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Sunbeam Mixmaster Update

Last Thanksgiving I bought a Sunbeam Mixmaster to help with all the gluten free baking. This Thanksgiving, I broke my Sunbeam Mixmaster by sticking a plastic spatula between the beaters while it was mixing blueberry muffins. Broke as in pieces fell out of the machine and the beaters stopped spinning. It’s probably a good idea to turn off a mixer before scraping the bowl.

A quick internet search told me I probably broke the plastic drive gears, and the remedy for that was a dumpster burial. At that point, I figured it wasn’t going to get worse, so I had nothing to lose by taking it apart and seeing for myself if it was reparable.

When I finally figured out how to open it, everything looked fine. No sign of anything broken, and the plastic gear that turns everything had minimal wear. The part that latches the beaters in place looked fine. I couldn’t find anything that looked like it was missing the tiny broken pieces. Little pieces that, after thinking more about it, looked oddly like the little tabs on the beaters…

At that point I grabbed the the beaters and compared them to the rarely used dough hooks. Sure enough, the tabs were missing from the beaters but not the dough hooks. Yay! Replacing beaters is cheap and easy. The only problem was now my mixer looked like this:

Luckily I reassembled the mixer without breaking anything. I tested it with a loaf of banana bread mixed with the dough hooks, and it worked fine. Amazon had replacement beaters for about $10, so it should be fully functional in about a week.

My guess is that those tabs are designed to break under pressure if something gets caught in between. While the drive gear is plastic, it’s pretty thick. Even with my mistake and a year of using it almost weekly, it looks to be in good shape. It makes me wonder if some of the people who thought they stripped the drive gear actually just needed to replace the beaters.

In the long run, if money allows, a mixer with an all-metal drive would be better. From my year of use and seeing how little wear there is on the inside, I do think this Sunbeam Mixmaster is a good budget-priced stand mixer. It has mixed everything I’ve thrown at it, including a double batch of banana bread and a meatloaf (separately, of course) with no trouble. Everything, that is, except for spatulas.

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10 Reasons I Love My Electric Pressure Cooker (Instant Pot)

This was originally posted in 2017. I’ve been using my electric pressure cooker a lot lately to have easy, healthy meals. It’s been a while since I’ve shared, so I thought it was a good time to revisit it.

Last Christmas my lovely parents bought us an 8 qt. GoWise Pressure cooker that I have used almost daily ever since. This is the exact one I have:

With all the sales happening, and the Instant Pot craze still going strong, I know lots of people will be getting an electric pressure cooker and then wondering what to do with it. At least that’s what I did. Now that I’ve used mine for a while, I have some favorite uses for it to share with newbies. I have never used an official Instant Pot, so I can’t say how they compare. They should work about the same, though, so if you have an Instant Pot or other similar electric pressure cooker you should be able to enjoy all this awesomeness, too.

10 Reasons I Love My Electric Pressure Cooker (Instant Pot)

Easy Instant Pot Boiled eggs:

Boiled eggs on the stovetop are easy, unless you’re getting ready for work or school or have young children or are otherwise easily distracted. Then you either burn them or undercook them. Peeling them also is hit or miss. Sometimes the shell comes off easily, other times it takes half the egg white with it.

In the electric pressure cooker, I can put a dozen eggs in the steamer basket with a little water, push the button for eggs (mine has 1,3, and 5 minute settings for soft, medium and hard), and forget about it. The end result is perfectly cooked eggs that peel so easily my two year old can do it.

Potatoes:

Even in the microwave, I have a hard time getting potatoes and sweet potatoes to cook properly. It seems like I always have to restart it a few times to finally get them done. With the pressure cooker, I set it for 15-17 minutes depending on how soft I want them, and they are always done. I’m trying to quit using my microwave all together, too, so the pressure cooker is definitely the faster option compares to the oven.

Slow cooker recipes:

Anything you’d make in a crockpot can be cooked in the pressure cooker. You can either use the slow cooker setting, or, if you forgot about cooking dinner until after lunch, you can cook it under pressure and have it done in an hour or less.

Not only that, but, unlike with a slow cooker, you can use the sauté setting to brown meats or anything that needs browning first. That means more flavor with fewer dirty dishes.

Beans:

If I forget to presoak dry beans, I’ll put them in my pressure cooker for five minutes to do a quick presoak, drain, and add back to the pot along with the seasonings and broth or cooking water, then cook using the bean setting. It’s possible to skip the presoak entirely and go straight to cooking, if I’m short on time, but I prefer to presoak when I can.

If I get them cooking early enough in the day, I’ll switch to the slow cooker setting after they’ve cooked with pressure. That gives them the super yummy, second day flavor on day one.

Stews, soups and curries:

Browning meats and onions in the pot add flavor, and you can use the pressure then slow cook trick to further develop the flavor.

Bone broth:

Normally I would simmer bones all day on the stove for broth. With the pressure cooker, I set it to the two hour maximum time and get yummy bone broth. Easy Homemade Chicken Broth in an Electric Pressure Cooker

Stackable foods:

Smaller meats like chicken breasts, vegetables and rice can be put into separate heat-proof containers and steam cooked at the same time. I usually cook too much at once to do that, but when it works out, it is handy and doesn’t heat up the kitchen like using the oven. Easy All in One Electric Pressure Cooker Meal

Rice:

It cooks rice even better than my little rice cooker, and I don’t risk burning it like I do on the stovetop. (There’s lots of distractions here, people.) I don’t use it much for rice, though, since I usually cook curries and things I serve with rice in the pressure cooker. Whenever my rice cooker dies, though, I’m seriously considering a second, smaller pressure cooker as a replacement.

