Monday, February 29, 2016

{A Few of My Favorite Things...Part 2}

Welcome back to Part 2 of my series on a few of my favorite kitchen items!
If you didn't see last week's post, you can check out Part 1 HERE!

This week is all about cook-wear, bake-wear, and containers.

Stainless-Steel Skillets and Saucepans:

I have always used stainless steel pans for saucepans. But only recently have I started using the skillets. We were getting pretty sick of replacing our skillets multiple times a year, because the Teflon would scratch off (that's kind of gross to think about). However, I was very used to that type of pan, and very comfortable using it, and was pretty skeptical of the stainless steel pans. Either people love them or they hate them...there doesn't seem to be any middle ground!
First, I have to say that they are wonderful!
Second, I have to say that they do take some getting used to.
I started out by seasoning them, because that's what "everyone" says to do.
Skip that step. It wears off after the first use, and they just don't need it.

-It's a very even cooking heat
-Because these don't have any rubber type of anything on the handle, they are oven-safe as well.
-After just a few minutes of soaking in some hot, soapy water, they are very easy to clean. You can't use any kind of abrasive sponge or anything, but we found this awesome cleaner that is fabulous! I'll share that with you in a separate post very soon.
-You MUST use the pans over a lower heat. NEVER put them on a burner that is turned on high. I never use them on any heat higher than medium - no matter what I'm cooking. Stainless steel gets much hotter than other pans, so if you have them on high, your food is going to burn almost instantly. And so is your pan. Low and slow is key!

Pyrex Baking Pans:

If there was a single item in our kitchen that we have the most of, and use the most often (besides drinking glasses or forks), it would 9x13 baking pans....with lids!
I seriously use them for everything, all the time! 
For instance, we have 8. The good news is that we only need cabinet space for about 3, because that's usually the maximum number not being used!
I make cakes, brownies, lots of different kinds of desserts, casseroles, jello salads, dips for chips, etc., etc., and etc. I store cookies, muffins and biscuits in them, all sorts of leftovers (like pizza), use them as a nice long veggie tray. I mean, really, you name it, and you can probably use a 9x13 pan for it!!  
I bake things in them, I freeze things in them, I store things in them.
They travel well, they stack well, they store well.
As you can tell from the picture, the top pan is slightly smaller. I'm not sure what the exact size is, but it's a little shorter, and much narrower than a 9x13. It came in a set with another 9x13 pan, and I use it just as much...especially for half batches of different things.
And the lids as well. I rarely use a pan, and not the lid.
You can find this style of pan (maybe different brands) in a variety of places.
We have gotten them as gifts (and they make a fabulous gift, by the way), from Walmart, TJMaxx, Ross, Amazon...pretty much any place that sells kitchen items.

Small Serving Bowls:

These might seem a little strange to some people, but I LOVE these silly little bowls!! 
And they are tiny!! The large ones on the left hold a half cup. 
The small ones on the right hold a quarter of a cup.
I think technically they are small serving bowls. 
We use them for dips, for keeping jello salads and other things like that off your plate and separate from your other food. For all sorts of little things.
And for baking/cooking as well. You know on cooking shows and things like that, how the chef's have all the different ingredients all measured out and ready to go? Yeah, I do that all the time. And these bowls work amazing for that! It helps keep me organized and on track, and I just love it!
I'm sure you can get them other places too, but we honestly got them at Dollar Tree (I love that store). The small ones come in packs of 4 (correct, 4 bowls for a dollar), and the big ones come in packs of 2 or 3, I can't remember exactly.

Custard/Baking Cups: 

These are pretty much up there with the 9x13 baking pans, and just about as useful.
You can bake in them, you can freeze in them. We do both.
Plus use them for leftovers, dips, measuring out ingredients like the other little bowls listed above, freezing small portions of meals, flipping them over and tracing around them when you need a circle of paper that size for something (lol!)....again, you name it!! They are generally the answer to my "small" problems!
They come in a variety of sizes. Pictured here are the one-cup and two-cup sizes.
These were both purchased at Walmart, but again, I'm sure they can be found at any kitchen-specialty store, Amazon, etc., and there are several different brands (Pyrex, Anchor, etc.).

Rubbermaid Storage Containers:

Tupperware is wonderful, don't get me wrong. 
But I have to admit, I may just love these little containers even more. 
We have several different styles of storage containers, but these are by far my favorite.
First, the fact that they are square, makes them so practical for storing in a refrigerator or cabinet.
Second, they stack really, really well. And so do the lids. They basically clip together, which keeps them from getting lost.
They are great to freeze things in, but I do not recommend using them in the microwave, as they can melt and then, you know, they just don't look very good after that.
They come in a variety of different sets. I love the set we have, because it has lots of different sizes...from large to extra small. And I use them ALL!
These came from Walmart, but I have seen them just about everywhere...from Dollar General to Sam's Club, BedBath&Beyond, Amazon...they're everywhere.


Hope to see you again next week for Part 3!!!

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