June 28th, 2017

Instant Pot Review (and a Recipe!)

With the introduction of the Instant Pot to my kitchen, making meals for my family has gotten so much quicker and more efficient! I’d been hearing about the Instant Pot and its miraculous time-saving ways, and there is no better time to try one of these fantastic tools out than the summer. Not only does this amazing cooker save time and energy, but it also helps keep your kitchen cool with its super-efficient insulated cooking system – no more sweating over a steaming pot on the stovetop or turning your kitchen into a sauna by roasting dinner in the oven on a hot day! As an added bonus, less heat lost into the air in your kitchen means less energy needed to cook your meal perfectly, helping to minimize your energy footprint for a greener kitchen.

The Instant Pot’s myriad functions make this multifunctional cooker more than worthy of its counterspace footprint – with pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, sautéing, and warming functions, this handy package can replace multiple old, worn-out appliances in your kitchen – even down to your yogurt maker, with pre-calculated programs for cooking soups, meats and stews, beans and chilis, poultry, white rice, multigrain, and porridges, to take the guesswork out of preparing these staple dishes.

While I was skeptical at first that the Instant Pot, with its wide range of uses, would measure up to appliances that focused only on a single utility, I was blown away by how well it performs all its functions. In a head-to-head with my rice cooker, the Instant Pot managed to cook rice perfectly in half the time! I was equally impressed by the ease with which it cooked lentils (only 30 minutes from dry!), soup (tasted like it had been simmering all day after only 45 minutes!), and beef (falling-apart-tender in under an hour!) – all-in-all, this multifunction miracle won me over quickly and completely.

London Drugs carries two models of the Instant Pot – the IP-DUO60 V2 and the IP-DUO80, and I’ve tested them both to help you choose which model is the best fit for your kitchen. The two models are almost identical except for their size, boasting the same great rundown of features – multicooker capability, easy steam-release valve, automatic stay-warm function, heavy-duty stainless steel inner pot, included steam/roasting rack and utensils, detachable power cord for easy storage, and more.

The primary difference is in the size, with the DUO60 having a 6-quart (roughly 5.7-litre) maximum capacity, and the DUO80 holding up to 8 quarts (approximately 7.6 litres). This difference adds up to roughly two inches of difference in diameter and another two inches in height, which sounds minimal, but when seen side-by-side, the DUO80 is a very clearly a much larger appliance (it consequently also takes slightly longer to come to temp or full pressure). If you’re cooking for a large family or like to make large batches of meals to freeze, I would definitely recommend the DUO80 for its extra capacity, but if your kitchen space is limited and you don’t need to feed crowds, the DUO60 is the way to go. If you’re not sure which model will work best in your kitchen, I definitely recommend looking at the product at your local London Drugs – as the Instant Pots are packaged very efficiently, just looking at the box gives you a fairly accurate idea of how much space it will take up in your kitchen.

All in all, using the Instant Pot has been an absolute pleasure, and I expect I’ll be using it many times a week long into the future. If you’re looking to invest in a new cooking appliance or replacing an old one that’s seen better days, I can’t recommend this product highly enough!

Korean-Fusion Style Burritos, makes 6-10 servings. Recipe time: 1 hour (not including burrito assembly)

Ingredients for kalbi-inspired shredded beef:

  • 1-2 kg large chunks of braising or stewing beef (2 kg will fit in the DUO80, but may not fit in the DUO60)
  • ½ cup rice wine
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 1 Asian pear, grated
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ large white or sweet onion, grated
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced finely
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2-3 green onions, chopped

Ingredients for burritos:

  • 6-10 large burrito-sized tortillas
  • 3-5 cups prepared white or brown rice (approx. ½ cup or more prepared rice per burrito)
  • 1-2 cups seasoned rice vinegar (or plain rice vinegar with 2 tablespoons each of sugar and salt whisked in, per ½ cup vinegar)
  • Chopped kimchi (approx. ½ cup or more per burrito, to taste)
  • Chopped raw cabbage or other greens
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Chopped green onions
  • Sriracha (optional)

Mix all ingredients so that the meat is well-coated (this may be done inside the Instant Pot to minimize dirty dishes).

