Friday, September 30, 2011

48 Hours with the Magic Bullet.... PART 3

I know it's taken me a long time to get the final installment for the Magic Bullet posted. I honestly thought I HAD done it. This morning I realized Part 3 was still in the (rather long) list of unfinished Blogger posts! LOL So... drum roll please... Here it is!

The next morning DD woke up and immediately asked where her smoothie was. :lol:
I whipped up the Magic Bullet Strawberry Banana Smoothie (Dairy-Free). This thing took about 2 minutes, start to finish.

Then, I waited til a little later in the day to make Momma's Smoothie. ;)
Magic Bullet Easy Frozen Daiquiri

Next, we tested the Magic Bullet Cheesecake. I'm not even joking when I say that my 5 year old DD actually made this recipe herself. After helping me with several other recipes, she understood the pulse and the lock-on techniques and was able to measure, add and mix the ingredients all by herself.

I've decided that the Magic Bullet recipes with something like, "Seven-Second..." in their title refers to not how long it takes to make it, but how long it's going to last once you serve it. :lol:
That was definitely the case with the Magic Bullet Seven-Second Salsa. I used a lot more tomatoes when making this recipe than it called for, but it was still super easy and very delicious. The photo was taken too soon after making it, as you can see it's a little bit foamy. That settled down, and the 3 teaspoons I was able to save for later were a rich, beautiful red and the longer the salsa was refrigerated, the better it got.

I know when I started this project that I thought this was a gadget geared toward singles and couples, but the more I use it the more I realize how handy it is even for families. I've just always been a "cook for an army" type gal, but we're really bad at eating leftovers. The Magic Bullet is teaching me to make small batches of things that we can enjoy immediately, without worrying about leftovers going to waste.

And something else I discovered... As annoyed as DH was with my constant raving, he never once complained about not having to wash the 4 loads of dishes all this food would have required him to do on any other day. Yep. VERY little cleanup with this gadgie.

Now that I'm at the end of my 48 hours, there are still recipes I'd like to try. Obviously, I'm going to have to purchase a Magic Bullet for myself. Particularly because I didn't get a chance to test out the flat blade, which I wanted to use for grinding fresh coffee beans, but thanks to the invention and our subsequent addiction to the Keurig coffee maker, we rarely get out the old coffee pot anymore. And then there's the juicer attachment, which I wanted to try just to see a juicer in action, but would be enlisting the help of a friend with a more health-conscious palette to test out the finished product for me. I'm not quite ready to start drinking my spinach and beets. :lol:

And now, at the risk of sounding like a commercial, I think every home needs one of these! :D

Thursday, September 29, 2011

48 Hours with the Magic Bullet.... PART 2

Luckily, my family is accustomed to odd meal combinations, thanks to my participation in contests and tag games in the other forums, so no one even batted an eye when I ate my spaghetti and then started right in on the Magic Bullet Six-Second Chicken Salad. LOL

For this one I didn't have any leftover cooked chicken, so I threw a few tenders on the George Foreman Grill for 5 minutes and then cut them into a few smaller chunks. I quartered the apple and then roughly chopped that. I left the pecan halves whole.

The pulse technique was used again here, but I did find that I needed to do a lot more tapping on the counter top than I did with the spaghetti sauce. Next time I think I'll chop the apples a little more and give the pecans a quick chop.

So, more than six seconds, but still, very easy to make. It made enough for 3 sandwiches on homemade gluten free bread (slightly smaller than average loaf pans), and everyone liked the flavor.

Because I always use tart apples, I made this recipe a second time (to use up the leftover chicken) and added some pomegranate flavored dried cranberries. I made a double batch, using the large cup instead of the small one. I believe the manual warns against putting sticky ingredients in the machine, but of course I ignored that warning. :roll: In the future I will simply stir in the cranberries after the recipe is made, because they did stick to the blades, but the end result was still very good. :yummy:

One of the best things about this recipe was that I could store the leftovers right in the cup I made it in. I simply removed the blade and put on one of the Stay-Fresh Resealable Lids, then popped it in the fridge. It only lasted a couple hours before my 18 year old DS scarfed it down, but what I couldn't stop thinking about was the idea of grabbing a cup of fresh chicken salad before running off to work, storing it in the fridge, and at lunchtime putting it between a couple slices of bread or serving it on a bed of lettuce. A super easy meal that wasn't bought out of a vending machine or didn't include the words "power bar" on the package!

