A Beautiful Mess Kitchen Gear Favorites

KitchenEssentials_collageWe get emails and comments from fellow home cooks who want to know what we use and love in the kitchen. I try to link to any special tools I use in recipes here on the blog, but I thought it might be fun to take a peek into my kitchen and see what I really use. Except we made this pretty collage of all the items instead, because, well, my real kitchen gear is pretty much in a constant state of use (aka it’s all got dry, crusty flour caked in the cracks or something equally delicious looking).

Ahem, without further ado…

Things you can make with a mixer1. KitchenAid Mixer in Persimmon. I didn’t get into baking and cooking until I was 22 years old. I think if I showed 22-year-old Emma my kitchen gear today, she would probably spit in my face and call me a rich person. And that’s because 22-year-old Emma is a jerk, apparently. But seriously my mixer is one of those items that is a bit of an investment. It took me years before I finally decided to buy one. And now I use it at least a couple times every week. It’s awesome! You can knead dough, easily mix any kind of batter, effortlessly make mayonnaise, whip up the perfect meringue, and that’s not even scratching the surface.

Things you can make in a cast iron2. Cast Iron Pans. I know what you’re thinking: Emma, those are like so country looking. Dude, what’s wrong with country stuff? Geez. What a snob. (Blogging is like talking to yourself on the internet.) I truly cannot sing the praises of a good cast iron skillet enough. You can cook on the stove top, you can pop it in the oven, and it’s pretty enough to serve in. I have a few different sizes, and I love making anything from baked macaroni to fruit cobbler in them. Love it. Warning: they do require a little special care and maintenance. You can read more about it here.

Cookies baked with a silpat mat3. Silpat Mats for baking. Want your cookies to bake more evenly, get a Silpat! Seriously, they are wonderful. I like using parchment paper too, but here’s two things to consider: (1) Items baked on a Silpat vs. parchment paper will bake more evenly (see an example here). And (2) it’s probably better for the environment to use and reuse a Silpat mat rather than all that disposable parchment paper.

Things you can make in ramekins4. Ramekins! I think most people associate ramekins with creme brulee. Which, yeah, you totally need ramekins for that. But they are so useful beyond that, because they are basically just tiny individual casserole dishes. You can make baked oatmeal, green bean casserole, or use them to serve nuts/dried fruit in on a cheese plate. Super useful, super cute—done deal.

Ice cream maker attachement is a must buy!5. KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker Attachment. Yeah, so did you buy that mixer since we last spoke? No, not yet, because you’ve been reading a very long-winded blog post. Fair enough. Guys, I love making homemade ice cream! It’s so fun to get to make up your own flavors. I’m obsessed. My favorites this year (so far) have been lavender, cereal milk and cinnamon dolce.

Things you can make with an immersion blender6. Immersion Blender. Confession: I’m an immersion blender freak. And that’s because I also happen to be a bit of a soup freak. And homemade soup is an immersion blenders soulmate. (Oh, excuse me, I’m starting to get pre-Valentine’s Day fever where I want to do nothing but watch The Notebook on repeat, eat chocolate that tastes like either red wine or potato chips, and turn everything into a love analogy.) If you want to make creamy soup, but you don’t like transferring super hot liquids from a pot to a blender to a pot again (madness!) then get an immersion blender for crying out loud. You can do other things with it too, like whisk stuff.

Things you can make in a dutch oven7. Dutch Oven. Also sometimes called a French Oven, but let’s not mince words here. This is basically a heavy duty pot you can cook in, bake in, or (drum roll) fry in. I always fry in my dutch oven. I made these easy biscuit donuts in a dutch oven. Also chili, and soups, and bread, and casseroles. They are extremely useful but also quite pretty. I usually leave mine sitting on top of my stove at all times, so it’s kind of a decor statement too (mine’s red—if I ever get another, I will probably try white).

