As you know, my goal is to help to make cooking more approachable, manageable, and, hopefully, enjoyable. I want to help to make cooking a natural and stress-free part of your daily life. So when I put my holiday gift guide together each year I am not thinking about the coolest gadgets or the hottest new cooking tool, instead I want to help you find the best, hopefully affordable, kitchen supplies that will help to turn your kitchen into a place you enjoy, a place where you want to spend at least a little time, a place where delicious things are made. So this year I am sharing the tools that I couldn’t live without, tools that have made my cooking life happier and more productive. So add these ideas to your own wishlist or get them for someone you love and then enjoy delicious meals for years to come!
I bought this amazing machine because people just couldn’t stop raving about it. The time it saved, the endless possibilities, and I’ve got to say I have to agree. Once you get the hang of cooking with it, the features are awesome! Brown rice in 20 minutes! Beans from dried in 30 minutes! Mind blowing! But probably my favorite aspect is the sauté feature. I love that I can quickly sauté the onions, brown the meat, or infuse the oil with spices before I start the slow cooker. It adds so much more flavor to the dish with no more pots or pans to wash! Plus you can fit a ton in this thing which means you can then freeze leftovers for another night!
I am often asked what a dutch oven even is. A dutch oven is a pot with a lid that can be used both on the stove top and in the oven. They are wonderful for casseroles, sauces, stews, and soups. In other words, all the foods that we crave at this time of year! I use one of my dutch ovens (yes, I have three…) at least once a week. It is a pot I couldn’t live without.
A Good Knife
When I do kitchen evaluations one of the things I find most often is that people are still cooking with the crappy knives that they bought straight out of high school or college. They are dull, hard to manage, and just generally terrible. What I tell people is that a good, well-sharpened knife is probably the most important tool in your kitchen. Your cooking takes so much less time if you are working with a good knife because chopping goes so much faster. Trust me. Get this knife.
This is a tool I put on my list every year because it is that important. As I said, a well-sharpened knife is essential, both for efficiency and safety. I try to have my knives professionally sharpened once a year and then about once a week I pull out my own little sharpener to make sure the edges on my knives stay nice and sharp. I had so many different kind of sharpeners before this one and they were all really difficult to use and sometimes nerve wracking. This one is simple and effective. I highly recommend it.
This is a tool I lived without for years but now that I have one I can’t imagine life without it! I use it for grating cheese and/or vegetables at least once a week. Once you have one of these puppies, pre-grated parmesan cheese can be a thing of the past and trust me, the freshly grated parmesan can take a dish from good to fantastic!
If you have been following me for a while you will know that I am a lover of the waffle iron. Of course I make breakfast waffles in it, which I then freeze for easy weekday breakfasts and lunchbox sandwiches, but I also make omelets, hash browns, and vegetable waffles in mine, which all help make dinners quick, easy, and fun!
Silicone Baking Mats
This is my latest favorite addition to my kitchen. I had thought about getting a set of these for years but it always felt sort of silly when I was already using parchment paper, but when they were on sale at Costco I decided to give them a shot and I LOVE them! They are so easy to use and clean, but my favorite part is that they are better for the environment. Now, instead of going through roll after roll of parchment paper, I can just use these mats for cookies, roasting vegetables, and everything else I use my baking sheets for!
Chico Snack Bags
Confession time. For years my kids have been using reusable bags in their snacks and lunches, but my husband was incredibly resistant because he felt like they looked like they were for kids (which, to be fair, they did). But then I found these bags and his tune changed after one day! These bags are awesome! They can hold a big sandwich or a small snack because they have different velcro levels. They are also super easy to clean. An awesome (and cheap) investment that will help you to do something good for the earth and your wallet at the same time!
Cookbooks of Choice
Make the Bread, Buy the Butter by Jennifer Reese is a really fun read with great tips about what is worth making from scratch and what isn’t. A great book for a confident cook!
How to Make Everything FAST by Mark Bittman is a cookbook I recommended last year and am recommending again because I use it so often. No recipe in this books takes more than an hour to make! It is a very practical guide that can help even the most novice cook to gain confidence in the kitchen, while also providing fun ideas for the more experienced chef.
Kitchen Evaluation with Me!
Do you wish your kitchen was an easier place to work? Is your kitchen a mess, a jumble, a disaster area? Do you wonder what foods should stay and which should go? If so, then a kitchen evaluation with me might be the perfect way to start 2017 off right! I’ll help you to think through ways to make your kitchen more efficient, better organized, and just generally more pleasant. This can be done in person or over video chat, so location is not an issue. Email me for details.
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