December 5, 2016

My Top 10 Favorite Kitchen Tools {2016 Gift Guide Series}

Welcome back to another post in my 2016 Gift Guide series! Today I'm going to be sharing with you some of my absolute FAVORITE items for my kitchen. Some will be big, some will be small--but all have my stamp of approval! As you know, cooking is one of my hobbies, so I am in the kitchen all the time. I also have a thing for kitchen gadgets. Fortunately, I have found some great ones which have saved me a LOT of time in my kitchen prep--or I just love to use them. I hope that this list will help you, if you are figuring out what to get a friend or family member who loves to cook!
My Top 10 Favorite Kitchen Tools {2016 Gift Guide Series}
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1. KitchenAid Stand Mixer

When my grandmother (maternal) died in 2004, I was offered her KitchenAid Stand Mixer. We took it home and I put it on my counter. And there it sat. Not getting used much. But I was working full time and just wasn't doing a lot of cooking. So we ended up passing it on. Flash forward to 2014 when my paternal grandma died, bequeathing me her stack of favorite cookbooks, the old family recipes and her...KitchenAid Stand Mixer. THIS time, I was ready for it. And let me tell you, I have given that baby a workout! I use it for everything from dough to batter to making creamy mashed potatoes. I LOVE that I can get it set up and just walk away. I also love that I have a pasta attachment and sausage attachment. No extra machines needed. This baby gets used at least 3-4 times a week and it has well earned it's place on my counter. I highly recommend one of these for any home where there is someone who cooks a LOT. 

People, let me tell you. BEST PURCHASE FOR 2016 in my kitchen. I have been so happy to have this baby. It does EVERYTHING and more. And all the issues I had with my other Oster run of the mill normal blender--gone. This baby can crush ice in record time. It can turn whole apples into a smoothie without any bits. Horseradish, ginger, garlic--whirled together and nothing left behind. Even frozen fruit--it doesn't bog it down nor stay chunky. Adding leafy and stem herbs? No worries. NO tangles around the blade. AND it has a 96 oz pitcher! Let's not forget the food processing attachment and the single serving smoothie travel cups. Oh man. I LOVE those! If I'm making a smoothie for me, I don't need the pitcher! Just put it in my cup, give it a whirl, put on a lid and go! Seriously. I can't say enough about this thing. Even my mom is trying to figure out how to justify replacing her "works perfectly fine" blender, in order to get one like mine. She has fallen in love with it. If your family is a smoothie family and your normal blender gets bogged down--or you have issues with frozen fruits not getting chopped--you need this. Unlike a "juicer" you can put the whole fruit or veggie in and get it completely chopped! Not wasting anything. Go for it. Even if you go for a smaller Ninja. It's worth it.

3. Kitchen Digital Scale

With our beef business, I needed a good scale so we could check on our various packaged meat weights. I also use it in cooking for weighted recipes, but not usually. One of the things I absolutely wanted, was a scale that went over 10lbs. Fortunately there are quite a few selections out there. One of my favorites is this 11lb Food Kitchen Scale with Removable Bowl. I love the sleek design, and that I wouldn't need a separate bowl. This Slim Stainless Multifunction Scale also goes to 11lbs, but is flat for the more bulky objects. It's more like the one I have (that I can't find anymore). Either of these is a good option for someone who needs to know weights in their business or cooking. I also like to use it to figure out shipping costs when I'm sending something. 

Oh man. I use this ALL the time. For cooking and for tea. I love having it ready where I can get boiling water in a matter of a couple minutes. I keep it full. Another item I probably use every week several times. And it doesn't take up room on top of my stove. If you have a tea lover, you definitely need to snag this for them, if they don't have it yet. There are several different versions. I have one similar to this one on the left. There is also a 1.7 litre one that is by the same company, but with a more rounded design.

