Category Archives: Organization and Cleaning

Automatic Ice Cream Maker

My FAVORITE kitchen appliance - an automatic ice cream maker. Why I like it and tips for using the machine. You are going to want one of these!

An electric counter top ice cream maker was on my wish list and my in-laws had an old version at their house that never got used. They said we could have it. I jumped on it and has it been put to good use!

This is one of my all time favorite kitchen appliances. (It made the list of my favorite kitchen appliances.) No, I’m not exaggerating. Yes, I might be slightly ice cream obsessed but I think my obsession also makes my family happy.

We purchased ice cream every once in a while but not as often as I would have liked because of budget and health reasons. This amazing little gadget takes care of both of those issues. I can make it as healthy as I’d like (and even if I make it with sugar, it’s way better than the stuff at the store) for much cheaper.

My FAVORITE kitchen appliance - an automatic ice cream maker. Why I like it and tips for using the machine. You are going to want one of these!

4 Reasons I Love My Automatic Ice Cream Maker

No ice and salt necessary

We had an electric ice cream maker which we used every once in a while. It was a pain to remember to buy or make ice and have the salt on hand. Now, I  just dump my ice cream mixture into the frozen bowl and am ready to go.

No Unnecessary Ingredients

Vanilla: MILK, CREAM, SUGAR, SKIM MILK, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, CORN SYRUP, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL VANILLA FLAVOR, CELLULOSE GUM, VEGETABLE GUMS (GUAR, CARRAGEENAN, CAROB BEAN), SALT, ANNATTO COLOR.

Strawberry: INGREDIENTS: Fresh Grade ‘A’ whole milk, strawberries, sugar, cream, corn syrup, modified corn starch, natural strawberry flavor, stabilizer blend (monoglycerides, cellulose gel, cellulose gum, carrageenan), artificial colors red 3, yellow 6, blue 1.

Have you ever looked at the ingredients on the ice cream carton from the store? The majority have a dozen ingredients or more. Most of them being processed ones that aren’t good for you. When you make it at home, you know exactly what goes in it. Cream or coconut milk, sweetener, flavoring, maybe eggs and thickener.

Customizable

You can make frozen yogurt, sorbet, or ice cream with whatever flavors and add ins you like! You aren’t stuck making a gallon of one kind like you do in a rock and salt machine. Here you can do 2 quarts or even less. You also aren’t stuck to the flavors found in the store.

Price

So yes, you can buy a half gallon of the cheapest (and not very good tasting) ice cream for $2.50, the middle of the road product is $4 for a half gallon (on sale) and when you get to the good stuff with real ingredients you are going to be spending $3-$4 a pint! With this amazing machine, you can make it for a fraction of the cost. 

Tips for using your Ice Cream Maker

1. If you have space, keep the freezer bowl in the freezer. This eliminates the need to plan the night before and you can satisfy a last minute craving or feed drop in guests in no time.

2. If you cook your ice cream base or are using room temperature products (canned coconut milk), refrigerate your ice cream base until completely chilled. This is a must. You will end up with a much thicker and creamier treat.

3. If you have a large family and are worried that 2 quarts of ice cream won’t be enough, buy a second freezer bowl! You can make two different types that way and be able to please everyone (or most everyone).

Do you have any ice cream makers? How often do they get used?

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My Favorite Kitchen Appliances

Today I have my list of the kitchen appliances that I use the most. One of my favorite kitchen appliances might surprise you. I’d probably even consider it my favorite of the favorites. It’s the last one on the list below.

Don’t forget to check out my list of kitchen essentials and the other of my favorite kitchen tools. Between these three lists, your kitchen would be equipped to handle anything.

Great ideas for a registry or stocking your kitchen | A list of my favorite kitchen appliances. The last one might surprise you - I LOVE it!

Mini Food Chopper

One that holds 2-3 cups is an ideal size. I use this all the time for small amounts of hummus, salsa, and other items that need pureed.

