Oprah's (just kidding, Amy's) Favorite Things (in the Kitchen)
So there are a few things you will hear me shouting about over and over again in my food blog entries. I am always using my Vitamix, my Kitchen aid Stand mixer, my Lodge Dutch Oven, my Kitchenaid Mandolin, Ball Canning Kit, Vegetti as well as some other products. This entry is intended to be a review of some of those products. Yes, if you click the links I provide, add them to your Amazon.com cart and purchase those items, I get a small percentage. You may deem this post as partially self serving, and it is. But I also do love these products. I'm not simply posting for my own fiscal gain; although, transparently and hopefully, that will be a byproduct. :)
I love it. Whether you're looking to lazily mix brownie mix, knead a pizza dough, shred chicken (yes, it shreds chicken, or make some whipped cream; this thing does it all. Have you ever tried to knead pizza dough by hand for 20 minutes? It gets old, fast. Breads and dough become a breeze. I only recently learned that it shreds chicken too. All you do is place the cooked chicken breast in the bowl, attach the paddle mixer and turn it on. The possibilities are endless!!!
And we haven't even gotten to attachments. I am ALWAYS using my meat grinder. Yup, for only $50 or so, you can grind your own fresh meat. This makes great burgers (sirloin and chuck pressed together). Also if you're out of ground turkey or chicken, you can just put it through the meat grinder. If you're wary of store bought ground meat, consider making your own.
There is also shredder and a strainer in this attachment package. Something I am dying to try, but have not purchased yet is the pasta maker attachment. Fresh pasta dough? Sign me up please!
Did you know a Kitchenaid stand mixer could do all of this?!?!
There are a wide range of products that fit this bill. I have the Vegetti, although I'm sure you'll be happy with most (it is a simple product). Cucumbers, squash, zucchini, carrots, etc.. You can turn all of your nutritional vegetables into beautiful "pasta" in minutes. East it raw or cook it, you’re cutting calories and making your dish incredibly nutritious.
Okay, you may be thinking you don't want to spend $500 dollars or more on a blender. It turns out, you're wrong. It can smoothly puree almost anything. Turn Greek yogurt and frozen fruit into a perfectly smooth and healthy desert. Soups that would normally have to be strained do not have to be. The Vitamix is that good. Let’s not even get started on the blended Margaritas my husband pumps out all summer long. I premade breakfast smoothie bags and can throw the frozen chunk of fruit/vegetables in and it’ll break it up and blend it smooth every time. If you want to get a pricier version than the one I have... you can even get the dry blade and make your own organic flours out of rice, bulgur, almonds, oats, etc.. I haven't found anything yet that this blender cannot do.
I would LOVE to put a shot out to the Le Creuset, but apparently I haven't reached that upper echelon of kitchen life yet. For 1/5 of the price, I have ZERO complaints about my Lodge Dutch Oven. I cook soups, roasts, shredded slow cooker pork, braised short ribs and more in it. It is the sophisticated crock pot. (Sorry, something in my heart of hearts can't succumb to using a crock pot.) It slow cooks like a champ, but also allows you to do a ton of things that a slow cooker can't. I use it all the time as a preferred cooking vessel.
While some products are fine to use a "cheaper" route, the add ons for this one make it worth the money. Typically with the mandoline you can make medallions or fine cut/julienne strips. Not only is the blade quality better, but it has other grating options available as well. Where the Vegetti fails at cutting some thinner vegetables, the mandolin does the perfect shredding job. It also can thin cut rounds for chips or apple slices.
I love Asian pickled vegetables. I make my own pomodoro sauce and salsa. I make my own baby food. I just tried over night oats for the first time last night. What do all of these things have in common? I’ve used mason jars for them. And in most cases, I have wanted to can them for longer storage so they need to be sealed off properly. It’s one of those things where you don’t know what you’re missing till you have it. I used to put my mason jars in a large pot and try to get them out with oven mitts and regular kitchen thongs. I ended up covered in water and burnt. Then for $15, I realized I could do it way more efficient, and pain free as well. It was a no brainer. Mason jars are legit. And I’m not talking trendy-rustic-wedding, I just mean superior kitchen function. Invest in the cost savvy product now!
Even Martha Stewart included this simple tool in her top kitchen gadgets. It’s an oldie but a goodie. And chances are, you already have one. If you do not, they’re under $20 and worth every penny. I cook with a TON, and I mean a TON of garlic. When I researched recipes that I’m unfamiliar with and it says something like 4 garlic cloves, by the time I’m done, that number is probably doubled. Another thing to buy if you love garlic but hate the peeling… pre peeled organic garlic cloves. They come in a bag and you can find them in your grocer’s freezer. I am almost in tears whenever they are out.
These are amazing. I used to put foil over my baking sheets so that they would be easier to clean. Sometimes I would use parchment paper. The foil needed to be greased, and the parchment paper occasionally began to burn. This, needless to say, does neither. No greasing or burning and it is dishwasher safe. Whether you’re an avid baker, or just roasting vegetables, these things are legit. Zero complaints from this home cook! (Get a set of three if you can; two large, and one small.)