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.