As I began to cook and bake my new healthy recipes, I found that I would shy away from the ones that had foods I didn’t recognize, or used tools that I didn’t have.  I’ve slowly stocked my kitchen and expanded my food knowledge.  I love going to the produce section now and buying new foods and experimenting with them.  I’ve put foods in my cart without having the slightest clue what it was.  I just ask the cashier as I’m checking out.  I recently jumped for joy upon finding crystallized ginger – I had been on the hunt for this stuff for months.  It doesn’t take much to make me happy :~)

I am a Pampered Chef-aholic.  So, most of my cookware is Pampered Chef.  Here are a few of the items that I can’t live without:

  1. garlic press; there is nothing like fresh minced garlic.  I ALWAYS double the amount of garlic in every recipe.  Yum!
  2. prep bowls; I keep one filled with salt because almost every recipe calls for salt.  When I have to chop fresh herbs I fill a prep bowl and use my PC kitchen shears to chop it in the bowl. 
  3. microplane grater; I LOVE this tool.  I use it to zest (or finely grate) lemon/lime/orange rinds.  This works much better than one of those small zesters you can get for $5.  It’s worth the extra money.  Just watch your knuckles!  I have so many recipes that call for fresh rind and juice and it really helps to use fresh.
  4. citrus press; This is so great!  I can usually get about 1/4 cup of juice from one lemon/lime using this tool.  If you heat the lemon/lime in the microwave for about 15 seconds, it will help you get more juice than if you used a cold one fresh out of the fridge.
  5. good knives; This will make life so much easier if you invest in good knives and a knife sharpener.  I really appreciate my knives when I have to cook at my mama’s house (sorry mama!).  And don’t put them in the dishwasher!  Take care of them.
  6. mini loaf pan; I bake a lot of breads and I love my mini loaf pan.  It holds 4 mini loaves, so its great for me to bake the bread, have some for myself, freeze one, and give the other two away.
  7. Food scale; Most meat portions are given in weighted measurements.  I had no idea what 4 oz of meat looked like, so I bought a scale.  I still measure all of my meat portions.  If you want to put your plate on the scale first, just clear the scale, put your plate on it, and press the TARE button and the scale will reset back to zero.  This way you don’t have to take into account the weight of your dish.
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