Category: Baking equipment on test

Almond shortbread recipe and the cute button cookie cutter

Almond shortbread recipe and the cute button cookie cutterAlmond shortbread recipe

Who doesn’t love the soft, crumbly, buttery taste of shortbread? It’s one of those melt in the mouth biscuits which- according to Beau, I don’t make nearly often enough. That and freezer cookies! 

I was requested to make a batch and when I had some leftover ground almonds I thought that they’d work well together – I’m a bit obsessed with almonds at the mo!  And my almond shortbread recipe was developed and loved. They were deeelsh. After the on-going shortbread fiasco of a few years ago I decided that now was the perfect time to have a play with my new button cookie cutter stamp.

Button cookie stamp

Almond shortbread recipe

My friend Emma (is it me or is everyone called Emma nowadays?) set up her own cookie stamp business Emma Jane’s Bakery, just before the birth of her daughter and she asked if I would like to have a play with one of the designs. Of course I jumped at the chance. I mean how great are they? Emma asked me to choose one and I have to say that I struggled. They’re all really cute. I went for this simple swirl design as I thought it would work on so many levels – biscuits for friends, christmas gingerbread gifts for teachers, shortbread for demanding eleven year old daughters!

Emma Jane's bakeryAs well as doing button cookie stamps (there’s eight to choose from) Emma also does a stamp for weddings, Christmas and she can even personalise them too. “Made by EmmaMT” sounds pretty good to me, but you can have baby’s names and birthdate for christenings, Mr & Mrs and the date for weddings, company logos – the list is endless. Go have a look and see.

Almond shortbread recipe

Almond Shortbread Recipe

  • 200g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 100g Caster sugar
  • 35g ground almonds
  • 225g plain flour (plus a bit extra for rolling out)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Mix the butter and sugar until completely combined.
  2. In a separate bowl sieve the ground almonds and flour and stir to combine.
  3. Add the dry ingredients and almond extract to sugar and butter and mix until just combined. The less mixing you do the better and more crumbly the shortbread will be.
  4. Line a baking tray with silicon paper.
  5. Roll out the dough so it is around 1cm thick. Using the button stamp imprint the pattern into the dough. If your dough is really sticky give the stamp a light dusting of flour. Then use the circle cutter to cut out around each patterned biscuit. I found that by cutting the circles after imprinting the pattern I got a nice neat circle button. When I cut out the circle then tried to do the pattern I squished the shape and it wasn’t round anymore.
  6. Continue patterning and cutting till you have used all the dough up. Remove the excess dough from around the shortbread buttons then carefully lift each biscuit and place it onto the baking tray.
  7. Chill the shortbread on the baking tray for 30 minutes. This will prevent the biscuits from spreading and losing their shape whist baking.
  8. Pre-heat your oven to 160ºC (Fan oven140ºC) and bake the shortbread for 12 minutes. The edges will start to go slightly golden at the edges. If they go brown they’re overdone. 
  9. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling tray to cool down completely.
  10. Eat them all up!

Enjoy!

EmmaMT x

Almond shortbread recipe

Disclaimer: The cute button cookie stamp in this post was sent to me by Emma Jane’s Bakery (Thanks Emma. I’m gonna have fun using this one) All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

 

Having fun with a Spiralizer and a fab apple pie recipe

Fun with the Spiralizer and a fab apple pie recipe

SPIRALIZER

Have you seen the latest craze to hit the foodie world? It’s called a Spiralizer and it’s so much fun. Originally intended to make spirals from vegetables (corgetti anyone?) I couldn’t resist having a play with one after I saw it in action at a Lakeland press launch. Of course I don’t want to play with veg. I want to make pies!

SPIRALIZER

I thought an apple pie would be a great choice when using this gadget and I wasn’t wrong. I suspected that the apple would go soggy whilst baking- but it didn’t. As there were so many strands to cover in flavour it tasted fab.

