Whether you are looking for a holiday gift for a foodie friend or in search of ways to make the holiday cooking season easier, these 9 gadgets are my personal must-haves. Plus, these gadgets aren’t just for the holiday season, so I’m showing you how to use them all year round!
My Favorite Holiday Season Entertaining Tips
Prep what you can in advance: In addition to washing and chopping the veggies, choose a dessert recipe you can make in advance. For example, with this lime curd & mascarpone fruit tart, you can make the curd up to 3 days in advance! Also, if you’re making pumpkin pie from scratch, roast the pumpkins for the pie up to 3 days in advance and bake the pie the day before or morning of for added ease.
Let others contribute to the holiday feast. If they don’t cook, ask them to bring a bottle of wine. If they love to bake, have them bring a dessert. If they have a strict diet, ask them to bring a side dish they can eat. People love to contribute to the people they love in their lives. Let them bring something special to the table.
Write gratitude cards all year round: We are great at sending out holiday cards, but what about year-round gratitude cards? The holiday season has me feeling grateful, and I’m reminded to share gratitude and love with people in my life. Instead of waiting until a specific holiday, write a card every couple weeks to a friend and send it via snail mail. You will make their day.
9 Gadgets You Didn’t Know You Needed This Holiday Season and How to Use Them All Year Long
I am not big on kitchen gadgets. They take up space, and I almost always end up using them a few times around the holidays and then they take up kitchen space, get lost, or break. This list of gadgets are tools you can actually use in your kitchen year-round. And these are items I personally have and use regularly.
This reusable roasting rack prevents your poultry from cooking while submerged all the fat/oil drippings that accumulate in the baking dish by giving it a little height for healthier cooking. It works with everything from your Thanksgiving turkey to any roasted chicken, game hens, and even vegetables all year round. These roasting racks even nest on top of each other for added height. Unlike the usual metal rack, they’re much easier to clean and even dishwasher safe.
Use your silicone roasting rack with these recipes:
- Peruvian Roasted Chicken
- Roasted Chicken with Dried Fruit & Red Wine
- Orange & Bell Pepper One-Pan Chicken
Instead of using cling wrap and foil to cover bowls of food in the refrigerator, these silicone lids are reusable and dishwasher safe. During the holiday season and all year round, I use them to cover bowls with the prep-ahead items, washed produce, chilling cookie dough, leftovers, and more. They’re a great way to save money and waste all year.
My favorite Thanksgiving side dishes:
- Pomegranate Roasted Brussel Sprouts
- Tarragon, Apple, & Turkey Sausage Stuffing
- Eggplant Rolls in Spicy Pomodoro
I use my instant thermometer multiple times a week all year round. Most people purchase a low-quality instant thermometer that they use year and it breaks in the drawer before the next holiday season. My advice is to buy a good one you will use all year round. I use it on everything from chicken to steak for a perfectly cooked weeknight dinner, and on all my homemade bread. Just check the temperature on your roasted chicken, Thanksgiving turkey, t-bone steak, or a loaf of bread and you will know it is cooked perfectly.
Use your instant thermometer for recipes like these:
I am often asked to share my favorite kitchen tools and whether I’m sharing less than a handful or a whole list, a mandoline always makes the cut. During the holiday season, scalloped potatoes are easy as can be. During the year, I use a mandoline every time I make a salad, especially with radishes, cucumbers, and carrots. It’s a huge time saver, and the thin slice adds a texture that is wonderful. And my favorite use of the mandoline is for pizza toppings – it is ridiculously quick, and all toppings are sliced perfectly thin, uniformly, and you end up not having to cook any of them ahead of time.
Use your mandoline for easy slicing when making:
- Sauceless Garlicky Potato & Jalapeño Pizza
- Tossed Green Salad with Poppyseed Dressing
- Tofu Spring Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce
Did you know it is actually more economical to buy a whole chicken? Plus you get to butcher it exactly how you like and without any waste. Save the backbones and use them to make FREE bone broth/stock. I wait until I’ve collected a couple (store in the freezer) and then make a big batch of bone broth. You can use poultry shears when butchering or spatchcocking a raw chicken, and also to break down cooked poultry. Cut your roasted chicken into serving size pieces (I like cutting it into 8-pcs – the legs, thighs, and each breast/wing gets cut in half). It is much easier than butchering it with a knife.
How to spatchcock a turkey, chicken, or game hen:
In addition to cooking faster, spatchcocking a chicken makes it easier to add spices all over the bird.
Step 1: Cut along the right of the backbone, staying as close to the backbone as possible.
Step 2: Cut along the left of the backbone, staying as close to the backbone as possible. Set the backbone aside.
Step 3: Pull open the bird to start getting it to lay flat.
Step 4: Flip the bird over and snap the breastplate with your hands so it can lay completely flat.
Or use poultry shears to carve the bird with ease after cooking:
My favorite whole bird recipes:
- Spatchcock Cast-Iron Mustard Chicken
- Lemon Pepper Game Hens
- Roasted Chicken with Piquillo Pepper Pesto
6. Food Mill
Ever wonder how to get that restaurant-level smoothness on your mashed potatoes? A food mill is the answer! Although I do admit that a food mill is more of a luxury than a necessity, it does make a huge difference when it comes to Thanksgiving (and year-round) mashed potatoes. Also, grind and puree anything for soups, sauces, mashed potatoes, and other root vegetables.
Use your food mill to get a smooth, fine mill for these recipes:
I know it sounds simple, but I personally resisted getting a salad spinner until I was in my 30s, thinking it would take up too much space in the kitchen. Turns out it is well worth the space! Use it for more than salad greens – washing and drying herbs for holiday season compound butter, drying soaked or canned beans, drying berries, and to remove seeds from canned tomatoes. And here’s a fun one – use it to get the water out of a swimsuit!
Quick & Easy Herby Thanksgiving Compound Butter
Let 1 stick of butter come to room temperature. Add 6 tbsp of minced fresh herbs like parsley, tarragon, basil, and sage. Make sure the herbs are very dry before you add them to the butter. Mix the butter and herbs well. Freeze in a greased ice cube tray or mold into a log (using cling wrap or a zipper bag). Refrigerate until solid. Place slices of this compound butter under the skin of your turkey, chicken, or game hen before roasting.
Some of my favorite salad recipes:
- Herb Salad with Pomegranate Miso Dressing
- Persimmon and Goat Cheese Salad
- Tossed Green Salad with Poppyseed Dressing
Did you know that if you measure 1 cup of flour in the winter and 1 cup of flour in the summer, the amounts will be completely different? Measuring with a kitchen scale is the best way to be precise when baking, and that is why fussy recipes like souffles and macarons give you measurements in weights. I’ve been leaning more and more towards listing weights with my recipes so they come out identically no matter what climate you are in, and have already noticed a difference. It’s a great tool to have in the kitchen, and if you get used to using it you’ll fall in love with it more and more each time.
Make these recipes with added precision by using a kitchen scale:
I used to go through roll after roll of parchment paper around the holidays, and run out at exactly the worst moment. No longer with this awesome kitchen addition. And it has even more benefits like reducing waste, eliminating greasy spray (it’s non-stick), even baking, and you can use it instead of wax paper when rolling out sticky doughs… but you will need two!
Use your silicone baking mat for these favorite recipes:
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This post has been sponsored by OXO. All thoughts and opinions are my own.