Allyson Dickman

Should You Spend $40 On an Immersion Blender?

The answer is yes! Find out why you should definitely splurge on this life-saving kitchen tool.

 

 

It’s small, but mighty.

Think of it as a blender or food processor on a stick: just as powerful but way more nimble and easier to store. Use it to turn cooked veggies into bisques, to blend herbs and nuts into pestos or to smooth out gravy right in the pan. Unlike those stationary blades on traditional blenders and food processors, an immersion blender can reach into the depths and edges of your pots, pans and even tall glasses, leaving no chunks behind and allowing you full control over texture. Just point and pulverize.

 

It reduces mess.

Forget transferring batches of hot soup from pot to blender and back to pot (yikes!). Immersion blenders do it all right in your cooking vessel, no matter how much you’re making, saving you a step–and the time it takes to do the dishes!

 

 

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Designer Dish Soap: Is It Worth It?

At first we thought, no way, but the proof is in the sudsing! We put our editors to the test with a blind scrub-off of soaps, from popular supermarket brands to the fancy stuff, to see if their hands and noses could tell the difference. And it turns out, they can! Our priciest pick, Caldrea, at $9 per 16 ounces, won with triple the votes of any other soap. But you don’t always need to spend that much–most upscale brands deliver soothing, complex scents (Basil Blue Sage? Yes, please!), a richer, silkier lather and softer skin. In our book, anything that could make you look forward to washing the dishes is worth a few extra bucks!

 

 

 

Left: Mrs. Meyers Clean Day Lavender Dish Soap ($4 for 16 oz.; mrsmeyers.com)

Middle: Method Sea Minerals Dish Soap ($4 for 18 oz.; methodhome.com)

Right: Caldrea Mandarin Vetiver Dish Soap ($9 for 16 oz.; caldrea.com)

 

 

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Egg Separator: Is It Worth It?

We think not! Here’s the thing: Separating an egg doesn’t require any kind of gadget at all. Try one of our test kitchen’s two recommended methods instead, and you’ll be glad not to have another tool hogging precious drawer space.

 

 

For cooks with good hand-eye coordination:

Crack an egg in half, then slide the yolk back and forth between the halved shells, letting the whites drip into a bowl. A tip: Make sure to crack your egg with a firm tap on the rim of the bowl to avoid jagged edges that can piece the yolk.

 

For those who want an easier, if messier, way:

Crack the egg into your hand and let the white drain through your fingers into a bowl. You’ll need a good hand-washing afterward, but what you won’t have to wash is another tool!

 

BTW: If you’re still gung ho about buying an egg separator, feel free to spend $5, not $15: Plastic models work as well as pricier stainless steal ones.

 

 

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Hot Plates!

You’ll be dying to make the hot new casserole recipes—from green chile chilaquiles to mu shu pork—in our exclusive October issue tear out booklet. But before you hit the kitchen, grab one (or all!) of these great bake-and-serve casserole platters for  your table.

 

1. Go retro with a two-tone 1.5 quart family style dish. Corningware Etched Green, $21, target.com

2. Breakfast casseroles, like our booklet’s Hash Brown Bake with Eggs & Smoked Salmon, belong in the morning bird. Revol Happy Cuisine Poultry Dish, $70, bloomingdales.com

3. This heavy duty dish makes casseroles and doubles as a dutch oven for stocks, stews and chili. Calphalon Simply Cast Enamel, $100, wayfair.com

4. Serve up individual portions of our booklet’s Shrimp & Pasta Mini-Bakes in individual-sized (8-oz.) cocottes. Mini Cocotte in Red, $50, fab.com

5. Go classic with Rach’s easy-to-grip 4.25 quart Casseroval, available in 8 colors. Casseroval, $50, rachaelraystore.com

6. This pumpkin doesn’t turn into a carriage—it turns into a delish casserole! Add the single-portion dish to your table for some seasonal fun. Petite Pumpkin Cocotte, $30, lecreuset.com

7. Fill up the crowd with these traditional minis. Available in green, blue, red, orange and white. Omniware 5 oz. Cocottes, $35 for 4 piece set, macys.com

8. Make them quack up with this woodsie serving piece. Also available with a rabbit or chicken top. Apilco Duck Casserole Dish, $120, williams-sonoma.com

9. You’ll be surprised how fast the food disappears from these 12″x8.5″ dishes, buy two to make seconds! Italian Onda Bakers, $30, surlatable.com

 

Still hungry for more casseroles? Try these recipes:

Around the Web: S’more Links We Love

I have a confession. I’m a s’more-aholic. When I see my favorite bloggers post their version of a delicious recipe involving chocolate, graham crackers and marshmallows, it’s almost a guaranteed instant pin. So after a few months, er, maybe years?, of collecting and trying out some of the most delicious eye candy on the web, I’d like to share some of my favorites with you.