The Spiralizer comes with three blades. I used the wrong one to make long strands at first but that didn’t matter as I crunched up the apples once spiralled anyway. The first blade cut the apples into half moon shapes. The second blade had them coming out in perfect spaghetti like spirals. The third blade can be used to cut slices. I used eating apples with the skins left on but peeled cooking apples would work just as well.
SPIRALIZER

Spiralizer apple pie recipie

  • 1 pack of shortcrust pastry (I cheated but you can find my shortcrust recipe here)
  • 3-4 eating apples (just spiral till your plate is very full)
  • 1-2 tbsp apricot jam
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 20g caster sugar
  • egg white to brush the pastry with.
  1. When spiralling apples you will be left with a small end- I ate this up – waste not want not!  and the core which can be removed at the end. You also have to dig out any pips as they are poisonous to eat. It’s pretty easy to see the pips though.
  2. Once the apples have been spiralled place them in a bowl and cover with the sugar and cinnamon. Stir until the apple is completely covered. I did this with my hands and that’s why the spirals broke. I was pretty happy with how they looked. Set aside while you prepare the pastry. SPIRALIZER
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC (Fan oven160ºC)
  4. Roll out the pastry so it’s around the depth of a £1 coin. Place it in the oven proof dish (my dish is 24cm diameter) and pierce the base with a fork and remove the excess dough from the edges.
  5. Heat up the jam in a microwave for a few seconds so it becomes nice and runny. Use a silicon pastry brush to spread it over the base of the pastry case. Set a little aside for the bake.
  6. Fill the pastry case with the apple and brush the pastry with egg white for a shiny finish. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the apple is baked and the dough is golden brown.
  7. Once the pie looks almost done spread a little jam over the apple with a silicone brush to give it a gloss finish and bake for a further 2-3 minutes. Serve warm with thick cream or ice cream.SPIRALIZER

You can buy a Spiralizer on line from Lakeland here

Enjoy!

 

EmmaMT

Disclaimer: Lakeland sent me this Spiralizer (thanks you guys!) All thoughts and opinions are my own.

WIN: Pyrex bundle giveaway

WIN a Pyrex bundle giveaway

PYREX COMP

“Wowzers!” I hear you cry! Can I win all of that! Well yes you can.

Pyrex is 100 years old this year so when they asked if I would like to do a giveaway here on CakesBakesAndCookies.com I jumped at the chance. I mean what baker doesn’t love a bit of Pyrex kitchen kit?

So, what’s in the bundle?

The big bowl

I’ve had a 3.0L Pyrex Glass Bowl,small Pyrex bowl and Pyrex jug in my ‘essential’ kit for as long as I can remember. I use the large bowl to mix ALL my cake mixes in as I now use my hand held whisk for practically everything. That big bowl is the perfect size for cakes up to 10″ and you can’t say that about many mixing bowls!

The Small bowl

The small 1 litre Pyrex Bowl,  I have is so old now. It’s got a ton of scratches at the bottom where I mix eggs for omelettes and have done so since Tim and I first moved in together. So, it must be about 18 years old! Boy am I showing my age now! The thing I use it for most of all now is warming up butter. I shared this Mary Berry tip a few years ago where you place cold butter from the fridge in the bowl then add tepid water and leave it for ten minutes so the butter softens up to room temperature. My kitchen is so cold – especially in the winter so I do this for most cakes. The softer the butter the better the cake mix.

Pyrex giveaway mixing bowls

The Small Jug

The small 0.5 l Pyrex Jug is what I use to measure (no brainer really!) but I also always break my eggs into this jug when making cakes. It’s become a bit of a ritual habit for me. Do you know that when you break eggs into a glass container any tiny bits of shell that get in the mix sink to the bottom, so you can lift the jug up and look underneath to check that there aren’t any fragments lurking down there.  I used to have the big 1 litre Pyrex jug but I dropped it and was really gutted. It’s another great sized piece that has so many uses. I must replace that some time!Pyrex giveaway jug

Kitchen lab precise measure

This is a really clever device. It was new to me but since I’ve had my hands on it I’ve used it tons. The Pyrex test tube design  has this clever rubber base so it can stand up while you measure really small amounts of liquid into it so, when a cake calls for 4 tea spoons of vanilla essence you can measure them in one go. It can measure up to 50ml, 1 ½ Fl. Oz, 6 tea spoons and 3 tablespoons, handy when you’re baking big cakes. You don’t loose count when you measure in one go!

