Well, we’re all in quarantine and I’ve seen so many friends, family, and social media acquaintances dust off their chef hats — and even some put them on for the first time — to cook amazing meals for themselves and their families. I love to dine out, but even before the quarantine, there was nothing better than cooking a meal at home. I’m one of those people that likes to get super fancy and even takes special care of plating the dish after it’s done. So, to my delight, more and more of you have started fine tuning your culinary skills! My hope is that this new shift in cooking sticks around! It’s more fulfilling to cook (FOOD IS LOVE) and it’s healthier too.

I sat down to think about what things in my kitchen I absolutely love and how they elevate my passion for cooking. Somethings are old school and some are new school, but I have a good mix of gadgets and appliances that really help my cooking shine. So, I picked 10 can’t-live-without items that may help you continue your journey in home cooking.

  1. Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer – This is the holy grail. Expensive? Yes. Worth it? HECK YES! It’s what every baker needs, but also, did you know you can shred chicken in it? Yup! Just boil the chicken, us the whisk attachment and VOILA! No burned finger tips or sore wrists from using forks. These days, you can purchase so many other attachments for it as well — pasta, sausage, ice cream! It’s definitely not just for bread and batters any more.
  2. Le Creuset Dutch Oven – Honestly, I have an obsession with all Le Creuset cookware. The results you get are unparalleled to any other pot and pan I’ve owned. They are ceramic coated cast iron making them a bit heavy, but they clean easily — even if you burn food — get super hot, which speeds up the process of cooking things like lentils and dried beans, and they come in all sizes, shapes and colors. The dutch oven is a staple and be used to cook just about anything from pasta to stews to shellfish.
  3. Cuisinart Immersion Blender – Gone are the days that you have to pour boiling hot liquid into a stand blender to puree it. The immersion blender is a staple in my kitchen for making everything from mashed potatoes to creamy soups to vegetable purees. Simply stick it in the pot, turn it on, move it around and VOILA! Blended without a mess. I also find it much easier to clean than a normal blender.
  4. Cast Iron Frying Pan – It’s the perfect pan for all your searing, charring, crisping needs. They are great for stove top and can withstand the heat of the oven. I love using it for fish, but you can also pop these bad boys in the oven to make things like shepherd’s pie and casseroles.
  5. Cooking Thermometer – Ever have a recipe say that the oil needs to be a certain temperature or a liquid needs to cool to a certain temperature before doing the next step? These instant read thermometers are a must have, especially for all you cooks that like to fry things up. Take the guessing out and your food will turn out much better!
  6. Hand Juicer – Ok, this is one of the old school things for sure, but there is a method to my madness. Electric juicers are notoriously a pain in the butt to clean, so when you only need a little juice liquid it’s a waste to have to clean an electric one afterwards. Cut your lemons, limes, oranges (whatever it is) and put in a little elbow grease. The ones with the measuring cup are perfect! You’ll know when you have enough.
  7. Food Processor – Finely chop or completely pulverize. Depending on the recipe, you may need different results, so I love to have a food processor on hand. Have whole walnuts and need pieces? Toss them in? Want to make you’re own peanut butter? You can do that too? Need to turn graham crackers into powder? BAM!
  8. Veggie Spiralizer – Ok, maybe it’s not a need for every happy kitchen, but it does bring happiness to many. It’s perfect for making pasta alternatives that are pretty to look at. Maybe it’s what you need to get more veggies into your diet. (Wink!)
  9. Grill Pan – Put this bad boy over two burners and you no longer have to brave the snow to have grill lines on your meat during the winter. Let’s face it, we don’t always want to schlep outside with food even in the summer, so bring the grill into you! Also works great on vegetables. (I just really want y’all to eat more veggies)
  10. Garlic Press – This little baby saves so much time and energy. Maybe you’re not the best at chopping garlic or maybe you are and don’t have the patience. Peel the garlic, put it in the garlic press and boom! It comes out the other side with little effort. Most garlic presses turn it into more of a paste, but some have the option to slices as well. You just switch a little piece out!

What are some of your favorite kitchen gadgets and appliances? I’d love to hear from you!