Pork and Sweet Potato Stew

Just because I made this stew in the Advantium doesn’t mean you can’t tinker with the recipe and make it in your oven.  Your cooking time will be longer in the oven.

Pork and Sweet Potato Stew

Adapted from The GE Advantium Cookbook

BAH Note: I finally figured out how to cut sweet potato into perfect cubes.  Cut a thin slice off of one long side of the sweet potato.  Rotate the sweet potato so that the flat side is down on your cutting board.  Now cut a thin slice off of the left and right side of the sweet potato.  Rotate the sweet potato one more so that the last uncut side is accessible and cut a thin slice off it.  You’ve basically just squared your sweet potato.  Cut the pointy (or rounded) ends and remove any remaining peel.  Cut the sweet potato lengthwise into 1/4 inch thick “boards”.  Lay each “board” on your cutting surface and cut them lengthwise into 1/4 inch sticks.  Cut the sticks into cubes.  Viola!

  • 2 pounds pork tenderloin, cut into 1 inch medallions
  • 1 large onion, diced (or 1 cup butter braised onions)
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • l large sweet potato, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (approximately 2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider (can substitute chicken broth)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 medium apples, peeled, cored, and diced
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onion

Lightly coat a 4 quart casserole dish with cooking spray and add the pork, onion, and diced red pepper.  Microwave on power level 7 for 10 minutes.  Carefully remove the dish from the Advantium and stir the contents.

Add the sweet potato, apple cider, salt, paprika, cumin, allspice and red pepper flakes to the casserole dish.  Cover and place in the Advantium on the metal baking tray (use potholders to remove the glass tray).

Press the SpeedCook button then scroll to My Recipes, New Recipe.  Set the cook time for 20 minutes and then use the following settings: U=4, L=4, M=5.  After 20 minutes, carefully remove the casserole dish, add the apples and stir.  Cover and continue to cook another 10 to 15 minutes at the same settings until the pork is done.

Spicy Orange Chicken

by the time i grabbed my camera, this is all that was left of spicy orange chicken.

With all of the crazy in my world right now, I feel a pronounced need to look for some balance.  And strength.  And focus.  And flexibility.  So I’ve decided to give yoga a try.

The idea of me stepping into the yoga studio is laughable.  I am not the least bit athletic and I’m clumsy as all hell.  I also have a constant stream of consciousness chatter going on in my head.  So the notion of working week after week to get to a place of inner quiet while simultaneously moving through poses without falling flat on my arse is a lofty goal.  I expect the namaste to kick my butt for a while.  And that’s ok.  Because with practice I will learn to focus and breathe and move.

What I didn’t expect was to find myself quietly weepy at the end of each session.  After moving my body through Mountain, Warrior, Tree, Bridge, and all the other poses whose names escape me, my emotional defenses are down.  And as I lay on my mat, focusing on my breathing, the tears just appear.  I don’t fight them.  They roll down the side of my face and into my hair, or fall onto my mat.  In that moment, I relinquish control to The Universe.

And as yoga helps me to find balance, strength, focus, and flexibility in the physical world, I’ve got a hunch that it will also help me to find those same things emotionally.  It may take me thousands of sun salutations and downward dogs to get there, but each one will take me one step closer.

Wish me luck.  I’m definitely going to need it.

Spicy Orange Chicken

Adapted from GE Advantium Cookbook

BAH Note:  To make this in a regular oven, bake at 375 degrees.  Check for doneness after about 20 minutes.

  • 4 to 5 (5 ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I use Perdue Perfect Portions)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • zest and juice (approximately 1/4 cup) from 1 large orange
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

Combine salt, paprika, allspice, and ginger and coat the chicken breasts completely.  Place the spice coated chicken in an oblong baking dish and set aside.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the orange juice, zest, and brown sugar.  Pour the liquid over the chicken.  Place the baking dish on the metal tray.

Press SpeedCook, and scroll to My Recipes, New Recipe.  Set the time for 20 minutes at the following settings: U=7, L=7, M=3.  Check the chicken after 15 minutes and add a bit more orange juice or some chicken broth if the liquid has reduced too much.  Check for doneness after 20 minutes and continue to cook for 5 minute increments, at the same settings, if needed.

Baste the chicken with the liquid before serving.