Pyrex giveaway  measuring small liquidBaking tray

I love baking trays. I don’t know any keen baker who doesn’t. You just can’t have enough of them can you? This Pyrex asimetriA BAKING TRAY  has a raised surface and is designed to give you an even distribution of heat so those cookies will all come out the same. It’s a really good size. I can get 30 cookies on just this one tray.

Pyrex giveaway - baking tray

Loaf tin

This Pyrex asimetriA Loaf tin is the only part of this bundle I haven’t baked with yet. I’m thinking about doing a long thin cheesecake with it next month with a line of cherries down the centre. What do you think? It’s not your traditional size loaf tin. It’s longer (26cm) which I really like. It gives you a point of difference… and more cake. What would you bake with one of these?

Pyrex giveaway - loaf tin

Muffin tin

This Pyrex asimetriA MUFFIN TRAY has really tall, straight sides. I’m a bit rubbish when it comes to muffins. They never seem to rise up as much as I’d like, but when I used this tin to make cupcakes a couple of weeks ago they came out really neat and even – just what I wanted. The straighter the sides of the cake wells the more professional the cakes look in my opinion.

Pyrex giveaway - muffin tray

 Sandwich tins

These Pyrex asimetriA sandwich tins are probably the most useful size you can get – or at least they’re the size I use the most. So with that in mind I now have four 8″ sandwich tins. Great for layered cakes or rainbow cakes. These sit inside each other for handy storage and bake a chocolate victoria sponge cake perfectly – as I did last month. Great quality and non-stickability.Pyrex sandwich tins

 The GIVEAWAY

So, basically I have these essentials in my baking cupboard and they get a ton of regular use. So do you want some? These are all up for grabs in one lovely big giveaway bundle. You can win……

  • 1 x Large 3 litre Pyrex Mixing Bowl (rrp £4.99)
  • 1 x Small Pyrex bowl (rrp £2.99)
  • 1 x Pyrex jug (rrp £2.99)
  • 1 x Kitchen lab presice measure (rrp £6.99)
  • 1 x Baking tray (£8.99)
  • 1 x Muffin tin (£11.99)
  • 2 x round sandwich cake tins (rrp £8.99 each)
  • 1 x long loaf tin (rrp £6.99)

So that’s over £60 worth of baking goodness.

To win all you have to do is share a comment below with what you would bake using this fabulous Pyrex bundle AND enter your name into the Rafflecopter random number generator on the pink link below.

Click here to enter the  giveaway

and don’t forget to leave a comment! 
 

I wish you the best of luck

Emma x

Terms and Conditions

This Pyrex giveaway ends at 11.59pm on 21st May 2015. The prize consists of 1 x Large 3 litre Pyrex Mixing Bowl, 1 x Small Pyrex bowl, 1x Pyrex jug,1 x Kitchen lab presice measure, 1 x Baking tray, 1x Muffin tin, 2 x round sandwich cake tins,1 x long loaf tin. It is open to UK entrants only (sorry).  Leaving a blog post comment is a mandatory entry option. This prize is offered by Pyrex and is hosted on CakesBakesAndCookies.com. Please note that CakesBakesAndCookies.com is not responsible for sponsors that do not fulfill their prizes. A winner will be selected by the Rafflecopter widget and that person will be notified within 7 days. The products offered for the giveaway are free of charge, no purchase necessary. I do not share or sell information and will use any information only for the purpose of contacting the winner.

Disclosure: I have not been paid for this post. Pyrex very kindly sent me this set of bakewares for review on CakesBakesAndCookies.com and will provice a duplicate set which will be sent to the giveaway winner. All thoughts and opinions are my own and are true and honest.  

Kitchen Gadget Review: The Nutribullet 600 Series

Kitchen Gadget Review: The Nutribullet 600 Series

Nutribullet review

Everyman and his wife seems to have a Nutribullet nowadays. My dad bought us one last October and I have to say that Tim and I are a little bit addicted to it (and those smoothies!) Every morning Tim’s up at the crack of dawn and whizzes up a green smoothie and leaves one in the fridge for me when I get back from my run. I don’t know how the girls don’t wake up with all that blending going on beneath them but they never do!

The Nutribullet: What’s the fuss all about?

