Products I Love

  • Tuesday’s Tools and Tips – Keeping Chopped Lettuce Fresh

    Pinterest

    IMG_0002

     

    I am teaching salad classes this week, so I thought a great tip to keep lettuce fresh all week long, especially with summer around the corner, would be perfect. We’ve all been there. Wanting to be prepared for the week…. we chop and bag lettuce for salads. (If you have lettuce cleaned, chopped and ready to go… you will eat more salads. Am I right? You know I am. I love to be right! :)) But you find your lettuce has wilted and/or has browned edges after a day or two. How do you keep your lettuce crisp, fresh and keep the leaves from browning? Who wants to eat lettuce that is browning? I have heard and read many tips on how to keep your chopped lettuce fresh… but this my friends works and it is so simple!  I have been doing these steps for years with the perfect results!

    Step 1:

    You must cut the lettuce with a very sharp knife! If you use a dull knife, you will bruise the leaves when you cut them and they will brown quickly!

    IMG_0025

    IMG_0018

    Step 2:

    You need a salad spinner. Getting all the extra moisture off the freshly cut leaves will keep the leaves nice and crisp. I love my OXO salad spinner

    IMG_0037

    Step 3:

    I store my chopped lettuce in heavy duty freezer Zip Loc gallon size bags. In they go!

    IMG_0050

    Step 4:

    Zip the top of the bag about 2/3 of the way shut. 

    IMG_0054

    Step 5:

    Squeeze as much air as you can out of the bag with your hands. I press down on the top and upper sides of the bag. 

    IMG_0060

    Step 6:

     I then zip the bag all the way shut…. careful to not let any air in the bag. 

    IMG_0063

    And there you have it! How easy was that? No paper towels are involved. My lettuce will stay this fresh and crisp for a week using this quick and easy process. With not a hint of any brown edges.  Make sure to do steps 4-6 every time you open the bag to keep the lettuce fresh. Keeping air out of the bag is key. Here’s to salads and fresh, crisp lettuce ready at our fingertips! Is it summer yet?

    Tagged in ~ ,

  • Tuesday’s Tools and Tips- Mother’s Day Gifts Ideas

    Pinterest

    Mothers day is right around the corner. What are you going to get the most special lady in your life? No worries…. I’ve come up with a list of great gift ideas! For the lady/mom in your life that loves to cook or wants to be a better cook… these are sure to bring a smile to her face.

    _MG_8984

    A really good knife! What a difference a good knife makes. This one pictured is a Miyabi Artisan SG2 9 1/2  inch that I use and love. With a knife like this… your mom or wife is sure to want to cook more! I bought mine HERE.

    IMG_5337

    Ceramic bakeware is not only wonderful to bake with but it is also so pretty to serve in. And the clean up is a snap! Things just don’t stick to glazed ceramic. I found ones similar to mine here. Here is an another good alternative.

    IMG_0090

    A pasta roller is something you don’t realize how much you need until you have one! Homemade pasta is to die for! I highly recommend you buy one that is made in Italy. You can find a good one here.

    IMG_0107

    And you definitely need  this with your pasta roller! So handy, easy to store and inexpensive. This particular one is my favorite pasta rack out there! You can find this one here.

    IMG_0191

    There are so many amazing desserts you can make and serve in these basic and stackable ramekins. I found mine here.

    bosch_universal_plus_outlined_copy

    And the creme de la creme… the best stand mixer out there! I will put this on every wish list because I know most everyone that attends my class wants this unless they already have one! The best source I have found for this amazing, own forever stand mixer is here.

    panini maker

    In my opinion… everyone needs a panini maker! Fastest and easiest way to a grilled cheese or hot gourmet sandwich. Best way to get dinner on the table in no time. I found mine here.

    cooking class gift

    And last but certainly not least… a gift certificate or two for a date night or girls night out to one of my Jenny’s Gatherings cooking classes! You can email me anytime for a gift certificate! 

