These are a few of my favorite things…
This holiday gift guide is all about kitchen countertop appliances. Some are no-brainers (immersion blender) and some are very niche (sous vide) but they all have something in common – they make our culinary lives easier. Read about my experiences with each item below, and note that all Amazon product links are affiliate links.
Cuisinart Ice-21 Frozen Yogurt, Ice Cream and Sorbet Maker – $49.99 on Amazon
Can an ice cream machine be a life changer? Because once you start making your own ice cream, you’ll never purchase it from the store again. Seriously. I loved demystifying ice cream by learning how to make it myself. Whole milk, cream and sugar are the basic ingredients of most recipes, but there’s a whole world of sorbets, sherbets and granitas out there!
The Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker is simple to use. The canister stays in your freezer to get cold. Assemble the machine, turn it on, and pour in the batter. 20 to 30 minutes later, BAM – you have ice cream. Of course you want to freeze it a little longer, but that’s the jist of it. Gone are the days of hand-crank machines and rock salt. Once you acquire the power of this machine, you’ll see exactly what I mean.
My ice cream recipes are primarily egg-free. I learned this technique when Tamre introduced me to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. I owe my obsession with making ice creams to Tamre, for without the introduction of Jeni’s, this ice cream maker, and tasting spoonfuls of her own creations, I doubt I would have taken this culinary path. Later we would take a trip to Columbus just to visit Jeni’s.
Recipes using the Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker:
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream (Custard Based)
KitchenAid Professional 600 Series 6-Quart Stand Mixer - $419.00 on Amazon
and Food Grinder attachment - $47.49 on Amazon
Shortly after I started this blog, I wrote a letter to KitchenAid. It was a reaction to my desire and concern about the wildly-coveted item. While I did want a stand mixer, I was unsure that I should use it without first learning the basic culinary techniques under my belt. Within the same day of writing the blog, KitchenAid contacted me and sent me their professional stand mixer as a gift. I was astonished – this was also my first run-in with a brand after starting the blog, and it gave me faith that people out there are listening.
After I got used to the stand mixer, I started lusting for attachments. The first (and currently my only) attachment is the food grinder. With a desire to grind my own meat, I did – first with pork, later with beef. The stand mixer itself is quite a useful tool. Breads, cookies and pie doughs come together easily, but if I were to list all of those recipes I’d take up way too much room in this post.
The stand mixer I use is the 600 Professional series. Instead of a head that tilts back, this one has a crank you use to lower and raise the bowl.
Recipes using the Food Grinder Attachment:
And of course, the photo I took after I received it:
ANOVA Sous Vide Machine – $199.99 on their website
If you watch food television, then you’ve seen chefs use a sous vide machine. Cooking “sous vide” allows you to cook a piece of meat (or other foods) to a specific temperature with no risk of overcooking. I contacted ANOVA and they sent me their machine for review. I’ve only used it once, but I have many ideas for this product. Since you can cook meat to a specific temperature, sous vide cooking is great for meats that are cheaper, tougher cuts, ones that you wouldn’t normally pick up at the butcher.
FoodSaver V3460 Vacuum Sealing System – $134.99 on Amazon
Cooking sous vide requires vacuum sealing, but the Food Saver is great for preserving all kinds of food products. If you’ve ever put a great quality steak in a plastic bag to freeze and realize six weeks later that its freezer burnt, then you need a Food Saver. The plastic bags you use start out in one long roll so you can cut them to size. Once you assemble the package for sealing, press the big SEAL button and it’s done in a matter of seconds.
Hamilton Beach Immersion Blender – $19.79 on Amazon
Some of you may say “I have a food processor, I don’t need an immersion blender.” Well, I just don’t find that to be true. While I love my food processor, it only fits so much stuff inside it, and I end up having to puree things in batches. Instead, take the immersion blender to the item you want to puree. Dip it right into the bowl of soup or bowl of cooked potatoes, turn it on and swirl. It doesn’t hurt to mention that the immersion blender takes up much less space in my kitchen than a food processor.
Recipes using Immersion Blender: