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I have a confession to make. By the ripe old age of thirty years old, I must admit, the kitchen was still a relatively foreign place to me. I had been a homeowner for nearly eight years, but the kitchen just wasn’t my thing. Cooking, specifically. To be fair, this was due to my husband and I’s work schedules. I usually worked until around six, and he usually worked until two or three. It only made sense that he handled the cooking so we weren’t stuck eating dinner at eight o clock at night.
That all changed a couple of weeks before my thirtieth birthday when my son was born and I officially became a stay at home mom. The kitchen and all it entailed was officially my domain. Thanks to Pinterest, I gave myself a crash course in the basics and have been slowly improving ever since. Over the past couple of years, my enthusiasm has grown. I have become a bit more adventurous. Christmas lists have transformed from new handbags and jeans to the latest kitchen gadgets. And oh my. The gadgets! They are amazing! And that’s what I will be sharing with all of you today!
WHAT’S IN MY KITCHEN
Friends, there is a reason this is the first item on my list. I use this every. single. day. I’m sure you have heard of the magical Ninja before. Or you may even own one. But if not, I’m encouraging you to run out and buy one immediately!
I am a daily smoothie drinker for breakfast. My go-to recipe is a handful of spinach, a cup of almond milk, a heaping scoop of Greek yogurt, a frozen banana and then one other frozen fruit of choice for the day. Up until this past December, I had owned a Magic Bullet. I figured that since my blending needs were pretty basic, then there was no sense spending more on anything ‘fancier.’ It wasn’t until I was replacing my third one in the past year and a half that I decided to splurge.
I did not think that I would notice much of a difference. I was just hoping to get a longer life out of this blender. Boy was I shocked to discover a huge difference in taste! The Ninja blends so much smoother than any other blender I have tried. My same recipes literally taste different with the exact same ingredients! I could not be more impressed! The Auto-IQ feature is especially nice because it knows exactly how to blend your beverage to get it to the smoothest consistency.
The Ninja blender is also very versatile. I have used it to make hummus and guacamole. I have also used it to make blended coffee drinks. It also includes a huge list of various recipes that I have yet to try. What else can I say except I LOVE my Ninja!!! You can typically find it at any major retailer, and of course my personal favorite; Amazon!
I originally decided on purchasing the Ninja Coffee Bar System for my husband after our Keurig bit the dust. It was the second one that had died on us. I had become increasingly skeptical about the cleanliness of it, and was definitely over the high cost of the K-Cups. So I decided to do some research.
Personally, I have never been a coffee drinker, so a traditional coffee pot for us is a bit of a waste since my husband would never drink a whole pot by himself. But admittedly, I do love Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Lattes! In any case, the coffee maker was definitely for him, not me.
That was until I got sucked into an infomercial starring Sofia Vergara telling me all of the reasons I needed a Ninja Coffee Bar! Normally, I would totally ignore these commercials, but something about it caught my eye. Beyond just your basic coffee brew, the Ninja claimed to be able to make any coffee-house drink; including my beloved iced lattes!
So after much research and many positive reviews, I decided to make the big purchase and couldn’t be happier! Here are some of the highlights:
- Brews multiple different sizes of coffee, from single serve cup all the way up to a full carafe
- Makes hot or cold beverages
- Five brew types from basic to extra bold
- Programmable brewing
- Intelligent clean cycle indicator
- Built in frother
- Recipe book that includes multiple beverages including lattes, cappuccinos, macchiatos and more
- Uses regular coffee (even for single serve) no fancy, expensive K Cups required
Water is my life. I take my Camelbak with me wherever I go. I aim for at least one hundred ounces of water a day. I’ve tried it all. Bottled water, tap water, a filter for my faucet, and a Brita pitcher. But every day, I was constantly reading something new that was ‘bad’ about my water of choice. Every time I switched, my new water was then also discovered to have some kind of contaminates. It became overwhelming; drinking water shouldn’t be this difficult!
My husband had mentioned a water cooler in passing before. But since I am VERY particular about my home and it’s appearance, I immediately said “absolutely not!” A water cooler definitely did not fit into my home decor plan! That was until we had dinner at a friend’s house one night. They had a beautiful Primo water cooler! The water was cold, fresh, and most importantly clean. Wouldn’t it be nice to have one of these???
For Christmas, my sweet husband brought one of these home for me, and I couldn’t be happier. I do recommend getting at least two refillable water jugs, so when one goes empty you can rotate a full one while you fill the other. Our local Wal-Mart refills a five gallon jug for just $1.85. Our cooler is sleek and stylish and blends right in with our modern home decor and stainless appliances. We have the Primo model 601000.
