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The Ice Orb

Posted on Apr 28, 2010 in Gizmo Girl

Ah, the good old days of ice trays that take up too much space in the freezer.  I usually just call the corner deli for a bag of ice when I really need it.  That is until I found this futuristic-looking gadget (pictured right.) It’s called the ice orb and unlike most trays, this one’s vertical so it leaves room for ice cream and life’s other frozen necessities.  That’s not the best part.  This is:  The orb uses a water displacement method to freeze the cubes on a vertical wall.  Just remove the inner bucket and fill the orb with water, then place the bucket back in, put on the lid, and pop it in the freezer.  It makes 21 cubes and stores 51, making more cubes than regular trays in less time. It even doubles as a cooler...

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Guacamole Set

Posted on Apr 23, 2010 in Gizmo Girl

Warm weather always makes me crave a margarita with a big bowl of homemade guacamole & chips.  Sure, you can make cut up a few avocados with a knife and mash them with a fork, but you’re bound to have clumps.  I bought this guacamole set for a friend with a guacamole fetish last year and ended up buying one for myself.Now, it takes no time at all.  Just press the avocado slicer down to press into pieces, then place all your slices in a bowl and mash.   Once you’re clump free, mix in onions, cilantro, tomato, lime juice and a little salt and pepper (or any combination of ingredients you like.)  You’re done.  You can serve your homemade guacamole as a dip, in tacos, or even as a topping for meats like skirt steak. The set also...

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Rotary Herb Mill

Posted on Apr 14, 2010 in Gizmo Girl

Dried herbs are a lot more convenient and often less expensive than fresh ones.  I’m guilty of tossing dried parsley flakes in broth and dried oregano in tomato sauce.  Truth be told, dried isn’t in the same league as fresh, fragrant herbs.  Flavor always wins out. Unfortunately, it’s usually a pain to cut, wash, and de-stem fresh herbs. That is until we found this ingenious gadget.  This rotary herb mill (pictured right) does all the mincing for you.   Your only duties are to wash and pat the herbs dry, then place in the mill, and turn the crank.  The chopped pieces come out the bottom of the mill.  You can grate fresh herbs directly over your plate.  Fresh oregano makes for an entirely species of spaghetti.  You might want to think about growing your own fresh herbs for...

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Asparagus Steamer

Posted on Apr 8, 2010 in Gizmo Girl

Steaming asparagus is not as easy as it sounds.   So many people end up with tough, undercooked stems or floppy, overcooked ones.  This is a delicate spring vegetable that requires a little extra attention in the pot.  We refused to ruin this year’s crop, so we tracked down an asparagus basket & pot (pictured right.) What don’t they make these days?  Apparently, a lot of chefs want to protect their precious produce.  Just wash, cut off the end of the stems and place in the  basket.  Then put the basket in the asparagus pot when it starts to boil, but not before.  That’s how a lot of chefs end up with soggy stems.  You can purchase the asparagus basket & pot online.  When asparagus season’s over, you can use it for carrots, rhubarb, and any other long-stemmed veggies...

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Recipe Sizer

Posted on Apr 1, 2010 in Gizmo Girl

I love testing out new recipes, but I always run into one problem.  The serving size never fits my needs.  It’s not as easy as you think to adapt a recipe that serves five to a romantic dinner for two.  I’d rather to stick cooking than doing math in then kitchen.  When Easter dinner rolled around, I finally got around to buying a recipe sizer.  Simply turn the dial to double or triple if you want to increase the serving or to 1/3 or 1/2 if you’re scaling down, and this inexpensive, little gadget does the math for you.  Now all you have to do is shop and cook. $9.98,...

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Nut Chopper

Posted on Mar 24, 2010 in Gizmo Girl

Chopped nuts add flavor and crunch to everything from salads to yogurt to cookies.  Just think about how much better peanut butter cookies taste with real peanuts or sauteed brussel sprouts with chopped walnuts.  Chopping them yourself always sounds like a good idea until they end up everywhere but the cutting board.  Not to mention it’s surprisingly hard work.  Most of the time, I cave and buy the pre-chopped variety. Now, I have no excuse.  This nut grinder is foolproof and fuss-free.  Just put the nuts of your choice in the grinder and crank the handle.  The crushed nuts fall into the chamber below, which can easily be removed.   It also happens to be a measuring cup, so you can grind the exact quantity your recipe requires.  Even better, there are two different settings, coarse or fine, to...

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Potato Masher

Posted on Mar 17, 2010 in Gizmo Girl

Mashed potatoes are one of America’s favorite comfort foods, so it’s probably a good idea to master the art of creamy, lump-less ones.  Unfortunately, that only seems to happen in restaurants. Not to mention mashing potatoes is surprisingly hard work.  Well, now you don’t have to mash at all.  Instead of pounding, the Simply Mash relies on rotation.  Just put the boiled potatoes in a bowl, grab onto the non-slip handle, and rotate your palm in a circular motion.  It’s easy on your hands and produces soft, fluffy potatoes in half the time it takes with a traditional masher.  It also evenly blends in garlic, chives, or any other seasonings.  For a change of pace, try purple potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnip, or even carrots. $10,...