Well, in truth the Nutribullet is just another blender but what makes it so much better than all the rest (and I’ve had a Kitchenaid blender!) is that it makes whatever you put in it really smooth. It’s simple to use and can be cleaned in less than a minute. Instant winner in our eyes. The price is also a real bargain. At around £99 it is a serious competition for all the big, expensive names out there.

It’s the simplicity of it that makes it so wantable. The Nutribullet is pretty small- so sits nicely on your kitchen worktop without taking up much space It’s quick and easy to use and therefore simple to add a daily, healthy smoothie to your diet without really impacting on your time; you can literally wash and slice up some fruit, add some water, blend, pour, drink and wash up in under 10 minutes and we can all find 10 minutes in our day to be healthier and that is why I think it’s been so popular.

What’s in the box?

We’ve got the Nutribullet 600 Series but there are other newer Nutribullet models out on the market. Ours has a 600w motor which is very powerful.

  • The power base. This is the base part which sits on your worktop. It’s easy to clean and heavy enough to sit still while your blending. The small size means that you can tuck it into a corner out of sight if you want to.
  • 1 x extraction blade (that’s the smoothie maker bit to me and you!) It’s made from high quality stainless steel that never needs sharpening. It’s pretty easy to clean and can be put in the dishwasher but it takes seconds to wash by hand so get yourself one of those bristle pan cleaners.
  • 1 x milling blade– super grinder. Also made from always sharp stainless steel, You can use this blade to grind up nuts, oats, grains or fresh herbs and even coffee beans.
  • 1 x tall cup. This is the one we use most mornings and it makes plenty for us to share. There is a ‘Max’ line on the side and this is the max for both fruit and/or veg and liquids.
  • 2 x short cups.These are really handy as you can take a smoothie to work or store some for later. I also use these when making the Naked bars – as seen in the recipe below. When storing smoothies for later on in the day remember that all that goodness found in preparing fresh drinks begins to deteriorate after 45 minutes so wherever possible try and drink your smoothie straight away. My thinking is that if I leave it a few hours at least I’m drinking fruit and not Dr Pepper!
  • 1 handled lip ring. Great for when you take your smoothie on the go. Ours hasn’t left the cupboard!
  • 1 regular lip ring. Again- hasn’t left the cupboard! I prefer to drink from glass.
  • 2 stay fresh resealable lids. Invaluable if you want to prepare ahead or store in the fridge. Or if you want to travel with one.
  • 1 x user manual Now when it comes to manuals and guide books I tend to give them a quick once over but this one is probably the best I have ever seen. It’s literally jam packed with information, loads of great recipes and facts and ideas. Tim and I both read it cover to cover as soon as the Nutribullet landed in our kitchen. It explains exactly how to build on basics of a healthy diet. How to make a nutritionally balanced smoothie. There’s even a “program’ (aka a diet) to follow. The recipe ideas include ‘protein powerhouse, the immune booster, toxin cleansing blast and vita berry blast.’ There’s even room at the back for notes and planner so you can record what you ate and when.
  • 1 x Pocket nutritionist. This is another great read especially if you don’t know what the benefits are to each fruit and vegetable. I thought I knew but I learnt a lot reading this. There’s also a guide on how to select the best produce.

5 Great facts about the Nutribullet

  1. You can crush ice in it.
  2. You can turn granulated sugar into caster or even icing sugar with the milling blade
  3. It makes great soups and sauces.
  4. You can blend vegetables and hide them in the kids foods without them noticing.
  5. You can use frozen fruits to make summer shakes all year long.

My favorite smoothie / milkshake recipe

(aka getting your kids to eat their greens)

Although I enjoy the traditional green smoothies, the milkshakes I make with the Nutribullet are a bit more kid friendly. To start with they don’t look too brown or green which in my house is a no-no to getting the kids interested in drinking them. But they just taste like milkshake so no-one really knows that they’re getting 3 of their 5 a day in one delicious hit.

Nutribullet: smoothieIngredients

  • Handful of spinach
  • ½ – 1 mango – make sure it’s ripe
  • 1 banana – the ones with brown spots are sweeter and blend the best
  • Almond milk up to the ‘max’ line. You could also mix this with water.
  1. Place all the ingredients in the Nutribullet starting with the spinach then screw on the lid tightly. Blend for 20-30 seconds until all the spinach is well incorporated and you can’t see any green specs.
  2. Pour into a tall glass add a straw and enjoy!