    I know what most people wish for when they come to my classes because they tell me.  I hope this list helps make your Mothers Day shopping that much easier. As a mom, I know that the best present is spending the day with those we love and we appreciate the words of love and gratitude expressed to us. Another easy but wonderful present is …. a nice long, and much needed nap! My sweet hubby always sends me upstairs to indulge in my yearly MD nap… such a simple pleasure, but one I love! Happy Mothers Day to you all! 

    XOXO,

    Jenny

    Tagged in ~ ,

  • Tuesday’s Tools and Tips- Bosch Mixer or Kitchen Aid

    Pinterest

    81Qpugh4riS._SL1500_

     

    I cannot believe I haven’t shared my opinion on these mixers earlier with you all! (Outside of my cooking classes that is.) Better late than never…. right? I know that most people have or want this mixer. A Kitchen Aid stand mixer, that they offer in a variety of colors. This is one kitchen appliance that is commonly seen on many kitchen counters. After we built our home, I too bought a Kitchen Aid professional series mixer in the color I have wanted for years. They cost a lot of money but I was sure I was going to just be in mixer heaven! Well…. that feeling lasted about a day or so. Why? Well, if you bake as much as I do, you will quickly find that the motor in this brand cannot handle much for too long before it over heats and gives up or breaks. That was not what I expected from my “professional series” expensive mixer! That’s not very professional at all! I also could not believe how loud this mixer was. Crazy loud! It actually got on my nerves every time I turned it on.  

    After a couple of frustrating months, my hubby and I researched mixers that could handle my baking needs. I was done with my Kitchen Aid mixer and never wanted to see it again. I bake 8 or more loaves of bread a week for our family among many other things. Pizza dough, rolls, french bread, cookies, cakes, etc….. We thought a commercial mixer was our only option. The problem with those are the size of them. Where in the world would I keep it?

    bosch_universal_plus_outlined_copy

    One day my hubby came upon a site (Pleasant Hills Grain) that sold the Bosch stand mixer and stated that they tested it by making batches of dough one after another for 24 hours and it never overheated. It was a workhorse! Could it be true? Could a mixer like this really exist?? We quickly ordered it and boy oh boy did I ever put it to the test. It cost less than the Professional Series Kitchen Aid and shipping was free. It doesn’t come in a variety of colors and is not the prettiest mixer, but I cannot tell you how much I love this mixer! I can mix and knead dough for as long as I want or need to and this baby never overheats or needs a break. And the power? Sheesh… this mixer is so powerful! Beats up egg whites or whipping cream in lightning speed. 

    I know many a people that have inherited a Bosch stand mixer from their grandmothers and they still work perfectly. I have to hand it to this company. They make these to last forever! I don’t know of any other appliance that a grandparent can hand down that works just a good as when they got it. That’s quality people! 

    Those that attend my cooking classes know of my great love and confidence in this amazing machine. In fact, Pleasant Hill Grain has done a Bosch mixer giveaway with me twice so far. I hope to keep that a yearly tradition!

    So for those of you that are in the market for a stand mixer and are on the fence as to which brand you should buy…. get off the fence and get a Bosch! This is seriously one of my favorite things in my kitchen. I don’t know how I would survive without it. It will be the last mixer you will ever buy…. made to last I tell you. Take my word for it and you will thank me later… I guarantee it!

    By the way, I am not getting paid by anyone for this review. This is an honest to goodness opinion from a serious baker that seriously loves this mixer! There are two things in my life I can always count on… my husband and my Bosch! Now that’s true love.

    Tagged in ~ ,

  • Tuesday’s Tools and Tips- Microplane Love

    Pinterest

    IMG_3315

     

    This is another “must have” tool in your kitchen… a Microplane. I have a serious crush on this baby.

    IMG_3337

    I love to use fresh zest in my recipes. With this wonderful tool, zesting is a snap and it produces a nice fine zest. I don’t care for the thick pieces of zest a regular zester does. 

    IMG_3321

    Fresh Parmesan cheese? 