5. Bread Machine

One of the best things we bought for our home when we were first married was a bread machine. Man, we used the tar out of it. I STILL love them. The only reason we don't still have one, is that our last one broke, and I needed a new place for my Kitchen Aid Standing Mixer! But if I had enough counter space, I would TOTALLY have another one. I really like the 2 lb bread machine because it makes the perfect sized loaves. I really love this Hamilton Beach Programmable Bread Machine. It even has settings for gluten-free if you need this setting. Another one that is popular (#1 actually) is the Oster 2-pound Expressbake Bread Machine. I had one almost identical to this one--I believe it makes a loaf in just 1 1/2 hrs. Did you know most bread machine's also make cheesecake?! 

6. Coffee Grinder

Okay--I know many of you are going "no. I don't do coffee beans." Right? Me neither! But this has still becoming a major tool in my kitchen. Doing what? Spices! I LOVE to have fresh peppercorns and other whole spices at my disposal, and this little baby grinds them up quick as a wink! It is small--about the size of a small 16oz pop bottle--so it's easy to store. It's really fast with a stainless steel blade and inner bowl. Now I also use it for coffee beans, and I can do a normal size bag of beans into ground in about 5 minutes. My sons love using it for me. LOL

7. Enamel Cast Iron Dutch Oven

This is at the TOP of my list right now. Seriously it is. This is the ONE pan that I don't have yet, that is the top of my wants. The main reason I love it, is for the porcelain enamel. This makes it work fabulously on the top of my flat top stove without me worrying about scratches. Another reason I love it--cast iron handles and a metal top handle. This makes it oven safe. And what is the best thing about it? I can use it for double cooking--starting things on my stovetop and then shifting it to the oven. I have several recipes I would LOVE to do this for, but without this tool, I am out of luck. I'm holding out hope for it as a birthday gift in a couple weeks! LOL. And this comes in a TON of colors. I'm partial to the Caribbean Blue, and the Spice Red.

8. Fruit and Vegetable Chopper

I don't mind shopping vegetables. But when I have to do a TON of vegetables, it gets rather tedious. And when faced with a garbage bag full of green/red peppers, it becomes groan worthy. FORTUNATELY, we had recently purchased the Fruit and Vegetable Chopper from Progressive. We were leery about the fact that it's predominately plastic, but let me tell you. After chopping that GARBAGE BAG--yes I do mean that in every sense of the word--of peppers, we were convinced! What used to take about 2 hrs, took an hour tops. One of us sliced the peppers open and the other chopped. Bam. perfect size. a container to catch them. We filled our freezer bags quick as a wink. I also use this chopper for mashed potatoes. It keeps them uniform and small for boiling. Hard boiled eggs or strawberries? Yes there is a soft food slicer blade as well! It also comes with a piece for cleaning the chopper lid. I am very pleased with my chopper--BUT if you are wanting a smaller version, I have always enjoyed using the smaller chopper for chopping/mincing/dicing.

9. Stainless Steel Cookware Set

About 6 years ago, my husband splurged and bought me a brand new stainless cookware set for our anniversary. We had decided to throw out the non-stick (toxic!) and bring in a new style of pans. Although they were a challenge to get use to at first, we now ADORE them and exclusively use them (other than my lone cast iron skillet). This set is very similar to the set I own--but has even more pieces!! I have never been sorry that we switched, and encourage you to bite the bullet and do it too!

10. The Pioneer Woman Kitchen/Dining Collection

If you want to lose me in a store (like Walmart), take me to the kitchen section and let it have items from The Pioneer Woman collection. My absolute favorite is the Pioneer Woman Flea Market collection! I already own several pieces from the collection including a tablecloth, measuring cups, measuring spoons, and the adorable stainless steel measuring spoons. My goal is to get a few of the baking dish pieces too. And the towels/washcloths. The beautiful trivet collection. And anything else that jumps into my cart. LOL. I use recipes from The Pioneer Woman cookbook all the time. Her sausage gravy and her meatballs are family favorites! I totally recommend any of the Pioneer Woman line of kitchen and dining products!

Now there are far more than 10 things that I think are awesome for a kitchen, but THESE ten are items that I personally love and think any cook would love to receive as a gift! I hope that I've given you some new ideas to explore as your going about your gift buying over the upcoming month and throughout the year to come.
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