6 "As Seen on TV" Kitchen Gadgets That Are Actually Worth the Money
This post is for people who think cooking should be fun, love kitchen gadgets, and appreciate a good bargain. You may also find yourself agreeing with me when I say I think the "As Seen on TV" ads are really over-the-top and pretty corny. However, once in a while, darned if you don't see a commercial and wonder… "Hmm, does that really work?" If you fit this criteria, read on.
1. Stone Wave
I feel like I am back in 1978 every time I use the Stone Wave, and I am fairly certain that at one point we owned a set of mugs and matching bean pot. Its shape reminds me of a tagine, though, and 32 million Moroccans can't be wrong. A tagine is a ceramic, conical cooking pot. When you cook with a tagine, the steam rises, then condenses, making the food inside very moist. The Stone Wave, also ceramic, mimics a tagine's conical shape. I really like how quickly it cooks foods. I also don't have to babysit things on the stove. It all goes into the 'Wave, I microwave it, and eat.
My favorite things to make in the Stone Wave are omelets, healthy eggplant parmesan, and chocolate souffles. I sometimes use egg substitute for the omelets, plop them onto a whole-wheat English muffin, and add avocado. That is a healthy start to my day. The little recipe book (included) has several good ideas, including an apple crisp and a healthier version of a "bloomin'" baked onion. Clean-up is easy. I always use a little canola or olive-oil spray before adding the ingredients.
It does cook a smaller quantity. We're a family of two now, so we just split a lot of things, like the recipe booklet's chocolate souffle, or a 'Wave of eggplant parmesan (great appetizer). Because we eat breakfast at different times, we just share ours. They are also available in sets of four, if you felt so inclined (but I'm not sure how well four of them would microwave at once). The handle can be hot when you remove from the microwave, so I usually use a potholder or the Ove Glove (see below).
2. Ove Glove Hot Surface Handler
Pretty long name for "potholder" or "oven mitt," eh? I imagine the inventor had some good reason for that, but I have yet to say, "Hey, honey, can you please hand me my Ove Glove Hot Surface Handler?" It looks like a knitted glove, but it is made of Kevlar and Nomex with silicone grips. Why use an Ove Glove instead of your basic oven mitt? Well, your basic oven mitt is not constructed from Kevlar. This sucker withstands serious heat. Like, 540-degree heat. It has been tested by Consumer Reports, and this product definitely works. I have also washed it numerous times and the surface is still fine, after two years of use.
My husband really likes using the Ove Glove for outdoor grilling, where it is handy for moving skewers around. He can just reach in and grab them (try that with tongs). I like its sticky grip when I manhandle casserole dishes in the oven.
I do have an issue with the product, albeit a stupid one. Every time I use it, I expect to get burned. In my head, I guess I still think it's a mitten-type thing, and it makes me hesitant when I touch cookie sheets or casserole dishes. I have never been burned while using it, so I recognize this as irrational (and kind of silly).
3. Perfect Brownie Pan Set
This product wins the award for "Most Appropriately-Named Gadget of the Year." I actually heard someone in my office say, "How do you get your brownies to look so perfect?" Well, folks, you buy the Perfect Brownie Pan Set, that's how. The set has several components: The pan itself, a nonstick sheet, a divider grid that goes over the brownie batter, and a rack. What it does is to enable you to get your brownies to come out in 18 even squares. For me, this never happens using a knife. I always have the few weird, misshapen pieces, and a lot of crumbs. It makes presentable brownies, not ones you're embarrassed to take to a potluck.
Brownies, naturally, followed by corn bread and quiche squares. You can even make macaroni-and-cheese "squares."
Use a generous amount of vegetable spray, or you'll have a devil of a time washing it. If your batter is a thin, it may leak a little. For this product, you really need to follow the manufacturer's directions, like preheating the pan. One of my friends just uses the divider grid to cut pans of things, instead of using a knife. I guess that works, too!
4. Perfect Tortilla Pan Set
Being a big lover of taco salads, the Perfect Tortilla Pan Set caught my attention immediately when I saw the commercial on TV. The Perfect Tortilla Pans are aluminum bowls — well, more like big cups — into which you put a tortilla. The edges of the pans are curved, giving the bowls a restaurant-like presentation. You then bake the tortillas and fill with whatever you like.
I like to make tortilla cups consisting of layers of beans, rice, lettuce, tomatoes, and avocados. They also make great bowls for chili. You can make a dessert, using flour tortillas and cinnamon, and add ice cream and bananas. Or, try taking chocolate-chip cookie dough, moulding it to the bowls, and baking for dessert bowls. Wow! After a little experimentation, I found that I could use whole-wheat tortillas by increasing the oven heat a little and baking for a bit longer. The aluminum, nonstick pans clean very easily and they are not a storage problem.
I read a negative review of the pans, saying that you could simply turn a cupcake pan upside-down and position tortillas between the cups. Well, I tried it, and it did indeed work. However, they did not look nearly as nice, in my opinion, without the fluted edges, and it was difficult to get the tortillas to stay put.
5. Veggetti Spiral Vegetable Cutter
I had seen other versions of this product and, in fact, had one of them in my Amazon shopping cart. I just hadn't gotten around to finishing up the order, and how fortunate that was. The Veggetti Spiral Vegetable Cutter does the job of the more expensive version! This nifty cutter enables you to cut vegetables (zucchini, Japanese eggplant, carrots, etc.) into fun, attractive spiral shapes. I tried to buy another as a gift, but the recipient had already purchased his own.
I love zucchini strands made into "pasta," with a sauce, or sauteed in olive oil with seasonings. You can make fun salads with carrots and cucumbers. It also makes a really neat-looking "base" upon which to put grilled fish, chicken, etc. I think kids would love the fun food shapes (but it's too sharp for them to use, so watch that).
You'll want to clean, or at least rinse, this product right away. I find it similar to a box grater in that once the bits of food have dried on the inside, it's tough to get it clean. I found a long-handed skinny brush that is perfect; a toothbrush would probably also work. Rinsing right after use helps tremendously.
6. Salad Blaster
I first saw kids and college students toting these Salad Blasters, and then realized how great they would be for the office. The Blaster is basically a large cup with a built-in holder for dressing. When you are ready to eat, you release the dressing, and shake. Mine fits in my car cup-holder, and in the door of the office refrigerator. They are a handy size.
They work very well for salad, as intended, but I really like mine for fruit. I like to cut up melon into small cubes, and put it into the container. Going without dressing is fine, of course, for fruit, but if I have time, it's really delicious if you mix some honey and fresh-squeezed lime, and put that into the dressing holder. It also works for leftover pasta or potatoes - just throw some dressing into the dressing section, and you have instant pasta or potato salad for lunch. I have even made taco salad, using leftover hamburger and adding tortilla chips later.
When you shake the container, make sure you are holding the lid. Also, creamier dressings work better in the dressing container than a vinaigrette, which does tend to leak a little. That's not a huge problem, though. You do need to start stockpiling plastic forks. I keep a stack at my desk. Sure, you can tote salad in a regular plastic container, but just having that built-in dressing compartment makes it a lot more convenient.
The next time you see one of these commercials and wonder if the products really work, or if they are worth the money, they just might be!
Have you ever purchased a TV kitchen gadget? Did it work as advertised? Please share in comments!