Thursday, December 10, 2015

2015 Holiday Gift Guide: Kitchen Equipment

Today's memo to Santa includes our favorite kitchen equipment. (BTW, in case you missed our previous installments, we have you covered on cookbooks and kitchen gadgets, too.)

Let's get, shopping!
Erin, Amy, and Andrea

Disclaimer: These ideas are solely the opinions of your favorite bringers of hot dinner. No companies or manufacturers asked us to provide reviews or compensated us for writing about their products.

Erin's Favorites:

Immersion Blender: This handy tool makes pureed soups a whiz. Before I had an immersion blender, I had a bit of an incident pureeing hot soup in a regular blender. Let's just say I was cleaning soup from under the cupboards for years. Now my soup prep is mess-free. Use it to make Curried Butternut Squash Soup, a Berry Smoothie, or even baby food. --Erin

Le Creuset Dutch Oven: The husband bought me a 5 1/2 quart Le Creuset dutch oven several years ago, and it's one of my all-time favorite pots. Perfect for making Beef Stew, Pot Roast, or Andrea's Cincinnati Chili. If I had to choose one pot or pan to use for the rest of my life, this would be it. --Erin

Amy's Favorites:

Cuisinart PerfecTemp Stainless Steel Steel Cordless Electric KettleLast year, I had to give up coffee for health reasons. I switched to tea and this electric kettle helped me through those dark java-free mornings. It heats up water super fast, doesn't take up space on your stove top and has an automatic shut-off. Plus, there are settings for different kinds of tea -- black, white, green, oolong and delicate. There's even a French press setting for you coffee drinkers. --Amy

Instant Pot 7-in-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker, 6 QT: I buy myself a lot of cooking gifts and last year this was one of them. Totally worth it. In fact, for a while I  was saying I was cheating on my slow cooker with my pressure cooker. Truth is, I couldn't feed my family on the regular without both handy appliances. This model is easy to use and cleans up like a dream. See our 2015 Holiday Gift Guide post on cookbooks for a pressure cooker cookbook recommendation. As for what to make in yours, check out my Pressure Cooker Chicken Noodle  Soup, Midwestern Vegetable-Beef Soup and Shrimp Curry Under Pressure. --Amy

Black Diamond rglam

Vitamix Professional Series 500: I'm not sure what I could write to convince you go pay upwards of $500 on a blender. It makes no sense except it does. It beats paying $200 on a blender that you will never use. The Vitamix -- the one with programmable settings for smoothies, hot soups and frozen desserts -- is a fine machine. I'm sure we will have it years; it comes with a seven-year warranty. For the first year and a half or so, I used my Vitamix daily for smoothies for me and my husband and then we tired of smoothies every single day. I still use it a lot for smoothies. I also use it when I need to emulsify ingredients -- i.e. recently for a mole chicken chili. I have also used it to make banana ice cream. (Note to self: post smoothie and banana ice cream recipes to this blog.) Next year, I want to make more nut-based vegan creams and for that the powerful Vitamix is super handy because you don't have to soak the nuts in advance. --Amy

Andrea's Favorites

Cuisinart Pro Custom 11-Cup Food Processor: The more I cook, the more uses I find for my food processor. The tool makes so many preparations so much easier. I love using it to slice apples for Apple Crisp or Apple Pie. The list is endless. For those who love to cook, a food processor does it all, from chopping, slicing and grating to mixing and blending. I use mine to make everything from Triple Almond Chocolate Banana Pudding to Green Rice. --Andrea

Crock-Pot Programmable Touchscreen 6.5 Quart Slow Cooker: Thanks to the Slow Cooker Revolution cookbooks from America's Test Kitchen, I'm using my Crock Pot more than ever before. This model works beautifully and I like the digital count down for tracking the cooking time. The most recent meal I made in my slow cooker was Erin's Beer Braised Pot Roast. It's also great for Pork Tomatillo-Verde Tacos and Thai Peanut Pork. --Andrea

Ninja Professional Blender: This model offers 3-way speed control and a single serve blade. It comes with two single serve cups which are perfect for whipping up smoothies. The Ninja does a great job chopping fruit and veggies. It's perfect for emulsifying Berry Vinaigrette and Thai Dressing. And it's the next best thing to an immersion blender when you need to finish off Butternut Squash Soup. --Andrea

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