Better Than Hot Pockets

Sandwich Toaster

We’ve had this funny little sandwich maker for years.  Paul received it as a housewarming gift when he bought he first house, over 10 years ago.  I thought about giving it away to charity several times – it is one of those odd gadget machines that only has one purpose. Kind of like the “quesadilla maker” that was on TV a few years ago. But I reasoned that when we had kids it might be fun for them.

The kids are finally at the age where they will eat sandwiches. Sometimes. Sean likes PB&J and nothing else.  Audrey will not eat peanut butter, but likes ham and cheese. In any event, it’s still fun for Paul and me.  I decided to break out the old sandwich maker today for lunch.

Here's what the inside looks like.

Make sandwiches and butter the outside of the bread, like for a grilled cheese.

The sandwiches are big, so clamping it down is tough, but not impossible.

Finished toasted sandwiches.

Audrey ate hers.  Sean picked his apart to get the ham out.  Oh well, maybe in a few years!  It’s certainly a lot better than Hot Pockets from the freezer.

I did a little searching and found that Magic Chef doesn’t make this appliance anymore, but you can get practically the same thing from Procotor Silex on Amazon.com for $19.00 or for $9.00 used on eBay.  I even found a site with a list of sandwich toaster recipes beyond the basic deli meat and cheese. Someone suggested making turnovers with pie filling. Yum! I may have to try that one.

Three Kitchen Gadgets Every Mom Needs

Maybe you’re a kitchen gadget person.  Someone who gets drawn into infomercials and actually considers buying some newfangled kitchen gadget. Or maybe you’re more like me. I try to avoid adding more tools to my kitchen clutter. I have a limited amount of space so I only have the essentials. There are many gadgets that are unnecessary  – garlic clove peeler, anyone?  I say whack it with the side of your chef’s knife and get on with it.  I do however, feel that some kitchen tools which might be considered “gadgets” are actually extremely useful to moms.  Here are my picks:

  1. Pizza Wheel.  At first glance, a pizza wheel(pizza cutter) is an unlikely choice.

    Who has time to make their own pizza these days?  I use mine not for pizza, but for cutting up all other manner of foods for my kids.  Toddlers and preschoolers need small bites.  A pizza cutter is perfect for quickly slicing up pancakes, quesadillas, nuggets, really any food that’s not too tough.  It saves a lot of time in getting food to the table while it’s still hot.

  2. Apple Wedger.  My kids like apples.  Most kids do.  Make slicing and coreing

    apples easier with a apple wedge cutter.  It makes quick work of all but the largest apples.  Be sure to get a sturdy one – I broke the first one I had.  I now have the one from Pampered Chef and it works great!  I think sturdy all-metal construction is a must. Also works on pears as long as they are not over-ripe.

  3. Off-set spatula.  That’s the fancy name for a frosting spatula. I love the small offset spatulabecause you can quickly and skillfully frost the gazillion cupcakes

    that you will need to bring for the next fundraiser or class event.  You can use it to lift sugar cookies or pie dough that gets stuck to your work surface. They also work well for leveling dry ingredients like flour, and could be used to spread peanut butter or Nutella on bread if all your knives are in the dishwasher.  Yes, that happens to me too!

Apple Pie

My husband requested pies for his Father’s Day treat.  Apple, coconut cream and lemon to be exact.  I also made a batch of vanilla ice cream.  Yum!

I have a handy gadget to prepare the apples.  It’s a peeler/corer/slicer machine that I bought from Pampered Chef.  I know other places sell similar items.  The Pampered Chef model comes with a narrow gauge handle, but has the option to purchase a wide slice handle.  I used the wider slice and like it the best.

Apple Peeler/Core/Slicer in action!

I’m usually not one for kitchen gadgets, but this is a specialized tool that does it’s job perfectly. Well worth the $20 if you bake pies a few times a year.  I was able to peel, core and slice eight apples in about five minutes!

Ready for the top crust.

Here’s my pie in the process.  I cheated and used a store-bought pie crust because I was short on time and I’m also not great at making crusts.

My mom makes an excellent pie crust and I’m totally intimidated by it.  I have her recipe, but I haven’t practiced enough to feel confident that it will turn out every time.

Finished unbaked apple pie

Into the oven we go!

If you need a simple apple pie recipe, here’s what I do:

2 pie crusts

6-8 baking apples (I like Granny Smith for pies)

2 TBSP flour

3/4 cup sugar

2 tsp. cinnamon

Peel, core and slice the apples.  In a large bowl mix the flour, sugar and cinnamon.  Put the apples in the bowl and mix until coated. Roll out the bottom pie crust and line a 9″ pie plate.  Fill with the apples and cover with the top crust.  Seal the edge by pinching and fluting.  Cut vents in the top crust with a sharp knife.  Make a ring of foil and to keep the crust from getting too done around the edge. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes, remove foil, and bake an additional 25-30 minutes.  The top should be golden brown.

Some nice touches to make the basic pie more interesting are adding nutmeg, raisins and/or walnuts, or brushing the crust with an egg wash.  To make an egg wash, simply beat one egg and brush it on the crust before baking.  It will give the crust a shiny gold color.  If you really want to get fancy sprinkle some coarse sugar over the egg wash.