Category Archives: Kitchen Products Gadgets

Bodum Yo Yo Tea Strainer Set Review

Bodum Yo Yo Tea Strainer Set Review

The Bodum Yo Yo Tea Strainer is a plastic mesh strainer that allows quick and easy tea brewing by the cup while the Bodum 12 oz BISTRO mug allows for a stylish way to enjoy your tea.

Ease of Use/Performance: 3/5
Convenience/Storage 4/5
Appearance/Design 3/5
How much I enjoy 3/5

Total: 3/5

Bodum Yo Yo Tea Strainer Set

It’s the small things in life that make your day a bit happier and more comfortable and the Bodum Yo Yo Set can add a little lift to your spirits. The Bodum Yo Yo Tea Strainer Set comes with the Yo Yo tea strainer which is a plastic and plastic mesh strainer with a lid that doubles as a trivet.

The Bodum Yo Yo set also comes with the Bodum BISTRO 12 ounce mug made from durable heavyweight borosilicate glass that is dishwasher and microwave safe. The Yo Yo tea strainer is a plastic strainer with a mesh side and holes in the bottom for maximum tea saturation but the bottom holes may be too big.

Bodum Yo Yo Set

The Yo Yo tea strainer is great for loose leaf tea and fits a wide variety of glasses and mugs due to the slimmer 2.75 inch diameter strainer. The plastic mesh is a smaller size than the bottom holes which is kind of surprising as some loose tea may slip into your cup from the bottom holes.

Using a drill bit set I found the holes on the bottom are about a gauge 40 which is .040 inches, somewhere between 1/32 and 1/16th of an inch. The mesh part is much smaller than this and holds in the tea very well but I have had some tea come from the bottom holes.

home brew tea

The strainer comes with a lid that also doubles as a trivet to keep the mess when you remove the strainer form your cup to minimum. The strainer works well but I would have liked the holes on the bottom either smaller or no holes at all because they are a bit larger and do allow tea to slip through.

I have received quite a few tea products and reviewed a few to check out how they make tea from loose leaf and the Bodum Yo Yo is the easiest and most convenient I have seen yet. Most of those tea dunkers that clamp shut let out too much tea into your cup while strainers like the Yo Yo should work better.

bodum tea time

I was kind of surprised at the bottom holes and would recommend this more if the holes on the bottom were smaller. The BISTRO mug is a great coffee and tea cup but the Yo Yo strainer just has the holes on the bottom that are too large.

My wife has started to sell her own blends of caffeine free teas and the cup with strainer works well but you do get bits of tea in your cup. The Bodum Yo Yo works well for the most part but I think the holes in the bottom were a mistake.

The Bodum BISTRO cup is a nice coffee and tea mug but the holes in the Yo Yo tea strainer make me hesitate to fully recommend it. If you don’t mind a few dregs in the bottom of your cup the Yo Yo Tea Strainer works well enough and is handy.

Yo Yo Set @ Bodum

Pros

Easy to use and cleanup
Cup is sturdy and thick
Strainer can hold plenty of tea

Cons
Holes in bottom are too large

Bodum BISTRO Electric Double Wall Water Kettle

Bodum BISTRO Electric Double Wall Water Kettle

The Bodum BISTRO Electric Water Kettle only does one thing but does it so well that you will enjoy just boiling water with a cool exterior and easy pouring.

Ease of Use/Performance: 5/5
Convenience/Storage 4/5
Appearance/Design 5/5
How much I enjoy 5/5

Total: 5/5

bodumbistrowaterkettle

The Bodum Electric Double Wall Water Kettle has a glass body surrounded by protective plastic with a removable base for easy pouring. The Double Wall Electric Kettle uses a 1500 watt heating element on the bottom to heat water quickly.

The Bodum BISTRO can hold up to 38 ounces of water and can reach boiling in about six minutes for quick water heating without using those dangerous stovetop kettles. The large plastic handle stays cool to the touch along with the exterior of the kettle for a safe kettle.

The Double Wall Electric Kettle uses a borosilicate glass that is a neutral material for the inner wall to contain heat and to keep your water clean. The outer wall is plastic to allow the outer surface of the kettle to remain cool so pouring your water is not dangerous.

 

Whats in the Box Bodum BISTRO

The double wall design insulates the kettle and helps keep the water warm longer than stove top kettles and the wide open top allows for easier cleaning. The top flips up with the push of the large center button on the cover and allows you to get inside for cleaning.

The pour spout works well and has a handy mesh screen that is removable but you don’t have to open the top to pour your water. The large handle stays cool to the touch even when heating water to boiling which happens pretty quickly using the 1500 watt element.

I did a little kitchen testing and found the Bodum BISTRO kettle heats water to 180 degrees in five minutes and to boiling at 212 degrees in about 6 minutes and 15 seconds. A stove top kettle heated the same amount of water to 180 degrees in 7 minutes 23 seconds and to boiling in 9 minutes and 18 seconds.

