Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Countdown to Christmas: Gift Ideas for the Kitchen

One week 'til Christmas!  It's Christmas shopping crunch time! 
Depending on who you are shopping for, kitchen gifts are some of the best.  I say that cautiously because there are always those people who don't want something they need for Christmas, but rather something they want, and unlike this mama, kitchen gadgets don't always top that list.  Personally, I love getting kitchen items as gifts because I think about that person every time I use it.  My mixer reminds me of my parents and graduating from pharmacy school... my favorite salad tongs - Dan & Shawna and their trip to Costa Rica... my what-did-I-ever-do-without-this tiny egg beater - my mother-in-law and her awesome stocking stuffers... my pink silicone pancake turner - my lil sis... my new favorite blue dutch oven - my dear husband.  I could go on forever!  If you have a sentimental cook in your life, here are some great gift ideas for his/her kitchen.

Big ticket items:

1.  Stand mixer - There are many different brands/models/price ranges for this item, so do your research before purchasing.  They also come in many, many different colors, so be sure to have an idea of what the recipient's kitchen style and taste is like.  This is the exact mixer that I received as a graduation gift a few years ago and honestly, there is nothing I would change!  I love the colorful mixers, but I am probably not currently in my "forever kitchen" so I'm glad I decided on a more neutral color.  Plus, I am a little black dress kind of girl, so I like that my mixer reflects that.
KitchenAid Artisan 5 qt. Stand Mixer - Onyx Black

2.  Food processor - Again, a lot of options for this one.  I don't know enough about them to really stear you towards or away from one vs. another, but I have recently gotten to know mine a lot better.  Since I started using it to puree large batches of baby food (usually the meat ones), I've realized how awesome food processors are and gotten braver at trying it more often.  This is the one I got a couple years back, and it seems like a good size for our purposes.
3.  Knife set - One of my favorite kitchen obsessions is knives.  I am just amazed at the difference a good/sharp knife can make in my prep time.  I have a lot of odds and ends when it comes to knives because I just can't pass up trying different sizes/styles/shapes/etc., but this is the actual knife block and set that I have.  Michael is amazing and keeps them nice and sharp for me.  There are much more expensive/fancy knives out there, and if your budget allows it, I say go for it!  But this one is practical, sturdy, and looks great in my kitchen.

4.  Magic bullet - Michael and I have been going back and forth with our love/hate of the Magic Bullet since receiving it as a wedding present 6 years ago.  At first, of course, we were disappointed that it didn't perform exactly like it did in commercials.  Then, we started using it to make individual smoothies and blended drinks and thought, hey, now this is what the Bullet is meant for!  Now, you've seen me use it time and time again to quickly blend up a batch of  baby food for Peanut.  It definitely has it's uses and as long as you go in knowing it's not actually magical, you will love it, too.
1.  Dutch oven - Who doesn't love these pretty pots?  There are many different brands, colors, price ranges for these, and I love 'em all!  Here's the one Michael got me recently.  It's very reasonably priced, the perfect shade of blue, and so far, cooks perfectly!

2.  Lazy susan - I can't find the exact model I have, but another of my favorite bridal shower gifts was a small lazy susan that I use for spices, etc. in one of my cabinets.

3.  Spice rack or organizer - My favorite organization solution for spices is this type of spice drawer organizer.  Two of the smaller drawers in my kitchen island are dedicated to spices (alphabetically organized and everything!).  I love this alternative to the traditional spice rack because it frees up space on my countertop.
4.  Cookbook holder - Practical and pretty, this iron cookbook holder takes up little space, but saves lots of time and counter space when cooking from a cookbook, magazine, printed recipe, etc.  I love being able to prop the recipe up right in front of my workspace and save going back and forth to the book on another counter.  I got this one at Target, but I can't seem to find the exact model online.  Here's a pretty alternative on Amazon.

housewarming gift ideas cast-iron-cookbook-holder

Lower priced items and stocking stuffers:
1.  Quart measuring cup - this is one of those items I never knew the value of until I owned.  So many uses, but especially for mixing and pouring sauces into recipes. 

2.  Pastry rolling pin - this inexpensive roller is perfect for pizza dough and pastries.  The small design gives you so much more control, especially with small jobs.  There is also a pampered chef version thats really nice.

3.  Whisks - all sizes, shapes, colors, etc.  Some of my favorites are this butterfly whisk and one similar to this tiny whisk (they say it's for sauces, but I like it for beating eggs, too).

4.  Wooden spoons - I don't think you can ever go wrong with this gift.  Wooden spoons of all sizes and shapes are a must in any kitchen.  I love these Paula Deen ones and wooden turners with the flat end like this one are really handing for cooking ground meat.

5.  Festive towels - Another great gift for anyone with a kitchen is fun, festive kitchen towels.  I love displaying holiday towels on my oven door.  My mother-in-law is great about keeping us all stocked up on cute towels, and she's taught me that the best place to find them is at Kohl's.  They have an awesome selection of cute but also sturdy and absorbent towels for every holiday at very reasonable prices.  I currently have my eye on this one!
St. Nicholas Square Reindeer 2-pk. Kitchen Towels
6.  Collapsable measuring cups - Michael bought this set for me a couple years ago as a stocking stuffer and I was amazed at how much less room it takes up.  I keep my measuring spoons/cups in a plastic storage container in one of my cabinets so they are all in one place and easy to pull out all together.  These are also really nice for measuring ingredients like peanut butter or Crisco since you can collapse them to release the sticky stuff!
SleekStor™ Collapsible Measuring Cups and Spoons Set

7.  Oil dispenser - These aren't the exact bottles I have, but they are similar.  There are lots of different sizes, shapes, and colors, so it's easy to choose something that fits the recipient's style.  Confession:  I know they are sold as sets so you can put oil in one and vinegar in the other, but I actually have olive oil and vegetable oil in each of mine.  It just makes sense for my kitchen.

8.  Small cutting boards - These are perfect for small/quick jobs.  I love having a couple of these on hand for quick chopping without having to dirty my bigger cutting boards.  As I've mentioned in other posts, I especially like them for making baby food or chopping up Peanut's food quickly.

9.  Aprons - I absolutely love wearing aprons while I cook, especially when I bake, and it's a must when doing Christmas baking.  This is one of my favorite Christmas aprons I got a few years ago, but I also just realized that it comes in a child-sized one.  That's going on my wish list! :)
Mrs. & Li'l Miss Claus Aprons

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