Walking Home With A Toaster Oven

While I always try to give as many reasons to participate in charitable events as possible, such as a walkathon, I will now appeal to the selfish side that is lurking in all of us. Some of us do not like to admit that it is there, and it is bigger in some people than others, but we all possess it. So for those that need some extra motivation, I present to you the wonderful world of raffles. Yes, most of the events that I go to have some sort of raffle, and through the kindness of product donations you can walk away with some pretty nice gifts.

Case in point, 4 months ago I came home with a brand new toaster oven. I did not think that I needed a toaster oven, I was not looking to get a new one, I do not even make toast but twice a year, but this thing is awesome. It is actually more oven than toaster and I now find myself using this everyday. And this is just one of the many awesome things that you can end up winning. All you have to do is buy a cheap ticket to get in the drawing.

After Winning

Breville convection toaster ovenWhen I got home with my new haul I wasn’t quite sure what I had. I didn’t know if it was a cheap appliance that was one step above an Easy Bake oven. Well to my surprise I had won one of the top toaster ovens on the market. I started going through various online reviews and found that the Breville smart oven that I was staring at on my kitchen counter was the best rated toaster oven on most of these review sites. Talk about excited.

When I finally unboxed the BOV800XL (best model) I could see why this thing was so highly rated, and I hadn’t even plugged it in yet. This thing is sharp looking. Stainless steel, shiny knobs, and a LCD display. This is a toaster oven straight off of the Starship Enterprise. The next step of course was to give it a test run.

Turning on My Breville Smart Oven

After quickly flipping through the instruction manual I figured there was no better way to test it out than to make some toast. This helped me meet my quota for yearly toast consumption. The inside of this oven is quite roomy and I had to take some other appliances off of my countertop, that I don’t use, just to make some room for it. It did a wonderful job on the toast, not that I am a toast expert, but I was impressed.

The first night with my new machine I was like a kid who just got a new bike at Christmas. I would just stare at it sitting all shiny in my kitchen. That was actually the first time that I felt bad about the shape my kitchen was in, that is how nice this oven looks. After that I was ready to delve into the world of cooking with my new toaster oven.

No More Fast Food

After I had gone through the oven reviews, I next tried to find me some recipes to give this thing a proper workout. I ended up trying a simple chicken drumstick and potato dish. I did not want to turn into a snob so fast and just left it simple. After following the recipe I was left with meal that was probably the best that I had in a few months. I was skeptical that a countertop oven could actually cook something good, but this dish came out better than good. It was moist, cooked evenly, and it smelled fantastic. From that moment on I was hooked.

I then started finding more recipes that I could use for the entire family. Full bird chicken dishes, casseroles, fish, you name it and this Breville toaster oven could handle it. Of course I quickly realized just how well this gem bakes as well. We went on quite the cooky binge at first, although we have tapered down from our sugar rush. After a few weeks I found that I was cooking more, and getting fast food, or frozen meals less. Not only was it simple, but I was able to make healthier meals that everyone could enjoy. I was a happy Mom, and this little oven did it.

Moral of The Story

You never know what you are going to get when you end up doing good things. I ended up going to this rally for breast cancer, and I come home with something that has transformed the way that I feed myself and my family. Good things to happen to good people sometimes. So get out there and give of yourself, because you never know what you might get in return.

Check out the following video to check out what my awesome oven can do.

Stephanie / May 4, 2015 / Cooking

Ice Cream Maker Recipes For The Entire Family

Finding the right ice cream machineSo we decided to breakdown and give into buying a new ice cream maker. While it may not be the most healthy way to treat ourselves, we simply don’t care. We LOVE ice cream, so we thought “why not?”. We have had it about two weeks and so far we have made a different flavored treat with it every night. It is fantastic and we highly recommend that anyone who likes to indulge in cold, frozen, and delicious desserts to go ahead and pick one up for themselves.  And with all of the healthy ice cream recipes available you may not feel so guilty by treating yourself to something that taste so indulgent.

Which Ice Cream Machine to Buy?

