Happy Thanksgiving Recovery Week!
Those health-conscious individuals can be found in the gym, attempting to work their way back to feeling good and sweating out all the indulgences of last week. The Betty Crockers will be in the kitchen, trying to duplicate recipes or find ways to use leftovers for the week. Of course there’s also those who see Thanksgiving as nothing more than a step closer to black friday …while everyone was making rounds 2 and 3 through the buffet Thursday, these people were strategizing their plan of attack, planning which deals they would prioritize and which items would be left for cyber monday. Look for this type to be sitting on the couch, admiring all of their Christmas presents wrapped under the tree and recovering from the bruises it took to get them there.
I consider myself to fall in the Betty Crocker category this year, and since Thanksgiving food prep often requires the use of kitchen supplies you likely had to dust off, it had me thinking…how many of those things taking up your precious kitchen space are really worth having? I’ve had the luxury of very generous wedding guests to provide me with many of these household appliances – so I decided to go through some of the bigger appliances in my kitchen, and give them a review. In case you’re considering adding any of these to your Christmas list this year, here is my honest opinion on my…
- KitchenAid Mixer: 4/5 stars
- One of the biggest faces in kitchenware and also one of my most anticipated items from my wedding registry. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this and see what it could do. However, I do have to admit the number of times I’ve used this since getting it in July is limited to two hands. It’s best used for large quantities and I am most of the time only cooking for two people. I don’t like to cook more than I want to eat so I mostly have used my mixer only when baking for large groups, or when my ingredients simply cannot be mixed well by hand. For example: my sweet potato casserole. Mashing sweet potatoes, even when cooked, can be tough. In addition, any other dense foods are better off being left to the machine as well. The package comes with multiple attachments to accompany many kinds of mixing, mashing, kneading, and whisking. There are also many attachments that can be purchased as add-ons to help your mixer experience! Although I would have loved having myself a bright pink mixer, our charcoal color has been working just as well. To summarize, I don’t use it as much as I’d like but it’s definitely worth the space it takes up in the cupboard.
- KitchenAid Food Processor: 4.5/5 stars
- Many people dismiss investing in a food processor due to the fact they own a blender. But let me tell you it is worth the price (and space) to invest in one. Food processors come in all shapes and sizes and have many different features. My specific one here is pretty hard to beat. It comes with 3 different blades -one for shredding, one for slicing, and one for mixing. All which do so flawlessly. You can set the thickness of the slice or shred to whatever you’d like…making hashbrowns, relish trays, or diced anything is a breeze. For someone like myself who manages to cut herself on the daily, this is a great tool to cut your fresh produce every week. Having pre-chopped veggies to work with cuts meal prep down to almost nothing. Other than shredding and slicing, it has a great mixing blade. Blenders can mix well, but nothing compared to the power of a food processor. Blenders lose their magic touch when you have little liquid in what you’re trying to blend. Food processors can blend even the toughest foods together. I use mine especially for homemade hummus and my cauliflower crust pizza nights!
- KitchenAid Blender: 4/5 stars
- To complete my kitchenaid trifecta, lets talk about blending. I love my blender. I love it because it’s simple, quick, and easy. Smoothies take up it’s primary use, but I also turn to my blender when making pancake batter or other liquid recipes. Before I had a food processor, I used blenders for all of my food mixing needs. However, it often required a lot of stopping, pushing ingredients down to the blade, blending, stopping, repeat. Much less efficient, but still possible. Keep in mind what you will be using your equipment for the most when deciding what to invest in. For me, this is great to have around.
- Juicer: 2/5 stars
- Not a fan. There is very little “bang” for your “buck”. “Buck” being the fruits and vegetables and “bang” being the juice in your glass. It leaves you wondering where all of your food went. I would much rather throw these things into a blender or food processor and just enjoy the “pulp”. While the end product is indeed delicious, I haven’t found the size of the machine and the much-too-troublesome cleanup to be worth the tablespoon of juice I get from what feels like my entire stock of produce. However, I will say that not all blenders can handle the thicker vegetables and fruits, making the juicer your better option. It’s just a matter of weighing what you’re trying to make and the ease at which you’re trying to do it.
