SUPER NUTTY HOMEMADE GRANOLA BARS

Tomorrow the hubby & I are going away again for a weekend of camping in New Hampshire with some friends. We both love camping but haven’t been all summer. It’s about time!

I always bring snack bars for camping, especially if we’re hiking & we need quick, filling, on-the-go snacks. I was just going to pick up some healthy snack bars at the grocery store, but I really couldn’t find anything that was “healthy” enough to me.

I made some homemade snack bars a few weeks back, so I decided to experiment with them again instead of purchasing anything. The hubby specifically requested for something a little nuttier this time than just standard chocolate chip granola bars.

I have to say, they turned out really great!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cups oats (preferably quick oats)
  • 2 tablespoons wheat germ
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup pecans*
  • 1/4 cup almonds*
  • 1/4 cup craisins or dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Mix the peanut butter, honey, and coconut oil together until blended well.

2. In a separate bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together.

*Note: for the nuts, you can choose any kind of you like. I just happened to have pecans & almonds on hand.

3. Mix the peanut butter mixture into the oat/nut mixture until well blended and all the oats and nuts are coated well.

4. Shape the oat “dough” on a foil covered baking sheet by using a spatula to flatten.

5. Put in the fridge or freezer to set, about 30 minutes.

6. Slice it with a pizza cutter to create bars. Makes 8.

Slice the bars with a pizza cutter

I was trying to save them all for the trip, but I just had to try one beforehand. Quite nutty indeed!

What I particularly love about homemade bars is that they are so much more filling. Pure oats, seeds, nuts, and peanut butter? I know there are a lot of calories in this snack, but it’s exactly what I’m looking for in a snack bar these days. Those little 100 calories things just don’t cut it for me. And I also love knowing everyingredient in these bars. No random syrups or extra sugars. Just goodness.

I put them in individual snack bags to take with us on the trip. I’m keeping them refrigerated until we leave, as they tend to get a little crumbly at room temperature.

Hopefully they hold up in a backpack!

Questions for You:

  • What’s your favorite trail snack?
  • The perfect granola bar for you would include what ingredients?

Peanut Butter Jelly Time

Last night was one of those nights that neither me or my husband were in the mood to make dinner. We decided to have a date night in, but cooking was just not appealing.

It’s also really not date night in unless there’s some kind of dessert involved, but with the sugar detox, I was pretty much out of options at home. To the store we went!

Right next to the grocery store is a restaurant called UNO that has really good pizza. It was definitely calling my name as we walked by. We picked up their “Farmer’s Market” pizza, which has carmelized onions, eggplant, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, and more.

Farmer's Market Pizza

All the slices were pretty normal sized, except this little teeny one that I had to have. How cute is it?

Teeny slice!

It took me about two bites to eat that little guy. The pizza was so satisfying, and the crust was really buttery and crunchy. Mmm!

After dinner, I was ready to whip up some no-sugar-added dessert. I’ll recap the whole sugar detox experience tomorrow, but the week has been going really great. I don’t really feel like I’m craving sweets, but I needed something. 

I picked up some Polaner all natural fruit spread at the store. I get this stuff all the time, but was just out. It’s amazingly sweet for having no sugar added. Just a bunch of fruit juices.

I decided to make what I’ll call peanut butter & jelly pudding. This undoubtedly makes me think of Peanut Butter Jelly Time.

PB&J Pudding

PEANUT BUTTER & JELLY PUDDING

I used…

  • Fage plain 0% Greek Yogurt (my fave) 
  • 2-3 tbsp. PB 2 (as powder, not mixed with water)
  • dash of cinnamon
  • a few drops of vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. Peanut Butter
  • 1 tbsp. jelly

I threw the first 3 ingredients into the Greek yogurt & mixed, and then topped it with the peanut butter & jelly. This was surprisingly satisfying & plenty sweet.

I used to think plain Greek yogurt was so sour until I started using Fage. I love Chobani, but I find that their plain version is way too sour to me. Fage is somehow better.

PB & J Pudding

So yummy! Although I had this for dessert, this would make a really good afternoon snack too. Or you could even have it for breakfast.

After I had my “dessert,” we watched Argo. So good!