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Butter Guide

Posted on Mar 11, 2010 in Gizmo Girl

Baking is an exact science.  Add a teaspoon of yeast to your bread mix instead of a teaspoon and it might not rise at all.  Butter’s integral to baking, but iy’d not always easy to measure.  Have you ever bought one of those wax paper-wrapped sticks of butter labeled in  tablespoon measurements?   It’s difficult to get an accurate measurement when nearly half of the butter is stuck to the wax paper.  And there’s no measurements on foil or paper-wrapped, artisanal butters. This butter guide’s a sure thing.  Place the guide on top of a stick and cut according to the clearly labeled measurements, ranging from 1 tbsp to 1/4 lb.   The space between each increment is just wide enough for a butter knife, making for quick, easy cutting.  It’s terrific for baking, but you can use it for anything...

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Olive Stuffer

Posted on Mar 3, 2010 in Gizmo Girl

Visit Spain or your nearest tapas bar and you’ll find olives stuffed with everything from blue cheese to marcona almonds to anchovies.  And just because you’re entertaining at home, doesn’t mean you have to settle for the pre-stuffed, jarred variety.   Few people (myself included) have the time or the patience to stuff each olive, individually by hand. Which is why we fell for the Olivator (pictured right,) which does the stuffing for you.  Use the hollow end to core the ideal size and shape for the filling.  Then add your fresh filling, press the red button, and it shoots it right inside the olive.  We recommend jalapeno, garlic cheese, and tuna for stuffings.  You can also prepare an assortment of stuffed olives or garnish any martini.  The Olivator isn’t limited to olives.  You can use it to stuff hors...

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Garlic Slicer

Posted on Feb 25, 2010 in Gizmo Girl

The recent revolt against salt has me thinking that garlic might be the new salt.  Garlic boosts the flavor of everything from pasta sauce to roasted chicken to soup.  There’s just one drawback: Cutting the cloves.  Not only is it time consuming, but it’s also nearly impossible to get uniform slivers.   But the worst part is what I call “garlic hands” — the smell that lingers on your skin no matter how much you wash them. This garlic slicer (pictured right) cuts it for you.  Your only job is to peel the cloves.  Put a peeled clove into the chamber and twist.  One turn of the gadget creates 3 thin, uniform slices.  The stainless-steel blade can slice two cloves at once, which comes in handy when you’re cooking for a crowd.   Or you can store the extra slices in...

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DIY Movie Popcorn

Posted on Feb 17, 2010 in Gizmo Girl

All the snow has forced me into my annual hibernation.  The only thing I feel like leaving the house for on the weekends is dinner and a movie.  Sometimes, the whole puffy jacket, hat, glove, scarf routine feels like too much trouble.  Besides, movie night at home is much less expensive.  The only missing is movie popcorn and microwave popcorn just isn’t the same.You can buy a movie popcorn maker for a couple hundred dollars if you plan on never leaving the house again.  Or you can get this Whirley-Pop popcorn maker (pictured right,) which makes fresh popcorn the old- fashioned way.  Just place it on the stove, add the kernels, and turn it on.  It can make up to 6 quarts of popcorn in three minutes.  The movie theater line takes longer.  The aluminum pan has a turn...

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Mini Heart Baking Molds

Posted on Feb 10, 2010 in Gizmo Girl

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be a couples-only holiday.  (Don’t you feel better now?)  It’s a perfect excuse to bake for your family and friends.  Which is why we love these heart-shaped molds. You can turn your baked specialty into a homemade Valentine’s Day gift.   This mold makes 12 mini heart-shaped brownies, cakes, chocolates, or whatever else you can think up.   The silicon pan is lightweight and super flexible for easy removal.  You can even make a mixed bag of treats with the same tray.   Once they’re cooled and out of the pan, you can frost and decorate with  pink, red, or white sprinkles, M & M’s, or conversation hearts. $10.95,...

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Chocolate Fondue Set

Posted on Feb 3, 2010 in Gizmo Girl

There’s something inherently sexy about chocolate, especially warm, melted chocolate.  Instead of buying your annual box of truffles or going out for one of those romantic dinners with special menus, you could celebrate Valentine’s Day over fondue.  This romantic red fondue set (pictured right) is perfect for couples with different chocolate habits — he’s the milk chocolate type, you’re the dark chocolate kind. All you need is chocolate, wooden sticks, and dippables.  Once you’re chocolate’s melted, you can dip strawberries, nuts, marshmallows, bananas, or whatever else you can think up into warm melted chocolate.  You can even pour your melted chocolate onto ice cream.  The fondue set keeps the chocolate warm, so it doesn’t harden.  You can even melt cheese on one side and chocolate on the other.  It takes a lot less time than baking and is easy...