{printable recipe}

Advantium Wrap Up

there's no advantium hiding in this graphic. i just really love the image.

Over the last three months I have discovered that the Advantium really has helped me do more in my kitchen.  Do you mind if I review some highlights?

I used it to Speedcook an entire chicken in 45 minutes.  My first attempt showed me the importance of finding the proper cookware to get the most benefit out of Speedcook.  Thanks to a bit of internet searching and researching, I finally came up with a solution to that challenge.  Emile Henry has a line of microwave safe dutch ovens that work as beautifully in the Advantium (on all its various settings) as they do on the stove top or in my gas oven.  The 4.2 quart fits perfectly and rotates freely in the Advantium and it has easy to grab handles AND a lid.  Best of all, because the Emile Henry isn’t cast iron, it doesn’t weigh a ton like my other dutch ovens do. Oh happy day.

I harnessed the power of the Warm setting to keep my canning jars at a perfect temperature.  Never again will have I have to juggle jars in and out of a wee water bath two and three at a time to keep them ready for canning.  I can prep all of my jars at once and trust that the Warm setting will take care of the rest.

And let’s not forget that Speedcook took my tenderloin filet from raw to medium in less than 20 minutes.  For. Real.  No preheating.  No splattered cooktop.  It was a thing of beauty.

But those aren’t the only things I’ve been cooking up in the Advantium.

I’ve used the Quickcook preset for frozen pizza rolls to perfectly brown homemade meatballs before finishing them off in a pot of sauce.

I’ve also become well acquainted with the frozen waffle-fry preset.  And I have begun devoting space in my freezer to bags of frozen sweet potato fries because of this.

Most recipes that require baking now get put in the Advantium on the Convection setting instead of my big oven.  Those bran muffins were just the first of many sweet (and savory) dishes that have done time in the Advantium.  Winter squash, braised pork, and raspberry oatmeal bars are recent additions to that list.

Now that I have had time to become more familiar with the Advantium, there are some things that I wish it did better.

If you have a toaster or toaster oven, I don’t think the Advantium is going to take it out of commission.  Toasting in the Advantium is different…in order to get both sides of something toasty brown, I have to carefully reach in and turn it over.  It took me a while to figure that out.  I kept wondering why my bread was as pale after three minutes as it was when I first put it in.  A quick investigation showed me that the browning happens to which ever side is in contact with the metal cooking tray.  And the toast setting isn’t as user friendly as it could be.  With a toaster or toaster oven, you set it on a light to dark continuum; with the Advantium you set it for a cooking time.  I still haven’t figured out how to convert the light/dark settings into cooking times.

In a perfect world there would be a single cooking tray for the unit that could be used in all cooking modes.  It’s a struggle, especially in a small kitchen, to have to store a second cooking tray but to also have it be easily accessible at all times.  In addition to the issue of finding a place for the tray that isn’t in use to be stored, there’s the matter of having to switch trays in order to change cooking modes.  Say you want to do something as routine such as going from braising a pork roast on Convection to cooking a side serving of vegetables, to go with that braised pork, on Microwave.  After you’ve taken your hot dish out of the Advantium and set it somewhere to rest you have to reach in to the hot oven,  carefully remove the hot metal cooking tray, find a place to put that so it can cool, get the glass tray from wherever you’ve stored it, and install it.  A single cooking tray would simplify this greatly.

The wire cooking racks, used in the Convection mode, do not slide in and out of the unit like the racks in my big oven.  This means that it is imperative for me to remember to put my cake pans and muffin tins on baking sheets before I set them in the Advantium.  Otherwise, especially since I am reaching up into the unit, I struggle to securely get my oven mitt on the pan in order to pull it out of the oven.

Would it be wonderful if GE were able to refine the Advantium further to make it even more user friendly?  Absolutely.  Would it benefit the home cook to have even more preset cooking options factory programmed into the Advantium…especially ones for cooking things other than frozen convenience foods?  You betcha.  Would it be less intimidating to figure out how to take recipes users already have and make them Quickcook friendly if some type of conversion guidelines were available?  Without a doubt.