Blender

Our blender gets used all of the time for large batches of salsa and hummus, making oat flour and smoothies. (When making smoothies fill the blender up and freeze the extras in individual cups.) A Blendtec or Vitamix is on my wish list but in the meantime I have a Ninja Master Prep. It doesn’t get oat flour as fine as I’d like or some fruits at smooth but it gets the job done. The nice thing about it, is that it comes with a 2 cup jar as well. I’m curious as to how the Ninja Professional Blender are. What kind-of blender to you have?

Mixer

I love my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer. I make rolls, breadsticks, naan and other breads and this makes it a breeze. Whipping up a large batch of butter cream icing is simple – you just let the machine do the work. No standing there holding electric hand beaters. Making double (or triple) batches of cookies won’t kill your arms. When I made bread I use 7-8 cups of whole wheat flour. If you are going to make batches of bread much bigger than that you are going to want to invest in a more heavy duty mixer. There’s no way this could have stood up to my mom’s 14 cups of grain bread making every week!

Hand Mixer

This would be a maybe essential. If you whip egg whites or heavy cream you’ll want this. (Unless you want to give yourself an arm workout with a whisk). If you only make recipes that require beaten in large amounts, you could use the whisk attachment to your stand mixer. I never use this for making things like cookies. I always do them by hand or with the Kitchen Aid.

Slow Cooker

I use this for cooking beans and making yogurt way more than I do for making meals.. I have a 6 quart and a 1 1/2 quart but the smaller one seldom gets used.

Electric Griddle

This is depending on family size. If you have no or one or two kids, this would probably not be essential. If your family grows, this will speed up pancake, grilled cheese, bacon frying and quesadilla making tremendously.

Pressure Cooker

I don’t yet have a pressure cooker but my mom and sister do. You can have dry beans cooked in under 15-30 minutes from start to finish. Crazy. In fact, my mom told me she had beans that had soaked for just a few hours cooked in 8 minutes! It would be helpful for those days I forget to soak and cook my chick peas. My sister also uses her pressure cooker to quickly cook meat.

Rice Cooker

I wouldn’t consider this an essential just because you can cook rice on the stove top or in the oven. I’m including it, though, because I have one and use it every time I make rice. It makes the process brainless. Mine is a basic 6 cup one that came from Wal-Mart but there are some fancy ones available. A programmable rice cooker would be handy sometimes.

Automatic Ice Cream Maker

I’m saving my favorite for last. I know it might not seem like an essential but let me tell you, this thing is amazing! We use it all the time and it has eliminated our need to purchase ice cream from the store. It’s so easy and you don’t need any rock salt or ice. I’ll have a post coming this or next week going into more detail on this wonderful gadget.

What are you favorite kitchen appliances? Is there something that I need to add to my collection?

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Favorite Kitchen Tools

In my last post I shared my list of kitchen essentials and you can find my favorite kitchen appliances here. These are the things you will most likely want, even if you kitchen is tiny. Today that list is continued. All of these are essentials (the last three will be dependent on your cooking habits but I’ll go into more detail below) AND my favorite kitchen tools. I use these items week in and week out and often times day in and day out.

My Favorite Kitchen Tools! You will want to make sure you have these in your kitchen: cheese plane, rubber spatula, good pots and pans and more! Great ideas for my kitchen or a wedding registry.

Good Pots and Pans

We recently upgraded our pans to a stainless steel Calphalon set from Bed Bath and Beyond. I love them. They can also go in the oven (with the lids) up to 450 degrees. My set has 8 pans and pots plus lids.

If you don’t cook a lot or are limited on space, I’d recommend an 8 and 10 inch skillet, 1.5 quart sauce pan, 3 quart sauté pan, and a 6 or 8 quart stockpot depending on your family size or if you’ll be cooking for groups. You can always add more later, but if you have limited cabinet space, these are the essentials. If you get a non stick pan, get an 8 or 10 inch skillet.

I recommend buying good quality cookware. You are going to have these things for a long time so you want to love them. Cheaper pans tend to warp and not cook evenly. When we were shopping, our top brands we considered were the higher tiered Calphalon products and All Clad.

