The Spiralizer Lets You Enjoy “Pasta” Once Again – A Kitchen Tool Review

At first glance, the spiralizer just looks like a basic white plastic machine. However, for those of you on restricted diets such as low carb, paleo, or gluten free, this kitchen appliance is a savior! It allows you to once again enjoy those starchy favourites – without all the heaviness.  “Pasta” with Bolognese is possible…this time with zucchini noodles.  This nifty gadget works just like a pencil sharpener.  It comes with three blades and allows you to turn raw vegetables into long noodle like strands of varying thickness.  Spiralize firm raw vegetables into angel hair thin pasta or a thicker spaghetti width, and enjoy steamed or as is with your favourite sauce. You can also turn an average salad into something extra special by easily spiralizing produce into ribbons or slices of artistic goodness.

Not only is the spiralizer easy to use, it’s easy to clean up.  A simple rinse of the attached parts, and you’re good to go. Watch those blades when you are washing though…they are incredibly sharp!

If you think you are only going to use this machine sometimes, then you might not want to shell out the cash. While not super expensive, it still retails for about $49.99 on Amazon.  The suction cups on the bottom have to be secured well to the counter otherwise the spiralizer wobbles around too much. Keep in mind that it can only slice solid, firm vegetables such as carrots, apples, and squash.

If you want a healthier, low carb version of your favourite pasta or noodle dish, this tool will surely satisfy your cravings.  There are some amazing blogs out there as well that churn out a range of carb-less, nutritious and decadent looking dishes.  Allessandra at Inspiralized, for example, dedicates her website solely to creating the most amazing ways that you can use this kitchen gadget.

We spiralized some zucchini and threw it atop Ina Garten’s Baked Shrimp Scampi.  This recipe is one of our favourites using the spiralizer.

Baked Shrimp Scampi atop Spiralized Zucchini Noodles

“Anyway, like I was sayin’, shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that’s about it.” – Bubba, from Forest Gump

zuchinni pasta with shrimp
Fresh and flavourful baked shrimp…

The possibilities are endless when you make Ina’s Shrimp Scampi.  The shrimp are buttery and succulent and every mouthful is pure joy! Enjoy as a party appetizer or over your favourite pasta for a special dinner.  In this case, we used fresh zucchini noodles.  Using your spiralizer makes it easy to create long ribbons of zucchini “pasta” which can be lightly steamed before serving.

Taken from Ina Garten’s Shrimp Scampi 

Serves 4 to 6

2 pounds (12 to 15 per pound) shrimp in the shell
3 tablespoons good olive oil
2 tablespoons dry white wine
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
1/4 cup minced shallots
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 extra-large egg yolk
2/3 cup panko (Japanese dried bread flakes)
Lemon wedges, for serving

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Peel, devein, and butterfly the shrimp, leaving the tails on. Place the shrimp in a mixing bowl and toss gently with the olive oil, wine, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1-teaspoon pepper. Allow to sit at room temperature while you make the butter and garlic mixture.

In a small bowl, mash the softened butter with the garlic, shallots, parsley, rosemary, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, lemon juice, egg yolk, panko, 1/2-teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper until combined.

Starting from the outer edge of a 14-inch oval gratin dish, arrange the shrimp in a single layer cut side down with the tails curling up and towards the centre of the dish. Pour the remaining marinade over the shrimp. Spread the butter mixture evenly over the shrimp. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until hot and bubbly. If you like the top browned, place under a broiler for 1 minute. Serve with lemon wedges over sprialized zucchini noodles.

Thinking of Purchasing a Le Creuset Dutch Oven? A Kitchen Tool Review

Do you want to know which tool we think is the prettiest and most useful kitchen tool we own? If you guessed that beautiful enameled French Dutch oven, Le Creuset, then you are right! Le Creuset is the one kitchen vessel we gravitate towards on a daily basis more often than any other.

We consider this beautiful Dutch oven best suited for making braises, soups, stews, and even homemade bread! We love the fact that it so easily transitions from your stovetop to oven. You will rarely find yourself in a predicament where everything has stuck to the bottom because it allows for even heat distribution. Its coating with enamel is a testament to its durability. This technology allows you to brown very easily, which is so necessary for flavor production when making stews or braising. Every cook likes an appliance that cleans up easy. Your Le Creuset Dutch oven just requires hot soap and water!