But like I said a few hundred words ago, the Advantium has allowed me to do more.  It has given me confidence that I can overcome some of my biggest cooking challenges (yes, I’m looking at you bread).  I never imagined that a kitchen appliance would increase my self esteem…lord knows enough of them have chipped away at it…but that’s exactly what’s happened.  I doubt I will ever be fearless in the kitchen but I now have a powerful tool in my arsenal.

I am still giddy beyond belief to have had the opportunity to work with GE.  My sincere thanks go out to all the folks involved with the project for allowing me to help tell the Advantium story.  It truly has been a pleasure.

Disclaimer:  As part of my partnership with GE, I received an Advantium oven.  All opinions posted about my Advantium experience are my own.

Advantium Rolls

not my actual roll...for illustrative purposes only.

You may recall that I spent Christmas 2010 with Rose Levy Berenbaum’s Bread Bible recipes for dutch baby and dinner rolls.  Both recipes were so successful and made the day feel like a holiday should that I decided that Rose should be part of Christmas 2011.  Specifically, I wanted to make a batch of cloverleaf dinner rolls so that I could give the Proof setting on the Advantium a whirl.

I was hoping for a Christmas miracle to be honest.  My luck with getting bread dough to rise is spotty.  I follow directions, I use water that is neither too hot nor too cold, I use high quality yeast, and I try my best to surrender my fears to the bread gods.  Maybe our house is a bit on the chilly side.  Or maybe I have evil spirits in the air taking all the mojo out of the yeast.  Or maybe I just needed the Advantium to banish those evil spirits and unleash my bread baking super power.

The first rise of the dough was glorious.  When I took it out of the Advantium, it had grown as though any other outcome was simply inconceivable.  I deflated the dough, gave it a turn or two, and set it back in the Advantium on Proof for the second rise expecting that my good fortune with the first rise must have been a fluke.

Not so.  The second rise was as perfectly executed as the first.  I then portioned the dough, rolled each portion into balls, and set three dough balls into each cup of a muffin tin.  While the big oven heated, the dough went back into the Advantium for the final rise.

Once the dough had achieved about 3/4 of the final rise, my impatience got the best of me.  I brushed melted butter on the top of the rolls, gave them a generous dusting of kosher salt, and set them in the oven to fulfill their cloverleaf destiny.  If I had a been just a bit more patient on the final rise, my rolls would have achieved maximum lift when they hit the intense heat of the oven.  But I wasn’t.  And they didn’t.  And in spite of that, they still emerged golden brown and I eagerly pulled one apart to enjoy its salted, buttery deliciousness.

Is there anything better than bread, still warm from the oven?  The correct answer is no.

The rolls that we didn’t eat with Christmas dinner were carefully wrapped in plastic and stashed in the freezer.  I think they lasted all of two weeks before we had picked the last one off.  Which means that I am long overdue to set a bowl of flour, yeast, and water in my Advantium and harness the super power of the Proof setting.

Want the recipe that I used?  Click here to jump back in time.  The only thing I did differently this year, besides proofing the dough in the Advantium, was letting the starter develop in the refrigerator overnight.  Yes, it added even more time to an already lengthy recipe but it wasn’t like I was doing any more work.

Disclaimer:  As part of my partnership with GE, I received an Advantium oven.  All opinions posted about my Advantium experience are my own.

Advantium Brownie Bites

I cannot tell a lie, one of the perks of going to food blogger conferences is coming home with goodie bags full of products.  Last year at Big Summer Potluck, the goodie bag included a package of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Brownie Mix.  Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to do with it since I don’t typically bake gluten free.  So I stashed it away in the pantry confident that a use for it would present itself.

Fast forward six months later.  I was working on my holiday baking list and realized that the pumpkin bread I was going to be sending to out of town family was a gluten filled no-no for my father in law’s lady friend Linda {hey Linda, bet you never thought you’d see your name here!}.  I wanted her to be able to enjoy the treats but I know NOTHING about gluten free baking except that it’s not something you can do halfway.  Then I remembered that package of gluten free brownie mix….Bob’s Red Mill for the win!

I hadn’t done much baking in the Advantium so I figured now was the time to correct that.  Operation GF Brownie Bites also presented a perfect scenario for me to compare  the final product baked in my traditional oven against the Advantium Quick Cook and Convection settings.

