Tag Archives: baking

Product Review: NuWave Bravo XL Smart Oven

I watch cooking infomercials. I’m a sucker for new cooking gadgets. But my latest purchase, the NuWave Bravo XL Smart Oven, is the best of my purchases. (Full disclosure: I got mine through Amazon* because I wasn’t interested in the “free” premiums. But they’re a good deal if you don’t already have a pizza kit and a pressure cooker.)

I made room for the new oven by re-homing my 6 quart Power Air Fryer Oven to a friend. Much as I liked that product, I much prefer this one for five reasons:

  • It carries a one year warranty vs. a 60 day warranty.
  • It’s stainless steel instead of plastic.
  • It’s wider, accommodating much of my regular bake ware.
  • It’s more multi-functional, with 12 presets.
  • It has a built in temperature probe that automatically shuts off the oven when food reaches the desired temperature.

As an air fryer, it’s great. My first effort was frozen breaded shrimp and frozen crinkle fries. I did not spray with oil, as was suggested. After selecting Air Fry on the menu, I cooked the shrimp and fries ten minutes at 400°. We gave the meal a thumbs-up.

Air fryer shrimp and fries.

Next I baked frozen chicken breasts using the temperature probe. (I had to allow about 30 minutes thawing before I managed inserting the probe, so it works better with unfrozen food). It’s tricky cooking white meat poultry to a safe temperature without drying it out, which is why the temperature probe feature attracted me. When the oven shut off, the meat was perfectly cooked.

Cooking frozen chicken breast

I tried a frozen pizza (it fit!), toast, hash brown patties, burgers, and a dinner plate reheat (worked just like restaurants). I’ve barely scratched the surface of what this appliance can do. I’ve used my Pampered Chef stoneware, my stainless, and my NordicWare pans. If a pan is safe for a regular oven and fits, it can be used in the NuWave Bravo XL.

The capacity is one cubic feet, making it a bit larger than its closest competitor (and the competition carries only a 90 day warranty). Suffice it to say, I am sold on this oven and recommend it without reservation.

*NUWAVE BRAVO XL 1800-watt Air Fry Convection Oven with Flavor Infusion (FIT) Technology with Integrated Temperature Probe for Perfect Results; 12 Pre-Programmed Presets; 3 Fan Speeds; 5-Quartz Heating Elements

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IXBMS6M/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_fpUwDbZ9C945P

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Happy National Donut Day!

NOT-SO-NAUGHTY DONUTS

Re-posted in honor of National Donut Day.

 

Sift powdered sugar & cocoa over donuts

Sift powdered sugar & cocoa over donuts

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Filed under breakfast, donuts, Recipes

Not-too-naughty Cinnamon Swirl Muffins 

100_1272I enjoy a muffin, but often they are dense and heavy. If I splurge and indulge, I want a yummy and light treat. After experimenting with recipes, I settled on one that we love. The extra baking powder makes them light and airy. Don’t be alarmed at the amount of butter. Spread over twelve servings, it’s not too decadent yet adds flavor. One muffin won’t wreck your daily calorie count. One. 

RECIPE

Cinnamon Swirl Muffins

Makes 12

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Spray the cups of a muffin pan with cooking spray.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. fine salt (I use pink Himalayan salt)
  • 1/2 cup sugar

In a separate bowl, whisk:

  • 1 egg (room temperature, beaten)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Pour liquid ingredients into the dry. Whisk just until batter is smooth. Don’t over-beat. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine:

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (I use light, but dark brown works as well)
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Fill each muffin cup with batter just shy of halfway. Add 1 tsp. cinnamon-brown sugar mixture to each muffin. Layer 1 Tbsp. batter followed by 1 tsp cinnamon-brown sugar mixture. Using a knife or skewer, swirl batter with the cinnamon-brown sugar.

Place muffin pan on the center rack of oven. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in a muffin tests clean. Remove muffins and cool on a rack.

100_1271

Light and airy, cinnamon swirl muffins are perfect for breakfast or anytime.

Apologies to my gluten-intolerant friends. I failed at making a gluten-free version of this recipe, but I’ll keep experimenting in my lab–, er, kitchen.

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Filed under breakfast, cinnamon, muffins

NOT-SO-NAUGHTY DONUTS

Sift powdered sugar & cocoa over donuts Sift powdered sugar & cocoa over donuts

We enjoy donuts (or doughnuts, if we’re being formal), but they aren’t on our healthy eating plan. All things in moderation, though, right? So occasionally I make us a batch of not-so-naughty donuts. They’re healthier than the donut shop’s because they are baked, not deep-fried. And yet they’re very tasty. Try them and see for yourself. (You may use a boxed cake mix if you want, but this recipe isn’t difficult.) Donuts freeze well. If you aren’t serving all twelve at once, cool extra donuts completely (don’t glaze). Seal in a plastic bag and freeze. Thaw and prepare glaze before serving.

