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.

The Mediterranean Table w/ Over 150 recipes by Sonoma Press

It’s no secret that in this country, we’re overwhelmingly unhealthy thanks to our diets. The food that’s most readily available, easiest to prepare and (usually) the most affordable is some of the most unhealthy food in the history of this planet. Loaded with salt, sugar, refined and processed ingredients, saturated fats and empty carbs, a steady diet of these types of foods will make your life miserable and most likely put you in an early grave. In my house, we eat fresh, prepare every meal from (almost) scratch and don’t eat fast food. This book, The Mediterranean Table, will help you replace bad eating habits with better ones, and gently guide you to a healthier, c51FE+IyEhXL._SX403_BO1,204,203,200_leaner, more balanced lifestyle. And while the advice on it’s face certainly won’t be cheap, with some careful substituting and shopping weekly sales, the diet plan in here is doable, affordable, and an excellent roadmap to making lasting, permanent and health changes in you lifestyle and diet that will lead to a lifetime of benefits.

The recipes in this book are simple, easy to follow, and use ingredients that can be mostly found at the local supermarket for about what you’d pay for the prepared junk that sits in the deli case. It makes abundant use of simple, unrefined ingredients, olive oil, vegetables and herbs. There’s cheeses for the cheese lovers, meats for the meat lovers, breads for the bread lovers…There’s really something for everyone. What I would have liked to see is a
“substitutions” list on the recipes for harder to find or unusual ingredients. Some can be very seasonal and some are just not easy to find due to geography, but overall I found the recipes to be easy to follow, and simple to adjust for availability of ingredients. There’s soups, dinners, deserts, sauces, toppings, sides…and even an online resource list that can help you find some of the more exotic additions. Plus separate reciepe and ingredient indices for quick reference.

Overall I liked this book, and it’s recipes, and found something that both Hubby and I are greatly looking forward to trying. There’s heartier meals for colder weather, and lighter fare for the summers. I can see myself pulling this book out all year round for inspiration, and if you’re looking to start eating and living healthier and better, this book would be a great starting point.

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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Get in touch with Ozeri’s family of products:

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.

 

Modern Table: Bean Pastas and Meal Kits #Review #ModernTableMeals

 

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Modern Table has been a guest on my blog before and it’s one of those products I tried and still continue to purchase today. We all eat them both in cold and warm dishes because it’s a great alternative to pasta that I really don’t see it as just a substitute. The noodles have flavor because they are bean based. I admit there are even times I make a pasta salad and add the Modern Table noodles along with semolina flour based pasta! Yes, that is how good they are.

I was sent another sampling of the newest products released by Modern Table:

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I have at times deconstructed the meal kits to just get to the bean pasta, so this was a welcoming site. Finally, the pasta alone will be sold. There is a lot of benefits when it comes to Modern Table’s meal kits and bean pastas. For starters:

  • Modern Table does not use GMO based ingredients (non-gmo)
  • Their products are Gluten Free (except for the Teriyaki Meal kit)
  • Dairy Free (Southwest and Teriyaki Meal kits, plus the Bean Pastas)
  • Vegetarian Friendly
  • Packing a protein punch like no other pasta because they are bean based, so you also have an excellent source of fiber.
  • No artificial colors or preservatives
  • This is real food with no gimmicks!

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Verdict-
Taste means everything in this home because I don’t believe eating healthy means you should sacrifice flavor. It’s actually the opposite! Fresh meals that provide a good source of protein and vegetables should be packed with flavor and enjoyable to consume. Modern Table shares this same theory because we find their products amazing. You are also not limited! You can add fresh vegetables to even meats to the meals and customize them to fit your needs and/or cravings. I have over time learned to not boil the pasta as long as listed in the directions because we prefer a more al dente’ texture. The bean pastas lend themselves to many creations. Many times I have been in a hurry and need a filling meal that is also quick to make. I add a handful of the pasta to a roasted Red Bell pepper and Tomato soap and it creates one delicious meal in less than 12 minutes. I think it takes me more time to make the accompanying sides like toasting a slice of bread for dunking. There are times where I want a Pasta Primavera and use everything from eggplants, frozen organic veggies, to kale to bump up the flavors and I’m also a veggie junkie.