It took us a while to decide on which machine to get. We kind of liked the way that some of the old fashioned barrel looking units were styled, but in the end we decided to go with a modern unit. Cuisinart, we found, makes some of the best customer reviewed ice cream makers available. They all get high marks and scores from owners, so it was just a matter of budget and capacity. In the end we purchased the Cuisinart ICE-100 because not only can it make 1 and a half quarts of ice cream, but it is also capable of producing gelato and other frozen goodies. It is expensive, but for us it has been worth it.  Cuisinart ice cream maker reviews are also some of the highest you will find online which helped make the final choice that much easier for us.  Just about all of their models are some of the top ranked ice cream machines we could find.

Ice Cream Recipes

And to celebrate our new wonder kitchen appliance we are going to share some of the recipes that we have tried in our new machine. They turned out pretty tasty and we hope others have similar results. We tried to find some that were not totally bad for you and included some fruit.

Huckleberry Homemade Cheesecake Ice Cream

When made with the season’s sweetest ingredients, this dessert captures the heart of summer. This frosty treat gets its delectably rich texture and taste from an immersion of fluffy cream cheese. Try this fruity ice cream in your ice cream maker with fresh huckleberries. If huckleberries are not available, try substituting blackberries or raspberries.

For the recipe, take 2 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature. Pour in a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Add 1 cup castor sugar and continue whisking until well combined. Meanwhile, in a medium pan, whisk together 4 eggs and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Place pan over medium flame and whisk mixture until fluffy. Strain into a bowl and allow it to cool. Next, whisk in 1 cup whipping cream, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 2 cups huckleberries. Blend huckleberries or blueberries or raspberries with 3/4 cup sugar. Add the berries to the prepared mixture. Whisk in cream cheese mix until well incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for approximately 4 hours until chilled. Next, pour the mixture into your ice cream maker. Follow the manufacturer;s instructions and process it accordingly. Once it is made, stir in some more berries.

This recipe is super tasty and healthy. The berries are rich in nutrients, minerals and vitamins that are indispensable for your health. Enjoy this summery treat!

Peach Cobbler Homemade Ice Cream

Turn juicy summer peaches into creamy ice cream. This fruit adds a twist to this luscious and balanced frosty recipe. Addition of basil and fresh figs make for a syrupy taste. A pinch of cinnamon, adds depth to the ice cream.

For the recipe, take a medium saucepan. Add two cups sugar and 4 eggs. Whisk them together and gradually add 1 cup whole milk and a pinch of salt. Place pan over medium heat. Whisk until mixture becomes a little thick. Lower heat and whisk mixture for approximately 10 minutes. Strain into a large bowl. Next add 2 cups peeled and pureed peaches and incorporate them well into the mixture. Add 1 cup whipping cream, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 cup half-and-half to the mixture. Whisk well. Cover with plastic wrap. Now refrigerate for approximately 4 hours until chilled. Pour mixture into your ice cream maker. Add 1 cup figs and some basil. Follow manufacturer’s instructions and process it accordingly.
Another nutritional and healthy recipe! Peaches provide 6 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin A. They also provide 15 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin C. Figs and basil are some of the world’s healthiest foods. They are a great source of fiber, antioxidants and nutrients. Enjoy this sweet and healthy treat!

Strawberry Delight

If you are looking for a refreshing and light way to end your meal, this is a perfect recipe. Fruity yet rich- this is a classic homemade ice cream.

For the recipe, chop 600 grams strawberries. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of castor sugar over it and leave them to impregnate with flavor. Pour 500 ml milk and 500 ml double cream into a large saucepan. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Place pan over medium heat for approximately 20 minutes. Meanwhile in a large bowl, whisk 4 eggs and 3/4 cup sugar until fluffy. Put the pan back on the heat with milk, cream, sugar and egg mixture. Stir for 10 minutes until it thickens. Puree the strawberries in a food processor. When the mixture is cool, fold in strawberry puree. Sprinkle some lemon juice. Next, add this mixture to your ice cream maker. Allow it to freeze for a couple of hours. Garnish with some strawberries and lemon zest and enjoy!

If making ice cream in your own kitchen sounds interesting then consider getting your own machine. We like to think that we bought the best ice cream maker on the market, but any of the top ice cream machines should help you and your family make some fantastic desserts together. It is also a great way to spend time with your loved ones and you can all enjoy the fruits of your labor in the end.

For anyone curious, below is a video of the exact ice cream maker that we ended up getting. If you have the budget for it, we highly recommend this model.

Stephanie / April 12, 2015 / Cooking