Stand mixers for baking

A good kitchen addition and appliance

Baking the best brownies or cakes is a great thing to do, but it can be harder then what you imagined if you do not have the right stand mixer. This is when you should know more information about what good a stand mixer will do for you. Without any of this information, you may have trouble in convincing people as to why you should get this, instead of relying on the hand mixer.

The first reason people should be using the stand mixers is they make the mixing jobs go a lot faster then what you can experience elsewhere. Since the work will be done faster then what you are used to, you will be able to have the best work done and be able to move onto some of the other jobs you have to get done around your home.

Another reason people should consider the stand mixers is that they are affordable compared to what they used to cost. With the prices coming down on these and more people cooking at home, they need to realize this allows them to get the best work done and know they can afford to buy these instead of the other mixers, which can start to burn out.

Buying the best stand mixer and using it for your cooking can be a great thing. The problem that you may encounter is not knowing about why you should be using the stand mixers and why you should convince people to let you buy these. Once you know about the time savings that you have and the amount of money these save you over time, you will want to make sure you get the stand mixers right away. 

DIY Kitchen Decorating Ideas

How to spruce up the most utilitarian room in your home

When it comes to decorating your own home, the kitchen often settles in as an afterthought. It's a utilitarian space, after all, designed with function in mind, unlike the free-range lounge and living areas of the rest of the house. You go into the kitchen to get stuff done. It's already filled up with tools, appliances and other hardware that can't be moved around except with serious renovation work. So when it comes to interior design, most of your work has already been done for you.

That's not to say you can't spruce up your kitchen with a few lively accents, especially if you spend a lot of time cooking up storms and then eating them in there. The way my apartment is laid out, my kitchen literally makes up half of the common space, so I was inclined to show it as much love as the living room when it came to wall hangings and other decorations. 

While themed decor may seem cliched in any other room of the house, somehow it just works in the kitchen. For some reason, there's nothing really cliche about hanging a framed photo of your favorite dish just above your refrigerator. So go nuts with the food-oriented accents; as long as you avoid a bowl of fake fruit, you should be good. 

Be sure to safeguard your kitchen decorations from the elements, too. It's the one room in the house that's most likely to get hot and steamy, so bare paper and other delicate materials may warp and bend. Moreso than anywhere else, a good frame is your friend.

Here are a few ideas for making your culinary workstation feel fresh and springy all year long.

Frame old cooking magazines. Cook's is absolutely the best for this with its lovely back page drawings, although any nicely illustrated magazine will do. Simply pick a sketch or photo of a favorite dish and mount it in a good frame. You might want to throw up the image's accompanying recipe, too--just in case you want easy access anytime you feel like cooking it.

Hang plates and pans. Cliche? Maybe, but a few decorative plates--provided they're not too kitschy--can certainly bring spots of color and life to your kitchen. And if you've got some handsome pans, you can save storage space and decorate at the same time by simply storing them on the wall when they're not in use.

Dry and mount herbs or other plants. Like the look of rosemary when it's dry? Got some extra thyme lying around? Adhere them to good paper and frame them for a springy touch.

Hang plants by the window. Not only will they add extra oxygen to your kitchen's atmosphere, but they'll also look nice and make you feel like you're cooking in the wilds. Bonus points if you can grow basil or other herbs for easy access to fresh, homegrown flavors. 

Use the One In, One Out Rule for Kitchen Gadgets

If you are like me, you have probably experienced kitchen gadget overload at some point.  With so many timesaving gadgets and accessories, it is all too easy to get more than we can store or manage.  The utensil drawer is a great example.  You really don’t need half a dozen stirring spoons – you don’t have that many hands!  A great way to avoid kitchen gadget buildup is to use a one in, one out rule.

For each new kitchen item you bring into your home, donate or otherwise get rid of another.  This is usually pretty easy to do, because there always seems to be one or two items in the drawer that do not get used.

For example, if you purchase a new food processor, get rid of that sandwich griller you used once or twice and let sit.  If you don’t use it more than a couple of times per year, chances are good that you can do without it completely.

Even though many modern kitchen gadgets and appliances can save us time in making food, they often do not amount to a great overall savings.  Consider the time spent washing, maintaining and storing that item.  Unless you get a lot of use out of it, you are probably devoting too much kitchen and head space in taking care of it.

