Review: Veggie Slicer

If you follow me on Facebook you know how excited I was to finally get a chance to try a veggie spiralizer gadget. So many of my friends had been talking about it online and how amazing it was that I was getting a little jealous. The company apparently took pity on me because they were kind enough to send me one for an honest review. I was over the moon. I started pinning recipes left and right on Pinterest. I even watched some how-to videos on what vegetables to use it on. I mean this thing can spiralize anything from a beet to butternut squash. *mind blown*

Then I got the device and the first thing I tried were carrots. Now, I don't know about you but my grocery store's carrots are not massive in size. They are larger than the ones you get in those pre-packaged bags, but apparently not big enough for the Veggie Slicer. I wanted to make carrot "noodles" for a salad but due to the carrots shape and size, I was getting more rice, than noodle shapes. It didn't matter though, I just got this gadget and I would not be deterred. I ate my carrot rice salad and I loved it!

Sweet potato failure
Next I tried sweet potato. I really wanted curly sweet potato string "fries". So I grabbed the straightest and most narrow sweet potato I could find at the grocery store, went home, and got to work. Let me tell you, it is NOT as easy as you see on T.V. Let's just say that this is a good arm workout. Which wouldn't be a huge issue for me if the device wasn't so awkward to hold. It has these paper thin metal side things that are not the most pleasant to grip, let alone they feel like they would snap on you with the littlest pressure. There really is no easy way to hold this thing... so I gave up and handed it to the Mr. He tried for a while but I was getting too hungry and we weren't making much progress. So I told him to stop and that I'd just make normal fries.

Like cutting butter

Then I tried using the Veggie Slicer on zucchini. The experience was night and day. Sure it was awkward holding the device but zucchini is so soft that the device cut through it like melted butter. I didn't need to hold it in a death grip while I made "noodles". I was able to go through four zucchini in the time it took me to make that tiny pile of sweet potato. I made a really delicious shrimp scampi with the zucchini noodles and it was pretty easy. I actually plan on making the scampi again this week for dinner.

Conclusion: While this device can make an awesomely healthy shrimp scampi, I'm not sold on it. It's uncomfortable to hold onto, difficult to use on harder vegetables, and isn't the easiest thing in the world to clean. I spent more time cleaning the zucchini bits out of the blades than I did spiralizing the zucchini in the first place. I think it's a nifty gadget and it's an amazing way to eat more vegetables but it needs to be a little more user friendly.

Snickers Cookies

You know how much I love trying recipes that I find on Pinterest. With that being said though, they don't always turn out like the picture. I've had my fair share of Pinterest Fails and this was one of them. Now I know you're looking at that picture thinking, "That's a fail?" Well, no that one isn't a fail, this one is...

You see they were supposed to turn out like this...
Picture from Bakergirl site.

Huge difference. The peanut butter was just dried crumbly peanut butter and the chocolate was almost on the verge of being cake better consistency. It was a complete mess and I was not at all surprised when mine didn't come out looking like the picture. I went though the comments and realized that a lot of people had the same exact problem that I did. I had a huge amount of dough though and decided to improvise. I combined the two doughs together into one.

And that is how I went from a fail to a really delicious cookie. I did change the recipe quite a bit though. I mean, a total of 4 cups of sugar AND 4 full Snickers bars seemed like a bit much.I'm not overly convinced those extra cups of sugar would have made a lick of difference in the finished product though. The two doughs were just all over the place. However, once I mixed the two doughs together, not only did it split the process in half but the cookie turned out much more appealing to look at.

I had a little helper with me while making my cookies.

recipe adapted from Bakergirl

Peanut butter dough
  • 1 cup natural creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup natural chunky peanut butter
  • 4 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted 
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Chocolate dough
  • 1 cup margarine/butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 regular-sized Snicker bars, chopped into small pieces
  • 3/4 cup caramel chips/bits

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. 
  2. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. For the peanut butter dough, cream together the peanut butter, oil, and egg until dough forms. Stir in chocolate chips. 
  4. For the chocolate dough, cream together the margarine, sugar, and brown sugar until well combined. Slowly beat in egg and vanilla until well combined. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Slowly add the butter mixture until well combined. Stir in chopped Snickers pieces and caramel chips. 
  5. Mix the two doughs together until just barely combined. 
  6. Take two tablespoons of dough and gently roll into a ball and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. 
  7. Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until done. Let cool 5 minutes on baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Cajun Shrimp Quinoa Casserole

We didn't really have a winter here but there were a few weeks where it was a little chilly. By chilly I mean 50°f. However, considering we just came from the 115° desert this past summer, 50° feels like winter to us. So I started searching for casserole dishes that I could make that would not only be hearty but easy to make. That's when I found this recipe. I had some extra frozen shrimp in the freezer from new years eve that I had been wanting to use and this was the perfect recipe for it. 