Place the beef in the Instant Pot, and pour in remaining mixture on top. Close Instant Pot lid firmly, and select the Meat/Stew function with the High Pressure option for 50 minutes.

While the meat cooks, cook your rice in a second Instant Pot, rice cooker, or on the stove (you can also wait until the meat is done and cook it in the Instant Pot your beef is currently cooking in, though you’ll have to wash the pot in between – if you do this, recipe will take an additional 20 minutes, approximately). When rice is cooked, allow to cool slightly, and sprinkle with ½ cup seasoned rice vinegar per cup of prepared rice before mixing gently to distribute the vinegar evenly.

Chop kimchi, raw cabbage or other greens, cilantro, and green onions.

When the Instant Pot is finished cooking, remove the beef to a clean bowl. Meat should fall apart easily – shred it using two forks before serving.

Allow each diner to assemble their burrito to their own tastes.

(The liquid left in your Instant Pot will be highly flavourful, and can be used as a great beef soup base after straining out any remaining solids and skimming off the fat.)



December 2nd, 2016

Top Gifts for Foodies

Black Friday has passed and advent calendars are already missing some doors. Still have holiday shopping to do? Then it’s time to get serious. Don’t worry, we can help.

xmas-shopping-2016-blog-1200x630

Starting with Top Gifts for Busy Women and Top Gifts for Techies, we’re posting gift guides for a different group each week, including everything from stocking stuffers to show stoppers.

This week, it’s our buying guide for foodies. Whether the aspiring or actual chef in your life is a nutrition nut, an entertainer, a home baker, or an everyday meal maker, we’ve got you covered.

Foodies Gift Guide 2016

Here’s our guide to buying a deliciously perfect gift for the foodie on your list.

1. Remix Their Mixer

Mixer Attachments Gift GuideThe foodie on your list may already own a countertop mixer, most likely from KitchenAid. Assuming they do, why stop there when so many accessories and attachments are available?

You see, these mechanical marvels can be repurposed to drive everything from grain mills to pasta makers and so much more. That includes simple attachments like different bowls and beaters, even spill guards. There are also adorable quilted mixer covers available as special order items.

If the foodie among your family or friends doesn’t have a countertop mixer, consider working to fix that. They make great group gifts and the proud new owner will think of you whenever they use it, which will be a lot.

2. Expand Their Toolbox

Kitchen Tool Gift GuideFoodies love to try new things, especially new cooking techniques. You can help them out by buying them a new niche utensil or specialized appliance. For foodies, this feels like getting a new tool in their toolbelt.

The trick is finding something they don’t already have. Depending on how stocked their kitchen is, that can sometimes be tough. But no foodie truly has everything and new gadgets become popular all the time.

So here are some ideas to help you think outside the ice box. How about a zester, a frothera muddlera fry cuttera pestle & mortar, or a kitchen mandolin. Not even sure what some of those do? Perfect. That’s a good sign.

Want more kitchen tool and gadget ideas? Here’s a few hundred .

3. Mind The Cooking Basics

Fry Pan Gift Guide

For foodies, like the rest of us, it’s very easy to get caught up in the thrill of the new and unusual. But foodies are also in constant need of upgrades, replacements, and back-ups for their kitchen basics. Like a plain white tee, these kitchen staples never go out of style.

We’re talking pots, pans, baking sheets, knives, and, of course, spatulas. Plus, a lot more. If they use it more than weekly, it’s a staple. If you can give your foodie a basic with a twist, perhaps in an unconventional size or shape, that’s a bonus. But don’t be afraid to stick to tried-and-true classics either.

For many foodies, it’s tough to let go of an old favourite or to realize just how worn out it has become. Until a shiny new kitchen basic arrives, that is. And there’s no better time to start fresh than the holidays.

4. Wanted: Quality Ingredients

Natural Honey Gift GuideNo amount of kitchen attachments, gadgets or basics is worth much without the real star of all culinary creation: the food. That’s why foodies are always looking out for quality ingredients.

You see, they don’t experience the world quite like the rest of us. Where some see simply dried fruit, they’ve discovered the key ingredient for incredible scones. When others see only roasted nuts, they know it’s a superstar ingredient that can be grated, ground, or grilled in enough recipes to make your head spin.

