Operation Food Processor

Posted 28 April, 2012 by Trish in In the Kitchen / 31 Comments

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I never thought that I would need a food processor and never thought about buying one until I started making baby food for Elle. And let me tell you–having a food processor to puree fruits and veggies (and occasionally chicken) has saved me so much time and allowed me to make fresh and tasty food for my baby.

But…if I’ve lived my entire life without a food processor, what would I use it for once Elle moved past the stage of pureed foods?

In come Operation Use My…

Where to start? Well, I started by making a rough list of things I knew I could do with the food processor. Then I asked you guys what you use your food processor for. And then to Pinterest. Soon my list was longer than the time I had and I still have things that I would like test out in the food processor.

And while I have ten things listed below, I used my FP much more than that–this puppy probably got used two or three times a week. How’s that for awesome?

The Recipes (as pictured left to right above)
Peanut Butter – A canister of peanuts, blend for several minutes, added a stream of agave nectar for a bit of sweetness. Was thick but tasty. Lasts about two weeks in the fridge. I think if I do this again I’ll try honey roasted peanuts. Mmmm.
Pie Crust – a paper recipe–was seriously as easy as chilling all the ingredients, pulsing a few times, and letting the blade do the magic. Used the crust for my Chicken Pot Pie.
Finely Chopped Veggies – Steamed carrots, zucchini, broccoli, peas, and cauliflower for Elle. Add some cheese sauce and this would be a great side dish (could just roughly chop veggies).
Butter – this was Scott’s project as part of Eat It Real Challenge. It was a lot of fun to make, tasted great. Ultimately not quite as cost effective as regular store-bought butter, though. Basically just heavy cream until the butter separates from the buttermilk!
Hummus – Recipe thanks to Beth Fish – with a little cumin added for taste. I’ve never had hummus before so I’m not sure if mine tasted like hummus? Was tasty with pita chips.
Chocolate Icebox Cake – Recipe torn from Real Simple. Basically just ricotta and melted chocolate.
Pesto – Recipe from Make the Bread, Buy the Butter and used in a stuffed chicken recipe from Don’t Panic, Dinner’s in the Freezer. Wasn’t really sure how else to use the pesto as I added a bit too much garlic.
Coffee Cake – Mostly used to cut the butter into the flour when I made the Blueberry Coffee Cake.
Grated Potatoes – Hashbrowns!
Sliced Potatoes – I think this was our favorite discovery with the food processor. Nice thin slices of potatoes that we used for pan-frying as well as for potatoes au gratin.
Lessons Learned
I came across an article by Mark Bittman for The New York Times about using the food processor and it will literally make you want to run out to the store and buy a food processor immediately. Honestly? If not for baby food, I could probably live without the food processor. All of the the things that I made the past two months are either things I could make by hand or honestly just don’t eat a lot of.
That said, I am seeing more and more recipes that call for a food processor and I can see myself getting a LOT of use out of this appliance over the years. In fact, I’m considering getting rid of my blender (something I’ve used maybe half a dozen times in the six years we’ve been married). 
–The food processor is a work horse! I will never use a pastry cutter for making dough again.
–I found it difficult to achieve an even chop unless I wanted things finely chopped.
–Dishwasher safe but I’m already thinking about buying extra workbowls and chopping knives.
–I wish that I could control the thickness of the slicing blade as I feel it’s a little too thin for general use.
Where do I go from here?
There were so many things that I wanted to try in the Food Processor but time slips away from me. I want to make bread crumbs, grate cheese, zucchini bread, or these zucchini cakes? Sliced veggies for saute, grated veggies for stir fry. Mayonnaise. 
Bottom line is while I don’t need my food processor, I can see it being used more and more in the future.
I’d love to hear what else you use your food processor for.
Next month’s Operation Use My Kitchen Gadgets will be…
Springform Pan!
I received these bad boys as a wedding gift and have used them ONCE in six years. The only thing that I could think of to make in them in cheesecake and my only attempt at it was terrible. After my due diligence on twitter and pinterest, I have some exciting things I want to try in the next month! Including a tortilla pie and quiche. Who knew!
Other than cheesecake, what do you use your springform pans for?  I’ll share my Operation Springform Pan on May 26th. 
Happy cooking!

