Storage is always an issue living in New York City, especially when it comes to much-coveted counter space; there never seems to be enough. It makes me pretty merciless when it comes to appliances and kitchen equipment. This also means I can’t afford to keep any one-trick ponies hanging around, so it was only logical for me to look beyond basic waffles when it came to cooking with my waffle iron.
A few years back I read about waffle grilled cheese in Jennifer Carden’s Toddler Café cookbook. It’s easy. Instead of cooking your grilled cheese in a skillet on the stovetop, you throw it into a preheated waffle iron doubling as a panini press. It’s a genius idea, and makes its way into my daughters’ lunchboxes a few times a week. My husband, Mikey, loved it so much that I would often gussy up the filling by using fresh mozzarella and tomato jam. It was the best of both worlds for him, from a culinary standpoint.
Then my eyes were opened even wider when my friend Silvana’s book, Cooking for Isaiah, came out. She had the brilliant idea of making shredded potato pancakes in her waffle iron. This works better in a standard waffle iron than a deep Belgian-style one, and is a fun twist on latkes.
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In this new column twice a month, Catherine McCord will be sharing a blend of kid-tested, mom-approved products and secrets to keeping sanity in the kitchen.
I am sure that it comes as no surprise that the room in my house in which I spend the most time is the kitchen. As a result, finding reliable kitchen tools which can perform double and triple duty is essential.
While some kids got cars, when I was 18 my mother gave me my first set of kitchen shears. And I was thrilled. Not just regular old scissors, kitchen shears are a cook’s best friend. Once you use a pair, you’ll wonder how you ever got by without them.
Here are just a few kitchen chores that become a breeze by using them:
- Trimming fat off chicken and meat
- Cutting the spine off shrimp to easily peel and devein them
- Cutting the ends off green beans
- Chopping herbs (especially chives) into tiny pieces
- Cutting open food packaging
Read more for kitchen chores that become a breeze
Having the right kitchen equipment is essential for any cook, but having too many gadgets can clutter up your space. The StirStik is the kitchen utensil that does it all: You can frost cakes, fold eggs, stir sauces, spread peanut butter and more. Plus, it’s compact and comes in six fun colors to liven up your kitchen.
You can buy your own StirStik or enter in the comment field below for a chance to win one. To enter: Tell us your favorite Food Network recipe that requires flipping, folding or stirring in the comments (must include URL to recipe to qualify). We’re giving away a StirStik to six lucky, randomly selected commenters.
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Say goodbye to burnt bread forever with the Magimix Vision Toaster, the only toaster that allows you to watch your bread while it’s toasting. It has extra-wide slots that can accommodate anything from crostini to bagels and its pops of red color will brighten up any kitchen.
If you want perfectly browned toast, you can buy your own Magimix Vision Toaster, which comes in black, white, red or stainless steel, or you can enter in the comment field below for a chance to win your own toaster in red. To enter: Tell us your favorite toasted treat in the comments. We’re giving away a toaster to one lucky, randomly selected commenter.
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It’s a rare day that I’ll turn down the opportunity to bring a fun new gadget into my kitchen and make a bit of a mess. When the Citrus Spritzer came through the office, I jumped at the chance to test it out “in the field.” The little wonder’s claim to fame was that you simply pop it into your citrus fruit of choice and it will generate a light mist of citrus juice, as easy as spritzing water. I had a large bowl of citrus fruit at home, just waiting to be spritzed. It was fate.
I started with a small lemon, which I rolled gently on the counter to get the juices flowing. “Better give this little gadget a fighting chance,” I thought, skeptical that it could work. But lo! A couple pumps and I was getting perfect little puffs of lemon mist falling over my soon-to-be-sauteing green beans.
Find out what else it works on
by Steve Greenberg (pictured right)
As an Invention Hunter (aka product scout), I’m always searching for the next great kitchen gadget. For the purpose of this blog, let’s define “gadgets” as those inexpensive must-have tools that fit in your kitchen drawers. Here are my picks for the top five kitchen gadgets under $10:
Norpro Egg Rite Timer ($5) — Throw out your grandmother’s egg timer: This high-tech egg timer, isn’t really a timer at all. Shaped like an egg, you place it in the pan with your eggs and it calculates cooking stages by temperature, not by inaccurate time. It automatically adjusts for the number of eggs, amount of water and even the altitude. Egg-cellent, huh?
Mastrad Silicone Steam Cooker ($10) — Forget the old iron or aluminum steam cookers of yesteryear, silicone is today’s go-to kitchen material. This steam cooker is super convenient because you don’t have to use water or add oil to cook your food. All you have to do is stick it in the microwave for a few minutes and you get a quick, healthy meal.
Get the top three kitchen gadgets
At the beginning of Worst Cooks in America’s third season, Erica Weidner caught our eye by using scissors to cut up a bell pepper. We then asked you: What other gadgets have you used to cook up a dish in the kitchen? More than a hundred people responded with their go-to double-duty gadget techniques. They were so unique, we couldn’t choose just one. Here are our top two favorites:
1. Julie Lonkey uses a wide-blade drywall knife to get a smoother finish with buttercream on cakes.
2. Krista Lucken listed a few double-duty items, but using cupcake liners to keep pepper from escaping the pepper mill in the cabinet is pretty spectacular. Plus, when she measures fresh ground pepper, it gets ground right into the cupcake liner and then poured into a measuring spoon with no mess.
Our favorite budget-friendly anonymous tip
Even though we’re only one episode into the new season of Worst Cooks in America, there’s one contestant in particular that’s caught my eye: Erica Weidner. Playing for Team Bobby, she’s quirky, ready to learn and hilarious.
For the Baseline Skill Challenge, the contestants were asked to cook a dish that would “explain who they were.” Erica, whose family has dubbed her an impractical cook, thinks she’s just resourceful. We saw this come to play when she used scissors to cut up a bell pepper. In the past, she’s also used disposable razors to peel turnips and plyers to remove giblets from a frozen chicken.
This got me thinking: What other gadgets have people used to cook up a dish in the kitchen? Tell us in the comments below. The person with the most unique double-duty gadget technique will be featured in an FN Dish post next week.