MY FAVORITE KITCHEN GADGETS - PAGE 2
6-CUP BUNDT PAN
This cute little bundt pan was another gift from my friend, Nancy. It's just the right size for the Pound Cake recipe. I was pleased with how easily the cake came out of the pan. Try searching for "NordicWare ProForm Non Stick Bundt Pan", otherwise you'll probably get the NordicWare heavy duty bundt pans, which are a bit more expensive. I found the one I have at these two sites: Fantes Kitchen Wares Shop and J&R.com for $11.00-12.00.
ONE TEASPOON COOKIE SCOOP
This tiny scoop works great for making evenly sized crackers and cookies. I use it for my Sesame Almond Crackers and Coconut Crisps. I found mine at Bering's Hardware store in Houston, but they are also available from Amazon for around $10.00-12.00 (see the link below). I also bought an Oxo Good Grips 2 teaspoon cookie scoop at Bed Bath & Beyond, but I haven't tried it yet. I thought it would be about the right size for making cocktail meatballs. Cookie Scoops
I found this new "toy" at Wal-Mart the other day. It's great for stirring foods in a nonstick skillet and you don't have to worry that the spatula will melt from the heat. It's so much easier to get under the food to stir it than with a thick wooden spoon. You can also dish out the food with it and then scrape out the pan with it when you're done. I liked this brand because of its narrow handle. Most of the more expesive ones have huge chunky handles that would take up a lot of valuable space in a utensil drawer or crock like I use to hold my utensils. The price was nice too at around $2.00. It's made by Good Cook. I wasn't able to find this brand online, but many grocery stores seem to sell Good Cook products.
I'd heard about Butter Bells and was curious to know if they really worked. They claim that you can keep your butter at room temperature for 30 days in one of their crocks and you will always have spreadable butter on hand. Well, I didn't really want to spend $25 for one, plus shipping, but the other day I happened to spot a similar crock made by Norpro and it was only $5.00 at Ross. For that price it was worth a try. So far, it seems to be working well despite the crazy weather we get in the winter here in Houston. It can be very warm one day and freezing the next. I haven't noticed any difference in the consistency of the butter on cold or warm days. The real test will be in the summer. Hopefully it won't turn to liquid in the heat. You can get the original Butter Bells at Amazon for around $20 or the Norpro Butter Keeper for $8.95 (see the link below). The instructions say to change the water in the butter keeper every three days. There was no way that I would remember when to change it so I decided that the easiest thing would be to just change it every day. Butter Bell
NONSTICK WOK SKILLET
I got this pan for Christmas and I love it. There's so much more room for tossing ingredients than with a standard skillet. I'd seen several other models in the store, but this was the largest at 7-quarts. They sell them at Wal-Mart for $19.99 or at Amazon for $26.00. Search for Nordic Ware 7 Quart Wok. One drawback is that the pan is very heavy, especially when it's full of food. That makes it a little tricky to dump the food out while holding it with one hand. I haven't figured out what the extra handle is for yet. UPDATE: Wal-Mart no longer carries this item. Nordic Ware 7 Quart Wok
This was another gadget that I had on my Christmas list. I like it because of the large, easy to squeeze handles. I had a smaller garlic press that took all of my strength just to press the garlic through and this one works so much easier and it also easier to clean. You can find this OXO Good Grips Garlic Press at either Bed Bath & Beyond or Amazon for $12.99. OXO Good Grips Garlic Press
A good friend gave me this for my birthday and I have to say that it works very well. So far I've only tried storing parsley in it but that bunch is still alive and well after more than a week. Usually fresh parsley will turn slimy after just a couple days in the vegetable bin of my fridge. One drawback is that it's very narrow. That's great for fitting it in the fridge but I was only able to fit about 1/3 of the bunch of parsley in it at one time. I froze the rest. I'd like to try storing green onions in it sometime. They don't mention them on the package, but they do say that you can store asparagus in it. The instructions also say that you can store your herbs on the kitchen counter, but I haven't been brave enough to try that yet. You can find these all over the internet.
