Give the Gift of Cooking this Holiday Season: 10 Kitchen Gadgets for Everyday Cooking and Baking

Recipe book with ingredients around

Cooking and baking with the right tools can help make for a fun, healthy, and delicious holiday season! When you find the right gadgets to use in the kitchen it can make cooking not only more enjoyable but also more efficient. We all know we could benefit from a little efficiency during the holiday season. So, consider these 10 tools as you do your holiday shopping, whether treating yourself or buying as a gift.

Zester1. Zester – Perhaps the most common use of a zester is for zesting citrus fruits. However, a zester is also good for releasing bursts of flavor from garlic, ginger, cinnamon sticks, or nutmeg. A zester with a nice wide base can help make zesting faster and easier.

Paddle Grater2. Paddle Grater – A paddle grater comes in handy for grating cheese or chocolate, whether it be for topping (think cheese for salads and soups and chocolate for cakes and ice-cream) or for melting (think nachos, cheese or chocolate fondue, or chocolate ganache). Most paddle graters work best for medium to hard cheeses. A paddle grater is much handier than a box grater for grating directly on to a prepared food or directly into a bowl or pot.

Citrus Juicer3. Citrus Juicer – Using a citrus press or juicer allows you to get more juice from your fruit than when hand squeezing. Lemon, lime, and orange juice adds great refreshing flavor to a salad dressing. Making your own salad dressing is often much healthier than store-bought varieties, which often contain high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, artificial colors, and preservatives. For a delicious and simple dressing, whisk 2 parts oil, 1 part fresh lemon juice, a bit of Dijon mustard to taste, salt to taste, and freshly ground black pepper. For easy mixing, add all these ingredients to a small jar with a tight fitting lid and shake vigorously. Store remaining dressing in the fridge.

Garlic Press4. Garlic Press – In addition to adding amazing flavor to many dishes, garlic also reduces the need for salt, which is a good thing for those who need to watch their sodium intake. If you ever tried finely mincing garlic, you know it can be quite tedious and tricky trying to chop those small little cloves into tiny, tiny pieces. When garlic is crushed with a garlic press, not only does it release more flavor, but there is also a greater release of the phytonutrients found in garlic, making them more available for our bodies to use.

Knife Sharpener5. Knife Sharpener – Cutting with a dull knife is not only frustrating but also dangerous. When a knife is dull, it is more likely to slip on the food increasing the risk for cutting yourself. A dull knife is also more likely to tear up your food rather than cut it nicely. Using a sharpened knife makes for safer, easier, and more efficient cutting. Knife sharpeners come in many varieties from simple sharpening stones/steels to electric sharpeners. Watch this short video explaining the difference between sharpening and honing your knife. http://www.wusthof.com/care-and-sharpening/using-a-steel

Immersion Blender6. Immersion Blender – Have you ever used one of these? They are great! No more transferring soup from pot, to blender, and back to pot.  Using an immersion blender allows you to blend a soup or other food right in the pot or dish that it was prepared, reducing extra dishes and mess. Controlling the amount of blending you want done is also easier with an immersion blender. Immersion blenders can be used for soups, salsas, sauces, dressings, and more!

Salad Spinner7. Salad Spinner – Once you use a salad spinner, you will never go back. This may be the easiest and most effective way to clean (and dry) leafy greens of all kinds. Add your greens to the spinner basket, insert into the spinner bowl and fill with water. Swish around greens to clean, empty water, and spin. Voila! Making it this easy will make you want to add greens to all your meals, which is a good thing, because leafy greens are a nutrition powerhouse!

Silicone Spatulas8. Silicone Spatulas – Melted spatula no more! Make your candies, cookies, cakes, and sauces this holiday using a silicone spatula instead of the old rubber spatula. Silicone withstands high heat, is naturally non-sticky, and is very durable, lasting a long time.  Silicon spatulas can be found with a wooden handle or can be made entirely of silicone, handle and all.

Chopping Board, Cutting Board, Colorful, Wood, Board9. 2 Cutting Boards – Having at least two cutting boards can be very handy, especially when they are two different colors. Having one designated for cutting ready-to-eat foods like bread, fruits, and veggies and a separate one that’s used for foods like meat and fish can help prevent cross contamination and foodborne illness. When the boards are two different colors, it makes it easier to remember which is for which.

Food Thermometer10. Food Thermometer – A food thermometer is a must to help ensure your food is safely cooked, while also preventing food from becoming overcooked. There are several types of food thermometers. Any type can be used as long as your thermometer measures the temperature range needed, is calibrated correctly, and is placed in the food appropriately. Food color changes alone cannot be used to test doneness, especially when cooking meats. For example, while cooking hamburgers, the middle can change from pink to brown before they have reached the safe internal temperature of 160°F. Place a thermometer in the thickest portion of the meat, not on the bone, and check it for reaching the safe minimum cooking temperature.

However you spend your holidays, enjoy treating yourself, family, and friends to a little something special from the kitchen. These gadgets just might have you begging to spend more time in your kitchen this holiday season, and the whole year through.