ORGANIZATION CHALLENGE

Again, I am so excited to be doing the Organization Challenge with some of you. However, this week I was just not motivated to clean or organize anything, which is quite odd for me.

But the hubby got me this awesome to-do list pad for my birthday, so hopefully after a list or two, my motivation will return.

To Do List

This is like the holy grail of to-do lists for me. Love!

I hope you have a great Saturday! I’m off to squeeze in a work out, just chill, and then go to a Tupperware party later 

Questions for You: 

  • Are you a to-do list person? Why or why not? 
  • Challenge participants, how has your organizing been going? Making progress or unmotivated?

Brisket Flat vs Point

The cut from the lower chest or breast of veal or beef is called “brisket.” Briskets have two types of cuts—the flat and the point—and for this reason, you will sometimes read or hear the phrase Brisket flat vs point. But what is really the difference between the brisket flat and point?

Brisket Flat vs Point

Brisket Flat and Point Differentiated

Brisket, according to USDA, refers to the cut from the beef’s side that includes the deep pectoral, the sternum bones, and the supraspinatus muscle. The brisket flat generally refers to the deep pectoral muscle. On the other hand, the pectoralis superficialis is called the brisket point.

The point and the flat are generally separated by a thick strip of fat that runs between them. This strip of fat also runs over the whole surface of the brisket flat. Moreover, you’ll find thick fat that encircles the brisket flat’s edge, especially close to the point. The brisket point is perched on top of the brisket flat. The meat’s deepest portion, however, belongs to the brisket flat.

To differentiate further the flat and point, you will notice that one side of the brisket contains a large area with almost no fat. The point faces the brisket’s high end while the fat-free side faces downward. Another important point to consider about the point and the flat is that their grains almost run perpendicular to each other’s grain. Thus, you need to separate these two sections after cooking.

Prepping a Brisket

Every brisket carries a unique characteristic. You will not find two briskets that are totally identical. You’ll see a lot of variations of briskets in terms of shape, size, amount of fat, and how the point relates to the flat section. So, you don’t need to be surprised if you find your brisket longer than the previous brisket you’ve cooked.

When preparing a brisket, you can’t use a dull knife for it is surely incapable of cutting through it. You would need a really sharp knife to trim the brisket. You can’t also use a utility knife or a paring knife. Instead, you should either use a butcher’s knife or a boning knife.

Some people folks prep the brisket by simply removing it from the Cryovac and patting it dry using paper towels. Afterward, they apply their favorite rub, and then, throw the brisket onto a cooker.

It is not good to leave the brisket with all the fat on it. The truth is—rub and smoke would surely be incapable of penetrating the fat. If all fats are intact, you would need more fuel and time to cook it.

Experts will suggest that you cut away some thick fat or some of the thickest strips of fat. Just leave enough fat to provide flavor to the brisket and keep it moist during the cooking process.

How to Separate the Flat from the Point?

The first thing you should do to separate the flat from the point is to identify where the flat and point on the brisket are. You can do this by placing the brisket on a table with the fattier side facing downward. Obviously, the point will be below the flat. You will notice a fat seam at the point where the flat and the point meet.

This fat seam is referred to as the “nose.” You can begin separating the two at that point. Cut downward into the fat seam. Then, follow the seam while it curves back and runs under the flat. Lift the flat using your free hand while you slice through its fat seam up to where the point tapers off. There, you can slice through the meat to completely separate the two.

Afterward, you can begin trimming off the external fat. The point will be usually on the right while the flat is usually on the left side. You can either smoke the point alone and save the flat for later smoking or you can smoke them both at once.

Conclusion

The point and the flat are two cuts on the brisket and as such, they come from the same section of the beef. The brisket flat vs point argument is often no longer necessary to deal with for both are of the same section. Of course, you can still go on pitting the flat with the point, but for a lot of people, the two don’t have much difference.

What Does Tofu Taste Like?

What is Tofu?