Bodum BISTRO Lid

Being able to heat water to the perfect temperature for tea at 180 degrees in almost half the time as a stove top means getting to enjoy your beverage faster. A few minutes may not make much of a difference but with the cool to the touch exterior it also makes a safer way to heat water.

The Bodum BISTRO Water Kettle has a removable design so the base that plugs in the wall stays put and you can take the kettle to your table for serving. The entire kettle remains cool on the outside so using the kettle on the table is safe.

The safety features of the spring loaded seal that protects the elements on the base are safe so you can’t accidentally come into contact with the wiring inside. The base stays put where you need it and has a two and a half foot cord that works well for countertops.

Tea Time w/ Bodum

The on off switch is on the top of the handle for convenient use and a small led indicator lets you know when the unit is on. The element does have a safety switch that will shut the kettle off when it reaches a certain temperature so it does not boil dry.

The base inside the kettle is stainless steel and glass but you should not heat anything inside but water even though the instructions do not state this. If your water is hard you may need to descale the kettle from time to time but mostly rinsing and an occasional light cleaning with soapy water is all you should do to clean the inside.

You should take care not to get the base or the bottom of the kettle wet near the connection to prevent electrical problems from kettles heating element. Using the kettle normally and occasionally rinsing it out has worked well for me and I have not seen any buildup inside after two months of use.

testing kettles

The Bodum BISTRO Water Kettle is a handy and safe way to heat water as well as a quick one that works well and is stylish. I highly recommend the Bodum BISTRO water kettle as a great countertop water kettle that works well and is much better than stovetop kettles.

Pros
Safe and Quick
Exterior stays cool to touch
Keeps water warm with double wall design

Cons

None

BISTRO @ Bodum

Joseph Joseph TriScale Review

 

 Joseph Joseph TriScale

The Joseph Joseph TriScale is a handy compact digital scale that is perfect for the kitchen but has a unique folding design to make it compact enough to fit in a drawer or cashbox.

Ease of Use/Performance: 5/5
Convenience/Storage 5/5
Appearance/Design 5/5
How much I enjoy 5/5

Total: 5/5

Joseph Joseph TriScale

The Joseph Joseph TriScale is a handy digital scale designed to fold up to a compact 6 by 1.75 by 1/2 inch size when folded up. The scale uses three rubber covered feet as the triple points for weighing that are on the bottom of the scale.

These three points should be out fully and can fit a small, medium and large bowl due to the top of the scale being flat along all its surface except for the digital readout. While you can use it with the legs unfolded most of the way you should just unfold it fully for a stable three point base.

The TriScale uses a button cell battery that fits in the base leg that has the scales LED display which has two push button sections below it. The buttons are marked with a power symbol and ZERO for one and Unit for the other with the obvious power button also being used to zero out the scale.

Joseph Joseph Whats in the Box

The unit button changes the scales function to the various weight units the scale measures in going from gram to pound and ounces, milliliters then fluid ounces. The difference between pound ounces and fluid ounces is the fluid ounces continues to measure only in ounces while the pound ounces setting uses pound and ounces once it goes past 16 ounces.

The scale can measure up to 5 kilograms or 11 pounds and makes an excellent kitchen scale for weighing ingredients and keeping your cooking experience simpler. Just why would you want a kitchen scale for anything other than dieting may come to mind but recipes is one reason and weighing for selling is another.

Measuring for weight control and portioning food is one reason but for cooking and ensuring you get the correct measurements for ingredients makes the most sense. I have been finding out lately when baking and cooking that correct measurements are a key to consistency.

TriScale Folded

Not having as many dishes and measuring cups also makes it easy for cooking so there are actually a few reasons beyond exact measurements. The foods you add to a recipe should be measured so you get no wrong measurements due to differing measuring techniques.

Several studies have been conducted with how people measure ingredients and flour is a perfect example in how much peoples measuring techniques can vary how much is actually in the same sized measuring cup. Different people measured out flour and where getting from four to six ounces as measured by weight for the same cup of flour.

When a recipe calls for a cup of flour people are known to pack, tap and otherwise alter just how much actually goes into that cup. Cheese is another great example if you think about a finely shredded cheese using a planer versus a large holed box shredder.

Bottom of TriScale

If you think about the same cheese and shredding it with a planer or a large holed grater the same shreds will not equal the same volume. If you weigh ingredients you get rid of varying styles to how you measure out ingredients which gets rid of differences in volume when using ingredients in a recipe.

Adding ingredients by weight also means easier cooking when you have less cups and spoons to clean up, think about honey or peanut butter in a recipe. When you measure out honey or other sticky ingredients you lose some of that ingredient still in the spoon or other measuring cup.

