I LOVE kitchen gadgets like men love electronic gadgets – whether you know how to use them or even what they are – you know you must have them. If it's in Williams Sonoma – I want it...when it finally arrives in the Outlet or at Homegoods for a fraction of the price of course!
I thought I would make a top 10 list of the items I feel all fellow foodies should equip their kitchen arsenal with because sometimes we don't know what we should have because we didn't know it existed! I know I get all kinds of happy when I discover something new or just get something that makes life easier.
1. KitchenAid Mixer
I love my mixer! I used it to mix everything from cake mix to making ice cream. I was given meat grinder and pasta maker attachments for it but have yet to use them. This is truly only second to diamonds in the “girls' best friend” category. Now I know what you are thinking – THEY, must like the Dyson vacuum, ARE SO EXPENSIVE!!! Yes – retail they are between $199-$299 and up. But let me tell you – there are ways to find one cheaper....I actually got mine for FREE from a friend who was moving across country and didn't want it anymore. I have seen these at Tuesday Morning, TJ MAXX and Homegoods for under $100. You could also check out Craigslist and see if anyone is selling theirs. If there is a will there is a way and I suggest you splurge on one of these because you will be kicking yourself for waiting to get one after first use!
|They come in a TONE of colors!|
2. Cookie or Ice Cream Scoop
Not just for gelato anymore. These are great and you can find a cookie scoop – which is like the Skipper doll to Barbie, if Barbie were an ice cream scoop. It's about half the size of an ice cream scoop but looks and works just the same. You can get one at Target but I got mine for $1.99 at Aldi when they had all their Christmas cookie makings on sale. This will help you get the most out of your recipe and pretty uniform looking cookies. Also an ice cream scoop can be used for perfect portioning for muffin mix into the muffin cups. And the best part? No more messy fingers trying to get all the batter off the spoons you're using to place the dough on the cookie sheet!
3. Wine vacuum & corking system
These are THE BOMB! I know most of us don't ever finish a bottle of wine when we open it (wink wink) and no one wants their wine to turn to vinegar – no matter how cheap it was. Once you uncork a wine it immediately starts to oxidize – which can be great for taste in the immediate but in the long term there is a fine line between breathing and vinegar. So to combat wine's natural enemy, air, get you a vacuum and vacuum cork set. This little thing will get your wine to last and always taste FABU! They can range from $30 (if you pay full retail but who does that anymore?!) to $3.99. You can get these for a steal at TJ Maxx, Homegoods, Tuesday Morning and World Market for a steal!
4. A good chopping knife!
Every recipe whether baking or cooking – you need to chop or slice something and a super good chopping knife is key. In 2012 – thank goodness steel is back! Ceramic is fabulous and colorful but OMG! It's expensive! Steel knives are cheaper and last forever! You can sharpen them yourself and you can get a good one at Tuesday Morning, TJ MAXX, Homegoods, all those discount home stores for $5.99 - $12.99. And you can find an easy to use shaprener at all the same places for a few bucks.
5. Stainless Steel cookware!
Ok so if you grew up in the 70s & 80s like i did, you were brainwashed into thinking teflon was the end all be all of cookware. Until this point your choices were either copper (which is a TOTAL B to keep clean even when you're not using them) and Stainless. Well fast forward to the 90s and wowy zowy – if you over heat or over use your teflon cookware – the coating may flake off and if it gets into the food you cook in there may make you sick - YIKES! Plus – for its non-stick virtue its a pain to clean or use b/c you have to only use wooded or plastic cooking utensils (and plastics are not found to also cause cancer and birth defects! YIKES again!) and when you clean it you need to get those plastic scrubbies. OMG! Not only is it a pain in the rear – it's SCARY!
NOW – Stainless is back in! It is self sanitizing by just heating it up in the dishwasher, it doesn't flake bad particles into your food, you can use a good old fashioned brillo pad to clean it and throw it in the dishwasher. BAM! Also – use some cooking spray and it is non-stick – who knew. The good stuff is not cheap but a good Cuisinart goes for about $200 and it will last more than a decade – and what can you say that about these days? Certainly not teflon. I have dreams for an Al-Clad set but they are about $400 for a stinkin' lid to a pot – but a girl can dream...
This was a no-brainer. For us busy foodies – whether you want a savory, stick to your ribs dinner in the cold of winter or a light chicken dish that you don't have to turn on the oven for in the heat of Summer – the crockpot is the modern gal (or guy)s friend. You throw a bunch of stuff in it in the morning and then go to work. 8-10hrs later you come home and the house smells great and dinner is ready! What more can you ask for? These are inexpensive and every kitchen should have one. They run between $19.99 - $50 and up for super duper fancy ones. I think I saw one at Williams Sonoma for over $100 bucks but I am not paying that unless while I am at work not only is it cooking dinner but is cleaning my house too.
7. Pampered Chef Chopper
This thing has taken the place of my good kitchen knife and mortar and pestal because a lot of times if you are chopping hard things like nuts – hand chopping can cause your hand to hurt and make cooking not fun. This thing – 3 smacks and wowy zowy you have chopped nuts and no hand pain. Plus it comes apart and slides right in the dishwasher for cleaning. It runs about $20 or so from Pampered Chef. You can get a cheaper one that's an off brand – but this was the first and I have had mine for about 10 years and no problem. Spend a little extra on this to get quality that lasts.
8. Pizza Stone
Great not just for pizzas! You will NEVER need a cookie sheet again. I also got this from pampered chef about $25 – but you can get them for about $10 less at Tuesday Morning, TJ MAXX or Target. This is the best thing EVER for me. I love baking but as Darren will tell you cookies are not my strong suit. Not because the batter is bad but because for some reason I burn the heck out of the bottoms every time! ARGH! Then I found the pizza stone – which makes a great crispy pizza crust but also makes a GREAT cookie sheet! Why? Because, you can cook a cookie on it for 3hrs and it will never burn. It will come out in the manner of skeet if you cook it for that long but the bottoms will be a nice golden brown. This is why I LOVE the pizza, not just for pizza anymore, stone.
9. Garlic roaster
A friend of mine introduced me to fresh roasted garlic and OMG – is it the best ever! It basically turns into a spread once roasted that you can use as a great spread for appetizers at a party (please tell guests not to eat the whole bulb as a friend of mine did because he thought it was a pastry...that was the joke of the party & boy did he get a shock!). You can use it as garlic paste for other recipes as well. I have seen garlic roasters for upwards of $40 retail – but you know me...I got mine at the Salvation Army store for $2.99!
10. Stainless Kitchen tongs – cause sometimes a spatula just won't do... I never thought to get these until I had a party where we were serving BBQ (pulled pork for my Yankee friends). Now I use them for EVERYTHING!! These little suckers are great for flipping chicken or other things in a roast or fry pan that you don't want to puncture – the juices won't come out. You can use them to serve pasta, pluck dumplings or eggs from boiling water – all without burning yourself. You can even get a cheap pair at Dollar Tree but I suggest that you get a slightly better pair so they have the rubber handles and your hands will stay cool even if you are plucking hot things from boiling water. A couple bucks at Target and you will be set!
These are my Top 10 – in no particular order. Have a gadget you love? Tell me about it!