Tofu is solid that is made from condensed soy milk, and it is native to Asia. It is a very popular food that you must have seen in movies or heard about from your friends and family, even if you have had no encounter with this food. Tofu is very high in protein, which is why it is popular among vegetarians; instead of meat and fish, this food serves as their main source of protein. It shouldn’t be food for vegetarians; however, it is something that should be taken by everybody because it is plant-based and highly nutritious. If you have never tasted tofu before, this article will give you an idea about what tofu really tastes like.

What does Tofu taste like?

Tofu is simply coagulated protein, and in reality, it should have a bland taste. There are certain things that will, however, influence what tofu tastes like. These determining factors are:

  • Type of tofu
  • How it is cooked
  • Your sensitivity to taste

Type of Tofu

Tofu generally has a bland taste, regardless of the type. The only thing that these different types of tofu have is different textures. So even though tofu generally has a bland taste, these different types of tofu with different textures will affect how you will perceive that taste.

Firm tofu

This is arguably the most popular type of tofu, and it is one of the types that are very suitable for frying. Firm tofu has a sort of earthy flavor, but like most types of tofu, it will absorb the taste of other ingredients used to cook it.

Soft tofu

This type of tofu is always eaten fresh. Just as the name implies, it is very soft and kind of creamy. It is usually combined with other sweet food, and it is commonly used for dessert. This kind of tofu will most likely take the taste of the other dishes it is taken with.

Silken tofu

This is not as soft as soft tofu but is still a little soft. This tofu is popularly used in soups, and it is also used to concentrate the taste of other foods.

Smelly tofu

This is the only type of tofu that has a distinct flavor on its own. It has a strong smell and also a fermented taste that some people like.

Porous tofu

This type of tofu doesn’t have a taste on its own, and it can soak up the flavor and taste of other food it is cooked with. It is commonly used in broths.

How it is cooked

Going by this factor, it is possible to make your tofu taste anyhow you want it to taste like. How tofu is prepared is the most critical factor that will influence the taste, texture, and flavor of what you will get finally. Simply put, tofu will taste like the ingredients used in cooking it or like the other foods it is cooked with.

Sensitivity to taste

Five taste senses are present on the tongue; sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and glutamates. Tofu in the real sense is tasteless unless you are sensitive to glutamates. If you are sensitive to glutamates, you may experience some taste whenever you take tofu, and it most likely won’t be a nice taste.

How to get the best taste out of tofu

When cooking tofu, you should have it in mind that the most important thing is what you cook it with; this is the most important factor that will eventually influence taste. On its own, tofu is almost tasteless, unless you are sensitive to glutamate, you should not experience any eat just tofu. To get the best taste from tofu, you should either season or marinate it with flavors that you like. Follow the steps below if you want to give the tofu that particular taste and flavor you like.

Drain

When you drain tofu properly, especially firm tofu, it will be easier for the seasoning to get in and stay in the tofu, making sure that you get that particular taste and flavor you have in mind.

Cut the tofu thinly

When you cut your tofu too thick, it becomes very hard for the seasoning to get to the middle, and what you will end up with is the outer part of the tofu having a taste, but the inner part will remain bland. To ensure that the seasoning gets to all chunks of the tofu, try always to cut it thinly.

Seasoning

You must have had a particular or flavor in mind before you start cooking; this will determine the type of seasoning you will use. Add sufficient salt, pepper, paprika, and any other type of seasoning that will give your tofu that taste that you have in mind.

Philips Smokeless Indoor BBQ Grill Review 2020

The most obvious advantages of using electric grills are its convenience and ease of use. You can eat healthily while saving time on your cooking if you use an electric grill. Yet, there are myriads of brands and models of electric grills on the market today, and this makes it difficult for buyers to choose the right electric grill. Hence, to help consumers easily zero in on the best electric grill, we are engaging here in Philips Smokeless Indoor BBQ Grill review.

General Features of Philips Smokeless Indoor BBQ Grill

The best smokeless indoor grill reviews are balanced and unbiased and are very useful and informative to consumers. Thus, in this review, we tried to make an unbiased assessment of the pros and cons of using Philips Smokeless Indoor BBQ Grill. We’ve also considered the insightful reviews of experts about this grill. Moreover, we’ve used the following succinct parameters of design and durability, capabilities and ease of use, ease of cleaning, affordability, and warranty in assessing the merits of this electric grill.