First off, let me say that if I didn’t know these brownie bites were gluten free, I would have never been able to tell.  Bob’s Red Mill does an outstanding job putting together a gluten free mix that will satisfy your brownie cravings.  You might have to search around a few stores to find it locally, but if you need a gluten free baked good, it’s worth the search.

So how did the Advantium do?  For me, baked goods from the gas oven are the standard to which all comparisons are made.  My gas oven, if not entirely level, is reliable.  I can usually tell by smell, touch, and sight when baked goods are done.  When in doubt, I have my trusty cake tester.  The brownie bites that I baked in my gas oven were moist and chocolatey.  The tops were firm but the interior was soft and yielding.  That was my control batch.

I have to admit I modified the pre-programmed Quick Cook brownie setting to eliminate the microwave from cycling on at all since I was using a metal baking pan.  Metal in the microwave is a big no-no.  The Quick Cook brownie bites were drier and cakier than my control batch.  They still had a rich chocolate taste but they weren’t as moist, even after cutting the cooking time by five minutes.  I wouldn’t have thought to do that but the Advantium beeped to tell me to check for doneness before the end of the cooking cycle.  Well played Advantium.

For the last batch, I switched the Advantium over to the Convection setting.  My mini-muffin pan fit perfectly on the metal turntable so I didn’t bother installing the wire shelf.  When all was said and done, this was my unqualified favorite batch.  These brownie bites were even moister than the ones from the gas oven.  The tops had just enough firmness to give the bite a little structure but gave way easily to the perfectly undercooked brownie middle.  Once fully cooled, the bites were sturdy enough to pack and ship but were still a perfect light bit of chocolatey, gluten free goodness.  Advantium Convection for the win!

Linda, I hope that Jim shared the brownie bites with you.  If not, let me know and I will bake up another batch exclusively for your enjoyment.

Disclaimer:  As part of my partnership with GE, I received an Advantium oven.  All opinions posted about my Advantium experience are my own.

Chicken a la Advantium

Common sense says that anytime you start using a new tool, it takes a while to get the feel of it.  You have to learn what it’s tolerances are and how it performs.  You have a learning curve to get over before you can feel like you can use it with your eyes closed.  That’s where I am right now with the Advantium.  In just a short period of time, I’ve learned a few things.

My half size sheet pans (which are a little larger than a typical cookie sheet) fit perfectly in the over the range model.  This was a huge surprise to me, since I had assumed that they wouldn’t fit.  I had even gone out and bought a couple of quarter sheet pans, before it even occurred to me to see if the sheet pans I already had would fit.  I don’t mind having the extra sheet pans though, those quarter sized pans make great prep pans.

You can use aluminum foil in the convection cook mode.  I wasn’t sure and had to go to the source and ask the folks at GE.  This means that the next time I roast beets, I can wrap them in foil and cut down on the amount of time they need to perfectly roast.

Having the appropriate cookware is essential.  In my cooking, I primarily use my enamel over cast iron dutch ovens for stews and braises.  But the Advantium literature didn’t mention whether they were safe to use.  So again, I reached out to the GE specialists who informed me that it was not advisable.  I’m glad I asked because I’ve grown quite attached to my two workhorse pieces of Le Creuset and I would hate to damage them, or the Advantium. Instead of enamel on cast iron, GE recommends using glass or ceramic cookware in the Convection and Quickcook modes.  Metal pans can also be used in the Convection mode for baking.

Not only do you need the proper type of cookware, it is also important that they be able to rotate freely during Quickcook mode.  Take my first attempt at preparing a whole chicken using Quickcook (shown above).  The chicken was too large for my only round casserole dish, so I used a rectangular one.  If I had been using the Convection setting, it wouldn’t have posed any challenges.  I could have simply put in one of the two wire racks that comes with the Advantium and set the dish on the rack.  But since I was in Quickcook, that wire shelf was a no no.  Because the baking dish wasn’t able to freely rotate during the cooking time, the chicken didn’t cook as evenly as it would have otherwise.  Those areas that were directly under the intense halogen lamp came out a bit overcooked.

