Kitchen Essentials (Last Minute Gift Ideas)

This is for you procrastinators out there who still haven’t finished up your Christmas shopping. If you’re buying for someone who likes to cook, or just so happens to be lacking in the kitchen department, here’s a list of my top 5 kitchen essentials. These are items I use on a daily basis or very often and I’m pretty sure anyone would be happy to receive them. Well, they may be a little thrown off by receiving a Dutch oven but once that puppy is in their kitchen and in use, they’ll be glad you gifted it to them!

To make your shopping easier, I’ve added links to each item of the exact brand/model that I own.

dutch oven1. Dutch oven– I didn’t receive one of these until a few years ago. And my dad gave it to me as a gift. But, I absolutely love it! I wish I’d had this many years ago. This is probably my most used cooking vessel. I only make soups in this thing and it’s also great for any type of pulled meat, pork, beef, chicken. What’s convenient about this is that you can cook on the stovetop and then transfer it to the oven.

cast iron2. Cast iron skillet– This is a kitchen staple. Everyone needs a cast iron skillet. They are so versatile. Frying, cooking, baking. They pretty much do it all. We took ours all the way to Colorado when we went tent camping on a river and it was the ONLY pan I took. These things are heavy duty, incredibly resilient and a must in every kitchen.

kitchen 23. A good blender– After our old glass blender fell out of the top cabinet and onto my head, I was really in need of a new one. Not a new head, but a new blender. Impact with my hard head caused a crack on the base of the blender but surprisingly didn’t shatter or break the glass at all. Anyhow, my dad once again gifted me with an amazing blender. Yes, my dad gives me a lot of kitchen supplies. One, he encourages my cooking. Two, I think he had a kitchen shopping addiction there for awhile. Well, a good blender is also a must. Most people keep theirs in the cabinet (like I used to) but this newer one sits on my counter because I use it so often. Smoothies, shakes, salsa, dressings, etc.

knife4. Kitchen knives– These are so important! Adam got me a great set of knives a couple of years ago and I love them. They are lightweight, but sharp and also comfortable to hold. Mine don’t have a block which I was hesitant about because who doesn’t have a block of knives sitting on their counter? Well, I don’t. At least not anymore. These stay in their velvest-esque holders in a drawer and it actually is pretty convenient. If you’re looking for a less expensive and more introductory set, click here. Same brand that I use, but just a smaller set.

kitchen5. Flat whisk– I finally got this last year. Where has it been all my life?!?! I use it daily! It’s not cumbersome like a round whisk can be, and I like the smaller size. If you’re looking for something small and inexpensive, you’ve found it.

Happy shopping and Merry Christmas!

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Chicken Chili with a side of “fries”

chiliChili! It’s all American! Traditionally made with beef, however, over the past year, my family has almost completely switched out ground beef for ground chicken. And we love it! To tell the truth, I like this chili much better with chicken than with beef. I don’t know if Texas will allow me to enter their territory with that statement, but it’s true.

Whenever I make chili, I also make French fries because my kids are chili cheese fries fans. Say that five times fast. My fries are baked so they’re even healthier for you than the traditional fried version, plus they’re super easy. So for the kid in you, see the recipe for my homemade French fries down below.

Chicken Chili (serves 4)

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. ground chicken
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 small garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 c. mild chili powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. tabasco or other hot sauce (this is completely optional depending on your spice level)
  • 1 tbsp. instant coffee powder or strong brewed coffee
  • 1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
  • 1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes, or 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/2 c. chicken broth
This is a real dutch oven, not the urban dictionary definition!

This is a real dutch oven, not the urban dictionary definition!

In a dutch oven (or large saucepan/pot) heat oil and add ground chicken. Stir and break up the chicken, adding the onion and bell peppers. When chicken is cooked (it will no longer be pink), add the rest of the ingredients. Stir and bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for approximately 45 minutes or until thickened.

*If you don’t have a dutch oven, I highly recommend investing in one. They are ideal for soups and shredded meats and are great because they can be used on the stovetop and then transferred to the oven for further cooking.

*If you are a spicy chili fan, you can use a spicier chili powder and also add more hot sauce.

Homemade Baked French Fries

wedges

My “tutorial” on how to cut your potatoes for fries

  • 5-6 russet potatoes, washed and sliced into wedges (cut in half long ways, then cut those halves into halves long ways, then do it again, understood?!?!)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • garlic powder
  • salt
  • pepper
Golden & crispy

Golden & crispy

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place your potato wedges on a baking sheet and pour olive oil over the fries. Sprinkle garlic powder, salt and pepper over the fries (it’s up to you how much seasoning you want on your fries) and then using your hands, stir all of it together to get those fries coated. Bake for about 15 minutes, then turn the fries over. Cook for an additional 15-20 minutes. Fries should be crisp and golden.

chili cheese fries 2

A tasty pile of chili & potato goodness