Design and Durability

The Philips Smokeless Indoor BBQ Grill has a very basic design, though it uses advanced infrared technology along with special reflectors to guide the heat towards the grill’s cooking grid. The result is an evenly grilled food. It also comes with a drip tray underneath the grates This drip tray remains cool; thus, this grill produces no smoke.

The Philips Smokeless Indoor BBQ Grill is designed to heat up consistently up to a maximum temperature of 446°F. Its design is pretty simple, except for the fact that it uses infrared technology and special reflectors. Its grates are mounted; thus, when you are going to use it, you need to mount the grates. It is easy to mount and balanced when mounted. Its dimensions are 21.85” x 7.48” x 16.93″. Compared to the George Foreman grill, this one has a smaller grilling space.

When it comes to durability, upon closer scrutiny, you will readily see that it has a solid built. However, the external parts of the grill are made of plastic material. But despite that, it appears to be solid and sturdy. 

Capabilities and Ease of Use

When it comes to its capabilities, Philips Smokeless Indoor BBQ Grill is very much capable of doing the job it is designed to do. It has a maximum heat output of 446°F, enough to cook well even thick slices of meat. It is also easy to use with its simple and user-friendly design. It doesn’t have fancy gauges and buttons. Thus, its design appears to be bland, yet compact. It doesn’t have heat settings and temperature gauges. Moreover, its control dial comes with three basic settings, namely: On and Off, as well as Warm options.

Ease of Cleaning

The Philips Smokeless Indoor BBQ Grill is easy to clean. You can simply use a sponge to wipe the grates to remove the sticky grease and oil from the grates. Then, you can remove the drip tray and clean it using a sponge.

Affordability

Compared to other electric grills on the market today, Philips Smokeless Indoor BBQ Grill is more expensive than the other electric grills. It is more than two hundred dollars.

Warranty

The Philips Smokeless Indoor BBQ Grill comes with a three-year limited warranty.

Pros:

  • It can heat up quickly and cook well.
  • It comes with advanced infrared technology.
  • It is easy to use.
  • It is easy to clean.

Cons

  • It is bulky enough for a small kitchen.
  • It is also expensive.
  • It has no temperature gauge.

Conclusion:

This Philips Smokeless Indoor BBQ Grill Review allows consumers to see clearly the merits of using this electric grill. It comes with pretty bland yet very easy to operate design. Its features are very plain and simple, though it makes use of advanced infrared technology and heat reflectors. Moreover, it is easy to operate. It looks sturdy and durable as well. We can say that this grill performs well. The downsides of buying this grill are not really drawbacks. It is expensive, of course, compared to other electric grills. It also doesn’t have fancy dials and gauges. Yet, the catch is that it performs its task well. Thus, it is receiving positive raves from its users. We also give it a positive review because it appears to have the great features that everyone is looking for in an electric grill

Charcoal Grilling for Beginners: Tips and Tricks

Grilling might seem like a straightforward task at first. Wait until you try it yourself! It won’t take long before you realize that grilling is an art that not a lot of people can master. From lighting the coals to making sure that the fire stays throughout grilling, there are many things that you need to learn. That said, keep on reading and learn from the things we’ll share about charcoal grilling for beginners.

Charcoal Grilling for Beginners

See Also:

+ Z Grills ZPG-7002B 2020 New Model Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker Review 2020

+ Masterbuilt MES 130B Digital Electric Smoker Review 2020

It All Starts with Your Choice of Grill

Among others, one of the most important is to use the best charcoal grill for beginners. It should be user-friendly. Do not settle for the cheapest. Rather, consider the features and performance. A good grill is an investment, especially if you are a fan of outdoor cooking. See to it that the grill can maintain a consistent temperature for even distribution of heat. Emphasis should be on quality and not on price.

Invest in a Chimney Starter

It is not enough that you have the best charcoal grill for beginners. It is important that you also invest in the must-have accessories, including a chimney starter. This makes grilling a lot easier since you will no longer need lighter fluid. Starting a fire can be done in an instant. At a minimum, choose a chimney starter with a capacity of at least six quarts.

