic teeth that held the potato, so you know they’re sharp. I would have liked to try all three styles of blade they advertised, but alas, Kuuk only put two in the box. When I contacted them about this, their sole solution was to blame Amazon and send it back to Amazon for a refund. This was a sealed box. That’s not Amazon’s fault. When I pointed this out and that I received this item for free for the review, iHeadphones (the company that apparently handles distribution for Kuuk) said they’d look into it and then ignored all subsequent emails. Ooooookay then. If that’s how they treat someone who is supposed to be promoting their brand, I don’t hold out much hope for them giving a rat’s behind about the people who gave them money.

In the end, this product was a giant disappointment. From the poor quality of the build, to the missing parts, to the shoddy after-sales service I received, I can’t think of a single reason to recommend this product. It’s one of the few I’ve ever received for review that went straight in the trash. I still hope to one day try a spiralizer from a reputable company, so hope is not entirely lost for the idea, but I have no hope for Kuuk or iHeadphones. I would avoid their products.

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Connect with Kuuk (Though I don’t recommend you do!):

  • Via Amazon.com

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Kuuk via iHeadphones.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

Ninja Master Prep Food & Drink System

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I have had some experience with Ninja kitchen systems, having just this year gotten to try out a Ninja Mega Kitchen System. While it was uber cool, and did a lot of things well, I had many dedicated kitchen gadgets that did what the Ninja did, but better. So when I was offered to try out a Ninja Master Prep System, I was game but went in with my eyes wide open.

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Like the previous Ninja branded system I used, this one is pretty cool, and does tasks that I previously had to do by hand or with multiple different kitchen gadgets. The Ninja Master Prep system seems indispensable to people who cool a lot (like me!) what with being able to prep multiple things, both sweet and savory, all with just swapping out the Ninja Master Pod (head unit). And with everything but the motor being completely dishwasher safe, prep and cleanup is a breeze! With a large 48 oz. pitcher and a smaller, 16 oz. bowl, it’s good for big jobs, little jobs, and everything in between. The dual-stage blades can be separated for even smaller jobs, but with 4 blades per spindle, and two different spindles, you have enough sharp stuff to make mince meat of just about anything. The work lids seal (almost*) watertight, so there’s very little chance of spilling or messes to clean up. And if you blend a little too much, not to worry, there’s storage lids included. So you can go from countertop prep to kitchen shelf store with no effort at all.

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Alas, it’s not all wine and roses with the Ninja Master Prep system. For starters, the warranty isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. You have to pay shipping for your defective unit (bummer!) and shipping for your replacement unit (MAJOR bummer!) essentially making the cost of replacing a new, defective unit on par with buying a new, non-defective unit. Next is the plastic gears that drive the very powerful 400 watt motor. Should you attempt to blend something particularly hard, or thick, the gears could strip and break, rendering the unit useless. And there is plenty of anecdotal evidence all over the net and Amazon to support that this can and does happen, from time to time. Lastly, I must get to my (almost*) comment above. The top of the worklid has space for the blade spindle to pop out and meet up with the Master Pod gear and drive the blades. But if you’ve filled the Prep Pitcher or Prep Bowl too much, or blend too long or vigorously, whatever you blend has a very good chance of spurting out the top, and this happened to me every time I’ve used it so far, to varying degrees. I have no doubt this will eventually make for a horrible, gummy mess as it’s nearly impossible to clean effectively. The same goes for some small crevasses and nooks that will hold onto schmutz and be nigh unreachable without the dishwasher. Sometimes you just want to wash things in the sink and get back to it, but that’s not going to always be possible. And that’s not even mentioning what’ll happen should the gasket that seals that part fail and moisture get into the motor housing.

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All those things are a shame, because I really like this unit. It does everything I ask of it, blends like a dream, chops when I want things chopped, and pulverizes when I need something pulverized. So while I can’t give it the vaunted “5 Star” rating, I can go as high as 4 because you can’t really hold a potential failure against something that as of this writing is still going strong.

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I received the above product(s) free of charge for the purpose of review.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Kuuk Salad Spinner Review

It’s no secret that many heads of lettuce have met their demise here in our home. In fact, a great many type of produce have, and the one thing they all had in common was being washed and spun dry. I’ve put many a miles on my old OXO salad and herb spinner. So many that the brake no longer worked, and the top started falling apart. Shortly after replacing it, I got an offer to try a version from Kuuk, and boy was I jazzed. Two is always better than one and imagine how much produce could be run through our little cleaning assembly line with 2 spinners going at once!

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Sadly, it was not meant to be. While this Kuuk spinner really tries to look like many of the leading brands available in stores, it falls way, way short in design, quality and function. For starters, it’s made quite cheaply. It’s priced competitively, at only $19.95, but it just isn’t made with materials that will last a long time. The major pluses for this are it’s price point and large size. It goes quickly downhill from there.

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The design, though, is really where things fell apart for us. From the “latching” lid, to the spinning crank, to the entire unit being unbalanced, it’s just awkward and difficult to use effectively. While most of us have, at one time or another, pressed down the plunger on a spinner, the Kuuk spinner uses a crank lever to spin the mesh strainer inside. And heaven help you if you don’t hold the container firmly on the counter, because it’ll wobble like an unbalanced washing machine and fly right off the counter. And the latch on the side that is supposed to keep the lid on is difficult to line up if only because the plastic the lid is made from has so much flex in it.

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In the end, I was disappointed in this product. I wanted to like it, and wanted to really be able to use it more often, but at the end of the day, it just wasn’t meant to be. Also, my experience with the company with another of their products left much to be desired, and I’d be lying if I told you that that didn’t factor in more than a bit when it came to how I felt about this product. Nobody wants to buy products from a company that won’t stand behind them.

Connect with Kuuk:

  • On Amazon

I received the above product(s) free of charge from iHeadphones. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Smart Weigh Digital Kitchen Scale With Platform Review

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I have a few kitchen scales, and one that is spot-on accurate that gets used. A lot. But over time, every scale will, with heavy use, become somewhat inaccurate. And I use mine very heavy, so I’m always on the look out for a replacement or backup. I was hoping with the Smart Weigh platform digital scale my search had ended. Sadly, the search continues.

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See, the one thing a scale must be, every time, is accurate. Sometimes a gram or two will make a difference between good food and dog food (no reason to toss a semi-dry loaf of bread when the pooch would go ga-ga over it). And hubby measures his various sundry shakes and powdered voodoo by the gram, so yeah, sometimes…one gram matters. And no matter what I tried, wet or dry ingredients, glass or plastic containers, this scale just would not tare properly. Every time we’d add a gram or two, tare, and start adding again, it stayed at “zero”. When we removed the vessel, without fail, it would show the total weight, original plus added. Yet the display, every time, showed again, “0”. So very frustrating.

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What’s sad is that I may have just gotten a bum unit. The reviews on Amazon are absolutely stellar. It has a lot of features I really like, like the removable tempered glass platform, the sleek glass top with integrated touch controls so that no ingredients get caked up around the buttons. It uses 4 AAA batteries (not included), so there’s no need to hunt down button cell batteries online or pay through the nose at a store. Firm gripping non-skid feet and a solid base. Bright backlit LCD display. Lb, oz, ml and cups measurements. It has everything I would want in a scale, if it were accurate. But it’s not. For $23.99, I want accuracy. The manufacturer also offers a 2-year warranty, so I may see what the company is made of or how it stands behind it’s products, because I’m just heartbroken that this snazzy, smooth-looking scale is useless in my kitchen.

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Smart Weigh.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

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