Finding the Best Electric Smoker for Beginners

electric meat smokerAn electric smoker is probably the best alternative to all other smoking technology available today. However, you need to be careful when choosing one. Choosing a smoking machine may seem to be straightforward at the start, but when you see just how many different brands and models are available, this simple task can be difficult. So what is the right approach to find the best one?

When you want to get the best possible smoker, you have to be aware of the various features. This is because every feature can affect the results in a positive or negative manner. One thing you can do is search for customer electric smoker reviews that will increase your awareness when it comes to these features.

Manufacturer and Warranty – To find the best quality smoker, you must make sure that you’re looking at a product that has been made by a big name brand that is associated with a good reputation and experience within this industry. When you read electric smoker reviews, you need to look out for these things. Getting a product from a reliable manufacturer will guarantee you a product that will last for a long period time. Also, you can make sure that the spare parts are available for the years to come. If you believe a particular product to be associated with good quality but it is manufactured by an unknown brand, you should make some research or see if their products come with a warranty. Warranty is your only guarantee that a certain manufacturer offers a good quality product.

Automatic Temperature Adjustment – One of the best features of this smoking machine is that the temperature can be adjusted automatically. Meaning, when you use it for cooking, you can do other chores you need to do because of the automatic adjustment of the temperature. When choosing for the highest quality smoker for your needs, you need to be particular with its system component. You can choose between thermostat and the rheostat. The thermostat will completely cease to function when the temperature goes down and will then start back automatically when it reaches the lowest possible figure. The rheostat on the other hand only decreases the potential to adjust temperature. Thus, the best electric smoker for home use is the thermostat, because minimal fluctuations of temperature and it is energy saving.

Technical Specifications – You should look at specific things when you are looking for an electric smoker. You have to know their electricity requirements, storage capacity, the materials it is made of and its size.

In terms of electricity consumption and supply requirements, you should opt for a machine that is electricity saving and will not require you to make changes on your electrical network. You should also consider getting one with a bigger capacity to ensure that everyone in your home including your visitors can have a bite of your smoked food. While you can choose a smaller as it cooks faster and is energy saving, however considering that you have big family, this will not be a good option. Lastly, for the materials and construction, you have to be keen about its quality and reliability. Stainless steel would make a good choice but it can affect your smoked food if right sealing is not present.

Price – This is one of things you need to consider when purchasing for the best electric smoker. In most cases, the price of the machine relies on its features and functionality. Thus, be careful when choosing for a cheap smoker, because you cannot ensure if you will get the best quality. On the other hand, a high quality smoker doesn’t need to be expensive. You need to check its features and specifications to assess if you are paying the right price in getting the best one.

Make a comparison – Given that you already know what to look for when buying this kind of smoker, your choice will just follow. Keep in mind that making a comparison using electric smoker reviews on some important details such as brand, aesthetics and functionality is essential. Also, consider your needs and your budget as well. This way you will surely get the best quality smoker with a very reasonable price.

These are the things you need to consider when choosing for such an appliance. Remember not to make a hasty decision until you check a number of product reviews so you will have an idea on price levels and features.

 

Thick Oats and Takeout

This seems to be the week of the toilet on this blog, so I’ll have you all know that the toilet situation is finally settled at our house. The new one is installed, and the old one is no longer sitting on the side porch. Long story short: you won’t have to read any more about my bathroom for awhile

Since I was still feeling the after effects of my migraine yesterday, I hadn’t really thought ahead to making dinner last night. So after the plumbing was all put back to normal, we picked up dinner from the carry-out place down the street. Since we tend to reserve eating out for the weekends, it was a nice treat for a weeknight.

I decided on the Greek-boli, which was a stromboli filled with gyro meat, onions and feta, served with a side of tzatziki sauce. I also snagged the side greek salad that came with Nick’s dinner. It was delicious and definitely heavier than what I normally make for dinner, but so perfect for a night when I wasn’t feeling my best.

This morning I woke up and was so excited to see some sunlight around while I was making breakfast. I went with what has become my normal breakfast bowl:

-thick rolled oats

-banana

-skim milk

-blueberries

-and then topped with blueberries, strawberries and crushed pecans!

I think maybe I was trying to channel spring with this bowl because it just tasted so fresh, plus the colors were so bright. I was also really excited to take some pictures outside this morning.

Every year I’m excited for spring, but I think this year that feeling is even more intense. Just looking back at this photo from late summer/early fall makes me so excited for the warmer weather to (eventually) come. I miss the trees and grass looking so alive!

