5 Kitchen Gadgets I Could Live Without {But I Don’t Want To!}

5 Kitchen Gadgets I Could Live Without {But I Don't Want To!}

While cooking dinner the other day, I was thinking about how many modern conveniences I enjoy when it comes to my kitchen appliances and gadgets.  I like cooking and baking, but sometimes I wonder if I’d like it as much if I had to put as much work into it.  There are definitely a handful of items that I use frequently that are totally worth the splurge (big or small).

*Disclaimer: I’m not receiving any compensation for posting about these items, however, if you click on the link and choose to purchase it, I will receive a small commission.

Pineapple Corer/Slicer  I’ll be honest.  I love pineapple, but the thought of cutting it up is just about enough to make me not want to buy them–ever.  Enter the pineapple corer/slicer.  This nifty little tool will core and slice an entire pineapple in less than a minute.  No more worrying about whether or not I’ll be biting into a hard piece of core or a pokey leftover piece of the outside that got missed.  I paid $6 for mine off of Amazon and I love it.

5 Kitchen Gadgets I Could Live Without {But I Don't Want To!}

Apple Peeler/Corer  If you have kids who don’t like the skin of an apple or if you like bottling or dehydrating apples, you know how much of a pain it is to peel it off with a knife.  My kids eat an apple almost every day and I can’t imagine not having one of these little gadgets.  It saves so much time and frustration, let me tell you.  And when my husband and I started bottling apple pie filling a few years ago, there is no way we would have actually tried if we hadn’t had one of these.

5 Kitchen Gadgets I Could Live Without {But I Don't Want To!}

Cupcake/Muffin Carrier  About five years ago, my mother-in-law gave us a cupcake/muffin carrier, complete with a 12-cup muffin pan, an insert for carrying 12 more cupcakes/muffins and a lid with a handle.  I already had a couple cupcake/muffin tins and I remember thinking, “What in the world am I going to use this for?”  Today I am eating my words because I use it on a regular basis.  I’ve used it when I needed to store cupcakes overnight before frosting them (to keep them moist) and to transport decorated cupcakes/muffins to a party or dinner.  I’ve had more people than I can count comment on what a great little carrier it is and I couldn’t agree more.  (Check out my Applesauce Muffins here.)

5 Kitchen Gadgets I Could Live Without {But I Don't Want To!}

Crock Pot  The Christmas before I got married, I asked my mom for a crock pot.  She got me one, although I think she was a little skeptical that I’d actually use it since we didn’t use one growing up.  When I got married, I got two more crock pots: one large and one small.  My husband wanted to return one of them but I had a feeling we’d get use out of all of them considering family dinner at his parent’s house includes more than 20 people.  In the years since, we’ve had occasion to use all of them and sometimes even at the same time.  Crock pots are such a time saver and simplify my life.  (Check out my Crock Pot Minestrone Soup here.)

5 Kitchen Gadgets I Could Live Without {But I Don't Want To!}

Blendtec  Ever since I’ve known my husband, he’s had a thing with making slushes (we’re coming up on our 8 year anniversary in May).  He’s been making them since he was a teenager and all his friends ask him to make them even now.  But crushing ice is hard on blenders and he’s burned out the motors on at least a couple of ours.  Finally we decided to look into a better blender and settled on a Blendtec.  I cannot say enough good about our Blendtec and we use it every day for everything from slushes (of course) to smoothies to batters to soups.  Worth every penny.

5 Kitchen Gadgets I Could Live Without {But I Don't Want To!}

So there you have it!  If you’ve been wondering if any of these items are worth purchasing, take my word for it that they are.

What are your favorite “I-could-live-without-it-but-don’t-want-to” kitchen gadgets?

Women at the Well (Relief Society Birthday Dinner Activity)

Women at the Well (Relief Society Birthday Dinner Activity)

Each year, we have a Relief Society activity geared to celebrate the founding of the Relief Society.  (For those of you who might not know, the Relief Society is a women’s organization within my church that serves the ladies within our local vicinity.)  As I was thinking about themes for the night, the story of the woman at the well came to my mind (John 4:5-14) and I felt that the message could be applied to us.  I presented the idea to my committee and they all agreed that it was a good theme and message to share with the sisters in our ward. We recently held our activity and everything turned out so well that I wanted to share it with others who might be looking for a theme for their own ward’s Relief Society birthday dinner.

