Welcome to The Gadget Chef

Ok so I'm not really a chef, but I do like to play one in the kitchen. I'm your everyday average guy, who is really into 2 things, food and gadgets! And I love combining the two and experimenting with that.

I've tried many gadgets out there, some with success and some with miserable failures. But my biggest goal is to limit what space I take up with what gadgets. As a person with a less than sizable kitchen, counter top real estate is so important I can't be the type that has several gadgets out all the time, and I'm also the type that if it's not out and handy, I'm likely not to use it.

So through the course of this blog I will give out some info on those items I've gotten over the years and how I use them, and some recipes, and be sure to share yours too, or comment if you've tried them

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Creamy Onion Soup, a copy cat recipe from Outback

I don't know about you, but it seems every time I find something I love at a restaurant, it ends up going away or becoming a special that if you are lucky it happens to be on the menu when you go there for dinner.  One of those was the Creamy Onion Soup from the Outback Steakhouse.  A friend and I both love that soup so much, that we began to get teased after we both did a small cheer after finding out they had it that evening.

Well I decided to do a search and see what I could come up with as far as trying to make it at home.  Thanks to this recipe, I found a copy cat that was so close, it was remarkable.  In fact, if I had a small loaf of bread buttered with a huge steak knife, I might have just have stood up and shouted "G'Day!".
My attempt at the Creamy Onion Soup
Now while this recipe seems a bit involved and the first time you make it, you might find yourself running around to get things done.  But relax while it does take a while, if done in the proper order, should be no problem at all.  Oh and yes I was running around for about half the time on this, even though I had no real reason to.  So let's see if I can help you avoid that.

  • 2 cups yellow sweet onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 (15 ounce) can chicken broth (2 cups if you are like me and have a larger box of your favorite)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh pepper, ground
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1/4 cup Velveeta cheese, cubes, diced (compressed in measuring cup)
  • 1 1/2-1 3/4 cups white sauce (below)
  • cheddar cheese, shredded (for garnish)
Thick white sauce ingredients:
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
In a 2 quart pan melt the butter and begin to sauté your onions on low heat.  You want to cook them to where they are quite soft and pretty transparent.  Don't worry this will take quite a while, because you don't want to caramelize them, so you don't want them to brown.  Occasionally stir them and let them go while you begin the other steps.

While your onions are cooking, now it's time to make the white sauce. In a small 1 quart sauce pan, melt the butter on medium heat to medium low.  Add the flour and stir constantly till it begins to thicken some and come away from the sides.

Next while string constantly add the milk a little at a time, then add the salt.  I admit I added it all at once, and you can do this, but it will take a little while longer and it probably took a bit more stirring so the bottom didn't burn, but it can be done. 

While continuing to stir the mixture so it doesn't get lumps or burn, cook it till it thickens up to the about the consistency of pudding.  It can take a while, especially if you are like me, and added it all at once.

Another note as well, I used 1% milk for this instead of whole milk, so I'm sure my white sauce did not get quite as thick, and the final result wasn't quite as creamy either, but it was still quite tasty and maybe a pinch liter than using whole milk.

Once you have reached that consistency, set aside off the heat until ready for the soup.

Hopefully by now your onions are pretty transparent and soft.  Remember also, if you like a little crunch to your onions you don't have to cook them quite as long at this stage.

Now you can add your chicken broth, the chicken bouillon cubes, salt, pepper, and stir completely until completely heated.  

Next you add the Velveeta and the white sauce, stirring constantly until all ingredients are melted and blended together.

**hint:  I tasted it at this point and decided to add quite a bit more pepper, because I always liked it to have a good peppery bite, so season to taste now.

Now that you have it all together, turn the temp down to warm and let cook for about another 30-45 minutes.  Personally I stirred it occasionally, and couldn't help but have some more tastings.

Serve it with a garnish of shredded cheddar cheese, and voila you have your very own Creamy Onion Soup.

I have decided that this is a wonderful creamy base, and personally plan on trying it with potatoes,  broccoli, or any other cheesy type soup you might enjoy.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


By now unless you do not watch TV and have someone else do your shopping for you, I'm sure you have seen and/or heard of the Sodastream.  A home option to carbonate water, and a multitude of syrups to add to it, to make your own soda at home.
My Sodastream
The internet is a abuzz with all kinds of messages about it, whether it saves you money, just saves plastic, or is it even worth it at all.