The oats I’m currently using are from Bob’s Red Mill and are the extra thick oats. When I picked them up, I didn’t really think they’d be anything different than what I normally use but I was so wrong. You can really see the texture in yesterday’s bowl of oats.

They have so much more texture and they hold up a LOT better in my normal oatmeal than your average oats. I’m going to seek these out in the future because the price is comparable to any other rolled oats, but the quality is so much better. I really want to try more Bob’s products because I feel like the quality is going to be reflected in the product.

In other news, this afternoon I hit up my new favorite workout: Body Pump! The instructor for the Wednesday class is my favorite one; I especially look forward to going to her class. Today was also a good class because I stepped up my weights for a few of the tracks so I was really feeling the burn.  Before class, I had a 100-calorie packet of Cocoa Roasted Almonds for fuel. I actually keep a box of these in my car so I can grab one for a snack whenever I need it.

I’m curious to hear what you think about taking BP classes two days in a row. Right now I take the class twice a week (Wednesdays and Saturdays), but there is an opportunity to take the class on Tuesdays, too. Do you think that would be too much? I’m looking into some other classes that I can take, too, that focus a bit more on cardio. I had never really taken group classes before, but they really force me to push through and work harder than I might on my own. Do you like group fitness classes?

Alright, I’m off to tackle a few items left on my to-do list!

Important Kitchen Gadgets to have at Home

Kitchen gadgetsWe’ve only been living in our house for about 5 months, but I’ve already become accustomed to the sounds, the scenery and the location. After spending 6 years living about an hour away from most of my family, it has been so pleasant to live so close to a lot of my family and friends again. I got to take advantage of my location this weekend by spending Sunday afternoon with my mom, running errands, grocery shopping and helping her clean out a few drawers and cabinets in the kitchen. This last task was a win for both of us: she got my cleaning help and I got a few new-to-me kitchen tricks and items. I was able to snag:

1. 8×8 glass pan

2. Lemon juicer

3. Melon baller

4. Icing spatula

5. Mini holiday baking dish

6. Mini bowl with lid

7. A mason jar

Over the weekend I also picked up:

– Pumpkin spice pudding mix

– On-sale bananas

Is it sad that these things excite me so much? I can’t wait to whip up the pudding– I had never seen it before! The bananas are going to be sliced and frozen OR turned into banana bread if I can find (or create) a good recipe this afternoon. Any suggestions? I’m hoping to find a fall-themed bread to bake (like pumpkin or apple-cinnamon) so that I can bring a loaf (along with some cranberry jelly from the farmer’s market) to our hostesses on Thanksgiving day. If I find any notable recipes, I’ll share this week.

What are your plans for Thanksgiving? We’ll be attending two dinners that day, one in the early afternoon and one in the early evening. Thankfully the houses are only about 10 minutes away from each other (and 10 minutes from our house) so we don’t have any major traveling to do.I read a lot of different healthy living blogs on a regular basis. Some are about a particular type of eating (high-raw, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, etc.), while others are written as a food-diary of sorts, chronicling everything that a blogger eats in the day. Even though I’ve been posting for a few months now, I’m constantly thinking about what I want my blog to be about. I hope that you’ll stick around as I continue to figure out exactly what I want this blog to become.

Totally Eggcellent

EggsEggs are one of those things that are hit or miss with me. Over the past few years, the thought of scrambled eggs or omelets has made my stomach churn, but I haven’t shied away from eggs all together. I still love eating eggs in baked goods (obviously) or in quiche, and I love them pan-fried or hard-boiled.

This morning when I was perusing Roni’s recipe blog for dinner inspiration, I came across her how-to video for hard-boiling eggs and the craving hit; I knew I needed to make them ASAP.

I don’t use eggs that frequently, but thankfully there were about a half-dozen eggs in the refrigerator just waiting to be boiled. Most of the time when I’m using eggs in baked goods, I use egg replacers (like flax) or egg whites/egg substitutes (from a carton).

Whenever I decide to make hard-boiled eggs, I make them a different way each time. Today I decided to follow Roni’s directions to see how this method would work for me since it was unlike any other method that I had followed previously.

I’m happy to report that it worked out really well for me and I’ll probably use this method from now on. (Cooking note: the slotted spoon is essential for following this method.)

Having prepared the eggs today, I’m looking forward to enjoying an egg with my breakfast or lunch throughout the week. It is great way for me to add more protein to my diet without turning to meat or beans all of the time.