Every weekend, Beth Fish Reads hosts Weekend Cooking.  “Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs.”  Hope you’ll join the fun!

On the Blog:
One Year Ago – Chicken Saltimbocca for Two
Two Years Ago – Wuthering Heights Wednesday Begins
Three Years Ago – Sunday Salon 4 – ARCs, Etc.
Four Years Ago – Snow Flower and the Secret Fan – Lisa See

31 Responses to “Operation Food Processor”

  1. I am so enjoying your Operation Use My… I got a food processor 25 years ago as a wedding gift, and am now on my third one. Since we moved to NYC a few years ago and there are only two of us, I don’t use it as much anymore. I used to use it to make cakes and mix cookie dough and it always came in handy to chop onion and celery for Thanksgiving dressing.

  2. I have one but just never use it because I hate dealing with the blades and dealing with cleaning it. I think, however, if I had a kitchen maid, I would want items from the food processor….

  3. I don’t have a big food processor. I have a teeny little 2 cup one. Maybe 2.5cup? too lazy to google. You can’t really make an entire dish with it, but I use it to make ranch dressing, bread crumb, guacamole, and sometimes to make canned diced tomatoes into tomato mush (?). It’s little, so cleaning is easy. I do not EVER use the blender.

  4. I love the food processor for scones, the less handling the more tender. Cheesecake is all I have used the springform pan for so far. We love cheesecake here! Looking forward to seeing what else you do with it!

  5. I hardly ever use my food processor but, now that we’re down to just the two of us, I don’t cook like I used to. I only bake cheesecake in my springform pan.

  6. I have a shredder attachment for the front of my Kitchenaid mixer that I forgot I owned until I had to make carrot cake last week and I have a mini food processor that I think I’ve used twice. I guess, like you, there are things I could make with them but they just aren’t foods we eat regularly. But maybe that just means I should experiment more!

  7. I can’t tell you how many food processors we have gone through in the last 12 years. We’ve had one since the very beginning, and we use it all the time, for everything. On the other hand, I think we’ve used a blender maybe 5 times in all that time. I don’t think we use the food processor as often now as we used to, because a couple Christmases back, Jason got a bunch of extra gadgets to put on the KitchenAid, so now we use that more often, except for chopping.

  8. How very cool. I have never used my food processor for any of these things, except pesto, which I made once three years ago- I still have frozen basil pesto in my freezer! How do you slice the potatoes without chopping them up? a different blade?

  9. Oh, my, you really did make good use of your food processor. But I’m thinking, as you’ve pointed out, that I can do most of those things without one (although it is undoubtedly faster). So I’m still on the fence about whether or not I need a bigger one than the mini one I have. One the other hand, homemade peanut butter alone almost makes it worth the price!

  10. I love “Operation Use My…”. Very inventive. Just use my springform for cheesecake though. But it will be cool to see if you come up with other stuff.

    Do you have a mandolin for slicing? I got one at a Pampered Chef party and I really like it. I obviously don’t use it every day, but it’s a good slicer.

  11. *Diane/Bookchickdi – I hadn’t thought to use the food processor for making cakes or cookie dough! I guess you’d just use the same you would a stand mixer?

    *Rhapsody – I think I’ve just gotten used to washing things by hand lately. :(

    *Lisa – I have a little one too but always forget about it. Seems that if things aren’t right on my counter then I don’t use them (read: lazy). ;)

    *Peggy Ann – I’ll have to try making scones using the food processor! And really looking forward to experimenting with the springform. Maybe some ice cream cake!

    *Bermudaonion – I definitely think it makes a difference when you’re cooking for a smaller crowd. We also tend to eat pretty simple dishes that don’t require fancy ingredients/steps, but it’s fun to play around!