UPDATE: That bunch of parsley stayed nice and fresh for about 3 weeks! I did try storing green onions in it and that worked very well too. I tried a brief experiment by keeping it out on the kitchen counter and that batch of parsely went bad very quickly. The instructions say to be careful not to pack the herbs in the keeper too tightly. However, if you don't, you'll hardly get enough in it to be worth the bother. So far I haven't had any problem filling it very full. Progressive Herb Keeper
DIGITAL KITCHEN SCALE
This was another birthday gift. It's something that I've wanted for quite a while but made do with my analog scales rather than spend the money. What I liked most about the Salter scale is that it takes up very little space. It can weigh in metric or imperial with a touch of a button. They sell Salter brand scales at Bed Bath & Beyond. This model was their least expensive scale and cost around $30. It's even cheaper if you've got one of Bed Bath & Beyond's 20% off coupons. They include a 9V battery with the scale but the one that came with mine was dead on arrival. You may have to spend another $4.00-$5.00 to get a good alkaline battery. Salter 2001 5-Pound Microtronic Kitchen Scale, White
GRAVY FAT SEPARATOR
This was a gift from my friend, Nancy. It works very nicely for separating the meat drippings from the fat to make gravy. Mine holds 4 cups of liquid and I think that OXO also makes a 2 cup separator. The little black "plunger" thing goes into the spout to keep liquid from going up into it until you're ready to pour off the drippings. There is a removeable strainer insert that goes into the top of the pitcher. It won't strain out fine bits but would work great to strain out chunks of vegetables, etc. You can find these at just about any store that sells OXO Good Grips products, such as Bed Bath & Beyond. OXO Good Grips 4-Cup Fat Separator
This is made by Nordic Ware and I found it for about $26.00 at Wal-Mart. What I like about it is the large 14-inch cooking surface. I can fit several hamburgers in it at one time. It's also deep enough to stir-fry a lot of food in without it going over the edge. Unfortunately it doesn't come with a lid but I found that the lid to my canning kettle is just about the right size.
TUPPERWARE FRIDGESMART CONTAINERS
I recently got to try out some FridgeSmart containers from Tupperware. They allow you to store fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs much longer than when stored in their original packaging, plastic bags or other plastic containers. I used the medium size container to store romaine lettuce hearts and it did a very good job of keeping it fresh for over a week. I could fit approximately two romaine hearts plus part of a third one in the container with the leaves separated. The containers are much larger than they look in the photo. I had celery in that container before that and it stayed fresh at least as long as when I use my usual trick of wrapping it in heavy foil. I also have the smaller square FridgeSmart container but haven't had a chance to try it yet. I think it will be the perfect size to store half a pound of fresh mushrooms. I'll post an update here once I've had a chance to try it. Click here to order FridgeSmart and other Tupperware products.
UPDATE: I finally tried storing 8 ounces of fresh mushrooms in the small container and they fit perfectly. I had them in the fridge for nearly a week and they were still fine. They weren't quite as fresh as when I bought them, but they hadn't turned slimy. Some of the stems were a little questionable but the caps were fine.
I found this Black & Decker Toast-R-Oven at Wal-Mart a couple months ago and it's the best toaster oven I've ever had. I paid $39.96 for it which is very reasonable considering that it's going for $69.99 at Amazon for what appears to be the same model. This oven is a little bit bigger than any previous ones that I've owned but it doesn't take up that much more counter space for its size. What's really nice is that I can fit some of my larger casserole dishes and baking pans in it and it does a very good job of baking. I do have to set the temperature about 25 degrees lower because it bakes very fast. I've also used it to broil fish with great success. Using this small oven helps keep the kitchen cool in the summer and uses a lot less electricity than my big oven. As a bonus, my husband says that it also makes pretty good toast!
UPDATE: The price has come down considerably at Amazon. It's now $39.57 which is cheaper than I got mine at Wal-Mart.
I received my NuWave oven as a gift a few weeks ago so I haven't used it all that much yet. So far I've had good luck making hamburgers in it and a very nice egg dish. I got the same digital model that's in the photo but there is also an analog version available without the extender kit. Mine came with a little low carb cookbook, which is where I found the egg recipe. For more information about the NuWave oven, visit this site. There is also a long thread about the NuWave oven with lots of tips and recipe ideas at Jimmy Moore's Low Carb Discussion Forum. Also, Val has opened a forum just for posting Nuwave oven recipes and tips here. NuWave Oven Pro
MASTERCOOK RECIPE SOFTWARE
I can't believe that I didn't think to add this to the list a long time ago because I've been using this program for years. I mainly use MasterCook to analyze my recipes to get the nutritional counts but it can do so much more than that. You can store your recipes, along with photos, create cookbooks, shopping lists, import recipes that you find online and more. There are only subtle differences between the different versions so you may want to just look for a good deal on an older version. Don't bother getting the low carb version, unless it's a good price, because the recipes aren't really low carb.
OXO RUBBER SPATULA
After years and years of use, my favorite old Rubbermaid spatulas, like the one on the left with the blue handle, are falling apart. They had nice long handles and thin, flexible rubber blades that worked great. For some reason Rubbermaid has stopped making them and until recently I saw nothing in the stores that was even close to the same design. Most other brands of spatulas are either too thick or the rubber blade is too stiff to be of any use. While shopping with a Bed Bath & Beyond gift card recently I found these Oxo Good Grips Silicone Jar Spatulas (with the black handle) that are almost as nice as the Rubbermaid ones. The handles are a bit longer, which isn't a bad thing. One drawback is that the bottom part of the handle is a bit thick which takes up more room in the utensil crock that I keep on my kitchen counter. The only other drawback is the price. Just one of them cost me $5.99 but I think that they will last longer than the Rubbermaid ones and the blades are heatproof which is a bonus.