Rubber Spatula

I have the classic scraper from Pampered Chef and love them. Would recommend having two. (Don’t tell but I actually have three and there are times when they are all dirty at once!) Don’t buy the cheap ones. They will fall apart way easier and not work nearly as well. I use them for cooking, baking, and scraping.

Kitchen Tongs

Buy the ones that lock (by pulling up the head not with the sliding ring)! These are great for flipping meat on the skillet, serving salad, removing corn on the cob from hot water and so much more. I have this one from OXO.

Kitchen Shears

Love using kitchen shears. Perfect for snipping fresh herbs, green onions, or chives. They are also used weekly to cut my daughters pizza into bite sized pizza. You can use a pair for cutting meat into chunks and another for slicing your homemade cinnamon rolls to put in a pan.

Mini Cutting Board

This gets used all the time in our home. It’s perfect for a small job – cutting an apple or grapefruit in half, rough chopping a small amount of veggies, mincing just a clove or two of garlic. I love how little space it takes up. Great size to put in the cooler or slide under a car seat to take on a road trip.

Cheese Plane

The cheese planes for hard and semi hard cheeses are awesome! You can slice cheese in a perfect thickness. No more overly thick slices of cheese for sandwiches, grilled cheese, or crackers. A block of cheese will go much further. This gadget might just save you money.

Flat Risotto Spoon/Saute Paddle

This wooden spoon is perfect for sauteing, browning meat,  and stirring anything you are cooking. The flat edge helps scrape the bottom of the pan much better than a spoon.

Good Knives

These are something I don’t have yet. You don’t need a block of knives. Instead get fewer but better quality knives. This is something I’d do over again if I could. We registered for a knife block when we got married and they are all very dull. I can’t wait to purchase new ones. I would buy 2 Chef’s knives, a paring knife, and a bread knife to start. Do you have a favorite knife brand to share?

Mini Serving Spatula

These are the perfect size to serve any dessert made in a pan. We use it all the time for sweets and main dishes. When mine broke a few years ago it was something that I immediately replaced.

Pancake Turner Spatula

This gets used for pancakes, quesadillas, grilled cheese and other such items in our house. When you get stainless steel or silicone or nylon will depend on if you use non stick surfaces to cook your pancakes on.

Pizza Stone

If you make homemade pizza, this is a must have! I have two and they make the best pizza crusts. Well worth the investment. I have the large round stone from Pampered Chef but you can find them many places.

Salad Spinner

This in an item I’d say depends on your salad eating habits. If you make large quantities of salad, you are going to want this. It makes ensuring your lettuce is not dripping water anymore so much easier. I prepare a large quantity of lettuce for us to use for salads during the week every Sunday and this makes it a breeze. My spinner is one of the push knob kinds.

Microplane

Use this to add garlic, ginger, or nutmeg to a dish. It’s also perfect for zesting citrus fruit. If you don’t do a lot of cooking with fresh garlic or nutmeg you can skip tool and simply mince it with a knife and cutting board.

If you add these 13 tools to the list of kitchen essentials and favorite kitchen appliances, you’d have a pretty stocked kitchen! What are your favorite kitchen tools?

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Kitchen Essentials

How do you know what to purchase for your kitchen when you are first starting out? How do you know if a kitchen gadget is really worth buying and taking up space in your kitchen?

Kitchen Essentials! The list of must haves for every kitchen. Great for making wedding registries or updating your own kitchen!

When my husband I were first married we lived in a duplex with a small kitchen. I had no pantry to store excess tools and appliances. My sister just got engaged and will most likely be living in a small apartment. I thought I’d give her a list of kitchen essentials, favorite tools (most of which are also essentials), and my favorite appliances to help her as she comes up with her own wedding registry and makes plans for her own home.

After being married over 7 years, these are the kitchen tools I would replace immediately if my kitchen were destroyed. Most of the others that are taking up space in my kitchen I wouldn’t even miss.

You can find the list of my Favorite Kitchen Tools here which also has a few essential items on it and my Favorite Kitchen Appliances as a few more items you might want to purchase!