Naked bars

These are so easy to make and I totally love them. I’m sure they’re super fattening with all the nuts and seeds but they do contain the healthy oils so I’m not counting them! They’re great cut into little bars or small squares so you can pop  them into your mouth when you’re feeling peckish. As they’re so sweet they give you that 4pm sugar hit we all crave without the guilt!

Anything goes with these bars. As long as you stick to a 50/50 ratio. 50% soft dried fruit that will hold together the other 50% of dry nuts and seeds. Just weight them to check.

Nutribullet: naked barsIngredients

  • 45g (⅓ cup) almonds
  • 40g (¼ cup) mixed seeds – I use flax, sunflower, sesame and pumpkin
  • 60g (½ cup) pecans
  • 75g (½ cup) dried or fresh dates
  • 100g((½ cup) dried apricots
  1. Start by milling all the nuts and seeds together using the milling blade and one of the small cups. You may need to stop every 10 seconds to shake up the contents as the moisture in the nuts makes them clump and you want to ensure there aren’t too many large pieces (unless that’s the texture you’re looking for). The end result should be the consistency of ground almonds.
  2. Add the dried fruit to the milled nuts and seeds, screw the milling blade back onto the cup and mill again. This will take 2-3 grinds. Again you may need to shake the cup a little to ensure all the ingredients are combined.
  3. Line a bowl with cling film then press the ingredients into the bottom of it using the back of a spoon. Make the top as smooth and flat as possible. Cover the top with cling film then leave to chill in the fridge.
  4. When ready to eat cut into bar shapes or squares and serve. You can wrap individual ones up for packed lunches or do what I do and just snack straight from the fridge! Yummarge!

 

Tim’s Green smoothie recipe

So, this is what I’m greeted with each morning. An old Nutella glass (complete with those handy white lids) full of goodness. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “You drink that!? It looks like pond water!” And you’re right. It does. The green nature of these smoothies mean that they look less than appetising but you have to trust me when I say they taste delicious.

Nutribullet:  green smoothie

 Ingredients

  • Handful of spinach
  • Handful of blueberries
  • Handful of strawberries
  • ½ apple – cored – the seeds are dangerous to eat
  • ½ pear – stalk removed
  • ½ banana
  1. Place the spinach in the large cup first then add the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Fill with water up to the max line and blend for 30 seconds.
  3. Pour and drink.

Some people who have seen me post my smoothies on Instagram  and twitter have asked how we get them smooth. It’s just a case of getting the balance right. There needs to be plenty of water in a smoothie for it to be really smooth. We keep the fruit/veg contents lower than the max line and make sure there’s enough water to blitz it to pieces. If you want a thicker consistency just add items like banana, mango or avocado.

The Video review

Here’s a short video review I shot with the lovely photographer Oliver Gordon back in February. It shows the Nutribullet in action. Take a look and let me know what you think.

So thanks for stopping by. Do you have a Nutribullet? I’d love to hear what your favorite recipes are. Just share them below in the comments.

EmmaMT

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Disclaimer: This review is completely my own thoughts and opinions. I was not sent the Nutribullet to test and would like to say a massive thank you to the Poopah for giving this one to us. We love it. 

 

Madeleine cakes by Tim

Madeleine cakes Madeleine cakes Yep, that’s right Mr MT did the baking this weekend and it was goooood!

A few weeks ago he announced that he wanted to make some Madeleine cakes but we didn’t have the right tin and let’s face it Madeleine cakes don’t taste right if they’re not the right shape do they now? So, I got in touch with Eddingtons. You may not know Eddington’s by name but as a keen baker you have definitely seen their baking goodies on the shelves. They’re sold all over the place and now I’ve mentioned them to you you’ll be spotting their cake tinsCookie cutters and kitchen gadgets all over the place.

Madeleine cakes

I have always found their bake-wares to be really top notch quality which is why I approached them. The Madeleine cake tin is really tough, thick and completely non-stick which if you’ve ever looked at my shortbread fiasco I mean post, you’ll know why this is essential! It’s also dishwasher safe – another bonus. Tim hunted around my baking book shelf for a recipe but once the tin arrived he decided to follow the recipe on the packaging.  Orange Madeleines. Who wouldn’t?

