Lately, I’ve been really happy with some of my/our purchases and I’ve also come to really appreciate some things that have been bought previously, but used more recently because of all of our stay at home time. In no way do I intend to make this an infomercial for various companies, though maybe I will unknowingly generate some kickbacks if a CEO or someone of the like should happen to catch one of my glowing reviews, but chances are not and that’s just fine. Instead, my intention and thought is to simply share some really good, maybe even unexpected finds along with some common ones that you may have heard about, but not personally delved into as of yet. As an avid shopper who has always enjoyed a good deal or an awesome product, there’s nothing like coming across that certain something that either makes life easier, or better, or sweeter, or all three of the aforementioned. I should warn you that my list is completely random in nature and as of this moment in time, I have no idea how many will end up on here, but I will try to contain my enthusiasm and/or do a part two, if need be.
Personal testimonies of items tried, tested and true are always helpful to me, so hopefully I can be of help to you in return. With endless possibilities online and otherwise, it can get super overwhelming to sift through all of the choices over what to buy. Please feel free to share your own must-have gems or treasures in my comments section, if you are so inspired. Who knows what other great things are out there for the taking if we don’t tell each other about them, right?
Unfortunately, the list that I am about to share is likely restrictive to those of us who reside in North America (though maybe they can be purchased and shipped internationally?), so I do apologize in advance if today’s post does not resonate with you. Ladies, I’m thinking that you also might get more out of my mentions versus any men readers out there; then again, most guys are sure to have a girlfriend, wife, sister, mother or daughter who might benefit from them, so let’s just skip all of the small talk already and get right to it:
1. Kitchen-Aid Stand Mixer (we ordered ours from the Kitchen-Aid website itself): My good heavens! Why it took 45 years to purchase one of these babies is beyond me, especially as someone who really enjoys baking. Well, actually, the price has always been an issue, but if you can manage to save up or forgo something else to invest in one of these beautiful machines, do it. I urge you. You won’t be sorry. This very minute I have my handy, dandy mixer all set up to whip up a batch of oatmeal cookies, which will soon be fresh. from. the. oven. Yumsker!
I used to be a steadfast beater girl. Ah, who needs a mixer? Just use your muscles, you wimps. In fact, each my husband and I owned a set of hand-me-down beaters from our moms both of which eventually met their sad demise bringing about the end to the beater era around here. I first tried replacing our old sets with a manic, no name brand of beaters purported to have five speeds, but really only one speed on speed, *if* you know what I mean, and that further sealed our Kitchen-Aid fate. The minute you turned those manic beaters on, you’d better believe Betty that your batter would end up everywhere! And I do mean, EVERYWHERE!!! Needless to say, it was finally time to invest in a stand mixer. After much research on which model to purchase given that there are eight billion different kinds out there, we settled on the Limited Edition Heritage Artisan Kitchen-Aid and it has been worth its weight in gold. If you can lift it (it truly is a well-built machine) and manage a spot for it in amongst your other gadgets, I highly recommend it. The dough hook is the best! Bread, anyone?
2. Brooks Glycerin Running Shoes (Offered in most Running Room Stores or from the Brooks Shoes website itself): I know that runners are so individualized, but these particular shoes have been my saving grace pre and post surgery, so that alone more than qualifies it for the number two spot on my list. Realizing that they may not fit your need or desire, I still feel that they are worth the mention. If you are good with a neutral shoe and you are looking for an excellent fit and feel (wide width included) with amazing built-in, supportive technology, these shoes are an absolute must! The best part is that the insoles can also be easily removed to fit orthotics, another must for me personally. Sadly, I had to give up the concept of ‘cute’ shoes a long time ago, and I honestly cannot say enough about how awesome these runners are particularly if you are on your feet a lot. Obviously, other people think so too as every year when I go to replace mine just as I did this year, they are often sold out of not only the popular colours, but the model of shoe itself. Grab them while you can (save a pair for me, please), but be sure to get your feet properly assessed first by a professional or well-trained, knowledgeable running store employee to ensure that they will be right for you. They are expensive, so I don’t want you to waste your money. However, if they happen to work for you and your feet, I promise that you will not be disappointed with this purchase. (Joy, thanks again for the birthday money well-spent. 🙂 )
3. Only Oats, Gluten-free Quick Oats (can be found online at Amazon.ca or at http://www.saskmade.ca): Since mentioning oatmeal cookies in number one, I will also share that as someone who typically hasn’t tolerated oats well in the past, this particular brand of quick oats (which also carries regular oats and oat flour) appears not to bother me as much or rather hardly at all. I have A LOT of recipes which contain oatmeal, so to have found something that I cannot only bake with, but also consume myself is a real win. Plus, oats are a super food for reflux sufferers like myself. For anyone needing or wanting to eliminate the gluten aspect while still being able to enjoy oats, look no further. (Mona and Sam, you should give them a try if you haven’t already.)