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The possibilities are endless with Modern Table and their new bean pasta bags mean I can just pour from the bag versus picking the pasta out from the kits. The Pesto meal kit goes great with grilled shrimp.  The new Mac & Cheese meal kit is my ultimate favorite from the meal kits. It’s cheesy and has real white cheddar…….it just takes Mac & Cheese to whole another level! I added pancetta to mine and I don’t think I can go back to Mac from a box again.

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Find the Modern Table Kit that fits your Cravings or Pick-up a Bean Pasta Bag at:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Modern Table Meals.  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.

 

Little Foodies Book Review

I don’t have children, but I have had plenty of experience with them, from family, and friends, for most of my life. I learned a little bit about how to feed them, as well as what to feed them, and when.

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See, we’ve all seen it: Kids being fed processed junk, plain crackers, or a bowl or bag of dry cereal. That’s when they’re not being fed horribly-colored, pureed mush. And then we wonder why when they become older they have no palate for good, fresh, healthy foods. Thankfully, there’s a few folks who want to take matters in their own hands and give you a blueprint for a better baby food. Here’s where Little Foodies comes in. See, I was raised eating a world of fresh things, not some processed mush in a jar. As a young child, I even bristled at waitresses offering a child’s menu, because  by then I was used to eating real, healthy food. And that’s thanks to my parents making me real food using just a blender, or a sharp knife.

This book is filled with seasonal, fresh, and dare I say it, appetizing looking recipes. Because really, why would you feed your young one something with ingredients you wouldn’t eat yourself? From explanations of why we eat, what to avoid, and how to control costs, how and when to transition to solid foods, and everything you thought you knew (but really didn’t) is covered in this book. Little Foodies will even give you some basic guidelines as to when you can start feeding your little person more like a, well…person.

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If you have a little one, it’s never too late for Little Foodies to start making then into a “food taster” instead of a head shaker.

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.

 

The Absolute Best Dump Dinners, A Review

Okay, wow. That’s a title that grabs you right from jump street. And I’m not sure if it’s in a good way, either. But more on that later. For now, let’s just go over the book, how it’s written, and most importantly, the content. With the exception of the unfortunate title, this book is the goods. It’s got some amazingly simple and satisfying recipes, and some real no-nonsense, smart advice. You like veggies? There’s a recipe in here for you. Like meats? You’re covered. Want cheesy goodness? Check, check and check.

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If you have finicky eaters, or a family that’s sometimes tough to please, or you just don’t have the time for something that you saw featured last night on the Food Network, you might want to pick this book up. And let’s be honest, we could all stand to eat a little fresher, a little healthier, and this book will help you in both categories. It teaches you the importance of eating fresher, buying in bulk, using less salt, dating you leftovers (you have no idea how much this will help you keep things fresh and rotated, and not waste your leftovers!), and what kitchen tools you’ll soon find you can’t live without. Here’s a little hint: Your slow cooker will soon be your best friend. If you want to start cooking at home more but don’t know where to start, then this book is for you!

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Overall, I enjoyed this book, and even with as much as I cook and bake I learned a couple of things and took scans 0f more than a few recipes to add tot he rotation. Now, some things that bothered me is painting everything with too broad of a brush. Sometimes, you don’t want to throw everything together in a pot (or “dump” them as the book constantly references). Next would be the so, so offputting title. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot! I get that everyone needs a catch, a hook, or a gimmick. But we tend to make snap decisions based on first impressions, and a ho-hum picture with an awfully worded title generally means you’ll pass this book right by with nary a second glance. And that would be a loss, because there is some awesome content here. There is, quite literally something for everyone, as long as you get past the title.

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.

 

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.

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