    *Kristen M. – Oh!! I didn’t even think about shredder for carrot cake. I have a shredding disc on the food processor that I didn’t get to play around with a whole lot. And yes–do think it takes some experimenting to actually make use!

    *Guatami – Do you use your FP mostly for pureeing and chopping?

    *Amanda – I’d love to know what you used to use your food processor for! I’d love to look into some gadgets for the stand mixer but they’re so expensive! We looked at a pasta maker and think it was 200? Crazy!

    *Jeane – LOL! I’m not sure I’ll be making/using a whole lot of pesto either. My food processor came with a chopping blade and also with a slicing/shredding disc. So, I cut the potatoes so they fit into the “feeding tube” and then they slice right up!

    *Lisa – The homemade peanut butter was really yummy but we don’t eat enough of it (right now) for me to make it many more times. And you’re right–you could either use this a lot or not. Though it does make things go quickly!

    *Libby – I don’t have a mandolin for slicing but I’ve wondered at getting one. Can you change the thickness of the slices with it? I think there are additional discs I could use for the food processor but haven’t really looked into it.

  12. I don’t use a food processor – not enough bench space but get by with a stick blender and a good set of knives. I do have a slicer I bought in a moment of madness and have used maybe twice… I am thinking of giving it away.

  13. I love this post! I have never owned a food processor because my mother thinks it’s an adult kitchen gadget and the idea has been ingrained in me now (so I probably won’t buy one for myself until I’m settled in my own place). But my mom uses hers all the time. She’s not a big fan of cooking so the faster, the better. She uses it mostly for chopping veggies and meat (she puts cubed meat in and gets ground meat out – saves money in buying the ground version at the store). She also makes a lot of one-stop things in it, like mint chutney, my favorite.

    I look forward to your post on springform pans. I don’t have any and my mom never bakes so she doesn’t have any either. But sometimes when I’m bookmarking recipes for “adulthood”, I see that they require springform pans and I wonder whether the purchase is worth it.

  14. I wish I had a food processor. Instead I used my blender, which just isn’t the same – at all. But I just can’t seem to justify making that purchase.

    As for pesto, I love it! I buy pitas and slather them with pesto. Stick it in the oven for 10 minutes, then take it out put sliced roma tomatoes on it, then add veggies and cheese for a yummy, healthy pizza. Mmmm.

  15. I have a food processor that I maybe get out of the cupboards once or twice a year tops. I have been contemplating putting it into the spare room so I have some more space in my kitchen cupboard.

    As for springform pans, I only own one, and it gets used really regularly, but only for White Chocolate Cheesecake.

  16. It’s not so much that I couldn’t live without my food processor but I love what it does. I have a variety of slicing and grating blades for mine so I can control the thickness of the slices and I can grate bulk cheese in a flash. I don’t own a blender and I haven’t missed it.

    I made a good Mexican dish in my springform the other day — recipe in a couple of weeks for Weekend Cooking.

  17. I don’t have a food processor but have been considering buying one so I found your post very interesting. There are so many recipes these days that say “pulse for 15 seconds” and things like that, and I’m not sure how to recreate that effect. Plus it sounds muscle saving!

    I use my springforms especially for apple cake (like this on:http://janessweets.blogspot.com/2009/09/dutch-apple-cake-history-will-remember.html but I usually have a lattice on top). I also use it for crumble-topped cakes and any other cake that is “supposed” to be round, which in The Netherlands, are quite a few cakes. :-)

  18. *Carole – If not for the baby food I’m not sure that I’d have ever bought a food processor. But now that I have it…it’s great! ;)

    *Sheila – LOL!! I think there are a lot of people who don’t own a food processor. Nothing to hang your head in shame about. Ha!!

    *Kim – I’ve found a few interesting things for springform pans but mostly dessert. Going to search for a deep dish pizza recipe!

