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The $5 Miracle Toy

29 Jun

The plan, my loves, was to share with you a recipe for linguine with garlic bread crumbs that we tried Monday night.

The problem is that we didn’t like it. At all. Hugely disappointing. Dry and relatively tasteless; DH described it as “noodles with sawdust.” There were leftovers, and I tried stirring some summer-ripe grape tomatoes in, but even that couldn’t save this dish. Thumbs down, and I don’t recommend it.

So instead, we’re going to talk about one of my favorite toys today, and it’s something I picked up at Target on a total whim, for less than $5. It’s my handy-dandy batter bowl.

My mom had one of these when I was a kid, only hers was Jadeite and lovely (of course, I was younger and stupid when she sold her house years back and didn’t want it, and now that I have an appreciation for such beautiful things, have no idea where it wound up. Lesson learned). I came to my senses about such things a year or so ago, but by then had kids and budgets and a very tightwad way of living, and picked up a cheap, clear plastic model for myself. It has served me well and is one of the most useful gadgets in my kitchen.

I bought my batter bowl for pancakes, but it is an absolute miracle for cupcakes. I’ve used it for waffles, funnel cakes, and all sorts of sauces. Anything you’d pour, this is your tool. It’s simple and easy and pretty mess-free, and gets tossed right in the dishwasher. One bowl for mixing and pouring. I like that.

Such is my wisdom for today. If you don’t have one of these, get thee to the store and pick one up–you’ll love it. And if your mom has a gorgeous old one, don’t let it go.

Shameless Plug: Have you become a fan of Playing With My Dinner on Facebook? We have a fun wall where we chat about lots of kitchen-esque topics, and I’d love to see you there. Click here and then click “like,” and tell your friends! Thanks!

Baked Chickpeas: Fail

30 Jul

A few nights ago, I had a handful of friends over for a “mid-summer whine and cheese” party, to commemorate the middle of our kids’ summer break and commiserate about the same. I knew I had at least one guest with a nut allergy and planned accordingly, picking appetizers and desserts to make that had no nuts and no worries about cross-contamination from ingredients manufactured in plants that process nuts. No big deal.

But I did want a little bowl out of a crunchy something to replace the traditional bowl of cashews on the table. So I did a search and tried this recipe for baked chickpeas, which should have fit the bill.

Despite following the directions to a T (minus the black pepper, which didn’t seem nut-like to me at all) and leaving these in the oven for more than twice the time called for, the chickpeas never crunched up. They looked like nuts, to be sure, and the spice was good, but they were still chickpeas. Soft and bean-y inside. Which wasn’t at all what I was going for.

I tried a few, and one or two other people tried a few, and then the whole lot went in the trash.

Recipes sometimes fail. It happens. Chalk it up to insufficient testing or perhaps operator error, and move on. But skip the baked chickpeas.

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