About Pamela

Introducing SMEG Retro Refrigerators

blue smeg retro refrigerator red smeg retro refrigerator pink smeg retro refrigerator

A recent addition to our line of kitchen appliances is SMEG, an Italian manufacturer that has been in the household appliance business since 1948. The brand is best known for their line of retro style refrigerators which we currently have available in ten eye popping colors (pictured are:  pastel blue, red, and pink).  Here at Living Direct, we are always looking for products that offer the maximum functionality for smaller spaces. SMEG retro refrigerators fit the ticket offering adjustable shelving, a wire bottle rack, a smaller energy footprint than regular sized refrigerators, and a clean minimalist design that works great in smaller apartments or homes.  Truly a statement piece, SMEG refrigerators are sure to liven up your kitchen by adding some retro pizazz with a burst of color.

Ice Cream Maker Recipe: Peach Frozen Yogurt

peach frozen yogurt

The Cuisinart frozen yogurt, ice cream & sorbet maker was rated by Consumer Search as one of the best ice cream makers available. This unit allows you to make ice cream in a speedy 15 to 20 minutes, and even watch the entire process through the transparent lid. According to reviews, consumers say that they enjoy the model’s ease of use, and consider it to be an excellent value. This isn’t a one trick pony though! In addition to making frozen desserts, this ice cream maker also lets you create your favorite frozen beverages, including  strawberry daiquiris and pina coladas.

Here in Texas, the summers mean two things: hot weather and peach season. Fresh peaches are hard to beat, but peach ice cream is without question the best thing about summer. Here’s a lightened version to share with friends and family:

Summertime Peach Frozen Yogurt*

Ingredients

2 cups fresh diced peaches
2 cups low fat vanilla yogurt
⅓ cup sugar

Directions

  1. Mix the peaches, yogurt and sugar together in a medium-sized bowl.
  2. Turn on your ice cream maker and pour in the ice cream mixture.
  3. Let your ice cream maker run for about 20-30 minutes.
  4. Serve with peach slices.

Makes eight ½-cup servings.

*Recipe adapted from the Cuisinart ice cream maker owner’s manual.

Is it Better to Make Baby Food from Scratch?

Baby Brezza Baby Food Maker

With celebrities like Kourtney Kardashian, Tori Spelling and others touting the benefits of making their own baby food, baby food makers are creating a huge buzz in the press lately. Most fads surrounding the Hollywood scene don’t have staying power, but this time they are definitely onto something.

Making your own baby food is great for your baby, because it allows you to know exactly what your little one is eating. You can maximize the nutrition count while avoiding the preservatives, additives and other potentially detrimental ingredients. In fact, the benefits of making your own baby food span beyond just health. In doing so, you are eliminating the use of all of the packaging, which ultimately reduces your family’s environmental footprint. And, possibly the best benefit of making your own baby food, you will end up with extra cash in your pocket! Recent studies show that you can save 50% or more on your baby food costs if you make it yourself at home.

The Baby Brezza baby food maker is an all-in-one solution, perfect for busy moms. Simply add your ingredients in the bowl, set your steam time and let the baby food make take care of the rest! The simple automated process steams and blends the food for you. Worried about creating a mess? Don’t be. Both the bowl and blade are dishwasher safe. Furthermore, the BPA and phthalate-free construction ensures that this product is safe for your kids.

Here is a great recipe from Baby Brezza for children 6 months & up:

Homemade Baby Food Recipe: Sweet Potato & Banana Puree

Ingredients

1 Medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into ¼-inch dice (2 cups, 10 ounces)
1/2 Small banana, peeled and sliced (1/3 cup, 1-1/2 ounces)
Optional: cinnamon or nutmeg to taste

Directions

1. Steam sweet potato for 20 minutes
2. Add banana and puree to smooth
3. Remove from bowl and add water, breast milk or formula to desired consistency
4. Optional: Stir in cinnamon or nutmeg to taste

Yields: 13 oz.

Top 5 Mother’s Day Gifts

Happy Mother's Day

Mother’s Day is around the corner, but let’s skip the Hallmark card this year and give a gift that Mom deserves. Well, on second though, don’t skip the card — we know how sentimental they can be. But card or not, we have picked out five of our best-selling items, all perfect for Mother’s Day gifting.

Koldfront TWR4BL Wine Cooler1. Koldfront 4 Bottle Wine Cooler

Once considered to be a luxury item, the wine cooler is quickly becoming a staple in the home kitchen. For those with limited kitchen space, or those that just don’t want to take up a lot of space, the Koldfront 4 bottle wine fridge is the perfect wine cooler with its sleek, compact design. This wine fridge utilizes thermoelectric cooling technology so there’s no need for a compressor, allowing for super quiet operation.

 

Margaritaville Margarita Maker2. Margaritaville Fiji Frozen Concoction Maker

Get ready for BBQ season with the Margaritaville margarita machine. The ultimate drink maker, this machine can help you conjure up the tastiest of concoctions, including margaritas and daiquiris for the adults or healthy fruit smoothies for the kids. Perfect for a party or tailgating, this frozen drink maker holds enough ice to make 2.5 pitchers worth of your favorite drink with each use. It is the perfect gift for a mom that loves to entertain!

