Review: Cave Tools Jalapeno Grill Rack & Pepper Corer

Disclosure: I received these products free in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.

We’re just getting into grilling season here, so when Cave Tools asked if I wanted to review their Jalapeno Grill Rack & Pepper Corer I jumped at the chance. We love making dinner on the grill now that the evenings are warmer (and it’s light out!) and I love products that make grilled dishes easy – this is one of them.

Because we have a toddler who insists on trying everything we’re eating, I decided to try the rack out by making stuffed mini peppers (check back for the recipe tomorrow!).

CaveTools1

The set comes with a corer tool to make prep easy. I sliced off the top of the peppers and then used the tool to clean them out and was impressed with how quickly and effectively it worked. My husband even commented on how fast it was!

CaveTools2

I stuck the peppers in the rack as I filled them. The one thing you do have to be mindful of is that you pick peppers that won’t fall through the holes – or tweak as you go. I added two smaller peppers together in some spots. A little foil would have worked, too.

The rack itself is super sturdy – the legs snap into place so it won’t collapse unless you want it to. This made it easy to transport the rack from the kitchen to the grill.

CaveTools3

I loved that the rack kept the peppers away from heat enough that they could cook without burning (brown spots = poison to a toddler) and we didn’t have to deal with any cheese spillage as the mixture got melty. Cleanup was also a breeze – the rack goes right in the dish washer.

I really loved this rack and can’t wait to try out some of the other things they suggest (like chicken legs!) this summer.

If you want your own jalapeno grill rack, they can be purchased from the Cave Tools website – use code ROASTPEPPER15 to take 15% off. They can also be purchased via Amazon. Cave Tools also has a lot of other fun grilling accessories, I recommend checking them out while you’re browsing!

UncommonGoods – Holiday Shopping For Good

Disclosure: I was compensated for this post but the opinions expressed are my own.

BeTheGood

This sign hangs in our house always. It’s a constant reminder of our family values and what we’re striving to be. We’ve always held this in our words and actions, but lately we’ve been working harder at doing this with our money, too, and trying to shop with companies that honor the same values. UncommonGoods is one of these companies.

I’ve been a fan of UncommonGoods for years – they’re stocked with quirky gifts for all kinds of people. Browsing their site is seriously like a rabbit hole for me – one I get started time just slips away. But, they’re so much more than off-beat gifts. They are a company that does good. Their lowest-paid workers start at 50% above the minimum wage. About a third of their products include recycled elements. With every purchase, they will donate $1 to the charity partner of your choice. On every front, they’re doing good. So good, in fact, that they are a certified B Corporation – meaning they’re using the power of their business to solve social and environmental problems. I’ll definitely be shopping with them this year, so I wanted to share a few gift ideas for the holidays.

To Stuff Your Stocking

FoodieDice

I feel like I’m always scrambling to find stocking stuffers at the last minute but UncommonGoods has so many fun ideas for things to stuff your stocking with. Trying to promote kindness in your home? They have an adorable, interactive kit for that. Want to get people to put down their phones and talk at the dinner table? They’ve got plenty of conversation starters to choose from. Constantly undecided about what to make for dinner? Toss the dice and get creative!

For the Hard-to-Buy-For Guy

TravelDiary

If you have a husband who has everything and wants nothing (like mine!) UncommonGoods will surely have something he didn’t realize he needed in his life. For the musically inclined, I’m obsessed with this punch that makes your own guitar picks. Travelers would love this organizer for trip mementos. Baseball fans would flip for cuff links made from their favorite stadium’s seats. They even have display boards that turn your beer bottle caps into art!

For the Foodie (aka, my wishlist!)

HerbKeeper

Of course, I’m always drawn to the kitchen items. The sentimental fool in my loves their take on the family cookbook. They also have the cutest measuring spoons I’ve ever seen. This table runner would be so much fun for dinner parties with kids. This produce keeper is beautiful and super functional. And I can’t help but covet the amazing wine glasses they have, especially the ones designed to play a musical scale.

See? Super fun stuff. I’m betting if you clicked on any of those links, you’ve found something you loved. And while there are so, so many things I love, what I love most is that when I buy them, I’m supporting a good company.

Ooey Gooey Chocolate Chip and Flax Cookies from Prevention RD’s Cooking and Baking with Almond Flour (+ Win a Copy!)

I always get excited when a food blogger I admire releases a cookbook. I love having that little piece of the internet on my bookshelf. Nicole Morrissey’s (aka, Prevention RD) first cookbook, Prevention RD’s Everyday Healthy Cooking, is in frequent rotation around here so when her editor asked if I wanted to review her new cookbook, Prevention RD’s Cooking and Baking with Almond Flour, I jumped at the chance.