You can spray the measuring device with cooking spray to make getting all the ingredient out or you can just bypass this totally by adding the correct amount to a recipe in one bowl. I tried this a few times and rather enjoy not having all those measuring cups and spoons to wash as I do not have a dishwasher.

Using TriScale for Recipe

Actually I do have a dishwasher, me, and I would much rather keep the amount of dishes I have to wash to a minimum so less dishes to wash sounds great to me. I did find smaller measurements like teaspoons and fractions of teaspoons are harder to measure so I think I’ll stay with measuring spoons for the small stuff.

For recipes that require a measuring cup I am going to be using a trusty scale to keep down on the mess and to make recipes easier. Figuring out my favorite recipes for weights instead of volume is easy with handy conversion charts and even a website that will convert volume measures of a wide variety of ingredients into weights for you.

You can use the Joseph Joseph TriScale for weighing food while dieting or for use in a home based business for weighing out portions. The scale works well and is a handy convertible style that makes tossing it in a cash box quit easy.

weighing food

The Joseph Joseph TriScale makes a handy and easy to use scale no matter what you use it for and works well around the kitchen aor wherever you need it. I highly recommend the TriScale for a pocket sized scale to measure in ounces grams and milliliters at home or at the market.

TriScale @ Joseph Joseph

Online Food Calculator

Pros
Accurate Digital Scale
Small size when folded
Affordable at about $30

Cons
None

Cuisinart Buona Tazza Super Automatic Single Serve Espresso, Caffe Latte & Cappuccino Machine Review

Cuisinart Buona Tazza Super Automatic Single Serve Espresso, Caffe Latte & Cappuccino Machine Review

The Cuisinart for illy Buona Tazza Espresso Machine is a fantastic espresso maker that also makes lattes and cappuccinos with a removable milk tank for easy storage in the fridge.

Ease of Use/Performance: 5/5
Convenience/Storage 5/5
Appearance/Design 5/5
How much I enjoy 4/5

Total: 5/5

Cuisinart Buona Tazza

The Cuisinart Buona Tazza Super Automatic Single Serve Espresso, Caffe Latte & Cappuccino Machine is a fantastic espresso maker that uses the illy Iperespresso capsules. The Cuisinart Buona Tazza makes espresso and espresso based drinks quickly and easily using the illy capsules but also has some other handy features to aid in fast and convenient espresso.

The Buona Tazza has a removable water and separate milk tank for convenient filling and storage of the milk in the refrigerator when not needed. The Buona Tazza comes with the machine itself, a quick reference guide and owners manual with a few sample capsules to get you started.

Cuisinart Buona Tazza Espresso

The illy Iperesspresso capsules are available directly from illy, at select stores locally and online at sites such as Amazon and Bed Bath & Beyond. The Buona Tazza has three size settings with a long and short shot and manual with the long and short settings adjustable.

The heat is also adjustable with two settings and a separate control for latte and cappuccino is also on the front control panel. The flip down small espresso cup tray is used for those small shot glasses while the drip tray below is for larger cups when using the latte or cappuccino function.

Cappuccino from the Buona Tazza

The frother milk tank and making espresso based drinks with milk is easy by simply moving the steam wand into your cup and pressing the appropriate drink button you want. The latte simply steams milk and adds it to your cup while the cappuccino function steams and froths the milk.

The front of the milk tank has a dial for more or less froth in your drinks while a burst of steam at the end of either cycle will clean the steam wand and frother mechanism. The milk tank can be cleaned using a simple steam burst from the front panel controls which cleans out the tubes inside or run clean water through it.

Cuisinart Buona Tazza Latte

For a more thorough cleaning you can empty the milk and fill with clean water then run some water through the tubes using the steam function. The Buona Tazza should also be cleaned routinely with vinegar and water or demineralizer to keep internal parts clean and free of deposits.

Illy currently sells three different regional espresso varieties, three different roasts, a long shot and a decaffeinated blend in the Iperespresso capsules. While this is not as great a variety as a leading competition it does offer a good selection to choose from and is about the only down check I see.

Parts of the Buona Tazza

The Buona Tazza espresso machine is an easy to use machine and does make excellent tasting espresso and espresso based drinks. I have used the machine for a month and put about a hundred capsules through it and can easily say it works very well.

For a quick and convenient way to make espresso, lattes and cappuccinos the Cuisinart Buona Tazza is a great machine and makes an easy recommendation. The Buona Tazza costs about $600 for the EM-500 fully automatic model with two other models that lack features of the full model I received.

buona-tazza-espresso

Buona Tazza Video

Buona Tazza @ Cuisinart

Pros

Easy to use
Simple removable milk frother
Great tasting espresso in minutes

Cons
Only uses illy capsules

Oster Versa Blender Review

Oster Versa Blender Review

The Oster Versa Performance Blender is a professional quality blender that handles tough recipes and foods with its 1400 watt motor.

