Sunday, July 31, 2011

Testing Out My New Magic Bullet


Several days ago--Tuesday morning--I finally recieved the package: the Magic Bullet twenty-five piece set that I ordered on Ebay (sorry I haven't been doing posts regularly, but I'm still working on starting up this blog--more on how my posts will be in a future post about that). Of course, I was so excited that I immediately tore open the box and, as quickly as I possibly could, removed all the pieces and parts from their annoying individual packaging (Way to NOT be eco-friendly, stupid big company, using WAY more plastic and cardboard than needed.) and set it all up on the countertop. The set came with several cups with attachable lids, half of them half-sized glasses and half of them regular-sized, a very small cup-sized top, a two-cup top, a small(ish) blender top, and an extra blade for whipping.
Right away, I got to testing my new Bullet (without even glancing at the instruction booklet, of course). And what better way to test it than with a delicious, creamy green-mocha banana breakfast soft-serve? I snatched a frozen, chunked banana from the freezer and grabbed some chilled almond milk, frozen spinach, espresso powder (love that stuff!), vanilla extract, and cinnamon. In the Bullet it went; I used one of the regular glass-sized attachments, which looked like the perfect size. It took me a minute to realize that I had to first put the ingredients in the cup, then screw the blade on nice and tight, and then screw it on the base (yes, I'm a little slow; but what can you expect? I am, after all, a blonde ;-) ). Then--in great, wide-eyed anticipation--I pushed down on the cup, locking it into place. With a noisy whir, the blade fired up. I gave it a moment to start working.

Agonizing disappointment as I realized that it wasn't going much of anywhere and that the contents weren't really getting blended, even though it sounded like the blade was spinning furiously. Horrified, I let the blender stop and took it out and stirred it. I desperately, desperately wanted it to work like I dreamed it would. But no matter how much I shook and stirred the ingredients, the silly blender just couldn't do the job and I ended up having to add a lot more almond milk before the frustrating thing would blend it up. My shake was warmer and thinner than usual that morning.
I was extremely crestfallen.

See that, on my face? That's disappointment right there. (Oh, and the little red dots. That's facial blemishes and stuff. Ignore those, if possible (-; ).

The Magic Bullet definitely doesn't live up to its hype. I suppose it works alright for very easy, thin liquids, but the motor just isn't very strong and it just isn't heavy-duty enough; definitely not an adequate replacement for a food processor. The biggest problem I have with the Bullet is that the food just sits around the blade; it just spins without actually blending and incorporating the food, which just immediately ends up on the sides of the bottom of the blender, away from the blade. It's annoying that you have to keep scooping everything back onto the blade every five seconds. I am NOT satisfied with my product. "Blends anything in just ten seconds" my butt. I'm much too lazy to return the box, though. Heh.

I'm going with a good ol' mini food processor (as soon as I can get some money for it, after I spent a whopping $60 on that good-for-nothing Magic Bullet), probably the same Cuisinart that I had in the first place--and it was much cheaper to buy than the Bullet anyway (at least half the price, I think)! It just goes to show you that some products are just over-glorified, while simple things can be very good-quality.

A piece of kitchen equipment that I DO like is the Ninja blender. Even though it's too big to function well for most of my stuff, because I only really make single-servings, it works excellent: it does ice (say, like, for delicious "soft-serves" and "voluminous ice-cream;" I'm currently using it for them in the mornings, and it does a great job at making it really creamy (-; ) like a pro and processes pretty much anything effortlessly. And you can get it at Walmart for a mere eighty dollars (or something to that effect). I just wish they had a mini-Ninja! That would be perfect for me.


If you own the Magic Bullet, Cusinart Processor, or Ninja, how does it work for you?
What's your favorite piece of kitchen equipment? Do you have one?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Musings of a Newbie Blogger--A Brief Post

I'm new when it comes to blogging; I only began a few days ago. But, so far, I've come to know a few things.

Blogging takes time and dedication. You have to fully enjoy what you're doing (of course--why else have a blog?)--it takes at least a little time every day, more as you're first getting started. Even though things start out slow and it often seems like the whole thing is just going nowhere, it's important to remember that these things take time. I hope that, with work, my blog will eventually grow into what I'd like it to be. And when it does, I can feel good about what I've done because of the effort I've put into it. I now have even more respect for all the other bloggers out there who have put so much time and dedication into their blogs and have so much passion.