    IMG_3330

    Yes please! 

    IMG_3343

    Need fine grated chocolate pieces? Viola!

    IMG_3345

    Grating fresh ginger is no longer a pain. Do you see how the ginger collects in the top of the micorplane? Whatever you grate with this collects on the top and you simply dump it out when you grated the amount you need. It grates effortlessly.. such a perfect tool. How did I survive before this tool? Go get yourself one now! 

    Tagged in ~ ,

  • Tuesday’s Tools and Tips- Knives

    Pinterest

    One of the most important tools you can have in your kitchen is a good knife. A really good knife. Just know that it is going to cost you, but it will be a great investment that will take you through years and years of preparing so many great things! A really good, high quality knife will make any job a snap!

    Something I get asked a lot is “What kind of knife do you recommend?”. There are a good number of good knives out there. I would never buy a knife without “trying it out” for size and performance. Size you say? Yes, size. My favorite knives are made by Miyabi and I got them at Sur La Table. 

    Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 10.03.59 PM

    Never mind the “play video” arrow. I copied this picture from the Sur La Table site. This is the knife I have. I love it so much I bought two! It is the Miyabi Artisan SG2 Collection Chef’s knife 9 1/2 ” ($229.95) It cuts like a dream. 

    Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 10.06.33 PMWhen I went to Sur La Table to look at their different knives, the gal there highly recommended this knife. It is a Bob Kramer 8″ Stainless Damascus Chef’s Knife  (399.95). I excitedly took the knife in my hand to try it out. She handed me an apple and said I could cut the apple to try out the knife. I quickly asked for something more substantial to cut. An apple? You don’t need a sharp knife to cut an apple! How was I supposed to see how well this knife performed by cutting an apple? I asked for carrots or something firmer like that. After cutting the carrots with this knife, I knew it was not a good fit for my hand. The handle felt too bulky for me.

    That’s when I asked for another recommendation and she handed me the Miyabi knife. It was like I was cinderella slipping on the perfectly fitting glass slipper! It cut effortlessly and fit perfectly in my hand.That’s what I mean when I say you need to try it on for size. 

    You can keep buying your sets of 50.oo knives in a block set that will never perform that good, dull quickly and then buy a new 50.00 set. Or you can buy one amazing knife that will perform incredibly and make you feel like Julia Child in kitchen! 

    Head out to your local Sur La Table or gourmet kitchen store to take some knives out for a test run. Remember to ask for something firmer than an apple or onion to slice. I hope this helps with making your decision and gets you in “slicing and dicing” good form!

    Tagged in ~ ,

  • Tuesday’s Tools and Tips- Le Creuset vs. Staub

    Pinterest

    IMG_0691

    Buying a cast iron french oven pot is no small investment. The top brands on the market are Le Creuset and Staub. As you can see here, I have both. The red pot is Le Creuset (13 1/4 quart) and the dark (4 quart) and light grey (13 1/4 quart) pots are Staub. If you are in the market for one of these beauties (Yes they are truly beautiful additions to your kitchen!), I hope I can help you with your decision. 

    They are both made in France, are of the highest quality (price reflects that) and are pieces that will last a lifetime. 

    So what are the differences… if there are any?

    IMG_0692

    This is the first piece I bought. A beautiful red 13 1/4 quart Le Creuset french oven. Perfect for braising meats for a large crowd or making a huge batch of soup or stew. I looked for the biggest size they sold. I have been able to keep the interior of mine clean (with the help of Bar Keepers Friend), but others have complained that the interior of their pieces have become stained over time. It is finished with a durable non stick interior but since it is light in color, it can stain.

    IMG_0687This is the inside of the lid. Same finish. And yes… I have used mine countless times and it has gotten very soiled.

    IMG_0691Moving on to my 4 quart Staub. My 13 1/4 quart Staub looks the same inside as this one. The interior of Staub as you can see is a dark non stick durable finish. Much less likely to show stains. But stains to me are not the big issue here. Let’s talk about the performance.