Personally I just got mine a few weeks ago, found a deal on Black Friday for it, and decided to give it a try.  Granted it was still not cheap at $50 (although I did get 3 free syrup bottles with it), it was the best deal I had found with it since my gadget addiction kept looking at it.

My kit came with the plastic body, a carbonator, a 1 liter bottle, 6 sample syrups, and like I mentioned I was able to get 3 free syrup bottles with it.

The short and sweet of it, for this model, I can honestly say I would not pay over $50, had I known exactly the build of this one, I'm not sure I would have gotten it at that.  The entire thing is completely made of plastic, and it's not that I'm against a lightweight plastic gadget, I can't say that from a quick glance at it, that I'm getting much for my money, although if you include the cost of a new carbonator at around $30 in reality I'm probably getting about what I pay for.  If it lasts long enough, I guess I won't be too upset, but time will tell, if it is good plastic, or the cheap stuff.

The directions are simple enough for it thats for sure, fill a bottle up to the line, screw it into the Sodastream, and give it 3 good presses to carbonate the water.  There you have soda water in no time flat(no pun intended) and for practically nothing.  Although via some experimentation, if you use really cold water like leaving a bottle in the fridge before you carbonate, it doesn't seem to carbonate as well, but this was far from a scientific test, just one that worked and and one that worked less.

The flavor's I've tried thus far have been, Diet Orange, Orange Mango, and Dr. Pete.   The best by far is the Orange Mango, and I know the reason why.  I am just not a fan of Splenda or sucralose, and while even the regular versions that use Sugar, still use a certain amount of sucralose(if you look at the ingredients), the diet versions use all sucralose.  Hence why if you try the Diet cola, it isn't even close to Diet Coke, it's much closer to Coke Zero.  If you are like my wife and I, that difference is huge, and was a big deterrent from getting the Sodastream originally.  I really thought it was just the difference between Diet Coke and Coke Zero, that made me not like it, but now after trying a couple other diet drinks versus a regular one in the Sodastream, I'm pretty certain I just don't care for the Splenda factor.

One of the nice things about the Sodastream is the play factor.  If you are like me, there is something about drinking a carbonated beverage that just beats plain flat old drinks.  Well I decided I would try something out, a way that could potentially actually make the Sodastream a money saver.  I took a Crystal Light packet and made my own concentrate, and added it to the carbonated water.  Raspberry Ice flavor.

Ok, so on this attempt I took a packet that made 2 quarts and mixed it with 2 tablespoons of water.  Mixed that up real good, and added it to the carbonated water.  My first lesson from this, way too strong for my tastes.  Going to have to try it with much less, we shall see, but it was a bit over strong, needed to be diluted quite a bit more.   Aside from being overly strong, it was quite delicious and worked very well.  A crisp carbonated raspberry soda, ahhhhh.   So I will try some more things down the road.

All in all, this one is a fun toy with some possibilities, but if you are looking at it for a cost saver, don't bet on it.  There are many sites that calculate the costs savings, and basically say you will save the $100 price tag after about 1500 liters of soda (ends up costing around .45 cents a liter if memory serves from what I have read, so a 2 liter on sale would be about the same or could be less, but don't take my word on it, google it and you will find many pages that discuss it,).  Now the savings on Soda water alone, I'm sure you would see much quicker returns.

If you are one of those "green" type people, yes you save a lot of plastic using this, (although you still have quite a few small plastic syrup bottles too).  

The best reason I could see for this in reality, is city living.  If you live in a place where you walk to and from the grocery or take public transportation, it most certainly is easier on you to carry a small bottle of syrup than it is to cart 2 liters or cases of cans home.

But I will continue to play around with it, and maybe figure out a great alternative that will make it more cost effective.

If you have ideas or experiences with it, let me know.

Best of luck in the kitchen!

Friday, December 6, 2013

KitchenAid Hand Blender

Today I received an early Christmas gift to myself, and one of my post Black Friday shopping deals.  The KitchenAid 5 speed hand blender.  Right out of the box it is impressive, it comes with a nice case to keep all the pieces together, a chopping base, and a pitcher.