Yogurt:

I haven’t quite perfected yogurt with any method yet, but so far, the best I’ve made is in jars on the trivet in the pressure cooker. It is still a little runny, but it works well for smoothies.

Baking in an Instant Pot:

I’ve only done this once, but thought I’d mention it. You can bake cakes and breads in it by setting the bread or cake pan on the trivet and adding water to the pot for steam. This helps keep the bread or cake moist, which is especially handy for baking with gluten or grain-free flours.

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Ways to use your Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker.
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Price Comparison Kroger vs. Walmart

A few days ago, I learned that my local Kroger is closing. Luckily there is another one not too far. Still, I’m used to the layout at my local store, and I’ve gone there for so long that many of the employees know me. 

Since the announcement, I’ve seen many conversations about that store and Kroger in general on Facebook. One thing that I’m constantly hearing is that Kroger is overpriced and Walmart is much cheaper. There’s even a Walmart commercial running on TV right now that compares a basket full of similar items from each store with Walmart’s basket coming out to be cheaper. While the commercial doesn’t surprise me, I am a little surprised every time I hear an individual say Walmart is cheaper. For me, I’ve always thought Kroger is cheaper on most groceries I buy. With everyone saying the opposite, I decided to do a little price comparison shopping.

Kroger vs. Walmart: The Plan

For the comparison, I created a grocery pickup list for each store based around some of my most common purchases. As much as possible, I matched brands at each store or chose the store brand at both. I used the normal price rather than the sale price where applicable. Due to eating gluten and dairy free, things like bread and milk that most people regularly purchase won’t be on my list.

The Food and Price Comparison

  • Coffee: Kroger Select Blend Medium Roast, 30.5 oz, $4.99. Walmart Great Value Classic Roast Medium Ground Coffee, 30.5 oz. $4.93. Winner: Walmart
  • Frozen Mixed Vegetables: Kroger Store Brand, 32 oz, $1.99. Walmart Great Value Brand, 32 oz, $1.94. Winner: Walmart
  • Bath Tissue: Kroger 1000 Sheets per Roll Bath Tissue, 12 rolls, $6.79, $0.57 per roll. Walmart Great Value 1000 Bath Tissue Rolls, 16 rolls, $9.12, $0.57 per roll. Winner: Tie
  • Cascade Complete Gel Dishwasher Detergent, 75 oz: Kroger $7.59. Walmart $5.97. Winner: Walmart. Honestly, this one wasn’t a surprise to me because I do find Walmart better on a lot of non-food items.
  • Sugar, Store brands, 4 lbs: Kroger $1.59. Walmart $1.58. Winner: Walmart
  • Bananas: Kroger $0.49 per lb. Walmart $0.44 per lb. Winner: Walmart
  • Calidad Corn Chips, 12 oz: Kroger $1.88. Walmart: $1.94. Winner: Kroger
  • Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs: Kroger Heritage Farm, $2.99/lb. Walmart store brand, $2.52/lb. Winner: Walmart
  • Ground Beef, 3 lb 80% lean/20% fat, store brands: Kroger $10.47. Walmart $14.42. Winner: Kroger.
  • Honey Nut Cheerios, 10.8 oz: Kroger $3.29. Walmart $2.98. Winner: Walmart
  • Pinto Beans, 4 lb bag, Store Brands: Kroger $2.99. Walmart $3.44. Winner: Kroger.
  • Potatoes, Russet, 10 lb bag, Store Brands: Kroger $3.89. Walmart $3.94. Winner: Kroger.
  • Canned green beans, 14.5 oz, Store Brands: Kroger $2.19/4 pk, $0.55/can. Walmart $0.50/can. Winner:Walmart
  • Blue Diamond Almond Milk, 96 oz: Kroger $4.99. Walmart $3.82. Winner: Walmart.
  • Eggs, large, 12 count, store brand: Kroger $1.09. Walmart $1.37. Winner: Kroger

Overall Totals

Kroger: $49.36

Walmart: $50.36

Kroger vs. Walmart Price Comparison: Overall winner

Kroger, by a whopping $1. At Kroger, the almond milk is currently on sale for $3.99 and the ground beef is on sale for $8.97. With those discounts, my Kroger total would have been $3.50 less than my Walmart total.

My Take

For the kinds of things I normally buy, Kroger is generally the cheaper store overall. I’m not a big coupon user, but I do check the Kroger app frequently and load any coupons that I think I may use to my Kroger card. After that, I shop like normal and any coupons I qualify for get applied automatically. Between that and sales, Kroger is almost guaranteed to be consistently cheaper for me.

I also generally like the produce and canned goods at Kroger better than Walmart. I usually can find what I need at both places, but if I need to buy lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, I avoid Walmart.

Having said that, there are things, like dishwasher detergent, that are definitely cheaper at Walmart. I wouldn’t say it’s worth it to make a special trip, but if I’m at Walmart anyway, it’s worth stocking up on.

Like I said earlier, my shopping list may look nothing like your shopping list. With more and more stores offering online shopping for pickup or delivery, it’s worth it to periodically do a price comparison between your local stores. It’s so easy to do online, and you may learn ways to adjust your shopping habits and save money.

Kroger vs. Walmart Price comparison

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