RECIPE

Not-so-naughty Donuts
Yields 12
Tools: Mixing bowl and nonstick donut baking pans (I recommend American Pans brand, or  Norpro).

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. Kosher salt
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 cup cinnamon (or your choice) chips + ¼ cup milk for glaze

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Lightly coat baking pan donut molds with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. Mix together dry ingredients.
  4. Stir in milk, eggs, vanilla, and oil. Beat until well blended.
  5. Fill each donut mold ¾ full with the batter.
  6. Bake in preheated oven approximately 10 minutes or until batter tests clean with an inserted toothpick.
  7. While donuts bake, make glaze by combining chips and milk in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 1-minute increments, stirring to form the glaze.*
  8. Remove donuts from oven and allow to cool 5 minutes in pan.
  9. Move donuts from the pans to a cooling rack.
  10. Dip donuts in the glaze and serve.

*If glaze is too tight, add additional milk to thin. 100_1201100_1202100_1203100_1204100_1205

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Filed under breakfast, donuts, pastries

Rachel’s Awesome Brownies

My mother-in-law makes the best brownies. Today I asked for her secret, and she agreed to share her recipe. As it turns out, her recipe came from an ancient (at least 50 years old) Sunbeam Mixmaster cookbook. She doubled the brownie recipe then added her own touch to produce this awesome tasting batch of brownies. There is no box mix on the market to rival these!

 

RECIPE

Rachel’s Awesome Brownies (modified from Sunbeam)

These are big sellers at our church bake sales.

Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups sifted flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup shortening or butter, softened
  • 4 eggs, unbeaten
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 squares (4 oz.) unsweetened baking chocolate, melted
  • 2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In large mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.
  3. Add softened shortening (or butter), eggs, and vanilla extract to the dry ingredients. Mix on Medium (4) for one minute.
  4. Add melted baking chocolate and nuts. Mix for 30 seconds.
  5. Fold in chocolate chips.
  6. Pour batter into a 9″ X 13″ greased baking pan.
  7. Bake for 35 minutes. Check for doneness using a toothpick or cake tester.
  8. Remove pan from oven and allow brownies to cool before slicing.
  9. Cut into equal sized squares and serve.Yield depends on the size of squares cut.

I don’t use the adjective awesome often, but these brownies deserve the descriptor. Yum!

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Filed under Cake, desserts

Happy Valentine’s Day

heartlineWant to bake your sweetie something for Valentine’s Day but nothing too unhealthful?  Try my valentine heart cookies. Although I use refined flour and sugar, there’s no cholesterol, no high fructose corn syrup, and only good fats. If you don’t overindulge, a couple of these cookies won’t ruin your diet.  In the spirit of hasty tasty meals, this one skips the measuring of dry ingredients and the mess of food coloring by using red velvet cake mix.  It’s a trick I use for Christmas cookies, too.  Enjoy!

RECIPE

Valentine Heart Cookies
(Makes 3-4 dozen medium cookies)

Ingredients

1 18.25 oz. box of Red Velvet cake mix
½ cup canola oil
¼ cup egg substitute

Directions

Mix together into a stiff batter (If too stiff, add a tablesp0on of water) and roll out for cookie dough (approximately ¼” thick).  Using a heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out cookies and arrange on an ungreased stainless steel cookie sheet about ½” apart.

Bake cookies at 375°F for about ten minutes or until barely brown around the edges.  To avoid overcooking, remove the cookie sheet from the oven but leave the cookies for about 5 minutes.  They will continue to cook on the residual heat of the cookie sheet.  Then using a spatula, move each cookie to a rack to cool.

Serve cookies on paper heart-shaped doilies.

If you’ve followed my newsletter and blog, you know that I advocate a reasonable approach to diet. I’m hardly a health nut. But I do steer clear of a few bad ingredients, i.e. trans fats, added growth hormones, and high fructose corn syrup by carefully reading all labels. I drink organic skim milk and avoid unhealthful fats as much as possible. Lately, though, I’ve seen television ads defending high fructose corn syrup. Lest you be confused, let’s ask the food industry an important question: If high fructose corn syrup is nothing but corn syrup, why does it appear on labels listed separately and in addition to corn syrup? Sorry, but I’m unconvinced of its wholesomeness.

To add to my wariness, I read in EATING WELL magazine a report that according to two studies, HFCS is contaminated with Mercury. Ouch! That’s not appetizing.  If you’re interested in your sweetheart’s health, don’t buy him or her products containing HFCS.  Play it safe.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

“Chef Cheri”

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