Things I need to work on:

1. Food Presentation & Photography
2. Creativity in the Kitchen
3. Writing and Journaling Skills

For me, one of the most difficult parts of blogging is not knowing how I sound to others. I'm always afraid that I sound silly or foolish, wondering if I come off as trying too hard. No matter how many times I re-read what I type, I just can't tell what I'll seem like to others. Sometimes I go over a post and wish I'd written it another way or not written it at all. What if people just think my blog is stupid, or not original enough? But I really do love blogging so far, and want to continue with it.


Do you ever get feelings like this about your posts? Should I even care too much about what others will think of me and my blog? I'd love to hear any tips and advice. :-)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Missing My Food Processor

Never buy your food processor at Walmart.

About a week ago, our old Cuisinart mini-food processor kicked the can. It'd done it's job well, having lasted for such a long time--especially since I'd been using it at least four or five times a day lately. That little processor and I had a close relationship. We were tight. But it was time to move on. It had to happen eventually.

So, low on money, dad and I headed out to Walmart to pick up a new one that very same day (with my insisting that I needed another one immediately).
Of course, I would have taken so much more delight in buying a processor at a real kitchen appliance store, but, of course, such things were out of our budget--and I (and dad too, probably) would've gone straight for the most expensive, bad-butt model.

You get what you pay for, though.

And Wally-World is definitely not the best place to buy kitchen tools. The selection was limited to a mere single processor--not a selection at all!--and it was cheap (fifteen dollars) and didn't look like much at all, rather plastic-y. But we figured it would do the job, so we bought it.

At first the food processor worked okay. Although the motor was a little weak and it took a while to fully blend frozen fruit and nuts and things and usually needed some added liquid to help out, it still managed to do it well enough.
But just a few days later it died. Piece of crud. Turns out my previous fears about the motor and such were correct. Never again will I buy cheap tools.

I'd learned my lesson, so I went online to Ebay to find a new processor: a good, solid one that would last. Of course, I couldn't afford a really nice, state-of-the-art model, but I was able to find a new, "buy now," free shipping, twenty-five-piece Magic Bullet set for sixty dollars. I've heard from others, particularly from other bloggers like CCK, that the Magic Bullet works really well and is really good for personal (and other) processing.

But the package isn’t going to arrive until Monday. How am I supposed to live that long without my beloved processing abilities? After just one day I’m already suffering from a processor “withdrawal.” I can’t make my morning soft-serves, shakes, or smoothies; I can’t blend nuts or dried fruit or other goodies to make into my favorite snacks—the raw, homemade bars, balls, and bites I love so much. There are so many yummy vegan recipes that just aren’t practical without a hand-sized blender. I need it. I can’t wait until Monday. I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself until then. I miss my dear mini processor dearly. </3

I’d had banana oatmeal the morning last, so I went with something a little different: Figgy-Flax Granola (I said a little different; it was hard to find a way to shake up my brekkie without my [beloved] food processor. I ended up still having to go with oats). Except I didn’t have enough time to make a real granola—very slowly cooked for a very long time at a low temperature—and I added a fourth a cup of almond milk, so it ended up turning out more like a baked oatmeal, very soft and not too crispy. It was basically like a baked cereal. I loved it anyway, of course.

To make the Figgy-Flax Bake, I combined a serving of oats, a tablespoon of wheat germ, and a tablespoon of milled flax (but I’m sure whole flax seeds would work just as well, if not better for a granola). I chopped up four dried mission black figs superfine and then mixed them into the dry stuff, then added a teaspoon and a half of pure vanilla extract and the fourth cup of almond milk. Next time, if I’m going for granola, I’ll skip the almond milk, or at least only use one or two tablespoons, and I’ll bake it at 275 degrees Fahrenheit for at least an hour or so, probably more like two or three.

But this time, to get more of a baked-cereal kind of thing (and because it was breakfast time and I was hungry for some breakfast munchies) I spread the mixture on a baking dish lined with parchment paper and popped it in the oven to bake at 350 degrees for thirty-five minutes or so. But halfway through I upped the temperature to 400 because I got impatient. ;-P If you wanted to use this basic recipe to make a baked oatmeal, you’d just add more liquid in the beginning and cook it like I did, maybe longer. What I did was a little too moist for a cereal, so I think next time I want to use it that way I’ll only add half the almond milk.

Once it was out of the oven and had cooled a bit, I scooped it into a cereal bowl, topped it with some fresh, juicy, in-season blueberries and enjoyed it with a little (just a little—it didn’t need much at all) almond milk.

