Beater Blade (for KitchenAid mixer): For people who love to bake, the counter top KitchenAid mixer is the zenith. This windshield wiper style beater is just what Dr. CooksaLot ordered.
Flexible chopping mats: Toss out that old wooden relic (that is full of germs by the way). Put one of these superflex mats down: Chop, bend, and all your mushrooms, rosemary, et al go sliding nicely into your pot. Plus, they are easily thrown in dishwasher. Since you get two for about $6.00, you can discard when you have overly abused them. I found mine at Bed Bath and Beyond.
Silpat Cookie Sheet Liner: Hey friends who bake, get this. I got two from Williams Sonoma. NOTHING will stick to this liner. Even my high tech cookie sheets have given me hiccups here and there when my perfect cookies needed encouragement to disengage. These mats are worth every penny. I use my large one on the counter too for rolling out dough for pizza, cinnamon rolls etc.
Shark 2 in 1 hand stick/vac: When you see this thing, you might snicker. It looks like it might dismantle should it be too close to a butterfly's wings. It is also 9.99 at Target. However, put all your dismay aside. This bagless wonder will shock you and become your favorite took in the kitchen. Face it, your floor is gross. I don't care who you are. If Martha Stewart used the Shark in her kitchen, she would be appalled at what she found. Piles of dirt, cracker crumbs, and for me, hair. For even the pickiest of kitchen cleaners. And even with a little helper spreading crumbs, the Shark can not be outdone.
Cuisinart Smart Stick Hand Blender (also called immersion blender): This fabulous handy device whips, blends, or purees your small jobs right in the bowl, pot, or dish. Love it. And I use it daily to make protein shakes. And it is perfect for making "Cream of" soups.
Vinturi Wine Aerator: this device aerates your wine in seconds. We tried it first hand in Napa, and were believers. Great for those who love big red wines (like we do). Your Cabernets and Zins will thank you.
Microplane Grater: Originally used for smoothing wood, who knew how great they would contribute in la cucina? Super handy for parmigiano, chocolate, lemons, limes, even fresh nutmeg. Super easy to clean. Nothing tops pasta like a few shivers of fresh parmigiano over the microplane. Its hand held and very long and then so your tender digits need get no where near the razor sharp planes. And it is great for zesting chocolate over desserts. Trust me.
Orka oven mitt: Made of silicone and able to withstand up to 500 degrees, this is the hand protector of all hand protectors. And, can be handily thrown in the dishwasher. Your old ratty oven mitts stained with red sauce and burnt on the edge from touching a burner can't make those claims, can they? I have two and can't live without them.
LiveStrong by Chantal Travel Mug: Because I am not a coffee drinker, Ive never been big on the travel mug. That didnt keep me from collecting dozens when I worked at PeopleSoft but its not a handy device for me. Even when I used them for tea, lots of little sloshing and spilling, no matter how "airtight" they claimed to be. And then the Live Strong version graced me with its presence and now, I am hooked. (And actually, our friend MA gave it to John but it looks so much better with me.) This is the absolute best travel mug. Period. I used it in Vegas and hot water poured in at 8 am was accidentally forgotten about until almost lunch time. The water was still hot. Not lukewarm and tolerable. HOT. Beautiful and now I use it for tea multiple times a week.
Let's talk about a couple of delicious vittles too. I will save wine recs for another day, but, if you want a tasty piece of chocolate, look no further.
Vosges Haut Chocolat: They have red-fire toffee with cayenne. Milk chocolate with goji berries and pink Himalayan sea salt. Dark chocolate with Wasabi. Need I elaborate? Their exotic candy bars are out of this world. Go to their site and see for yourself.
Aveda Comforting Tea (Bag): If you like tea, buy this. If you don't like tea, buy this. Many have been converted. With this warm elixir, no need to have all that caffeine is there?
Now, for the products:
Whole Foods Italian Olive Oil: I needed an education on olive oil and I went high and low to find it. I found out many olive oils sold have very little olive oil actually in the bottle. There are incredibly expensive olive oils which are great for dipping bread or making vinaigrette. But I wanted a great tasting olive oil to cook with also. Finally, I have found an excellent choice. This olive oil from Whole Foods is light but flavorful. Fantastic to cook with but also, a great flavor on top of hummus or bruschetta. Don't be fooled by the price. It is a low cost secret in a bottle. The Spanish version is just as good.