Ease of Use/Performance: 5/5
Convenience/Storage 4/5
Appearance/Design 5/5
How much I enjoy 5/5

Total: 5/5

Oster Versa Blender

Smooth creamy spring pea soup with a dollop of homemade crème fresh, homemade peanut butter with no additives, how about a healthy smoothie made with fresh strawberries and a few frozen blueberries. Oster makes it easy to make all these recipes and many more with the Oster Versa Performance Blender

Professional quality or restaurant quality is what I would call the Oster Versa with 1400 watts of power for the four stainless steel blades. The base of the Oster Versa is solid and the tough plastic pitcher can handle ice cubes, raw nuts and frozen fruits easily.

homemade v8

The Oster Versa comes with the blender with lid and base, a recipe book and healthy recipe guide along with the tamper and instruction manual. The Blender Recipe Book has plenty of recipes for fun and delicious meals and snacks along with healthy options in the Fresh & Fit Recipe Guide.

Both books have plenty of recipes for soups, smoothies meals and other healthy nutritious snacks as well as general tips and hints for food blending. While some of the recipes may not be to your tastes or liking most give great results and even hints and tips for further blender use and experimentation.

Easy Shredded Chicken

While not a big thing the tamper is a really useful tool in using the Oster Versa and comes in handy for all kinds of recipes. I started with simple things like smoothies which my family has come to enjoy especially on weekend mornings as part of a healthy breakfast.

Soups are a real treat for getting both quick in blender soups without having to use a pot as well as a smooth and rich soup to cream together cooked ingredients. Creaming cooked ingredients ensures a really smooth and creamy base for soups that can be very good for taste and texture.

Butternut Squash Soup

I have done a few dips but mostly the peanut butter and other butters from walnuts and pecans has been a big hit with a special treat in peanuts and cocoa much like Nutella. One odd thing in trying to find nuts for the Oster Versa I could not find hazelnuts at local stores but had plenty of other nuts to try and enjoy.

Making your own nut butter means no preservatives or sugar in your butter and a much tastier treat that can be as smooth or chunky as you want. I tried several things in the blender such as smoothies and shakes with no problems blending and crushing ice and frozen fruit.

Raspberry Sorbet

Sorbet is an easy treat with simply blending frozen fruits for a healthy and very tasty treat but you can also add a bit of yogurt for more taste. Other cold treats I tried was my favorite café frappe using espresso, ice or ice cream with some chocolate or caramel.

The Oster Versa cleans up well except for a little extra effort needed for those nut butters due to the oil nature of nuts. If things stick you can add a drop or two of dish detergent and a few cups of water and blend the stuff loose.

Easy Honey Roasted Peanut Butter

I had no problems cleaning the blender pitcher and spills on the base just wipe up but when you blend peanut and other butters you may need to use the water and detergent trick. The plastic pitcher is tough enough to withstand chopping and blending up ice cubes and cleans easily in the sink but don’t use a dishwasher for any of the parts except for the tamper.

One note that you will notice on my video for the Oster Versa, it does have a protection circuit if the blades encounter enough resistance that stops the blender. Simply turn the blender off and turn it back on again and it should run just fine but you may need to clear out the blades if it does not start working again.

Spring Pea Soup w/ Homemade Creme Fresh

I had no problems using the Oster Versa and highly recommend it as a professional quality home blender that works well for simple and complex recipes like soup in a blender.

Oster Versa Video

Oster Versa @ Oster

Oster Versa @ Amazon

Pros
Blends ice and nuts
Can blend soup and heat using friction
Powerful 1400 watt motor
Easy Cleanup

Cons
Not dishwasher safe

 

 

ManPans Asian Wok with Aluminum Lid

ManPans Asian Wok with Aluminum Lid

The ManPans 13” Asian Wok uses a Gem-X2 eco-friendly release coating to ensure food does not stick to the wok while metal utensils can be used due to the tough coating.

Ease of Use/Performance: 4/5
Convenience/Storage 4/5
Appearance/Design 5/5
How much I enjoy 5/5

Total: 5/5

ManPans Asian Wok

ManPans is a relative newcomer to the cooking utensil and pan arena with a cookware coating technology that has the advantage of the use of metal utensils without scratching. The ManPans 13 inch Asian Wok is a great oriental and general purpose skillet for cooking larger meals like stir fry or simple things like boiling noodles.

The Manpans Asian Wok and other cookware uses a unique coating that allows you to use metal utensils when cooking. The coating process is called anodizing and is not new to manufacturing and I have actually work with it in the past but it is new to cookware.

In the past anodizing has been used to prevent rust and to harden the surface of aluminum but with a good anodized coating cookware can be created. Cookware using anodized aluminum creates a surface that is partially non-stick but with a tough enough surface that you can use metal utensils without worry about scratching.

