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Making the Most of Your Small Kitchen Appliances

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Last week I mentioned a few handy items I enjoy having in my kitchen in order to ease the preparation of home-cooked meals and snacks. This week I’d like to list a few things I make regularly using these zippy kitchen gadgets in hopes of helping the at-home cook bring down the grocery bill and hopefully, the dining out bill as well.

I have to say that there is great satisfaction in passing over aisle after aisle of foods in the grocery store because I no longer have a need to purchase them. As I started making things at home, my grocery list became smaller and smaller, I was making trips to the store less frequently, while also eliminating the impulse buying that we tend to do when we run in the store for “just one thing”. This is not an exhaustive list, but I want to share some items that I now make at home in order to demonstrate how easy it is to make the transition from store-bought to homemade. Most of the items listed are made using a kitchen gadget of some sort, which is indicated in parentheses.

  • Yogurt (Yogurt maker or Crock Pot)
  • Spaghetti Sauce/ Pizza Sauce (Crock Pot)
  • Meatballs (By hand or stand-mixer)
  • Tortillas (By hand or stand-mixer)
  • Pizza Dough (Bread Machine)
  • Bread (Bread Machine)
  • Baked Beans (Crock Pot)
  • Refried Beans (Crock Pot & Immersion blender)
  • All varieties of dried beans for different recipes (Crock Pot)
  • Hummus (Food Processor)
  • Salsa (By hand or Food processor)
  • Guacamole (By hand or Food processor)
  • Mayonnaise (Food Processor)
  • Peanut Butter (food processor)
  • Saltine Crackers (Food Processor)
  • Cheese/fishy Crackers (Food processor)
  • Graham Crackers (By hand or stand-mixer)
  • Chocolate wafer cookies (by hand or stand-mixer)
  • Various cookies and muffins (hand mixer or stand-mixer)
  • Soup/Stew (Crock pot and sometimes immersion blender for creamy soups such as tomato, potato, or butternut squash soup)
  • Shredded cheese (Food processor using shave/grate blade)
  • Shredded/sliced vegetables (Food processor using shave/grate blade)
  • Fruit/ protein smoothies (Blender)

This actually looks like a relatively short list, but if you take a closer look, I would bet there are at least three things on this list that you use every day. How many nights a week do you call for a pizza? Every part of the pizza can be constructed at home, from the crust to the sauce to the shredded cheese on top as well as any number of toppings you’d like to add thanks to the bread machine, the crock pot and the food processor. How many times do you make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the kids’ school lunches? You can have fresh peanut butter whenever you need it thanks to your handy food processor. What about tuna, chicken or egg salad for lunches? With a food processor, you can have homemade mayonnaise that tastes the way it is supposed to because it doesn’t have thickeners or artificial ingredients in it. And, I’m here to tell you that nothing beats a homemade tortilla! With the help of the crock pot, you can have shredded beef or chicken, black beans, and refried beans to fill those homemade tortillas and the food processor makes shredding up some cheese or whipping up some salsa and guacamole a snap.

These are some of the easiest recipes to make with these gadgets. The crackers, meatballs, and pastas will take more time, but are still very simple to do if you are able to throw everything into a stand-mixer and let it run until everything is well-blended. Some stand-mixers have the option of adding attachments like a pasta maker right onto the machine, but there are simple hand-crank models of pasta makers that work just as well. I actually don’t own either one and just roll the dough out by hand. Maybe someday…

Cooking at home may not be fool-proof, but it can be made much easier by utilizing some of these tools to help. You’ll save a tremendous amount of money by eating at home, you’ll be eating much healthier meals with fresh ingredients, and your house will smell amazing with the aroma of fresh food wafting throughout! Bon Appetit!

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