1. Artisan Stand Mixer from KitchenAid
If you don't already have one, it's probably at the top of the list. And is it worth it? Yup, it sure is. But, there are so many choices and so many prices and it's all so confusing, right? So, I'll make it easy. The least expensive home use model is the Classic line but it has a smaller motor and will probably not be able to handle bread making. And if you're already getting a stand mixer, particularly since it comes with a dough hook, you're going to want to make bread once in a while. Get the Artisan line. Small enough for the home, strong enough to make all the things, comes in every color. Mine is white with a silver bowl like the photo.
2. Smart Stick Hand Blender from Cuisinart
Fancy pants name: immersion blender. Say it and your dinner guests will imagine all sorts of exotic culinary activities taking place in your kitchen. But seriously, you want a stick blender. You really do. Because as much as I love my Blendec blender, I save it for more important projects (like slushy cocktail making) and use the stick for everything else. Cook soup, stick this in the pot, puree up all the cooked things and now you have creamy soup. I use this weekly.
3. Ice Cream Maker from Cuisinart
Since there are roughly 4,367 varieties of commercial ice cream in the supermarket, do you really need to make your own? Yes. Definitely. Why is that even a question? I mean, if you should happen to want maple honey pumpkin chocolate chip ice cream, the store will not have it. And, besides, it's fun and super easy to do. I have this exact model.
Pots and Pans
1. Cast Iron Skillet from Lodge
Once you have one cast iron pan, you will have many, because you will keep buying them in all kinds of sizes and develop a serious addiction to them. There's no known cure. Naturally non-stick and an amazing heat conductor, cast iron is the bomb and the more you use it, the better it will be. I have a ridiculous amount of sizes but the 12" is my workhorse. It never even gets put away. Just lives on my stovetop because it will be used every day.
2. Dutch Oven from Le Creuset
Is Le Creuset just an expensive pretty face? Nope. I have two different sizes of LC Dutch ovens and I use them constantly. They are enamel (great non-stick) over cast iron (great heat conductor) and perfect for making soups, stews, roasts and even bread. They are hands down my favorite pots.
3. Ceramic Oval Baking Dish from Staub
I bet you've seen all those Instagram casseroles in gorgeous oval serving dishes and wondered where to get them. From Staub, actually. I have several Staub pieces including large oval gratins, mini individual serving pots and even the pumpkin shaped soup bowl. Love them all.
4. Enameled Cast Iron Covered Casserole Skillet from Amazon Basics
I appreciate that Le Creuset is a bit of a splurge so I took the Amazon Basics look-alike pot for a test drive. I wanted a braiser style anyway and the low price was worth the risk. I haven't put it through quite the workout that my LC pots have gotten so I don't know how it will hold up over time. But so far, so good.
1. Classic Coupe Dinnerware from Pottery Barn
Having both everyday and "good" dishes is not really an option for those of us living in small apartments in large cities. I looked at tons of dinnerware to find a set that would be both functional and beautiful before buying this coupe style set. I love the simple elegance, practicality, durability and, especially, their ability to not stain despite my love of beets.
2. Tour Martini Glasses from Crate and Barrel
I have several styles of cocktail glasses but this modern yet elegant glass is probably my favorite. It's sturdy and substantial and the design lends itself to all kinds of drinks. I also own the Tour double old fashioned glasses.
3. Stainless Steel Flatware from Sharecook
I was searching for a flatware set with a rounded spoon and found several at about double the price of this one. I ordered them wondering if the price was too good to be true and they'd be flimsy. Nothing of the kind. This is a sturdy set and even prettier in person. I own the gold. Now I want the silver.
4. Frayed Linen Napkins from Sur la Table
I don't own these napkins...yet. But that's probably about to change because I'm a sucker for fringe detailing. It can look old fashioned with pattered dishes but the contrast with my clean white dinnerware is stunning. I saw them in person when I was strolling through the store a few weeks ago and they're super soft.
1. The Progress Collection Dessert Bowls from MM Clay
Mary Mar Keenan is one of my favorite ceramicists. Her pieces are sturdy and well made, in a variety of lovely hues. I'm fortunate enough to have these bowls as well as several of her dessert plates, dinner plates and dipping bowls. And even though not all are in the same color, all go perfectly together in a table setting. Anyone who appreciates handmade ceramics will love a gift of these.
2. Pantry Bowls from Farmhouse Pottery
These pour bowls are on my holiday wish list, both for their beauty and their functionality. I have other pieces from this Vermont maker and love their durable American stoneware. Check out their beautiful wood pieces as well.
3. Salt/Spice Spoons from Factured Goods
These handmade brass spoons have been on my wish list for a while now because I think they lend such a lovely artisan touch to any table. Check out all the beautiful pieces from this talented Chicago maker and you might clear your entire gift list in one place.
4. Ash Serving Boards from JK Adams
I'm a sucker for a gorgeous cutting board and also use them to serve cheese, charcuterie, fruit, etc. No hiding these beauties in a cabinet, either. All my lovelies are on display in my kitchen. This ash beauty from JK Adams is my favorite and I have it in the medium sized round. My only complaint would be that I don't also have the square and rectangular ones.