Monday, May 26, 2014

Tuesdays with Cookbooks - May 27, 2014

Are you as excited about new cookbooks as I am? Every Tuesday, publishers release new cookbooks. Of course, cookbooks are released on other days of the week, too; however, Tuesday is the big day, the exciting day if you're a cookbook author. In this new weekly post, I will feature a list of those cookbooks that are hot off the press and drawing my attention.

by the Editors of Southern Living 
Oxmoor House

by Ellen Brown
Cider Mill Press 

Betty Crocker Books

by Gabrielle Langholtz
Da Capo Lifelong Books

Will any of these cookbooks make their way to your shelves? If you buy one of these books, please come back here and share your thoughts.

{Review} Hamilton Beach's Stand Mixer

As part of Hamilton Beach's Blogger Outreach program, I was given the opportunity to test the company's latest stand mixer. When I saw that the mixer was being compared to a KitchenAid mixer, I thought that I would also do a comparison and contrast to my KitchenAid mixer to give you an idea of how the two mixers compare to each other. For most of us, a stand mixer is a big investment in both money and space - these small appliances can be expensive and can take up a lot of your valuable kitchen counter space.

Some of the positive features of the Hamilton Beach mixer include its compact size which includes a 3.5 quart mixing bowl making it perfect for everyday use such as mixing up cake batters, cookie dough, or mashed potatoes. The mixer itself is fairly light weight and can easily be moved from cabinet to counter as needed. The KitchenAid mixer is extremely heavy and usually takes up permanent residence on kitchen counters. Another positive feature of the Hamilton Beach Stand Mixer is its price. It is less than one-third, if not one-quarter, of the price of a KitchenAid mixer.

The Hamilton Beach Stand Mixer comes with the same three attachments as the KitchenAid: the flat beater, the whisk and the dough hook. The main difference that I saw in the attachments was the Hamilton Beach attachments have plastic components while the KitchenAid attachments are stainless steel.

I chose to test the Hamilton Beach mixer by whipping up cake batter for some cupcakes. The 3.5 quarter mixer bowl had enough room to handle the amount of batter from a boxed cake mix. The mixer does have the same mixing action as the KitchenAid as the beater moves around all sides of the bowl sufficiently incorporating the dry and wet ingredients. I did find that when the mixer was in the locked position as seen above, there was little room to insert a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. I had to unlock the mixer and put it in the upright position to use my spatula.

These cupcakes started with a cake mix that I doctored up with buttermilk and sour cream. The 3.5 quart bowl handled this amount of batter very nicely with room to spare. KitchenAid mixers come with various sized bowls depending upon type of mixer. These bowls range in size from 4.5 to 5.0 to 6.0 quarts. My KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer has a 5.0 quart bowl. My point in sharing this is that I often make pound cakes and my completed pound cake batter comes up close to the top of the 5.0 quart bowl.

Overall, the Hamilton Beach Stand Mixer is a solid option for those of you who would like to add a stand mixer to your kitchen in that it is lightweight and can be easily moved and stored around your kitchen as needed. It is also fairly inexpensive and will be able to handle the everyday mixing needs of a home cook.

Disclaimer: Hamilton Beach provided me with a mixer for review; however, the opinion expressed here is my own.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Good Cook's Build Your Kitchen Drawer

As part of the Good Cook Blogger Outreach Program, I received the five items shown above to test in my kitchen: The smart scoop, an easier way to handle those stubborn cartons of ice cream; egg separator to assist with your baking needs - no need to pop another yolk; utensil pot clip so you won't have another spoon floating in your sauce pan or dropped on the floor like I tend to do;  flip measuring spoon to make sure you get out every last drop; and the 4-in-1 opener, otherwise known as the last can opener you'll ever need to own.

You, too, can have a chance to build your own kitchen drawer. From June 2-7, 2014, stop by the Good Cook's Facebook page for your chance to win your own drawer full of gadgets. Also, visit the Good Cook web site for other chances to win! The web site giveaway runs through July 14, 2014.

In this post, I chose to highlight the 4-in-1 opener. Until I met my husband 20 years ago, I had always used an electric can opener. When we met, he had a manual can opener and I had to learn to use it. I've never looked back and have used manual can openers exclusively since then. I've had many versions over the years and was excited to see this arrive on my doorstep.