 

These S’more Mini Dippers from Kevin & Amanda are an instant party hit—and so easy to make! Just whip them up, then leave them by your coffee station for some dipping and sipping!

 

Every girl knows there’s nothing better than the perfect sweet and salty combo. Solution: Pretzel S’more Bites from The Novice Chef.

 

I made these S’more Brownies from The Bakerella for a book club night (the book, The Interestings, was all about a group of friends who met at summer camp, so S’mores seemed like the natural fit for dessert). Hot out of the oven there were requests for seconds… and thirds… and absolutely no leftovers.

 

My other weakness: Red Velvet. Combine it with S’mores and you’ve got one great, over-the-top treat. Try these Gooey Red Velvet S’mores Bars from Sugarcrafter.

 

And last, but certainly not least, Jessica over at How Sweet It Is nails it with all of her recipes and these No Bake S’mores Cheesecakes are no exception. Seriously, try them.

 

Enjoy!

Looking for more sweet eats? Try our Every Day with Rachael Ray twists on the classic S’more:

S’more Cool Gear

There’s nothing like a gooey s’more to bring out the kid in all of us. It’s the campfire treat you can enjoy all year long, but August 10th is National S’mores Day, and in celebration, we’re rounding up the sweetest gear for your marshmallow roasting and sandwiching. Whether you like your ‘mallows burnt to a crisp or sans-graham cracker, this set up will have you craving s’more:

1. Not everyone can light a campfire, so turn to this tabletop S’mores maker, with compartments for all your treat components. It turns on with the easy switch of a button. $60, overstock.com

2. Whoever said there’s only one way to make a s’more never met Lisa Adams. In her cookbook “S’mores: Gourmet Treats for Every Occasion” she shares more than 60 recipes, replacing your standard graham cracker with delicious foods like apple slices, croissants and brownies. $14, barnesandnoble.com

3. Go gourmet and make your own marshmallows for roasting with the help of this easy DIY marshmallow mix.  Follow the instructions then add your own twists with fun flavors like vanilla extract or colors like lavender. $13, surlatable.com

4. Traditionally, they may be kids-only, but this bottle is just-for-adults. Pour a glass of boozy s’more-flavored chocolate milk for a sweet dessert drink. $16, Adult Beverage Co. for locations

5. We love an ol’ fashioned Hershey bar on our snacks, but if you’re looking to spice up your creation add chocolate bar flavors like five spice, Mayan chile and peanut butter to your stack. $24 for 4 bars, PocoDolce.com

6. When you’re ready for dessert, there’s no time for hunting down twigs. Instead, use this handy marshmallow skewer over the flames! $20, Williams-Sonoma

Want s’more? Try our recipes:

Hot Diggity Dog!

It seems that every summer one very important question lingers in the air “Hamburger or hot dog?!” and while we’re a fan of the burger (Rach wrote a whole book on ‘em!) we can’t argue against the love for a delicious bite of a grilled dog sandwiched between a pillowy bun. And it looks like we’re not alone—July 23 marks national hot dog day and for good reason! According to recent polls, a quarter of Americans eat only hot dogs during grilling season!

Want some more hot dog celebrating trivia? According to the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council, we eat about 7 billion hot dogs during the summer—that’s 818 hot dogs per second! With all that hot dog eating, the mustard and relish combo might get a little old, so check out our 10 twists on a hot dog (pictured above) to spice up your cook out. Try more of our favorite recipes—from classic toppings to hot dog kebabs—like these favorites:

Cheese-Stuffed Hot Dogs with Spicy Onions

Cheese-Stuffed Hot Dogs with Spicy Onions

 

Chili-Cheese Dogs in Beach Blankets

Chili-Cheese Dogs in Beach Blankets

 

Hot Dog Pizza-Dillas

Hot Dog Pizza-Dillas

 

Hot-Dog-a-Bobs

Hot-Dog-A-Bobs

 

Classic Coney Island Hot Dogs

Classic Coney Island Hot Dogs

 

More Summer Grilling:

Onion Ring Recipes

52 Best Restaurant Burger in the United States

Cocktails, Anyone? Drink Posts

LOL Wine Labels

Buy wine because of a funny label and you kind of expect to forgo flavor for a few laughs. But after tasting the kookiest of the crop, we found the bottles that don’t require the trade-off!