Getting rid of one item for every new item you get will keep your kitchen organized and easy to use, and that is the ultimate time saver.

Tired of Doing Dishes? Sometimes Less is More

Sometimes, it seems as though all I do is dishes.  Our dishwasher is a little on the lazy side, so before we put things in it, we must thoroughly scrub them to free them of any food particles.  I know where that TV commercial question, “Tired of washing the dishes before you wash the dishes?” comes from now.  So, instead of spending two hours a day cleaning dishes, we decided to do something radical.

The more dishes you  have, the more dishes you have to clean.  I remember reading in Little House on the Prairie that every child had a single cup, plate and bowl.  Or maybe it was just about cups.  In any case, the simplicity of that idea really struck me after I loaded no less than half a dozen cups in the dishwasher, and that was just for two kids in one day.

So we are going to apply that wisdom to our entire dish collection.  Each person in our family can have one bowl, cup and plate.  The silverware is still up for grabs, because it really doesn’t take much more time or storage space to have multiples, and we use them for serving too.  Now, instead of doing dishes once a day for hours, we do a quick wash up after every meal, so the kitchen is cleaner and it takes a whole lot less time.

Frequent washing eliminates stuck on food that has to be scrubbed, and since we know we will have to hand wash every item, it’s a little bit more acceptable to put water in a cup after apple juice, or rinse a plate to use it for the next course, instead of using two.

The power of simplicity is amazing.  By cutting back on dishes, we have cut back on stress and time spent, two things almost anyone can enjoy having less of.

Store Your Appliances Off the Counter

Kitchen counters become so easily cluttered, that sometimes it seems as though our kitchens would be better off without them.  From papers and purses to food and appliances, kitchen counters collect stuff like collectibles gather dust.  One way you can help combat the clutter is to designate an off the counter space for your appliances to live when they are not in use.

If you have the room, designate a cupboard for storing all of your appliances.  This keeps them within easy reach but out of sight, and you can store many common appliances in a standard cupboard.  If they won’t fit in your cupboards, the pantry is the next best place, but finding the room in a pantry for the appliances most of us have is a difficult task, too.

The next option would be to buy a special storage container, such as a rolling cart or even a butcher block with cupboards.  A butcher block would be a nice addition to most kitchens, and one with cupboard space beneath would be a great place to hide appliances.

As a last resort, you can purchase covers for your appliances to pretty up your counter space, which will at least make the clutter look better.  If you must go this route, it might be time to consider eliminating some lesser used appliances.

Storing appliances off the counter frees up space and makes your kitchen look clean and less cluttered.  The extra step of getting and replacing them is worth the freedom of being able to use your counters again.

Combine the Dry Ingredients Ahead of Time

I really dislike cooking, but I love the finished product!  For me, successful cooking is all about getting a healthy meal without spending a lot of time preparing it.  One way to save time is by preparing the dry ingredients ahead of time.  If your family eats a lot of homemade bread, for example, take the time to mix up several batches of the dry ingredients all at once, and keep them stored in the freezer so they’re ready whenever you need them.

Combining ahead of time doesn’t just apply to breads, however.  You can create an instant potato soup mix to store in Mason jars for a quick lunch or dinner idea, or mix up common seasoning mixes at home to save time and money.

When you do combine ahead of time, make sure you clearly label what’s inside.  If you have a copy machine, you can copy the recipe and affix it to each packet so all you need to do is grab the packet and wet ingredients – no digging out the recipe books.

You can even use combined ingredients like this for gift ideas.  Tie a pretty ribbon on that potato soup mix, include cooking instructions, and you’ve got a thoughtful, homemade gift idea.

Planning ahead saves time, money and hassle, and helps steady your resolve on nights you are too tired to cook, helping you to avoid eating out.  With just a little extra time at once, you can prepare several batches ahead of time and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing you’ll be prepared next time.

Cut the Whole Onion

"Once they are cut, onions do just fine for a week or so in the fridge. "

This may seem like common sense, but when you are preparing fresh vegetables for a recipe, don’t just cut up what you need right then.  For items that will last for some time after they are cut, such as onions, carrots and celery, cut up the entire batch right then and store it in airtight containers in the fridge.

Cutting up the whole thing will save you time and dishes in the future, and on tired nights, not having to do as much meal prep can mean the difference between a home cooked meal and a dinner out.

