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)

Creamy Tomato Soup

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

12 Simple, Healthy Meals to Cleanse the Holiday Overload

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.

Breville BOV800XL Smart Oven 1800-Watt Convection Toaster Oven with Element IQ

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.

Vintage Flower Storage Bowls Gift Set

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

Donut Girl Shredded Sweater

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

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…

How to Make American Cheese in blender

…But this looks worth it.

Grilled Cheese Sandwich cut in half

Or try an easy Mini Grilled Cheese and Tomato Sandwich

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 Evening Menu

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.”

Bourbon Barrel-Aged Pure Maple 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.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Overnight French Toast

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.

Strawberries and Cream Smoothie

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.

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