KitchenAid Hand Blender
I have to say just pulling it out of the case, it has a well built feel to it, and the 3 different blades are nice additions for an immersion blender.  An S-blade for blending, a multi-purpose blade, and a frothing/batter mixing blade are an excellent assortment to include with the whisk and the chopping bowl.  With all these attachments and 5 speeds of power, it certainly has the ability to replace several things in your kitchen, which is a good thing as one of the downsides of this set, is that it takes up a decent amount of space with this case and the bowls.

Not having an immediate need for this, but still wanting to get it out and try it, I was forced to send my wife out for some ice-cream, so I could at least make milk shakes for everyone.  Let me tell you this was the EASIEST request I have ever made.  Short and sweet version, "Hun will you get some ice-cr...", "Ok".   Is it  her love for me, or her love of ice cream?  I am just going to assume it's for me and not ponder too long about it.

Anyway I loaded up the pitcher with ice-cream , tossed in some milk, and put the S-blade and went to  town.  It made easy work of it, and it wasn't long before I had enough made up for 2 glasses one for each kid.  Refilling I made enough for 2 more, filled my glass, then proceeded to add some bananas and finish it off for my wife.  Again, no problem at all.

Now while this hasn't been an exceptionally intense test, I have to say I am still impressed with the feel of it, and the attachments.  Oh and taking off the bar and blade and not having to try to avoid getting water all over the electrical portion...big plus in my book.  While if they would have made those portions dishwasher safe, it would have been a plus, just being able to clean them without fumbling around the motor is a big help.

Hopefully I will get a chance to try it out more and update on it, but for now, I think this might have been a pretty good purchase.  Only time tells with kitchen gadgets, if they are fads or forevers.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Dutch Cocoa Cookies Copycat

I have been very remised in my blogging duties.  To be fair though, I haven't really had a chance to try anything new, so I didn't think you would want to read about something rehashed.  This week though I got to try something totally new for me, a copy cat recipe for Dutch Cocoa Cookies.
And while it's not an exact copy, they are extremely good and very easy to make.

Dutch Cocoa Cookies

This recipe is not my own at all, so I have to give credit for to thebadpenguin.

2 cups All Purpose Flour
3/4 cups Dutch Processed cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter at room temp
2 cups of sugar (will need more to roll the cookies)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla

Sift the first 4 ingredients together, I cheat a bit and put it into a mixing bowl and use a whisk to lighten it up, very similar result to sifting without dealing with a sifter, since most of your flour is pre sifted anymore.

With my handy dandy KitchenAid mixer I mixed the butter and sugar together, then added the vanilla, and the eggs one at a time.  Then gradually add the flour mixture to it so that it gets well incorporated.

Now I removed the dough, wrapped it in plastic, and placed it into the fridge to chill and set up some.  I let it go about an hour, although a little longer might have been better, but it worked for me.

Once the dough had set some, I took a paper plate and added some sugar to it, now I tried it 2 different ways, one with plain sugar and another with sanding sugar.  For the look the sanding sugar came out with a look much closer to the classic Archway cookies, although the regular sugar tasted great too. The sugar just wasn't as noticeable on the finished product.

All you have to do is roll the dough into balls about 1" in size, then roll it to coat it in sugar, and place them on a prepped cookie sheet.   I used vegetable oil from a oil sprayer, but Pam would work just as well I'm sure.  Be sure to give them plenty of room, as you can see by the picture they spread out pretty good size.

Bake them in a 350 degree oven for about 12 minutes, until the center is set.

Take them out and place them on a rack to cool, be careful as they are very soft at this point and very delicate.  But they cool and become a chocolate lover's delight.

These were also great fun for the kids to watch as they slowly "melt" into their cookie shape.

Best of luck in the kitchen!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Cheescake Puffs

This past weekend I decided to play around in the kitchen.  Got an idea and decided to give it a try.  I ended up creating what I have decided to call Cheesecake Puffs.

Cheesecake Puff
Here's the kicker aside from maybe the blueberries (and potentially cream cheese), you probably already have everything you need to make this little beauty, because the main ingredient...Pancake mix.  Thats right I started with nothing more than "just add water" pancake mix.