Things you can make with a food processor8. Food Processor. No, it’s really not the same thing as a blender. Unless you have a truly fancy blender. But I don’t… so… yeah. A food processor was probably one of the first over $50 investments I made in my kitchen gear some years ago. I just got tired of seeing things I wanted to make only to find the directions said, “Then put it in your food processor.” Curses! So I got one. You can make hummus, peanut butter, bread crumbs, hollandaise sauce, the list goes on. Forever. Ok, not forever. But you see my point.

9. KitchenAid Pasta Attachment. Ok, so I just got this. It was a birthday present from Trey. Yes, I’m bragging. And I’ve only used them once. So I’m probably not really qualified to recommend these yet. But they worked like a charm and made me feel like a pasta-making rock star on my very first attempt. And that’s a good feeling in the kitchen, when so much can go wrong. Or maybe that’s just me. 🙂

Things you can make with mason jars10. Mason Jars. Cliche? Maybe. But mason jars aren’t just for hipster crafts or weddings. Mason jars are extremely useful in the kitchen too. There’s the obvious uses, canning and as rustic drinking glasses. But I also regularly use mine to mix and store salad dressings and cocktails. You can also bake in them (pies in jars!) or use them in your crock pot (dulce de leche!).

Things you can make with a mandoline11. Mandolin Slicer. No, this is not a musical instrument. This is the best way to slice vegetables or other items super thin. Are you gearing up to make homemade pickles? Slice your cucumbers the perfect amount of thinness with a mandolin. I love to use my mandolin to slice veggies before stir frying or apples before baking a pie. It’s awesome.

Serve food on a cutting board12. Cutting Boards. This probably seems like a no-brainer. Cutting boards are kind of an essential. Duh. I really like cute, colorful plastic cutting boards, because I can just pop them in the dishwasher after use. But I also highly recommend getting a few pretty wood cutting boards. They will need to be washed by hand but what I love about wood cutting boards is that you can both use them for a work surface but also to serve on (like a pretty cheese platter for a party). Splurge and get a few wood cutting boards.

Thanks for letting me share a few of my favorite kitchen tools! xo. Emma

  • My frying pan, mixer, hand blender and cutting board are my favorites in the kitchen! I’m glad they are on your list!

  • oooh! I just got a Kitchenaid pasta attachment for Christmas. And I LOVE it!
    I used to use a vintage hand-crank pasta maker, which was neat, but always a major undertaking and required two people. Now I can work the whole thing on my own. Homemade pasta is so fun!
    Great list, Emma! 🙂

  • Wow, our lists really match up! I still haven’t bought a stand up mixer though… Soon!

  • Oh man, thank you So much EMMA! As a kitchen tool newb, I’m oh so grateful for your advice! AND as always, YOU CRACK ME UP!!! ” But hey, if you hate Mother Earth that’s fine. Whatever.” should not have read this post hungry #foodpics

  • Le Creuset is REDONKulously and unecessarily expensive. Try TJ Maxx for good quality cast iron and enameled dutch ovens. Or, like my boyfriend did for Christmas, Big Lots! He bought me a beautiful orange/red ombre dutch oven for like.. $40 bucks. It’s beautiful and I’ve already used it 15 times since I got it.

    Save the money you save not buying Le Creuset stuff and spend it on the KitchenAid mixer. She’s right – it’s totally worth it. 🙂

  • Do you ever can things? If so, I’d love if you shared how you do it. I’d love to learn how to make pickled okra, since it’s so expensive in the store.

    Thanks for sharing your kitchen favorites! My pear colored mixmaster is at the top of my list, too.


  • I LOVE this post! I am starting to build my kitchen supplies & equipment and this is definitely helpful. I am still drooling over mixers. One day… : )

    “But hey, if you hate Mother Earth that’s fine. Whatever.” Hahaha. That’s great.

  • What a great list! We’re redoing our kitchen, little by little, and these will make for a fantastic new foundation for making our bellies happy. (p.s. we use mason jars for everything from drinking glasses, to storage, to flower vases. Plus they remind me of my Italian roots… used for drinking wine. Can’t give hipsters credit for these!)

