Category Archives: Review

Your Air Fryer Questions Answered

Last year I got a gift for Christmas that I didn’t ask for. A gift I didn’t know I wanted. A gift I couldn’t do without now. I’m talking about an air fryer. It’s changed how… and what I cook.

As I’ve become more familiar with air fryers I’ve shared my experiences with friends and family on my Facebook page… and on this blog’s Facebook page. Some have called me an air frying expert… but I prefer the term air frying enthusiast because I’m still learning.

I often get questions about air fryers and my experiences… so I thought I’d combine them all in one place as a resource for those that want to know more.

What is an air fryer? Isn’t it basically a small convection oven?

Air fryers are kitchen appliances designed to cook food by circulating hot air all around it. The food sits in a colander-like basket that allows grease to drip off and be collected in a pan below.

As the name implies, with air fryers, you to cook with hot air and considerably less oil than traditional fryers… yet you get similar crispy results. And, yes, air fryers are basically small countertop convection ovens.

What can you make in an air fryer?

Pretty much anything you can make in an oven you can make in an air fryer. Steaks, chops, chicken, fish, shrimp, baked potatoes, roasted veggies, garlic bread, tater tots, cheese sticks, chicken, eggs, banana bread… the possibilities really are only limited by your creativity and willingness to try new things.

What size should I get?

In my opinion, when it comes to air fryers, bigger is better. My current air fryer has a 5.8 quart capacity and works great when cooking for my family of 4. I’d want this size even if I was only cooking for myself because it expands the amount/kinds of food you can make.

What air fryer do you recommend?

I started out with a Power AirFryer XL. It’s the “As Seen On TV” one and I used it pretty much daily until it died after 10 months. It only had a 60-day warranty so I went searching for a well-rated air fryer with a longer warranty.

That led me to the Cosori brand. It checked all the boxes; large cooking capacity, 4.5 star Amazon rating, and a 1-year warranty that gets extended to two years if you register your air fryer within 10 days of purchase.

In the short time I’ve used the Cosori air fryer I have to say that I absolutely love it. There are lots of little reasons that make it better than the Power AirFryer brand.

Where should I keep my air fryer?

If you have room, I always suggest finding a permanent spot on your kitchen counter for your air fryer. When it’s in operation, you’ll need to make sure you leave space around it. My current model suggests 5 inches. It does have warm air that comes out the back so you would definitely not want it pushed up against a wall.

Having it out and on your counter will increase the chances of you using it more… and finding creative ways to use it.

Do you leave it plugged in all the time?

I don’t. There is an outlet on the wall behind where it sits. When not in use, the air fryer is pushed to the back of the counter. Having to pull it out to plug it in ensures I’m always making sure it has the space it needs to safely operate.

Does the outside get hot? Do I need to set it on a heat resistant mat or on the stovetop?

The outside of the air fryer does not get hot so there is no need to set it on anything other than your regular countertop. I would not recommend placing it on your stove. I’ve seen pictures and heard the horror stories of other air fryer enthusiasts that have used theirs on the stovetop… only to have a burner accidentally get turned on, melting the bottom of their air fryer.

Are they hard to clean?

Not at all. I typically set the air fryer basket in the sink to soak in some Dawn while we eat, then wipe it out and rinse it off when we’re done. I haven’t done it yet, but the basket on my Cosori air fryer is dishwasher safe.

I just got a new air fryer. What’s the first thing I should make in it?

I recommend everyone make tater tots first. They are inexpensive and will give you an idea of how air fryers work and how fast they can cook things. I’ve seen others make an expensive steak first only to be disappointed because they ended up overcooking it.

What are my favorite things to air fry?

This is a really long list (and I’m sure I’ll forget something) but here goes… chicken thighs, whole chickens, fries (both homemade and frozen), garlic bread, meatballs, O’Brien potatoes, egg sandwiches, cookies and candy bars wrapped in crescent roll dough, doughnuts, grilled cheese sandwiches, leftover pizza, hard-boiled eggs, steaks, pork chops, asparagus, and tater tots. I love tater tots!

I’ve seen recipes that say to spray your food with oil. Will Pam work?

I recommend using extra virgin olive oil with a pump-type sprayer. Some types of Pam, and similar sprays, contain aerosol and this can stick and build up on the cooking basket… making it harder to clean and potentially harming the non-stick coating.

How did you learn so much about air frying?

This is an easy one. I joined several air frying Facebook groups. They are filled with other air fryer enthusiasts that want to learn… and share what they’ve learned through their own experiences with others.

Got any tips for an air frying newbie?