 

Cuisinart Espresso Maker3. Cuisinart Espresso Maker

Try out a double espresso, luscious cappuccino or spiced latte cafe style in the comfort and convenience of your own home. The Cuisinart espresso maker features a classic stainless steel design, cup-warming plate on top and a removable drip tray and cover for easy cleanup. This is one luxury that will make any mom feel special on Mother’s Day and everyday after that they get to wake up and enjoy this great gift.

 

Hugs for Mom Gift Basket4. Hugs for Mom Gift Basket

Made with moms in mind, this adorable, white picket fence planter is filled with wildflower honey, Ernest Hemingway Highland Select tea, lemon cookies, a bath sachet with salts, a votive candle, body glistening spray, a ceramic picture frame and more! This gourmet gift basket will bring a smile to any mother’s face by letting her know that she is being thought of, and the included picture frame will let her show off her gift (and who gave it to her) to others.

 

KitchenAid Stand Mixer5. KitchenAid Artisan Series Stand Mixer

The iconic KitchenAir stand mixer is something a mom’s kitchen should never be without. Renowned the world over for its quality and versatility, KitchenAid stand mixers have been and continue to remain a favorite of bakers, cooks, chefs and most important culinary artists of all — moms! The beautiful red colors of this specific stand mixer will serve as a great reminder of the love shared between her and gift giver.

 

What will you be getting your mom for Mother’s Day?

 

Bright Ideas for Camping: Part 2

Here is the second installment of our camping gear series. You can check out part 1 right here. If you’re getting the itch to go camping, then keep reading as we offer even more items that will make your camping trip go smoothly and a lot more fun.

Be sure to share your best camping tips in the comments.

Peak Car Battery Tester5. Peak 12V Car Battery Tester

The must-have diagnostic tool for checking your car’s battery charge is the Peak 12V car battery tester. This battery tester can help prevent you from being stranded with a dead battery, which is never a good thing, camping or otherwise. The Peak 12V car battery tester comes with these great features:

- Checks battery, engine and alternator charge
- Fits in any 12V cigarette lighter socket
- Takes up very little space

Fagor Cast Aluminum Griddle6. Fagor Cast Aluminum Griddle

If you are a fan of taking a cast skillet camping, you will love the Fagor cast aluminum griddle. Like a cast skillet, the Fagor griddle is easy to clean and can withstand high temperatures. The extended cooking surface area is great for cooking bacon, sausages and burgers. Here are some other reasons why the Fagor cast aluminum griddle is great for camping:

- Cook over the campfire or over a stove, can withstand temperatures up to 500 degrees F
- Cook-and-serve convenience
- Easy to clean and use

Yakima Bike Hitch7. Yakima BigHorn 4-Bike Hitch

A bike hitch is a great way to free up more storage space in your car and trunk. It also means that you won’t have to drive your car anywhere once at the campgrounds, you can bike if you need to go anywhere. This Yakima bike hitch is a great value with a lifetime warranty. Some of its features include:

- Patented anti-sway bike cradles prevent bike-to-bike contact
- Lifetime warranty
- Has wheel straps for added security

Peak Jump Starter8. Peak Jump Starter / Inflator & 12V Power Source

This Peak jump starter is a great buy with all of the additional features allowing you to simultaneously use other electronics, including cellphones, MP3 players and radios. It’s suitable for use in cars, trucks, boats, RVs, motorcycles and snowmobiles. This jump starter features:

- A USB outlet & AC outlet
- Three LED worklights
- Two 12 Volt power outlets

EdgeStar Portable Fridge Freezer9. EdgeStar 43 Quart Portable Fridge / Freezer

This EdgeStar portable fridge freezer will save you the cost of buying bags of ice for each camping trip. The Fast Freeze button is an amazing feature that allows you to cool the contents down super quickly. The freezer can also be used to store your day’s catch if you want to go fishing while camping. This unit also has:

- Digital thermostat that is adjustable from -8-50 degrees F
- Cool warm beverages down quickly with the Fast Freeze button
- Uses either AC or DC power

 

What other appliances do you like to have while camping?

Bright Ideas for Camping: Part 1

camping

Spring weather tends to draw us back to the desire to go out and enjoy nature. Even if just for a weekend, time spent immersed in nature’s glory allows us to recharge for the upcoming week and enjoy quality time with friends and family. Living Direct offers many compact appliances and other products that are perfect for your outdoor travel adventures. These products make great additions to your camping equipment supply.

Be sure to share your best camping tips in the comments!