- Yonanas Machine: 5/5 stars
- Oh, my, gosh. It’s like magic, it really is. For someone like myself whose weakness is frozen yogurt and ice cream…this has been a dream come true! Those of you unfamiliar with the machine – a) google it and b) let me fill you in: it’s a small device that turns frozen bananas into ice cream. The texture and consistency is identical to that of ice cream and you can add in other frozen fruit or dry items to create essentially any flavor that you want. (insert pics) Upon my first week of trying this out, I had it three days in a row…one of those times being after breakfast *turns head away in embarrassment*. Keep in mind while this is essentially very healthy – you’re basically just eating bananas. So while I love ice cream, the amount of bananas I was consuming began to sit less and less well over those three days. I think I probably went 2 full weeks without having bananas after that. No bueno. So while I fully encourage you to indulge in this purchase, proceed with caution.
- Crockpot: 5/5 stars
- Absolute must-have!! The ultimate lazy persons dream. But not only is it easy, it’s versatile, makes your place smell amazing, and best of all…it’s very hard to screw up. Most people think of soups, stews, and dips when they hear crock-pot…but that is far from the realm of its possibilities. Just think of it as a mini-oven. You can cook meat, dessert, vegetables, casseroles, the options are endless. Get your hands on a crockpot cookbook, or surf the web, and put that thing to use! I just have a medium-sized single crockpot, but they also come in a mini-size and 3-in-1 option to cook multiple dishes at one time. If my hubby didn’t despise kitchen equipment taking up our storage space, I’d have all 3:)
- SodaStream: 4.5/5 stars
- This is one of my best purchases post-wedding. Not everyone is into bubbly drinks. I am. Not pop, but I was buying flavored sparkling waters from the grocery store like they were going out of business. At about $1/each, I found myself spending anywhere from $10-$20 a week (Tyler started to love them, too). The sodastream is a slim machine that carbonates water in three simple presses. In addition to the carbonator itself, they sell lots of different add-in flavorings…anything from soda flavors to juice. I tend to buy flavor packets on my own (propel zero, crystal light, etc) or even just squeeze some lemon juice in – and enjoy! It’s definitely worth the up-front payment, and the only reoccuring cost is in replacing the carbonator every month or so (about $15). If you’re a pop or bubbles lover, I’d definitely be putting this on your Christmas list.
- Wafflemaker: 4.5/5 stars
- My wafflemaker is one of the more recently purchased items in our kitchen. Tyler heavily fought this purchase as yes, it does take up space. But once I snuck it in (it was on sale at Target – I obviously had to buy it) and served him his first belgian waffle he seemed to pipe down pretty quickly. Funny how that works, huh? You may wonder why I don’t just make pancakes…but once you’ve had a waffle there’s just no comparison! I love the deep crevices and how my fruit and toppings fill them. To make a successful waffle, you’ll need a thicker batter. I use Hodgson Mills Buckwheat or whole wheat buttermilk mix. The thicker consistency of the waffle is another thing that has me crawling back. It’s an item worth having if you have the space to store it…it’s an easy way to impress your guests and enjoy for yourself as well:)
All in all, while I may have a husband who never fails to gripe about our “lack of space”, I will beg to differ that a) our space is nice and tidy *thank you very much* and b) it’s all absolutely worth the space it just so happens to take up. Ladies, as long as you can keep his stomach full and happy he will stay quiet. Fastest way to a man’s heart is after all, his stomach. However, I think my quest to keep us healthy and trim has started to take a toll on Tyler. After telling him how many cool Christmas cookie recipes I found…he responded with the question, “Can we have real people cookies for Christmas?”. So, real people cookies it is. I deserve it anyways.
Here’s a peek at what our Thanksgiving meal looked like…my brother came up to spend the week with us so we were cooking for a small party of three:) The meal was simple, yet delicious. Tyler took control of the turkey, using this skinnytaste recipe to brine it. It turned out delicious, as did the sweet potato pecan casserole (listed at the bottom, or on the recipage). With the green beans I just sautéed them with a little olive oil, then added almonds, garlic, and currants. The cranberry sauce was okay, but nothing worth sharing.
That’s all for this week. Be sure to check out my newly added recipes below, as well as my workout page and Pinterest boards!
I’ll leave you with this. I used my freshly emptied almond butter jar for my overnight oats! It soaked up all the yummy goodness left in the jar. I woke up, topped it with Kashi cereal, and had a delicious breakfast to go! Give it a shot!