Bottom of ManPans Wok

The coating is tough enough to withstand using a metal utensil which I have been doing some but I prefer to just use silicone and bamboo for cooking in all my pans. The non-stick coating is tough enough to take a coin being scratched across it as I have done.

I took both a penny and a nickel and scratched the bottom with the coins but they did nothing to the pan except left a small coating of coin on the pans surface. After wiping the coating away with a plastic scrub pad the pan is left with no mark at all on the bottom of the pan which is also anodized.

Anodizing must be done to the full metal as it is an electroplating process where the full item is in a bath and the bath is electrocuted. Minute particles in the solution are attracted and adhered to the pan during this process which is much better than simply spray painting.

Typical Stir Fry

The ManPans coating has a surface that will last and will not scratch like other Teflon like coatings so the ManPans Wok starts off as a very different piece of cookware. The ManPans Wok is 13 inches across while to bottom is about 7 inches across for a good sized direct cooking surface.

Woks work by using a smaller section of high heat to cook while the sloped sides of the pan are used to partially heat food and slowly cook it. Small ridges on the sides allow food to stick on the sides while the flat bottom allows the pan to be used on modern electric or gas stoves.

The ManPans Wok heats well and keeps the heat due to the anodized coating making it similar to steel which is the most common material for woks. Using aluminum makes it a lighter pan but it does cook more like a carbon steel wok than an aluminum one.

Searing Chicken

The ManPans Wok is great for stir fry cooking and other style cooking but also works well for general cooking like boiling and sautéing. I have used the ManPans Wok for cooking noodles, vegetables and even ingredients for a blender soup.

The ManPans Wok works well but does require a bit of oil for cooking but not much and it does resist sticking well without much help. I have used the pan for searing meat and it does a good job with only a teaspoon or simple drizzle of oil to cook a pound of chicken or pork.

The ManPans Asian Wok works great and I am totally sold on the anodized coating being both nonstick and a great surface for preventing scratches. The wok works well for all kinds of cooking and this pan does stand out from others due to that scratch and stick resistant coating.

Start to a Good Soup

The ManPans Asian Wok also has a unique handle that resists heat transferred to the handle from the wok with a simple design that is familiar to me from computers. Computers use heat sinks to dissipate heat using surface area of many fins of aluminum.

The ManPans Wok uses the same heat dissipating technology to keep the handle cool and it is solidly riveted to the wok using aluminum rivets. The entire surface of the pan is anodized so food will not stick to the bottom or sides when cooking and spilling food.

A lid is also available for the ManPans Asian Wok for about $14 while the Asian Wok itself costs about $120 from their website. I highly recommend the ManPans Asian Wok for a professional piece of cookware that has the benefit of being a stick resistant coating that resists scratching form metal utensils.

ManPans Website

Pros

Anodized aluminum allows metal utensils on partially non-stick coating

ManPans Wok is versatile for cooking beyond Asian
Handle stays cool past the hot warning word

Cons

A bit expensive

Coleman NXT 200 Grill Review

Coleman NXT 200 Grill

The Coleman NXT 200 Grill is a quick set up portable grill for home, tail gating and camping that uses either propane cylinders or propane tanks for fuel.

Ease of Use/Performance: 5/5
Convenience/Storage 4/5
Appearance/Design 5/5
How much I enjoy 5/5

Total: 5/5

Coleman NXT 200 Grill

The Coleman NXT 200 grill uses a unique scissor leg setup that really does make it a portable grill using either one pound propane cylinders or a 20 pound tank. Once setup you have the sturdy design and stable base for a great grill whether you’re in the backyard, the parking lot or the campground.

The Coleman NXT 200 grill uses either one pound propane cylinders or a 20 pound propane tank but it does not come with a hose for the larger tank. The Coleman NXT 200 comes with a regular porcelain coated cast iron grill grate and some assembly is required.

Assembly is easy and only needs a Philips screwdriver along with the included nut driver tools to put the grill together. It only took me about a half hour to assemble the grill and the instructions are pretty easy to follow as well as handy for setting up the grill and troubleshooting if necessary.

Whats in the Box

The NXT 200 weighs about 50 pounds so a little care when lifting is needed but it does transport well in a car trunk or back of a van or pickup. The two grill grates do fit snuggly into the grill and the two latches when closed ensure the grates do not move when transporting the grill.

Folding up the grill takes a bit of practice because you lift on the side handle of the grill to open the grill after releasing the locking latch. Closing the grill is the opposite with lifting the handle to pull the legs out of the clips that hold it when open.

The NXT 200 can use a griddle top or stovetop grate but the grill grate works well for backyard barbeques and general grilling. I have grilled fish, chicken, brats, steaks and even some treats like peaches on the grill with great success.

