Kitchen Must Have – Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer


My baby!!! If ever there was a kitchen item that I couldn’t live without, HANDS DOWN, it’s my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer. I absolutely adore this appliance and while it can be a little pricey, it’s absolutely worth it’s weight in gold. Plus, any money you spend on it will pay off a millions times over. I’ve had this mixer for going on 16 years now and I’ve never had a single issue or problem with it and I use mine A LOT! It’s a fantastic investment and will really be a wonderful addition to your kitchen, trust me!

There are a few choices and price points for a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer. They have a Professional Series with a 6 qt bowl which is what I bought years ago. They also have an Artisan model, a 5 qt model, and 4.5 qt model. Each model has a different price point so you should be able to find something that fits into your budget. Amazon usually has pretty great prices on the Kitchen Aid so if you’re interested in checking out a few of the models you can do so by clicking the link below:

 KitchenAid Professional 600 Series KP26M1XER Bowl-Lift Stand Mixer, 6 Quart, Nickel Pearl

Another great thing about these stand mixers, for those who aren’t familiar with them, they also have a host of different attachments that you can purchase. Some of the things they offer are a food grinder, a spiralizer, an ice cream bowl, various pasta rollers, slicers, and even a mini food processor attachment. The attachments can be pricey but if you add to your collection over time you end up with an appliance that can do the job of so many others. One stop cooking and baking!!

Aside from the obvious cookie doughs and batters you can make with the Kitchen Aid I’ve also churned my own butter, made homemade whipped cream, developed the most perfect peaked egg whites, whipped the best mashed potatoes, made bread doughs, and I even ground my own beef for burgers. I kid you not! It’s really such a versatile tool and it makes my life so much easier in the kitchen. You’ll especially appreciate it when you need to combine or whip ingredients for countless minutes. You can just set the speed and walk way until it’s ready which is great because it allows you to prep the next step in your recipe without having to waste precious time standing around and waiting.

It’s super easy to clean up too! Most of the parts and the bowl can go right into the dishwasher. Because I use mine so often I store the basic parts right in the bowl that is attached to the mixer. It came with a whisk, dough hook, and paddle attachment and with those 3 there is pretty much nothing that you can’t whip up.

If I had to choose one large appliance investment I would go for the Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer all day long. It really is a must have in my kitchen and if anything happened to my current baby, I’d be on Amazon in two seconds ordering my next one! If you don’t already have one, definitely consider getting. You will not regret it, I promise.

Below are some of the delicious things I made using my trusty Kitchen Aid.

Fresh Homemade Butter



Homemade Marshmallows



Homemade Whipped Cream



Deep Dish Pizza






Cinnamon Buns





Pantry and Fridge Essentials

How did you just whip that up?”

It’s the one comment I get over and over again. People always seem surprised that on any given day I’m able to pull together a from scratch dessert or a quick dinner. My response, it’s SO simple to do when you have a well stocked pantry and fridge. Seriously. That is literally all there is to it. If you keep a healthy stock of the basics on hand you will be shocked by just how many dishes you’re able to pull together without having to make a list and run off to the supermarket.

So let’s jump into it. Below is a list of items that I find to be essential in my pantry/freezer/fridge. This list isn’t written in stone so depending on your likes and needs, adjust it so that it works for you. I know the list sounds like a lot but I’m sure many of you already have *most* of these things on hand, just fill in the gaps with the essentials that you’re missing. Once you stock up, you’ll be good to go for quite some time. Most of these items I’m not buying often, only a few do I have to buy more regularly.

Once you get in the habit of stocking up and having the essentials on hand, you will find that is so much easier to get dinner on the table or whip up a quick dessert. Keeping my house well stocked has really changed the way I cook, with these essentials there are countless things that I can make or bake with NO advanced planning or running to the supermarket. It doesn’t get any better than that!