Kitchen Essentials

The items from my favorite kitchen tools list and favorite kitchen appliances list (coming the the next few days) and the following:

Vegetable Peeler – Don’t get the cheapest one out there. They hurt your hand and break much sooner.

Box Cheese Grater – I don’t buy grated cheese so I use this any time I need grated cheese. I also use it to grate carrots for egg rolls, fried rice, etc.

Soup Ladle – There not another great option for dishing up broth-y soups.

Slotted Spoon

Non Slotted Spoon

Can Opener – Buy a decent can opener. They cheap ones are a pain. I have this one. My sister has this one and says it is amazing.

Pizza Cutter –  I have a pizza wheel with a handle. I’ve had super cheap ones and the one we have now is middle of the road. It definitely cuts much easier.

Colander – I have a smaller mesh one and a larger pasta one

Cutting Boards – I recommend two large ones and the small size I have on my favorite kitchen tools list. I’m needing to replace mine, so I don’t have specific recommendations for these.

Food Storage Containers – I love my Pyrex set! The perk of having glass is that you can use them in the microwave and they can double as food prep dishes. I also have a set of decent plastic ones that I like. I’ve found that having some mini containers (4 and 8 ounces) has been really useful!

Possible Kitchen Essentials:

Potato Masher – If you make mashed potatoes or a lot of your own refried beans, this becomes an essential! If not, try without one for a while. I have one of the ones with holes in the masher part but I could see how the ones with the wavy metal base would be easier to clean. Haven’t tried that kind though.

Pasta Fork – This is only an essential if you use spaghetti or fettuccine noodles. If you use elbow, penne etc you could just use the slotted or unslotted spoons.

Whisk – If you aren’t sure if you’d use it, do without. You can purchase one later.

Ice Cream Scoop – This is an essential in our home. If you don’t eat ice cream frequently you can use a sturdy regular spoon. My favorite scoop came from Bed Bath and Beyond but they no longer sell it.

Baking Kitchen Essentials

Items from my favorite kitchen tools list and my favorite kitchen appliances lists and the following:

Airbake Cookie Sheets – Love these! Perfect for cookies, rolls, breadsticks. Get the lighter colored ones.

Cooling Racks I think this one looks nice. If you are short on counter top space, check out the stackable ones.

Mini Muffin Tins – This is the pan I have. I prefer having 2 12 cup pans over 1 24. I recommend mini over regular sized ones because they make the perfect sized muffins for kids and when you bring muffins or cupcakes to a function a lot of the time people won’t finish an entire regular sized one and it always makes me a little sad when food I’ve made gets tossed. They are also great size for appetizers

9×13 and 8 or 9 Inch Square Pan – I use these all the time. I actually have 2 of each. Unless you know you’ll be using them a lots start with one of each. All of mine are glass (Pyrex) but you might consider getting one set in glass and one in metal. The metal ones are great for taking places – no worrying about breakage! I also recommend that you buy the ones that come with lids.

Measuring Spoons – If you are going to cook or bake at all you’ll want a set, maybe even two. Don’t buy a cheap set. I recommend metal over plastic and prefer a set that included 1/8 of a teaspoon.

Measuring Cups – The same as the spoons. These are essentials. If you are a baker, you might want two. Don’t buy a cheap set. I have had plastics ones, and they have accidentally been melted. I also have a cheap set of stainless steel ones and the handles are falling off less than a year later (they just happen to be the first set that currently appears on this link).

Liquid Measuring Cups – I have a set that comes with a 1, 2, and 4 cup. The ones that that are angled and you can read standing up make things a little easier but I haven’t seen them in glass. A basic set is fine, no need to spend extra on this.

Glass and Metal Mixing Bowls – Get a variety of sizes. Our largest one gets used for tossing big batches of popcorn with butter or making pancakes for a herd. The middle sized one is great for cookies and muffins. The small ones are good for whisking an egg or two. One of my metal bowls nestles perfectly into a saucepan for a double boiler.