Your cookware also, and I can’t stress this enough, needs to have some kind of handles.  The technology utilized in the Advantium means that everything gets rocket hot…the turntable, the metal interior, AND your cookware.  Imagine you’re making a stew and you have a couple of quarts of hot food and liquid in your dish.  Not only is that dish extremely hot but it also weighs a ton….ok, maybe not a ton but a good couple of pounds at least.  Maneuvering that hot dish in and out of the Advantium to stir or check for doneness can be pretty tricky if it doesn’t have handles.  I know, because I’ve tried it.  And I don’t advise it.

Lastly, you need to clean the inside of the Advantium more than you would a microwave or regular oven.  Depending on what you are cooking, and the cooking mode you are using, you could get a lot of splattering and moisture in the oven.  I find that the inside of the Advantium cleans up easily.

So what was the verdict on the Chicken a la Advantium?  Despite the challenges I encountered by not having the proper dish to allow the chicken to rotate during cooking, my 4ish pound bird was completely done in the 45 minutes preprogrammed into the Advantium.  If anything, I probably should have checked it before the 45 minutes was up and checked the temperature on an instant read thermometer because it might not have needed that much time.  After I let it rest for about 10 minutes, I introduced the chicken to some lovely sweet potato and Brussells sprout hash.  Start to finish, this meal probably took just under an hour to get on the table, but didn’t require a lot of fussing over. This makes it as likely to make a return appearance on a weeknight as it might on a weekend.

Disclaimer:  As part of my partnership with GE, I received an Advantium oven.  All opinions posted about my Advantium experience are my own.

Bran Muffins

This is the tale of two muffins.  Two bran muffins.  On the surface, they are completely identical.  I used the exact same recipe for both batches of muffins.  So what could possibly be different about them?  I’ll give you a hint, it has everything to do with how I baked them.

One muffin was baked in my big oven.  400 degrees for 20 minutes.  The other muffin was baked in my Advantium.  380 degrees for 16 to 18 minutes.  One muffin was made on a lazy afternoon.  The other muffin was made after a long day of work.  Can you tell which is which?

I typically avoid baking on weeknights because I’m tired, I’m cranky, and it’s tiresome to have to haul out all of the pots and pans that live in the oven in order to heat it up and bake something.  But after the Advantium arrived, I wanted to challenge myself to see if its super powers could make baking accessible to me during the week.

The proof is in the picture.  The muffin on the right is from the batch that I made on a Thursday night.  It helped that the recipe I used was minimally fussy and didn’t require me to break out the stand mixer, let the batter rest, or otherwise allow me to get sidetracked from my muffin mission.  It also helped that I halved the original recipe and only baked up a dozen of these on a weeknight.  Sometimes the smaller capacity of the Advantium totally works to my advantage.

So the two muffins may look the same, but how did they taste?  If I hadn’t known which batch of muffins of which, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you which came out of the big oven and which came out of the Advantium.

Weeknight baking mission accomplished.

Bran Muffins

Adapted from The Muffin Myth

BAH Note: There’s nothing fussy about these muffins.  They are full of wheat bran which I was readily able to find in the grocery store.  Look for Bob’s Red Mill brand.  I think they are the bran muffin equivalent of a blank canvas…sturdy and up for the job but they aren’t out to wow you.  So you might want to add in some fresh fruit and spices you like to give them a little something special.

Advantium Tip: To modify the recipe below for use in your Advantium, place the metal cooking tray on the turntable (instead of the glass tray) and install the wire rack in the bottom position.  Select Convection Bake from the menu and set the temperature to 380 degrees.  You will want to start checking for doneness after about 15 minutes.  Depending on how full you’ve filled your cups, the muffins should be done in approximately 16 to 18 minutes.

  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups wheat bran
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Heat your oven to 400 degrees and line approximately 18 muffin cups with liners.  Mix the applesauce, brown sugar, eggs, milk, water, and vanilla together in a large bowl.  Combine the wheat bran, flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in another bowl.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just combined.

Using an ice cream scoop, fill your muffin cups (the muffin myth said she got 12 out of the recipe but I made mine a bit smaller and got about 18) and bake for 20 minutes or until the tops are firm.

Cool in the pan for 15 minutes before turning the muffins out on a wire rack to cool completely.  Leftover muffins can be wrapped in plastic and frozen.

{priable recipe}

Disclaimer:  As part of my partnership with GE, I received an Advantium oven.  All opinions posted about my Advantium experience are my own.