My Kitchen Drawer

Microplane 40020 Classic Zester Grater
Price: $12.95

I gave in & got one of these after watching chef Michael Symon use it over & over on The Chew.  I have to admit, this is probably one of the best kitchen tools I have ever purchased.  The closely lined grates produce super fine lemon zests that can be mixed into cake batters undetected & they give thin ribbons of Parmesan cheese great for finishing pasta dishes.  I haven't tried using this to grate hard spices but it should be OK.  I would, however, not recommend using this to do heavy duty jobs like shred cheese for pizza or grate carrot for carrot cake.

Aerobie AeroPress Coffee & Espresso Maker
Price: 25.95

We love coffee & our coffee maker just wasn't cutting it.  Instead of spending $$$ on an espresso machine, we got this instead.  The theory is simple: a plunger forces the coffee through a filter under great pressure.  The result is espresso-strength coffee that can rival any heavy duty espresso machine.  Add hot water & I've got an Americano.  Add some hot milk, I'd get a latte.  It takes about 30 seconds from start to finish to make 2 shots.  The clean up is super easy & the entire unit takes up really little room.  The best part?  I can brew my coffee the way I want & he can brew his coffee the way he wants.

Lodge Logic 12-inch Seasoned Cast Iron Skilled
Price: $36.95

Russell is a steak man; he would probably eat a steak every few days if he could.  But regardless of how we cooked our steaks - George Foreman or in a pan - we couldn't achieve that restaurant quality medium-rare with the flavorful crust.  We decided perfect steaks are worth the investment in a good heavy-bottomed pan.  We absolutely love this skillet!  We cook most meats with this now & they turn out much better.  This skillet is heavy, it does need to be cleaned while it's still hot, & it does need to be oiled it after each use.  But really, it is worth it effort.

SodaStream Genesis Soda Maker
Price: $99.95 (for the seltzer starer kit)

I love sparkling water & he drinks soda on an almost daily basis.  While we stock up on these during sales, we were still spending a lot money & creating a lot of unnecessary garbage - recycling - for the earth.  Not to mention store-bought sodas are full of junk!  We are so grateful to our friends who have allowed us to foster their SodaStream while they are away.  We have reduced our commercial soda & sparkling water consumption, saving a lot of money; we have reduced the amount of sugar going into our bodies by making our own syrups, & we are get to have awesome soda flavors like ginger lemon.

ThermoWorks Splash-Proof Super-Fast Thermapen
Price: $89.00

Professional chefs & experienced home cooks know when a steak is cooked to medium rare or when a chicken breast is cooked through.  But for newbie cooks like me, having a thermometer takes the guess work out & makes sure our food turns out right every time.  This thermometer has been featured on TV shows like Good Eats & America's Test Kitchen.  It gives a temperature reading up to 0.1 degrees in about 3 seconds.  This is on the high end price-wise but it is handmade in England & comes with a 1-year limited warranty.

Oxo Good Grips Medium Cookie Scoop
Price: $13.99

I very recently ventured into the realm of making cupcakes.  In order to quickly, easily, & evenly distribute my batter into the cupcake pan, I bought myself this scoop.  Even though it's technically meant to be used to be used for portioning cookie dough, it works really well with cupcake batter also.  For a regular-sized cupcake, it takes about 1.5 scoops.  My cupcakes came out all the same size & all having that perfect little dome; I can't wait to scoop my fluffy chocolate chip cookies!

KitchenAid Artisan Series 5-Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer
Price: $349.99

It's been about 8 years since I started baking (casually, of course) & I have always done it either with a whisk/spatula or with a basic hand mixer. I recently received this stand mixer as a gift and I love it!  This machine makes recipes so much easier, especially when it comes to creaming butter & sugar together for cookies. I am looking forward to using this beauty for all kinds of projects!