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Monday, December 12, 2016

Gift Guide: Our Favorites!

I've got just two gift guides left, and I've totally loved being able to share with you some of Benson's and my favorite stuff!  We've already covered my favorite things HERE and Benson's favorite things HERE, plus some of both his and my favorite things for traveling HERE.  Today is a random collection of more of our favorite things that would make great gifts for women, men, couples, or families.  

Many of the items are kitchen appliances, and that's because food is our love language!  :D  Many are also items that we've told lots of friends about or ones friends have commented on when they've come over.  Like this post's title says, they're tried and true, so we KNOW they make people happy.  All of these are available on Amazon, so the shipping will be fast and should arrive in plenty of time before Christmas.  

For some background on the kitchen items, three of my cousins are really, really, really into cooking, in all different styles.  One is kind of a high class fancy type of cook, another is a "grill all the delicious meat" earthy kind of cook, and the third is kind of in between, cooking really good homestyle comfort food but elevated with a touch of fancier elements.  (Think of the third one like my style in clothing: really great quality basics elevated with a statement necklace.  :P  )
Gift Ideas for Him, Her, or Them

Links to Shop:
one  |  two  |  three
four  |  five  |  six
seven  |  eight  |  nine  |  ten

1. Sous Vide - All my cousins love this.  If you haven't heard of sous vide, it's basically a way of cooking that is incredibly EASY, but PRECISE.  You put that stick in a pot of water, and the stick heats the water to whatever temp you set it and maintains the water that exact temperature, no matter how long you leave it in there.  You put food + any optional herbs and marinade into a ziplock or vacuum sealed bag, place it all in the water, and it will cook your food as if it's in a water oven.  However, unlike a normal oven where if you leave food in there too long it'll overcook, sous vide magically maintains the food at the same temperature no matter how long you leave it in there.  

You can do this with ANY food--meat, veggies, and even getting the perfect soft boiled egg.  You can nail that soft boiled egg EVERY SINGLE TIME by setting the water to the right temp.  Best part is, you never have to watch it or worry about when you need to take it out.  You can get perfectly cooked food every single time, without needing to watch it or pay any attention to it.  If you want a sear on your meat, just sous vide it then sear it on a pan for a couple of minutes for the crisp outer layer.

There are tons of videos and instructions out there for what temps to set different foods to based on what kind of cook you want with them.  Read more about it HERE.  

Also, some encourage you to get a special sous vide pot that has a lid with a hole cut out for the stick, but it's expensive.  Benson bought a $16.50 container HERE and cut an imperfect square hole in the plastic lid, and that has worked fine for us.

2 & 3. Whustoff Knives - We've had these since we got married and absolutely love them.  Multiple friends who've cooked at our house are always super impressed with how well these knives cut and end up getting their own, albeit the price tag, because they're that great to work with.  Option 3 is cheaper but Option 2 is the one I'd choose if we could only have one.

4. Massager - I talked about this in the Men's Gift Guide, but I want to circle back because a lot of people asked about it.  And this is really a favorite of both Benson and mine!  In the men's guide I said we've given it to 3 guys already who loooove it, but we've actually given it to 2 women as well who also love it!  

You use it to massage your shoulders or neck, and while Benson is very kind about massaging my crazy tense shoulders, at some point I don't want to bother him anymore, you know?  Haha.  I love that I can control exactly where, how hard, how often, and how long to massage my knots.  And it's only $29.95! 

There is a different massager that is harder than this green one, and I actually prefer it because my knots are CRAZY.  But, I'm the only one I know who prefers the harder one.  Everyone else prefers the green one.  And despite my crazy knots, the green one has been more than sufficient for me!  The harder one is HERE if you're interested. 

5. Water Bottle - Has this made every gift guide so far?  Yes.  Because I mean it when I say I can't talk about it enough!  Available in several sizes, tons of colors, and with several different lid types (straw, screw top, button opening, etc.)  Keeps your water cold up to 24 hours and warm up to 6!  

6. Electric Kettle - Okay, maybe this isn't tried and true yet because we just recently got it after our kettle of 10+ years died.  But we love it because, besides the super sleek design, you can boil the water at different temperatures, which means my water always comes out the perfect temp for me to drink right away.  I never have to wait for it to cool down enough anymore.  :D  And it keeps the water hot up to 30 min after!

7. Hand Blender - We received this as a gift many Christmases ago.  Honestly, it sat in our cupboard for a while--until we needed to make butternut squash soup.  (A recipe from my "fancy cooking" cousin.)  Rather than blending the squash in a mixer, little by little at time then having to transfer it, we could blend all the squash right in the big pot with this hand blender.  After that, we were like, "Whoa, this thing is really handy!"  It also does a ton of other things, like chops, grinds vegetables and garlic, whisks, etc.  You can read about all its awesomeness HERE.  

8. Essential Oil Diffuser Humidifier - We're not hugely into essential oils, but whenever Addie is sick she coughs so hard that she throws up in her sleep.  That's when we bust out the oils and humidifier!  We started with the doTERRA diffuser because of our friend, but we like this one WAY more.  It's bigger and lasts MUCH longer (like around 10 hours!).  It can change to 7 different colors, but we keep it white or with the light off.  Oh, and it's only around $30!  (Amazon keeps changing the price every time I look at it, haha!)

9. Portable Charger - I should have put this in the Traveler's Gift Guide, but we bring this on all our trips.  We tend to be out and about and away from outlets to charge our phones and iPad, so this portable charger comes in handy.  I also use it when I'm traveling for conferences which is another space where I'm on the go but constantly using my phone.  VERY handy!

10. Instant Pot - This is another item that's newer to us, but it is tried and true by my cousin (the third one with the homestyle cooking with elevated elements).  His cooking is my favorite, honestly.  Always super flavorful, but seems really accessible to the normal person to make.  He's bought this for like 7 people already, including us, because he's so into it. 

If you don't know about this, you should just read about it HERE because I won't be able to do it justice.  It's a programmable pressure cooker that cooks things a million times faster than a slow cooker or traditional cooking.  We cooked a raw butternut squash in it in 15 minutes instead of baking it in the oven for 45 minutes.  We cooked ribs in it that were fall-off-the-bone tender.  Much better than any slow cooker rib recipe I've tried.  My cousin says he cooks EVERYTHING in it--Japanese curry, quinoa, risotto, soups, etc.  We cooked a great beef stew in it last night, and while that wasn't quite "instant," it was much faster than a slow cooker.  After all the prep, a slow cooker would have taken several hours to cook the stew, but the Instant Pot took about an hour or less (waiting for it to heat up, actually cooking for 15, then depressurizing).  And yes, it was still delicious!  Will you get the depth of flavor you would with traditional cooking and stewing it for 12 hours on a stove?  No, of course not.  But I NEVER cook those meals anyway because they're not accessible.  Who has time for those?  The Instant Pot is not the 12-hour version, but it is still DELICIOUS!  And I'd rather have the delicious, not 12-hour version than none at all.    

This thing was on crazy sale during Black Friday (like $60 or something), but the price is back up.  Still worth it!  We have the 6-quart.  To see recipes and the types of food you can make in this, check out this site: http://www.pressurecookrecipes.com!

OMG, now I'm hungry.  Soooo, I've gotta go!  :D

Check out other holiday gift guides here:

P.S. In case you missed Friday's announcement and giveaway for the PMT Style Challenge, check it out HERE!  

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