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A few more favorite things...

5. Salt Cellar: I LOVE my salt cellar. I keep it out next to my cooking range. It has an easy-open lid that keeps the salt dry. I always use kosher salt because it's much easier to work with than the regular table salt. I grab a pinch and season away. It's really great for seasoning meats, especially when you want to get a great crust on the outside of a piece of steak. With table salt, you can't get dissolves way too easily. I use table salt in a salt shaker at the table, but I prefer Morton's Coarse Kosher Salt for seasoning while cooking. And, this particular salt cellar comes with the cutest little spoon you've ever seen.

6. Biscuit Cutters: There's not much explanation needed for this one. I love that there are various sizes of cutters in this RSVP set, which are quite sharp, by the way. I also use the smallest cutter to make dumplings. These can even be used to make homemade donuts or to cut out ravioli.

7. Electric Wok: The Breville BEW600XL is the top rated electric wok on the market. Andrea surprised me with this earlier this year and I have loved it! This thing gets HOT and does a great job of distributing heat evenly up the walls, resulting in quick and even searing/cooking. If you don't have a gas burning range but want the heat you get with cooking on a gas range, this will get the job done. You can cook about anything in this wok. Definitely worth the investment.

8. Electric Rice Cooker: This could be the best $30 I've ever spent. With four boys in our house that love rice, this Aroma Rice Cooker gets used all the time and does a fantastic, consistent job of producing perfectly cooked rice every time. It comes with a small measuring cup. For every cup of rice you use, you fill water up to the corresponding fill line on the inside (i.e. for 3 cups of rice, fill to line 3). You then power it on, press the "white rice" or "brown rice" button, and wait for it to beep once the rice is done. It's really idiot-proof, which is exactly what I need.

9. Amazon Echo: This cool device does everything Siri on the iPhone can do, but it does it better. We don't have a home sound system, which is quite ironic considering what I do almost every weekend. But it has a great-sounding speaker that can clearly fill a large space and is incredibly easy to use. Once you plug it in, you download a free app to your smart phone, launch the app, and you're up and running in just a couple of minutes. It goes by the name, "Alexa," and will do everything from telling you the weather forecast, setting a 20 minute timer to take something out of the oven, to playing your favorite kind of music (i.e. "Alexa, play Christmas music."), and can even be used to automatically dim the lights in your house.

10. Convection Oven: Okay, this little Breville oven gets used EVERY SINGLE DAY at our house. It's probably the most used appliance in our house. It heats up incredibly quickly and cooks food evenly. It can be used as just a toaster, an oven, or a convection oven. Some of you may be asking what a convection oven's an oven with a fan that circulates the heated air, which results in quicker and more even cooking. We've had ours for several years, so it has lots of mileage on it. Not one single problem thus far (knock on wood). There are two different sizes. We have the larger, more powerful one. In my opinion, this one is the way to go. In the scheme of things, it's not much more than the smaller one and has lots more space.

11. Roomba: Yes, I said Roomba. Andrea got this for me as a gift last year. We named ours "Jebadiah." If you don't know what a Roomba is, it's a really small robot vacuum. It gets under the bed and other hard-to-reach areas under furniture, as well as all the "regular" vacuum areas. It has a charging station, so whenever Jebadiah gets tired, he automatically goes back to his charging base to take a power nap.

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