Let's start in the kitchen. I love Smart Balance. Vegetable oil for your cakes and brownies?... Smart Balance Oil. Butter for your bread or sauces?... Smart Balance Spread. You can use it and not feel like a fatty. I'm usually anti-substitutes. Like back in High School, my science teacher told me that Sweet n Low made flies grow like 3 heads or something when they were given it in one study. I don't know if this is actually true, but ever since then, I've stayed away from those substitute products. Also, anything that is "fat free" tastes like butt. Another reason why I don't like that kind of stuff. But ... BUT!! You cannot tell the difference between the spread and real butter or the oil and regular vegetable oil. I'm for reals.
Lastly in the trifecta of Smart Balance is the Smart Balance milk (lactose free version), which I've recently discovered. I've noticed that ever since I started using this product, I feel less bloated after having milk.
Smart Balance. You can get it at your grocery store, and I've found the best prices at Walmart. Also, these people are always putting coupons in the Sunday paper.
The best ingredients really do make a huge difference. Especially in baking. So splurge on the best flour. King Arthur is the best. Martha says so. It really does make your cookies and your cakes come out fluffyer and just overall... better. You can cut back on the sugar and buy the store brand, but spend the extra cash for the flour. You won't be sorry.
King Arthur All Purpose Flour. You can get this at any grocery store, including Walmart.
I find Turbinado sugar to be far supreme over regular sugar. It just tastes better. At good places like Starbucks, they have it out, but sometimes I ask for it especially at other restaurants and they do have it. I know I'm a freak.
Sugar in the raw. You can get it at the grocery store.
Ranch makes everything better. The downside is it makes your butt fatter. Not this stuff. You totally can't tell it's lite.
Naturally Fresh Lite Ranch. Find it at Kroger (not HEB) in the veggie section with the refrigerated dressings.
Sour cream is a staple. You shouldn't deprive yourself from tasty sour cream on your chili, tacos, or potato pancakes. But you shouldn't ruin your food buy using nasty store brand light sour cream either. Wanna know a secret? When I get my weekly Bullritos to go, I leave out the sour cream, and use my own at home. Definitely do a dollop of Daisy. (Light)
Daisy Light Sour Cream. You can get it at any grocery store.
Investing in a good set of knives is the first step to becoming a good home cook (or chef). Time for an SAT analogy. Knives are to the cook like paintbrushes are to an artist. When chefs are dismissed on Top Chef, they are supposed to "pack their knives and go".... that's how important they are! They bring them everywhere.
I'm in love with my Wusthof knives. Like any sane person, I did crazy amounts of research trying to figure out which were the best and which would meet my needs. I even took a knives class at my local Williams Sonoma to study the differences between Wusthof and Shun knives as well as the many uses for the different knives that come in a set. I figured out I didn't need a huge set, and a few would do. After about 5 years, my 8 piece set has been the best investment in my kitchen. The knives still cut the same way they did when I first got them. I highly recommend adding a good set of knives to your kitchen and buying no more than the 8 piece set, if not fewer. A good butcher's knife, pairing knife, and a serrated knife is all you truly need.
Wusthof Knives, 8 piece set (includes block, honer, and scissors). I got mine from Crate & Barrel. They were giving out a free cutting board with the purchase around Christmas time. Note Bed Bath and Beyond does not allow coupons on Wusthof.
You are not a chef (or baker) if you don't have one of these. It WILL change your life. period. First of all, it doesn't even need a descriptor. You say Kitchenaid. People know what you're talking about. Mashed potatoes? Kitchenaid. Cakes? Kitchenaid. Cookies? Kitchenaid. Don't even try to make whipped cream without one of these puppies. What did people do in the stone age? I don't even know. Life was terrible. Get one immediately.
Kitchenaid Mixer. They're sold all over the place. However, I notice Kohl's has good sales around Christmas time.
The Cuisinart Food Processor is a life saver. You got 10 carrots that you need shredded at lightning speed? I've got a solution for that. Cuisinart. How about a Graham cracker crust that you want to make without getting arthritis? It's another one of those appliances that needs no introduction. Cuisinart. Everyone knows.
Cuisinart 11 cup food processor. You can get it at Bed Bath and Beyond (don't forget to use a coupon!)
I love my Cuisinart Toaster Oven too. It's actually a convection oven, so it doesn't do that annoying on off on off stuff in order to maintain the temperature when it's heating. It keeps a constant temperature. It's like a little mini oven. I roast asparagus in there and just about anything that's small enough to fit. No sense wasting all that energy to heat up a big oven. I also am not fortunate enough to have a double oven in my home, so the toaster oven can be used as a back up oven for smaller projects. I also like using it to reheat pizza and stuff. I don't like reheating stuff in the microwave 'cause it gets soggy. The toaster oven prevents this from happening. Oh and it also makes toast.
Cuisinart TOB-195 Exact Heat Toaster Oven Broiler. I got mine at Bed Bath and Beyond.
Hopefully that was as helpful for you as it was fun for me. Even though I feel like a total wack job right now. It's scary to think that I might lose it if I weren't able to get Daisy light sour cream or turbinado sugar for my coffee. Is anyone else out there totally OCD when it comes to your favorites? Do tell!