Now that the holidays are over, you might have gotten gift cards or want to exchange something. I didn’t receive any kitchen items for Christmas (probably because I do a pretty good job of buying them for myself) except from a friend, who bought me some prep bowls and the Sweet Melissa cookbook that I had on my Amazon cookbook wishlist. Yes, I have a cookbook wishlist. But that’s another post…

So to help you spend that holiday cash, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite things in the kitchen.

1.KitchenAid Professional 600 Series 6-Quart Stand Mixers First, I’d just like to point out that I did not pay this much for mine. If you watch the price, it does go down. If you don’t know the trick to price-watching on Amazon, I recommend CamelCamelCamel Price History. But this mixer? I love this mixer. I don’t know how I ever lived without a mixer in my kitchen. I actually got my first KitchenAid mixer last year for Christmas, and I bought one of the cheaper models on sale at Kohl’s (yes, I bought my own Christmas present. From my husband). About six months of use later, I realized that I needed a mixer with a higher wattage of motor. If you plan on doing a lot of heavy baking–especially bread dough or making marshmallows–you’ll want to go with the higher wattage. The lower wattage models are fine for light mixing, but once you start moving into heavier dough or longer periods of mixing, you’ll burn the motor out on a lower wattage model. Another consideration is that often the cheaper models don’t come with attachments or the bowl shield, only the paddle mixer. I use the dough hook and the whisk all the time, and actually bought them for the old model. So when comparing model prices, take that into consideration as each additional attachment can run up to $30.

If you’ve always wanted a mixer but just weren’t sure how much you’d use it, trust me, get the mixer. You’ll find you use it much more than you think and that you’ll be more willing to make things/try things because you have the mixer. Everyone in your home will benefit.

2.Black & Decker 2-Speed Food Chopper with 3-Cup Bowl So I do own a food processor, but I never use it. I hate pulling the food processor out, there’s no place to store it, and it’s bulky to clean/put in the dishwasher. So I bought this small countertop food chopper almost two years ago and I use it almost daily. I use it whenever a recipe calls for chopping or mincing onion. Which, as you know, is a lot. The chopper is small but mighty, and I’ve even used it to finely chop carrots, which it handles with ease. I use it in baking too, to chop things like nuts. The blade is very sharp, the container holds 3 cups and fits very easily in the dishwasher, and it takes up almost no counterspace, so I always have it handy. If and when it ever dies, I will immediately invest in a new one, because I can’t imagine doing any cooking without it. What can I say, I’m a lazy cook 😛

3. Crockpot Another must-have tool in my kitchen. In the winter especially, I use the crockpot at least once a week, often more. It’s essential for days when Brianna has evening activities, because otherwise we wouldn’t have a hot meal. And I already mentioned that I’m a lazy cook, and there are recipes where the combination of the chopper and the crockpot allow me to be very lazy. Like just throwing a chicken in the crockpot with some seasoning and letting it cook.

What crockpot you buy is, I think, an individual choice. I own three, all different sizes, and I actually like the one with the programmable timer settings the least (the one pictured). My favorite is a crockpot I got used, handed down to me from a friend. It’s an oval six-quart crockpot with just three settings on the knob. If you’re going to buy a crockpot, start cheap and see if crockpot cooking suits you before investing in a fancy crockpot with all the bells and whistles.

If you do get a crockpot, get these liners. They make cleanup a snap. The time and effort saved from scrubbing off baked food? Priceless.

4. My last item is purely for fun. A wine refrigerator. I always have cold wine, and I have somewhere to keep all the wine I’ve collected during my travels. This particular one is new to me, a 48-bottle fridge with dual climate control via a touch screen, and an interior light. A bit of an upgrade from the 8-bottle cooler I was using. And yes it is full. No, not all my wine fits in there. What can I say? I like wine!

I actually have more kitchen essentials I could share, but I’m going to save them for another day. Tell me, what are your kitchen essentials?

**Note: the links in this post are associate links so there’s a small benefit if you purchase through them, but I only use them because Amazon makes it easy, not that I actually expect anyone to run out and buy a wine refrigerator.

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