This is definitely something new that we've never had before. I don't think I've ever had cheese on shrimp before. However, considering I've made and enjoyed shrimp with cheesy bacon polenta I figured this wouldn't be too far off. This was pretty delicious. I'm not familiar with cajun food so I can't say that this was authentic or reminded me of Loisianna but I can say it was different from anything I've had and it was tasty. I particularly enjoyed that you make everything in the one pan (if it's oven safe). So there aren't multiple dishes to clean up afterwards. The only downside to this dish is that you kind of have to eat it all while it's fresh. We had a lot of leftovers and they weren't quite as good after being nuked in the microwave the next day.

 recipe adapted from This Gal Cooks

  • 3/4 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 4 medium tomatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 c. chopped sweet onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2½ tsp cajun seasoning
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2½ c. cooked quinoa
  • 1 c. shredded fontina cheese
  • Fresh cilantro for garnish
  1. Cook quinoa according to package, set aside.
  2. Toss the shrimp and 1 tsp Cajun seasoning together, set aside.
  3. Toss the tomatoes with 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp Cajun seasoning, set aside.
  4. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat in a cast iron skillet (or any oven-safe skillet) Cook the shrimp until opaque, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  5. Add the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil to the pan along with the onion, jalapeno and garlic. Cook until the onion and jalapeno are tender, stirring often. Mix in the quinoa, tomato paste, ½ tsp Cajun seasoning and tomato chunks. (If you don't have an oven safe skillet then transfer ingredients to a 9x9 baking dish and follow remaining steps) Top with the shrimp and then sprinkle with the fontina cheese.
  6. Place in the oven and bake at 350 for 15 minutes. During the last 2 minutes, turn on the broiler to high and broil until the cheese is slightly brown and bubbly.
  7. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cupcakes

The Mr. and I don't really celebrate Valentine's day. We did when we first started dating and got married but now it's just one of those white noise holidays for us. I refuse to go out to eat, I don't want him buying me chocolates or flowers, and I'm not talking about that thing us ladies do where we say we don't want something but we really do, it's just a typical day for us. This year I didn't even make a fancy dinner; I made pizza. However, what we did do was make cupcakes and drink a bottle of champagne that a friend got me for Christmas that had been sitting in the back of the fridge begging to be opened. So I guess in our own crazy way we celebrated by drinking mimosas, eating pizza (not at the same time because that would be gross), and baking cupcakes while slightly intoxicated.

Initially I wanted to make the white chocolate coconut cupcakes I made about 5 years ago but those were a bit of work and I have been pretty lazy lately. It could have something to do with the 80° weather we've been having here. Plus, I had bought this big bottle of Trader Vic's macadamia nut liqueur last year when I had planned on making lava cakes for me and a couple of friends for a girls-night Valentine's day thing. That never happened because by the time we all got off of work, we were done for the day and nobody wanted to do anything, let alone bake cake. So here I am with this bottle just collecting dust when I found this recipe for amaretto cupcakes. Almonds... macadamias... they're kind of the same thing, right? This was probably the most perfect recipe to have made that night because it was super simple and a breeze to whip up. I even brushed off my piping equipment that I bought for those Wilton cake decorating classes I took way back when. Oh and if you have a dairy allergy or you're vegan these will be right up your alley. It wasn't until I was stuffing my face with cupcakes that I realize these had no eggs in them. Although, I did end up using real butter for the frosting so mine weren't vegan in the end.

 recipe adapted from Love & Olive Oil

  • 1 cup coconut milk (I used cashew milk since I had it on hand)
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp macadamia nut liqueur
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For Frosting:
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 1/2 - 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1-2 Tbsp macadamia nut liqueur
  • 2 Tbsp coconut milk or other non-dairy milk (again, I used cashew milk)

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Line muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. Whisk together the coconut milk, sugar, oil, macadamia nut liqueur, and vanilla extract and beat till foamy (Mine never really got foamy so after about 5 minutes I moved on). In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, almond meal, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add in two batches to wet ingredients and mix until no lumps remain (or very few remain).
  3. Pour into liners, filling each with about 3 tablespoons of batter. Bake 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.
  4. For frosting, cream butter/margarine until smooth and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add in cocoa powder, along with 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar. Beat until combined. Beat in macadamia nut liqueur to taste. Continue adding sugar 1/2 cup at a time, adding cream as necessary, until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Spread or pipe onto cooled cupcakes. Store cupcakes in the refrigerator.

Bananas Foster Chia Pudding

I'm relatively new to the whole chia seeds thing. I have no idea what to do with them, and for the price, I don't want to waste them. So I was really excited when Joanne from Eats Well With Others posted this recipe. I've tried a few of her recipes over the years and they have never let me down.

I love that this was such a simple recipe. It does require some planning ahead since the chia seeds soak in the coconut milk overnight to make the pudding portion of the dessert. Other than that, you just make the topping when you're ready to eat. The contrast between the warm topping and the cold pudding is out of this world. If you have ever wondered about chia seeds, this is a must try recipe, and for those bananas foster fans out there, you need to try this version. Trust me, it was amazing.

Recipe adapted from Eats Well With Others

  • 2 c. coconut milk (refrigerated, not canned)
  • ⅓ c. chia seeds
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 bananas, peeled and sliced into coins
  • ½ c. packed brown sugar
  • ¼ c. bourbon
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ c. chopped pecans, toasted
  • pinch of salt

  1. In a large bowl, stir together the coconut milk, chia seeds, and maple syrup. Refrigerate overnight.
  2. The next more, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add in the bananas and saute for a minute or two, until starting to brown. Add in the brown sugar and bourbon and cook, stirring frequently, until sauce has thickened and bourbon has mostly cooked off. Remove from the heat and stir in the pecans, cinnamon and salt.
  3. After it's overnight stay in the fridge, the chia and coconut milk mixture should be thickened, almost the consistency of tapioca pudding. Divide it among 4-6 bowls and top with the bananas foster topping. Serve warm or cold.