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



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.


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.


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.”


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.


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.


  1. Oh my – I am totally loving that “how to make American cheese” link. Leave it to America’s Test Kitchen to figure out how to do that – it’s not terribly complicated…I might have to try it!

    • And I bet living where you are, every once in awhile you must crave ‘American’ type foods. I know when I’m in Aruba for a month or so, it happens to me!

    • It’s so true Averie – I find myself craving things that I never craved when we were in the U.S. – must be that whole “absence makes the heart grow fonder” thing. ;) I’m always grateful for all the great tropical fruit here though, and you must have some great fruit in Aruba too.

    • Well we live in San Diego full time but have a place in Aruba and go for a month, a couple times a year, and I find myself craving things like Tootsie Rolls and Gatorade. Stuff that I just don’t crave in San Diego! I bet your fruit is amazing…ironically much of the fruit in Aruba comes from South America..or…South Florida! The South American bananas they get those are amazing!

  2. I am so into the idea of the Bucks’ serving wine. I don’t know why, it’s not like I do much but run in and out of there to get coffee, but they are so ubiquitous it would be great for when you want a drink with a friend and don’t want to deal with the bar scene.
    Which leads to my weekend thing-a homemade Sazerac:

  3. I have a toaster oven, and love it. I use it when I have a hankering for making a small batch of fries or chips out of a potato, turnip or parsnip. Otherwise, heating the entire oven seems like overkilll. The one you linked to looks amazing! I’d love to upgrade mine–it’s pretty old and the door squeaks every time I open it. lol.

    Yes, that maple syrup does look drinkable! Yum! And I’m totally with you on juicing versus blending. I have a Vitamix as well, and boy, it doesn’t get easier than that, right?! Bring on the smoothies! :)

    • There is nothing easier than a Vita for cleanup! For nut butters, I use my food proc but there are way more pieces to wash and parts. Whenever possible, I reach for my Vita first and foremost b/c cleanup is a breeze. And that’s good to know that you use and love your toaster oven!

  4. When I was living in a tiny 1 bedroom flat with 4 other people we swore by the toaster oven. I’d bought it for a couple hundred bucks and it was used daily. We all made our own food and didn’t want to continually turn on the oven when one of us was hungry. I’ve debated getting one for our place now but we have absolutely NO counterspace. Like none. Natta, zip. They’re so handy though!!

    • What you describe is why I want one – but also why I can’t. Ive seen the pics of you in your kitchen & your space considerations look similar to mine. I feel so maxed out already with appliances that even just 1 more could put me over the edge! lol

    • Oh, I know the feeling. I’m totally, utterly maxed out. I even sent a message to our landlord yesterday asking him if I could add a piece of counter on the end of the kitchen. It would make getting to the fridge difficult, but I NEED counter space. I don’t even have a spot for my new Kitchenaid!

  5. As you know, my cheap, ancient toaster oven is getting put to extremely good use. I don’t have a ton of counter space and hate clutter, so if I’m not using it for a couple of meals in a row, I haul it downstairs and set it right on top of the box my juicer is in! I thought putting it there might motivate me to make a batch of veggie juice once a week or so, but it hasn’t worked yet. I really fell off the wagon with juicing for the same reasons. I think that Breville sounds sweet–if my current model ever dies on me, I would definitely upgrade to that one!

    • I love the story about putting the t.o. on top of the juicer box and STILL not juicing. I do love the taste but it’s soooo much of a production for 1 glass of juice! And if you’re juicing for health benefits they say that pre-juicing and juicing in advance isn’t really ideal so it’s not like you can ‘batch-cook’ and make tons at once. So the cleanup, every.time. I think you deserve this Breville t.o. after all you’ve been through with yours!

  6. We love our toaster oven. We don’t have a regular toaster so we use our little oven daily for breakfast and often to heat something quickly. We’ve also baked in our with decent results. Ours is a cheap model from Target. I’m sure the Breville model would be much nicer. I say go for it, it’s definitely worth the counter space!

  7. I almost exclusively use that Blis aged maple syrup. It is wonderful, by far the best maple syrup I’ve had. They also make a vanilla infused one that is fabulous. It is another local, made in Michigan product for me. If you order is directly from Blis it is slightly cheaper.

  8. Happy Saturday Averie. I’m actually able to get back on the computer today, as John and his brother are taking the kids skiing for the day. I’m staying home because believe it or not, my kids are better skier’s than me and I want the 4 of them to be able to ski their little hearts away instead of waiting for me. As far as toasters go, I have one of those fancy Dualit toasters that look great, but don’t toast well at all. I bought it when we first got married because I loved the look of it, but there are times where I want to just buy a normal cheap toaster to actually make some decent toast. We tend to broil our bagels and english muffins in the oven, so I guess you could say that’s our toaster :)
    It’s so funny, but I actually drank way more smoothies and juiced way more last spring and this summer than I do now. I think I was on the trend of it all and now I’m over it. Too much of a pain and too much clean up. I like veggies and prefer to just eat them normally. I also spoke to my acupuncturist who told me that too many dark greens and juicing is not the best thing. He said these new Raw and Juicing diets need to be in moderation. He has too many clients who come to him with vitamin K overloads (which can lead to blood clots and strokes) because they think it’s healthier to just live on greens and raw foods, and don’t eat a balanced diet. I won’t go into detail why I went to see him, but lets just say that everything is better now that I cut back my whole kale intake. I was eating basically a head of kale every day. He told me the key to longevity is to eat a balanced diet. You know, I agree, and I always feel better when I eat what my body craves rather than trying to feed it a vegan or strict vegeterian diet. I need my carbs! Have a great day girl!
    xoxo, Jackie

