Amy shares with you her favorite kitchen appliances, gadgets and baking utensils to make cooking a breeze.
Small to Medium Appliances
The KitchenAid stand mixer is an essential part of my kitchen. I make bread and pizza dough (both regular and gluten free), meatballs, cakes, cookies and frosting. I do have the 6 qt but the 5 qt would work for most people. Base it on whether or not you think you'll be making double batches of the above items.
I love the KitchenAid hand mixer with attachments because it's so versatile. I can make shakes or puree soups with the immersion blender, make dips with the mini processor and I can whip up some fresh cream for dessert. It's a great value as well.
The Cuisinart food processor is a "must-have in any kitchen. Use it to slice mushrooms or potatoes or shred carrots or cheese. It makes the best pie crust in the world with the regular blade as well as hummus.
Having a waffle iron saves me a lot of money. At $3.00 a box for frozen, it's easy to rationalize buying your own waffle iron. I love making homemade waffles, especially gluten-free ones. You can hardly tell the difference. The kids help with the measuring (yes, waffles are very forgiving when it comes to measuring) and I can enjoy breakfast with the family.
Just when I thought I had every appliance and didn't need one more thing, I got a slow cooker. After "test braising" one for a week, I developed a new respect for what is also called a crock pot. Just so you know, Rival owns the name "crock pot" which is why the other ones are called "slow cookers. I love the one I have for 3 reasons: I can control the time in 30 minute increments, the heat (low and high) and switch between these settings at any time, making it very versatile. Some slow cookers only adjust the time in 2 hour increments or don't allow you to just go to "keep warm" mode.
Pots, Pans, Gadgets and Tools
When it comes to cookware, quality makes a difference. A good stainless steel pot or pan can really affect the flavor and texture of your food. If you spend the money once, you probably will not need to replace it for a long, long time. When you spend less money on a pot but need a new one in three years, you aren't saving that much in the long run.
I'm a big fan of All-Clad and Calphalon cookware. For non-stick, I like Swiss Diamond or Calphalon hard-anodized cookware.
For gadgets and tools, I have so many...check my blog entry here. Amongst that list is the magnum pepper grinder, oxo smooth edge can opener (the top just lifts off!) and the zyliss cheese grater.
Baking Pans and Tools
One thing I can't live without is my Silpat baking mat. Used on top of a baking sheet, it is perfect for baking cookies, roasting veggies, heating appetizers and making parmesan crusts.
When it comes to baking, precise measurements are essential. Try using stainless steel measuring cups that are very sturdy. There's something about how they feel that just seems better. And clean up is a breeze. I also like the measuring spoons by OXO.
Use silicone spatulas to scrape down your bowls (those should be stainless as well).