Friday, January 17, 2014

Favorite Kitchen Gadgets

A friend recently asked me for some gift ideas for his wife, who just got a new Kitchen Aid Mixer and was getting into baking. I had so much fun putting together a list of my can't-bake-without kitchen tools that I thought I'd share them here! Some of these are already kitchen standards, some I've discovered more recently, all are items that I would replace within days if ever anything broke or disappeared. This is also my first Amazon Associates post, let's see how it goes!

1. Pyrex Measuring Cup: I believe my original measuring cup pre-dates my husband, which means I've had it for almost 20 years and probably use it every single day, for not only measuring, but mixing sauces and melting chocolate or butter. I've also found the eight-cup version to be invaluable … the first two things I'll pull out of the cupboard on pancake days!

2. Mini Scoop: Perfect size for drop cookies, and waaaay easier than the old-fashioned two-spoon method. I've recently started using the larger version for cupcakes after having too many batches come out in varying sizes. I also use scoops for meatballs (mini) and burgers (maxi).

3. Silicone Spatula: Speaking of replacing tools, this is one that I just purchased last week, after my last one cracked (Target/Michael Graves brand, good but not great). I've mentioned my perfect rubber scraper features before: heat-resistant, firm, one-piece (doesn't get gunky) and this one totally fits the bill.

4. Flour Shaker: This cheese shaker is the perfect size for bench flour (the flour that you sprinkle on the counter when rolling out cookies and pie crusts). Really, this one little container makes the cutout process SO much easier.

5. Rolling Pin Spacers: Speaking of making the cutout process easier … my sis got me a set of rolling pin spacers years ago which I love, love, love. I used them so often, that I sweet-talked my hubby into getting me the adjustable version with built-in spacers for Valentine's Day. If you've already got a good rolling pin, get the spacers. If you do lots of cutouts, go for the deluxe version.

6. Pastry Scraper: This is great for its original purpose - scraping dough remnants off the counter - but I use it waaay more often for cutting sandwiches and brownies. If cutting the crusts off pbj's stresses you out, get one of these!

7. Grid Wire Cooling Rack: This may also pre-date Jeff! Grid rack is much better than slats - no worries about cookies accidentally falling through the gaps during the transfer process. I use this at least weekly.

8. Half Sheet Baking Pan (with lid!): My mom bought me a set of half-sheet pans forever ago, and they are the best for cookie baking. The sheets never need to be greased … if I'm baking something really messy, I'll throw down parchment, but cookies have never, ever stuck to these pans and bake perfectly. A few years ago, I found some with lids and went bananas, buying two each for me and my sis. I don't use the lids as often as I use the pans, but they do come in handy from time to time (most recently for protecting baked goods from sniffy dogs!)

9. Flexible Spatula: This isn't the exact one that I have - I think mine is from Pampered Chef - but it's great for transferring cookies and removing brownies from pans.

10. KitchenAid Mixer: How could this list be complete without my most treasured tool of all? My mixer was a wedding gift from my co-workers way back when, and was such an amazing surprise. This never leaves my counter, because I use it several times a week. Mine is a grey five-quart - I don't think they had the wide color selection then like they do now - but if I could choose a color today, I'd have to go with Gloss Cinnamon, mmmm.

So that's it! Hope it was fun for you as it was for me to put together! I'm thinking about a part two that's just for cookie decorating … stay tuned!

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