In the Pantry

For Baking

  • Flours (All-Purpose, Wheat, Bread, and Cake)
  • Sugars (Granulated, Light or Dark Brown, Turbinado, Confectioner’s)
  • Semisweet Chocolate Chips
  • Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bars
  • Baking Soda
  • Baking Powder
  • Cocoa Powder
  • Vanilla Beans
  • Pure Extracts (Vanilla, Almond, Coconut, and Hazelnut)
  • Cream of Tartar
  • Cinnamon
  • Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • Nutmeg
  • Honey
  • Yeast (Rapid Rise and Regular)
  • Sprinkles
  • Cupcake liners
  • Shredded Coconut
  • Molasses
  • Raisins
  • Jams and Jellies
  • Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • Evaporated Milk
  • Peanut Butter
  • Chocolate Syrup
  • Marshmallow Fluff
  • Popcorn Kernels

For Cooking

  • Crushed tomatoes
  • Stocks (Beef and Chicken)
  • Long Grain Rice (Brown and White)
  • Beans (Small Red Kidney and Baked)
  • Pasta in various shapes
  • Breadcrumbs (Seasoned and Panko)
  • Onion Soup Mix
  • Black Olives
  • Bread
  • Oil (Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Vegetable, and Canola as well as flavored oils)
  • Vinegar (A really good Balsamic, White, and Apple Cider)
  • Extra condiments so I don’t run out (Ketchup, Mustard, Mayo etc)
  • Syrup (Pure Maple and Aunt Jemima)
  • Kosher Salt
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • Various Seasonings and Spices (Paprika, Basil, Oregano, Poultry, Red Pepper, etc)
  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Fresh Garlic
  • Shallots
  • Coffee Beans
  • Various Teas


  • Ketchup
  • Mayonnaise
  • Mustard (Dijon and Deli)
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Hot Sauce
  • Pickles
  • Green Olives
  • A-1 Steak Sauce
  • Low Sodium Soy Sauce
  • Wondra
  • Large Eggs (at least 2-3 dozen)
  • Butter (Whipped, Salted Sticks, Unsalted Sticks)
  • Half and Half
  • Heavy Cream
  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Ricotta Cheese
  • Sour Cream
  • Cream Cheese
  • Various Cheeses ( Mozzarella, Cheddar, Shaved Parmesan, Locatelli, etc)
  • Bacon
  • Pie Crusts
  • Celery
  • Lettuce
  • Cucumbers
  • Baby Carrots
  • Peppers
  • Apples and Oranges
  • Lemons and Limes


  • Various Meats (Chicken Breasts, Ground Beef, Stew Meat, London Broil, etc. – I buy in bulk at BJ’s, portion it out and vacuum seal it so it lasts a long time and stays fresh)
  • Bacon
  • Homemade Waffles and Pancakes
  • Homemade Cookie Dough
  • Butter Sticks
  • Mozzarella (I stock up when they go on sale and freeze)
  • Veggies – Steam Bag variety
  • Various Frozen Fruits
  • Herbs (Basil, Parsley, Thyme, etc)
  • Italian Bread


Kitchen Disasters – We’ve ALL Been There

Most of the time recipes go as planned, your food looks great, and everything tastes delicious. But every now and again something goes wrong. Terribly, terribly wrong and all you can do, besides toss the mess into the trash, is laugh at yourself, learn from it, and move on. I have had my fair share of moments where a recipe went completely awry and I was left with a meal or a dessert that nobody wanted to eat. Or alternatively, that tasted fine but looked less than appetizing. It happens, even to the best of cooks! But hey, we wouldn’t grow as cooks (or people!!) if we didn’t fail and have to get back up again. So here are a few of my less than shining moments in the kitchen.

Metal Tomatoes

After college my husband and I moved to Florida and into our first apartment. Through his work we had made a few friends and one year when we couldn’t make it home to NY for Easter we decided to invite some of these friends over to our place for Easter dinner. I am Italian and Easter in my family is always lasagna, meatballs, sausage, and a baked spiral ham. So naturally I wanted to keep with tradition and serve the same meal to our new friends. Now, I knew how to make sauce and pull together lasagna and meatballs however, what I did NOT know at that time was the importance of using the right tools in the kitchen. Aluminum pots = NOT the right tools to make tomato sauce.

Before we moved my mom had given me a set of her old Farberware aluminum pots and pans. They were great for many things, not so much though when cooking tomatoes. Aluminum is a reactive metal and as such, will interact with the tomatoes and impart a distinct metallic taste into the sauce. Needless to say, I had an apartment full of people coming over who I had never cooked for before this gathering and I had a HUGE pot of sauce on the stove that tasted like metal. In a panic, I started adding sugar and extra spices to the sauce to try and counteract the metallic taste. It helped somewhat but I still noticed the “off” flavor in the sauce. At that point, I had to just cross my fingers and hope that once the pasta and cheese were in the mix the metallic flavor would be masked. In the end, everything turned out fine despite the sauce and thankfully everyone seemed to enjoy the meal. I learned a very valuable lesson that day about using the right tools for the job. Both cast iron and aluminum are NOT the right tools when making tomato sauce. Safe to say, I never made that mistake again.

