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10 Final Gift Ideas: My Kitchen Essentials

We’re winding down the last few days before Christmas, and I know a lot of people who have yet to start their shopping. The holiday seemed to creep up this year, didn’t it? Well, if you’re in that bunch and are looking for some last-minute ideas, you still have time to take advantage of ground shipping before Christmas Eve (December 21st seems to be the most common cutoff for online retailers I’ve visited). Or, maybe you got an end-of-year bonus and want to treat yourself to something shiny and new (kudos to you!). As my final installment of gift ideas, I wanted to share with you the 10 things that I consider absolutely essential in my kitchen. They are things that I use week in and week out (and a lot of them multiple times a day!) and would take to a desert island with me. Enjoy browsing!

1. KitchenAid Professional 6-Quart Stand Mixer

Needless to say, this is my workhorse. It mixes huge amounts of dough and batter without blinking an eye. Case in point: a tripled pizzelle recipe that includes 18 eggs, 10½ cups of flour, 3 cups of butter, 4½ cups of sugar. No problem. I could not function without my KitchenAid.

2. Cuisinart 11-Cup Food Processor

This comes a close second to my mixer in terms of how often it’s used. I make so many different things in it – pizza dough, pie crust, hummus, pureed soups, etc. I use it to grind nuts for nutrolls , shred cheese in a split second, and so many other things. It’s absolutely my #1A in terms of kitchen equipment.

3. Baking Stone

I adore homemade pizza and this baking stone makes the crust everything I’ve always wanted in a homemade pizza. I also reheat things like leftover pizza, French fries, rolls, etc. on it. It’s also perfect for baking artisan breads.

4. Super Peel Pizza Peel

This goes hand in hand with the perfect baking stone above. One of the worst things in the world is trying to get a perfectly topped pizza from the counter to the oven in one piece. If you use a baking stone, you want to preheat in the oven so you can’t form the pizza on it and then put it in the oven. This peel has been flawless for me since I got it. I always dust it with semolina flour and my pizza slides perfectly onto the stone, creating an amazing crust.

5. Le Creuset 7¼-qt Dutch Oven

My dutch oven makes the majority of its appearances during the cooler months when I make large batches of soups, stews, chili, sauces, etc. But it’s certainly worth owning year-round and worth every bit of its price. I would love to add a smaller size to my collection.

6. Wire Cooling Racks

I have two of these and would love to get two more. The tight wire grid makes them perfect for cooling just about anything. Plus, they fit inside a half sheet pan (or on top of a regular cookie sheet), which is perfect if you want to make something like breaded baked chicken, or for the second bake of biscotti.

7. Oven Thermometer

I’ve talked a lot about oven thermometers, but I really don’t think I could function without one. I have never found an oven to be 100% accurate, and this helps me to ensure that the oven is at the exact right temperature throughout the baking process. They are very inexpensive and should be in all ovens. It can make a world of difference if your baked goods aren’t coming out quite right and you can’t figure out why.

8. Volume Measuring Kitchen Scale

I definitely use this on a daily basis; not only for baking but also for measuring my food. I try to eat healthy the majority of the time, so I will measure a serving of cereal, the weight of meat, etc. This scale is awesome because not only can you measure in ounces and grams, but you can also put in the code for dozens upon dozens of food and it converts it to cups or tablespoons for you.

9. America’s Test Kitchen: Cook’s Illustrated and Baking Illustrated

ATK is my #1 go-to resource for cooking and baking. It’s my first stop when I am looking for a new recipe, a specific technique, a review of a piece of kitchen equipment or ingredients. I subscribe to the magazine, to their online site, and own the book Baking Illustrated. I have yet to make a recipe of theirs that wasn’t absolutely fantastic and as a result, I highly recommend getting the magazine or investing in one of their books!

10. Digital Instant Read Thermometer

Much like the oven thermometer, this is a must for me. I use it for all sorts of things, including checking the doneness of roast chicken, the temperature of custard for ice cream, even the internal temperature of baked bread to make sure it’s done. A must-have for sure!

Some additional holiday gift guides:

5 Fabulous Foodie Gifts for Christmas 2010

30 Gift Ideas: Cookbooks & Kitchen Goodies

Homemade Food Gift Ideas

What are some of the items you consider your kitchen essentials?

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28 Responses to “10 Final Gift Ideas: My Kitchen Essentials”

  1. Amy @ Serve At Once on December 20, 2010 at 12:43 am

    That beautiful KitchenAid mixer is at the top of my “to-dream-the-impossible-dream” list, as I am forced to allocate my fund to more pressing needs. However, I have been hankering for a food scale for everyday living, and I think I might just take the plunge during after Christmas sales if I don’t get one…

    Question: how often is your oven temperature “off?”

    Reply

    • Michelle on February 16th, 2011 at 10:01 pm

      Amy – My oven always runs cooler than the temperature indicates, so that would be every time ;-) An oven thermometer is my absolute best friend in the kitchen!

      Reply

  2. Carlette on December 20, 2010 at 3:23 am

    oooooo I have always wanted a kitchen aid but theyre SO expensive….I consoled myself with my Kenwood Chef ;) And I was on a high the day I received it…I still lov her…she saved me from nights of back and shoulder ache from standing int he kitchen for 6hours using a hand held mixer!