As the title suggests, this book is full of gluten-free recipes – but the recipes are also marked as sugar-free, paleo, vegetarian, vegan, low-carb, high-fiber and dairy-free as appropriate, making it a super friendly resource for anyone trying to stick to a specific diet. Neither Mark or I have food allergies, but we have friends and family that do so we’re always looking for tasty things we can make them. We’re also, naturally, a little skeptical of recipes that stick to special diets – I mean, how do you trust chocolate chip cookies that have no butter or flour?

Luckily, Nicole has this thing nailed – these cookies were amazing. If you didn’t know they were gluten-free (and dairy-free, vegetarian and low-carb), you never would guess. They taste like regular chocolate chip cookies – not always an easy feat when you’re making something allergy-friendly. We passed off most of the batch to a friend of Mark’s who has recently gone gluten-free and they went over wonderfully.

And, there are so many equally delicious looking recipes in this book. I’m especially excited to work through the breakfast section and I’m loving that I’ll have a whole bunch of gluten-free cookie options for Christmas cookies for our Celiac family members this year.

Nicole’s editor was also kind enough to offer up a copy for a Kate’s Recipe Box reader. Want to win? Leave a comment below letting me know if you follow a gluten-free or other special diet and your favorite diet-friendly dish to make. I’ll pick one comment at random to receive a copy of Prevention RD’s Cooking and Baking with Almond Flour, compliments of Skyhorse Publishing. You have until midnight eastern time on September 7, 2014. Open to US residents only.

OoeyGooeyChocolateChipCookies

Ooey Gooey Chocolate Chip and Flax Cookies
(from Prevention RD’s Cooking and Baking with Almond Flour)
Makes 16 Cookies

1 1/4 cups blanched almond flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted and slightly cooled
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup mini dark chocolate chips (I used dairy-free chips)

In a large bowl, whisk together the almond flour, flaxseed, baking powder, salt and brown sugar. In a second bowl, lightly beat the egg. Slowly whisk in the coconut oil to the egg, whisking constantly.

Fold the wet ingredients into the dry, then fold in the chocolate chips. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.

After chilling, preheat the oven to 375F degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and arrange on the baking sheet. Flatten slightly, to about 3/4 inch thickness.

Bake for 7-9 minutes, until dry-looking and slightly browned. Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Review: Plated

A few weeks ago, I shared a recipe for the Very Vegetarian Recipe Challenge hosted by OXO and Plated. Afterwards, I got quite a few emails with questions about Plated – What was it? Have I tried it? Would I recommend it? I figured the best way to answer these was with a review.

If you’re interested in trying it yourself, you can sign up via my affiliate link and get two free plates with your order.

Plated is a service that delivers fresh ingredients so that you can easily make gourmet meals at home. The website offers a new menu of seven dinners each week. You order a minimum of 4 plates (4 servings of one meal or 2 servings of 2 meals) and all the ingredients and recipes are shipped to your door. All of the recipes feature fresh ingredients and are designed to be prepared in about 30-40 minutes.

We ordered for delivery last week and chose two meals: Rosemary Roasted Chicken with Parsnips and Carrots and Tampiqueno Steak with Rajas, Corn and Mexican Squash.

 

Everything is shipped in a box with a thermal lining with several ice packs to keep everything nice and cool. Mine didn’t come until after I was home for work and things were still very cold.

 

Inside the package, the ingredients were all well-labeled and packaged by recipe. It made it really easy to toss everything into the fridge and not have to dig for it when I wanted to cook.

 

The first dish up was the Rosemary Roasted Chicken with Parsnips and Carrots. I made this after work one day and it was nice to not have to really do any thinking or prep – everything was there, pre-measured and ready to go. The instructions were clear and were accompanied by pictures which made it extra easy-to-follow.

 

There were a few things that I took a little bit of an issue with once I started cooking. For one, the pictures of the dish showed a pretty equal number of carrots and parsnips, but ingredients-wise, there were twice as many parsnips. It’s not the biggest deal as it didn’t really change the dish any but I love carrots so I was a little bummed to not have more. I also felt that the cooking time they gave for the chicken was a little off. I followed their directions and when I pulled it out, the chicken was under-done and it had to go back in for about 10ish minutes (nearly double the 10-15 they recommended). The meal also included a salad of arugula, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, which I just wasn’t crazy about – too bitter for my taste.

 

Overall, though, it was a fine weeknight meal. We liked it and there were no leftovers.

