Kitchen Essentials and Multi-Taskers

For someone that has as many kitchen gadgets as I do, I seem to be missing some of the tools I would probably utilize the most.  It took me several years to finally hop on the immersion blender bandwagon [life-changing!] and even longer to add a cast iron skillet to my arsenal.  I do, however, have nearly every possible gadget you would need to core, pit, and prep fruit along with a juicer, a trio of food processors [one manual; two electric] and an effing quesadilla maker.  Ok had a quesadilla maker.  And a panini press.  Both of which died a quick and fiery death when they decided to short out and nearly kill me.  
It’s possible I’m being a tad dramatic, but that’s debatable.  
Anywho!  One thing I’ve learned is how to re-purpose one kitchen tool to serve a multitude of uses.  I call this brilliance, others may just call it being resourceful.  Or cheap, depending on whom you talk to.  [Cat will vouch for my frugality]  Anywho!  It’s awesome.  Here are a few of my favorites:
a box grater
You can seriously work out of the box on this one!  Cheesiness aside, owning a well-made box grater will be a lifesaver in the kitchen.  Need shredded veggies for baking or a salad?  Don’t drag out the bulky processor or buy them pre-shredded; grate ’em!  Need cheese for, well, everything?  Grate a brick of your favorite queso and not only will you save money, but you’ll also avoid the additives they add to pre-shredded cheeses and gain a multitude of flavor in the process.  If that’s not winning [or delicious] I don’t know what is.

I also use my box grater to zest my lemons and citrus fruits for recipes and as a pastry cutter when recipes call for butter to be cut into biscuits, scones, and crusts.  Oh yes!  If you find yourself knee-deep in a recipe that calls for cut-in cold butter, grab a super-cold stick straight from your fridge, peel back the wrapper enough to keep your warm fingers from melting the butter and use the large/coarse holes to grate the butter into shreds.  Then use a fork to break up the shredded butter into your dough.  It’s just as speedy [possibly quicker!] as a pastry cutter and equally effective.  Love it!

need a few yummy examples?
Carrot Coconut MuffinsBanana Zucchini Bread and MuffinsPanera Broccoli and Cheese SoupVeggie Spinach DipZucchini Tzatziki SauceBlueberry Biscuits with Blueberry Compote
a sieve
You need one of these in your kitchen.  Trust me; you absolutely do.  Not only are these perfect for rinsing quinoa [it tastes a bajillion times better when properly rinsed] but they’re also great for scooping out delicate pasta [tortellini, homemade raviolis, cous cous, abc pasta…] from a pot, retrieving veggies out of a homemade broth or stock, and sifting.  I’ve recently discovered that sifting flours into your batter/dough can make a world of difference in the recipe and, thanks to my sieve, I won’t need to purchase a bulky sifter that takes up precious cabinet space.

seive strainer quinoa
                                      a seive or mesh strainer makes rinsing, straining, and sifting a breeze!

a bunch of you asked so, I have [this] set of three that I found at Bed Bath and Beyond for $7 with one of their 20% off coupons.  I use them all the time and they stack nesting-style for easy storage inside my mixing bowls! <3

Quinoa Fried RiceQuinoa Fried Rice RemixCurry Cranberry Caulilfower Quinoa and Squash
Tortellini Pasta SaladCaprese Tortellini Pasta Salad Kebabs
a wire cooling rack
Though I do occasionally use it to cool baked goods, I whip it out far more option as a means of crisping up mozzarella balls, flautas, won-tons, and veggie fries.  It also does double-duty on the grill by adding support for more delicate dishes like homemade veggie burgers and seafood.  It also makes a fun prop for food photography!

Black Bean and Sweet Potato FlautasBaked Butternut Squash FriesIrish Potato Nachos
Cookie Dough WontonsCreamy Tomato Soup with Baked Mozzarella Balls

a fork
Not only are they great for stabbing your significant other after they run off with your food [it happens] but they come in handy for nearly all your kitchen endeavors.  I don’t need to elaborate, right?  Forks are awesome.  
Ok so maybe I took some liberty with that last one =)  I promise I don’t stab my husband THAT often, though I can’t quite pretend the love of my life and my eating utensils haven’t ever collided.  Sorry P!  I also swear by my immersion blender [I use it for nearly all of my soups, sauces, and dressings!] and couldn’t live without my toaster oven.
What’s one kitchen gadget you simply cannot live without?
Do you use any for multiple tasks?  Spill it!

I’ll be back tonight or tomorrow morning with a recipe! <3


  1. says

    Definitely all awesome gadgets! I should admit I often get annoying with the shape/bulkiness of a box grater (especially as the girl that can’t eat cheese) but I get it, it has other awesome uses and I should get one… 😉

  2. says

    Don’t laugh at me, but I may or may not have a slapchop! My mom is a hipster and bought it in the 80’s before it was cool, and now we use it to dice every veggie under the sun! A whole onion can be diced within 1 minute!

