Tag Archives: cooking

6 Life-Changing, Must-Have Kitchen Gadgets

6 Life-Changing, Must-Have Kitchen Gadgets

I love my kitchen gadgets. I am not a kitchen gadget obsessed person (though my mother would disagree). The items in my kitchen drawer are invaluable, and once you have them all, too, surely you’ll agree.

6 Life-Changing, Must-Have Kitchen Gadgets

Having now acquired the following items (My Top 6 favs), I realize I was previously lost without them.

I’m here to save you from a life of kitchen gadget deprivation, my friend.

  1. Garlic Press– Professional chefs may be able to safely chop garlic cloves a hundred miles per hour, but I cannot. My four year old frequently asks me, “Mommy, did you cut yourself again?” if she hears the slightest gasp or exclamation from me while I prep dinner. A garlic press saves your fingertips, as well as time and energy!Garlic Press - One of the must-have Kitchen gadgets for any cook!
  2. Lemon Squeezer– Fresh citrus tastes better and is more versatile than bottled concentrate. It also has zero preservatives. Rachael Ray is adept at squeezing a lemon with her bare hands and catching those slippery seeds in her hand. I, however, am not. It never fails, the seeds slide right into the bowl along with the juice. Get a lemon squeezer, and you’ll never have that problem! Plus, doesn’t that seem gross? No matter how much you wash your hands…there’s bound to be germs. Or soap residue…bleh.Lemon Squeezer- Must-Have Kitchen Gadgets
  3. Mesh Strainer– I debated about this one myself, but it totally comes in handy for rinsing anything smaller than the holes in your typical colander. Gone are the days of rinsing quinoa while it all runs away down the drain. This is also perfect for making gravy, or any kind of sauce, that maybe apt to lump up. Or, if like me, you suck at tempering eggs…(Ever make homemade chocolate pudding? I excel at chocolate scrambled egg pudding. 😉 If only I had more patience…) Also, if you make your own homemade broth, a mesh strainer is perfect for straining out even the tiniest chicken bones and skin, garlic cloves, vegetable scraps- anything and everything you throw in that crockpot.Mesh Strainer- One of the Frugal Cook's Must-Have Kitchen Gadgets
  4. Immersion Blender– Great for frothing milk (as seen here), blending soup right in the pan (thus saving a dish, time, and effort), pureeing baby food, homemade salad dressing….Immersion Blender, One of My Must-Have Kitchen Gadgets
  5. Jar Opener– I remember struggling to open a jar of Ragu spaghetti sauce as a teenager, and my mom asking me what I would do when I moved out and she wasn’t there to open my jars anymore. Fast forward 10 or 15 years, and I still can’t open jars. I literally have no strength in my hands. Without the amazing Oxo jar opener, we might have starved (slight exaggeration). Pampered Chef sells a jar opener too. That’s what I have now, after my faithful Oxo opener finally bit the dust and flew apart in pieces. Jar openers- not JUST for arthritic old folks.Jar Opener- Not just one of the old folk's kitchen gadgets!
  6. This Oxo can opener which leaves NO sharp edges! I aspired to someday own this kitchen gadget as a teen. My neighbor down the road (whom I often cooked with- she taught me to make homemade noodles!) owned this useful gadget. I was amazed and astounded the first time I used it. It’s not expensive, and it will save you on band-aids!Smooth Edge Can Opener, definitely one of every cook's must-have kitchen gadgets

Andddd….

Bonus Kitchen Gadget that is sure to enrich your culinary life:

~Rotary Cheese Grater~

One of my favorite kitchen gadgets, the Rotary Cheese Grater

You know the kind – they use it at Olive Garden to add extra cheese to your dishes.

This is one of those kitchen gadgets that instantly fancifies any meal. Grate your own fresh parmesan or asiago for soups, scrambled eggs, pasta, casseroles…the possibilities are endless.

Freshy grated parmesan cheese tastes a million times better than the pre-shredded crap (with additives) you buy in plastic bags. It’s good in a  pinch, but there’s a better option.

Buy fresh. Grate your own cheese.

Sounds like a great motto to me!

Last night, I made an amazing alfredo sauce. I topped it with freshly grated cheese, thanks to my Zyliss Rotary Cheese Grater from my mom one Christmas. Mom is good at fulfilling my kitchen gadget culinary dreams.

I cook most of our meals from scratch (leftovers and weekends excluded, haha!), so these kitchen gadgets are all used at least once weekly, sometimes more. Ok, and I admit it, sometimes less… I mean, I’m not straining homemade chicken broth every day of the week. But when I do, my mesh strainer is indispensable! Who wants feathers and bones floating in their broth?

My husband just needs to learn how to deal with all these gadgets crowding up my kitchen drawer.

If I’ve convinced you of the necessity of any of these items, please click the links provided below. Just click the item you’re interested in, and it will take you to the item on Amazon. If you buy, I will get a small percentage of your purchase. It doesn’t cost you any more, but would help me justify the time I took to write this post, take photos and create the images for it. 🙂

Garlic Press

Lemon Squeezer

Mesh Strainer

Immersion Blender

Jar Opener – See your Pampered Chef Rep, or ask me for mine!

Oxo Smooth Edge Can Opener

Rotary Cheese Grater

I recommend just about any Cuisinart and Oxo brand products. Cuisinart is highly rated, and very reliable. And Oxo has awesome customer service!!

Next on my Must-Have Kitchen Gadgets Wish List is a torch, so I can make homemade creme brûlée and caramelize sugar. ‘Cause as a stay at home mom, with two little ones, I have so much time on my hands for stuff like that.

Follow me on Pinterest for lots of great recipes, Don’t Call Me Supermom blog posts, kids activities, and more!