The recipe for Figgy-Flax Oatmeal Bake/Granola will be posted after I get a chance to perfect it, but as you can see its pretty basic; just play with the ingredient amounts a little to see what works best for you. For full-on granola, you might even want to add extra seeds, nuts, dried fruit, or anything else. Maybe make a Figgy-Coconut Granola, with unsweetened shredded coconut? Coconut and fig makes a good match. J

So somehow I’m just going to have to deal until Monday afternoon—using/crafting recipes that don’t need a food processor (agh!) It will be EXTREMELY AGONIZING. Ants in my pants! (Though that saying doesn’t usually really describe how I feel… it’s more like there are ants in my head.) I’m anxiously awaiting that day... but I think I can manage. ;-) Either way, I have to. For now, if I want to make anything that needs blending, mushing, or any kind of other processing, I'll just need to do it by hand the good ol' fashioned way, with a fork or a spoon (which is fine and all, but I just don't get the same consistency, and I can't do nearly as many things... *sigh*).

Do you have a kitchen tool that you just can't live without?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My Favorite Meal

Breakfast. The most important meal of the day.

Serving it up, Shannon's way!

Wake up, sunshine! Breakfast is gives us energy to kick-start our day. Eating a good-sized, healthy breakfast boosts our metabolism and keeps us from getting too hungry later. It also keeps our minds awake and attentive and improves our mood. A yummy, nutritious breakfast makes a healthy, happy teen (or anyone, for that matter)!
Because it's summertime and I barely ever run anymore due to the excessive heat, breakfast is usually my carb-&-sugar pre-workout meal--the energy for my swimming (or sometimes jumprope) workout. I usually have some combination of fruit and whole grain.

And one of my favorite breakfasts? Why, oatmeal of course! Oatmeal is full of healthy grains and carbohydrates and is great for your heart! It also has fiber and a fair amount of protein, so it's a perfect way to start your day. And there are so many different ways you can shake up your oats! OATMEAL CAN BE SO MUCH MORE THAN A BOWL OF GOOP! Use any fruit or combination of fruits (fresh and/or dried); use different, new, and interesting extracts and flavorings; play around with spices; add your favorite nut-butter; throw in some cacao nibs or chocolate chips or WHATEVER. THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS!!! ;-)

This morning I went with a classic: banana oatmeal.

My favorite oatmeal method is overnight and raw, especially during the summer when I like my oatmeal nice n' cold. (Have you ever tried cold oatmeal like this? I lovelovelove it.) So last night I mixed all my ingredients together and popped the bowl, covered, in the refrigerator. I use CCK's voluminous oatmeal trick to get extra-plumped oatmeal, 'cause that's how I prefer my oatmeal--like Snooki likes her hair: the bigger the better. ;-)
(Hairstyle and facial expression)

In the morning, when I was all right-n'-ready to enjoy my lucious, pumped-up banana oatmeal, I just grabbed it from the fridge, gave it a stir, sprinkled a few cacao nibs and a skosh of extra cinnamon on top, and Shannabananafeefifofannah! delectable banana oatmeal for me to luxuriate in. Simple, wholesome goodness. <3

 I very much enjoyed it.


So what's your morning like usually? Do you eat breakfast? If so, what are they like--do you have larger breakfasts or small ones, maybe for on the go? What's your favorite breakfast?

I can't wait to read your responses! :-)

For me, it's hard to say, but I might have to go with Mocha-Banana Soft-Serve. (Although, of course, I'd eat it with something else too, since I'm so big on breakfasts! And I couldn't have it too often; I love variety way too much.) Espresso and banana just go so good together (actually, a lot of things go good with banana!), and I am just absolutely head-over-heels for that creamy, dreamy soft-serve that the frozen banana works for so well. Mmmm. <3

My blog has been inching along since I started it, a few days ago. It's still pretty small and needs a lot of construction and organization and, of course, time, but I'm hoping it'll grow so that I have it running well and get lots of feedback and connection. If you're reading this, thanks bunches for helping me! Just by visiting my blog you're improving it. ;-)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Pumpkin-Vanilla Ice-Cream Sandwiches!

Oatmeal and Banana Soft-Serve are two of my favorite breakfast treats. So why not combine them? Actually, the real question is: Why didn't I think of this sooner?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

My Very First Post

Hello. ( : My name is Shannon, and this is my blog: Food, Spice, and Everything Life.

This post is dedicated to introducting myself and my blog and what we're all about.
I'm new to the whole blogging thing, so bear with me for awhile. I still have to get used to working everything and learn how to do this. I'll try my best. ; )
So, first order of business. Who I am, why I created this blog, and what it's going to be all about. (This post includes, essentially, what will be going on my Me & My Philosophy page, but I felt I should also post it as my introductory post.)