Kitchen Must Have – Sur La Table Stoneware Casserole with Lid

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(Photo courtesy of Sur La Table)

Let me start by saying that I absolutely adore this piece of bakeware. It was one of those things that I didn’t even know that I needed until I got one and now I absolutely cannot live without it. My mom got me this little beauty (mine is an awesome burnt orange) for Christmas last year and it was truly the best gift that I received. It’s such a versatile piece and the perfect vessel for almost anything you can think to make. I’ve used it for roasts, veggies, cakes, baked ziti, Brown Butter Chocolate and Vanilla Krispie Treats“Saucey” Italian Sausage and Peppers, and it’s even perfect as just a beautiful serving piece. If you’re limited on space and want one dish that can pretty much do it all then this is the one to get!

Because it’s stoneware it will retain the heat very well which means your food will stay hotter for a longer period of time, especially if you use the domed lid. I love that it can go from the oven to the table and then right into the fridge. Less mess in the kitchen! Not only does it cook and bake well, it’s also very well made so don’t worry about having to be extra delicate with it, it can stand up to a lot. The best part about this casserole dish is that it cleans up like a dream. I’ve braised short ribs in it for HOURS and by the time it came out of the oven I would’ve sworn it would never be clean again but after a little soaking with warm water and dish soap everything wiped away with ease. I highly recommend this casserole dish and I think you will find that it will quickly become an invaluable little workhorse in your kitchen too!

Sur La Table sells this casserole dish for $60 however, it does go on sale from time to time and you can use their 20% off coupon on it as well. If you would like to purchase one you can get them in their store or right here.

Pictured below is Chicken Lombardi that I made in my casserole dish.

chickenlombardi

Kitchen Must Have – Cast Iron Pots/Pans

cast iron pots and pans

Cast iron pots and pans have so many benefits and are a wonderful (and inexpensive) addition to any kitchen. They are naturally nonstick, virtually indestructible, easy to clean, and they hold the heat very well. If properly taken care of, cast iron can last for generations. Once you get the hang of using them I have no doubt they will become some of your most favorite pieces, I absolutely love mine.

The two most common kinds of cast iron that you can purchase are seasoned cast iron and enamel coated cast iron. The seasoned cast iron pans are coated in oil and then heated to a specific temperature in order to create a naturally nonstick cooking surface. The enameled cast iron pans are offered in an array of vibrant, beautiful colors. These colors are created by a process in which a glass particulate called “frit” is applied to the cookware, the cookware is then fired in extreme temperatures where the frit transforms into a smooth porcelain. This process bonds the porcelain to the cast iron creating a very smooth nonstick cooking surface.

Both options are excellent choices and offer certain benefits however, in my opinion I think that the seasoned cast iron pans have a slight edge. For acidic foods I always prefer to use my enameled cast iron but for all of my other cooking and baking, I always grab my seasoned cast iron pots and pans. For starters, they are far more inexpensive than their enameled counterpart. Enameled cast iron pots and pans can run you hundreds of dollars, especially if you invest in some of the big name brands such as Le Creuset or Staub. The seasoned cast iron is also more durable, over time you might find that the enameled cast iron chips or stains. Lastly, I find that with repeated use, the seasoned cast iron actually has a better nonstick surface. The one drawback to the seasoned cast iron, which can easily be avoided, is that it can (and will) rust if not taken care of properly. The good news is though, even if you end up with a little rust on your cast iron it’s something that is correctable.

I highly recommend taking a look into the Lodge Cast Iron  line of pots and pans.  They are very affordable, excellent quality, and they even offer a line of enameled cast iron pots and pans that are far less money and of equal quality as the more expensive name brands. I usually purchase my Lodge products on Amazon as they almost always offer the best price. Below is one of my most favorite and useful pieces, their 12″ frying pan. It’s such a great and versatile piece, you can make everything from eggs to chicken to apple crisps in it. If you own even just one piece of cast iron in your kitchen, this should be the one!

 Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet – 12 Inch Classic Cast Iron Frying Pan with Assist Handle (Made in USA)

For those that are new to cooking with and caring for cast iron check out this great video below from the Tasty YouTube channel. It offers some great advice and will get you off on the right foot with cast iron. So many people think cooking with cast iron is hard and requires a lot of work but this video will show you just how easy it really is. Once you go cast iron, you’ll never want to go back. Enjoy!