Chocolate Cheesecake Mousse Recipe

In my Valentine’s Day post, I mentioned this yummy cheesecake mousse I made for a friend’s house. I can’t lay claim to the recipe, but I can copy the recipe here for you, and link to the blogger I got it from. 🙂 I wish I would have had pomegranate arils to sprinkle on top, but I decided to use a mint chocolate bar instead, so it all worked out! Scroll down for the recipe, and a few tips.

mousse

Ingredients

  • 2/3 heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar, divided
  • 1 – 8oz. block of cream cheese
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 ounces of dark chocolate, chopped and melted
  • pomegranate arils or shaved chocolate for topping

Instructions

  • beat heavy cream until it begins to thicken (several minutes in my Kitchenaid on a medium speed) , add 1/4 cup powdered sugar, and whip until stiff peaks form, cover and chill.
  • beat cream cheese until smooth; add the remaining powdered sugar, vanilla, and the melted chocolate and beat until well mixed (I let this mixture sit out for an hour or two for cream cheese to soften and warm)
  • gently fold in the whipped cream – stop when everything is combined
  • store covered in the refrigerator until ready to use

Let me give you a tip-throw caution to the wind with this recipe. Whipping cream can be intimidating if you haven’t done it before (or even if you have!). And I’m telling you, you cannot gently fold anything into cream cheese. So just beat it!

This won’t be as fluffy as normal mousse, because of the cream cheese, but that’s the beauty of it. It’s a cross between cheesecake and mousse! Perfect for any occasion, romantic or otherwise! Double the recipe if you’re having company!

Follow my Pinterest Dessert board for more yummy recipes!

 

Cathartic Culinary Love and Skyline Chili

Skyline Chili recipe

Skyline recipe

Last week, after returning from our refreshing getaway, I was in the mood to cook! (For a few days, at least) Cooking used to be so much more enjoyable and relaxing before I had kids. I still find myself pinning recipes for lemon curd tarts with a fresh raspberry glaze, and 4 layer triple chocolate espresso cakes with shaved chocolate and homemade bon-bons on top. But who am I kidding? Most days I’m cooking while kids cry, talk, whine, hang all over me…But there are days, like bright rays of sunlight in my life, where I still find catharses in cooking instead of stress. Last week, I had TWO of those days, once where my kids were playing quietly together in their playhouse, instead of in the kitchen, trailing after me! Another time, my youngest was sleeping and I had a tv show on for my oldest. (Almost) blissful silence!

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 2.38.58 PMSo the first day my cooking mood struck, I made a fancy looking “Everything Bagel Chicken” recipe using a preservative free Everything Spice Blend from Wildtree (which has since been discontinued! Sob!).  I took thinly sliced chicken breasts and rolled them up with my homemade veggie cream cheese inside, securing them with a toothpick. Then I dredged the chicken, first in egg, then in flour, then panko mixed with the Everything Spice. I baked them on parchment at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes and they were perfect (even without pre-heating the oven properly…ain’t nobody got time for that!). I even made (ready made frozen) sweet potato fries and green beans with bacon and onion, hubby’s favorite! Everything turned out delicious, a nice change from vacation/restaurant food, even if I did have to do the dishes myself.

Skyline ChiliFor the next day’s dinner, I made my own personal version of “Skyline Chili” in the crockpot. Before I moved to Cincinnati, I had never heard of this strange dish…chili over spaghetti topped with mounds of cheese? I think it was the plethora of warm, gooey cheese that initially won me over. Now it is one of the few recipes I have on rotation (I don’t really like making the same thing twice- the wonderful world of Pinterest is just too big!) I originally got my Skyline recipe from a local friend (I figured that makes it pretty authentic, right?), but I made some tweaks. Once I started out by accidentally doubling the first two spices- but I loved it that way, so now I always double the cinnamon and cumin! I don’t like my chili too hot, so I reduced the chili powder. And I didn’t want the vegetarian version, but I also didn’t want one with all meat and no beans, so I tweaked that, too. I often switch up the type and amount of beans, as well…I started out with one can, then two…And last week, I just cooked a whole pound of black beans and added it all! The recipe is obviously pretty versatile, so experiment and make it however you like! Following is my ‘tweaked’ version:

 

Skyline Chili

1 quart cold water

1 lb. ground beef (lean is best)

1-3 cans beans (or more!! We love beans!)

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. cumin

1-2 large chopped onions (optional, but not really. A must, in my opinion!)

1 tsp. Worchestershire sauce

1 garlic clove (or, you know, half a bulb. We like garlic, too!)

1 Tbsp. chili powder

1 tsp. black pepper

4 whole bay leaves

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. red pepper

6 oz. can tomato paste

1/2 Tbsp. plain or red vinegar

1 & 1/2  tsp. ground allspice

Pour one quart of water into crockpot and (gloves recommended) crumble the raw meat up with your hands. Add everything else. Cook 4-6 hours.

When it’s almost time to eat, put some spaghetti on to boil per package instructions. Put the cooked noodles in a bowl, ladle on some chili, and top with a generous amount of cheese.

 

*Tip* I like to break up a block of fresh colby or cheddar cheese and pulse it in my processor to make fresh grated cheese without exerting myself. I learned this trick via Ina Garten when we still had cable and I could watch the Food Network to my heart’s content. 🙂 Fresh cheese not only has fewer additives and preservatives than bagged, it tastes a million times more amazing on top of your Skyline chili!

Check out this interesting blog post I found called Ditch the Bag, comparing bagged vs. pre-shredded cheese. Bagged cheese has potato starch, calcium sulfate, and cellulose powder added- the latter of which commonly comes from wood pulp.

 

So now which you do prefer, bagged or pre-shredded cheese?

 

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