Little known fact about me: I'm a vegetarian.
Even littler known (or believed) fact: I've been one my entire life. Not just for 5 years or since college or when I think that we should be nicer to animals, nope, my whole life. No, I've never had a burger. Ever. Or a steak. No, not fish either. In answer to what you're thinking now: no, I actually don't know what I'm missing.
Also, since you're wondering, it's because my mom decided to be a vegetarian before she had children so she raised my brother and I that way. We were always allowed to make our own decisions and I could have started eating meat at any point... but I just didn't. So, here I am. Meatless.
Has it really affected me? No. There are usually vegetarian options available wherever I go to eat and, if not, restaurants are nearly always willing to substitute something for me. In high school one of our favorite hangouts served a sandwich that I loved but for some reason the servers always looked at me slightly strangely when I ordered the Smoked Turkey Foccacia... and asked for it without smoked turkey. Whatever works, right?
But one thing that has always been somewhat elusive in my life has been grilling. Sure, there are vegetarian grilling options, but it's just not the same. My husband had a small George Foreman grill earlier on in our marriage and every time he pulled it out I knew that I was on my own for that meal. There just wasn't a way to make it work for non-meat items.
So you can imagine my surprise and interest when Family Review Network introduced me to the fact that George Foreman Healthy Cooking not only came out with a new and improved grill, but that it is the most versatile one yet. A George Foreman that I could use? Really? Let's see the world of possibilities that the George Foreman Evolve Grill could bring me.
Revolutionizing the way that we look at indoor grills, the George Foreman Evolve Grill can literally take the place of multiple kitchen appliances in one convenient package. In fact, with all of the meal options that this grill provides, you could cook breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks all on here just by quickly and easily changing out the plates.
As all George Foreman grills are known for healthy, time-saving cooking, it is the removable and interchangeable plates that set the Evolve apart from the rest. With a total of 11 different grill plates that equal out to 8 ways to cook, customizing this grill to meet your needs (even if you're a vegetarian) is easier than ever.
When I heard that it is possible to make muffins and waffles with the Evolve, I couldn't wait to get it out of the box. Unfortunately, as well as the two cross-hatch plates for grilling, the only other two inserts that came included were the mini-burger/slider plate and the deep dish baking plate (even though the website lists the muffin/cupcake pan as coming with the grill).
However, the deep dish baking pan was right up my alley - lasagnas, casseroles, brownies? Sounds good to me! As I am a very follow-the-directions-word-for-word type of chef, I was glad to see a recipe and instructions for lasagna included with the Evolve and immediately started gathering the ingredients. After cooking the noodles and mixing the cheese, I laid everything out in the pan and was ready to bake.
The digital timer and temperature gauge on the Evolve were really easy to use, eliminating any guessing as to how hot things were going to get or how long the food had cooked. All that I had to do was wait. After all, George said that if I followed the recipe that after 40 minutes I was going to have this:
Things started to smell a little smoky after 20 minutes, but when I peeked inside it was clear that the layers of cheese and noodles were nowhere near cooked, so I closed the lid and let it finish up the recommended time.
Which resulted in my lasagna not exactly resembling George's.
Both the top and bottom were charred to a crisp and there was sauce oozing into pretty much everywhere but the drip tray in the front. Interestingly, after peeling off the outer layers, the middle of the lasagna was surprisingly good. It was cooked just right and was quite tasty. Although the recipe said that it would make 6 - 8 servings, we ended up with only enough for the girls and I to have full a full plate without any leftovers.
I would like to say that I have ideas about how to make a lasagna in the George Foreman Evolve come out right, but I don't. I followed their instructions word for word, so other than a bunch of costly trial-and-error attempts, I don't think lasagna on the grill will be in our future.
But, not satisfied to end on a low note, I gave the Evolve deep dish pan a second try a few days later with something else: brownies. This time there weren't instructions, just a note to cook brownies at 350° for 25 minutes, so I went in search of a brownie recipe (found below) and hopes of a better result.
Even though it seemed strange to see grill marks on brownies, they tasted delicious! Not too hard, not too soft - they were done to perfection and had just the right amount of chewiness to make each bite just as mouth-watering as the last. All in all, I was completely impressed. Yum!
Overall, I think there are great aspects to the George Foreman Evolve Grill. We did also have family and friends over to try out the traditional grilling and found that it performed great, was very easy to use and resulted in burgers and hot dogs that were a big hit. The nonstick coating kept food from sticking and the innovative lever at the back of the Evolve that allowed it to either stay completely horizontal (for baking) or tilt slightly forward (for grilling) had any extra fat or grease running right off into the drip tray.
The plates were extremely easy to put on and off and I love that they are all dishwasher-safe. When you're done grilling, cooking or baking, you simply pop them right off and the rest of the cleaning is done for you. How cool is that?
With that said, I do wish that there were more recipes and instructions that came with the grill and that, of course, they all had positive results. It would also be nice if more of the extra plates came with the original purchase (I want to try those waffles, muffins, paninis and omelets!) because adding on to the $129.99 price tag makes this an awfully hefty buy.
Now, who's ready for brownies? I found this recipe on AllRecipes.com and it was quick, easy and really tasty! If you happen to have an Evolve Grill, I do recommend cutting the recipe in half or else being prepared to make two pans.
1 cup butter, melted
3 cups white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1. If using an oven, preheat to 350° and lightly grease a 9 x 13" baking dish.
2. Combine the melted butter, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each, until thoroughly blended.
3. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder and salt. Gradually stir the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture until blended. Stir in the chocolate morsels. Spread the batter evenly into the baking dish.
4. Bake until an inserted toothpick comes out clean - 35 to 40 minutes in the oven or 20 to 25 minutes in the George Foreman Evolve Grill. Remove and cool pan on wire rack before cutting. Enjoy!
This post was written for Family Review Network & George Foreman Healthy Cooking who provided the complimentary product in exchange for my honest review.