  • I love the way you write Emma! So funny, and still interesting and informative 🙂 The boyfriend and I are really really thinking about getting a Kitchen Aid.. I think the only thing that’s holding us back right now is the colour choice 😀

  • oh this post was just great! I’m a bit jealous of all the nice stuff you have, but the post was so funny to read! What an inspiration, now I wanna cook and bake and swear over the fact that manson jars are only sold in the states. oh btw, bf have given me an immersion blender and a mandolin over the years. his sister said she’d get me a kitchen aid if I moved to the states. 🙂

  • I love my Kitchenaid Stand Mixer. I know it’s going to last me a lifetime so it’s definitely worth the investment. I received a Kitchenaid immersion blender for Christmas. It’s amazing. Great for soup and pasta sauce too. Great post Emma!
    xx Allison

  • My hubby and I got a Kitchen Aid mixer with our credit card points. I can’t believe how much we use it! It’s totally worth the investment if you cook and bake a lot at home. I plan to look for a Dutch oven at TJ Maxx since they can be pricey.

    Great list!

  • Right on! I would add a “Global” brand knife to your list, and then it would match mine! Love your choices.

  • I am missing 3, 5 and 6. I have been debating 5 and 6 for quite some time now (I’m trying not to be a hoarder but who am I kidding? I want them ALL!) and will probably pick up the mats when I’m out shopping for the other two. I love this list…actually I absolutely love this blog!

  • many things to appear in a kitchen wish list 🙂
    by the way, I was browsing through your blog last night – and i was looking for some decoration inspiration. the only restriction I have is that I cannot open any holes on the walls or peel the wall – any suggestions?:)

  • I agree with everything. I’ve loved my KitchenAid mixer for years now. My immersion blender is the handiest thing I’ve bought recently. Soups are so much easier now!

  • Ohh I desperately want a Le Creuset! But I feel like I should be a better cook to justify the cost.

    Totally agree about the Silpats!

  • My, your writing style is entertaining! Love it! And I think I just found a few items to add to my wish list too…

  • Everything looks SO good! I love this post, kiitchen aid is good 🙂



  • drooling over your kitchen picks. i’ve been wanting to grab an immersion blender badly. and le crueset…i dream of a cobalt blue set!


  • I’d kill for a Kitchen Aid! Hopefully not really, but hey, you never know. Seriously, though. I need one in my life! Loving this post 😉

  • I happily happened upon your blog! What a discovery, it speaks to my budding DIY self. Thanks for all the inspiration!

  • Thanks for this, as a new wife I am cooking so much more and have no clue what I am doing. I think my next investment will be the baking mats and immersion blender. yay!

  • Great list! We are becoming more creative with cooking and are interested in knowing the basic equipment and why these would be needed. Thanks for sharing!

  • This post was as entertaining as it was informative! I need that pasta attachment. And a tee that says “Blogging is like talking to yourself on the internet.”

  • We love-love-love our immersion blender and mandolin slicer. Both were the kind of purchase where you think, DUH, why didn’t I buy this years ago?!

    I have a kevlar-reinforced glove to use with the mandolin, by the way. I don’t have to use the guard and I can slice with wild abandon… and keep all my digits intact. I got a pair for cheap on Amazon and highly recommend it.

  • ugh, a dutch oven, stand mixer, and a full-sized food processor are all on my wishlist. I just wish I could afford them! 🙁

  • what a fun reading this! thanks for cheering me up in the morning with your witty post

  • Messing up with the kitchen doesn’t matter until we have some yummy things to eat and for that make well purpose we need different utensils and I hope the kitchen gear favorites can do a good job.

  • I’ve started doing my sweet potatoes in ramekins at Thanksgiving, etc- or should I say in a single ramekin, because I’m the only one who eats them! 😉

    This is a great list! 😀

  • Great post. I really enjoyed it. I would love to know some of your soup recipes!

  • I got a food processor for Christmas- best present ever! I tend to use it for all my creamy soups, works like a charm. Next step Kitchenaid stand mixer- eek! I will definitely be investing in the ice cream attachedment- bring on summer time!