  • Pancake batter
  • Butter
  • 1 8oz softened cream cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 tsp of vanilla

  • Blueberries
  • Sugar to taste (I tend to error on the more for a sweeter product)
Before we begin, go ahead and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

First let's mix up our cheesecake filling, if you planned ahead and your cream cheese is at about room temp good for you, if you are like me and decided to do this and are impatient you can soften the cream cheese up in the microwave for a short time(doesn't take long, you don't want to cook it....and PLEASE  don't do it in the aluminum wrapper, just put it in a microwave safe bowl).  In your mixing bowl add the cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla, and mix it up real well.  Till you have a nice creamy consistency.  Now with that ready, you can set it aside and mix up your pancake batter.

I know I didn't put amounts on the batter, well a lot depends on the mix, and your own preferences, but you don't want to make it too thin.

With all this ready, I buttered my muffin pan up real well,  I suppose you could use oil, or shortening, but I am one who thinks a little butter makes everything better.  I'm not advocating a lifestyle of butter, but as with everything, it's all about moderation, and food should be enjoyed, not just eaten.  I did use a large muffin pan, so these are decent size, I was going for fork food, not finger foods( although a small version in a mini muffin pan, would be delectable, but dangerously easy to eat).  My pan was still pretty new and nonstick, so that was all I used.  Removing the finished product was pretty easy.

Fill each section about 1/3 of the way, although you could add more just adjust cooking time, this is all about playing, not perfecting.   In the middle of each add a scoop of the cheesecake mixture, you can add as much or as little as you'd like, I didn't use all of mine in one batch, but these were experimental, maybe someday I will perfect the recipe and put something a bit more precise.

Now let's add these to the oven and watch the magic.  It will take about 15-20 minutes, and the tops won't brown much, so keep a watchful eye on the edges.

While they cook you can make the fruit topping, anything you'd like would work, but I have an abundance of frozen blueberries from my in-laws, so they won in our household.  All I did was simply put some in a pan on medium heat, and added some sugar and cook them down.  This is where the fun of taste testing comes in as well, as you always have to taste to see if you need to add more sugar or not.

You will start to notice the middles rising on your puffs, with any luck they are pulling away from the edges of your pan as well, and you can get a good idea of how done they are by how brown the edges get, at least that is what I did.  The cheesecake centers should also be pretty well set at this point too.

Using a rubber spatula you should be able to scoop them right out.  This is where you test your nonstick pan and your butter job, both of which hopefully worked well.  Once you take them out, you can put a little of your fruit topping on the top, and there you go, instant sweet bliss.

Serving to a crowd, a beautiful display of them on a serving platter each individually topped would look marvelous.

Good luck, hope you enjoy them!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Cheater Peanut Butter Pie

If you are like my family, you can go through some peanut butter, whether it's peanut butter toast, peanut butter sandwiches, or peanut butter on pancakes.  Oh and if you haven't tried peanut butter on your pancakes, give it a try before you knock it, my wife thought I was a little off the first time she saw me do it, now she won't hardly eat pancakes without it.  I am also going to throw out my little endorsement for my favorite PB, if you haven't tried it, give Jiff Natural a try.   We thought we would give it a chance, and have never looked back, in fact it's the only kind we use now.

Now on to my goodie experiment., Here was the final product.  A simple peanut butter pie, perfect for anyone, even those that aren't big into cooking, but love peanut butter pie, especially since this is a no bake option.

This is the version I made, and although I think next time I am going to double the peanut butter, like I said my family is crazy about peanut butter, and I am also going to use just a standard graham cracker crust, as I think it has more flavor than the chocolate crust I used.

Here goes with what I did this time.

1 Crust (I used a chocolate crust, but I think a graham cracker crust will taste better)

1 cup Heavy whipping cream
1 cup milk
1/2 cup  peanut butter
1 box vanilla instant pudding

Put all the ingredients in your mixer, using the whisk attachment mix everything together good till it somewhat sets, it doesn't set quite as well as pudding alone.  IN about 5 minutes though it will be all mixed together well.  Then pour into the crust, cover, and place in the fridge.  The next day you have a wonderful peanut butter pie.  It probably would be ready in a couple hours, but it was late when I made it, so I didn't get to try it till the next day.

Top with some Cool Whip and you are ready to server.