 

The Tampiqueno Steak with Rajas, Corn and Mexican Squash was more of a hit for us. My husband cooked this one up over the weekend and it came out well. There were a few hiccups. The directions specified to halve the chayote and discard the seed, and there was a picture of this step. Our chayote had no seed. We’ve never cooked with chayote before so it threw us a bit. Also, as a personal opinion, I thought the onion was too small but we went with it. Also as a personal preference, we cooked the steak a little longer as it was really rare when the directions said to pull it off the heat.

 

We liked the end result a lot more than the chicken. The veggies were absolutely delicious and something I’d try to recreate (not sure how easy it’ll be to get chayote!) at home.

The big pro with Plated is the convenience. Even though I enjoy menu planning and grocery shopping, it was really nice to click a few buttons and know everything would show up on Tuesday without me having to think about it at all. It was a time saver, for sure. If you’re the kind of person that has good intentions of making dinner and then gets takeout instead of hitting up the grocery store on the way home, I think Plated would be a perfect solution.

It is a little expensive for regular use, though – four plates (the minimum order) is $48. That’s significantly more than what we normally spend on two at-home dinners. You also have some basic cooking knowledge to be able to adjust as needed. For the purposes of reviewing, I tried not to adjust too much, but in the future I’d be more likely to tweak as I go.

Would we order again? Yes. This is something I’d love to rely on for busy weeks. I’ll likely order in a few weeks so when we get back from vacation, I’ll have a few meals to get me through the week without having to make time to shop. It won’t be an all-the-time thing for us, but it’s definitely something that will find a place in my kitchen.

Disclosure: We purchased this box on our own for review purposes. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.

Skillet Chicken Parmesan + Review: The Complete Cook’s Country TV Show Cookbook

 When the people at America’s Test Kitchen told me they were sending a copy of The Complete Cook’s Country TV Show Cookbook for me to review, I didn’t know what to expect – I’ve never seen the show! You don’t need to be a fan of the show to appreciate this book, though.

The book (and the show) focuses on perfecting regional and nostalgic favorites for the modern cook. Each section is themed and includes a variety of recipes and tips.

Cooking is not something that’s loved on my Mom’s side of the family. My Mom remembers her grandmother making hot dogs when she visited. I remember lunch meat spreads when visiting my grandmother. So, the chapter As Good As Grandma’s is really appealing to me – I love the idea of having perfect, classic recipes to make for my own family.

It’s not all nostalgia, though – these Ultimate Spicy Beef Nachos, in the chapter Tex-Mex Favorites, look thoroughly modern and perfect for my upcoming Super Bowl menu.

It also includes some great basic recipes – like Better-Than-the-Box Pancake Mix. I especially appreciate the tips and explanations that are included – like how to know when the pan is hot enough for pancake cooking and why they use malted milk in the recipe.

There are some recipes that are just fun, too, like these Chocolate Cream Cupcakes. With Hostess Cupcakes now a thing of the past, I can’t wait to try this out!

There are so many recipes in this book that look fantastic that I literally couldn’t decide where to start – so I asked my husband to pick instead. He selected this Skillet Chicken Parmesan. It was easy – perfect for a weeknight dinner. The modification of sprinkling breadcrumbs over the top instead of breading the chicken worked like a charm. We served this with some crusty garlic bread and green salad for a nice dinner.

SkilletChickenParm

Skillet Chicken Parmesan
(from The Complete Cook’s Country TV Show Cookbook)
Serves 4

2 slices hearty qhite sandwich bread, torn into large pieces
3 T. olive oil
1 1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil
1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 (6 oz.) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 c. all purpose flour
3 T. vegetable oil
3/4 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 c. shredded provolone cheese

In a food processor, pulse the bread until it is coarse crumbs. In a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, toast the bread crumbs for about five minutes, until browned. Transfer breadcrumbs to a bowl and toss with 1 T. olive oil, 1/4 c. shredded parmesan cheese and half of the basil.

In another bowl, combine the remaining olive oil, 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese, remaining basil, tomatoes, garlic, salt and pepper.

Place flour in a third bowl.

Using a sharp knife, slice each chicken breast horizontally, into two thin cutlets. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and dredge in the flour.

Heat 2 T. vegetable oil in the skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add 4 of the dredged cutlets and cook until golden brown on both sides, about five minutes. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining cutlets and oil.

Reduce heat to medium-low and add tomato mixture. Return the cutlets to the pan in an even layer and press down in the pan to cover with the sauce. Sprinkle remaining cheeses over the chicken and cook until melted, about five minutes. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over and serve.

Disclosure: I recieved a complimentary copy of The Complete Cook’s Country TV Show Cookbook for review. All opinions are my own.