  • Just a heads up, I know that wood cutting boards look really vintage and pretty buy I wouldn’t recommend them to cut your normal raw food (meat, chicken, fish, etc), because the bacteria can get into the cracks of the board and come up later to infest the next thing you cut.
    They are actually forbidden in restaurants, I believe.

  • Everything looks so delicious and the equipament has such beautiful colors!!! XO! ♥

  • I agree with everything on your list! My other kitchen necessity is my Vitamix! I use it almost everyday and I don’t think I could live without it. Luckily it was a gift because they are pricey! Now that I have one though, I totally think it’s worth every penny.

  • I have been wanting a Kitchen Aid Mixer for so long but now I’m stuck on what color to get….I loved this post Emma!

  • I think my life will be complete when I get a kitchen aid mixer. I’ve wanted one for ages!
    Mason jars are great, too. I love picking them up at thrift shops.


  • My boyfriend gave me a royal blue dutch oven for Christmas and it is the most treasured gift that anyone has ever given to me. Since Christmas, I have not make a single meal that didn’t involve this pot. I love it. I keep mine on the stovetop at all times, as well. It’s beautiful1

  • I’ve been begging my husband for a KitchenAid pretty much since we got married and didn’t receive one as a gift…I was so bummed about that, seriously. My food processor is tiny, but gets a LOT of use. Maybe I should invest in a larger one soon. Your writing is awesome, by the way. 🙂

  • I’ve been eyeing immersion blenders for quite some time. As well as the KitchenAid Mixer. It’s been on my Christmas wish list for years now!

  • Great post! I love being in the kitchen and I’m always wanting to learn about new tips and tricks and tools to use!

  • Love all of these!! Getting a Kitchen Aid is best decision a baker could make! I love using it so much! 🙂 Also, I use a food processor for so many things, it’s so great! And I love making pizza in a cast iron skillet!!

  • Great post with lovely tasty food pics!
    I’ve been looking for a cast iron skillet for a few months now, but until now I only saw skillets from Le Creuset, which are WAYYY overpriced. I hate it; I got very enthusiastic about cast iron, so I want to try it 🙂

  • “Blogging is like talking to yourself on the internet.”

    Ha! So true! I love all your tips for gadgets in the kitchen. I haven’t quite found my dream kitchen living in a city, but when I do, I will definitely stock up on more kitchen supplies.

  • Awesome list! I love, love, love my mason jars (mostly for desserts like pots de creme and mini chilled key lime yogurt pie) and just discovered I don’t have to be afraid of my mandolin anymore ;o). Thanks for all of the great kitchen faves.

  • hej!

    can you please tell me where can i buy those beautiful glasses (No. 10.)?
    I would like to buy any for my birthday brunch


  • You. are. hilarious. “…spit in my face and call me a rich person.” This was a great post. I think a lot of these things seemed like things “adults” used in the kitchen, but they seem much more approachable now. I really want to make some ice cream.

    My blog post on this subject would say, “I use this everyday in my kitchen. I remember the day I got my OWN. It was when I knew I was a grown up. It offers all kinds of settings and you can select the time each item cooks, down to the second! Its called a microwave.”

  • Silpats change lives.

    And my kitchen aid (it’s hot pink, fyi) is my best friend.

    I’m lucky to have a mom who teaches cooking classes at Williams-Sonoma, so I totally soak up her discount and am spoiled when it comes to kitchen gear.

    I so need to get that icecream making attachment.

  • Great list! I just got my kitchen aid mixer for Christmas. I love it! I’ve made everything from pizza dough to mashed potatoes. I really want the ice cream maker and past attachment. I def need the siloat mats, immersion blender and the food processor.

  • I would be totally lost without my Kitchenaid or my food processor! Thanks for sharing, and for some great ideas of what to add to my kitchen necessities!

  • I would say that before splurging on the appliances get a really good knife. This is something that you will use everyday. The price should make you question your sanity. Have it professionally sharpened regularly.

  • Great list! I’ve been thinking about finally getting a mandolin slicer and an immersion blender. Not sure what has taken me so long but this post definitely made me feel like its time! 🙂

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