Weekend Things

Time for an installment of Weekend Things:

1. In case you’ve been best friends with cookies and holiday treats, here are 12 Simple, Healthy Meals to Cleanse the Holiday Overload

Thanks to Babble for featuring my Creamy Tomato Soup (vegan, gluten-free, microwave-friendly)

2. Apparently that soup is popular because Ziplist featured it in their Top 12 Recipes to Try in January List

MY OTHER RECIPES

soup

3. Christopher Kimball of America’s Test Kitchen, Cook’s Illustrated, and Cook’s Country recommended this Breville BOV800XL Smart Oven 1800-Watt Convection Toaster Oven with Element IQ, $249 in his Mostly Practical Holiday Gift List for 2012 stating, “This is one of the few toaster ovens that can actually make toast. I use it all the time.”

At 18.5 x16.25 x11.25 inches, the Breville Smart Oven is not too small but not too large. It is larger than most toaster ovens, with space to comfortably fit six slices of toast, a 13-inch pizza, or a whole chicken. However, as a countertop convection oven, it is more space-efficient than a conventional wall oven. A smaller oven means less time to heat up and less time to cook, perfect for preparing a meal in a hurry (or for cooks who like to create in the heat of the moment). This also translates into a cooler kitchen (particularly convenient in the hot summer months) and less energy consumed.

toasteroven

I’ve been thinking of getting one for awhile for all the reasons above, but wonder if just turning on the oven is more practical. There are pros and cons on both sides and if I had more kitchen counter space, I’d buy this in a heartbeat. Given the tight quarters in my urban San Diego kitchen that I believe was made for people who call for takeout nine nights a week, I’m torn.

4. Vintage Flower Storage Bowls Gift Set of 5 – Glass bowls with lids and on sale for $22.50 from Fishs Eddy which I think is a great price, especially because of the lids. You can stack them and lids are so much handier than covering bowls with plasticwrap.

5. Donut Girl Shredded Sweater by Capture, $104 at Threadscene

Makes me want to eat one of these Baked Peach and Nectarine Donuts with White Chocolate Drizzle and Sprinkles

6. How to Make American Cheese according to America’s Test Kitchen. This looks a bit time-consuming and like lots of dishes to wash for a grilled cheese…

…But this looks worth it.

Or try an easy Mini Grilled Cheese and Tomato Sandwich

7. Starbucks Evening Menu featuring Beer, Wine, and Small Plates expands across the country. I guess five dollar cups of coffee better move over for plates of brie and wine.

starbucks

8. Bourbon Barrel-Aged Pure Maple Syrup, Williams-Sonoma $32.95 – “Pure maple syrup is a treat in itself, but barrel aging transforms this organic premium-grade maple syrup into something truly extraordinary. Kettle-cooked syrup is aged for weeks in 12- to 18-year-old casks originally used to make bourbon. Richly aromatic flavor, with notes of butterscotch, vanilla, charred oak and bourbon (but without the alcohol). Classic partner for pancakes, but also delicious drizzled over fruit, used as a glaze for roasted meats, poultry and fish or stirred into yogurt.”

syrup

I could probably drink this or use the entire bottle over one batch of pancakes or overnight French toast because it just sounds so incredible.

8. Is the Cost of Juicing Worth the Benefits? – “Of course eating raw fruits or vegetables is best, but juicing is a better option than cooking or steaming them. Juicing them also enables you to drink a number of fruits and vegetables in a single glass. Juicers can be anywhere from $75 to $500, and you will get what you pay for in general. Do the benefits outweigh the cost and time associated with juicing?”

I’ve always felt juicing is a royal hassle and an expensive one at that. The time spent cleaning pulverized vegetable bits (kale leaves and orange pulp are the worst) from the teeth of a juicer is cumbersome, tedious, and labor intensive. Juicer cleanup takes much, much longer than rinsing a Vita-Mix canister or or even a food processor. Not to mention, I could juice my way through five to ten dollars of produce per glass or two of juice, whereas I could feed our family for a few days with the same amount of produce if we ate it whole. To each her own, of course.

I love fresh homemade juice and there really is nothing like it. The taste, the energy I get, the purity; I can literally feel the good stuff seeping into every cell in my body,  but it’s just not something I do anymore. Maybe 2013 is the year to give it another go.

9. Until then, I’m all about blended beverages for the ease of blender cleanup and their creaminess, like a Strawberries and Cream Smoothie (vegan, gluten-free) – Ready in approximately 22 seconds and cleanup takes about the same.

10. The Best Supermarket Hummus – If you’re a hummus fan, it’s so easy to make at home, literally takes one minuet to make and for pennies on the dollar. I usually make something along the lines of this hummus – four ingredients, fast, and easy.

If you buy it, the results are in. Some brands are hits and some miss the mark.

hummus

What are your Weekend Things? Do you have a toaster oven or feel it would be practical?

Do you juice? Do you have any recipes you’re trying to make more of this year or less of?