Possible Baking Essentials:

Pie Pan – You  may or may not want this depending on how many pies you want. It can also fill in for a cheesecake pan like in this recipe.

Jelly Roll Pan – We use this for oven fries or roasting veggies. Mine is an old uncoated one.

Pastry Brush – If you don’t do much baking, you won’t need this. Most often ours gets used for brushing the butter on top of breadsticks. I use one with natural bristles. If you get a cheap one, the bristles fall out way sooner so be sure to read reviews and don’t by the cheap ones. Some people love the silicone brushes.

Rolling Pin –  I have a traditional rolling pin and a pizza and pastry roller that I love! Do you make pizza, sugar roll out cookies, or tortillas? Then this will be a must. If not try without and on the rare occasion you need a rolling pin try using a bottle.

Bread Pan – This is an essential if you are going to make homemade bread. Otherwise you can just use the muffin tins for quick breads. If you really want bread pans for quick breads I love this size. Otherwise I use stainless steel bread pans for my yeast bread.

Other Kitchen Items:

Silverware – In my opinion there is no need to buy silverware that is $50 a setting. One the other had, don’t buy the the cheap stuff. It bends easily, tarnishes, and hurts your hand. We purchased a middle of the road set that we really liked from Bed Bath and Beyond. Using one of their 20% off coupons made it a great purchase. A service for 12 cost under $200.

Dinnerware – Fine china was something that I didn’t want. When you are in a small house you most likely won’t have space for storing plates that seldom get used. I love corelle. They are thin and won’t take up a lot of space in the cabinet.

Glasses – If you are limited on space, make sure your glasses will stack otherwise they will take up a lot of space. Our came from Ikea and they work great. Next time we’ll most likely purchase something a tiny bit thinner.

Hot Pads and Trivets – One or two trivets would be plenty. Hot pads or kitchen towels could always fill in on the occasion you need more. You will want at least 2 hot pads.

Wash Clothes and Dish Towels – Enough to get you through to the next wash day. I dislike drying my dishes with the cheap microfiber towels. Look for something that will absorb the water easily.

Don’t for forget that  I would also include most of the items on my Favorite Kitchen Tools List and several on my Favorite Appliances List as essentials in my kitchen so be sure to check them out as well! (You’ll also get to hear about my all time favorite appliance. You might be surprised)

What are some of your favorite kitchen tools?

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5 Minute Pick Up

It’s easy enough for two adults to have piles of belongings out that need put away. Then when you add kids to the mix, there is always something not where it belongs. Most of the time, there are a lot of somethings not where they belong.

Everywhere I look, I see toys, paper, coloring stuff, mail, laundry and on and on. It stresses me out and puts me on edge. The blanket that our daughter has to have to go to sleep is harder to find. Even when you don’t have a ton of toys, goodness, can they ever get spread out.

The 5 minute pick up is a quick, easy, and painless way to keep mass amounts of stuff from being strewn around your house. 5 minutes, seriously! Who doesn’t have time for that?

5 Minute Pick Up - a simple way to keep toys and clutter from taking over your house. We love doing this after supper each night.

 

Each night after the supper dishes are done, we set the timer for 5 minutes and have at it. Mom, Dad, and the 3 year old. With a little direction and finding things for her to put away, our daughter is more than capable of cleaning for 5 minutes. Little brother just crawls around and wonders what is going on. In a few months, when he’s able to follow basic commands, he’ll be able to participate by placing his ball in the toy box.

You’d be surprised what a difference just 5 minutes can make. Things can go from looking like a tornado has gone through to being relatively put together. Depending on how messy your house gets during the day, you might want to make a few 5 minute pick ups a part of your routine: once before lunch, once in the afternoon, and once after dinner. On a night our house is especially destroyed, we’ve been known to have a 10 minute pick up. Do what works best for your family.

It’s way more relaxing to go to bed not worrying that you might trip and fall when you are up with the kids in the middle of night and knowing that you don’t have a disaster to tackle in the morning because it’s already taken care of!

What do you do to try and keep the toys and clutter picked up in your house?

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