I’m really glad that my Internet browsing helped to remind me of something that I had been overlooking for a while: eggs! With the success of the egg boiling today, I might have to add a carton of egg to my weekly shopping list from now on.

What is your favorite way to eat eggs? Are there foods that you kind of forget about for a while, but then come back to later?

Kitchen Tricks Everyone should know about

Kitchen TricksI’m getting to be known as a bit of a trickster in the kitchen. Not with practical jokes per se, but in a ‘you-don’t-know-what-I-snuck-in-there’ kind of way. Nick has gotten used to my antics, but I try to keep them at a minimum when we have guests for dinner. Last night I only served one dish that included an unexpected ingredient: chocolate pudding with silken tofu!

I used Jenna’s recipe for Vegan Chocolate Pudding (mine wasn’t exactly vegan because of the brand of chocolate chips I used) and of course I used my food processor to get things silky smooth.

I think everyone enjoyed the pudding, but there were some eye-rolls at the table when I revealed what was in the dish. In my opinion, any recipe that features an entire bag of chocolate chips can’t be bad, even if you are skeptical about tofu.

Even thought the original recipe is vegan (and my version is close to it), it doesn’t mean that it is healthy or good for you necessarily.

The recipe I’ve got for you today though is super simple and healthy: vegetable soup. This is a perfect cozy dish for me today– it is dreary and I’m feeling the onset of a cold. Since we just stocked up on vegetables at the grocery store and farmer’s market, I had a lot of options to include in my soup.

Feel free to substitute ingredients based on what you like and what you have on hand.

Vegetable Soup:

Ingredients

– 1 sweet onion, diced

– 4 large carrots, sliced into thin rounds or half moons

– About 3 T tomato paste, based on your taste

– Cooking spray + olive oil

– 4 cups vegetable broth + 4 cups water

– 2 bouillon cubes (I used beef)

– 2 cups fresh (or frozen) green beans, sliced into bite-size pieces

– 2 turnips, peeled and diced

– 1/2 bag of shredded cabbage (or plain coleslaw mix)

– 1 cup frozen corn

Salt, pepper and garlic powder

Directions

Spray a large pot with cooking spray and a drizzle of olive oil; place over medium heat. Add in onions, carrots and tomato paste. Allow the vegetables to soften.

Dissolve the bouillon cubes in the water, and then add that and the vegetable broth into the pot, stirring to combine. When the mixture reaches a boil, add the green beans and turnips and lower the heat to medium.

When the turnips have started to soften, add in the shredded cabbage and corn. Stir well.

Lower heat to medium-low and let simmer until the vegetables have softened. Add salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste, and additional seasonings if desired. Go pretty light on the salt at first because there is a lot of sodium in the bouillon cubes. Enjoy!

I love recipes like this because the only kitchen tools you need for success are a large pot, a knife and a cutting board. Plus, this soup just gets better the longer it sits and simmers, so you can let it cook for as little or as long as time allows.

I had a big bowl of it with lunch today, probably about 2 cups, and I still have many more servings left in the pot.

Tips:

Whenever I open a can of tomato paste, I always wind up with extra paste leftover. Instead of just throwing it away or letting it go bad in the refrigerator, I put it into a small resealable bag, flatten it out, and place it into the freezer until I need it again. For this recipe, I just broke off a few pieces of it and let it defrost in the soup mixture.

I used the shredded cabbage this time because it is much simpler and quicker than chopping a whole cabbage. Normally I just chop up cabbage because it is a lot cheaper that way. Because this cabbage is shredded so small, it takes next to no time to soften up. It might take a bit longer if you are using chopped cabbage.

Bouillon cubes are salty, so be light handed with the salt at first.

Turnips really sweeten this soup up. If you don’t care for them or you don’t have them, I’d suggest adding a pinch of sweetener to the soup to bring out the flavors, but that is just me.

If you are looking to bump up the protein in this soup, consider adding cannellini beans or other small white beans. For another protein option, sometimes I’ll put a serving of quinoa in the bottom of my bowl and then add a ladle of this on top. That way, the quinoa won’t absorb all of the moisture in the soup the way it would if you just put in the pot at the beginning of cooking.

The recipe produced about 12 one-cup servings of the soup. I packaged the rest of the soup into tupperware so I can have soup throughout the week. Anything that I don’t think I’ll eat this week is going straight to the freezer so I can enjoy it later.

What is your favorite simple soup recipe? Feel free to leave links if you’ve got them.