The decorations:  The colors we chose were: dark/navy blue, white and gold.  We set up round tables with white tablecloths.  In the middle of each table, we laid out a few larger pieces of blue and cream/white scrapbook paper with small gold doilies.  Then we placed a brown paper sack with a white doily folded over the top and secured the two sides with a blue ribbon.  We added gold ribbon around the handles and tied two balloons (one white, one gold) to the handles.

Women at the Well (Relief Society Birthday Dinner Activity)

On the serving table, we used the same blue and cream/white scrapbook paper and gold doilies.  Then we placed labels for each food item on the table using blue paper and white labels (I designed and created these using my Silhouette Cameo.)

Women at the Well (Relief Society Birthday Dinner Activity)

For the paper goods, we purchased soup cups and blue striped paper straws.  We already had plastic forks and spoons and white napkins.  I rolled the fork and spoon into the napkin and tied it with cream/gold baker’s twine and slipped the straw in the front.  We laid the silverware in each place at the table so it was already there and didn’t need to be carried.  (The soup cups, paper straws and twine was purchased from a lady in our ward who owns a darling Etsy shop with all the party supplies you could ever want.)

Women at the Well (Relief Society Birthday Dinner Activity)

In the center of the room, we had a well (made from styrofoam and wood) that had been used for our ward’s Christmas party (we had a Jerusalem theme).  In the middle of the well, we placed a metal bucket and put ice and bottled water so the sisters had to get their water from the well. *wink*

Women at the Well (Relief Society Birthday Dinner Activity)

The food: To keep things simple, we decided to bring four varieties of soup (one of which was my Crock Pot Minestrone) and serve them with rolls (from Costco) and a green salad.  The soups and salad were on one table and the toppings for both the soup and salad were at a separate table.

Women at the Well (Relief Society Birthday Dinner Activity)

For dessert, we bought plain cheesecake and pie filling (cherry, blueberry and raspberry) for the topping.

The message:  The woman at the well is a fairly well known story in the New Testament about a Samaritan woman who meets Jesus at a well as He and His disciples are traveling to Galilee through Samaria.  When Jesus speaks to her and asks for some water and the woman is confused and replies with a question of her own: “Why are you, a Jew, speaking to me, a Samaritan.  Everyone knows the Jews and Samaritans don’t deal with each other.” (vs. 9, paraphrase)  And His answer, which is the message I wanted to share, was: “If you knew who I was, you would be asking me for a drink and I would give you living water…for if you drink of this water, you will never be thirsty again.” (vs. 10, 13-14, paraphrase)  After hearing the Savior’s message, the woman left the well and returned to the city to share her testimony and brought others with her to hear his message as well (vs.  ).  Many people were converted and it was all because a woman listened to the word of Christ and shared it with others who then came to hear it for themselves.

The lady who gave the message talked about how we are all in need of “living water” and that it is our responsibility to share that living water with those around us.  She connected the sharing of the gospel to being a mother and teaching our children.  Because really, we are all mothers, even if we do not have children of our own.  Women have natural tendencies toward nurturing, loving and empathy.  She used part of Elder Holland’s talk “Behold Thy Mother” (October 2015) and quoted him: “To all mothers in every circumstance, including those who struggle–and all will–I say, be peaceful.  Believe in God and in yourself.  You are doing better than you think you are.”  She gave each of the ladies this quote (which she purchased from this Etsy shop) and printed it out at Costco on 4×6 prints.  (Obviously, this message was geared toward the sisters in our ward.  But if you feel like it could work for your ward too, please feel free to use it.  Or maybe it will just be a jumping off point for you.)

Women at the Well (Relief Society Birthday Dinner Activity)

The activity was a huge success!  The best part was that we were all able to get together outside of church and meetings and away from the craziness of kids and just be women and friends getting to know each other better and create a stronger bond between us all.

What have been your favorite Relief Society birthday dinner themes?

Crock Pot Minestrone Soup

Crock Pot Minestrone Soup--an easy, delicious soup that is perfect for busy days, sick days or any day!