  3. says

    I have never owned a toaster oven nor did my parents when I was growing up and while there are times when I think they would be nice, I haven’t found a good enough reason yet to make me actually buy it yet (and take up the counter space). You got a reason for me? I judt don’t see myself using it enough, LOL!!!

    Now, an immersion blender? I desperately want one of those!

    • says

      Yes silly goose! I use it in place of the microwave for leftovers, use it to toast toast [haha imagine that? I buy really big pieces of crusty bread so they never fit in an actual toaster!], and then use it for my won-ton cup appetizers, mini pizzas on pitas/bagels/english muffins, and then for appetizers like crostini/bruschetta and garlic breads and such too. Hmm… frozen pizzas when the mood strikes! All kinds of stuff! It’s cheaper than heating up the big oven all the time and it doesn’t take as long to pre-heat or cool down so I heart it so!

  4. says

    I had an immersion blender until it died and just never replaced it. Now if you had some tips on organizing said gadgets I am all ears!! Over flowing cabinets, yup I got them. A million spatulas, wooden spoons, got those too. I just got a box grater though I have a good hand one too.

    • says

      I do!!!! I promise to blog about it once I go nesting crazy and re-vamp my kitchen storage =) My husband finally found a solution for the pots and lids we have that I could literally kiss him for… its so much better than my old system! I’ll blog it soon! <3

  5. says

    I feel so inadequate… out of these I only use a fork! I do usea little hand held grater. For bigger grating projects I just use the food processor attachment.

    My essentials: a scale (SO much easier than measuring cups), Vitamix, and one really good knife.

  6. says

    Excellent box grater usages!! Smart girlfriend, very smart. I really need to get a sieve, I keep telling myself to freaking do it. Anywhere you recommend for cheap ones? My quinoa needs to be rinsed. Ha.

  7. says

    Hahaha, I don’t have any of the essentials beside of the fork… but I couldn’t live without my blender (like all of those who mentioned it before) or my Wok, I use it like once a day for cooking, broiling, frying, steaming… and a rice cooker should be on this list as well, not only does the rice taste far better steamed, but you could also make a lot of other dishes inside.

  8. says

    I have 2 sieves… the first one the quinoa just fell right through! So I bought another one and that worked for my bulk bin quinoa but still too big for the boxed kind I got at Target. I just make sure to buy from the bulk bin. I’ve seen ones that seem to be smaller screens and I may end up getting a third. Oddly enough I have found the best prices for them at Walgreens and my local grocery store (as opposed to Walmart and Shopko where I got the 2 I have now).

  9. says

    Love this – the grater tips are so smart! I always have less storage space than I want in my kitchens so while I would LOVE to own every quirky gadget that Bed Bath and Beyond can pump out, I have to limit it. Thanks for the tips! xxx

  10. says

    As a trained pastry chef I’m stealing that box grater idea for cutting butter into flour. Of course I’ll still use my hands because I don’t feel like I’m baking unless I’ve covered my hands in dough haha

  11. jeri says

    I used to have EVERY gadget and machine and it just got completely out of hand. OMG I even had a Salad Shooter, quite possibly the most useless thing ever. Then one day I got rid of everything my Grandmother wouldn’t have had and suddenly I had counters again. I did keep the microwave and the crockpot though, otherwise I would eat nothing but cereal and ice cream in the summer.

  12. says

    Dude, just got a mandoline. It’s your fault. I got tired of cutting sweet potatoes for your damned nachos!!! We’ll see if unlike it… We got the Ninja blender from Tarjay about a year ago and it’s the best blender I’ve ever had. Of course it’s not a Vitamix, but less than $100.

  13. says

    @Jenn: Somehow the direct reply function does not work… Regarding the rice cooker myth: never heard about it. But you can be sure that I am going to search for a recipe and will try to make that bread! What I love to do in my ricecooker: Congee (traditionaly Chinese rice soup; posted the recipe a while ago), currys or dhal and 3 component dishes: I just hang a steaming basket in the rice cooker, rice steams below, veggies and fish on top. No stress, no mess.

  14. says

    My box grater is probably older than You, Jenn and it’s great I use it for cheeses, zesting lemons, etc. One quick helper is the peeler. A friend recently showed me a trick. After peeling carrots, you just peel little bits of carrots into a salad. I don’t especially like chunks of carrots in a salad and this is wonderful. Wide shreds that are flavorful but not bulky. Hard to explain but I just love it and do it all the time now. Again…the peeler is out anyway, why not make use of it! Have a great day!

  15. says

    I never thought to use the sieve as a sifter!! That’s an AWESOME tip I’ll be using asap. I can’t live without my grill pan. I use it ALL the time. I feel like It holds a permanent residence in my sink among the other dirty dishes… oops.

  16. says

    I want to get a proper spiraliser and a better way to prep veggies than just hand chopping. I love doing sunday prep but sometimes it takes a long time.

    Love all these essential suggestions :)

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