LOL Wine Labels

Photo by Levi Brown

 

MAD HOUSEWIFE CABERNET SAUVIGNON A not-too-sweet companion for pizza night—or girls’ night. $10

 

FRENCHIE 2009 NAPOLEON RED An intense, oaky red blend that made us think about our favorite steak recipes. $30


MIDDLE SISTER DRAMA QUEEN PINOT GRIGIO A crisp, fruity find that got nabbed for one editor’s seafood dinner. $12

 

WELL HUNG MERLOT-VERDOT A smooth, earthy sip that’s definitely not your mother’s merlot. $20

 

CHATEAU SMITH 2010 CABERNET SAUVIGNON A robust red that may induce serious burger cravings. $20

 

(OOPS) CHEEKY LITTLE WHITE SAUVIGNON BLANC A citrusy hit, emptied before the tasting was over. $11


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Summer Picnic Essentials

If you can’t stand the heat in the kitchen—get out of the house and host a picnic! We’ve got the best gear for a summer day in the park, at the beach or on the lawn—all you have to do is provide the food. Check out our fave products:

1. Forget schlepping around a bulky, boxy basket—this insulated picnic tote holds everything you need and keeps food at the right temp! $42, macys.com

2. Easily carry this large picnic mat to whatever spot you choose—the waterproof bottom means you can lay it wherever you want! Plus, store extra essentials in the hidden pocket. $32 and up, picnicfun.com Special note: 10% of all pink mat purchases will go to breast cancer research.

3. Keep food safe from bugs while you play with these hand-painted food domes. $30 and up for set of three, depending on size, worldmarket.com

4. Just because you’re outside doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style! You’d never guess these servers, with intricate rope detailing on the bottoms, are melamine. Available in three colors. $18.50, potterybarn.com

5. Need inspiration? Look no further than Tori Finch’s “A Perfect Day for A Picnic” loaded with tons of decorating and recipe ideas for your outdoor party. $17, amazon.com

6. Don’t forget the wine! This three-bottle-tote ensures the vino keeps flowing all day long! $30, builtny.com

7. These bright, printed melamine plates will survive the trip outside—and impress your company! $4.50 each, westelm.com

Pair your picnic gear with these delish just-for-summer recipes:

 

More Picnic Posts:

7 Portable Cocktails

3 Small and Portable Chargers

10 Outdoor Party Ideas

 

 

Happy National Doughnut Day!

Whether you like your doughnuts glazed, sprinkled, cream-filled or in holes, today’s the day to go out and get yourself a dozen because we’re celebrating the 75th annual National Doughnut Day!

Did you know you can put donuts on the grill?! Try it out with our Grilled Doughnut Shortcakes!

This foodie holiday has a long history, originally created in 1938 to honor the women who served the flaky, sweet pastries to WWII military men, it is celebrated on the first Friday of every June. Not like we need an excuse to indulge! Before heading out to buy your assorted dozen, take a bite out of these doughnut-loving facts:

  • One of Rach’s fave cities, Austin, TX, is home to one of the oldest, most beloved doughnut shops in the country! Round Rock Donuts (originally named Lone Star Bakery) first opened its doors in 1926.
  • By the numbers: 10 Billion doughnuts are made in the US each year; the average person eats 34 doughnuts a year; collectively, we spend $2 billion on doughnuts annually!
  • The most popular doughnut goes to the ultimate classic: Glazed! They sell three times more often than any other flavor.
  • Stack ‘em up: The tallest stack of doughnuts was made with 1,764 rings, measuring 43.5″ high.
  • The largest doughnut ever made was a jelly-filled version that weighed 1.7 tons!

For more fun doughnut facts check out this mouth-watering infographic, provided by offers.com.

 

Got a doughnut craving? Check out our favorite doughnut-inspired desserts:

 

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