    IMG_0686This is the interior of all Staub lids. And here is where the big difference starts and ends. Staub puts those small spikes all over the under side of the lids. Why? First of all, the design of the Staub lid keeps the moisture in the pot much, much better than any competitor including Le Creuset (See the deep well they made around the lid so it sits down on the pot? Great design that works!), and those spikes act as a self baster. The moisture inside the pot collects on each spike, then drips down throughout the braising process. Genius! Does it really work?

    In my experience, for example braising short ribs, the Staub far surpassed my Le Creuset in the outcome of my ribs. The first time I braised short ribs in my Le Creuset, I found it didn’t keep the moisture in. It almost burned on the bottom. I was surprised, given how heavy the lid was. 

    Enter Staub. I tried the exact recipe and it came out perfect with the juices staying in the pot with the meat. The design of their lid makes a huge difference!

    When we have a huge dinner party and need both the Le Creuset and Staub (Like we did at Christmas for my husband’s company Christmas party), I learned that if I placed a large piece of heavy duty foil over the top of the Le Creuset pot, then place the lid over the foil, I was able to retain the moisture like the Staub does without the foil. 

    The bottom line? Go for the Staub… no doubt…. no questions… hands down!

    IMG_0701

    And if you are anything like me and like the little details, Staub offers these lid handles in a variety of animals. They come as an option on some of their products and they offer them separately if they don’t. As you can see, my big pot is in need of an animal lid handle! I need to go place my order. You can purchase these beautiful pots HERE and HERE. As I mentioned, these are no small investment and you should get the best performance for your buck. Staub wins!

    Tagged in ~ , , ,

  • Tuesday’s Tools and Tips- Hand Held Juicers

    Pinterest

    IMG_0242

    Seriously people… these are some of my most favorite tools in my kitchen. I am always needing a tablespoon or three of some sort of citrus juice in my recipes. With these juicers, it is quick and easy!

    IMG_0285

    In need of some fresh lime juice to go in that dressing? Just cut a lime in half. 

    IMG_0290

    Place it pulp side down. 

    IMG_0302

    And squeeze! The juice will come pouring out and the pulp and seeds will stay behind. 

    IMG_0331

    Need lemon juice? No problem.

    IMG_0383

    Nothing like fresh orange juice in my orange rolls and icing. 

    IMG_0480

    There you go. See how easy and fast that was? And clean up? These wash up in a snap! I got these juicers at Sur La Table, but I saw the lemon and lime ones at my local grocery store too. I also hear Target sells them. If you don’t have some of these for yourself yet, what are you waiting for? Go! I know you will thank me later… guaranteed.

    Tagged in ~ ,

  • Tuesday’s Tools and Tips- I.F. Thermometer

    Pinterest

    IMG_9376

     I saw this here little guy at Sur La Table and had to try it out. A point and shoot instant read thermometer? Sounds too good to be true!

    IMG_9462

    Do these look familiar to you? These are what I used and have in my kitchen tools drawer. Honestly, the dang things frustrated me. They seemed to stay at one temperature forever…. then suddenly jump up. I am never sure if they are working correctly or if they broke on me. I don’t know about you, but when I try to attach these to my pans, they don’t want to stay in the position I need them in in order to get a correct reading. I end up holding them forever….. hoping they still work. 

    IMG_9374

    I put the infrared thermometer to the test making ricottta cheese. The temperature is crucial when making ricotta cheese. 

    IMG_9419

    You just press a button while shooting the food you want the temperature read on. A red laser light beams down on the surface of the liquid and gives me a reading. This will not give you a correct reading on meat where you need to probe it to get the inner temperature. It was honestly so easy! 

    I can’t wait to try it when making caramel sauce. This thermometer is great when you need to measure the temperature of the surface of anything. I love a product that makes my life easier and saves me time. Double win!

    And guess what? It is on sale right now at Sur La Table for 29.00! The other I.F. thermometers there were closer to 80.00. Got to love a great deal! 