To answer this one… I enlisted help from my favorite air fryer group on Facebook. Here are some of their tips:

  • Times and temps in recipes are just guidelines. They are not absolutes! Be attentive to what you are cooking until you learn how your air fryer cooks.
  • Besides cooking great meals you will save money. Reheating leftovers taste as good as fresh. Leftover french fries and takeout leftovers that I used to throw away are now a great new meal.
  • Preheat your air fryer. This gets the basket hot and helps produce the crispy results you want.
  • Read the instruction manual that comes with your air fryer.
  • Tape your preset & shortcut sheets on inside cabinet door near your air fryer. At one glance you can scan settings for what you are cooking.
  • The presets are just recommendations. Get to know your air fryer and how it cooks.
  • Use an instant-read thermometer to make sure your food is cooked to the proper temperature.
  • Add a tablespoon or two of water to the bottom before cooking fatty foods like bacon. This will help prevent your air fryer from smoking.
  • Get some accessories for your air fryer, like pans, to expand the options of the things you can make.
  • Keep a cooking log with times and temperatures of food you make often.
  • Let breaded or floured meat sit in the fridge for 30 minutes prior to air frying. That allows the coating to look right after air frying.
  • Don’t be discouraged by one bad result. Keep trying!

Got any air fryer tips or questions of your own? Leave them in the comments.

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Review: Mean Girls At Des Moines Civic Center

The 2019 – 2020 Willis Broadway Series at Des Moines Civic Center kicked off in a fun, lighthearted way with Mean Girls… a musical adaptation of Tina Fey’s 2004 movie of the same name.

The laughs started early, even before the start of the show, with Fey’s prerecorded announcement to turn off your phones. What followed was a two and a half hour evening of music, dancing, and fun!

Mean Girls is a show about highschool life… finding your way while attempting to fit in… but not losing yourself in the process.

This would be a great show to take teens to as it’s packed with relatable material for them… and plenty of topics that could make for great parent/teen conversations. Plus, they’re probably already fans of the movie.

The techie in me marveled at the stage and the use of screens to instantly change the imagery and the scene. In fact, Mean Girls featured the fastest scene changes I’ve ever witnessed. In the blink of an eye, we’re transported from a classroom to a mall.

The Dance Dad in me really enjoyed the music… and the dancing. Hip hop is featured predominantly, but there is also an awesome tap section too! I was happy that the stage mics picked up the sound of the taps. Tapping is more enjoyable when you can hear the rhythmic sounds that go with the footwork.

If you’re a fan of the movie you will love this show… as it sticks pretty much to the original story-line. It has been updated with some very funny and timely jokes. If you haven’t seen the movie but enjoy a great comedy… you’ll still love this show.

It was the perfect Dad/Daughters date night, as I was accompanied by two Mean Girls movie aficionados. They know the movie inside and quote it around the house… and quoted it in the car on the ride home as we relived the show together. I’m sure I’ll be hearing the original Broadway soundtrack blaring in their rooms for weeks to come.

Getting ready to see the show! I was thankful that someone from Des Moine Performing Arts was on hond to take pictures for theatre patrons… otherwise, I wouldn’t have been in this one.

Mean Girls is part of the 2019 – 2020 Des Moines Performing Arts Willis Broadway Series. Get tickets and learn more about the show here.

***I was provided with press night tickets for the show to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.***

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Review: School of rock the musical at Des Moines civic center

Pure fun! If I was tasked to write the shortest review possible of School of Rock The Musical, playing April 30th thru May 5th at Des Moines Civic Center, “pure fun” would be it.

I’ve never seen the hit movie this musical is based on but that really didn’t matter. The story felt familiar and the music was incredible… which you’d expect with Andrew Lloyd Webber being responsible for the score.

The School of Rock is a show that starts as a musical and ends as a rock concert. Along the way is the story of Dewey, a “wannabe” rocker, that finds himself becoming the substitute teacher at a prestigious school. He teaches his students how to rock and be themselves… and they help him achieve a personal goal.

The scene where Dewey turns his class into a rock band and assigns each student a roll in it is one of pure joy. I couldn’t help but smile… and be amazed knowing that each of these young actresses and actors was playing their own instruments.

School of Rock is the perfect show for anyone that loves music… and loves to laugh. Even though it’s based on a movie that’s more than 15 years old, there’s plenty of updated and timely references. Including one near the beginning that was as a “shout out” to a popular Des Moines area eatery.

This show would also be the perfect introduction to musical theater for any tween or teen. They could certainly relate to the story and will be drawn in by the young talent on the stage.

School Of Rock The Musical is part of the 2018-2019 Des Moines Performing Arts Willis Broadway Series. Get tickets and learn more about the show here.

***I was provided with press night tickets for the show to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.***

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