Grilled Peaches

Grilling is almost an art form but cooking on the NXT 200 is easy as long as you keep an eye on your food and practice a bit. The grill does go pretty high with the heat so I was usually around half to the lower end on both the burner knobs when grilling meats.

The lid has a temperature gauge on it that reads the internal temperature for a great way to tell how hot the grill is when its on but you have to remember that the gauge is reading the temperature at the lid. The burners may be a bit hotter than the reading you have on the lid gauge so you need to take that into consideration when cooking.

I easily fit eight large hamburgers on the grill and as you can see by my pictures four one pound steaks would fit as well when grilling for a family. You can get about ten to twelve large burgers on the grill and I had no problem getting ten brats and a couple hot dogs on for my family get together.

Coleman NXT 200 Grilling Steaks

The grill does allow you to cook on one side and keep the other side off or use one as a warmer but you can also do something I saw on Americas Test Kitchen. Sear a roast or pork roast on medium high and then use one side of the grill on low with the meat on the other side to slowly roast.

Tender and juicy pork roast was easy and the Coleman grill does clean up easily as well with a simple wash of the grill and spraying out the inside. The instructions say to clean the grill with tools but a simple spray with mild soap and the garden hose worked very well as long as you’re careful.

I was careful not to get water in the propane parts and directed the water toward the sides but cleaning the grill is easy with a wipe as well. You can removing the grill grate and clean that in the sink or tub with soap and water for an easy time at cleaning the burnt on food.

Chicken on the NXT 200

You can also just scrub them off with a brush after you cook but usually you want to sit down and enjoy your food and even a day later I had no problem cleaning out the grill. The NXT 200 is portable and only takes a few minutes to disconnect the propane cylinder or tank and fold it up for travel.

I took the grill over to my son’s home when my family came for a visit and had a fun time grilling brats and hot dogs with plenty of room for the three families. I did buy a propane tank and hose which cost about $80 at Menards and did get the hose without the regulator as the grill does already have that built in.

Lighting the grill is easy with the built in Instastart button that uses a piezo electric starter or you can use a match or other safe lighter. The two burners do burn independently and work well with enough flame to boil water in a pot if you want or need to.

Grilling Pork Cops

I did find a great cover that fits it well but it has a logo on the side that I should probably paint over one of these days, Weber. The smaller rectangle grill cover that Wal-Mart sells for about $10 would probably have fit but I wanted a better cover for a great grill.

I bought the better Weber Standard Q100/200 Cover that fits the Coleman grill but you need to push the retractable side tray in. The Coleman grill has one side table that is permanent and another that pushes in and pulls out for convenience when traveling.

I had no problems with the Coleman NXT 200 and do highly recommend it for a great travel grill that is very quick to set up and very easy to use. The NXT 200 grill is available at Coleman, Amazon and several local sporting goods stores for about $200.

NXT 200 @ Coleman

Pros
Easy to use and setup
Very Portable
Uses either 1 pound or 20 pound LP tanks
Can use three different grates

Cons
Does not come with LP tank Hose
Only comes with Grill Grates

Ninja Professional Frying System

Ninja Professional Frying System

The Ninja Frying System uses an 1800 watt element to keep the oil at the temperature you need for fast and efficient frying.

Ease of Use/Performance: 4.5/5
Convenience/Storage 4/5
Appearance/Design 4.5/5
How much I enjoy 5/5

Total: 4.5/5

Ninja Frying System

Ninja may be known for their professional blender which is called the Ninja Kitchen System but they also have other appliances that are great at various forms of cooking. The Ninja Professional Frying System uses a high wattage element and smaller size to keep the oil at a high temperature.

Fusion Heat Technology keeps the oil up to the temperature you set for crispy frying and faster cooking with the higher wattage heating element. The Fusion Technology may not be anything more than a higher wattage heating element but the smaller size of the fryer helps as well.

The Ninja Frying System also uses a covered basket to completely submerge your food while cooking to cook faster and with less oil saturating your food. The higher wattage element and small size mean better cooking and a bit healthier as well.

Parts of the Ninja Frying System

The Ninja Frying System has an outer body and inner oil reservoir that has a removable heating element and control panel that connects to a 120 volt outlet. The control panel has an LED panel that shows the temperature setting and a timer to help cook your foods.

The electric cord uses a magnetic connection to ensure a quick and easy safety detach in case of accidents so the cord does not pull the fryer. The fryer basket has a heat proof handle and an easy to fill basket that includes a cover.

The Ninja Fryer holds 3 liters of oil which is a good amount and it does cover the basket completely when submerged. The cover ensures food cooks all over but it is not required to cook foods if you prefer not to use it.

Deep Frying with Basket Cover

The inner reservoir has a removable pour spout to empty the reservoir after the oil has cooled to make things tidy when using. The outer housing has a nice lid to keep oil from spattering while cooking and a small vent.