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The Food Pod

Posted on Jan 27, 2010 in Gizmo Girl

This strange gadget looks like it’s better suited to the space age, but it’s a life savior in the kitchen.   It’s called the “food pod” and it’s great for boiling, blanching, and steaming anything.  Say you want to boil some eggs, perhaps 12 at once, which is what the pod holds.  Simply place the eggs inside the pod and put the pod into the pot of boiling water.  You already avoid the potential of cracking and egg as you drop it in or having hot water splash out at you. The food pod also functions as a strainer.  Once the eggs are done, pull the pod out by the handle on the top and let the water drain out of the holes on the pod’s sides. Better yet, the pod’s collapsible and fits into any sized pot.  The clips...

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Divided Pan

Posted on Jan 20, 2010 in Gizmo Girl

My least favorite thing about cooking is dirty dishes.  Which is why sink is always filled with dirty pots, pans, strainers, and spoons.  I’m not the best chef in the world, but even simple meals require a few essential tools. How great is this pan?  It’s divided into two sections to cook two dishes at the same time.  One, it cuts time. Two, it cuts cleaning.   It practically screams egg and bacon, which also means only one pan to wash.  And this divided pan makes for less juggling and saves space on the stove, since it only uses one burner.  It’s also great for making the same dish two ways – spinach and mushroom omelet on one side, sausage and pepper omelet on the other or chicken fajitas one on side, steak on the other – making it perfect...

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Pasta Vision

Posted on Jan 14, 2010 in Gizmo Girl

Boiling pasta is not quite as easy as it sounds.  Yes, you boil water, add a dash of salt, add pasta, drain, and serve.  But leave it in for a minute too long and you’ve got mushy, overcooked noodles.  As most Italians can tell you, al dente pasta is an art and a precisely timed one. This pasta cooker (pictured right) has a timer, so you don’t have to hover over a pot or scald yourself testing noodles.  Just set the timer and work on the rest of your meal or watch tv until it’s done.  Even better, the Pasta Vision cooker also cuts the cooking time by keeping the water at an ideal cooking temperature.  Like any great, multi-tasking gizmo, the lid also has a built-in strainer, so you don’t have to add another thing to the pile...

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Dumpling Press

Posted on Jan 5, 2010 in Gizmo Girl

There are many levels of cooking.  Making homemade pasta or kneading your own dough is an advanced level.   I love freshly made  pork gyoza or pumpkin ravioli, but I’d never dare try to tackle them at home.  If you’ve ever tried to make them at home, you know how hard it is to keep the filling inside the dumpling using your hands. But these days, there’s a kitchen solution for everything.  This dumpling press (shown right) saves you the trouble of making them by hand and produces perfect dumplings.  Just put the empty dough wrapper onto the open press and add the filling.  Then, moisten the edges of the wrapper and close the press to seal the dumpling, remove, and throw your creation in the steamer, fryer or oven.  The press is also perfect for dumpling-like treats from other...

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Flour Sifter

Posted on Dec 21, 2009 in Gizmo Girl

There are lots of wonderful and not so wonderful signs of the holidays.  (The unpleasant involve long lines, credit card debt, and frigid temperatures.)  The most pleasant signs are the aromas coming from the kitchen.  When you’re baking anything from cookies to cakes, clumps are the enemy.   This sifter not only un-clumps flour, but can also be used for any other dry ingredients like sugar, baking soda or cocoa. What sets this apart is its curved shape allows you to scoop flour right out of the bag and the trigger sifting mechanism let’s you scoop and sift with one hand.  And the mesh opening prevents messes, so you can even use it to add finishing touches, like powdered sugar for the tops of cakes, right at the table. $13.99,...

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VacuVin Instant Marinater

Posted on Dec 9, 2009 in Gizmo Girl

I don’t know about you, but I can hardly keep track of what day it is, never mind remember to marinate the meat for tonight’s dinner before I leave the house in the morning.  Of course, by the time I get home, I either have to settle for a bland meal or eat at 11 pm. Marinating is a wonderful way to add flavor to everything from steak to tofu, but it usually takes time for the meat to absorb the marinade.   Not anymore.  We found this instant marinater, which manages to marinade anything in just a few minutes.  There’s a vacuum attached to the container that seals in flavor with just a few pumps.   The container itself can hold a single or stacked layer allowing for dinner for one or four.  Even better, it can also be used...

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Spice Carousel

Posted on Dec 2, 2009 in Gizmo Girl

If you’re a regular Gizmo girl reader, you know how fond we are of gadgets that multi-task and this spice carousel is a great one.   Not only does it hold 12 spices to avoid cluttered cabinets with a bevvy of bottles, but it also measures & dispenses them for you. The auto-measure dial measures spices in quarter teaspoon increments, so you can put your bowl right under the dispenser, turn the dial, and out comes 1/4 or 1/2 a teaspoon of the spice.  The top of every spice section opens, so you can spoon out larger measurements.  And you can take out each spice and use it as a shaker as well.   The spices are all stackable, making it easy to add another carousel if you’re into your spices and like to keep up to 36 on hand.  It...

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