Tuesday, April 12, 2011

these are a few of my favorite things...

Despite the fact that companies spend billions on marketing and advertising, I'm still a firm believer that "word of mouth" is the best form of advertising. Before heading to dinner somewhere new, the first thing I do is ask around for recommendations or check a website like yelp.com. Heck, I even picked my optometrist because of yelp reviews! I might be intrigued by a commercial, but if a product is tried and recommended by someone I know... I'm much more likely to give it a try! 

So with that said, here are a few things that I'm totally loving at the moment... you can thank me later!

When it comes to small kitchen appliances, I love my kitchen aid mixer (it's a dream for making multiple batches of cookies, and don't get me started on the attachments) and I love my bread machine (we use it almost every week when making the dough for our grilled pizzas) but the nearest and dearest (and probably most used aside from the toaster over) is the Ninja!
image from ninjakitchen.com

My mother purchased this about a year ago off of an infomercial and love it so much that she bought one for me for my birthday. This thing is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! It's like a food processor and blender only better! My mother uses it to make sno-cones for my niece and nephew because it chops ice that well! I've made frozen fruit margaritas in it a time or two and it worked like a charm. The thing purees like nothing I've seen before. It kicks my old kitchen aid food processors butt a million times over. Because I'm a big fan of cooking from scratch, I use this thing multiple times a week!
Just a small list of my most common uses for the ninja: smoothies, salsa, black bean spread, homemade tomato sauce, shredding cheese, veggie/fruit purees, chipotle flavored ranch or sour cream...  
I've been raving about this thing to friends since the day I got it and I am please to say that several friends have purchased one too and love it!

My second item is a favorite due to my lack of competency when it comes to using a corkscrew, god forbid someone give me one without those little arm things, because if left up to me, no one is drinking! I believe I received this as a christmas gift many years (wasn't it from you, A?) and I still use it to this day. In fact, last weekend I had a scare when I thought it might have died! Let me introduce you to the Oster Wine Bottle Opener:

Image from oster.com

Basically, you put this baby over your wine bottle, and hit the button on front, it moves an internal corkscrew into your cork and pulls it out. Once you have taken the cork from your bottle, you can hit the button again and the corkscrew will turn until it releases your cork. VIOLA! No fighting with a manual corkscrew. No mess ups that result in bits of cork floating around in your wine (or does that only happen to me?) or a horribly mangled cork that can't be used for projects like this one.

I've mentioned Rick Bayless several times before in this blog because that's just how much I love him. They run his cooking show on the local public broadcast station here in Chicago (WTTW) and whenever I see it on, I have to watch. I am obsessed with his food, his restaurant is AMAZING. I use his salsa recipes on a regular basis (or at least a loose interpretation of them) and have handed out the recipes to many an interested friend. We have a few of his cookbooks, but this one... this is by far my fave:

image from amazon.com

This book is packed with info. One thing that I really love about his book is that when he mentions ingredients that aren't exactly  things you have around the house, he mentions places you can find them and usually also offers up a more common substitution. The salsa recipes alone were totally worth the $20 I dropped on this book. We've made a handful of dishes and they've all been great. One exception was a dessert my husband made, a pineapple upside down cake. But, in all fairness, Rick warned everyone that this recipe would not yield the typical cake us americans are accustomed to. He described the differences and such, but we made it anyway and just weren't fans. But I'm guessing there's many people out there that do/would love it! 

When it comes to cooking I'm a fan of Big Bold flavors. Bland food is boring to me. I like spice and depth of flavor and interesting flavor combinations. As you can imagine, this trait leads me to have a rather large dried herb/spice/spice blend collection. Last year on of my favorite local authors blogged about The Spice House and since two of their 5 stores are local to me, I made the trip to replace some spices that had been around for far too long. (never fear, you can order online too!) One thing I love about The Spice House is that you can request your item to be in a shaker jar or in a refill bag or in a bulk bag. So instead of buying a shaker of paprika, for example, and then tossing it when it is empty and buying yet another, etc. you can buy one jar, and then purchase a refill baggie at a fraction of the price! Of course, there are some items I don't ever get in a jar. my most commonly used herb blends/spices are kept in magnetic spice jars on my fridge.  It saves me tons of time from having to search through dozens of containers to find what I'm looking for. Right now I have these (from Ikea) and I keep the refill baggies that still have herbs in the freezer:
And now how about a little something NON cooking/kitchen related:

For those that don't know me, you probably don't know that I am a bit obsessed with makeup. I'm getting a lot better at it in my old age. I guess with all the grown-up responsibilities I have these days, it's harder to drop $75 at the MAC counter every few weeks. Honestly, I probably have enough eyeshadow to keep me made up for the rest of my life. With the exception of eyeshadow, foundation and bronzer, I try and keep everything else on the cheap (i.e. drug store brands). One of my favorite products is the Waterproof Eyeliner Pen by E.L.F

Image from Eyeslipsface.com

E.L.F. or Eyes Lips Face is mostly an internet business, but you can find some of their products at Target. I've tried many of their products and the the two that I like enough to keep buying are 1. their brushes and 2. these eyeliners. They go on like felt tip pens. It doesn't smudge or flake and it lasts all day! I'd happily pay $10-$14 for this stuff (ssshhhhh don't tell E.L.F.) but lucky for me, it's only $1. Who can't spare one dollar?

So what about you? What are a few of your favorite things?

1 comment:

  1. Yes! The wine opener was a gift from me! I love mine, too. Oh, and once you buy the poo-pourri, it will no doubt make a favorites list! ;-)

    Have I mentioned how happy I am that you're blogging? Because I am. :-)