The fryer does an excellent job with the small size and the higher wattage both contributing to a better frying experience. I think it is the combination of both the size of the fryer and the heating element that gives you the heat you need when frying.

One of the major problems with frying is adding food and having your oil cool so the food does not cook well or fast like those restaurant fryers. The higher wattage and smaller size along with the lid for the basket ensures the oil does not cool and food gets cooked as fast as it should.

Ninja Frying System Fish & Fries

The Ninja Frying System may not be a professional style fryer that you would see in a restaurant but it does a great job. The Ninja Fryer does have a nice timer to go along with the digital display of your temperature which is pretty accurate when checked with other thermometers.

The Ninja Fryer did an excellent job at common frying tasks like chicken, cheese sticks and hush puppies as well as some odd things like steaming. Since reviewing a larger fryer I have tried steaming in the fryer and it does an excellent job at boiling water quickly and creating a fast cooking steam.

The Ninja Fryer is a great countertop fryer that works well and is easy to clean with the pour spout that aids in emptying. Fryers have been getting pretty sophisticated but this one has two major features that help to make it stand out from the rest.

Frying Cresent Rolls

The Ninja Professional Frying System is a great fryer and well worth the $100 you can pick it up for at the Ninja website. I highly recommend the Ninja Professional Fryer System for a fantastic home fryer that has a couple of advantages over other fryers.

Ninja Fryer Website

pizzacraft Square Glazed Pizza Stone

pizzacraft Square Glazed Pizza Stone

The pizzacraft Square Glazed Pizza Stone is an excellent pizza stone for baking pizzas and other baking like bread and cinnamon rolls.

Ease of Use/Performance: 4.5/5
Convenience/Storage 4/5
Appearance/Design 4.5/5
How much I enjoy 5/5

Total: 4.5/5

pizzacraft Glazed Pizza Stone

I wanted to check out a pizza stone but did not want to go with the trend of a common stone that has that rough surface. Those slabs that look like planters just do not make me all that eager to dig into a pizza so I checked around and found pizzacraft.com.

Pizzacraft is an interesting company that sells on the Yahoo Store and is owned by a larger brand company called The Companion Group. Pizzacraft sells a wide variety of pizza stones, tools and accessories including a couple glazed pizza stones.

Everyone has heard of unglazed pizza stones that have the reputation of baking pizzas by pulling water away from the crust to brown the dough evenly. The glazed pizza stones still keep water from the dough by one of two methods as far as I can find on the internet.

Bottom of Glazed Pizza Stone

One type of stone popular that is made by Emile Henry has micro cracks on the glaze while the pizzacraft stone seems to have small pits. I am not sure if the pizzacraft stone also has micro cracks but you can see tiny pits on the glazed surface.

The stone looks just like other ones I have seen in stores but it has a glazing baked on it that has the slightly rough surface to start with so there are small pits. The surface is not smooth like some of my metal enameled cookware that I have tried out but has these very small pits that are glazed over.

The stone works just like an unglazed pizza stone with preheating for about ten minutes and then placing your food on the stone to cook as usual. Pizzas cook in about ten minutes or less while other breads cook in about the same time or maybe a bit quicker. The pizzacraft Glazed Pizza Stone comes in a round and square version with the square version being 14.5 inches wide with a handle on each side.

Take N Bake Pizza on the Glazed Pizza Stone

The handles stick out about an inch and a half and are raised from the bottom surface of the stone about a half inch for a grabbing surface. The handles are angled upward so you have a full 14.5 inches of surface to use for cooking and it easily fits a large pizza.

Of course sizes vary with pizza makers so you may find some pizzas that are a bit too large but the pizza stone is great for store bought, take and bake and even homemade pizzas. I have also tried a variety of recipes with regular fresh bread, premade breads and sweet breads like those caramel rolls.

You can get messy with foods like extra cheese and caramel rolls and not have to worry about cleanup as the glazed surface is easy to wash in the sink. I try very hard not to dunk the bottom as the pizza stone is only glazed on the top and sides.

Bread on the Pizza Stone

The bottom is raw stone that has been baked during the firing of the stone to glaze the top and sides but the sides and top as well as all the handles are glazed. The pizzacraft stone is not dishwasher safe as it would soak up too much water just like those regular unglazed stones.

I usually just wipe the surface clean with a damp cloth but a few times I have had to scrub it with a rag or a plastic scrubber to get baked on sugar or cheese off. The stone has remained clean and without any marks after baking several pizzas and a host of other breads and treats.

I have tried just about all the tubes of baking products like those Pillsbury biscuits, cinnamon rolls and crescents as well as frozen bread and sweet bread. I have also made homemade bread and dough from a bread maker to bake on the pizzacraft stone.

Caramel Rolls

You should use a pizza peel, those flat wooden paddles, to place and remove pizzas or a similar large tool that handles larger items. The pizzacraft stone can handle foods directly on its surface but you can also use parchment paper to prevent a mess and to help removing foods.