    • That’s awesome you just let them do their thing skiing. It’s like running or doing anything in a group. If one person is slower the group is forced to slow down and although Im sure they wouldnt mind, it was nice of you to just let them go. Plus you get some me-time!

      And everything your acu said about too much Vitamin K, balanced diet not overdoing any one thing, etc etc. I totally agree with it all. There was a time I was a strict vegan and strictly GF and I am much happier & feel much more balanced as a vegetarian and eating gluten and the everything in moderation approach like my grandma always said and she lived til her mid 90s!

  9. I love Fishs Eddy! I wanted everything in the store the last time I was in NYC and ended up with 2 of those bowls and they are fantastic!

  10. I’m in love with Trader Joe’s hummus! Especially the White Bean — it’s incredible with pita chips or veggies. Have a great weekend!

  11. I always make homemade hummus. I am a hummus addict, so it’s much cheaper to make it yourself and it tastes better than anything I’ve bought from the store. I’m also a smoothie addict, so I’ll be trying your Strawberries and Cream Smoothie soon. :) And congrats on your soup being featured so much this week!!

    • “so it’s much cheaper to make it yourself and it tastes better than anything I’ve bought from the store” <-- amen Sista! Even if you only save a buck or two, per batch it adds up if you're an addict :) I know what you mean!

  12. Happy Saturday and great list! We had a toaster oven we got as a wedding gift and I ended up donating it because we just weren’t using it enough – it took up too much counter space, was a pain to get out, use, and clean when we needed it. I am obsessed with our new pressure cooker though, it takes up a lot less space and cooks dried beans, grains, and potatoes in minutes!

    I do juice, not enough lately, so that’s one of my goals for the new year to use our juicer more.

    • And here I thought you juiced all the time! I know you use your Vita tons but I thought you were a dedicated juicer too. I don’t feel as bad now! And also donating your toaster oven. I know you use your dehydrator and I have one too and if I didnt have that, I would maybe buy the toaster oven…I dunno. But thanks for the feedback!

  13. This weekend I’m ALL about your chocolate chip cookies! OH MY WORD! They are incredible. They do remind me a lot of Levain bakery cookies.mmmmm.

    We also got a toster oven as a wedding gift. I’d say we use it a few times a month. I’m holding onto it while I have the counter space, but wouldn’t miss it much when we move.

    Happy Weekend Averie!

  14. I LOVE hummus – here in Cleveland, we had the Sabra food truck pass out free samples of hummus & chips with coupons this past summer. I miss them :/ I try to make my own in Vitamix when I can, though. Experimenting is what makes cooking fun :) Thanks for the comment, too!

  15. Same opinion on juicing over here. Secretly, I always end up eating the little bits out of the teeth anyways…it’s tasty mush…it’s good fiber…that frankly could’ve been in the juice/smoothie…and made it more satisfying and easier on the blood sugar…and clean up is much faster with a smoothie that includes whole veg. The expense..don’t even get me started…student budget! So happy to have found your blog, Averie!

    • Thanks for saying hi and glad you found me. I have tried a few juicers over the years and the pulp-in-teeth problem plagues me on all of them. And to get it out, I either have to erode a kitchen sponge or soak it and it’s just too much…for…a glass of juice! I wish I could love it more though!

  16. That vintage flower bowl set is so darned cute. I may just have to treat myself. Although I did promise myself that I would be on a spending freeze after the holidays. My weekend plans include making a big batch of marinade so I can hove lots of flavorful and lean protein on hand for easy lunches. (another post-holiday resolution.) And I promised my daughter we’d make pressed and baked tofu, something I am so happy to learn that she is in love with. Beautiful shot of the doughnuts, by the way. Must pin!

  17. I don’t own a toaster oven and since I don’t have the space, would most likely never consider it. I have a toaster that I use multiple times a day and if I need to melt something, I just turn on the oven.

    As for juicing. I have gone on multiple juice fasts in my life, last year doing a 21-day one and it is great having a juicer when I want to do that. I eat greens and fruits daily so I don’t feel the need to juice on a daily basis but I like having a juicer when I want to do juices only. I have this one and I love it:


    • Wow – I just recently sold that exact model. Great minds think alike with what to purchase I guess! I could never ever ever get the pulp out of the teeth properly and because I had a friend who was going to start doing more juicing, and she was going to give me nearly what I paid for it, I figured, why not – so big and bulky if I wasn’t using it. Hearing you talk about juicing makes me want to start again. I still have..ahem…two other juicers :) And could use attachments on my kitchenaid or food proc if I wanted to. Lol

  18. I have that toaster oven and love it! I also have VERY limited space, so it’s not out on our counter all the time, but I’m always amazed at what that little thing can do!