So armed with his tin and a recipe he embarked on making as much mess as possible in our little kitchen which he did with much success!!!
Madeleine cakes

 Orange Madeleine cake recipe

Makes 24 cakes

  • 110g  (2/3 cup) flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 113g (1/2 cup) melted butter – cooled
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp orange extract
  • 1/2 tsp orange zest
  • 130g (1 cup) icing sugar
  1. Heat the oven to 170ºC). Spray the pan with a non stick spray or brush a little melted butter into each well like Tim did. Then dust a little flour over the top. This is the trick to the Madeleines literally falling out of the tin once they’re baked.
  2. Sift together the flour and baking powder in a small bowl.
  3. In another bowl use an electric whisk to beat the eggs, orange zest and extract on a high speed for five minutes. Gradually beat in the icing sugar. Whisk until it becomes thicker – another five minutes.
  4. Gently fold in the flour mixture then the melted butter until smooth.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the tins filling to 3/4 full.
  6. Bake for 8 minutes or until the edges start to brown. Cool in the pan for 1-2 minutes. Loosen the cakes with a knife then invert the pan on a rack and watch them pop out.
  7. Once completely cool sprinkle with icing sugar

Madeleine cakes

I couldn’t leave them alone. The whole house smelt amazing. The Madeleine’s were so light in texture and the hint of orange flavour was really just perfect. Tim made them in two batches and we’d eaten half the first lot before they had even cooled down! I had to be really strong willed not to eat more before I had taken the photos to share with you guys.

Fingers crossed he makes some more this weekend. I could get used to him baking!

Enjoy!

EmmaMT

Eddingtons Non-Stick Madeleine Pan RRP £24.95 available from www.PoshRosh.co.uk

 

Disclaimer: Eddingtons sent me this Madeleine cake tin (thanks you guys!) All thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

 

Best for baking: Oxo Silicone spatulas

Oxo Spatula Best for baking: Oxo Silicone spatulas

I may have mentioned my mild obsession with spatulas before. Sainsburys were always my favourite and I had 5 at one point – just in case they stopped selling them. And guess what? They stopped selling them!!!! The reason I liked them so much was that they were really strong, very flexible at the tip. You can use them up to really hot temperatures and they come up like new in the dishwasher.

The new best spatula

In comes an email from the Oxo Good Grips press office about their new gizmos and gadgets and what should be there but a spanking new spatula! It’s fate. I’m currently down to three. They have new ones. It’s a match made in heaven. Three days later I received a large and small spatula in the post and you would have thought Christmas had come early from the over excited squeals coming from me. I really do need to get out more often if I get this excited about a spatula! But it was the fact that I expected one to be a good size but the second one was so tall and thin. Perfect I thought. I couldn’t wait to give them a good testing.

The testing

So, what can they do? Well, whether you’re baking or cooking they are so, so useful. As the head is made from silicone you can use it on any cook/bakeware. You can leave it sitting in a saucepan of simmering Bolognese if you want and the handle will be cool to the touch and the base will be ready to stir it all up. Let’s face it with a heat resistance of 600ºF/315ºC you can use it anywhere in the kitchen without it scratching, melting or damaging anything.

Oxo Spatula wipes cleanThe larger one is perfect for baking. You can scrape out every spec of cake mix from a bowl without a drop of licking the spoon (but that’s no fun!) The smaller ‘jar spatula is just that. Great for scooping out every morsel from any jam jar. I used it for that hard to get at bottom of the jar mayonnaise and it worked a treat.

OXO Good Grips Silicone Medium Spatula, Raspberry, £7, Amazon.co.uk

OXO Good Grips Silicone Jar Spatula, White, £13

 So the verdict? I love them, but I knew I would. I love it that the jar spatula one has such a long reaching neck that fits into any jam jar and can get into the tightest corner at the top of a jar. I love it that the ends are so flexible and that they’re both so versatile. They’re a baking kit must in this bakers opinion.

EmmaMT

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Disclaimer: The product in this post was provided by Oxo Good Grips for review. All thoughts and opinions and entirely my own.

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