If you’ve made anything, done, seen, or bought anything fabulous recently, feel free to link it up in the comments.

72 comments on “Weekend Things”

  1. Oh!! I registered for that toaster oven for my wedding! I hope I get it! I have like zero counter space too, but it would be great to not have to use my oven for easier dinners or baked goods and it would be great to not have to plan my baking and dinner so they don’t clash (because I can only use the oven for one at a time)!

  2. LOVE my toaster oven. I have a family of 5 and use it daily!! I believe it is more energy efficient during our North Carolina summers so I’m not heating my kitchen up with the big oven.

  3. I’ve been eyeing that exact toaster oven, I love it and will probably get it. I used to use a toaster oven all. the. time. but didn’t have counter space in our last house, so we parted with it. Now, I have counter space, so I think I want one again. I think they’re great for small portion stuff, or when cookies are in the oven and you want to melt some cheese on something delicious. :)

    • The fact that you used it lots and can vouch for the fact that they really do work and that you get mileage out of them (or your old one) that’s awesome. I have had 3-4 people in the comments say they have this EXACT model and they all love it. I think you should buy it next :)

  4. I am highly highly… HIGHLY obsessed with Sabra hummus. And that donut shirt from Threadscene. And the photos of your baked peach/nectarine donuts (so freaking colorful!!). And smoothies/blended drinks! I must try a slew of things you referred us to here – like your overnight french toast or the creamy tomato soup. Congrats on those features by the way! I know savory items tend not to get the attention they deserve, so it is your time to shine. I’ve never juiced before and don’t really intend to. While a few of my friends have done juicing fasts and juice a variety of produce, I like to chew my calories. I eat plenty of produce and haven’t felt the need to blend them together in drinkable form. However, I’m always up for trying new things. I wouldn’t ever say no to a juicer, but I don’t intend to buy one either. I’m rambling. :) My weekend things included a crappy photoshoot, a wonderful photoshoot, a relaxing pedicure, sleeping in, a lot of peanut butter, healthy cookies, and a trip to target. Minus the one crappy photoshoot, it was a great weekend! I’m getting sick of this fickle winter lighting. :(

    • I had a borderline shoot yesterday. It was passable only b/c the subject matter was light in color. Had it been chocolate cake with the shadows, it would have been doomed. I still don’t think they’ll be my best work but some days you just have to go with what you’re given.

      Like trips to Target, lots of pb ( me too on both of those!) and re juicing…you would be wayyyyyyy smarter to save your extra cash for camera equipment, another kitchen appliance, etc. I do love the taste of fresh homemade juice – it’s like homemade PB, nothing can come close or compete but it’s just so much hassle! (And expensive). For 3.99 you can make a whole jar of PB that will hopefully last you more than a day :) With juice, you make 1 glass that’s gone in 5 mins and the cleanup takes just as long as cleaning out a food proc!

  5. Oooh I’ve been wanting to try that homemade American cheese too (but the hassle has kept me away, thus far!)–mostly I just want to make it for the boyfriend…who adores American/velveeta style cheeses.

  6. I want the Donut Girl shredded sweater and a batch of your overnight French toast, please! :) (I’d drink up that bottle of syrup too.)

  7. I love my toaster oven and don’t have a microwave or a toaster. We don’t really have bread that often, so the toaster would just take up space.

    It’s slower than a microwave, but the food doesn’t come out with that “I’ve been microwaved!” taste and texture.

  8. Pre-summer of 2012 I decided it was finally time to replace my $7 college special toaster. If I was going to replace the toaster, I thought I might as well look into counter top ovens. I had been dreaming of baking in the summer without blasting the house with extra heat. I did hours and hours of research to discover that not all toaster ovens can even make toast (only one side browns)?! Turns out… you get what you pay for. If I was going to buy something to both bake and toast, I wanted it to work (obv). I have had my Breville since about May/June. I love it!! It makes toast well (one side is more brown than the other, but it’s not bad) and bakes fairly evenly. It does throw off a lot of heat, so I was worried it may not work in my kitchen as I have cupboards that go pretty low. I have had no heat issues, although I did clear a wide area around it. It’s good to see that my research really was spot on!

    • Thanks for the super detailed feedback! I have heard that some toaster ovens dont make toast – oh the irony. And that this one makes is brown on only one side – ugh! But that the rest is ok and that it bakes fairly evenly. Thanks for LMK too that it throws off lots of heat. Another thing I am now…hmmmm…on. So all things considered, sounds like you’re happy but things to think about. If you had to take your pick in baking cookies in the toaster oven vs. baking them in a super crappy uneven-heating oven that heats up a house for hours, which would you choose?

      • For the sake of the cookies, whichever one cooks most evenly. …but then making double and triple (or more?) the amount of batches may make that pretty cumbersome as you can’t fit a full sized pan in there. I have to say also that I have never made cookies in mine, but have had success with savory dishes & casseroles, proteins like chicken and banana bread.

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