Honestly, the number of benefits that go along with my Primo are too long to list. So if you love water as much as me and are interested in the health and wellness behind Primo, check out this great article from Primo!
Ok so I realize a crock pot isn’t exactly a novel idea for the kitchen, but I had to throw it in because I simply cannot live without mine! A crock pot really is perfect for everyone. Growing up, we never owned one so I didn’t really understand just how great they are. Regardless, I added the obligatory crock pot to my wedding registry, where it sat and collected dust until I really learned to embrace the kitchen!
My crock pot was my best friend when I was first learning to cook. The easiest, simplest recipes from Pinterest all used the crock pot, which is how I became familiar with mine. My need for it has since transformed now that I am a busy mommapreneur. I use it virtually every day; meats, one pot meals and side dishes, the crock pot is always my perfect go-to!
Here’s who a crock pot is great for:
- Newbie cooks: All of the most simple recipes on Pinterest use a crock pot
- Working men and women: Long hours at work can make it nearly impossible to prepare a nice, healthy meal. You are tired when you get home. The last thing you want to do is prepare an elaborate meal. With a crock pot, simply throw all your ingredients together the night before, put it in the refrigerator and turn it on before you leave for the day. Most crock pots now even include a timer which switches to ‘keep warm’ when the time is up incase you are not home yet.
- Busy Parents: School drop off and pick up, homework, sporting events and extracurricular activities can leave limited time for cooking. Rather than pull up to a drive thru on the way home, prepare something for the crock pot before you leave the house so you have a nice hot meal waiting for you when you get back.
- New Parents: New parents, this will be a lifesaver for you! It’s a big switch moving life to ‘baby time.’ It can be hard to even remember to eat meals, let alone make them. With a crock pot you can pick any fleeting moment you may have when your baby is sleeping to throw a few ingredients together, get it cooking, and leave it to work its magic until dinnertime.
So basically everyone needs a crock pot! And don’t forget to actually use it!
As soon as I saw this cookware set one day wandering through Kohls, I immediately fell in love. First of all, the set is beautiful, which is what initially caught my eye. Functionally, it is amazing. My former set was a cheap, non-stick set that, despite it’s claims, sticks to everything and was beginning to show its age.
Did I technically need a new cookware set? No, but this set looked too good to be true so I added it to my Christmas list and kicked my old set to the curb.
Here’s what I love about the Calphalon Ceramic Cookware Set:
- Truly non stick. The ceramic surface works so well, no cooking spray or oil is necessary and the food literally slides right out of the pan.
- Ceramic cooks much more evenly and efficiently
- The LIDS! Let’s talk about the lids, friends. This is what really sealed the deal for me. The lids all have built-in strainers along the lips. And the pots all have a notch for pouring; perfect to pour your liquids out through your lid. For a lazy momma like me, these are IDEAL. No strainer required which equates to one less dish in the sink!
- Oven safe up to 450 degrees, and really, when do you ever need to cook above 450 degrees???
- The set includes everything you need. I have come across many ‘sets’ that don’t include all of the basics, which leads to expensive add-on purchases.
As a rookie chef, I have learned to truly appreciate a good cookware set, and this one should be on the top of your list!
Odds and Ends… Little gadgets I simply can’t live without!
- Berry bowl: I found this little gem on Amazon. It is a bowl with a separate strainer that fits right inside of the bowl. You can rinse your berries, keep them right in the strainer and into the bowl without having a soggy bowl of fruit on the bottom. As a self-proclaimed fruit addict, I must say I LOVE this bowl!!!
- Avocado slicer: I love avocados, but tend to steer away from them in the grocery store because they are seriously such a pain to cut! Without fail, whenever I try to cut one open, I end up with a handful of mashed avocado. OXO brand makes an excellent avocado slicer that cuts the skin, removes the pit, and slices up the fruit for you in a matter of seconds.
- Vegetable Spiralizer: There are many variations of this product on the market. I actually got one through a school fundraising brochure. Whichever one you choose, they are all similar in their technique and usage. You can turn virtually any vegetable into beautiful spirally ‘noodles.’
These items are just a few of my favorite, go-to kitchen gadgets, but the list continues to grow everyday! We all spend so much time and effort in the kitchen; hopefully you will find that some of these make your kitchen duties more enjoyable, or at least a bit easier. As a novice chef, I would love to hear from all of you about some of your favorite kitchen items!