Whether you're a bonafide home chef or a simple meat-and-potatoes cook, an easy way to upgrade your kitchen is by adding specialty kitchen appliances. Overstock carries trusted brands like Food Saver, Cuisinart, Presto, Kalorik, and Nesco that turn your kitchen from simply a place to cook into a place to entertain. A stainless steel electric pressure cooker can shorten cooking times and free you up to spend more time with your family, or using a food dehydrator to make fruit leather can be a fun afternoon activity for the entire family. Host a movie night, complete with a popcorn maker and an ice cream maker for crave-worthy snacks. Football Sundays become just that much better when there's chili cooking in the slow cooker. Your kitchen is a special place, and with a few well-chosen specialty items, it becomes more than just a room in your house — it becomes the heart of your home.
For future chefs who are still a little young to be near the oven, a dehydrator offers the perfect family-friendly activity. A food dehydrator can be used to make fruit leather, lean meat jerky, and yogurt drops (perfect for ice cream toppings); adults will enjoy dehydrating fish, herbs, and even re-crisping crackers. Dehydrators fit easily on your countertop and stainless steel pullout trays are easy to clean. Watch your progress through a clear front window, and when the timer goes off, enjoy a family snack!
Let's face it, sometimes you just need a quick, easy meal to be ready as soon as you walk through the door. A slow cooker lets you prep meals in the morning that will be fully cooked by the time everyone returns home from school and work. Simply add your ingredients to the cooker in the morning, turn it to low for 4-6 hours, and let the slow cooker work its magic! Children will love tossing the ingredients in the cooker. As an added bonus, slow cooker meals tend to reheat well for leftovers, knocking out two dinners with just a few minutes of work. Can you say "superparent"?
Silly? Totally. But hot dogs are universally popular among kids and adults will get a kick out of the small appliance. Hot dog toasters have dials you can use to adjust the cooking time of your food, and you'll use small tongs to remove your delectable dogs. This little kitchen appliance is a huge hit at parties and anytime you're entertaining. This could also be the perfect gift for the bachelor in your life. Now the only question remains: ketchup or mustard?
Pressure cookers might seem intimidating to a novice cook, but they actually make your life much easier. These appliances have been shown to reduce cooking time by as much as 70 percent, saving you a ton of time in the always-busy evening. Parents will appreciate the fact that in pressure cookers, foods maintain most of their nutrients without losing any of their taste. Many pressure cookers are non-stick, so they're a breeze to clean. If you're nervous about using this appliance for the first time, many models will include a voice-guided feature that helps lead you through the cooking process, and a built-in thermometer will let you make sure your food is cooking properly.
Another major crowd pleaser, the deep fryer lets you perfect your family's special French fry recipe or whip up donuts on a weekend morning (after all, your family deserves a treat every now and then). Most deep fryers will include a stainless steel basket with a heat-resistant handle, and they may also have an automatic thermostat for extra convenience.
Raclette Cooktop and Grill
Not familiar with the raclette cooktop? Don't worry, we weren't either — until we realized just how many tasty ways we could use it. A small appliance of Swiss origin, a raclette grill lets you cook for several people at once since it's two-tiered (the top surface cooks meat, fish, or vegetables, while the bottom tier can be used to heat sauces or melt cheese). Your guests can combine the top and bottom ingredients to mix-and-match their own meal (psst... kids LOVE doing this too). Many models will come with a reversible grill plate, one side of which is smooth and one side of which is ridged, for even MORE variety. Don't forget to use non-stick spray to ensure you get every last bite.
Sous Vide Immersion Circulator
Granted, this little appliance is a little more for adults than for kids, but bear with us for a minute. "Sous vide" means "under vacuum" in French, and it refers to a way of cooking in which food is placed in a vacuum-sealed bag, then submerged in a water bath for a longer cooking time at a consistent temperature (that prevents overcooking).
Sounds complicated? We get it. But plenty of families use sous vide for busy weeknight dinners on a daily basis. Regular plastic bags will work just as well as vacuum-sealed bags, and the hands-off cooking method lets you spend time with the people who matter most. Similar to the slow cooker, it's a great fallback plan for busy days when dinner needs to be a simple process. You'll get food that's cooked at precise temperatures with tender texture and amazing flavor — all without any of the guesswork that usually goes into figuring out the timing of getting that perfectly cooked food.
The sous vide immersion circulator regulates the temperature of your water pot by sucking water into the circulator, heating it up, and then pouring it back into the pot to keep the water simultaneously heating and circulating. The circulator is small enough to keep in a drawer when you're not using it. Give this gadget a try — we think you'll love it. Bon appetit!