Oil the Grill

This is one of the most important things that you need to do before you start grilling. Oiling the grates is a good way to prevent the meat from sticking on the surface. You can use a paper towel to rub oil or a brush. Aside from oiling, you also need to pre-heat the grill, which is a good way to get those beautiful lines that will make your grilled treats more mouthwatering.

Create Heat Zones

You have to create partitions in the grill. This is easy if the grill is large but challenging if you have limited space. At one section of the grill, there should be high heat, which will be useful for searing. There is also a portion with medium heat, which is where you will allow the meat to cook without worries that you will burn it.

Mind the Heat

It is also critical that you pay attention to the level of heat when you are grilling. First, you need to think about the meat that you are grilling. For instance, if you are cooking chicken, you will only need low heat. Pork and beef, on the other hand, will need high heat since they take longer to cook.

Add Flavor

When grilling on charcoal, there are different ways to add flavor. Salt and pepper are the most common when it comes to seasonings that you can use. However, if you are looking for a unique way to incorporate flavor into the food, use hardwood. Different woods will have different flavors, most of which will add a hint of smokiness.

Keep the Fire Burning

One of the most challenging about charcoal grilling deals with keeping the coals burning. Especially when it is windy, this can be challenging. Find a way for the fire to stay. Otherwise, there will be a problem with heating consistency. This also means that your food can end up being under-cooked or over-cooked.

Know How to Handle Flare-Ups

Chances are, you will experience flare-ups when you are using a charcoal grill. The fat from meat causes this problem. Some people use a  spray bottle to deal with the flare-up. Nonetheless, this is one thing that we do not recommend since you will just end up blowing ash in your food. The best way to control flare-up is to move the meat to the part of the grill with low or no heat.

Keep Your Charcoal Grill Clean

Right after every use, clean your grill before storage. Otherwise, the residues will harden and will be more difficult to remove. Also, regular cleaning keeps the grill hygienic, preventing the growth of bacteria that can cause contamination. Best of all, this avoids any negative impact of dirt on the flavor of whatever you would like to grill.

Z Grills ZPG-7002B 2020 New Model Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker Review 2020

Want to smoke meats without the hassle? If yes, then read this short Z Grills ZPG-7002B 2019 New Model Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker Review and we’ll talk about one of the best products that should be on your list. This is an upgraded model that has been released only this year, so you can expect that it has already addressed flaws with the previous models.

Main Product Features

Let’s get started by looking at the top features that will make this pellet grill worth your attention.

700 Square Inches Cooking Area

If you are looking for a grill that offers a large cooking area, this is one option that deserves your attention. The grilling surface is 700 square inches, which is perfect even if you will be grilling for a large group.

20-Pound Hopper Capacity

It is not only the cooking area that is large in this grill. It also comes with a large hopper, which can hold up to 20 pounds of pellets at a given time. This means that it won’t require you to refill the hopper frequently.

Electronic Ignition

This is one of the features that will guarantee ease of use of this grill. There is no need to manually ignite the flame. All that it takes is a turn the knob and the grill will be ready in no time.

3-Year Warranty

The grill is covered for three years. While some people might think that this is enough, you should know that there are better alternatives that offer a longer warranty, including those that are covered for three years. Nonetheless, that does not mean that this grill is inferior.

The Good

If the features above are not convincing enough, this section will briefly list down some of its benefits to compel you to choose this pellet grill.

Easy Assembly

When you take this grill out of the box, you don’t need to have a hard time to complete its assembly. Most of the parts are already pre-assembled. The manufacturer also provides comprehensive instructions to let you know how to complete the installation. Almost all of the parts needed are already included in the kit.

Versatile

The versatility of this pellet grill will make it an excellent investment for people who love outdoor cooking. More than being a pellet grill and smoker, you can also use it to roast, bake, sear, BBQ, bake, and braise.

Does Not Require Babysitting

We have seen a lot of high-performing grills that are complicated to use because they require you to be constantly near it. The good thing about this product is that it does not need you to be there to babysit. You can set it and do other things. Even when it comes to feeding the pellets, things will be easy.