    Kitchen Aid is still the alpha just because theyre so “tiny” and colourful and soo….whats the word…so chic! :) :)

    Reply

  3. notyet100 on December 20, 2010 at 5:33 am

    thanks for the awesome list

    Reply

  4. linda on December 20, 2010 at 5:57 am

    GREAT list.
    i think i could use a new, more substantial pizza stone…
    going to look into ATK subscription…
    wishing you a joyous new year & thanks for a wonderful year of posts!

    Reply

  5. Silvia on December 20, 2010 at 6:04 am

    Wonderful scales, the conversions are particularly useful, I was never that good at maths!

    Reply

  6. Katrina on December 20, 2010 at 6:37 am

    All of these are great gift ideas! Love them :)

    Reply

  7. Lynn Brown on December 20, 2010 at 7:23 am

    Thanks for the ideas, love new cookbook recommendations. I may have to reconsider my need for a food processor, it is an item I have lived without, maybe misunderstood :0) I guess I have always just made do in other ways, although I would have loved to have had one while crushing boxes of graham crackers for rum balls this year!!!

    Reply

  8. Tiffany @ Conor & Bella on December 20, 2010 at 7:44 am

    I want most of those things…except for the pizza stone since I already have one! And it is fab.

    Reply

  9. Tina from PA on December 20, 2010 at 9:09 am

    Great list ! I have most of the list, but I do want a dutch oven and a kitchen scale. I hope Santa is reading your blog today!

    Reply

  10. Barbara | Vino Luci Style on December 20, 2010 at 10:12 am

    Great list and includes a couple of ‘wants’ I have. My workhorse is a 25 year old KitchenAid and though I would love the larger size I can’t quite qualify a new 2nd one just now; a new camera took precedence this year.

    I just bought myself the same scale; I got tired of fiddling around with others and that chart you speak of…I didn’t even know that came with it. Makes me love it even more!

    Reply

  11. Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking on December 20, 2010 at 11:23 am

    I’ll take one of each, haha! Thanks for sharing these wonderful products, Michelle. If I could fit that amazing Le Creuset pot (which I know first-hand is just amazing) in my luggage for my sister in law, I would! :) Happy holidays to you and your family!

    Reply

  12. Tracy on December 20, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    Great gift ideas! These are definitely all essential in my kitchen…although I need to get in on that Cook’s Illustrated and Baking Illustrated action. :-)

    Reply

  13. Melanie on December 20, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    I can’t believe I don’t have any of those things! Maybe next year :)

    Reply

  14. foodlvr on December 20, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    Excellent list, but for those of us who already have those things (altho my Kitchenaid is not a 6 quart), what else do you suggest?

    Reply

  15. jean on December 20, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    I’m pondering buying a KitchenAid 6 quart mixer (they’re on sale right now on Amazon for half off!) and am starting my research of pro’s and con’s. Could you tell my why you love yours so much? No word limit either. :)

    Reply

    • Michelle on February 16th, 2011 at 10:02 pm

      After using the Artisan for 3.5 years, it was about to die (terrible smoking motor) every time I made bread dough. It seems that it just couldn’t handle that amount (or stiffness) of dough. The Pro works like a champ though and has been phenomenal!

      Reply

  16. Barry on December 20, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    Have you ever made Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread in your dutch oven? I’d highly recommend giving it a try…

    Reply

  17. Erica on December 20, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    I love my kitchen aid mixer and my le creuset dutch oven. I think they are part of my top five favorite things in my kitchen.

    Reply

  18. Penny Wolf on December 21, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    Great list! I have to add a gym membership to it in my case. Mother nature gets kind of mean to 50+ year old metabolisms that love to eat. How cruel :)

    Reply

  19. Sue on December 21, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    OK, so not to be the spoilsport….but ick snay on the kitchen-aid for me. I will be married 10 years in may. Within 2 years of getting my kitchenaid pro mixer as a wedding gift, it made a horrible clacking noise and leaked oil. Kitchen aid kindly replaced it, now at year 7 of my “new” kitchen aid’s life, the same pro model died again!!! I bake a lot. But not ridiculously so. My sister had the same problem with same model, and it turn out on the pro model after my sister spoke to the company, some of the parts are plastic internally and as such are not lasting well. I love love love it, but it had NOT lasted for me- I want at least 10 years out of it!! Does that make me cheap? I can live with that!

    Reply

  20. Amanda @ bakingwithoutabox on December 22, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    I always love your lists so I had to come see. Totally agree. What I do have I absolutely love in my kitchen. Baking Illustrated is on my wish list. Nice to know I picked a good egg.

    Reply

  21. Lynn @ I'll Have What She's Having on December 22, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    I love the cooking stone and pizza peel ideas!

    Reply

  22. Kate @ Diethood.com on December 22, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    These are spot on for anyone’s kitchen – I have 9 out of 10 – I need to purchase a Le Creuset Dutch Oven. Maybe my husband will see this post and buy it for me! ;-)

    Reply

  23. The Cilantropist on December 23, 2010 at 12:49 am

    I would love to get a professional stand mixer! Jealous! :)

    Reply

  24. Jessica on December 23, 2010 at 2:32 am

    Couldn’t agree more with the atk/ci! I love my online membership. When I tell my boyfriend I’m trying a new ci recipe, he says that no matter what he knows it’s going to be good lol

    Reply

  25. Shannon on December 24, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    I use all of these too…great list!

    Reply

  26. Elise Davidson on December 25, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    All of these are great gift ideas! Love them :)

    Reply

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