    Tagged in ~ ,

  • Tuesday’s Tools and Tips- Breville Immersion Blender Review

    Pinterest

    IMG_7586

     

    Sur La Table sent me this product to do a review on. This is the Breville immersion blender. Can I tell you I was a bit nervous about it? You all know how much I shop at and love Sur La Table and I was thrilled to have them send me a product to review. But… what if I didn’t like the way it performed? If there is one thing you can count on with me… it is honesty. I believe in complete honesty and I would and will always tell you the truth! I have tried many different immersion blenders and have not liked any of them. Except for my “un- fancy”, SO not ” high end” Braun immersion blender. 

    Immersion blenders are so convenient and easy to use. But I found many of them splattered and disappointed me with their performance. Why oh why did Sur La Table choose an immersion blender for me to review? I was not optimistic about it as you can tell. But put it to the test I did.

    IMG_6465

    I started with the most often dish I use it for. Soup! Taking soup and pouring it into a blender to puree it is such a pain. A good immersion blender can do the job with much more ease and less mess. 

    IMG_6511

    Well people… my worries were over. This way out-performed my beloved Braun immersion blender! It was powerful, quiet, didn’t splatter and pureed the soup like a dream! It certainly passed the first test!

    IMG_8467

    On to chopping and crushing. It comes with this container equipped with a rotating blade and attachment. 

    IMG_8499

    Perfection. I was able to control the blender easily get the nuts to the size I wanted.

    IMG_8508

    Now on to the harder task. If you look back on past recipes, I made White Chocolate Peppermint Dipping Sticks. An important part of that recipe includes finely crushed candy canes. I have only used my food processor for that hard task. As it has a very sharp blade and powerful motor. The rotating blade that comes with this piece is not as sharp. I seriously had my doubts about this one.

    IMG_8513

    And away we go!

    IMG_8529

    Look at that! As fine as I could ever want it! The best part? It was effortless! Boy oh boy… this baby has passed the test with flying colors! And this is SO much easier to clean than all the parts on my beloved food processor. Double win!

    IMG_8570

    On to salad dressing. You all know how much I make salad dressing!

    IMG_8609

    Not only was it a snap, but you can store your salad dressing in the same container you blended it in (Obviously I make more than this small amount of dressing. This was just a sample amount for this test) . It comes with a lid that has a tight seal. Now that’s convenience for you! I guess I was so surprised and happy with this amazing blender that I forgot to use the whipping attachment. I am out of town as I write this so I am not able to put that to the test, but I am 99.9% sure that it too will pass with flying colors! Egg whites, whipping cream, frosting….. you name it! 

    So, my honest opinion? GO GET THIS IMMERSION BLENDER NOW! That endorsement is the honest truth! Oh… and thank you Sur La Table for an amazing kitchen tool that will make my life so much easier in the kitchen!

    Tagged in ~ ,

  • Tuesday’s Tools and Tips- Bar Keepers Friend

    Pinterest

    Oh my…. I just realized I haven’t been posting my “Tuesday Tools and Tips” this month! I guess I have been busy with a lot of other things, but no worries.. I am hopefully back in the routine! 

    IMG_7916

    My tip for the week is this amazing cleaner Bar Keepers Friend. For those of you that have been in my kitchen, you have seen my big collection of All Clad pots and pans hanging from my big rack. People always ask me how I keep them clean. You know I use them all A LOT! Yes, there are times when I wonder if I will ever be able to get a certain pot or pan clean again. Well my friends, they are not stained black because of this amazing product! It is seriously like magic! It can get anything out of my pans and they end up perfectly clean again. I always recommend non stick pots and pans to anyone looking to invest in a nice collection (Why… that is for another post). With Bar Keepers Friend, you don’t have to stress about keeping your stainless steel pots and pans clean. I buy my cans at my local grocery store or Target. Easy to find and so inexpensive! If you haven’t discovered this product yet, run out and get some. You can thank me later!

    Tagged in ~ ,