I also used my Bed Bath & Beyond gift card to buy this Grill Wok. I've used it twice now and it works great as long as you preheat it on the grill over the highest flame for at least 15-20 minutes before putting in the food. It needs to be screaming hot and the food should be at room temperature or the food just sort of steams. The first time I used it to cook Bulkogi and the second time I used it to grill some bell peppers and onions to use on fajitas. The vegetables tasted wonderful grilled and I'll always cook them this way from now on. The wok is quite large and easily held four sliced bell peppers and a large onion.
CAST IRON DUTCH OVEN
I received this very nice pot as a gift. Mine is 5 1/2 quarts which is a good size for my needs. It's perfect for making my friend's Beef Stroganoff recipe which starts out on the stovetop and then goes into the oven. Le Creuset Round French Oven
THE OVE GLOVE
I made some baked custard and needed to find a way to remove the hot custard cups from the water bath without burning my hands and remembered that someone had given me an Ove Glove last Christmas. It was just the thing for the job. I was able to pick up the cups with my fingers and the non-slip coating kept the cups from slipping out of my hand.
I've had this gadget since 2006 but I've been hesistant to post it here. I had very little luck getting it to work well and stuck it in the back of the cupboard until the other day. After finding some video tutorials online, I gave it another go. I had better luck this time but it's still a little quirky. I got really nice "angel hair pasta" out of a zucchini. I could even twirl it around my fork. However, certain parts of the zucchini still give me poor results with the slicer so I guess that the trick is to buy extra zucchini knowing that there will probably be some wasted. One medium size zucchini makes one good-size serving. My favorite way to prepare this "pasta" is to pan-fry it in butter with some garlic salt. The key is to cook it in a skillet over the highest heat. This will evaporate most of the liquid before the zucchini becomes over cooked. Just make sure that you stir it very often to keep it moving around in the pan. I tossed mine with tongs. I think that the texture is perfect this way and it still has a slight crunch (al dente?). After cooking it, I sprinkle it with a little parmesan cheese. You can order the spiral slicer from Amazon for $13.99.
FARBERWARE MINI FOOD CHOPPER
A couple weeks ago I bought myself a little birthday present for around $5.00 at Walmart. It's a mini version of a standard size food chopper. I bought it mainly to chop garlic and it does a very nice job of it. The base is just the right size to hold about 3-4 cloves. I couldn't find this chopper anywhere online so maybe it's made just for Walmart stores. However, it's not on the Walmart website either as of the last time I checked. I found it where they sell the kitchen gadgets in the store.
SILICONE MINI CUPCAKE LINERS
I found these at World Market and couldn't resist buying them. A set of 12 was only $2.50. I used them to make a batch of my Coconut Chocolate Bar. I might go back and get a set of 6 of the regular size cupcake liners. I think they might work for making microwave muffins and that sort of thing. They sell quite a variety of these on Amazon.
This is a gadget that I've wanted for quite some time but upward of $14.00 was more than I wanted to spend. The only places I'd seen them locally were at Bed Bath & Beyond and expensive kitchen stores. Finally, I spied them at Walmart recently for around $4.00. And, just after I bought mine, I saw them for slightly less at Kroger. They're available for oranges, lemons and limes (you can tell by the color which fruit they're meant to squeeze) but I've found that the yellow one works fine for all three if your oranges are small. This thing makes squeezing citrus juice so easy and effortless that you'll wonder why you ever bothered using anything else. No more tired wrist from using the old-fashioned twist-type reamers. One word of warning: Don't be tempted to buy the plastic version of one of these. They work only a couple of times before breaking. I bought a cheap plastic one once when that was the only kind that Walmart had. I've already used the metal one many times in the past few weeks and it's showing no signs of wearing out.
MICROWAVE EGG POACHERS
I splurged and spent a whole dollar on a set of two microwave egg poachers at Dollar Tree. I thought they'd be perfect for making microwave muffins and cakes. The cups are about the size of standard muffins or cupcakes. This morning I made the batter for a Minute Orange Cake but divided the batter between three of the cups. The cooking time was still about the same as for making one cake and they popped out of the cups very easily by inverting the poacher over a plate.
WILTON WHOOPIE PIE PAN
I got mine for half price at Sur la Table on clearance but they've got them for $10.55 at Amazon. It's handy for making smaller size rolls and buns. What's really nice is that it's actually nonstick unlike a lot of bakeware that claims to be. I baked some little rolls in it and didn't even bother greasing the pan first. The rolls popped right out.
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