Once again, this essential piece of cookware comes with a hefty price tag. Some might complain about the weight of the pot, however we feel it be a sign of its strength and durability. Other consumers happen to prefer brands such as the Staub for its design and lid handle. Of course, there are so many affordable brands out there as well, from Mario Batali to Martha Stewart. Although reviewers say they tend to discolor and chip faster, so be sure to do your research to determine where they are made. Ultimately, our Dutch oven is proudly displayed on our stovetop, getting multiple uses throughout the day, and we wouldn’t think to have it any other way!

Here’s a fabulous dish you can make today using your Dutch Oven:

Beef Short Ribs

“I cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food.” -W.C. Fields

There really is nothing better than a one pot dish that warms your soul.  This recipe is not only a great low carb entree, it’s also perfect for entertaining. The slow braising in the oven is key here as it allows the meat to simply fall right off the bone.

beef short ribs
Braised to perfection…

Adapted from Ina Garten’s Beef Short Ribs

Serves 6

6 beef short ribs, trimmed of fat
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 leek, cleaned and large-diced white part only
1 1/2 cups chopped onion (2 onions)
4 cups large-diced celery (6 large stalks)
2 carrots, peeled and large-diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups of dry red wine
Fresh rosemary sprigs
Fresh thyme sprigs
6 cups beef stock

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Place the short ribs on a sheet pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven.  Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven and add the leek, onion, celery and carrots and cook over medium-low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.  Add the tomato paste and wine, bring to a boil and cook over high heat until the liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes.  Add 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.  Tie the rosemary and thyme together with kitchen twine and add to the pot.

Place the roasted ribs on top of the vegetables in the Dutch oven and add the beef stock.  Bring to a simmer over high heat.  Cover the Dutch oven and bake for 2 hours or until the meat is very tender.

Carefully remove the short ribs from the pot and set aside.  Discard the herbs and skim the excess fat.  Cook the vegetables and sauce over medium heat for 20 minutes, until reduced.  Put the ribs back into the pot and heat through.  Serve with the vegetables and sauce.

The Vitamix is the Only Blender You Will Ever Need – A Kitchen Tool Review

Kitchen Tool Review - the Vitamix

Scratch is Better is always getting asked the question: “Is the Vitamix really worth it?” While it is one of the more expensive machines we have in our Test Kitchens, we can confidently attest it to be worth every single penny.  We’ve never come across a machine so powerful, so versatile, and so easy to clean. Let’s start with the obvious: This baby pulverizes foods to a pulp, whether it’s leafy spinach, crowns of broccoli or even the stone hard purple beet.  Not to mention, with the right selection of ingredients, the Vitamix creates healthy drinks that can be equivalent to meals and snacks. Within minutes, you can take a bunch of whole vegetables and fruits and turn them into a tasty smoothie for your entire family.

We’ve made everything from hot soups, delicious smoothies to velvety sorbet.  Over time, we’ve also learned that you can’t just throw in whatever you want into this blender and expect the pulverized goodness to be delicious – quantity and type of ingredients matter.  Clean up is as simple as blending a smidge of dish soap and a lot of water for less than 30 seconds and then rinsing the blender. That’s it.

As with any super kitchen machine, the Vitamix has its downfalls.  Yes, clean up is a breeze, but you must do it immediately after using it, otherwise the gunk in the bottom of the blender becomes hard to remove.   Additionally, the Vitamix is extremely noisy.  So making that 6 am morning shake without waking up the entire household is a bit impossible.

In the end, we love this high quality performance blender.  The Vitamix is slender, sleek and easy to store away or even display out on the counter.  The price tag is hefty, but as you can tell, the health benefits, versatility and its long-term use make it one our proudest purchases.

Here is an easy recipe we’ve included below using your Vitamix:

Broccoli Cheese Soup

“You can’t eat this soup standing up, your knees buckle” – Jerry Seinfeld in “The Soup Nazi”

brocolli chedar soup pic-2
Simply delicious soup…

This is a soulful, rich and creamy soup without all the added calories.  It’s not only low-carb and paleo, it’ll also help start off the New Year just the way you intended – healthful and stress free.  We give you the option of using either broccoli or cauliflower to change it up, either is delicious. There are no messy pots or pans required, all you need is your handy Vitamix!

Taken from Vitamix

Makes 2 cups

1 cup skim or low fat milk
1/2 cup shredded low fat cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups broccoli or cauliflower, fresh or frozen, steamed
1 teaspoon diced onion
1/2 chicken or vegetable bouillon cube

Place all ingredients into the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid. Select Variable 1. Turn machine on and slowly increase speed to Variable 10, then to High. Blend for 5-6 minutes or until heavy steam escapes from the vented lid.