Portable

The unit itself is heavy, but this does not mean that it compromises its portability. Looking at its design, one of the first things you will notice is how it comes with two wheels on the side, which will make it easy to move the grill around.

The Bad

We want to be fair in our review, so we would also like to highlight some of the drawbacks that might give you second thoughts in choosing Z Grills ZPG-7002B 2019 New Model Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker.

Can be Prone to Temperature Fluctuations

One of the things that you might not like about this product is how it can be prone to temperature changes. The fluctuations will make the heat inconsistent, which will negatively affect grilling and smoking.

Expensive

The price of this grill-smoker combo can also be an issue for many buyers. This is in no way targeted towards those who are looking for a budget-friendly alternative. Rather, this is for people who have the budget to spare.

Conclusion

In sum, as we have highlighted in this Z Grills ZPG-7002B 2020 New Model Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker Review, the price should not be an issue. It can be quite expensive, but you will surely be getting the best value for every dollar. From its construction to its ease of use, there are many reasons to love this pellet grill. The pros outweigh the cons.

Masterbuilt MES 130B Digital Electric Smoker Review 2020

Whether you are just someone who is starting to use a smoker or you are a pro, the Masterbuilt MES 130B Digital Electric Smoker is one of the best products that should be on your radar. It features digital controls that make the smoker user-friendly. It delivers consistent temperatures and has a generous cooking space. Want to know more? We got you covered in the rest of this Masterbuilt electric smoker review.

Main Product Features

Since it is built by Masterbuilt, one of the trusted brands in the global market for electric smokers, you can expect this model to pack a plethora of exceptional features.

Four Chrome-Coated Smoking Racks

The chrome coating on the smoking racks is a nice touch, which makes it durable and easy to clean. The racks are also adjustable. This provides plenty of room for everything you have to smoke. You can cook up to 4 pork butts, 2 whole turkeys, 4 rib racks, and 6 whole chickens.

Patented Wood Chip Loader

This is one of the best features that we like in this electric smoker. The tray is located on the side and outside of the smoker. This allows you to refill the wood chips even when in the middle of the process of using the smoker. This is unlike in the case of other models wherein you need to open the door since the chip tray is inside the main cabinet.

Digital Control Panel

With this feature, you can expect it to be user-friendly. The control panel makes it effortless to set the functions of the smoker, such as turning it on and off, setting the timer, and inputting the desired cooking temperature.

The Good

If you need more reasons to convince yourself that Masterbuilt MES 130B Digital Electric Smoker is a great choice, here are the benefits worth highlighting.

Excellent insulation

We love the insulation of this electric smoker. With the well-insulated body, you can expect it to be efficient as it traps heat. It is not prone to temperature fluctuations. Even when it is cold, you can expect that the insulation will be effective.

Easy to Use

This electric smoker is free of complications, making it user-friendly. One of the reasons for this is the digital control panel, which makes it effortless to set the desired temperature. This also makes it possible to set a precise temperature.

Portable

The smoker is quite heavy because of its materials, but this does not mean that portability is compromised. It comes with wheels, so there is no problem in moving it around. There is also a rear handle to easily carry the electric smoker.

Adds Great Flavor to Food

With the use of this product, you can expect mouthwatering smoked flavor in your food. One of the reasons for this is the presence of a water bowl, which effectively adds moisture and flavor to whatever it is you are smoking.

The Bad

We don’t want to be biased on our review of Masterbuilt MES 130B Digital Electric Smoker. With that, let’s also talk about some of the issues you might encounter.

No Glass Window

One of the problems with this electric smoker is how the door lacks a transparent window. We love those that come with glass since it will be easier to monitor the progress. Because there is no window, you will need to open the door often to check what is inside.

Warranty Can Be Better

The manufacturer offers the standard one-year warranty. While this is also what most of its competitors offer, it is better if the warranty coverage is longer. A more extensive warranty coverage will give you peace of mind.

Conclusion

With everything we said about Masterbuilt MES 130B, it is easy to understand why it is praised by many people. This electric smoker comes with a digital control panel, which makes it user-friendly. There are removable chrome-plated racks, which will allow you to adjust the interior to accommodate even larger meats. However, there are also some problems with this model, such as the lack of a transparent window.