48 Hours with the Magic Bullet.... PART 1

We've had several threads on regarding the Magic Bullet or Rocket Chef gadgets. They seem very popular, but aside from emailing the Magic Bullet manual that Chef marisk was kind enough to share with us to everyone needing one, I was really of no use when it came to answering questions about the machines.

Recently though, the subject came up on one of Sophie's preschool play dates. It turns out that they have a Magic Bullet and were more than willing to loan it to me so I could play with it and create a photo demo for the Kitchen Gadgets & Appliances forum.

The full set includes: the power base, a tall cup, a short cup, 4 party mugs, a cross blade, a flat blade, a blender and lid, a juice extractor kit (extractor and plunger or tamper), two shaker/steamer tops, two stay-fresh lids for storing leftovers and 4 colored comfort lip rings to use with the party mugs.
Cleanup is easy, as all pieces are dishwasher safe except the power base, which can simply be wiped down.

Initially, I considered this gadget to be just another As Seen On Tv gadgie that would end up in a box in my Appliance Graveyard (aka: the garage), but after giving it a test run with the first two recipes, I have a more informed opinion.

I can see how the Magic Bullet would be the perfect gadget for single people, couples, or college students.

Although it sounds strange, I think it would also be handy while traveling and staying in hotels. It may not be convenient to travel with all of the pieces, but you could easily get by with just a few of them. I suggest that idea because I have a friend that will sometimes travel for work, but because she has to eat gluten free, and finding suitable restaurants is difficult, she ends up surviving on yogurt, energy bars and a little fruit. The hotels don't always have freezers in the rooms, but refrigerators are usually standard and many have microwaves. I'm confident that she could buy a few refrigerated items and using the Magic Bullet, make healthy meals during her trip.

One thing I really like about the MB is that you can use small foods, like cherry tomatoes, whole garlic cloves, and boiling onions, instead of having to chop and dice everything. The more I played with this gadget, the more I fell in love with it and every time I get excited about how easy making and cleaning up is after each recipe, Bryan says, "Just buy one and stop trying to convince me how great it is!"
What started out here as a simple demo has turned into an over-sized review of the Magic Bullet, please forgive the length.
Basically, this is the story of my 48 Hours with the Magic Bullet.

The first recipe we tried was the Im"meat"iate Spaghetti Sauce (Marinara) recipe. I've posted it as Magic Bullet Spaghetti Sauce (Marinara) because doesn't recognize the air bunnies in the original title.

It was strange working with raw meat in the sauce and then microwaving it to cook the mixture, but aside from a little finer ground texture, the sauce had great flavor and we enjoyed it.

Prepping ingredients is really simple when you "think small". Using cherry (or grape sized) tomatoes, just having to peel a pearl onion and couple cloves of garlic was very quick and painless compared to chopping and peeling full sized tomatoes, onions and mincing garlic.

I used grape tomatoes and ground turkey for this recipe.

Place the cross blade on the cup and then set it on the power base. Press down gently to start the motor, then release pressure immediately. Let the ingredients settle or tap the cup on the counter top to redistribute them and pulse again. Repeat until you've reached the desired consistency.

To cook the mixture, remove the cross blade and twist on one of the vented shaker/steamer lids.

Place cup in the microwave and cook on high for 7-10 minutes. I had my pasta water coming to a boil while gathering ingredients and at this time I was able to put the pasta in the water. Since I was cooking gluten free pasta, which only takes 9 minutes to cook, both the sauce and noodles were done at the same time.

Ignoring the time I took to set up and photograph along the way, the whole recipe took about 15 minutes! :shock:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

How the worst day ever can end with a smile...

At the beginning of September I bragged about my contest winning recipe... for which I have yet to decide what to spend the winnings on, and I really didn't think it could get any better than that. Especially with the way today started off.