EdgeStar mini Kegerator1. EdgeStar Mini Kegerator

Nature lovers are doing more to practice “Leave No Trace” camping. This portable mini kegerator is an easy way to avoid the task of storing, carrying and cleaning up multiple cans and bottles. As an added bonus, you can rest assured that it will be easy to make friends with your neighbors at your campsite. The EdgeStar mini kegerator’s highlights include:

- Electronic temperature controls
- Compact size
- AC/DC power compatibility

Peak 30 LED Rechargeable Worklight2. Peak 30 LED Rechargeable Worklight

This flashlight’s affordable price, flexible design and durability make it a must-have for outdoor expeditions. The Peak 30 LED rechargeable worklight has an integrated hook making it great for hanging from a tree or inside of your tent. Powerful LED lighting technology and the thought of no disposable batteries is a win-win for me. The highlights of the Peak rechargeable worklight include:

- 8 hours of continuous use on a single charge
- An ultra strong magnet and 360 degree swivel hook for hanging, mounting or both
- An LED flashlight tip that lets you direct light when you don’t need all 30 LEDs

Peak Power Inverter & Charger3. Peak 150 Watt Cup Power Inverter

While it is nice to unplug from technology while camping, who’s to say that you can’t have your mobile phones, cameras and other electronic devices charged up and ready on the way home. With two USB ports and two AC outlets, you can charge two electronic devices, a mattress pump and a camera simultaneously. The Peak power inverter is a great choice for camping because:

- Can charge four electronic devices at the same time
- Includes two USB ports and two standard 3-prong AC outlets
- Has a secure, sleep and compact cup-like design

ShelterLogic Popup Canopy4. ShelterLogic Popup Canopy

This canopy is easy to use and provides relief from the elements; whether it’s the sun shining or a bit of rain. A truly high-quality item with drip-free seams and anti-fungal agents, the ShelterLogic 10×10 popup canopy is the perfect complement to a relaxing day camping. The features that make this canopy great are:

- Quick and easy set up
- Sealed with water proof tape for drip-free seams
- Canopy made of patented fade blockers and anti-fungal agents

 

Part 2 of our Bright Ideas for Camping series can be found here!

Save Time & Eat Healthier with a Pressure Cooker

Spring has officially begun and for many of us that means more free time outside of work – whether spent at baseball and soccer games,  or even perusing the farmers markets on the weekends. It is a time when we want to spend less time slaving over a hot stove and instead take advantage of spring’s bounty of fresh produce.

One surprising way to save time in the kitchen, using fresh ingredients and keeping the kitchen cooler, is by integrating pressure cooking into your weekly meal planning routine.  I know what many of you are thinking, aren’t those contraptions known for being dangerous?  Like many things, technological advancements have significantly improved the standards of current pressure cookers. What has changed? Current models include locking lids, back-up vents, and most importantly, features to prevent you from opening the pot before the pressure has been released. Even with all of the improvements made to pressure cookers, you still reap all of the benefits:

  • Time Saver: Food can cook up to 70% faster.
  • Multi-Tasking Friendly: This is my favorite benefit; once you turn on the pressure cooker you can walk away and focus your time on other important tasks.
  • Vitamin Bonus: More vitamins and essential minerals are retained by the faster cook time.
  • Energy Efficient: With the heat of summer approaching, nobody wants to stand over the stove for hours in a hot kitchen. Pressure cooking allows you to save energy by cooking in less time and from having to turn on the oven.

Here is a great recipe from Peggy Under Pressure to get you started with your pressure cooker.

Spring Risotto

Spring Risottophoto credit: Peggy Under Pressure

Spring Risotto is an awesome recipe to highlight the benefits of using a pressure cooker. When traditionally cooked on the stove, making risotto is tedious and time consuming. Many people think of using pressure cookers for cooking meat but they are just as excellent at cooking vegetables.

INGREDIENTS:

3 large shallots, chopped
3 cups Aborio rice
4-5 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 cup white wine + 2 tbsp white wine for shallots
1 cup frozen peas
2 cups asparagus chopped
2 cups baby spinach leaves

GARNISH:

Chopped chives
Shredded Parmesan cheese

COOKING DIRECTIONS:

Press the START button on the pressure cooker and turn the setting to the browning function. Pour a tablespoon of olive oil into the pot. Place the chopped shallots into the pot and sauté for 1-2 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste, pour in 2 tablespoons of dry white wine, cooking for 2-3 minutes. Press the CANCEL button on the pressure cooker turning it off.

Place 3 cups of Aborio rice into the pressure cooking pot followed by 1 cup of dry white wine and 4 cups of low sodium chicken stock. Stir everything together. Close the lid and lock the pressure cooker into position. Set the pressure valve to Airtight. Depending on your model, you can select the Rice & Risotto button on your machine or manually select the time for 10 minutes.

Once cooking is complete, release the pressure by turning the pressure valve to exhaust. Unlock and open the lid. Allow the KEEP WARM function to stay on for this part just for a few minutes. Check the consistency of the risotto. If it’s too sticky and dry, add more stock or wine and give it a good mix. The rice should be tender but retain its shape. Throw in the asparagus, frozen or fresh peas and spinach leaves. Fold them into the rice. Shut the lid and using the warm function to heat and cook all of the vegetables. It will take around 3-5 minutes to cook through. Open the lid and check on the veggies.  Once veggies are cooked, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and chopped chives and serve immediately.

Product Recommendation: If you are in the market to purchase a pressure cooker, I would recommend the Fagor 6 Qt. Electric Pressure Cooker Plus. The control panel features “brown” and “warm” functions, and there is a delay time feature, allowing you to come home from the office to a perfectly cooked dinner.