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Viking Professional Hand Blender

Viking hand blender

The Viking hand blender can blend and chop everything from soups to smoothies to coffee beans with a professional-grade 300-watt motor. Two-speed pulse control offers flexible performance and automatic safety shut off. The blender comes with a blending attachment, stainless steel whisk and 35-ounce mixing cup with lid. A chopper attachment is optional.

Bosch Universal Plus Kitchen Machine

The Bosch Universal Plus Kitchen Machine

Bosch's latest introduction to its line of kitchen machines is the Universal Plus, a combination stand mixer and food processor with a powerful 800-watt motor. It comes with four speed settings and a pulse function; a 6.5-quart mixing bowl; and a dough hook, scraper and double beater. One of the two models also includes a blender. Optional attachments such as a juicer, meat grinder, shredding and slicing disks, and whisks allow the Universal Plus to multi-task efficiently.

Kenmore Elite Portable Induction Cooker

Kenmore Elite Portable Induction Cooker with Saute Pan

The Kenmore Elite 1,500-watt portable induction cooker provides even heat distribution and comes with a 12-inch stainless steel and aluminum sauté pan. The blue LED bars indicate when power is on, and the touch screen control panel provides instant heat adjustment for painless flameless cooking.

George Foreman 360 Grill

George Foreman 360 Grill

The George Foreman 360 Grill has a 106-square-inch cooking surface and comes with five different grilling plates: two traditional ribbed plates, a deep dish pizza plate, and two quesadilla plates. The cooking surface can be flat or tilted, to allow food to cook in the juices or to let fat drain away into a built-in drip tray. The 1,500-watt grill has an adjustable temperature control and a floating hinge to accommodate thicker foods.

KitchenAid Toaster

KitchenAid toaster
Courtesy of KitchenAid

The new KitchenAid Pro Line toaster collection features an auto-sensing function that automatically lowers bread to begin toasting, and after toast is finished, re-lowers the toast to keep it warm if it has not been removed. Additional features found on most models include a defrost button, LCD digital displays, and a progress bar that counts down toasting time. All models feature extra-wide slots with a bagel button that toasts just the interior side of the bagel and a high-lift lever that minimizes burnt fingers. Available in two- and four-slice versions.

Easy Solutions for High-Maintenance Dishes

Electric Skillet by Deni

Courtesy of Deni

When a stove isn't available, an electric skillet is a great substitute for a traditional skillet or frying pan.

Electric Woks & Skillets

These items mimic traditional skillets and woks that you would put on a stovetop. Electric skillets and woks heat up after you plug them in, and they typically have a dial that controls the temperature. They also have lids to keep in steam and heat. If you have a stovetop, you might not have a need for these items, but they are convenient for camping trips, tailgates, and temporary kitchen setups. Electric skillets and woks typically cost between $25 and $100.

Deep Fryers

If you enjoy fried foods, deep fryers can be a handy and safe way to concoct dishes like French fries. Many deep fryers come with lockable lids to prevent hot cooking oils from splashing outside the fryer.

You can also purchase a rotary fryer, which rotates the cooking oil instead of just having a pool of oil in which the food soaks. Rotary fryers use less cooking oil, because the oil is spread over the food more efficiently.

Most deep fryers have between 1,800 and 2,200 watts. Fryers come in different sizes, and some have more temperature controls than others. They usually cost between $100 and $300.

 

Crock-Pot Slow Cooker

Courtesy of Crock-Pot

 

Slow Cookers

As their name implies, slow cookers cook food slowly, and they cook it in a way that keeps food moist and flavorful. Slow cookers cook items such as meats and stews over a period of hours at low temperatures (usually between 160 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit). 

Slow cookers come in a variety of sizes, so make sure the one you purchase is big enough for the amount of food you're cooking. Since many people cook meals for families in a slow cooker, you'll want one that holds at least 4 quarts, which is considered family size. Slow cookers cost between $30 and $150. Price varies based on size, temperature settings, and temperature and time programmability features.

 

Panasonic Rice Cooker

Courtesy of Panasonic

 

Rice Cookers

While cooking rice in the traditional way isn't extremely complicated, it does require a great deal of attention to make sure the rice comes out right. Rice cookers eliminate all the attention needed to make rice; they just require you to add rice and water and press a button.

Another advantage to rice cookers is that have automatic shutoffs. They detect when the rice is finished cooking, and will then switch to a warming mode to keep the rice heated until you remove it from the cooker.

Look for a rice cooker with a non-stick pan to make it easier to remove the cooked rice. Rice cookers can vary in size and settings (for instance, some rice cookers can cook rice to have different textures), but the more bells and whistles, the more you'll pay. Prices range between $50 and $200.

 

 

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The Right Tools for Beverages, Soups and More

Countertop Blender by KitchenAid

This blender from KitchenAid features smooth button controls for easy clean-up.

Countertop Blenders

Synonymous with the sweetness of a fruity beverage, the blender can puree smoothies, chop ice, and pulverize salsa, sauces and more. When considering what type of blender is right for you, it helps to determine what kind of use you'll get out of it, how many people you'll be preparing for and whether you'll need any accessories.

Blender jars are made of glass or plastic, and both materials have advantages. While plastic jars are lighter, they will absorb food smells and get nicked and scratched. Glass jars won't get those scratches and are impervious to food odors, but their heft and susceptibility to breakage might make them the wrong choice for you.

The higher the wattage, the more power your blender packs. Don't go any lower than 350 watts. Most blenders will have at least low and high settings, which should be able to handle most jobs, as well as an ice chopping function.

If you're going to use this blender regularly, especially for entertaining, a jar with a tap attachment may work well for you. Dispensing drinks easily and quickly, without the hassle of the jar lid, makes life easier for the home entertainer.

