Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Travel Gear: Collapsible Water Bottles

** featured in photo:  TAP -Antibacterial Collapsible Water Bottle 16.9oz

Staying hydrated is super important no matter where you are. Unfortunately when you're traveling you don't always have that option. When you're at home, you have the convenience of taking a luscious drink whenever you please, when you're traveling unless you're carrying your own supply, you're going to be thirsty.

Carrying water bottles can be such a pain, have you noticed how bulky some reusable water bottles can get and some can have quite a bit of weight even when they're empty! You don't want any of that while you're traveling. You want something light, something durable but at the same time expendable. If you're traveling, the possibility of losing or damaging something is quite plausible as well. 

Solution: Collapsible water bottles! They're super light and fold ups when not in use. As you drink, it becomes lighter and takes up less space, something a solid water bottle cannot do. This is a huge positive especially when you're moving around a lot. I bought this with me to China and it was a lifesaver. Filled up where ever I could and shoved it back into my bag when I'm not using it, doesn't take up space at all. There are many options but I picked the TAP one because it says it can hold hot and cold water PLUS if you wanted to boil it (for cleaning purposes) you can. Caution, the bag is not lined for hot liquids so it does get hot on the outside when filled with hot water so I just held it by the corner while filling it. Aside from that little detail, it was great!
They are also great for day hikes! When you're tired even lugging empty water bottles around seem like a huge task, with these bags, life is a little easier :)

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Caramel Apple Roses

This recipe is one I would consider a Pinterest gem. Its so simple but looks so intricate people are instantly impressed by it! Extra points!

I knew I had to make a batch as soon as I saw them and how easy they were to make. Of course, I can never leave well enough alone when I see the opportunity to add in some personal touches to the recipe. After a few changes here and there, I have somewhat made a different version of it but nonetheless props to the awesome technique. You can be creative in so many way with this. I've already made a savory version with bacon, caramelized onion, and cheddar cheese, oh dear! It is so good sweet or savory.

Caramel Apple Roses
inspired by Cooking With Manuela

  • 1 sheet of puff pastry
  • 2 red apples (or any apple of your choice, red stands out)
  • about 3 tbsp of apricot preserve 
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 2-3 tbsp brown sugar 
For caramel sauce topping:
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecan
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 stick (4tbsp) butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (or whole milk)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Prepare muffin/cupcake pan by spraying or greasing the pan
  2. Prepare apples by coring and then cutting the apples in half then thinly slicing them. In a microwave safe mixing bowl, mix apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg together then set aside for about 10-15 minutes. 
  3. Soften the apples by microwaving them slightly for 30 seconds to a minute. Apples should be soft enough to bend but not break
  4. Unwrap thawed pastry dough, using a rolling pin, stretch out the dough to roughly dough in length (approx 12 x 9 inches) then cut into 6 strips (approx 2 x 9 inches).
  5. Spread a thin layer of apricot preserve onto each strip
  6. Arrange the apples by placing the slices lengthwise on the top half of the dough making sure the slices are slightly overlapping (refer to Cooking with Manuela link for pictures on how to).
  7. Fold up the bottom half of the dough. Starting from one end, slowly roll the dough into a circle making sure to keep the apples in place. Once you have finished rolling it, place into a muffin pan
  8. Bake at 375F degrees for about 40 -45 minutes
For caramel sauce:
  1. In a sauce pan, bring everything except the pecan to a boil over medium heat then bring it down to a simmer and continue heating with occasional stirring until caramel is thicken.
  2. Drizzle over finished apple roses and top with chopped pecans.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Kitchen Gear: T-Fal Ultimate EZ Clean Fryer

Yup, bought myself a fryer.   
"Well you know you can just put oil in a pot and create you're own fryer right...?" Yes while that's very true, it's actually the smell that occurs during frying and how it lingers is what prompt this fryer buying decision.

I like to play with all sorts of cooking methods, including frying but I don't like doing it because it makes the entire house smell like the inside of a greasy restaurant fryer and then the smell lingers for days if you don't have a well ventilated kitchen. My mom actually suggested a pretty good idea, "why don't you just buy one of those single portable stove burners and fry outside?" It was genius except for when I started looking up how much a decent single portable burner costs, the dollars started adding up. Then out of curiosity, I decided to see how much a fryer would cost me and it turns out it didn't cost too much more than the burner. Well I mind as well get something meant for frying instead of taking a dark jab at the single portable burners (a lot of them had temperature control issues, hit and miss according to numerous reviews with numerous versions). So I changed gears, time to look for a decent fryer.

After many, and I mean many, hours of searching, I found the T-Fal fryer.
  • Cleaning: The entire thing comes apart and is dishwasher friendly (except the heating element but that can be detached) ... downfall is if you don't have a dishwasher its somewhat painful to wash by hand
  • Little mess: the oil sits low enough in the fryer that splashing is minimal. While researching, I saw a video of someone using a different fryer and it made a mess! Oil went all over their counters, nope!
  • Size: It's pretty big but the size is for functionality
  • Material: Almost completely stainless steel. Oil container is made with quality plastic
  • Price: $80 -$120 depending. It's actually cheaper now than when I bought it.... and totally worth it then and even more now... wish I held off and waited
  • Reviews: reviews HERE
  • Other positives: The frying oil drains and filters into a separate container that comes out and is enclosed so you can reuse the oil up to 10 different frying sessions. It's also pretty lightweight,easy to use, and portable so I can fry foods anywhere I want and not have to worry about it.

Read more HERE
** not an endorsement, these are my own opinion and experiences. 

** Side note: Fried foods are not the greatest health friendly method of cooking BUT when done correctly, fried foods actually don't contain as much oil as one would think. Essentially the hot oil flash cooks the food and when it comes out of the fryer, if the food is properly drained of the residue frying oil (i.e using a paper towel to absorb leftover oil) then the oil won't be absorbed into the food itself making it less fatty.