It’s been a crappy week or so in my house.  Everyone got sick with this yucky cold, which then turned into acute bronchitis for my husband and I.  Yeah.  Fun stuff, let me tell you.  And when I’m sick, I really hate having to put too much effort into cooking.  So I was relieved when I opened the fridge and found a big plastic container full of one of my favorite soups: Minestrone.  It was leftover from Christmas Day when we had dinner at my in-laws home and we ended up with about half to bring home.

So today I’m sharing this recipe with you in hopes that you’ll find it as delicious as me and my family do. I wish I could say that I made up this recipe and take all the credit for the yumminess that it is, but I’d be lying and that is generally frowned upon…  The truth is that I found the recipe on Pinterest on a blog called Yummy Healthy Easy who adapted it from another blog (Foodtography).  I have adapted it a little more to suite me and my family.

I really like this recipe for a few reasons:
  • It is a good no-meat alternative.
  • It’s easy.
  • It’s healthy and filling.
  • It doesn’t heat up my house in the summer months.
  • It uses ingredients that I typically have around my house so I’m not running to the store for something random.
This soup is so easy to throw together in the crock pot in the morning and you just add a couple more ingredients in during the last 30-40 minutes of cook time.  Get some Rhodes rolls going a few hours before dinner and voila!—you have an entire meal that takes practically no work at all.  Double it for larger groups, or take it to a neighbor.  (It’s also a perfect meal to take to moms who have just had a baby.)
Now, on to the recipe:

Crock Pot Minestrone Soup--an easy, delicious soup that is perfect for busy days, sick days or any day!

First, you’ll need to combine broth, tomatoes, beans, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, herbs, parmesan cheese rind, salt and pepper.  Cover and cook on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours or LOW for 6 to 8 hours.

Crock Pot Minestrone Soup--an easy, delicious soup that is perfect for busy days, sick days or any day!

About 30-40 minutes before it’s done cooking, add the zucchini and spinach.  Cook for 30 minutes.

Crock Pot Minestrone Soup--an easy, delicious soup that is perfect for busy days, sick days or any day!

Add cooked pasta and let it cook 10 minutes more.

*Note: If you used fresh rosemary and/or bay leaves, this is where you would want to take them out.  I generally use dried herbs for my soups, so I just leave them in since they have become soft and part of the soup.
Ladle into bowls and sprinkle on some shredded parmesan cheese, then salt and pepper to taste.
It might be an understatement to say that my family loves this soup.  My husband eats it both the day of and as leftovers to take to work the next day.  Both my 3.5 year old and my 16 month old ask for seconds every time.  It rarely lasts more than a couple of days in our house.  That makes it a winner in my book!

Crock Pot Minestrone Soup--an easy, delicious soup that is perfect for busy days, sick days or any day!

CROCK POT MINESTRONE SOUP
Ingredients:

  • 1/2 onion, chopped (I use about 1 Tbsp onion salt)
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped (about 3 large carrots, or 12 baby carrots)
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (or ½ tsp garlic powder)
  • 1 (28 oz) can petite-diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15 oz) can white beans, drained and rinsed (I found these under the name Great Northern beans)
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 fresh rosemary sprig (or 1/2 tsp dried)
  • 1 bay leaves (or 1/2 tsp dried) 
  • 2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped (or 1 1/2 tsp dried)
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves, chopped (or 3/4 tsp dried) 
  • 1 tsp salt
  •  1/2 tsp pepper 
  • 1 medium, zucchini, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped fresh or frozen (defrosted) spinach
  • 1-2 cups small pasta, like ditalini or elbows, cooked al dente
  • Extra parmesan cheese for serving on top
Directions:
  1.  In a crock pot, combine broth, tomatoes, beans, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper.  Cover and cook on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours or LOW for 6 to 8 hours.
  2. 30-40 minutes before the soup is done cooking, add zucchini and spinach.  Cover and cook 30 minutes.
  3. Add cooked pasta, cook 10 minutes more.
  4. Remove bay leaves and rosemary sprig.  Ladle soup into bowls and top with shredded parmesan cheese.  Salt and pepper to taste.  ENJOY!