Saturday, February 25, 2017

Kitchen Gear: Convection Toaster Oven

If you're considering getting a toaster oven, I say go straight for the upgrade, a convection toaster oven. A bit more expensive but you would get so much more use out of it. You'd be surprised the things you can do in this bad boy. I've had one for so long, its become one of my kitchen staples. My journey started with not having a usable oven (and I say usable because I was living at home at the time and my mom being Asian, frugal, and space saving, decided oven  = extra storage space) so I started baking stuff with a toaster oven. Back then it was one of those tiny counter top toaster ovens. It took a little bit to get use to but once I got there, I was making all sorts of yummy treats (i.e most of the early baking entries of this blog). It did the job but then I laid eyes on the convection toaster oven (one pictured above), on sale for $80 at Costco. It was time for an upgrade. Never looked back and worth every penny.

What makes this piece of equipment so special (arguably on the same level as owning a Kitchen Aid stand mixer)? Let me tell you:
  • Compact but efficient: this is obviously larger than the small ($20) toaster ovens in the stores but unlike its mini counterpart, this does everything a standard sized oven can.
  • Perfect for small projects: Making a couple of slices of garlic buttered bread,? Heating up leftover pizza? Baking a small cake (up to 12")? Roasting chicken? A fast breakfast quiche? Yup, it can do all that and more!
  • Saves time: it heats up loads faster than a regular oven because its so small in comparison, I almost never preheat.
  • Better temperature control than your standard small counter top toaster ovens 
  • Faster baking time and more energy efficient: due to its smaller cavity, heat gets distributed much faster therefore using less baking time and less energy overall.
  • Mobile: Of course being a counter top oven, you can pretty much move this to wherever you like. At one point I had this on a table in an empty laundry closet I wasn't using in one of the apartments I was living in. Of course, there was NOTHING flammable in there so it's not as dangerous as that sounds. 
  • Includes a few heating options: quick toast, regular oven, convection, and broil.  
Those are just a few positives but don't just take my word for it, here a few more
** this is not an endorsement, opinions and purchase are of my own.  
  

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Dry Spice Rub Chicken Wings!

Sometimes we just want wings! No reason, just wings on a random rainy afternoon.

Of course when you want something really bad, that's when you have to work for it! I was beyond excited and proud when I walked out of the supermarket with my packet of wings, the fact that I remembered was an accomplishment in its own. A couple of days later when I finally got around to playing with it, I rip the package open, grabbed the first wing....and that's when I realized it was the entire wing....needless to say the next 15 minutes was grueling and painful for the wings and I both as I cut them back down to size without a butcher's knife. You can imagine by the time they were in the oven and baking I was drooling like a puppy.


Dry Spice Rub Chicken Wings!

Ingredients:
  • Package of chicken wings (mine had about 20 wings)
For dry spice rub:
  • 1 tsp garlic salt (or salt)
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1-2 tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp Italian bread crumbs 
  • 1/2 tbsp flour 

Procedures:
  1. Combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl to create the rub, evenly coat chicken wings, transfer to a zip lock bag and refrigerate overnight (or 1-2 hours) to let it marinate.
  2. Before baking, coat pan with a little bit of oil, place chicken in, and bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes.
  3.  Enjoy!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Garlic (Cauliflower) Breadsticks!

I've been a little obsessed with cauliflower lately... but less in a vegetable kind of way and more of an everyday hide it into your foods sorts. I have to admit, I was a bit on the fence at first. I was afraid it was going to turn everything into a pile of watery mush. It is a vegetable after all but to my greatest surprise, everything I've made so far has been pretty successful. In most cases, you don't even know it's there. Cauliflower is such a neutral vegetable, it's amazing and great to hide into foods + full of nutrients.

I've been using it to replace some of my  carb-y side dishes: i.e. rice, mash potatoes, bread, etc. Not because I have anything against carbs, I <3 them! But I also need to be smart and think healthier options... sometimes...because you know...not getting any younger (ahem...) and so choosing a healthy alternative from time to time is a good thing. It also totally cuts calories down when I use it as an alternative. Like this particular recipe, instead of toasting up a heavy piece of bread as a side, I made breadsticks from a vegetable! Totally justifiable to have a few more pieces! I've slightly adjusted the recipe because when I used a 1:1 ratio of eggs to cauliflower I found it to be a bit egg-y, like a crispy quiche, so I'm thinking a 1:2 ratio would be better to take some of that egg-ness away. Either way though, it was delicious! Hopefully more veggie inspired recipes to come! For now have a piece of garlicky "bread" stick :).

Garlic (Cauliflower) Breadsticks
inspired by Jo Cooks

Ingredients:
  • 3-4 cups of riced raw cauliflower - raw cauliflower will cook down to about 2 cups.
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of cheese (I used a blend of Parmesan + mozzarella)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 3 tsp parsley
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • additional cheese to top 
Procedures:
  1. Rice the cauliflower + cloves of garlic using a blender or food processor until cauliflower bits look like pieces of rice (cut stems off if too long prior to ricing). 
  2. In a microwave safe container, microwave cauliflower for 3-5 minutes (depending on microwave watts) until cauliflower is nice and tender, slightly translucent. Set aside to cool completely
  3. Mix in the rest of the ingredients in with the cauliflower and mix well, until batter-like consistency
  4. Flatten and shape to about 1/4" thick square onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake at 425F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. 
  5. Remove from the oven, top with additional cheese and bake for additional 3-5 minutes until cheese melts