First, Bryan and I have had to completely flip-flop our schedules. I used to go into the bakery early in the morning because he worked nights, but when he got promoted to Team Leader this month, it came with a 5:45am shift. We were able to work around it by my going to work the night before to do my baking and then coming home at 4am, just as he's getting up. We love having him home in the afternoon and evenings again, so the weirdness of my "waiting around all day" to go to work is worth it.

Anyway, the point of this story is that this baking-the-day-before-I-work thing, his working early morning and our switching driving duties to and from school, has really messed with our heads. I clock in on Monday and clock out on Tuesday. I have no idea what day it is anymore. So, this morning I get home, sleep four hours, get up and get Sophie ready for school. She has a Western Days celebration this week and Wednesday the kids can wear their western attire. Last year I was embarrassed for Sophie when she was one of the only kids in 3 classes that didn't have anything remotely western on. This year I was determined to find an outfit that we could convince her to wear for the party. After braiding her hair and getting the outfit on, I thought she looked like a young Laura Ingalls (I set the DVR to record some Little House on the Prairie), and then I did some minor repairs and upgrades to the over-priced, fraying straw, Fred Meyer bargain bin cowboy hat, and then we were ready. We drove to her best friend's house, who rides with us to and from school on Wednesdays.

(Just for fun, this is both girls photographed the next day. Ye-Haw!)

At this point, I was just relieved that I didn't forget to pick up Laney, since I'm used to doing the picking up from school, and taking her home. But when we got there, Laney was still in her jammies and her great-grandma was saying, "Is today a school day?! I thought it was only Tuesday!"

Ugh. I mentally went over the last 24 hours and realized GG was right. It wasn't Wednesday, it was Tuesday! I felt like a world class idiot, even as we shared a laugh over it, and then Sophie and I drove away... just as the dummy light on my gas tank started voicing it's opinion.

On the way home I sent a text to Bryan, telling him not to pick up the girls from school today. He writes back that he didn't think he was supposed to, but is now worried that today was the day we scheduled a play date as well. He's totally confused and I need to explain that I'm just an idiot and if I had led him to believe that today was Wednesday, he should know I was wrong. Of course, I don't get a chance to explain anything, because that's when my cell phone's SD card corrupted and my keyboard quit working. Ugh! It's only noon.

If you've read me before, you know I can babble on and on, but eventually I'll get to the real point. This time it's that despite how the day started, I actually got really good news when we got home. I started to pick my way through the clutter accumulating on the dining table and one of the larger items was one of those books that randomly show up in the mail. If you don't return it immediately, unopened, then you've just joined the Book of the Month Club, or at the very least committed to spending $40 on a book you never ordered. I was considering how I might avoid a trip to the post office if I was able to cram it into the mailbox, even though the mail lady brought it to the door, as she does all over-sized packages, when I suddenly realized I was tearing open the envelope glued to the front of the box.
Seriously!? Can I get any blonder today?! *sigh*

Now I'm thinking to myself, "Well, it IS a Taste of Home book and I've been subscribing to their magazine since 1994, and I have all the other Special Edition Hardbound, Best of..." books.... so, maybe I should buy this one too." Then as I argue to myself that I don't even know where I'd store another hard cover book, I read the first line of the enclosed letter.
"We are delighted to inform you that you are receiving a copy of the Holiday & Celebrations Cookbook 2011, which includes your recipe on page 89. This complimentary copy is yours to keep free of charge. It's our way of saying "Thank you!" for contributing to this one-of-a-kind cookbook."

Now, I suppose to get a recipe into one of these books, one needs to submit a recipe, but I created this one for a contest in 2008 and have zero recollection of ever submitting it for anything else. I've written about this recipe for the newspaper, back in 2008, so if you've seen it before; forgive me for reprinting it, and thank you for remembering it!
Lastly, I want to extend some credit for the success of this recipe to my son, Nick. The day I created this recipe I was creating about 6 different recipes, all with sun-dried tomatoes, spinach and artichokes in them, and my guinea pig testers were a dozen guy friends that set up their televisions and X-Boxes in our garage for a 10 hour Halo2 marathon. The guys are always honest when giving me their opinions on food I create or recipes I'm trying to review for other chefs. On this day, it was my 15 year old son that took one bite and told me what my recipe was missing. I made it again with his suggestion, and it was a hit!