The point is, you don’t need to know what they’ll do with it. Just make sure any ingredients you buy them are of high quality. They’ll take it from there, trust us. If you’re lucky, you might even get a taste of whatever they whip up.

For more gift-giving advice for the foodie on your list, speak to an LD Expert today. To make a purchase, visit London Drugs in-store and online.

We’ll be back next week with a top gift guide for photographers. See you then! 



June 24th, 2016

A Canada Day Cake Recipe You’ll “Patriot Love”

We’ve all been there. It’s the day before a big potluck and you’re stuck coming up with a fresh idea to blow everyone away.

Multi Generation Family Enjoying Picnic Together

If it happens to you this Canada Day, never fear. The good folks at CanadianLiving.com have you covered like icing on a cake with this delicious recipe.

Canada’s Best Raspberry Layer Cake

Canada Day Dessert courtesy of Canadian Living

It’s red, white, and amazing with a summery taste that will be a hit in the great outdoors, in your own backyard, or anywhere else in the true north strong and free.

Let’s begin with some basic information, as well as and everything you’ll need to create this festive classic:

Prep time: 45 minute
Total time: 3 hours 45 minutes
Portion size: 16

Ingredients

Cake Batter:

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

2 cups granulated sugar

4 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1-2/3 cups milk

1 cup seedless raspberry jam

6 oz raspberries

 Cream Cheese Icing:

1-1/3 pkg (250 g each) cream cheese, softened

2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened

6 cups icing sugar, sifted

2 tsp vanilla

Head to Canadian Living for complete baking directions and video instructions.

Find six more great Canada Day dishes, including everything from a tangy coleslaw to Maple Buttermilk Grilled Chicken, all from CanadianLiving.com with 7 make-ahead recipes for Canada Day



March 3rd, 2016

LD Picks: How Your Slow Cooker Can Change Your Life

Did you know that you have a secret weapon in your kitchen? One thing that will help you make delicious dinners, tasty breakfasts, feasts for game day and impressive treats for your in-laws? You do – it’s called a slow cooker. Here’s our guide to getting that humble appliance out on the counter and making delicious meals for you and your family.

Get Started

how a slow cooker will change your life

Photo: jamieoliver.com

If said slow cooker is still in the box that your mother-in-law dropped it off in, you might need a primer. Slow cookers are super-easy to use, but there are a few things to remember. First of all, slow cooking is…slow. Yes, you can turn the heat up to high and cut the cooking time to four hours or so, but that’s often not the best strategy. Plan ahead! Remember also that if you’re cooking with kidney beans or other dry beans that contain high levels of phytohaemagglutinin, a toxin that can cause powerful stomach cramps and nausea, that you need to prepare the beans properly by boiling. A slow cooker will not get hot enough to neutralize the toxin.

Almost everything that will come out of a well-planned slow cooker will be delicious, but there are some basic rules to follow. Brown meat prior to adding to the pot to get a lovely caramelized crust. Don’t peek once things are underway – you’ll only lengthen the cooking time. Don’t add too much liquid. The slow cooker lid will prevent evaporation, so you only need a touch. Also, skip the prime rib and head straight for the chuck; the prime rib won’t stand up well to the long, slow heat.

One last tip – coat the inside of the slow cooker with a small amount of vegetable oil before putting food in there. It makes clean-up a snap.

[More at Jamie Oliver]

READ MORE



September 21st, 2015

5 Easy Slow Cooker Recipes That Will Set You Daydreaming

brownies

They say everything old is new again—and so perhaps it’s unsurprising that just like macramé, fringe and jumpsuits, slow cookers have made a huge comeback.  But this is not your grandmother’s Crock-Pot; today’s slow cookers are smart, being WiFi enabled and remote controllable from your phone or tablet.

And it’s not just the tech that’s superior: so are the meals.  Long gone are the recipes for mushy meats, bland beans and overdone veggies from yesteryear.  Instead, celebrity chefs and foodies alike have developed ways to sex up slow-cooked suppers.

Here are five easy recipes guaranteed to keep your pot hot, and your belly happy.

