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Monday, December 16, 2013

Top 10 Kitchen Gadgets/Tools

Are you looking for some last minute Christmas gifts? Maybe you are registering for your wedding and would like to build up a quality set of kitchen tools (who needs crystal candle stick holders?). Well, fire up your Amazon Prime account, and get shopping!
Time to upgrade

Top 10 Kitchen Tools
(no, I was not paid to endorse any of these items, but if you work for one of these companies, get in touch with me!)

1.       12-in non-stick skillet with cover
2.       kitchen aid mixer
3.       dutch oven
4.       stackable cooling racks
5.       julienne peeler
6.       kitchen scale
7.       Thermapen
8.       lilly pad cover
9.       microplane
10.   magnetic measuring spoons

1.       12 inch non-stick skillet: This is my go-to to make dinner. I like the 12-inch size because it's large enough to hold a pound of pasta + sauce + meat +veggies or a stir-fry. I also like my skillet to have rounded sides so I can toss items while I sauté. I also like the skillet to have a cover that helps with cooking things through or steaming veggies. You can pay anywhere from $10 to $100+ on one of these skillets, so go with what you like. I had a great one for about 5 years but it eventually wore out and the non-stick coating started to flake off (yum!). I replaced it with a $95 skillet that I like but it's not holding up as well as I thought it would.
2.       Kitchen Aid Mixer: What can I say? I'm a baker and I love my mixer. I got it as a gift from my mother-in-law and I use it all the time. It’s a pricy piece of equipment but it's so useful and it makes baking so easy. I love that it comes in a bunch of colors, comes with a paddle, whisk, and dough hook, and you can buy a bunch of other attachments to make it do all kinds of things (make pasta, grind meat, juicer, ice cream maker, etc). I have also purchased a scraping paddle attachment which is great because I don't have to scrape down the sides of the bowl as much.
3.       Lodge Dutch Oven 6 quart: Everyone who likes to make soups, stews, or roasts should have a large cast iron Dutch oven. I use mine at least once a month to make a soup. They hold their heat really well, don't burn the food (great for caramelizing onions for French onion soup), and hold up to a lot of abuse. Yes, they are heavy. Yes, le creuset is the top brand but the price difference between lodge and them is huge ($275 for Le Creuset vs $80 for the Lodge). It’s a great staple and will last forever.
Not my kitchen. Yet. (Mine is about 1/20 of this size)
4.       Stackable Cooling Racks: If you have limited space in your kitchen and you like to bake a lot of cookies, you need a set of stackable cooling racks. They fold up nearly flat for storage but can hold 3 pans worth of cookies in the space of one rack. Plus, they're cheap. Sold.
5.       Julienne Peeler: If you would like to add some extra veggies to your diet, check out this item. It makes perfect small julienne cuts (matchstick) of vegetables like carrots, zucchini, squash, etc that can be added to pasta dishes or stir-fries. I also use it to get small pieces of carrot to add to my sushi rolls. My hubby, who says he doesn't like zucchini will eat it if it's julienned into a pasta dish. I like this one because it works just like a veggie peeler, is dishwasher safe, and seems to hold up well after many uses (even on hard vegetables like carrots).
6.        Kitchen Scale: I love my kitchen scale. I like this one because it was small, cheap, and had a bunch of nice features (tare or zero, several weight scales, etc). I use it to get precise measurements of flours and sugars, because serious bakers know that flour can vary in weight depending on how compact it is. To truly know what you are adding, you need to measure your dry goods by weight. This comes in very handy if you start using recipes written in metric. It's also nice to get a handle on serving sizes when on a diet (cereal serving sizes are deceptively small!).
7.       Thermapen: Have you ever over cooked a steak or chicken? Over cooked a cake? Well, with a good, accurate thermometer, this is no longer an issue. And Thermapens are top of the line. Yes, they are expensive, but they are super fast (3 seconds or less), extremely accurate, and can hold up to abuse. I just got one for Christmas, and I'm so excited to use it!
8.       Lilly-Pad Cover: This was an unexpected find for me. I don't often make impulse purchases, and I usually do a bit of research before buying anything, but this did it for me. The lilly-pad cover works great for sealing up bowl or plates without annoying cling-wrap. Its microwave and dishwasher safe, there is no adhesive, but its strong enough to lift a large glass bowl. I have the medium size and it just fits a 4 quart glass mixing bowl.
9.       Microplane: You have one of these, right? Right? No?!?! Ugh. Get one. Now. I use this microplane all the time. It grates fresh parmesan cheese, ginger, fresh nutmeg, garlic, zests citrus, etc. I use it at least 2x a week. It cleans up nicely in the dishwasher and has a nice plastic cover to keep the blade (and your hands) safe. And it's less than $13. Buy one.
10.   Magnetic Measuring Spoons: I hate it when I lose a measuring spoon. Or when I have to use one spoon on the ring and they all get dirty when I put them down. Well, no more. This set clicks together magnetically, stores easily, and has round and oval sides for easy scooping into small containers. Again, they're inexpensive but will be used for years. Also dishwasher safe!

I hope you liked this list. Are there any gadgets you use regularly that you would recommend?