    *Mona – I think I received three springform pans for under 20 bucks? Not very expensive…unless you never use them. ;) In terms of the food processor–no need to wait until you’re completely settled! Funny about your mentioning it being an adult gadget because I think I have that idea as well. Wonder why? So many recipes call for its use!

    *Diane – LOL!! Yes, I do like to try new things. ;) Keeps life interesting!

    *Picky – I’m about ready to get rid of my blender–just never use it. We bought our food processor (kitchen aid) for about $100 and it was money well spent. I’ve definitely gotten a lot more use out of it than I ever thought I would. GREAT idea for use of pesto!!

    *Marg – White Chocolate Cheesecake?! OMG that sounds delicious. I look forward to lots of cheesecake this next month (but not sure my pants agree). Ha.

    *Beth F – I absolutely agree with the notion of being able to live without it but loving the device. I really want to invest in a few more blades as the one I have is too thin for regular slicing but not sure I can get for my machine?

    *Judith – LOL–so did my post push you over to getting one or not? ;) I’ve found it very useful in the next month and can very well see it being the kitchen appliance that I use most often. And thank you so much for the apple cake recipe!! Looks absolutely delicious.

  19. We got a food processor a couple months ago and all we’ve used it for is making freezer meals. I got this book “Fix Freeze Feast” from work and one weekend we made about 15 meals. The food processor was a life saver that day because we were able to chop all the vegetables in one go and just add them to the recipes as needed. Other than that, though, the food processor has stayed in the closet!

  20. I think I’ve used my food processor twice in the 3 years I’ve had it. I like the idea of using it for hummus…and pesto! And peanut butter! Thank you for all the great ideas. :)

    I’m curious about your springform pan operation. I will await your post. :)

  21. I don’t own a food processor. :( Mostly because I’ve just never had much storage space. And I always tell myself I’ve always made due without it. But just the mention of your peanut butter has me wanting to get one! :P

    As for my springform pans–I think the only thing I ever use them for is cheesecake a few times a year. But it’s well worth it just for that!!!

  22. All of my holiday cookie dough was made with the food processor. Although washing the bowls in between was a bit of a hassle. And the blades too.

    Those zucchini cakes look great, I will be trying those soon. And I just discovered Hummus, although mine was from Trader Joe’s. Tomato and basil…SO FREAKING GOOD! I could eat it like frosting, off my finger. So I’ll try making that myself. Let you know how it goes. Good job Trish. I think this appliance is a hit.

    As for the pans…I haven’t a clue. Sorry!

  23. *Lu – I wonder how you found chopping the veggies to be using the FP. I have a hard time getting an even chop without everything turning into itty bitty pieces. But there’s definitely more you could do besides chop. ;)

    *Allie – It was great for hummus and pesto. Really great for anything that you need to pulverize. ;) Others have used for soup but since we’re already warm here I didn’t do any of that. Oh, and I used to chop and then puree strawberries yesterday!

    *Nupur – Thanks for the link to the cookies–they look delicious! And not sure about the springform yet. Trying to search for a deep dish pizza idea!

    *Debi – Peanut butter! Almond Butter! Cashew Butter! ;) There’s really a lot you could do with the food process but I agree that you don’t NEED it. Just nice. And cheesecake. Yum. :)

    *Jenny Girl – I’ve been a bit afraid to do cookie dough in the food processor. It doesn’t seem big enough? Do you just pour the ingredients down the food tube opening thingy? And totally agree–food processor is a work horse! You should try making hummus!!

  24. I keep running across recipes requiring a food processor and my substandard and suspiciously noisy blender just will NOT do the job. I was given one as a wedding gift 15 years ago but it was so unwieldy, and our first-apartment kitchen so very small, that I ended up giving it away. I need to replace it with something simpler.

  25. *Shieldmaiden – LOL! My blender is terrible as well. Ditch it and get the food processor. I keep seeing more and more recipes that use it as well. Guess for ease of chopping.

    *Sam – Make the coffeecake! Your kids will love it!