Running a gluten free kitchen is no easy task. As most of you know, I am in the kitchen a good part of my day, either preparing meals or designing new recipes, or stocking up on homemade essentials such as breads, breakfast foods and lunch snacks, as well as preparing a fresh, home cooked meal for my family for dinner. With a baby in the house, I really need to use my time in the kitchen efficiently. Who knows if she is going to sleep for one hour or three hours in the afternoon? That is why I would not be able to live without these 8 items in my kitchen. If you are looking for a Hanukkah gift for friends, family or that special someone, I would recommend these items for your kitchen. Happy Hanukkah!
1. Vitamix 5200-We bought our Vitamix 4 years ago at Costco. This machine gets used in my kitchen at least 2-3 times a day! I use it to make baby food, fruit smoothies for breakfast, protein shakes for after school, soups for dinner, and even homemade frappuccinos. You can find these blenders online for around $450. Once you own one, you will never go back to your old blender again!
2. My Kitchen Aid-I was very skeptical when deciding whether to buy a Kitchen Aid standing mixer. My other hand mixer worked fine and my breadmaker made great breads. But with a gift certificate I decided to splurge. At Macy’s, they are around $200. I do not know what I would do without it. I make all of my baked goods in the Kitchen Aid. I like that it has a powerful blade that can really mix the ingredients well and I don’t have to stand there holding the mixer the whole time. It is great for breads in that it really kneads the dough well. It comes with different attachments, for whisking, a dough blade for breads, and an all-purpose blade for other baked goods. The cleanup is a snap. My mixer saves me a lot of time in the kitchen.
3. Griddle by Oster-I personally cannot resist a sale. So when I went shopping at Kohl’s with my 30% off coupon and noticed that they had an Oster Griddle on sale, I couldn’t pass it up. And, with my coupon, it was quite a deal from the regular price of $70. As you know, I make all our breakfast foods from scratch, and the griddle has been such a blessing to own. I whip up a double batch of pancakes or crepes and I can make 8-10 at a time on the griddle. This is much faster than in a frying pan on the stove. When we have eggs on the weekends, it is nice to have the whole griddle to customize each order…eggs with cheese; without cheese, but with veggies; with almond cheese and veggies, etc. I can even throw some hash browns and turkey bacon on as well.
4. Cuisinart Waffle Maker-Waffle making is an art. If your batter is not the right consistency, you will be spending a lot time scraping and very little time eating. That is why the Cuisinart Waffle Iron is a time saver. Again, when I whip up a double batch of waffles, I do not want to be in the kitchen all day cooking them. This waffle maker has each batch ready in a matter of minutes! And you can adjust the temperature to decide if you want them lighter or darker. I found this product at Kohl’s for only $40.
5. Aroma Rice Cooker-We eat a lot of rice in our house. I would say that we have rice at least twice a week. I used to make the biggest mess on my electric stove trying to make the perfect rice. Then my husband brought home the Aroma Rice cooker from Costco for only $35. It takes me 5 minutes to measure the rice and add the water, based on the chart they give you after you calculate how many servings you need. You can also cook and steam vegetables in the rice cooker. This machine also has a delay timer, so I can set up the rice in the afternoon and it will be ready for me by dinner. Now that is easy!
6. Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker-I used to believe that it was a total waste of time to make ice cream. For goodness sake, they have dedicated a whole row at the grocery store for almost any kind of ice cream imaginable. But then I became gluten free, chocolate free, soy free, partially hydrogenated oil free, and now dairy and tree nut free. You can imagine that it is pretty difficult to find an ice cream that fits our needs. But then I was fortunate enough to be able to borrow my sister-in-law’s Ice Cream maker. She bought it at McGuckin Hardware for around $30, but I have seen them at Bed, Bath and Beyond and Costco. Not only can I make any kind of ice cream and frozen yogurt treat I want, I have also learned, with one secret ingredient, to make dairy free ice cream as well that is fantastic. Again, it takes about 5 minutes to add the ingredients, and then you are free for 30 minutes while the machine does all the work. My only suggestion is to make sure that the freezer bin stays in the freezer for about 5 days prior to use, or the ice cream will not get hard enough.
7. Braun Coffee Grinder-When I got a coffee maker with a built-in coffee grinder for Mother’s Day a few years ago, I actually gave away my coffee grinder. What in the world would I need it for? Well, it turns out, in the gluten free world, lots of things! I ended up buying another one at a garage sale, but you can find them at Walmart for about $20. Not only will it grind coffee, it can grind gluten free flours that may need to be fluffed up to make the batter lighter. It is also great to grind up tortilla chips or dried bread to use in recipes that might call for bread crumbs. These can be used in meatballs, meatloaf, or as a coating for crispy chicken. I also grind oats to use in my baby food or to make gluten free oat flour for my baked goods.
8. Cuisinart Food Processor- I guess I did not realize what a huge fan I am of Cuisinart products. Anyway, I love my food processer as it has great chopping ability when I am not in the mood to chop. In the last 24 hours, I have used it to make baby food, Rice Carob Granola Bars (see recipe next year), and shred three blocks of Almond Cheese. Cuisinart Food Processors can be purchased at JCPenny’s for only $120. My favorite part about this product, besides the fact that I can just throw it in the dishwasher to clean, is that it comes with a cookbook for many more recipe ideas, from soups to casseroles to smoothies to breads.
I hope this gives you an idea of something you can give or even ask for for Hanukkah this year. Enjoy the holiday. Living Stomach Ache Free, Lisa Velick