Artichoke, Spinach & Sun-Dried Tomato Dip

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 (6 1/2 ounce) jar artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
1 (10 ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed & drained
3/4 cup grated Asiago cheese
1 cup sun-dried tomato, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a 2 quart baking dish with cooking spray.
In large bowl combine cream cheese, mayonnaise, shallots and garlic.
Stir in artichoke hearts, spinach, tomatoes and cheese.
Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes, or until the cheese that sticks out the top of the mixture begins to brown slightly.
Serve with fresh vegetables or baked tortilla chips for dipping.
Serves: 8-10
10 minutes prep/25 minutes cook time

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

First Place Winner - Spicy Zucchini Omelet

July was a busy month for me, but somehow I found a sliver of time to participate in the Summer 2011 Dining on a Dollar Contest on It's always a surprise to me when I enter more than one recipe in a contest to see which one gets the most attention. There is always one that I put the most time and effort into, convinced that it's the best creation, and there is always one (or maybe two) that I feel are good, but not great. It amazes me that the less I over-think a recipe the more attention it gets. Someday I might learn that it's always going to be that way and I'll quit over-thinking... well, maybe.

This contest was no different though, and after toiling for days over two over-constructed, over-thought and out-of-the-box recipes, I just needed to use up the rest of the contest ingredients and submit the two best recipes. It was breakfast time, on a day when Bryan and I were both off work, and the "genius" recipe I had planned on winning the contest with was a total flop! We still needed to eat, but I wasn't going to make my family suffer that atrocious creation. The Mystery Muffins went straight into the garbage and I took one last look at the list of contest ingredients.

I needed to use five ingredients from the list, and one of them had to be zucchini to qualify. I scanned the cluster of vegetables and spices already on my counter top and gathered the shredded zucchini, eggs, cumin, purple onion and jarred salsa. Before I knew it I was cooking up an omelet to feed the family. When we sat down to eat and my feedback was all positive, I realized I could submit this recipe for the contest instead of one of the other two I had planned on. It was really down to the wire for submissions and I hadn't done any "work" on the recipe, but at this point I had nothing to lose.

I've had several recipes in the top 5 or 10 over the years, but the fun of contests for me is simply the challenge of creating a new, original recipe, using specific ingredients. Often there are ingredients I wouldn't normally pair up that turn out surprisingly good. I was delighted to see my omelet in the number one spot this round, but especially surprised when it stayed there and took home the first place win! I'd like to share the slightly revised recipe. After all the reviews were in I took the main suggestion to saute the onion and zucchini before adding to the egg mixture. This is probably something I would have done anyway, had I considered what I was doing contest-worthy, and not just a way to use up the ingredients and quiet the natives. Feel free to substitute white onion for the purple, reduce the number of eggs, and even add some garlic, if desired. Enjoy!

Spicy Zucchini Omelet

2 tablespoons purple onions, finely diced
1/2 cup fresh zucchini, shredded (squeeze tightly to remove moisture)
6 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons cold water
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons salsa (medium to hot)
sour cream (optional for serving)

1. Spray a skillet with non-stick cooking spray and heat on medium heat. Saute the onion and zucchini to soften, but not brown.
2. Meanwhile, add the water, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper to the eggs and lightly beat to combine.
3. Pour egg mixture into skillet, over the onion and zucchini, stir quickly to combine and then allow it to cook, untouched, for about 3 minutes.
4. Using a rubber spatula, gently lift egg around the edges, pushing slightly in toward the center, to allow the uncooked egg to flow underneath.
5. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook about 3-4 minutes, or until the top is mostly set.
6. Pour the salsa in a straight line from one end of the omelet to the other, just off center.
7. Gently pick up the opposite side of the omelet with your spatula and quickly fold it over onto the salsa.
Serve with sour cream and additional salsa.
Serves: 3-4, Prep time: 10 minutes, Cook time: 8 minutes
Creative Commons License
TinksTreats by Lorilyn Tenney is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License