[Related: 6 brilliant slow cooker recipes for busy mornings]

* * *

Really Easy Ramen: Crispy Caramelized Pork Ramen Noodle Soup

Long an Asian staple, ramen recently conquered the dining tables of the Western world. Become your neighbourhood’s Ivan Orkin (the Tokyo Ramen genius!) to make a delicious home cooked bowl on the double.

In fact, this is one of the most shared Ramen noodle recipes on Pinterest for a reason…it’s AMAZING. And you’ll have plenty left over for later.

Pro tip: If you can swing it…don’t skip the curry roasted acorn squash! That savoury sweet topper puts this soup over the edge.

* * *

Low To No Prep: Black Bean Enchiladas

To be fair, not all slow cooker recipes are created equal: some require just too much advance prep for folks in a rush. Thankfully, it’s not that hard to find recipes like this one, involving low-to-no prep.

And unless its super warm in your kitchen, you won’t even break a sweat from chopping the onions and peppers for these bean enchiladas… and then you just toss the veggies and roll ‘em up in some tortillas. Heck, they don’t even have to be rolled that well because the entire mess is covered in mmmmm-elted cheese (make sure to get the pre-grated kind.)

A de-lish dish, to be sure.

* * *

Versatile Veggies: Quinoa-Stuffed Red Peppers

Vegetarians were once entirely overlooked in Crock-Pot cookbooks—and for good reason, since tackling vegetables in the slow cooker is a delicate task: too much time means a soggy soup, and not enough can be tough on teeth. Thankfully, sophisticated slow cooker veggie recipes are much easier to find nowadays.

For instance, these stuffed peppers make the perfect Sunday supper. And the stuffing can be done with pretty much any type of grain, bean or cheese you have on hand. Perfect every time.

* * *

Starch-Free Suppers: Braised Beef Ragu with Polenta

Historically, slow cooked meals too often involved heavy starches, like pastas and potatoes. Now, newer recipes bring in hearty alternatives like oats and grains that are easier on the starch—and the waistline. In fact, this recipe for velvety beef goodness dished over polenta melts in your mouth, and the ragu tastes even better on toast for leftovers the next day.

Trust me, this is one you’ll want to try.

* * *

Decadent Desserts: Triple Chocolate Brownies

brownies

Naxon Beaneries (the original name of the slow-cooker) are for more than just cooking dinner. Delicious desserts like cheesecakes, cobblers and crumbles are family favourites you can easily whip up in a slow cooker.  These brownies by Martha Stewart for one, are an essential in the Crock-Pot canon—because really, why stop at a single chocolate brownie when you could triple that?? ‘Nuff said.

With twice as many households using slow cookers than just a generation ago it’s no wonder that today’s time-strapped families rely on them for everyday survival.  If you don’t have one yet, consider the investment… a good slow cooker is worth its weight in gold…er, at least truffles?

[Related: 6 brilliant slow cooker recipes for busy mornings]

Buono appetito!

 



July 9th, 2015

8 BBQ tips that’ll make you a backyard superstar

coca-cola-ribs

We’re in the full swing of summer, and that means your barbecue should be ground zero for the majority of your meals for the next few months. Whether it’s the smoky, delicious flavour barbecue provides or the act of cooking al fresco, BBQing is one of the pleasures of summer. Here are 8 tips to help make you the master of the grill.

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June 3rd, 2015

Top 10 End of the School Year Gift Ideas

With the final days of school coming to an end for the summer, it may be time to start thinking about how you would like to document your school memories. For parents or students who are looking to thank their teachers or coaches with a year-end gift, photo gifts are a great way to document those memories. The London Drugs photolab has come up with some ideas to capture end of the school year moments for teacher mementos, sports teams, or even school fundraisers.

Cookbooks

cookboookFor those students who learned to cook and create their own recipes in home economics class, a class cookbook is a creative way to document your favourite class dishes. A year-end cookbook can be designed from a compilation of each student’s favourite recipe. Gift your teacher with a custom made cookbook, or create one for each student totake home. Don’t forget to create a customized place mat to go along with your favourite cookbook recipes!

Scrapbooks

scrapbooksFor students who may be transitioning from elementary school to high school or from high school to post secondary, memories of your past schooling can easily be documented in a scrapbook. These mini albums are perfect for sharing and will keep your memories safe for years to come.

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