Naturally, I couldn’t bake fresh oatmeal cookies today and not show a picture of them alongside the product that helped bake them to fruition. Just beware that when you order up the bag of oats, the cookies do NOT come with it. Sorry! No refunds if you thought otherwise and jumped the gun in ordering some up. 😉
4. Smart Sweets Sweet Fish (you can go directly to the Smart Sweets website, though a lot of grocers now carry them and other popular flavours as well): I can’t very well create a post for today’s daily word, candy, without actually sharing one of my new favourite treats as was first recommended on the Marilyn Denis Talk Show, which airs weekday mornings here in Canada. Just as the bag pictured above indicates, they are plant-based, fiber-rich (don’t go too crazy!), tasty snacks with less than five grams of sugar per bag. They are a bit pricey for the quantity that you get, but if you are craving something without having to sacrifice your teeth or your diet, they are worth a go.
However, if you wanna go all-out gangbusters, then I say that it’s okay to indulge in the real deal candy every once in awhile as well. In particular, if you are a black licorice lover like me, then the candy in the photo that I featured along with today’s word would be an excellent choice. (By the way, did you happen to know what the candies were called without having to Google the name?).
5. Parchment Baking Cups by Paper Chef (found at Walmart and other grocery outlets or at the Paper Chef website itself)– Again to do with baking, but these little treasures which fit perfectly into regular-sized muffin trays are a God-send! Since I bake a lot of low-fat muffins to snack on, I found that many of them stuck to my wrappers leaving half of the muffin in disarray. Not anymore I will tell you. These paper gems have made muffin life so much easier. Clean up is a breeze and I can actually peel off the wrapper in one fell swoop. In fact, more often than not, the muffins conveniently ‘fall’ right out of the wrapper and straight into the palm of my hand making them ideal for right-now tasting. 😉
As an aside, on the Marilyn Denis Show, I also learned how to poach eggs easily in the oven by cooking them for 15 mins. at 350 degrees Fahrenheit and I now use the parchment liners for cooking up those as well. If you are looking to try the oven approach to poached eggs, feel free to cook them for less time if you like your eggs on the runnier side. Don’t worry, I won’t judge you if you like to slurp up the yolk versus being able to stab it with a fork like I do. There’s no reason why we ‘egg people’ all need be the same. We can appreciate one another’s love for Humpty Dumpty’s done however we like. The thing is that when I first began poaching my eggs in the oven, I found that they always stuck to my non-stick tin no matter what I did or didn’t put in the cups–nothing, Cooking Spray, oil, butter–so, I ended up turning to my Paper Chef find. The parchment wrappers quickly solved that issue and I now happily enjoy muffins and eggs sans mess. Yippee! Less clean-up equals happy baker/cook as we all know. 🙂
P. S. When oven poaching, don’t forget to put a tablespoon of water in with each egg to help steam them to perfection, and I always like to add a little bit of water to any of the empty muffin cups before baking; although, I’ve recently read that it is not necessary to do so.
Since I don’t know the art of brevity and I’m only about a quarter of the way through all of the items that I wanted to share with you, I’ll have to save the others for a part two and likely part three at a later time. After all, it is a Sunday morning and I want you to be able to sit back, relax and read the rest of today’s blogposts about candy whilst indulging in a sweet treat of your own perhaps. Sweet Fish anyone? Or have you had *Good and Plenty* of stuff for now? (*Hint! hint! to my followers.)