Chicken Flip

A while back I decided to roast a whole chicken for the first time. I bought a nice little Purdue that had the pop up timer built in and I thought, easy peasy, there will be no messing this up. Ummmmmm. Yea. I messed it up! Let’s just say that the cooking time came and went as I was repeatedly sticking my head in the oven trying to find this stupid little pop up timer to let me know the chicken was done cooking. I could’t find it anywhere and was convinced that somehow they forgot to put the pop up timer in the bird. Since the chicken had been roasting for what seemed like forever I decided to finally just pull it out and take my chances. I put the chicken on the counter to rest while thinking to myself, “this chicken looks kind of odd“. The breast looked pretty flat, sort of bony, and wholly unappetizing. I figured I just got a weird looking bird (with no pop up timer!!) so I just brushed it off and didn’t give it another thought.

But then it came time to carve up the meat and to my surprise, there wasn’t really any breast meat. It felt hard, looked pretty gross, and seemingly had nothing I could get my knife through. My husband walks over, asks what the deal is with the funny looking bird and together we realize, OMG!!!!!…………………..I cooked the damn chicken UPSIDE DOWN!!!!! I wasn’t looking at the breast after all, I was trying to carve up his back! All I could do at this point was to flip over the poor chicken and laugh at my sheer stupidity. Once we flipped it over low and behold!!!………………there was the pop up timer that I was convinced didn’t exist along with all of the breast meat that I thought was missing! Having cooked upside down the whole time, the breast now looked a little less than appetizing but thankfully, in the end it was fine to eat and it was cooked pretty well too!! After that little debacle I learned which side is which and I’m proud to say that I’ve never cooked a chicken (or a turkey!!) upside down ever again!

Salt Lick Cookies

I have a great recipe for Fudgy Brownie Cookies that I’ve made countless times and every single time they’ve turned out perfect! I even made batches and batches of them one year to give out in cookie tins as Christmas gifts and everyone loved them. So one day I had my parents over for dinner and decided to throw these cookies together for dessert later that night. It’s a quick and easy recipe that I was very familiar with so I thought I could pop into the kitchen and bang them out pretty fast. My thinking was on point, my reality though, that was a different story! I was being interrupted about 1,458 times a minute by my then toddler son, Grayden. Trying to follow a recipe while at the same time attending to him is pretty much a recipe for disaster!

The recipe called for 1/4 tsp of baking soda to be added. Because I was reading the recipe while at the same time dealing with Grayden, I wasn’t paying close enough attention to the measurements that were called for. Instead of adding a 1/4 tsp of baking soda, I added 1/4 CUP of it. Baking soda, in case you weren’t aware, is VERY salty. Drop a 1/4 cup of it in your cookie dough and I promise you’ll gag, which is EXACTLY what I did when I tasted my dough a few minutes after mixing. There was simply NO way to salvage the cookie dough so in the trash it went and I had to start all over again. Lesson learned for sure, pay CLOSE attention to your recipes and measurements or you’ll end up with one big kitchen disaster on your hands and there is nothing worse than having to toss food! Oh!………….and avoid cooking with a toddler in the kitchen if you can help it!!

Zombie Pasta

Fairly recently I made a dish called “Drunken Spaghetti” which sounded pretty yummy when I read the recipe and it looked decent in the picture too. It was basically pasta that was cooked in both water AND red wine, the idea being that the pasta would absorb the wine as it cooked and impart a nice flavor to the finished dish. Once the pasta was ready you tossed it with chopped nuts, herbs, olive oil and cheese. All good things however, pasta that’s boiled in wine doesn’t look very nice or as richly colored as you might hope. Instead, it was kind gray. Gray pasta. Mmmmmm…………..sounds delish, right??

Overall, the flavor was actually somewhat interesting and the meal itself wasn’t terrible but it really didn’t look “pretty” or even appetizing for that matter. (I didn’t even attempt to get a picture of it!) My parents were over for dinner that night and my husband was working late so we ate before him and everyone kinda sorta liked the meal even though we were all put off by the overall appearance. So when my husband came home and I served him he looked at me like, “WTF is this???”.  I insisted it tasted good and to just try it. He kinda sorta liked the meal too but REALLY struggled with the color of the pasta and the overall look of the dish as we all did. He ate most of it but then gave up towards the end and said he couldn’t really take another bite. He subsequently named the dish “Zombie Pasta” since it was kind of gray, kind of reddish, and overall kind of unappetizing looking. He also told me to never, EVER make it again. So the lesson here is pasta doesn’t really look pretty after boiling in wine AND the photo editing programs they use in cookbooks is simply amazing because they somehow made “Zombie Pasta” look good and inspired me to actually try it!