    • That’s crazy that you have that EXACT model. I am thrilled to hear you’re amazed what it can do! Have you ever tried to bake cookies or bread in it? Brownies, cake? Basically anything that’s a semi-advanced project? I am thinking of getting one for my Aruba place b/c the oven there is hideous and heats up the house for a day!

    • I got it as a college graduation gift and have loved it! I’ve made cookies, bread and pie in it. In my old apartment with more counter space, i kept it out and used it at least once a day. Everything I’ve made in it has turned out great, and actually probably better than my crazy uneven oven. I think this would be a great option for your Aruba place! Let me know if you end up getting it!

    • Thanks for the feedback that it does everything and more and you use it tons with results even better possibly than your oven! That is so helpful and now I want it even more :)

  19. That bottle of syrup comes with a straw, right? ;)

  20. congrats on the tomato soup recipe…it does look sooo good…paired with America’s test kitchen grilled cheese…doesn’t that grilled cheese look like the quintessential grilled cheese ever….i may go for it.

    we don’t own a toaster but we have a toaster oven and love it. use it for toast, bagels, heating leftovers…i like it that in the summer especially when you don’t feel like getting a hot oven going for something small.

    vita-mix – LOOOOve mine…that smothie YES please!

  21. And Christopher Kimball is absolutely right: that oven can make a toast, and more. I received this oven as a gift last summer and have been using it every single day since! Especially I appreciate it when it’s hot outside and turning the big oven is a torture. Our kitchen in this apartment is the smallest I’ve ever seen, and this oven is my space saver. I think I use it more often than the stove! :) It bakes perfect breads, cookies, roasts vegetables, makes perfect toasts (for a change!), you name it this oven probably has an option to make it. :) Did I tell you that I love it?! :)

  22. Fun post! I got that toaster oven for Christmas from my Hubby! I haven’t used it yet because of my mini kitchen remodel. Now I am excited to use it!! Thanks for the post! Making cheese looks like fun, I’m going to check it out! Have a great rest of the weekend!! Oh and congrats on the soup, it looks amazing!

  23. I have a toaster oven, a cheap one, and I have for about 5 years, without a toaster. I have made so may things in it, from breads and toast, to eggs, to cookies, to roasted veggies. I love it and mine is seriously a $10 thrift store find, so that beast up there would be amazing. You’d get your $ worth, for sure.

    So the juicer. I got one for Christmas. The next morning I made carrot, apple, orange juice and it was really good! I came home and a couple days ago spent about $25 at the coop and made the classic “mean green” juice – kale, ginger, lemon, cuke, and celery. BLECH! It was awful!!! I know you are supposed to have an apple in there for sweetness, but I am not an apple fan, so I just added a splash of stevia. I made two servings and choked down half of one…the other is in my freezer now, becuase I can’t throw out that much $$ worth of food! I’m thinking I can use it in a soup eventually. Needless to say, I don’t think I’ll be juicing much.
    Oh and I want those bowls!!!

    • You clearly have better thrift markets than I do. No way something that ‘good’ would be $10 here but I digress.

      carrot, apple, orange juice = what juicing purists would call candy

      kale, ginger, lemon, cuke, and celery = what juicing purists would recommend.

      A few things – ginger is very potent when juiced, much more so than when used in cooking and like cinnamon, I can use a mean amount of ginger, but not in juicing. It’s like drinking fire water! And celery is an absolute no-way ever for me in juices. It takes OVER the flavor of the whole thing and basicalluy I can’t taste anything else besides it. And kale, hard to really juice it well – it just gloms up the teeth of the grater IMO.

      I would go with romaine, cucumber, a tiny bit of lemon and ginger, and maybe some carrots or orange. Cucumber & romaine are nice to juice with, don’t overpower, and you get a decent bang for your buck. But regardless, one can juice their way thru $20 worth of produce in a day, easily. And have 2 cups of juice to show for it type thing!

  24. I have a toaster oven and use it all the time. It works for toast. It’s a lot cheaper than the one they recommended.

    Juicing…I’ve never juiced. I don’t own a juicer. I’ve been tempted many times. But I have so many gadgets in the kitchen already. Toaster oven, rice cooker, crock pot, two pressure cookers, Blendtec high speed blender, food processor, bread machine. I use them all too. And like you…while I expect the juice would be delicious, I’d really just rather eat the vegetables. The blendtec makes smoothies, and you get the fiber.

  25. Oh goodness, I need those donuts right now! And it’s midnight. Looks like I’ll have to do some midnight baking :)

  26. 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)!

  27. 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.

  28. 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 :)

  29. 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!

  30. 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.

  31. 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.)

  32. 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.

  33. 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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