Category Archives: Product Review

Need Inspiration? There’s an App for that!

There's an app for that!

The internet can provide many sources of inspiration for cooking just about anything, but what if you can’t drag your computer into the kitchen? What if your printer is on the fritz – again! – and you can’t print out the recipe? What if you have an Apple iPad, just sitting there, doing nothing…?

When it comes to cooking resources, there is definitely an app for that! I chose to load the allrecipes app, made especially for the iPad. Although there is an “upgrade” version you can pay for – the free version has enough bells & whistles to be a very satisfactory resource. How much do I love the “” app? A LOT! It’s like having a portable version of the website (which I also LOVE)!

Features I Particularly Like:

  • Search: Just type in an ingredient or recipe title and a list of recipes from the website appears with a photo (if available), the star ratings, the cook’s name and a part of the description (if it’s long). Touch one of the versions that grabs your interest and a new screen appears with the ingredients list and directions, as well as reader/user reviews.
  • Inspire Me: At the top, left corner, is the Inspire Me button. Touch this and 6 food pictures floats to the center of the screen – from sauces to main dishes; breakfast to dessert! Touch one of the photos for a quick preview that will give you the recipe title, ratings, cook and short description. You then have the option to see more details, look for similar recipes or review later. Or just touch outside of the pop-up and it will go away. After a few moments, one of the pictures will slide away and be replaced with another. If you decide you want to see just chicken dishes, for example, swipe it to the bottom of the screen and all the current choices will go away, followed by 6 choices in that category. You can now go through them in the same manner as before. I could play with this feature for hours!
  • Start Cooking: When you have chosen a recipe and assembled your ingredients, ready to begin cooking, touch the orange circle, labeled “Start Cooking” and your screen will change to a “landscape” view (the above graphic shows a “portrait” view) with a timer on the right side, ingredient list below that. Most of the screen has the instructions listed, with the first step enlarged. The top of the screen has a number for each of the steps which, when touched, will enlarge that step in the cooking process. Or – I guess if you’re not good with numbers… – you can touch “next step” or “back step,” also at the top of the screen. You can change the font size by touching the little box with a big A and a little A – both in upper case. Select the size that is best for your visual acuity.
  • The Timer (in the above feature): The orange timer is set for the number of minutes needed for cooking each recipe. You can start the timer by touching the little arrow and you can also enlarge it by touching the button with the two arrows pointing in opposite directions. If your iPad is not on mute, it will beep at you when the cooking time is finished!
  • Expand: When you pull up the recipe page, you can use it in this incarnation to shop for and prepare your meal, but you have to remember to scroll through the ingredients if they don’t all fit into the default sized window. By choosing “expand” – the two little arrows pointing in opposite directions in the upper right-hand corner of the “recipe book” – all the ingredients are on the left page and all the instructions on the left. If the recipe is complicated, you may need to scroll through the instructions or use the Start Cooking feature instead.
  • Featured: By choosing this option at the top of the home screen, you can see the featured recipes for the month, similar to the home page for

Inspired yet? I know for a fact I haven’t used all the features on the free version of this app and know I will discover more as I continue to play with it. The “upgrade” features include “Recipe Box” and “List.” I assume that recipe box is similar to the website and is a place for bookmarking recipes you want to save and I’m guessing that “list” will set up a shopping list for a particular recipe. Do I need them? Eh! Not so much! Am I saying you should rush out and get an iPad? Not really, but if you’re looking for an excuse, there are worse reason to get one! If you already have an iPad, you’ll find this app to be a very effective tool.

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Posted by on October 3, 2011 in Information, Product Review


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Fun Stuff: Flavor Grinders

Two Flavor Grinders from Trader Joe's

I’ve noticed a trend in the spice aisles of the local grocery stores: flavor grinders. These are disposable grinders filled with herbs and spices in various combinations. I recently came across some grinders at Trader Joe’s which are my new favorite flavor enhancers while cooking. One is a “sweet” – Chocolate, Coffee Bean & Sugar – for topping coffee drinks, cupcakes, cookies, toast – whatever your little heart desires! The other is a “savory” called Flower Pepper which has Pepper Corns, Lavender and Other Flowers for fish, fowl, salads, etc. Besides the wonderful combinations each of these devices holds, they are notable for one other thing – they are refillable! I haven’t checked yet to see if T J’s carries refills in bulk – that would be awesome!

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Posted by on August 17, 2011 in Information, Product Review


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Waffles? Yay!

As a kid, waffles were a special breakfast prepared by dad. (For some reason, the waffle iron fell under dad’s domain) We got a waffle iron early in our marriage which didn’t work very well and, eventually, we dumped it into a rummage sale. We remained waffle-less for many years – excepting frozen waffles which are, quite frankly, not the same! Several years ago, we got a new waffle iron – I can’t remember the brand name, but it was the round kind that you filled and flipped – just like at the Holiday Inn free breakfast. We used it for less than a year before one side decided to stop working. And cooking just one side of a waffle was…inadequate for a satisfactory waffle experience. We tucked the machine up in the attic with the intention of one day taking it to an appliance repair shop. Which we never did.

A couple of weeks ago, we were at Macy’s, bolstering the economy, and wandered through the “home” department. There is always a sale at Macy’s and that day was no exception. We looked at several waffle irons – including an even cheaper version of our “attic” waffle iron. And then we saw this one – the Calphalon No Peek Waffle Iron. It was a thing of beauty – sleek brushed chrome, a nice, twisty knob with lights and it was hefty.

Calphalon No Peek Waffle

Also, it was on sale. It was about $100 on sale, but we also had a gift card for $60 or so burning a hole in our pocket so we decided to give it a shot. When we got it home and unpacked it, it was disconcerting to find that it didn’t need to be “seasoned” or that the plates were not removable for cleaning. In fact, using any kind of oil or spray on the surface of the plates was highly discouraged. This is counter-intuitive because the main failure of waffle-making is having it stick to the waffle plates. Nifty features that I liked from the outset included the ability to lock the lid down and store it upright like a book and having a place on the bottom to wind and store the electrical cord. Storing it upright took a little more room than my old Better Homes and Garden Cookbook – which is wonderful in my “one-butt” kitchen.

We test drove the waffle iron the very next morning using a basic waffle recipe from one of my cookbooks. We wiped the plates down with a damp paper towel, preheated the iron until it played a delightful chime, loaded it up according to product instructions and made sure the setting was on “medium.” We waited again for the chime – not too long! – and opened it to find a perfectly baked, golden brown waffle that did not stick to the plates! Success! We learned that it should be closed immediately after removing the waffle so it can reheat for the next one – it was not specified in the instructions, so this was a trial and error moment. It doesn’t take long for it to reheat, so this is not a toe-tapping time waster. When we were finished making the waffles, we let it cool and wiped it down again, but there was very little residue to clean off. It is truly non-stick! We used a mix today for chocolate chip waffles to double-test the non-stick attributes and, again, very little to clean up and perfect waffles!

I highly recommend the Calphalon No Peek Waffle Iron – let’s give it 5 stars!

Disclaimer: I did not receive money, product or any other compensation for this review. I just really, really liked the product!

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Posted by on March 13, 2011 in Information, Product Review


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