Everything I have made has been more than edible and pretty good with only a couple of recipes not being better than great. I have tried quite a bit and have been more than pleased with the results and am very excited to keep using the stone to cook a variety of foods including pizzas.

I have not had any problems with the pizzacraft stone and can highly recommend it for great crispy pizzas and wonderful tasty breads as well as other foods.

Homemade Pizza

Glazed Pizza Stone @ pizzacraft

Pros
Glazed Stone bakes evenly
Glazed surface is easy to clean
Handles make stone easy to move in and out of oven

Cons
Bottom of stone is unglazed and should not get wet

Ninja Cooking System Review

Ninja Cooking System Review

The Ninja Cooking System is a unique multi type cooking appliance that uses both side and bottom heating to cook meals in a removable aluminum pot.

Ease of Use/Performance: 5/5
Convenience/Storage 5/5
Appearance/Design 5/5
How much I enjoy 5/5
Total: 5/5

Ninja Cooking System

The Ninja Cooking System is a unique and versatile appliance that can sear meats like a pan, slow cook meals like a crock pot and bake like an oven. The Ninja Cooking System uses a three heat system to heat from the bottom, sides or both.

The Ninja Cooking System has a large single aluminum pot that is coated with a nonstick coating as well as the lid except for the vent hole of the lid. The pot can be washed in the dishwasher but the lid should just be hand washed so the vent hole does not rust.

Ninja Cooking System Whats in the Box

The body of the appliance has two dials for setting the heating system as well as an LED display that shows temperature and time for the various settings. The body has the large aluminum heating block inside with the walls also having heating elements to heat the sides of the cooking pot.

The bottom of the pot comes in contact with the aluminum block that heats up the bottom while the sides are more for slow cooking. The combination heat of bottom and sides allows for heating and cooking with steam or direct lower temperatures like a slow cooker or crock pot.

Inside the Ninja Cooking System

The oven can bake, slow roast and slow cook as well as sear and cook like a normal skillet pan or sauté pan to sear meats or simply cook parts of meals. The Ninja Cooking System can be used to sear a roast then finish it off slow and juicy.

You can cook one pot meals like stews and soups without having to use a separate pan to sear or cook parts of the meal. I made a stew and easily cooked the beef then simply added the rest of the vegetables and ingredients then set the cooker to slow cook for several hours.

The stew came out very well with good taste and without wasting any of the flavors from searing the meat in a different pan. Those bits of food stuck to the bottom of your pan gives more flavor to your meal which adds lots of flavor to soups and stews.

Using the Ninja Cooking System you can bake and cook like an oven with settings for oven from 250 to 425 degrees which is a common oven range. The smaller size of the Ninja Cooking System means it will cook a bit faster than you would in a regular oven.

Lasagna in the Ninja

The slow cooker has the added advantage of being able to sear meats then go directly to low for all day long cooking without using separate appliances. This keeps all the good bits of food and juices in the slow cooker for flavorful meals and cuts down on cleaning.

The slow cooker function has low, high and buffet settings for a low keep warm just like slow cookers but with the added advantage of other settings. The Ninja Cooking System has a low metal rack that fits inside to steam meats and other foods simply by putting water or other liquids in the bottom.

Cooking Hamburgers

The food goes on the rack and you can steam foods for juicier meats, tender vegetables and another method of cooking. Steaming meats after searing can provide juicier meats but steaming also can be used for baking to make healthier desserts.

I tried steam baking cupcakes and a few other desserts for tasty and lower cholesterol baking due to steam baking that allows for less oil. When you steam bake you can use half the oil or fat in recipes so the desserts are a bit better for you.

Beef Stew

Due to the steam you can use less fat and the variety of heating allows you to use the Cooking System in other ways like a regular sauté pan. You can cook and boil in the pot using the regular bottom heat of the cooker on the stovetop setting.

You can cook and sauté in the pan or even boil noodles but a real interesting meal choice is one pot meals like lasagna or spaghetti and meatballs. Simply add noodles and sauce as well as water to boil and simmer the noodles down to finish cooking after cooking the meat.

Cake in the Ninja

You can find a good set of recipes on the Ninja website to see the wide variety of cooking you can perform as well as several sites for more recipes from happy users. You can reheat foods as well as cook meals and parts of meals in the Ninja Cooking System.

The Ninja Cooking System is the perfect single appliance for cooking, slow cooking and as a multipurpose cooker that fits most any kitchen. I highly recommend the Ninja Cooking System as a convenient and all around cooking appliance that slow cooks, sears, sautés and does so much more.

Ninja Cooking System Website

Ninja Cooking System Recipes

Pros
Cooks in several ways
Easy to clean
Non-stick coating works well
Easy to use controls

Cons
Lid is not dishwasher safe