Sunsella 100% Stainless Steel Collapsible Steamer Basket

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There are things you take for granted you have in your kitchen and then when it fails you, are at a loss where to go to get a quality replacement. A rolling pin. A dough scraper. Cookie sheets. You know the brands, and the big box stores that sell them, but which one is good? Which one will last you? Which one won’t fail? Well, when my collapsible steamer went kaput, I’d had it for so long I didn’t know where to start. And like a knight in stainless steel shining armor, in rode Sunsella’s Stainless Steel Collapsible Vegetable Steamer. And let me tell you, it does so much more than steam vegetables.

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See, these steamers are a staple in almost every kitchen, regardless of the background of the cook. It’s been used in this house to steam homemade tamales, to steam Asian-style pork buns and potstickers, to of course to steam veggies. It has a smooth action to open and close, a handy ring on the center post for easy grabbing, and little feet that are long enough to be able to put a good amount of water in your pot to keep the steam flowing. Have something big to steam? Just unscrew the center post and voilà, you’ve got all that real estate in your pot to fill. It takes up virtually no space in the cabinet but is absolutely indispensable in any kitchen. And the 100% stainless steel means it cleans like a dream and will last you for years and years. And while it says it’s dishwasher safe, I recommend cleaning by hand and air drying, as the harsh detergents in the dishwasher might cause it to tarnish and rust over time. I want my tools to last, and while my last steamer was over 2 decades old, I wanted him to last longer. And this Sunsella 100% Stainless Steel Vegetable Steamer might be there when I’m ready for Social Security. 

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The one drawback I find myself hitting over and over and over lately is price. At $13.99 (at the time of this writing), this steamer is, in some cases, almost 50% more than others on Amazon with the same features and materials. I had to go to Williams Sonoma to find one with a comparable price, and we all know how “out there” Williams Sonoma is with prices. Most were around $8 or $9. I just don’t know how to justify the markup here, and I feel it’s an awesome product. I don’t know, but I know I wouldn’t pay that kind of markup for a product. I liked it, I just don’t know if I liked it 50% more than the rest.

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Sunsella.  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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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.

Ozeri 5-Piece Wine Bottle Corkscrew & Accessory Set

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We go through a bit of wine here even if we hardly ever drink it. But we do cook with it several times a week and that tends to empty bottles a lot faster than you’d think. Ozeri recently sent me a product that I had no idea would be so incredibly useful, and I liked it so much I can think of a few friends and family that will be getting these as gifts in the future.

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This 5-piece set has everything needed to make a quiet picnic, or a trip to a vineyard, an absolute delight. The set includes a stainless-steel corkscrew with foil cutting knife, a drip-stop collar, a combination wine pourer/stopper, and a dedicated foil cutter. all packaged in a handsome wine-shaped package with a smart magnetic closure. It can be stored vertically on the counter or just stashed in your wine rack at home, ready to pop out and open all James Bond-style, cool and smooth.

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Awesome for entertaining, always handy, and stocked chock-a-block with tools for the aficionado of casual enthusiast alike. It’s stylish, it convenient, and Almost everything is made to last a long, long time. The only tool in the kit that I have a few reservations about long-term usability would be the dedicated foil cutter. In my experience, plastic pieces that rely on tension will, over time, break. This seems like it’s high-quality ABS plastic, so it should last for many, many years, but I’m one of those “I bought it, it should last forever” people.  Overall, it’s a tremendous value and a well made kit from a company that stands behind everything they sell 100%. I recommend this Ozeri 5-Piece Wine Bottle Corkscrew & Accessory Set to everyone who has, enjoys, or even just cooks with, wine. You’ll be glad you gave it a try!

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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.

 

BakeItFun: Baking Mat in Blue #Review #BakingMat


 

 

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I always use the best ingredients we can afford when cooking and baking, and the same goes for the tools we use in the kitchen. Price does not always equate good quality and/or performance, so I give opportunity to everything because I have been disappointed by high prices/good known name and fallen in love with items that did not even cost half as much!

BakeItFun, makes professional grade silicone baking mats that fit your cookie sheet. I already use parchment paper and I do use a baking mat of like kind made by a French company. I have been happy with both materials, as each serves different needs, so I was eager to see how BakeItFun would perform against my expensive silicone mats.

I baked the most common recipe of them all, chocolate chip and chunk cookies. The cookie dough contains both shortening and butter, with sugars coming from dark brown sugar alone. I begin by unwrapping and washing the BakeItFun mat and washed it as instructed. The directions state the product needs a oil finish before the first use. First time I have seen this, as oil usually beads up/off silicone surfaces. I thought this was odd but I do as directed and opted for Vegetable oil due to it’s neutrality in flavor. Once the mat was “primed” with the oil, I proceeded to bake and tested with one cookie alone.

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I set the timer for 14 minutes, as this is how long this recipe takes with my other silicone mats and keep a close eye. I first notice a smell from the vegetable oil and I look inside the oven and notice oil beads sort of floating above. I notice at the 10 minute mark that the cookie looks browner than usual, plus the smell in the air is sort of close to “toasted cookies”. I take the cookie out and allow it to cool one minute on the pan and then move it over to the cooling rack. Once the cookie was on the spatula, I notice the bottom is over crisped and brown. We allow it to cool completely and do a taste-test. The cookie is much crisper on the bottom than desired. I decide to deeply wash the mat and even if I feel the oil is off, I am not adding it back on. Instructions state to oil only at first use and if you use the dishwasher (top rack only) to clean the mat.

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I bake fries and the such as the weeks go by and the mat performs perfectly. It saves me on parchment paper, as I have been using the mat to bake savory dishes from potatoes, rewarming pizza, to puff pastry appetizers I made and froze for later enjoyment. I clean the mat by hand and the directions do say dishwasher safe but I feel it will last better if treated kindly 🙂

Retail Price Point: $11.97 via Amazon for a Half Sheet, 16.5″ x 11″

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Final Verdict-

BakeItFun silicone mats can withstand temperatures from -40°F up to 450°F, so it is freezer safe too and also says microwave safe. I found the product easy to wash and it did not absorb smells of what you cooked prior, so no blending of odd flavors when reusing it. The price point is low for these type of products and this is BPA free materials and FDA approved. My only con, was having to oil it and knowing the results that would cause. It made no sense as all other mats of same like kind do not require any oil prior use. Oil beads up and the entire point of using these surfaces, is to not have foods sit in oil or leak through. Once I stripped the oil off, which was easy as it just floated in bead form…..I was 100% satisfied with the product. I always follow directions but in my opinion, I would not pre-oil a product like this again! No type of oil is also recommended and with the list of fats from Coconut Oil, Peanut Oil, Olive Oil, Grape Oil……I went with one I felt would add little to no flavor if it was going to remain on. BakeItFun also has a 100% Life-Time Guarantee (no questions asked) and I value that greatly. The product has up to 2000 re-uses and if you bake like me, that adds up quickly with daily oven use and not just using it once a day………so I save on parchment paper and my cookie sheets as well!

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from BakeItFun.  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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