The right tools make all the difference in the world. They save time, energy, and frustration, and make the difference between a “so-so” dish and perfection. So today we’re talking about the must-have kitchen items that every cook or baker needs to have on-hand.
Why do I believe that good tools are so critical?? For starters, the number of times I got my finger instead of the potato with my old vegetable peeler. Or just straight-up avoided grating fresh cheese because it was the WORST with a box grater. Or made rubbery grilled chicken breasts.
BUT NO MORE! Over the years I’ve found what I think are the best kitchen gadgets (and the must-haves) that are foundational to stocking any kitchen. I’m not really getting into big appliances as much, like my stand mixer or large food processor…this is mostly small, more affordable staples.
Absolute must-have kitchen tools
A meat thermometer is critical to getting your meat perfectly done without overcooking it and also without cutting into it constantly (thereby drying it out). It is my forever companion when grilling in particular, and it’s how I made the most amazing grilled chicken breasts.
I use it for bread as well, to make sure the bread is done, avoid a doughy center, and know when the bread is cool enough for slicing.
It’s no secret that I’ve been in love with learning how to mix up delicious cocktails and exploring different mixology flavors and techniques. And I’ve amassed quite a few different gadgets and pretty things that make it easier and more fun.
So if you have a budding home bartender in your life, here are some of the best cocktail gifts and fun gift ideas to inspire, enable, and make them smile!
Make it happen
Every at-home mixologist needs good tools, so if you’re starting with the best cocktail gifts you have to start here.
Cocktail shaker – It seems weirdly hard to find one I like, but this one is practical and beautiful, and has become my go-to shaker. Bonus, it’s a bit bigger than most so it can very easily make 2-4 drinks at a time (DON’T JUDGE).
An all-in-one kit for the beginner – Never a bad thing, if you’re really dealing with a less experienced home bartender then this has everything they’ll need to get started!
I have a deep and abiding love for great coffee. But historically I haven’t had a lot of iced coffee. One here or there, but it wasn’t a habit. Until the last six months of being at home due to coronavirus, when all the sudden I became a total master at making iced coffee at home using my Aeropress.
And I somewhat accidentally discovered my hack for the best iced coffee ever…using sweetened condensed milk. Now it’s not like I’m the first person to ever think of that (in fact, it’s a staple of Thai and Vietnamese coffee and iced tea).
But I had some sweetened condensed milk sitting in my fridge from making a delicious bourbon milk punch cocktail, and wasn’t sure what to do with it. On a whim I decided to use it instead of simple syrup, and realized that it added a lovely rich velvety quality, enough sweetness, and didn’t water down the end result like milk does.
A long, long time ago I posted about the Pioneer Woman’s cold brew iced coffee recipe, and hadn’t really tried anything else until this Aeropress style. It tasted fine enough but not amazing, and was kind of a pain to make, so I just never ended up doing it often.
Just as I was about the publish this post, I found this article on Epicurious that explains why cold brew *doesn’t* give you the best tasting iced coffee, and it finally made sense to me. It creates a more deadened, kind of stale flavor, uses way more coffee beans, and gets oxidized over time. READ THE POST
Anyone who knows me is well aware of my love of good coffee. It’s insanely well-documented (including in a detailed guide to Italy’s coffee and spending a morning exploring a Colombian coffee farm), and a great daily pleasure.
And while I love spending time in local coffee shops, I spend almost every morning sitting on my couch with my kitties…and I need that to include great coffee. So one of the tools in my arsenal is a milk frother that helps me froth milk at home and make delicious cappuccino on my own!
And the thing is, they’re super affordable and easy to use—I highly recommend getting one to up your at-home coffee game! I’ve had a few different ones over the past decade, and these are a few of my all-time favorites.
This one has been a game-changer for me. It was recommended by My Cheese when I visited her in L.A. last year, and I loved how easy it is to use! My milk steams and froths in less than 30 seconds with a great foam texture, and it’s super easy to clean (which is a major bonus).