Once they are cut, onions do just fine for a week or so in the fridge.  Carrots and celery, on the other hand, need a little help if they are to last after they have been cut.  I like to add a layer of water in the bottom of the container for vegetables like carrots, because it helps them stay hydrated.  A quick shake of the container and all the carrots will be moist and ready to eat or use in recipes.

You can cut most vegetables ahead of time, just as long as you make sure they have a good airtight container in the fridge.  We like to have broccoli, cauliflower and cucumbers cut up and ready in the fridge, because we can snack on them throughout the day or toss them into a stir fry.

Though it takes more time to cut the whole vegetable, you save a lot of time later by not having to handle the knife and cutting board, and you have the convenience of just taking them out and using them right away.

For the Little Chef in Your Life

Spending time in the kitchen isn’t just for adults, and if you have a little chef in your life, you can dress them for success with this adorable Baby Chef outfit.  This three piece outfit has a traditional chef hat, checkered pants, and front –snap shirt, all wrapped up in a nifty little box.  When the box opens, the outfit is tied in so you can open it with flourish to present it at a baby shower.

Just like the outfits professional chefs wear, the Baby Chef outfit will have your little chef cooking in style, while still maintaining the comfort necessary for any outfit to be worn by a baby.

The size for this set is 0-6 months, so it makes an excellent baby shower gift, especially for chefs who are soon to be parents.

The reviews on Amazon are fantastic, with seven out of seven reviewers rating this adorable outfit with five stars.  At just $23 and eligible for free shipping, it is surprisingly reasonable for a baby shower gift.

It is not limited to just baby showers, however.  This chef outfit would be a great first Halloween costume, and since it is meant to be worn loosely, you could easily layer warmer clothes underneath to ward off the chill of a fall night.

So, whether you are looking for a baby shower gift, want to dress up your own baby, or looking for a Halloween costume, the Baby Chef outfit is highly rated, very affordable and utterly adorable.

Tools That Don't Impress: Garlic Press

There are some tools that we just can’t live without, like the IKEA cheese grater that fits like a lid over a special bowl – that is priceless.  But then, there are tools in the kitchen that are redundant and only take more time and space than they are worth.  I think the garlic press is one of those. 

When we invest time and storage space into a tool for our kitchens, it needs to be something that will save time and hassle over other methods.  Every item in our kitchen should have earned the right to be there by providing some kind of value to us.  The garlic press doesn’t really achieve those goals.

If you think about it, you spend more time when you use a garlic press because you have to still take the time to peel it, and then take extra time to scrape out the pressed garlic from both sides of the tool, and then cut up whatever didn’t make it through the press.

You can accomplish a similar result by peeling the garlic and then crushing it beneath a metal spoon, something you already have that takes up a minimal amount of room.

Some newer presses can reverse and have prongs to push the garlic back through, but sometimes, the extra cost and required storage space is not worth the perceived convenience.  I would rather save the storage space and have one less “thing” in my house to deal with.

What about you?  Are there tools you bought for the kitchen that turned out to be less than impressive?

It's Time for Some Utensil Drawer Tough Love

I try hard to keep my kitchen organized.  It makes cooking so much more enjoyable when things are put in a place, kept tidy and are easy to access.  One of my biggest failings, however, is the utensil drawer.  Part of the trouble is how easy it is to get caught up in buying another useful tool, but another part is sheer laziness.  I don’t want to spend the time to keep things straight when they all sit loose in a single drawer.

If your utensils are starting to take over the kitchen, it may be time for a little tough love.  First, gather up all of your utensils and lay them out where you can look over every one.  Start with the less durable utensils and give them a good once over.  Are they starting to fall apart?  Wooden utensils that are splitting or plastic spoons that have been melted are good candidates for being tossed.

Next, consider how often you really use a utensil.  Special salad tongs can be handy…if you use them.  If you find yourself serving salad with a pair of forks most of the time, perhaps donating the salad tongs is a better idea.  It will surely save you some space.

Lastly, take the survivors and put them in organizers.  If only a few survived, treat yourself to a pretty utensil holder and proudly display them on the counter.  Another option is to hang them from the underside of your cupboards, which keeps them out of the way but easy to access.

Once you have cleaned up your utensils, make a commitment to spend the time to keep them organized.  The time spent putting them back where they belong will probably be far less than the time spent fishing for the right one in a jumbled mess.