The jar will most likely be dishwasher safe, but consider whether touchpad controls would be easier to clean up than buttons. To prevent any big spills, go for a bigger jar that holds more liquid equipped with a wider base to keep it stable while blending.

  

hand blender by braun, immersion blender by braun

The hand blender from Braun comes with a stainless steel cup accessory for quick and easy smoothies.

 

Hand Blenders

For smaller size blending jobs, such as soups or sauces, a hand or immersion blender works well. Equipped with small blades, the hand blender makes targeting stray strawberries in your shakes a breeze. Accessories like bowls, whisks or the stainless steel mixing cup up shown above help with chopping veggies, blending beverages and more.

Look for other accessories for your hand blender like chopping blades and grinding attachments. These attachments will make the switch from blending beverages to chopping nuts a cinch.

Consider also whether you'd like a cordless model. Charging up the hand blender for short jobs is easy and no cords makes life easier. For clean-up, simply running soap and water over the blades works, but some hand blenders come with detachable shafts that can slip into your dishwasher.

 

 

 

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Cuisinart Frozen Yogurt, Ice Cream and Sorbet Maker

Cuisinart frozen yogurt, ice cream and sorbet maker

Thanks to a patent-pending mixing paddle that mixes and aerates ingredients, the Cuisinart frozen yogurt-ice cream and sorbet maker creates frozen desserts in less than 20 minutes. The 1.5-quart freezer bowl contains a cooling liquid between a double-insulated wall that eliminates the need for ice.

Great for Indoor Grilling and Gourmet Sandwiches

A Sanyo Grill with an assortment of food.

Courtesy of Sanyo

An electric grill can be a good substitute when gas and charcoal grills aren't an option.

Electric grills operate in a similar way to other electric heating surfaces, such as griddles or skillets. The main difference between the electric grill and comparable countertop appliances is that grills have a rigid heating surface that makes grill marks on the food.

The George Foreman electric grill might be the most commonly known product in this category, but there are two distinct types of indoor grills:

  • Standard electric grill: This electric grill looks similar to a griddle, except instead of having a flat surface, the cooking surface is a grate.
  • The grill press: This is the style of the Foreman grill. For this type of grill, food is placed on a grilling surface, and then another heated surface presses down on the top of the food. This ends up cooking the food faster, since both sides of the food are heated simultaneously. A grill press is also referred to as a panini press; if you buy a panini press, which is typically associated with sandwiches, you can still grill meats and other items on it.
Panini Press

Courtesy of Hamilton Beach

A grill press or panini press.

 

While electric grills give you grill marks, they have several difference from outdoor grills that use gas or charcoal. Obviously, how the grills heat up is different. Outdoor grills produce more heat, making them good for searing. It can be difficult, if not impossible to sear meat on an indoor electric grill. Cooking meat on a grill press can also flatten your food, and possibly squeeze out flavorful juices. Finally, most electric grills do not allow for indirect heat.

Still, when an outdoor grill is unavailable or inaccessible, electric grills are convenient. The price of electric grills varies with size and strength. Most electric grills have between 600 and 1,000 watts. The more power they have, the faster they can heat up, and the more they will cost. Price also rises with larger cooking surfaces. Smaller electric grilling units with modest power and options are usually $50 and under. Larger units, and units with more temperature control and cooking options, can run up to $400.

 

Electric Griddle

Courtesy of Presto

 

Griddles

Electric griddles are similar to electric grills, except a griddle's heated surface is flat (also, there are not griddle presses). Griddles are often used for breakfast foods, such as eggs and pancakes, as well as other foods where a grated cooking surface would not be useful.


Sandwich Press

A derivative of a panini press, a sandwich press usually has triangular slots for bread to be placed in. The sandwich is then heated on both sides. This item is good for regular-sized sandwiches and bread, but cannot accommodate thicker breads. It also should not be used for cooking raw meats.

 

 

 

 

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Chop, Grate, Dice and More

Cuisinart food processor

This food processor from Cuisinart features multiple bowls for blending and chopping.

For cooks who want to get large jobs done fast, food processors will chop veggies, grate cheese, slice walnuts and more. Food processors are also great for mixing and kneading thick dough for bakers.

When looking at your needs for a food processor, consider how much you'll be chopping and dicing in your machine. While smaller models are available in six to eight cup sizes, full models and professional grade models range from 9 to 20 cups. Finding a bowl size in the middle — one that holds 11 to 14 dry cups of ingredients — allows for larger mixing jobs without being so large that it becomes difficult to store.

The plastic bowl rests on top of the food processor's motor, where the metal blade or other attachments go to work. The bowl's lid often features a feed tube, allowing ingredients to be added with the lid on and while the machine runs.

Like other food prep appliances, the food processor uses more power to process mixing jobs more easily. Processors usually range between 500 and 1200 watts. All models will come with at least one speed, if not more, and a pulse setting for mixing cookie dough and other thick jobs. A safety lock often comes standard on food processors, keeping hands safe when the lid has not been replaced before turning on the appliance.

 

food processor attachments like a juliette disc, shreding disc, grating disc

These attachments from Cuisinart are easily stored in their cubby.

 

Food Processor Attachments

Plenty of attachments fit over the food processor motor to give a wide variety of slicing, chopping and grating options. Even juicers can be attached to the motor for quick orange and lemon juicing.

Select your attachments based on what your biggest needs are. If you find yourself scraping your fingertips on cheese graters, try a variety of sizes for shredding discs to achieve just the right sized slice of cheddar. Perhaps if carrot sticks or French fries are your thing, a julienne disc will do the job of slicing easily.

Most models will include at least a few of these attachments and a storage case for them. Extra attachments for specific needs can be bought individually.

 

 

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