It was so easy to use that I actually didn't think it was working. I didn't see the top of the can opening so I thought I was doing it incorrectly. No, this can opener was actually cutting away the lid so there were no sharp edges. The whole lid lifted off instead of the inside of the lid. I loved it! One of the things that always bothered me about can openers is that they sometimes cut the labels and little specks of paper fall into your food. That won't happen with the 4-in-1 opener. This is a 4-in-1 opener because not only does it open cans, it also serves as a pop-top opener, a grip-twist wrench, and a pull-tab lifter. I will be using this gadget for many years to come.

Good Cook asked me to share with my readers one of my favorite one part meals. If you're like me, you've grown up eating boxed meals. As a cook, I've tried to steer away from those meals but still get a hankering for some of the flavors from my childhood. One of my favorites was a boxed Beef Pasta dish that I've recreated outside of the box.

Savory Beefy Pasta

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. soy sauce
2-15 oz. cans beef broth
6 oz. egg noodles
Optional: chopped cilantro, parsley, or green onions.

In a medium skillet, cook ground beef until brown. Drain grease and return to skillet. Add the next four ingredients and stir to incorporate into meat mixture. Add both cans of beef broth and bring the skillet to a boil. Once mixture boils, add in the egg noodles and lower heat to medium. Cook for approximately 15 minutes until noodles are tender. Remove from heat and let dish set until the noodles absorb most of the liquid. Sprinkle with chopped herbs or onions if desired. Serves 4-6.

Disclaimer: Good Cook provided me with products to review for this post; however, the opinion expressed here is my own.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tuesdays with Cookbooks - May 20, 2014

Are you as excited about new cookbooks as I am? Every Tuesday, publishers release new cookbooks. Of course, cookbooks are released on other days of the week, too; however, Tuesday is the big day, the exciting day if you're a cookbook author. In this new weekly post, I will feature a list of those cookbooks that are hot off the press and drawing my attention.

by Lei Shishak
Skyhorse Publishing

by Lee Brian Schrager with Adeena Sussman
Clarkson Potter

by Julia Mirabella
Ulysses Press

by LeAnn Rice
Thomas Nelson Publishers

Will any of these cookbooks make their way to your shelves? If you buy one of these books, please come back here and share your thoughts.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Review & Giveaway: Hamilton Beach's SoftScrape Hand Mixer

Imagine my excitement when I was invited to become one of Hamilton Beach's Brand Ambassadors. I have other Hamilton Beach small kitchen appliances in my home and know that the company produces quality products. Fortunately, I was given the opportunity to work with one of the company's newest handheld mixers, the SoftScrape Hand Mixer. 

As you can see, the mixer is accompanied by five attachments: the SoftScrape beaters in red, traditional metal beaters, and a metal whisk. The SoftScrape beaters are designed to scrape the bowl to ensure thorough mixing. I like to think of them as a combination of beaters and rubber spatula.

This was one of the coolest features of the mixer - the case. I have one of Hamilton Beach's older mixer models that came with a case. That case wasn't very user friendly, more like a bulky brief case. I never used it. But, I love this one! The mixer just sits on top of the case which holds all of your beaters. There is even a groove on the side of the case to accommodate the power cord. No more looking for your beaters - they're all here.

One of the reasons that I was so attracted to the rubber beaters was the fact that I have a vintage Pyrex bowl that I like to use to make cake batter. I found that traditional metal beaters really scraped up the surface of my bowl and I felt that I could no longer use the bowl with a mixer. These SoftScrape beaters worked perfectly and smoothly. I can now safely continue using my favorite bowl

While I usually use my favorite bowl for cake batter, I decided to test this mixer with an unusual project. I needed to make one hundred deviled eggs for a relative's 50th wedding anniversary celebration. Normally, I whip up my deviled egg filling by hand, but this seemed like a monumental task - perfect for testing the SoftScrape Hand Mixer. 

After breaking up the eggs with a fork, I added the mayonnaise and other ingredients and started mixing. This is one powerful hand mixer!  I kept it on the lowest speed the whole time and it quickly whipped up a large bowl of smooth, lump-free deviled egg filling. This mixer is more than capable enough of taking on much thicker mixtures such as pound cakes and mashed potatoes. Plus, my bowl did not suffer any new scratches. I was so pleased with the results.

This powerful mixer made quick work of my egg filling and I was able to take one hundred delicious deviled eggs to the party. I feel confident that this hand mixer can take on any task that you have in your kitchen. Would you like to find out for yourself how wonderful this new mixer is? In addition to sending me a mixer to test, Hamilton Beach has generously offered to give one to one of my readers. Enter the giveaway in the widget below.

Disclaimer: As part of Hamilton Beach's Brand Ambassador program, I received this product for testing purposes. However, the opinion expressed here is my own.

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