As you can see, kitchen fails happen to even the best of us! So the next time you burn a cookie, forget an ingredient, or plate something that is zombie colored just know you’re in good company. We’ve ALL been there and done that! The best thing to do is to just chalk up your fail as a learning experience and then get back in the kitchen and do better the next time.

If at first you don’t succeed, just try, try again!

Cookbook Review – Sally’s Baking Addiction



Sally’s Baking Addiction: Irresistible Cookies, Cupcakes, and Desserts for Your Sweet-Tooth Fix

I am an admitted cookbook addict. I cannot resist the shiny, colorful pictures splashed across the cover or the crisp, bright pages of a brand new cookbook which is why at this point I just might need a library in my home to store all of the ones I own. A good cookbook is more than just recipes, it should also be a book of helpful tips, personal stories, and beautiful pictures. I don’t just cook from my cookbooks, I love to snuggle up and read them as well, just like any other good book that’s out there. A really great cookbook should make you excited and inspire you to get in the kitchen and create. Sally’s Baking Addiction is one of those cookbooks.

This cookbook is chock full of great recipes from cookies to cakes to even candy! I’ve made so many of Sally’s treats and to date, none of them have disappointed. The recipes in this book are also easy to pull together and generally do not require any fancy ingredients which is a bonus for your average home cook. There are a few essential ingredients you should have on hand in your kitchen if you’d like to try baking some of these sweet treats. These include: sugars (brown, granulated, and powdered), unsalted butter, heavy cream, eggs, oats, oil, chocolate, and milk. Also, having the right tools on hand will make baking so much easier. A well appointed kitchen should include: various sized baking sheets, muffin pans, silicone baking mats (or parchment paper), a springform pan, round cake pans,  a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer, a food processor, sharp knives, spatulas, measuring cups and spoons, a rolling pin, whisks, a Microplane zester, and a pastry brush. If you want to be extra precise with your baking (and cooking!) it doesn’t hurt to have an inexpensive electronic scale on hand as well. The more precise you are with your baking, the better the final product will be.

Now that the basics are covered, let’s get into it! One of my most favorite recipes from this book is the “Apple Pie Streusel Bars“, they are absolute heaven!! I’m generally not a fan of shortbread however, the shortbread crust in this recipe is perfection. It has the most delicious sugary, vanilla flavor and excellent texture as well. This recipe is loaded with delicious cinnamon apples and topped with a wonderful streusel. It tastes like autumn on a plate! This is the perfect treat to enjoy with a steaming mug of tea on a cool, crisp, fall afternoon.


Another excellent recipe in this cookbook is the “Potato Chip Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies“. At first the potato chips had me scratching my head but in the end, they added a really nice salty flavor to the cookies and I LOVE me a good sweet and salty treat! These cookies did not last long in my house, nobody could stop eating them! This recipe is a keeper for sure!


One of my favorite snacks to munch on is caramel corn. There is nothing better than that sticky, salty deliciousness and Sally’s cookbook has a recipe for “Old Fashioned Caramel Corn” that will blow you away. I promise, you’ll NEVER buy store bought caramel corn again! This recipe was super easy to pull together and it didn’t take much time at all to execute. If you don’t have an air popper to make plain popcorn, just toss 1/2 cup of kernels in a scant amount of vegetable oil, pour the kernels into a brown paper bag and microwave on high for 2-3 minutes. Once the popcorn is ready, you can follow Sally’s recipe as written. You will not be disappointed with the results, we couldn’t keep our hands out the bowl!!!


These are just a few of the incredible recipes I’ve tried and loved but there are countless more in this cookbook that I absolutely love. Other good ones are “Death by Chocolate Brownies“, “Cinnamon Roll Blondies“, “Frozen Peanut Butter Banana Pie“, and “Marshmallow Swirls S’mores Fudge“. Every single recipe yields and excellent result. This cookbook is definitely worth adding to your own collection, I HIGHLY recommend it.

Interested? Get your copy here!

Sally’s Baking Addiction: Irresistible Cookies, Cupcakes, and Desserts for Your Sweet-Tooth Fix